I almost didn’t want to write about this part. Divulging the details of how our son was brought into the world brings back so many memories and graphic details. In sharing our story, we hope to spread awareness about Preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome, the severity of these illnesses, and knowing when to seek medical attention. I had read about these risks and knew about these risks, but the odds were so slim that I never worried about them actually happening to me, to us. But then they did.
Gavin was due August 9, 2018. My pregnancy had been pretty textbook leading into the end of the third trimester. Blood pressure was always perfect, heartbeat was always perfect, glucose test was perfect. My body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do and it was doing it well. I never worried about my heath or that of our son until the first week of July. I was looking forward to having a few days off because I was starting to feel, well, just not quite right. A coworker stepped up and voluntarily took my last shift of the week so I could go home early and rest. Another coworker predicted that I would have this baby any day, even though I was still five weeks away from the due date. My feet seemed more swollen than normal, my nausea had returned, and I got the most intense, debilitating migraine. The symptoms seemed to fluctuate over the next two days until coming to a head on July 5, 2018.
When Ian got home from work that day, I told him I wasn’t feeling that great and just wanted to take it easy at home. Maybe watch a movie or something. We curled up in our king size bed and went to sleep around 9:30 P.M. Okay, Ian went to sleep, but I just couldn’t get comfortable. I had a pregnancy pillow that was almost the size of our bed, so I schlepped it out of the closet and around my body. Still, I felt nagging discomfort. I rearranged my body around every single pillow we owned like a thief trying to crack the code on a safe, but nothing worked. I went downstairs and drank some water before dissolving into the couch in the living room. I tried the fetal position, starfish, pencil, every last maneuver I could to find reprieve from the pain I was feeling. I had sharp pains in my stomach, my head was pounding, and no matter what I tried, I just started feeling worse and worse.
I kept my eyes on the clock. The hours passed like a landslide of molasses, somehow both quickly and slowly. I wanted to be aware of how long I had been in pain and also how much longer until I could go to the doctor in the morning. I know now that these were severe symptoms, but at the time they seemed like really stupid reasons to call the doctor in the middle of the night. I knew childbirth would be even more excruciating, so I told myself that this pain was nothing by comparison. Just a headache and stomach pains. Maybe these are contractions and that’s why I feel so awful, I reasoned. I started tracking the pain in a contraction counting app on my phone. Nothing was rhythmic at all about these pains. Then I started texting my sisters, asking what contractions feel like. These definitely weren’t contractions, but I had nothing else to compare it to. I also took to Google with my symptoms: pregnant, headache, stomach pains, swelling. Google had it right on the money with Preeclampsia. But like all Google searches for anything medically-related, the results always seem to be worst-case-scenarios for your symptoms. You know, like cancer for literally every single search. So I ignored the Google results and took a hot shower.
The shower relaxed me for a few minutes, but I was in too much pain afterwards to even get dressed. I went back to bed, tossing and turning, touching my stomach and talking to our boy. He was still moving and kicking, so I knew he was okay for now. I never thought his life or mine were in danger because I could always feel him moving. I was still able to move too, albeit barely. By 7 A.M., I had taken three showers and didn’t get a wink of sleep. I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I woke up my husband and told him, “Please stay home from work today. I don’t feel right.” I told him about my wild night of being wide awake in pain and he told me to call the doctor.
Now that it was daytime, I felt mostly comfortable calling the doctor. I’m not an overly-concerned person when it comes to medical stuff because, well, I’m just not. Maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t worry about symptoms like I should. “My body will take care of it,” I say. If I have a cold or sinus infection or anything of that nature, I try to let my body take care of it naturally before taking medicine if I can help it. I didn’t want to seem neurotic about symptoms as silly as a headache, stomach pains, and swelling in my hands. I was five weeks away from my due date, of course I was going to be uncomfortable, so I tried not to think too much of it. Looking back now, I definitely should’ve been concerned.
I spoke to the on-call doctor, who also happened to be the doctor I wanted to deliver our son, which helped put me at ease. I didn’t feel so stupid about relaying my symptoms to her because we had built a rapport over the last few months. She asked me some standard questions about the last day I had worked, the last time I had intercourse, and my activity levels. I had basically been a couch potato for the last three days, which raised some concerns for her. She was so calm when she told me to come in that I thought for sure they would take one look at me, tell me to toughen up, and send us home. Little did we know, this was the last time I would be home in nine days.
Looking back now, I think my doctor already had her suspicions. I didn’t go to the OB/GYN office on-site at the hospital where I had all of my previous appointments, I actually went to the Labor & Delivery Ward of the hospital. I checked in and was taken to a small room for observation. The nurse wanted a urine sample, so I hobbled in pain to the bathroom. By this point I was having to breathe heavily so I wouldn’t moan out in pain. “You must be feeling some really strong contractions,” she said. After collecting the sample, she hooked me up to a wall of machines. I was wrapped in cords and blinking lights, but I could watch what my body was doing and how the baby was doing. When the nurse showed me what each of the lines on the monitor meant, the line for “contractions” was almost flat. I was scared then because the pain was so sharp, yet barely making a blip on the machines. If it feels this bad now and I’m not even contracting, childbirth is really going to suck! The nurse then took my blood pressure. 184/99. I’m no medical scholar, but even I knew that was high. Way too high. My systolic blood pressure would eventually soar over 200, with diastolic lingering around 100. “I’m going to turn down the lights, here’s a warm blanket, you just relax. Order some food if you’d like. We’ll probably just monitor you until lunchtime or so, so just breathe and try to relax.”
Everyone. Everyone in this hospital was so calm about my blood pressure. Not that I wasn’t worried, but the medical staff played it so cool that I wasn’t overwhelmed or scared by the numbers on the monitor. The cuff would inflate every few minutes, and every few minutes my numbers remained the same. Some friends stopped by with a phone charger and celebrity tabloids to keep me entertained. The nurses continued to urge that I relax, but they weren’t shooing anyone out of the room yet, so I figured our situation wasn’t dire.
Lunch time came and passed. I ordered some food. “Just a few more hours probably. We’d like to keep you until 3 or so. Try to take a nap if you can.” Nurses continued to flow in and out of the room. Urine samples, blood draws, pokes, probes, and that stupid blood pressure cuff. Three o’clock rolled around, then four, then five.
“We’re admitting you,” the doctor said. “At this point, we are looking to induce.” She filled me in on the medical mumbo-jumbo, stating that my liver had essentially started shutting down and that’s why I was having such sharp pains in my stomach the night before. Getting the baby out would be the best way to remedy this health problem and potential health problems for baby. I already had our hospital bags packed (thank you, nesting!), so I tasked Ian with running by the house. Being that we were at 35 weeks gestation, our son’s lungs were yet to be fully developed. I was given a shot of steroids that would help Gavin’s lungs develop more quickly. Then they administered something to soften my cervix.
I come from a loooong line of loooong laboring women. I’m talking 20+ hours, minimum, so I thought I had another day or two ahead of me. A painful, exhausting day or two. We got comfortable in the labor and delivery room and were hanging out with our friends that had stopped by. We must’ve gotten a little rowdy because one of the nurses said, “This is actually quite serious and it’s very important that you are quiet so she can rest.” That was the first time the entire day of being in the hospital that someone’s tone had started to key me in on the severity of the situation. Being that Ian hates hospitals and I knew we had hours to burn before induction, I sent him off again, but this time to enjoy a nice meal with our friends. I could sleep and he could get a much-needed escape from the hospital. Win-win.
The room was peaceful, quiet. A clear, plastic bassinet was hugging a corner of the room with an infographic about effacement placed above it. The painful reality of childbirth started whispering in my ears. No more than 30 minutes after I was alone with these thoughts in the hospital did my doctor return to the room. She was calm and collected when she advised that a c-section was necessary for my son and I’s survival. “Oh, okay, whatever is safest for us. When? Ian just went to dinner,” I stammered. I was trying so hard to be calm despite the shakiness in my voice.
“Call him. We’re prepping the OR,” she said.
I burst into tears. I didn’t even have time to process what she was saying but my body was reacting immediately before my brain could catch up. I called Ian and told him they were going to perform a c-section. “When?” he said. “As soon as you get here,” I replied. I don’t think he even got to enjoy a nice dinner that night. He rushed to the hospital while I was prepped for surgery. I used the restroom one last time, barely able to stand because I was so overcome by emotion and exhaustion. My hands were shaking and my body practically convulsing from nerves. I don’t get five more weeks. I’m a mom. Tonight. In less than one hour. Now.
I got to see Ian in a quick flash before being whisked down the hallway to the operating room. He couldn’t be present while I was numbed, which sucked, but the medical staff was so professional, so kind, so courteous. One of the nurses, Kayla, had graduated high school with Ian. She stood right in front of me, holding my hand while I sat on the operating table waiting for the spinal anesthesia to be administered. I felt oddly comforted knowing that, in a weird way, Ian was with me through the connection we shared with this nurse. I was sobbing by this point and struggling to breathe. I forced myself to take deep breaths, but I couldn’t stop shaking. The room was cold. I felt clammy. I was sweating and freezing all at once. But Kayla held me up, rubbed my hands, and encouraged me perfectly on cue with my reservations.
The anesthesiologist was the best. I was far from actually being okay, but when he walked in the room and gave me a reassuring smile, I felt like I was worlds away from my pains and fears. He explained the procedure and what to expect. I could hear him, but his voice sounded like it was echoing around the walls in the OR. I tried to laser-focus my attention to his words, but that seemed to make them sound more distorted. I couldn’t remember anything of what he said by the time he started to administer the spinal anesthesia. I was gripping Kayla at this point, hunched over like a cat ready to pounce, as the anesthesia was injected. I tried to calm my nervous convulsions. I can’t say whether it physically hurt or not. I can only remember Kayla insisting that I continue to take deep breaths and hold very still. “You’re doing great,” she would say. I wondered if I was actually doing great or if she told every patient that. Either way, I took comfort in her words.
I started feeling tingly all the way down my legs. Have you ever seen the shadows from clouds running over a landscape in search of the horizon? That’s what this sensation felt like. A shadow overtaking my body in one smooth motion. Two staff members helped get my legs on the table because I physically couldn’t do it. I wondered if this was how it felt to be an amputee; having the feeling of my legs without the ability to move them. I was flat on the table now. The arrangement of bright lights above me and the sea of blue surgical tarps around me was like being on a medical TV drama. Maybe this isn’t real at all. Maybe this is just a dream.
The anesthesiologist was standing over me at this point. Using the end of some kind of surgical equipment, he tested where my numbness began and ended. I could feel nothing from the chest down. I passed his test. The next thing I knew, Ian was next to me. He touched and kissed my forehead. I looked up at the array of surgical lights above us and could see the reflection of my body on the operating table. The image wasn’t crystal clear, but was enough to make me look away. I remember seeing shiny tools moving swiftly over my body. The image prompted my eyes to swell and my lungs to gasp. Everything happened so slow, yet so fast. A flash and a blur. In hindsight, I wish we would have asked if we could record the surgery. We have nothing from that day except the memories and the hospital bracelets.
I was listening to the medical terms being thrown around as the surgery commenced. I knew I was being cut open, but I had to distract myself. The anesthesiologist stayed behind the curtain with Ian and I. Ian will tell you that I was cracking jokes, but I will tell you that I was simply coping with the circumstances. The use of humor, quick wit, and sarcasm in a room full of people trying to save two lives helped me feel and seem less stressed. The not so humorous part of the story was when I felt the need to vomit. Because I was lying down with zero ability to move, I thought for sure I was going to choke and die on its contents. What a way to end things, eh? I could barely mutter the words “I’m going to puke” before it was out of my mouth and into a blue plastic funnel. I was in a room full of medical professionals and felt so helpless. I couldn’t even hold my own bucket of puke for goodness sake. Ian said I kept coming in and out of consciousness, but I don’t remember ever falling asleep while I was in that room.
The medical jargon was intermixed with “regular people” terms. I peeked up at the reflection of my body in the lights again, but couldn’t make out if this appeared successful or not. The surgery in total took about 45 minutes. Ian would occasionally peek around the blue tarps and every time I watched his reaction in search of a clue for how the baby was doing. For having a weak stomach, Ian was being an absolute champion. He would watch for a minute or so, then close his eyes and turn his gaze back to me. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, I could only tell that he was overwhelmed. I was going to be a mom, sure, but he was going to be a dad. He was going to see what I had been feeling for all those months leading up to this moment. He would soon understand the big impact of this little life.
I could tell from the chatter (and pressure on my stomach) that Gavin had been removed from my body, but I couldn’t hear him crying. All I could think about was the steroid injection and wondering if it was able to help his little lungs. I was devastated. Did enough time pass for the steroid to do anything at all? What if he was already gone? Will I be able to at least hold him before they take him away?
And then I heard him cry. The sound was quiet and gentle, but very strained. I asked if he was okay, still in disbelief that he was here. Still in disbelief that we were parents. The nurse brought me back to reality when I saw that she was holding him with a sense of urgency. She wasn’t cradling him or looking at him with joy and admiration, she was looking at him with hope and fear. We got a quick glimpse as she said, “Here’s your boy,” and then they turned and disappeared. I couldn’t stop crying. I was willing to die for this little life that I once regretted and I felt so ashamed for ever having regrets and resentment towards someone as precious as my little boy. I wondered if I was now getting what I deserved for harboring those ugly thoughts once upon a time.
Ian was crying. I was crying. As the doctors were preparing to close my body, I couldn’t help but wonder about Gavin. Was he alive? Would he survive the night? I thought about his frail little body. How quickly they had ushered him away. Ian looked at me and then stared at the doors of the OR. “Go be with him,” I said, but Ian hesitated to leave. He couldn’t even speak. “Go be with our son. He needs you.” I learned months later why he had hesitated. The staff had been careful with their words around me, but as I was wheeled to the operating room just an hour prior, the doctor had taken Ian aside. She told him just how severe our circumstances had become. She told him that I might not survive the c-section, but that the surgery posed the greatest odds for my survival and was literally the only option. The c-section was like a lottery or a bet. Just flip a coin. Maybe I’ll make it. Maybe I won’t.
I completely understand why I wasn’t told of the severity, but sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if had I died. Obviously, I would be dead and these thoughts wouldn’t even matter; but it’s because I lived that I can’t shake them. I never got to say goodbye to my family. To tell them one last time how much I loved each of them. The last thing I told my mother was via a text message containing her flight details for the following day. How terrible to think that the joyous occasion of meeting her grandchild could have so quickly turned into a trip to plan a funeral for her daughter and that grandchild. I never had the chance to embrace Ian before surgery because there simply wasn’t time. He held my hand throughout the procedure, but we were never able to hold each other. Did he know then what I hope he knows now? How eternal my love is for him? Did he panic every time I lost consciousness during surgery? And then I think, I never got to hold my son. I never got to feel his body outside of mine. I never got to smell his skin or cradle his little head. My life could have ended in the middle of a sentence. No punctuation mark, just an end. I always thought I would have more time, but then one day I won’t and my life will be over. July 6, 2018 could very well have been that one day for me.
Ian went to be with Gavin in the NICU while I was put back together. I had started to hemorrhage, but the doctor was swift and efficient in her process. I like to think that God was in that OR with us. Holding my hand when Ian couldn’t. Holding the doctor’s hands while the surgery was underway. I was pretty out of touch with reality when I made it back to the recovery room. The room was small and dark. I was tired. I was weak. I touched my stomach, which felt so foreign to me without Gavin and his temporary home intact. I could feel all the extra skin from the nearly eight months of stretching. That extra skin felt oddly soft and comforting in those moments.
I don’t know how long I was asleep, but I woke up when Ian returned from the NICU. My husband is a man’s man – but there was no denying the anguish and pain he was feeling when he made it to my recovery room. The expression on his face and the deep red marks on his cheeks told me that I didn’t want to know what he was about to tell me. I asked how Gavin was doing and Ian couldn’t speak. He couldn’t even mumble through sobs to tell me what was happening. I thought, surely, our son hadn’t survived.
“He is really, really struggling to breathe. His whole body, it’s like he’s convulsing trying to breathe. I couldn’t be in there any longer to watch it.” Ian was sitting as close to me as he could without causing me physical pain, but his words stung my heart like the sea to a fresh, deep wound. His shoulders were shaking as he curled his body over the railing of the hospital bed. We held hands and prayed fervently through deep breaths and sobs. I had been saying since this pregnancy began that the life of our baby would always be in the hands of God. That I could certainly do my best to protect our child, but God’s will is God’s will. I had learned to accept that. Now that Gavin was here and he was fighting for his life, I had a much more difficult time accepting God’s will. That if my baby were to be taken from me, I wouldn’t know how to continue living my life. I just couldn’t imagine a world without Gavin, even though I had only seen him for less than seven seconds.
I’m thankful I was on heavy pain medications that night because it made me able to sleep through the physical and emotional pains. Ian didn’t fare well in the sleep department, but he was able to see Gavin first thing in the morning while I continued to doze. My blood pressure was still too high for the doctor’s to be comfortable with my health. I wasn’t allowed to see Gavin; I was told to rest. I learned that Gavin had a breathing tube, a feeding tube, and that he was kept under a special light for his jaundice. The NICU had a password-protected webcam so I could see Gavin any time I wanted to, which did ease the pain of him being so far away. I was able to send my colostrum to the NICU for Gavin every time I was able to pump and produce.
This wasn’t the version of my son’s life that I wanted to experience or tell for years to come. This wasn’t at all like anything I had pictured for how he was going to be born. I didn’t want this to be our story. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even stand. I couldn’t speak without crying. I didn’t have a squishy newborn to nurse or hold to pass the painful hours. I wasn’t laughing or smiling with family and friends as we gazed upon this precious baby. We weren’t celebrating anything because there was nothing to celebrate. My baby was struggling to breathe and my body was struggling to function. Every time a doctor asked how I was feeling, I would just nod and say I was fine. But I was so far from fine, I was drowning in despair.
The evening of day two, I was allowed to see Gavin. Getting myself from the bed to the wheelchair was a challenge, but I felt like I had to act strong so the doctor’s wouldn’t change their minds. I wanted to hold my baby, not watch other people do the same through a webcam just 50 feet down the hall. I needed him and I was terrified of him. As I was wheeled through the doors of the NICU, I glanced around at all of the tiny infants. I couldn’t tell which one was mine, so I just desperately looked around the room. The NICU is a strange place, full of so much hope, so much fear, and so much heartache. I often wonder how God chooses parents for the NICU and why He does in the first place. This room was violently unfair to every person standing in it. To every person cradling babies that were smaller than my hand. I was wheeled to the foot of my son’s bed, which was really a giant machine with monitors that were constantly changing colors, different beeping tones filling the air, and an abundance of cords surrounding his tiny body. I couldn’t help but cry at the sight of him. To know that he was literally ripped from a warm, comforting womb to now being in so much pain.
The nurses brought me a rocking chair, which I barely survived transferring to from the wheelchair. The incision was screaming at me and stabbing me in protest, but knowing that I could hold Gavin helped to silence the pain. The nurse was holding him gently, closely, and he was so much smaller than I remembered from the OR. How was little thing human, and how was it mine? I saw the tiny IV needle taped to his precious skin and took notice of each tube that was keeping him alive. She tucked Gavin carefully into the scoop of my tank top, untangling cords as she went. Gavin was 4 pounds and 15 ounces at the time and holding him felt completely surreal. I was honestly afraid to even touch him, he was so frail. I wanted to stay there all night with him, but my body was still so weak. My blood pressure was still too high. I wanted nothing more than to just feel normal again. I wanted to be home with my husband and my son.
The next day, my catheter was removed. Ian was enlisted to help me get to and from the bathroom when I needed it. If you want to know what true love looks like, it looks like a man holding his wife, helping her to the bathroom, pulling down the bloodied mesh underwear, holding her up while she’s on the toilet, wiping the mess, changing the canoe-pads, and helping her back to bed. I have never been more in love with my husband than in that moment of my first bathroom attempt post-surgery. He never once complained, batted an eye, or looked away in disgust. He was compassionate, patient, and kind while I was in my darkest hours of pain and vulnerability. I’ve always known and believed that we were made for each other, but that experience evolved my love for him exponentially. Can I get an amen from all the women who know exactly what I’m talking about?
I remained in the hospital for a week with multiple daily blood draws and urine tests intermixed with blood pressure and pain medications. I felt more like a science experiment than a human being. All the while I was pumping or nursing in prayerful hope that my milk supply would get the hint: the baby was out and he needed nourishment. We had to use formula multiple times while we were at the hospital, and I felt like such a failure. I wanted (and expected) my body to produce what my son desperately needed to grow and survive outside the womb. His breathing and feeding tubes had been removed, now we were just waiting on him to consistently gain weight before we could go home together as a family.
The hospital really “delivered”. After I was discharged, I was transferred to a transition room. These rooms lined an entire hallway of the hospital and were dedicated for families of NICU babies who were within one week of going home. This allowed the parents to be with the baby full-time without having to worry about driving to and from the hospital every three hours for feedings. With full bathrooms and beds in each one, I could take hot showers when I needed to relax or take a nap to daytime TV between feedings. The phone would ring every three hours and the nurses would ask if I was feeling well enough to nurse or give a bottle. Recovering from a c-section was way harder than I thought it would be. When I wasn’t feeling well enough to hold and feed Gavin, I felt so guilty for saying no. I was convinced the nurses were judging me for not always being there when Gavin needed me, but in reality they understood the importance of my recovery. I was this baby’s lifeline, but I also had to heal if I expected to be a good and present mother. I hated having to choose myself over my son. I hated that we couldn’t be together at home recovering. I hated living at the hospital. This wasn’t supposed to be our story and I hated that too.
Ian was back to work by now, so I would try to rest when I could and spend every other moment in the NICU with Gavin. I had returned to my room after a morning feeding and was feeling exceptionally emotional from always leaving the NICU empty handed, empty hearted. As I prepared to take a shower to wash my worries down the drain, I could hear a baby crying in the neighboring transition room. I found myself feeling angry that these complete strangers had their baby to hold. I could hear the parents offering comfort, and I could hear the baby’s crying turn into cooing. I was so jealous, broken, and hurt by the sound that my tears were steaming hot as they rained down my cheek. I had just left my son in the NICU. Again. Another day, another blow straight through my heart. I desperately wanted and needed my baby with me. I wondered how many more days and nights I would feel like I was a stranger to my own child.
Days later, we were starting to near the finish line for Gavin’s discharge from the hospital. With only two consecutive days of weight gain holding us back, Gavin was finally permitted to stay overnight in my room. Ian stayed with me at the hospital that night. I cried when the nurses brought our son to me in that clear, plastic bassinet that once hugged a corner of the delivery room. He didn’t have the monitors, the machines, the beeps, or any of the blinking lights. He just had us, and we had him. We dressed him in dinosaur pajamas and watched Jurassic World together as a family. We were finally a family.
Gavin gained weight successfully and he was discharged after the longest ten day journey of my life. All things considered, we were lucky. We were blessed. A NICU mother whose baby shared a wall with Gavin was born at 23 weeks and had already been through two brain surgeries. We were in the NICU for 10 days and I was miserable, sad, and angry most of those days. This woman had been in the NICU with her son for months. Months. I couldn’t then, and I still can’t, imagine how hard that mother fought. Maybe she is still fighting. She’s fighting all of the demons that come with having a sick child, all the while being completely helpless. Being a spectator while your child fights for his life is debilitating. But a mother’s love truly can conquer all. I never believed that until I became a mother myself.
The outpouring of support we received is something we will never forget. Seemingly every time I returned to my room, another bouquet of flowers or encouraging note was waiting for us. Gift bags with clothes and toys for Gavin showed up. Delicious home cooked meals made with genuine love. Friends gave their time to be with us. I had so many Facebook messages and texts that I could barely keep up with responding to everyone. Gavin’s traumatic birth was truly my life’s darkest hour. But because so many people shared their light, I was able to hang on to hope. I was able to cling to faith. We simply asked that people pray for our boy, and pray they did. Both of our full recoveries we attribute to God’s healing hand upon listening to the fervent prayers of our loved ones. I would die for my child in an instant, no question, but God saved me too.
God’s love for His children is something I am starting to really grasp and understand now that I have a child of my own. I have looked at my own walk of faith with shame and guilt, knowing now how sin makes our Father feel. But I am able to feel His redemption and forgiveness. I hope to love my child like God has so graciously loved me. The journey so far has been wonderful. Scary. Overwhelming. Beautiful. Exhausting. Powerful. I believe we were saved for His purpose and plan, of which we may never be able to see or experience fully in our lifetime. But how wonderful, scary, overwhelming, beautiful, exhausting, and powerful to know that God created me with the intention of creating the little life of Gavin. And that the little life of Gavin was created with intention for me. Of all the mothers in the world, God chose to create Gavin for me. I can think of no greater joy or honor than that.