Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Change

We went to the doctor this morning. Bright and early-- Bennie wearing her squeaky shoes, running up and down the halls of the hospital and Husband in his scrubs, the proud father of his growing family. As I sit and type, snacking on my lunch, I am watching men are lay sod in our backyard and Bennie is contemplating throwing her lunch on the ground. Elmo keeps her entertained and occasionally, a bite from her tray makes it to her mouth.

Her.

She.

These words have been in my vocabulary for a very long time. In this moment, nothing has changed- life is moving forward. We are making plans.

After getting a tour of our baby's anatomy, I called my BIL, David. He was as excited as we were to hear our news and said the most important thing I have heard, "Change is good."

And he is so very right-- change is good. It can be fun. Change is not always easy, but change is always an adventure. Change. I am getting good at change-- and loving how Change changes everything.

We will put away our smocked dresses and donate our pink pajamas. All those pink blankets will soon be retired and moved on to a new house. Bennie and New Baby won't be sharing a room. That pink baby potty we bought will have to be painted and we will need to buy new sheets as purple polka dots won't cut it. Rainbows will be flip flops and not a favorite color. Bows will not of interest. We won't be buying any bloomers.

Instead- God looked down on us and smiled. He said that we are being blessed with a third baby. A healthy baby with ten fingers, ten toes, four chambers of the heart and two sides of the brain. New Baby has a perfect spine, functioning kidneys, and is --so far-- perfect. Perfect and so very loved by his two older sisters and already doting parents.

As we pack away the dresses, we will replace them with loafers and john-johns. A sun hat will be the new bonnet and blue will be the preferred color over pink. He will have a lifetime hunting license instead of a debutante dress and learn to lead instead of dancing backwards.

I didn't know what I was going to do when I heard the word "girl" the first time. But, I learned. Twice. I never thought I would know how to raise a girl, but so far-- we have two lovely little ladies. Change is good and it keeps us on our toes. He will join us soon and he will be wonderful addition to our family.

As all my children are, he will be a vital part of this family. He will regale us. He will humble us. He will teach us.

He will grow to become a man.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Today

I don't mean for so much time to pass between blog posts; I wish I could say that the reason for it happening was because so much was happening around the house- but that is not the case. Rather all these little things we are doing with our daily routine are amounting to our days.

We have daily homework that should take about 15 minutes. LMC gets distracted when the wind blows, so it is more like an hour's worth of homework. She is back in ballet and tap- in a new class, making new friends. She also started piano lessons so she can play on that beautiful piano we have in our living room-- and not just pound on the keys, waking up her sister. While her rhythm is a little off, she is trying and, more importantly, loves showing off her new skill.

LMC is loving kindergarten. It seems her that her biggest accomplishment these past few weeks is that she is slowly learning to read. Bennie is in school twice a week and knows no strangers. Husband is studying-- a lot. He has a big test coming up soon and, well, it would be good if he passes it. I am almost 19 weeks pregnant and we go tomorrow for the BIG ultrasound to make sure the growing fruit has all fingers, toes, eyes, ears, etc. We should find out what we are having-- boy or girl.... or puppy, as LMC has asked more than once.

It's not a puppy.

At this exact moment, I am resting on LMC's bed; she is playing on the iPad next to me and Bennie is not napping in her crib. I get tired in the afternoons these days and I feel a little silly being tired-- incubating or not, the girls still need a mom and dinner won't cook itself. Especially since I am going to get a whole lot more pregnant before I am no longer pregnant!

This is short, because Bennie is starting to get a little agitated with her lot in life and Husband should be back any minute.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Miracles

Miracles aren't easy and they don't come cheap. Even with modern medicine, miracles still happen. Miracles are necessary to teach us there is more to learn, more to believe, and more to have.

Miracle-- it's not a word that I use often or take lightly.

Traditionally, a c-section takes place at the bottom of the uterus, having a transverse incision made about the length of an open hand. This is the modern way- the safe way- the planned way- the normal way. The transverse incision is easier to heal and involves less blood loss. But, when the c-section is emergent, when the doctor has to "get in there" or things are not going well- they, instead- make a vertical incision, running from below the diaphragm down... down... down past the belly button.

Disclaimer: This is my knowledge, I have not consulted Husband on this information (or even Dr. Wikipedia); this c-section information is more to paint the picture of Thursday. 

Mama Bits on the operating table, splayed open- they determined a hysterectomy was not necessary. That being said, she still had a large vertical incision that had to be dealt with. Warrior delivered and off to the NICU, the doctors set in to handle the repairing and the closing.

After hearing the good news and rejoicing- there was a blip. A second. Just a glimmer of a moment when I remembered that "up and down" incision instead of the "left and right" incision. In my head and out of my head it went. The news was too good to not focus my whole heart on. Tears of joy, relief, and exhaustion- our tribe continued to call and text in disbelief.

But then the radio silence set in. News was sporadic and sketchy at best. It was not purposeful, rather there was a lot going on in that hospital. And they had a lot to do. The word "intubation" trickled our way.

Mama Bits hemorrhaged in the recovery room. Fortunately, the doctors had physically prepared her for a high-risk hysterectomy and flipped the switch on her arterial catheters to curb the massive bleeding. How bad was the hemorrhage? Bad.

Stabilized, they gingerly relocate her to the Traumatic ICU for the evening. More hemorrhaging and passing of clots. The doctors contemplated that hysterectomy and intubated her.

"Mama, what's in-tah-bait?"
Just a second, LMC, let me finish talking to Daddy and I will tell you.

Fifteen units of blood and blood products later-- read: that's two oil changes-- Mama Bits was stable, safe, and out of the woods. As her anesthesiologist extubated her, he looked at her as she awoke and said, "You are a miracle. It is 100% a miracle you are alive and survived last night."

"Mama, what's X-tah-bait?"
We are almost done, LMC, thank you for being patient.

Since moving out of the TICU, she is back in her old room. Not only has she laid her eyes on Warrior in his little incubator, she has held him- kissed him and loved him in only the way a mother can. She might still have her womb, but her birthing days are over. Warrior will be held a little longer, kissed a little more, and snuggled by three older siblings. And why not? After the war he fought to get here, he deserves it.

They are discussing discharge dates- sooner, rather than later. I am humbled. Eternally, I am humbled by this woman, my friend, and her ability to fight, to love, and to live.

"Mama?"
Sorry, honey. Okay- intubate: Somebody like Daddy takes a long tube and sticks it down Mama Bits' throat into her lungs so her body can have a rest. The tube attaches to a machine and breaths for her until she can do it on her own. When they extubate, it's just a fancy word for taking out the tube. 
"Like a snorkel?"
Yep, kinda like a snorkel.

Again, I send my thanks to you and am constantly amazed at the good in people. Adding this stranger to your church's prayer list in North Carolina, sending words up to your Higher Power, crying with me as you read my words, doing all those little things add up. They add up to miracles.

And that is not a word I use often.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

More than hope

Yesterday was hard.
Last night was tough.
This morning was impossible.

I went to the chapel of Perpetual Adoration after dropping off both children. I  picked up the Rosary my cousin gave to my daughter- Senior Bennie's Rosary from Malta, blessed and ready to work a miracle. The smooth wooden beads in my tepid fingers, I kneeled, bowed, and prayed those forty three Hail Marys as the minutes ticked by.

Finishing the Rosary, I looked at the card beside me- realizing I had forgotten a prayer or two- started again, reading the prayers whose words had left me long ago.

The silence gathered around me and I found myself trying to be busy with a box of nothing. Lunch with my sister-in-law and an abundance of text messages bouncing around through the tribe scattered from DC to Georgia.

Updates? Fears? Pits? Pains? Worries? Blessings? Prayers? We confessed it 140 characters at a time and shared amongst an intimate seven cell phones.

It is hard to explain what was going to happen once those operating doors swung open. She was a "VIP case" and over twenty doctors would be in the OR to observe her surgery; more in the observatory.

Start here
And then pick up here

This warrior was not going to make it. He wasn't there in the beginning. And then, suddenly- at the eleventh hour, with the D and C in the wings-- he was. Then, she hemorrhaged. And again. And a third time.

Bedrest.

An ambulance ride to the hospital.

Discharge.

A second ambulance ride to the hospital.

Bedrest + eight weeks in the hospital.

A planned hysterectomy to save her life.

All of this to lead us to today-- this day. This day with an anticipated eleven hour surgery and a baby heading to the NICU, 34 weeks gestation... six weeks premature. A gynecological oncologist to remove her womb and detach the placenta from her bladder.

Because the placenta had gone through her uterine wall and attached its tentacles around her bladder. That was a known fact. 57 high definition ultrasound images confirmed this. Weekly ultrasounds in the hospital continued to show this as the truth.

But the truth is funny. And it is not always black and white-- like an ultrasound is.

Saying my Hail Marys this morning, I was one of many. One of so many people who know this woman and those who only know her through my meager words. Sometimes, words are not enough.

But prayers are.

Aunt Betty, in Alabama, messaged me with her phone number and I promptly called her- having my phone glued to my hand all day.

Mama Bits delivered a healthy five pound seven ounce bouncing pink baby boy- full of life, lungs full of air as he made those first screams.

As the twenty something doctors looked on at my friend splayed open on the table, there was something that could not be missed. That placenta... that placenta that kept Warrior alive and put Mama Bits' life at absolute risk. The placenta that led her to have her Last Rites performed and inspired this reformed Catholic to pull out a Rosary. That placenta was where it should be... fully in tact inside her fully in tact uterus.

I like to imagine that the doctor smiled, her husband kissed her forehead and those new parents of four sobbed happily, overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment. I like to think the twenty something doctors cheered- and were they not sterilized- high fived each other. This is all in my imagination, but it is how I paint that moment in my head.

For the past 18 months, we have hoped for our friend. We have been with our friend. We have prayed for our friend. But, sometimes having hope is not enough. You never know what the Bigger Hand has up his sleeve- and he had a trick or two left in that operating room this morning.

Thank you for letting me openly sob with an almost stranger in Alabama. Thank you for her family, her children, her doctors, and for her. For her faith. Her love. Her strength. Thank you for you. Strangers and friends. Thank you. I am humbled. Eternally, I am humbled.

I talked to Mama Bits' mother after speaking to Aunt Betty and I admitted that I had not prayed a Rosary in many, many years. Her response? "You won't be so shy about it next time, will you?"

You're absolutely right, I will not.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What tomorrow holds

Maybe tomorrow I can get my words together and write what I want to say. Maybe tomorrow, while my friend is in surgery delivering a baby to the world- and to the NICU- and having her life saved by brilliant doctors I can convey what I want to say.

Maybe tomorrow my thoughts will weave words together and my head will be clear.

Maybe tomorrow will end in both a happy and sad way- a baby in this world and Mama Bits healing in the intensive care unit. Her children encapsulated in love with grandparents and her newest being cared for with his father by his side in the little plastic incubator.

Maybe tomorrow will be a good day- albeit sad while incredibly happy. It is always a good day when a baby is born.

I hold no crystal ball. I know nothing of what tomorrow will be like. But it will be filled with love.

With prayer.
With hope.

With absolution.

I pray for Mama Bits to see the end of the surgery, see the beginning of her new life, and for love to be enough.

She is strong; her faith mighty. Maybe tomorrow, those two things will be sufficient- just for tomorrow.

I hung up the phone with her a few minutes ago- we spoke of love, faith, God, and new babies. Just for tomorrow, let that be all there needs to be.

Please. Just one day. And let that day be tomorrow.