In the wee hours of the morning one year ago today, we looked at Derrick's smooth, soft, perfect little chest for the last time. 

Today, one year ago, was the first time we did the hardest thing we've ever done.  We handed "Baby D" over to have his heart touched.  It was absolutely the most difficult thing I had ever done up to that day.  The pain of childbirth quickly faded to nothing compared to the pain of watching strangers wheel my eight day old son down the hall for heart surgery.  Pain that I could feel in the veins in my wrists.  

He came back hours later a whole new baby.  He was tough to look at initially, but I knew my baby boy was under those tubes and bandages somewhere.  A baby with a special story to tell.

Over the next few weeks, his little body quickly healed

and a beautiful pink scar formed.

All of us have scars.
Some have scars that are visible to others,

and some have scars that can't be seen, but can only be felt inside. 

Derrick has touched my heart and given me a scar that will never fade. 

Scars are not bad.

They make us who we are. 

They give us personality, and they help us tell our stories.
It's what we do with ours scars that really matters.

I hope Derrick does something big with his. 
I hope he isn't embarrassed by it.  I hope he's proud of it.

A lot of times I don't notice Derrick's scar anymore.
It's always been there.
Actually, it's the perfect, soft, bare little chests that I notice now.

But sometimes, when life is really "normal" and I forget for a second that Derrick has such a special little heart, that scar will peek out from under his shirt and take my breath away.  It reminds me of the obstacles he has overcome, and the ones that lie ahead.  But most of all, it reminds me of all I have to be thankful for. 
I hope it reminds him to be thankful too.

I can just imagine Derrick sitting in a circle with his little kindergarten class for show-and-tell...
He's empty-handed and his teacher says, "Derrick, it's your turn to share.  Did you forget your show-and-tell?"  As he yanks up his shirt, Derrick says, "Nope.  Today I wanted to share the story of my special heart!" 

That would make my heart smile! :)  I bet you anything, it'll happen.  Just wait.

Scars tell stories.  They're something to be proud of, not ashamed of.  
I love that little scar, and I hope D does too. 



D's Big Day!

I'm pretty sure it wasn't much of a present to drag D out of bed for a 7:45 am visit with Dr. Shuler on his first birthday.  Thankfully (unlike daddy) he happily got out of bed so we could be on our way.

He checked his diaper bag for any surprise presents as we waited to go back.

Once we got back to a room, all D could focus on was the "ball" hanging from the ceiling. 

Daddy was such a good teammate in the "ball" game.

We got great news from Dr. Shuler!  First of all, Derrick now weighs 16 lbs 5oz!  He's up almost 1.5 lbs in seven weeks.  Dr. Shuler was very happy with D's weight gain, and so were we.  (Although we're really crossing our fingers that he can put on another 4 lbs in the next two months. Ha!  We've gotta turn that car seat around before making the drive to Louisiana in June!)  Dr. Shuler was very happy with the way D sounds and looks too.  Then, he gave Derrick a very special birthday present (that made us very nervous)....he said (very gently nodding his head before he spoke the words because he knew our hearts would stop), "Ok.  You can come back in THREE months."  

What?!  Three months?!  Derrick has never been longer than seven weeks without seeing Dr. Shuler in his whole one year of life.  Three months!?  We know it's a good thing...just a little scary! :)

To celebrate the good news and the Big Day, we took D to the best place around....

Derrick has never had a fresh, hot, melt-in-your-mouth Krispy Kreme doughnut, and we thought it was high time he tried one.  I know all of you northern people love Dunkin' Doughnuts, but seriously, they don't hold a candle to hot, fresh, Krispy Kreme.  For real.

Opening the car door we were hit with the amazing smell, but walking inside...it was almost sinful.

D was memorized as he watched the doughnuts being made.

When you order the plain glazed doughnuts, they pick them right off the conveyor belt and put them in your box.  Talk about fresh! 


The birthday boy couldn't stand it any longer...he was ready to see what all the talk was about.

The anticipation was almost more than he could stand.

And with that first...



he completely understood the obsession with the "Hot Now" sign.

And he had to have "dome" more.

This is what's left of D's first hot, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth, Krispy Kreme doughnut.  (He doesn't quite understand how much of a party foul not finishing your doughnut is yet.  We're working on it.)

Derrick couldn't keep his eyes off of the conveyor belt of doughnuts.
They were still drawing him in.

So next time you drive by a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory, and the "Hot Now" 
sign is lit up, you really should stop.  Really.  Do it.

Take it from D...but get a driver. 
The sugar overload...it's rough!

But what a great first birthday cake! :)


P.S. Be on the lookout for party pics coming soon! :)


Happy Birthday Derrick!!!

Oh my goodness, Derrick!  I cannot believe you are ONE YEAR OLD today!  
It's been one wild year, but here's a look at what the past month has been like...

  • You are so close to walking, it's not even funny.  You can stand alone with no problem, but you will not take that first step.  When we try to get you to walk to one of us, you will look at us and smile, then sit down and crawl as fast as you can.  
  • You get very annoyed sometimes when you're trying to carry something in both hands and can't do your army crawl to get to where you're going with your items.  You'll sit holding your stuff (usually two plastic eggs) and cry.  It's pretty funny.  Sorry! 
  • You do not like to crawl in the grass.  You'll barely put your hands down and pull back up really fast. 
  •  You have made a lot of new friends lately and are enjoying your busy social calendar.  You still don't want us to leave you, but you feel comfortable playing without one of us holding you (although you don't go far).  You especially LOVE big kids!
  • You make the stinky face on demand.  It is hilarious, and you do it all the time.
  • You love, love, love to dance!  You have this funny head move you do now along with your signature arm move.  Anytime you hear music, your arm starts swinging.  Sometimes when you're dancing on the wood floor and get your arm going, you spin all the way around...you have "the sprinkler" mastered!  Daddy says that as soon as you're old enough we're going to enroll you in hip-hop class.  (He's a little nervous about your "white boy" moves.)
  • You're so sneeky such a big helper when it comes to loading and unloading the dishwasher.
 (I was unloading the top rack when I looked down and this is what you were doing!  I had no idea you were there...it's a good thing you're light!  The camera happened to be sitting on the counter so I couldn't resist.)
  • You have two bears (pronounced "bay-ya") you love and you're so sweet with them.  You hug and kiss them, and really show that you love them.  I'm hoping that you're able to show your bears love because you feel that kind of love from us.  I think it's a sign that you're going to be a good daddy someday, and that makes my heart smile!
  • You like to be covered up at night now when you sleep.  When we tuck you in, you put your hands behind your head (yes, still) and smile and wiggle a little like you're snuggling down.  At least one bear has to be sitting beside you and your mobile has to be turned on.  Most of the time you don't cry, but sometimes you will say, "mama, mama" a few times.  It hurts my heart when you do that, but it usually only last for a few seconds.  Then you talk to bear for a few minutes and fall asleep.  
 (This was while we were in TN, where you also insisted on sleeping with your "ball") 
  • You talk A LOT!  You carry on these conversations that we can't understand and you will just talk and talk.
  • You can say "thanks" and "car."
  • You are still fascinated with balls and books, and also love playing with your tractor.  
  •  The more complicated the better when it comes to crawling.
  •  You like going on walks in your stroller or in your car.  You have become quite obsessed with the stroller and car actually.  If they're out, that's all you can focus on until we go for a walk.  If we bring them inside, you start all over again.
  • You aren't a fan of vegetables unless they are cooked with lots of flavor (as in smothered with butter, oil, or cream of something soup).  We did discover that you like zucchini from the Japanese restaurant. 
  • You enjoyed all of your Easter candy (although someone should tell the Easter Bunny that it's not nice to give blue Peeps to cyanotic children!)

  • You are SO FUNNY!  You keep us laughing all the time! 

The last few days have been quite emotional for me (which probably won't surprise you by the time you're able to read this).  Part of me is sad that it's already your birthday.  I wish you could stay a baby forever.  But at the same time, I'm so excited to watch you grow up and become a man.  I can only imagine the plans God has for you. 

You are a true testiment that God performs miracles every day.  You are proof that prayers are answered, although not always in the way we think they should be.  When we first found out about your special heart, I prayed and prayed that the doctors were wrong.  That when you were born they would see that you were fine and normal.  Eventually I came to grips with your reality, and prayed that God would make something good come out of the pain you would endure.  Through your strength, many people have seen and felt God's grace and mercy.  They have seen Him work through your tiny body and special little heart.  They have come closer to Him through you, and that makes me so proud.

Derrick, if I could, I would take away all of the pain and struggles you have gone through and all that you will  face.  I would go through every surgery and procedure over and over again if I could protect you from any of it.  At the same time, I wouldn't take away your special heart.  Facing these trials with you, having to give control of your precious life to strangers in the operating room, trusting that people who aren't your family will make the best decisions for you, has forced me to lift my hands and ask God to take full control of your life.  I realize that even as your mommy, I can't kiss your boo boos and make them all better.  I have to rely on God for that, and He does a much better job than I could even dream of.  You have made me more patient and understanding, more compassionate, and more thankful.  I have learned to celebrate and take time for the little things, because they are just as special if I take time to notice.   Because of you, I am a much better person.

You have gone through more in your short little life than most people go through in a lifetime, and you're not finished yet.  You never will be.  You have many more medical hurdles, but you will have some social and personal ones as well.  I hope that you always keep your spunk and zest for life that you have had this first year.  I hope you stay true to who you are and always glorify God for the work He has done in you.  You've made it to a milestone that way too many heart babies don't get to celebrate.  I hope you remember that too, so that you can remember to be humble and thankful for the chances that you've been given.   I am.

I hope you have a wonderful first birthday, Cheeks, with many, many more.  I am so proud of you, and I love you more than words could ever say.  You are incredibly special, and you have given me the best gift ever.  You made me a mommy.  I love you...to the moon and back!

Love, Mommy

Believe it or not son, your Dad does occasionally get to post a little something for you.  It is hard to think about our life without you.  You have touched so many lives.  Sometimes I think about how special your Heart is.  Your SPECIAL heart makes us appreciate EACH and EVERYTHING you do.  Anytime I begin to get frustrated I just think about what a blessing you are and calm down (not an invitation to be WILD later, OK).  You have given me courage and strengthened my faith in God.  You are destined for great things and I know God has an awesome plan for you.

I love watching you learn new things, get into stuff you shouldn't, and talking like a big man.  I so look forward to all of your new dance moves, words, and attitude for the next year.  I love you more than you will EVER know.  Thanks for blessing us every day!!!  Happy Birthday!!!  I love you "Dirk"!!!





The Chair

For some reason tonight Derrick decided that he couldn't sleep. Usually he's pretty good about going to sleep after a few minutes of talking to his bear and watching his mobile. Tonight was an exception. After listening to him cry for entirely too long a few minutes, I went upstairs to check on him and found him sitting up in his crib.  He gets stuck when he sits up.  I don't know why, but for some reason once he gets up in his crib, he can't get back down.

I know I should have helped him back down and left his room, but instead I picked him up and we rocked.  I've rocked him countless times in that chair, but tonight it was different.  As he was staring at me, gently touching my face, I couldn't help but think about all of those times I'd sat in that chair before he was born.

I was really scared to buy that chair.  I was scared to buy anything for him or for his room.  I was scared to have baby showers, scared to turn in my resignation at school.  I was scared for April 19 to come.  I was scared to walk into the hospital because I was scared for Derrick to come into this world.

Yes, I was excited about meeting him.  I was excited about seeing what he looked like, about holding him for the first time.  I was excited to become his mommy.

But I was terrified that I would never get to rock my baby in that chair.

I couldn't imagine having to make the hour and a half drive home from Charleston with an empty car seat.  Having to walk up the stairs and see that beach-house blue room and having no reason to walk inside.  I couldn't imagine sitting in the chair without him in my belly or in my arms.

I couldn't imagine the unimaginable.

But I couldn't help but think about it.

There were many, many days when I would sit in that chair and beg, bargain, and plead for God to let me bring my baby home.  Every single day after we found out about Derrick's special heart, I prayed we would be able to bring him home.  I prayed that prayer in the shower, in the car, in the kitchen, in the chair.

On May 6, that prayer was answered.  The first thing we did when we brought Derrick into our home for the very first time was take him to his room and rock him in the chair.

Tonight as I was rocking D, holding my answered prayer in my arms while he touched the tears running down my cheeks, I thanked God for my precious baby boy and and the sweet moments that we've shared together, especially in the chair.