Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hazel, the hospital, and her health

I'm still in the middle of writing Hazel's Birth story. But today was the first good day in awhile and I wanted to write down a few thoughts.

A few hours after Hazel was born the pediatric team came in and started asking questions about my and Gabe's blood types and family medical history. After a few questions we learned that sometime in the last 18 weeks of my pregnancy my body had developed antigens that treated Hazel as a foreign threat and began attacking her red blood cells.

Over the past few days we've learned that means she has a lot of extra bilirubin built up in her system, causing a severe case of jaundice that her liver is having a difficult time getting rid of. Today we learned she is also allergic to my breast milk. So far there haven't been any signs of long term organ damage and we hope it stays that way.

To monitor her, blood is taken every few hours and unless she is eating or having her diaper changed she has to be under lights. One night after taking her bilirubin levels she ended up in the NICU hooked up to an IV and monitors. However, she is back in her own room again and they took out her IV line this afternoon.

The past few days have been extremely stressful for our family. But, this evening has been perfect. I was able to leave the hospital for the first time since last Wednesday. Roland giggled in delight as I buckled him into his car seat for a drive, just him and me.

We went on a long walk, ate dinner at home, and then headed back to see Gabe and Hazel. I am so grateful for a peaceful evening as a family, snuggled up together, watching Harry Potter. I can't wait for more days like these when we're actually home.

 Baby Girl in the NICU

 Back in her room, Papa measuring the lights to make sure the positioning is correct. At this point the nurses just have us do it because we know the Dr's orders better than they do. One day I hope I can remember to write about the importance of being your child's advocate. Maybe after I start sleeping again.

 This is how we flirt these days... 

Friday, May 22, 2015

2014 Holiday Season

I have always felt a sort of energy during the holiday season, and this year that energy seemed a bit more magical as we experienced Roland's firsts; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas.

Halloween was celebrated with our local congregation's annual Trunk-or-Treat, where we ate chili and Roland giggled and frowned at everyone in costume. Gabe and I had fun with a family costume theme that Gabe barely made it home from to work to be a part of. 

 I am grateful we went, mostly because Roland ended up getting sick and the 31st was spent with cold cloths on his forehead, pushing fluids, and extra snuggles. 

For Thanksgiving we headed to Missouri to visit Gabe's sister, who we had not seen in years. It was a lot of fun actually getting to know my sister and brother-in-law and their fantastic kids for me and Roland. Gabe was happy to once again visit their home. There was a lot of laughing, from the ridiculous rolls I messed up and tried to save, to listening to stories about Gabe when we was younger, to late night games and conversations after all the kids were asleep. I'm still dreaming of the king sized bed we slept in.

We ended up having three Christmases this year:

first one of our own,

then one with my mom and family,

then one with Gabe's parents and all of his siblings.

We were able to capture an Eaton family picture with everyone in it, even if it was freezing and windy outside. Even though we were pretty busy this Christmas I was grateful for time with Gabe to reflect on the birth of our Savior and his sacrifice for each one of us. Sometime in November someone sent me a video of Kelly Clarkson, Trisha Yearwood, and Reba McIntire singing Silent Night.  It soon became a favorite of Roland's and he would watch it over and over. If he was struggling in the car or uncomfortable because he wasn't feeling well, we would play the video for him or sing the song to him and he would calm down. Because of that, Gabe and I could sing all three verses of Silent Night in our sleep (and have done so at least half asleep more than once). I think in future years we will try to memorize all of the verses of a Christmas song each year and sing it throughout the season to help remind us of the spirit of love that should permeate this holiday season. I can already see my children rolling their eyes.
I still can't believe we were able to visit so many family members (much to Roland's chagrin as he is still going strong with his stranger danger phase). I am grateful for the holiday season we had and look forward to more years.

And with the sun comes purpose....

One of my goals this year was to start a journal for each of my kids (Did I just use the plural of that word?! Things are getting real...).

I've been writing letters in my journal to Roland and Hazel since I found out about each of them, but I realized I want them to have their own copy to look back on and take with them if they chose, or leave sitting in my storage space for me to get sentimental over years later... either way.

As I sat down to write the first entry in each one I was almost overwhelmed with the idea of how to help them not only survive, but thrive in this world. I stressed and thought about it... only to realize I can't write that down in one lesson, and even if I tried the answer will be different for each of them at different moments in their lives.

So I settled for a heartfelt note of I love yous and different experiences we have had with each of them, in hopes that it will help them figure out who they are and in turn how each one of them can fulfill their purpose on this earth. Because, as a twenty-seven year old, I am still figuring out all of my purposes... and I think it will be that way for the rest of my life.

Roland Turns One

Roland turned one. In February. And I finally decided to post this...

We celebrated in shifts. The day of his birthday he had some medical tests including blood work. He was pretty upset about his blood draw. I asked him if he wanted to show Papa, and he did.

We were going to celebrate over the weekend but Ro had plans of his own which included a double whammy of RSV and bronchitis. So instead we spent it snuggling and I learned how to sleep comfortably while pregnant, sitting up, and holding a sick baby.

When he was feeling well enough we did a cake smash. At first he was apprehensive of becoming messy, but eventually he loved squishing and then tasting his cake. 

While Roland has had more than his fair share of sicknesses over his first year, we are entirely grateful his brain and body are still developing at a normal rate.

Some of our favorite things about Roland:
-his occasional fierce independence
-how much he shows his love for each of us
-how increasingly comfortable he is becoming in social settings
-his little laugh
-how particular he is with how he eats his food, 
-his concern for others 
-how expressive he has become
-his love of the outdoors
-his sweet little cuddles
-his love of different textures
-his love of books
-how curious he is about the world around him

It is so fun to watch our little baby become a little toddler. He has so many little quirks that Gabe has and scrunches his nose up like I have done since his age. 

I am so grateful that he is ours.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

To My Husband

       I know Mother's Day is supposed to be all about women and the roles they play in our lives but I want to take a moment and say thank you.

Thank you for working so hard to let me live my dreams (now and in the future) all while being a mother. Thank you for respecting and loving me , our son sees your example and is already following in your footsteps. Thank you for taking over when I am too sick, too tired, or it has simply been a long day. Thank you for juggling schedules to accommodate my running schedules and last minute family trips I plan.

Thank you for being my partner in parenting our children:

The ones who didn't make it.

And the ones we have now.

I don't want to imagine motherhood with anyone else by my side. I am so grateful for this adventure with you.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

To My (New) Mom

Dear Mom,
            A little over four years ago you were in a car wreck. It was serious. None of us really knew just how serious or long lasting your injuries would be.

Fast forward to present day with the Shelley Shuffle still in full force and I can't help but think you're still under the impression that in some way your brain injury embarrasses me and makes me feel sorry for you. And here is the truth: I do get embarrassed and I do feel sorry.

I get embarrassed for those who make rude comments about your walker being in the way. I get embarrassed for people who stand by without offering to help when you're attempting to use facilities that don't easily accommodate those with disabilities. I get embarrassed by people who stare at you, because obviously they didn't have a mom who taught them it isn't polite.

I feel sorry for those who do not get to have someone in their lives who still does their best to serve others despite their limitations. I feel sorry for the people who judge you without getting to know you, because they are missing out. I feel sorry that not everyone has the chance to serve their mother in ways that help in a small way to repay all that she has done for them.

There are many things you have done over the years that embarrassed me (one word: slushie haha). But not a single one of them have to do with your TBI. The lessons of compassion, endurance, and strength I have learned in the past four years are ones that I needed in turn to be a better wife, mother, sister, and daughter. The ignorance and prejudices I have seen have softened my heart to try harder to be more Christlike. The service I have given has allowed me to step outside of my own wants and needs, reminding me that I have so much more to give in this world.

So thank you, for being my mom in ways that we never knew you would need to be. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day.