After MANY hours of laboring and 45 minutes of pushing, our daughter Zayda Ruth was in our arms cute as can be! She also came on her due date - love her punctuality!
I'll never forget that moment and the moments of watching my high school sweetheart - my husband - become a father.
We were eager to start our family as three. We were in total bliss, but that bliss was interrupted by a routine examine where the doctor heard an unusual murmur. He ordered an echo scan immediately.
An echo scan? Swallow hard. Hold back tears.
We watched the technician scan our daughters newborn chest for 30 minutes. We watched and prayed quiet prayers. The results didn't tell us the whole story so we scheduled a cardiologist appointment a few weeks out.
In the meantime, we went about life with a newborn. We had her two week check up, but as the doctor was examining her, she asked me, "Has anyone told you about her left eye?"
"She may have cataracts. I want you to see someone today!"
Cataracts? Swallow hard. Hold back tears. Again.
So we made an appointment for that afternoon and after five minutes of a metal clamp holding my daughter's eye open, they sat us down to share the results. She didn't have cataracts - although I wish she did at least it's operable. Zayda was diagnosed with Unilateral Optic Nerve and Iris Coloboma.
"Worst case, she'll be blind in her left eye..." Who knows what she said after blind because I just sat there and wept. Steve had his arm around me and the doctor paused to let me cry an ugly cry.
Blind? Swallow hard. Hold back tears. AGAIN!!!
Steve and I called, emailed, texted family and friends to begin praying; to invite them in this news. I know there are so many stories we can all share that trump this one - more painful ones. I get that, but I also get that when real and raw moments happen in our lives, we need each other to pray with and we need people to just listen. There is power in a community that can empathize with one another.
After the eye appointment, Steve and I tried to carry about our days with our newborn, but then we got a call a few days after. Zayda needed a Renal Ultrasound done. You see, since her optic nerve didn't develop normally, there was a good chance that her kidneys didn't develop normally either. We were told that an eye, heart and kidney defect could mean she had some sort of syndrome.
This time there was no swallowing hard and no holding back tears. Steve and I went into our bedroom, shut the door and just collapsed. We were heart broken. I am tearing up now with visions of our heart ache.
I expected the first few weeks of motherhood to be absolute bliss with my baby in my arms and it was. But I also felt a bit robbed in my first few weeks. I went through so many stages of grieving. I yelled at God a lot. I told Him I was MAD. I threw my phone on the ground after scrolling on Instagram and seeing all the photos of "healthy" babies.
Embarrassing I know. I hope you understand that I feel truly thankful for Zayda's life no matter what, but as a new mom the last thing you want is to hear news of their health.
Before her cardiologist and ultrasound appointment, we invited - once more - many to pray for Zayda. Our family prayed. Our friends prayed. And people who had no idea who Steve and I were prayed with us relentlessly. My brother-in-law's co-worker was compelled to fast for Zayda. I mean, I don't even know this man. Pretty incredible.
So the day of her cardiologist and renal ultrasound appointment came. We entered this day with heavy hearts but with more faith. More faith that with any news HE IS STILL GOOD. Turns out Zayda's Ventricular Septum Defect was minor. The doctor is confident that the holes will close up on their own with little effect to her! (sigh of relief)
Onto the next appointment where she would be given an ultrasound with no immediate results. We had to wait until the next day. But the doctor called and we heard more great news: Her kidneys had developed fully.
She still has an eye and heart defect but God is always good. No matter what. No matter the news on the other end. We all adjust our lenses, our hearts and our character. Sometimes we lose sight of that but at the end of the day let your faith be bigger than your world.
You see, I am a big believer in prayer. It's the best thing we can do for each other. God gives us an opportunity to participate in His mercy and grace every single day. He isn't a genie. He is a good, good Father who cares deeply. He bends down to listen. He gives us strength to face anything and we can attest to this!
Today, it's easy for us to display our lives with the illusion that all is well. We strive for this false sense of perfection. We become timid in sharing our real selves.
When it came time to create and mail Zayda's announcements, we wanted to not only reflect the highs through beautiful photos but also the unexpected lows that we faced. We took the opportunity and space to share our story. We will always treasure the amazing photos my dearest friend took for us, but we also feel incredibly blessed through the trails we faced. Our life is richer with Zayda Ruth.
My point here is to dig deeper. You know your family and friends are more than what they share on Facebook or Instagram. If someone just purchased a home - celebrate with them. If someone just lost a parent - mourn with them. If someone doesn't have the faith - pray for and with them. I love these Kleenex commercial's here and here because it reflects my heart in what I am writing: Take your eyes of the screen and show empathy to the people around you.
All photos by Rachael Hope, Haven.
"But the Lord stood by me and strengthened m..." 2 Timothy 4:17