Monday, January 7, 2013

mighty Max.

{foreword: this post is pretty much the reason i have become so behind on my blog; it has been on the forefront of my mind, and yet has been something that i hadn't been ready to really publicize to the world until now. but i think it's time to share what's truly been in my heart and on my mind. so thank you for allowing me to indulge for a minute...or 30}


 one exciting thing that i left out of our November Wedding Week extravaganza posts was that we found out the gender of our third lil baby. we had heard about a place in Southern Cal that did Gender Ultrasounds for $25-- and since we were going to be with my family when i should have had my 20 week ultrasound, we decided it'd be fun to find out and surprise everyone when we got there.

we had both girls with us- and were both totally surprised, overwhelmed and overjoyed to find out we are having a baby boy! it was an awesome moment for us- because we truly were expecting to have another girl. it was also super duper fun to have all of my family/siblings together to share the fun news with. i loved hearing my dad say to me over and over, "i can't believe you're having a boy. that's just so awesome!" i mean, you can't blame the guy for being so happy, having endured a world of girliness for a verrry long time, with having only his oldest child being a boy, then two girls...and four granddaughters.... yes the estrogen levels have been very high for quite some time.

the day before Thanskgiving, we went in for our regular 20 week ultrasound with my own OB. i was really 22 or 23 weeks by this point-- and we were anxious to have the gender confirmed and hear that everything was happy and healthy with our lil man.

the good news: we were in fact having a boy!
the bad news: things weren't all happy and healthy.

we could tell right away that something was wrong. the tech was very quiet, in moments that she should have been reassuring and upbeat. she wouldn't give us any confirmation either way, and just relayed the fact that the doctor would be in to talk with us shortly.

it sounded very ominous.

finally the Dr. Trainer came in to talk with us. he seemed somber -- immediately asking me why i hadn't had genetic testing done at 16 weeks. i told him that we had previously had two very healthy pregnancies and babies, and were firm in our conviction that no matter the outcome of any genetic testing, we'd keep the baby; so to us, genetic testing wasn't essential.

he looked somewhat relieved and commented that it would make what he had to tell us far less difficult and rushed, knowing that we weren't considering terminating the pregnancy.

my heart sunk to my toes. honestly, most of what was said after that sounded very muffled and unreal.

he began to explain the defects that he had noticed in our little guy; basically he is missing the radial bone in his forearms. this has caused his hands so they haven't developed properly and look malformed/curled in. he will likely never have any function in his hands. they also noticed that one of the ventricles of his heart looked smaller than the other- and were concerned about the condition of his heart. finally, they noticed abnormality in his brain, as the Cravum Septum Pellucidum appeared missing. he told us that it would take time and research to make a clear diagnosis on what was going on with our baby, but that it looked like Holt-Oram Syndrome. at the time, i had never heard of such a disorder. and hot tears streamed down my face. this couldn't be happening.

the dr. was kind, but honest. he told us how sorry he was that he couldn't offer us better information/news about the baby. but he also assured us that he would give us the best care possible. 

they gave us a list of appointments we needed to make; it felt long. we wouldn't know answers for a long time because a lot of the appointments wouldn't happen until the beginning of the year-- it all felt so uncertain and unreal.

M was my hero throughout the whole thing. he was calm, composed, and asked very insightful questions-- when all i could do was cry. he held my hand- and when the dr. and tech finally left to give us a minute to process it all,  he just hugged me and we cried together.

in those first few hours, we of course were very overwhelmed and sad. we both felt numb. we sat there in the car for a long time not really saying anything. and then, even though the tears were still there, we both felt so much comfort and peace. it was like heaven was two feet from us. we could touch it. i think M would tell you the same thing; we felt like we already knew this little guy. we both already loved him so so much, and just wanted to hug and hold him. and most importantly, we felt that God knows us. He knows our family and our children and our struggles. He knows the challenges this little boy will face. and He will help us know how to plow through them, together, and that we will all be so much closer, especially to Him because of it.

the months since that initial appointment have continued to be a roller-coaster of emotions.  we have felt sad knowing of all the challenges and struggles that our lil guy will undergo, especially as we have had more appointments and seen more clearly his little arms and hands, which are quite deformed. it is heart-breaking to see and difficult not to think about things that he will miss out on. we have felt overwhelmed, knowing that we have no idea what his quality of life will be like because of all of the abnormalities in his brain-- and we have wondered if we'll be strong enough for him. we've been worried about our girls, and how this will affect them and their little lives. we have been stressed, wondering what in the world this journey is going to be like (since we really haven't had that many answers).

but, when those insecure moments of doubt and frustration and despair creep in, i can't help but think of this:

i think when things like this happen, you really have two choices: you can either turn away from God, wondering how in the world He could do something like this to you, or you can cling to Him and the things you know are true- and therefore feel Him cling tighter to you.

for me, the only thing i can do is cling to Him, because this feels far too helpless not to. and as we've done that, the blessings have been incredible. i have felt more compassion for others- knowing that i have no idea what anyone is going through or carrying as their burden. it has made me be more sensitive and loving-- probably like i should have always been. i have also felt more gratitude for my blessings;  both our girls are so sweet and healthy-- things i have previously taken for granted, but i realize are such incredible blessings. and M is the most incredible companion to have by my side in such a stressful time-- he calms me and reassures me that we can and will do this together- but it's ok to be sad sometimes. and more than anything else, i feel God's love pouring over us through His children; i have never felt the power of other people's prayers on behalf of myself the way i have over these last couple of months. we have had peace and comfort in a lot of uncertainty, and i know it's because of the power of fasting and prayers made on our behalf. i have never seen and felt so many people, who have truly been my angels, pour out such an immense amount of love over me and my little family; from phone calls, emails, baked bread, anonymous gifts, texts, dinners, flowers, treats, and cards-- all offering support and comfort in this difficult time. the kindness and goodness of others truly amazes and inspires me.

now i know that this is just the beginning. we have barely scratched the surface of what life will be like with our lil man. but with clinging to Heavenly Father has come the overwhelming impression that bringing this lil guy into the world is and will continue to be a huge blessing to my family. even though his challenges may sadden me at times, it is not a horrible thing; because it is a blessing and privilege to bring a special spirit into the world. and when i start getting burdened by all of the hardships that could and might be-- i think of some advice that was given to me early on-- which as truly helped me: "Try not to think of the 'what-if' scenarios. They will just drive you nuts." and my mom has added to this advice by always telling me, "just take it one day at a time-- and it will all work out. it always does." and so that's what we're trying to do. take it one day at a time.

afterword: 
normally, coming up with names for our kids has been a long, daunting process. but for some reason, when we found out it was a boy, the name Max came up. i really liked the name Maxwell. M really liked the name Maximillian or Maximus. so we looked up name meanings; Maxwell means "capable" and Maximillian and Maximus both mean "the greatest." the whole time we were in Southern Cal for Wedding Week, M would joke with me, "why in the world would i have a capable son when i can have the greatest son?" it was pretty hard to argue, i'll tell you what. 
now once we know about this lil guy's struggles, we know that he truly will be the greatest. we haven't decided 100% between Maximus/Maximillian- but we do know that he is Max-- and that he will be one of our families' greatest blessings. what a little fighter Mr. Mighty Max must already be.


xoxo

39 comments:

The Hurst Family said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing such a personal and emotional experience. It took me back to when I went through such a similar experience at Cammie's sonogram when we found out she would have cleft lip and palate. I realize that our experience after Cammie's birth was different than yours will be with Max, but the one thing I am grateful for for your family is the opportunity to grieve and prepare before Max is born. That was a huge blessing for us. When Cammie was born, it was a happy occasion because we were prepared. Not completely, but enough. Your attitude will make all the difference and because I know you're such a wonderfully positive person, I KNOW you will look back someday and say what a blessing this experience has been.

Love you Marci! I will add my prayers for your family.
Love, RaeAnn

Barbara Olsen said...

Marci, I can't think of a more loving family that this sweet baby gets to join! And be blessed with an incredible mother who loves him unconditionally.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Love you,
Barb

The Ostlers said...

I cried through your whole post. What an amazing woman you are, and I sincerely pray that when challenges come in my life I will have your faith and optimism. You are an example to all! Little Max is so lucky to have you as his momma!

D-dawg said...

Well you've made me cry too. I can't tell you how much I admire you and mike. You are a great example of being positive and turning to god during trials. Like you said it's the only way to go. I already love your little Max. That picture is beautiful. Yo will be in my prayers!

Kristy said...

I keep trying to think of something helpful to say, but all I can think of is to tell you how blessed that sweet little boy is to be coming to your family. He is so lucky! Many blessings are coming your way...I just know it. You are the parents that little guy needs to help him endure the challenges of his life. Big hugs to you, dear, dear friend. I love you!!!

Tiffany said...

I can barely type through my tears...Marci, your faith and strength amaze me! Thank you for sharing such wise words, some of which I really needed to be reminded of. Your precious baby boy is so lucky to be coming to your sweet little family! He will have an amazing mother and father and 2 sweet, adorable sisters waiting for him with open and loving arms! We will be keeping you and your family and your beautiful baby boy in our prayers xoxo

Allie said...

I love you and I love mighty Max!

Liz said...

Thank you for your faith and strength. You and Mike are amazing. Tears filled my eyes Looking at little Max's face. I love him and you.

Elyse Beard said...

I love you guys

Familia Balanzategui Pastor said...

Oh Marci, you're an amazing woman of faith! Max is blessed to have loving parents to welcome him. And your family is special for our Heavenly Father to send a special son your way. We love you guys and will keep all of you in our prayers.

Becca said...

I just love you guys. I think heavenly father is sending max to you because you are such amazing parents. He will be so loved and it will forever give you such empathy and love for those around you. I know having Bryant with autism has made me way more understanding of "difficult kids" and I feel a lot more compassion towards others. I think I was given Bryant so he could teach me lessons that I needed to learn in this life. It just took me about a year to finally realize that. You are such an amazing example to me of having faith. I think you are going to strengthen a lot of people's testimonies by how you live your life with such optimism and devotion to the gospel. I know you have strengthened mine :)
Ps. Did you know that Travis and I had a cry moment in our car when we found out about Bryant? It brought back memories to read about your experience. Love you friend.

Emily said...

Thanks for sharing this Marci, your faith is so inspiring~ you and M are such great parents and your girls are the cutest things I've ever seen. Max will be such a wonderful addition to your family. I love the picture of him- he looks like a sweet, strong spirit! xoxo

Lynne said...

The day you and Mike came back from the ultrasound, Mike took us into the living room to tell us the news. At first all I could feel was shock and disbelief, but suddenly I had an overwhelming feeling of love for little Max. It completely filled my mind and soul and I knew it was a gift from Heavenly Father. He knows Max and He knows you and Mike and Ellie and Alice and He loves you all. He knows what is ahead and will always be there to support and help; making your burdens light. I have a strong feeling that Max will be a wonderful blessing in our lives and bring an amazing amount of joy to us all. There will be difficult times, but challenges can bring incredible experiences and growth. We will all be learning to measure success in a different way than we had ever imagined and in the process learn a great deal more about love and compassion and selfless service than we ever could have otherwise. Living in the moment will be something we will all learn and I think learn to treasure.

Jeff and Whitney said...

Tears are streaming down my face. Thank you do much for sharing this. Life sure doesn't always go as planned, but you are an amazing family and can get through whatever life presents. Little Max's face on that ultrasound made my heart fill with love. I can already tell he is special and will be a blessing to so many people. A little warrior. Stay strong sweet Mama. We will be praying for you.

Tammy said...

Thanks for sharing Marci, this post made my heart ache for you and your adorable family. What a sweet, special baby to be sent to your home, he will be loved and watched over. Prayers for you and your family... You are one strong Girl!

Megan Cook said...

Tears for you dear brave friends. My heart is full of love for brave little Max, he must be a king. My love and prayers are with you! He will be so blessed to have you and Mike as parents!

Miss Morgan said...

Like everyone else, tears are streaming down my face so much that I can barely see. Marci, you are one of the strongest ladies I know and I look up to you so much. I always have. Our Heavenly Father knew Max needed to be sent to a special place and the Chapman home is just that. You and your family is in my prayers. Sending lots of love your way.

Stephanie Mitchell said...

Thank you for sharing this Marci. Your words of faith are so uplifting to me. You are an amazing woman and an amazing mother. Max is so lucky to be coming to your family. He will be so loved. My prayers are with you.

Stephanie

Kristi said...

I am crying for you. What a beautiful post. Marci, you are AMAZING. What an awesome attitude you have about this situation. I can only pray that if something like this were to happen to me one day I would handle it in such a positive, faithful way as you. You are a wonderful mother and the Lord sends these special spirits & children of His to those who will take good care of them and love them the very best! You should feel very humbled that He would entrust this beautiful baby boy in your care. And we always have to remember that the Lord never gives us anything we can't handle. He knows the plan and He knows you will be a wonderful mother to this little guy. I love the symbolism behind the name you chose for him!

{amy k.} said...

what a precious little guy! i love those pictures and this post. my eyes are filled with tears...i am in awe of you. as i told you before, Heavenly Father has so much trust and love for you that he is sending one of His most special spirits to be with you- your example of faith and trust in the Lord and His plan is amazing. max is so blessed to be joining the incredible chapman family. continued love and prayers coming your way. love you marce!

Joe, Amber, Ken and Ellie said...

You are amazing and inspiring. Max is lucky to have a family like yours!

Brittany said...

What a perfect family for this sweet angel baby Max time come too. Your words inspire me and I am in awe of how incredible you are. Thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts and feelings and for helping all of us to be (again) inspired by you. What an incredible blessing this sweet Max will be and oh how loved he will be and already is. All my love to your darling family and you precious little man!

Nanci said...

Marci,
I had no idea until just now when I saw this on facebook. I read this with tears streaming down. One thing I know, the Lord will sustain you and you will be up for this challenge. He will be a huge blessing in your lives. I know what it's like to find out your child is not perfectly "normal" or healthy. When we found out that something was different about our little Justin, I had many similar emotions and experiences. Their situations are very different, but they are both special spirits. Heavenly Father gives us these special spirits to enrich our lives, even though it is hard sometimes. My heart goes out to you and your family Marci. I can't think of a more loving mother for this little spirit to come to. Much love,
Nanci

Jenny said...

You are inspiring Marci! Max is one lucky little dude. One lucky little dude with the cutest nose ever! Love that last ultrasound pic and reading all of the other comments-- apparently lots of people besides us also love the Chapmans!!

Ashley and Aaron said...

Thanks so much for sharing this Marci! My heart just goes out to you and I wish I could give you a big hug. Miss you, friend. I will be thinking of you and praying for you often.

Ashley Myntti said...

I love you Marci! It has been such an amazing blessing to have you in my life. Your strength and testimony have gotten me through many hard times. You are a wonderful mother and truly an inspiration. You can move mountains!

Ali and Bryan Packard said...

You and mighty Max have been in our thoughts and prayers. You are truly an amazing, inspirational person, Marci. I look up to you in so many ways. Max and your precious family are so blessed to have one another. I can't imagine a better family to love and raise such a special spirit. I wish we were closer, but I hope you can feel our love and prayers. We love you all so so much!

Shiree said...

Marci:

Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are truly amazing! You are such a great example of Love, Faith, Goodness and strength. I will be praying and sending love your way! You and Your family will be so blessed and are going to be the best strength and love that Max could ever have! If there is anything i can ever do please let me know!
Love, Shiree Jones

Amber Jenks said...

You are such a wonderful mother, and while this diagnosis will be hard and can be sad, he is so blessed to have you as a Mommy, and you will surely be blessed by him. You are so loving and I'm sure he will lead the most wonderful life possible.

Praying for you always!
-Amber

Paris Bucklew said...

Yes, I am still following your blog! I kept checking in to find out the gender of the new little person that will be blessing your lives. Thanks for sharing your story. Mighty Max is one lucky little boy to have you as a Mother. He will teach his older sisters so many great life lessons. Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Teri Rossi said...

I too am crying! Man I hope you know how amazing I think you are. Even before this. You are filled with so much Love and Kindness. Love you guys! We will be there to help you any way we can! Babysitter, meals, help clean. Seriously!

Candace said...

Oh Marci! My heart is so full after reading of your love and humility. What a lucky boy to have such strong parents and a loving home to come to! He has already changed you and touched so many others. I too had tears streaming down my face when I read your post. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Xoxo

The Peterson's said...

I don't really know what to say except max is getting some pretty wonderful parents! My prayers will be with your family!

Jana Weaver said...

You write so beautifully. What an amazingly hard thing to go through. Thinking of you lots. I know you will be an amazing mother to little Max (and M too).

Tara T said...

I have always been amazed at your faith, optimism, love and kindness you have for everybody and especially for Heavenly Father. You are an amazing example of what this world needs!! Max couldnt be coming to a better family. Miss you guys!

Ashley Aikele said...

Goodness, I love you guys. Big hugs!

Jessica said...

Thank you for sharing this journey. I am so impressed with your strength. I always love seeing your blog because of your cute pictures and fun adventures with your girls. I hope you don't mind if I keep following along. You are so upbeat and inspirational. Your little Max is coming to an awesome family. He will be so loved. <3

Melissa Vallejo said...

13 years ago we found out my youngest brother had Muscular Dystrophy and most likely wouldn't live till age 16. At that point we have cherished and made as memories as we could with him and continue to. I firmly believe that my little brother was sent to our family to make us stronger and get us close to one another. "Max" is already a fighter and what an honor for him to grow up in the Chapman family <3

jEsSiCa said...

Marci,
Oh you are so amazing.... My heart is full and eyes wet. Your words are so inspiring. max is going to be so blessed to be coming to parents like you, and vice versa. I cannot even imagine the road you have before you but I know that with the testimony and faith that you have you will be able to walk it. Your mom is right...take it one day at a time. You are an amazing woman and mom, and the Lord knows that to be giving you such a special one of His spirits. I'm sending you love and prayers....may God continue to bless and be with you,
Jessica Gnehm:)