Sunday, May 25, 2014

1 Year: Finding Happiness

Wow.  I can't believe it has been a year.  I have to admit that this is not the "1 Year" post I imagined I'd be writing when Eli was born.  Like many mommy bloggers, I hoped to document each month of Eli's life and then share the fun celebrations we had on his first birthday.  Learning to walk, stuffing his face with cake, eating most foods and opening lots of toys are the types of things I expected this post to consist of.  Alas, this post is very different from balloons, cake, presents and a big party.  Instead, this post touches on our experiences of healing and hope.

I am often in awe at the amount of healing Logan and I have been blessed with over the past year.  If you would have shown me a glimpse of our lives one year into the future before Eli died, I would have absolutely told you that the only reason we felt this much happiness and peace is because he had gotten out of the hospital and was on the road to recovery.  The sting of losing Eli doesn't get any weaker, but we continue to get stronger and have a greater ability to handle it

Don't get me wrong, there are often days that we continue to struggle.  We still experience tears, great heartache and "if onlys". Simple things like walking through Target and seeing the adorable little boy clothes tug at my heartstrings.  Thinking of Summer coming is tough because I can't help but imagine how much fun we would have had watching Eli swim and play outside.  Four little boy cousins were or will be born by this summer and I know he would have had so much fun with them.  In just over a month he would have been old enough for nursery (isn't that crazy?!) and I know we would have loved dropping him off for the first time.  If I'm not thinking about these happy things that could have been, I sometimes catch myself reliving the not-so-happy days Eli lived.  It breaks my heart that he went through so much and experienced so much pain yet there was nothing we could do to relieve it or even explain to him why he was feeling the way he was.  During the days that I feel down, I try to remind myself of some great advice I recently read: "…No matter how good or bad I have it, I must wake up each day thankful for my life, because someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them...”

One of the most common questions we get is: "How are you REALLY doing?"  Honestly?  We are genuinely happy.  Of course we wish Eli was still with us but I would never wish away what we've experienced because of how much we've grown.  I feel like an entirely different person from who I was 12+ months ago.  My perspective on life, our marriage, my relationship with my family and friends and my goals have all vastly changed--in a positive way.  I love who I've become and consider it one of my greatest blessings.

Hope.  We have a lot of it.  We have high expectations for our future and what it holds.  One year from now Logan will be done with school and I'm sure there will be other exciting changes in our lives as well.  (No, this is NOT an announcement!) People continue to wonder when we'll expand our family but we honestly don't have an answer because we still don't know ourselves.  Some of you may recall that pregnancy was not kind to me.  From about 5 weeks along until nearly 6 months postpartum I had a rough road and it was tough on both me and Logan.  Physical challenges aside, neither of us is quite ready emotionally.  The loss of Eli continues to weigh on us, some times more than others, and we want to be a bit more stable before we bless our lives with another baby.  And, of course, the IVF journey we've chosen isn't exactly as easy as pie.  We still need more time to work out all of the logistics.

If I think too much about all of the physical, emotional and IVF hurdles ahead of us I tend to get overwhelmed but then I remind myself that everything will fall into place exactly when and how it's supposed to.  Right now, we aren't ready for another baby but we may wake up tomorrow and feel very differently.  We will continue to trust that there is a specific plan and timing for that plan and know that if we do our part, the Lord will do the rest.

Without a doubt, one of the main reasons Logan and I have come so far this past year is because of the support we have received from so many people.  Whether you're family, a close friend, a distant friend or simply a blog reader, we've needed each and every one of you.  I now make a conscious effort to pray for those in need because I know how much every prayer helps.  To those of you who have been with us in some capacity or another along this journey, thank you.  Just as I said HERE, I continue to pray for each one of you.

Today has been a tender day.  Unlike a birthday or anniversary, there's no way to prepare for an anniversary like this.  We planned on staying home with just each other today because we had no idea how we'd be feeling.  I woke up knowing the day was special, knowing the day was different, but not having a clue what to do about it.  It's not a day you truly celebrate but it's not a day I want to mourn either.  We experienced our greatest heartache on this day one year ago but we also experienced great relief knowing our baby was finally free of pain.  Our hearts hurt every day that Eli is gone but also feel happiness knowing where he is.  To say our emotions have been confused today is an understatement.

I'm so glad this day fell on a Sunday.  Logan and I attended church and didn't have anything else we had to do.  After church we took lunch over to the cemetery and had a picnic.  I feel very spoiled since Eli passed so close to Memorial Day because the cemetery is so beautiful and the weather is perfect around this time.  As we ate we listened to his funeral services for the first time.  It was wonderful but difficult hearing all of those words again.  I cried and laughed as Logan talked about the things that made Eli happy or mad.  What a journey we had.  After listening to the services we read the blog posts from when Eli was in the hospital and watched the video that was shown at his funeral.  I could stay at the cemetery forever but it started to get warm so we decided to pack up after a couple hours and get out of the sun.



This text from my Sister-In-Law made me so happy.  Eli and Lily were just a couple months apart and would have been best friends, I'm sure of it.  Lily loves talking to Eli's pictures and apparently tried giving him kisses today :)

Oh, remember how I mentioned it got warm?  




Am I pasty or what?!  Goodness gracious.  I hope that's not a sign for how my summer will be!

After visiting the cemetery we sat on the couch and watched all the videos we took of Eli.  Most of them don't have great meaning but it's so fun remembering what our everyday lives were like in the hospital.  We laughed as we watched the videos and were reminded of all the funny things Eli did.  I cherish having those videos more than I ever thought I would.

Overall, the day has been very nice.  There's no doubt we have felt Eli with us all day and I promise there's no greater comfort in the world.  Each time I get discouraged or feel like I can't get out of bed one morning I try to remind myself that Eli wants us to be happy.  The last thing I want is to let him down so I will continue to live each day striving to make him proud.  

Until we meet again, little man!

Some of you may recall that Eli had the opportunity to be a part of the Primary Children's Hospital annual telethon last year.  We had such a neat experience with it and were so grateful for the opportunity.  We received a call a couple weeks ago from someone at the hospital asking if we would be willing to do a follow up interview during the telethon this year.  Their biggest concern was that we were up for it emotionally and at a point in the grieving process that we would feel comfortable giving an interview.  Logan and I assured them we were emotionally ready to do that and would be honored to be a part of the telethon again.  I had/still have one reservation: The interview is LIVE!  Put me in front of a keyboard and ask me to write and I'll feel very comfortable.  Put me in front of a camera for an interview and I'll feel nervous and will probably stutter a bunch but constantly remind myself that they can edit out any awful moments.  Put me in front of a LIVE camera and I'll be a nervous wreck!  Remember the wonderful prayers all of you said for us for so long?  Well, they worked miracles once (and still do) so I would thoroughly appreciate those prayers again as we prepare for this interview (I'm totally serious!).  The time may change but for those of you interested in watching, the telethon will air live on KSL (6:00-8:00) on Saturday, June 7th and our interview will be around 7:10pm.

Finally, I had the unique opportunity about a week and a half ago to write a guest post on eternal families for a very neat blog. You can read it HERE.  So many thanks to the sweet blog author for providing me this chance to get my thoughts on the topic written down.  Even though they were all in my head, many things made a lot more sense to me after I organized them in writing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

SCID Moms

Yesterday I went to lunch with some of the neatest ladies I know!  SCID is very rare but there happens to be quite a few affected families here in Utah.  I met most of these women (either in person or through social media) while Eli was in the hospital.  Lisy's daughter had a room right next door to us and Toni, who wasn't able to make it to lunch yesterday, was just down the hall with her son.  I can't tell you how helpful and comforting it was to have those two amazing families to lean on while Eli was in the hospital.  I'm sure I picked their brains more than they would have liked!  Sweet Sienna lost her second son, John, to SCID a year ago this month.  She is the best mom and will be so good to her future kids.  Jill and Deni are SCID veterans and trail blazed the way for the rest of us to have a much better experience.  They are magnificent.  I hadn't met Courtney until yesterday but she is amazing just like all the others.  She is one of the most faithful people I have ever met and I can tell she's a wonderful mom to her 4 kids.  If you couldn't tell, I love these ladies so much!  We have a connection that is unmatched by anything and I am so grateful for their love and support in my life. 

Jill, Me, Sienna, Courtney, Deni, Lisy
Deni, one of the most thoughtful people I've met, brought balloons so we could do a balloon release in honor of Eli and John, who've both been gone about a year.  Eli had a ton of shoes and John loved frogs so she tied these adorable shoes and frogs to the end so we could each write a little message to them.  How sweet is she??  I loved it! 




 It was so fun to see all of you!  Many thanks to Lisy for getting us together!  Let's not wait too long before we do it again!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

I had such a wonderful day yesterday and I hope all of you moms did as well!  My husband and family took great care of me and made it such a special day.  I always have a tough time figuring out what to do for my parents on holidays because they can buy whatever they need/want.  I decided my mom and I would have fun getting a pedicure together (my treat, of course) so I made us an appointment at her favorite nail place with her favorite nail friend.  We had lots of fun!

I'm not sure which magazine she was reading...
Sunday morning/afternoon was great!  Before church Logan surprised me with a new camera bag I've wanted forever but haven't had the guts to splurge on and after church he made a delicious lunch.  That boy is quite the chef when he wants to be!  We made a visit to the cemetery which is always my favorite thing to do.  There's such a special peace that fills my heart when I'm there.  We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out and talking about how blessed we feel that Eli chose us to be his parents.

We went to my parents' for a delicious dinner prepared by my dad and had such a great time hanging out with everyone.  I love these ladies so much!

Staci and Krystal are both expecting this Summer and I can't wait to meet their baby boys!
My sister-in-laws are some of my best friends and I feel so fortunate to have them in my life.  They are the greatest examples of the mother I strive to be and I hope they know how much I love them!  Here's a picture of all 4 of us together.  We sure miss you, Cheryl!


Those of you that I'm Facebook friends with may have already seen my post about my mom but I need to document how much she means to me on my blog as well.  I was trying to think of a word yesterday that describes my mom but I was having a hard time because SO many great words describe my mom.  In the end I settled on CAPTIVATING.  The definition of captivating is "capable of attracting and holding interest; charming".  That describes my mom to a T.  My mom has a wealth of knowledge to share with everyone she meets and I often find it hard to believe I'm lucky enough to be her daughter.  My mom has an endless amount of qualities I could talk about but the thing I admire the most is her knowledge and love of the gospel.  The one thing I have known my entire life is that my mom loves the Lord and has a testimony that's as strong as anyone's.  Thank you, mom, for sharing your love and dedication to the gospel with me--it is the greatest gift you have given me.  I love you!


Like everyone else, the thing I cherish most about Mother's Day is the sweet reminder that I have been given that great calling.  I dreamt of having the title of "mom" since I can remember and it's even more wonderful than I could have imagined.


 
Only a mother can understand the love I have for this little angel and I still can't believe he's mine.  Some of our dear friends lost their little girl a couple weeks ago and my friend's husband wrote the sweetest words on their blog yesterday.  Quinn and Kristi, I hope you don't mind that I share them here.  In a post to Kristi, Quinn said: "I would give anything to get our little girl back so I will do everything to get back to her."  Those are my thoughts exactly.  Whatever it takes in this life to ensure I get to be with Eli again, I will do it.  I'm so grateful I have his sweet spirit and memories giving me strength to continue on each day.

Happy Mother's Day to each one of you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nurses' Week

In the past I'm sure I heard about National Nurses' Week but I've never thought much of it.  I've always appreciated nurses and everything they do for so many people but I never had a personal reason to pay much attention to this week.  Boy is that different now!  I vividly remember Nurses Week last year.  (Random fact: I'm 99% sure one of their gifts was a computer bag or something.  I'm not sure why that stuck with me.) It would be very remiss of me not to give a quick thank you to the many nurses that affected our lives in such a positive way.

Even though we were in the hospital for a long time there were quite a few nurses that we only had once or twice yet they were still so wonderful to us and I remember them well.  For those of you that have never stayed in a hospital for an extended period of time, a nurse can easily make or break your day.   There were very few occasions that the latter happened to us the entire time we were there and let's be honest, I was a crazy mom who probably caused most of those problems anyway.  To those nurses that we had a couple times but we haven't seen since, please know how much we appreciate everything you did for us and still do every single day!

Because we had such a long stay and didn't allow visitors, many nurses became like family to us.  Often times the only reason I made it through the day was because we had such a wonderful nurse taking care of us.  Down in the PICU Eli had a primary care nurse that took care of him every shift she worked.  Simply put: she was a Godsend.  From a medical standpoint, she was the only person that new Eli better than me and Logan and I loved that.  It was such a comfort having her walk through the door each morning knowing we were in such good hands.  The weeks she worked 3 shifts in a row were a miracle but then 4 days off felt like an eternity!  She may or may not have heard me complain about that one too many times.  Thank you, my friend, for being so wonderful to us.  Miss you like crazy!

I realize the nurses I'm talking about probably don't read this blog or even know it exists but it makes me feel better knowing those things are in writing. There will never be a Nurses' Week that goes by that my heart doesn't go out to the nurses that worked tirelessly on my little family' s behalf.  I will forever feel in their debt!

I've shared this picture before but it's too good not share again.  This can give you a small glimpse into how wonderful the nurses and staff and PCH truly are.


 

On another note...I couldn't help but share this picture of our beautiful nephew Stir Fry!  2 1/2 months old and cuter than ever!