Friday, February 13, 2009

April Blogs...Take TWO!

I'm not at all surprised that this happened.  One of the reasons I resisted the urge to join the blogging world for so long was that I knew I'd have trouble finding the time to write regularly.  Once I took the plunge last August, I hoped that I would overcome my own time management shortcomings and really do this right.  I failed.  In all fairness to myself, I've just gone through possibly the darkest time of my life, so I'm not going to feel too guilty about it.  

Anyway, now I am recommitting to this project I have begun.  I'll be sharing the address with friends and family soon - that ought to be just enough pressure to keep up with it.  I plan to start adding photos as well, though first I'm going to have to start remembering to take them more often!  

When I chose the name and theme for this blog, adjusting to a different gender distribution than I had imagined for my children was one of the biggest issues weighing on my mind.  Unfortunately, life had far less trivial challenges in store for me and my family.  

Not long after my first entry, I underwent a fetal echocardiogram as a precaution because I have a family history of congenital heart defects.  At that echo, a minor defect was found.  It's called Ventricular Septal Defect, and it means there is a hole in the wall, or septum, between the left and right ventricles, allowing blood to flow between the two.  Often the holes are small and cause nothing more than a heart murmur in a child; in rare cases they are large enough that they need to be closed either with medication or surgery.  Out of all possible heart defects, VSD is about as minor as you can get, and I was incredibly grateful for that.  But no parent ever wants to hear that something is wrong with her child's heart.  I did my best not to allow worry to consume me for the remainder of my pregnancy, but it was always lurking at the back of my mind.

In September, my father underwent surgery on his neck to decompress a nerve.  It was not a particularly dangerous procedure and he was expected to have a reasonable recovery.  For some reason we will never know, he actually never recovered.  He developed a great deal of numbness in his extremities and became disabled.  He spent two months going in and out of the hospitals and rehab facilities, enduring myriad tests to find an underlying cause for this numbness, but no cause was ever found.  Attempts were made at physical therapy, but no real progress was ever made.  A second neck surgery was performed, but no improvement was ever seen.

His spirits were low, and we feared he would spend the remainder of his life in a nursing home, deprived of the independence that he so cherished.  The outlook was not positive, but we did at least believe that he would LIVE.  We were wrong.  

Just a few days after I celebrated my 31st birthday, my father developed pneumonia, serious blood clots, and other complications.  He needed surgery to save his life but the surgery itself was too dangerous.  It was his time to go home, where no doubt my mother was eagerly waiting.  We were fortunate in that all eight of us "kids" were able to make it to Charleston in time to say goodbye and spend some time with him in his final days.   On November 22, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, he entered into Eternal Rest.  

I don't think I need to go into detail about how difficult the loss was on an 8-month pregnant woman.  I survived the week only through the amazing support of my husband and my siblings, and the bright smiles of my beloved Gabriel and Luke.  But the grief was nearly impossible to bear throughout the final month of my pregnancy.  I adored my father.  For as long as I can remember, I've always been a "Daddy's girl."  Even in my rebellious teenage years, when I did nothing but fight with my Mom, I could still talk to my Dad.  And I've depended on him even more, emotionally, since Mom died nearly 4 years ago.  I felt like a little piece of her lived on in him, so losing him was like losing her all over again, but more completely.  Though I am an adult, I feel like an orphan.

Most of December is truly a blur to me now.  I was not myself at all.  At first there were good days and bad days.  Then there were just bad days with occasional good moments.  My moods shifted violently.  It is almost fortunate that I was very busy at my job because I was able to bury myself in my work to help just get through each day.  I really was not functioning like a normal person.  It was all just too much for me.

Unfortunately, I turned a lot of my negative thoughts toward my poor innocent unborn son.  He was unplanned to begin with, and throughout the pregnancy I'd been frustrated by the timing.  Adding grief to that equation caused me at times to resent my baby.  I thought if only I were not pregnant, maybe I could have visited Dad before he got so sick, and certainly I could have handled the sadness better.  I felt so empty inside that I feared I would not be able to bond with my baby once he was born.  Over and over again, I asked myself, "What if I don't love him?"

So I was overcome with grief, resenting my baby and fearing I could not bond with him, and also trying to throw together a good Christmas for my two precious sons, and that is how I approached the end of December.  The birth of "Baby Three" deserves a post all its own, so this is where I leave you tonight.  Hopefully it won't be six months before I share the next chapter of my story!

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