After I hung up from speaking to her, I was swallowing tears, as all the emotions of those early days came flooding back to me. It's amazing to think that we didn't have the pervasive use of the internet back in 2000 as we have now. I poured over books and articles shared by others, and found myself overwhelmed by information when we attended our first conference when our baby was less than a month old. I can still feel the terry-cloth covered changing pad squishing underneath him as I lifted his onesie to find an angry, breathtaking hematoma on his soft baby arm shortly after that time. A hard, raised, dark bruise of that kind should never appear on a newborn baby.
There were so many frightening moments. At only a few months old, I was trimming his little baby nails, and nicked his teeny finger. The bleeding wouldn't stop. I had to run him to the hospital for an infusion of clotting factor that time. By 16 months old, we were administering our son's IV's at home. The thought of putting an IV needle in my own baby was something I never thought I could do, until I became frustrated with 3 hour excursions to the emergency room with him at least twice a week when there was a bleeding episode. Unfortunately for us, he began walking at 9 months old, which meant he was frequently falling and bumping his head. That only increased the hospital runs. Once, I even fell with him in my arms, tripping on some stairs, hitting his little noggin on a door frame. I remember how terrified I was running him to the ER for a CT scan of his head, praying I didn't cause bleeding on his brain. Then there were the unrelenting nosebleeds that kept us home from church, school, grocery shopping, everywhere for a period of time. We later discovered that his brand of clotting factor was not working for many patients. At 5 years old, he was hospitalized with a life-threatening gastrointestinal bleed, which left permanent traumatic marks on the brains of our entire family. Three years ago, it was the dreaded ileopsoas bleed in one of his hips that kept him off his feet for a month with a PICC line in his arm.
If you had told me at his birth that we would face all of these things and still be standing, I would have said you were crazy. In fact, the things I read seemed so horrifying, I couldn't imagine my baby boy enduring such challenges. Even as we were going through each difficulty, I would hold it together, then completely fall apart once he was stabilized. I could not believe this was our life, his life.
And yet, there is an INCREDIBLE blessing in being able to look backward and recount these stories, because God has gotten us through EVERY SINGLE ONE. We made it through, not by our power, but by the strength of the One who is bigger than any trial we may face. He sent us help, just in time. People provided child care or rides to school for our daughters. Meals were lovingly prepared for us over the years. School staff were beyond helpful. And other parents who had gone before us on this journey were there for us with wisdom and comfort.
For the most part, we can declare that his life is good. The vast majority of his days, you cannot tell that he fights this serious battle. He has a terrific group of friends and hobbies he calls his own. He is even administering his own IV infusions with parental supervision. God has blessed him, blessed all of us so far beyond what we could ever imagine. And his trials have made us appreciate life's little gifts that much more.
Last night, I listened to an incredible sermon online by Pastor Ryan Rasmussen of Canton, Ohio's First Christian Church. He shared that one of the biggest lies the devil tries to sell us is the notion of "I'll never beat this," when it comes to our trials. He was frank with the audience stating, "You may not ever be able to beat it, but Jesus CAN!"
If I have only one thing to be grateful for, it is the fact that God can put such incredible glory on display through a life as broken as mine. I may be a mess. I may be unhappy sometimes. Still, I have a HOPE that is bigger than any circumstances I may face. And when I look backward, I may think here and now is hard, but at least I can say, Wow! I'm not who I was! Look at ALL that God has brought me through!
My friend, God is faithful. He promises He will be there with us and for us, and He never breaks that pledge. We may have to walk through the darkest valleys, but He is right there beside us, leading us through. Our job is to step forward in faith, knowing that when we get to the other side of the situation, we will have the sweet gift of being amazed by how far we've come with His deliverance.
PRAY: "Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought us this far?" It may be hard where I am, but at least I am not who I was. Thank You, LORD, for Your faithful love and support through every difficulty of this life.
~ Barb Dittrich