Annie came through today's surgery just fine. The surgeon did the procedures that I described in my last post as well as an aortapexy (tacking the aorta to the back wall of her chest cavity in an effort to give more relief to her bronchus where it is compressed). Last night, when Dr. Burch called to talk things through with me, he let me know that while he does not feel extreme optimism that today's procedures will do the trick, not doing anything is not an option and will surely gaurantee failure. This morning Annie weighed what she did on the morning of her very first surgery at the age of three-and-a-half weeks. She is losing weight every day right now. The bottom line is that this has to work or Annie will be in a very scary place in a short amount of time. The IV situation has not improved- even the anesthesiologist was unable to place an IV in the operating room. The doctors are nervous, and hope that Annie remains stable through the night, as otherwise, this could quickly become an emergency situation for her. If the chest tube drainage slows over the next few days, things should get better with the IV situation as well, as they will need less access for meds and nutrition. We are all praying for that!
I keep thinking about a talk I heard in general conference several years ago, titled, "But, If Not..." In this talk, Elder Dennis Simmons told the story found in the Bible of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nago. These men were about to be thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship anyone but the true and living God. They had absolute faith that their God could save them from destruction, that He was far more powerful than any earthly force. Their faith was remarkable, but the most striking part of the story was in their ability to say "but, if not." When faced with imminent destruction, Elder Simmons states, "the three young men quickly and confidently responded, 'If it be so [if you cast us into the furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand." Then, Elder Simmons noted, "That sounds like my eighth-grade kind of faith. But then they demonstrated that they fully understood what faith is . . . . 'But if not, . . . we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.' That is a statement of true faith."
Elder Simmons went on to say, "They knew that they could trust God—even if things didn't turn out the way they hoped. They knew that faith is more than mental assent, more than an acknowledgment that God lives. Faith is total trust in Him. Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things, He does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, His is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him."
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego knew they could always rely on Him because they knew His plan, and they knew that He does not change. They knew, as we know, that mortality is not an accident of nature. It is a brief segment of the great plan of our loving Father in Heaven to make it possible for us, His sons and daughters, to achieve the same blessings He enjoys, if we are willing. They would follow God; they would exercise faith in Him. He would deliver them, but if not—and we know the rest of the story."
I loved this talk when I heard it the first time. I remember thinking how I wanted to have that kind of faith, the "but if not" kind of faith. Not just faith in the good times, but faith when things didn't work out like I thought or hoped they would. Well, now I have this baby daughter and more than anything, I want her to get her miracle. I want her to be delivered from her sickness, from the ventilator, from this bed and from this hospital. I have never wanted anything like I want this. I have complete faith that God is capable of granting this miracle, but what if He does not? What if His plan for Annie and our family is far from the desires of my heart? I have spent much time thinking about this lately. While it is impossible to predict exactly how I will feel if things turn out poorly for Annie, I will never be able to deny that the Lord has been with me in this. I really know He has. Every day, I pull into the parking lot here at the hospital, and before I even get out of the car, I put my headphones in my ears and turn on a song that helps me feel the Spirit. Somehow, this seems to soften the edges on this whole hospital experience and makes coming here just a little more bearable. And every day, I feel like the Savior meets me at the door. He climbs the steps with me and walks down the hall and comes into her room with me every day. So, while I still get scared when I think too much about what the future holds for Annie, I feel like I can say that no matter what comes, my faith in Him will still be solid. I have had too many sacred experiences to ever feel otherwise. I know He is capable of granting any miracle that we could ever wish for Annie, but if not, He will be with us through it all. I know what blessings I want for Him to bestow on my baby girl, but if not, I know that He will bless her still. I know as Elder Simmons knows, that while "we don't seek tribulation, if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots can become remarkable blessings." I know what I hope for Annie's future, but if not, I know that I can trust Him to meet us at the door, climb the steps and be with us every day. Every single day.