Luke's first name was given to us. It's always been a contender. It is the first name that I wrote in Wyatt's baby book beside the "other names considered" section. It was a given when we found out that baby #3 would be another boy. There were too many reasons. You've read most of them already. Scott and I had discussed the name Luke many times when expecting Wyatt but we never had a middle name to go with it. We didn't like any other family names with it. We didn't have any other favorites. Nothing really seemed to fit. Nothing. Until now.
When we found out we were having a boy, Scott and I just stared at each other. We knew this little boy would be named Luke but we had not even discussed a middle name (because, as you all know, I was holding out and convinced I was getting another girl). So, the first order of business was to name our baby so we could begin praying for him by name. Apparently, there was a lot of thinking going on between the two of us for quite some time about the possibility of a little boy and a good middle name to go with Luke but neither of us said a word. It was at that moment that Scott had placed a "little peanut" outfit on my lap to celebrate our new found news that a little boy is on the way that I asked Scott what his middle name would be. He said "what about Graham?". Somehow, for the first time in 9 years, Scott read my mind! We had both been thinking for months that Graham was right for so many reasons.
Some of you may remember our first trip to MUSC when I was expecting Annabelle. It was September 2008 and we had just found out that she would be born with half a heart. What we didn't share was just how easy termination had been presented to us. It was just another option in the three choices we were given. Satan was working. Hard. I had always been pro-life and couldn't possibly ever consider ending my child's life but somehow that option started to look easier...for her, for me, for everyone involved. I hardly slept and sobbed most of the day. I cried so hard begging God to take this away and heal her before any other decision had to be made. The enemy had me convinced that it was going to be better to end it now rather than put her through so much pain. After all, it's not fair and no child should ever have to endure open heart surgery at four days of age...and only God knew what would happen from there on out. My mind was so confused and my heart so incredibly torn. I asked the doctor again about how long I could go before having to make a choice. He told me that due to medical reasons, I could have a later termination. I had three weeks left to choose. Another temptation by the enemy. I don't blame the doctor. I blame Satan. He knew that I was devesatated and he preyed on it. It was on the request of Scott and my daddy that I decided to go to MUSC before making a decision. I wanted to have all the information that I could. I wanted to be informed as well as possible so that I could make the best choice for my daughter. Thinking that this was actually my choice proves what the enemy had done to my mind.
Just a few days later, Scott and I dropped Wyatt off at my dad's house and headed to Charleston for an early appointment. We didn't speak much on the way. We both felt as though we were going to learn that it would be better to terminate and that we wouldn't be able to withstand all the information we would learn. First, they did an echo to confirm Annabelle's heart as it had been diagnosed here. Then, the pediatric cardiologist came in to talk to us about her heart and answer any questions we had. He is usually attending the ICU and rarely reads echos but was there on that day...the day we needed his optimism and hope. He spent over two hours answering every single question we could think of and even gave us a tour of the ICU so we would know exactly where our daughter would be. He showed us the surgeon attending to a baby just after surgery. He walked us past a little older child in a bouncy seat about to go to moderate care. I asked him about what was allowed and learned that my baby girl could indeed wear a hairbow. I also asked him about termination. His refused to talk about it. That was not his area. It was obvious from his response that he only held hope for these babies. He had devoted his life to helping these precious children. His compassion for them was stronger than I had ever seen in a doctor. God used him that day to be His vessel of hope to us.
On the ride home, there wasn't any doubt about what choice we would make. God had already made it for us in blessing us with a child...His child. She didn't belong to us. She was His perfect creation and we could only honor Him with her life. When we returned to my dad's house, we shared everything we learned and prayed together as a family. My daddy still says that we came back with hope and that we were different from that day forward.
I continued to email the pediatric cardiologist at MUSC throughout my pregnancy. He wanted to see how things were going and I would ask any other questions that came to mind. Toward the end of December, I told him that we had scheduled a c-section for January 28th. He responded to let me know that he would be in the ICU that week and would be attending the following week. The two most critical weeks of Annabelle's life and he would be there.
Three days following Annabelle's birth, Scott and he joked about her being the only one to ever have a bow fashion show the day before open heart surgery. It was that conversation that led to the Annabelle Baskets...that every child should have what she was given on that day.
On March 27, 2008, he emailed me before I even got home from the hospital. We spoke frequently for the weeks following as he sought to help me understand what happened and, mostly, just listened. One month later, I was not surprised to see that he was the one attending the day that I delivered the first batch of Annabelle Baskets.
Throughout the following months, he spent many times answering even more emails and visiting with Scott and me when we were making more deliveries. When we first shared with my daddy on January 6th that we were expecting again, he asked who else knew. We hadn't said a word to anyone but Annabelle's cardiologist. For some reason, we wanted him to be the first to know. He had become family.
And just a month ago, he was able to read Luke's echo and tell us that they were the best pictures of a heart that he had seen in a long time. We then shared with him that we would like to name our third miracle after him for all that he means to us...but, mostly, for being God's vessel to our family when we needed it most. He has impacted our lives in ways we will never forget.
Thank you, Eric. May you always know that God is using you in mighty ways.