Kie - posted on 11/25/2008 ( 2 moms have responded )
So it's been awhile since I posted a blog. A lot has changed since the last one. Most of you have read the bulletins I've posted about our daughter, Reid, so you're pretty current on what's going on with her. I guess I'm writing this just to have a release for the emotional part of this whole ordeal and put things into perspective for myself. This has, by far, been the most frustrating, incredibly profound, beautiful, heart breaking, gut wrenching, learning experience that I have ever been through. I have learned more about myself, my family, and the kindness of others than I have in the entire almost 29 years of my life.
Everyone knows how incredibly ecstatic I was to find out Reid was on her way. I was glowing! My prayers for a little girl were answered! The ultrasound tech had to think I was out of my mind because I burst into tears and screamed when she told me we were having a girl. See! God does listen!! I had so many plans for us. I was going to do everything right this time. I was reading up on breastfeeding so I would be sure not to give up so easily like I had with my boys. I was already picturing her in dance classes and playing an instrument. The piano seemed to be the one I preferred, but she could choose when she was ready. I was already seeing the movie in my mind of playing Barbies and having tea parties. I’ve come to the understanding that even though plans can change so quickly, they don’t have to be discarded. They can be altered a little.
When the nurses told me there was something wrong with Reid on the day she was born, I went numb. I was devastatingly scared. I couldn't even think. My world stopped. Just a moment later, the questions started swarming like hornets when something disturbs their nest. They stung worse than any pain I'd ever felt. 'How could that be?! I had 3 level 2 ultrasounds and everything was FINE!! There has to be a mistake! God wouldn't let my baby be sick. I'm special! This would never happen to my family!' The one phrase that sticks out the most now, after coming this far, is "I'm special". How arrogant of me to think that somehow, God would never let this happen to me! Who the Hell am I? Why not me? Why not Reid? Why anyone? Bad things can happen to anybody. Nobody is immune. It's where you take that bad experience and how you learn from it. That's where the blessings come from. Lesson 1; God didn't DO this. God is leading us THROUGH this!
No sooner did the nurse tell me my baby was sick and whisk her out of the room, that I looked over at Jeff and saw the terror on his face. He was frozen for a moment, not knowing what to say or do, or think. I imagine he was as numb as I was. My mom grabbed me and hugged me. She kept telling me, "It's going to be alright. Don't worry. God has this under control." Did he? I wasn't sure anymore. I didn't realize that at that moment, He did have control. He just wasn't doing things my way. He was working on a bigger picture. It’s taken awhile, but I see that now.
Jeff and I have had to lean on each other more than we ever have before, in order to get through this with our sanity intact. I’ve learned just how incredibly strong a person he is and I have a whole new respect for that strength. He has been the glue that has held me together, and I have tried to be the same for him. Many marriages dissolve under such stress, but ours has become so much stronger. I’m not used to leaning on anyone. I have had to learn how to step back and allow others to help me. This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I don’t want to be a burden or put anyone out. I have always just wanted to handle things myself, and through this experience, I’ve learned I can’t. I’m not strong enough. Nobody is all the time. I need help, and just as badly as I need help, others have a need to give! That became evident when my mother-in-law offered to help watch the boys so that Jeff and I could go for a visit with Reid together.
Now, Linda isn’t in the best health herself and is dealing with RA and Fibromialsia. She doesn’t feel good much of the time so I was afraid to burden her with the task of caring for my 2 rambunctious boys for a few hours. I thanked her for her generous offer, but told her we were taking care of things. She called back the next day and then the next. It clicked that 3rd time she called, that she NEEDED to help. It made her feel important, like she was involved in the recovery of her granddaughter. I stepped back and let her. She was happy to do it and I was thankful for the chance to get back to the hospital. I was also surprised how it made me feel good to see that my stepping back and letting her help made her happy. God is teaching me how to let go and accept help from others. Lesson 2; stepping back and allowing others to give, makes THEM feel good too.
Patience is one virtue I was born without! Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows this all too well. This experience has literally forced me to be patient. It’s been a complete roller coaster. No sooner does Reid get through one obstacle, than she is faced with yet another to get over before she can make any headway in her recovery. It has been a nightmare for any parent to endure, but add in the complete lack of patience, and it compounds the issue ten fold. I’ve learned that even though I have absolutely NO control on how Reid recovers, she is recovering! It may not be as quickly as I would like but it’s happening on her time. It’s absolutely frustrating, but if I let go and just live in the moment, I find I am much more able to handle whatever comes our way. Lesson 3; I can’t control everything, and that’s OK!
My boys, Aaron and Brett, have not come through this experience unscathed either. This has been very difficult for them. Especially the last few months of my pregnancy they watched us, and even participated in getting the house ready for the new baby. They were so excited to have a little sister coming! They helped paint Reid’s room for a minute, until I got too nervous about ruining the carpet to allow them to continue. They helped wash her clothes and put them away so things would be perfect for her when she finally got home. Brett was more than a little ready to be a big brother. He’s painted my belly, sang ‘rock’ songs to her as she rolled around inside me. The first thing he would do every morning was to come and check to see if Reid was awake and moving around yet. It was a special treat when she would get the hiccups and he could watch my tummy bounce!
When we had to tell them that their little sister was sick and having to go to a hospital in Little Rock, the excitement on their faces faded into fear. Aaron understood that something was very wrong and Brett was reading Aaron’s reaction and became frightened as well. The fear struck harder when they were told that the little baby they had been looking so forward to playing with was going to have to have surgery on her heart and wouldn’t be home for a long time. Aaron burst into tears and Brett looked at me like he didn’t know exactly why he was afraid, but he knew that was the right emotion for the moment. They have only been able to visit her twice in the 7 and a half weeks she’s been in the NICU at Children’s. It’s been hard for them having Mommy gone 2 or 3 nights a week. The instability of it has definitely left its’ mark on Aaron. He is so sensitive and has to have things ‘just so’, and since this began, his world has been turned upside down. Things are getting better for him now, and Jeff and I have been very careful to explain things so he can understand them, but he is also learning that he can’t control everything either. It’s a hard lesson for all of us, but once we learn it, life does get easier!
Through watching Reid struggle, I’ve learned to be more available to my children. I try harder to be there and listen. I have always put forth the effort, but somehow, now I am even more patient with them. They are kids. Kids will be kids, and I am so thankful to have them! Yes, I still get irritated with them when they annoy me, but I’ve softened. I hugged them a lot before, but I tend to do it more now. I tell them how much I love them more often. I snuggle them closer. This is yet another way God has turned this experience into a blessing. Our family is closer and stronger than it ever has been. Lesson 4; really count your blessings and show those who are important to you just how important they are.
I’m learning so much from this experience. As long as I am learning, it has a purpose. If there is purpose in it, I can handle it. I’m not the only one meant to learn from Reid. I believe she is here to teach everyone she meets or hears her story. She’s already touched so many lives. The nurses in the NICU, the people reading the poker forums that Jeff is a member of…people she’s never met. God is speaking to all of us through her. She will never understand how important she is and how much she has taught us just in this short time. My mind can't comprehend what other lessons she has for us. I feel so blessed and am a much stronger a person than I was before Reid was born. I think I can say the same for Jeff. My boys will grow up with an understanding that different is OK. They will be more tolerant of others because they have a sister who probably has many challenges in her future, developmentally. God works in mysterious ways. That’s a statement I’ve heard a million times, and now I know exactly what it means. Everything has a purpose. That purpose is to teach us. If we learn, we are on the right track. When we ignore the lessons, we miss the opportunity to grow. I know my family, and those close to us have grown tremendously in these excruciatingly long weeks, and we’re not done yet! Reid is just getting started! I only hope her lessons are taught more gently now that we are actually paying attention…