Five Years Ago…

Today I am writing my first blog post on a very important anniversary.

Five years ago today, Mike and I woke up early and excitedly got ready for my 20 week ultrasound appointment. We were going to have our first baby and couldn’t wait to find out if it was a boy or a girl. We had taken the whole day off work so that we could go to our appointment, celebrate at breakfast, do some shopping, tell our friends and family and just enjoy the momentous event.

Five years ago today, we excitedly watched the ultrasound screen, oohing and aweing over the little hands and feet. We shared an excited smile when they told us it was girl. I teared up thinking about what my life with a daughter would be like. Dresses, hair, make-up and shopping… it was going to be the BEST!

Five years ago today, our doctor sat down with us and told us they were having a hard time seeing our daughter’s chest and were sending us to a specialist that afternoon. She never led on that something might be wrong, so we went to breakfast and discussed names, stopped at Carter’s to buy a cute little newborn dress, shared our news with family and friends, then went to our next ultrasound appointment.

Five years ago today, we walked in to the specialist office and again waited to see our baby on the ultrasound. I remember feeling like I had won the lottery because I was going to see her twice in one day. We smiled and laughed at all the images on the screen, the clarity was much better with this high-tech ultrasound. As the ultrasound tech was wrapping up, Mike said to her, “Everything looks okay, right?”

Five years ago today, our whole world stopped and when it started again, it felt like everything I had hoped, dreamed and wanted for my life had burned to the ground.  Later that day, I wrote this email to our family and friends:

At 12:30 today we went for a second ultrasound and found out that there are complications with my pregnancy. Right now the baby’s stomach and small intestines are in her chest, next to her heart which is pushing her heart to the right side of the chest instead of the left where the heart should be. They have diagnosed it as a Diaphragmatic Hernia. This means that at the very least the baby will need surgery to repair the hole in the diaphragm and to move the stomach and small intestines back to the abdomen. However in the ultrasound they were not able to see the liver, which means that if it is in the chest as well or eventually moves up to the chest, there will be no space for our baby’s lungs to develop, which there is no fix for and would not allow our baby to survive.

We are asking for prayers that the next ultrasound (in 4 weeks) will show no additional organ movement to the chest.  If this happens and the liver stays in the abdomen the rest of the pregnancy there’s a 50% chance the baby will make it and live a normal life.  We went from having a very exciting morning to being blindsided by this news. We appreciate your prayers and our privacy as we work through next steps and we will keep you updated.  

With Love –

Mike and Jamie

I know many of you have stories just like this one. Whether it’s news of a sick kid, a parent’s death or illness, a fire, a job loss or even your own health – you never forget the moment when your realize how little control you have in this life, it’s the moment that changes your life forever. I grew up being told that God was in control but I never spent too much time thinking about what that actually meant.  That if God was in control, that meant that I was not. For the first time in my life, there was nothing I could do, eat or drink that would heal my daughter. Nothing I could do on my own to change the outcome. As a self-proclaimed “control-freak”, this was terrifying!

Later that night, my parents came over to see how we were doing and to get a much needed hug. After talking for a while, the four of us (and our cocker spaniel, Jozee) sat in a circle and prayed. We prayed for a miracle, we prayed for strength, we prayed for courage and that he would hold us in his arms and carry us through this. That was the moment that Mike and I truly became parents. That day God showed us our limited ability to control this world, but he also showed us that he could. In that moment, we gave the fate of our daughter over to him, hoping and believing that he wouldn’t let us down.

God gave us so many miracles during coming months, many that I can’t wait to share with you; but one of the biggest miracles he gave us was the unexpected joy that came out of our journey. While it felt like my whole world was burned to the ground five years ago, today I am happy to report that a new and beautiful world grew from those ashes.

… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair – Isaiah 31:3

Our daughter Stella was born in February, 2013. She spent her first 16 days on ECMO, had her hernia repaired at 14 days old, was extubated at 6 weeks old and after 87 total days in the hospital, came home with only a feeding tube. Along the way, God allowed us to tell our story to over 1,000 people, from all over the world, through CaringBridge and we knew that all of them were praying along with us. We watched our little Stella change the lives of our friends and family members, many of whom started to pray or attend church for the first time in a long time.

So don’t give up hope, continue to pray and find peace in the fact that God is in control. I know first hand that for some people it is not comforting to give up control, especially over something that is so precious to you. So I encourage you learn about who God really is and the promises that he made us. I promise that someday, you will look back and see that he deserves your trust and that he carried you the whole way. 🙂

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Click here to listen to Even If by MercyMe

Author: Jamie Yanisch

I am Mom to two little girls named Stella and Nora. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and I strive to have a deeper relationship with Him. I was born and raised in the Twin Cities and I live within 15 minutes of most of my family and friends. My faith, family and friends are truly the most important thing to me. My motherhood story is a little different because both of our daughters were born with a different congenital birth defect. This is my journey to becoming a joyful mama.

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