Posted by: cck | July 10, 2014

the guilt

I fully intended to write about C3’s transition to her big girl bed. There are Mickey Mouse sheets and she uses the blanket I sewed for her before she was born. It’s going really, really well. Better than I thought. Which is why I am surprised by the million pounds currently sitting on my shoulders this afternoon.

The Little One is sprawled across my lap, sleeping. I should be frantically fitting in some calls and finishing my expense report. Instead, I feel this amazing sense of guilt. I was gone from my daughter for two weeks. She’d only been on the outside for nine weeks. I wouldn’t leave C3 for an overnight until she was nine months old. I missed – at the time, almost 1/5 of her entire life. Two weeks, I missed of her smiling, her pooping, her need for food.

Now, I’m proud of the fact that I pumped and dumped. I’m proud of the way I pushed through pain. I’m proud of the way I got myself up and moving. This isn’t a humble brag thing. This is recovery, in all its glory. Today marks eight weeks from my accident. Last night, I was frustrated by the ongoing feeding session and this small infant preventing me from sleeping. I wished for a night of uninterrupted sleep. (Of course I did, I’m only human.)

Today, I’m feeling guilty. This one, who wants to be near me at all times? This one, who won’t sleep without being near me? Yeah, I get it. I missed two weeks of her life. I wasn’t there. And on some level, she knows it. Towards the end of my hospital stay, she wasn’t turning towards me, didn’t even recognize my voice. I’m feeling guilty today about it. I know it’ll pass.

Recovery is tough. I’m keeping a brave, happy face – and for 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds – I really am happy. I’ve been getting in and out of my shower by myself for weeks. My scars are healing – inside and out. I am a human barometer, which comes in really handy in our part of the world. But every once in a while, those random seconds accumulate on my shoulders into minutes of real discomfort. (And yes, I know I’m so lucky it’s only minutes.)

So tonight, when exhaustion is burning my eyelids and my nipples ache, when I want to ignore the cries and soft whimpers, when I think I can’t do this for a second more… I will remember those two weeks, when all I wanted was to smell her stinky neck and hold her in my arms. Although, I may also pump before bed and let K take one for the team. Recovery is weird, yo.

Posted by: cck | July 9, 2014

the fourth

This summer is slow. When I’m looking at it positively, I’m glad – it’s good that a time that could have easily evaporated into a toddler’s demands and the cries of a new infant is now deliberate. The four of us are together for nearly every outing. There was a point, on the day before Independence Day, that I wanted to run away. While the hardest part of this injury is the deficit to my family, the second hardest part is that I haven’t had any alone time. I can’t jump in the car and run to Target, walking anonymously down the aisles. There’s no quick errand at 9pm after everyone is ready for bed. I miss my own power.

Anyway, I can do a pity party some other time. I’m seven weeks post-op, down more than 70lbs since March 12th, and have a new king* size bed. I can pollyana for days, but the first week of July still hit us hard. K was sick with a summer cold. C3 came home with a case of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease. Of course, in typical C3 fashion, she was a total trooper. Covered in calamine, her fever lasted just under 72 hours. We fed her popsicles and cold drinks to help the sores in her mouth. And she wore lots of pants so she couldn’t scratch herself bloody. Incubation period is two weeks, so we’re keeping a close eye on the Little One. I think we may be okay.

The grandparents went to visit my nephew in Savannah, so we played in their pool each afternoon. C3 loves swimming in her “muscles” and we indulged her. I finally got in the pool thanks to some creative butt maneuvering. To say it was awesome is an understatement. Floating was great, but being able to actually play with C3 was what filled my soul. She’s a physical girl – she loves to be lifted and tossed and tickled and rocked. I was able to do it all, like I was a normal mom. I’ve got five more weeks of zero weight bearing, and it’s going to go so damn fast. #powerofpositivethinking

photo (8)We went to the park in the mornings, and the Little One had her first moment in a swing. I took the wheelchair. You should have seen us, the Little One in the ergo pouch, C3 on my lap, and K pushing us down the sidewalk (all while singing our ABC’s). The park has mulch, so I knew I couldn’t just wheel myself over to the swings. Um. Until I heard C3 squeal with delight that her sister was swinging beside her. I was not going to miss it. I pushed myself into the park, over the mulch, over the branches. If you had seen my face, you would have seen fierce determination – otherwise known as motherhood. I got stuck and K wheeled me closer so I could push the Little One too. This whole thing has caused much difficulty for him, but you never really know the strength of a person until you’re tested. He saw my face; he knew what I wanted. And while I have to nag him to unload the dishwasher, he always gives me the help I need to be front and center with my children.

We got a sprinkler for the front yard. C3 wasn’t interested and just stood there staring at it with disdain. Until we told her it was time to go inside – then it was all jumping in puddles and running through the cool water. Not to be outdone, the Little One likes to be in the pool too. She kicks her legs and giggles and tries to drink all the water.

There was a lot of time spent eating hot dogs (a personal favorite), singing our ABC’s, and laughing. Always laughing.

*K and I have had hand-me-down beds the entire span of our relationship. My bed from college, his bed from college, my dead grandmother’s Queen, his parent’s 10 year old Queen… Well, we went and got us a king size bed. A really good, firm, gorgeous king size bed. We can fit all of us in – not that we have to now that C3 is sleeping in her bedroom. It is lovely! And after being in a hospital bed and away from him for nearly six weeks, sleeping next to my husband is niiiiiice. Although, the snoring I could do without. :)

Posted by: cck | July 8, 2014

the littlest one

K hates the way I refer to the girls. I call out, “Take the baby!” or “The baby needs a change!” and he has no idea who I am talking about. They’re both babies. I’ve started calling the newest one, the little one. This kid is easy going – she’s calm, extraordinarily smiley, and always hungry. The pudge, I cannot. I just love the pudge.

photo 1 (3)

She lives to eat – and likes to be near her food source (me!) at all times. She likes to be held and cuddled. She sleeps, tucked into the crook of my arm. Or, more likely, sprawled out across my chest – one chubby arm wrapped as high as she can get it around my neck, legs below my belly. She wants to be held at all times. She loves music – lights up when singing to her. She watches her sister, adorably entranced by the active toddler.

SistersThere’s peach fuzz, light strawberry blond peach fuzz. Light colored eyes that reflect whatever is around her. Long, long lashes. She is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I have no idea who she’s shaping up to be — I can tell she’s a sweet. When people smile at her, her whole face lights up and she gives this bright, toothless smile. Her smile is really special. But she reserves it for people; pull out a camera and the odds are you won’t see it.

photo (6)She doesn’t like sitting in the car and will cry loudly. Once the car is in motion, she’s fine – she doesn’t like sitting still. She wants to be rocked and jiggled and wants to see what’s going on with her people. She sits at a high chair during meals, studying the eaters. Again, she really likes food. She’s had a little ice cream – now a tradition for K kids. I made some peach puree the other day from gorgeously ripe peaches. It’s in the freezer waiting for her five month birthday. I’m pretty sure she’s close to 20 lbs. We’ll find out next week.

At night, after the toddler is asleep in her big girl bed, she coos and talks to her dad and I. She’s very talkative and expressive. Then, she settles in for an hour or so at the boob, taking her time eating to last her through the night. She always loses her socks at this point, moving her feet until she’s free from footwear.

Compared to the talking, bumbling, running toddler, she’s sort of quiet. But, as far as babies go – this one is interesting. You sort of forget the gentleness of an infant when you’re with a toddler. She wakes up with a smile. She falls asleep with a smile. She laughs with her whole body.

I love this kid.

Posted by: cck | June 16, 2014

hashtag this

Last week, I had a sick toddler. Normally, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But I can’t drive. I can’t carry my sick toddler. I’m dependent on so many people right now. Anyway, I posted on facebook with the hashtag twogirlsandawalker.

That’s my life right now. Sleeping in a hospital bed away from my husband. Using the basket of my walker to pull things from the fridge to the counter. Dragging the Rock-n-Play from room to room with my sleeping infant. Kicking up the heel of my bad leg towards my butt (seriously, that’s what the PT guy wrote on the instruction page). It’s awful. It’s wonderful. It is what it is.

I’ve been positive, yup. I am a positive person. My aunt said I was really adaptable. Until she said it I didn’t realize that was such a trait of mine. It’s both good and bad. I’m adaptable, right up until that point when I can’t bend, won’t bend. Thankfully, we haven’t reached that point yet. I’m positive, but I cry in the shower. I have moments, sometimes they’re full minutes. I wish this wasn’t happening to me. I wish I could just walk.

But I’m adaptable. I’m working it. The fogginess is almost lifted and I’m awake. I’m almost off tylenol – give me another 24 hours and I’ll call that a win. I pumped 31 oz for the freezer yesterday, on top of exclusively breast feeding. I am accepting help (and buying some – oh yes, this family is getting maid service) and it’s good. It’s really, really good.

I became a mother with C3, but I got cemented into the role with C4. Cement isn’t the right word, because cement cracks. I’m not cracking. I am being… responsible. Present. Put together. I’m actually wearing matching pajamas tonight – and I’ve ordered another pair. I had no idea how wearing matching pajamas would make me feel more ready to tackle the next day. (Okay, who am I?)

This summer is shaking us down and rebuilding us. Us being the parents. Us being me. I can’t put all this into a hashtag; I couldn’t even try. But the adventures of my summer with a walker continue. And it will be full of laughter and joy, with a small sprinkling of tears. I’m not a superhero, I just play one on facebook.

 

Posted by: cck | June 15, 2014

two

Excuse me, dear eldest daughter, but when did you turn two? Who told you that you could turn TWO?

She’s an explosion. She smiles at everyone. She laughs with abandon. She’s a helper with unlimited potential. My daughter is the coolest thing I have ever seen. When she says mommy or daddy, it’s with a slight British accent. I die.

The year of one to two went so very quickly. We started out with this new house and this new place for her to get used to. She spent a lot of time at the park. There were a lot of doctors appointments – the RAD diagnosis meant we spent a lot of time with our little seal of a nebulizer. As long as Mickey is on (or maybe the monkey aka Curious George), she handles it well.

The year blew by because I was also pregnant and a new soul joined our family. I was worried about shaking up C3’s life – she didn’t ask for a sister, but a sister she got. Watching my daughter grow into a big sister, knowing that she will be the leader of a hopefully large brood, I just melt. She’s got this. She’s protective and loving, but not afraid to make jokes about the baby either.

Her language has grown and grown. I see her putting together sentences, demanding things and then following up her request with a precious “please.” I really need to learn to relax and let her unfold exactly the way she’s made. She’s very intuitive, my eldest daughter. She watches and can tell when someone’s sad. She’ll climb up on your lap and give you a hug – while demanding one in return. On the night of my surgery, she apparently woke up repeatedly calling for me. Whenever I doubt that we’re connected, that we’re bonded… This daughter of mine is in my heart.

At night or whenever the ball of energy with curly hair stops, I hold her head in my hands and look into her eyes. I tell her I love her, that she is smart, that she is beautiful, that she is capable. I want these facts to cement into her soul. I want her to know she is gorgeous, that she is bright and able to do anything. She has begun to return the favor – grabbing my chin to tell me she loves me. I love this child more than I ever imagined. I have read and reread a book – Surprised by Motherhood. Read it. I cannot explain how it fills me up with hope and strength and goodwill. The author is lovely – I wrote to her while I was in the hospital. I read the book before the accident, and I was so filled with strength by her that it helped me get through the early days of the trauma. She wrote me back and was just so darn lovely. Anyway, there’s a line that 18 years is not enough time to get to know her mother, but it is enough time to know a daughter.

I have no idea who this girl will be yet. She will be fierce and temperamental, she will be caring, she will be imaginative. She is all of those things now. I am so grateful for the chance to get to know her. To be one of the ones shaping her, guiding her, loving her. I am in love with my girl with the runny nose, with the skinned knee, with the vocabulary that will not stop, with the bow on top of bouncing curls. I cannot wait to see what this year brings.

Posted by: cck | June 9, 2014

energy game

This is all a game of energy. This morning, after a relatively slow weekend, I was wiped out. Part of it was a baby girl whose cluster feeding kept me up through the night; part of it was my body growing back together. Like a baby’s growth spurt, my body needs energy to heal itself.

This is why I’m taking another two weeks off. This is why I’m taking extra calcium and D3. This is why I’m giving myself – my normal, driven, keep-it-moving self – permission to take a morning and afternoon nap.

M2014-06-08 08.16.55y body is healing. It won’t happen overnight. No matter how many isometric exercises I do or how many meditations I say, this is just going to take time. I have no control over the healing. Much like caring for a newborn, I have to roll with this. I have to bend under the weight of this. I cannot fight the weariness. I cannot fight the pain. If I ride this – like a wave – then I will be that much healthier by August (or November or whenever I get clearance to put weight on my right side).

In the meantime, I’m getting closer to Michelle arms. And I could not be happier.

 

Posted by: cck | June 6, 2014

what happened

It was a Thursday morning. My first full week back to work after the birth of C4. It wasn’t a particularly bad morning – a pretty normal one, actually. I woke early to start work. I packed a lunch and a school bag. I loaded up both girls in the red car I loved.

Two blocks later, I was in an accident. A woman pulled in front of me and when she stopped, I went around her. She sped up and I, in turn, accelerated to get around her on a curve. My car hit a wet spot and lost control. The car was skidding and was headed towards a tree that would have hit the side of the car. The side of the car where C3 was in her car seat, next to her sister. I turned the wheel and instead crashed head on into a palm tree.

I would do it again. I hope I never have to do it again.

10334242_10152126943093157_8277541798062894559_nThe airbag went off. I got up, out of the car. I pulled C3 out of the car and walked to the other side of the road – away from the smoking car. The woman from the other car pulled out C4. I stood there, in the grass with my crying children while she called the police and an ambulance. Apparently, I had blood dribbling down my left knee. C3 stopped crying when she saw the fire truck. She was mesmerized by the first responders. C4 just wanted to eat. I fell to my knees at some point – standing was too difficult on what I presumed was a bruised hip.

The paramedics helped me stand and then decided to take me to an ER. Because I was dizzy. I had no idea what was in store. Inside the ambulance, C3 played happily and C4 nursed like a fiend. We waited for K to arrive.

I went to the hospital, but refused pain medication. I was a nursing mom. I took x-rays where the techs contorted my body, moving me from side to side. I felt pain, but I still thought I’d be walking out of the hospital that night. I had no idea. I had no idea what I had done to my body. Then, the doctors started coming in. They made me take real pain medication. They told me I’d have to go to a trauma center and that they were searching for a doctor to fix me. Not everyone fixes broken acetabulums.

I was transported to yet another hospital – two ambulance rides in one day! I couldn’t believe it. I went for more x-rays, more ct scans. I had more pain medication. A rod was drilled into my leg for skeletal traction. I was sent to the ICU. I had no idea at the time I was in the ICU. I suppose that’s good – the not knowing. I had no real idea that I had broken my pelvis, my hip joint, so much.

1897782_10152126943028157_4206222036435752761_nI was in skeletal traction for five days – Thursday through Tuesday around 5pm. Swelling had to go down. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t eat. It was… different. Then, surgery: seven surgeons (a bunch of residents) and nearly seven hours. My high pain tolerance finally failed me and I begged for more medication. I was drugged to get through the following 24 hours. I had trouble moving and the hospital staff suggested I go to a rehab clinic.

I refused. I put pictures of my children on the bars of my bed. I took control of my recovery much like I take the control of all things. I forced myself up. I forced myself out. I had to get home. C3 was getting “handsy” at school. C4 wasn’t turning her head at the sound of my voice. Pumping and dumping was getting old.

It sounds horrible, right? It was. But I had incredible staff who took amazing, amazing care of me. Family and friends visited me – unwashed hair and all. My husband stayed with me. People prayed over me. More people took care of my broken family and I realized how much work I actually do to keep things moving. I am a mother; I can do anything.

I came off pain medication the day after I came home from the hospital. I wanted my eyes back. I wanted my nursing relationship back. I put a scarf on my walker to help me move my leg. I put a basket on my walker to increase my independence. I breathed in healing air.

I believe in intercessory prayer more than anything. I am amazed by it because I can feel it working. I am so much better than I was. And oof – the weight loss, y’all. I am stronger than I have been in years. And, y’know – a whole right side weaker.

I think the shock kept me from knowing how hurt I was in the hospital. I would somehow forget that I had broken the hip joint and my pelvis. People had to remind me continuously that I had stitches in my left knee and a large hematoma across my stomach. The mind is amazing at protecting itself.

Anyway, that’s the story. That’s what happened on May 15th that will change my life forever (severe arthritis FTW!). That’s where this new lesson in patience originated from. This is where my new understanding of grace comes from. Just, um, take my word for it. No need to try this one at home.

 

Posted by: cck | June 6, 2014

the village

A friend of mine – a dear, dear friend – told me I should be writing. I should be capturing the things I’m going through. She’s right. It’s taken a few days (ahem, weeks) for the anesthesia to wind its way out of my body. The nearly seven hour surgery took a while to get through – I think I still smell differently. How strange is that? My brain is still a little foggy. #excuses

Apparently, I’m surviving this whole ordeal in high spirits. I’m positive. I’m not sure how else I’m supposed to feel. It’s going to be mid-August whether or not I get to put weight on my right leg. I don’t have a lot of options right now. There’s two plates, four pins, and more than twelve screws in my right hip — nearly $9k worth of hardware!

I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like taking assistance. And now, there’s absolutely no way I can take care of my family without major help. We have friends coming in the morning, family in the afternoon – every day. I have to ask for help. I have to accept help. It is both harder and easier than I thought. It’s lovely to have things done for me. My home is clean, laundry is done. I just miss doing things myself – who would think I missed sweeping?

There is a village surrounding me. At first, I was amazed that I was nice enough to warrant such a response. I’m not that nice. I couldn’t possibly be so friendly that even our pharmacist called and asked to help out. Then, I realized it wasn’t about me – it was about this lovely, special, amazing village I live in. These people are so good. They pray. They bring us meals. They pick up from daycare. They leave daily knock knock jokes on Facebook to give cheer.

My family is surrounded. My family is lifted up. My family is supported. This is beyond difficult, but babies still need to be bathed. Backpacks need to be packed. Groceries need to be bought. Garbage needs to be taken out to the street. Having a family complicates things beyond measure, but in many ways it makes life very simple. I need to heal – slowly, strongly. I need to support my husband. I need to spend time with my darling children.

It’s summer. It’s slow and the living is easy. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

Posted by: cck | May 25, 2014

ten steps

Today, I walked* ten steps from my hospital bed to the doorway of my room. I crossed the threshold with my walker and took a gander down the hall. It was the most I’ve moved my body since Thursday, May 15th. I was struck by the bright lights and people just… moving. Legs swishing. Knees bending. Feet, just all doing their thing holding up their people.

I am in recovery for an Acetabular Fracture**, multiple pelvic fractures, a pelvic hematoma, lacerations to my left knee, seat belt burns, and assorted other bumps and bruises. I want to tell you all about them, but I keep trying and I keep dissolving into the pain that is sleeping 45 minutes away from my babies. I cannot let myself get too close to that feeling. Y’all, the pain is worse than anything I have ever experienced – it is stabby, fiery, dull, achy, extreme – all in a matter of minutes. And then I realize I have not breathed in the smell of my daughter’s left stinky knee or ran my fingers through my daughter’s curl-acious hair, and I cannot breathe.

Ten steps, more than I’ve moved in the previous ten days. Tomorrow I will move ten more and ten more past that. I will move beyond my doorway. I will stretch and do my exercises and be that much closer to being home with my children. This is just to say, we’re alive , and it’s bad, and we’re all making it with way more grace than we could possibly deserve. With way more prayers*** than I thought could be offered. It’s hard – and being unable to drive/lift/bear weight/carry for the next three to four months will make it harder, but we can do this.

*Walking is not actually walking. It’s moving the bad right leg a little forward, outside of the walker’s space, then moving the walker forward while taking a small hop with the left foot. It’s a lot of hopping and no actual walking. I’m sure I looked comical, but it felt damn good to move.

**The socket where the femur and the hip sort of snuggle is the Acetabulam. My femur pushed through the hip – and that socket – with such force that it left the hip in two pieces and shaved off the roundy part of the end of the femur. I overachieve even when breaking bones.

***Prayers, we are truly asking for them. If you offer up prayers, I would humbly ask you to include my family in your words to your God. If your group or church has a prayer list, I would appreciate you adding my family’s name to it. I can’t believe none of us have really lost it yet, what with what we’ve been staring down, but I can only imagine it’s because I feel like we are a foot deep covered in people’s prayers, good vibes, and heart thoughts. My husband and our caretakers, our girls, and the surgical and health team will so appreciate your help. My recovery would too.

 

Posted by: cck | May 9, 2014

the last day

Today is my last day of maternity leave. I return to work full time on Monday. Of course, I’ve been doing work this whole time (errr), but the idea of the return to my normal life is daunting. Depressing. All I want to be is a stay at home mom — but let’s get real, I really like maternity-leave mom. The one who still has some money coming in thanks to Aflac coverage. The mom who can shop in the morning, watch a little HBO around lunch, and then do one or two chores. The lady who, although she stopped taking naps a few weeks ago, is taking full advantage of the sleeping babe in her arms.

I’m luckier than most. I don’t have the additional expense of sending C4 to daycare – emotional or financial. C3 will still be going to daycare, but C4 will stick with me – my daily sidekick. Last time, it was an every other day type of deal, and I wonder how I will adjust to having the full-time care of a baby plus my work expectations. Right now, it should be easy – she really only eats and sleeps. In a few months, it will get tougher.

But right now? Right now I’m enjoying my last day. We napped in bed this morning. We went out for lunch. She’s sleeping in my arms at this very moment. I’ve stared at her. I’ve prayed over her. I’ve kissed her so much her head smells vaguely of my own breath. These eight weeks have melted away, and I am left with this new human who is beginning to be more alert, more awake, more ready to know her world.

It’s time to move from the couch back to my office. It’s time to move forward. Even if I stayed right where I am for another week or two, this child in my arms is racing and advancing and growing faster than I can adjust. No matter how I’d like this phase to linger, it’s changing with or without my permission. If this sounds maudlin, it’s not. Being able to see the progression from newborn to infant to toddler with C3 helps me here. I am in awe of my children. K teases me when I try to explain this to him, asking me if I’ll be ready when they leave for college. I won’t be and I will be – it’s the dichotomy of motherhood, I think.

Just like with C3, it is hard to imagine my life without her. While I have lots of lots of memories of parenthood with only one child, it seems as though C4 was always there, just waiting to make her appearance. I’ve always been her mother; she’s always been my daughter.

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