It was one year ago that Marissa was hospitalized with her second aspiration pneumonia. I had started feeling pretty low about Marissa's situation. I was tired of her being sick. I was tired of her needing the trach. I was tired of her needing the g-tube. I was tired of not being able to feed her by mouth safely.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
More on this time in my life later.
We brought Marissa home at the beginning of the summer in 2007. She was so new, this new life was so new, that we pretty much secluded ourselves and got down to the business of learning about each other and just being a family. By the time I felt comfortable with who my daughter was and what her boundaries were, as far as venturing into the outside world, it was Fall and "respiratory season", a big no-no time for socializing kids with airway/immune system issues. So the isolation continued. Old friends stopped by or called every now and then, but I pretty much hermitted (yes, I know that's not a word) Marissa and myself away for the rest of the winter.
Over this period of time, I got used to being the primary caregiver for Marissa. I got used to doing things on my own, handling the "business side" of this new life on my own, being by myself with her. I realize now that I got too comfortable. I got too comfortable not being around other people. I am a people person. I enjoy interacting with others.
In a way, I got too uncomfortable as well. I got uncomfortable with the fact that the outside world would see my precious daughter as "different" As spring 2008 approached, I knew I would have to get Marissa out and about to meet new people, kids her age, "special" or not. I knew there were others out there like us, I just didn't feel like reaching out. For some reason, I started to buy in to the whole "we are different from others" bit. It's hard to explain, but please don't think that I was ashamed of her or embarrassed by her. Quite the opposite. I was, and always will be, so proud of her. I am amazed at what she has accomplished in her short life. But for some reason, still unknown by me today, I got used to only talking about Marissa to family members and doctors. I got used to not knowing anyone else who was walking this same road. Bad for me, bad for Marissa.
Jump back to this time last year when she was hospitalized. The only resource I regularly tapped to get a grip on how to handle this special life was the tracheostomy.com message boards. This website has been an invaluable source of information to me ever since I first heard the word "tracheostomy" in the NICU. I would cruise the topics on the message board and read all about what other parents of trach kids were going through. I felt somewhat connected, even though I never commented.
I was sitting in Marissa's hospital room with Jeremy's laptop and looking in on the message boards. I came across a post from a mom here in Colorado. She was discussing her home nursing issues and I noticed at the end of her post, she listed a blog. Now, I really didn't understand at that point what a blog was. I had heard the term before, but just didn't get it. I clicked on the link to her blog and started reading. It didn't take me long to figure out that her daughter was around the same age as Marissa. She had a trach and was on a ventilator. I read a little further and realized that this family had just brought their sweet little girl home for good three weeks prior to the posts I was reading! At 14 months of age!!!!
Here I was, sitting by Marissa's hospital bed, moping and feeling sorry for her and myself. Here I was, the mother of a beautiful little girl with special needs, isolating myself and her for no good reason Here I was, the mother of a baby who spent 2 1/2 months in the hospital after she was born and there was a family close by whose little girl had only known life outside of the hospital for 3 weeks of her 14 months of life!!! I couldn't believe how self-absorbed I had become!
It was Jeremy's turn to stay the night with Marissa, so I said my goodbyes for the evening and headed home. I could not get this little girl or her family out of my head. Even though I was exhausted and should have laid down to rest, I spent the next three hours reading her blog from the beginning. As I read, I was transported back to those first two and a half months of Marissa's life in the NICU. I understood all the medical terms this mother was writing about. I cried when I read that her little one had a bad day. I rejoiced when I read that her little one had a good day. All those emotions were suddenly brought back to me full force.
I felt an automatic kinship with this mommy. We had walked a similar journey with our little ones, hers being a much rockier and longer path. Different in many ways, but still the same. I found out that we had some other things in common too. Silly things like our fervent love for the Broncos. I decided that I needed to meet this woman and her daughter. We had too much in common not to meet. So I carefully crafted a note to put in the comment section of her blog, one that would hopefully not make me sound like a crazy stalker. I submitted my comment and waited. A few weeks later, she e-mailed me and we started to get to know each other through e-mails. Because of crazy schedules and our kid's illnesses, we did not get to meet until the beginning of August. This meeting was our first Trach Kids meeting and it was amazing. I posted about it here.
Through this awesome mama, I came to a realization that isolation was not the way to go. I started reading other blogs of special needs kids and started this blog at the end of June. I realized there was a whole world out there that I had been missing out on. Now, I have several IRL (in real life) friends who I have so much in common with. I also have many "blog friends" that I know would be IRL friends if we just lived closer. I feel more connected than ever. And now that it is spring again, Marissa will benefit from the relationships as well. I am privileged to be able to jump for joy when one of our kiddos accomplishes something great. I am honored to be able to pray for and hold the hands of my friends when they are not doing well. I feel my heart is wide open, the way it should be. It feels good.
Now, don't get me wrong. I still have plenty of days where I say "oh poor Marissa, oh poor me". They are just a lot fewer now and I get quickly brought down to earth by little angels such as Kayleigh in my previous post. Or any of the other little angels I check in on every day.
So, thank you Jen, for opening my eyes and my heart to this wonderful world of blogs and special needs kiddos. I owe you so much for showing me a different perspective in this life, and for breaking me and Marissa out of our shell. You, Brian and Faith are like family and I am so glad our paths crossed a year ago! I hope I didn't embarrass you too much!! ;)
Posted by Alicia at 7:17:00 AM