Brandi and I went to our 20-week ultrasound full of excitement to find out the gender of our baby. Nothing could have prepared us for the news we received that day. We found out that Tate was missing his left hand, and there could be other complications as well as there were some bright spots on some of his organs.
Some Dr’s presented a hopeful diagnosis while others told us to expect him to not be on this Earth very long. We had no idea what to expect and held to our faith that our Heavenly Father knew what was best for us and would take care of us.
Brandi’s entire pregnancy with Tate was filled with uncertainty and worry about the challenges that would lie ahead for Tate. Through this time, Brandi and I decided that whatever were to happen we were ready for the challenge and we would be up for the task. I couldn’t wait to buy him his first crossbow. Deep down I was a little jealous that he would be able to hunt with a crossbow because I knew he would be a better shot than I am, and would have a lot more success.
Deep down in our hearts Brandi and I held on to the worry that we may not be with our little boy for very long. We tried hard to push those thoughts away, but it was always there.
On October 18th, 2011 we headed to the hospital for our scheduled induction. Everything went very smooth that day, just like it did when Lexi and Hunter were born. That is until Brandi started having serious contractions and her epidural wore off. Everyone that knows Brandi knows that she is the sweetest, most loving person ever. This all changes while delivering a baby without an epidural. At one point, I was asking if there was anything I could do to help her and the nurse told me she probably wanted to punch me in my nose.
So, when our Dr. came in to deliver Tate it was a very easy decision when he asked me how involved I wanted to be. I told him as involved as possible, so amidst screams from Brandi yelling at us to hurry up, he got me all suited up and ready to deliver Tate into the world. As I was putting on my gown and gloves Brandi was yelling at me to hurry up, apparently she was hurting pretty bad. Although she was trying to steal away from my shining moment, I wouldn’t let her. I could recognize she was pretty jealous that I was going to do something she had never done before, and I have forgiven her for yelling at me to hurry up and put the dang gloves on.
While I am a little upset that I was too busy to video tape the whole delivery and share it with everyone on YouTube, it was pretty exciting preparing to catch Tate. With instructions from our Dr, I was able to deliver Tate with my own hands. There is still a debate within our family over who did more work in the delivery room that day. Brandi, I will concede that you did more work if you resign to calling me Dr.
You can imagine our excitement as Tate entered the world screaming. We had a whole army of nurses and Dr’s in the room ready to take care of any issues that may arise. Tate was beautiful and we were so relieved to finally hold him in our arms and kiss his sweet face. He was here and he was breathing and that is all we could ask for, we were the happiest parents in the world.
Later that night as we were bathing him, our nurse was concerned about him not sucking when she put her finger in his mouth. They consulted with some Dr’s and our amazing pediatrician, Dr. Pete Moskowitz. Dr. Pete gave me a call and talked to me about a syndrome that we had never heard of, but are now very familiar with. He told me they thought Tate had Moebius Syndrome. That night we sat in the NICU holding our baby boy, covered in wires, while a sweet nurse read to us from a textbook about what Moebius Syndrome is.
Moebius Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that is present at birth, which prevents people from moving their faces. They can’t smile, frown, suck, grimace or blink their eyes and are unable to move their eyes laterally. We were lucky that our Pediatrician, Dr. Pete Moskowitz, remembered briefly studying about Moebius Syndrome while attending Medical School and was able to work with the on-call Doctor at St. Marks to diagnose Tate so early.
We immediately immersed ourselves into the Moebius Syndrome world and tried to find out as much as we could. We were lucky enough to do a tree while Tate was still with us at the Festival of Trees highlighting Moebius Syndrome. Due to the fact that those with Moebius Syndrome can’t smile, the theme of the tree was “We Smile With Our Hearts”. We loved watching people walk by Tates tree, read all about him and then leave with a huge smile on their face. We were so blessed to have Tate here and we kept commenting that we can handle Moebius Syndrome. It would be a challenge, but a challenge we were excited to tackle.
Tate spent his first week at St. Marks hospital where an amazing staff of nurses and doctors took great care of him. He was having a hard time swallowing and so it was determined he would be transferred to Primary Children’s. We know this hospital all to well now and we have come to love the Dr’s and nurses up there. They took great care of our little boy and the first two days I think every Dr in the hospital stopped by to meet Tate and check him out. He is one in a million and that was very evident as the steady stream of Dr’s continued.
Always our happy baby, Tate was quick to lift up his little nub anytime a Dr walked in the room as if saying “You are probably here to see this”. While we were meeting with a group of about 15 medical students as they were examining Tate, he seemed to be very calm. There was one very ambitious student doing most of the examination and as he took Tates diaper off Tate let loose and splattered poop all up this students arm. As this student turned around trying not to dry heave he found Brandi and I laughing as hard as we could. Tate had got his revenge and we could not be more proud of him.
This was just the beginning of Tate’s ferocious attitude. He was our happy little fighter while being the calmest baby. From his many Doctor appointments to his more complicated than it was supposed to be surgery, Tate took it all in stride laughing all the way.
We were so relieved to have the nurse that we did at Primaries that was determined to get Tate home with us as quick as possible. We were so relieved to finally bring him home to his anxiously awaiting brother and sister. There is no doubt Tate was supposed to have Lexi and Hunter as his siblings. They loved Tate so much and were so proud to show him off to everyone.
We had a lot of awkward encounters out and about as Lexi would tell strangers about her little brother that was missing his hand, but it was okay because Jesus would give it back someday. We were always so thrilled when she would drag them over so she could show him off to them and show them his missing hand and feeding tube. While she was luring them in we were trying to fight them away so Tate wouldn’t get germs and would stay healthy. She always won the battle and after convincing them to come and look at her brother there would be another victim that instantly fell in love with Tate.
Brandi and I would often fight every night about who would get to hold Tate and put him to sleep in their arms. We loved holding our sweet baby and without fail within 5 minutes of holding him whoever had him would be asleep as well. He had such a calming influence that it was impossible to hold him and not feel as if there was not a worry in the world. I never thought I would be grateful for the knee surgery I had last December until this past week. I was forced to sit around a lot and I was able to hold Tate a lot and I will always cherish those moments. It was tough to have those moments with Brandi around as she always had Tate in her arms, she loved him so much.
When Tate was 4 months old he had a surgery to place his G-J Tube to help him with his feeding. Brandi and I decided to go get a bite to eat to take our mind off of his surgery and as we came back we ran into our Dr pacing the halls looking for us. Our hearts sank as he pulled us into a room and explained that when they went in to place the button, Tates appendix was in the wrong place and was in the way. They would also have to perform a Ladds procedure (Even though the Dr. drew a diagram and explained it, I am still not entirely sure what this is. Brandi would know though, she was the best at keeping track of everything going on with Tate). We gave approval to remove his appendix and perform the procedure and were very relieved to be with him again after the surgery. Tate is such a tease, so it is no wonder his appendix was in the wrong spot. He had probably planned that in the pre-existence. Although it was a fairly extensive surgery, Tate was as happy and calm as could be. It would have been hard with any other baby, but Tate had such a calming presence about him he would instantly calm us down and make it a peaceful experience.
As he continued to grow we would worry about how he would do simple tasks while missing his hand, but we quickly learned it would not be a problem as Tate would quickly figure out his way of doing things. Hunter loved to play with Tate and every morning he would deliver a toy to Tate and just set it next to him so he could play with it. The best was when Tate was a few weeks old and Hunter put a boxing glove next to him. Hunter loved his younger brother and could not wait to play sports with him and wrestle with him. Before Tate had turned a year, Hunter had already figured out how they could play baseball, football, soccer and all other sports and how they would modify to accommodate for his missing hand.
Anytime Hunter and Lexi were nearby Tate would perk up and start laughing, knowing that the wildness was about to begin. He loved his brother and sister with all of his heart. Recently as he started talking he would yell out “Hunter, Hunter, Hunter” or “ex, ex, ex” while scooting on his bum around the house. He was always up for an adventure and it was not an adventure unless Lexi and Hunter were by his side.
When Tate was 10 months old we had to cast both of his legs to help with his clubbed feet. Tate wasn’t mobile at the time, but he loved his new musical instruments. He would sit in any room and slam his casts down on the floor so hard that we had to take him up to the hospital to get him re-casted because he had broke both heels of the cast. He was such a strong little boy and I will always remember him slamming his casts on the ground and laughing as hard as he could.
We have the most annoying little dog in the world, but Tate loved Sophie with all of his heart. He would always call out “Soph, Soph, Soph”, or “Dog, Dog, Dog” until Sophie would come running to him. As Sophie would run to him this would cause Tate to start laughing hysterically. If you haven’t seen a video of him and Sophie let us know so you can check it out. There is no way you will not start laughing right along with him as he had such an infectious laugh.
Our kids loved driving in the car with each other. The past couple of months Hunter and Lexi would make us switch their seats every other day so that they could take turns sitting next to Tate. Most people want the window seat, not our kids, they would fight over the Tate seat. Tate would always sing along to the songs his brother and sister love so much. He would just yell out one of the words he could say at random and we would all giggle the rest of the ride, which would only encourage him to keep yelling out that word.
Always the tease, Tate would hide from people with his arms, just to get their attention again so he could re-hide. He never crawled, but he managed to find his own way to get around by scooting. The minute he started scooting Brandi discovered that his favorite place was waiting by the garage door yelling, “Da da! Da da!”. Everyday when I would get home from work Tate was at the door with his arms raised up as high as he could for me to lift him up and hold him. If I happened to get to Brandi first to give her a hug or a kiss he wanted to be right in the middle of it.
We are so blessed to live in the amazing ward that we are in. Last summer while on a camping trip with the boys in Moab we had an amazing testimony meeting the last night we were there. I remember being so overcome by emotion that night while watching the boys all week and then hearing their testimonies. I bore my testimony about how grateful I was to know that no matter where we were, there would be Young Men like we have in our ward to support and love Tate throughout his life. I love these Young Men so much because they loved my son Tate with all of their hearts. When we were expecting, Hunter was pretty set that we would name him Jimmer, and the Young Men agreed and would often call our little buddy Jimmer.
Shortly after that camp I was called into the Bishopric, which made it so Brandi was left to wrestle the kids throughout sacrament Meeting. Luckily, several Young Women from our ward came to her rescue and would sit with Brandi. Quite often I would be holding back laughter while on the stand as I could hear Tate giggling in the back of the chapel as Jenna, Bailey or Bridianne would be playing with Tate.
Brandi was the most loving mother Tate could have ever asked for. I always tease Brandi that she takes too many pictures of the kids and that instead of stopping the fun to take a picture she should just enjoy the moment. I am so glad that she ignored me and took all of the pictures she did because I have loved looking at them this week.
Brandi loved Tate with all of her heart and not a moment passed in Tates life that she wasn’t taking care of him. I loved to tease Brandi because Tate would say da-da all day long and he would never say Momma. Some say it is because of his syndrome it was hard to say ‘m’ and ‘p’ noises, but I know the real reason. There was never a reason Tate needed to say Momma because he knew his mother was always there, every minute, to take care of anything he needed.
It was truly amazing to watch Brandi care for her son and I am eternally grateful that Brandi is filled with so much love and compassion. Tate will always be with you Brandi, taking care of you like you did for him.
Last Thursday the heavens were filled with laughter as Tate passed on. I only wish I could hear him giggling as our Saviour held him in his arms and told him what a great job he did while on this Earth.
Although Tate’s facial muscles did not allow his face to move, he was very expressive and always managed to get his personality to shine through. He could melt your heart by blowing you a kiss, saying “Buh-bye”, or leaning in for a famous Tate hug.
We would like to thank everyone for the many messages, letters, calls, texts and prayers that we have received. We have been completely overwhelmed by the love everyone has for Tate. He blessed so many lives and we could never thank everyone enough for loving our baby boy.
He was surrounded by a loving family that was up to the task of helping him with anything he needed. Grandmas and Grandpas that loved him, cousins that would play with him, and aunts and uncles that spoiled him.
Most of all we know Lexi and Hunter were meant to be his brother and sister. They loved him and cared for him with all of their hearts and were the best siblings Tate could have ever had. We are so blessed to have had Tate in our home for his time on Earth and we can’t wait to see him again with a big smile on his face!