Sunday, July 8, 2012

Holding the Vision

Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water…

Our life over the last few years might best be characterized as a rollercoaster that has too many ups and downs, goes to fast, and has no operator to stop the ride.  From near-fatal complications during labor, to a NICU stay that disrupted the sacred process of family bonding, to a year of colic, reflux, medication, failure to thrive designations, and repeat hospitalizations, any mother would develop a little adrenal exhaustion, right? 

Following our recent hospitalization in March and April for a case of RSV that caused my son to go into respiratory distress in my arms in the middle of the night, I fell into a mild depression.  We were on house arrest for a month to avoid germs, since the virus had compromised Jax’s immune system.

Every time I “let go,” something terrible happens, I thought to myself.  I tried to implement my strict regime of therapy, vitamins, nutrition and even some exercise.  The days grew longer as summer approached and before long, I was feeling pretty good.  We spent our mornings on play dates, and our evenings cooking and hanging out.  Jackson was sleeping better, eating better, and talking up a storm. 

So, I let go.  I really did.  I was content for the first time in a long time, secure in the knowledge that we were over the last sickening drop on our roller coaster.  In fact, it seemed that we had managed to get off the ride.  We went to Jax’s two-year appointment without a care in the world until the doctor mentioned that it was now standard to pull a little blood at this time.  I was about to refuse, but something nagged at me. 

Once Jax had recovered from RSV, we were supposed to do a blood draw to ensure that his white count had gone back up.  I ran from the office, loath to allow any additional procedures to be done to my poor little guy who had ripped his own IV out in the hospital a few weeks before.  So, this time I figured we should probably submit.  The blood test was awful.  I felt awful for making him do it.  I took Jax for chocolate frozen yogurt, his favorite, to assuage my guilt.  Then, we forgot about it. 

Getting the phone call from our doctor at night a few days later was a shock.  Hearing that he had to repeat the test, because Jax’s alkaline phosphate level was off the chart, was a shock.  What was alkaline phosphate?  Of course, I googled it.  Thus began the biggest, sickest drop of the roller coaster yet.  We didn’t even realize we were still on the ride.  If I had any adrenal function left, it is surely gone now.  As we wait for the results of a specialist’s review and recommendations, I have to remember to hold the vision. 

What does this mean?  To me, it means believing in a very strange, fey thing that occurred during my descent into subspace during labor.  Once I delivered, everyone left.  They went to celebrate while I had this annoying little feeling that the experience wasn’t done with me yet.  It wasn’t.  As alarms blared on machines and nurses whizzed by, I went somewhere else.  I saw things I can’t explain.  I felt my grandmother’s presence.  I felt intense love.  I was supposed to join them but I couldn’t without asking about my son.  Would he be okay?

The response was a vision.  I saw my son grow up to be a man right before my eyes.  As though I was viewing time-lapse photography, I watched a tiny infant transform into a tall, blond man with a killer grin.  I knew I couldn’t leave.  When I snapped back into my body, in shock and ravaged by hormones and medications, the vision stayed with me.  The vision of Jax as a happy, healthy young man completely contradicts what doctors are trying to confirm or disprove now. 

A fellow preemie momma friend, Kasey Mathews, reports that a similar thing happened to her when she delivered her daughter, Andie, at just 25 weeks gestation.  She saw two roads.  One road led to a funeral.  The other led to a happy, healthy five-year old girl.  When Andie developed RSV around age 2 (again, strangely similar to our experience), Kasey wondered why this was happening.  When I contacted her recently she said she believed that this was her chance to do things differently.  She held her vision.  Her daughter Andie has defied all doctor predictions regarding growth and development. 

So has Jax. 

I will hold the vision, and I ask that you take a moment to share it with me.  Picture us all together, happy, healthy, years from now, celebrating our lives together with the gratitude each precious moment deserves.  Perhaps my previous lessons in gratitude did not go deep enough before, but I have been cut to the core and I am now re-building my worldview around gratitude.  I literally cried tears of joy the other night as I folded my husband’s socks.  I was so grateful to be at home, doing the most mundane of chores.  It is so much better than being in a hospital. 

All we ever have is this moment.  Cherish it, protect it, and be present with it.  Hold your vision, as I hold ours.  

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