[Day +6] A Birthday Miracle
Eleven years ago, September 1, 2011, at 4:13 pm, Tim and I welcomed Carter into this world. Tim and I were staring at Carter, mesmerized and grappling with waves of emotions like any new parents. We were full of happiness but also felt anxious about our role as parents and where his life would take us.
It was just the three of us in that hospital room in Florida, figuring out life together. We could have never imagined that we, just our original family unit of three, would be back together in a hospital room feeling those same emotions today: we are happy for Carter’s rebirth but also anxious about the long, unknown road ahead.
We have had an incredible journey with Carter over the past eleven years, watching him grow into the bright, happy, athletic, and kind boy he is. He taught us the truest form of unconditional love— he taught us how to be parents. Most recently, he has taught us what truly matters most in life. My heart is heavy as I look back at these eleven years, which have somehow passed at such a dizzying pace. At the same time, my heart is filled with excitement for what the future will hold for Carter after he navigates through this chapter of his life. We know it will be BIG. It will have an even greater purpose. He will make us even more proud to have been chosen as his parents.
For now, while we wade through these dark days, we are reminded of a dear friend’s recent text, “I have no idea why Carter is sick and why you are going through all of this. We'll likely never know God's plan while we're here on Earth. But I am sure of this. God has put Carter in that hospital to be a source of joy and encouragement for someone who needs it. In ways we simply don't know, he is lifting someone's spirits. Giving purpose to someone's work. Carter is in that hospital for a purpose. In that way, his illness is serving others. Not the road any of us would choose for him or you. But a purpose nonetheless. Carter is making a difference.”
We have been feeling this purpose in different ways. Today, we received an email with such fantastic news that the email promptly turned into a Teams call. Yet another person (the third!) from our #Cure4Carter Be the Match campaign has been contacted to be someone’s lifesaving donor. This was the best birthday gift Carter could have received. We loved speaking to this individual today. A true birthday miracle and further proof of Carter making a difference.
As for Carter, each day this week has been a bit better than the day prior. Carter is moving his hands, feet, and legs again. The swelling and joint pain has subsided, and he has taken to walking laps again - he one-upped and completed 12 laps today. He is still unable to eat by mouth but tolerates his goal liquid feeding amounts via his NG tube. His medications are keeping him comfortable. His white blood cell count continues to drop and is nearing zero. It will stay that way until we begin to see engraftment - around day +21. Carter receives platelets every other day and red blood cells every few days.
Carter’s excellent child-life specialist decorated our room today. She even brought a BMT-approved slushy machine so Carter could have a birthday treat. His musical therapist taught him to play “Happy Birthday,” and the hospital chef made a double chocolate cake special for the birthday boy. Mom and Dad thoroughly enjoyed the cake. Carter had a nice day and knows his big celebration will be later this year. We were so thankful he flashed us his trademark smile today. We’d missed it.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a recording for our birthday video montage. Some of our friends got to work with their network to obtain some fantastic and memorable videos, even ones from a former President and Carter’s favorite NFL player. Carter loved seeing all 40 minutes of familiar faces and thanks everyone for their love and support. Carter also loves the delivery of SmileGrams. The hospital delivers letters to our room like mail service. We are at Egleston, Room 3209, if you’re up to sending one.
Many prayers and wishes for health, healing, and happiness for Carter’s next trip around the sun; this will be the best one yet.
I have said it before and will again; the blood shortage is real. There has been a steady decline in blood donations since the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic. We have had a few instances of waiting on deliveries of blood products just in the short time we have been in-patient. If you are willing and able to donate, many people in need would be incredibly thankful to receive your donation. You can click here to search for a donation location near you. If you live in the Atlanta area, you can donate through LifeSouth and direct your donation to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta - Egleston.