After trying for almost eight years, we finally conceived again! We could hardly wait to share the news with everyone, especially our older daughter, Lydia, who was 9 ½ when we told her. She was born to have siblings and was so excited to add a baby to our family. We had been foster parents and had other children in and out of our home. In fact, during this time, we had our son, who we were able to later adopt, living with us.
There began to be some complications around 20 weeks along. Heather’s blood pressure was escalating. Within a few weeks, her blood pressure spiked high enough for her doctor to admit her to the hospital. He said she would likely stay in the hospital until she delivered.
Heather was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, a life-threatening liver disorder. Her doctor said that they needed to deliver our baby early. AnnaJoy came at 27 weeks along. She was so tiny, less than 2 pounds. Right after AnnaJoy was born, she stopped breathing. The Code Blue alarm rang through the hospital and Steve hit his knees. The doctors revived her and took her to the NICU to monitor her. On her way there, Lydia and Steve got to see her for a brief moment. There were tubes all over the incubator that she was in. She was the most tiny and fragile baby we had ever seen.
Heather was recovering well and AnnaJoy was making progress in the NICU each day. Heather was released from the hospital on Saturday. The next day was Father’s Day. Heather and Steve came to visit and were able to introduce her namesake to her. We were told that she was doing better and that tomorrow they would try taking her breathing tube out. What a great present on such a special day!
The next morning, we got a call from the hospital that AnnaJoy had a rough night and took a turn for the worse. She passed away within a few hours of that phone call.
This was such a devastating blow. She had just been doing so well, how could she just be gone a day later? How could this happen? This just didn’t make any sense. We could not wrap our minds around it. Our heads were spinning.
In the days and weeks to come, we had a couple of decisions to make. Either God is good or He is not. Either He caused this to happen or He did not. The final answer that we had to settle on is that God IS good. He did not cause this horrible devastation.
The other decision we needed to make was what we are going to do with all of this. The answer to that is found in AnnaJoy’s legacy. AJ’s Place – A Foundation of Hope is birthed out of the immense pain that we have experienced. Out of these ashes we will rise.