The Story of Cakes From Grace
Becky Hunt is the President of Cakes From Grace, Inc. She comes up with all of the recipes, designs and creations that come out of this organization. Becky is self taught and began making cakes in 2005. She has worked in bakeries, managed cafes, and has studied Culinary, but most of her time has been spent in her own kitchen creating recipes. Becky's dream has always been to make cakes everyday to brighten someone elses day.
These words and this story are her own. It explains how Cakes From Grace came to be.
There are times in our lives that refine and define us. For some, we are placed into the fire of refinement more intensely than we would have ever imagined and this forever changes the course of the rest of our lives. 2012 was one of those years for our family. We have had lots of ups and downs but have had so many blessings and answered prayers along the way.
I was around 12 weeks pregnant when I had my first ultrasound. It was so exciting to hear this baby's heart beat and see my baby for the first time. This was also the first time we had any indication that there could be a problem. The ultrasound technician told me that there was some concern with the amount of fluid around her body, chest, stomach, neck and head. So we had to go to the prenatal clinic and have a level 2 ultrasound.
The day of the level 2 ultrasound was one of the most devastating and hardest days of my life. They said that this baby could have Down Syndrome but they were more confident that it would be Turner Syndrome. They told me that this baby probably wouldn't make it to full term.
We scheduled an amniocentesis for week 16 to test for chromosomes to see which syndrome it actually was. The tests came back at around 18 weeks and were completely normal. We were somewhat relieved but more confused than ever. If not this, then what was wrong?
They then wanted to wait until baby got a little bigger to do another ultrasound and look closer at the heart. It was around week 20 that they found some concerns with her heart. It was then that we met with a cardiologist and he told us that she had a severe heart defect.
Gracia Lorraine Hunt was born on August 2, 2012 at 37 weeks and 2 days gestation. She was born with HLHS, or Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The problem develops before birth when the left ventricle and other structures do not grow properly. Basically the left side of the heart is underdeveloped and unable to send enough blood to the body. As a result, the right side of the heart must maintain the circulation for both the lungs and the body, but the heart isn't connected to the arteries and veins in a way that will sustain this for long. The right ventricle can support the circulation to both the lungs and the body for a while, but without surgery, all this extra work for the right side eventually will cause the heart to fail.
So, our Gracie Girl, as we liked to call her, would need to have 3 different surgeries within the first 3 years of her life, one being within the first week after birth, the second being around 4 months and the third at about 3 years of age. These surgeries will slowly reconstruct her heart so that the right side of her heart can function on its own and do all the work that is missed from the left side.
On August 8th Gracie had her first open heart surgery called the Norwood procedure. After surgery her vital signs and cardiac output were all acceptable, however the amount of medication needed to keep her stable was higher than the doctors were comfortable with. In order to help support her body's needs and maintain a better balance of meds, additional measures were recommended.
During the procedure on her heart the surgeons had to bypass the heart entirely for blood circulation in order to perform the operation. They relied on a machine, the ECMO, to essentially perform the same functions of the heart. It would take blood from the body, oxygenate it and then pump it back throughout the body. Typically following the procedure with Hypoplast patients, they are able to be weaned off the ECMO within hours after the
surgery, given their body is fulfilling all its needs. In this scenario the doctors thought it best to keep Gracie on the ECMO for a week. After 7 days of being on ECMO, she did remarkably well without it.
This was our first of many setbacks. Gracie later had to go back into the OR for different surgeries and procedures such as getting a broviac central line put in two separate times for all her extra IV's, getting a tracheostomy for the extra support she needed in order to grow, and a gastrostomy-jejunostomy tube, or a GJ tube for feeding. After the tracheostomy was put in, Gracie developed infections and pneumonia but fought these like a trooper.
In early October, Gracie was doing great and she was being weaned off of so much medication that we finally talked about getting to go home and I decided to leave my full time corporate job since someone would need to be home with her 24/7 for medical reasons. Soon Gracie had yet another setback and crashed so she had to go back on all of those medications. All these things never seemed to phase her. Despite all of the setbacks and the incredible amount of sedation that she was on, she was always such a happy baby, so bright eyed and alert, it was amazing. My favorite picture of Gracie is one where we have her sitting up in her hospital bed, she has a cute little dress and hair bow on her head, she is staring right at Grandpa's camera, her eyes and mouth are wide open and she is telling you a story with the bright expression on her face. She loved so much to sit up and look around the room and see that there is more to this little world than just the ceiling and IV's laying next to her head.
On October 23, 2012, I got a phone call from Children's Hospital in Minneapolis at 3 in the morning. The nurse told me that Gracie's heart rate was very low, in the 80s, and told me I should come in. I threw a sweatshirt on and headed down through the rain and lightning. I got up to her room and a lady explained to me that she had been getting compressions for the past hour and they were prepping her to go back on ECMO.
I watched through the window outside her room. The nurses were pumping and pumping her little chest. I watched for a long time praying and praying that this wasn't it. One of the doctors came out and told me that they couldn't find any arteries to put the ECMO into and explained that an ultrasound had specified that her heart was not pumping at all. The doctor asked me to call it but there was no rush. So I called it.
Gracia Lorraine was gone at 4:55 am.
The time since we lost Gracie has been so incredibly hard and I miss her so much. No parent should ever have to feel the pain of losing their child, and you know what the pain never really goes away and every day I wake up and don't want to get out of bed, but The Lord has so much planned for my life. He has blessed my family with this miracle baby and he has also Graced me with a special talent. In Romans 12:6 it says "In his Grace, God has given each of us different gifts for doing certain things well." God made me an artist and Graced me with the talent and passion for Cake Decorating and Baking. In December of 2012, I started thinking of a way I could honor Gracie and share her story. I've started a nonprofit organization called Cakes From Grace, Inc.. We are all about giving back to the heart community. We donate cakes to families effected by Congenital Heart Defects and also donate cupcakes to fundraisers that raise awareness about CHD's. Whether a heart family wants to celebrate a milestone, a surgery coming up, an anniversary or birthday, we want these kids to have a special cake to celebrate with. We also make cakes for families that have lost a child.
Cakes From Grace's name has a very special meaning, not only is it my daughter's name, but I am making every cake in honor of her. When I had Gracie I dreamed of all the thousands of cakes that I would be making for her throughout her life. I am still going to make those cakes and I believe she has a part in all of them. She is my inspiration, my muse. Not only is the name for her, it's only by the Grace of God that I have this dream, this talent, and this passion for creating delicious and beautiful cakes.
Thank you for reading my daughter's story and I hope that she will inspire you as well to make your dreams happen. My ultimate dream has always been to be able to make cakes everyday to brighten someone elses day.
President and Founder of Cakes From Grace, Inc.