Meeting Abigail

On June 29, 2011, in Julia's Journey, Personal, by Chris

One of the real highlights of our vacation was a long anticipated meeting. Not long into our adventure with Julia (and my writing about it), we were contacted by a longtime friend of Jocelyn. He had a friend, Kate, whose daughter was diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome and the same heart condition as Julia. After introducing her to the blog, he contacted Jocelyn and arranged an introduction.

What followed was some of the most amazing interactions I’ve ever witnessed. Abigail was due right around the time that Julia was supposed to go in for her heart surgery, and Kate had all sorts of questions for Jocelyn on what to expect for the rest of her pregnancy and how to prepare for the birth. Having just experienced what Kate was about to go through, Jocelyn obviously had a lot to share. Through e-mail and text message (the first time they spoke on the phone was setting up our meeting!), she coached and encouraged Kate with all she had learned in the months leading up to Julia’s birth.

But the encouragement didn’t end with the birth of Abigail on that marvelous day in January. Kate and her husband, John, prayed for Julia as she faced her surgery and the hard days following. Jocelyn kept the information going with feeding tips, medication expectations, and the questions to ask the medical staff as the new family navigated through their daughter’s condition.

Knowing the crushing stress that Kate and John were under, we prayed for the family in March as Abigail went in for her procedure. Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook may remember that I asked you to join us in those prayers.

I’m happy to tell you that Abigail’s on the other side of it now and doing great. Our breakfast together last week was the realization of a dream for two families – and the continuation of a lifelong friendship!

So cool to see these kindred souls meeting face to face!

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3 Responses to Meeting Abigail

  1. Brian says:

    Yeah!! We hung out with Kate today and were so excited to hear about your meeting. We thank the Lord for His many blessings. Love you all.

  2. Adele says:

    Hey Chris,

    It’s a blast from your past. Adele Doser here. For no apparent reason, your name popped into my head today, so I googled you. Your story touched me. My youngest (who just turned 3) was also born with a heart defect. We were told in the hospital he’d have a 50/50 chance of having open heart surgery before he was 6 months old. But, I read up on the condition, did what I was supposed to, and although the VSD is still there, he is today asymptomatic and unless you put your hand on his chest, you’d never know that anything was wrong with him. So don’t worry, kids have a habit of being incredibly resilient and have miraculous healing powers.

    Some sad news. My mother passed away last month. She had alzheimers, and although her death was not unexpected, it was quite sudden. I made a whirlwind trip back to MI for the funeral as my mother passed away the same week as my son’s 3rd birthday and I really wanted to be back in New Mexico for him. Mom was living here prior to her death, and my daughter (who is 5) is really having a hard time dealing with the loss. Any advice?

    Take care,

  3. Chris says:

    Hey Adele – great hearing from you! Ya – those kids have amazing healing power within them and cells that just keep dividing and dividing! Julia’s bounce back was amazing.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Bea was a very cool lady.

    Here’s my take on your daughter, for what it’s worth: She is getting into that age where kids become more cognizant of the finality of death and start asking more complex questions; but they haven’t really formed the tools for coping with it. So in the mind of a child that age, Death can take on kind of a scary personality similar to a ghost or the “bogey man” if parents don’t find a way of intervening.

    How are you handling losing Bea? My mom died a little over three years ago, and the loss still catches me by surprise now and then when I’m holding Julia or watch her looking at my mom’s handmade quilt folded on the changing table. It’s a bittersweetness and even a mournfulness when I realize that Julia will not meet her grandma, at least this side of eternity. So I let myself cry if I need to – and let her watch me with those big blue eyes as I do it. And even though she’s nowhere near understanding me, I tell her why I’m crying.

    Your daughter is looking to you to learn how to mourn, so model it well for her. You have a golden opportunity to draw a straight line between the pain of losing your mom and the emotions that come with it. When we suppress our feelings and just “get on with life”, we lose that direct connection between pain and emotion and six months later we catch ourselves screaming at the driver that cut us off. Small annoyances elicit big, out-of-control reactions when we haven’t expressed the pain of the moment in the moment.

    I’ve found the best answer for a lot of situations like this is honestly, openly and appropriately talking about what you are feeling. So feel those emotions deeply and open the lines of communication to her, telling her (in an age appropriate way) why you feel sad. That will set a little place of safety and give her the permission to talk about it as well.

    You can also talk it through with her teacher or school counselor to give you a few more strategies.

    Thanks again for finding me!

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