Follow @EllenGrabe Grabe's Gatherings: Karing 4 Khloe

Monday, September 20, 2010

Karing 4 Khloe

I was first "introduced" to Khloe in June of 2009. I was on a mission to find the perfect babysitter for my kids. As Eric and I interviewed Staci, Khloe's mom, we immediately fell in love with the way she sat down on the floor "criss cross applesauce" playing with our kids. She would rub her perfect baby belly which safely housed Khloe as she spoke calmly and confidently about her pregnancy and putting Khloe in God's hands. She knew that miracles happened everyday and she was confident that God would give her a miracle.

Cailyn and Bryce started daycare at the Sassman house in August of 2009. Khloe Lane was due to arrive in October. As the date came closer, our nerves grew. We prayed for Khloe and Staci's family. We prayed for God to give this baby a chance at life. We prayed for the family to have strength as they entered the unknown.

On October 7, 2009 Khloe was welcomed into the world by her mom, dad, 5 brothers, and 1 sister. Khloe took her first breath, opened her eyes and showed those doctors who was really in charge...GOD. Khloe underwent surgery on her posterior encephalocete when she was 24 hours old. Not long after, she was released to go home with her parents.

Khloe's homecoming seemed to be an anomaly. This little girl who was not supposed to live outside the womb was home with her family. The first time I held her I remember looking down at her and just staring in awe. I truly was holding a miracle in my arms.

As Khloe grew doctors continued to find some health concerns. She had hearing loss and wore purple hearing aids, she had her hydrocephalus monitored, and she had appointments with her cleft lip/palate doctor. But none of this hindered Khloe's ability to love life. She was literally the happiest baby on the block! Every time I saw her she would smile ear to ear. Her big blue eyes sparkled brighter than any star and with that one look, she would immediately have anyone wrapped around her finger. My kids loved her. Bryce loved to cuddle up with Khloe and her aunt Jenny and rock. Cailyn loved to help take care of Khloe. They talked about Khloe each night. Khloe became one of their best friends.

When Khloe went in to have her first scheduled cleft lip/palate repair surgery, the first round of storm clouds rolled in. It was discovered that Khloe's airway was too narrow to allow the doctors to perform the surgery as she had a rare condition known as "stove pipe trachea". This meant her airway was smaller than a coffee straw, causing Khloe to slowly be suffocating. The news was devastating and as I read the caringbridge update that day, tears streamed down my cheeks and created damp drops on my clothes. My heart broke for Khloe and her family. How could this be happening to a baby that appeared to be so full of life?

Surgery was inevitable and Khloe went in for her trachea surgery on July 21, 2010. The storm clouds were dark that day and continued to roll in for many weeks after. Wind, rain, lightening, and hail pounded down on the Sassman family as Khloe fought for her life through not 1 but 3 major surgeries. Staci stayed by Khloe's side day and night, helplessly praying for God to spare her baby girl. On September 9, 2010; doctors called Staci and Lenny, Khoe's dad, down to the OR to possibly say their last goodbyes. Staci and Lenny were forced to face their worst fear as parents that day: losing their daughter. Prayer request went out immediately through caringbridge, email, text messages, and phone calls. Heaven was flooded with prayers for this baby, and the prayers were once again answered. God was showing the doctors that He was boss and HE would control the storms that have been haunting Khloe and her family.

During these long weeks that Khloe, Staci, and Lenny spent at the hospital, life was forced to continue on at the Sassman house. Prayers were being said for sister Alyssa, nephew Jaden, and brothers Jared, Daniel, Jacob, and Brady as they tried to continue life without mom at home. The community reached out to help the Sassman family by bringing them dinner, taking them school shopping, and offering to help with the daycare. Although Staci knew that her kids were taken care of, she still missed them dearly just as they missed having mom around.

Jen, Khloe's aunt, had asked a few of the daycare parents at one point if we would be interested in helping to plan a benefit for Khloe in which all proceeds made went towards helping the family pay for Khloe's astronomical medical bills. We formed a committee of about 13 woman who dedicated weeks of their time to planning the Karnival 4 Khloe. We split up area businesses asking for silent auction donations, we communicated with area organizations to help us round up food and entertainment, and we sought out volunteers to help make the benefit run smoothly. The Karnival 4 Khloe committee had a shocking outcome from the community and spent endless hours preparing for what could be one of the biggest events in Newton in a long while.

On Saturday September 18, 2010, the rain was falling, the thunder was rolling, the lightening was flashing, and the Karnival was hopping! Games and bounce houses were spread across a gymnasium like floor. A DJ played music up on a stage while craft tables would busy setting up supplies. Nail polish glistened on tables while curling irons warmed up to be ready to create princess do's, and 196 silent auction baskets were lined up waiting to be eyed. Khloe slide show video's were displayed on big screens around the church. Khloe's "word" had been spread around central Iowa for weeks prior to the event and at 2:00pm that day all of the long hours of work, little sleep, and effort of preparing for a benefit paid off. As the rain saturated the ground, people gushed through the doors of the church wanting to show their support for Khloe and her family. As I watched the cars pull up the long drive and the people run through the rain to the door, my eyes welled up with tears. My emotions, along with others, were mixed with feelings of gratefulness, appreciation, accomplishment and amazement. How 1 infant child could bring together so many people was beyond my comprehension. But it was happening...right in front of my eyes. It was breathtaking.

It was a busy and fast paced day for "Khloe's Krew" but together we made it through raising around $30,000 for Khloe's medical expenses. What a remarkable feeling to know that we had a part in helping Khloe's family pay part of her bills. Through all of the planning, I had the opportunity to get to know some phenomenal people and gained some friendships that I never thought I would have in this town.

Although Staci and Khloe could not attend the Karnival 4 Khloe everyone there had their thoughts with that miracle baby. Khloe is living proof that miracles do happen and that everything happens for a reason.

No comments: