Eden Chen

Thoughts On My Daughter’s Upcoming Surgery

Eden Chen February 18, 2019

Before having my daughter Talitha, my biggest fear was having a child with special needs. When Carolyn and I took foster certification classes and the leader of the class asked if anyone was interested in fostering special needs children, I tried not to make eye contact.

I still remember the moment when our ultrasound tech told us that we had to stick around to meet with the doctor. All my fears flooded my mind. I know I shouldn’t be thinking about myself, but all I can think about is myself. God exposed all my idols, most of all my sense of self-importance. What kind of problems will I have to deal with for the rest of my life? How will this baby’s condition limit the amount I can work? How will this baby not allow me to travel? How will I watch the movies I want to watch and play the games I want to play?

On February 28th, Talitha will be going in for a 10 to 14 hour surgery to reconstruct a bunch of her GI and GU system. Talitha was born with a cloacal anomaly which is something that affects one in 25,000 females. She has one of the most difficult prognoses of those with cloacal anomalies, a common channel of greater than 5 cm, which makes up around 10% of those with cloacal anomalies. She’s truly one of a kind.

As we’re now only 2 weeks away from what will likely be her biggest surgery, Carolyn and others have asked me how I feel. I haven’t shown a lot of emotion, and that’s strange for an emotional person like me. Without reservation, Talitha has been the most meaningful thing I’ve ever been a part of. I’m so thankful to be her father. We didn’t know it, but she’s the exact daughter Carolyn and I always wanted.

It is hardest for me when I’m working on my 1 second videos. That’s when I’m doing daily 1 second video journals of my life, most of which are just videos of Talitha now. The last time I was watching the videos, I started to wonder what would happen if something went wrong in the surgery. What if these are the only videos and the only relics I have left of her? What will her life have meant?

I think there’s a strange thing that happened to me when I became a father. My dreams started to dissipate and they started being replaced by my dreams for Talitha. Though she is only 6 months old and I’m only 31 years old, I started to think about my age and how I’m getting older. Each moment of time and each year will never happen again, for me and for her. I was once a child but I’ll never again be a child and that makes me sad. I thought about all the infinite possibilities and potentials for her life and then I started imagining what it will be like in 2 weeks when we pass her off to the doctors.

God has given me such a deep peace. And by deep I mean, not a superficial one. Carolyn and I had Christians come up and tell us “it’s already healed in Jesus name” when we were telling them about our situation. We know this isn’t true. God can heal her and he can choose not to heal her. More than 6,000 people die every hour and a lot of them are asking God to heal. I’m thankful this is not where my hope is.

I once heard that the most challenging thing that a man can do is to maintain a soft heart in this hard world that we live in. All the thoughts I have for Talitha are the ones that God has for us. All the suffering that Talitha is going to go through are ones that Jesus already suffered willingly for us. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in Him be found. In Him, my righteousness, alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

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