I grew up in Saskatoon and moved to Prince Albert with my family when I was eighteen. I met my husband at the church we attended and knew that God had called us together when we met. We have now been married eleven years and have three amazing boys - all miracles from God!
Before we had our firstborn, I went through a very hard season in my life battling anorexia. I’m so thankful for my husband, family, and God who brought me through it. While at a doctor’s appointment during my recovery, I was told that I might have lost my chance to become pregnant due to anorexia being so hard on my body. But it wasn’t long after that God brought us Henry, who has been such a blessing to us. Two and a half years later, I miscarried our second baby at seven weeks. We were heartbroken, yet, during the pain, shame, and fear, we knew God was there. He gave us a name for our sweet baby - Emma - meaning complete and whole. Her name gave us peace that she hadn’t suffered. She was complete and whole, safe in the arms of Jesus. This verse strengthened us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
A month after miscarrying, we found out we were expecting Austen, another sweet boy who has changed our lives forever. Jace’s story begins two years later, on May 9, 2019 - my 30th birthday. We discovered we were expecting again and were so excited! My pregnancy went smoothly, but at the 20-week mark, an ultrasound changed everything. The ultrasound technician took an unusually long time checking the baby. After an hour, she told me that the heart’s anatomy looked abnormal, so she was sending us to Saskatoon for further testing. I was angry! Here I was, in the same room, being told by the same person about another problem pregnancy, and I felt resentful towards her. Later, I thought I should give her flowers and a thank you card but wrestled with God over it. I didn’t think she deserved kindness but took them to her, not expecting anything in return. A few days later, I received a phone call from an unknown number, and it was her. She had called me personally to thank me and asked if I could come in for one more ultrasound before my Saskatoon appointment. She thought maybe she had misjudged what she had seen. I wish the story ended here. I was hoping with all my heart that this was a crazy mistake. But after the second ultrasound, she looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry, but I still see an abnormality and will be sending you for further testing.”
I’ve battled fear since I was young, and that day was very difficult. Our appointment wasn’t for a few weeks, and it felt terrible to wait, knowing I was carrying a baby that might have problems. Finally, the day came for an echocardiogram of the baby’s heart. My husband and I were still hopeful that this was a mistake. It literally felt like the longest day ever, with everything moving in slow motion. At the end of the day, Kyle and I were left waiting in a cold, dark testing room when two doctors came in. We could tell by their faces that the news wasn’t good. We were led into another cold, sterile room and told the results. Our baby had truncus arteriosus. We could hardly process what they were saying. I remember squeezing Kyle’s hand so hard that my nails started digging into him, but he barely flinched. We were both trying not to lose control after hearing the information. Truncus is a complicated birth defect that affects the heart. It occurs when the blood vessels coming out of the developing baby’s heart fail to separate completely during development. As the doctors tried to explain this to us in our state of shock, hope was not part of the conversation. At one point, one of the doctors told us we could look at other options if we didn’t want to continue the pregnancy. Abortion was now presented as an option. Kyle and I didn’t say much during the appointment or on the drive home. We were numb, heartbroken, and sad. When we finally talked, I remember saying, “Maybe we should let the baby go.” I was speaking out of hopelessness and fear; we had to silence death and put our eyes back on Jesus.
When we made that choice, we felt so much supernatural strength and grace to move forward, knowing God was with us and holding our family. We weren’t going to let our baby go but would do whatever was needed to honour his life - the life God had given him. We went to Saskatoon every month for appointments, and the doctor’s report never changed. Still, we made it very clear we were seeing this pregnancy through, and abortion would NEVER be an option. On January 8th, 2020, I was scheduled to be induced in Saskatoon, but at 4 am on Saturday, January 4th, my water broke. We sped to Saskatoon, almost hitting a couple of deer on the way, and at 12:30 pm that day, our sweet baby arrived without the miracle I had hoped for. My heart literally broke. I briefly held him before he was rushed away to the NICU. Just four hours after giving birth, we met with a doctor, and he listed everything that was wrong with our sweet baby. It was heartbreaking. Kyle and I felt like we were stuck in a weird nightmare. We didn’t know what to name our baby boy, but the name Jace came up in Kyle’s heart, so we looked up the meaning of it. Jace means, “Healer, God is my Saviour.” Even though things were crazy, we felt God had shown us through Jace’s name that He was with us. We called our family, and our parents brought Henry and Austen to the hospital to visit. Can I just say that our two boys are incredible? At the time, they were five and two, and during this, it was like God surrounded them in a big protective bubble. They both continue to be the happiest, most loving, courageous brothers, to each other and to Jace. The next day, early in the morning on January 5, I went with Jace on a medical transport plane to Edmonton, and Kyle followed in the car. We literally had no idea what we were walking into. We would spend four weeks at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Jace had open-heart surgery a few days later. And the days following were filled with ups and downs in recovery for him, and ups and downs emotionally for us. After his open-heart surgery, Jace’s kidneys almost failed, and he was put on a dialysis machine. He was so swollen and puffy after surgery that they could hardly stitch up his chest and left it open for a couple of days. He had an SVT episode; his heart began to race dangerously fast. He also had a full blood transfusion during open-heart surgery and needed another one a few days later. We saw so many doctors during those weeks. Some were very kind and compassionate, others not so much, it seemed. One doctor insisted Jace have an MRI as she thought something was wrong with his brain, but through every report, we still knew God was in control.
During our long stay in Edmonton, Kyle’s brother, Kevin, and his wife Amber opened their home to us. It was such a special time with family! We still talk about those weeks together and are so thankful they opened their home to us. While there, we also connected with a church, Abundant Life Ministries, with Pastor Eve Basset and Vanessa Sabo. The whole church stood with us and prayed. They helped pray us through so many issues that came up with Jace, and we are so thankful for all they did to reach out and love us. We also connected with so many families at the Stollery Children’s hospital. The days were so long, and God brought us many special friendships that we still have today. Beth and Arnold reached out to us after Jace’s surgery. They were such a special connection! Beth used to work at the children’s hospital in Edmonton, and she took the time during our stay there to show us around the hospital. They picked us up for church one night and took the time just to visit and listen to us and pray for Jace. We are so thankful for them. Spending time in a children’s hospital for any length of time is devastating. Seeing sick children and struggling, heartbroken parents really put things into perspective. God gave me the courage to pray for other moms and just be there to sit and listen as they shared their stories. Our two other boys, Henry, and Austen were with grandparents. We are so thankful for their help, and we could never thank our church family and Pastor enough as they stood with us in the darkest of times. On January 27th, Jace was well enough to go back to Saskatoon, where he experienced another racing heart episode that kept him much longer in the children’s hospital NICU. We spent over a month there when another issue was discovered. Jace had a feeding tube through his nose since birth, and the medical team discovered he had a hard time eating as they tried to wean him off it. One day, a doctor checking Jace looked at me and said, “Your kid will never eat or drink on his own.” I felt fear trying to come back at me that day. Soon a speech pathologist was assigned to Jace, and the day she walked in, I knew she was different – she fought for Jace! As we practiced and practiced bottling with Jace, she just never gave up on him, but after a couple weeks, Jace started to get sick. As he was drinking, tiny drops of liquid went into his lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. It seemed like the predictions about never eating and drinking were right. One day, Jace wasn’t breathing properly, so the medical team put him on oxygen, and as I prayed over him, a verse just gripped my heart. It was God’s promise to us that Jace would be able to eat and drink, so we never gave up on that promise! “Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:5 (NKJV)
On March 21, 2020, after 74 days in the hospital, Jace was finally stable enough to come home. Honestly, we were terrified, but we were so ready to get out of the hospital. It wasn’t easy. Jace was sent home with ten medications, plus a feeding tube and oxygen. Not a mother’s wish for her child, but through those difficult months of adjusting at home, we stood firm on God’s promise and one by one, things began to drop off. Jace’s feeding tube was a nightmare, but it was the only way he could safely eat. Every time the tube came out of his nose, we would have to race to Saskatoon to get it reinserted. This happened three times, and each time I panicked and felt hopeless. The last time, as we were on our way home from yet another reinsertion of the feeding tube, the despair I felt tried to overwhelm me. I was with my dad and sister when suddenly my dad shouted as an eagle landed right in the middle of the highway. My heart leapt within me, and that verse came to mind again, resounding so loud and so powerfully. God hadn’t forgotten; He was reminding us of his promise for Jace. A month later, Jace got pneumonia and spent over a week in the Prince Albert Victoria hospital. The lung doctor called and told us it was time to take the feeding tube out and move to a g-tube. It would require minor surgery, as a little button would be inserted into his stomach so that food could go directly into it. This would benefit Jace by getting the tubing out of his nose and throat and allowing the tissue to heal. We continued to trust God even though it seemed like a slow step forward.
That spring, they did the procedure. By the end of the summer, Jace was off his heart medications and was completely free of oxygen, and his eating just got better and better! Another miracle we experienced was a connection in the hospital with an amazing lady, Allie Jacobi. Her story about her son is incredible. She reached out to us after hearing our story through Jace’s speech pathologist. Allie is part of a clinic in Saskatoon called Body in Mind Therapies, Massage and Movement Centre. She sees so many unexplainable improvements by touch stimulating brain activity. She explained that her son, born with brain injuries, is eight now and walking, talking, eating, and living a life that no doctor believed he could, all because of these treatments. Kyle and I knew God had sent Allie our way, and after Jace’s g-tube surgery, we began treatments. I can’t even explain to you how rapidly Jace began to improve after each treatment. His breathing, eating, movement, eyesight, even his baby noises- everything doctors said would never change for Jace - began to improve. We are so thankful for Allie Jacobi and Dan Oullette at their Centre. As it came closer to Christmas 2020, Kyle and I felt it was time to take Jace off his last two big medications. One was to help with reflux. The other was an antibiotic that was supposed to keep him from getting aspiration pneumonia or getting sick. It was a leap of faith, but we felt in our hearts that it was time and called his doctor to release him from it. They told us the risks but agreed to give Jace a chance without medication. Here we are, four months later, no sickness, no medication, no aspiration pneumonia, and Jace is eating fully on his own! After appointments on Thursday, March 25, 2021, Allie was so excited and said she and Dan believed Jace was very close to a big developmental breakthrough. Afterwards, at my parents’ home, Jace was playing on the floor, and as I went to pick him up, the g-tube popped out of his tummy. It had happened a couple of times before, and I had been trained how to reinsert it. This time was odd. When I went to put the g-tube back in, the hole looked small. My oldest son, Henry, who is six, was so excited. He said, “Mom, I think it’s done! It’s finished!” I still tried and successfully put the g-tube back in even though Jace cried, and I felt unsettled. I remember saying to myself, “If it pops out again, it’s done. I’m not putting it back in.” I looked away from Jace for not even a minute, went back to pick him up, and the g-tube had popped out again, and the hole in his tummy had miraculously closed. We had been told that it would take a few weeks for the holes to heal and close. I know God spoke through Henry that day – it really was done! Jace’s story isn’t over, but God has been so incredibly faithful. Kyle and I both know Jace has been “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139:14 says. At times, it has been dark and scary, yet God faithfully showed us He was always there, holding our son, holding our family, holding us.
There have been so many miracles, and we know there are many more to come. The number of people that reached out to us and our family took our breath away. We have felt so incredibly loved and are so thankful.