Wow! My life has been a roller coaster since I got laid off work in September 2006. Here's an email I sent to my friends and family the day after Jared was born, Nov 2006.
Alicia had her baby!
8 lbs 1 ounce. 19 inches. His name is Jared William Peterson. He was born yesterday (Wed) at about 6:40 PM--4 weeks to the day of Alicia being in the hospital on bed rest. She was 34 weeks along.
This was supposed to be a release from the stresses we've been going through, but it looks like we now have a whole new bundle of issues to deal with. First off, Alicia separated her pelvis during the birth. Last time she broke her tailbone, but this pelvis injury seems to be a much worse issue than the tailbone. She's basically incapacitated and can't leave the hospital (Arrowhead hospital) until she can walk. She is in a lot of pain.
And now for the bad news . . . Jared was flown to another hospital (St Joseph's, which is about an hour away from us) because he has a heart condition (pulmonary valve is too narrow) and other issues. The doctors are running a bunch of tests but it could be Noonan's Syndrome. He seems to fit the profile (i.e. Pulmonary Valve Stenosis, undescended testicles, perhaps a pound or two of excess fluid in his tissues, extra skin around his neck, lower ears, etc.). The best news is that he's going to live and that the main issues are reversible through surgery. The one thing that worries me is that there's a 25% chance that he could be mentally retarded. If he is, then it probably won't be too severe. Many people with this condition live normal lives -- some don't even know they have it. IQs have been reported to be as high as 130. But if the Lord wants to give us a special spirit, then that is fine with us.
Last month I felt like Job from the bible . . . before all of the problems he went through. Today I feel like Job the day he went through the first onslaught of problems. I find out that my boy might have Noonan's Syndrome, will need multiple surgeries, will probably raise our future private insurance to be more than our house payment, and will be in a far-away hospital for "many many weeks." I find out that Alicia separated her pelvis and won't be coming home as expected (she's been in the hospital for over 4 weeks now)--and when she does come home, probably won't be able to drive to the hospital by herself to see her new son. I spent half the day at the doctor's office to find out why my 2-year-old won't stop throwing up (it's been a month now). I got a scare tonight that he might have poisoned himself with Alicia's iron supplements (I'll be up all night checking him to make sure he's still alive. Poison control has been calling me every few hours). Dean just had a night terror. Oh, and my twins stayed home today from school because of throw-up sickness. Our house hasn't burnt down yet, but there are still 2 more hours in the day. Whew! What a day!
But through all of this, we are still positive and happy. We feel peaceful that everything is in the Lord's hands. He has really guided us and prepared us for this event. My new business is booming (I got laid off 2 months ago, which has allowed me to stay home with the kids). We're going to have a baptism this Saturday (I'm the ward mission leader). I just found out that my books will be published earlier than expected. Good things are happening. Family and church members have been a huge blessing.
Jared had heart surgery 6 days after being born. We almost lost him after the surgery. He went without oxygen for a while, so I’m scared for him. He’s a sweetheart. After 5 months, he’s finally starting to smile (a little) and react to toys.
By the way, here's a website about Jared's condition, Noonan's Syndrome: http://www.specialchild.com/archives/dz-033.html
Alicia was crippled for a month and required someone to drive her to the hospital to see her baby every day (2 hours of driving!). She used a wheelchair for a while and then a walker.
A week or so after sending this email, my business tanked. I worked extremely hard to get it back up (which I did), but in Feb of 2007 I basically lost all of the money I had worked so hard to earn... literally in one fell swoop. My biggest affiliate accused me of something I didn’t do and said they wouldn’t pay me one red cent. I was flabbergasted. In one short email, my business was over.... or so it seemed.
Don't worry, the Lord has blessed us immensely and I'm now back in a similar business with less stress, more stability and more time on my hands. What's interesting about this is that at the beginning of November I was praying and felt an impression that if I didn't do a certain thing in my business, that it would fail by the end of the month. This was a surprise, since the business was going so well (I was making more money than I had ever made in my life).
One by one, my colleagues' businesses started dropping off like flies. Mine was the last to go. Sadly, my hands were tied. My wife was in the hospital, I had 4 small boys to take care of, and I had pressing issues with some other crises in the business that arose suddenly. I could see it happening before my eyes. I was warned in a prayer. I knew my business was going to go under unless I did something specific, but there was nothing I could do, other than drop all of my family and church responsibilities and focus on the thing the Lord told me I’d have to do to prevent my business from tanking. I wonder if it was a test, to see what I’d do. As a side note, my new "similar" business is doing better than expected and is adhering to that spiritual guidance I received in November. It’s almost like my previous venture was meant to be the catalyst to get my current business going.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with business. I just wanted to mention it because it really makes the “Job” story complete. Job had medical problems and lost all that he had, but later on he gained it all back with some to spare. I now feel like Job AFTER the trials.
One more thing . . . Many people asked me how I could still be cheerful after all of my trials. Two people told me they’d be throwing dishes and yelling. Several people told me with tears in their eyes that they respected me for the way I handled everything. I truly felt peace throughout this whole ordeal. I learned something from all of this that I will treasure my whole life. When your happiness is securely founded on the Lord, it doesn’t matter what happens to you. No one can take away that inner peace... that inner happiness that the gospel brings... not Satan ... not even God himself. There is only one person that has the power to remove the happiness and peace that I feel from the gospel and that person is me. I alone have the power to move myself away from God (by disobeying his commandments) and thus lose that peace and happiness that he freely offers. That is the lesson I have learned, and it gives me strength to endure to the end.