Monday, April 25, 2011

The End is the Beginning

It's hard to know what to say publicly and what to keep private.  I don't want to worry people, but at the same time, I owe it to myself to be able to speak openly about what I'm going through without having to carry the burden of a painful secret too.

It hasn't been any secret at all that Adam & I have wanted to welcome as many as God gives us.  We always thought that would happen in the natural course of things... while my pregnancies have been notoriously difficult with HG and SPD, we were willing to go through the pain to bring another darling baby into the world.  I'd do it again, and again, and again... it was always, always worth it.

I'm speaking in past-tense already... it was always worth it.

I've been struggling a lot with many things, but my health has been the one I don't share too much about.  I have a serious condition, but not life-threatening or anything.  It's just that for me to function normally and be as healthy as I can be, I have to do some drastic things.  First, I have to do things that are probably best for everyone: be careful to eat very healthy, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and get regular exercise.  Secondly, like a child, I will have to be careful about going to bed at the same time every night to get enough sleep and to avoid stress in my life as much as possible.  But most of all... I may have to start a medication that I will be on for the rest of my life.  This medication causes fetal heart defects (among other things) in most babies whose mothers have to take it in pregnancy... and, I'm just obviously not willing to do that. 

But not having another baby?  Never feeling another little foot kicking for the first time INSIDE of me?  Not hearing "it's a boy!" or "it's a girl!" from Dr. S again?  Not telling the nurses to go away because THIS mama isn't sending her baby in the nursery, and I don't care how late it is?  Never, ever watching my belly grow and waiting for the signs that labor is impending?  Not ever getting to study a new little face and talk about who he or she looks like?

It is probably the most painful thing I've ever had to consider.

I know that confuses a lot of people.  After all, how could I possibly want it all over again when I already have four beautiful, healthy, darling children?  I've been so blessed.  I've never had a miscarriage or an emergency c-section.  I've never had a baby in the NICU, or even anyone overnight in a hospital bed.

But maybe, if you know my heart, you can understand why I am absolutely wracked with grief.  I start to cry at the most random moments. 

Adam wasn't sure I should start telling people that I'm worried we won't be able to have baby five in the way we expected, since I'm definitely not ready to talk about the specifics. and won't be diagnosed for awhile yet.  I feel like I've been carrying this burden of secret sadness, though, for the last few months... and I just want you to know, so that I don't have to explain why we're not already waving around a positive pregnancy test as we've always had the joy of doing before by the time all three of our oldest children have reached age 2.  Lucy turns 2 in less than a month.  Everyone asks us, meaning no harm at all, when baby five is coming.  I don't know what to say.

This is all still very new to me.  And I'm hoping we can find another way to treat my illness so that I can have another baby.  I feel selfish for wanting another baby, but I do. We've always talked about adopting an older child and/or sibling group in the future, and I'm sure we will when all of my little ones are in school, so that I can devote my time to the inevitably difficult transition and bonding period, when a child who has been hurt will need to learn to trust me and my love.  But for now, I do want to have another tiny little baby to be all mine. I didn't ever think Lucy would be my "last" baby, and it hurts so much to think she very well may be.

I know I do have to trust God and be patient, but it is really hard right now.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I crave peace.  Does everyone feel this way?  I'm sure they do.

I don't know how it happened, but somehow, my life has become very cluttered.  My home, especially my office, has become a dumping ground of stacked paperwork and photography props and magazines and... just, stuff.  Lots of stuff.

When I sit here editing photos in the wee hours of morning when I can't sleep... it's because my mind is cluttered. I have so much anxiety and worry.  My email inbox is cluttered, and so is my Facebook "news" feed.  I am bombarded with so much information and bad news.

I think a time of serious purging is at hand!  I expect I will get rid of many things, unsubscribe to emails, and clean up my Facebook.  I've restructured my photography packages, and I expect that my business will decrease by at least 50%, if not more.

I've struggled with prayer on and off for most of my life, but never as much as I have in the last year or so.  I just can't get my mind to be quiet and still.  My mind is always racing and my days are long & busy.  I close my eyes to pray, and instead... a to-do list pops in my mind.  Or a health worry.  Any number of things... but He said:

Be still, and know that I am God.

God, as the last week of Lent begins, please help me to be still, and to know that you are God.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring "Break"


My darling little Batman turned 4 on March 13th.  I didn't take these photos.  If it weren't for my precious friends Chryshelle and Dee Dee, I wouldn't have seen my sweet boy enjoy his presents and cake at all.

We had a party at Pump-It-Up, per the birthday boy's request.  This is a photo of Lucy, just a few minutes into the party, getting ready to climb up the big bouncy slide.

Just as she reached the bottom, she sort of fell forward on her face.  I ran over, thinking she'd scared herself as she started to wail.  When I picked her up, her arm flopped... but not bending at the elbow.  The two bones in her forearm had completely broken, and her arm was at a strange angle. 

I will never forget holding her as she screamed, holding her arm and feeling the bones just beneath the skin in a place they shouldn't be.  I ran to the parking lot with her, calling over my shoulder that I was taking her to the ER.  When I got into the parking lot, I started shaking so badly I felt I couldn't walk.  Chryshelle had gone back for my keys and purse, but by that time it was obvious that I wasn't driving anywhere.  We called the ambulance, and I held my hysterically screaming baby as they loaded us on. 

Photos by Chryshelle

My tiny little girl has so much fight in her.  She absolutely would not let anyone do ANYthing to her... not take her vitals, not put on a bracelet on her ankle... nothing.  It was a very long and difficult trip to the emergency room.  Thankfully, my baby had not quite weaned yet, and was able to nurse herself to sleep between exams.  She finally received pain medications, and they were able to set hr bones without surgery.

My parents took the 3 big kids back to Tulsa for Spring Break, so that I could spend the week focusing exclusively on my Lucy.  I held her for seven days straight, giving pain medication by the clock, and watching hours upon hours of Yo Gabba Gabba and Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street.  I didn't touch my phone or Photoshop.  It was entirely about her.

A few days later, we went to Texas Children's for a hard cast.  They left the temporary soft cast on, after x-rays showed that the bones were still not knit together enough to risk removing it first.  This has left our Lucycake with a very big, bulky, heavy arm.  She cried and closed her eyes the whole time that the doctors put on her new pink cast.  It didn't hurt, but it did scare her.

Since she is still unable to move her arm much in the full-arm cast, we've been hiding out at home for three weeks now.  She cannot climb or pick things up for herself.  I worry when she runs.  And my sweet little one is also now terrified of slides.  In two more days, we return to TCH and will get a short-arm cast.  This one will be waterproof, and she will be able to bend her elbow again.

A complete freak accident changed everything.  I just keep thinking how lucky I am that it was only her arm.  It could have been worse.  I tell you without any exaggeration... that was the most traumatic event of MY life.  I've never ever seen any of my babies in so much pain, and it took me several days to recover from the shock.  Lucy will not remember this, but I always will.

I've struggled publicly this year with many things... faith, depression, balance, work.  This terrible incident did give me one gift: Perspective.  As I lay on my deathbed, I'm not going to wish I had taken on one more photography client.  I'm going to be glad that I was a mother and a wife, and at the same time, I will wish I had been even better at it.  My time and attention need to be with my family first.  I'm totally comfortable with saying no to other opportunities that take me away from them.  Yes, I will still work as a photographer.  But no... I won't let it take over my life.  My family IS my life.  My clients could easily find another photographer.  But to my children and husband... I'm irreplaceable.