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Happy Birthday, Apollo XIV {2 Years Old}

If you don’t already have a hot cup of coffee you may want to grab one now. I have a feeling this is going to be long.

When Apollo was born two years ago, after experiencing a cord prolapse, I didn’t need to remind myself what a miracle my son was or to treasure every moment. I knew his very life was on the line after I saw his cord dangling between my legs. All through the wait for the ambulance and the ride to the hospital, I prayed for my baby. That he would live. That he wouldn’t be oxygen deprived. That he would be safe. Oh no, there was no need to remind myself what a miracle life and birth itself is.

I did, however, sit in that hospital room, as I gazed into his sweet face, and tell myself that he was healthy and fine and I wasn’t going to treat him any differently because of his terrifying birth.  He was, after all, declared perfect in the hospital. His APGAR score at birth was an eight! No, I wouldn’t treat him like a sick, fragile child.

The joke was on me, I guess.

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Apollo 12 months old {June 26, 2011}

I won’t recap Apollo’s first year (I did that here) but by his birthday I was sure the worst was behind us. He was still recovering from RSV and pneumonia, but the doctors assured us he would soon grow and  thrive. I certainly never could have dreamed what year two would bring.

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But the medical roller coaster was just picking up speed. My son was still screaming and crying through every meal. Every. single. bite. was a struggle. And I was being told he was just “scared” to eat because of his history of reflux. We were told to put him on a high fat diet…which is all fine and good, except we couldn’t get the food in his mouth.

Knowing what we know now about the artery from his heart compressing his esophagus, Apollo must have felt like we were trying to kill him as we tried to put food in his mouth.

Imagine being so hungry you are steadily losing weight…and being faced with a table full of food you couldn’t eat. While watching everyone else eat and having no idea why you couldn’t swallow the food. Going to bed hungry and waking up hungry. All while surrounded by food.

It must have been pure torture for him. Thank God he was still breastfeeding to supplement what little food he could take by mouth.

Apollo’s second year has included almost two dozen trips to Seattle Children’s Hospital, a sweat test for cystic fibrosis, 3 bronchoscopies, an adenoidectomy, MRI, heart surgery, CT scan, hospitalizations,  videofluoroscopic swallow study, upper GI and ultimately, the placement of his g-tube.

At 18 months he was diagnosed with a double aortic arch and had it surgically divided in March 2012. Six weeks later the doctors would find another artery compressing his esophagus. Only this one they couldn’t fix.

I’ll be honest, Apollo’s life has shaken me to the core. It has fundamentally changed who I am as a person. I have watched my son nearly die. I have seen him suffer through agonizing pain after his heart surgery. I have worried and prayed for him.

It’s been a hard two years.

And a small part of me is sad that his babyhood is gone, and it was all mired with worry and sickness and tears and suffering.

But Apollo? He’s doing better than he ever has in his life.

He’s growing. His stridor is gone. He has more energy now that he is getting the calories he needs. He speaks in complete sentences. He is coming out of his shell and showing us his personality. He has been miserable most of his short life. Now, because we are able to provide the calories he needs through his stomach, he no longer screams through meals. He eats what he is comfortable with and then leaves the table. He has residual anxiety stemming from the heart surgery and still doesn’t sleep well, but he’s doing oh so much better.

 And he’s developed this ridiculously cheesy grin when I pull out the camera.

Apollo’s life has made me stretch and grow in ways I never wanted to stretch and grow. I just hope now his suffering is over an he’s on his way to thriving.





  1. Tina

    Happy Birthday to Apollo! It’s so hard to even imagine all that he (and you & Chuck, as well as the rest of your family) have been through in his short life. Praying for you all daily that next years of his life are 110% better & healthier than the first two.

  2. Sarah Wamuhiu

    I don’t know if I’ve ever actually comments on your blog but I’ve been following it and the story of your amazing family since before Apollo made his appearance. Our son is almost 3 months younger than Apollo so I have followed his progress keenly. When all the complications started I began sharing your posts with my husband and whenever you post something new about Apollo I have to tell him what is going on or show him the latest pictures. We might live 10,000 miles away in Kenya but Apollo definitely has a place in our hearts. I’m sure one day soon I’ll be telling our Benji about Apollo and showing him pictures as well :). We trust and believe that this 3rd year of Apollo’s life with be a wonderful, healthy, happy year for your whole family! Blessings

  3. Vivian

    you are living proof that God will provide a way for us to get through the hard times. there is nothing we can’t endure without Him by our side.
    your boy is a beautiful example of a loving family who spoke up for him…and didn’t let others stand in the way of what you knew what is true.
    God’s many blessings for a better year!

  4. Non-mommy

    I am so thankful to see him thriving. For the past two years, I have been praying for you, Chuck and Apollo. I feel very fond of a family that I don’t know! God has been stretching your family, and your strength, determination and faith have been an inspiration for so many.

    You did it. You got through two very, very difficult years. It will likely. Ever be “easy” but I pray that Apollo will continue to thrive and that God will meet all your needs and guide you through each step with wisdom and grace.

  5. Jo

    Do you ever, or did you ever have the feeling that the world kept spinning, and you alone were sitting still without the capability to move forward? We had something big happen in our lives, something that was a hard struggle that ultimately changed who we all are. It is a permanent change, and it is slightly haunting. It made me feel like I was losing ground, giving up time in this world as I moved along as though the world spun around me. Somehow looking back on it, its like a moving picture. It was a completely different event than struggling with the possible loss of your child, and the suffering he went through. less harrowing I am sure. It is good to be past something like that, but even with faith and the love of God, events like this leave permanent marks on your heart and soul. Apollo is beautiful, I pray that the suffering he has endured will be forgotten by him, to be nothing more than a story of a miracle boy.

  6. Erica S.

    Jacob wrestled with the Lord, and did not die, but was left with a limp. That’s what it is like in these most difficult trials. I never told you this, but when you had the countdown to Apollo’s birth on your blog, one day there was no baby in the picture. I got a strange and urgent feeling I should pray for him to make it. As I’ve read what he and you all have gone through, there is no doubt in my mind that he has a very special place in God’s kingdom. That kid has work to do, and he will go by the strength of the Lord! Hats off to you and Chuck for being excellent parents. And happy birthday to your super-cute son.

  7. Gillian

    Happy Birthday Apollo! May the coming year be filled with much more laughter and a lot less pain and tears than the last 2 years.

    It’s wonderful to see Apollo looking so much healthier!

  8. Mary

    A very happy birthday to dear, sweet Apollo. It is amazing how we can grow to truly love someone we’ve never met in person. I too have been lifting all of you in prayer long before you became pregnant with Apollo. I’m so thankful that you are finally seeing improvements in his health and that he is becoming a happy, healthier young man. It must break your heart to realize what he was going through since birth. You and Chuck have hung on through some very frustrating times and are now able to see the results of your determination to get him some help. I hope that this Summer will be a time that your whole family can get back to somewhat of a “normal” life and enjoy this time off from schooling.

  9. Jodee

    Happy Birthday Apollo!!! May you finally get to enjoy all that life has to offer and get to truly enjoy being part of an amazing, loving family!

  10. Delia

    That b & w photo of him in the hat with the curls is a prime example of “too cute for words!” Thank God for his precious 2 years of life, and the lives of all our children.

  11. Victoria

    What a lovely and special post. Thank you Renee; and all our prayers are that Apollo keeps going from strength to strength in his third year! I know there is much still ahead of you all, but today there is much to celebrate – he looks well and happy!

  12. Michele P

    Hope your sweet boy had a great birthday! What a miracle he is. We pray that as he grows older his memories of the bad days will be erased by the memories of his new good days!

  13. Lisa

    Happy (belated) Birthday, Apollo! I hope someday you can read this blog for yourself and appreciate what a wonderful, strong, loving mother you have. I’m sure you will, though. You are already a wonderful, strong, handsome and lovable little boy. I see great things for your future! As I always say to my baby cousin: Keep on truckin’ Little Dude 🙂
    Best Wishes to the whole family, Renee. These last two years have been tough but things are looking up! Hip hip hooray!

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