Manic Motherhood at it's FINEST!!

Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"

Why "I am NOT a VOLCANO!"
click the volcano for the due explanation
"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." — Gordon B. Hinckley
Exaggeration is the spice of life

Book I am Currently Reading: Peter and The Shadow Thief

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy- Alfred North Whitehead

Mama's Losin' It


Mama Kat's writer's prompt:
#5- a time I feared for the safety of a loved one.
These two stories will likely just sound long winded. But they broke my heart. They both center around the same main thing, but the fact is that it relates my fear for 7 different loved ones almost all at once. I would love for you to take the time to read them. I still can't look back at them without sobbing.
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The year, 2009, had been the absolute worst year of my life. I think that I can very safely and honestly say that.

The end of 2008 was blissful at worst. That sounds cliche, but I was happy. My life had rounded itself out to be very pleasant, and the end of the year is my domain anyway. Autumn lasted longer than normal, leading into a fresh and cool Halloween. For my anniversary, I got to see "Into the Woods"- one of my favorite productions, and had a glorious evening at The Melting Pot wrapped in an authentic Chinese style silk dress. On Thanksgiving, we spent the day snowed in at my mother's house, the smell of baking and turkey with all the trimmings warmed the house faster than any glowing fire could have. My husband teased my youngest brother and sister, while I got to know my soon-to-be sister in law over a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle. She and my brother were married in early December, and Christmas was much the same with presents until noon, a storm to die for (in the GOOD way) and dozens of friends and family.

I should have known back then, that 2009 was going to be horrible. We ushered the new year in with a masked ball. I was a swan in a silver ball gown adorned with white feathers and wings, and a black feathered mask, my hair in solid ringlets about my neck and chin. And I was severely depressed.

















In high school, my crowning achievement was that I was an editor of my high school literary magazine. It is a spectacular magazine called Chasms, and it was 3rd in the nation for best high school published works. It goes without saying that we were good writers. And not just for being kids. We had a stellar teacher who understood us (or at least tried), who accepted us (without fail), and who pushed us to always be better. This man is my hero to this day. How he managed to put up with so much whining, desks affixed to the ceiling, Latin words written in white out across his walls, dirty jokes about classic nude art, and flat Dr.Pepper in place of his usual morning coffee is beyond me. I would have never made it. Oh, how intense those days were. How invigorating. How lonely. How exhausting. How numb.






My mother on several occasions refused to proof read my poetry because she didn't want to read about sex, drugs or death. Well, as I mentioned before, I was a 'good Mormon girl' and had never experienced sex, drugs, or, obviously, death...but who didn't WANT to? And so we wrote about it. I still to this day haven't experienced drugs, just for the record, but sex and death...well, I have 3 1/2 children, so that solves the sex question, and I have witnessed death being cheated twice last year. But I digress. My point is: how numb.

On December 31, 2008-January 1 2009, I was numb. Numb enough that it brought back those waves of memories. The intense highs of teenage angst. The lows so low that you felt like dying. Around me, the music raged. My friends embraced, scandals were started when a girl and a boy who didn't 'belong' together kissed at midnight. And I wanted to be sucked into a dark closet and stay there. I was so numb, that I couldn't feel the air sucked into my mouth, even with wet lips. I never wanted to cut myself. But I could see why people do it. Because they just want to FEEL something.

My own depression and numbness was fairly short lived. We received our tax return early in January because we filed as soon as was humanly possible. We bought a house in 2008, so our 7500.00 went directly to our financial advisers and they invested it.

But darkness fell when I found my mother and father unconscious from carbon monoxide poisoning in mid-January. My youngest brother and my sister were awake, but sick. They all recovered quickly in the ambulance, but my mother was intubated at the hospital. She was in a coma for nearly a week after that. (http://www.iswendiok.blogspot.com/) Doctors didn't tell us much at all. Many friends and nurses and doctors who cared for her in her comatose state told us only the best things. We didn't know until after she woke up, finally, that they didn't expect her to survive.






She recovered quickly from there on out, but it took months for everything to be sorted out and back to normal. I was able to be strong because everyone needed me to be. But it was absolutely the opposite when my child, not my mother, was in a life threatening situation.

On the Autumn Equinox, September 21, 2009, which, by the way, was a spectacularly cool day, and I could see the red leaves starting to bleed onto the mountain side. The air was crisp, and the wind was sharp. I spent most of the day euphoric and mostly pretty patient with my children because my excitement made for high moods.

After dinner, my children, dressed in pajamas, retreated into our basement to their playroom. I stayed in the kitchen to clean up dinner. And I heard a deafening crash a few minutes later. I knew what it was before I got there. My youngest little one, had pulled a television and a dresser down on herself.

Obviously, I panicked, and I picked her up. There was no blood at first, and so I thought she was just out of breath. But then a crimson stream came pouring from her right ear and her nose. 911 was dialed, the bishopric was called and Priesthood blessings were given.

( This is Scarlet Serafina Estelle BEFORE her accident at the Great Salt Lake in September.)







The paramedics rushed Scarlet to the hospital, reassuring me over her screams that she was going to be fine. Obviously, I didn't think so. I was already panicking at the thought of losing my little girl. My other two children went home with a neighbor.






From the ER, they life flighted my baby to Primary Children's hospital. My husband was already there, as he was in class at the University of Utah when it happened. But I couldn't get on the helicopter with her. The hour drive to the hospital, was excruciating. I called my mother and asked her to come. One of my best friends escorted me there, driving so that I didn't have to.




Upon arrival, I found my baby in the midst of a CT scan, screaming for her momma. I could have vomited. She did. Mostly blood, and her undigested dinner. I blamed myself, of course.




Later, while being poked and prodded with IVs and lights and blood pressure cuffs, my little daughter was given a teddy bear, who she promptly named "Pink" (and no surprises there. She has a bunny, 2 kitty cats, and several more assorted bears by the same name) and a blue blanket that she called "soft". One doctor let her curl her little fingers around his, and winked at her. She giggled at him, and tried to mimic.




We learned from the CT scan that she had a fracture that went from around her left eye bone, around her head and through her right ear. She had a broken bone in that right ear, and she was leaking spinal fluid from it. She also had a nerve that was damaged so she had some paralysis on the right side of her face. She also had an artery in her neck that was corrugated by the impact and pinched. Blood was still getting to the brain, but they worried about a stroke.







We spent the night in sleepless tears in her room. But upon waking, we heard a tiny voice say "Pink fish. Blue fish." On her ceiling, above her crib, was painted a pink fish and a blue fish. That day, she went in for another CT scan and some x-rays of her neck and back. She kicked and screamed and bit at the nurses until they were done with her, and then jumped off the table into my arms. One of the doctors said "Well, I guess she doesn't have a neck or back injury."





My girl is a fighter. She had to be.













This is Scarlet on the second day, coloring in her Strawberry Shortcake coloring book with markers. Primary Children's hospital is the best there is, and they know how to treat children. At this point, she was wearing the neck brace because she hadn't officially been cleared by the doctor for lack of back and neck injuries.










Over the next few days, she improved phenomenally. We were moved to a new room, where she didn't need to be on wires, and she didn't need the brace. She liked to take rides in her wagon with all her baby dolls the nurses brought. Every day she received a new Priesthood blessing from my husband and her grandpa or uncles. Heavenly Father was ever present.





On Wednesday night, September 23rd, I spent the night in her room in a state of only semi-unconsciousness. Neither asleep nor awake. Scarlet had come through almost every single one of her worrisome hurdles just fine. I was finished blaming myself, because it didn't help her get any better because I felt that it was my fault. And I couldn't be an effective mother if I kept trying to do so. I knew my baby was going to live, so I was past praying for her survival. She was completely herself. She was as sass-mouthy and attention demanding as she had always been, and she proved that her nickname "Trouble" (which is what we call her at home) was well earned when she tried to climb a television stand to push play for the 40th time on Monsters Inc. Obviously, she hadn't learned her lesson.







But her nerve was still obviously having trouble.




So that night, in my unconsciousness, I begged and begged and begged the Lord for just one more miracle after thanking him for all the ones that had already happened. If he would just give Scarlet ONE MORE, I would NEVER. EVER. ask for another miracle again. The Lord told me in both a sense of genuine understanding, and of Fatherly reprimand, that that idea was ridiculous because 1. It's a false promise. Of COURSE I was going to ask for another miracle. This is not likely the last time one of my children has a serious accident. And 2. Why in the world would my Father, who wants everything GOOD for me and my children actually WANT me to STOP asking for miracles? He told me to ask away and let my faith prove him true.




















We were able to bring our little Scarlet home on that Thursday night. The night after my personal revelation. We had been home for just over a week when I took this picture. This is a picture of her with her brother going on a "Date". He's driving. Her nerve was doing so much better. She almost had a full smile by then, though when she cried, that side still didn't show much emotion. But the docs expected her to fully recover, which she did eventually. It can take up to 6 months for a nerve to be completely healed. I don't recall exactly how long it took her.






I took Scarlet down the stairs the day after we came home. I asked her "Scarlet, do you remember what happened over there?"






She looked at the area, pursed her little rosebud lips, and said "It broked." Yes, baby, it did.






In January of 2010, I took her for a series of hearing tests, which she passed easily. Her speach is perfect and she is actually advanced. She has no hearing loss.






This child is going to be the death of me, though. She thinks she is invincible now...except when it comes to spiders or other creepy crawly things.




My husband had been out of a job for the last two months when Scarlet got hurt. We didn't really have any idea how we've survived that far. I feel in my heart that it was so that he would be able to have the time to spend with his family while our baby recovered. We needed him there. He still needed a job, which he finally picked up in October, but we felt calm through the whole unemployment. We felt peace. Most of the time. The life flight itself cost $9000.00. It's going to take us a decade to pay the hospital bills. But each of my babies is priceless. And Scarlet is perfect. She's worth it.

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Lilly Saber Craig came to me in dreams before I was even pregnant with her. She looked always like a fat cheeked cherubim with eyes so dark you could drown in them. And when she was born, she was old and wise.








Lilly never warranted baby talk. She had a sarcastic glare, even from the beginning, and she let it be known when she was thoroughly unamused. Her language skills grew quickly, as well as her attention span. Neighbors and acquaintances were continually amazed when I told them her age. They always expected her to be much older because of her vocabulary and other skills that were similarly ahead of the curve.










It did not take me long to join the ranks. She felt older, looked older, and behaved older. I soon expected her to handle older responsibilities than she really should have. Nothing drastic, mind you. I did not ever expect her to do anything like clean toilets, or cook dinners. Obviously, I never left her alone. But, for example, if she were rowdy at an inopportune time, I was more irritated with her behavior than I might have been another child's. I identify greatly with my daughter, and am proud of her extreme headstrong personality and how outgoing she is.








As you can see, it is no surprise that she has always had elaborate plans for the future. Lilly, for a long time, wanted to be a doctor. But she wanted to be the doctor who "helped mommies have babies." I have always tried to support my children in their dreams, even when they are unrealistic. Like when my son said he wanted to be Darth Vader. Naturally, I was thrilled about her choice.






Her career goals change on a regular basis, but two things have been constant since she was able to speak.



1. She wants to be a mommy. And I was informed at the beginning of this school year that she wants 10 children because 10 is her favorite number, and that I would be allowed to hold them and baby sit them while she goes on dates with her husband.



2. She wants to marry Brandon (the top most picture is of her kissing him.) Brandon is the oldest son of our dearest friends. He was named for my husband, and he is our god child. Lilly calls him her prince, and while she has had several other 'boyfriends' through preschool and her church classes, she always says "I'm going to marry Brandon, but so-and-so will do for now." She even has her entire wedding planned, down to the temple (thank goodness), the pale pink dress (Yay for unconventionality!), bright pink lilies, and a reception outdoors in the snow at Christmas time so she can use Christmas trees as decoration. (Don't worry. I, like you, am hoping for her tastes to change as she gets older.)






Both of these desires stir extreme pride in my heart. I have never wanted anything more than to be a mother. To many children. Her desires validate me, because if SHE wants to be a mother, then I must be doing an alright job, and since there is nothing in this life that I have done that is more fulfilling, or more honorable, I naturally want her to experience the same thing.






I had mentioned in the last story I told today that 2009 had been the worst year of my entire life. Never had I endured such stress and so much uncertainty about the future. I have been on the most terrifying end of two near tragedies, as I have mentioned in previous posts. But what I have not mentioned is that my children witnessed them first hand.






All three of my children were present and watching when I tried, and failed, to wake my parents from their carbon monoxide induced comas. They witnessed them being brought out by the paramedics on stretchers and loaded into ambulances. They saw the oxygen masks, the breathing tubes, the IVs and the bandages. They saw my mother spasm and shake uncontrollably and cough up voluminous amounts of clear liquids.






In September, Mahone and Lilly were the sole witnesses to my darling baby Scarlet's accident with the dresser and television. During the ordeal with the paramedics, Mahone smooshed himself as deep into a corner as he possibly could until a police man lured him out with promise of a video. Lilly screamed and cried and looked around in a panic, asking me if her sister was going to die.






It wasn't so much as I was failing to shelter my children as it was that I was the one in place to make the 911 calls and answer the questions of age, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, and other such inquiries. There I was. And where I go, they go too. Perhaps I do still blame myself. But thus is the curse of mothers.






We tried to talk openly with the children about these things. We have taught them about ambulances, calling the police and 911. How they can help, and how they felt about the whole thing. In the hospital, a child specialist talked with them about their sister, and about what was going on.






They seemed to handle it alright for awhile. Once, Mahone drew red spots all over some dogs he was counting on his homework paper and said it was blood. Upon more discussion, I found that it was in relation to Scarlet's accident. He said "Next time, I won't cry." But it was okay to cry. I did. There were one or two other incidents of similar play, but mostly, I think Mahone has worked it out.






Lilly took a little longer, and I mistakenly let myself slip into a comfortable belief that she had no internal struggle.






Just a few short days before Halloween, I had put my babies to bed, and gone down stairs to veg out on the couch. It wasn't long before I heard soft footsteps, and a "Mommy, I'm sad." I easily discovered Lilly, perched on the top step, unspilled tears welling in her dark eyes. When I scooped her up, I asked her why she was sad, and she answered. "I don't want to ever be a mommy."






My hear immediately sank.






Well, why not? "Because I don't want what happened to Scarlet to happen to my kids."






As the days went on, I found that not only had she decided to not become a mother, she had also decided never to get married. Whenever we passed a temple, she would say "But I'm not going to get married. I'm just going to be a princess and live with you." On Halloween, she told me that if she had kids, then she would be down in the laundry room folding laundry when the tv fell down so that she could tell Scarlet "no no!" For a short moment, I thought she blamed me, that she thought that if I had been there, then this would never have happened.(Perhaps I still blame myself too, and it was my guilty conscience speaking.) My husband snapped me back into reality when he said that she blames herself.






Each night, just before we would tuck her in bed, Lilly would begin to cry, and we would assure her that she didn't need to worry about having children right now. After all, she was only four years old. And that if she didn't want kids, then she didn't have to have them.






One particular night, with Mahone and Scarlet both sound asleep, we spent a good half hour on the floor of the bathroom, snuggling her, telling her it was nobody's fault. That it wasn't HER fault. And that Scarlet was fine. Her daddy told her about when HE hit his head and needed stitches. I told her about my accident prone brother. Her daddy and uncle are both fine. But it did not slick her discomfort.






In desperation, I pleaded with God to help me find a way to comfort her. Admittedly, I wanted that particular brand of innocence restored so that she could continue being a dreamy little bride-worshiper who played with baby dolls and dreamed about becoming a mommy. But I really just wanted her to feel better.






When Lilly was just two years old and already in love with the idea of getting married, my mother sent her a book entitled "On Your Wedding Day" about a dad who is telling his daughter about when she gets married. It's adorable. And Lilly chose this for her bedtime story the night after the one spent crying on the bathroom floor. When the book reached the point about being married in the temple, Lilly's eye lit up for a moment and said "That's where I'm going to get married!!!" and then she threw in "But I'm not going to have kids."






Tears immediately swelled in her eyes and she started sobbing. Once more, I pulled her onto my lap and said "Lilly, it's not your fault."






She wiped her big old eyes with the back of her small hand, and sniffed "I should have told her No NO!"






My jaw dropped. I knew she blamed herself. But at that instant, hearing my precious four year old admit what weight she had been lugging around on her poor little heart for almost a month and a half almost made my own heart break. My answer was simple. "Lilly, you should have done no such thing. It was NOT your responsibility to watch your sister. This whole thing was an accident. It wasn't your fault, and it wasn't mommy's fault." (I know. I sometimes drive myself crazy with all the talking in 3rd person too, but it's just what we do to kids.) And so I continued. "Mommy made a mistake. I didn't know that she could get hurt, and I put the television on the dresser. I shouldn't have. Now, instead of worrying about your children, what you need to do is just not-" and she interrupted me with a HUGE grin on her face.






"I KNOW! When I have my 10 kids, I will just not put the tv on the dresser, and all the dress up clothes can go on the floor instead of in the drawers! I won't even have a tv up there!" I just smiled at her. Then she tapped her lips and said thoughtfully, "I should have thought about that yesterday before I whined to dad."






We finished her book about getting married, made more plans about the decor of her reception, and the way her wedding ring would look, and then she went to bed without any more tears. For the next few days, though, whenever she mentioned her future, which was often, she said "when I have 1o kids and no dresser or tv...." - and believe me, this isn't something Lilly will ever forget.






They say time heals all wounds. But does it really? Lilly feels better. Her heart is whole. Her dreams are favorable now. But is she healed? She still screeches at me to PULL OVER MOMMY!!! whenever she hears an ambulance siren. She still tattles on Scarlet's every move that takes her feet off the floor. Either she's learned something from it, or she's going to be the most repressive, over protective mother this world has ever seen.






Still, I guess that's just what comes with being wiser than your years. You learn things quickly. You notice things that make you sad. And yet, my smarty pants little girl can still be a smart mouth. Just yesterday, while I was folding laundry, Lilly was lounging across a basket full of towels still warm from the dryer, and she asked me "Mommy, did you pick me?" I answered "You bet I did. And I picked Scarlet and Mahone too!" She thought for a minute and then said "Yeah...but WE just pick our noses."








7 comments:

Sherri said...

This was such a fantastic post! I read it with tears in my eyes! I had a miracle experience with my second daughter....it too is hard to write without crying! Thanks for sharing!

Eschelle said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story it was just so inspiring.

Angie said...

I have so much to say.......about miracles, and your trials, and your children......I cant imagine all that you went through. I can relate to fervent prayer and asking for miracles.....and looking back on the hard times with the knowledge ghat I learned something from it......whew. Such beautiful writing. I'm so glad I came by today.....and how wonderful to have witnessed two miracles....even if it took terrible accidents to see them.

Is your dad ok?

Annie Wagner said...

Thanks for sharing that heart wrenching experience. Tears fell on my cheeks as I read about you dealing with what is definitely my worst nightmare as a mom. I was relieved that your story has a happy ending. It sure puts this fragile and delicate life into perspective. Suddenly my life seems incredibly easy. What a brave and personal story to share. Thank you.

Tina Peterson said...

Hi! What a story (or two or three). Thanks for stopping by my Family Literacy blog today. I'm following you back now. Thanks! Tina "The Book Lady"

Write Chick said...

Hi. Stopped in from MamaKat's.
My son pulled a school desk over on himself when he was three. It took me a long time to get over it, to forgive myself for not watching him better. I totally understand that feeling of wishing you could rewind time. I am LDS as well and know the power of blessings and faith in healing (not just physically, but emotionally as well). This was beautifully written and made me stop and give thanks for what I have and little miracles.
Thanks. I'm becoming a follower of your blog.

Cori said...

What what a heartwrenching story. I'm another LDS girl and know the power of blessings!! I'm happy to hear that Scarlet is fine, and I pray that Lilly will also be "healed" and able to accept that it wasn't her fault!! You sound like an amazing mom!

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