My Friend : By Megan (Ellett) Parcel
She, Andrea, and I met in the fall of 1999, and were basically inseparable until spring 2003 when Andrea and I graduated college. Janna graduated the spring before but came back for lots of weekends. Anyways, these two women are defining women in my life. They loosened me up, helped me become confident and sassy, and are basically the sisters I got to choose. I love them both dearly and would drop anything at anytime if they needed me. I am positive they would do the same. We have grown from giggling college coeds to giggling grown women when we are together. Our husbands get along. Our kids get along. Coincidentally, we all only have boys...word is still out on Andrea's latest bundle of joy, but I have a feeling she's in for boy number two also!
This fall, Janna and her husband, Paul, found out at a routine ultrasound that something was wrong with their baby. Further tests revealed that their second son has a birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). To make a long explanation short- his abdominal organs were in his chest cavity and didn't allow his heart or lungs to form or grow properly.
Now, I know what I would have done with news like this. I would have turned into a crying, weak, worrisome, unpleasant, wallowing in the sadness woman. And after learning of the less than favorable odds that he was given- I would have shut down. My heart was breaking for my friend and her family.
Not Janna. She met this head on, did countless hours of research on CDH, doctors, hospitals, treatment options, facilities. She became totally engrossed and invested in this baby. She started throwing around medical terms like a pro. She started a blog (www.ourcdhstory.blogspot.com) for all her friends and family to read. The last time I checked, that blog had over 20,000 visits.
She was determined to change the odds for her baby.
I know Janna. There is no one more head strong than her. (I know, I've lived with her!) If she wants something to happen, she makes it happen. She excels at everything she does. She is strong and smart and always prepared.
Through this whole thing, she has been positive and thankful. I am sure she has had bad days or moments, but she has kept it in order. And that's something I am in awe of.
After Garrett was born, she has been with him every day. She knows him like the back of her hand. She has been his biggest supporter and advocate. She hasn't been afraid to tell the doctors and nurses what she thinks is best for her baby. She knows that no one knows him like she does, and she does what he needs her to do for him.
I had the privilege of visiting them last week. Let me just say, the pictures do not do the poor kid justice. In the pictures, yes, he is adorable. In person, he is beautiful. Big, dark, handsome eyes...my oh my. Heartbreaker.
Now, I see babies every day. But when I saw him, I teared up. He is a fighter, stubborn, and headstrong. He knows what he wants and how to get it. He's got his momma in him. And watching them look at each other will forever be locked in my memories.
The odds for a CDH baby truthfully aren't very good. Definitely not in your favor. Garrett has been a lil man on a mission. He was able to stay off ECMO (baby life support), he did great after his surgery, was able to be extubated, and most recently, has mastered the art of eating. (He will now fit in with all of us and our boys!) This little baby is nothing short of a miracle.
I am so thankful to God for Garrett's recovery. I can't wait to see what life has in store for him. He has a purpose, that is for sure! I am excited to see him grow up.
I am sure though, no where near as excited as his mother and my friend Janna.