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"!!!





  1. God is SO good! :)
    Happy First Birthday, Derrick!!!

  2. You don't know me, but I have been following your CP, and now your blog, since you first started posting (I think I was referred by Stefenie Jacks). This post is beautiful, and I would be lying if I said I didn't shed a tear. You have a beautiful family and you are all an inspiration that life's hurdles can't keep you down. All three of you amaze me. God bless, and I can't wait to read about D's many more adventures. HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, DERRICK!!!

  3. Happy Birthday, D! You are getting to be such a big boy! Shannon and Justin I loved your letters- made me cry! :) D is a lucky little boy to be loved so much by both of you. Enjoy this special day!

    Jen, Craig & Andrew

  4. Happy Birthday Derrick...what a miracle you are!

    Stephanie and Braeden(HLHS)

  5. Happy, happy birthday, D!!!
    Heart hugs,
    Zach and his family

  6. Happy, happy birthday sweet boy!!! You are an answer to prayer indeed!

    Okay now Shannon...I need to go reapply my makeup for the day! Your heart is beautiful, friend!

    Love to you on this special day~ Rebecca

  7. Happy Birthday precious miracle boy! We love you dearly and are so blessed to see the evident hand of God so clearly on your life. We cant wait to see what He has in store for your future.
    Shannon. I get it! I do!:-) Thanks for sharing your heart too:-)

  8. Happy Happy Happy Birthday D... it's moments like this... like I am feeling now after reading this post, that I sit back and realize what life is all about... living every day... not like its our last...but simply living and appreciating it. I am so happy for you guys and I have never seen a more beautiful blessed family. To many many many more years, Happy Birthday D, you are cared about by many more people the you ever know will know!!!! <3 Lilla

  9. Happy Birthday, D! You are quite the little man. Take good care of your mommy and daddy and love them very well. I look forward to your new adventures to come. You are a big inspiration to us all. Much love to mommy and daddy for the taking the time to keep us all informed...they have lots of helping hands (especially the Good Lord's) behind them to help them. Love you all lots...Lois Simmons (Mee-Mamas friend).

  10. Happy Birthday, Derrick! What a cutie pie!

  11. Happy Birthday You adorable little man! You are a miracle baby!! :)
    Heart Hugs!!

  12. So sweet! Love, love, love your post! Happy birthday Derrick!

    Stephanie Hazelwood

  13. You will never know how much your first year of life has blessed our family, Derrick! You have made us laugh and cry and remember...wow, have you ever made us remember... and be mindful of all that God has blessed us with. The lives of "heart families" are never easy, but we never, ever take a single day for granted, and for that - we are blessed beyond measure. Your adorable face, your mom's pictures and comments throughout the year, and most of all, the love that your mom and dad have for you is a gift to anyone who is fortunate enough to be a part of knowing you. Thanks for letting us know you!

    Our family wishes you the very best, the happiest, the most amazing first birthday in the entire world...and we can't wait to see pictures and read all about it because we know it's gonna be fabulous :)

    Kati, Rocky, Evan and Brycen Dunn

  14. Happy Birthday Derrick!

    Tina, Bryan, and Brielle (HLHS) LeMire

  15. Happy Birthday D!!!
    We can hardly wait to see you at your birthday party. Make sure you tell your mommy and daddy what you would like so Mrs Amy and Mr Willis can get you all of your favorite things!!! We love you so much D and we will always remember how brave you continue to be for all of us. You helped Parker through his surgery just by reaching out to hold his hand the day before he left for surgery and he loves the book til this day that you brought to him! God has shown such favor on your life D and never forget how much His love for you truly is! Happy 1st Birthday little man!
    Love You,
    The Crafts,
    Willis, Amy, Karlyn and Parker

  16. Derrick,
    First of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I am crying as I write this to you so please be patient with me. I started following your journey before you were ever born. I remember waiting for you tot crash into this world the same way your heart brother did the January before you were born. I have loved looking at your pictures and watching you grow. I have laughed many times from the different things that you have done. I love when I call and talk to your mommy that I get to hear you in the background. D you are so special to me and you are such an important part of my life. I hope one day that I will get to tell you that. I had so many hopes and dreams for you and Ethin...You know he is with you?! He will always be with you the two of you are very alike in many ways and I am proud of the two of you. As you grow know that you are loved so much by so many and I personally feel blessed by you! We Love you Derrick Happy 1st Birthday! Jessica & the J Triplets

  17. Happy Birthday D! Sorry I'm a little late! I hope you had a good day and Lo says to give you big hugs and kisses!
    Love, Jess, John and Lo

  18. Even if it is a little late, Happy 1st Birthday, D! I hope you had a great one and got to dance a little for your parents. Shannon, this was great and like the others who commented here, brought tears to my eyes. Derrick is a gift from God and I know you and Justin love him more than anyone will ever know. Here's to many more birthdays and milestones to come.


  19. Happy 1st Birthday D! It seems like it was just yesterday that I found out about you and was able to meet your awesome mommy through our carepages.

    You are a little miracle and each day that your family gets to spend with you is such a treasure. My wish on your birthday is for you to have many more amazingly wonderful years with your family. God has worked so many miracles for you in your short life already and I know that He will continue to carry you along this journey.

    Every day is a blessing and I am so glad that God brought us together Shannon!

  20. Happy Birthday Derrick! Hope you had a special day!

    Sue Shelton

  21. I'm late posting, but better late then never.

    Happy 1st Birthday Derrick!!! I hope you had a wonderful day full of smiles and laughter!!! :D

    You are getting to be suck a big boy!! You are one adroable little man!! I'm sending you LOTS of Blessings and **Heart Hugs**!! You are one inspirational and brave little boy!!

    With LOTS of Hope, Love, and Faith,
    Lauren (22yr. old w/Tricuspid Atresia, HRHS)

    Blog: www.laurensheart.blogspot.com

  22. Wow, ONE already?!?!

    You are such a big and BEAUTIFUL boy, Derrick! I just wish a could reach out and squeeze those cute little cheeks!

    You have been through so much your first year and will surely face many future challenges, but you are a STRONG and RESILIENT boy and SO FORTUNATE to have such wonderful parents! Keep wowing us, baby boy!

    I especially love the dishwasher pictures. Your heart buddy Zachy loves to, um, help, too.

    Hope your second year brings even more blessings!


  23. What a year D! You have grown so much! Happy 1st Birthday, with many, many more to come....

  24. Dear Heart Brother,
    Happy 1st Birthday my friend! Your mom made mention of how you talk and she does not understand. I want to thank you for those conversations that we share. I enjoy that you keep me informed. You are almost walking and I watch you stand up...Go ahead and take that step I will catch you if you fall I will be there with you just like I have been for this long. You know why God made us forever friends like this? He knew that you needed a special angel. I'll be your angel. I have been with you through so much this last year and I love your fight and zest for life. You have done so much in one year you are amazing! I should tell you thank you for making my mommy smile! I think between now and next year we should go ahead and climb a tree!! LOL just kidding your mommy would not like that and I am sure mine would not approve of that either! Please always remember that I am always with you always watching and forever in your heart! Happy Birthday D, Love your Heart Brother Ethin