The Blessing Choice
The second portion of Chapter 1 of “The Blessing Choice: Change The Way You Make Choices, and The Choices You Make Change” (Part 3 for Be About Change)
The days, weeks, and months that would follow this day would be filled with a flurry of activity. We had regular ultrasounds, appointments, and meetings with the neurosurgeon who would make the call on when they would decide to deliver Mikayla. Mikayla wouldn’t be able to go full term to 40 weeks, since the pressure in her brain was increasing with each passing week. When Mikayla was 34 weeks, the neurosurgeon said it was time to take her out of the womb. It was a Thursday, and they scheduled the caesarian section (c-section) for the following Monday, April 8th. It was time to bring Mikayla into the world.
The morning of Mikayla’s birth was wrought with nervous energy for my wife and me. We didn’t know quite what to expect. All the months of late night conversation, prayers, and consternation had finally arrived. We had done all we could to prepare our lives for welcoming this life into the world, and we couldn’t fully comprehend the magnitude of the moments. How much would our lives change? How hard would it be? Can we really handle this? The questions and thoughts grew louder as the morning pressed on, until I walked with my wife towards the operating room. I wanted to be fully present for the moment. My wife had some serious drugs in her system, and my wife and daughter needed me to be fully present to them. If a difficult, quick decision needed to be made, I wanted to be on full alert for it. Our same doctor who had been with us at the high-risk pregnancy ultrasound would be the one to perform the birth. She had taken us on as full-time clients, and we still see her from time to time. She began the process, and I remained focused on my wife and being supportive to her. The next thing I remember is watching them pull Mikayla from my wife’s body. There was a whole team of doctors and nurses in the room, and they immediately took her to wash her and place her in an incubator since she was born so prematurely. I could hear our little Mikayla’s cry. It was so soft and sweet. She had beaten the odds just by being born. She was alive, and in that moment that was all that really mattered. She had defied the odds by just surviving to birth.
The nurses took Mikayla to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and my wife told me to go with Mikayla while she recovered. I walked with the nurses down the hall to the NICU, where the team of nurses hooked her up to all different kinds of tubes and wires. This little baby with an oversized head and only weighed 4 pounds and 8 ounces, and she must have had more than ten times her weight in equipment draped over her body. We had access to touch Mikayla through tiny windows on either side of the incubator. You had to thoroughly wash your arm up to your elbow anytime you wanted to reach in the window. I did this so many times at the hospital that I even remember repeating this process at home a few times.
Mikayla wasn’t very strong, but the first time I reached my pinky finger into the incubator window to touch her hand she wrapped it right around my finger. Her hand could just barely fit around my pinky finger. She clutched on tight. I remember feeling that my daughter of just a few hours was telling me. “It’s going to be okay daddy. I am here now.” Our priest arrived later that day to baptize Mikayla. Our priest actually got to touch Mikayla before my wife did, who was still in the post-operatory room. Our priest would perform the baptism right there in the hospital, because we wanted to make sure she was baptized right away. We didn’t know how long she had with us on this earth. She was also scheduled to undergo brain surgery the next day to place a shunt in her brain to drain the fluid from her brain into her abdomen. This is something our bodies do naturally, but it was her Dandy Walker Syndrome that was causing this pocket of excess fluid in her brain to put pressure on her brain tissue.
I never felt more out of control of anything in my life than how I felt when my day-old daughter would undergo brain surgery. I had never had such a major operation in my life, and here was my little defenseless daughter about to have her head cut open and a foreign apparatus placed in her body to aid her survival. It felt almost like a movie. I had trouble connecting with my own life in those first few days. I felt like I was living in a different reality. I tried to hold it all together. I just tried to be a father and a husband.
Mikayla would defy the odds again, and she would survive that surgery as well. In fact, she has survived all six surgeries she has had up to this point at the publishing of this book. She handles each surgery with such grace, and she bounces back from each one. When she comes out of surgery, she just seems so helpless, but she fights on.
She has taught me more about persistence and perseverance than I could have learned in a lifetime of trying to learn it on my own.
Her life was teaching me so much that I decided to start a blog on a free WordPress site in November after she was born. I started writing as therapy, and I remember telling my wife that I just needed to write and it didn’t matter who would read it. Interestingly enough, people did start to read it and comment on it. The people who were reading it encouraged me to keep writing. The traffic outgrew the free WordPress site after about eight months of blogging, and I took my blog to a self-hosted site. Many of the thoughts in this book came first from sharing with the small group of people who encouraged me to keep writing on that Dandy Walker Ranger blog.
Mikayla was first my coach before I ever became a coach.
She continues to coach me every day even though she has never said a word to me. Her life is a testament to me of what is possible. Her progress is a testament to refusing to give up and that comparison to others is the biggest robber of joy. Her happiness and joy is innate, not because ignorance is bliss, but rather because she doesn’t pursue anything outside of herself to make her happy. She has a purpose and her joy comes from her purpose. Her success does not come from success in achievements, but rather success in her significance.
She taught me that real humility comes from recognizing our own brokenness that we can’t fix on our own.
The events that happen to me in my life don’t define me, but rather my response to them is what defines me. My beliefs about what I can do can limit my potential if I let them. Her birth and life has been an exercise for me in learning from her life and seeking more meaning and purpose in my own.
This brings me to the next six words that would change my life. Yes, as the title of this chapter reads I have six words that changed my life…twice. These six words would again happen in an ultrasound room with my wife.
These six words were “there are two babies in there.”
That was the day that my wife and I would learn that we were now called again…
Not to bring a special needs child into the world, but to bring typically developing twin girls into the world. I remember driving in the car with my wife after that ultrasound, and looking her in the eye and saying “I am continually surprised at what God thinks we can handle.” So in January of 2015, when Mikayla was just under two years old we would welcome a new challenge. This time was different though. It wasn’t just different because of the circumstances. It was different because now we had experience in making something I call the blessing choice. We had practice in making this choice with Mikayla, and the next chapter is all about what the blessing choice is and how to apply it to your life.
Dedicate yourself to a more purposeful life.
Graham Honeycutt discovered his calling after confronting some very difficult questions. The process of working through this challenge led him to discover his vocational calling, and it is a process through which he coaches others.
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