As we adjusted to life with the new baby, our days were filled with many tears, questions and praying.
We shared the news with close friends and family who joined with us in praying and lifting up Rowan to the Lord. Everyone said the same thing “God must have a big plan for him.” It was hard to hear. Hard to try to take a negative experience and look at it in a positive light.
Over and over again we were reminded that God created Rowan’s heart exactly how He wanted it to be. He was fearfully and wonderfully created even though his heart looked imperfect to us. We had to learn that God doesn’t make mistakes. Everything is a part of His plan.
The sun had just began to pour its light through the blinds when I became aware of soft murmuring voices coming from the room next to mine. As I rose and looked for the source of the whispers, I came upon my parents softly talking in their bedroom.
Mom sat on the edge of their bed cradling Rowan, while Dad paced back and forth discussing something important. As I stood, listening to the conversation, I noticed that Rowan looked paler than usual.
Rowan had not eaten through the night. He was fussy, and his coloring was not as pink as a baby’s should be.
It was just 8 days after we had found out about Rowan’s heart condition, so we were on the lookout for abnormal behavior.
As mom hung up her phone, she nodded to dad, and they began to pack up the few things that they thought they would need and headed out the door to the children’s ER, clueless of what they were about to experience.
Alex had a basketball tournament that began early that day, so I and the other kids packed up and headed out, too.
So many questions flew my way as Papa drove to the games. I wasn’t sure what information I should share and what I should keep to myself. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what was going on, or how the day was going to end up. So, we were all on the ride together and clueless.
“Is Rowan okay?” “Where are mom and dad?” “Why did they leave so early?” “They’re taking Rowan to the hospital, aren’t they?” “What’s wrong with him?”
So many questions, so little answers. I wanted to know the same things the younger kids did.
We arrived at the tournament and parents of other player wanted to know the same things.
Where were our parents? Was the baby okay?
I don’t like seeming dramatic, so telling people the little I did know was hard. I just wanted to go back home and wait things out.
But we couldn’t. Alex played on and in between periods he would run to me to hear the latest news.
I still don’t know how he and Joshua managed to play 4 games during all of this.
It seemed as though just as we were getting used to the idea of his heart condition, just as we were beginning to accept and understand everything, something else was shoved our way.
It seems like life is like that a lot.
Texts and phone calls sailed back and forth as I attempted to understand what was going on. I didn’t find out what really happened that day until about a week later.
As soon as they arrived at the ER, nurses and techs flew to their side as they tried to diagnose what was going on.
“He’s a heart baby!” Someone shouted through the chaos.
Rowan was rushed off to another floor and my parents stood empty handed.
They could do nothing but pray.
As my parents found the waiting room for congenital heart patients, they were unaware that Rowan’s heart had come to a stop.
The staff, already in action, knew what they needed to do. One doctor began CPR on his tiny body.
“We didn’t know if Rowan was even going to come back home. We weren’t sure what was going to happen.”
As dad explained the story from his perspective, I was numb.
As the hospital staff fought to save my brother’s life, a nurse and chaplain came out to pray with my parents.
They sat still and shocked as they silently begged God to spare the life of their youngest child.
What was going to happen?
How was the day going to end?
I think God was showing us all that He alone has the power to sustain life. He can give, He can take away. We are to bless His name regardless.
After 8 minutes, the doctor finally felt Rowan’s heart begin to beat again.
I don’t think anyone could describe the emotions that my parents felt that day.
Utter helplessness. Complete uncertainty. Overwhelming fear and confusion.
That was all soon replaced with complete reassurance in God’s mercy and faithfulness; overwhelming gratitude and relief, but still some uncertainty of the future.
My parents stayed with him at the hospital until 7 days later when he was allowed to come home.
As I visited him in the hospital and saw him lying sedated with all of the tubes and wires attached to his body that connected him to the big, noisy machines, I felt helpless. I was so used to helping my siblings when they hurt, and fixing things that went wrong.
With Rowan, there was literally nothing that I could do to help him.
As I stood there, watching his chest slowly rise and fall, I was grateful that none of my other siblings had gone through anything like that.
I was grateful that I had never had to experience the uncertainty of life or ever had to wonder if a certain family member would still be alive and well when I awoke the next morning.
That week was the hardest week that we have been through as a family.
It was difficult to trust Rowan into the hands of the doctors. There was nothing I could do to ensure that he lived. There was nothing any of us could do. We just waited and trusted.
After some thought, I realized that I don’t have the power to ensure that any of my siblings live, and yet they are still here and healthy. I had to learn that God is faithful and if He is awesome enough to sustain the life of me and my other siblings, then he could raise up Rowan to live a long and happy life, too.
I didn’t know how things were going to turn out. I wasn’t sure how we were going to get through the next couple of months.
Our family grew closer; our friends were there when we needed them. I was awed by the number of people who were praying for Rowan.
After almost a year, I still have people introduce me to others as “Rowan’s oldest sister” and I am then greeted with “Oh, we have been praying for him!”
It’s so awesome.
Though it was a hard time, it was amazing. Every day I was astounded by how God was working in our family.
I’m thankful for the opportunity that we had to be shown God’s love through His people. I’m thankful for the new relationship that we have as a family. I’m thankful for the baby brother that brings so much joy to our lives.
That week I learned that God is the giver of life.
Just because all the rest of us were healthy, didn’t mean that it was because of something that we did, controlled or even deserved.
Every life is a blessing. Every day, every breath that He gives is a gift.
It is a privilege to be here on earth.
Don’t waste your life.
If you are here, He has a plan for you. Live that way.
P.S. We never found out what caused the previous events to occur. Numerous tests were done, but no answers were discovered. He is well and happy, so I guess that’s all that really matters. He underwent his first surgery in November ‘14. Because of God’s grace, everything went well. He is expected to have another surgery between his 3rd and 4th birthday. Rowan’s story isn’t over yet. It’s only just begun. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for him. He has only been here for 1 year and he has already taught me so much.
P.P.S. Today is Rowan’s first birthday. His first word was ball and he loves to make his brothers hold him while they dribble their basketballs. When he wakes up in the mornings, the first thing he does is start searching for a ball with which to play. His heart doctor said he would never be able to play basketball, but Rowan seems to want to prove her wrong. He also loves to drink coffee, but don’t tell mom because then we’ll all be in trouble. 😉