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Tuesday, December 27, 2011


     On Chirstmas morning, I had a "moment." I never know when these moments will come, but it hit me hard on Christmas morning. I was exhausted from all of the family events we had to go to on Friday and Saturday for Paul's side of our family. I guess I have gotten too good at masking my exhaustion and I think soon I will have to start saying "no," and I have to not care if it hurts any feelings. I know I need rest, my doctor constantly tells me to slow down. I need to be a better patient and take some time to relax. I just desire to be the best mom, wife, nurse, daughter, sister, aunt, neighbor, the list goes on. A long time ago, Paul bought me a book called "The Art of Saying NO," I will have to dig it out of some box and read it.
     Anyways, on Christmas Eve, we went to our church's candlelight service and I knew Thomas would not be too cooperative since he did not have a proper nap, he had been going nonstop for the past two days, and he has been very sick with lots of breathing treatments, steroids, fevers, etc..  At the service, he threw a fit and cried, and cried, and cried, and cried some more, until enough was enough. He threw-up twice from his crying and gagging on his congestion, so Paul and I decided to leave. Thomas hugged me so tight and clung to me like he was saying THANK YOU! He needed to be home. We got home and he passed out and went to sleep. Paul and I started getting his three presents out and putting them together. His little playhouse came without any of the screws needed to put it together and it was too late to go to a store, so Paul found stuff out in his tool box to work for the time being and he went to Toys R Us today to get the screws. Before my diagnosis, this "little" detail of the missing screws would have made me so mad, but I guess I'm not sweating the small stuff anymore. Instead, this little detail made me proud of my husband for rigging it together. Thomas LOVED his playhouse, his little kitchen, and his sleeping bag that has his name embroidered on it.
      My moment of feeling overwhelmed occurred early Christmas morning when Thomas rolled over from sleeping on his tummy and looked directly into my eyes. He smiled so big, then put his hand around my arm and snuggled in close, all the time, he was staring at me and I could see that he loves me. I am tearing-up now just thinking about it. I never knew a love like this before. I hope he knows how much I love him and that his arrival renewed my spirit. I can't describe it, but I just sobbed, I had to get up and snuggle Thomas in the living room because I didn't want to wake Paul up with my snotty crying. They were tears of joy, tears of gratefulness, tears of grief, and tears of fear. The only fear I have is not being able to raise my son. It scares me to my core, and this alone makes me want to scream at God and tell Him, YOU HAVE TO SAVE ME! I know I can't change God's plans, but I pray that HE will heal me. I need this.
    Speaking of praying, I haven't been able to pray out loud in a long time. Paul asked me to at lunch yesterday before we ate and I tried. I ended up crying and then I get all embarrassed because so many people are around. I have never had such uncontrollable emotions like this before. I feel so fragile, when I have always felt strong. I am positive in my attitude about life, but I learned from the twins passing that nothing in this life is gauranteed. I want to feel like everything I do won't be my last. This is not my last Christmas, last New Year's, last Birthday, last wedding anniversary, last Mother's Day, etc.. I want to go to sleep at night with my phone far away from me. I keep it close because every single time my phone rings, I secretly hope it is a liver. Please God, let me get a liver soon.
  Quick medical update: I will be admitted this Thursday, December 29 to St. Luke's for my next TACE procedure at 0800. I have to stay the night, but hopefully I will be out by Friday morning and on my way to celebrate my beautiful sister's 40th Birthday. I love her so much!!!! Prayers for my procedure would be wonderful. I love you guys and thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Super Overdue Catch-You-Up-To-Date Blog

Okay, I am sorry it has been so long since I have blogged, but I have been a busy bee lately. I keep thinking that if this is my last Christmas, I want it to be the BEST one ever, but I know I shouldn't think that way. The last time I blogged, my car was still in the shop from the October 5 wreck. Well, I was originally told that it would be close to $10,000 to fix and 19 days in the shop. Well, 8 weeks and 1 day later and $16000 later, my car was "fixed". Paul went to pick-up my beloved FJ. When Paul went to start the car, it didn't start. So, they ran to the automotive store and bought us a new battery and installed it. Then, Paul drove the car and told them the brakes felt loose, but they assured him it was all okay. I drove it the next day and called and repeated that my car's brakes were not working. We made an appt to return the car to be properly fixed on Sunday, when Paul would be out of school and able to take me to work each day. Unfortunately, my car didn't make it to Sunday. On Tuesday, I was leaving work and I backed out of my parking space and suddenly lost all brakes. I hit a doctor's car that I work with. Luckily, this doctor is very kind and understanding. Both of our cars had to be towed and I had finally reached my limit on all this car drama. It was so scary, and the scariest part of the whole ordeal was that in 1.5 miles, I would have been on the freeway where I could have killed an innocent family, myself, or what if Thomas had been in the car with me? The engineer found that the person who "fixed" my brakes "forgot" to put in a locking pin that connects my brake pedal to the whole brake system. Needless to say, the comparison was made that it was like a bomb ticking and like driving around on tires with no lugnuts. So, they totaled my car and we are now in the process of looking for a new used minivan!! I am so thankful that no one was injured. 
     Thomas was in his first Christmas program where he sat in a cute buggie and looked handsome while the older kids sang Christmas songs, it was so sweet. I love him so. 
     I have recently found a group of girls that I LOVE hanging out with at church, and most of them attend a group called MOPS, so I plan on going to these MOPS meetings when I can from now on. I have such a good time everytime I hang out with these girls, it feels like I have known them forever. It is nice to have a common bond of Jesus in our lives.
     I am finding out how much my husband really does love me lately. I have to admit that sometimes it is easier to joke about him or tell funny stories about him because he does some pretty funny stuff. But, here lately, he is so focused on the upcoming Volleyball Tournament Fundraiser that is makes me see how much he cares. He is working very hard and he is so passionate about everything. I know it will be a great success because he is giving his all! I am proud of him. 
     One other wonderful thing Paul did for me this month made my heart very happy. He went to my MEND support group that helps me with the loss of the twins. I have always wanted him to come with me and he even opened up and talked about things that I have needed to hear for so long. Then, this other woman started talking about her wonderful doctor, and you guessed it, she was talking about my Dr. Rowe. We spent some time telling everyone about our experiences praying with Dr. Rowe, crying with him, laughing with him, and we loved how all the rooms were private and each room had a bed for the husband to sleep in too.
     We started teaching 11th grade Sunday School this year and I absolutely love it. I am blessed every week by the wonderful teenagers at our church. I find myself really looking forward to spending time with them and seeing them each week.
     Okay, now to my doctor's appt. I hate this part. Last Friday, I had a CT scan, MRI, and labwork done. Today, I received those results. I now have three tumors (If I get any more, I am off the list, scary), they have not shrunk like they were supposed to (imagine that, I have something feisty in me), and my blood sugar was really elevated. So, they will call me tomorrow with a date for my next TACE procedure, and I have to go to a doctor about my blood sugar. I am nervous because I found the TransArterialChemotherapyEmbolism procedure painful last time and I was extremely nauseated last time. If you know me, you know I HATE to vomit, I feel like I am never going to be able to breath again, but I was thinking about a friend I have that faces physical struggles everyday as she was born without arms or legs, and I suddenly realize that I have so much to be thankful for, you INSPIRE me Ana.
     I cannot wait for Christmas! We talked about it and every year, we are only going to buy Thomas 3 gifts, we figure if 3 was enough for Jesus, then 3 is enough for Thomas! Some friends of ours do this and we both really liked this idea when we heard it.  I love my son so much!
    A huge PRAISE!! I have blogged about my friend Misty before that struggled with infertility for a long time!  Guess what? She and her husband adopted a baby a couple of weeks ago and my heart fills up with joy for her everytime she crosses my mind. I plan on meeting him really soon, but Thomas has been sick for the last couple of weeks, so I am trying to wait on him to get better because I do not want to bring any germs to little precious Levi.
     I found my post-twins journal and plan on sharing some entries from it soon, if I can muster up the strength. It is scary to let people into the dark places in your life, but I think it would help people to understand what a woman feels like after a loss of a baby.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What an awesome Thanksgiving We Had!!

That felt good to share my journal entries with you. I have a journal I kept after my babies went to be with Jesus and I am not yet ready to share those thoughts with you, I was definitely in a different place all together.

So, I might go as far to say that this Thanksgiving was the best I have ever had. Last year was wonderful because I had Thomas, but this one will forever be special to me. First off, I took off the whole week of Thanksgiving. I wanted to spend time with my little family while Paul is off and do lots of fun stuff. It is important to me to make memories with my son and husband.  On Friday, I found out that this amazing woman I work with Jo Ann had somehow managed to get us 3 U of H game tickets. So, on Saturday, November 19, Paul, Jerry, and I went to the game and had a great time. The game was sold out and had the highest attendance ever in the history of the stadium. It was a fantastic day and a great time. I can't thank Jo Ann enough for her kindness, she truly blessed us!

Sunday, we went to church, Thomas wore his special turkey shirt made by Becca Smith!! Paul worked in the nursery and I was able to hear a great sermon that seemed like the pastor was talking directly to me, I love those days. Sunday School was even better, I love working with the youth department. Afterwards, we went to Paul's favorite restaurant, Red Lobster! He was in heaven. Thomas loved it too. That evening, I went to see THE HELP at the dollar movies with my mom, what a great movie that was!

On Monday, we went to JCPennys to see our favorite photo girl Claudia to have our Christmas cards done! They were running a special that ended on Tuesday, so we were able to squeeze a session in. Then, I went to my post-op appt for my recent oral surgery and it took all of one minute! I decided I like dentists/oral surgeons more than regular doctors because they don't ever weigh you!

On Tuesday, we headed up to my work to say hello and then we went to the zoo. It had rained earlier, but it turned out to be a gorgeous day and hardly anyone was at the zoo. I got some great pics of Paul and Thomas together. I love taking pictures of them! 

Wednesday, I started cooking, cleaning, etc..  Paul was busy doing man stuff after he drove to pick up his Nana and Papa for Thanksgiving. I love cooking for special events, I think it is so fun. I had everything ready so that I just had to pop it in the oven in the morning for about an hour! We went to see Thomas' first movie today. We saw THE MUPPET'S. Paul and I both loved the Muppet's growing up, so we thought this would be the perfect movie! Thomas liked it, but he loved the stairs in the theater a little more and loved climbing up and down. Paul chased him all night and then, we went home and relaxed a bit before the big day.

Thursday, we ate Thanksgiving lunch at Paul's Aunt Celinda and Uncle Rick's house. The food was great, but the company was even better. I love Nana, she is like my own grandmother, full of wisdom and goodness. I could listen to her talk all day. We got lots of great pictures of Thomas with his cousins Hannah and Mason! After letting our food digest a bit, we left and I went home to cook the food for my family get-together at 6:00.  My family meets at the Deer Park Fire Hall every Thanksgiving and I love it. The food, family, friends, decor, smells, laughter, all of it, I love. But, I really enjoy the BINGO! We have so much fun playing this game as a family. This year, I pulled the numbers and called them out. I had a blast. It is fun to watch a 60+ year old person get so excited over winning BINGO! After BINGO was over, I did something I swore I would never do again,  I went to Black Friday (really Thursday) at Toys R Us with Paul. We had an absolute blast. I am done shopping for all the children I buy for at Christmas, even Thomas. Paul and I are a good shopping team and we are both able to talk each other out of a purchase that we really don't need. We were both so excited after we finished, so we went home to our baby, but none of us could fall asleep! I stopped for a minute and thanked God because I felt so good, so happy, so excited, so ready for the holidays! I love this time of year. It has been a couple of years since I could say that and mean it. Thank you God for renewing my heart and giving me REAL joy again.

I had a hard time getting up and moving on Friday, but after doing a few loads of laundry, a nap with Thomas, and some cleaning, we packed our bags and headed to Danbury, Tx to enjoy Thanksgiving fun with the Reim family. I feel so blessed to call this family my friends. They are simply put-true examples of the love of Christ. We had a wonderful, relaxing, emotional, unexpected blessed time. Paul and I already talked about next year and how we are going to get there bright and early on Friday morning next time because we didn't really want to leave when we did. All different branches of the family were there and it was a place so full of love. All different races present, an array of ages present, and a plethora of good people. We made crafts, watched movies, watched a cute talent show put on by the kiddos, ate great food, had lots of hot chocolate, sat out by the bonfire, great conversations, caught up with old friends, and the list goes on. I enjoyed meeting a lot of new people and I really enjoyed catching up with long-time friend Rachel Hunt. I have missed her friendship. We never had a falling out or anything, we just got busy with different activities in high school and were in different circles of friends, but she is still an amazing woman! I loved watching her now as a wife and a mother, she truly loves her little family and I am so glad I was able to spend time with her. I talked lots to Lana and Misty and their families as well. Their parents are incredible! I went up to the Lodge not knowing what to expect, but I was truly blessed. The family had befriended a Vietnamese family that had overcome some huge obstacles. Last year at this time, the young mother was fighting for her life after a severe traumatic brain injury, she was pregnant at the time, so her little girl that was born very premature was in the NICU, and the husband was being stretched as thin as possible between the two. They had just moved here to Houston and had no family. Misty's mother-in-law was their baby's nurse and she became close to them and then all the family started loving and helping out this family. Long story short, this mother defied all the odds and proved to be a living miracle and is now walking after they told her she would not. She is talking, joking, holding her baby girl, she is smiling, breathing on her own, she is ALIVE. Through all of this, the family has come to know the Lord and Phong, the husband shared their story and pictures of their journey. I was so touched. I told them that I want to be doing this same thing next year, I want to be telling them of the new liver I have received and all that God has done for me in my life. Then, Misty asked if they could pray for us. My heart was so touched. The Reims raised some wonderful kids. I was moved to tears as they prayed for me and my family. I could hear how Misty really did put herself in my shoes and she prayed the same way I pray, I don't want to leave my baby without a mom. Then, to hear Lana pray and hurt for others. It is so comforting to know that people like this really do exist, people full of goodness. Both Patti and Martin Reim prayed as well and shortly after, we had to head back home on Saturday night. I left with a little extra pep in my step, I could feel how their prayers had lifted my spirits, I am so blessed. I can't wait until next Thanksgiving!

Sunday, we went to church and Paul taught the lesson. It was a great lesson with good analogies. We brought breakfast for the kiddos and then we ran a few errands. I had to get home to take a nap because I have to work tonight. I had a wonderful week off and my body, mind, and especially my soul feel renewed. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday as well.

Words From My Journaling

I found my journal from my pregnancy with the twins. I thought I would share:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

    First morning in the hospital after being admitted yesterday. First, I feel so blessed to have Dr. Rowe as my doctor- I am amazed that there is even a doctor like him in existence. I feel so loved after all of the friends and family that came by to see me. ( Mom, Dad, Tricia, Karina, John Emerick,  Pawpaw, Heather, Susan, Booley, Tricia H, Kim, Susan, Deb, Karen, Celinda, Rick, Kay, Mary, Dee Anne, Jerry, Billy and Danny). I want my boys to meet this amazing family I have and love.
     Jamie Hodges told Karen to have me read Psalm 91 today. She must really be close to the Lord because it is exactly what I needed to read.
* I do dwell in the shelter of the Most High
*I will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
*He will and does always save me-even though I don't deserve it
*I wand to find refuge under His loving wings
*His faithfulness is my shield
*I want to dwell in the Most High
*He will guard me in all my ways
*Because I love Him-He will rescue me
*He will protect me

How can God love me so much that he wants to do all of these things for me?  I am so happy that I know Christ as my Savior- I want Him to use me and my twins for His glory. I may not even understand why I have to work so hard or fight for things, but I know God is preparing me for something amazing. He has blessed me with a family like no other and friends that make me feel loved and special. I love my husband, aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, dad, brother, sister, and niece so much. Pawpaw continues to surprise me and love me-he is such a good man. Lord- thank you for giving me such a strong support group to love and care for me. you know my needs and you understand how much I need people. You are my strength Lord- I GIVE MY BABIES TO YOU AND MY HEALTH TO YOU LORD- You know the plan and I trust in Your plan for my life because ultimately my life is Yours. (Can you believe I really wrote these exact words in my journal?)
Lord- Thank you for Paul- I know I am hard on him and expect a lot, but he is really stepping it up here lately and I appreciate him. I am so glad that Jerry and DeeAnne were here for him when he needed them. I am sorry for being selfish sometimes and putting him on guilt trips. I keep thinking that these are your babies Lord and You are trusting us to take care of them here on earth. Thank you so much for Dr. Rowe-words can't express how I feel about him. He is one person that is definitely doing exactly what you asked him to do with his life. Please protect him and keep him safe, strong, and healthy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lord, thank you for another day of babies in my belly. Thank you for letting them move inside of me. I don't know how your mother ever let you hand on that cross-I can't even begin to imagine her agony. I love my little boys so much and Jesus you were perfect-I know Mary loved you so much. I don't want my little guys to experience pain, much less death. I guess God knew what He was doing when He chose Mary, she has strength beyond human capacity.
Psalm 90,92, and 93
He is my Rock! God-Your works are great.
The Lord Reigns
The Lord is Mighty

Visitors yesterday- Heather B, Heather S, Marty S, Mom, Dad, Rick, Celinda, Susan M, Karen,Weldon Eubanks, Cotton, Pastor Rob, John. People that called Pree, Judy, KeaShawn, Pawpaw, Kay, Kim, Tricia H, Robby, and more)

My prayers:
Please be with Kea Shawn as she looks for a job and interviews today. Thank you for all of your many blessings in my life. I love you so much Lord. Thank you for loving me- I pray for all those people who don't know you. Please help me spread your love to them. Please perform a miracle in the cord of my babies-I know you are in the miracle business.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Guess what? It looks like I may get to see my beloved Bruschi this morning, which brings a big smile to my face. I know God blessed me with my dogs. My room looks lovely this morning with two beautiful flower bouquets my brother brought by last night.  My wonderful nurse from last night brought in two vases for the flowers-her name is Christy. The nurses here have been amazing! Thank you Lord for such wonderful, caring nurses that are taking care of me. Lots of people have been calling and are praying for me. I will pray that God can use this situation to honor and glorify Him and further His kingdom.  God-thank you so much for my Aunt Tricia- she truly is Your vessel. I feel I have so much to learn from her yet. She is like my "Christian mother," teaching me how to live a life that reflects Christ in all that I say and do.  She is a true gift in my life. She called ALL the people invited to the baby shower last night, which took a grand load off of my shoulders.
Today, I am going to read a scripture passage that my boss Kathy Schock sent me. I feel God places scripture on people's heart to share with me.
Philippians Chapter 4
*Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS
*Do not be anxious about anything
*Be content in any and every situation
*God will meet all my needs

In all situations and experiences we go through, God is always teaching us and growing us. I have been sitting here the past few days wondering what it is that God is teaching me. The funny thing is that there is no way for me to know that God's plan is right now, but my desire it to continue growing closer and closer to Him.

My prayer today is when the Bennett's arrive, please allow Paul time with his family to fellowship and gather strength from them. Thank you for all of the many blessings in my life and help me Lord to stay positive with my eyes on You alone.

Visitors from yesterday: Heather B., Mom, John E., Tricia, Karen, Neill, Celinda, and The Lyles.

D-DAY Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yesterday proved to be a little more trying for me. I gained 3 lbs of fluid, which makes breathing and getting around so much harder. Throughout the day it was mainly time with Paul and my mom and brother. A burst of visitors came by all at the same time in the evening. It make my night that Kim Culpepper's mom came by to see me- I know she is a prayer warrior. I had a few episodes of not being able to breath yesterday, which is quite scary. I feel sorry for people who have to live like this day by day.

Visitors from yesterday: John, Rhonda C, Jerry and DeeAnne Bennett, Mary B, Pawpaw, Kay W, Deb, Susan, Russell, Nina, Mom, Bruschi, and Paul.

Psalm 46
* God is my refuge and strength, He is my ever-present help in trouble
*I will not fear
*Be still and know that He is God
*God is my fortress

-Dr. Rowe is here it do my ultrasound, be back later!

**As you know, my ultrasound showed that Jacob's heart had stopped beating and Benjamin was in trouble. I has an emergency C-Section and my life was forever changed that day...

These writings are word-for-word out of my journaling.. It is weird how God was preparing me, but I truly never saw it coming.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Finding out I had the "C" word

Let me clear-up one thing before I start this new blog. All the comments said to me during my grieving process, I knew in the back of my head that everyone meant well and had good intentions, I simply wanted to let people know how certain comments made me feel. Having a baby die is different than other experiences of grief. What I mostly felt was loved throughout this long road. I have been truly blessed with the most wonderful family, friends, co-workers, church friends, and the list goes on. I only want to help you out if you ever have someone close to you go through a loss of a baby. I have always been the person that likes to help out others in times of need, but I found myself needing others and I was blessed to have tons of support.

     Okay, so I always run into people who ask me when I am going to talk about my diagnosis. It is still hard for me to say it. I practice saying it in the mirror, because it still really doesn't feel like this is my life. This summer was busy. My doctor had asked me to have an MRI and EGD done at my appt in May. I put it off for a while, I guess I was nervous. You know when deep in your gut you know something is wrong in your body, well, I had that intuition, but I kept it completely to myself. I had been experiencing a lot of pain on my right upper quadrant of my abdomen, lots of nausea/vomiting, I had been having lots of diarrhea, and I felt more tired than I ever have before. No one seemed to notice because I am the world's greatest at hiding my hurt. The only person I know of that caught on the my game recently was my cousin Lisa. We were at my second cousin's birthday party and I was in a lot of pain and she said something to me. She asked if I was okay and I treated her like she was crazy for asking, I lied and said I was fine. I guess all of her years as a nurse taught her how to spot a person in pain, or maybe she has figured me out. She married my cousin Robby, and I hope he knows what a jewel he married that day. I know she loves me and I can trust her fully. Just about a year ago, she knocked on my door in tears. She came to me and she told me that her mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer. When you are a nurse, you know there are certain diagnosis that you never want to hear. I cried right along with her and then she asked me a question that made me realize one of the reasons I went through the loss of my babies. She asked me," How do you plan a funeral, how do you survive it?"  I told her that I didn't know, but somehow you just get through it, God helped me through it, Paul helped me through it. Lisa has no idea how special she made me feel that she came and told me and let me console her, I needed to be on the other side of grieving. I wanted to give back to all the people that helped me, people like Lisa. I want to let you know that her mother is doing amazing and had surgery to remove the lung that had cancer and she is running around Pasadena looking cuter than ever. Lisa is a wonderful daughter, mother, wife, cousin, sister, friend, nurse, person, I could go on. I am so happy that Lisa has her mother with her for another Christmas and I am sure they will spend many more holidays together.

     Okay, I keep avoiding it, I hate that I have this. Summer was busy and I kept avoiding the MRI, but I finally answered one time when St. Luke's called to schedule my appts. I scheduled them for July 15 for my MRI and July 21 for my EGD. I always joke with my doctor that I will keep doing what he asks until he tells me I have to have a colonoscopy.  I went for my MRI, and it seemed to take a long time, this always makes me nervous. I left and the radiology technician told me my results would be with Dr. Ankoma-Sey by Monday. When I saw my doctor on Thursday before he did my EGD, I asked him about my MRI, he told me that it must have been great because I hadn't received a call from him. I was put to sleep and when I woke, I felt good, my EGD was normal, so my mom and I left and we went to lunch and then home. We started getting everything ready for my brother's wedding. We were flying out on July 28th, John's birthday is July 29th, and his wedding is July 30! I  was busy getting clothes washed and I had to work on Monday and Tuesday before we were scheduled to fly out. On Tuesday, July 26, 2011, our sweet secretary at work overhead paged me to say that I had a call at the nurses station. I walked up and picked-up the phone expecting to get report from the PACU on my patient, but it was Dr. Ankoma-Sey's nurse and she said, "Mrs. Bennett, Dr. Ankoma-Sey is on the line and needs to speak to you, I am hanging up." This huge lump swelled up in my throat and I don't know if this makes any sense, but I tried not to hear. I knew when the doctor himself called, it was NEVER GOOD NEWS. He is from Ghana, Africa and he told me the news in his sweet accent. So, in front of a ton of people, I heard him say it, but I made him say it twice. He told me I had liver cancer and I told him there was no way he could know that, I want a biopsy. He said that he did know it and a biopsy was out of the question and that I needed to have some tests done to clear me so I could be added to the Liver Transplant list. I told him that he told me my MRI was okay this past Thursday, he must have called the wrong patient. He said I had to have a chext x-ray, metastatic bone scan, and chest CT done, if all of these were free of cancer, I could be placed on the list. My knees had failed me for the second time, they got all wiggley, I needed air. Hey EVERYONE, stop working, please slow-down, someone help me. Carmen knew something was wrong by my reaction, but she never gets into anyone elses business.  Roxanne, a very godly woman I work with knew something was up as well. I scheduled the tests for the next day, Wednesday, because I was flying to Los Angeles on Thursday. I would see Dr. Ankoma-Sey when I returned on Wednesday, August 2. Dates have always been important to me, I can remember all of these dates like my own birthdate. It is weird, the things I fixate on. I quietly walked down to an empty room, room 713 and I called Paul. He listened and then said something I now think funny because he didn't know what to say. He said, "you really need to eat better?" I was like, HUH? Did you just hear me, I have cancer in my liver, I have a baby, I have plans, I am scared, I don't want to die, I need you, why is this happening, can you call and see if they called the right person, don't tell my brother-I don't want to ruin his wedding. All these thoughts, Paul quickly realized that he just said whatever popped in his head and he apologized and then comforted me and asked a lot of questions, questions I didn't have the answers to. I kept hearing something my doctor had said, he had not expected me to get cancer so soon, I am so young. I called my mom and sister next, then Karen and Neill. I needed Neill to tell me how he could know I had cancer without a biopsy. He explained things to me and I wanted to know why I wasn't yellow. Am I going to lose my hair? I know that seems so vain, but I have felt my head before and I know it is shaped funny. My mind was racing. I got myself together and then I went and completed my work day. I was able to act like nothing had happened, but I told Roxanne because she knew something was up and she has continued to check on my daily and bless me with her kindness. I texted my friend Kelly Bircher, because she only texts, but she called me right back and had a ton of questions. She is a super nurse and immediately was getting a plan together on how we were going to attack this thing. We have an unspoken bond, a common nursing philosophy, we both believe EVERYONE deserves great care, that is why she is saving tons of lives as a lifeflight nurse, I am so proud of her for going after her dream and succeeding.
    What was I supposed to do now? I went for my tests the next day with my sister and since they were ordered stat, we had the results within an hour. NO CANCER IN MY BONES or LUNGS, but I had some nodules in my thyroid and a spot on my ovary. More appts in my future I could foresee. I love my sister, she handled all the insurance stuff for me and she is a ROCK. She never lets me down. I was quiet for a few days, I wasn't sure how I felt. This is something I only recently shared with those I am closest to. The thing I struggle with the most is prayer. How and what do I pray for? I was really frank with God. I had prayed since I was in junior high to never have to be like my dad when it came to my health, I had asked God to never let me have to be dependent on medication or have to go to the doctor much. Then, I get diagnosed with an autoimmune illness and I am told I will have to take medication for the rest of my life, great. Then, I had prayed for my babies, everyday, I prayed for them to live. Then, my babies died. If I pray for healing or for a new liver, or for a miracle, will God do the opposite yet again? These are my real thoughts people, I ask God lots of tough questions because I treat Him like my father. You can ask my brother and sister, I have never been afraid to ask my dad tough questions. My dad probably wishes I wasn't so bold, but I know he loves me just like God loves me, unconditionally. You see, I want God to answer my prayers the way I tell Him to answer them, I realized I am selfish and a little ignorant. God knows so much more than me and His ways are better. He sees the whole picture. I have come to terms with my mortality, I feel the freedom of knowing I am saved by the blood of Christ, I look forward to being reunited with my sons, I realize that I do not know the best plan, I only know my desires. I desire to live, to love, to watch my son grow into a man, I want to continue to forgive people, I want to give compassionate nursing care to others, I want to see Karina get married and become a mother, I want to see Paul achieve all the dreams he has, I want to own a horse, I want to retire someday, I want to do random acts of kindness in the name of Jesus, I want to go to Hawaii, I want to complete my bucket list. I always joke with my family that if I ever go to the doctor and then immediately after plan a trip to Hawaii, I am dying. I want to see that crazy island before I leave this earth. It may sound silly or little, but I want to eat fresh pineapple and run in the water, taste the ocean water, lay in a hammock, see a volcano, walk on hot coals, hula dance, and I could go on forever. In my next post, I want to tell you how I now know that I actually prayed for cancer without knowing that was what I was praying for. You see, my cancer is an answered prayer, a gift if you will.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Mother

   I am redoing this post because I may have hurt people's feelings with the original post, and that was not my intention. So, let me clear-up a few things before I start. I mentioned that ministers and people that were trained professionals said some really hurtful comments. What I meant by mentioning that was this: don't expect ministers to always know the right thing to say, just because they went to school doesn't mean they know how to deal with every situation. Lots of mothers that experienced a loss like I did have stopped going to church because a minister hurt their feelings by saying something that hurt them. I would never want someone to stop going to church, my Sunday School group really helped me heal after the boys died, and they are still a place of strength and support for me. All the people that said things to me that hurt my feelings had good intentions, they were trying to comfort me. The point of this is to help people in the future if they run across someone going through a loss like this. I can't tell you how therapuetic this blog is for me, it is as if when I write these things down, I am releasing all the anger, pain, and sadness that I have been holding on to for the past two years. The two year anniversary just passed, I can't believe it has been that long, I still cry in the shower for them, that is my safe place to grieve.
     There are five things that really stuck out to me that hurt my heart.

 1.  "Babies die every day, get over it." More than one person said this where I could hear, or said it to me, or they said just one half of this quote. They would remind me that babies die all the time, or they would tell me I needed to get over it. When I would hear this, I would think that yes babies do die every day, but not my babies. I have never experienced something like this and I was trying to move forward, I don't know if I will ever "get over it." I would never tell a grieving child that "mothers die everyday," because even if the mother they were grieving for was 100 years old, it is still that person's mother. We never want to lose the ones we love. Death is hard, period.
 2.  "If you were a good Christian, you would be happy your babies were dead and with Jesus," I really don't think this comment needs much explanation, but I believe all Christians to be good. I would challenge that person to switch places with me and lose their children, then they could tell me if they were happy. I know that this experience helped bring me closer to Jesus and treat Him like He really was my father. I finally had strong emotions towards Him and I talk to Jesus so much more now. I will never say I am HAPPY my babies died, it would be a lie.
 3. "You are so lucky, you have two little angels in heaven looking out for you."  Now, I honestly know that these people were being very kind to me, but I wanted my babies and still want my babies here on earth, not flapping around somewhere in the heavens. I never felt lucky that they died, it still brings me great sadness. I never really knew what to say to someone that said that to me. I would just remind myself that I might have said this same statement before my babies died.
 4. "This is all part of God's great plan for you."  I know that God has His plan and that He knew when I was in my mother's womb what would happen, however, these words brought me NO comfort. If I wasn't a believer, I am afraid these words would have pushed me away from Him. Once again, I must say that I knew people were trying to be nice, so I wouldn't get mad at the person, but it would actually make me a little madder at God. I would constantly talk to Him about His plan for me. What else did He have in store for me? At the time, I only believed there would be more pain in my future. At the time, it was really hard to find the "silver lining."
 5. "Trina, I am so SORRY." For me, this phrase made me very uncomfortable because the natural response to this phrase is, "it's okay," but it wasn't okay. I usually thought in my head, "why are you sorry?" I didn't understand why this had happened, and the only person I wanted to hear "I'm sorry," from was God. I needed Him to tell me that He was sorry. I know that God is not sorry and even now I can see how He was laying out the framework for my future, but I was hurting so much. Now, I never tell anyone that has lost someone that I am sorry. I tell them that I hurt for them and that I am praying for them, especially for healing of their heart.

    While there were lots of things that hurt my feelings, there were also lots of wonderful, thoughtful things done for us. We received tons of homemade meals. Paul's Aunt Celinda made us several meals after the funeral and then all the time during my pregnancy with Thomas. Paul's sister also cooked a few meals for us to help me out. One person in particular that touched my heart was Ann Fillipinni, I think the spelling is right! She is my Aunt Kay's boss and the leader of the Mother's Day Out Program at First Presbyterian Church where Thomas now attends. She made us a meal and gave me the sweetest card. She never had even met me, but she had heard through my aunt and felt the need to reach out to me. I told her when I signed Thomas up for her program that I wanted him to be around people like her that did such a great job of sharing the love of Jesus with others.
    My cousin that I talk about all the time Karen has a wonderful boyfriend, Neill. Neill is a doctor and always helps to explain things to me on my level and explain why a doctor might order certain tests, especially when I start getting scared. Neill was at the hospital all the time during the boys birth and short life. He helped me with so many questions and I kept thinking how lucky his patients are when they have to receive bad news because Neill is so kind-hearted and he really cares for people. He is very gentle and soft, yet he is a man's man at the same time. He has experienced two significant losses in his life as well. It was like, he understood me and he just stayed close. He came over almost every day with my cousin and he would just sit with me. He knew I didn't need to be alone. He knew that when I was alone, those bad thoughts starting creeping in and the crying would become uncontrollable. He sang my favorite worship song at the funeral. He sang it so beautifully, I hugged him for a long time after that song, he touched my heart. I am so glad that he uses the gifts that God gave him to help others. He is one of those people that is good at everything he does. I am thankful that my cousin picked such a wonderful man to bring into our lives. I still remember when she told me in her giddy little voice "I met the hottest guy at work, he is a doctor and he plays the piano, I think I really like him." He has made my cousin a better person and I believe she has made him a better person. I love them both and can't wait for them to get married and have lots of babies. They are going to be so smart and talented, and really cute. My cousin is already a great "mom" to all of our kids, so it will be a breeze for her to mother her own babies.
     The only advice I can give to you when dealing with grieving mothers is this, it is what my Momma taught me my whole life: Put yourself in their shoes and then decide if what you may say or do would hurt your feelings. Thanks for reading, I enjoy running into people that tell me they are reading my blog, this blog has helped my healing so much.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Wonderful Phone Call Yesterday

     Yesterday, I was taking a little nap with Thomas, when my phone rang. I had been ignoring everyone else because I was napping, but I would never ignore this call. One of my previous student's named Timmy was calling, and Timmy holds a very special place in my heart. Timmy is one of those kids that has every excuse in the book to have a chip on his shoulder. He went without a lot of things in his life, but he never complained about it. While I was a teacher, God gave me insight sometimes about certain kids, and Timmy was one of them.  Other teachers wrote him off because he always wore hoodies, he was quiet, he flew under the radar. You could easily miss him if you weren't looking. What I noticed about Timmy was: he has a sweet spirit, he had great hair, his smile was genuine and never fake, he did not act like someone he was not, he was brilliant, he was compassionate, he was sensitive, and he noticed the small things.  Good grades came easy for him, he was simple in the fact that he did not need much to be content, while other students had everything they could wish for and were still so miserable. He is full of talent, and when he is your friend, he will always care for you, he is loyal. He has called me every Christmas, and I look forward to those calls. See, I saw that he was special, but he makes me feel special by always remembering me. I called his dad while I was his teacher to tell him what a wonderful son he had. I know his dad must be proud of him. Timmy has joined the Navy and he is stationed in Illinois right now. I am so proud of him, he is making something of himself. 
   His call made my day. I needed to hear his voice and I didn't even know it.  One story I have to tell you about Timmy is that he walked to Paul and I's wedding reception in late May. He was all sweaty by the time he got there and he must have walked at least 5 miles to get there. Who does that for someone? He made that day so special for me. I couldn't believe he walked in the heat to be there for my special day. I hope he knows how much I love and care for him. I have prayed for Timmy for a long time, and it looks like God has been taking good care of him. I can't wait to see what the future holds for him. I know he will be a great success. I used to dream about paying for him to go to college, but Timmy took that into his own hands. I just pray that God protects him and looks out for him, especially if he ever has to go to war.

Life With Thomas

Okay, so I told you about the day of Thomas' birth, the most wonderful day of my entire life, but I haven't told you all about the past year. After bringing Thomas home, I know I was a lot more over-protective than most moms. I knew this and I warned people about it. It is my job to protect him when he is so tiny. I watched him sleep all the time, I never really put him down at all the first couple of  months before I returned to work. I love the feel of his skin next to mine, and I must say that there is no other feeling like the feeling you get while you are breastfeeding your child. I mean, God thought of everything when He created us, and this is such a special gift we are given. It took a good month before we successfully latched-on every feeding, but I was determined to breast feed. I had to supplement the entire time with formula due to my previous breast reduction surgery, but I am so thankful that I was able to breast feed at all. I mentioned before about having a baby and how it forces you to improve your communication with your spouse, and that is what happened. Paul and I had to start communicating much more to coordinate our schedules, dr appts, and such.
     When I went back to work on November 29, I cried the whole way to work. I don't think I could have left him to go back to work if my mom was not the one taking care of him. My mom loves him like I do, she feeds him like I do, she bathes him like I do, she does things the same way I do because she is the one that taught me all of these things in the first place. I wish I could put into words how I feel about my mother. She is simply full of goodness and kindness. She always puts herself last, and never complains about it. The fact that I have liver cancer now is harder on her than I think it is on me. I have to tell her that if she goes to an appt with me, she has to promise not to cry. She cries a lot for me, which I hate. I don't want her to hurt. We never had much money growing up, so I was not spoiled with "things," but instead spoiled with love and acts of love. I never knew how to do laundry until I went away to college, I never had to clean my room too much, I never had to cook for myself, but my mom did teach us how to cook. My mom did so much for me during my childhood and she never seemed to be tired, but I know she had to have been exhausted at the end of every day. I love watching my mom interact with people, she never meets a stranger and my mom would seriously give you the shirt off of her back, I have seen her do this. I am able to talk to my mom all day while I am at work and I often call and talk to Thomas. I wish I didn't have to work, but I do. I find comfort knowing my son is in the arms of someone I fully trust. She always respects my wishes and does what I ask, even if she doesn't agree with my philosophy. I hope to be just like her someday. I would love to care for Thomas' children someday. I love it when someone tells me that I remind them of my mother. I wish I could repay my mother for all that she has done for me, she is who I want when I am sick. She knows how to care for me like no one else, I hope to be like this for Thomas. If I do die, I want my mom to still care for Thomas and teach him all about me and what I was like, she is the one that knows all my stories.
     The things I love the most about being a mom to Thomas, are the looks I get when I come home after a long day at work. His smile can melt away any feelings of sadness I might have had before. I can feel my soul being lifted just from his smile, and then he will reach his arms out for me and my heart goes straight to mush. These moments are gifts, I treasure each of these times! These moments make up for all the hard times when kids are teenagers, my bank is full of love deposits from Thomas right now. We still snuggle every night, and I could care less what anyone has to say about Thomas sleeping with us, I feel like I am spending every bit of time I can with him when I have him next to me all night. I can feel him breathing, see him breathing, feel his warmth all night and he loves to cuddle too. My son wakes up happy like I do, once I am up, I am ready to go! Thomas wakes up smiling and talking! I enjoy the mornings with him so much. He makes it hard to want to leave the house. I love watching him play and try to figure out how things work. He is very curious. I love watching him go to other people and interact with them. I want him to love people the way I do, people are good you know. I want him to brighten up other people's days the way he brightens mine. My mom has always called me "her little sunshine," and now I understand what she means. Thomas is my sunshine, he makes me so happy, he makes waking up each day a gift. I know my time could be limited on this earth, so I want to spend as much time with him as possible. I'm so glad that he loves to go out and about, I can take this kid anywhere and he acts wonderful. I don't know how anyone can have a baby and not believe in God, you know instantly that God exists when you look at your baby for the first time. There is no way that we were an accident of cells merging or evolution, give me a break, God made us, He is the only one that could make a baby so perfect, and He thought of everything! I have no idea how Mary watched as her baby hung on that cross, I can't wait to bump into her in heaven and find out how a mother could be that selfless and strong, I am afraid I would have pulled Thomas off of that cross. You see, I still have a long way to go in my walk with Christ, but I desire to be this selfless someday.
     In two days, November 8, 2011, it will be two years since the birth of Benjamin and Jacob. I made sure to be off of work that day, so I can go to the cemetery in the morning and sing my babies "Happy Birthday." Please pray for me, as this is a hard day for me, and Thomas will never know how much he helps me get through these hard days. It is hard for me to remember that girl that existed on November 7, 2009. I used to want to go back and be that girl again, but I see now that God has His own unique plan for me, I only wish I could see how it all will turn out.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Saw A Glimpse of the Way My Life Could Be

   I had a very emotional day at work last week. I saw what my life could have been like if Benjamin had lived. We were told about a bunch of "white" spots in his brain representing severe brain damage, so if he survived, he would be extremely disabled. My response the the doctor when he told me this was,"I will change his diapers until he is 100 years old!" I knew I could handle it, I had worked with disabled people of all ages my entire life. I have always wanted to live like them in a sense! They don't worry about all the hoopla in the world, they brighten up lives and remind us to appreciate what we have more often. I was definitely up for the challenge. I imagine I would have had to stop working to take care of him full-time, I would work with him as much as I could to bring him to the highest point he could reach, I would be proud of him everyday of my life.
     Like I said before, last week a wonderful family came in with a teenage son that had severe developmental delays. I was working on his admission, when this child that is old enough to be driving, needed his diaper changed. I went to close the door so people passing in the hall could not see in, and after my five steps to the door, I turned to find that the parents had already changed his diaper. They were an awesome team. They were happy, they were patient, they were in love, and they were up for this challenge. I wondered if Paul and I would have survived a child like this and if we could handle it with such grace. You see, in my profession, I work with lots of disabled children and I have noticed how many are from divorced homes. This puts a strain on a marriage, but I have witnessed the strength of a marriage that survives the first few years of dealing with a child that needs more from you than you even think you have in you. I admire this family. They are stronger as a unit, this is evident. I would love to give them a weekend away to enjoy one another as a couple. This couple were Christians and we talked about our faith. They were giving God the glory for their marriage and they were so grateful for their son. I started getting sad when I thought about how many people make the decision to abort their baby if they find out anything is "wrong" with it. I would still want my baby, even if he had a diagnosis that made him be dependent upon me for the rest of his life. I would consider this an honor.
     Another family that comes to mind for me is the Suffron's that go to our church. This couple has become united in caring for George, and their son is doing things that doctors told them he would never do. Just goes to show you that no doctor can stop our God. I saw their son George walking today and my heart filled with joy, this is just one more milestone that they have reached. He is a miracle and he keeps showing those around him God's strength. I admire this couple and family. Amy makes mothering George look easy and she never complains. She even finds the time to come to nearly all of my fundraisers and all of the committee meetings for the fundraising planning. She has blessed my life in more ways than one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blessed Beyond Belief

Tears flowed for me like a river this weekend.  I cannot even begin to tell you in words how my heart feels right now. I never imagined there would be a turn-out of so many people for the softball tournament. I knew nearly everyone at the tournament, which is humbling. My eyes are still bloodshot from all the tears, tears of utter joy. I saw people from every walk and era of my life. From childhood best friends like Kim Culpepper Artall and Rachel Hogan Hunt to my college softball buddies, to former students, coworkers from all of my jobs, to Dr. Rowe!  I had one of my friends, Heather Schumaker whom I have mentioned before tell me, "Katrinia, I have never seen you this happy!" She is right, because she had never seen me play softball before. I can't explain how playing softball makes me feel. It is where I am the most comfortable, the most confident, the most knowledgeable, and the one place I can forget all my troubles and be free. It has always been "that" place for me. I haven't talked too much about my childhood, but if I could sum it up in a phrase,  I would have to say that Jesus and softball saved my life. They both gave me purpose, they both challenged me, they both loved me back. I never got into too much trouble throughout high school because I was too busy doing what I loved every weekend and all summer long, I was on the field. Softball always gave me an out. When I was too weak of a Christian to tell my friends that I didn't want to go out and drink or go places I knew I shouldn't, I would just blame it on softball. I would have to go to bed early because I had a game the next day. Both these things also saved me because they kept me from drinking alcohol, (I can count on one hand the number of times I drank alcohol). Little did I know at the time, my body was already in a battle with my liver. My doctor had told me that not drinking had probably saved my life by the time they found out what I had.
     Then, I originally went off to Sam Houston State where I played for one year, but we had a coaching change and a terrible experience all together and our team literally all left after that season. I went home and had what I call my "six months of rebellion," which was very mild comparatively. I got my bellybutton pierced, which makes me laugh now because I have never had a body that was very skinny, so I had no business getting this pierced, but my mom had told me that I couldn't get one, so I did. Then, I quit waitressing at a restaurant and starting being a cocktail waitress at a bar. I moved out of my parents' house and in with my sister and best friend Kim Culpepper. I was still in school at San Jac for the Fall semester. I would really call this my selfish period of life because I just didn't care about what everyone else thought, but I soon realized that this was not the life for me and this coach from Northeast Louisiana kept calling me and she wanted me to play softball for her. Little does she know that she caught me on a day that I was really down and I said YES, I will come there and play softball for you. It is crazy that one of the best decisions of my life was literally made on a whim. And of course, this story involves my cousin Karen. She drove with me up to the school to take my stuff and check out the school. It was a great weekend. See, she has ALWAYS been right there when I needed her.
     Going to what is now called ULM-University of Louisiana at Monroe made me start making my own decisions and stop depending on other people. I started making the decision to go to church as often as I could, to read my Bible everyday, to pray more, to share Jesus more, to love Jesus more. No one was dragging me to church and I wasn't going just so my parents wouldn't call me and ask where I was if I missed church. I was going to church because I loved the Lord. This coach at ULM, Coach Holloway had a big impact on my walk with Christ as well. Even if I didn't always agree with her coaching decisions, line-up decisions, or where we went for dinner as a team, I always had a connection with her because we both love and worship the same God. She was very involved with our FCA group and we volunteered every year at her church for the pumpkin patch sale. I knew that she loved her team and all her players. She still keeps up with me to this day and I am so grateful that she wanted me on her team because the relationships I made with my teammates and roommates, and the youth I served at my church are still some of the best and most important relationships in my life.    
     Back to this weekend, my former teammates, "the Has Beens" came in from Oklahoma and Louisiana, and Texas. It is amazing how so much time can pass and we can pick up right where we left off. It was so fun to talk about all our fun memories. Mimi has the best memory of anyone I have ever met, she still remembers all the details of our games. Lori Tande organized the team and got everyone together. I can honestly say that she is the best player I ever had the privilege to play with. The best thing about her is that she has been and always will be humble. She is not prideful or arrogant about her talent. She would make plays that seemed impossible. I loved watching her play and bat. She is a natural. Jenny Buller came in to play as well and she is an outstanding player with more heart than can fit in her petite body. She is a better hunter than most men I know, she is beautiful, and she is a ball of fun. She is one of those people that everyone always wants to be around. She and her family are good people, they loved on me all through college and I can't imagine how many people have been blessed by her family. Anna Hancock came in town too. She has two girls, which I know was hard for her to leave them for a weekend. I only got to play with her for a couple of years, but she was consistently funny, and a hard worker. She is quick and can bat both left and right-handed (this always impresses  me when people can do that). Anna is a good ole souther girl and she is so pretty. I hope her husband knows that he is a lucky man. A girl I didn't even have the opportunity to play with in college named Ashley came to play too. I mean, this meant so much to me that she would give up a whole day out of her life to do something for me. It amazes me that people I don't even know care for me. Both of the Dietzs came. I have known this family since I can remember. Their brother Ryan and Cousin Kyle, and Amy's husband Bobby played with us as well. We would not have won 3rd place if we didn't have Ryan, he was our pitcher and RBI king for the day. It was great that this family was able to play together. It felt like old times. Kristy still is involved with softball as a high school coach. She was the best lead-off hitter ever. She had an on-base percentage probably somewhere in the 90%! And she can run, steal bases, and slide like nobody's business. We may both live in Pasadena, but we rarely bump into each other, so it was great catching up. Amy is the girl that taught me not to beat myself up too much if I made an error or messed-up. Now, I would say that she was wise beyond her years. She is a gifted player, but she knew that this was not the most important thing in life. I can see now that her calling was to be a wonderful mother. Both of her children were in our dugout with us and they are two of the most pleasant children I have ever been around, and I am around a lot of kids!  Amy and Kristy together are a great combination. Kristy and I are very similar with our competitiveness, it is ingrained in our beings. I never do something without trying to win, I don't see the point. I am already planning on practicing more for next year's tournament. I'm also planning on kicking this Cancer's Butt. I have no intentions of going down without a fight and I can see how everything that I have experienced in my life has only prepared me for this time, for the fight of my life. I will see my son off to college, I will see him get married, I will retire from my job someday, I will have more children, I will tell everyone I meet about the amazing God I serve. My God has blessed me with some of the best friends, best family, best coworkers, and best doctors a girl could have. I am about to go to sleep and use the very special quilt Mimi's mom made me with all the sweet comments my friends sent in, all three of my boys names are on my quilt, I love this quilt, a quilt made out of love. Thank you so much Lori for my quilt, I keep looking at it and noticing something new every time I look. I have so much more to share, but even my fingers are sore today after all those games yesterday, so I'm signing off for now, but I can't wait to tell you more, more of the good things.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thomas is Here!!

So, this is my favorite picture from the day Thomas was born, it still strikes an emotion within me when I see it. It was taken by one of my good friends from work, Susan Martinez. If I never said a word about that day, I feel like this picture expresses exactly how I was feeling. 

This was my first attempt to load a picture, so bear with me, I hope to get better at this as I go. I am so excited to tell you about the best day of my life.  On Monday, September 27, I had a regularly scheduled appt with the wonderful Dr. Rowe. I had been really worried because Dr. Rowe had scheduled a vacation for the first week in October (how dare him). My due date was not until Nov 1, so I guess he thought this would be okay, but I was already having contractions and he did not want me to contract very much since my first c-section had been through the thickest part of my uterus. I told him I had to have Thomas this week because I was naming my baby Thomas after him and I could not name my son Linda (that is the name of Dr.Rowe's partner). Well, sure enough, I had too much fluid around Thomas, I had lost my mucus plug, and I was starting to dilate. Yahoo, I was being admitted to the wonderful Antepartum Unit where I would be cared for by the most amazing nurses again. I was in the room next to the "bad" room, I didn't even want to look at that door, I wondered if any other mothers had lost their babies in that same room. I focused on my new room and I could not wait to meet my baby face-to-face. I savored every kick, hiccup, punch, heartburn, peeing every hour, even the insulin shots. I loved that I was pregnant. I was only 35 weeks pregnant, but I HAD to have my baby before Dr. Rowe went out of town. I wanted him to be a part of a story with a happy ending too. I wanted him to smile and laugh when he came to see me after this c-section. I had a ton of visitors Monday-Wednesday, but on Wednesday morning my contractions really started picking up and they were hurting now. The nurse called Dr. Rowe and the decision was made to go ahead and schedule a c-section for Thursday morning at 0700. This would be different, anesthesia came by and told me that no matter what I was going to the ICU post surgery simply from my past and I barely had any platelets. My husband and family had been donating platelets since my admission and I would receive infusions of platelets before my surgery this time. I would not have a c-section on the Labor and Delivery floor, instead, I would have it in the real OR so they would be prepared for any situation. I instructed the Anesthesia team that I would not take or receive any medications like Versed that would make me forget even one moment of this day. I would have to be put to sleep because I could not get an epidural with my low platelets. This made me sad and this also made it impossible for Paul to be in the OR with me to see Thomas exit my belly. I had always dreamed of pushing out a baby all natural with no meds, but this was not an option for me. The morning of the c-section, I got up and showered, fixed my hair, put on make-up, and prayed constantly. I wanted to look half decent for my pictures with my baby.
     They put me on a stretcher in my sexy gown and wheeled me down to the OR. Paul, my parents, and his parents, and a bunch of family were there waiting. Since I had to go to the OR, Paul couldn't go back to the holding area with me where they prepped me for surgery. I had to take off my glasses at this point, so I couldn't really see everybody too well. The first person to make me cry was the Anesthesiologist who kept telling me how I wouldn't be able to see my baby after the c-section because I would be in the ICU and babies could not come there. WHATEVER! I explained to him that I would see my baby and he shot back and said that I was a nurse and I knew better. I informed him that today, I was not a nurse, I was a MOM. Right after this, Dr. Rowe arrived and I told him about this mean man and he reassured me that I would see Thomas, and I instantly felt a sense of peace. It is rare to find someone these days that you can totally trust, but I trust Dr. Rowe completely. Then, my OR nurse was a friend of mine from Shriners in Galveston and she kept saying how happy she was for me that I was having a baby and it felt good to have a friend there to witness the birth of my son, since I would be knocked out. Then, they started wheeling me to the operating room and suddenly FEAR overtook my body. What if I died, what if I bled to death, what if Thomas died, what if they had to do a hysterectomy, WHAT IF? I had one of those "Come to Jesus" moments with myself. I laid it all out to Him. I had never wanted something so much before and I begged Him to take care of me, and I begged Him to take care of Thomas, and I begged Him to forgive me for not trusting Him like I should have the past 11 months. I had to clear my conscience. I watched everything they did, they cleaned my belly, I was freezing, I was no longer modest, I was talking to them and they were laughing, we prayed, and then the last thing I heard was,"Mrs. Bennett, I am going to press down on your cricoid and intubate you."
I was out, and in what seemed like an instant, I was awake. I need to see my baby, I need to see him. Where is my baby? Hello? Immediately, Paul showed me pictures of MY baby on our camera. I had instructed all my family that Paul could see Thomas right after the c-section, but no one else until I had seen him. I can't explain this really, but it had to do with all the people that got to see Benjamin before me, I wanted Thomas to hear my voice first, see my face first, feel my kiss first, this may sound selfish, but for me, it had to be this way.
   I was telling everyone in the recovery room that I was ready to go and see my baby. The same Anesthesiologist said, "If you can stand-up and get in that wheelchair, then you can go see him." I started getting up, this crazy man did not know me. I would have cut a finger or toe off at this point. I ended up with this super nurse that was my advocate. She said, "No, she does not have to do that, I will push her in her stretcher to go and see her baby." And, that is exactly what she did. Her name is Nikki. She fought for me and she will never know how much that meant to me. They disconnected me from all the monitors and took me to the nursery. There he was, the most beautiful sight I had seen. He was breathing all by himself, he was crying, he was moving, he was alive. I held him, I kissed him, I smelled him, I talked to him, I cried to him, I loved him. I didn't ever want to let him go, but eventually I had to be taken to the ICU. Let me tell you what I really wanted to do, I wanted to sprint up the highest mountain in the world and scream from the top of my lungs, "My God is faithful, My God is awesome, My God is Real, My God loves me!!!!" My hope had been restored, my faith renewed, my heart was healing, the song in my heart was playing again. People, there is no way that God is not real, I know He is real, I have felt Him, I have heard Him, I have seen Him. I told every nurse that came into the room about Jesus, I told all the pastors that came to visit me I was ready to preach a sermon about my testimony, I was ready to tell the world about Jesus. I couldn't stop smiling, or crying from joy. This was the best day ever. I kept doing everything they wanted me to do so that I could hurry up and be transferred to a post partum room. That evening, right at shift change, they transferred me. I had been walking around for awhile and had made them discontinue the morphine Dr. Rowe tried to give me. I did not want to be altered at all. I wanted to remember and cherish every second of this glorious day.
     Once again, the nurses at this hospital went above and beyond for me. Eventhough I was transferred right at shift change, they made sure to bring Thomas to me immediately, Dr. Rowe told them that I was not to get a roommate, that I was to have a private room for my stay. I am sure this is what he had dreamed for me with the boys, and now, he was giving me the royal treatment. I am so thankful for his kindness. I probably thanked him 2000 times that day. He had prayed for me, he had cared for me, and he loved me. The next few days seemed to fly by. I stayed in the hospital until Sunday. On Saturday, Thomas was circumsized by Dr. Rowe and he never cried. Dr. Rowe told him, "You are tough like your Momma." It is weird that this little comment meant a lot to me, he thought I was tough, but I thought I was weak. Saturday night, Thomas had to stay under the bili lights due to his jaundice. I had to be under the bili lights when I was born too, he was already like me:)
     On Sunday, we packed-up all our goodies, loaded the car, this time with a baby. I sat in the back with him and just stared, I couldn't stop. I did make sure he was breathing every single second. We didn't head home, instead we went straight to the cemetery. I know, this is a bit untraditional, but I wanted to let his brothers know that I still loved them, and I wanted Thomas to know about his brothers. Afterall, if you think about it, if they had lived, Thomas would not be here. Crazy thought, huh? After leaving the graveside, we went home to signs in our yard and on our door and family awaiting us. This was so different, everyone knew what to say, everyone was smiling and talking, strange how a baby can heal so many wounds. People were finally looking at me normally again, there was no more sympathy and sadness in their eyes. Now, I was finally able to breathe easy and relax. Thomas was here, he was okay, and I was going to teach him so many things, but mostly I am going to teach him about Jesus and unconditional love. I want him to know what that feels like, the way I do. I have never told anyone else this, but I want you to know something else that my wonderful cousin Karen had said to me when the twins were born. She came to me and with eyes full of tears, she soflty said, "Trina, I will move in with you, I will help you take care of him, we can do this." We knew that if Benjamin had lived, he would have special needs. It felt so good to see her hold Thomas, to know that someone like her would be around Thomas for the rest of his life, I want him to know and spend time with people like her.
     Bringing home a baby changed our marriage. We HAD to communicate a lot more now. We had to coordinate so many things.We had to stay on a schedule. We had to work as a team. Before, we could be way more independent, but now, we had a common goal- to raise a child together. I mean, this is a huge responsibility people. This made me also have a lot more respect for my sister. I don't know how she managed to raise Karina by herself. It has to be so hard. I think it is hard and I have Paul. My sister did it all by herself. She is stronger than I ever realized.She is who I lean on, she is usually the first person I call when I need help, when I need to cry, or when I just don't want to have to call the insurance company again. She handled all the yucky stuff for me. She has protected me since I was a little girl.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thomas is Coming!

About four weeks after the boys were born, I went back to work. I had to.I couldn't sit in an empty, silent, lonely house all day anymore. Would I be able to go and take care of other people's children? I didn't really know, but I did know I worked with the most amazing people in the world and I feel like they are my family. They were and still are so good to me, so compassionate, so loving, and extremely protective of me. I had a few breakdowns, patients would come in and ask how my babies were and I would just have to flee the room. One patient in particular had a father that is a minister and when I went in to do my assessment, he said, "I have seen that look you have in your eyes before, you have buried a child before haven't you?" How did this man know? Come to find out, he was a missionary in a country where lots of mothers have to bury their babies due to all different kinds of factors. He said my eyes were hollow, strange how someone I did not know could see my pain, but some of the people closest to me didn't see it, or maybe they just didn't mention it. I ended up pouring my heart out to this man and telling him just how I felt about God at the moment. I now know that God put him in my life at exactly the right time. He comforted me, told me he would pray for me, and he encouraged me. When I left the room, I had an epiphany! For the first time in my relationship with Christ, I was truly treating him like my father. I was raw and open with Him. I talked to Him so much more now, I needed Him so much more now, I was finally being REAL with Christ. You know what? God still loves me unconditionally just like my own dad does. He never left me, He never abandoned me, He still had blessings in store for me. I had no idea how wonderful my life would soon be.
     In the time between the twins death and the beginning of March, lots of things were going on. We kept getting lots of bills and I hate debt, I hate bill collectors, and I had to put a stop to it. So, I got a second full time job working with that wonderful cousin of mine, Karen. She works at Ben Taub in the Emergency Room, which was kinda my dream job too. I was still working at Shriners full time too, so I was working twelve 12-hour shifts in a row with a day and a half off and then I would start it all over again. It was only a day and a half off because I would have to switch from days to nights or vice versa. This schedule probably would have killed me if I kept it up too long, but I was able to pay a lot of debt off this way. I worked this schedule for about a month and I truly loved my time at Ben Taub, I learned a lot and I got to see my cousin even more, and with her, I always felt safe, she always protected me without me having to ask. She simply understood, she got it. Well, in the middle of the night on our second wedding anniversary, I woke-up at 2am and I just had a gut feeling that I was pregnant, I can't really explain it. I got up, drove to Walgreens and bought a test, no, more like 5 tests. I came home and peed and like magic, two lines appeared. I felt it again, it was joy in my heart, but this time there was something else with it, FEAR. Oh my goodness, every bad scenario imaginable popped into my head. I woke Paul up and I cried and showed him all the tests. I was pregnant! God still loved me, He is giving me another chance. Now, in these wee hours, we had to call someone, so we called Dr. Rowe!  He told me he was excited, but nervous and I needed to come in the next day for an appt, so I did just that. Then, I heard it, I heard Thomas' heartbeat. Paul told him about my crazy work schedule and he ordered me to quit the Ben Taub job due to the stress it would put on my body because it was so demanding. I never like quitting anything, but I would do absolutely anything for my baby, ANYTHING. It looked like I was already about 6-7 weeks along, so I had a long ways to go. I didn't tell everyone this time, no facebook posts with ultrasound pics, no flowers sent to our parents, nothing. It had to be this way. Of the people I told, I told them not to buy anything and give it to me. They could buy something and store it, but I didn't want anything until my baby was here, in my arms, breathing on his own, moving, crying, pooping, peeing, all of it. This would be different. I had learned that there are no guarantees in this life. I never tell people that everything will be okay because sometimes it is not okay. I left out one part, during the time between the death of my boys and my new pregnancy, Dr. Rowe kept in touch with me, he would text me and say that he was praying for me at random times and he would tell me that he knew I would have a baby. I love this man. I can't describe it, but when you endure something so tragic with someone, you are bonded. With my new liver doctor on board, this pregnancy was indeed a lot different. Until the day Thomas was born, I had been extremely tense inside. I couldn't seem to relax. I could still see Ben and Jacob's faces when I closed my eyes. I would see Dr. Rowe once a month for a couple of months, then twice a month for a couple of months, then every week, then twice a week. I never had to wait in the waiting room, Kim always had me come right back. She would share with me and I would share with her. She always made me feel special, and she treated me so good. I had a lot of anxiety. I needed to hear Thomas' heartbeat everyday. When I was at work, I could listen with our doppler at work, but when I had to be put on bedrest, she went and got a doppler and told me I could take it home. She seemed to go above and beyond every day for me. She would give me my lab results in record time. She comforted me when I had to go on insulin as my steroids had to be increased in an attempt to help my body make more platelets. I ate perfect during the pregnancy. I monitored everything that went into my body, I made sure the water temperature for every bath was okay, I talked to Thomas non-stop, I treasured every day that I was able to carry him in my womb. He was healing my broken womb. When we found out he was indeed a boy, we started discussing names. Paul's grandfather's name was Thomas, he has an amazing, Godly uncle Thomas, and then there was Dr. Thomas Rowe. When we told Dr. Rowe we were naming him Thomas, I said, "If my Thomas loves the Lord just a smidgen of how much you love the Lord, then I would have a wonderful, God-fearing son." I will always take Thomas up to see Dr. Rowe as he grows, I want him to know men like Dr. Rowe, I want him to be so in love with Christ that it comes out in all that he does. Dr. Rowe is like that, he prayed with me at my appts, before my surgeries, and I know he prayed for me when I wasn't even around. If anyone ever needs a high risk maternal fetal doctor, then I highly recommend this man. I could go on for days about his greatness. His entire staff is amazing, thoughtful, hard-working, compassionate, and just plain wonderful. I actually looked forward to every single appointment with him and his team.
     Okay, I'm getting to the good part, but it will have to wait. I am sleepy and I want to give the next blog my best. Afterall, this would be the best day of my life, I would be renewed, refreshed, I would rejoice again, I would feel God, really feel Him.