Monday, June 3, 2013

Grateful that it's JUST CP (cerebral palsy)

Today's post is about a precious family who has a faith so strong that it amazes me. I have the honor of personally knowing Beth and David Royal and their twins, Mimi and Suzy. Our paths actually crossed long before any of us had children of our own. In 2000, Beth and David bought a home from us where they still live today. Shortly afterwards, the twins were born and Sara Ashley followed a month later. 

Recently Beth shared with me her family's journey since deciding to start a family. While it hasn't been an easy one, the Royals have been blessed by God through their daughters and through His faithfullness in their lives. 
Below is an excerpt from their story that will be featured in my forthcoming book.

Beth and David Royal waited until later in life to start their family. For the first ten years of their marriage they lived life to its fullest, enjoying each other’s company and the freedoms that come along with life without children. Best friends and soul mates, their desire to start a family came later in their marriage. By this time, Beth, 37, was considered post maternal age. However, she knew many women who successfully conceived and gave birth later in life and was not terribly concerned about her ability to get pregnant. But by age 40, and still not expecting, David and Beth consulted with an infertility specialist. Finally, after the second round of invitro, it appeared that the Royals had a viable pregnancy. They also soon learned that they would have twin girls. A double blessing!

The due date for the Royal twins was December 7th, 2001. On August 1st, at 20 weeks gestation, Beth went into premature labor. A little more than half way into her multiples pregnancy (gestation period for multiples is 36 weeks on average), the parents learned that birth of the babies at this time would be fatal. So Beth was hospitalized, put on strict bed rest, and her labor was stopped temporarily with medication. At 24 weeks she went into labor again. This time a heavy drug called Magnesium Sulfate was used to stop the contractions. This drug is thought to affect the amount of calcium in the body. The uterus must have calcium to contract, so by reducing the amount of calcium the contractions are slowed. Use of Magnesium Sulfate gives doctors time to administer life-saving medications to help premature babies’ lungs quickly develop. Unfortunately, the drug also comes with side effects and complications. In Beth’s case, these complications proved to be life-threatening and she quickly had to be taken off the medication.

Mimi Elizabeth Royal and Catherine Suzanne Royal were born on August 25th, 2001.Each twin was only about the weight of a can of soup and barely 12” long, but miraculously, they were ALIVE; breathing on their own, with ten fingers and ten toes. Twins Mimi and Suzy Royal entered this world, 15 weeks premature, as fighters. And they haven’t stopped since.

Suzy Royal
During their first few weeks of life, both girls suffered multiple medical challenges. Mimi, initially the sicker of the two babies, began her life struggling with feeding problems and lung development issues. She also developed retinopathy of prematurity which can cause blindness. Thankfully, in her case, it has only caused vision challenges which her parents are hopeful can be corrected with future laser surgery.

Suzy also developed feeding problems, lung issues and retinopathy of prematurity. But her biggest struggle was when she suffered a Grade III intraventricular brain hemorrhage. This brain hemorrhage would be the cause of her later diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

Mimi (left) and Suzy (right)
Despite these setbacks, the girls grew and thrived under the care of their doctors and parents. And Beth and David know that God's healing hands are the biggest reason for their girls' survival. They credit their strong faith and trust in Him for allowing them to remain at peace during the storms of their daughter's struggles. Particularly, they have looked to Ephesians 3:20 for their hope and comfort:

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

At a year old, Suzy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Strangely, learning this fact did not shatter the Royals as one might expect. Instead, through their continued faith, they have an attitude of gratefulness. As Beth shares,
“We are told to give thanks in ALL things. I wake up every day with a prayer of thanksgiving on my heart- and that is a prayer of thanksgiving for what I have and what I don’t have. One cannot sit in the office of a neurosurgeon, a neurologist, a neuropsychologist, an orthopedist, or an opthamologist without recognizing that there are people who have it harder than yourself. I am thankful for Suzy’s cerebral palsy and often times thank God that it is just CP. "

This perspective continues to allow Beth and David to remain at peace in their circumstances, loving their girls and living life to the fullest. And though they remain vigilant in overseeing their daughters’ battles, they know that they will continue to grow stronger in the Lord, in the strength of His might, (Ephesians 6:10), by ultimately turning it over to Him. And over and over, through this challenging journey, they choose to rest in the shadow of the Almighty, His strength evidenced through their children and through the unexpected gifts with which God blesses them.  

The Royal Family
Mimi, David, Suzy and Beth (from left to right)

No comments:

Post a Comment