While I love sharing beautiful, happy, smiling images of my clients here on my blog, when I think about 2018 these are the images I think about first and foremost (click to enlarge)...
Most of these are only iPhone images. And to be honest, I didn't like taking any of these photos...but for some reason I still felt like I should. I just knew that we were going to come out on the other side of the whole ordeal knowing that God had healed our little girl...and I wanted to have reminders to look back on when that happened. Our 3 year old daughter, Ava, became extremely ill on Saturday, May 12. Her symptoms only worsened into the next day, so we ended up spending all of Mother's Day in the Gretna emergency room. We arrived at Lynchburg General at midnight the next morning, only to be transported to Roanoke Memorial later that afternoon. A CT scan showed that Ava's appendix has ruptured. On top of that, an abscess had formed around her appendix and had caused a bowel blockage (that was the scariest part). There were many moments of uncertainty...but the peace that passes all understanding was most certainly over us and we knew that God was looking after our girl.
Ava's bowels weren't working, so she wasn't able to eat or drink anything for 13 days. She had a NG tube (which unfortunately had to be put in twice) in her nose that was suctioning out her stomach and she also had a PICC running to her heart to give her nutrition during that time. That was by far the hardest part for me. For the first few days Ava would beg for food/drink. Anytime we would be going down to X-ray and we would pass the food carts, she would ask "what is that, Mommy? Is there food in there?" and if she happened to spot a cup sitting in our room she'd say "what's in that cup, Mommy? Can I have some?"...it absolutely broke my heart. To feel like we were denying her something she so desperately wanted/needed was so hard. Thankfully her strong desire for it wore off after her nutrition was started through her PICC line. After that, taking trips to the vending machine became the highlight of her day. Of course those snacks had to be saved for the future, but she didn't mind at all. She found so much joy in that small task.
We spent 17 days in the hospital initially and then 6 weeks later we returned to Roanoke Memorial where Ava finally had a successful appendectomy (and a surprise hernia removal) and got to go home the next day. Boy, did we learn so many lessons during that time. There's nothing a parent fears more than having their child suffer...I don't know how people go through things like that without God in their lives. He truly sustained us and used our family, friends and His Church to minister to us in countless ways during that time.
So these are some of the best AND worst photos I took in 2018. I didn't even bring my real camera to the hospital for the first week...I just couldn't bring myself to do it. But now I look back at these photos and all I see in them in God's faithfulness. And as I spent some time driving with Ava last night, on the last night of the year, and she was belting out "Reckless Love" in the backseat, I was reminded of just how much God loves us and had his hand on us during 2018.
Thank you all of who stood with us, whether in person or in prayer, during that time. And many thanks to Dr. Russo (Lynchburg General), Dr. Safford and all of the Roanoke Memorial pediatric nurses. We're forever grateful for how you cared for our girl.
Happy New Year, friends!