By: Charissa Ostrom
Changing of the Seasons
We live in a world that often correlates with the changing of the seasons. We start our journey in the winter, where there is more darkness than daylight. We become numb to the chill of the snow. This is a season of germs and sickness. We hibernate in our homes to keep us safe from accidents and keep us dry and warm. This is also a season of depression, grief, mourning, and sorrow. Through this darkness, though, comes light and joy through the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We can choose to cling to God’s promise, which will help us transition out of the darkness and into seasons of sunshine.
We Surrendered to God
My husband and I were in a season of fighting, suffering, and waiting for two years. After getting the news at our 20 week anatomy scan that our daughter may have a form of Down syndrome, we were instantly consumed with fear. We were not fearful that we would have a child with special needs, but fearful that we may never bring our daughter home. In the midst of the raging sea, we surrendered to God. At the beginning of my pregnancy I declined all genetic testing. When recommended by our physician to perform an amniocentesis for genetic testing, I was led to decline. My husband and I agreed it would not change our decision to go forth with our birthing plan. I was unsure if I made the right decision until a soft, but loud, voice reassured me that we did.
For seven months I suffered with severe morning sickness that never subsided. For five of these months I suffered through severe abdominal pain that resulted in me having to sleep upright in a chair on the couch. I knew something was wrong, but my doctors told me these symptoms are normal in pregnancy. I pleaded to God to protect my helpless daughter in my womb. I cried out to Him to give me provision and an understanding of what was happening. At 29 weeks our biggest nightmare became a reality. I was rushed into an emergency c-section, where I birthed a beautiful 2 lb 7 oz baby girl named Evelyn Mae.
At her birth I was overcome by an excruciating pain in my back. I pleaded for someone to take me out of this misery. Hours later, I woke up surrounded by a team of physicians and nurses, as well as a scared husband and mother. I had a tube coming out of my mouth helping me to breath. I saw my stapled incision extending from my sternum to my pubis. I knew my diagnoses before we even received the biopsy results. I was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and my daughter was diagnosed with KAT6B spontaneous gene mutation. She is the 19th case in the entire world. During this season God never forsook us. He never turned His back on His promise to us. In Jeremiah 29:11-12 the Lord says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.”
Evelyn spent 10 months in the NICU, where she was placed on a ventilator. She also had a tracheostomy and gastrostomy placed. She endured a surgical procedure to open her eyes, and suffered through monthly pneumonia that could have taken her life. I spent five of those months hospitalized with sepsis from my chemo treatments. I underwent a surgery to remove fluid and scar tissue from around one of my lungs. I remained hospitalized with a blockage in my intestine, where I had a NG tube placed to release the blockage. I suffered severe malnutrition causing me to lose 60 pounds weighing in at a whopping 92.3 pounds. On top of this, my husband lost his father to a heart attack.
In this dark season, God gave me spiritual life. He showed me the way through battling cancer and healed me. He gave me physical and mental strength to care for Evelyn in the NICU. He gave me peace when her health took five steps backwards. He reassured me that through my trust and faithfulness to Him, He will bless us abundantly. His timing is worth the wait. He gave me comfort knowing that through His son Jesus Christ we will have eternal life. Through Satan's attack and deception, there is hope that there is a good life to live throughout every season.
And just as winter melts into spring bringing more light and warmth, two years later we sprung into a season of growth and renewal. Evelyn has been home for 10 months. She is still on a ventilator and tube feedings, but she is growing and thriving. She has acquired developmental skills that I know came from God. I have watched her blossom into a happy, loving toddler. God has blessed us with a gift of wisdom and knowledge to care for Evelyn at home.
My mindset has changed from fearing hardships to embracing them. For some, leaving the NICU means you can move forward from the frequent hospital stays. For others like us, hospital stays, tests, and blood work will always be in our future. I have been in remission for a year and am excited to run my first 5k soon. I am at peace knowing the struggles in our future because God blessed us with bringing our fearfully and wonderfully made daughter home. In every season, turn to God and He will guide you home too.
My name is Charissa Ostrom, I am 29 years old and live in New Buffalo, MI with my wonderful husband. We have a 1.5 year old daughter, a dog and two cats. I'm honored to be a stay at home mom.