Part 4: The Day...

We have scars.

For one, my husband wouldn't carry either of our daughters down the stairs for some time. He will only do it now (over a year later) when wearing shoes.

He seems fairly well-adjusted aside from that one quirk...which can more or less be considered a "rational" precaution.

I have not been so "lucky."

I did not process in the moment what was happening during that time. I was not frantic. I was calm and collected. For many who know me - this is not my "norm." I'm a feeler. I didn't feel anything for a while.

So, scars and feelings would pop up in the oddest places.

I would be in bed, reading a book about nothing at all in particular and I would burst into uncontrollable sobbing.

My husband would rush to my side and ask what was wrong, the only words I could get out..."She could have died."

I would hear noises...and they didn't have to be loud: someone moving a chair upstairs, our oldest jumping, NORMAL things. My response would be an elevated heart rate as I sprinted towards the source...only to crumble into a sobbing pile when I saw that all was well.

I had never been a worried or overprotective mother.

Even after 2 miscarriages, I never felt like the world was out to "get" my family or my children in particular. But after that day, I have  found myself living with this ever present sense of doom. Even in my thankfulness, I felt doomed.

Before that day, I knew my babies would be just fine. Falls happen. Bumps happen. Cuts, scrapes, and burns happen. It's all part of it. 

My being irrational about noises or bumps or falls...was new to me. It was new to my husband. We had always had a wait and see approach when it came to our babies - not wanting them to be anxious or worried. We shrugged off a lot...BEFORE.

My husband was still able to shrug a lot off. I just couldn't shake it even if I could logically process that no one was in danger.

Even in those irrational moments, I knew my children were God's. I knew He was our protector. Just look how He has saved our girl.

This was not a question of faith.

This was...this is post traumatic stress disorder.


Part 3: The Day...

We spent a week at the hospital across the street. A week. 7 days. She wouldn't stop throwing up.

The doctor reluctantly ran another CT. No change. No bleeding. Why was she still throwing up? A virus was their best guess, but everyone was on edge. It was hard to wrap our minds around a head injury so conveniently coinciding with a stomach virus (that lasts an entire week).

My husband and I switched off  nights sleeping at the hospital and days spent with our oldest. Our two-year-old came to visit often and was now very accustomed to the hospital room. She would thank the nurses for taking care of her baby sister.

But, we were all worn out. By the end of that week, she had lost 15% of her body weight. That's a lot of weight when you're barely three-months-old.

After 24-hours of keeping food down and having regular dirty diapers, Baby Girl was discharged. We returned to our house - comforted by the fact that we were only mere feet from medical professionals.

Things seemed normal. We were cautiously optimistic.

In late January, we took our now 4-month-old in for her (now-belated) three-month "well baby" check. They took all the normal measurements. Her weight had bounced back a little and she had lengthened, and they measured her head THREE times.

Her pediatrician came in looking grave - I know that look. I hate that look.

Her head had crossed percentiles - 75th percentile to 99.9th percentile. They can't say "100th percentile" because it would be equivalent to saying she has the "biggest head of all the babies in the whole world."  Which isn't considered to be scientifically provable or medically professional.

The main concern was hydrocephalus - a build up of fluid on the brain which results from what is normal fluid on the brain failing to drain properly. It can build up around the brain (not as dangerous) or inside the brain (not great). It's a tough thing and it is often a result of (you guessed it) a brain hemorrhage. The condition requires several brain surgeries, shunts, etc...it's a lifetime condition and cannot just be "fixed." 

So,  we traveled a lot. We talked a lot. We researched a lot. We lived with our stomachs in knots. We didn't sleep well. Several trips down to the neuro folks in Colorado, several sets of family head measurements, an ultrasound of her head and neck, and an MRI...WEEKS dragged on. WHY is her head so big? Everything seems normal? Why is it crossing over percentiles. The questions didn't stop.

(Answers...even hard prognoses are so much easier to handle and move on from than the unknown)

The end conclusion?

My husband (her father) has a head that measures in the 99.9th percentile. Again...we can't say that he has "the biggest head out there" - but it's a biggern' (love you, honey). When I say "off the charts," I am not exaggerating. I was there, his measurement is quite literally not anywhere on the graphic that we looked at.

She is normal...she just has a HUGE head which is probably one of the reasons that such a "small" fall had such a huge impact (brain hemorrhage). Her brain just had more room to move about (don't think too hard on it because it will make you nauseous).

All being said and done, we lived in this constant state of "waiting for the other foot to drop" for three months. One does not suffer trauma - especially a prolonged traumatic process without being changed.

We have scars. 


Part 2: The Day...

We landed at Colorado Children's.

I could see doctors waiting for us. It all felt so very surreal.

My tiny baby on this huge gurney. The wind whipping around and folks ducking. It felt like an episode of Grey's Anatomy. What they don't show you on TV is that before off-loading a patient, they like to wait until the helicopter blades have stopped moving. This takes about two minutes...of sitting. Two minutes felt like an unnecessary eternity.

When all was "clear," the medics unpacked my baby and me. Her favorite pacifier had fallen out of her mouth and landed on the floor of the helicopter. One of the medics was so considerate and took the time to give quick a "look" and scoop it up.

We walked quickly. Medics and doctors traded information... "brain hemorrhage...two skull fractures...stabilized in air..."

The medics wished me a "Merry Christmas" and I thanked them. They left to start paperwork or save another life; I'm not sure. The next week I would find out from one of our nurses that air medics only let parents accompany children when they think your child is going to die in air.

And then the doctor began to talk to me.

He was an intern. I say "intern," but he obviously knew what he was doing. He and another very sweet and calming nurse walked us to a private room in the ER and began a physical examination of my girl. When they felt satisfied, they placed her in my arms and told me to let her eat if she showed interest. My arms ACHED for her, but I was suddenly concerned with how to hold her, how not to hold her...could I make it worse? Her skull was FRACTURED and her brain was BLEEDING. What do they mean "hold her"?

They were full of grace and showed me.

Once we were settled into a chair with a multitude of pillows and tubes everywhere, the doctor sat down across from me.

"She has two skull fractures and a mild-to-moderate sub-arachnoid hemorrhage. She also has a concussion, understandably. We feel good about her prognosis - which is why I'm here and not the head of neurosurgery. I would normally just send you home under such circumstances, but you live two hours away and we would hate for something to happen two hours away from us. We're going to keep you here for 24-hour - just to observe. Can we get you some juice or coffee?"

Are you kidding me? Bring on the coffee. I sat there shell-shocked.

What seemed like five minutes later my husband rushed into the room with our oldest in his arms. I had never seen him look so empty, racked, weary. I can't describe it to you. I stayed seated, holding our baby, trying to reassure him through the glass with a smile. The intern was more than happy to come back in and walk my husband through the details. We just sat stunned. Thankful.

The rest of that day was spent being admitted, lots of drugs, efforts to feed and to keep food down, visits from Denver Broncos players and Santa Claus (it was Christmas Eve after all), check-ins from the sweetest nurses and the head neurosurgeon himself. Our oldest watched "Cinderella" for the first time while we fielded phone calls from friends and family. My husband and our oldest found a room at the Ronald McDonald house (where there was a mountain of toys waiting for her upon arrival). The night was filled with coffee and snuggles and meds and a pacing, not-sleeping-momma. Who needed sleep?

Christmas morning came...it brought more visits, smiles, clean bills of health (well, as "clean" as you can get having two skull fractures and a brain hemorrhage). We prayed and worshiped and got ready to leave and by 1pm that afternoon, we were loading our precious cargo into the Subi and heading home.

We stopped for lunch (hunger hit with some kind of fierceness and we had been told to go about our lives normally - just not jostling or bouncing). We were seated by a waitress and were about to order when our baby threw up...a lot. This was not out of the ordinary...she was having some trouble with keeping foods down. We chalked it up to the her body getting back to normal. We apologized to our waitress, quickly loaded back up, got a Happy Meal for our oldest, and started the long drive home.

My parents arrived soon after we unloaded. My mom and dad had driven 23-hours through the night and a snowstorm to be near us. We had "Christmas," opened presents, and went out for Chinese food. We went to sleep or tried to.

The baby kept throwing up.

We called the neuro-folks. The on-call neuro-guy (familiar with our case) asked what flavor of Tylenol we were giving her. Apparently, his children always gagged when given the grape-flavor. My husband and I tried to not worry.

The next day, we took her to see her pediatrician for a follow-up. She was still throwing up. Our nerves were beginning to unsettle.

They walked us straight from the pediatrician's office to admittance. Her clean-bill of health was gone...


Part I. The Day...

I can't think of a decent title for this story. The fact of the matter is that this phrase can end in almost any string of words and it would describe that day.

It was Christmas Eve of 2012. I had a newborn, a 2 year-old, and a gorgeous husband. It had been an inconsistent night of sleeping and when the baby awoke at 6AM, my very sweet husband got up quietly, gathered our little one into his arms, and made his way downstairs. Merry Christmas to me. More sleep. He is so very thoughtful.

And then I heard it. I can say it was a series of bumps. I can say it sounded like drums, but the only apt description is the sound of helpless weight rolling down stairs accompanied by the frantic cries of a man. For a split second there was silence...and then (thank God) a wail. A very small wail.

I don't know how my legs got me downstairs, but I met them both in the living room. She looked pale. He looked as uncharacteristically unsettled as I have ever seen him. It was clear she was uncomfortable and then she threw up. By 6:04, my husband - in nothing but his slippers and pajamas rushed our barely clothed newborn across the icy street and into the E.R.

I threw on anything I could find and gathered up my toddler. I remembered to bring toys - just in case it was a long day. I rushed her along the street in the cold, dark morning while she clung her baby to her chest...not the Christmas we had envisioned.

I walked into the ER - which was empty- and just said, "I'm looking for my husband and my baby." I could see a small group of nurses and techs and office staff huddled together with grim looks on their faces. They shot glances in my direction and hushed their conversation to a whisper. I saw a man kind of shake his head.

As I entered the room I didn't notice my husband and stared past the doctors as they made introductions. All I saw was her. She was ashen. That means "gray." There is no other way to say it elegantly or poetically. Her skin was gray. They were trying to get needles into her and couldn't. They were trying to get veins, but nothing seemed to be working. So, without intravenous anything, they took her to have a CT. I went with her. I hushed and tried to calm her...which seemed more for myself than for her. At this point, she was moaning...barely audible moans.

We walked back to the room - where the nurses again tried to get a vein - no luck. Two seconds behind us was a man in glasses and black scrubs. He said "Brain hemorrhage, life flight, chaplain." My husband crumbled. He's not a crier. So, I kind of stared at him. I declined the chaplain and walked over to my girl. I just talked to her. I knew at some point my husband walked out to call an Uncle (also a neurologist) to try and decipher what was really happening. I just stood next to my girl. I talked calmly to her and to our oldest. The nurses were no longer trying to get veins...they would wait on the air medics...as air medics were generally more experienced with babies this small. I told my husband to take our oldest back home to pack a few bags - he needed a job. We would need to drive two hours to meet her at the Children's Hospital and I didn't want us to waste any time once she was in the air.

The medics entered and I just tried to stay as close to my baby for as long possible. I needed to see her, to smell her, to let her know I was there. She was so gray and so very quiet. One of the medics got my attention.

"Do you get air sick?"


"Will you impede our treatment of your daughter should something happen? We can't worry about you - she is our priority."

No. Of course.

"Would you like to fly with us?"

Yes. Thank you.

I called my husband and told him to get a head start on the road. The medics and I loaded up and took off for a 45 minute flight. My baby was "not stable." The air-medics did their thing. They moved quickly and soon had IVs in her little arms (finally). She was still grey. I was silent. The whole time I was praying. Not eloquently. A little girl's prayer of faith. "Father, please...please." I am comforted by the fact that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

Once they had done all they could do and all to be done was wait, the men tried to calm or distract me with banter about one's upcoming nuptials. His fiance was a nurse at the Children's hospital. Would we mind if he checked in on us in a few days...they never have the luxury to check in on their patients...it would be his day off. Then...

I heard words like "stabilizing" and I could see her cheeks were pink.


Rant Ahead...Lo Siento {We will return to our regulary scheduled programming manana}

Rant Warning: 

I believe we currently find ourselves in a culture of leadership-hungry folks.

Don't tune me out. I'm not about to get terribly political or jump into a diatribe against Wall Street or even rail on the Church (Big C). Although, I think those areas obviously have leaders and suffer from the same leader/power hunger issues that I am about to tackle. My thought today is simply on the people around us in our everyday circles vying for places of power or influence.

This doesn't seem like it should be a problem. Leaders are great. At their best they offer vision, wisdom, guidance, encouragement, means, etc.

However, a GOOD leader is hard to find and being surrounded by a number of folks vying to be the "winner" of whatever invisible power struggle they are participating in can be downright exhausting, infuriating, and most often disheartening.

Yes, good leaders are hard to find and bad "leaders" are like leeches...a constant nuisance sucking the very life blood of those around them - they eventually just wear you down.

I don't know how this whole situation came to be - leaders come to be leaders through experience, expertise, vision, passion. But lots of people today just think that they SHOULD be leaders. An inflated since of self-importance and an overestimation of their own knowledge - a self aggrandizement that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of well, most people they come into contact with.

It's like taking a selfie...one assumes that others WANT to see that mess and most of the time...no.

We. Don't. Want. It.

There are things people offer advice on (or areas people want to lead in) and I just don't get it - I can't...

It's hard for me to take someone's advice on being a stay-at-home mother if they have live-in-help.

It's hard for me to take someone's advice on being a wife if they've been divorced. {Although, hindsight is 20/20 and lots of wisdom can come from looking back}

It's hard for me to take someone's advice on finances if they are not smart with money. 

It's hard for me to take someone's advice on being a Godly woman if they in no way look like one to me.

I think the best leaders are those who live life in such a way as to be well respected and informed,  who humbly learn from those around them, who listen more and talk less, and who don't seek to be "leaders."

The desire to be a leader, does not a leader make.


A 3 Spoon Day

Sherlock Holmes would often refer to "problems" by the number of pipes he would have to smoke before he figured it out. A three-pipe-problem therefore could be resolved or figured out by the end of the third bowl. {As a completely awesome aside, the new BBC Sherlock uses nicotine patches and therefore calls them three-patch-problems as to stay so very PC}. I digress.

I think that more often than not, it would be looked down upon should I refer to my days in such a way as to imply my smoking several bowlfuls of pipe tobacco in the pursuit of survival. I've contemplated wine, but that's just gonna get messy after the second glass...and I already deal with enough bodily fluids that aren't mine. You get the picture.

So, today (in my world) was a three-spoon-day.

This does not mean that I got out wooden spoons and beat my children nor that we took turns throwing 3 different spoons repeatedly at the door until the the man of the house walked through it.

It means that on THREE different occasions whilst children were otherwise engaged or occupied, I shoveled a heaping spoon of chocolatey, hazelnutty pure goodness into my mouth...just trying to make it through.

Undoubtedly, this is a food issue. But that's neither here nor there. Today was a three-spoon-day.

The first spoon: My sweet {and completely potty-trained} girl decided that it was perfectly okay to pee all over our bedroom rug while doing nothing of consequence and being only mere feet from the toilet.

The second spoon: When trying to roast coffee in 10 degree weather, my coffee roaster decided to mutiny with all the "green" beans in the hopper....and well, it was not pretty nor was my reaction to it. I can't really blame the poor coffee roaster. It was cold - even for an inanimate appliance.

The third spoon: As I was prepping dinner I realized (a little too late) that 10 degree weather is not conducive to things actually thawing. So my baked ziti freezer-meal had a type of thaw/cook experience that closely parallels the feeling of doomed failure covered in mozarella.

So. I measure my days in spoons sometimes...most times. lots of times.

Like I said, undoubtedly, and eating issue and thank God for nutella.


They'll never remember...

The worst piece of parenting advice that I have ever received...

"Don't worry about what you say when they are little, they won't remember it anyway."

In the moment, this advice was 'good.' It put a young mother's feelings of guilt and sorrow over a thoughtless utterance at ease. It made me feel better. However, as I have journeyed farther down the road of motherhood - this piece of advice has come to be just horrifying.

In our sin (anger, grumbling, ugly words, sarcasm), we should not be made to feel better - we should feel convicted - and that conviction should lead to repentance. Excusing it away with "They won't remember..." not only in some way excuses the behavior, but it gives one permission to treat their child as a lesser being, because they are in a season of life that they are unlikely to recall.

Here's the thing. They WILL remember. They might not remember the specifics of the situation or the words. But their little heart will remember the hurt. Their little brain that is forming all these connections over time will remember that at one point, you unjustifiably hurt them...that they cannot trust you. It will be there. A wound. A lifelong wound. If you want to argue that kids don't know what is and is not justifiable, well - I think kiddos' have one of the most keen senses of justice around. They know when they've done wrong. They know when they've been wronged.

You know what else?

YOU will remember.

You will remember every thoughtless and unkind word that you mumble over your baby. It will haunt you. What's worse? Your tongue remembers. It's a muscle. You don't think it can form muscle memory? Every nasty thing, biting tone - it comes easier the next time and the next time and the next time. Practice makes "perfect," you know?

So, SPEAK gently over your children. Let your words be love over your husband. LOVE, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control...(highly needed by moms everywhere).

Form a new habit and shed the old ones. Make new muscle memories: smiles, laughs, praises, worships.

Happy New Year.