Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcoming Carter.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my blog. Some of that can be attributed to just not having the time, but mostly I just haven’t known what to say or how to say it. Most of you who read this are friends and family who already know what’s been going on the past few weeks, so I thought about not posting anything about my nephew’s birth at all, but that just doesn’t feel right to me. For one thing, he’s family and if everything had gone as planned I wouldn’t even think twice about sharing the news, and for another, since this is such a personal space, it would feel completely disingenuous for me to carry on with my normal posts without talking about everything that's been going on first.

My nephew was born almost three weeks ago. 

All any of us ever want, when welcoming our children into the world is for them to be healthy and happy. For months we anticipate the arrival of our little one. We dream, we plan, we worry, we wait, and then eventually, they arrive. 

With that last push the world brightens and your life is forever changed. The fog of all those months of worry and waiting is lifted and for a brief moment, pure happiness settles in. The relief is short lived though as new worries and fears begin to wash over us. We look around the room and ask everyone if the baby is ok; Count her fingers and toes. Did he cry? What’s her APGAR score? How’s his color? I won’t say that’s where it ends, because as any parent will tell you, worrying about your children is part of the package.  It’s the flip side to loving them so deeply.  But, for most of us, once these questions are answered and all fingers and toes are accounted for, that worry is placed on the back burner and we bask in all the joy that is a healthy newborn.

We were there just a few months ago with Lillian, and before that with Sydney. It’s what we hoped for and fully expected for my sister and her husband. We waited all day and when we got the news of their son’s arrival we returned excited “congratulations” and “can’t wait to meet him”s. 

Over the next few hours and days though, everything started collapsing back in on us as we got what felt like more bad news, after more bad news; He’s vomiting. They think he has an intestinal blockage. He’s being taken to another hospital for emergency surgery. Surgery didn’t go as expected. They had to remove 50% of his small intestine. 

I worried, I waited, I prayed, I visited, and I struggled with emotions. I felt sad as I watched other moms leave the hospital with their babies, I felt angry as I thought about how unfair all of this was, and I felt guilty as I thought of my two healthy kids and every time I had foolishly felt sorry for myself for having to get up in the middle of the night and rock or nurse my 100% healthy baby back to sleep. 

I can’t speak for everyone, but as time wore on, I was finally starting to feel better about everything. Carter is in a great hospital; things were good, stable, improving even. It wasn’t what we hoped for or expected, but I was sure it was just a matter of time before they would be able to take him home and things would return to normal and all of this would be a memory, a story we would tell Carter when he was older. That’s how I was feeling, as I sat on my living room floor, surrounded by my girls’ clothes, sorting and preparing for a new season, when the sucker punch came in from behind.  Unexpected and blinding, my mom called with the news of a diagnosis. Cystic Fibrosis.  Wham.

I cried hard, ugly tears, as I sat there on my floor, surrounded by baby clothes, trying to process the news. I grieved not just for what this meant for Carter and his life, but also for the unimaginable pain and heartache I knew Heather and Matt were experiencing. They needed some time, so I didn’t call that night. Instead I scoured the internet and pressed Jon (he used to be a respiratory therapist) for information.  

Every day is a gift; I know that, and though I’m usually the first to shout it from the rooftop, to wave my “live in the moment, enjoy the small things” flag, I needed to be reminded that night. As we read and talked I started to get swallowed up by the big, bad, and ugly of CF, but Jon stopped me early on and said “Sarah. You can’t focus on that.” He’s right.  We can’t.  It’s there, and we can’t change it, but there is still so much to celebrate.

I don’t know what the future holds, but none of us do really. Even without diagnoses and life expectancies hanging over our heads, no one’s tomorrow is ever a guarantee. We HAVE been given today and today there is a beautiful new baby boy to love on and he is already such a blessing! 

These last few weeks have been hard, and emotions are still running high, just below the surface, but for the most part I believe that my family and I  have had time to process the diagnosis, to grieve, to accept, and now to move on to a place of peace and hope. Heather and Matt are forging the way by example. They have been amazingly strong and positive throughout all of this, and that is just what Carter needs!  

I went up to visit Heather and Carter again yesterday and I was able to hold him for the first time! I love the sleepy, snugly, newborn phase!

Thank you to everyone who has been keeping Carter, Heather, and Matt in their thoughts and prayers! Please continue to do so. We are hoping Carter will be able to go home soon and there are still a lot of questions to get answered, decisions to be made, and learning to be done.

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