Today I need to share a story. It's a story of a little girl named Harper Rose. She has touched my heart deeply and I believe she will impact others as well.
Let me begin by telling you how I know Harper. I met Harper's mom Tara, in elementary school. Second Grade to be exact. I don't have a picture of us from then... but I found one of us in Junior High...
Tara is the one in the middle. Jen (left) and I (right) are holding her. It was pajama day at school and we were doing our best to avoid the next class I'm sure. Such good memories!
We've grown up a little since then...
Tara (left) Jen (middle) me (right)
I've always thought that the Lord has blessed me with wonderful friends. Friends who love the Lord and walk courageously in faith even when it's hard. Tara is indeed one of those friends. I think you will agree with me as you hear the rest of the story.
Well, Tara found herself a cowboy, fell in love and they got married in September 2007.
His name is Justin and they compliment each other so well. He too, is a man of great faith. They said their vows that day not knowing what the future would hold. After some time and much prayer, they were overjoyed to be expecting their first child.
We rejoiced and celebrated along with her...
In September 2011, they welcomed Lyla Jane into the world.
~this beautiful photo is by Isaac Mark Photography of Kansas City, MO~
~this beautiful photo is by Cherish Anderson Photography~
and soon they are rejoicing again.
Tara finds out she is pregnant with their second child!
They go about life as normal... Tara got very sick with her first pregnancy and this one proves to be the same. She fights her way through it. She came home to her parents ( in Des Moines) for about a month just to get some extra help with Lyla as she was still not feeling well.
While she was home she did a 19 week ultrasound (in March) because she was so excited and didn't want to wait until she got back to Colorado to find out the sex of the baby. A girl! Lyla was going to have a sister!
Later, Tara got a phone call from her doctor in Colorado... the phone call you never want to get. I am just going to let you read what Tara and Justin shared with friends and family from their journal:
Our precious baby girl is now a little over 20 weeks in the womb. Last week we found out some very difficult news. We want to explain what the doctors have explained to us. We had an ultrasound done at 19 weeks, while I was in Des Moines. My doctor in Pagosa called me a few days later when she got the results, and told me that this ultrasound showed that Harper's heart had small ventricles, Harper's kidneys were enlarged and there was some fluid on her neck. Our Colorado doctor got us in touch with a wonderful maternal and fetal medicine doctor here in Des Moines. They did a second and more detailed ultrasound. It confirmed what the first one showed. Harper also has a deformed right hand and a cleft palate. The doctor told us that she believed all of this was characteristic of what's called Trisomy 18 or Edwards Syndrome (www.trisomy18.org is a good website to visit). The doctor did an amniocentesis which confirmed this for us last week. This means that Harper has an extra chromosome at the 18th pairing of her genetic makeup. Trisomy 18 is not compatible with life, according to medical understanding. 95% of babies with Trisomy 18 die in utero. 5% live for up to 10-15 days after birth. 1% have lived for up to a year. The neonatalogist we spoke with believes Harper will be a part of the 95%. However, he said there's no way of telling when she will be born. He said she could come at anytime or even be full-term.
The doctors do not believe that Harper is suffering. We are praying for her complete healing. We know our God is more than able. We also know that He is good in all circumstances.
We would ask that you would pray for her complete healing and for our family during this difficult time.
Can you imagine being on the receiving end of that news? What would you do?
Many people began to pray... my family included. Most every night Brett and I prayed and soon Averi and Bentley followed our example. They lifted up Harper Rose in prayer on a daily basis. Have you ever heard the prayers of a child? They are powerful! I watched from a distance as the Lord's hand came upon this family in a mighty way.
Tara and Justin walked each day in faith and covered in His grace. What struck me the most was how they honored Harper's life. They were in complete submission to God's will and His timing. Tara began to feel better and at the regular OB visits Harper's heart rate was normal. They continued to share with others in the journal entries they made. My faith was challenged and I was being encouraged as they were sharing their life during this time of great trial.
On Tuesday May 21st (30 Weeks) they went in for an ultrasound to see how things were going and it revealed that Harper Rose had just recently passed away. She was now with Jesus. On Wednesday May 22nd at 10:30 am Harper Rose was born. She weighed 2 lbs and was 13 inches long. They got to spend some time holding Harper's body. I love how Tara described her sweet baby girl:
She had many of the characteristic traits of T18 including the cleft palate and elongated head, but she was beautiful. She looked like she would have had a gentle spirit. She had dainty little hands and feet and penetrating eyes. We had the opportunity to spend several hours with her small frame and see God's design in her.
At the hospital, they had a beautiful set of photos taken while they got to hold Harper in their arms. You can watch the slideshow they put together for her memorial service by clicking on the link below. While the first song plays you will see maternity photos. During the second song you will see the photos of Harper Rose and her parents at the hospital. It is powerful and moving.
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139: 13-14 (NIV)
Though I did not get the chance to meet this little girl, I rejoice in knowing that this is not the end of her story. In light of the cross and the empty tomb, I know that this is only the beginning. Haper's life and the heartache her family faces are not in vain... there is indeed a greater story being written.
"And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." 1 Peter 5:10