January is EA/TEF Awareness Month.Therefore, each Tuesday post at DifferentDream.com in January is dedicated to raising awareness of the birth anomaly that affects our first child and approximately 1 in every 4000 babies born.
10 Reasons to Mark EA/TEF Awareness Month in January
Last week’s Tuesday post listed 10 reasons to mark EA/TEF Awareness Month. Many of you listed your children (and some EA/TEF survivors listed themselves) as more reasons to mark the month. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and reminding all of us that the EA/TEF family is wide and deep.
EA TEF Awareness Is Why I Write
This week’s post gets up close and personal. (Anybody else out there old enough to remember that slogan from the news coverage from the Winter Olympics way back when?) It’s a piece I wrote in December for a guest post for an author friend of mine, Melissa Tagg, an up and coming fiction writer who is on the verge of publication. (When you read her first book, remember you heard about her at DifferentDream.com first!) She asked me to blog about how my past experiences influence my writing. The resulting post, altered slightly, is a perfect fit for EA TEF Awareness Month. See what you think.
Helping Faith Take Root
My husband came home from work a few weeks before Christmas with good news and bad news. The good news was that a co-worker had just become a grandfather. The bad news was that the newborn boy had a heart anomaly and wasn’t doing well.
“Can I give the family copies of your books?” my husband asked.
Now, you would think my answer must have been an immediate yes. But it wasn’t. I didn’t say a thing because I was busy thinking, “I have given so many books away already. Will anybody ever buy them? Will my writing income ever be greater than the expenses?”
A shocking internal reaction, don’t you think?
Thankfully, dollar signs didn’t hold my thoughts hostage for long. I remembered our son’s first December. Allen was seven months old by then and had endured two Lifeflight helicopter rides, two major surgeries, three hospitalizations, and dozens of medical tests and treatments to correct a type C EA/TEF. He’d recently transitioned from tube feeding to using a bottle to take in the breast milk I pumped for him four times a day. My husband and I were exhausted by lack of sleep, constant worry, and frequent trips to the hospital, a 240 mile round trip from the remote South Dakota town where we lived.
What kept us going?
The encouragement of friends and neighbors in the tiny town where we lived. While Allen was hospitalized for three weeks after his birth, they cleaned our house, cared for our garden, and sent notes. Once we brought Allen home, a pastor and his wife came every week to do a Bible study with us and answer our questions about why a loving God would allow a little baby to endure so much. A local fundraiser in November netted over $1500.
For a town with a population of 92 in a county of about 1500, it was big money!
As Christmas drew closer, the familiar story of a baby in a manger held new meaning to me. For the first time, as the parent of a precious child who had experienced great pain, I understood the magnitude of God’s gift to mankind. He sent his Son to a world stained by sin and evil, even though he knew the pain Jesus our Savior would bear. What joy to be loved by a God willing to sacrifice so much to save us from our sin.
My faith and gratitude grew deep roots that Christmas.
Roots that waited more than two decades to bear fruit. The fruit took the form of two books full of resources and encouragement and answers for parents facing the same exhaustion and doubts we once did. Two books for families like the man who works with my husband.
“Of course,” I said. “Take both books to them.”
The little baby had surgery a few days after that. Today we received word that he’s not getting better. The family is stricken, not up to reading anything. But one day they will start looking for encouragement. One day they will ask hard questions. Depending on the answers they find, their faith will either shrivel and die or take root and grow.
I’m praying that these books will help their roots to grow.
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