Today has been another big day for Annie. The surgeon decided to close her chest this morning and again we waited in her room, anxious for news from the OR. The surgery team coordinated with the ENT doctor so that he could again do a bronchoscopy and see how occluded her bronchus was when her chest was closed. After the surgery was complete we met with Dr. Burch who let us know that the bronchoscopy showed that her bronchus was more occluded following today's closure than it was following the surgery on Thursday (it is approx. 35-40% open today and was 50% open following Thursday's surgery). This is still better than it was before the surgery on Thursday, as it had been 100% occluded, but we will have to wait and see if it is open enough for Annie to breathe and not trap air. More waiting! The doctors feel like they will have a fairly good idea in the next couple of days of how her lungs are doing and how well she is moving air in and out of them. Everyone wants this to work and for Annie to get better. No one wants it more than me
While I have never believed that everything happens for a reason, I am absolutely sure that some things do. Most of you know that Annie was never part of our plans. After we had Hadley, my motto became, "Five is a lot!" I must have said it ten times a day. Every time someone would ask how things were with the new baby, I would answer, "Five is a lot!" It shouldn't be hard for you to imagine my reaction to a positive pregnancy test 7 months later. To put it mildly, I felt completely overwhelmed with the idea of having another baby. I didn't even know about her heart at the time, and I was questioning my ability to juggle life with another little one. A few months later, after I had finally adjusted to the reality of another child, we were told the devastating news that she had very serious heart defects. While the Spirit had previously testified to me that this new baby would be a blessing in our lives, that day, I knew for sure that she was no accident and her broken heart was not just a sad coincidence. She was meant for our family. She had a mission that was unique and specific to those that would come to know and love her. I was blessed to know that her imperfect body would serve to soften hearts and bless lives. A while back, I mentioned a Saturday morning when I set two goals for myself. I wrote about the first goal and said I would share the other one another time. The second goal I set that morning was to help Annie fulfill her mission. I decided then that I would do everything in my power to help her life be a blessing to others. I would not let my own sadness and grief stand in her way. I started her blog with this goal in mind. I knew that I would have so many experiences with her that would bless me, but I wanted to share her life with anyone that wanted to be a part of it. Annie doesn’t have a voice right now- she can’t even make a sound because she is on a ventilator. This blog is my tribute to her and all that she is teaching me, even in her silence. This road with her has, at times, been almost unbearable, as I have watched her suffer through so much. But, it has also been a sacred and sweet chapter in my life. Annie is amazing. I feel so privileged to be her mom. I hope this blog helps you feel her strong and valiant spirit. Knowing that she struggles so we can benefit and grow sometimes seems unfair. I worry about the days when my ten and fifteen and twenty-five year old Annie cries because she is afraid to have, yet another, open heart surgery or is frustrated and sad because of limitations inflicted on her because of her defective heart and airways. Will she know what a gift her life has been to others? Will she know how many people love her and have prayed for her and have fasted for her? Will she know how many lives she has touched with her journey? Of course, Cameron and I will tell her about the amazing outpouring of support we have received. We have been deeply touched by the love you have shown to us and our sweet Annie. I feel like she belongs to all of us, and I am just the lucky one that gets to be her mom. I want our extended families to know how blessed we feel to have you in our lives. I want our ward to know that you have become our family through this. I want our friends to know the same. To anyone who reads this blog, whether you know us personally or not, your love and prayers for our Annie are so meaningful to us. To all of you I want to say thank you for loving us through this time. Your comments on this blog, your cards, letters and emails, your phone calls, your prayers, love and endless service to our family has helped us to never feel alone in this. You have lifted our spirits and been angels in our lives. We know so many people are praying for and loving our daughter. I want to preserve this outpouring of love for her to experience when she is older and am asking for your help to give this gift to Annie. If you read this blog, then I know you care about her. I want to make a special book for her that she can pull out on the hard days ahead and feel what I feel all the time right now- wrapped in your love. Just write Annie a note- it can be anything: a time when you have prayed for her, that you love her, or have been touched in any way by her life. It doesn’t need to be long- a single sentence will even do. Even if you have never met her or our family, please don’t hesitate to send me a line, as I am touched that you are keeping tabs on her. It has been humbling to hear of the children and youth that are praying for Annie and I would love to hear from you as well. I know that she will be blessed and strengthened to know how many people love and care about her. This is the best way I can think of to thank this beautiful girl for the spirit that she shares with everyone. You can post your note here in the comments section or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just begin it with “Dear Annie” as this is what I intend to title the book. Thank you for your love- it has blessed us more than you will ever know.