I’m back with another story from a dear friend of mine from college. I typically post these in more of an interview type format, so this one will be a bit different. This time, she opened up on her own terms, and I’m so thankful she wrote everything out straight from her heart. I’m excited for her to share her story with you all and let her take the wheel! I hope you’ll settle in with a cup of coffee, and enjoy reading this next chapter in my Mothers of Faith series!
Hey y’all! For those of you who don’t know me…so pretty much all of you…I’m Cassidi! I am so thankful that Sarah reached out on her Instagram for people to guest blog for her. I have known Sarah since we were Freshman in college at Harding where we were suitemates. I think I have been following her blog since she started it, but more consistently since she had Adeline. I have a daughter who is a little older than Adeline so reading Sarah’s blog was always a source of comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone or a crazy mom!
My husband Mike and I have lived in Syracuse, New York since 2011 where he is a Youth MInister and I am a Registered Nurse. In 2014 we had our daughter Brynlee and everything was perfect! Pregnancy was rough, but my delivery with her was amazing and she was such a good baby. In 2016 I got pregnant with my son Bennett and we were over the moon! Being a nurse I always tried to take good care of myself while I was pregnant. Prenatal vitamin every day, staying active, and limiting caffeine as much as I could (I mean there was definitely a Mountain Dew here and there–come on I had a one year old and a job!).
When Bennett finally made his appearance we found out that he was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect. For those non-medical people, this just means that there was a hold between the two ventricles of his heart. He had an Echocardiogram done, and thankfully the hole was very small and those typically always close up by themselves (which his did) or don’t cause any issue. We took our sweet boy home with no worries or concerns. On Halloween (about 1 week later) we got a call from our Pediatrician that a marker for Cystic Fibrosis had popped up on Bennett’s blood screening that all babies get done. Neither my husband nor myself knew of anyone in our family who had CF so this was terrifying for us.
We had to wait about two weeks before we went to have the test for CF, but it felt more like 2 months. I felt like my world was about to cave in on me at any moment. I was terrified that my sweet baby would have this horrible disease that there is no cure for. I was paralyzed by the fear. The night before Bennett’s test the elders, minister’s, and their wives all came to pray over our family. Now I have always been a church girl. My whole family had grown up knowing God and going to church every Sunday and Wednesday. In those moments where we had our leadership praying over us–I could FEEL God’s presence. As they surrounded us and laid their hands on us while we prayed, God was embracing all of us. I had never felt the power or the presence of God like I did in that moment. I knew that no matter the outcome of the test, that everything was going to be ok. The test came back NORMAL.
Fast forward 2 months and we were living our best (sleep deprived) lives! We had Bennett’s next well child visit and I just mentioned in passing that his right eye seemed to be a lot smaller than his left. I was well aware that faces aren’t perfectly symmetrical, but for some reason I still mentioned it. We were referred to an Opthamologist and followed up in the next week–right around Christmas time. I went into that office with no fear–no reservations–just assuming that his eye was small. At the appointment we were told that Bennett had something called a coloboma. This type of eye malformation can happen in multiple different places in the eye–the eyelid, the pupil, the retina, or the optic nerve itself. The severity depends on where it is located–it could be as simple as cosmetic damage that is easily fixed all the way to blindness. Bennett’s coloboma involves his optic nerve. My boy was blind in his right eye.
I couldn’t breathe. For weeks I sobbed on and off. I did EVERYTHING right! I took my vitamins, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t drink…and this still happened. I was angry. I felt betrayed by God…the same God who 2 months before had been so faithful to my family and had surrounded us with his protection and love! I wish I could tell you that I opened my Bible and everything was ok..or that I turned the radio on and the perfect son came on to make me feel comforted..but it didn’t. It wasn’t until Bennett was six months old that I started to open my heart up again. When he turned six months old Bennett started crawling. We had been told that he would likely have trouble with crawling, walking, and even sitting up because his depth perception would be off and he would have to learn to adjust. Then, when Bennett was eight months old…he WALKED! When I say he walked, I don’t mean he toddled around and took a few wobbly steps. I mean he took off and walked…almost ran!
I was amazed. Amazed at this little boys strength and resilience, but more so amazed at God and the ways that he shows himself to us and calls us to be faithful. Up until this point in my life my faith had never been tested. I had been coasting through life easily just knowing that God was there and if I did the “right” things and went to church that I would be good. I wish that it wouldn’t have taken my so long to run to Him when all of this happened. I wish that I would have been faithful knowing that God has everything worked out for our good. But I didn’t. It took me six to eight months and proof that my son was going to be alright…and I was ashamed of that.
Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.” (NIV) I can REJOICE in that time of suffering because we have persevered through it and we have HOPE. Hope that our son will live a completely normal life, and hope that our God will always see us through everything.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of COMPASSION and the God of ALL COMFORT, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV) I would never wish the heartache that I experienced on anyone, but I know that it happens. I want all the moms out there to know that if you are going through a hard time that I am here. Our situations may be different, but I know that our God is faithful. He may not always give us the outcome that we want (because Lord knows I want my child to be made whole), but I do know that he is a good Father!
Today, Bennett is a 2 year old CRAZY boy who runs, jumps, kicks balls, and has NO idea that his world is any different than anyone else’s. There is a newer song by Micah Tyler called Even Then that I am currently obsessed with. The chorus goes like this…
Even when it feels like my world is shaken // Even when I’ve had all that I can take, I know You never let me go // And even when the waters won’t stop rising // Even when I’m caught in the dead of night, I know no matter how it ends // You’re with me even then.
My son may not be “perfect” how we think of the word, but I know that God has made him perfect. Bennett having this coloboma has a purpose. We may not know what it is yet, but he will have an amazing story of faith because of it…and I have a story of faith because of it!
Sarah, thank you for letting me share our story on your blog. If any of you mommas out there want or need to reach out to me…I am here for you! My Instagram handle is @cassididion and I am on Facebook!