Using Your Pain
“Have you ever been in a place to where you would do anything if you could just change the situation you are in?” That’s how Britani Falls described watching her young son suffer from a debilitating illness. After a three-year rollercoaster of emotions filled with many trials and a few triumphs, Jake eventually passed over into eternity. Despite all the pain, Britani put her full trust in God, which in turn has fostered a ministry for helping others and a desire to adopt a special needs child.
Wes and Britani Falls were living life as an average family of four after the birth of their second son, Jake. Everything took a turn for the unexpected when he was only ten weeks old. He started having grand mal seizures, and Britani recalls that he would hold his breath until he turned blue, stiffen his whole body, and jerk uncontrollably. Sadly, this was just the first of thousands of seizures Jake would endure throughout his young life.
Just a few weeks after his first birthday, Jake started having uncontrollable seizures on a daily basis. What had been a smiling, happy, playful child on his first birthday was now an almost comatose, lifeless shell of a child. Jake had lost all ability to move, swallow, see, and make sounds. He suffered from seizures day and night, as Wes and Britani sought out the best doctors and medicines to try and ease his pain.
At 18 months old, Jake was finally given a diagnosis. He had an extremely rare genetic disorder called SCN8A. There was no cure and no treatment for this condition, and only 90 cases had been documented in the world at that time. There are 160 known cases today, and the Falls hope for medical advances so that other families dealing with SCN8A will have more information and treatment options made available.
Britani remembers pleading with God to heal her child and to give him back his ability to communicate with them. “I longed for my son to tell me he loved me and let me know that he knew I was his mommy and that I loved him more than anyone else in the world.” Then, in December 2015, their family received a Christmas miracle. After 15 months of no movement, Jake began to move his arms and legs. Over the next eight months, he would also start to make sounds and even smile again.
Every movement or sound was a small miracle. Britani said that everyday actions or even annoyances became something to celebrate. “Normally, when a baby cries, it can be annoying . . . but you can’t imagine what it feels like to never hear that cry again—to never hear your child make a sound, to never respond to you or your voice, never respond to pain or stimuli.”
Sadly, after months of progress, Jake began to have crying spells—no doubt a signal to his parents that something was wrong. He also dealt with bouts of common respiratory illnesses due to his fragile lungs. He was fussy, and Britani’s intuition let her know something other than his breathing was the problem. After working with Jake’s neurologist to try and find the cause of his pain, Britani decided to admit him into the hospital.
She studied radiographic technology and had worked as an MRI technologist for 13 years, but even that couldn’t prepare her for the shocking results of Jake’s X-rays. Jake’s entire spine was fractured from his mid-chest all the way to his tailbone. His bones were brittle from the high doses of multiple medications, and the doctor said the trauma of constant seizures or even his chest therapy and coughing could have caused Jake’s spine to break.
Since Jake had an incurable disease and suffered from multiple seizures, there was nothing to do but simply manage his pain. By this time, Britani had a newborn baby boy, which meant they now had two boys other than Jake to care for as well. It would be understandable for someone in this situation to walk away from all hope.
“Honestly, for me, letting go was never an option.” That was Britani’s answer when asked what kept them from just giving up. “I really think we have to get to that point, to make a decision that no matter what comes my way, I am going to trust Jesus.” Instead of turning from her faith, her faith grew. She clung to Scriptures like Hebrews 11:1, Romans 8, and many of the Psalms.
Wes and Britani also became very transparent about their life and shared everything from Jake’s current state to their struggles with keeping the faith through a Facebook group called Jake’s Journey. In September 2016, Jake’s journey on earth ended, and he crossed over into eternity. The couple shared details of Jake’s celebration of life, and they continue to share about their journey of grief.
They’ve also started another Facebook group, Falls family down syndrome adoption. As you might have guessed, the couple is in the process of adopting a child. When asked what led to this decision, Britani’s answer was simple. “After having Jake, our perspective on life has completely changed, and having him has helped us to see God’s beautiful hand in all of His special children.” They plan on adopting a child from overseas with down syndrome, who would otherwise live in either an orphanage or mental institution. They also want a little girl to even out their family of boys.
Although the Falls family has experienced much pain, they also have experienced the love of God in a way that many have not. In addition to their Facebook groups, Britani has started speaking at local churches to encourage others dealing with difficulties. She realizes the power of her testimony and is open to any opportunity in which sharing her story can help others. “Our angel Jake showed us the purest and selfless form of love that could only come from God Himself, ” Britani shares. “We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father that He chose us to be Jake’s parents and that He loved us enough to bless our life with Jake.”
Most of all, this journey has given Britani a new perspective of not only how she loves others but also of how God loves us. All of those sleepless nights she sat by Jake, praying for him and tending to his every need, brought new meaning to God giving his Son to save a lost world. “God has used our experiences with our son Jake to mold us into the people that He always designed for us to be,” Britani shares. “It took having Jake, being blessed with his presence, beauty, and love, and experiencing great loss, tragedy, and hardships for us to be able to see the true face of God—the pure and selfless love of a Savior who gave His life so that we could live.”
If you would like to help, the Falls bring home their daughter, visit their Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/wesandbritanischinababy.