Saturday, January 25, 2014
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
In January, we learned from ultrasounds that our baby boy would have serious challenges with his kidneys, and it was possible that he might not even survive until delivery. It was possible that his kidney would rupture before delivery. It was possible that he would survive delivery but die upon entering the world. It was possible that he might survive delivery but only live a few hours or days.
Shortly after we learned of our baby’s challenges, we shared the news with family, friends, and anyone who would pray for him. People from all over the country and world began praying for Braaten.
Braaten Norman Nilsen was born on March 17, 2011, eleven weeks before his May 28 due date. He spent almost three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. He was cared for wonderfully by neonatologists, nephrologists, urologists, nurses, and other specialists who medically managed him and helped his body do all the things that his kidney could not quite do on its own. A loving, skilled community of caregivers nurtured him and helped him to grow.
On June 13, Braaten was eating, breathing, peeing, and growing enough to come home! He moved home to our zoo of a house where he was welcomed by his older brother and three sisters. We had the craziest and most wonderful summer with Braaten.
Braaten survived his delivery, survived for hours, for days, for weeks, and even months. Our journey with him has been a roller coaster, from surgeries to weight gain, to tubes getting put in and tubes coming out, from heel pokes to IVs, from doctors’ appointments to a hospital stay. Despite the many ups and downs Braaten exceeded everyone’s expectations and did so well for so long.
Even though we knew our time with Braaten might be short, it was still hard to say goodbye. Last Saturday, Braaten did not seem himself. We decided to take him to the ER and on the way Kjirsti checked him and noticed he was not breathing. Ryan pulled him out of his car seat and felt a heartbeat while Kjirsti called 911. Kjirsti held him in her arms until we met up with first responders. Medical professionals worked to revive Braaten in the ambulance and in the emergency room but were not able to re-start his heart. So we let Braaten go and held his body for hours in the emergency room and cried with family members, Warren, and CJ, as they joined us through the night.
Braaten loved to be with people. He had a big beautiful smile and his bright blue eyes followed people intently. He loved to be outside. He loved to watch the trees. He loved cool air and cool formula bottles. He loved to be held and wear nothing but a diaper. He loved watching his brother and sisters. He was learning to coo in response to conversation. Above all, though, Ryan is certain he loved being with his mother, looking at her, smiling at her, and talking with her.
We miss Braaten. We miss seeing him napping on the couch or sleeping in his pack-n-play. We miss his feeding pump lighting up our room at night. We miss holding him, looking at him, talking with him, and kissing his bald head. We miss cramming five cars seats in our minivan. We miss that after the other kids go to bed, we no longer mix his formula and prepare his medications for the next day. Our home is filled with reminders of his presence, our sweet boy here with us just a few days ago, and we are so sad he isn’t with us anymore.
We miss Braaten but we are comforted in knowing we will see him again one day. From the start, we acknowledged that Braaten, like all our children, was not ours but the Lord’s, and that He loved Braaten far more than we ever could. When we discovered the full extent of Braaten’s challenges we decided to enjoy and be thankful for all the time we had with him, no matter how short that might be. We are so thankful for God’s goodness to us. He gave us a wonderful church family and community to support us with prayer, medical attention, meals, babysitting, gas money, and more. He gave us more time with Braaten than we expected. We are so thankful that we got to know Braaten so well. We are thankful that in the end, Braaten most likely passed away in Kjirsti’s arms while we were together with him.
Through Braaten God has taught us about love, grace, community, and strength. He has given us a new perspective on life, death, and eternity. Thanks be to God for his unfailing love and the gift of Braaten.