It feels like I just sat down to write my year end blog for the year 2012, and now here I am sitting down to write it for 2013.
This year has flown by, and it has been an amazing year. We started out the year 2013 with Ellie at home with us. She had only been home about 2 weeks, was on oxygen and monitors all of the time. Although she was home with us, our fears were not gone. We were still concerned about her brain bleed, ROP, her chronic lung disease, and her small size.
Over the course of the year some of our fears were eliminated.
Ellie came off of oxygen at 4 months old! That was a huge relief for us, and I still vividly remember the fear that I had when we first took her off! We were given a pulse ox machine to monitor Ellie’s oxygen numbers, and to be completely honest, we still have it! There are still times that I check her oxygen levels to make sure she is breathing at 100 percent! I also keep it around so that when she does get sick (and I do know that she eventually will), we will not have to go into the emergency room to have her oxygen numbers checked.
Next up, Ellie was able to come off of her monitors much more quickly than we had originally thought. She stayed on her apnea monitor at night for several months after we quit day time usage, mainly to ease my own fears.
Ellie’s brain bleed resolved itself! Although it was considered a minor brain bleed as far as brain bleeds go, it was still a huge relief to hear that it was gone! We had a brain ultrasound at the end of April where they confirmed that her brain looked great!
Ellie’s ROP also resolved itself! Her eyes crossed for quite a while, but the eye doctor assured us that it is completely normal for newborn babies to have crossed eyes from time to time. I remember working really hard with Ellie on tracking things with her eyes. We tried to find different toys that would catch her interest, but in the end, the thing that helped Ellie with her tracking…was the dogs. I was so worried back then about her eyes, but now, I am reminded daily of how well her eyes work. Ellie has a knack for finding the smallest speck of anything on the floor, reaches down and picks it up!
Ellie has come so far developmentally this year, from rolling over to sitting up, to pulling up, to standing, and now taking a few unassisted steps! She is doing so well, and I am proud of each and every accomplishment that she makes- from mastering using her pinchers to taking her first steps. Each accomplishment is a victory. I know that she is not right on track developmentally as far as the October babies go, but that is okay. Ellie seems to be hitting her milestones somewhere between the October babies and the January babies- which is amazing! She is doing more than they expected her to do, and for this I am thankful.
Ellie’s weight is something that I do not stress out over anymore. For the first year of her life I kept a food journal. Everything she ate was written down and tracked. When she turned one, I finally pitched the food journal, and we have been sailing through ever since. Ellie is still slightly small for her age, but she was going to be small even if she had been full term.
I feel that this year I have come a long way in my “grief journey.” I have recently taken a step that I wasn't sure I would ever be able to take…I bought something that was boy specific, and then a few weeks later I did it again. The first gift that I purchased that was boy specific was for my Uncle and his wife, as they recently found out that they are expecting a little boy, and the second one was for a dear friend’s little boy’s first birthday. This was difficult for me because the last things I bought that were for a boy I purchased for Robby on the day before I went into labor with him, and then after he died, I had to pack them all away in storage containers. I have also recently realized that I am having more good days than bad days.There is not a single day that goes by that I do not think about my son, but instead of having days where all I want to do is cry, I can smile at his memory. I also know that not everyone can see what big steps I have taken forward, but the people who really know me, know that the steps that I have made this year are huge. I still miss my son every single day, but as the days go by I am also able to find ways to cope with my grief, and I am thankful for the people who have stood by me during this time. I know that at times some of the people around me have had a difficult time understanding my grief, and I do not expect those who have not lost a child to completely understand what I am going through, but it means so much to me when I have friends and family members who do their best to be supportive and understanding. Thank you to my friends who have recently been pregnant, for understanding when I am not an active “clicker” and “commenter” on their facebook pages. It is still difficult for me to see pregnancy and new baby related things, especially baby boys. This is something that I am working on, and I really do appreciate all of my friends for giving me time to find ways to cope. Also, I want to thank the loss community, because you ladies have been a pillar of strength for me. You help me to realize that the things that I am feeling are normal, and that is a huge comfort to me. A good friend once said that losing a child isn't a single event- it is a lifetime of loss. When you lose a child, you lose all of the hopes and dreams that you had for them, and you spend the rest of your life wondering who that child would have been. I am proud of myself for the steps that I have taken this year.
This year I had to say goodbye to my dog of ten years, Barbie. Barbie was a rescue dog, and therefore, she required some extra love and care. She was extremely special to me, which made it an especially difficult decision for me to make, but when I am sad about it, I just remember that she led a full life and happy life here with us and that I did not want her to suffer any longer.
I have some big plans for the year 2014!
First, a dear friend of mine has inspired me to start a year of scripture memorization. She blogged about doing it (Click Here), and on the same day that I read her blog, I came across a list that my great-grandmother (Delphine, Ellie’s namesake) made years ago of scriptures that were special to her. I took this as a sign and I am going to memorize two of her favorite scripture verses every month. I am really excited to start this scripture memorization, and if there is anyone else out there who would like to join in with us, please let me know. I used to do a lot of scripture memorization, and I am positive that it helped me in my walk with God. Memorizing scripture will help to strengthen me in times of stress and comfort me.
Secondly, this year I want to find something to do in Robby’s honor. Whether it is planting a tree or donating to a hospital or cause close to my heart, I want to actually do something this year. I am still trying to decide what I am going to do, but I do know that we will be doing something.
Thirdly, Tanner and I are moving forward with our gestational carrier plans. My doctor has contacted our local fertility clinic on my behalf, and hopefully the beginning of 2014 I will have an appointment to discuss doing an egg retrieval. We would appreciate prayers as we begin this journey. One big concern right now is that I am not sure how my health will factor into the egg retrieval process, but it is our hope that it is something that is achievable for us. After the consultation appointment we will begin the process of finding a gestational carrier and we would certainly appreciate prayers for this part of the process as well. I am still having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that I will not be carrying anymore children, but I think this is something that will just take some time.
Fourth, I am going to continue to enjoy Ellie each and every day. Good days, bad days, teething days, grumpy days, sweet days, and ornery days- all of them will be enjoyed. Ellie is a miracle and a blessing, and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to watch her grow, learn, and change.
These past two years have been intense years for us. From losing Robby, to having Ellie prematurely and all of the stuff that came along with her extremely early birth, to being in isolation during flu and RSV season last year and now being in isolation again for the second year. Thank you so much to our friends and family who have stood by us through it all. We have had some difficult times, but for those who stuck with us, we have had some really great times as well.
I can proudly say that it has been a wonderful year, and I am looking forward to what 2014 has in store for us!