Monday, March 21, 2011

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

It has been a dark winter here on the farm, but with the burgeoning sprouts of the daffodils, the light has crept back in.  Our journey started three months ago with Oliver’s diagnosis of craniosynostosis and so began the “winter of gloom.”  Appointments with specialists, CT scans, research, insurance battles and travel planning consumed all of our time.  We celebrated Christmas with as much joy as we could muster for Oliver and Pearl.  All of our thoughts were focused on one date: February 16, 2011

The day before and morning of surgery were the most difficult.  In the name of informed consent, I was told to sign a sheet describing all of the horrible things Oliver could face during his surgery and recovery.  The hospital had to make me aware that Oliver could become paralyzed, have a hemorrhage (then catch HIV from a blood transfusion), or die during his surgery.  Then, during our appointment with Oliver’s surgeon, we were informed there was a 1 in 500 to 1000 chance of dying during a cranial vault remodeling procedure.  Dr. Fearon assured us he had not yet lost a child during surgery.  The night before surgery, I began doing the math.  If Dr. Fearon has done this surgery on 2000 kids, he is way overdue for a death.  Then I spent an hour thinking about how we could get out of the surgery.  I have since read this kind of sick thinking is normal at three in the morning before surgery of one’s child. 

The morning of surgery, I kept giving him one last kiss, one last touch and wanting to hear his sweet voice one last time.  I was not sure if we would ever see our Oliver again.  In order to let the nurses take Oliver away, I had to turn off my natural fight response.  Go ahead, take my child, and cut open his skull.  It is not an easy thing to do.  I thought I would be sobbing, or wailing or something, but instead, I turned off.  At one point during the operation, Glenn and I went down to the cafeteria because Glenn thought he was hungry.  We walked the cafeteria for 15 minutes before Glenn realized he was just empty. 

After surgery, I could feel my heart in my head as Glenn and I walked down the hall to visit Oliver in his PICU bed.  I felt a small rush of relief when I saw he was alive, but wanted to make sure he was actually going to wake up before I let my guard down.  Finally, Oliver opened his eyes and whimpered, “I just want to be held.”  At that moment, the joy started creeping back into my life.  Finally, I had some control over the situation; I could be his mommy.  Never have I been happier changing bloody sheets or trying to catch vomit in a basin.  

Because Oliver was so brave and has such a great attitude, I will always remember his time in the hospital as a happy time.   

When we arrived home, we discovered spring was sneaking up on us.  We finally spent some time with our goats and Oliver and I enjoyed feeling Leche’s pregnant belly.  Glenn also recalled that he had ordered heritage chicks for his new chicken-breeding venture.  Glenn and I had a lot to do to prepare for all of babies that would be arriving.
Last Wednesday a small, loudly-cheeping box arrived at the post office.   Oliver wants to create little houses for the chicks (I did indulge his four-year-old fantasies for about thirty seconds) and Pearl wants to use them as teethers.  We are enjoying the chicks with close supervision. 

The next day, Leche’s screams led us out to the front pasture. She pushed for 45 minutes and gave birth to a handsome boy, Patrick (in honor of St. Patrick’s Day).  Because she is a first-time mom, it took her a couple of days to warm up to her baby.  Now the baby is nursing and cuddling happily with his mom (and, yes, of course I’m including the birth shots!). 

We can see hooves!

                                                   The head is born.

Leche was done pushing once the head and half the body were born.  Finally, I helped during a contraction to free the baby.  

Leche is nursing her baby for the first time.  Good job Leche!

Life is officially back to normal.  This spring we are a little more grateful for our kids and our good health, we are a little closer as a family, and have the benefit of knowing just how wonderful and supportive our family and friends are in a time of need.  We consider ourselves to be very lucky.