I think one of the hardest things in the this life is to say goodbye. Saying goodbye in death is much harder then by distance but sometimes it doesn't feel like it. Certainly figuring out how to say goodbye isn't easy either. After all, I've been working on this post for well over a week now and still don't have the right words to say. As JoRonda, her husband, Mark and three boys, Dustin, Nathan and Ethan head to Thailand in just three days I have to say this quick!!
Over the past few years I have had the pleasure to get to know a very unique woman and her family. And to go from liking her as a person to depending on her for wisdom was also an amazing transformation. After all, how often do you get the chance to meet someone who has triplets and then find out that you are also going to be having triplets?
JoRonda was one of the first people I told about the triplets. In church during our greeting time I leaned forward and said I was going to have triplets! She immediately sat down and wrote me this very long note of what they did when her triplets were little. Gave me encouragement that I could survive and tips on what to do while on bed rest and after they were born. I still have that card and I refer back to it from time to time. Of course, I had one thing she didn't and that was children before my triplets. To this day we have a friendly argument going as to which is harder, triplets first or already having other children. So far I'm winning in the difficult area.
How many people have the ability to come in and take care of all three babies at once with ease? She knew what to do. She'd done it before. I heard stories about how she bottle fed all three of them with her hands and her knees :) She took them so I could sleep. She took them so I could shop. Trust me, this is a RARE thing.
But to truly understand how amazing and used of God that JoRonda is you have to know a little bit of her story. Although I knew some of it I hadn't heard all the details until one night at a ladies church get-together where she was asked to give her testimony. As I listened to her share I was just 23 weeks pregnant with the girls and completely unsure of how my own story would turn out. This may get a little long but you will do well to read it all. To see God at work in this life is nothing short of a miracle and it is for His glory alone that I live and for His glory alone that I share this with you.
JoRonda and Mark married at a very young age (so did I - we have a lot in common - notice we both have "different" names :) ). Mark was diagnosed with cancer not long after they were married thus causing infertility later in their marriage. Unable to get pregnant on their own JoRonda and Mark turned to IVF. Using what they had banked years earlier JoRonda and Mark implanted four embryos hoping one or maybe two would "take". Three did. They were having triplets! Mark was excited. JoRonda was scared. Being a LDR nurse she knew everything that could go wrong with triplets and in her case, it almost did.
At 19 weeks JoRonda was put on strict bed rest. At 27 weeks her water broke and she was admitted into the hospital to see if labor could be prolonged. At 27.5 weeks JoRonda began to shiver and she knew that infection had set in and the babies would have to be delivered. She gave birth to two boys and a girl each weighing around 2 pounds: Dustin, Nathan and Abbey.
Dustin required heart surgery, Nathan had Methicillan Resistant Staph and had to have surgery on every joint in his body. He came home in a full body cast and today walks with a limp because of it but is otherwise normal and healthy. Abbey was diagnosed with a Level 4 brain bleed requiring a shunt to drain the blood around her brain. After four months in the NICU she came home healthy and happy.
Just under 7 years from her homecoming Abbey complained of feeling ill. Unusually for Abbey she spent the night in her parents bed. When JoRonda woke in the middle of the night Abbey wasn't breathing. Knowing CPR, JoRonda worked on reviving her as Mark called 9-1-1. Since they lived in the country it took a while for the paramedics to arrive. When they did they took Abbey by ambulance and JoRonda rode along. She praises God that Abbey was revived during that time and she had some moments with her.
When the ambulance met the helicopter JoRonda could not go along and instead had to ride with Mark to the hospital. When she arrived and was met by the doctor instructing them to have a chaplain or pastor present JoRonda knew it wasn't good. Within a day, Abbey was no longer present in this life and instead was present with our Lord in the next. It turns out that her shunt had failed and her brain could not survive without it.
So, how could this woman who not even five years later met me, another mom with triplets, pour her heart and time into my well-being? To be honest, if it were me, I don't know if I could do it. Especially after I carried my girls to 36 weeks and had a scheduled C-section. Instead of spending months in the NICU, my girls were released right away with no complications.
But instead of steering clear of me, she became a huge part of my life, helping to coordinate my care while I was in the hospital and after. She signed up to bring us meals for an entire month (once a week, not every day!), she came over to help and continued to give us "triplet tips".
And then we were blessed to have JoRonda and Mark in our "care group" - basically a home Bible study on Sunday nights. JoRonda would constantly take the all the girls to play so I could sit quietly and listen. Wow! How sweet is that? She would ask how I was doing. How my quiet times with God were. How my marriage was. Not to pry but because she truly cared about me.
That's the kind of person JoRonda is. She is selfless and so is the rest of her family. There wasn't a time that she came over that she didn't bring her boys along with her (Ethan came along later as their only surviving frozen embryo). Her boys cleaned up my yard, mowed, weeded, moved furniture. Anything and everything. Trust me, I've already signed Kaitlyn up to marry any one of them :)
But now what? Now they are leaving to head to Thailand and I am truly going to miss her. I don't feel like I've gained enough wisdom from her yet and I am certainly not ready for them to leave. I know that the new folks they meet in Thailand will be truly blessed to have them there and I can only pray that the Lord will bring them back here in the future.
JoRonda, Mark and the boys: we love you and will miss you. May God go before you in your journey and may you not forget the set of triplets you left behind :)
JoRonda and "the girls":
Mark and "the boys" - Caleb insisted on this picture :)
JoRonda has committed to starting a blog and keeping us all up to date with their adventures in Thailand so plesae be sure to check it out and say hello: