Baby Katie Beth Update

Author: Kevin Schlichter

Last February Melissa wrote an entry on Upstream Swimming about our daughter, Kathryn, and asked all of you to be praying for our family. Perhaps you’ve been wondering how that all turned out, so here’s a Thanksgiving update on her situation.

To recap, a few weeks before birth Kathryn Elizabeth (heretofore known as Katie Beth, KB, Kat, Kitty, Katie, or The Reason I’ve Been Super Angry and Not Sleeping for Nine Months) was diagnosed with ventriculomegaly, then born with congenital defects in her ears, nose, and mouth, and a couple of days later she was unofficially diagnosed with Zellweger Syndrome and tested positive for Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Off the record we were told by one of her specialists that she had no more than six months to live—at the absolute longest. That’s when word started to spread. First our friends started to pray and word quickly spread to others in our church, then relatives, and then their friends and churches started to pray. We were getting cards, flowers, and e-mails from people we didn’t know all over the country telling us they were praying for us. And I don’t know why—I don’t know why He does anything that He does—but God answered those prayers in a way we didn’t expect.

Three days after she was born her ears had moved into a normal location and, although we had originally been told to expect difficulty, she was breathing and eating on her own. After a lot of blood samples, an MRI, and two months of waiting for genetic testing at the Mayo Clinic, her official diagnosis was made: Katie does not have Zellweger Syndrome—or any other known genetic defect. We had been praying for strength to get through the trial, hoping that the loss of a child wouldn’t ruin our marriage and that we’d be able to try again, but He had healed our daughter instead. She still has some brain damage and there may be other long-term effects from the HCMV, but so far she is doing well. In fact, she has been developing perfectly normally. She excels in her intelligence and fine motor skill tests at physical therapy (yeah, infant physical therapy) impressing her doctors with her ability to manipulate a pacifier into the correct position before putting it in her mouth, and her ability to hold her own bottle to feed herself. Kitty has been doing both of these for several months now. Her strength continues to lag, but not by a concerning amount and Robyn and I aren’t muscular anyhow. KB’s head is even a normal size—it was supposed to be disproportionately small as a result of the HCMV.

So this Thanksgiving we’re thankful for our daughter. We’re thankful that she’s here with us, but also for the experience—we grew as a couple and our relationship was affected positively by it. We’re stronger as a team; have a healthier perspective on certain things; opened up to each other and gained a level of intimacy we’ve never shared before. I wouldn’t wish an experience like this on my worst enemy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Like everything else we do with God, it isn’t easy but it’s very worthwhile.

We’re thankful for our church family, friends, and relatives who supported us in very material ways. We fed not only ourselves, but at least one other family with the food that was brought to us at home and in the hospital. Our dogs were cared for, and we almost had our yard re-landscaped as well. Being around people like the Felkers pushes us to live our lives for God in tangible and meaningful ways. We’re thankful for the example you’ve all demonstrated for us.

Finally, and this is last because I want it to be remembered first, we’re thankful for your prayers. I don’t know why He healed Kathryn and not the other kids in the NICU, but seeing the People of God care for each other always encourages me immensely and provides the best witness I know of. So thank you for taking the time out of your day to pray for us, whom you’ve never met. You can’t fix everything, but you’ve made a difference to us. 

Daisy Merrick Updates

Apparently this blog is listed second on google under the search “Daisy Merrick” since I have blogged about her a couple of times now and it’s getting a lot of traffic. My blog is really not the best place to find updates and information about her – Britt Merrick himself is constantly posting updates about Daisy. Click on the following links for the latest happenings straight from Britt’s mouth (hand?):

Thanks for visiting and please be praying for her and the entire Merrick family…even three rounds of cancer is not too big for our God and prayer changes things. I agree with your song Daisy, God is the healer and he CAN heal you! Merrick’s if you come across this blog, know that you have impacted many lives through your plight and I hope that the posts I have written about Daisy serve to rally more prayer for your sweet family. Much love from northern CA.

Daisy Merrick Updates

Apparently this blog is listed second on google under the search “Daisy Merrick” since I have blogged about her a couple of times now and it’s getting a lot of traffic. My blog is really not the best place to find updates and information about her – Britt Merrick himself is constantly posting updates about Daisy. Click on the following links for the latest happenings straight from Britt’s mouth (hand?):

Thanks for visiting and please be praying for her and the entire Merrick family…even three rounds of cancer is not too big for our God and prayer changes things. I agree with your song Daisy, God is the healer and he CAN heal you! Merrick’s if you come across this blog, know that you have impacted many lives through your plight and I hope that the posts I have written about Daisy serve to rally more prayer for your sweet family. Much love from northern CA.

When Life Gets Hard: Little Daisy Merrick

For whatever reason, a number of family and friends have been going through rough times recently with physical health issues (concussion, stroke, difficult pregnancies, babies with complications), so it’s been on my mind a lot lately. You may have noticed it’s been on my mind since I’ve recently blogged twice about the topic (baby Katie Beth and Allison/Ashley), and I guess God wanted me to camp out on the subject a little longer because as of Saturday, I am sick again for the third time in three months, in addition to messing up my ankle, knee, and toe a month ago. I’m not one to get angry with God or question Him and his reasons for things (it’s just not my natural inclination), but it does make me sad that so many wonderful people are dealing with such hardships right now.

As I’ve been thinking about and praying for these people, God reminded me of Daisy Merrick and her family. From 2003-2007 I attended college at UCSB, and while there, I went to a church called Reality Carpinteria. It is a wonderful church with a God-fearing pastor, Britt Merrick. After I graduated, I stayed connected to friends who still live in Santa Barbara and attend Reality Carp, and I heard a couple of years back that Britt’s 5-year-old daughter, Daisy, had cancer. Since then, I have followed her blog off and on, and have been in prayer for her and the Merrick family. I hadn’t checked the blog in a while with all the craziness of our lives this last year, so I checked it again a few days ago. After two bouts with this cancer, the latest update posted four months ago says she is cancer free! Praise God! There have been so many people praying for this little girl around the world, and she is living proof that prayer is powerful and effective.

I posted below a poignant short video of her journey with cancer (the first time around, I believe). I also posted two longer videos (40 minutes each), which are worth watching if you have the time. They are two sermons by Britt about his reaction to Daisy’s cancer (and hard times in general), and they are very powerful and encouraging (particularly if you are dealing with something difficult right now). I hope these videos speak to your heart like they did mine:

Update- This post is out of date now; if you are looking for recent information on Daisy, click here: Daisy Merrick Updates

Daisy from Reality on Vimeo.

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed from Reality on Vimeo.

Britt Merrick – Struck Down But Not Destroyed from Reality on Vimeo.

Allison & Ashley: Two of my Heroes after Pregnancy

If you’ve been following my pregnancy series, you know my pregnancy with Caleb was challenging. I was very sick and in a lot of pain, but through the experience, God really taught me a lot. I have always led a healthy, and for the most part, physically pain-free life. This is something I have always taken for granted because I never knew otherwise, until my pregnancy. I understand now how incredibly difficult physical disability can be, and how thankful I should be for the good health God has given me. God’s heart is that we would be joyful in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and through my encounter with physical pain, he revealed it’s an area I have plenty of room to grow in.

An additional way the Lord grew me through my condition called pregnancy, was in granting me a deeper love and respect for people who have ongoing physical challenges. It was a theme I meditated on a great deal during my pregnancy, and am currently meditating on again as I re-live my pregnancy via this blog. Specifically, there are two people God has continually brought to mind who I want to tell you about. I love them both dearly, and after my comparatively short encounter with discomfort and pain, I appreciate them even more. I think most of us could probably learn a thing or two from them.


The above photo is of one of my best friends (who also happens to be my lil’ sis), Allison. At age 11, she was diagnosed with spondyloarthropathy, which is a rare form of juvenile arthritis that results in inflammation of the back, hips, knees, ankles, and eyes. It has no cure, and the pain cannot be completely relieved. She takes pain medication daily, has chronic pain in her knees and hips, and has had numerous stints with iritis which causes her to lose vision for a period of time.


This second photo is of another one of my best friends, Ashley Harman, who I recently had the honor of bridesmaid-ing for in her wedding. She was born with Spina bifida, which was caused by a benign tumor that pinched the end of her spinal cord and weakened the muscles to her leg and bladder. Although she has had this condition from birth, it was not diagnosed until she was 15-years-old.

As a result of spina bifida, Ashley has not only experienced a great deal of physical pain/limitation, she has also experienced significant emotional hurt. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of her story is that growing up, she would often urinate herself at school because a symptom of spina bifida is a loss of bladder control. This occurred for many years and resulted in ridicule from peers and fewer friends throughout her childhood. She has had countless surgeries to repair the damage, requires a catheter every time she uses the restroom, gets persistent infections, and experiences chronic pain in her foot. Like Allison, it is something she has dealt with her whole life, and will continue to deal with for the rest of her life (unless God chooses to intervene, which I pray passionately for!!)

I cried as I wrote these last three paragraphs because Ashley and Allison are two of my absolute favorite people. Despite immense physical challenges and obstacles throughout their lives, they are such joyous and loving people. I never hear them complain about their pains, and I oftentimes forget either of them even have any physical problems until a severe symptom pops up, or they periodically ask for prayers of healing. They both have a strength and perseverance that is truly inspirational. I have learned so much from them about being joyous and giving glory to God no matter what “thorns” you’ve been given in life. I know they have already touched many through their lives, and will continue to do so. Thanks A & A for your impact on my life, you guys are my heroes…I know life hasn’t been the easiest for you and yet you still trust God with all your hearts.

P.S. I wouldn’t be a good older sister if I didn’t put a plug in for my sis right now. If you are single, Godly, and good looking (lol!), I think you should consider asking Allison on a date*. She is all the cool things I mentioned above, plus smart, beautiful, kind, and funny! I don’t think you would regret it 😉 Hahahahaha! Sorry Allison, already published this post…can’t go back now!

*Applicants must be male. Some restrictions may apply. Please contact me for details. Offer expires 3/16/2012. Void where prohibited. 

God is Funny

God sure does have a good sense of humor. I finished writing the post about baby Katie Beth on Wednesday afternoon, but decided to hold off on publishing it because I couldn’t think of a good title. Well, less than four hours later, I fell off a curb and rolled my ankle, slammed my knee on the concrete, and messed up my toe. We went to the ER, and I am now wearing a boot and using crutches. Sean used up his sick leave the week before because we got the flu, and my mother-in-law who usually helps with Caleb flew out on Wednesday (Wednesday!!) to Illinois to visit family for eight days. Best part is I have a highly active 10-month-old boy who is getting into absolutely everything he shouldn’t be right now, and requires constant chasing. Oh also, did I mention I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding on Saturday? Is it just me, or does anyone else find this absurdly ironic??

As we were driving to the ER, I kept thinking about the blog post I had just written. I really don’t think it was a coincidence. I mean, how many times have I fallen off a curb (a curb, really??) in my lifetime…hmmm maybe once. I don’t think God caused this to happen, but I truly believe he allowed it as a test of my heart. Did I really mean the words I had written just a few hours earlier and my prayers for an “ever-increasing heart of gratitude,” regardless of circumstances?

Honestly, as I sit here reflecting, I love that God allowed that to happen last Wednesday night. I certainly don’t think God is taking joy in it (nor am I), but I am glad He loves me enough to allow me to endure things like this in order to refine me and bring me closer to Him. It’s just the thing a loving Father would do who wants His children to grow and mature.

I fully realize this event pales in comparison to what the Schlichter’s are enduring, but I thought it was the perfect situation to put into practice what God had been teaching me. Rather than becoming upset and frustrated (a natural response), I fought those feelings and intentionally chose to pray and thank God for everything that came to mind. Thank you Lord that my ankle isn’t broken. Thank you it only took 45 minutes in the ER, which is completely unheard of. Thank you that I wasn’t holding Caleb. Thank you I have health insurance that completely covered the injury. Thank you for the sweet nurses and doctor who took care of me. Thank you for Sean’s dad who stayed with Caleb so we could go to the ER. And most importantly, thank you for pain killers 😉

10 Ways Pregnancy Crushed My Dignity

My pregnancy with Caleb was really hard. It certainly could have been worse, but in my mind there’s no denying that the crappy-ness level of it was approximately an 8.257 out of 10. At my first appointment, the Dr. found an ovarian cyst bigger than my uterus during the ultrasound. This caused concern, because if the cyst were to grow, it could have ruptured and become a life-threatening scenario for both myself and Caleb. Fortunately, with many faithful friends and family in prayer for us, the cyst completely disappeared by my next ultrasound to the shock and amazement of my doctor. Though God miraculously healed my body (praise Him!), it was still a scary situation nonetheless, and from there on out, there seemed to be a continuous stream of challenges throughout my pregnancy.

I am grateful and feel very blessed for the life God gave us, but I don’t believe in sugar coating things and the honest truth is that I was miserable throughout my entire pregnancy (though I would obviously say it was well worth it). Similar to my lack of experiential knowledge going into Caleb’s birth, I also lacked experiential knowledge going into pregnancy. Very few of my friends took the dive into parenting before me, so I really hadn’t heard many stories and wasn’t sure what to expect. Looking back, I think I had a pretty idealistic, naive, and unrealistic expectation of what pregnancy would be like. Both my mother and mother-in-law had wonderful, easy pregnancies, so I just assumed mine would be just like theirs. I guess I just pictured myself as a glowing, joyful, walking among the clouds, cute, only gaining weight in the “right” places, rubbing-my-belly-in-public-all-the-time kind of pregnant woman (you know, how all the gagingly perfect pregnant celebrities look and act). Well, it didn’t take long for my fantasy to get obliterated (I’m talking maybe one week in). 4 Words: Longest. Nine. Months. Ever.

The good thing about adversity is we can learn from it and grow as a person. The even better thing about adversity is we can (sometimes) laugh about it later. And the only thing that’s even more fun than retrospectively laughing at your own adversity, is laughing at someone else’s. That’s why I decided to do a series on our blog entitled “10 Ways Pregnancy Crushed My Dignity.” In no particular order, here’s to crushing every romantic idea you ever had about pregnancy. Enjoy.

Part 1 – Constipation
Parts 2 & 3 – Appetite and Weight Gain
Part 4 – Mourning Sickness
Part 5 – Incontinence
Part 6 – Crazy Hormones
Parts 7, 8, & 9 – Pain, Pain, Pain
Part 10 – The Pinnacle, Diarrhomit