What do you do when these are your best friend’s words?
You cry, you pray, you get angry, you get hopeful, you lose hope, you scream, you sit silently…all in a span of a few seconds.
It has become my routine every time Michele messages me or I see a post from her. I hold my breath with anticipation, never knowing what kind of news I’ll be receiving.
I am honored to be in the inner circle of friends receiving updates on her precious daughter, Leah, but honestly it is hard.
To truly understand the scope of what Michele has been through we have to rewind seven years to her first birth. Her son was unresponsive with a five minute APGAR score of 1 and had a one week NICU stay.
Her second pregnancy was plagued with the onset of a suspected auto-immune disease that resulted in partial paralysis and chronic nerve pain. Her birth, which I had the privilege to be present at, was absolute perfection. I remember her saying how thankful she was for her first traumatic experience so she could truly appreciate her daughter’s birth.
Thankful. My mind was blown that those were her choice of words.
Along comes her third pregnancy; another son. Her health had improved compared to her previous pregnancy and everything seemed to be pointing towards another perfect birth, but several hours into labor a prolapsed cord occurred and an emergency cesarean had to be performed.
Certainly with that much “bad luck” the odds would be to have a healthy fourth pregnancy, right?
August 28th, 2017
Michele’s name scrolls across my phone screen as an incoming call.
I knew before I picked up something was wrong. I don’t think I even said hello.
“Baby is incompatible with life.”
If my world was crashing down hearing those words I don’t know how she was repeating them.
We talked for a while longer about how the recommendation was to terminate the pregnancy and how if she didn’t it was unlikely she would even carry her baby past 20 weeks.
“Is there a heartbeat?” I asked.
“Then there is hope and you need a second opinion.”
Second, third, and fourth opinions came. None were as definitive as the first which offered no hope, but none of them were great.
Down syndrome, congenital heart defect, and other possible complications were all in the mix now for her daughter.
The longest six months of pregnancy followed. By the time Michele was 38 weeks along, doctors had given baby Leah a 50/50 chance at surviving birth, but would be unable to determine the severity of her other health complications until after birth.
She not only survived, she thrived!
“February 17th 2018
Today God delivered the impossible.
Meet Amelia Marie Grace Eastin
Amelia meaning work of the Lord.
We will call her Leah because we love how she was unlikely in God’s plan and he made her central to the lineage of Christ over Rachel. Marie to have a piece of me and a bonus middle name cause shes already special so why not Grace. We will never forget that she certainly was not promised nor deserved nor earned but totally just a gift of grace.”
Even with a nearly 3 week NICU stay postpartum, she was the best case scenario given all her medical conditions. She would need open heart surgery in the upcoming months to repair her AVSD and would need to be tube fed due to poor muscle tone.
Once Leah was released from the hospital it was time to adjust to the family’s new normal. For most people this wouldn’t resemble anything like life before such a special arrival, but Michele is not like most.
She kept life going for her three older kiddos, which included homeschooling, keeping the house running while her husband traveled for work, made it to Leah’s specialist appointments multiple times a week, and decided to open A Pocket of Joy Boutique. Yes, in the midst of everything she decided it was the perfect time to open her own business.
There were moments of frustration and fear no doubt, but everything pointed to a miracle baby that would thrive beyond what anyone ever imagined. Then the bad news roller coaster started.
Days before her scheduled heart surgery Leah came down with a cold. What seems like nothing to you and I can be life threatening for a baby with heart defects.
Surgery bumped 6 weeks.
Days before the next surgery date she began showing signs of infantile spasms.
Surgery bumped 4 more weeks
Then another cold.
This one landed Leah in ICU, and catches us up to what they are battling now.
One thing after another.
Volatile blood pressures.
And yet she keeps fighting.
So what do you do when your best friend tells you, “we need something! Prayers. Miracle. New lungs. I DON’T KNOW!” ?
You write out her incredible story in your own words, words that don’t do her justice, and share it with the world.
Oh I have so many other words to say, so many emotions that flood my mind every time I think about different aspects of their story. For now this is the best I can do.
I ask that you keep the Eastin family in your thoughts and prayers in the upcoming days, weeks, months. This is going to be a long battle, but we’re not giving up hope.
Despite her reluctance to ask for help we know that is one of the only burdens those on the outside can help lift. If you feel led to help financially a GoFundMe has been set up, or you can message me for her PayPal email if you’d like to avoid donation fees.