Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where to begin?

Tonight I found myself edgy. Irritable. Stomach cramps sent me running to the bathroom, and then my chest started heaving. I couldn't breathe, wanted to call someone but didn't want to talk. Better still, I didn't know what I'd say when they picked up. I paced my house like a caged animal, not knowing which rooms I'd be walking into or why. Tears streaming down my face and fighting the urge to scream, only because I knew it would wake the children. For the life of me, I didn't know why.

Then it hit me. Hard.

Only and already, a year ago, we took Joseph to the hospital as he struggled to breathe. Watched as they worked on him. Watched and held him as he got a spinal tap and didn't flinch.

It's not that I was unaware of this date looming, though it wasn't a day I had any intentions of observing. I wanted it to fade into the calendar.

I was completely aware of the timing on Tuesday, when I found myself headed to the emergency room with Joseph. My daughter had opened the gate at the top of the stairs to get something from the playroom, and for the first time I'd failed to hear her open the gate - and she'd failed to close it. Joseph fell down our stairs, landing face first on our stone entryway.

My SIL lives between our house and the hospital, so she watched Em as I was in the ER with Joseph. It was just him and me, and that was the only thing allowing me to hold it together. As soon as we were entering the ER, a wave of panic hit. The flashbacks I have anyway were intensified, and they came wave after wave after wave instead of just a few images. I felt like I was drowning, but I had to hold it together for him and I did.

But tonight, my husband is at band practice. The kids are both fine, asleep and we are just past that time of night when it is polite to call. There are people I could call and they would understand, one in particular, but I can't dial the phone. I just can't. I know part of it is because even as bad as this is, I don't want to fully surrender to it. I don't want to feel all over again the fear and the worry and the panic. It's hell, and I just keep reminding myself that it's over. No matter how bad the memories are, they are memories. It isn't happening now. It just feels that way.

Tonight comes down to timing. Not just a date on the calendar, or the coincidence that practice night fell on this night as it did a year ago....that Emily was sleeping and I was trying to rouse Joseph for a feeding.. after he'd gone from seeming fine to seeming lethargic to skipping breaths in such a short, short time. I know that part of why I'm having this breakdown is because I can. There's nobody awake in the house but me, so I don't have to look brave or sane, for that matter. I don't have to pretend to be okay.

At one point I thought I'd set a counseling appointment for this week, but then life got busy and I didn't make it a priority. I should have. I'll probably still call tomorrow to see about next week.

In the meantime, at least typing it out has helped calm me a bit. I still think it's a bit freaky that I forgot long enough to actually wonder WHY I was flipping out. It's almost funny.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Sometimes I wonder how two people can experience the same thing, yet process it so differently. A bit like the joke about having 5 people involved in an auto accident and the police receiving 6 versions, our memory and experience are so easily colored by who we are and where we are in life. I know that, and yet I still sometimes have struggled with how my husband has perceived the last year...longer than that pregnancy and Joseph's life so far. There are times we talk about what happened and I find myself wanting to yell, "you were there, how could you not know/remember/get this?" A lot of that boils down to his wonderings about why certain things didn't get done or why I'm still recovering. I'm sure, too, that a lot of it has to do with my tendency to minimize how sick and in pain I was. It doesn't help that never once did I say, "I can't do it." I just DID for the most part.

I've been frustrated, feeling like he's handled so much of what happened better than I have. He doesn't have flashbacks or moments when it seems his stomach is caught in his throat. Why? Am I just so poorly equipped to handle all this, that I'm failing miserably while he is not? It seems so unfair. Where is that strength in me? Where are those bootstraps I need to pull myself up?

Occasionally, however, there is a glimpse. A glimpse that maybe at the time he did get it, that maybe he's still processing some of it too.

On the night before Joseph's birthday, I had a horrible dream. One that even now I can't talk about. I can't type it, I haven't told anyone, I just know the root of the dream is tied to all the days of fearing we'd lose him, the times we came close, everything we went through. The next morning, my husband said, "I had an awful dream."

It wasn't the same as mine in detail, but the root was the same. So very tied to our fears and the realization that he's ok.

I would have never wished a nightmare on my husband, but in hearing his expression of fear there was some validation of mine. A reminder that yes, he was right there, gripping my shoulder until it bruised as we watched them work on our son. A year ago today, we were so naive. We had no idea what we were in for, and I'm glad because we had those few days of peace before our world became a very scary place.

Sometimes I wish for strength, but other times I'm ok with settling for the knowledge that these emotions weren't mine alone. Sometimes I think maybe it would be good for us to go to a counselor together...though I know it would be more for my sake than his, and sometimes that seems unfair.

I just know I'm ready to put some of this behind us, move on, and stop feeling like I'm dragging the weight of these emotions with me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dear Joseph,

Bobo, Bojo, Jojo, Bogee, Jogee, Boge, son...My sweet, sunshine boy.

Before your heart began beating, before any test could confirm your presence, I knew you were there. Maybe that's why, despite being shocked at how fast your first year has gone, it feels as if I have been loving you forever. You have always felt like a meant to be baby, even before we knew you were on the way.

We held onto that feeling, your dad and I, when things with the pregnancy got scary. Each trip to the hospital, "This baby was meant to be" was a bit of a mantra for me. It was scary, and I held onto faith, family and friends, hoping you would be all right. Hoping I could do my job in keeping you safe until you were ready for the outside world.

On the evening of January 16, 2008, after spending months in preterm labor and weeks in prodromal labor, I wrote a letter to you about reaching the milestone when you could be born into a room full of joy, not fear. You were born January 17, 2008 at 10:09am to a room filled with joy.

Our world changed forever that day. For Daddy, Emily and me, you have been our sunshine boy. Smile maker and heart healer, you made our family complete. On the roughest of days, you bring joy to our hearts.

We have had a few rough days, I'm afraid. I wish I could say things got easier for you after you were born. You spent 8 days in the pediatric intensive care unit for a pneumonia caused by my illness when pregnant with you, two weeks on oxygen after that. A few weeks later, during what should have been a routine procedure, you almost needed a blood transfusion. And, instead of having a healthy mama, yours has spent the majority of your first year being ill.

The thing is, nobody would ever know this by looking at you. You are a miracle, many times over, and we are so lucky to have you. We are blessed beyond comprehension. Your are beautiful and healthy...I have to say it again...perfectly HEALTHY.

During the complications of your pregnancy, your dad and I reminded ourselves and each other of the feeling we'd always had - that you were meant to be. When you were sick, it was harder, but again we reminded ourselves. We joked about the big destiny you must have before you, to go through all this and come out ok. We've now lost track of how many other people have said you were meant to be, that you have a important life to lead. Total strangers stop in their tracks, just to talk with you. A Jyotish reading, strangers, a woman halfway across the world - all have made a point to say you were meant to be, have a big destiny, and that somehow we are your perfect parents.

I don't know what your future has in store, what your role in this world will be. I just know you have changed my world for the better, a thousand times over. Your dad and I feel honored and blessed to be your parents, and your sister can't get enough of you. You're such a happy boy, your grins and giggles are contagious. One day we were in the store and a pretty grumpy looking guy finally broke down after you kept smiling at him and trying to get a reaction from him. He said, "how am I supposed to stay in a bad mood when he keeps grinning at me like that?" Exactly.

I'm writing this at 4:15 in the morning, unable to sleep, and remembering at this time a year ago, I was waking your dad up to tell him it was time to go to the hospital. How time flies.

Happy, Happy Birthday Joseph. I can't wait to see you dig into your cake, watch you amuse the relatives with cruising around the furniture and putting the wrapping paper on your head. If you happent to look back on the pictures of this day and see tears in your mama's eyes (or even maybe dad's) please know they are tears of joy, relief and tremendous gratitude for every day and every breath of this year of your life.

We love you and we thank God for you every day.

Happy Birthday, Little.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I've always been a crier. Angry, excited, happy, frustrated....regardless of the emotion, once it hits a certain level - I cry. In the soundtrack of my life, the music would be full of those moments when the music swells.

At times that's been something that frustrated me, especially when I was angry. Nothing ticked me off more than to be angry and have tears well up in my eyes, and along the way I learned some tricks including one in a seminar about women in business. The speaker suggested if you find yourself in a situation where you feel you're going to cry but it just isn't something you can allow to happen, drink a glass of water as fast as you can. It's really hard to cry while you're drinking water.

Which means I must have spent the last several months drowning.....because there have been times I've kept waiting for the floodgates to open and found myself shocked not to be crying. Matter of fact, there have been many monents over the last year that I shocked myself by not sobbing. Maybe it was shock? Self-defense? I don't really know...because it's not that the emotions haven't been there. Prior to this, the only time I didn't cry when I fully expected to was my wedding .....and that was because EVERYONE expected me too and I was trying so hard to hold it together. Though my voice did waiver, my eyes did fill with tears...but I wasn't the gooey mess everyone expected.

I'm almost sorry I didn't open up betting among my friends and family for when my breakdown might occur. It might not be too late. Some might have expected it to happen after my first surgery, or the second, or when I broke my foot this summer. Possibly when I discovered it is still broken? Or when we bought a house? Figured out we're going to owe WAY more on taxes than we thought?

I thought for sure I was going to lose it when I got the diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis recently, and the accompanying news that it's a forever condition. That they want me on a three times a day medication that won't even start helping for 3-6 months. That it can cause debilitating pain at times, and that part of it just might not go away...and in the meantime I'm on a special diet to figure out what my triggers are...and so far they are some of my favorite things. Like REALLY spicy food. But no, that didn't do it.

Neither did the discovery that I have tons of scar tissue in my urethra from Joseph's birth - scar tissue that should have come to their attention every time I had a catheter after his birth. I had a procedure this week that will need to be repeated three more times and it is excruciatingly painful.

No, the thing that might just do me in is probably the one that most people around me will not understand at all. After my procedure I was given a medication high in salicylates, which happen to be boldly marked on my chart as something I'm very allergic to. I've been having to take benadryl until it gets out of my system and pump and dump milk until it's gone.

Pumping hasn't been working, I haven't been able to pump ANYTHING and I chalked it up to stress, reaction to the medication, etc and then it hit me.....I've been taking benadryl. An antihistamine that can dry up a milk supply in no time flat. I may have just weaned my son without even realizing it, and while I know logically that my first responsibility was to take care of myself, I will be devastated if this is the thing that brings a complete end to nursing.

Most people around me won't understand what that means to me, and if I tell them I'm upset about it most will blow it off. I'm sure to hear things like "well, he is about to turn a year old..." or "that's what formula is for..."

They won't understand that it has been a point of pride for me that through all of this I've still been able to nurse my son, that it is one of the few things in his first year that I don't feel was taken away from me. That infertility and illness have left me feeling broken and betrayed, and nursing was a case of my body NOT letting me down.

I'm sitting here, sobbing, and feeling like very few people are going to understand why I feel so broken hearted. I wondered when the tears would start, but right now I'm worried about whether they will stop. People in my life have said I've been strong through this, they don't know I've held it together, etc.

The thing is, I don't feel strong, I don't feel as if I've held it together. I feel very weak, completely overwhelmed and discouraged and as broken apart as one can be.