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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Timmy's Tasty Treats to Topple Trisomy 18

For Timmy

My T-18 Family friend, Stefanie Hilarczyk, had put together a fantastic collection of recipes in order to raise money for the Trisomy 18 Foundation and to help raise awareness of Trisomy 18. The cookbook is in honor of her nephew, Timmy, who has a mosaic form of triosmy 18. It is called Timmy's Tasty Treats to Topple Trisomy 18, and I know they're tasty, because I submitted several yummy recipes myself!! :-)

Rebekah (along with several of her T-18 friends) is featured in the informational video introducing the cookbook, so check it out! She was about 6 months in that picture.

Pre-sales are going on right now for the cookbook. So please help support this cause and get some tasty treats along the way!

Cooks cost $25 + $5 S&H ($30 total). They are $10 S&H ($35 total) for overseas orders. Just Paypal Stefanie at Be sure to send her your address with the order! The cookbooks will be in her hands by June 2nd, and she will ship them out as soon as they arrive.

Thank you for supporting the trisomy 18 cause!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Milestone(s) I Never Thought Would Come...

Today we celebrate probably the biggest milestone of Rebekah's life... her FIRST birthday!! Praise the Lord!

I tried to submit a birthday announcement to our local newspaper a few weeks ago, but they no longer do birthday ads. So I submitted a birthday celebration announcement to their online website as a community event. I was called a few days later by a reporter that wanted to do a special interest story on Rebekah! That story will, I believe, run in todays The Greenville News paper! I have no idea what the final story will say/include...but hopefully it will be a story of inspiration, God's grace, faith and miracles!

So, on Saturday, 4/17, we celebrated with over 200 people and with 3 other trisomy 18 friends!! What an incredible day! And Michael, during his speech, reminded everyone of several important things that have happened along the way. When Rebekah's condition at 19 weeks gestational age was confirmed with trisomy 18 through amniocentesis, the first thing we did was pray and give the situation over to God, come what may. On the day of Rebekah's birth, when she had to be bagged several times for failure to breathe and we were being gently pushed to make decisions, our 'decision' on 4/21/09 was that we would keep her alive through the night so that her brothers could meet her in the morning.

But God had a different plan for Rebekah, and instead of carrying out completed funeral plans, Rebekah stabilized and fought for life! She went home from the hospital after one week, and she was really only there for the whole week to establish her feeding (by mouth!) and to get her over some jaundice. We went home and, although she had many episodes of apnea, she continued to eat well and grow.

When she was one month old though, her apnea episodes were getting so frequent, that she had hundreds of 'episodes' in one 24 hour period and maxed out her apnea monitor memory at the same time! (By this time, she had also earned the nickname 'Blue Belle' because she was constantly turning blue during these events when she would stop breathing.) We made the decision to check her into the hospital and run whatever tests needed to be run so that we could definitively know the reason for her life-threatening apnea. This began a month-long process of tests, juggling our schedules and four boys at home, and relying on friends for childcare, meals, help, and praying earnestly that her life would serve a greater purpose.

Before the tests even began, we were lectured to by doctors... "You need to sit down and discuss this situation together and come to an agreement on what you are going to do. Your child is going to need to be trached and on a ventilator. Many parents have been down the path you are going down and, knowing now what they didn't know then, would have made different choices..." The gist of the conversations? Your daughter is incompatible with life. Don't make her suffer by putting her through all kinds of tests and procedures, only to put her on a ventilator for the remainder of her short life.

But after one important test, her sleep apnea test, attitudes changed. Her major issue was obstructive apnea, most likely caused by micrognathia (small lower jaw) but a normal size tongue - something that could be addressed with a tracheostomy until her jaw caught up to her body in growth. And because the problem seemed to be all upper-airway related, ventilation should not be needed. And it wasn't! And while it took a good three months for her body to completely adjust to the tracheostomy, we have never filled-up her apnea monitor memory again!

Yes, Rebekah does have some other health issues and physical anomalies, and we see many specialists. But for the most part, there is nothing that stands out as a life-threatening condition and she has grown from her original 4 pounds, six ounces and 19 inches long to her current size of 16 pounds, 10 ounces and 25 inches long! She is happy and stable. Despite her trach, she is learning to vocalize. Despite severe developmental delays, she is learning to roll and prop sit, reach out and grab toys, hold objects, recognize and appropriately react people and familiar surroundings. She watches us attentively, and follows objects with curiosity and interest. She is, as I like to say, redefining 'incompatibility with life'!

And now, she has beaten those horrid statistics of trisomy 18 children - she has made it to her first birthday!

Although Rebekah's care has been decent, my birthday prayer for her is that doctors and medical professionals will now start agressively treating her as a child full of life, not as a child doomed to die at any minute! It was only this week that we finally got her into a local pediatric ENT to evaluate her trach and ears. Previously, her trach was being managed by pediatric surgery, despite our request time and time again for an ENT that would manage infant tracheostomies. We were told there was no one that would manage it (locally) and no reason to go elsewhere. We were pretty much left to rely on the medical equipment provider's Respiratory Therapist for information on how to manage her trach, and told to come back in a year for the trach evaluation.

Do you know what the ENT said to us when we went in for Rebekah's evaluation with him? "I have never heard of Rebekah's case until now. We handle pediatric trachs all the time, and get referrals from pediatric surgery constantly, for much less complicated issues. With Rebekah's medical history/condition, I do not understand why she was never referred to us. She should've been followed up by an ENT since her tracheostomy." Well, I do not understand either!! And it makes me so angry that Rebekah does not always get treatment that is appropriately aggressive and proactive. And I am so happy to have found this doctor because I know he will do his best to help her and not to hold her back. We asked him point-blank - 'are you willing to manage Rebekah's trach?' His ending comment to us was that he is "very happy to manage Rebekah's care." He has scheduled us to come back for a complete ABR next week, and we will be scheduling an OR visit soon to have her sedated for a complete look at her ears and airway system. This is exactly the kind of proactive care that Rebekah deserves!

So, after a year of ups and downs, hospitals visits, undefined illnesses and lots of drama, I am seeing milestones that I never thought would come!!
  1. Rebekah's First Birthday;

  2. Media coverage that will hopefully open the door so that we can educate more people (especially the medical community) about trisomy 18/13;

  3. A medical specialist happy to take on Rebekah's 'complicated' care in a proactive manner!
What a grand birthday it is! Thank you, Lord, for holding us up through it all and being faithful to provide what we need!

Rebekah's First Birthday Party

Click here to view these pictures larger

Monday, April 5, 2010

First Birthday Celebration Invitation

On April 17th, we will be throwing a party at our church for Rebekah's first birthday (which is actually 4/21). Because I am budget-conscious and, well, a really bad procrastinator and lazy when it comes to mailing things, I created Rebekah's birthday invitation on facebook about a month ago and never sent the details to any of our dear friends not on facebook! (I do have to admit that I created and sent a picture card invitation to all of her medical community contacts, but that is because I REALLY want them to come and see that our daughter is REBEKAH and not just a TRISOMY 18 statistical number).

But life happens... Rebekah had RSV, then crazy school schedules for the kids, traveling, an ER trip... So I have spent the last 2 hours trying to create a late evite invitation for her party, only to be stumped with limited text description and picture size! UGH!! I am posting the complete invitation here to the blog so I can link to it from the evite. If you see it here, and not in facebook or an evite email, please make sure you go to the evite to RSVP so I have an accurate headcount. And for my family and friends receiving this late - well, that's just me, what can I say! We know you've heard that this event is coming. I love you all and hope you can join us for this celebration, so don't get hung up on a late electronic invitation!

EVITE LINK TO RSVP (but please read all the details below because it doesn't fit on the evite!)


(Well, at least in Simpsonville, SC!)

Rebekah Faith Budd,
born with full Trisomy 18 on 4/21/2009,
is redefining "Incompatible With Life"!

Saturday, April 17, 2010
1:45pm - 4:30pm
MPAC Building @ First Baptist Church Simpsonville
East Curtis St & College St
Simpsonville, SC

Rebekah Faith Budd was diagnosed prenatally with trisomy 18 and never expected to live. (See bottom of this post for more info on trisomy 18). We prayed, with many others, that our little girl would defy the odds and would thrive, but more importantly, that her life would have a greater purpose!

She has now made it to a tremendous milestone - her FIRST BIRTHDAY! This is a day too many families of trisomy 18 kids never get to celebrate. So we want to celebrate BIG and celebrate in honor of all the T-18 kids out there. And we want to hear all of the ways Rebekah has blessed the lives of those around us. So you are invited to celebrate with us, and help us document why these children should be given a chance!

And if you have not met this little bundle of joy yet, you will not want to miss this opportunity to see her and several of her special T-18 friends who will be celebrating with us!

Sign In - Please try to arrive between 1:40-2:00 to 'sign-in' for the party! We want to make sure we have an accurate account of who attended!

- On-Going Slideshow of Rebekah's 1st year.
- Welcome and opening words
- Rebekah's Story / Testimony
- Update on the World of Trisomy 18
- Introduction of Guests of Honor - several T-18 friends and those from the medical community involved in Rebekah's care who are attending
- A slide show tribute to our T-18 "angel" friends
- A few words from Pastor Randy
- Blessing for Rebekah and her T-18 friends
- Cake and light refreshments served
- Open Mic - an opportunity for anyone to share a few words about how Rebekah's journey has impacted your life. Share a favorite verse, quote or poem relevant to this occassion! For those that cannot attend, we will read off words of encouragement that we have received. This will be taped so that we can show others that these children are worth saving!
- Closing remarks and thank you's
- Balloon Release by all guests attending

Because of Rebekah's trach, g-tube and physical/developmental uniqueness, we will have a Wishing Well in lieu of gifts. This will help us to purchase items specific to her needs, including specialized and therapeutic equipment not covered by insurance. We also want to create information packets for the local medical community to educate them on the current world of trisomy 18.
But please know, your presence is our present! We expect no other gifts. Please just come and celebrate this amazing little girl with us!

Please RSVP by April 10th and comment on total guests attending so we can order enough cake!
If you cannot attend and would like to send a birthday card, please send those to:
Rebekah Faith Budd
128 Horsepen Way
Simpsonville, SC 29681


Susan, Michael, Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Josiah & Rebekah


Trisomy 18, Edward's Syndrome, is a chromosomal defect in which there is an extra 18th chromosome in every cell of the body. The effects of an extra 18th chromosome are usually a lot more life-threatening with more critical birth defects than that of the more known Trisomy 21 (Down's Syndrome). Because of the prognosis, it is deemed "incompatible with life' and many medical professionals encourage women to terminate their pregnancies early or deny/fail to provide aggressive medical treatments.

Many different statistics are posted regarding life expectancy, but the fact is that most babies die before they are born (statistics say anywhere between 50-90%) and most of those born alive die by 2 weeks old (up to another 50%). Few make it to the milestone of their first birthday, and of those that make it that far, life expectancy remains unknown due to their medically fragile nature.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen Indeed!

As this Easter weekend comes to an end, I reflect on the awesome power of the cross and our resurrected Savior, and how that event changed the course of world history! The difference between Christianity and all the other religions out there is that OUR Savior IS resurrected (and theirs is not)! It is far more than a story, or it wouldn't have affected history as it did. It is far more than a story, or I wouldn't be the person I am today! I wouldn't feel compelled to change, grow, love... and I wouldn't have the strength or courage to endure...

In my own life, 4/21 marks another type of death and resurrection in my life. I was already a born-again believer but this experience has challenged me beyond my head knowledge of Christianity and faith and made me step out where I never would've asked to go. My daughter, Rebekah, was born with full trisomy 18 on 4/21/09 and was not expected to live. But she DID live. And I have been connected to countless others who are on this same journey, and some have had to already suffer the death of their child. In either situation, I have seen time after time the power of prayer and the strength and grace supplied to face this path. The experience has changed my outlook on life. My faith has increased tremendously along with my burden to share Christ with others. He has allowed me to find joy and peace in the midst of suffering, and unleashed a strength in me I never knew I had. Well, that's because it ISN'T my strength, it's from my Lord and Savior, and that is my point. It is so much MORE than a story! And this one point is only one of MANY things I could list as my personal eyewitness testimony to the power of the cross.

So He is Risen, indeed! How gracious and loving our God is and how amazing his grace!

And if this just sounds crazy and you don't have your own 'story' to tell, He is waiting for you to simply reach out and accept His simple and perfect gift of salvation. Then you, too, can realize the power of the cross and a resurrected Savior!