I’ve never blogged before nor have I had much interest to, but I felt that I wanted to share. Recent events in life have opened new things and outlooks for Sydney and I and so I wanted to give you a glimpse a little more than Instagram and Facebook. This took me a LONG time to write as I wanted to write it well and write something that in some way would encourage, help, and maybe give someone hope who might need it. Most of you know what has happened in our lives but for those who don’t, I will share our story and give an update of where we are at. I’m going to be brutally honest and transparent, it might be uncomfortable to read but to be quite honest, I don’t know how to be anything else right now and don’t really care to be. So if you take the time to read this, thank you.
God is good.
Sydney and I found out on Sunday July 12th, 2015 that we were expecting our first baby. I remember coming home from a late lunch with friends after church and plopping down on the couch and turning on Netflix. After a few minutes of laying there, Sydney leaned over and placed the pregnancy test on my chest and I, being oblivious like I often am, had no clue she put it there. I had vegged out. I eventually looked down and freaked out. We had been trying for 8 months and God had finally answered our prayer. It was one of the best days of my life.
So fast forward through a ROUGH first trimester for Syd, we were becoming more and more excited and ready to meet our first baby. We found out in the beginning of November that we were having a boy! I might be weird, but literally ever since I was a kid, one of the things I had always dreamed about was being a dad. God has blessed me with the most incredible dad I could ever ask for and I couldn’t wait to try and be at least half the dad to my son that my dad is to me. The Lord had finally given us the opportunity to see that dream realized. And in my opinion, outside of my relationship and calling to Christ, the highest calling in life is being a parent so there are simply no words adequate to explain our excitement and joy, those who have had children know exactly what I’m saying. Our boy was healthy and growing like a weed! Sydney and I began registering for everything under the sun (which by the way, they have turned babies into a BUSINESS – if you don’t know what I mean, step into Babies R’ Us for 5 minutes and you’ll completely get it). You know that you are in a different stage in life when you as a 25 year old guy think certain strollers and momaroos are the coolest thing you’ve ever seen and that you must have them. I think we literally scanned everything in Target and Babies R’ Us remotely related to having a child. We’re those people. After going through hundreds of names, we finally decided on a name. We named our son Carson Brooks Hystad and we couldn’t wait to meet him. To say that we were loving life and having a blast is quite the understatement.
Saturday November 21st
I had been sick all weekend and felt terrible all day Saturday. We went to bed Saturday night and let’s just say I took A LOT of Nyquil. Sydney had said that her stomach wasn’t feeling great but she said that almost every day during the pregnancy so I had just kind of become used to it. I told her to wake me up if she needed something and I passed out.
3:30 AM – Sunday morning
I’m out, not cognitive of anything happening. Standing next to me, Sydney shakes me and says, “we need to go to the hospital.” I think the effects of the Nyquil were still pretty strong as I stared at her for probably 30 seconds and had no idea what was happening or what in the world she was saying, I thought I was dreaming for a second. I eventually jumped out of bed and Syd told me that she had gone to the bathroom and that she was bleeding. Sydney had a scare at week 12 during the pregnancy where she had some bleeding in the night and everything turned out just fine. This time was different though. I got dressed (still very confused) and we ran out of the house. I held Syd’s hand driving 100 miles an hour down 99 and I-10 towards Methodist West, telling her that it was going to be okay even though I just had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. We parked and walked inside and there were 3 people at the emergency room desk at 4:17 in the morning. They told us to wait for the security officer and that he’d check us in. I looked at Syd confused and said, “hey dude, she’s pregnant and we need to see a doctor NOW.” They took us upstairs to triage labor and delivery and we got into a room. We sat there for a while and just after what seemed like an eternity, the nurses finally came in and checked Sydney. They realized that something was definitely not right, ordered an ultrasound, and said we wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The nurses roll the ultrasound machine in and after about 10 minutes, the nurse said that Sydney was 8 centimeters dilated and that we were having this baby today…
Excuse me what?
He’s not supposed to be born for another 17 weeks…
It was just silent.
I didn’t know what to do…I stared at the hospital floor for what seemed like hours asking God what in the world was happening. I didn’t know what to say to my wife except that it was going to be okay and that the doctors would know exactly what to do, even though I knew I was lying, I didn’t know that it was going to be okay and I was freaking out. They had by this time given Sydney quite the cocktail of drugs and she fell asleep. My parents got to the hospital, I walked into the hall and I collapsed in my mom and dad’s arms. Overwhelmed is not an adequate word for the way that I was feeling and thinking. They eventually moved us into one of the corner delivery rooms and our doctor came in and checked Sydney again. After confirming what they thought, the doctor began listing out what was happening. Sydney had an incompetent cervix and that it had simply given way. No way to detect it and no way to stop it. Simply put, there was nothing to keep Carson from being born that day. She began saying 5 million things that I didn’t understand and that they were calling the med center in downtown to see if a doctor would accept our case. I was signing forms to legalize them escorting us downtown by life flight or ambulance. What was I even doing here and why am I signing a bunch of forms with my wife in labor next to me at 7:30 in the morning? Just more than 12 hours ago we were registering at Babies R’ Us and now we are being told that Carson was going to be born? The head NICU doctor from Texas Children’s came in and explained everything that they were going to try and do to save our son’s life. We had to look at this doctor and tell her and her team to do everything that they possibly could to keep Carson alive. I kept feeling like I was gonna wake up from this awful dream…but never did.
I was supposed to be showing up for church to begin rehearsal with my team for the 9:30 service. I remembered being excited about the worship set that morning and singing a new song for our church that day. Nope. God had different plans for our “worship” that day.
I paced around the hospital room with Sydney’s family and my parents in there. I stared out the window pleading with God to save my son. “Jesus, please.” I prayed that in my mind and out loud every couple of seconds. I didn’t know what else to pray. I didn’t even understand what was happening, everything was going a million miles per hour and yet somehow at the same time everything in my life had screeched to an absolute hault. I begged God to forgive me of my sin, somehow thinking that He was punishing me for something in my life that I hadn’t turned over to Him. It seemed like my heart was beating out of my chest.
Friends and staff from church began showing up to the hospital in droves. Somehow (which I still don’t understand) people began finding out what was going on and every second I was getting texts, emails, calls. Brett, praying, love you. Brett, we love you guys and God will take care of you, Sydney, and your son…I had never felt this amount of support in my life. These people didn’t know what was happening, but they were pleading with God on our behalf. I could never express the love and gratitude I have for my church family. I thought I loved my church before, this was and is an entirely new level. Although the outlook was very poor, Carson’s heartbeat stayed constant and strong the entire time which gave the doctors and us hope. And then, my little man had had enough of waiting and wanted to finally meet us. It was go time.
Our doctor came in, asked everyone to leave the room, and told Sydney and I that it was time. Over the next 30 minutes, I have never pleaded and prayed more in my life. Jesus, let him live…please. Please Lord, let my son live. I have never been prouder of my wife. She was brave, incredibly strong, and to any mom reading this, I have beyond crazy respect for you. All I can say is that when your child is born, it is one of the most incredible moments in life any person could ever experience.
God is good.
After having some difficulty due to Carson being breached, (he flipped literally 15 minutes before being born) our son was born. He was here. I looked at my son, held my wife’s hand, and thanked God for allowing me to be a dad hoping that he had survived his birth. Our doctor immediately passed Carson to the head of NICU and they began working on him. I prayed…and prayed…and prayed. And after the longest 5 minutes of my life, the NICU doctor turned around and said that Carson had passed away.
Why didn’t you let him live?
All I felt was silence.
So here we were, my wife and I just looking at each other. Not knowing what to do, what to think, what to say. They handed Carson into my wife’s arms. Our son was beautiful. Perfect in every way. He was 13 inches long, lanky just like his dad. He looked just like me. I was absolutely broken yet at the same time happier than I had ever been. You can never understand the love a parent has for their child until you hold your own. I understood the love of Christ and of our heavenly Father more in a couple of minutes than I had in almost 20 years of being a Christian.
Family, friends, and church staff stayed at the hospital literally all day. In Sydney and I’s hardest day of our lives, these people shouldered the load with us, cried with us, held our son, prayed with us. I don’t even know how to say thank you to these people, the phrase simply doesn’t do justice to how I feel about them. After everyone had left Sunday night, Sydney and I sat there with our son for hours into the morning. The entire day was a blur yet at the same time I remember every detail, every second. We left the hospital the next day around noon. I can tell you that the hardest moment in my life was walking out of that hospital room with my son still in there. I tried walking out but I kept going back into the room. I couldn’t leave him, I didn’t want him to be alone even though I knew exactly where he was. That drive home sucked. That night sucked. I stared at the ceiling in our bed for hours that night wondering how in the world we had gotten here. We had Carson’s graveside service on Wednesday afternoon at a cemetery in old Katy. So many people came and again, my words of thank you are too inadequate. It was unbelievably hard, yet somehow so good at the same time.
So here we are 6 1/2 weeks later…and God is still good.
We are doing as well as I guess you can considering the situation. Never in my life would I have imagined that we would be here. We didn’t imagine that we would be a father and a mother like this. It’s as hard today as it was the day Carson was born. And this is the reason that I wanted to write this. We prayed from the beginning that our son would a be a world changer. That God would use his life for His Kingdom in ways that we could never dream and never imagine. And God answered that prayer, just not in the way that we thought. Funny how that works.
Just weeks before Carson was born, our student ministry at west campus had been going through a series at LIVE called Scars. Some of our staff members would get up and tell their testimonies, what God had walked them through, and I remember thinking that Sydney and I had never had to walk through anything incredibly difficult in life. Yes, we’ve lost family members, we’ve had our own struggles, both of which were hard to say the least. But little did we know that we were at the foot of the mountain and God was about to take us on quite the journey.
God is good. And He is faithful. He is unchanging. He is there when you feel like you’re praying to the wall and ceiling. He’s there when you have nothing left to say or give. He’s there in the greatest victories in life and He is certainly there in our greatest pain. Many people have been so gracious and said that Sydney and I’s strength is encouraging and challenging. First off, thank you so much, it means more than you know. But second, every time someone says that, I say to myself, “man if they only knew…if they only knew the nasty, ugly side to this whole thing, I feel like a failure most days, we’re definitely not as strong as people think.” But then I remember, Christ IS.
I have realized that there is still so much to learn about my God. His love for me is unexplainable. As a dad now, I don’t even know how God the Father could stand by and watch his only Son be betrayed, tortured and nailed to a cross for people that have never deserved His love and mercy in any way. I don’t understand it and I certainly can’t explain it. Who am I that God would send His son to the cross and who am I that Christ would willingly go?
When God allows (key word allows) us to walk through trials in our lives, you’ll figure out what you truly believe real quick. Do I actually believe that God is good when I prayed that He would let my son live over and over and He didn’t answer that prayer? It sure doesn’t seem that way…Do I believe that God is for me and not against me? It doesn’t seem so sometimes. But that’s the thing, God IS good and He IS faithful despite what my heart and mind want to say some days. There’s many things in life that I do not understand and this entire situation has only made me realize this all the more. I can’t explain to you how I can say that God is good and He is faithful, I’m definitely not that strong. But I believe that the Holy Spirit is refining us individually and together into something so much greater, not for our own gain, but to be used solely for the Gospel.
As a worship leader, songs are naturally how I identify and filter most things. Thus, every word and every song has new meaning for me. When I sing of a dry and desert place, I’m singing words describing the place I’m literally in right now. When I sing of God’s faithfulness, I’m singing the only words I know to be absolutely true in my life. The new Passion record came out last week and it seems like every song was literally written specifically for Sydney and I. I wanted to share some of the lyrics…
Down in the valley, When waters rise, I’m still believing hope is alive, all through the struggle and darkest day, I’ll remember the empty grave.
And I turn, I turn to Christ alone, I surrender all, I surrender, And I live, I live for you alone, all my heart and soul, I surrender, I’m living for something so much greater – whatever may come my way, and whatever tomorrow holds, let the glory of who You are, stay in my soul, I turn to Christ.
So yeah, as those words say, Sydney and I turn to Christ. I don’t know where else to go, I don’t know where else to run…but to Him alone. Wherever you are in life, whether things are going great and God is blessing you like crazy, whether things are just kinda average and you’re getting by, or maybe honestly life just really sucks right now, God is for you. No matter what your circumstance, He is faithful to us and will never leave us. Something that I have learned to do through this is to continually say what I know to be true over and over again. I can’t speak for others, but it works for me. A part of this ongoing struggle is when everything in the world around you goes back to normal but you still feel like you can’t move an inch forward. It can seem like people forget about you and what happened. But it is part of the process, things will go back to normal, you just try to give as much grace as you can to everyone around you because I need it just as much if not far more than anyone else. People won’t know what to say, how and when to say it, if it’s too much/too little. Grace can and will cover anything and everything in life if you let it.
I cannot wait to see my son again. To literally think as I write these words and (hopefully if you’ve stayed with me this long) as you read them, my son is standing before God Almighty and Jesus Christ. He is safe, he has every need taken care of, he’ll never know pain and suffering, he has everything he needs in the presence of His Heavenly Father. And that’s exactly where we want our son to be no matter how badly we want him to be in our arms. But I know He is supremely loved by our Father and for that reason, we have hope that nothing can ever take away. Nothing will ever prepare you for something like this in life but I believe Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 16:33, “You will have trouble in this life. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God does have a unique purpose and plan for your life and that purpose and plan is good. You may not see it, you may not understand it, and that’s perfectly okay.
- To give an update, we are buying a house in Katy which is crazy. I still don’t feel like I’m old enough to do that but it’s happening. In my mind I keep saying that you’re officially “old” if you buy a house so I guess we’re there. We are so thankful for this blessing God has given us and we can’t wait to move in later this month.
- I do ask for your continued prayers. Sydney and I still need them but mostly for my nephew Sterling. My sister gave birth several weeks ago and Sterling had some difficulties. He was in the hospital for about a week and finally came home. My sister and brother-in-law went to the doctor yesterday and it seems that Sterling is having some issues with his heart. Obviously not what you want to hear if you’re a Hystad after you’ve gone through the past 2 months. However, we believe God is sovereign and is asking us to continue to trust Him. So please pray for that, for the doctors to know exactly what to do, and ultimately for Sterling and that our Father in Heaven would completely heal him.
I’m done. Thank you if read all of this. I tend to talk a lot if you know me well so that shouldn’t really surprise you (sorry I’m working on it). I pray that in some way, somehow, God would encourage you wherever you are in life. As I said before, we prayed that our son would be a world changer, and we believe he is and will continue to be just that. So from the Hystads, we love and thank each of you who have done everything in the world for us, big or small. You are loved by my family more than we could ever express in words. God is good and His love endures forever.