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My name is Chris Beaucher, and I am Kristin's father. Her mother's name is Heather, her grandmother's name is Donna Turrentine (Grandma in Miami), and her great-grandmother is Pat Cardwell (Nan). All the people you will be reading about in this book are people we highly respect and consider our family.
Kristin Michelle Beaucher was born on October 8, 2000; she was a whopping seven lbs. fourteen oz. and was twenty-one inches long. She was born the day after one of the biggest college football games in history, Miami vs. Florida State. As you can tell, I am a big fan, and so was Kristin. We often joke about that being such a thrilling game (Wide Right III) that Kristin cheered hard enough to induce Heather's labor. Watching the games together was something we did every single Saturday. She watched almost every single game with her uncle Johnny and me since the day she was born. Although there were times when she could not stay attentive for the whole thing, most of the time she would watch the entire game. These memories are among the many things that constantly bring a smile to my face, that I will cherish forever, and that we will always have together.
Let me back up for a second. The day that Heather told me that she was pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life. I was at my father's house that night and got a call from Heather. She said, "I have something to tell you."
I said, "What is it?"
And she said, "I'll tell you when you get home."
I finished doing whatever I was doing at Dad's and started to head home. I knew, deep down in my gut, that Heather was going to tell me she was pregnant. I don't know how I knew-it was never discussed or even thought about-but I just knew! So I lay down to go to sleep that night, and when it came time to say my prayers I did so:
Dear Lord, thank you so much for the wonderful gift that you have given us. Thank you for blessing us with this life. Please stand by us and protect us and give us the knowledge and love we need to care for this precious gift that you have given us. Please teach us and guide us to make the right decisions for our baby. Please Lord, bless us with a special child. Allow us to have one of your most precious children, that we may love and care for this child, that we are able to take care of a special child, better than someone who may not be ready to. We will give this child all our heart and soul and be able to take care of this child no matter how difficult it may be. Thank you so much again Lord for this blessing. Thank you for trusting in us one of your most precious gifts. Thank you, Lord, for all you have done. Please forgive me for all my sins, and thank you so much for all the blessings you have given and all the prayers you have answered for me. In Jesus's name, Amen.
That was the prayer I said that night. I prayed that prayer every single night until Kristin was born, hoping that when my child was born, I could see in her eyes that God had answered my prayer. Little did I know exactly what I was asking. I will tell you one thing-he sure did deliver!
From the moment Kristin was born she had all kinds of medical problems. She got stuck when she was being delivered and was not getting any oxygen. The doctor was trying to get her out but not having any success. The doctor cut Heather open and pulled Kristin out and threw her up onto Heather's stomach. She cut the cord and tossed Kristin by the hands and feet to the nurses waiting beside the bed. They had a little workstation set up to work on her. The nurse caught her in mid-air and started working on her breathing. One nurse was sucking out her lungs, another looking at her pupils, and another slapping the bottom of her feet trying to get her to respond. After almost two minutes, Kristin took her first breath. I can't possibly describe the emotions I had for those very long two minutes. From the very first time she opened her eyes and looked at me, the very first time I held her, I knew that my prayer had been answered. Everything turned out fine. They had to keep her an extra couple of days just to make sure that she was not going to get a fever. She did fine, and we brought her home.
She continued to have medical issues for the first couple of months. She had ear infection after ear infection; I bet she had close to eight of them before she was five months old. We visited our pediatrician's office on a regular basis. We got to know them very well, well enough to call them family as well. Dr. Jattan sent us to see an ENT. After a couple of visits and another ear infection, they decided to put tubes in Kristin's ears. We got her scheduled, and at only six months she was having her first surgery. It was a little scary, but we were not worried that something bad was going to happen. I was just nervous because she was so little and already having problems. Kristin had the surgery, and everything went fine; she recovered well and had no more ear infections.
Then one night when Kristin was sleeping with us, Heather woke up and told me to get up. Kristin was still sleeping, but she had a fever. Heather said she was going to get the thermometer to take her temperature and asked me to feel her. I touched her head, and she was so hot that I grabbed her head with my hand to make sure I wasn't imagining it. I lifted up her shirt and put my hand on her back; it was so hot that I could not keep my hand on her long before my hand started to burn. Heather gave me the thermometer while she called the doctor. Kristin's temperature was over 105 degrees. The physician on call told us to take her directly to Egleston at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. I had never been there before but had always heard good things about it. From what I understood, it was one of the best children's hospitals in the country. We went into the ER and told them what was going on, and they quickly shuffled things around to get us back there as soon as possible. I'm pretty sure we were taken back before we had even finished the paperwork. By this time we were starting to get nervous, unsure of what was going to happen. The nurses and doctors were great, always talking to us, trying to let us know what was going on and helping to keep us calm in the meantime. By the time we got there, Kristin's fever had come down a bit and was at 103 degrees and falling. They kept us there for a while, even though the fever had come down, drawing blood cultures just to make sure they didn't miss anything or that she didn't have some kind of bacterial infection. We stayed for about three or four hours after her fever had subsided, just so they could make sure that she was going to be all right. They were absolutely wonderful; I remember thinking that they made us feel like we were the only ones in the ER that night. The experience, under the circumstances, couldn't have been better. I was really glad that we had driven all the way up there. I had heard from different places that high fevers could cause brain damage and in some cases death. The next couple of weeks I thought long and hard about the problems Kristin had and was having. I was thankful that my prayer had been answered and often wondered what might be next, if anything. As it turned out, nothing else seemed to happen and life moved on.
Kristin began to grow, getting bigger and bigger each day. She was so smart, well beyond her age. As she turned two, we could see her character developing right in front of our eyes. She was always going out of her way to do things for other people, thinking of everyone else before herself. If Kristin had her favorite thing in front of her, no matter what it was, it was given to you if you asked for it, and with a smile. It made her feel better and happy to put others before herself, always making things for Mommy and me, trying to surprise each of us with something she had done. She was independent and would have to try everything herself before she asked for help. You could try to say, "Sweetie, let Daddy help you with that," but until she realized that she needed help, I couldn't touch it. Kristin saw us do things around the house and wanted to help. She knew in her mind she could do them. There was never ever any doubt, and that was one of the ways she knew she could help Mommy and Daddy. If we had to help her with something, she actually felt like she was causing us more work rather than helping us. So for her to try to do it on her own was extremely important to her. She was perfect in every way. Absolutely gorgeous! I have never seen a woman as beautiful as my daughter.
Kristin loved everything about fashion when she was two!! Even at that early age her clothes had to match. People ask me all the time, "Are you serious?" I kid you not; if she didn't think her shoes looked right with what she was wearing, you'd best be on your way upstairs to get another pair! It was very entertaining, to say the least.
Her hair was absolutely stunning. It went all the way down to the small of her back; long, dirty-blonde hair, like it had just been styled. It always looked full of body and wavy. It was Daddy's favorite thing to play with. I think I got on her nerves quite a bit. If I walked up behind her to talk to her or Heather or if she was just standing beside me, that was what I grabbed and started running my fingers through. I don't think she didn't want me touching her hair; I think it was more she didn't want me to mess it up!
Her eyes were absolutely mesmerizing. I could stare into those eyes for hours and see everything about her. It was almost like I could see into her soul, feel every emotion she was feeling, and understand every thought she was having. It was amazing the connection that drew people to her with only a glance. I wish I could say that this was one of those special things we had together, but she had this effect on everyone who met her.
Finally, the most beautiful part of all-her smile! Kristin's smile could take away every pain, calm every anxiety, and give you a peace that could only come from God himself. No matter how bad a day I was having, as soon as I got home and saw that little girl run toward me screaming my name and jumping into my arms, everything was just perfect. We would sit on the couch together and just cuddle, and I would tell her, "Do you know that you are the most beautiful little angel in the whole wide world?" She would turn to me and not say a word and give me a big hug and smile. It was like I was being touched by the Holy Spirit; a feeling that only people who know him can understand; a gift that I will remember and treasure until the day I die!
I could probably fill up this book with examples of Kristin, trying to paint a picture for you all as readers, but it wouldn't do her any justice. She was absolutely the most precious child I have ever seen. Inside and out, she surpassed all I knew. She was perfect in every way, shape, and form. She was truly an angel, and I live every day inspired by her and trying to emulate all she has done. Every person Kristin met she touched in some form or fashion. Even if you only spoke to her for a couple of minutes, she would have made a lasting impression on your life. Kristin was the most amazing person I knew. Every day I try to live my life like she lived hers and try to make her as proud of me as I was of her. I will never be able to come close, but I promised her that I would try.
The Weeks Before
Everything was going well, and life was normal. Kristin was growing up right before our eyes, just like any normal child. One day she woke up not feeling good. It was a Tuesday morning, and when she woke up she seemed very uncomfortable. As parents we tried to do whatever we could to make her feel better. Since this was our only child, we were doing what most parents do, learning as we go. She started to feel better after a little while and went to play, acting just like herself. Heather and I didn't think too much about it and went about our daily routine. When Kristin woke up from her nap, she was feeling just like she did that morning, crying, fidgety, uncomfortable, and frustrated. We tried to find out as best as we could how she was feeling, but it's hard for a two- and-a-half year old to explain in detail exactly what's going on. We would ask her questions to get yes or no answers. That seemed to be working fairly well, or so we thought. Heather and I decided that first thing in the morning we would take her to her doctor, Dr. Jattan at Conyers Pediatrics.
Wednesday morning when she woke up it was the same thing, only the pain seemed to be more intense. We got to the doctors as soon as they opened, and they took us right in. Remember, we were on a first- name basis with all of the doctors and nurses at the clinic because of all Kristin's previous problems. We got in the room, and Kristin was already starting to feel better by this point. We had a lengthy discussion with Dr. Jattan explaining what had already transpired and how it seemed to get progressively worse. We thought that maybe she had some gas in her stomach making her cramp or having a problem with acid reflux. This would explain all of her discomfort. The doctor gave us a prescription to get filled and said that Kristin should start taking it right away. Heather and I tried to figure out what else it could possibly be but felt very comfortable with the doctor's analysis.
We gave Kristin the medication as soon as we got it. We laid her down for her nap, hoping that when she woke up all would be good. After a couple of hours Kristin awakened to the same intense pain as before. The doctor did tell us that it could take up to twenty-four hours for the medication to start working properly, so we tried to make her as comfortable as possible while she was feeling bad. The funny thing was that it didn't last a very long time. After ten or fifteen minutes she was up playing and acting just like herself, having no issues at all or any effects from the pain she was in when she woke up. It never occurred to us that something major was wrong. We tried to do some research, and it seemed that she was having a lot of the symptoms from a gassy stomach or acid reflux, so we just waited and hoped that the medicine would start working soon. We kept in contact with Dr. Jattan just to let her know how Kristin was doing, and the nurses would call every now and then throughout the day to see how she was doing. Kristin had already made an impact on them in a very short amount of time. They all were very concerned, even though her condition was not thought to be anything major.
Excerpted from Loved By An "Angel" by Christopher Scott Beaucher Copyright © 2010 by Christopher Scott Beaucher. Excerpted by permission.
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