Saturday, February 1, 2014

Avery's Story of HOPE!

Below is our story of Turner Syndrome, congenital heart defects, and God's healing. I began writing this upon finding out about my daughter's circumstances during my pregnancy.My hope is that it provides hope to others facing both Turner Syndrome and congenital heart defects. ♥

Avery Elizabeth Bell
June 9, 2009
Turner Syndrome: aortic coarctation, aortic stenosis, monocuspid aortic valve, multicystic kidney

Avery’s Story

Part One:
I can remember the moment I found out I was pregnant so clearly. I was so in shock, and thought, “Is this really happening? Is God answering me?” Once it settled in, I would just catch myself smiling for no reason, thinking of the day she would be here, and I could hold her and kiss her little face. I was beginning a new journey, and I had no idea what was in store for us. Even more vividly, I remember the day we found out the news. We were waiting in the waiting room with my mom and dad, talking to another girl who was pregnant with her 2nd child. She would go before me into the sonogram room. I remember when she came out, she said “it’s another girl.” She was a little disappointed because she was hoping for a boy this time. My only real fear going into that room was that the baby wouldn’t be positioned correctly, and they wouldn’t be able to determine the sex. After all, I had taken off work the entire day, and was excited to do some pink or blue shopping. Looking back on the moments as I watched her, while lying on the table, I can see now that something wasn’t right, and we just didn’t notice at the time.
Jake was videotaping, and I was in awe of my precious little one moving around in my belly as she sucked her thumb. What could be wrong with that? When the doctor came in unexpectedly, I still didn’t let myself think anything could be wrong, until she sat down to tell us she had some concerns. I suddenly felt like the earth had moved from under my feet, and I was falling into a bottomless pit. Cystic Hygroma? May not survive? Specialist? I just saw her moving around fancy free! The worst part of all, was that mom and dad had to see us get the news. Mom was having lots of issues with work, and dad had recently lost his mother to Alzheimer’s. Poor Jake, how would this affect him? The look on his face, not knowing what to do or say, just makes my stomach turn thinking about it. I immediately tried to blame myself, thinking I was being punished for some mistake I’d made in my life. I’d made so many after all. Once the tears came they wouldn’t stop, and I just couldn’t get it all to sink in. We came home, and Jake took the day off. He held me, and we prayed together. I told God that I knew all things were possible through him, and asked him to please save my little one. I realized that Jesus wouldn’t have died on the cross and taken punishment for my sins, if I was going to be punished by God any way. It was pretty ludicrous for me to think that once I came back to reality.

The doctor warned me not to look on the Internet, and I wish I would’ve listened. All I could read was it would end in death, and how most terminate pregnancy shortly after finding out. I went through so many feelings: fear, sadness, worry, numbness, anger…nothing anyone said to me made me feel any better. On the way to my appointment with the specialist the next day, I heard By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North on the radio. I knew it was no accident that I heard that particular song in that particular moment. God was telling me He loved me, and that I had to give this to Him. I felt a bit stronger walking into the office. I then got some hope from the doctor , and had my amnio done. He said that the unexplainable happens, and that sometimes these things just went away. Knowing that the growth was a large septated one, and that there was little to hold on to alongside the issues they were seeing with her right kidney, echogenic bowel, and the unknown status of her heart chambers, I still hoped things would be ok. I actually read that with all of her problems added together, her survival was around 1%. I held on to that hope, and used the time to draw closer to God. I even wrote her a little story to read when she got here about how God healed her when she was in mommy’s tummy. The waiting was the worst part. From one appointment to the next all I could do is wonder If we’d hear a heartbeat, or not. Work helped me to keep busy, but the tears always came when I got to my car at the end of the day. As time went on, I would get better, but then the appointment day would arrive along with the sadness and anxiety.

We went to see my OB to listen for the heartbeat, and get our amnio results on a Tuesday. I was relieved to hear it beating at the normal rate. I couldn’t be relieved for long though because the news from the amnio was disheartening. We were told that our little girl had Turner’s Syndrome, and that with the size of the hygroma along with the other defects and problems, she would most likely develop Infant Fetal Hydrops and die by the time I was 24 weeks. It was definitely tough news to swallow. Is God giving me this information that I may begin coping with her death, or is He telling me to expect the impossible and have more faith in Him? I knew that God was capable of far more than I had seen before, but was unsure of His plans. I tried to be strong, but it hurt. I was saddened every time I’d see a pregnant woman or small child. It seems like every show I watched on T.V. was about a sick child or a person having a baby. It made it even worse to think about kids I knew who had parents who didn’t care for them, or to think of people who got pregnant when they didn’t even want the child they were carrying. I admit, I felt sorry for myself some. I also questioned why God would answer my fervent prayers for a child, and then the child would be taken from me in this way. I started to think about all the people out there that were praying for us, and I was so grateful for it, but I just didn’t know what to do or how to feel. The more I thought though, I realized a few things. First of all, more people than I even knew about were praying for us, and prayer is a powerful thing. God loved me, and he hurts for me just like my earthly dad does. He had my best interest in mind, and knew more than I could ever imagine. I decided then, that there is a reason for this to happen, and I might never know the answer to why?. I also read this book the preacher had given Jake about losing a child. It put so many things in perspective. I was comforted by knowing my baby would have instant Heaven when she died. She’d never have to feel sadness or commit a sin. God could have been saving her from a life of pain and discomfort. Most importantly, I read that when I got to Heaven, she’d know me. I’d always known I wanted to go to Heaven, but it made me actually long for it, the way the songs I sang in church always said. What better place for her to be if she can’t be with me? She’d be safe in the arms of God, the only one who loved her more than Jake and I did.
We went in again to see the specialist not really knowing what to expect (as usual). To our surprise, they told us her Hygroma had gotten significantly smaller. Not only had it gotten smaller, but she was the exact size she should be for the length of the pregnancy, her heart looked good, and even her brain had the correct measurements. One of her kidneys wasn’t functioning, but the other was doing a great job, so it wasn’t a concern. I could tell the doctor and technician were surprised themselves. Immediately, I just thanked God for what he was doing with my little girl. It took a little bit to believe what they were telling me, and I continued to feel like I was on some sort of weird roller coaster ride. I could tell Jake felt like a load had been lifted. I began to feel that way too, and we decided to take things one appointment at a time, and to be cautiously optimistic. After all, our doctor sure seemed to feel that way. I set up an appointment with the Cardiologist to make sure her heart was doing well, and began to have the mindset that Avery would be here in June. As I waited on the Cardiologist appointment, I began to think back about things. Prayers I’d prayed, and things I’d asked for. I remember that on several occasions, I’d asked God to draw me closer to Him, and for Him to show me how to listen to Him. I was always so unsure about what God wanted from me. I wanted to be able to know when He was telling me to do something, rather than me telling myself to do something. I had a feeling a while back that God had more in store for my life, than what I was doing at that moment. I just wanted to make sure I knew when the time came, that it was time for me to do what God instructed. When I thought about all of those things, I thought, “maybe this is it, maybe He is drawing me closer to Him through this child.” I began to depend on Him, because I was so hopeless depending on myself. I thought I had given things to Him before, but I would always keep a small hold, thinking I could do some things on my own. I knew, that I could do nothing on my own, that I have to rely on God for everything. He’s the One in control, not me, or Jake, or the doctors, or the Hygroma and Turner’s. I began to see what it really feels like to let Him have all my worries like He had always said to in the Bible. He took my yoke, and gave me rest.

Mom and dad came to Brookhaven with me, because Jake was in Texas with baseball. The cardiologist was very humorous, but I could tell he knew what he was doing. Avery seemed to be difficult with her positions, as usual, but he finally saw all he needed to see. Things looked good, and her heart was normal so far. I’d have to continue to see him throughout my pregnancy to ensure nothing developed, but what else could I ask for at this moment? She was growing and healing! I set my mind on getting things ready for her, and began buying clothes and thinking about the nursery. People began to tell me I had a glow, and I was feeling good. I was trusting God to heal her, and hoped my testimony would be one to show others how great our God is, and just what He can do in a life that trusts Him. As my next sonogram appointment neared, I was anxious to see what was happening with Avery. I went in, and the hygroma was almost completely GONE….so much so that they wouldn’t have even told me about it if it were my first sonogram. Not only was the hygroma better, but even her right kidney looked better. They couldn’t even tell there was a kidney before, but now the cortex was visible! My doctor said he’d seen much worse kidneys be perfectly normal by delivery. She was a little over one pound, and hadn’t skipped a beat with all that was going on! My little one was 1%, yes, 1% of babies with her condition who was likely to survive. Could I really begin to start enjoying this pregnancy without out all the mental stress???

That is exactly what I began to do. I began to feel normal again, and was excited about the arrival of this amazing little girl God so graciously was healing. In the back of my mind I wondered about the Turner’s, and how it would affect her, but I learned to put those worries to rest for the most part. God had done so much already, and the last thing I wanted to do was worry when He was telling me not to. I did print out information, and saved websites to check into later. I knew the basics, and the rest was up in the air. All of these children are different, and I’d just have to wait and see the characteristics Avery would have. Jake painted the nursery and put her bed together, and I began to decorate. I hung her little clothes in her closet, and bought a few toys to place in her room. I couldn’t wait for my baby showers which were quickly approaching! Time was definitely ticking down!!!

Part Two:

Avery Elizabeth Bell was born on June 9, 2009 at 4 lbs and 15 oz and 17 ¼ in. I remember them saying here she comes, and I heard that cry- which made me cry. Then, I saw her, and it was the more surreal moment I’d ever experienced. I was so relieved, and just thought that everything was fine. I was pretty jealous because Jake got to hold her, and was able to take everyone back to the nursery to see Avery. I had to wait in my room and ‘recover.’ Other than that, things were going great until the phone rang. The doctors discovered she did have the coarctation, and told us Avery was being transported to UMC as soon as possible. Not only had I only seen her for a brief moment while under anesthesia, now they were taking my baby away, and I was stuck in a different hospital. I did get to see her before she left in the nursery, and was able to hold her for the first time in the nursery. The transport woman brought Avery by my room in an incubator so I could say good bye and sign the needed paperwork. It was all so devastating. Jake and Faye went to stay with her in NICU. . After a near mental breakdown, I prayed with all my heart to be moved to UMC (which didn’t look like it was going to happen), and shortly after I was told to pack my things. That was probably the quickest answer to a prayer I’d ever had! Once I was at UMC, I was able to visit Avery in NICU whenever I chose, and we also had a place to sleep because I had a room. It was difficult seeing this tiny baby attached to cords and monitors, but she did look peaceful and rested most of the time. The nurses were very kind and caring, and they would let me hold her at night sometimes. NICU was a little overwhelming with upwards of 90 infants. Avery was in the front though, so we didn’t have to see much of what went on with the others. We spent a lot of time with her there, and put our parents on shifts so she wouldn’t be alone. It was very obvious how strong she was- she was a fighter. We waited and waited to find out about the heart surgery, and were told she might be airlifted to Washington D.C. I looked up the surgeon, and found he was world-renowned with accomplishments a mile long. It was very significant how things were timed.

Holding Avery in the NICU

Dr. Jonas, the surgeon, only comes to UMC once a month for a few days. It just so happened that he was flying in only a few days after Avery’s birth. They scheduled her surgery to take place on a Tuesday- Avery was one week old. The assisting surgeon came to explain the details of the surgery, and had us sign the consent. We knew the basics of the procedure before Avery was even born because Dr. Braden had explained it all to us. The extreme details were the things we could have gone without knowing. The thought of such a tiny baby having heart surgery is much more frightening when it’s a reality. We were also able to meet with Dr. Jonas, and I felt certain that he was the right man for the job. He told us she had a 90-95 % survival due to the circumstances. That sounds awfully good, but as a mother, you worry about the other 5-10%. Once I prayed and thought more about it, I realized that it didn’t matter what the statistics were, Avery had only a 1% chance to even survive the pregnancy. After beating out the 1%, 90-95% would be a breeze. I felt like God put everything in place with the surgery to let me know she was going to be ok. I did have those moments of weakness and extreme fear, but He helped me through it. When the day came for her surgery, they put Avery in the incubator and said I could talk to her and give her a kiss. When I looked down at her, she opened her eyes and looked at me…then she smiled. We had been trying to get her to open her eyes the entire time she was in NICU, and she finally did it. I think that was just another way God spoke to me to tell me He was in control. When Dr. Jonas walked in the waiting room, I felt relieved- he was smiling. He said the surgery went well, and said she was doing great. Even though I was relieved, it didn’t last long.

Avery in the PICU post-surgery

Once we got to the PICU, it was even more difficult. My precious baby had something attached to every part of her little body. She was very swollen from the respirator, and I was scared to touch her that I may mess something up. To make matters worse, the PICU is open to other beds. There were 2 other older children who had just come out of heart surgery as well. All we could do was sit and look at Avery, and strain as we listened to the cries of pain from the others around us. It was mentally and physically exhausting. We ‘rested’ in the waiting room with many other people, and sat next to her bed the rest of the time. All I could focus on was getting all those attachments off of my poor baby. They gave her meds for pain to keep her from hurting and from being fully awake. Once she came off of the anesthesia, I could tell she was totally uncomfortable. All we could do was rub her little head and hold her little hands to comfort her. Dr. Jonas had told us a few things that would probably happen to her, and he was right on. I would have been a lot more afraid if he hadn’t filled us in. After several days (which seemed like a lifetime) the respirator and cords came off one by one. I was so glad when they finally moved us into the transition room because she was doing so well. The transition room allowed us to have more privacy, and we didn’t have to see all of the other sick children any more. The down side is we were still getting no rest due to feedings, nurses, beeping monitors, and the one cot we had to share. I stayed hiding away in that little room with her, and tried to forget where we actually were for a bit. Avery began to look more and more like a normal newborn. I held her a lot trying to make up for lost time, and enjoyed every minute of it. We focused on getting her to gain weight so we could get her home. When the doctors decided she was ready, they told us we could take her home as long as she maintained her weight. She did, and we were able to leave the hospital on a Thursday.

Avery on her way home!

Avery was 2 ½ weeks old. I was so scared the day we left because I felt like I was getting the flu. I had the chills and ached all over. I wouldn’t tell the nurses because I was scared they wouldn’t let us leave. I guess I was just hitting rock bottom. Once we got home, I passed out in the recliner holding Avery, and we slept for hours. I was just exhausted and coming down from my adrenaline rush.

Part Three:

Besides the monthly cardiology appointments, everything just began to seem normal. Avery was growing and hitting milestones. I enjoyed watching her change and develop so much- she was just such a sweet baby girl. Dressing her, of course, was also a lot of fun! I went back to work in August, rather than taking extra time off. I feared I would need my sick days if Avery had to have any procedures done. The first week of school, however, I had to take off so Avery could go in for a heart catheterization. Dr. Ebeid inserted two balloons in her heart- one in the same coarctation area, and the other in her aortic valve. This was the first instance we’d had with her valve. We knew from birth that it was a bicuspid valve, rather than a tricuspid valve, which is a normal Turner’s Syndrome attribute. We hadn’t had any problems with it before though. Now, there was narrowing and a significant leak there. It was worrisome, but Avery was in good hands with her doctors, and she still looked perfectly fine. It was so hard to believe when they’d tell us something wasn’t right with Avery, because she never shows the symptoms of what she is going through with her heart. 

The catheterization went well, and we went about our lives for a while longer. A couple months later, Avery’s cardiology appointment showed a bad echocardiogram. Dr. Ebeid began discussing surgery on her valve at this point, and said he was worried to wait much longer. He waited another month, and decided to just go in the cath lab to take some exact measurements before making any more decisions. He had mentioned speaking with a surgeon in Boston, but said we’d talk after the cath. When he went in, he saw that the echo readings were off because of a second narrowed area. This cleared up the confusion he was having about her test results, and he felt much more comfortable with her situation. He told us we could definitely wait on surgery for now. When he had discussed the surgery with Dr. Jonas, Dr. Jonas had disagreed with Dr. Ebeid and didn’t want to do the surgery because of the high risk any way. So, once again, we went on with life, and things seemed fine.

The next month, Jake was unable to go to the cardiology appointment, so I took Avery alone, thinking nothing had changed. The echo showed that Avery’s heart function was bad and the doctor said it would only get worse. He told me that the surgery needed to happen soon. He told me about Dr. Bacha, who was previously in Boston but had recently moved to New York. I told him to move ahead and contact Dr. Bacha, and we’d make a decision based on what he said. Upon researching Dr. Bacha, I saw that valve replacement was his specialty. I also saw him interviewed and he seemed to be such a kind and caring man- not cold and distant like some surgeons can seem. He also had children of his own, and had been researching to find less invasive ways to heal children. I felt really good about what I saw, but was nervous about taking Avery all the way to New York for surgery! It all happened very quickly. We were contacted by Dr. Bacha, and next thing I knew, we were booking a flight and a hotel in Jersey. You would think the situation would be ridiculously stressful, but it actually went pretty smoothly. God was in control, and he made things happen. I was so busy getting everything in order, I didn’t have time to worry any way. I was, however, a little concerned about how we’d pay for everything, and what I would do about my job. I only had a few sick days left due to my pregnancy appointments and Avery’s appointments.

Amazingly enough, people (lots we didn’t even know) began to just give. We were given large sums of money, someone scheduled our flights with flyer miles, my co-workers donated sick days (58 to be exact)- EVERYTHING was taken care of, and I was able to just take care of Avery. I have never been more thankful or more humbled in my entire life. I felt so loved and touched by everyone’s generosity, concern, and prayers. I began to wonder why God was so good to me, and I realized even more that his plan for Avery was much bigger than I could ever imagine. 

Avery at Morgan Stanley Columbia-Presbyterian Children's Hospital of New York

The prayers for her came from all over- even in other countries. So many people followed us in New York through Facebook- it was crazy. We got through the surgery, which lasted about six hours. We were beginning to sit on the edge of our seats because we had originally been told it would be 3-4 hours. There were also no updates during this time, so that was hard. Once I saw Dr. Bacha walking in the waiting room nonchalantly with a Diet Coke and a smile, I had a feeling of relief rush over me and cried for the first time. I also praised God for sending us when he did. Dr. Bacha said he was very relieved we came when we did because Avery’s heart was doing worse than they even knew it was from what he saw once he opened her up. It’s just another way God lets me know that his timing is perfect- he is perfect. It’s so hard to even remember every little thing that God did because there were so many things throughout this process. I was worried about Avery getting sick and I was worried about the flight- I prayed and Avery remained well and was excellent throughout the flight. I prayed for a quick recovery, and we were able to return home 2 weeks earlier than we originally were told. I prayed when we were told Avery would have to return to PICU once we were on the floor due to a large amount of air in her lungs. Dr. Bacha suddenly appeared and stopped the other doctors from sending her back. People prayed that night, and the air in her lungs was gone the next day. She did so well the next day, as a matter of fact, that we discussed being discharged. We got to leave the day after that! We remained in New York for several days until the post-op appointment. 
Avery was still scared and shaken, but doing well otherwise. She was completely checked out at the post-op, and everything looked wonderful. We flew home the following day.

Our "Thank You" picture- We ♥ New York!

We went to see our local pediatrician, and she told me I just had no idea how good Avery looks for a heart baby coming back from surgery. I also overheard her in the hall speaking to another doctor about how amazing Avery is, and that she looks like nothing had even happened to her! I felt very special hearing her say that. There may be more surgeries in our future, but God is helping us take things one day at a time. People say they don’t know how I deal with it so well, and some seem to feel sorry for us. I, on the other hand, know that things are very different when you’re actually in this situation. You learn how to truly trust because it’s all you can do. There’s nothing I can do here- God is the only one with that power. I feel extremely blessed rather than burdened. If anything, I see how so many others throughout our hospital stay have it so much worse than we do. Knowing he is controlling this situation, and that he has a plan, makes life a beautiful adventure, and I am so excited to see what is in store for my family.
Avery's First Birthday 
 Avery's Second Birthday
Avery's Third Birthday
Avery's Fourth Birthday

Update: Avery Elizabeth is now four and a half! Avery sees her cardiologist every 6 months. We recently had a check-up and everything is still working well. Avery does have some leakage in her pulmonary (cadaver valve); however, her heart is handling it well. She shouldn't need valve replacement surgery for at least a few more years unless something changes.  She is no longer on any heart medications! Avery is still taking daily injections of Genotropin growth hormone and is growing well! Her kidneys, which had multiple cysts on them, are better. She continues to take daily antibiotics to prevent infection with her kidney reflux. We will look at surgery to repair them if it hasn't resolved by her appointment in the fall. Thankfully, Avery hasn't struggled with infection, so her doctor has allowed us to wait! She is also on Synthroid for her hyperthyroidism. Other than catching lots of viruses more recently, Avery is in great shape! She is an awesome big sister to our one year old son, Bryce. She began taking ballet and tap dance classes this year, and recently participated in her first Christmas program at preschool. She is making big strides with speech therapy (articulation), and she gets better and better each day with her lessons. She is writing her first name well on her own which was a big deal to us! We plan to either have her do one extra year of preschool or complete Kindergarten twice to make sure she is mature and ready for everything coming her way. She may be a little behind, but she always catches up right when we start to worry! Avery is one energetic, fun-loving, and headstrong little red-head, and we couldn't be happier with our special blessing! Thank you for reading our story of hope!   

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Special Prayers

Here are a few people I've been praying for lately. I wanted to share their circumstances on this blog in hopes that those that come across it will lift them up with me! 
I Thessalonians 5:17 Never stop praying. 

 Mommy, Deedra, is carrying Baby Sadie Rae. Sadie has been prenatally diagnosed with congenital heart defects: Aortic Valve Stenosis and Stenotic Dilation of the Ascending Aorta. and has been trying to make an early appearance! Please keep them in your prayers for healing and for Sadie to continue to grow and develop in Mommy's tummy as long as she needs to.

You can follow Sadie Rae and her mommy on Facebook using this link...

A coworker friend of mine requested prayers for little Ryan. What struck me immediately about him is that he is the same age as my baby boy, Bryce. Ryan is a happy baby who always carries a sweet smile in his pictures, just like my Bryce does. I can't imagine what his parents are going through right now. Ryan was diagnosed with Leukemia (AML) at only 5 and half months old in June. He just finished his first chemo treatment (mostly with smiles) and has been battling a fever and various other things since. Ryan's family has shirts for sale if you would like to purchase one to help this family. Please pray for healing, comfort, and remission for this child and family! 

You can follow Ryan on Facebook using this link...

It's funny how you become connected to people. Felicia was my dad's nurse through his radiation treatment, and it turns out she is one of my coworker/friend's sister in law. Felicia has two very young children and is battling leukemia. She has spent a lot of time at MD Anderson away from her family, and will be continuing treatment involving a stem cell transplant soon. Thankfully, Felicia was able to come home recently to celebrate her youngest daughter's first birthday! God is great! Please pray for healing, comfort, and remission for this sweet lady and her family. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


“The only really happy people are those who have learned how to serve.” ~Rick Warren

This is a picture of Avery and our friend, Alicon Johnson, from the Blair E. Batson Heart Team when we dropped off donations this week. 

Wow! What can I say? Thank you? The words just aren't enough. About three years ago, I felt God urging me to step out of my comfort zone and do something. We had just celebrated Avery's first birthday, and it was a time of a lot of soul searching for me after all God had gotten us through in her first year. I wasn't sure when I'd find the time or if I was emotionally stable enough to put myself out there, but through faith, I followed what I felt God was urging me to do. For once in my life, I listened to the whisper. I got out of bed late one night, and I began to put this blog together when I didn't even really know anything about blogs. So many people have contacted me because it was a source of hope for them after finding out devastating news. Like me, they couldn't find anything else positive regarding their situation online (or from their doctors). This blog has not only given others support, it has given me support through the friends I've met along the way. It's shown me that I'm not alone in what I go through as a mom. It's also shown people that there can be a positive outcome in situations like ours. So many are offered the option of abortion and are told that their baby's circumstance may not be "compatible with life." I am hopeful that the stories shared here (whether life or death outcomes) show that every life has a purpose and their child deserves life, no matter how long or brief. I've often wondered if people grow tired of hearing Avery's story, I even worried people might think I am something I'm not- anything other than a normal person who has made lots of mistakes in my life. This feeling inside of me reminds me that telling about Avery while giving God the's what I promised in my prayers before she was ever born. I've had the opportunity to share about Avery in two area magazines, on a local television show, at a charity event, on local radio stations during the Batson Radiothon, in front of two large church congregations, and online. I am a person who (believe it or not) is scared to death of public speaking among anyone other than small children! I even waited until right before I graduated from college to take my speech class! If you really know me, you understand my shy and nervous tendencies. The only one of those things I ever sought to do was one of the magazine articles, so I know that God was in the middle of the rest, placing me in those situations! I believe he gives us all a story to tell, and if it helps even one person have a little hope, I am completely satisfied with that.
A short time after beginning the blog, I continued to hear that whisper from God, and I asked if there was a need at our local children's hospital, Blair E. Batson. When the response was for heart pillows, I answered, "yes," even though I didn't sew and had no idea how it would be possible to carry out the task. I hate asking for help, and I hate asking people to do things, but I did. The response? Well, let's just say it's been amazing. Judy Busby of Fabs and More has always kept us supplied with material and stuffing without making a profit. Between my mom and several other sweet ladies listed below, the pillows have always gotten done, and the heart kids at Batson have been able to hold soft heart pillows through their tough recovery in PICU. Others around the country facing medical difficulties have also received heart pillows and CHH applique pillows at times. Because of the enormous generosity of  my Pearl Upper Elementary students and staff, I've been able to donate funds for the Batson Heart Fund as well. This year? They gave so much that I donated almost $1000 AND am able to fund heart pillows for a little over a year! Because of them and people like Barbara Willingham and her son, Eddie, who created bracelets and necklaces to sell for CHH in Willingham's, I've even had the ability to send smaller donations to people who were traveling for medical help or surgeries. Kim Varner of Thirty One has donated proceeds for materials through a CHH sale. Just recently, Rebecca Corley of Usborne Books donated her personal proceeds from a CHH sale, and I was able to give free children's books and $72 worth of meal cards to Batson. Honestly, these things happened with people coming to me and offering, so I didn't even have to ask!
God has brought lots of us together doing small things for a bigger cause. God has done this, and he did it so he might be glorified. A quote from Mother Teresa says, "In life we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love." I believe the small things we've been doing have been done with great love, and I am so appreciative of the many moments I've been blessed by others and God because of this ministry. I can only imagine the glimpses of hope and comfort so many people have now felt because of it, and it makes my heart glad to think they may have realized that God loves them in the moments they most needed to see it. I was told once that a person felt really down and alone in the PICU, and they got a package with a note from me. They all of the sudden felt that someone cared. What did the note say? The note said, "God loves you, and his people are praying for you." To me, that note in that moment was no coincidence. Every good thing comes from him, and every good thing you do reflects him to others.

All that being said, THANK YOU! THANK YOU for you prayers, your love, your support, and more importantly- your time!

Laura Beauman
Jake Bell 
Linda Turner
Judy Simmons
Barbara Willingham (and her son, Eddie) of Willingham's in Downtown Vicksburg
Judy Busby of Fabs and More in Downtown Vicksburg
Carolyn Fisackerly-Justice
Brenda Stokes
Becky Peterman
Laura Wilson
Lacey Martin 
Rebecca Corley of Usborne Books
Kim Varner of Thirty One
Pearl Upper Elementary staff and students


THANK YOU to each and every person who has ever bought a shirt or item to help us, donated materials, prayed for someone as we've requested, shared the blog with someone, stuffed a pillow, or done anything else regarding Cross Healed Hearts!! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In Memory of Tucker Cross Hinson

As parents, we all have dreams for our children. While we may have various ideas for how they realize those dreams, the culmination of them is all the same. We dream for safety, love, happiness, health, success, and most of all, we dream for them to be saved by Jesus. What is special about this situation is that the culmination of the Hinson's dreams has already been realized. Tucker is safe in God’s arms, loved beyond measure in Heaven and on earth, filled with a happiness we can only dream of, completely healed, and successful in the fact that he is fully mature in Christ. He got instant Heaven. There is a vision of Tucker surrounded in brightness, smiling as he holds Jesus’ hand, and looking down at his family as he says, “I can’t wait for them to get here and see me now.”

Tucker Cross Hinson was born on July 1, 2012 at Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. He was diagnosed before birth with a rare chromosomal abnormality called Pallister-Killian Syndrome. Tucker also had a diaphragmatic hernia and problems associated with his PKS. Shortly after his miraculous birth, Tucker was placed on the ECMO machine due to his lungs being undeveloped. While on the ECMO machine, Tucker underwent a critical surgery to repair his CDH. While the surgery was successful, Tucker was unable to heal properly and his organs began to shut down. Tucker went to be with God on July 25, 2012 as he was being held in the loving arms of his parents. This blog post is written in honor of Tucker and his amazing presence on this earth. 

Even in the womb, Tucker was touching lives with a smile. Here are some unbelievable sonogram and MRI photos of him. 

An entire community of family and friends in Vidalia, LA and Natchez, MS came together to support Tucker and his family throughout his mom's pregnancy and Tucker's life. His parents, Kayce and Brett are an inspiration to many because of their strength and faith in God. Tucker has touched the hearts of others from all over the country, and is a shining example of how every life, no matter how brief, is full of purpose in Christ. 

A replacement blood drive was held for Tucker, and long lines formed outside as tons of people waited to give blood for him. After his passing, a softball tournament was hosted to raise funds for Tucker's Family. Family and friends also lit candles and released balloons and lanterns for Tucker to honor his life and remember him. 

Mississippi College (Daddy's alma mater) hosted an alumni baseball game in honor of Tucker Cross to raise funds for Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 

The current baseball team visited Children's Hospital to deliver $1000.00 in honor of Tucker. They also spent the day visiting patients. 

Lights were placed on the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital Christmas Tree this year in honor of Tucker. 

Tucker's picture was featured in the CHERUBS 2013 Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness Calendar to help raise awareness of CDH.


With amazing strength, Brett and Kayce attended the Blair E. Batson Radiothon to share their story with listeners as they encouraged others to donate to the place they called home for many nights. They were reunited with PICU staff who had become like family throughout their stay in the hospital. Tucker's mom and dad had 25 days with him at Batson, and they will forever be thankful for those moments. They were also excited to share the news that they are now expecting another child- Tucker's brother or sister!

You can listen to their radio interviews by using this link:

A note from Tucker's Mom, Kayce...

Well 2012 has been the best and worse year of my life. A year I will never forget. I think it is safe to say I have grown so much in this one year's time. I have had to deal with more than some people will ever deal with in their entire lives. I am not writing this for people to feel sorry for me but for people to learn from this, for people to be drawn closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,because without Him I am nothing. We were blessed with 25 amazing days with Tucker and that is something I will forever be grateful for. Most people think that they would just absolutely die if this happened to them and I too even thought that before it happened to me. The truth is, if it wasn't for the peace of our Lord I would not have had the strength to endure all of this. He is my strength and He is the One who blessed us with such an amazing child who changed so many people's lives. Yes, there is not a second that goes by that I don't think of Tucker, and long for him to be here with me but he is healthy and happy and so much better off than we are. He is the lucky one that God chose and I am the lucky one he chose to be his mother. Until that day that we meet again I know he is safe in the arms of God and that God will continue to give me the peace and strength to continue on using Tucker's life as His testimony. 

I want to leave y'all with the lyrics to this awesome song that has touched my heart so deeply. 

"Even If" by Kutless

Sometimes all we have to hold on to

Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane 
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn't come

And life falls apart 
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing 
Even if the healing doesn't come

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways

So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us 
You tenderly love us 
We know Your heart 
And we rest in who You are

You're still the Great and Mighty One

We trust You always
You're working all things for our good
Well sing Your praise

You are God and we will bless You

As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn't come 
Even if the healing doesn't come 

Helen Keller once said, “"What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us." Tucker is a part of his parents and has touched countless people who will be forever impacted by his precious life. They are also touched by the Hinson's testimony of faith, strength, and diligence as they fought for their amazing little boy. They never gave up, and their story will never be forgotten. 

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted 
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

~Megan B.

Tucker had Pallister-Killian Syndrome....

Pallister-Killian Syndrome or PKS is a rare disorder which occurs for no known reason.  It involves a double duplication of the short arm of chromosome 12.  It is also a mosaicism.  This means that only a certain number of cells are affected by the extra parts of the chromosome.  Some cells are normal.
PKS is currently known to affect less than 200-300 children in the world.  Some doctors believe the rate of incidence should be as high as 2,000 cases in the U.S. alone.   
So, why aren’t there more cases…?

We believe there are cases out there that need more testing to ensure an accurate diagnosis!
Testing is done via skin biopsy, blood work or a buccal smear (cells removed from the inside of one’s cheek).  If nothing shows in the blood, often doctors will leave it at that. 
However, often, affected cells leave the bloodstream after just a few days leaving no trace of anything wrong.  If the child appears to have a disorder, always follow up with a skin biopsy or a less-invasive buccal smear.

Right now, many doctors don’t know much about PKS.  The information in medical documents and the internet is very outdated.  Doctors tell families what they know but that information may no longer be accurate.
PKS Kids is trying to change that through educational materials and opportunities.
One thing is certain; all these children are unique.

*Information taken from:

along with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia...

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia occurs when the diaphragm fails to fully form, allowing 

abdominal organs into the chest cavity and preventing lung growth. CDH occurs in 1 of 

every 2500 births; somewhere in the world, a baby is born with CDH every 10 minutes. 

50% of babies diagnosed with CDH do not survive. The cause is not known. Over a half 

million babies have been born with CDH since 2000. 


CDH is as common as Spina Bifida and Cystic Fibrosis but there is very little awareness and

 even less research. 1600 babies are born with CDH every year in the United States. 

Globally, a baby is born with CDH every 10 minutes.

CHERUBS is working hard to raise more CDH Awareness, and in turn, more CDH Research, 

while we continue to support families affected by this devastating birth defect.
Information taken from: