Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's in a name?

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.


The Simmons Family said...

WOW... I wish we had found eachother in September. We too had the same option to terminate presented. I have never cried so hard or prayed for guidance. In hindsight, I would never have made the decision to terminate a child, no matter the diagnosis. We too were blessed with a gentle, kind hearted cardiologist to lift us up with HOPE. Satan was working, but our almighty God wrapped us in his arms.

I am so excited to meet Luke. I pray for you to have an simple delivery followed by an eternity of cuddling and loving on him.

Jess said...

Dr. Graham is a wonderful man and I am so glad that you are honoring him! Luke is a very lucky boy already! Lorelei had a good PC visit today, still another surgery lurking BUT may not be as invasive as first thought. God does work in wonderful ways!
Heart Hugs,
Jess, John and Lorelei

Anonymous said...

I have heard this story times before but as always I am crying again!! Proud of you just as I have been.

Anonymous said...

Terrific story, Rebecca. Never knew who the special doctor was. Your story brought tears to my eyes.
Looking forward to meeting Luke.
Maybe on one of your "Annabelle Basket" deliveries we can get together.

Praying for all of you.

Jan Tompkins

RHONDA said...


The Hardy Family said...

I have loved hearing you talk about how you chose Luke's name. It just amazes me to see just how God led you to choosing it. He will be here before you know it and then you will blink and he will be 7 weeks old like my little man! Come love on him again soon before your little guy arrives! :)

Miller Family said...

Love the story! Luke will have such a special story to hear when he asks how his name came about. My boys have just been asking about their names, so I can imagine one day Luke will be sitting on your lap asking you the same thing.

God does work in mysterious ways! What a blessing Dr. Graham has been for you and Scott. I am sure he will be honored!

Shannon Carter said...

What a beautiful story! We LOVE Dr. Graham too. He is amazing...with the babies AND families! He made us feel very special while we were there and took such great care of Derrick. What an honor for little Luke to have his name. He's going to be super special too!

You guys are always in our prayers. I can't wait to meet Luke!

Heart hugs and prayers,

ps...we need to do lunch sometime! Email me when you're free. carolinacarters@gmail.com

Stephanie Winter said...

What an awesome story! Go away satan! God puts people in our lives at just the right time. He is Powerful! Fear not! Praying that all doctors would see termination as a last option, not one of the first ones! Welcome to the two boys and a girl club!
Stephanie Winter(friend of Suzie's)

Katie said...

This topic has been a hot one in an on-line support group I participate in...terminating after CHD diagnosis. It's not an easy subject to talk about and I'm proud of you for sharing this struggle with us.

I believe it depends on who presents the information and facts, we were so lucky to get a positive doctor full of hope right from the start, even though it still was a very tough time of contemplation and uncertainty. Dr. Graham sounds like a wonderful doc and what an honor for him! I'm so grateful for Maddie's docs as well, they truly are remarkable, gifted people.

Thinking of you as you approach Luke's big day and keeping you in my prayers!!! I'm so excited for you :)

Love and hugs,

The Chavis Family said...

Thanks for sharing all of this!! I love the name choice and the reason behind the name is beautiful too! I'm praying for you in these final weeks/days of pregnancy. I'm sure you can't wait for Luke to be born. :)

Erica May said...

What a great idea! Dr. Graham and all the other drs and staff are like our family as well! I know he is humbled by your decision! I look forward to seeing you Saturday!

Brandi Leonhardt said...

That is great! I know Eric is honored! I can't wait to meet Luke Graham! :) I love Dr. Graham - he was always my favorite!! I was reliving my first visit and fetal echo reading your post. Our experience was almost identical with Dr. Graham also. I felt the same way - that seemed like the easy way out - but there was no way I could have terminated either. I knew God was in control. I am so thankful for the time we had with our baby girls! Hope to see you this weekend - we have so much to chat about!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute and what a wonderful honor.
I also appreciate your candidness with your stuggle with your decision. so often we can brush off that "choice" as really no choice at all...and it isn't, really. Yet, we are human, and satan attacks when we are at our weakest, and it takes courage to be honest abut the struggle in this forum, where someone girl/woman might read it and not feel quite so alone.
Congrats and many blessings for your sweet Luke Graham.
Laura from FL

Ashlee said...

Hey Rebecca! I LOVE Luke's middle name, and it's wonderful for it to have such a special meaning! Sorry I haven't emailed in a while. I've been a slacker now that I'm on summer break! I hope you've had a good week. I hope to hear from you soon :) Also, I love all the pictures of the goodies for the Annabelle Baskets. What a blessing to have such awesome support!

Love you,
Ashlee :)

Evie's Story said...

Hey dear one. I MISS YOU!!! Need to talk. God seems to have yet more change on the horizon for our family.

Love the way you shared this news and you KNOW I love the name selection. We too think the world of Dr. Graham as its clear that so many others do as well. A perfect choice that I know will bless him!

aimee gillespie said...

We too faced that gut wrenching option 6 years ago (for totally different circumstances) and, like you, chose to give our baby a chance at life. Thank you so much for sharing that beautiful story.

~Aimee Gillespie

Stephanie said...

I've read your blog off and on during the last few months but never commented but once or twice. For some reason tonight I felt led to search out your blog again and I am so thankful I did. What an inspiring story!!!! What a blessing Dr. Graham is to your entire family and how honored he must be that you are naming your sweet boy after him. I love the name Luke!!!! I'm excited to continue to visit your blog and learn more about your amazing family!

The Hands said...

I too am thankful for doctors and nurses who believe in giving a chance at life to these little ones. Even though we were at a hospital clear across the country, I think there are a lot of "Dr. Grahams" in pediatric cardiology. We became very attached to our doctor's too. As my husband and I discussed what we might do if our daughter ever needed to wait for a transplant and we needed to be closer to our family and a support system, we agreed that it would be hard to go to a different hospital. The staff became family and we developed a love and trust for them.

I too am expecting another baby after having a CHD baby. I have been surprised at how much Satan has worked overtime to make me fearful about this baby. Thoughts of Natalie's first days keep popping into my head and then I worry. I'm sure you are having some of the same things going on.

I am excited for you as you are trusting God every step of the way. Thank you for bringing encouragement to others through your testimony. You will never know who all you will impact by your transparency.