Monday, December 30, 2013

Letter to my Children: Part 3

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Where were we?
We're towards the end of summer now and I think we were feeling finally settled (or some version of that) at our new home. We had decided to close our eyes and follow God's prompting by leaping into business ownership. Your father was awakening from his depression and talking a lot about God and God's plan. A lot was on the verge of changing.

We decided that your dad would quit his job at the end of August and would work for the Plum's all of September. He had already been training on weekends all summer, but this would be our first leap into the unknown. Dad would get paid less than half of what we were used to living on for the month, in fact it was just shy of covering our rent. We still had our normal living expenses, on top of medical bills and student loans to pay. So, it was a matter of trusting the Lord to provide for us. Fortunately, we are not strangers to surviving on a dime. So we began pinching penny's, shopping for vegetables at the swap meet and buying our groceries from the 99 Cent Store, we began making minimum payments on our medical bills and cutting back on driving to save on gas. We began saving in every way we could and you know what kids, money just sort of appeared. Not only were we able to reallocate funds by saving where we normally would have spent, but we were also blessed beyond words to receive help from the most unexpected and loving sources. God has a way of making things happen when they don't seem possible.

Sofia, this week, we have been memorizing Mathew 19:26. "With God, all things are possible." I'm sure that you have no idea of what this means right now (although you sure have a lot of fun shouting it out, you are so smart and so good at memorizing). Sweet children, it is true. With God, all things are really possible. If God has a plan for you and you listen, He WILL make it possible. It is beyond words and beyond my understanding.

Sofia, back in April we signed you up for preschool. Now it was the end of August and it was time for you to actually go. I almost backpedaled a couple of times. It was hard for me to see you go. This probably sounds silly, it was only three days a week and only three hours a day, but someday you will understand what I mean. It was a small taste of having to let a little bit of you go.

About a week before school was to start I decided to potty train you. Call me crazy. This was either really crazy or really smart, either way we did it and you did well. You had accidents here and there but here we are 4 months later and you are great at it! You go the whole night as well as naps. Potty training is a hard process. It's not easy, but we committed to it and I am so proud of how well you have done. There are lots of experiences in life that will make you feel like you are traveling rocky road and you should just give up or turn back, but I've found that most of the time you just need to stick it out. With children it seems like a lot of parenting is about consistency and commitment. You will second guess yourself a lot, but stay true. Most people give up right before they see the results of their hard work. A lot of time things get the hardest right at the very end. It often get's worse before it gets better.

You took to school like a moth to a flame. You love school and the teachers always have good things to say. They tell me how you sing loud and you listen well. You have made so many friends and you talk about them all of the time. You really have blossomed into a little person, with so many words it sometimes blows my mind. I'm just sure that you were just a sweet babe swaddled in my arms. Time goes fast once you have children, don't take any moment for granted.

I would realize later that these couple of months at the end of summer were the eye of the storm. 

October came fast and furious and before we knew it we owned a business. We were filled with excitement but our fear was in full force. We had nothing to cling to but God, He was in fact our only safety net at this point. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. Here I was trying to be a mom to a toddler AND an infant, trying to run a business, take 20 + phone calls a day, take care of my hair clients, keep our house clean and on and on. The funny thing is these are all things that I am really good at separately, but add them together and they can become emotionally lethal. I began to learn a lot about my limitations and how truly real those limitations are. I began to have emotional breakdowns and everything was getting done only part of the way. By the end of October, I would have done anything for a break. We felt so blessed for God leading us to this business and in fact it was the perfect fit for us, we loved everything about it and Dad was in his element; but I was drowning and gasping for air. I kept thinking, I just need a break, I just need a break, I just need time to think and plan, I need a break.

And that is what God did. He hit the breaks.

Knox, you got sick and Mom and Dad had no idea the turn our life was about to take. be continued. 

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Letter to My Children: Part 2

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So lets rewind just a bit. Remember when I said we fought colds most of the spring? Well, Knox, you ended up in the ER with croup at the end of March. Fortunately, they treated you and we were home that night and you recovered pretty quickly. Sofia, about a week later (and less than a week before your 2nd birthday) we were back in the ER for you with a broken wrist. You rolled off the couch and somehow landed on it just right. What are the chances. I had planned an entire Minnie Mouse birthday party for your second birthday and, well, you rocked your cast in an adorable Minnie Mouse dress, ears and all. You actually did really well with a cast on, even at just barely 2 years old. You have always been such a strong girl. In fact, there was a moment in our 6 hour wait at the ER where I almost walked out because I thought I had been over zealous in taking you in and there was not actually anything wrong (you were so calm) but then of course the x-rays came back and I was grateful I had stuck it out.

Around this time, as I was starting to feel emotionally healthier, your father was starting to fall into his own depression. His job was killing him. He was exhausted and overworked physically & mentally. His eyes were blood shot and he would literally come home and stare at the wall. He couldn't function. He was being worked to death and was being treated horribly at the same time. He was also struggling with some very emotionally taxing circumstances in his extended family and he was just sort of "all used up."  We both really struggled with our emotions at this point and I am sure we both felt very alone. We weren't communicating and I wasn't sure of what to do. In ten years, I had never seen your father like this. I couldn't seem to find a solution, nothing that I did worked, so I prayed. I prayed and I prayed.

Children, it is important to know that we all hit points like this in our lives. There will come a time when you see the light start to flicker in someone who has always been your shining lantern. We all hit rocky road sooner or later, where we don't think we can sink any lower, where we feel broken and it becomes difficult to function. You have to know, that in these moments, God is hard at work on you. We often spend much of our lives building ourselves the way that we want and at some point He comes in and says, "that's not exactly what I was thinking." He starts breaking pieces off and molding us this way and that until we start to take on a new shape, the shape that was His plan for us all along. Your dad was right in the thick of this. It's hard to see it while it's happening, that is why we must trust and have faith and know that there is always a plan bigger than us. When God calls you to get out of the boat, you stay strong in your faith and you keep your focus on Him because He is all that will get you through. You ignore the storm and the waves and the sea, you focus on Him and you get out of the boat.

Summer was nearing and you both were getting so much bigger and we were just at our wits end with our tiny condo. Not to mention, I was really struggling carrying 60+ pounds of wriggling children up those stairs all day long. Around this time, blessing after blessing, the pieces fell into place and we moved to our little cottage on Alameda. What a blessing this place has been to us. But here is the thing about moving with a 6 month old and a 26 month old, it is really hard. Really hard. There is no getting around it. You both were loosing your minds, crying and clinging and waking up at night, struggling to go down. That was a very overwhelming time for me. We were all out of sorts for a while. We got some good news around this time, news about a possible business opportunity. News that would mean a world of change for your father and I.  We were excited and terrified. We were in constant prayer for God to show us if this was His will for us and He kept making it clearer and clearer. So this is where Plum Lift-A-Door Co. came in to the picture. So much prayer later, we decided to close our eyes and jump. Again, with no idea of how we would do it or how we would get through, just that we felt God was making it clear that this was His plan. We were terrified.

I've noticed something about myself as a mother, I don't like the first six months. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing more special than a brand new baby that sleeps on your chest, a baby you get to breastfeed and bond with and fall in love with. But all in all, I am not a fan (minus the couple of things mentioned earlier). I LOVE when you hit the 6 month mark, I absolutely love 6 months and older. I've felt this way with both of you. You each hit 6 months and it was as if a whole new world opened up. I think this is because I love to see your personalities emerge, I love when you can laugh and play and interact. You start to become more human and I absolutely love it. I fall in love with you in a whole new way. So at this point, I was feeling better emotionally and we were settling in to our new home and I was getting excited about the possibilities for your father with Plum Lift-A-Door Co. I think he was getting excited too, his mood started to lift. He could see the light, there was an end in sight for what I often refer to as "Prudential's Reign of Terror" and suddenly I noticed something different about your father..... he sure was talking about God a lot more. He was praying a lot too. There was indeed work being done on that man. His heart had changed and I'm not sure if he even knew it.

To be continued.... 
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Letter to My Children: Part 1

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I've had a lot on my mind lately. Mostly because this year has been so heavy for our family. Don't get me wrong, we have indeed seen blessings this year, very beautiful blessings and I am very aware of them. At the same time, we have seen a lot of heartache. A lot of trusting our great creator, knowing He has a plan that is greater than any plan our simple human minds could ever dream up. Praying for grace, for strength, for determination because it all can easily feel like too much and it many times has.

To my dear children,

I feel like I want to write this letter because we all need to know that we are not alone and I fear that someday you will have a year like the year we have just had and you will feel scared and lost and broken. You need to know that this is normal and that just like anything in life there are ups and downs. In the same way that the tide waxes and wanes, so will your life, your faith, your love, your determination, your strength and so on. These are the moments when we remind ourselves that in everything we need Him. He will sustain us, get us through, pick us up, push us kicking and screaming until we make it to the other end where we will look back and realize that there was no way we could have ever done that alone.

As you read through this book of blog posts from your childhood, you will realize how scarce this year has been. There weren't many posts, there were few moments to write and there were few moments where I felt inspired to write. Most of the time, when the inspiration came, my head was already on the pillow pleading for sleep and incapable of thought.

My sweet son Knox, you came into this world with a bang. You missed your first Christmas because you were in the NICU and you came home exactly a year ago today. That makes today a very special day for your parents. You have grown into quite the one year old. You are large and in charge, weighing in at just under 30 lbs. and off the charts for height, weight, head circumference. You are strong as an ox. You aren't quite walking yet, but that doesn't stop you from getting around almost as fast as your two and a half year old sister. You are funny and giggly and joyous. You are happy and content (unless of course you are hungry). You are a great sleeper, a great eater and just an absolute pleasure of a baby. Praise the Lord for blessings like these.

All of that aside, acclimating to a family of four was really hard. Unexpectedly hard. After much prayer, your father and I decided he wouldn't go back on the road this year. He couldn't bear the thought of leaving his family and I couldn't bear the thought of him leaving us. We felt like God was making it abundantly clear to us that he was supposed to stay in Ventura. So without any plan (besides the fact that we trusted the Lord and knew he would provide), your dad quit his job. We some how made it through, we stayed fed and we paid our rent. We had warm clothes and happy hearts. I couldn't tell you how, its just one of those things where God provided and there was always just enough.

Sofia, you sweet girl. You had such a hard time with me being in the hospital for almost a week, just as things started to get back to normal you came down with a horrible lung infection. You could barely move. You wouldn't eat or drink. You had a fever of 104 for days. Finally, with the help of antibiotics you came out of it. We watched so much Mickey Mouse Club House I thought I might loose my mind, but it kept you calm and happy so we kept watching it.

Sweet friends brought us food. Oh, did they bring us food. And groceries. And coffee. And prayer. We continued to fight terrible colds for most of the spring. The thing about having more than one child is that if one gets sick, you can pretty much plan on the others getting sick. We played "tag your it" with some pretty nasty colds for quite a while.

Around this time, I fell pretty deep into Postpartum Depression. I kept sinking lower, your father didn't understand how I could be so sad. I kept telling him, "I can write a list a mile long of all the reasons I have to be happy, I want to be happy and yet I am so deeply sad." This was a really difficult and rocky time for our marriage. He had just found a new job and it was paying the bills, but he was very unhappy. I was at home with no idea of how to juggle two children and all the while struggling with depression. Dad was working from 4AM to 8PM at times. We were dealing with the stress of situations with extended family members, having to make hard decisions and stand up for what we believed in, all the while trying to hold our own family together. We were living in a tiny condo, your father was sleeping on the couch because Knox was in the room with me and dad had to get up at 4am to go to work. Knox, you were not even close to sleeping through the night.... not even close buddy. Add sleep deprivation to the basket.

Finally, after many tears, a lot of fighting and a lot of inner turmoil (and with the help of a close friends and mentors) I made my way back into counseling. I would not say that counseling "fixed" the problem. This isn't the first time I've battled depression, but it was the first time I battled postpartum depression. I don't think that postpartum is something that can be worked through the way that regular depression can. At least it wasn't the same for me. I think that postpartum is 100% hormonal and I think that is the hardest part. You are at the whim of your hormones. However, having someone to talk to once a week (that wasn't in my inner circle) did work wonders for me. I could go and let all of my emotions out, cry and rant and dwell, and then I could leave it in that room for the most part. Slowly, after a couple of months,  I started to feel better and I started to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel. Praise God for that light, because when your depressed even a pin-prick of light seems like armfuls of joy. It gives you an anchor in the depths, a rope to cling to until your find the strength to start climbing again.

To be continued.....

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Homeward Bound

Pin It Were going home. After 8 long days. Please pray he continues to improve! I don't have much to say right now. I'm exhausted beyond belief and emotional and ready for this all to be a memory. I've learned so much. God has changed me with this experience and changed so much of how I see this gift that is my life, these children, our friendships and our love. 

All that for another time. 
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

So It Goes

Pin It Well, most of you know we got airlifted (level 3 - which mean there is a doctor on board) to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Knox was not improving and VCMC was at a point where the tests needed were beyond their comfort level with an infant. They weren't making any headway. We've been here at CHLA since Sunday.

This hospital is lovely. Everyone here is amazing and if you can believe it, it doesn't really feel like a hospital. I have my own bed and my own section of the room that can be closed off from Knox so we both can attempt at sleeping. 

We've run multiple tests, we had a scare involving a mass in front of his trachea that showed up on an X-ray. However, a CT scan showed that it was just swelling, but what a long scary day full of tears waiting for that news. 

We've seen an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist who looked down his throat with a camera and saw nothing but inflammation & swelling. 

The team has come to the conclusion that this is just a very severe case of croup. So at this point we have to wait for Knoxs body to fight the virus. He has been on steroids to keep the swelling in his neck down, allowing him to breathe. As we've realized at this point, he seems to regress 24 hours after the steroid injection... hence our 2 additional trips back to the ER last week. 

So now that the conclusion is croup, Knox will be taken off of steroids and have to go 36 hours without medical intervention. If he does well, we go home. If he needs another dose of steroids, the clock starts over. 

Please keep praying, this has been such a long road with many scares, ups and downs and all arounds. Our family wants so desperately to be reunited, for our boy to be healthy. I miss Sofia more than life, my heart is breaking into a million pieces to be away from her. 

I feel so grateful for all of the people that have reached out to our family, who have prayed with us and for us. Who continue to pray because we are not home yet, we're not out of the woods yet. 

We are so grateful for your love in this time of uncertainty as we wait for our sons body to beat this and as we pray to a great God that we know will get us through. 
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Little Breathes

Pin It It's sad that I've chosen a time such as now to start blogging again, but time is what I have right now so now should be as good a time as any. 

I'm sitting in our room in Peds at County Hospital. It's a tiny room on the sunny side of the hospital. This seems like it would be a good thing, sunny is cheerful, but really dark would be better because what we need is sleep.

We've been in the hospital for 6 days now... Rushed into the ER in an ambulance from our pediatricians office, admitted and then released on Thanksgiving. Back in the ER the next day, released. Back in the ER the next day, admitted and here we are on day #2 of our 2nd hospital stay this week. 

My heart is aching to be away from Sofia, my heart is aching because we don't know what is wrong with Knox. We know that he has all the symptoms of croup, that he is struggeling to breathe, but we also know that it would be very rare for croup to last this long. 

We're searching for explanations, undergoing testing, talking to doctor after doctor, seeking answers and praying. Oh Lord are we praying. Theories are being tossed out left and right: could it be that he has scar tissue from being intubated in the NICU, could he have an oddly shaped esophagus, could he have a vascular tether on his esophagus, is his heart pushing against the wall of his throat.... On and on. 

All the while, Knox is showing no signs of improvement, but praise the Lord he is also not getting worse. He's just kind of staying the same. 

We see an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist this afternoon and our next move will depend entirely on what comes of this meeting. 

Prayer. Please pray. 

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