First, I'll warn you that the picture with this post is pretty graphic. So shield your eyes if you have a weak stomach! We have had quite an eventful couple of weeks here in the Harmon family. It started two weeks ago on a Wednesday after Gabe went in for his 9 month check up. He has always been great at the doctors, but this time he hated everything she did...which she said was normal for kids this age (and Bree always hated the doctor) so I wasn't worried. He got especially worked up when he saw them coming in for his flu shot, but quieted down after they left. We came home, started having lunch, and after a few bites he just stared crying and shaking terribly. I got him out of his high chair and thought maybe he was tired, a tooth hurt, something that ordinarily bothers a small child. So I tried putting him down for a nap. After sleeping for maybe 20 minutes he awoke, but when I went in he still had his eyes closed and was crying and making these grunting sounds like something seriously hurt. My sister Lizzy was in town visiting (oh how I love you sister!!) and was taking a nap, as was Bree, so I tried to calm him down. But no matter what I did he was inconsolable. I tried taking him outside, walking in the halls, playing with toys, nothing helped. Whether I was holding him or if he was laying down it was the same crying in pain. So after a couple of hours I called Robbie who came home and gave him a blessing and I took him back to the doctors. He calmed down a little bit, but was still doing that grunting like he couldn't really breath thing. She checked him out and just said we'd have to give it a little time to see what it could be. He didn't have a fever or anything so she just gave me her cell phone and said call her if anything changed. Well, he ate ok that night and actually slept. Then Thursday he was fussy, but ate and napped and acted semi-normal. We had planned to head to Jacksonville, FL for my best friend Laura's wedding, and since he was doing better (and it was my best friend's wedding!) we took off. It was an 8 hour drive, and we planned to leave before dinner so the kids would sleep at least half of the drive. Well, it would have been a good idea except that our poor little boy cried 3/4ths of the way! No matter if I was holding him or if he was in his car seat it was that same pained crying. We got to the hotel around midnight and after getting Bree in bed Robbie told me that he was taking Gabe out (since there was no way any of us could sleep with him in the room crying) to calm him down. I argued that he had just driven the whole way so I should take him, but his adamant comeback was that since I was in the wedding, I had to look refreshed so I needed the sleep. I reluctantly went to sleep and woke up at 6:00 and Robbie and Gabe still weren't back?! I went out of the room, looked around, had no idea where they would be, then saw he had sent me a message...the sweet hotel manager had let them use another room for the night for free! So I went down there and sweet Gabe was still whimpering, kind of asleep and Robbie said he had slept for only maybe an hour! We decided he would call our doctor and take Gabe to the ER and then when Bree woke up she and I would head down there. Then I heard nothing for two hours! I was dying. Then Robbie came back in! His phone had died, but Gabe had fallen asleep in the car so he drove around to let him sleep and thought he would get us before he headed to the ER. Well, it was better that he hadn't gone to the hospital that was close by, because we found out that there was a Mayo Clinic (one of the best hospitals in the country) ten minutes away. It was good we went in the morning because we got right in. The sweetest, funniest doctor checked him out and decided to do an X-ray....and thank heavens he did!! Our sweet little boy had a hole in his diaphragm! A diaphragmatic hernia. Apparently it is congenital (he was born with it) and they usually only see this in infants. Gabe's must have been so small that it didn't effect him (he's grown quite nicely up till now!) but over time his stomach must have put pressure and pushed his insides up making the hole larger. Basically, his small intestine was up inside of his chest cavity. I asked the doctor how we could fix it and he said surgery. Ya, I lost it. My sweet little boy can't have surgery! Well, to make this super long post a little shorter, they suggested we do the surgery when we got back to Chapel Hill. We stayed for the wedding (Laura was GORGEOUS! The wedding was so picturesque on the beach! And Bree was the cutest little flower girl!), even though it meant that Robbie was in the hotel room with Gabe a lot of the time and when they weren't Gabe just looked awful. The only thing worse that all the pain my son was in was that all these people who had never met my family didn't even see Gabe smile once! Nor did they get to be around my wonderful husband. The miracle of it all though was Laura's uncle who was there is a chiropractor. After we got back from the ER he did a couple of adjustments on Gabe that he said moved his stomach down, decreasing the pressure. Gabe actually slept better that night and though he was clearly in pain the next day, wasn't crying near as much. We did take off Saturday right after the wedding ceremony to drive home, and Gabe slept most of the way, which I think was also a blessing from above because the moment we got home at 3:00 AM he started crying again. I stayed up with him this time (Robbie had been amazing the whole Jacksonville trip) and after three hours I called my doctor. She suggested we take him into the hospital now (he wasn't scheduled to meet with the surgeon until Monday) and she called ahead to let them know we were coming. They scheduled him for emergency surgery on Monday and said he couldn't eat anything until then. The poor thing had hardly eaten anything the past three days so it hurt me to see him in pain and starving! All of Monday he was so miserable, but past the point of caring. He was just limp and so sad. He finally went in at 5:30 PM the next day. As Robbie and I handed him off to the surgical team we felt so much peace and that everything would be ok. (Gabe pooped right as we handed him off and Robbie was proud that his son would have a surprise waiting for them :) 2 1/2 hours later the surgeon came out and said everything went as well as it could have. As you can see in the picture they stitched up the hole (top right). The bottom left is the small intestine that they had to pull out of his chest cavity (bottom right is the actual hole). Dr. Lange told us that she was able to do it all laparoscopically, with just four small incisions. We found out later that she was known for trying if possible to do surgeries this way so that the recovery is better and there is less scaring...even if it takes longer. So even though poor Gabe had to wait almost 48 hours to get into surgery, it was a blessing to be the last one of the day so that she could spend that time. I only write this much detail for my family history purposes (since this blog acts as a sort of family journal), but because of all the detail, as I am writing this I am overwhelmed at the place God's hand had in everything. We were so blessed! From Laura's uncle being their to ease some of Gabe's pain, to my sweet daughter who was SO good through this all, even with so much attention being on her brother and not on her, to having energy on such little sleep, friends who were so willing to help out while we were in the hospital for four days, to family member's prayers, to my mom being able to come out, to a pediatrician who was always on call (oh she felt so bad!! She started crying when she came to see us at the hospital!), to having just the perfect surgeon and getting in at just the right time...the list goes on. If something like this has to happen what a blessing to know that God cares. And if he doesn't take the burden away, he will make it seem lighter AND make you strong enough to carry it. I don't think I have felt this loved before. Really. SO many people have been SO wonderful. I have never felt so much power and strength from the prayers of others. Thank you everyone who was there for us. And I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven who cares about us so much that he lets us experience things that will make us stronger. And it's only in recognizing his hand that we see how blessed we truly are. Gabe is doing so well now and I am SO happy to have my happy little boy back!! Don't worry, my next post will be happy pictures of Gabe!