Life Stories

 

 
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Xander Xavier

My husband, Jay, and I found out we were pregnant in September of 2015, we had been trying for a few months, and could not be happier. The pregnancy was going great. I felt wonderful, and we could not wait to find out if we'd be having a baby girl or baby boy!!! In January we went in for our twenty week sonogram, where we would finally find out what we were having. Within seconds of beginning the sono, we could clearly see that we were having a sweet baby boy. My husband was beaming. Picturing all the things he would get to do with his son. We finished up, went into the exam room, and waited for the doctor. He came in a few minutes later and told us that he did not like what he was seeing in the pictures. That our son had a cleft lip/pallet, no nose, was missing part of his brain, etc..., It seemed like an out of body experience, and I think I had stopped listening at that point. He wanted us to see a specialist the following day to get a better look, and then decide if we wanted to continue with the pregnancy. We went to the specialist the next day where she confirmed all of my doctor's findings, along with a major heart defect, problems with his kidneys, and other vital organs. She thought it looked like he most likely had Trisomy 13, so I asked what that meant for our little boy, and she said that it meant he would have a very short lifespan. "Short, how short?" I asked, and she said, "Maybe an hour." Jay and I were devastated and heart broken. Both doctors brought up terminating the pregnancy, but my husband and I could not fathom shortening Xander's already short little life. We decided to enjoy every movement, kick, and hiccup. With the knowledge we had, we could move forward with the pregnancy and not take one minute for granted. I wasn't expected to carry Xander through the second trimester, but no one told him that. His heartbeat was strong through the entire pregnancy, and he continued to be extremely active.  A sweet friend who had gone through a similar journey pointed us towards Labor of Hope.  It was a blessing to talk to a family that had walked a similar path.  Labor of Hope found us an amazing doula that offered her services free of charge. She helped us with a birth plan, came to the doctor's appointment where I found out I was in active labor, was with us at the hospital, and every step of the way. Eshelle was helpful with family, in the delivery room, and even after we delivered sweet Xander. She became part of the family and we are forever grateful to her. Labor of Hope also found us Megan, a passionate and talented photographer that was able to take pictures of our sweet boy in the hospital. Because we didn't know if Xander would live for 8 minutes, 8 hours, or 8 days, she took beautiful photos in the hospital room before we delivered, during the c section, right after he was born, during his baptism, and stayed at the hospital for hours after his birth continuing to document his precious life. When she found out that we were able to bring our baby boy home with us, she came over and did a newborn shoot. We lost our sweet baby, Xander Xavier after 8 1/2 beautiful days. We are forever grateful for Labor of Hope. They have deeply impacted our lives, and while we pray that no other family has to experience a loss like we have, we are thankful that there is an organization out there like this to help.

Life Stories

 
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Amelia Marie Grace

August 28th. A Monday. An ordinary normal day that should have been a day of excitement and fun and just another milestone in our fourth pregnancy. The day where you finally get to hear a heart beat and see the first pictures of your baby in the prenatal screening. Instead it has become the day where life changed forever. There is just now everything before that moment and everything since. So many people say life will never be the same after whatever xyz and now I realize how flippantly well-meaning people say this. I know differently. Life changed in that moment. Everything after has become our “new normal”.

I’ve always heard in crisis your senses are heightened. The day was partly cloudy and relatively cool for a late summer in Dallas, Texas. So cool to my body was the air, that I actually put on a pair of leggings to head to my appointment. It felt like a great Monday. I was running a few minutes behind, yet I got a parking spot close to the front as I happened to catch a car leaving. The receptionist was in a great mood and we traded banter. The waiting room was empty which was fun since I knew things weren’t crazy backed up. My wait was so fast I barely had time to play on my phone. Everyone was so friendly as we went through chart info, weight check, blood pressure. So routine, but I was acutely aware at that time how it felt like such a fun Monday morning. I even took a pic of my exposed belly awaiting the sonographer before she came in, bursting to see my sweet Peanut.

 

Minutes. The sonographer came in and showed me my sweet baby. A Heartbeat. 10 fingers. 10 toes. Lots of movement. A brain. My heart was overflowing with joy. I joked with this gal that I can’t imagine the times when she has to give bad news like baby is missing some fingers or toes. Oh my stars. What a foreshadow. It was that minute that things changed. She measured baby and quickly printed out a couple of quick pictures rather somberly and something felt off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. All of a sudden she uttered something along the lines of I need to grab the doctor, I’ll be right back. Off the sono went. Y’all my heart hit the floor.

 

That was the minute. 10:58am. I grabbed my phone as fast as I could and in caps texted Aaron to pray. Oh how I knew. I knew this was the moment. Whatever he was going to say was going to be the most awful thing ever. 8 minutes. For 8 minutes I sat there waiting, wondering, praying, trying to wake myself up from some god-awful dream. 8 long minutes.

The doc walked in. He was friendly. The sono pics went back up and there was my baby. Moving, beating heart, alive. Seconds later? I don’t know maybe 2 minutes later and he was done. And his face. Oh his face. Ashen. He started talking in the kindest way possible about baby being incompatible with life. Wait…what? All while I’m still watching my baby on the screen. Surely this is a weird and cruel joke and I pause him to get Aaron on the phone cause I can’t reconcile what he’s saying and what I’m seeing. 11:11 was the call to my hubby.

Not even 15 minutes have passed since she had concerns to now baby is incompatible with life. What the what?! I don’t even honestly know what the doc said. There was talking and “counsel” for us on how to terminate this life. My Peanut’s life. The baby I’m staring at one the screen moving, turning round and round watching the little heart beat. Dr. Doom & Gloom is talking about chromosomal failures and that there is no way I will carry baby longer than a few more weeks. Maybe Aaron recalls what he said. I seriously sat there crying and praying and BEGGING God to make him say the truth and stop lying. And then he left. He had done “his job”. Somehow I pulled my pants up and my shirt down and grabbed my purse. Walked out. Got in my car. Drove home. That drive…..I don’t even know how I got home.

 

Literally BEFORE and AFTER. Nothing since that moment has been the same. And yet I felt God so near me that day. Mercy Me’s Even If was on the radio when I was leaving.

It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone


UPDATE: 

Baby Amelia (Leah for short) is home!  She is working hard on growing big and strong in preparation for her open heart surgery in the next few weeks/months, to repair her AVSD and other heart defects. She is doing well and her siblings are head over heals for her! 

Life Stories

 

 
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Judah Josiah

Today we celebrate our son's first birthday in Heaven. Here's a little of our story...

At 39 weeks I couldn’t feel my baby boy move anymore. I knew he was gone but I desperately wanted to be wrong. I sat in the examination room as the nurse calmly tried to find his heartbeat. Tears streamed down my face. I couldn't speak. I prayed for a miracle but the doctor confirmed he had gone to be with Jesus. My heart shattered into a billion pieces. I let out a deep guttural wail and instantly broke down crying. Though he had been diagnosed with a fatal condition, all I wanted was just a second with him here on earth. After I finally understood that he was gone, it began sinking in that I would have to give birth to my little boy and say goodbye. It was in that moment, that for the first time in my life I felt God's presence. His actual physical presence in the room. His arms wrapped around me, his tears just as full of pain as mine. I reached out my hand to my husband and I just knew we’d get through this. At 11:55 a.m., February 14, 2017, Judah Jasper Miller was born into the arms of his Heavenly Father. While my heart ached in a way I didn't even know was possible, it swelled with the greatest love and pride I never imagined existed. Y'all, this little boy was so handsome! His tiny little arms and feet were folded in his favorite belly position. He had his daddy's nose, head and feet, but he looked just like me. It was the first time I got to hold him, see his sweet face, see his daddy hold him and sing over him. It was the worst day of my life, but it was also the most incredible day I ever could have asked for. And for that, I will celebrate. No, he won't be having a perfectly pinned Pinterest jungle themed party. Instead, he is getting to celebrate his 1st Birthday in Glory in a way that is far more beautiful than we could imagine all while being held by our Heavenly Father. I will celebrate that from the moment my son lived that he knew nothing but love. I will celebrate that his existence brought me closer to my husband and made me fall in love with him as his daddy. I will celebrate the gift my sweet Judah gave me of strengthening my bond with our Savior. I will celebrate that the reason I hurt and long for my baby is only because of how deep my love will always run for him. I could look at the broken pieces of my life and be devastated by the fact that it's in ruins. Or I can choose to be grateful for the memories, the opportunities, the dreams, the hope, the love that I still have in spite of the brokenness. I'm working hard every day to become a better me.  It is hard, but we are choosing joy. It might even look like we're failing miserably sometimes, but we are still doing it. So, help us celebrate. Celebrate our son's life. Celebrate all of the love and beauty that he knew in this life.

Life Stories

 
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Ronald Peter Halvorson

Our entire journey with our sweet son Ronald Peter “RP” Halvorson was anything but normal.  We found out that we were expecting while Katie was in the emergency room with kidney stones.  Not exactly the way we planned to find out, but we were very excited and began imagining life with our sweet baby.  

We elected to do a blood test at 10 weeks which screens for the most common chromosome abnormalities and can tell baby’s gender (though we had decided that we wanted to wait until birth to learn Baby H’s gender).  At 12 weeks, our doctor informed us that our baby had screened high for Trisomy 18. We didn’t have any idea what this meant, but knew that it was grave from the way it was delivered. We immediately poured over every article, book and resource that we could get our hands on – all delivering the same message “incompatible with life”.  To say we felt hopeless is an understatement. Our doctor told us that she would do whatever we wanted in regards to terminating the pregnancy, but in her experience families that chose to continue on with their pregnancies healed better in the long run. This would be the first of many blessings along our journey. We went from talking about nursery themes to talking about termination or life.  

We very quickly agreed that although we were terrified, we valued the life that God had created and wanted to do all that we could to take care of our baby whatever that might mean.  We decided to choose “joy” for our journey despite knowing how hard it would be. We didn’t know what the future would hold, but we wanted to enjoy whatever time we did have. We decided to learn our baby’s gender so we could be more specific in our prayers.  Though Katie had come up with baby names before we were even married, none of the ones we originally liked seemed good enough or appropriate for our sweet baby BOY. He was special and needed a name that matched him. He is named Ronald Peter after both of his grandfathers, Ronald (Katie’s dad) and Peter (Mark’s dad) – we call him “RP” for short.

We were lucky to come into contact with Labor of Hope pretty quickly after we learned of RP’s diagnosis.  They were a light in the dark for us as we walked such a difficult path. They were with us every step taking maternity photos, attending NICU meetings with us, developing a birth plan and being at the hospital to support us and photograph RP’s arrival into this world.  

On June 14, 2017 at 3:22 PM we were blessed with the arrival of our sweet baby boy weighing in at 2lbs 9oz and 14in long.  We were overcome with joy that our son arrived safely because we were unsure if we would ever meet him.  Thanks to God’s plan and RP’s strong will (he gets that from his mama), we were blessed with 25 perfect hours on Earth with our son.  On June 15, 2017 at 4:39 PM, RP was called to his eternal Father.  RP spent every moment of his life in our arms.  His life was pain free.  He never experienced any emotion but love his entire time with us.  He is the spitting image of his daddy - everything from his hair, his eyebrows, his eyelashes, lips, and nose.  

We have been in awe watching the Lord work through our baby and have never felt His presence more.  God had every moment of RP's life planned and we are so blessed He chose us to be his parents. His timing has been perfect and left us cherishing so many of the small things along this journey.

We've been overwhelmingly touched beyond measure by the support we have had as we have walked this difficult path.  We are especially grateful for Labor of Hope.  They advocated for us at the hospital when we were overwhelmed and unable to advocate for ourselves and our son.  They made sure RP’s birthday was everything we wanted it to be. They captured so many incredible pictures and videos of our time with RP that are now are most cherished possessions.  They loved us, our entire family and RP when we needed it most. We will be forever thankful to them and God for blessing us with such a wonderful organization to lift us up in our struggles.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Labor of Hope!

All our love,

Mark, Katie & RP Halvorson