Giving Julia Back: Weeks 24-25

one year later :)

one year later 🙂

12/12/12

Life goes on, I know, but over a year later we still long to hold our little girl as much as the day we had to let her go.  Our entire family just feels incomplete without Julia.  There is something missing and that something is our baby girl.  Jake and Jack miss her and talk about her all the time…and I love that!  Even Jolee Kate told me the other day that her little sister was in Heaven with Jesus.  We talk about her daily but she is no longer here with us.  If I had one word to describe all of this it would be “bittersweet.”

our angel

our angel

And I may sound like a broken record, but I have to tell you the truth:  I thank God for giving me Julia Grace everyday.  Getting to be her Daddy is one of the greatest honors I’ll ever have.  Holding her in my arms and singing to her as she gracefully slipped away is one of my most treasured memories.  If you are in any way feeling sorry for me and my family…DONT!  I am not sharing my story seeking sympathy.  We still hurt but we are o.k.  I am sharing Julia’s story because through this ordeal I witnessed first hand the grace of God, the power of prayer, and the importance of a strong church family.  I am sharing Julia’s story because I want to tell this world about the love of Jesus Christ.  If you are hurting I want you to know that you can find peace and assurance even during your most intense moments of suffering…just as I did…just as I still do.

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

WEEKS 24-25

AUGUST 7th 2011- 10th: JULIA’S SPONTANEOUS SEAWORLD TRIP 

Kimberly is not spontaneous at all.  One time I tried to plan a last second trip to Maui when she was 10 weeks pregnant with Jake.  For whatever reason, God only knows why, we didn’t go.  Probably because she just didn’t have ample time to prep, primp, and pack.  I was so frustrated!  I was like throw in your swim suit, sunglasses, and sandals and lets do this!  But we didn’t.  Needless to say, she is a bit obsessive compulsive and has to have everything planned out perfectly to a T.  I on the other hand, will make plans, change plans, or cancel plans at the drop of a hat.  Then again, I do kind of fly by the seat of my pants.  Give me five minutes and a backpack and I’m ready to travel the world.  My wife will take two full days to pack enough for a month when she is only going to be gone over night.

JAKE & JACK SEAWORLD 2009

JAKE & JACK SEAWORLD 2009

So, back to Kimberly never being spontaneous…yesterday evening out of nowhere she said, lets take Julia and the kids to Sea World this next week.  I was shocked and said absolutely!  At the beginning of the summer we had planned on going but with the recent events we had put it on the back burner.  The boys will both start school in two weeks so we thought with all the drama it would be nice to take them to Sea World for an end of summer trip.

Checking out the sharks!

Checking out the sharks!

We have been going to Sea World every summer for the past four years and I guess it is becoming a bit of a family tradition.  We always stay at a the wonderful Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa, which is literally 1 mile from the front gates of Sea World.

Jolee Kate floating and kissing on her daddy.

Jolee Kate floating and kissing on her daddy.

We wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and do the Sea World thing until mid-afternoon, and then once it’s miserably hot and we are all tired and cranky, we head back to the resort for a little rest.  The remainder of the afternoon and evening we spend hanging out at the pool, and floating the lazy river for hours on end, only stopping for a burger from the grill and the nightly roasting of s’mores!  I am really looking forward to getting out of the house and out of our everyday routines.  It has been a tough month and we could all use a little rest and relaxation.  Shamu here we come!

AUGUST 9th 2011 – BITTERSWEET REMINDERS

Smoochin' a Beluga!

Smoochin’ a Beluga!

It’s good to know people who know people.  Through my involvement with the San Antonio Rodeo and some various private events in the Hill Country area, I have met a great guy at Sea World who always gives our family the royal treatment.  Not only do they hook us up with free park admission, they also give us VIP passes, free rides, free food, and backstage passes to meet the animals.

Holding a baby flamingo...right before it pooped all over Daddy!

Holding a baby flamingo…right before it pooped on Daddy!

We get to see a side of Sea World that not many get to see and it is an amazing experience.  I am the Dad and even I am having a blast feeding the dolphins, petting a shark, and kissing on a Beluga Whale.  Seeing our kids have so much fun has really been a breath of fresh air, but the gloom of the inevitable is still very much present.

little reminders everywhere we go

little reminders everywhere we go

Even as I walk around Sea World, I am reminded of Julia.  I pass by the souvenir shops and a small license plate with the name Julia jumps out at me.  I walk by the cafe and there are personalized mugs and the name Julia catches my eye.  All the families with four children, all the other pregnant women, it all reminds me of her.  Not to mention, every where we go, there is someone saying to Kim, “How far along are you? Do you know what you are having?  Oh that’s so exciting, a family of four…how perfect!”

BIG BROTHER JAKE

BIG BROTHER JAKE

At the Shamu show there is a family of four right in front of us, two older brothers and two little sisters, all sitting side by side.  And at this very moment, that is our family as well.  Jake and Jack are side by side next to Jolee Kate who is sitting on Kimberly’s lap, right next to her little sister inside her momma still.  At this very moment we are all together and that feels good.  Oh, how I wish it could always be this way.

Jolee Kate floatin' with her Daddy

Jolee Kate floatin’ with her Daddy

There are times while riding the rides, watching the shows, and splashing in the water that for just a little while I forget about what is to come.  But then I look at Kimberly, and then look down at her belly, and the sadness or the reality we are facing overwhelms me.  But I am ok.  Heartbroken, but I am ok.

BIG BROTHER JACK

BIG BROTHER JACK

I know that I am blessed, and even through this ordeal, I remain blessed.  There are three perfectly healthy babies with me here right now and their smiles and laughter fill me with pure joy.  If my life ended tomorrow, there is no doubt that I would leave feeling blessed.  This short last second vacation has been good for our broken hearts and weary souls.  We decided that we were calling this Julia’s Sea World Trip.

 

AUGUST 14th 2011– “MISSING DADDY” from KIMBERLY’S BLOG

Most of you know that Aaron went to Europe for 8 days…he left Monday, July 25th, and came back Tuesday morning, August 2nd (which was our 8 year anniversary).  Before he left on that trip however, he had two shows the week before (he cancelled his Thursday show because we were waiting on results of the amnio at that point and he didn’t want to leave me) and my Lubbock BFF came to town and stayed with me two nights.  LOVE her.  Along with her and her luggage, she even brought my favorite candy.  It was definitely like old college times for sure.  😉  Ha!  Anyhow, after Aaron flew out, I had more company.  Two of my very best friends and college roomies come in town to stay with me the first 2 days he was gone.  Then, I had my precious mother-in-law, and then our sweet babysitters (who have become like my little sisters I never had) stay with me until my mom and niece, Natalie, flew in Friday the 29th.  So…I had lots of company to sit and cry with.  🙂  Sometimes ya just need to cry though, and if you know me well, you know I am normally not a crier at all.  But the tears seem to flow freely lately.  And it is so touching to have people come just to love on you and care for you, out of genuine concern.  I am very thankful for the friendships I have; y’all have helped carry me, and will continue to carry me, I am certain.

IMG_8436.JPGAnd speaking of friends, Sunday afternoon, July 31st, a friend of mine came by with this special delivery.  She was so sweet to think of me.  And what a neat idea she had.  She contacted our mutual friends on Facebook and had the most precious basket put together full of all sorts of goodies.  Lotions, scrubs, music, nail polish, gift cards, crosses, thoughtful cards, and most of all, meaningful and heartfelt words.  I felt so, so loved and cared for.  Again, so thankful for the gift of friendship and the relationships we have because of Christ.

Jolee Kate playing in the water!

Jolee Kate playing in the water!

Anyhow, now we can get to the other pictures of what happened when Daddy was in Europe!  Well, the camera came back out when we were out on the back porch, enjoying another 112-degree afternoon, and this precious little thing wanted to play with the water hose.  It’s like it hit me, “Run!  Quick!  Grab your camera!  These are some shots you don’t want to miss!”

JAKE LISTENING TO DAD

JAKE LISTENING TO DAD

We all handle missing Daddy in different ways.  🙂  Jake was really getting tired of Daddy being gone.  Guess I am boring after a while!  Ha!  Anyhow, one evening, he asked if he could listen to daddy in the game room again…and I come in 15 minutes later, and see him in the same place in which I left.  The only change was that his chin was now resting on his arm, and he looked so pitiful.  And it wasn’t an act; this smile was something I encouraged for the sake of the picture.  Previously, there was no smile; just a sad little boy who had drifted off into thought, missing his daddy.  It was both sad but precious at the same time.  And it may sound strange, but I am so thankful that their daddy is such a good daddy that his children ache when he is away.  We are so fortunate.

Crocodile eating a guerilla...?

Crocodile eating a guerilla…?

Anyhow, well, moving along…Jack enjoyed playtime in Jolee Kate’s room.  There’s nothing new there.  🙂

JK baking cookies!

JK baking cookies!

And Jolee Kate, she has been enjoying her new kitchen as well.  I know she’s a little young, but let me just tell you, she loves it!  Bakes cookies already!  That-a-girl.

JK talking to Daddy in Europe

JK talking to Daddy in Europe

And one of the last things we did a lot of, was talk on the phone with Daddy at a rate of something like $20 a minute!  Ha!  When you are on an entirely different continent than the rest of your family, a phone call is all you have, and he had to hear their little voices.  But when we hung up, there were often tears.  🙂   

AUGUST 15th 2011: BEDTIME PRAYERS

The Watson Boys / Sea World 2011

The Watson Boys / Sea World 2011

One area where I feel I constantly drop the ball is the issue of bedtime Bible stories and bedtime prayers.  The problem isn’t that I don’t want to, it’s that there’s hardly enough time to with the way we schedule things.  If we had the kids in bed by a decent hour, it would be so much easier.  Their daddy has a crazy schedule though, and I think I pretty much throw everybody in the house out of whack because of that.  As the seven o’clock hour rolls around, we should be technically getting them into bed, but we usually play, play, and play, and then all of a sudden realize we still need to do baths, and by the time we are out, lotioned, dressed, teeth brushed, and have the infamous “one more drink of water,” it is almost 9 o’clock.  At this point the kiddos are getting very tired and cranky and so is Daddy.  I often feel myself getting frustrated and a little short with the boys.

check out the chunky monkey eat ice cream in the back seat.... SeaWorld 09'

check out the chunky monkey eat ice cream in the back seat…. SeaWorld 09′

On this day in particular, I really needed the boys to lie down and chill out.  But Jake and Jack decided to have a WWF wrestling match there on the bed, which I always allow, and then they got a real bad case of the giggles.  I’m not going to lie, the giggles gets me cracked up.  It’s been years since I’ve actually had the giggles.  I can remember getting them in school with a buddy, and even if the teacher was red hot mad, I couldn’t stop the giggles.

JAKIE BOY

JAKIE BOY

Anyhow, on this evening in particular, I needed the boys in bed right away!  Kimberly and I had to get up at 5am so that we could be out the door by 6am and heading to Fort Worth for a 9 o’clock appointment with a Pediatric Cardiologist who was going to take a good long look at Julia’s heart.  I was totally exhausted already and I needed to go to bed early.  So I tuck them in, lights are out, and then Jake remembers that I didn’t feed the fish…I mean our one fish.  We have a fish that apparently is some kind of immortal…I accidentally have managed to kill all the other fish, but this guy is tough.  I am convinced that you could drop him in a bowl of Clorox and he would survive.  Anyhow, so I hop up and feed our fish.  Jack then reminds me that we didn’t say our prayers.  As we say our prayers, we hold hands together.  Jack says the longest, sweetest prayers you have ever heard!

My Little Preacher / JACKIE BOY

MY LITTLE PREACHER JACKIE BOY

“Dear Dod, thank you for my pends (friends), thank you for my bruder Jakey and my sister Dolee Tate (Kate), thank you for my Daddy and keep him safe on da bus…(fifteen minutes later)…”  The last thing my little Jack says in his prayer was “and Dod please take care of Dulia Dace (Julia Grace) inside my mommas tummy and please make her hurt foot and broken heart all better.  In Jesus’ name we pray…(and then he screams) AMEN!!!”

AUGUST 16th – APPT. WITH THE PEDIATRIC CARDIOLOGIST

So I don’t go to bed till about 1am and I swear I lay my head down and it’s not but 5 minutes later and I hear Kimberly whispering, “Get up Daddy, it’s time to get ready for the appointment.”  She rubs her hand through my hair and I slowly open my eyes, and see my beautiful wife.  I hate that she has to go through this.  And even as she goes through this “hell of an experience,” she does so with such grace and dignity.  She is one classy gal!  And she is the best mom in the world.  She loves her babies and she revolves her life around them.  Anyhow, we have a pleasant, quiet drive to Ft Worth.  We see the Doctor.  We get more bad news.  We cry a little more.  We gather our stuff and we head down to the valet at the front of the hospital and load up in the car.

As we leave the hospital, I inform the wife that I am taking her shopping.  She says, “Oh, I’m ok, let’s just go home.”  I then say, any mall you want, buy anything you want, and she says, well there are a few things that I was wanting…so we head to the mall.  😉  That girl shops happy or sad!  She probably even shops in her sleep.  We hit every store inside that monstrous mall and last but not least, her favorite…Nordstrom’s.   On the way home, I stopped in Weatherford and got a triple shot espresso and a few hours later we were home in time for dinner.

AUGUST 16th 2011– from KIMBERLY’S BLOG

“We were advised to have a Fetal Echo done and Dr M was kind enough to schedule an appointment for us at Cook Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, August 16th.  Aaron and I left at 6am in order to be there in time for our 9am appointment.  Once we arrived, we valeted our car and headed to Patient Registration.  That took a bit, and then after a while, they escorted us up to the 3rd floor to a waiting room filled with parent’s anxiously waiting while their child was having surgery.

After 30-40 minutes of waiting, a nurse came and took us back to one of the rooms equipped with the ultrasound machine used for the Echo.  It was essentially the same procedure as any 2D ultrasound, except they look at almost nothing except the heart.  The sonogram technician worked for well over a half an hour, and took what seemed to be a thousand pictures of her little heart from every angle possible, and then told us they were extremely behind that morning, and that it may be a while.  So, since I was lying in a hospital bed, and being that I am very familiar with such, I just adjusted that bed to my liking and waited as patiently as we could for the doctor to come in.

The doctor’s name was Dr. R, and let me just say, she was absolutely wonderful.  It was very obvious she was a Christian, and the peace and understanding that was given to us by her was great.  We talked with her over 45 minutes, and not one time did she ever make us feel like she was running out of time, or that she had to go.  She began by doing a lot of talking and explaining, and then allowed us to ask as many questions as we had.

Let me clarify by saying that we knew going into this that the whole point of having the Echo done was only to give us a better idea of what we will be looking at after delivery, that we knew full-well this wasn’t going to “fix” Julia.  It was simply for more understanding and preparation as to what might lie ahead.

So basically, in summary, this is what we were told:  Our baby’s heart is very much like a Down Syndrome heart.  In fact, she said she wished she could tell us it was far worse because it would make it easier on us as the parents.  But it’s not.  It’s very similar to the typical Down’s heart.  Our baby has ASD, VSD, and in very plain terms, pretty much has 2 chambers instead of 4.  If our baby wasn’t an “18 baby,” they would operate at 4 months of age, and with the corrective surgery, our baby would live. Complications, yes, and some damage done to the lungs, yes.  But she would live.  And probably live between 30 and 50 years of age.  However…because she is in fact a “18 baby”, as they call them, that would not be the case.  She continued to tell us what we already knew, that close to 75% of all 18 babies die in the womb.  And then a large percentage of babies that are able to make it full term end up dying during delivery.  Then, a very small percentage dies within minutes to a few hours of delivery because they cannot breathe.

Here is where it gets complicated.  She said that our baby looks to be one that they call “a survivor,” but only in T-18 terms.  Survivor, meaning, live a few days…or a few weeks…or maybe even a month.  However, she said it all depends on how the baby does at delivery.  She said it could not be the case at all, because we are talking about such a small chance the baby would even be born alive, etc.  So, she said we would first see if the baby makes it to term and survives the delivery.  If she does, then you see if she is going to breathe.  Most of these babies have such severe mental retardation that they literally do not know how to breathe and they call it apnea, and the baby dies within minutes.  But, if she breathes, then you next see if she is going to eat.  And again, another major characteristic of these babies is that they do not eat.  So, we see if she will eat.  And she said hardly any of them do, and that in the majority of these babies, their esophagus does not connect to their stomach.

And that’s the kicker.  If you can’t eat and you can’t breathe…what quality of life do you have?  It’s not what we want for our child.  However, it gets sticky and tricky, and complicated, and just not a whole lot of fun at this point.  Assuming she would even make it this far.  But we literally will have to make decisions on what we do for our daughter.

Do no resuscitate vs. resuscitate?  Trachea or not?  Feeding tube?  G-Button?  Etc. Etc. What will we do if she makes it to this point?  I honestly do not know.  But we have been advised by nearly every physician we have seen…and it is exactly what we have felt in our hearts since we got the devastating blow: Comfort measures only.  I hope I do not offend anyone by saying that, but most of my readers are parents, so just think about it for a minute.  Why do things that may cause her to suffer when nothing will change the fact that she has Trisomy 18, considered by doctors to be one of the two worst chromosomal errors, and ultimately is not going to live?  Big decisions lie ahead.  And decisions I never have thought about having to make.  But decisions Aaron and I may have to make in the coming weeks, should our baby be born alive.  Sometimes it honestly doesn’t seem right to have to even consider these things.  However, I know that our strength does and will come from God; it will be Him who will lead us through it all, and holding us up when we cannot stand on our own.

Our baby girl Julia Grace

Our baby girl Julia Grace

Please continue to pray for Aaron and I.  Finding ourselves in the middle of this raging storm is more than I can put into words.  At times I am still in utter and complete shock that we are where we are.  How?  Why?  Oh yeah, because He allows life to happen.  He loves us, and loves us so.  But He never promised us rainbows every day.  Right now, in the midst of this storm, we are giving it our all, and clinging on to Him.  And we have full faith that the rainbows will appear again one day.”

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Published in: on December 14, 2012 at 8:44 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Aaron and family: I know first hand what all you are feeling. Anniversaries are so hard. It has been five years since Lauren passed away and it is still hard. I hope that your days are soft. Hugs to you.

  2. We lost our little angel, Nolan Dale Goddard, 13 years ago. Have we forgotten him? No. We have healed. It never completely goes away, but, it does become less raw. Through prayers and very loud discussions (mostly one sided) with God, we have healed. The best part is my 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter talk about their older brother all the time. Thank you for sharing your family with us. Brenda

  3. Reading your story is so therapeutic to me….this coming February will be Joan’s 14th birthday and as I think about her daily I also think of all of her angel friends….most in Heaven and several here on this earth…I had a dream about you a few nights ago, I was holding a sweet baby girl and you were both there….it was one of those dreams you wake up from and feels so real….Kim and Aaron, you are a wonderful, loving couple and great parents….my prayers continue to be with you.
    God Bless you,
    Atousa

  4. Thank you so much for continuing to share this painful experience with us. You & Kimberly are such an inspiration … you both have such strong faith, and your family is just precious. So sorry that y’all have had to endure this … no parent should ever have to bury their child. We will all keep sweet Julia’s memory alive. Praying for all of you with each anniversary and each holiday or experience that you’re wishing you could share with her. We just hold fast to the promise that one day in Heaven, you will all be reunited — and she will know the deep and unconditional love her parents, brothers, sister, and so many others have for her. Merry Christmas and thanks for being such a blessing to so many!!! We love you!!

  5. Reading this is the most absolutely uplifting thing I have ever ever seen. Your battle with this thing has been torrential and I as a mother-to-be cant imagine what you are going through. I just went in for my tests and gene panel. My dr looked at me funny when I told her to check twice for trisomy 13 and also 18

  6. I won the meet and greet with Aaron at the heart of tx fair and we talked about my little boys chromosome deletion he seemed to understand and was interested in hearing about my James Allen now i understand …..

  7. I read this blog all the time. I lost my 8 week old son 12 years ago and though I have healed sometimes I still have days I struggle. Your blog is inspiring. You and Kimberly inspire me, and show what true love is for both each other and your children.

  8. It has been 4 years since my Hunter Ryan passed away and i think of him everyday and it is still hard but to know that there are other parents dealing with loss to helps in my healing. may god watch over you and your family.

  9. Dear Watson Family,
    I am so moved by this blog. My wonderful friends, Linda & Ashley Johnson introduced me to it. I’ve read the entire blog within 3 days. I couldn’t make myself stop reading it despite my super busy schedule. I’m taken away by your life with your precious Julia Grace. My husband & I love children & decided right away that we would have a big family. We know that children are the most marvelous miracles that God can give us. After 2 years, fertility drugs, an IUI procedure, and mostly God’s will we received our Grace Elizabeth. She was born March 4th, 2006. We still can’t believe that God loved us so much that he gave us this beautiful, full-of-life miracle! In the next 2 years we had 2 more babies which I lost. I didn’t carry either one of them long enough to know the gender, but what I do know is that they are waiting on us in Heaven & I long for the day that I get to finally hold them the way I hold my Grace. She is a very proud big sister & can’t wait to play w/her siblings one day as well! I just want to thank-you for sharing this with me. When I read stories like yours it just gives me even more peace of mind about my babies. We never give up hope & if it is God’s will we will have another some day. I also want to say that I am inspired by your Christian values. Everything about your family gives me a peace in my heart. Ashley has been begging us to come out to see you & tomorrow night we are finally fulfilling her wish. We will see you at the Ice House at Lake Bryan & can’t wait! Until then God bless your beautiful family!
    ~ The Owens’
    Dave, Casey, & Gracie


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