In December 2009 my 5 year old daughter, Kirstynn, asked me what I wanted for Christmas. She said she was going to write it in her letter to God. I spent some time pondering what it was I wanted. The next day I explained to her that I wanted nothing. I had come to understand that everything I needed, I already had. God had already blessed me. I spent some time over the next couple of days thinking about what our family had been given. We had been chosen by God to have a living miracle. Her name is Gabriella Ellen Roddy. We now understand that every day with her is a gift . Her tomorrow is never a given. She is the inspiration in my life; she has restored my faith in God. We as, a family, want to share her story. We want others to understand why we gave her the chance at life. She beat the odds and continues to do so daily.
Back in November 2008 I can remember the exact day I found out I was expecting. I called my sister to find out that she had also just found out she was expecting. The joy of thinking how we would both have children that could grow up together, go to school together, and be best friends. Little did I know God had a different plan for us. In January 2009 during a routine ultrasound they found problems with Gabby’s brain. The next couple of weeks were pretty crazy. Doctor after doctor asked if we still wanted to continue with our pregnancy. Finally my husband, John, stood up and explained this is our daughter. If and when God wants her, He can take her. So please don’t ask us again. Little did we know this would be the first of many fights for my daughter life. My husband always stood behind me, picking me up on all those days when I doubted and needed him most. I remember with each painful test that I went though that John was sitting next to me hold my hand praying with me. We were so numb and confused. Every doctor we talked to just kept telling us how the odds were against her. I can’t remember much from that time till about three weeks before she was born when a Dr. Painter came to our aid. He looked at us and told us, “Mr. & Mrs. Roddy, There is HOPE for Gabriella.” He said that if we gave up hope who else would there be to fight for her? We left that day with a new understanding.
On July 2nd I went to the hospital to have Gabby, it was the most scared I have ever been in my life. I was so afraid of what was going to happen. I am so grateful that Dr. Eldberg was there and helped me deliver my Gabriella. When I finished pushing her out, I was so scared. All I wanted was to hear her cry. The whole OR was in silence. Then after about 30 seconds passed we all heard a faint cry. I started to cry happy tears, I could finally breath. They tried to whisk her off to the NICU, but Dr. Eldberg stopped them and made it clear that my only request was to hold my daughter, kiss her and tell her that I loved her. I truly wanted to make sure that she knew that I was there, and that no matter what happened that I loved her. After a couple of minutes, I handed her off to John. The tears were pouring down his face as he looked into her eyes. I saw him whisper to her that she had to make it, that we needed her, and that he loved her. Needless to say my strong little miracle was in the NICU for less than 24 hours.
On July 4th 2009, a short 48 hours after Gabby’s birth, we got to take her home. We live almost 2 hours from the hospital so our other 4 children hadn’t met Gabriella yet. So, as you can imagine when we walked in our home with her our kids started to cry. My son busted into tears, screaming “LOOK, LOOK, She is OK!” The pride that I saw in all of them was amazing. On July 4th every year our home is magical. We live next to a small creek with a tree filled line. At about 9:30 p.m. every 4th of July the whole tree line lights up with baby fire flies being born. It is something you can’t record, or take a picture of. You have to live in the moment to see it. As we all stood in our back yard that night I understood that God gave us that night to show us to live in the moment with Gabriella. My kids soon began to understand that not going to see fireworks that night was not really a big deal anymore. There baby sister was home, healthy, and ready to be loved. They have given up so much; this way as a family we can enjoy the little miracles in life.
In the 10months since then my daughter has had 2 brain surgeries, 4 eye surgeries, and been looked at by every doctor there is to be seen. Every time we leave an appointment I feel overjoyed. She was diagnosed with Walker Warburg Syndrome, a Muscle-Eye-Brain Disorder .She has daily struggles, lots of PT, OT, and Vision therapy. She gets sick very easy, and it takes her a lot longer to get better. Every doctor she sees is inspired by her. She has done everything they told us she’d never be able to do. I can say that I may not always know what’s coming next or what tomorrow will bring. I don’t always have the answer or know where we will be as a family in the future. I know that my laundry dishes, and house may not always be perfect, but I am ok with that. It can wait till tomorrow. Gabriella and our other children are more important than the housework. My other children know that just because Gabriella needs us more doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Gabriella has made us slow down take in every moment and cherish it. She has made us better parents, family, and friends. I now see we are the lucky ones. God chose us to be blessed with her. She has made my heart whole again, and restored my faith in God. Our family is not always picture perfect, but it is the most perfect family for me.
Life is not an experience of fairness but an experience — no matter the length of days or the moments of joy or hardship and all that is in between. Gabby has been gifted to a family that loves and cares for her – how precious for this dear dear child.
May all those who love and cherish her find strength and courage and angels of wisdom for all who care for her. Pastor Deb Conklin