Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy First Birthday G Baby!

Today is Gatlyn's first birthday! Many of you know Gatlyn's story, and that he is and always will our family's miracle baby. Mallorie started this blog while in the hospital on bed rest as a place to release all of her emotions, fears, and hopes for her and her family. As you read, you were with her through all of that.

Holding Gatlyn for the first time!

In honor of his first birthday, I'd like to share Gatlyn's story, from his Auntie J's perspective.

I remember the day Mallorie's water broke like it was yesterday. She was 20 weeks along, that's only half way to full term. It was the morning after I returned home from a trip to Michigan, I hadn't even been back in Chicago for 10 hours. I was heading to work when I saw I had a missed call and voicemail from my mom. Though my mom didn't say what was wrong, I could tell by her voice it was bad news. I called her back, she told me something along the lines of, "Mallorie's water broke, she's at the hospital, the doctors say there isn't any hope and she'll most likely be delivering a still born today." It was really hard to believe, considering I had just saw her not even 24 hours prior. I got off the phone with my mom, called my boss at the time, told her what was going on and that I wouldn't be coming into work. I needed to go be with my sister. My little sister was facing something terrible, and if I wasn't going to be able to make it better I needed to at least go sit with her. I jumped on a bus, headed to Tim's shop to get the car and took off back to Michigan.

That 3 1/2 hour drive never felt so long in my life. And a lot happened in those few hours. My dad went into protective papa bear mode and had Mal transferred to a different hospital that was better equipped to handle such a high risk pregnancy. I was on and off the phone with my mom getting minute by minute updates about what was happening. The timing worked out so that I was the first one to meet Mal and Jesse at DeVos and I was able to be an extra pair of ears when the doctor came in to talk to them. We went from having no hope at all, to having hope in just a day's time.

In the coming days Mallorie and Jesse would have extremely tough decisions and sacrifices that would have to be made. Decisions that I couldn't even fathom having to make. I don't know if I ever really verbalized this to anyone, but for a little while, I had a really hard time dealing with all it. I felt guilty. You see, I was pregnant with Stella at the time. Having a completely healthy, uncomplicated, easy pregnancy. I struggled with "why her and not me?" "they've already had so many struggles in their lives." and "why do I have to live so far away, I wish I was closer so I could just go be with her." Stella and Gatlyn would end up being only 3 weeks a part. If Gatlyn would have been full term, they would been 3 months a part.

Mal ended up being on bed rest for about 8 weeks. Constantly, battling her guilt for now being able to run around with Andi and Rae, and knowing that if she didn't lay low, she could lose her son. What an awful, horrible, terrible situation to be in. Being the Googlizer that I am, I was continually researching premature labor and sending Mallorie articles about life as a mother of a premature baby. If I couldn't be there to sit with here, I would do what I could from a far. Every day mattered. Every day that she didn't go into labor was huge WIN. Goal after goal was met; make it to 25 weeks, make it to 26, make it 27, and the biggest one make it to 28 weeks and the percentage of survival went up and complicated birth defects when down. And they did. 28 weeks to the day, Gatlyn Tobias Schrock, entered the world. I wish this is where I could say that all the hardships ended.

He had won a battle, but the war wasn't over, in a sense it was only the beginning. Gatlyn would go on to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 186 days. For awhile he wasn't allowed visitors, and in the those 186 days I think I only saw him 3 times and got to hold him once. I was so overcome with emotion the first time I held him that I cried. While in the NICU he contracted Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) and had 5 surgeries. He's been a fighter since day one. Mallorie and Jesse showed such faith, strength and perseverance as they dealt with what was now their normal lives of daily trips to the hospital and again, processing information and making choices that I still can't fathom having to make.

At 6 months old he came home from the hospital with a broviac and a feeding tube. Since then he's had his broviac removed and his feeds have been increased, so that he can now spend time off of his pump. His physical care has become routine. His black backpack is normal, and Stella loves to try to steal it from him. Many months ago Mallorie set a goal that by his first birthday, Gatlyn would be able to reach for toys and be able to hold his head up off the ground while laying on his belly. She doesn't even remember setting that goal, that's how overwhelming her situation was at the time. Well folks, he's doing it! What a great gift for Mallorie and Jesse, to know they're on the right track and are still shattering the goals that have been set for them.

Today, Gatlyn is such a happy little man. He has an infectious smile, that will brighten anyone's day. He's reaching for toys, babbling, growling at his cousins, and gets lot's of love and attention from his big sisters. Yes, there is still a long road ahead, but every mile marker is reason to celebrate. There was a time, when we didn't think we'd ever be celebrating his first birthday, which makes today extra special!

People ask her all the time, how they could manage all of it, how they got through it. She doesn't really have an answer for them. I do. They did it because they had to, because they had no other choice and that's what had to be done. And most importantly because Mallorie has faith that can move mountains. Not once did she ever lose faith that God would bring her family through the storm.


  1. Such a nice story Jamie. I literally cried the entire time reading. I followed Mallories blog everyday! And most of those I cried as well. Gatlyn is truly Gods miracle baby, and proof that He is alive!! Happy 1st birthday Gatlyn!!

    Emily Stahl

  2. What a beautiful telling, Jamie. Gat's story really is an incredible one.

    Happy birthday, Little Fighter.

  3. Best sister ever. Love you more than you know.


Thanks for reading, we love feedback!