Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Never SURRENDER Blogfest

According to Dictionary.com, the word surrender means:

  • to yield (something) to the possession or power of another.
  • to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc...)
  • to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.
  • (without an object)  to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.
By today's standards, my husband and I were married young--he being almost 22yrs old and myself 3 weeks shy of 21. We didn't need to get married. He was building a house and wanted it to be our house. Well, coming from a strict Catholic family...'Nuff said. Shortly after that discussion, he asked me to marry him.

Fast-forward almost nine years. There we were, knee-deep in financial and household responsibilities plus three kiddos: a 9 year old, an almost 6 year old, and a 4 year old. We get pregnant again - The ins and outs of how our fourth little one came to be and how that pregnancy almost took both our lives can be found HERE. But he did finally arrive. 

In our human ignorance and already raising three children we figured we'd seen and experienced it all. We were wrong.

Our youngest Caleb-Jared (CJ for short) was born with a True Knot in his umbilical cord. The most powerful way I can describe what that means is sharing with you what the doctor said to me in that moment: This baby should be stillborn. And at birth, CJ was lifeless. Nothing.

But yes, he started breathing, and obviously we were relieved, only it wasn't over. He also was born with a birth-defect; a hypospadias. (Long story short, it has something to do with his urethra not growing long enough. Feel free to look it up.) This meant he needed major reconstructive surgery at 12 months old--the most successful time to preform this kind of surgery. Just so happened, the pioneer in this field of medicine lived only an hour and a half from us. 

Top that, the poor kid was colic for about 4 months and never slept through the night until he was 20 months old. Yes, you read that correctly. 20 months. It was hell. But there was more to come. 

Just after his surgery, I began to notice he had difficulty making the normal sounds my other children had at his age. I kept watch, took notes, and talked to his pediatrician. Eventually CJ was tested. For what, you ask? The first obvious diagnosis--some sort of mental retardation. Seriously? was all my husband and I could think. We didn't have to have a fourth child. As a matter of fact, I had to have major surgery in order to be able to get pregnant again so we could possibly have him. (Again, it's explained more HERE.)

CJ passed every test with flying colors. Then he had x-rays taken of his neck, throat, and head. Doctors were looking for a blockage or something else to operate on. Finally, a speech therapist was called in. BINGO. At 22 months old, CJ was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech--a neurological disorder where the pathways from the brain to the mouth muscles are  non-existent. 

CJ with Josh, his oldest
brother, at his
First Communion 
For the next three years, my little guy went through therapy three times a week. And he never wavered. He went on to elementary school, where he continued to receive therapy. Today, he's an amazing 8-yr-old boy, who was discharged from his speech services last Fall and was recently asked to become a student of our elementary school's STRETCH program. He's one of the top academic students in his class. He was so proud to be considered one of the smart kids, I couldn't help but smile.

CJ never surrendered to anything that came his way, so neither could I. And I never will.

Thank you, Elana, for asking us to do this. Sure, I cried the entire time I wrote this but who cares.

For more of Elana Johnson's brain child Never SURRENDER Blogfest, click the highlighted text.

40 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this Sheri. I know it must have been a hard experience to relive through writing about it. Glad CJ never surrendered. Because that's half the battle with health problems.

    My blogfest post will be up on Friday. Hope you'll stop by.

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  2. What a great story! Makes mine look like small potatoes! Thanks for taking the time to share it!

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    1. No, I'm sure it was trying. I'm a firm believer in that we are given what we can handle. Do I question that at times? Heck yeah! ;D

      Thank you for stopping by!!

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  3. Oh. Wow. What a powerful story for your entire family. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

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  4. Wow...that's a lot for the little guy. Awesome that he had such strong family support. =)

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    1. Honestly, we simply followed his lead. I know he's my child, but he truly is a remarkable human being. He never, ever complained. But let me tell you, we did. He always had a smile on his face and tried even harder the next time he had speak therapy. I don't know how he kept so positive.

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  5. What a great story, Sheri. So glad CJ is doing so well.

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  6. WOW. What a story! Thank you for sharing.

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  7. What an inspiring story. I'm sure as parents there were times you felt like surrending or giving up. What a lucky kid to have such great parents! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing this sensitive and inspiring story, Sheri. The words, "My soul looks back and wonders how I got over" so richly applies here, doesn't it? The strength of the human spirit keeps me in awe. As did each word in this story. What a blessing CJ is to your family. What a blessing you all are to CJ. He's quite the handsome guy, too. Handsome and brains, oooh look out Mom! Love this story!

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    1. Yes, that statement surely does apply here. Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. And thanks for commenting about CJ. He is rather cute... ;D

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  9. Oh man. I almost couldn't read past the mention of surgery any where near the urethra, but I had to, because your kid must be so brave, and you're a wonderful family to love and support him. Great story, Sheri.

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    1. Yeah, that's the exact reason I didn't go into details. *shivers

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  10. Okay I have tears in my eyes! I want to just pick him up in a big hug and squeeze him and you and your family! So much to be proud of. See there are struggles in every family that most people don't know about. That's something to be thankful for on a daily basis!

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  11. Wow, what an amazing child. God must have something really special planned for him!

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  12. Thanks for sharing your story, Sheri.

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  13. What an incredible journey. Your CJ sounds like a truly remarkable kid, too. But it seems to me that you held in there and toughed out these stumbling blocks with a great degree of strength and perseverance, too. You're an inspiration.

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  14. What a trooper...and a blessing! Where are kids are involved...surrender is never an option!

    Thank you for sharing with us. :)

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  15. Bawling my eyes out over this. You and your son are rock stars! Thanks for sharing this! *goes finds some more tissues*

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    1. So sorry I made you cry. Blame Elana. She made me write it. lol Just kidding, E. ;D

      Thanks so much, Darby!

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  16. I know family means everything to you, Sheri and this story of fighting on is a true testament to that. Thanks for sharing! Hugs to CJ and his wonderful mama!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. They really mean a lot to me. ;D

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  17. Wow. That is such an amazing boy you have Sheri! Thank you for sharing his story. Now I have to go wipe my eyes. ;)

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  18. I SO respect you and your husband, Sheri. There is nothing more draining on the HEART and SOUL than a sick child. Your strength and love carried him through to where he is today. Thank God for your determination and patience.

    Congrats to your son. What an AMAZING feat. He must be beaming...

    I, too, was born with a knot in the umbilical chord. Thankfully the incident that caused this to happen (mom was frightened by a mouse) took place the week before I was born. I had POPPING eyes and was blue, but a week in the incubator did the trick.


    Thank you for you lovely comment on my post, Sheri. I teared up again...

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    1. OMGosh! I've never met an adult who survived the knot. So glad you did! The doctor actually said more to me at the time about True Knot babies. He's never delivered one that lived. And the nurse who was caring for me, she'd been a nurse for 26 years and only delivered one other knot baby; that baby was stillborn. I'm still in awe whenever I think about it.

      Thanks for sharing your story, Michael!

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  19. Oh wow. That is just so heartwarming, Sheri. I can't even imagine going thru something like that. What an amazing person he must be... and you know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. ;)

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  20. What a beautiful story. My mother also went through a tubal reversal when I was 14 and after that first year, the doctors told her she may never have another anyway. But just a month after that 12 month window, she did- I have a 15 year old sister and a 12 year old brother that never would have existed if she hadn't made that decision. So glad your little boy is thriving! Just beautiful!

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  21. wow. I feel very fortunate indeed listening to everyone's never surrender stories.

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  22. What a powerful story. So much happened, but you and your son never surrendered. The hard work, persistence, and familial love paid off.

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  23. Aw, man. I was doing so good until the end when you said you were crying. Freak. Now I'm crying. And I'm at the library, which makes this even more embarrassing!

    What a great example of never surrendering you son is. And you know where he gets that? Um, his parents. You guys = awesome.

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  24. Your son sounds amazing. Clearly his mom's unwavering support and love gave the tools he needed to strive to be the best!

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  25. You've made me tear up! What an amazing son - how blessed you are to have such a survivor in your midst. Thank you so much for sharing that.

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  26. Oh my gosh, what a trooper! I completely understand how proud you are!

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  27. You didn't cry alone. Wow. What an amazing story or courage and perseverance - all of you! The heartache, fear, hope and determination shine through. CJ sounds like an amazing kid!! So glad none of you ever surrendered! *hugs*

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  28. What a great story. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Thank you for stopping to read, Melinda!

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  29. What an amazing story! He is a miracle baby!
    I'm stopping by from the A-Z Roadtrip but I also posted for Never Surrender

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    1. Thank you for your kinds words and for stopping by. I really appreciate it. Hopping over to read your post....

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  30. SA, what a moving story. They said he wouldn't live, but he persevered and became a fine young man. Never give up. Never surrender!
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

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