Pray for Asa

We only lost our baby Ezra less than a year ago on December 2nd, 2012. (Read more about Ezra's story  here. You can also start with my very fist blog post and read all the way up through my recent posts. For that option start here.) I started this blog as a tribute to Ezra and as a way to process through the journey of grief. My hope is that others who have grieved similar losses can find comfort here, knowing they are not alone. I also hope that they can be pointed back to our great comforter and great healer, Jesus Christ. He alone is the one who carried me through the darkest, saddest days of my life, and restored my heart with joy again. Because I know Christ, I know that I am a citizen of heaven, and will one day be reunited with my sweet little baby. I have never been more thankful for the depths of salvation in all of my life.

This is our sweet Ezra Shepherd Sweat:

I became pregnant with our son Asa six months later, and we are so thankful that God chose to bless us with another baby so quickly. His due date is February 24th, 2014.

Here is a beautiful profile of our little Asa in my womb:


Doesn't he look just perfect?


Everything about him was perfect and healthy until a sonogram at 24 weeks of pregnancy. They found something in his heart that didn't look quite right, and we followed up with a whirlwind of sonograms and tests, all the while praying desperately that God would let us keep our baby. When we finally met with a cardiologist at Children's Mercy Hospital, they confirmed that Asa does indeed have a heart condition called Transposition of the Great Vessels. It means that two of his heart vessels are hooked up in reverse. It essentially means that his heart will not be getting enough oxygen rich blood to survive on his own without surgery. From what we understand this surgery is challenging, but they have done it quite often and their success rate is excellent (You can read a much more professional description of this heart condition and what is required to repair it here). The doctors assured us that if the surgery is successful, children with his condition go on to live normal and active lives and generally do not need more operations. Praise God for that! It sounds like once this is all over, it really can be behind us. He will just need to see a cardiologist once a year for check ups.

Asa's outlook is very good, although he is not a perfect transposition case. He needs some of his oxygen rich blood and some of his oxygen poor blood to mix in order to survive until the surgery. There are two little areas in two of his heart chambers that are generally open enough to allow for mixing of the two types of blood. For Asa, they are concerned that one of these areas (called the PDA) is a little too small for sufficient mixing. There is a procedure they can do to open that area up more, but of course any extra procedure always poses more risk for the baby. We would like prayer that God would keep Asa's PDA open and make it even bigger. The more stable he is after he is born, the better the chance that we can hold him and cuddle him before he is whisked away to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).

Asa may need to be in intensive care for up to a month, so we definitely had to push the reset button in our brains. We had dreams of bringing home our newborn baby and Levi, his two and half year old brother, getting to see him and hold him during his first month of life. The likelihood that Levi will be allowed into the NICU at all is very low, because Asa will be born during cold and flu season, which means that children are not allowed to enter. This will also pose a great challenge to us... there are many challenges ahead of us.

So how are we doing?

Upon receiving the news of Asa's heart difference, we felt surprised that God had more challenge for us so quickly. We're still grieving for Ezra. We also felt shocked that, again, it was a trail that threatened the life of our child. Again, our child is the victim of something very rare. A grieving heart that is not fully recovered unknowingly expects the rest of life to be easy. Especially the parts of life that are so close to the grief you have suffered; losing a child. A baby.

Despite the shock, we have accepted this challenge from the Lord with a lot less kicking and screaming than we would have one year ago. Because of what we have been through in the past year, our hearts are keenly aware that what we have is not our own. Our blessings are all undeserved gifts from our heavenly father. We have strived to live life with our hands open to God, both ready to give and to receive. He is our creator who has rescued us from the dominion of darkness with the blood of his very own son. He loves us deeply, and we know that so well now.

As we face challenge yet again, these lyrics come to mind:

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
'Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon 

Farther Along by Josh Garrels

So we will triumph, even in the midst of a trial that feels so uncomfortably close to the grief we have recently suffered. Because in the end, we do have victory. In the end, heaven is our home - a place where we will have perfect union with God and perfect union with each other. We know that it is possible to persevere with joy, because one day in paradise our little family can stand, hand in hand, together and whole, before our savior in glorious light. We have the rest of eternity to engage together in the deepest form of connecting possible; praising our savior for the gift of life.

Would you please pray specifically for us in these ways;

- Above all, pray that Asa survives this and that God blesses us with the joy of his life for the rest of our days on earth.

Praise God for his great work in making one of Asa's heart openings bigger!!

- Pray against any other type of complication. The doctors are almost certain that his only condition is transposition, but they do still need to rule out the small chance of certain chromosomal issues. This fear has been weighing on me, because some of those issues are not compatible with life.

- Praise God that Asa did not have any chromosomal issues that we mentioned above!

-Pray hard that God will continue his great work, and cause the blood in Asa's PDA to flow in the correct direction. Pray that if there is any problem with Asa's lungs as the doctors suspect, that God would heal them and make them normal.

 -Pray that his coronary arteries are all normal. It is an extremely small chance that they would be abnormal, but if they were, it would make the surgery very risky, difficult, and challenging.

-Pray for a smooth, uncomplicated, and peaceful delivery.

- Pray that God protects Asa and I during labor from another placental abruption like we had with Ezra.

 -Pray that Asa will be stable enough after birth to be held and cuddled.

- Pray that he remains stable enough in the time between birth and surgery to be able to nurse.

-Pray for his surgeon and that God is preparing him with all the skill and steadiness of hand he will need for Asa's surgery.

-Pray for a smooth recovery from surgery

-Pray for that Asa catches on quickly and will have a smooth transition as he learns to eat again after his surgery

- Pray that Levi, our two and half year old son, continues to get all the love and attention that he needs while we are distracted with this struggle. Pray that God will provide much family and many friends to love on him while we will be spending time with Asa in the NICU.

- Pray that God gives our extended family strength and a great capacity to love us through service during this time, as we will be needing so much of their help once Asa is born.

- Pray that God teaches us more about hope. And that the hope we have for Asa's survival will be a hope that brings glory to God and does not worship our own desires.

- Pray that God would protect our hearts against bitterness, and that through this trial we may grow to trust him and love him even more. Pray that we can learn how to relax and trust in our loving father.

- Pray that God gives me the strength to keep moving forward toward life. The temptation to give up and stay in bed all day wallowing in my sorrow and worry is something that I have fought everyday since we got this news.  I especially need those prayers in the morning.

- Pray for Steven and I, that God will open our eyes to all He is accomplishing through this difficulty and that He will open our hearts to all He has to teach us through this difficulty.

-Pray that God continues to equip us with faith and strength to make it through this trying time.

- Pray that we can embrace this time as a slight and temporary distress that is producing for us a transcendent glory never to cease. Amen!

You have no idea the depth of meaning that your prayers hold. Knowing that others are praying for us comforts me so much. It relieves physical anxiety and brings me peace in times where my emotions seem out of my control or in control. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for supporting us by just being there. We feel so wrapped in love by those whom God has gathered to be our support. If you have prayed one prayer for our little family, then I'm talking about you.

May God bless you and keep you.


*Come back and check this page regularly as I will be making updates here as we go along. If you are friends with me on Facebook, I'll be posting a link each time there is an update made to the "Pray for Asa" page.

3 comments:

  1. God bless you Emma, Steven, Levi, Ezra and Asa! Praying for you daily! XO

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  2. A friend reposted this on Facebook asking for prayers - I will be praying for your family and especially sweet Asa! <3

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  3. Will have and will keep praying for you and your sweet family!

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