Sunday, May 25, 2014

#23 - Closure (Journal Entries Through April 2011)

We hear it again and again - that the people around us influence the way we act.  I've always hoped I was a strong enough person to withstand those around me or make good decisions despite what others are doing.  But when I have to walk into a doctors' office where I know I'm automatically put on the defense, it's those positive people in my life that carry me.  Their prayers and thoughts literally carry my legs into that appointment, ready to face whatever comes. 

We have been working out the kinks to make sure everyone is comfortable with us going home.  Our case worker, the guardian ad litem, and the doctors all have to feel okay with us before they will let us take Bryer home.  Jason went with me to the pediatrician appointment today.  I probably looked fine on the outside, but my insides shake going in to one of the doctors' offices.  I don't like confrontation.  I don't like feeling defensive.  I don't want to talk about any of it because every time I do, they shoot me down without much explanation and I just feel like crying.  What use is all my time researching if they won't listen or explain one way or another?  We hear it over and over again, "This could only happen in a severe car accident or a fall from a 3 story building."  It's the exact same wording from her pediatrician, the neurologist, and the ophthalmologist.  Is that their canned answer from medical school or what?!  It's seriously the exact same words from each of their mouths. 

It helped having Jason there.  He's so composed and straight-forward.  He's not afraid to rock the boat, but in a respective way.  He's not sorry for our stance on things and he's not willing to back down.  Me, on the other hand, would rather huddle at home with my kids and let them say whatever they want behind my back.  I know the truth and God knows the truth.  And really, that's all that matters.  I would be fine with that, just hidden away from all the judgments against me.  But we can't live like that.  It's not in the best interest of my kids and especially Bryer who needs continued appointments to these doctors and specialists.  I still have to take her to the appointments - no matter how I feel or whether I want to or not.  A lot of her appointments are to the same specialists she saw in the hospital.  They have 'abuse' written all over their notes. 

Good thing I took Jason to this appointment, because he was all of the above, that I wanted to be, but couldn't.  He was calm and collected and confident.  Everything I hoped that I could be.  He had questions and shared answers with the doctor.  He naturally has a calm nature about him, but he's not afraid to voice his opinion.  He likes to discuss things and this topic of Bryer was no exception.  About half way through the appointment Bryer started getting fussy.  I knew her cry.  It was turning from 'I'm upset' to 'I won't be able to calm down unless I nurse.'  Unconsciously I let her cry while I tried to sway with her and calm her down any other way.  Jason and the doctor were talking and I was trying to pay attention.  She got really worked up and eventually I had to sit down to cover myself while I nursed to calm her down.  As she quieted, I realized how loud she had been.  I hadn't realized the contrast until it was quiet again.  I thought to myself, "Is that the demeanor of a Mom that shakes her baby out of frustration?!"  Had the doctor noticed that I am okay with the crying?  All but one of my babies have been colicky.  If that's what they think - that I snapped - then wouldn't I be frustrated about the loud crying here in this confined room while I try to hear a conversation? 

By the end of our appointment, the doctor felt good about Bryer being in our care 2 hours away from his office.  He said it was good to know that she's with parents that know CPR and that we have experienced seizures with our older boy, so we know what to look for and what to do if Bryer has one, since she's still on preventative seizure medicine.  It was also promising to him that Jason works from home so he would be close if I needed anything.  The doctor felt okay with releasing Bryer to go home with us, with the expectation that Health and Welfare would still be involved and be investigating more.  Is it strange that he expected Health and Welfare to 'investigate' more when this is clearly a medical diagnosis - his specialty.  Of course, I didn't say anything and let Jason do most of the talking.  I am just happy that we got the first okay to take Bryer home with us!  I was in awe at how Jason handled the situation.  Had I been the one to do the talking... well, I don't even want to know.  I didn't want to be the one to bring up the question of taking Bryer home.  I didn't want to risk being shot down. 

The guardian ad litem has been harder to convince.  She's been coming around, but she still really wants someone to 'supervise' us.  The more she gets to know our family and the more she researches on her own, the more it doesn't make sense to her either.  There's always those cases on the news of an abused child being returned to the home, only to have worse things happen.  I think that's what she's afraid of, even though she wants to trust us and believe that we are innocent.  I try to see things from her perspective and be patient for her to feel comfortable. 

Our Health and Welfare case worker has really warmed up to Jason and I.  She has admitted that we are not her typical family that she works with.  She told us she's been impressed at the timely manner we've completed things in our 'case plan' (our list of 'To Do's' to get Bryer back).  She said it is very rare for a family to work so quickly and have so much family support.  She was a great advocate for us and I think there were some things said between her and the guardian ad litem to help them come to their decision. 

They have allowed us to take Bryer home - under a few conditions.  The main one is that they want someone to come in and 'supervise' me 6 hours a week.  If someone would have sprung that on me out of no where, I would have thought they were ridiculous.  A mother being supervised with her own children?!  But since I've been 'supervised' for the past nearly 3 months 24/7, then 'only' 6 hours a week is a huge leap in the right direction!  Funny how things are all relative!  The guardian ad litem, as well as the case worker have also said they could pop in for a visit at any time once we are home with Bryer.  Great!  More the merrier!  Like we have offered from the beginning - come to our home anytime.  Come for dinner.  Stay for the weekend.  Stay for a week.  We are an open book.  It may not always be the cleanest, but there is no way we treat our children that I would ever be worried about someone else 'popping in' to see.  It's something we've begged for from the beginning - get to know us as a family and you'll see!  Still, no one has come to our house to even know whether we live in a shack or a mansion. 

So, we started our search for a 'supervisor' that would volunteer 6 hours of their time each week to watch me with my kids.  It's a strange thing to be on the lookout for my own babysitter.  Lucky for us, our church is full of people wanting to help, so we just needed to get some names approved with our case worker.  We chose 2 ladies to each come in 3 hours/week.


Home has never felt so good!  It's so nice to have each of us under one roof.  Eating at one table.  Saying prayers together in person, not over the phone.  We were able to do Bryer's baby blessing at church on Sunday.  It just completed some things for us, emotionally and spiritually.  We had hoped to do the blessing the beginning of December, but 3 of our older kids had chicken pox, so we opted not to have cousins and family travel up for it.  Then Bryer was admitted to the hospital.  One thing led to the next, and now she's 5 months old.  The dress my Mom made her to wear when she was 2 months old, when we expected to bless her, doesn't fit anymore.  She worked hard to finish a new dress for her just in time and it's beautiful!  My Mom has used some of the extra fabric from my wedding dress in all of the kids' blessing outfits.  The liner of Bryer's diaper cover came from that fabric. 

Trying to get a good picture of Bryer before church was...  a challenge.
She's happy if she's being held or nursing. 
Doesn't she look like she could say, "Please don't take me away from my family!"   

One of my all-time favorites of Bryer and her Daddy...  With all we have been through, she is such a blessing to our family. 

We tried to do more pictures a few days later, when it was quiet, no chaos of getting ready for church, and she was happy
I was nervous for the blessing because Bryer is so sensitive to her surroundings.  Even being handed off from me to Jason and taken to the front of the chapel could have started a crying fit.  During the blessing, Bryer was quiet and calm.  She was at peace as a circle of 6 of our closest male family members that hold the Priesthood surrounded her at the front of the church.  That peace alone was enough to start the tears running down my face.  Jason laid his hands on her head and gave her a blessing, similar to a prayer.  Through the Priesthood, the words that were spoken were what God would have said if He were here.  Jason blessed her that she would have great joy and that her sorrows would be swept away.  He blessed her to be a strength to her family and those she associates with.  She would have the ability to bring smiles to faces and that her body would heal itself and she would enjoy the time with her siblings and parents.  He closed the blessing and told Bryer that she is blessed with the love of her Heavenly Father.  The sweet, peaceful spirit that was there in that chapel today was miraculous.  Our congregation is small enough that we get to know each other very well.  Our own family was not the only ones touched by the words that were spoken. 


I don't know what I was expecting when I agreed to have these ladies from church 'supervise' me.  I thought maybe they'd sit on the couch and have a 3 hour conversation with me.  Or just sit and take notes?  I should have known better!  The first time one showed up for her 2 hour time slot she brought a big bag of flannel board cutouts and entertained the kids and let them tell her stories with them.  Bryer was fussy that day, as usual.  Her poor little brain is on overload a lot of the time with so much new to take in and so many of her senses being stimulated.  All the noise from 4 other kids, the 'new' house, the smells, even touch can be so limiting to her.  On this day, I stood rocking her back and forth in fetal position to help her calm her nerves.  I watched this sweet lady play with my kids in such a thoughtful way.  And I tried to blink back my tears.  Why, oh why, have I been so blessed with these people around me to help me get through such a terrible situation?  The very suggestion of taking 4 hours out of their week was no big deal and they jumped at the chance.

The next time one of them came, she brought all the supplies needed to bake cookies with my kids while I rocked and nursed Bryer.  They sometimes folded laundry or helped me finish up dinner.  These early days with Bryer at home were very rough.  She cried so much at so many things.  A lot of my time was spent nursing her on the couch or rocking/swaying her in fetal position.  I asked myself many, many times how I was supposed to be a Mom to 4 active kids while I had 1 baby that couldn't handle anything of normal life in our family of 7.  How could I support my kids at basketball games or t-ball practice or help at the school or any of our normal activities?  I couldn't take her to the store, could hardly make dinner without taking a break to calm her down, I couldn't fold laundry or wash dishes or any maintenance stuff that moms do.  She was the happiest in a dark, quiet room being held in fetal position and swaying back and forth.  Forget about deep cleaning anything!  I felt like lots of times I sat on the couch nursing and pointed orders to my kids to tell them to stir the hamburger or where that clean pot needed to be put away or to please be quiet so Bryer could calm down.   At ages 2, 4, 7, and 10 that's a lot to ask!  On a day like one of these, I wrote this in my journal:

I have been missing my time with my older kids so much and feel like I am always asking them to do things instead of enjoying my time with them.  Jason too.  He works so hard for our family during the day and takes extra breaks to come back and see if I need anything.  Bryer requires so much individual attention.  I feel so bad for her when she cries.  If she were my only child, I could stay busy 24/7 with holding her, rocking her, feeding her, calming her.  But, she's not my only.  She's my 5th.  How do I make this work?  I was praying about it this morning and then 'our supervisor' came this afternoon.  Usually she plays with the older kids, but today she offered to hold Bryer.  As I passed her off, Bryer wasn't very happy, but she took her to a quiet room and swayed back and forth with her just like I do.  I had my arms free for about an hour to make dinner with my kids!  We sang together and danced in the kitchen while we cooked.  It felt so good to just have time with them and know that Bryer was in good hands.  Jason could concentrate on work and not have to come back to check in to see if I needed anything.  For an hour, I felt normal again.  My spirit needed that so badly- to just have some normal mixed in to this craziness.  Bryer went to sleep during that time and I didn't feel guilty that I wasn't the one that rocked her to sleep.  I can't describe it any other way, other than healing.

I know it sounds silly that these ladies have made my life so much easier during their 6 hours a week, when really it was supposed to benefit Health and Welfare.  Did God know I would need these circumstances during this transition back home?  I'm thankful that I haven't fought against it, because it really does feel like an answered prayer through two extraordinary ladies.  It just happened to come as a Health and Welfare requirement.  Another reminder that God is in charge here. 

One of our first Sundays back home...  Kids ready for church and Bryer not very happy, as usual


Today something miraculous happened.  We went to Jason's parents' for dinner.  I love being with family, but Bryer doesn't like the chaos so much.  There are usually over 20 people there at family gatherings and we have so much fun laughing and preparing food together.  It was nice to know we were going back to 'visit' and not that we were living there.  I was still feeling bad for Bryer though, knowing she would have a rough time with so much noise around.  I planned to take her to an empty bedroom or another part of the house to help her stay as happy as she could be.  I ate my food in another room where there were only a few others instead of all the kids and adults serving food and cleaning up.  After dinner the adults were talking in the living room so I attempted to take Bryer with me in there.  Kids were running in and out and I hoped that I could enjoy our visit and not have to stay in a separate room.  Bryer didn't get fussy.  I tried to play with her and she started giggling.  In a room full of people, she started giggling!  With kids in and out and so much stimulating her, I tickled her and she laughed!  It was such a miracle that Jason's sister snapped a picture while she was laughing.  It's not an instant miracle like healing a leper in the scriptures, but I'll take it.  Who knows what kind of healing is going on in her brain?! 

By the beginning of April we had fulfilled all our case plan requirements.  Jason and I had fulfilled all the councilling sessions required, we had both proven our CPR certification, we had Bryer's crib in our room with a lock installed on the door for when she was sleeping.  We had a baby monitor in place to hear her, we had subscribed to a type of Life Flight membership, in case our family ever needed to use that emergency service.  Still, Health and Welfare was not willing to close our case.  A document had to be signed that said we were admitting to being either neglectful or abusive parents.  It seemed so absurd.   Even after we have been through and shown - all wrongfully accused - that we were supposed to sign something that said we were guilty of all this.  What happened to 'Innocent until proven guilty?' 

In a meeting with our attorneys, we asked what would happen if we didn't sign.  They said Health and Welfare could keep Bryer in their custody until she turns 18. 

Even worse, in this same week, I was served child support papers.  Health and Welfare was suing us for child support for the length of time she was with the foster mom and also in my mom's care.  My Mom had made it clear that she didn't need to be paid or reimbursed for helping, but Health and Welfare still pushed for it.  This is after we provided all Bryer's clothes, food, diapers, wipes, blankets, and anything else that was requested. 

About this same time, my Mom's big freezer went out.  She came to me and told me she needed to talk to me about something and hadn't known how to tell me. 

When Bryer was transferred from the foster mom to my mom, she came with a large cooler full of my pumped breast milk.  More than just an extra day or even a week.  It was 1/2 a freezer full of the milk I had been giving to the foster Mom.  She felt Bryer was less fussy on formula, so she didn't use my milk.  She lied to me every time I asked her how the supply was going or if she needed more milk.  Every time I woke up to my alarm instead of my baby crying, pumping in the middle of the night and while riding in the car and on my way to foster visit appointments - all that milk was stored.  Every time I didn't have an appetite, but ate so I could make milk for Bryer.  My sweet baby never got the most nourishing food she needed during her prime recovery time.  Now my Mom broke it to me that the freezer had gone out and all that milk was thawed.  Maybe it's silly to most people, but there were tears over 'spilled milk.'  I needed to just cry out my frustration.  Get it all out there.  My disappointment.  The one thing from myself that I could offer my baby had not been given to her. 

Then as soon as it hit, I was over it.  I couldn't and wouldn't let the choices of someone else drag me down.  I wouldn't let this 'uncontrollable' influence the things I could control.  There is always a positive side to things.  Always.  So I searched for that positive.  I still have my milk supply for Bryer right now.  Even though all that milk was wasted, I could choose now to give her the best.  If I am doing everything I can, I have to believe that God will make up the rest. 


After many meetings with our attorneys, we adjusted the wording on the document so that it stated that we were not abusive or neglectful parents.  The way it read, we agreed that Bryer stopped breathing while in my care.  We know that to be a fact.  After many prayers and to our surprise, Health and Welfare agreed to also accept and sign the document. 

The next step was to have our case legally closed by the judge.  We met at the courthouse in a little room to prepare for court.  As Jason and I sat at the table with the guardian ad litem and our case worker, the case worker turned to me and said, "Do you want to know my long term plan for you?"  I had gotten to know her pretty well over the course of our case, but I still didn't want to have a 'long term plan' with her.  I wanted to be done.  She went on, "I would hope that you two would do foster care sometime in the future.  Our system needs more families like yours."  Tears welled up in my eyes.  After all we had been through with her, she. saw. US. 

Our 4-month case with Health and Welfare closed April 21, 2011 - the shortest Health and Welfare case either of our attorneys had ever seen!  I believe it was by the grace of God that we received the case worker we did and that it closed as quickly as it did, although it seemed like forever. 


Today I sat in front of Bryer's bouncy seat in my bedroom.  I relaxed, knowing all of this was over and we could get on with life again.  I gazed into her eyes and fell in love all over again.  I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures to remember how good this felt.  As I thought she was looking back at me and feeling the same, smiling, her eyes drifted ever so slightly.  I lost her precious gaze.  Her face was smiling at me, but her eyes were clearly not focused on me.  I changed my expression, thinking it would bring her focus back to me, but it didn't.  I moved my head to the side and she followed it, but didn't focus on my face.  It was like she could see my outline, but not my features.  The thought hit me like a wrecking ball to my heart,
'What if she can never see me? 
What if she can't see what her own Mom looks like? 
What if she never feels that spiritual connection I feel when I look into her eyes?' 
The tears fell down my cheeks at the thought of it. 

It's a blessing that God knows the whole picture of things and only gives us bit by bit as we are ready.  If I would have known what I do today, I wouldn't have been able to relax for a bit after our Health and Welfare case closed.  When God felt we were ready to handle it, He began a whole new chapter in our lives.  Little did we know that the things we learned through Health and Welfare would only prepare us for more. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

#22 -Compassion (Journal entries through the first part of March 2011)

Our new case worker is a 180 degree opposite of our first case worker.  She seems more compassionate and willing to work with us instead of threatening to move Bryer if we make any false moves.  She's still a worker of Health and Welfare, so we are ultimately still not fans, but at least we have someone to work with us now.  She suggested that we take a minimum of 6 counciling sessions, some together and some individual, just to have something to 'check off the list' and show we are making progress.  To date our councilor has thoroughly evaluated our parenting strategies, family standards, marriage values, and discipline techniques.  He said he can't find any reason to go on with counseling, other than to pacify the Health and Welfare requirements. 

During the time Bryer was in custody, she spent about 3 weeks with my Mom and then the case worker allowed us to take Bryer with us as long as my Mom or Jason's parents were 'supervising' us.  That included having them drive us places or coming along with us in our car.  I felt like such an inconvenience to our parents - that I couldn't be alone in a house with my own baby.  They never made me feel bad about it and were great about jumping through the hoops right along with us, as frustrating as it was and an inconvenience to their own lives.  Here's one example from my journal:   

Today I was at Gary and Cindy's with the kids.  Gary was 'supervising' us - sounds silly, doesn't it?  My father-in-law babysitting a grown woman and her children?  He wanted to run to the store to get a pop, just a few minutes away.  I realized that I would be by myself with the 3 kids for the first time in over 2 months and I started to worry.  What if the case worker or guardian ad litem decides to stop by while he is gone?  What happens if he gets in a car wreck and is gone much longer than a few minutes?  What happens if one of the kids gets hurt and I'm the only one here to attest to what happened?  There is such an un-needed fear here that wasn't here before.  I wasn't taking any chances and decided that if he was going to the store, then I would load all the kids up and we'd all go to the store.  He decided his pop wasn't that important.  I breathed some relief, but knew that eventually I would be by myself with my kids again - something that I never thought twice about before  and came very naturally - and now I was worried.  If they fall and hit their head, will the authorities blame me?  If they accidently cut themselves or have to get stitches from a fall off their bike, will I be blamed?  I have always believed in natural consequences and not 'padding' the world for my kids.  Now I feel like I have to pad them for my own sanity.  More and more stories are starting to surface about innocent people being turned in to the authorities - a broken arm at the doctor's office, stitches in the emergency room, normal 'kid stuff' that doctors mistake for abuse.  We're hearing about these first hand from people that had never talked about it before, or that are happening now. 

During the time that Bryer was with my Mom, they continued to go to church together.  The time came eventually that the doctor didn't see an immediate need to be constantly close to doctors and released Bryer to spend a day at home, further away, if my Mom agreed to go along to 'supervise.'  This was a huge step in our case (and met with lots of opposition) - for the doctors, the guardian ad litem, and our case worker to all agree to let us spend a single day at home - and the first time in nearly 3 months we had all been together as a family in our own home.  We went home to watch Hunter's basketball game and to re-group our laundry, toys, supplies and then head back to Jason's parents' house.  It was so good to be back together, but bittersweet in having to leave and be split up all over again. 

Sisters in red to show their school spirit at Hunter's basketball game (There are only a few of Bryer's smiles at this stage that were caught on camera.  This was one of them.)   
Our community has been so supportive.  It was good to be at the game and see everyone who has been praying for us.  I feel so blessed to be a part of this small community.  Today I ran in to the little store in town to grab a few things and noticed a can at the checkout stand.  It had Bryer's picture on it and told a little of our story and asked people to donate money.  In my mind I had to look twice, feeling a big sense of denial.  That couldn't be us - but it was.  Here we are, those people with a picture of our baby on a coffee can for people to donate.  That only happens to other people, doesn't it?!  As I stood there in the line to pay, I felt a overwhelming sense of humility.  Here we are, feeling like we're at the bottom of the bottom and we have this amazing community to rally around us.  I'm not one to accept help.  Man, am I ever NOT one to accept help.  I'd much rather give it.  MUCH rather give it!  This was all done without our knowledge and we learned people have been donating for weeks, with our friends rolling coins and saving up the money to surprise us.   On our way out of town we stopped to gas up and when I went in to pay, I found another can sitting at the checkout at the gas station.  Same picture.  Same story.  And again, I felt that denial that we would need someone's loose change.  And then a feeling of graditude came over me.  The Lord can't be here with us in person right now, but he's sent amazing people to be His tools.  None of them know that our money in savings is running out by paying for attorney bills.  With Jason and I having to have separate attorneys, our funds go twice as quick.  Then we make a day trip back to our little town - with the lowest unemployment rate in the state - and find people donating their change to make a difference for us.  It's not really about the dollars and coins in the can.  It's about the feeling we get to know there are people behind us. 

If that wasn't enough, we have been blessed by a sweet 3rd grade boy in our community.  Their family was acquaintances of ours, but they took our trial to heart and now will forever be our friends.  This boy is friends with Hunter.  I don't know what his mom has told him about our case,  but he knows that Bryer has been in the hospital and he wanted to help.  Each year he uses his own birthday money to help others.  (Really!  What kid uses his own birthday money to donate or help someone else?  He's gotta be amazing and have outstanding parents!)  During the time of a birthday that most kids can't wait to receive a few extra dollars (mine included!), he finds ways to bless the lives of others.  In the past he's helped out with everything from kids in the hospital to animals in the shelter.  This year he chose our family.  He didn't just donate his birthday money straight to us - he motivated others to help too.  He started right here in our small elementary school.  I love this because it's here and now on his own level with people he mingles with everyday - not being shy or discouraged about how small we are or how little our community has.  He wasn't flashy about it or looking for recognition.  He put containers in each of the classrooms and offered a challenge to the school for the class that could raise the most money for our family.  He used his birthday money for a pizza party as the reward!  Really, birthday money from a 3rd grade boy.  At that age, birthday money is sacred!  I feel so blessed by this young boy's example of selfless service.  It's a completely humbling experience to be on the receiving end of these random acts of kindness.  On one hand it is so humbling - almost to the point of embarrassing - that so many people have wanted to help.  On the other hand, it keeps us going to know there are people behind us.  It's not about the money.  It's the support we feel to buoy us up and know that the miles between us as we stay with family doesn't change the support we feel. 

Of course his example and desire to serve spread.  The kids at school, and especially in Hunter and Sawyr's classes, knew that they had missed quite a bit of school and that their baby sister was in the hospital.  The kids and teachers brought change and bills and gathered them together in their class containers.  They raised over $1000.00 from the inspiration of one boy!  I'm so overwhelmed with so many feelings and tried so hard to be a gracious receiver. 

When it's so much easier to give, I have to remember that someone is always on the other end of receiving.  That just happens to be us right now.  I would not want to turn this boy away in wanting to serve, as humbling as it is.  I love the feeling of making someone's day or going above and beyond. It's much easier to be on the giving end.  I wish that I could erase it all and go back to teaching as an Art Mom or giving books away to Head Start families.  It's so hard to accept service.   If someone wasn't on that receiving end, I wouldn't get that fulfillment.  Today, I feel blessed to learn the act of receiving. 

Coming to bring his fundraising efforts to Bryer 

We had several court hearings during the time Bryer was in custody.  One of the main purposes was to check up with our case plan - to see the progress we were making in checking things off our list.  Our new case worker always had positive things to say about us.  The guardian ad litem was a little more reserved in her words, but felt we were 'moving along,' as was she in doing her own medical research.  At one of these hearings, they gave the ok for me to stay at my Mom's during all daytime hours.  I was not to spend nights there though, so I would take Piper and Walker with me and stay at my Dad's a couple miles from my Mom.  Then in the morning we'd wake up early and head back over for the day with Bryer.  Jason stayed at home with Hunter and Sawyr so they could go to school.  All the shuffling of kids and their stuff and pumping milk was exhausting. 

Jason and I were advised at the beginning to hire separate attorneys.  We hoped that the judge would release Bryer to Jason, if not to me.  That was never the case.  In fact, the judge pointed out that Jason was, by definition, considered a neglectful father because (#1) he couldn't tell the court what happened with Bryer that day, and (#2) he was willing to stand by me to support me.  Here's part of my journal entry after one of those days at court:

I have learned that the world will tell us how to live, who to love, what to stand for.  For this court, it would 'work out' better if Jason and I were on different sides - if he opposed me.  They would easily release Bryer to his care.  I am not interested in listening to the world.  Having standards to live by are often not the easy way out.  Jason and I are both dedicated to our marriage and our family.  That comes first.  I have believed long enough that if we are doing what God wants us to be doing, then He will find a way for things to work out.  His ways are always better than the world's ways.  None of this makes sense if you look at it from an earthly view - the here and now - but if I take into account the big picture of things - my priorities - our priorities as husband and wife and as a family - it becomes so clear.  There are a million reasons the world would have us be apart.  But the most important reasons are to stay together and keep fighting for our family.  We have to stick together.  There's just no other way.  We are better and stronger together than we are apart. 


During this time, Bryer also transitioned from receiving therapy through the hospital to the therapists chosen by Health and Welfare through the Infant/Toddler Program.  Jason and I said we would just go along with the program until Health and Welfare was out of the picture.  They said it 'looked bad on us' if we didn't use their services for Bryer.  Here's part of my journal from the day we met Bryer's Occupational Therapist for the first time:

My Mom has had to go back to work, but Health and Welfare isn't ready for us to go home, so we're staying with Jason's parents now and can have Bryer with us full time.  It is so relieving to wake up in the middle of the night to a crying baby ready to nurse than an alarm clock to tell me it's time to pump.  I'm thankful for the extra help while we transition to having Bryer back with us.  She cries a lot as her poor little brain is recovering.  The only way to get her to stop is to nurse.  Her crying hits at the most random times for the most random reasons.  It could be that Walker runs through the room and makes a loud noise that startles her or Piper kisses her one too many times.  Or she's too hot or too cold.  Simple things will send her into a crying fit that she can't stop unless I nurse to calm her back down.  It could be the chaos of having cousins over or even just sitting around the table trying to eat all together. 

Her Occupational Therapist (OT) visited today for the first time.  She makes home visits and tries to see babies in their own home environment.  She is a thin lady who wore cute clothes and her haircut complimented her face.  I don't know what I was expecting from Health and Welfare.  In the most non-judgmental kind of way, maybe I was expecting someone like our first case worker with tattoos and piercings?  This lady was very nice and easy to talk to.  I was nursing when she walked in (the new story of my life), so I couldn't get up to introduce myself.  We talked a little bit and she was able to meet Bryer.  At one point in the visit, she wanted to see what Bryer could do.  I laid her down on a blanket on the floor and let her see how her body felt.  Bryer's muscles feel kind of tight, and when she gets mad, she arches her back and her head off to the right side.  She didn't want to be on the floor and with all the noise from people coming and going through the room was too much, so she started into one of her crying fits.  I scooped her up and sat back on the couch to nurse again to calm her down.  I showed her OT how much her arms relax while she's nursing and asked what therapy I should be doing while we were in that position so often during the day.  She suggested a few things, along with offering opportunities to be on the floor on both her back and her tummy.  After a while of sitting and nursing and visiting, I had to use the bathroom so I had Jason's Mom hold Bryer while I got up.  Cindy later told me that the OT seemed impressed with me and while I was gone, asked, "Is she a die hard or what?!"  She was referring to my dedication to nursing maybe?  At first thought, I didn't know what she expected.  Then I was reminded of what she probably thought.  She's probably seen the hospital notes, the history on Bryer, all the background.  She was expecting a child abuser.  For whatever reason, I was really hoping this one would be different.  I'm so tired of feeling like I'm on the defense.  I'm not out to be prideful or 'prove' people wrong.  I'm just not that kind of person.  They will get to know me and see me for who I am.  I will be who I am through and through.  An open book.  The child-development-major I was in college and they will see.  I don't really have to do anything else than be myself. 

At 4 months, this took a lot of effort for Bryer to not only be happy on the floor, but also be on her tummy, and also hold her head up without bonking it on the blanket.  There was no excess noise, no extra people around, her diaper was changed, she had a fully tummy, and the conditions were perfect for her to be content in this position and not go into a crying fit.  It was a lot of work for her at this point and something we got very excited about! 

Even though it's one step closer, it's so hard to be here at Jason's parents and know that life is going on without me at home.  Jason is working full time and helping with homework and making dinners and the laundry and everything else I should be doing.  I just want to be together.  All 7 of us.  Under 1 roof to say prayers together at night and hear about how my boys' day at school went and help them with their school projects.  I should be the one sweeping up and making breakfast.  I'm trying hard not to fight in my head about what things should be like.  It helps if I count my blessings of where I'm at now instead of hoping for where I should be.  Be positive.  Be thankful.  Show gratitude.  So....
I am thankful to have Bryer with me now 24/7.
I am thankful to have the support of Jason's family to let us stay here.
I am thankful to have Piper and Walker with me, even if Hunter and Sawyr are away with Jason.
I am thankful for a supportive husband who is such a spiritual rock to our family. 
I am thankful to have a new case worker.
I am thankful for a sincere occupational therapist.
I am thankful for my in-laws that cook and clean up while I feel so unhelpful nursing on the couch.
I am thankful for cousins for my kids to play with.
I am thankful for my parents who come take Piper and Walker to the park or out to lunch to get them out of the house.
I am thankful to God for answered prayers and to protect our family while we are separated.
I am thankful for the standards I live that will hopefully make it easy for people to see the kind of person I am. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

#21 - Courage (Journal entries through January 2011)

A compiliation of my journal entries through January 2011

After our trip to the E.R. to find out nothing was wrong with Bryer, we had a follow up with her pediatrician.  It was strange to walk into his office and meet him for the first time and know that Bryer had already been seeing him for nearly a month with the foster mom.  It wasn't the best first impression to walk into, feeling like I was already on the defense and having to try to prove him wrong.  I was glad to have my mom with me.  For moral support, but also as a witness.  I worry so much that someone will misinterpret what I say or use my words against me.  I have told the doctors everything.  I have told them Bryer was fussy that day, that whole weekend.  She was not her self.  Then they use that against me.  Instead of looking into why she may have been fussy, they tell me that I lost my temper with her.

I am normally an open-book kind of person, not worried about what anyone thinks of me - but walking into that doctor's office and knowing what he suspected, I was nervous.  Usually I would have my list of questions ready, very confident in my parenting skills.  But it's too fresh in my mind the day we sat around the table of doctors and they told me what must have happened that day.  That same feeling still comes and I want to walk away from it all... and can't.  Not for Bryer. 

Today at the doctor's office I was quiet.  I was polite and shook his hand to meet him, but was shaking inside to know what he suspected of me.  Really, what kind of a person could hurt a baby?!  He was a friendly guy - short, kind of nerdy-looking, and very nice.  As hard as I tried, my confident-self hid today.  It's an awful feeling to be judged.  I didn't say much during the appointment.  I didn't ask questions.  I listened a lot.  Answered his questions.  I held Bryer as my security blanket, still afraid that on any given day she could be taken away from me again.  She checked out okay after that and he sent us on our way.  We only talked briefly about Bryer being with my Mom now full time and me being able to attend appointments.  It was mentioned that the foster mom brings lots of her foster babies to him.  It makes me sick to think Bryer is lumped into that group of 'foster kids' that see a pediatrician because that's who the foster mom has experience with. 

I can't say that doctor appointments got much better after that.  When we went to see Bryer's neurologist, one of the first questions out of his mouth was always asking about whether charges have been filed or how we're doing with Health and Welfare.  No sincere concern first with how Bryer is doing or if she's had any seizures or how she handles her seizure meds.  All those important questions came after they knew where I stood with Bryer.  So I always took my Mom or Jason with me to appointments.  I didn't dare go alone and risk their word against mine in what I said. 

We have been so careful not to even send emails or texts about legal things.  There are brief updates sent about how Bryer is doing, but we have family members send them - not Jason and I.  This way of worrying about what I say is not like me.  I am who I am.  I have nothing to hide.  But I also don't want my words used against me; twisted into something I didn't mean, or taken out of context. 

As time went on, I came up with a list of questions to take to the doctors office with me each time we would go - and for each specialist we saw.  I asked about Bryer's eyes 'bouncing' when she tried to focus on something, or her looking around something instead of right at it.  I asked about her tight muscles or why they relaxed so much while she nursed.  I asked about her thumbs.  I am intrigued by her thumbs and have done a lot of reading about it.  The neurologist said that thumbs that tuck into her fist show brain instability. 

Left hand
 So I watch the slight differences between the left thumb and the right thumb.  How are her hands at rest?  When she's nursing?  When she's mad?  I feel so intune with her every move, her every cry, that it could drive me crazy over-analyzing every little thing all day long.  It's hard to go into an appointment with all this information buzzing around in my head, try to get answers to my questions, and then still have to answer questions about where I stand legally.  I say it at every appointment, "Yes, Bryer is still in Health and Welfare custody.  Yes, I'm able to see her as often as I want.  No, they haven't filed criminal charges.  No, they have not arrested me."  I wish I could just focus on Bryer's development and her progress and not worry about me.  That takes so much extra energy that could be spent toward Bryer.  In the meantime, I am searching for answers for myself. 

I have had deep, in depth prayers making sure I am on the right track.  My personal inventory has never been so thorough.  Because I need ALL the help God can give me, I have to make sure there is no reason for Him not to bless me.  I am reading my scriptures diligently.  I am saying my prayers more often.  I am going to the temple.  I am honest in every single aspect of my life.  Now is a time that I don't want his blessings to be restrained from me.  I need to feel Him.  I need that inspiration and divine intervention and clear answered prayers. 

At one appointment, I had a list of alternatives to SBS written up.  To be completely honest, I was scared to death to walk into Bryer's pediatrician's office that day.  I said a silent prayer in the car before we walked in.  Not being one to be confrontational, this was definitely going to take courage for me.  I was going to oppose what they thought.  I thought, "Whew!  What am I doing?  This is not like me to walk in and oppose what someone was saying!"  It meant I couldn't just calmly agree and go along with everything else they told me.  I had to rock the boat a little.  I had spent a lot of time reading and researching and going over again and again in my head the things that don't make sense.  As nervous as I was, I tried to be calm and I tried not to cry, letting the high emotion take over.  He was done looking Bryer over and asking questions about her development, so I told him I had some questions for him.  Up until this point, I didn't discuss much with the pediatrician about the day Bryer was admitted.  I knew what was in the hospital records.  I knew that's what he believed to be true, so I didn't bring it up.   I had gotten to know him well enough that I felt I could bring it up without him taking Bryer away, as strange as that sounds - like somehow if I talked about it, it would confirm how he acted with her.  It was just always a kind of awkward elephant in the room, and I was ready to approach it.  In all honesty, I hoped he could help me find some missing pieces.  I didn't know if he would be willing, but I would never know if I didn't ask.  When the time was right, I took my list out and unfolded it.  I started in and asked him about SIDS.  What happens when a baby dies of SIDS?  He immediately wrote it off.  Didn't talk about it.  Didn't ask questions.  He said, "THIS is not a SIDS case."  He didn't tell me why, and I was afraid to ask, so I didn't.  There were more on my list, but I didn't want to read anymore.  I had been knocked down right out of the gate on my first question.  But I couldn't just stop at one 'no' with my baby on the line.  I asked him about Menkes Disease, a copper deficiency, and chicken pox that were confirmed at the hospital.  Could she have had chicken pox on the brain like the Center for Disease Control doctor had originally suggested?  I asked about the mysterious brain scans that didn't show a fracture at the first hospital, but then showed a fracture at the second hospital.  I asked him to help me understand the parts of the blood and why some levels were high, when that clearly didn't point to abusive trauma.  His answers were short and chopped my list down.  I asked how he would test for these things and his response was, "It is not my medical opinion that this is anything but abusive head trauma."  I wanted to cry.  So desperate for him to see me.  ME!  For who I am.  I would never hurt a baby!  I have spent my entire life in awe at the wonder of human creation.  The intricate details of a fetus growing in the womb, the development of an infant into a toddler, the wonder in their eyes at experiencing something for the first time.  I wanted to walk out and leave and never come back.  It had taken a lot of courage to bring my list, even more to pull it out of my pocket, and even more courage to get shot down one by one without an explanation of any of it from him, other than to say it wasn't his medical opinion.  I needed to walk out of that office leaving everything on the table.  I couldn't have him doubt me.  The last thing I said was,

"I am accountable to a higher power.  He knows where I stand on this, but I need you to know that I DID NOT hurt my baby!" 

My confidence poured out of my mouth before I even thought about what I was saying.  But all of it is true!  I AM held accountable to God.  And everything - every judging thing - that they are saying is simply not true.  God knows that and I know that.  And that's where I stand.  I can't say it feels good (yet), but with what I told him, I feel good about having my confidence back. 


During the time Bryer was staying at my Mom's, we met the Guradian Ad Litem that the court assigned to Bryer.  It was this volunteer that would get to know our family and Bryer and then make recommendations to the court in her best interest.  I was nervous to meet this person just because of the legalities, but also excited at the opportunity for someone to see us for who we are, to get to know us.  The case worker certainly wasn't doing that!  She came to my mom's house for our first visit.  She was a nice single lady, a little older than me, with pretty red hair and a friendly presence.  She asked lots of questions and never seemed to worry about stepping over any 'awkward' lines.  It wasn't too long after we met that she asked for just her and I to sit down and visit.  She came with a clipboard and lots of questions.  I was still nervous about having my words twisted and used against me, but I wasn't afraid of hiding anything or being completely open with her.  She asked a lot about my childhood and my relationships with my parents.  I told her that my parents divorced when I was in 5th grade.  I explained my love of sports and always being involved in something growing up.  I felt that side came from my Dad and spending weekends at his softball tournaments when I was little, which later benefited me with a college softball scholarship.  I told her about my close relationship with my Mom and how there were never any secrets between us.  She asked about my siblings and my relationships with them.  I told her how close my sister and I are and that my brother has always been around, but works a lot and has served over seas in the military.  She seemed to dig at any possible angle that might turn up some dysfunction or violence or addictions.  Other than my parents being separated, there wasn't much else.  I was an ornery teenager and often times didn't want to be pulled away from my friends for a weekend at my Dad's, but that was pretty normal of a teenage girl.  No drug or alcohol use ever, even as an adult.  I think she found that hard to believe.  I could tell by her reactions that we weren't her typical family that she 'investigates.'  She continued to stop by unexpectedly, follow up on questions she had, and did in-depth research.  It helped that she had some medical background herself. 

Bryer's Physical Therapist and Guardian Ad Litem

Bryer and the Guardian Ad Litem

She had so many people visiting, therapy appointments, a legal team, and people praying for her that we started calling them "Bryer's Fan Club."  That seemed more positive than people trying to keep her from us.


Once we got a new case worker, our case turned another corner.  In stead of working with the first case worker whose job it was to take kids away, this lady's job was to reunite families if they were willing to take the steps needed.  We went through a list of things that would show her Bryer would be safe in our home.  She suggested parenting classes.  I had taken several and had also taught some.  Being CPR certified.  I was that too, but Jason agreed to update his certification.  Being involved in the community was a big deal to this case worker, so we listed out all the responsibilities Jason and I held in our small town - the library's children's service coordinator, in charge of summer reading, Art Mom, Jason had sat on the Planning and Zoning Committee, we both held leadership positions at church.  She couldn't come up with any major classes or commitments we weren't already doing.  We settled on making our house safe - a lock on the door where Bryer would sleep; moving her crib to our room, things like that.  It's hard to try to prevent something from happening again when we don't know what happened in the first place.  I found it ironic that they would suggest things to bring Bryer closer to us - like her bed in our room - if they were suspecting that I hurt her.  I continued my research, although I haven't had the courage to bring up options to anyone else since I was shot down by her pediatrician. 

Health and Welfare is one thing.  Criminal charges are another.  So the research I do is not just for my own peace of mind to know what has happened, but also for Health and Welfare.  Hopefully not for criminal charges, but that's always an option.   

Sunday, May 4, 2014

#20 - Frustration (Through January 31, 2011)

Days like today I wonder how much more can a person physically handle.  After our family meeting with Health and Welfare, the case worker told me I was able to see Bryer at my Mom's for feedings.  I feel so sad that they think my most important role right now is 'just' feeding.  Feeding time is so important - for the nutrients Bryer takes in, but it so much more.  It's also for our bonding - the connection between us.  It's important for me to feel it.  Really feel it.  And equally important for her.  That melt-my-heart goodness that comes from feeding my baby and rubbing the top of her fussy head or fiddling with her tiny, little fingers while she eats.  Feeding her has become such a sacred experience - because that's the main purpose of our visits.  As much as it is nourishing for Bryer, that time with her is nourishment to my soul.  When I rub her little head held so softly in the crook of my arm, I wonder how in the world someone could hurt an innocent baby.  It makes me physically sick to my stomach to even think of the idea of someone hurting a newborn.  It makes my stomach do flips and turns.  The same uncomfortable feeling when the hospital staff reviewed SBS with me when each of my 5 babies were born.  It was their duty - one of the items in their check-off list for post-partum moms.  Still, every time, it was a yucky, sick feeling to even have it enter my thoughts.  Now to think I am being accused of this horrible act.  So my tears fall.  Not because I'm mad or frustrated.  Just because I am so hurt to my core that someone would accuse me of this - doctors.  Trusted doctors.  The best in the area.  So sure of themselves.  "To a high degree of medical certainty' they say.  When I feel so hurt and my pain is unbearable, I think of my Savior.  Did He feel this same way when He was falsely accused?  Did He physically hurt?  Was His frustration also replaced with deep sadness like mine?

Before this experience, I read my scriptures.  I went to church.  I could recite stories to my kids of Jesus.  I felt so strongly of the standards He wanted me to live.  I had a strong testimony of that.  I knew so much about Him.  But I remember a lady speaking in church that said she took walks with Jesus.  Was my life's journey my walk with Christ or was something inside still missing?  It's not enough to know about Him.  We have to know Him.  Through my pain and struggles and deep sadness, I feel like that missing piece of the puzzle is filling in now.  I'm able to feel a sliver of what He felt so long ago.  I can feel a little of what he felt - His sadness, His disappointment, His broken heart.  Because He's felt all that, He can understand me.  He can know exactly how I feel.  This experience is so painful for me to endure, and I still have to go on with normal life with 4 other kids.  It's so comforting to know that someone is walking with me that knows how I feel.  He doesn't take it away or make it all better or fix it all back to normal, but this walk is not so lonely for Jason and me. 

With all that going through my head, we returned to Jason's parents for the night and then sickness hit.  Literally.  Piper and Walker started in about the same time.  Throwing up and washing sheets and more throw up and baths and more throw up and wiping up floors.  I was up late.  If I wasn't with one of them, then I was cleaning up the last round of puke.  I got both of them back to sleep and put another load in the wash.  I don't know what time it was.  Late.  I went to the bathroom and closed the door.  I bowed down on the bathroom mat and bawled.  I want out.  I want to be done.  I want sleep.  I want my baby back.  I want healthy kids.  I want my husband and I under one roof.  I want to see my oldest play his basketball games - not just hear about it later.  I want to go back to the days I thought were hectic.  The days that running kids to sports practices and making dinner and folding clothes and washing dishes  and helping with homework was the hardest part of my day.  I don't want to drive 30 miles to feed my baby.  I don't want to wash another set of sheets.  I want to lay down next to my husband and sleep next to him - not call him on the phone to tell him good night.  I cannot give anymore.  I am so toasted and broken and tired.  How much more can one person - one family - take? 

January 29, 2011
I need my husband.  So desperately.  He's a physical rock to me.  As much as I want to be with Bryer, if I go, then I have to take Piper and Walker with me.  I don't feel like putting her in the vicinity of puke-germs and risking her getting sick with all the recovery going on in her brain.  And my Mom can't get sick if she's the one taking care of Bryer.  So we decided to come home for the weekend.  Air out my in-law's and give them a break.  Get kids better and then start fresh again Monday morning. 

January 30, 2011
Today I stayed home from church with sick kids.  That was the bad news.  The good news was that my Mom took Bryer to church!

I made a hard decision just after I graduated from high school.  A decision I knew was right, but that my family was not a fan of.  I chose to be baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  When I told each of my parents, they cried.  I had hoped they would be happy for me, but I knew they probably wouldn't be.  They had raised me to make my own decisions and even though they didn't agree, they accepted my decision.  It was a choice that had been building for two years as I searched for a church home.  I knew there was more out there.  I went to youth groups and church services and Sunday School lessons and asked questions.  Lots and lots of questions.  I prayed about my options.  I worried about what my family thought.  They both worried that the church would change me; that somehow our relationships wouldn't be the same.  And that once I got married and had kids that there would somehow be a separation.  The choice to be baptized was one of the hardest and best decisions I have ever made, even though it was not a happy time for my family. 

Now, with Bryer in my Mom's care - they went to church together.  Not at my Mom's church, but at the church building close to my Mom's house that's The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  When my Mom told me, I asked her why she decided to take her there.  She said, "I just thought that if it were a normal Sunday, then Bryer would be with her family at your church, so if I am trying to help, then that's where Bryer should be." 

My tears got watery on the phone.  I hoped my Mom wouldn't notice the crack in my voice.  It was completely unprompted by me to suggest that she take Bryer there.  It's not a place my Mom is completely comfortable, but she was willing to step outside her comfort zone and serve in a way that we completely appreciated and was totally unexpected. 

This simple act made me think today how I serve.  Do I serve others how I think the person needs to be served or do I serve the way that they need to be served?  I am thankful for my Mom.  So thankful.  She is an answer to my prayers.  Funny that when I was a little girl, I wrote in my journal, "When I'm a Mom, I think I will have my Mom just raise my kids because I don't think I could do as good of a job as she does."  She continues to serve how those around her need to serve - not how she wants to serve.  When Bryer was born, she came to stay for a while and help with the older kids.  I'm sure she would have rather snuggled our newborn and relaxed on the couch.  Instead she took my older kids for walks to wear them out, made crafts with them, cleaned up the house - and let me sit on the couch and snuggle Bryer.  She took pictures of Bryer and me to remember how fast that newborn, curled-up phase passes so fast.  I am so thankful for those first few days to enjoy Bryer without having to do much else but enjoy her and soak up all her newness before it passed. 

How ironic that she now has Bryer.  Aside from being with us, there is no better place for Bryer to be.  Now my Mom is the one snuggling her while Jason and I juggle our other kids.  I'm anxious to start a new, healthy week and see Bryer more at my Mom's! 

Hindsite is 20/20...  There were deep connections made between my Mom and Bryer that started at this point.  They continue to have a very special relationship.  Although I was 'forced' to share my baby, I am thankful for the relationship Bryer and my Mom have.  As I said in the intro, "There have been plenty of briars.  I have learned that the best way not to get tangled and caught up in them is to remain calm and look for the good in the situation."  Once Bryer was with my Mom, it got a little easier to look for the good.   

January 31, 2011
We started a new week.  I'm counting healthy kids as a new blessing that wasn't here last week.  Who knew the lack-of-puke could be such a wonderful thing?!  Jason's family helped out with Piper and Walker today, just to be sure that the sick-bug had passed before I take them back to see Bryer.  I'm so thankful for Jason's side of the family.  They have been a huge support for our entire family.  They have physically called family meetings to put plans together, have physically cared for our older kids, emotionally cried with us, and been for us spiritually as we fast and pray for things to work out.  I've said before, I don't know what people do when they are tied up in a mess like this that don't have family support.  Actually, I do know what they do.  They probably crumble.  When we have not had the strength or mental capacity to think things through, Jason's family has taken over.  In the times I just want to cry, they are logical and composed - just like my husband.  He's so steady and focused through all the pain he feels too.  We are part of a whole family.  They have their own problems that they have dropped to come to our rescue.  They have their own work, their own kids, their own activities.  They clear their schedules to keep our kids, make phone calls, fill out paperwork, interview attorneys with us, do whatever it takes.  This is not just a baby that has been taken away from me.  Not just Jason and I.  This is a piece of our whole family puzzle that is missing and we have all the support we need to fight to get her back.  That's what family is all about - fighting for each other.  Standing by in the sadness to wait on the happier times.  In the middle of this trying time, I continue to feel so blessed by these people around me! 
I spent most of the day today at my Mom's.  Bryer was pretty fussy this afternoon.  She didn't want to eat.  Didn't want to sleep.  Didn't want to rock or be layed down.  She started to get more and more worked up and couldn't be consoled.  Finally late this afternoon I called the pediatrician - a doctor I had never met that the foster mom had been taking Bryer to.  His office looked up her file and said I needed to call the neurologist.  So I put in a call there and waited for a call back.  Bryer cried harder and harder.  I started thinking of her cries the weekend before she went to the hospital.  Could something be wrong now, like it maybe was then?  It wasn't like her to not want to nurse, but I haven't been with her longer than a couple hours since the hospital either.  The foster mom told me she had fussy days, but she didn't tell me she couldn't be consoled.  I felt so inadequate, not knowing what to do to help my baby.  We had felt so close and connected during our short visits.  Now she was so inconsolable.  I tried more feeding, the binkey, a bath, a diaper change, taking her clothes off, putting different clothes on, walking around outside.  The neurologist finally called me back and said I needed to call the neurosurgeon.  I was fine with my composure for Bryer, but my frustration with doctors grew.  We hadn't had any contact with the neurosurgeon since the hospital; he had been the only optimistic one about Bryer's recovery.  As much as I would have liked to get his outlook, I didn't see why I should be calling him.  I just wanted her checked over to make sure nothing was wrong.  I could deal with crying if I knew she was physically okay.  I didn't want anything more 'pinned' on me.  I called anyway and they directed me to call the pediatrician back to refer us to their office.  I explained my frustration and phone tag and asked them to be sure that the pediatrician is the one I need to call.  Ugh!  I called the pediatrician's office back - tired and frustrated by lack of answers and running me in circles for the past 4 hours while Bryer was obviously in pain.  I wasn't going to have them call me back.  I didn't want to leave a message with the receptionist.  I just wanted an appointment and I let them know.  They finally told me I could either make an appointment for the next day or go to the E.R.  If there is something wrong with Bryer, then I want her to be seen soon.  The thought of walking back into the ER scared me, but I needed to be sure that Bryer was okay.  She was to the point of screaming now inconsolably.  So, my Mom and I packed up and went to the E.R.  We got to the emergency room and were led to a room.  They asked us to strip Bryer down and then left us to take care of it.  As soon as she was naked and layed on the table of crunchy paper, she calmed down.  My Mom and I watched her in awe as she squirmed her little body on the crunchy paper - and then smiled at the sound she created.  I felt silly sitting there.  So worried until that moment.  I had let my fear get the best of me.  I had forgotten to pray.  I felt defeated, but relieved at her smiles.  As we waited for the doctor to come in, Bryer nursed like a champ.  I wanted to slink out and pretend I had never worried enough to make it to the E.R. 

About that time, the doctor walked by our room.  I did a double take and stuck my head out the door to make sure what I had seen.  It was the same doctor that had intubated Bryer at the smaller hospital after I found her not breathing.  I walked back in the room and asked my Mom to hold Bryer while I went to talk to the doctor.  It wasn't my personality to confront people - even in a non-confrontational kind-of-way.  I had to figure out what to say.  How to introduce myself.  Maybe she wouldn't even remember me. 

I walked down the hall and found her at her desk reading notes into a recorder from her last patient.  I stood far enough away to give her privacy, but so I would know when she was done.  I set the recorder on my phone and put it in my pocket, always looking for clues from that day.  Then I walked up and introduced myself.  I didn't get very far into describing who I was when she put her hand on my arm and apologized again, like she had that day.  She said she did everything she could do that day.  She admitted she was a frazzled mess and said she's been praying for 'that baby' and our family.  She was glad to hear Bryer made it and then we said our good-byes.  It wasn't the conversation I was expecting.  I wanted to ask her about the scans done before the intubation that didn't show a fracture.  And then the scans done at the bigger hospital that showed a fracture.  I wanted to ask her about Bryer's heart rate changing during intubation that showed distress.  I wanted to ask her so many things.  But she was on to her next patient and I was left in the hall with all these unanswered questions.  I went back to the room with my Mom and Bryer and waited for the doctor.  He eventually came in and told us the obvious - that Bryer was okay.  He also said that when a brain is recovering, the baby will be more uncomfortable and could be fussy very often.  He decided to order stool samples, just to be on the safe side.  And then he sent us on our way. 

I had called our case worker on the way to the hospital, just to let her know what was going on.  She got word from the doctors office and was worried about me 'losing it,' so she called to check on me to make sure I was okay.  She didn't say much about whether Bryer was okay.  Bryer is the last person I would get frustrated with.  It's the rest of the doctors and government agencies I get frustrated with.  Me 'losing it' was never an option.  Crying - yes.  But not losing it. 

I'm tired of hospitals and doctors and am getting ready for bed tonight wondering how my life has gotten flipped upside down.  I tried to do more research tonight after I got back to Jason's parents' house and got kids in bed.  Everything I find is about people being convicted or people serving jail time or people on trial for SBS.  That's not a good feeling to go to sleep with.  I'll start all of this all over again tomorrow... 

(Note:  My journal is more sporadic once Bryer was moved to my Mom's.  Once I was able to spend more time with her, that meant less time to write.  My next journal entries will move 'faster' through time.  More blessings to come...  Thanks for following.)