"Our daughter, Paisley Marie, was supposed to turn 5 today.
So much has happened since that afternoon when Debbie and I rushed to the hospital â€¦ like many parents, anxiously awaiting the birth of their child â€¦ only to find out that there was no heartbeat.
What unfolded over the next 24 hours was horrific.
I donâ€™t know how to describe what it is like to see your child being born â€¦ but to only hear your wifeâ€™s cry.
Or what itâ€™s like to walk away from a hospital â€¦ leaving your daughter behind.
Or what itâ€™s like to come home to a beautiful bedroom you decorated for your newborn â€¦ filled with stuffed animals, dresses, and toys ... only to walk in and feel the emptiness.
I donâ€™t know how to describe that level of pain.
However, today, I do want to describe a level of greater happiness.
I want to take the time to tell you what it is like to see Godâ€™s glory, Godâ€™s providence, and Godâ€™s love, through the most horrific of times.
I know that may sound a bit odd, until you read the whole story, and see how a string of seemingly terrible events were carefully crafted for a greater good.
It all started 5 months into the pregnancy.
Debbie was having "heartburn." The doctor confirmed it, and prescribed her medicine.
But she was misdiagnosed.
The pain got worse. She couldnâ€™t hold any food down, and eight months into the pregnancy, she ended up in the E.R.
Turns out that Debbie was suffering from severe Pancreatitis. (Think of the worst heartburn pain you have had. Now multiply that by 50. You get the idea).
It was being fueled by a softball sized cyst in Debbieâ€™s abdomen. The baby was pushing it into her liver and digestive system, causing stuff to get jacked up (my technical terms, not the doctors!).
After two weeks of intense pain, bouncing around multiple hospitals seeing 10 different doctors with 20 different opinions, the pain eased and they sent us home. They said that Paisley should be born first, and then they would operate to remove the cyst.
Debbie continued to get weekly checkups.
Paisley was fine.
Hence our shock when we arrived at the hospital 5 years ago and the doctor told us she couldnâ€™t find a heartbeat.
Nobody could tell us why she passed.
It was just a big â€œI donâ€™t know, sometimes it happens.â€
And then, things got worse.
Debbie continued to get sick. To the point where we were in and out of the hospital every week.
Her eyes and skin stared turning a mustard yellow (jaundice).
They put in a transfer for Debbie to have an operation at the Cleveland Clinic is Weston, FL.
At this point, I was all too familiar with how slow and jacked up this process worked (the last time we were transferred we were put in a supply room and the doctors had no clue as to why we were transferred over!). So I literally went in the hospitalâ€™s back office and orchestrated the transfer ... calling the doctors and arranging the ambulance, etc.
We soon found out, had I not done so, the surgeon would have left for a conference in Chicago â€¦ and who knows what would have happened then.
When we arrived at Cleveland Clinic, the surgeon took one look and Debbie and immediately brought her into surgery.
A few hours later he came back and told me that it didnâ€™t work.
I remember being so angry.
Angry at the hospitals.
Angry at doctors.
Angry at God.
When I went to see Debbie in the recovery room she asked me to play some music. The song â€œ10,000 Reasonsâ€ came on â€¦ and while I was figuratively raising my fists in anger at God she somehow found a way to literally raise her hands in praise to God.
The doctor said that a second surgery had to be done that night. It would be more invasive.
They had to cut her open from her ribs to below her belly button, and over several hours removed the cyst and all the bad stuff (there I go with the technical terms again).
This time, the surgery was successful!
A week later, we went home.
Things were going well. We had a new appreciation for our son, Lincoln, who was turning 3 ... and we had a new appreciation for every minute with him.
After a few months, we went back in for a checkup. The dcotor told us that there was â€œhigh dysplasiaâ€ on Debbie's pancreas â€¦ if not removed, cancer would form.
So, another surgery was scheduled. At the Mayo Clinic up in Jacksonville this time.
They removed half Debbieâ€™s pancreas â€¦ and a bunch of other stuff (we still donâ€™t really know everything they took out, but it was kind of a spring cleaning).
However, her health got worse after the surgery.
Debbie couldnâ€™t hold food down. She would go for days without eating. The moment she ate, her body would reject it. Months went by.
Finally, after getting on the right medicine, one year after Paisleyâ€™s death â€¦ Debbie started getting her health back.
This is where the story gets interesting.
After some failed attempts trying for another baby over the next year, we considered the idea of adoption. It had always been in the back of our minds, so we prayed about it.
The agency we were in touch with (Bethany Christian Services) encouraged â€œopen adoptionâ€ â€“ that the adoptive parents keep an open relationship with the birth mother.
That made us pause.
The $25,000 fee didnâ€™t help either.
We prayed about it more.
The more we learned about open adoption, the more we liked the idea (if you aren't familiar with it, research it. Its great!)
And soon after, a guy showed up at our door with a check for $32,000.
Apparently there was some mass settlement with a bank tied to a loan we defaulted on when our business failed 5 years earlier. We had no idea about it, and to this day â€¦ I donâ€™t get it, but one doesnâ€™t argue with it too much.
So, with that as a â€œGreen Light,â€ we started the approval process for adoption.
Little did we know, at the same time, a woman was finding out that she was pregnant, with twins. Despite being encouraged to abort her children, she chose to place them for adoption.
Fast forward 6 months.
Debbie and I had just been approved.
We got a call from the adoption agency asking if we would be open to adopting 5 week old twin boys. They told us that they were still in the hospital as they were born 2 months early.
(What we didn't know was that adopting twins was a bit more money for legal costs â€¦ $32,000 â€¦ the exact amount we were given 6 month earlier.)
We said "yes."
I donâ€™t know how to describe to you what it is like to get a call from an adoption agency saying â€œyou were chosen, come pick up your children tomorrowâ€ (and then to go in a panic as you have to get 1 more crib, 1 more car seat, etc).
Or what itâ€™s like to meet the woman who hands her child over to you saying â€œmeet your son.â€
Or what itâ€™s like for an empty bedroom to be filled with life and joy.
But I can tell you, when I look back at it all, I can see Godâ€™s guiding hand.
Not that I get everything. I donâ€™t know why Paisley had to die and I donâ€™t know why Debbie had to suffer through so much pain.
But, I do know, that if it werenâ€™t for Paisley, we would have never known that Debbie had a cyst â€¦ or high dysplasia on her pancreas that would develop into cancer â€¦ and we would have never met our sons, Jaxson and Jace, or their courageous birth mother.
So, while Paisley never lived according to government records, while she never took a single breath of air â€¦ she lived an incredibly full life.
(And last August, Debbie and I were blessed with a baby girl ... Lilly Grace. She truly is amazing and her three older brothers adore her.)
If you would, share this post â€¦
Let others know about Godâ€™s great providence â€¦ and wish our daughter Paisley a happy 5th birthday in Heaven."
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