Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Birthdays, Visits, Tricks-and-Treats, and Life...

We got home from the hospital, nearly a month ago, and Seraphina went back to sleeping without waking. Frustrated and scared we alerted her pediatrician, who referred us to a geneticist at the University of Iowa.

We went to the geneticist, who also had another pediatrician look at Seraphina. While they agreed it is not normal for a baby to sleep as much as she was sleeping, they suggested we stop worrying, and maybe just let her sleep and feed on demand. As long as she continues to gain weight- they assured us we shouldn't worry. They wanted us to watch her, and if she lost weight or had any more episodes they would do more testing on her. However, just based on her examination, they doubted she had any kind of disorder.

Seraphina still sleeps in long stretches at night, but she wakes a lot more during the day. We credit her daytime alertness to her noisy older brothers! She is still on her monitor much of the time, but we are at the point where we are comfortable with it being off her if she is in our arms. Her monitor has gone off only twice- both times due to low heart rate. We are thankful to have the monitor here- it has really helped give us peace of mind and a little bit of security.

 Harrison had his 6th birthday! He was such a lucky boy, his Grandma Rose got him a gluten free ice cream cake, and he celebrated with us, his grandparents, an uncle, and some of his cousins! It was a really nice time, and it was really wonderful for Kurt's parents to put together a celebration for us- we were pretty frazzled over Seraphina, and they made his day really special!!! It was so wonderful for them to do such a sweet thing for our little birthday boy!

The week after Harrison's birthday, my parents flew in from Nevada! It was so nice- Harrison and Carter adored seeing them! They treated us to a holiday in Des Moines- hotel room, entertainment, and delicious restaurants included. We all went to the Science Center and it was really neat! The kids got to meet a real NASA astronaut, and got to explore all the hands-on exhibits that the Science Center has to offer! The kids loved seeing an IMAX movie about Egypt's mummies too- one of Carter's favorite subjects! The boys adored getting to swim everyday, and even toured the nation's 6th largest farmer's market!

The boys are recovering from some nasty cold/flu bug. They felt well enough to go trick-or-treating the other day, and we had a really nice time. We were out for just an hour, the perfect amount of time, and the very best part was that we were invited to go with some friends! The kids had such a great time, they were sorry to leave "the party!"

Tomorrow is Halloween. I will be making our annual "Dinner in a Pumpkin" and we will be doing either trunk-or-treating or going to a fun children's activity with friends. Whatever we do, it should be a good time!!!

So, things here seem good, right?

They are.

So, why can't I get the horrific image of my lifeless daughter out of my head...

It haunts me. It hurts. That horrific image stalks my dreams, jolts me awake at night, and causes me to repeatedly rouse my sleeping baby. It repeats itself- scary and unnerving like one of those twitchy grey monsters from "The Ring" or a movie like it. Only this is worse... worse because it is real.

Staying strong during crisis is something I can do. It is the aftermath and the lingering inner destruction, the residual pain and shock that I am not so good at dealing with.

When we got back from Blank Children's Hospital last month, Kurt offered to read to the kids while I grabbed my yoga mat and went outside. For the first time in nearly a week, I went outside.

Surrounded by the glow of the setting sun, I did sun salutations and focused on my breath. I went inside myself, did the poses, and as I finished and gently positioned into savasana- I broke. Laying on my mat, heart facing the sky, I sobbed uncontrollably. The air cooled, the sky grew dim, and our farm cats gathered around me- watching, and offering comfort of presence. I couldn't move, I just cried. It was at that moment that I realized I had to change how I lived, every single day. Nothing, at all, on this earth is mine. At any time my beautiful daughter, or my wonderful sons, or my handsome husband, can be called home to God. I need to remember that nothing is mine- everything is God's. I need to be more grateful.

Families can be together forever- I never appreciated that more than I do now. Being so close, and seeing what I have seen, I cannot help but give real and genuine thanks to God every single night for the day I was given with my family here on earth. Good, bad, up, down- I don't care- I am eternally thankful for my family, and I am thrilled to be blessed with every single day I have with them.

Kurt is helpful. He makes our meals, he cleans the house, he holds me during my break-downs. He has encouraged me while I caught up with my own schoolwork, and continues to applaud my homeschooling efforts with the boys. He sees to it that I am comfortable while nursing, and makes sure I am fed and get enough rest. Kurt takes care of me so I can take care of the kids, specifically little Seraphina.

Kurt understands my over-protection of Seraphina. He understands because he feels it too. We are still recovering. We still check on her obsessively. We still place our hands on her to feel her breathe while she sleeps. We still triple check her monitor to be sure it is in proper order. We still feel the ache, deep in our hearts, from the threat of her loss.

Last year, my friend Joni held her newborn baby, kissed her tiny face and said, "It is amazing how much you love them already."

She was so right.

We cannot remember life before Seraphina. She is so much a part of us, that just the threat of her loss has spiraled us in a whirlwind of anguish.

Mostly we get by. Mostly.

It is usually at night, when our two little super heroes are tucked into bed, and our little angel is snuggled and dozing, that it hits us. And it is hard.

So, to our friends and family: we are still processing things. We are still in a bit of a state of shock, and we are still working on dealing with all of this. We appreciate support. We appreciate loving words, prayers, encouragement, and kindness during this time. We humbly ask our dear loved ones to be gentle with us- we are still recovering.

A lot has happened to us this year: job loss, move, and Seraphina's illness. Through it all, we have been given large reminders from The Lord that He is with us. We are thankful. We know we are not alone. We do not understand why any of these things have happened to us, but we know they have happened for a reason, and we know that these trials will make us stronger and help our progression.

Dear friends- we are sorry if we seem rude, cold, or distant because we are taking so long to send thank you's, because we refuse offers of babysitting, or because your phone calls go unanswered. We know many of you are frustrated with us, and we are sorry for the frustrations, but our family filter is strong right now, because it needs to be. Life with a newborn is difficult enough, so please imagine life with a newborn who has had life threatening scares. We promise we will be more like ourselves, it will just take time.

We love each of you, and continue to be thankful for your prayers and encouragement.