Thursday, November 22, 2012

Peanut's first diagnosis

     Once we arrived at the hospital, things moved pretty quickly although every minute felt like an eternity. The staff was very professional and quick to provide the care Peanut needed. However, it was clear this was a big deal. We had one doctor come in and ask the staff what had been done. Once she heard what was going on she said, "She needs a CT scan." When they said they were preparing her for that she replied, "NOW!" My husband and I were incredibly concerned. Doctor's asked us lots of questions - most of them more than 2 times from different hospital staff. They began asking about aneurysms. One doctor asked us if we had a history in our families of children dying from aneurysms. That really scared us. We were barely holding ourselves together. We walked to the CT scan with the doctors at our side and Peanut on a hospital bed - unconscious. They began the CT and reviewed yet another time the events that led up to the migraine. My husband was mid-sentence as the scan began displaying on the computer monitor. The doctor cut him off with a curt "OK" and the room became silent as everyone stared at the monitor. There was a clear picture of her brain - with a large dark area on the left side. It was confirmed - she had an aneurysm. They took her back to the ER room and began hooking up all sorts of monitors. They gave her some meds to sedate her and then tried to start an IV. She woke up and started fighting them. They gave her more meds to sedate her and every time they tried to sedate her, she awoke again. They discussed between themselves how quickly she was metabolizing the meds they gave her. A nurse continued to try to start an IV but after the 3rd poke a doctor quickly looked at her and said sharply, "That's enough." Although she needed an IV, I was so grateful for the doctor putting a stop to the repeated pokes. They intubated her and put a neck brace on her as they were unsure whether or not there was any trauma to her neck. They quickly informed us that this was not a case they were prepared to handle - she would have to be sent to a larger hospital - most likely by helicopter. My husband began quietly crying as I struggled to keep myself from crying as well. We had difficulty contacting any family or friends to let them know what was going on because there was no cell signal in the hospital. However, some of my texts must have gotten through because it wasn't long before my dad walked through the door. We hugged and cried and tried to explain to him all that had happened. We decided that we would have them take Peanut to U of M Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. Once we had decided that, they let us know that she couldn't go by helicopter - it was too windy - she would be taken by ambulance but would still have the Life Flight Team - which at this point was imperative. While we wanted to get her to a hospital that could care for her as quickly as possible, we were glad that she could go by ambulance - that meant I could ride with her. It seemed like we waited a long time - crying, holding Peanut's hand and whispering to her, and trying not to think about what this might mean for us.
     Once the Life Flight Team arrived, things moved very quickly. The ER staff gave the Life Flight Team all the information about Peanut and they switched her over to their monitors. They explained where they were going to my dad and husband so they would know how to find us. Then, we were on our way to the ambulance. I climbed into the front and began praying like I have never prayed before. It was so difficult to think anything at all that I prayed the same thing over and over: "God, please don't take my baby. God, please don't take my baby." The drive was long and I spent the majority of it crying and praying for a miracle. I was also able to text some family and friends but did very little - leaving it up to those I had contacted to get the info to anyone they thought needed to know about it. The drive was a tense one but the driver handled it very well. We made it to the hospital and were taken to Peanut's room in the ICU. I was given a chair in the hallway as they got her into the bed and hooked her up to the hospital's monitors. Once again, I sat and cried. The staff was wonderful, attentive, and very caring. They got Peanut all situated and allowed me into the room. Peanut continued to occasionally awaken and try to remove the tube in her throat. We would do our best to quiet her, she would receive some more meds and fall back "asleep". My husband and dad arrived shortly after Peanut and I had and we talked quietly in her room. They took us down with Peanut for another CT scan. We were pleased to learn that she showed some improvement from the initial scan. In a short while, 2 of my sisters and my niece arrived. We hugged and cried and tried to explain what we knew. My sister gave me a bag of  some of Peanut's favorite things - packed by her brother, Pumpkin which again made me cry. We put her favorite blanket on her and put her stuffed Minnie Mouse at her side. Since only 2 could be at Peanut's bedside, my sisters and niece headed down to the waiting room. Our pastor arrived and came in to talk with us. Because Peanut was still not sleeping quietly, the nurse ordered us out of the room - there was too much stimulation for Peanut and she needed to sleep so she could heal. We talked in the hall for a few minutes and then prayed together. We finally settled in for the night - me at Peanut's bedside (since they only allowed 1 parent overnight) and everyone else either sleeping in the waiting room or at the Pastor's parents house about 5 minutes from the hospital. It was a tense night and difficult to sleep but we slept as much as we could.

Our baby, with all her monitors - Minnie Mouse at her side.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2 precious gifts

     Just under 8 years ago, I gave birth to my first child - a beautiful baby boy who I immediately started calling Pumpkin. He was very content as long as someone was holding him. I loved having him in my arms so there were few struggles there. I loved holding him even as he took naps. I do not think it is possible to spoil an infant. Besides, at that time, I planned on having just one baby so I soaked up every minute that I could holding him. Just under 3 years later, I had my second baby. Funny how my "plans" have a way of unraveling! My second baby was a beautiful baby girl - deemed Peanut before she was even born. She had beautiful hair - and lots of it! She had a baby doll look to her face - such a sweet face! She, of course, didn't get all the luxuries her older brother had received. She wasn't held nearly as much as I would have liked because I was busy chasing around a busy toddler! I was thrilled to be a stay-at-home mom. I would pick up part time jobs here and there but in my heart I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. 
     When Pumpkin was old enough to start kindergarten, we enrolled him in a Christian school. However, one week before school started, the school closed it's doors. So, I decided to home-school. I home-schooled Pumpkin from kindergarten through 2nd grade. Towards the end of his 2nd grade school year, our lives went through some major changes.
     In November 2011 I was diagnosed with chronic migraine. This was after watching my sister suffer an intense non-stop migraine every day for over a year! It was very scary to have the same diagnosis as she. However, my life was much less stressful at that time and I saw a migraine specialist within a month of the migraine starting. It wasn't long before my migraine was under control and I began having pain free days. It felt overwhelming to try to continue our everyday life in the midst of this migraine and pain free days felt amazing! It wasn't long before my diagnosis seemed incredibly trivial.
     On March 2, 2012, Peanut had a sudden, intense migraine. She went from running circles with her older brother one minute to screaming in pain the next. She managed to climb the stairs and make her way to the living room - screaming all the while. Unfortunately, I didn't go running as Peanut had a tendency to scream over many little things. She found me in the living room and I put her on my lap. She was holding the left side of her head and screaming. I couldn't get her to talk to me - she just kept screaming. I felt all over her head, looking for a bump but wasn't able to find anything. She was able to talk enough to tell me her head hurt but that was all. My husband and I were unable to figure out what had led up to the intense headache. My husband was frantically searching for Tylenol but couldn't find it while we were shouting back and forth to each other trying to determine whether we should call the doctor or not. I decided to lay Peanut down on my bed to try to help find some medication for her. My husband talked to Pumpkin who was still in the basement and had Pumpkin show him exactly what had happened. Within a few minutes, Peanut was asleep. I was able to wake her but clearly this wasn't a normal sleepiness. We immediately decided to take her to the ER. We flew to the hospital not realizing how much our life would change over the next few hours, days and months.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Beginning...

     The best start, I suppose, is an introduction. I am the mother of 2 amazing children. Throughout my journey, the preciousness of life and the reality that children are a gift of God and are truly not ours to hold on to has been impressed on my heart over and over. I have had many roles in life but none so challenging, heart-breaking or incredibly rewarding as my role as mother. I feel incredibly blessed on this journey. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband to share this road with. Our son is a vibrant 3rd grader who loves life and his family. Our daughter is a spunky, high-spirited, ray of sunshine. (although when the storms come, they are as dark as her sunny times are bright!) 
     Our home is blessed to be shared with two families - my own and my sister's. We have felt God's hand in working out the many details of running our home. Our home is relationship rich even if it feels at times that we are space poor. My sister and her husband have been an incredible blessing to us. We have had a rough year and without their constant daily help I'm not sure we could have sailed these rough waters so easily. 
     As I think back to my early adulthood and the way I imagined what being a mom would be like, it seems like the ruminations of a different person. Each of us will have a different journey as a parent and there is no way to predict what your journey will look like. There is no way I could have imagined what my day to day life would look like. What an incredible journey it's already been - I look forward to many more years on this journey with many unforeseen twists and turns!
     For me, this blog is just a place to log special moments in my journey and the little things that I treasure - like the way my daughter, "Peanut" spins in the middle of the aisle at church during the music, or the way my son, "Pumpkin" smirks when he's done something clever. This will become a place to store the treasures of motherhood - both through words and photos. Really, this is more for me than for anyone else. Just a place for me to wander through the most precious times and most difficult times of my motherhood - and a place to watch how my children grew and changed over time. What Elizabeth Stone said is true: "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."