the undercurrent in the quiet waters


My 19-day old baby has a hole in his heart.

He latches on, gentle brown eyes lifted to my face. His impossibly fast breaths are metered swishes between gulp-sighs. We found out Friday that Titus has a hole in his heart, a fairly large hole so that the blood in his upper two chambers swashes freely back and forth without so much as making a murmur. We only knew something to be wrong because he breathes like he’s swimming across oceans, even while asleep.

If my three big boys ever get scared at night, we sing, “Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid. The LORD will be with you each and every day. He’ll never forsake you. Don’t be afraid.” We ask them, “Who is with you?” Jude knows to comfort others by saying, “God is with you.”

You’d like to think you know how you would feel in certain circumstances. Or you might think, “there’s no way I’d make it if ________ happened.” But this is all I know:

God is faithful. And He is with me.

A few minutes ago I got a phone call that a home-birthing couple in our complex is in labor. They needed something, so I threw Titus up over my shoulder and rushed what they needed over. The young tattooed husband, first-timer, opened the door with his chest bare. He was blank, the look of everything-I-used-to-think-I-know. His doe-eyes were glossed with the knowledge of pain, maybe some of the beauty. He said, “sorry.” And I stepped backward and said “I understand. I’m praying.”

I haven’t cried till now, seeing the holy fear in his eyes. We have control in so very few matters, and sometimes that truth comes on us like labor, like drowning, like a hole in the heart. Sometimes love feels exactly like fear, but perfect love casts the fear out – only I don’t believe anymore that the fear is to be cast toward Hell.

The presence of God is a riptide, and I do want to go under – thanksgiving, awe, love, and fear intermingle only there with truth and peace.

Let it be said of me that I knew I wasn’t in control. Let it be said that I threw my hands in the air, took the free-fall and found my joy deep in His mysterious river.

“Even though I walk through [hospital hallways (not to mention my insanely vivid imagination,)] I fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)

amberhaines
About me

70 Comments

Joy
Reply August 23, 2011

Oh dear! Praying, sweet friend. My sister was born with a large hole in her heart that required surgery too. She's a happy go lucky (married one year now) 24 year old. God is with you, and I am praying.

eloranicole
Reply August 23, 2011

oh...friend. this post is beautifully transparent. i love how you weave story & Jesus so intricately together. the legacy of Truth you're building within your family is breathtaking, amber.

    Amber
    Reply August 23, 2011

    You, Elora, are always always encouraging.

Fiona
Reply August 23, 2011

I could tell you of my friends little ones with the same condition - happily 'fixed' now.
I could tell you a hundred verses about God never letting you down and Him being the Healer.
I could tell you how gorgeous that boy is.
Instead I will say IT IS OK TO BE FREAKED OUT. It doesn't mean you have less faith. This is your reality and if you want to scream and cry and shout and worry and fuss and imagine the worst........that is ok.
You are loved dearest Amber by a whole bunch of people, near and far. But more importantly by a BIG BIG DADDY.

    Amber
    Reply August 23, 2011

    And I guess the truth is that I feel loved more than I feel afraid.

    Thank you, Fiona. I might be screaming here in a few weeks, but today, we're at peace here, just doing the next thing.

      Amber
      Reply August 23, 2011

      And also you make me cry. The permission to be honest is what makes my blog my favorite porch.

Fiona
Reply August 23, 2011

You're an inspiration Amber. xx

dearabbyleigh
Reply August 23, 2011

holding your tiny one's heart in mine until i hear otherwise, and even after.

    Seth
    Reply August 23, 2011

    Dearabbyleigh,

    You are good people.

Melissa
Reply August 23, 2011

I know that I know that we serve a great big God who loves Titus even more than you. I pray that peace continues to dwell in your heart and that the skilled physician's in your area take good care of your precious boy {and his mama}. Hugs and prayers!

Southern Gal
Reply August 23, 2011

Praying His peace over you right now , that you rest in His truth. Praying for that sweet baby boy.

We are THAT family
Reply August 23, 2011

your words are so beautiful, so painful. We are praying. Holding up your arms, sweet friend.

LoraLynn
Reply August 23, 2011

Clinging to the confidence that He who heals broken hearts can mend this tiny one. Loving you fiercely over here....

Arianne
Reply August 23, 2011

I'm with you in feeling more loved than afraid. Life is paper thin, and we rejoice. <3

tammy@meadows speak
Reply August 23, 2011

Unlurking because of what you said here: "Let it be said of me that I knew I wasn’t in control. Let it be said that I threw my hands in the air, took the free-fall and found my joy deep in His mysterious river." Oh yes! Let it be said....
And prayers for Titus. May God seal that hole with a kiss that'll forever stain his heart with His.

corinne
Reply August 23, 2011

Another one delurking... praying. You and your boys are all in my prayers, especially sweet little titus (I adore his name!) Xoxo

kendal
Reply August 23, 2011

praying for your dear titus. and for you and seth and those big brothers.

nicole @ deliajude
Reply August 23, 2011

"let it be said of me..." the words of truth and pain and love and hope all rolled into one.

Linda
Reply August 23, 2011

I have no words Amber....holding all of you in my heart and prayers.

katie
Reply August 23, 2011

You're doing the right thing: leaning in to holy, healing, fear-transforming God. Let Him take you in and under....
And of course, I'm praying over Titus. God fills holes with Himself.

Linda
Reply August 23, 2011

Thank you for being an example of clinging to the Lord no matter what. Your family is amazing and I know Jesus is with you. He is certainly with you and your precious Titus. I'll be praying for you and your family.

Ruthiey
Reply August 23, 2011

praying....

dawn
Reply August 23, 2011

Oh Amber. I've been there saying this, “there’s no way I’d make it if ________ happened.” More than one of my " ___________s" have happened. I am in awe of how God can hold us up during our hardest times. He also redeems hard and makes it Good. I am praying that you will sense His presence, have eyes to see how He is at work, and feel permission to feel whatever you feel. Hugs.

And Titus is a doll.

Aimee
Reply August 23, 2011

I will be praying for Titus, Seth and you. I have so much I'd like to say and wish I could reach through this blog to give you a hug, to bring you a meal, and to tell you that I love you and am here for you.

Kristen@Chasing Blue Skies
Reply August 23, 2011

Oh, Sweetness. On my knees right this second lifting words of praise and prayer to the One who holds Titus' heart in the palm of His hand. Much love to you and yours...

Jessica
Reply August 23, 2011

Praying that He who keeps you enables you to stand...

Adventures In Babywearing
Reply August 23, 2011

When we were told the worst about Noah, we would say over and over the name of the Lord is a strong and mighty tower. The righteous run in and are safe. (and I've taught the boys to say it, too, when afraid.)

For me, I would just open my palms and say, i can only imagine where this is going but you know how this ends, Lord. He can see all the way to the end of the story. Praying praying.

Steph

Alison
Reply August 23, 2011

Dear friend, I am praying for that sweet little soul and your aching mama's heart. Hold fast to our Savior, for he loves the little children.

Courtney
Reply August 23, 2011

Amber your words bring me to tears every time...praying for Titus. If you need anything at all, don't hesitate.

Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight
Reply August 24, 2011

Praying fervently!!!
Our firstborn practically lived in the hospital for the first 4 months of his life. We've walked those paralyzing, God-trusting, because what-else-is-there?-days & days, months & months...
That baby boy is 16 now. He is a walking, talking, loving, living miracle.
You can read his story - and maybe find some compassion, sisterhood, and hope - in these words:
http://freeagentmommy.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/the-caleb-miracle-part-one.html

Praying, believing, expecting, the same miracles for your baby boy.

sprittibee
Reply August 24, 2011

Congratulations on that little miracle - you are blessed. May the hole in his heart be not physical (let the healer mend that right up), but let it be spiritual - a hole for filling with the Spirit of the Lord... a large cup for spilling over. Love you!

laura@life overseas
Reply August 24, 2011

Oh, wow. Such a beautifully true post that reminds me of this facade that control really is. Thanks for sharing it with us . . . we will be praying.

Like, I'm really praying for your family right now.

Patricia @ Pollywog Creek
Reply August 24, 2011

First - I'm praying - right now. I'm just getting to "know" you, Amber, and it feels a bit awkward to say anything at a time like this, but you should know that even strangers who are sisters are praying.

Second - My favorite phrase in what you just wrote is how you paraphrased Psalm 23.4. Oh, how I relate to that vivid imagination. Thank you for that word picture...of walking through those imaginations without fear.

Joy @ Joy In This Journey
Reply August 24, 2011

So glad that they found his condition quickly. I'll be waiting in spirit with you. (We've been down that road and in fact are watching the heart of our youngest now, not knowing when he'll need more from the doctors.) Your words are honest and hopeful -- thank you for sharing them.

emily freeman
Reply August 24, 2011

and we pray with you, amber.

adrienne
Reply August 24, 2011

My son was born with two holes in his heart. One closed on its own, the other we had to have closed as it was large too. The dr. went in thru his groin. He was absolutely fine and he is starting second grade today. God is with you today and in your tomorrow. It is scary, but God will see you through if you let him.

Megan at SortaCrunchy
Reply August 24, 2011

You know that line in "Oh, how He loves" that says, "Loves like a hurricane, I am the tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy"? It's a strange line to the outsider because a hurricane *destroys* all in its path. Why would we surrender to being destroyed, and how is there love in that?

From what you have written here, it sounds like you are experiencing the full intensity of His love.

Praying over dear Titus and his sweet baby heart. Praying over you and Seth and your Mama and Daddy hearts.

Imperfect
Reply August 24, 2011

And we pray with you in the knowledge that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Ps. 46.1).

Carolyn
Reply August 24, 2011

I remember waiting for the phone call. My sister-in-law was going into labor any day. This would be the first grandchild in our family and in hers, so excitement was high. I got to the house and walked in - Mom was crying. Dad was on the phone. My niece Cailey had been born! But... all her heart valves were backwards... pushing blood the wrong way? What? How was she still alive? She was airlifted to a specialty hospital. Her Mom, having just had a C-section, had to stay behind. My brother was told to stay with his wife until her parents got there, so Cailey went alone, but she had God with her and we had to trust that. We got Mom and my sister on a plane up there. Dad and I paced. My sister called to tell me what type of procedure they would do. After the description, I asked, "has this doctor ever done this before? she is so tiny!" Sister says, "of course. and it is called micro-surgery... they practice on rats". Comforting. The surgery happens on her fourth day of life. During the surgery, which is getting longer - several hours - one of the many doctors comes out and explains that when they got into her chest to the heart, they discovered that Cailey also had her arteries all connected wrong. Seems as though she had made her OWN heart design while growing in the womb. I took this as a warning for a strong personality later. So... they reversed the valves and attached the arteries in a more traditional fashion. Six hours later and Cailey was good. She had another surgery at 10 months to fix a kink in an artery that was too small to fix the first time (smaller than the rat they practiced on? weird). She has to go to the heart doctor every so often. Hard to ever get any health insurance for her. She stills scares us - but now it is because she has a learners permit to drive! She is a healthy 15-year-old girl. And she loves Jesus. I have prayed for her heart - physically and spiritually. I have known fear for her. I have to let it go to God - I'm a tiny bit better at it now than I used to be. I will pray for Titus' heart - physically and spiritually. God be with us all.

Erika
Reply August 24, 2011

This makes me better, unfurls something in my own process.

Little Titus . . . I am praying.

Danelle
Reply August 24, 2011

Tears of love as I type this. I can think of only this . . that He loves you, that when you hold your Titus remember all the ways He has been faithful in the past. . And then know that I will be praying for your todays and tomorrows. Jesus will walk those hospital halls and many prayer warriors are surrounding your family and precious Titus.

Malia
Reply August 24, 2011

Beautiful family, beautiful baby, beautiful words, beautiful Lord.
I am praying.

giacomo conserva
Reply August 24, 2011

God is a riptide you said-
I don't know if I have faith, but I certainly have hope-

Annie
Reply August 24, 2011

I am praying!

Lindsey Nobles
Reply August 24, 2011

Praying for you guys!

Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama
Reply August 24, 2011

We believe with you Amber. We believe for Titus.

Jennifer @ GDWJ
Reply August 24, 2011

Joining the chorus of prayers!

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply August 24, 2011

This made my heart hurt -- for you, for him. I trust the miracle of modern medicine will be able to correct this, without too much strain. But still. He's just a baby, and you're a new mother bear. It's hard.

Grace, even in the dark.

Nonna
Reply August 24, 2011

Lord, have mercy... prayers...

diana trautwein
Reply August 24, 2011

Unlurking here to just say...hang onto love. It will carry you through the fear, even as you are learning right now. May you and Seth find the strength you need, exactly as and when you need it, moment to moment. And may that precious small one find his way to a whole heart - in every sense of that word.

Anita
Reply August 24, 2011

praying for Titus... and all of his family. Faithful, Faithful, Faithful....

Sara Sophiah
Reply August 24, 2011

always and ever with you in all things.

praying and praying and knowing it will.be.okay.

God is so big.

moosh in indy.
Reply August 25, 2011

Oh my, Titus will be carried by prayers as you are held by them.

So much love to the both of you and your sweet family.

xoxo

hannamay
Reply August 25, 2011

Thank you for sharing this article... OHHH!!! The baby is so adorable....

nicole
Reply August 25, 2011

Praying for your sweet baby and your family. That is scary.

Mishi
Reply August 25, 2011

I love you all and will pray for you always.

Titus is beautiful and he's so blessed to have you and Seth as his Mama and Papa!

Ashleigh Baker
Reply August 25, 2011

Praying for that Touch and the Spirit's comfort and the strength of love so wide and deep it rushes you all out to sea. His hand is mighty and His wisdom unfathomable. You know this, of course.

Love to you, sweet, sweet family. <3

designhermomma
Reply August 25, 2011

praying, praying, praying right now.

Lindsey
Reply August 25, 2011

Praying for your family and your sweet baby boy.

Ali
Reply August 25, 2011

This is so touching! My family will be praying and hoping for everything to work out for you and your sweet little guy. I had my first baby this past February, and he had two holes in his hear, along with a couple other things that needed to be repaired before he was a week old. It was the scariest experience I ever had in my life. I do not think that I have ever cried or prayed so much!

Long story short, he had the surgery and he is now almost 7 months old and doing SO well. I remembering feeling so alone when all of that was going on, and I had a blog to be able to keep friends and family updated. It is tanners-page.blogspot.com. The comments that I received from people on this blog helped me through some of the darkest points, and comforted me in knowing that I was not alone and not the only one that has ever gone through something like this before.

I hope that my story and the the others that you have gotten will help carry you through this difficult time. Our prayers are with you. Everything will be just fine.

Julie Sunne
Reply August 25, 2011

Fear is a natural response to loss of control. But your testimony of your faith has ordained it to be--you will ride in Jesus Christ's arms through this entire difficult journey. Praying for that precious babe and you and your entire family.

deb
Reply August 26, 2011

sending love,
and of course prayer....

peace be with you

deidra
Reply August 26, 2011

Knocking quietly on your door and whispering so you can hear me: "I'm in here with you...trying to stay under." Love to you...and grace. Much grace...

hamster
Reply August 26, 2011

he's got a good shaped head. can't wait to meet him.

Danise Jurado
Reply August 27, 2011

My love and prayers are with you

Angela Nazworth
Reply August 27, 2011

I am praying for you and your sweet baby boy. Grace and love, Angela

amber
Reply August 29, 2011

Hugs and love and prayers for you and the baby.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *