Last year, some dear friends from college went through the most trying year of their lives. Sweet baby Payton Christine was born on April 26th, 2006.
When she was born, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck (twice even, maybe) and she had a hard time breathing. She also had a few skin tags. After a series of tests, the doctors quickly discovered that she had a heart condition and needed immediate help at the Mayo clinic. Payton was air-lifted there and within a few grueling days, even the next day I believe, she had a surgery to widen her aorta and fix a hole between her ventricles.
A long story and many prayers later, sweet Payton was released from Mayo in June. They went home to spend the summer as a "normal" family. I finally got to meet Payton during this time, when they came to the Cities (what Minnesotans call the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, derived from "the Twin Cities"- I know, we're weird). She was beautiful! And tiny. And fragile. Aaron and Heather had to feed her via a tube in her stomach, and you couldn't pick her up under her arms because of said tube. But she was wonderful, and because of things she had endured, her vocal cords were temporarily damaged so her sweet, tiny cries were about the cutest thing I'd ever heard.
They settled into "life as normal" for a couple months, and then went to Mayo for a check up in August. Everything seemed fine, but as they were packing up to leave Rochester, Payton had a seizure. After yet another series of tests, they discovered that the starting point of the aorta in her heart was narrow. They couldn't repair it before because she was so small. The tests showed that that spot had worsened and that it was even more narrow. She was also diagnosed with what's called CHARGE syndrome.
Another long story and many prayers later, she endured a surgery and many tests before the doctors had to put her on ECMO because she needed a heart transplant. As far as I know, she was on EMCO for the longest a baby at Mayo had ever been (7-1/2 weeks, the longest had been 6 weeks previously). Amazingly, the Lord provided a heart on the evening of October 4th! She was a trouper and God sustained her though the surgery.
But, sweet baby Payton had been through so much, and endured so much. Her body was so weak that she couldn't come off of ECMO right after the surgery and her little body just couldn't take anymore; she passed away two days later, on the 6th.
Her life was a wonderful testimony to God's power and sovereignty. Just because she wasn't healed this side of eternity, doesn't mean He is not willing or able to heal us or grant our requests. She is healed! God just choose to heal her in a different way than we wanted. She had a long road ahead of her, and God spared her a life of doctor's visits and surgeries. She is at peace, and is with her Savior.
Aaron and Heather loved her and cared for her and prayed over her like only they could. They were amazing parents, advocates, and prayer warriors for her over her short 6 months on this earth. Their grace and wisdom through all of this has been inspiring and challenging.
I wept for them like I'd rarely wept before. My father had died 10 months before and Payton's illness and passing reminded me of the time when dad was sick and then died. Living in the "wait and see" lifestyle, living moment to moment in hospitals, and then the aching grief of a life gone from us all too soon. Not that losing a parent and losing a child are the same thing, but grief is a rocky road and hard thing to explain. It's a club that no one wants to enter, but a club that brings understanding none the less within it's members- at least to a degree.
Well, today, I was talking to Cindy, my dear friend who (also a friend from college) who is married to Aaron's brother. She said that they (Cindy and Cory) just found out this weekend and that she had permission to say, but Aaron and Heather are following God's leading and working towards adoption!
They are looking at a baby from South Korea, India or Ethiopia. AND, they want to get a "heart baby"! They feel like the Lord has placed in them a desire to care for "heart babies" and grow their family.
How amazing is that?
Just about an hour before Cindy called, I was reading someone's blog who was talking about going through the adoption process and they want a baby with no medical problems. While I can understand that, and these people are Godly people from what I can tell, but it seems to me that if you're planning on following through with adoption and this is a calling on your life from the Lord, putting parameters on it like a "healthy baby" just seems off. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but I do. I think adoption is as John Piper puts it, is an "overflow of the inheritance that you have in Christ from God, your Father." And I don't think it's really for us to set parameters around that.
But to go beyond and to seek out a "heart baby" is so compassionate, and Christ-like, and, well, Aaron and Heather like. They are just those kind of people. They know the heart ache this may bring. They also know the joy this will bring. They are willing to step into the water and let the Lord lead them. They are willing to joyfully accept what the Lord wants to bless them with, and they have no regrets. Payton was a miracle, as will be this next baby.
I am excited to see them go through these steps and follow the Lord in this new adventure. I hope that if the Lord allows me to be a mother someday, that my husband and I can live up to the high standard that Aaron and Heather have set.
They are my favorite people, not because they are fun (but oh are they!), but because they are unabashed with their faith and their commitment to follow the One who died for them. They continually point me (and everyone who knows them) to the Lord. Oh how I love them!
If you would, join me in praying from them and New Baby Jones.
- Slide show of sweet baby Payton.
- My favorite picture of Payton.
- My favorite picture of Aaron and Payton.
- My favorite picture of Heather and Payton.