Wednesday, June 22, 2016

c-sections or, when your child had been cut out of you.

in just a few days, 18 months will have passed since the day a doctor cut open my abdomen and uterus to pull my son out.  the act saved my son's life.  while his heart rate had started to drop with contractions, more importantly, we had no idea that his two vessel cord had very small amounts of Wharton's jelly around it.  this is the substance that keeps the umbilical cord from collapsing, twisting, etc. so that it stays open supplying oxygen and nutrients.  if Asher had been born vaginally, it's very likely that he would have suffered brain damage and possibly even have died as a result of this. it's the reason his heart rate was dropping during contractions.  as it is, we're pretty thankful he didn't pass away in utero.

but, that's not entirely what i'm here to talk about it.  C-sections are often seen as the easy way out.  no work. no pushing.  you get a spinal block so you don't feel the contractions.  it's like you didn't even really experience birth.
there are reason upon reason people have a C-section.  some are medically necessary.  some are by choice.  not a single one of them gets my vote of disapproval.  i'm learning that the best thing we can do is support other people's decisions, even if they're different from ours. even if from the outside, they make absolutely no sense, at all.
i'm not sad, at this point, that I had a C-section.  it was necessary.  it happened.  my son is alive, and doing great. 
but, let me tell you a few things about my experience so those who think that delivering vaginally is somehow better, can possibly empathize.
some people have to be put completely under for a C-section.  my epidural, and then spinal block only worked on half of my body.  I missed my son's first cries.  I don't even have a video of it because things happened in an emergency fashion.  I didn't get to see him at all until 8 hours after he was born.  then, I was wheeled to the nicu where I got to look at him and touch him for a few minutes before going back to my room, because one of the many meds I was on made me unable to walk, stand, or stay awake for long periods of time..
I woke up from surgery, on my abdomen, to someone pushing on my abdomen.  it's probably the closest I've ever come to punching someone.  for me, I couldn't have Tylenol because my liver was failing, narcotics because I had, had a spinal block (that didn't work), and ibuprofen because of one of the other meds I was on.  I woke up from abdominal surgery with NO pain control on board, and someone pushing on me. 
getting in and out of my hospital bed, literally, required me to sit the bed up, and still took me at least five minutes because of the pain.  coughing required holding myself, and bending over.  and, when you've been intubated, you cough. 
I couldn't lift anything over ten pounds for six weeks.  at this time, I had a 25 pound three year old who couldn't walk, or climb, and a two story house.  so for the next six weeks, I had to have someone home with me at all times to help me care for little.  while i'm SO thankful to the friends who stepped up and sat with us, it was hard on the days that I wanted to just spend time figuring out breast feeding, and being a mother of three all by myself.
there is not a day that goes by that i don't see my scar.  when i go to the bathroom.  when i shower.  when i change clothes.  there it is.  the reminder that my son was cut out of me.  i can physically run my fingers over the place, and feel where the scalpel was.

but, the real kicker, for me, is that almost every day, for eighteen months, I've continued to have pain.  I've had growing issues, and am amidst appointments and imaging.  i likely have adhesions-a type of scar tissue that can happen with abdominal surgeries, and it's likely bad enough that i'll have to have something done.  sometimes, when i cough or sneeze, i still have to put counter pressure on my scar to keep the pain at bay.

i'm not looking for a badge of courage for the way my son came into the world.  i'm not looking for sympathy because of everything that went wrong.  what i'm looking for is people to just walk along side and encourage others on their journey.  everyone's journey can be different, and still good.  it can be different, and still right.  it can be different and still beautiful.
also, C-sections aren't an easy way out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sit.


I sat on the porch swing, reading Brene Brown, listening to crickets, seeing the fireflies light up around me, and smelling my neighbor's joint.  I put the book down, leaned back, swinging ever so gently, and closed my eyes.  I tried to turn my thoughts into coherent prayers.  All I could come up with is, 'Please show up.  Here.  In the tragedies.  In people's pain.  In me.'
And, in the days where all I read about is tragedies, and it's followed by everyone's memes about guns, and violence, and religions, and parents, I wonder how to be the person who stands on the side of love.  So I sit down and type something, hit post, and feel like it doesn't even come close to what I'm feeling.  The words are limiting.
Then, today, I wake up to another tragedy.  It plagues me all day long.  It ends with a family that will have to prepare a funeral for a little boy not much older than my own.  And, already the judgments start.  There are conversations about the parents,  and choices, and how much better we all are because nothing like that could ever happen to us.
I want to scream.  'BULL SHIT!'  Instead, I decide to rock my son before bed.  I cover him in kisses, and probably a few of my tears.  I lay him down, and watch him rubbing the tag of his blanket as his eyes droop.  And, I think of that other mom. 

I have decided that in tragedies, I'm going to take my example from Job's friends in chapter two.  They came, they sat, and they quietly grieved with him.  It was a beautiful thing.  They were literally just there.  When they started talking, offering their suggestions, telling him what he should be doing, that's when things started going poorly.  But, when they were there, it was beautiful.
I can't get to Orlando tonight to be with that mother.  Or the other mothers and fathers there preparing for funerals.  I can't go to the hospitals to be with the victims.  I'm not even sure how to be with some of the people who live in my city and are experiencing tragedies. 
But, I want to figure this out.  I want to put on my sackcloth, sit down, and just be there.  I want to mourn with all those who are mourning.  And, there are a lot right now.  Even if they'll never know some lady hundreds of miles away is sitting in her house, quietly joining in the mourning, I want to do this. 
Tonight, I will light a candle, and I will sit.  My one small flame may not make much difference.  But, then again, maybe some others will read this and choose to join me. Light a candle.  Sit.  Mourn.                                                                                                            


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Thirty Four.

 
I don't know if the day was sunny. Or cold.  If the room was shared.  If things felt dingy.  I have no recollection of that day.  Yet, every year, when it comes around, I celebrate.  It was the day I became known.  I was no longer hidden.  The world now had a new little life in it. 
With each passing year, the new number causes me to contemplate things a little more.  What has happened this past year that changed me?  What have I experienced in my thirty four years that other people haven't?  What parts of me do I want to take with me into this next year?  Which ones might be better left behind?  What are the parts of me that are hidden, that need to be made known?

Each question is loaded with answers.  They range in emotion.  This year, in particular, I dreamt of my papal the night before thirty four.  He hugged me.  I miss him.  And, I'm so glad that he is now with his wife of nearly fifty years.  He missed her greatly when she left the world before him.  I hope that our love will be as deep, as wide, as strong, and as selfless as his was.  And, I add that to my list of things I want to take with me this year.  Choosing love.  In the hard moments.  In the frustrations.  In the miscommunications.  In the exhaustion of littles.  Finding time to give of myself to the man I have committed a lifetime to.

The things I want to leave behind?  Yelling.  My communication with my children is sometimes done in louder and angrier ways than I want it to be.  I'm thirty four.  I can't control them.  But, I can work to control my responses.

The things I hide.  Anxiety.  I have been working hard at being more honest with this.  And, with each new things I share, someone else thanks me.  Someone else says, 'I feel that way too, but have been too afraid to share it.'  And, the camaraderie kills the voices telling me that people will think I'm crazy. One night in particular, when we were frustrated at each other, Jason asked what I was anxious about.
'Everything.'
'You can't be anxious about everything.'
'Everything.'
'Picking out your clothes?'
'Yes. '  And, I shared how and why this makes me anxious.
'The weather.'  He laughed.  Because, absurd.
'Yeap.' And, I shared how and why this makes me anxious.'
This was followed by five minutes of silence.  He didn't know the depth.  The way it likes to grab a hold and whisper all the lies.  All the what if's.  All the things that have been messed up in the past.  But, so many of those things die when they're spoken out loud. They thrive on the darkness.  They grow there.  But, the moment there is light, they die a little.  The moment someone else says, 'hey, me too' they shrink back, afraid.  And, so, I will share.  I'm thirty four and I will no longer hide my anxiety.

There is more. So much more. It's been a pretty good thirty four years.  Some of the years have been overshadowed by really hard things.  Some of them I don't remember.  Lots of them are only mere moments scattered throughout my memory, waiting for new moments to join them.

I'm thirty four.




Tuesday, April 5, 2016

a healing step.

after the arrival of tiny, I had some things that I was sad about.  disappointed.  and, there was nothing I could do about most of them. 
one of the lingering ones though, was the fact that I had Asher a few days before our scheduled pregnancy shoot.  I wanted photos of me at the end of pregnancy.  I had found some really non-cliché ones that I loved, and we just wanted a few that could be thrown in with our newborn shoot.
we knew we wouldn't be doing a pregnancy again.  we made sure.  so I mulled over the idea of doing them anyway.  but it seemed so cheesy. 
and, I decided to do them.  it would be part of the process of healing for me.  so a year after our son was born, no longer pregnant, we did maternity shots.  these are a few of my favorites.





the healing process is different for everyone.  this what part of it for me.  i'm so glad we did it. 

*these photos are copyrighted*

Friday, March 25, 2016

Just, a little....

It's a phenomenon that most people probably don't fully understand.  But, I've heard it from lots of other parents.  I've heard it from spouses.  I've heard it from people themselves.  So, I know that lots of people experience it.

Doctor crushes. 

Now, let me start by saying, a doctor crush is in no way shape or form of a sexual nature.  If you are truly attracted to a doctor, that's not what I'm talking about here.  This is a whole different form of crushing. 

It can be a male or female.  Old. Young.  Attractive.  Or someone you find not so attractive.  But, whatever happened with that doctor led you to get fluttery feelings every time you see them, talk about them, or think about them. 

I have a few of them.  Doctors who have gone above and beyond. The fellow who literally made the life saving call to check Shilo's thyroid numbers when she got very sick at a few weeks old.  The developmental pediatrician who looked into issues with Abigail when she was really young and figured multiple things out. The doctor who delivered Asher.  The list goes on and on for me. 
And, a friend who's husband broke his neck felt this way about one of the doctors who cared for him.  A friend who had a mass removed from her abdomen, talks about feeling this way.  A parent who had a doctor step in and step up to prevent unnecessary interventions.  A parent who stepped up and stepped in to make certain a child got a surgery that some doctors thought wasn't needed.

I find myself thinking about these doctors.  Looking forward to the next appointment with them.  Wanting to bring them gifts, and invite them over for dinner.  I replay our conversations, and can't help but smile when I think of how they treated me, and my children. 
For a while, I thought it was just me.  And, that it was a little weird.  Until I admitted it.  Then, time after time, in conversation, someone else would describe something similar. 

So here's a public declaration for those of you who didn't know this was a thing.  And, here's a thank you to the doctors who are so great, that a phrase needed to be developed to describe the feelings they invoke.  You make the world of navigating medical stuff a little more enjoyable. 

 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Three for three.

When you've spent much time around the world of special needs, you learn a few things.  One of them is, people don't tend to have lots of random things going on, and none of them be connected.  There's usually an overarching diagnoses.  A genetic disorder.  Something.
So with each new thing that has come up with tiny, I have known, the day was coming when we would get our third diagnoses.  A couple of months ago, after tons of hours of researching, and reading medical journals, I came to the conclusion of what I thought it was. 
I mentioned it at our ortho appointment, and he sort of agreed he fit the criteria, but wasn't interested in diagnosing him.  It was frustrating for me because I want answers at this point.  It helps to know which way to go.  It alleviates fears of bigger things.  It makes state insurance for kids with special needs easier. 

Yesterday morning we made our second trip to the developmental pediatrician.  I made the appointment for stupid early in the morning so we could see the actual doctor.  Then, I showed up, and somehow they had made the appointment with a nurse practitioner.  I'm not a great person when sleep deprived, and I nearly fell apart.
It really turned out to be the best thing.  The n.p. we saw had seen Abigail five or so years ago.  She remembered us.  I listed our 'things we have noticed' and she immediately said, 'sounds like we should see a geneticist.'  I asked at our first appointment six months ago.  I didn't even have to ask this time.

There was lots more to it.  But, I won't wade you through all of that.  We have a diagnosis.  It will be confirmed with a geneticist.  It is what I thought it was going to be.  And, it was nice to put all of the pieces together.

So Asher's list of medical junk:  single umbilical artery, vertebrae anomalies causing congenital scoliosis, lipoma at the base of the spinal cord, genitourinary defect, hydronephrosis (this has already resolved for him, but is still included), congenital heart defect (it is very small and doesn't cause any issues), shoulder girdle weakness, clinodactyly in a couple of fingers and toes, and thumbs that tuck under.  It's possible that after a little more upcoming testing there may be more added to the list, but these are the knowns for now.

Asher has what is called VACTERL association.  It is not a genetic disorder.  It is a group of congenital defects that often occur together.  You only have to have three letters for diagnoses.  There are some other defects that can happen with it, but aren't part of the diagnostic criteria.
V-vertebrae anomalies
A-anal atresia
C-cardiac
TE-trachea-esophageal fistula
R-renal
L-limb deformities

Asher has V,C,R, and L.  Sometimes there is an S on the end, that isn't part of the diagnoses, but stands for single umbilical artery.  The genitourinary defects are sometimes linked with the A, but also not part of the actual diagnoses criteria.  And, the lipoma also isn't uncommon with all of it, but not part of the diagnostic criteria.
We will see a geneticist because sometimes there are genetic disorders with lots of these things, and they'll want to make sure nothing is being missed.  It's possible that the diagnoses could change, but it's unlikely at this point. 

Even with all of that, he is doing great.  He's a very active almost fourteen month old. He's trying to stand on his own, and has taken a few steps.  He love blueberries and oranges, black beans, and olives.  He has started to give lots of hugs and kisses voluntarily.  He smiles at everyone.  Our lives are so much better with him in them. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Holding hope.

'that nothing grows on
 but time still goes on
 and through each life of misery
 everybody's got a hold on hope
 it's that last thing, that's holding me.'

some days, my hope lies strictly in heaven. the knowledge that all things will be made right gets me through.  everything here seems too hard. 
some days my hope lies closer to now.  that things might not always be this hard.  that here on earth, even, I might experience great things.
some days, I pour out my hopes in words to a God I still don't understand.  I step out and take that chance that maybe this will be the time the words I speak change something. but, at very least He's listening.

everyday, in our hallway, I walk by hope.  she used to sit in our kitchen window.  then on a shelf behind our couch before we moved.  and, in the midst of all the really hard things over the past years, at some point, her hand fell off.  I glued it back on.  then, she disappeared (with some help from little) behind the couch until we moved it out.  her hand was gone.  missing.  no more.
but, that other arm, still clung tightly to the balloon with the word hope.  it was held high above her head.  like she still believed there were things to hope for.  reasons to hope.

day after day, she stands there.  atop the shelf.  beneath her another tiny sign with the word hope.  the one I found when we were waiting for Abigail.  those three hard years.  and when I walk by them, I think of my friends who recently had miscarriages, who have lost littles, or who desperately want to be parents, and aren't yet.  and I stop, and plead on their behalves.  because that is hard. so very hard. and holding onto hope during that.  yeap. just all of it is hard.

and I look up at her, right above.  my sister gave her to me when we were waiting on Abigail.  but, for some reason, she doesn't remind me of the pain of waiting.  she reminds me that even with hospital stays and looming surgeries, seizures, scoliosis, and the future of tumors, that I can still hope.  I can hope in a God who will redeem all things.  i can hope that things won't always feel like i'm in a battle.  i can hope for peace.  a little girls to walk.  to find out all of the things going on with Asher.  that big's NF will continue to stay mild.  that when we walk through hard things, our marriage will remain strong.  we will learn over and over what it means to remain faithful.

in my brokenness, missing parts of me that I've tried to glue back on in hopes that other people might not notice, i'll continue to hold up my banner of hope.