Saturday, September 18, 2010

A note from my sister

"For there is no friend like a sister, In calm or stormy weather, To cheer one on the tedious way, To fetch one if one goes astray, To lift one if one totters down, To strengthen whilst one stands." Christina Rosseti

My older sister, Rochelle, asked if she could write a post for my blog. I cannot copy and paste her words without sharing a little of my own heart for her. We are only eighteen months apart in age and growing up we were as different as two girls could be. We took very different paths in life as young adults. She was married young and headed to the mountains of West Virginia. I went to college and started a career in DC. She stayed very close to God, and I wandered about as far as I could get from Him. She spent years on her knees praying for me. Strangely enough her long journey with infertility would bring her to getting pregnant only months before I became pregnant with Delaney. As we began sharing the same season of life together we became very close. God began working in my heart and life to bring me back to Him, and this strengthened our bond.

When I first thought I had lost my pregnancy with Danica Rochelle was the first person I called to grieve with. She knew my heart and how desperately I wanted another baby after five years and why I couldn't bear to lose this one. When God miraculously preserved Danica through all the trauma and the continued subchorionic bleed it was Rochelle that called me every day to check on me and encourage me. When I ended up in the hospital with a blocked kidney for months it was Rochelle who would drive over the mountain to bring me a care package, hug me, and then drive back. She would faithfully call me every night from 11-12 pm when they would monitor the baby for an hour because she knew how painfully lonely I was. She and her husband sacrificed greatly to help us keep our home and pay our bills those months. The night after I had Danica I never really came out of my anesthesia. It was a brutal surgery not a birth. As I came in and out of my haze there was my sister, sleeping in a broken recliner beside me. She said I talked nonsense all night and asked for new dishes. That Christmas she bought me new dishes. Most recently she rearranged her entire life, which is next to impossible, to drive 6 hours and be here the day of my surgery. She could only stay the night. She pulled two hard chairs together and curled up into a ball and slept there with me. She got me ice chips and Panera, and it was like the best slumber party in the world (minus the hysterectomy).

I thank God for her everyday, and I love her more than I can really say. I always say the quote that suits her best is, "God is in the details." She is so lovingly worried about the details of our life the next few months. Here is her post:

First of all let me say "thank you" to all of you who read my sister, Monica's, blog! Secondly, let me say that I will readily admit that I do not possess the same amazing gift for words that my sister does, so I will simply be writing straight from my heart. Many of you have been reading about and following Danica's Chiari Journey over the past 18 months. I am sure as you have read the blog and shared with their family the many ups and downs along the way it has at times brought tears to your eyes and tugged at your heart. However, for those of us closest to them it has been not the past year, or even two that we have watched their struggle, but over three years ago that their lives did a 180 degree turn and it has been uphill ever since. There is no way to actually put into words all that they have faced, but watching my sister, her dear husband, Dan, and sweet girl, Delaney as they faced first a horrific, painful pregnancy to give little Danica life, Monica losing her job and them struggling to put a roof over their heads, the many months of uncertainty, appointments, tests, and pain leading up to Danica's diagnosis, her first brain surgery and recovery, and now Monica's recent surgery coming just weeks before Danica's next scheduled operation has often times left me feeling helpless. What can I do that would help them the most? How can I somehow lessen their burden and let them know how much they are loved?

I can tell you that they do indeed feel loved and supported and for that I thank each and every one of you! So many times Monica has called to share with me a card, e-mail, phone call, or gift from someone, and through tears expressed how much it meant to them and how it was just what they needed to encourage them and help get them through another day. God has used so many people in miraculous ways to meet their needs! Please know that while she has tried vigilantly to send hand written thank you notes to all those who have ministered to them in some way, that in the weeks during and after Danica's surgery this will just not be feasible. I have tried to tell her that people understand and don't expect that, but that is just in her nature. So please know that every thing, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated by them and our family.

The main reason I asked Monica if I could be a guest on her blog is that many of you, like myself may wonder how you can continue to help them in the upcoming weeks. While each expression of love and support is appreciated, many times people send flowers or gifts because they don't know how else to let you know they are thinking about you or praying for you. Danica will be spending quite some time in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) where she will not be allowed to have flowers, balloons, etc. So I wanted to share some suggestions and links with all of you that might be helpful if you would like to do something specific for their family while they are in Cincinnati at the hospital other than donating to Team Danica.

Meal Cards for Monica, Dan and other family helping at the hospital. This enables them to order their meals from room service in Danica's room.

Marriott Gift Cards for lodging. The Ronald McDonald House at Cincinnati Children's is notoriously full and has a waiting list. They can put their name on the list the day before Danica's surgery, but it is not likely they will get in the first week. I know Monica barely even left the room during Danica's first surgery, and this made her almost unable to function when they were released. She had to go home and begin caring for Danica fulltime without doctors and nurses and with no rest for days and nights. They really need a place to take turns getting away to rest. The hotel they stay at is the Springhill Suites Cincinnati Midtown. The hospital arranges reduced rates for them by making reservations, but it is still a little over $100 a night.

Free Ecards delivered through the hospital each day to patients and their families. I am sure Monica will update facbook and this blog as often as she can but will probably not be able to respond personally to many messages during Danica's hospitalization. This is a great way to let them know you are thinking or them and praying for them.

These are just ideas based on needs that I know are a concern for them, such as meals and hotel expense. I hope they are helpful. Most of all, however, I know they covet your continued prayers and appreciate you sharing Danica's story with others so they can pray too. (There is a new facebook share buttom on the top right of the blog to make this easy for you.) PLEASE pray specifically for Monica's health and strength as she helps care for Danica during her hospitalization and recovery. Pray for Delaney as she faces yet more time away for her family, home, and routine. Pray for Dan and Monica, as a couple and as parents, they have had to weather so much fear and uncertainty, which is draining emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I know at different times each has been walking this journey ahead of the other, the other feeling they could not go on, but by shear determination and a lot of grace they are still walking this path together. Pray for little Danica, that she will not be anxious and all will go as well as possible during and after surgery. That the doctors will be able to find medications to control her pain and will not cause adverse side effects for her. I know that our God is able to do all this and more!

Thank you for taking time to read this and in advance for each expression of kindness and love towards Monica, Dan, Delaney, and Danica. It will never be forgotten! May God bless you!

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