I had some questions mulling in my head before bed. Some I knew the answers to, some I didn't. And maybe that's what prompted my very strange dream.
What is the purpose of this life? Why are we here? What happens when we die? Do we have the same personalities, the same strengths and weaknesses after this life? What is our responsibility to others while we live this life?
God really is the father of our spirits - our Heavenly Father, literally - and He wants not only my best interest, but every single person on this earth. He loves us equally. The person who has accepted Christ, and the one who hasn't. The one that's in the front row at church, and the one that doesn't come at all. The single, lost drug addict, and the married mom of 5 kids. Our whole purpose of this life is to make choices that help us return to God - to our Heavenly Father.
I slept for 10 hours last night and for what seemed like the whole 10 hours, I dreamed I was in jail. I was sentenced to only weekends and in my dream I was so stressed because I could never remember if it was Friday night or Saturday morning when I was supposed to check in. My dream was so vivid with detail. I can picture the people I met - mostly women. I can still remember the conversations I had - mostly about the routine of things there, what we were aloud to do or not do, and some conversations about the gospel and Jesus Christ. As I was there in my dream, I constantly worried about my children and also about finding a breast pump so I could pump in jail to get it to Bryer. I remember one woman in particular that I became good friends with. She had dark, short, curly hair and a medium build. She answered all my questions and showed me the ropes. I remember toward the end of my dream walking out the glass front doors along side her, both of us free, with the tall, chain length fence to the right of us with the curly barbed wire along the top.
I woke up with a strange, mixed kind of feeling... Thinking I didn't want to go there. I want to be with my kids and enjoy them. As much as I want to 'go and do' what the Lord would have me do, I have been hesitant to ask Him to let me stay with my family. Is that strange? Maybe so. I really, truly, 100% want to do and be where Heavenly Father will use me. I always thought that would be in my home. With my husband. With my kids. Why would that not be right where I belong? In my dream, there were people there that needed to hear about Christ. They were everyday women like me. They weren't what I would picture people being like in prison. They did their hair and make up, even looked fashionable in their jailbird outfits. They talked to me and I could ask questions, as well as answer their questions. It's been a thought in the back of my head that if there's someone who needs me in jail, and that's where I'm supposed to be, then I'm ready to accept that. That thought actually came spilling out of my mouth as a I talked to a friend recently, but after my dream, even though it wasn't scary or what I picture jail being like, I don't want to go. I don't want to accept that. And it kind of makes me feel guilty in a strange way to not accept it. Do you think that it's selfish of me to want to stay at home and raise my family and enjoy my kids laughter and lay down in bed every night with my husband? I so, whole-heartedly, want to do what Heavenly Father wants me to do, but I don't want to go to jail. I've been kind of afraid to say it. But I need to find a way to plead with Him.
Up until now, I thought that was a great thing to be a 'choice daughter' of Heavenly Father. I loved knowing that God believes me to be a choice daughter - it's easy to just accept it. But I realized this week that it doesn't come easy. Being a choice daughter doesn't just happen. I must prove that I am. By my faith in trials, by my strength for others, by my example to those around me, I must BE a choice daughter. He knows me. HE knows me. He knew me before I came to this earth. He knew the choices I made before this life. He prepared me from an early age to be the kind of woman He knew I could be. And when the conditions were just right, He sent me the gospel of Jesus Christ. He armed me with all the tools and armor I would need to withstand Satan's firey darts. He hand-picked trials for me that He knew I could withstand. And then, and only then, did He send me out to battle.
The miracle in it all is that I am no different than the next person. The crabby lady behind me at the checkout stand is also a daughter of God. Does she know her worth? Her potential? Her divine purpose? Can she feel His influence in her life? Does she know of the confidence He has in her to endure whatever is making her grumpy?
I looked at a picture today of me holding my second baby when he was about 2 months old, about the same age Bryer was when this all started. I looked at the woman I was at that point in time. Not someone who could have withstood this trial I have now to go up against.
I have had small trials of faith in my life. Miscarriages. Remodeling woes. Frequent moving. Minor sickness. Maybe there were times I lost patience with my kids or I snapped at Jason, but we have never faced anything that was so much that we couldn't overcome with an eternal perspective. And so I suppose this is the same.
It's not something I would have picked, but I can't imagine getting to where I am without it. When I look at some of my prime examples of faithful women in the gospel - real life, Christ-centered women in my area, I realize that they have all been through a life-changed experience of one kind or another. Losing a spouse or child, life-threatening illness, traumatic events. I feel honored to stand with them, to bear witness that He loves us and never, EVER leaves us. As hard as it is to watch a child learn something new - a toddler learning to walk or a child learn to ride a bike - in order to stretch and grow, so it is for Him to watch us. I plan to live up to being a choice daughter of my Heavenly Father.
November 4, 2011
Bryer's physical therapist brought both stress and relief this week. The stress came as she introduced what she called a 'standing frame.' She said after Bryer's hip x-ray that she should be weight bearing on her legs to help her ball and socket joint form correctly. Normally babies would be rocking on hands and knees, crawling, standing, and maybe walking by this point so that joint would naturally form. From the looks of the x-ray she's considered to have a 'hip at risk.' Then she brought in the contraption she wanted me to put Bryer in every day. I had a flashback of the 'therapy board' I saw the boy strapped to on the website when I researched kids with SBS, being forced to stand. That boy was emotionless and contorted - not 'checked in' like Bryer. I accepted the P.T.'s help to show me how to put her in, but I struggle emotionally to put her in it myself now. I don't want to think of my baby that way. She's fun and giggly and responds to us, however uncooperative her body is for movement. She is not that boy I saw on the computer screen.
The P.T. also brought relief. She asked if any of the doctors or other therapists had mentioned the term Cerebral Palsy. No one had. She said Bryer would probably diagnosed with cerebral palsy. I'm not one for labeling or diagnosing, but any other term to google than SBS was a relief! That I could handle! Plus, her orthopedist had mentioned the range of kids he works with - everything from severe and non-responsive to a high school track athlete that pulls his right arm up when he really concentrates on running fast - fully functioning, except a tight arm when there's a lot of running intention. Those were 2 extremes of the spectrum of cerebral palsy. Bryer could be anywhere in between.
Nov. 9, 2011
We also heard from the child abuse doctor, who said some bogus things - like Bryer having a pump to drain fluid from her brain in the hospital. Not so. We will be able to use the recording in the criminal trial. He also said a couple other things that were way off - like he hadn't even looked at her chart. It's sad that he has to deal with that many cases that he can't keep them straight.
We heard all the prosecutor's evidence and then my attorney was going to start on the defense stuff. He stated I had criminal charges pending and didn't feel like I could testify now for the hearing, as it's recorded and he wasn't ready for that. However, it's my right to a fair hearing, so if he wants me to testify, I should be able to. So we put the hearing on hold for now. We also left it open for more evidence (ie. the outcome of the criminal trial). That, in itself, is a blessing, because we didn't really have a case otherwise without calling in expert witnesses. And the deadline for evidence was weeks ago.
Nov. 11, 2011
Bryer's O.T. related how she felt as she read through our file for the first time. She was glad she had a good 2 weeks to adjust and gear up for our first meeting. All she knew what was on paper - abuse, fracture, brain bleeding, SBS... And then she met us. It didn't make sense and she had doubts from the beginning. I wanted at that time to go with my husband, to take our 5 kids, and protect them from another intruder into our life. But instead I was forced to do the opposite - to stand out there, feeling bare naked, and face the very people that suspect me, to bare all and be the core person I am and try to help my baby recover, protect her, help my kids feel 'normal' in the most basic sence, and stand as one with my husband to this worldly trial. I think Bryer's O.T. was confused for a while. And now we mesh so well. She has been such a huge advocate and blessing to our whole family, and especially to Bryer.
I asked her what the options are about continuing services with her. If we continue with the Infant/Toddler program we run the risk of these 2 ladies having access to Bryer's file. If we don't continue, we run the risk of them thinking we are bad parents by denying our child services. In a 'normal' criminal trial, the witnesses for the prosecution would never continue to have a working relationship with the defense. But I'm reminded again that "We're dealing with the legal, not the logical." In the meantime, I continue to go to doctors appointments with specialists that I know will testify against me. To gather my strength and courage before each appointment, I listen to my new Hilary Weeks CD. 'Past the Point' has played dozens of times on repeat during my long 2 hour road trip to appointments to these specialists.
(This You Tube video isn't the whole song, but you'll get the idea. Here is my shameless plug for the Hilary Weeks CD 'Every Step.' Every single woman out there needs this CD! *And maybe some men too.* I have given nearly a dozen away to friends just for that reason!)
As the Dr. came in, he asked if she was having any seizures. No, still none - not since the hospital, although they kept her on seizure meds for 6 months after that anyway. He questioned what therapies she was getting. PT and OT every other week. And then I saw him doodle on his paper a little, going back over the marks he had already made, as he fumbled for the next question. And then, "Well, I guess this is shaping up to be a very short appointment." I didn't just drive 2 hours to answer 2 questions and be done. So, I started in on my list...
"How do you feel about doing another scan?" All the scan will show is the scarring from previous injury. Yes, we may be able to look and see which areas are affected, but that is apparent anyway in her recovery and therapy. He mentioned complex language development being compromised, but I don't know if he was throwing that out there as a possible area that could be affected or if he was seeing something I wasn't. I did report previously that she babbles mamamama, dadadada, and hi, on a good day. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's not being negative about her language progress.
"What do you know about hyperbaric oxygen therapy?" There's not much evidence that they work. I tell my patients to be careful with their money. There are people out there that are willing to take their money and I don't think it works how they expect it to. (As opposed to him, who takes money for asking 2 questions and expecting to call it a short appointment?)
"What are the pros and cons of alternative meds and what are the options?" Rx for baclofen or Botox injections. Pros - paralyzes the muscle; interrupts the messages between the brain and muscle; Cons - the pain of the actual shot, the fact that it's a toxin injected into the body. It wears off and she could become immune to it's effects.
"What should I be expecting from therapy/orthopedics/other doctors?" A good PT will know when to call in specialists to discuss Botox injections or other meds. It's mostly if tone and spasticity is getting in the way of normal development. (She can't tripod while sitting, as her arms are too stiff to her body.) Talk to your husband about it and see if that's something you want a referral for. Therapies will be the best for her at this point.
"If seizures return, will they be appearant or is there such a thing as seizures that we can't see like she had in the hospital?" More than likely she will have a grand mal seizure or twitching of the arms, legs, or a body part. If she's zoned out and nonresponsive, it could be a seizure. Shaking her, even hanging her upside down would not bring her out of it. (Is that a strange thing to say to a mom that's been accused of "Shaken Baby Syndrome"? Maybe by now he's forgotten the diagnosis and willing to take me for who I am.
Mission accomplished. See you back in 6 months.
A few days after Halloween, my sister-in-law sent me an email.
Since I was up visiting you on Halloween, I can't stop thinking about helping you. Our family would like to help you and Jay. We know that you will be busy with a trial and all that involves, plus holding onto your sanity, plus caring for your children. If you could tell us, like you tell Heavenly Father, what you need, we could fill in the gaps. Call it your "Wish List" What would you wish for that would make your life easier? Here is a list of ideas that we thought might help. Say the word and I will get it done, me or someone else.
1) A month's worth of freezer dinners for the family. All you have to do is put it in the oven.
I was so incredibly touched that I bawled when I read. And re-read. And read again what she was offering. I responded... And then the miracles happened...
Who couldn't resist a good trial to bring out the best in a family? I have been upheld, supported, and blessed more than I know what to do with. I didn't know i needed rescued. I was making my time count with my kids, and unfortunately I hadn't planned well for the everyday temporal needs of food, laundry, dishes, etc. Pumpkins and painting and playing was just more important. When time is limited, the priorities take care of themselves. The rest will get done if there's time left over. And that's exactly what my sister-in-law saw. She saw that I was drowning in temporal needs because I was so focused on the eternal needs of my children. But they still have to eat and have clean clothes to wear. So she intervened.
As I sit here in my quiet house tonight with all the kids asleep, I smell pine in the boughs above my cupboards, dotted with Christmas lights. My Christmas tree is up and fully decorated. In 8 years, I never wanted to get all the ornaments out of the individual boxes. It took too much time. But I was missing out. The kids were so excited to hear the next ornament - of what they were into when they were 3 or 5 or 9. It's a blessing to share those memories. I love bringing out the stockings and seeing them get excited for our family tradition to see what they hid in them the year before when we packed them away. (And by the way, because of the state we were in last year, they didn't put anything in them, so I had to add candy to them when I got them out.)
And then Jason's aunt came. Oh did she come! She brought with her a couch and a rug and energy and time and love. She made cookies with Piper and held Bryer and decorated and cleaned and organized and bought things I never knew I needed but now cannot live without. She and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law created spaces in our house to make things run more smoothly for when they are gone. I now have a chair to nurse downstairs, an area that is comfortable for people to visit downstairs without having to go upstairs where our family room is, and an efficient eating area to feed my family spiritual food. I have a laundry room that has been made-over to run more smoothly. We have a system now. No nagging. My sister-in-law made me a job system using a few tips I had on how I wanted it to run. The kids love it. Did I mention no nagging?
My other sister-in-law brought me baby food. Homemade baby food with child-like writing from my nieces of what's in the freezer bags. The handwriting alone made me cry. I can just picture them working together with the mess and time it takes to cook, puree, and bag up baby food, all while they have 3 little boys running around. Store bought baby food would be fine, but I have tried hard to give Bryer the very best nutrients from the homemade good stuff to help feed her brain. They went above and beyond to stock pile 3+ months of food for her, the way I would do it if I had the time.
There are 2 freezer shelves filled with freezer meals. And 2 more freezer shelves of homemade bread from a lady in another state that just heard about us and wanted to help. 18 loaves of homemade, delicious wheat bread! (Do you know how long it takes to make 18 loaves?! I know because it took me a whole year to perfect a loaf of bread!) And now there's a place for wet snow clothes. And dry snow clothes. And a place to dry mittens and hats. They should all finish up their 4th and last day of work here tomorrow.
My sister-in-law gave me the new Hilary Weeks CD, her book, and another CD. In the note she said, "I know she speaks the way your heart understands." I cannot believe how blessed I am to have the support I have. And I am so indebted. To these family members. To my Heavenly Father. To my Savior, Jesus Christ. They are doing exactly what He would if He were here. I am so incredibly thankful to those that saw I needed time to take a breath when I couldn't even tell I was drowning. Like the scriptures say to 'Bear one another's burdens,' I feel the power of Heaven working through these people I am lucky enough to call family. Sometimes it's easier to not put ourselves out there emotionally when someone else is in pain or struggling. Like if we don't see it, then it's not happening. I am so thankful for those that stick by me and continue to feel what I'm feeling and help in ways I can't help myself! True, Christ-like service! The phrase 'What Would Jesus Do?' is not just for when things are good or easy or basic. I've learned it's especially for the times when someone around us is hurting or enduring a trial.
Makes me want to say, "Trial? What trial?!" But it's there. Always in the back of my head. And I pray for Heaven's divine help. Like parting the Red Sea or feeding the crowd with a few fish and loaves of bread - I need Heaven's help.
So, ready and confident to stand up for myself, I changed from my 1/2 marathon shirt and into my court attire. Switching shirts I thought, standing up for myself is not something that comes easy to me. If it weren't for my sweet husband, I would have been in for it a long time ago. He has taken over, held me when I needed to cry, made contact with attorneys, doctors, health and welfare workers, many of the contacts I could not have made myself, while I get things figured out in my head and take care of our 5 precious kids.
One of the things the PICU doctor said early on was, "This can happen to anyone. This goes beyond races, social classes, and genders. Anyone can just snap." And when he said that, I was at a point I couldn't stand up for myself. The doctors were saying there was no other way. The police said there was no other way. Health and Welfare took my children. I am an honest person, being hung out to dry. I have come to realize and know for myself, that between me and God, nothing else matters but the truth. I will embrace it and have the courage it takes to stand it out. I will "stand as a witness at all times and in all things and in all places." I will.
So, as I prepared for court, I was ready with confidence. I nursed Bryer before I left. As I sat and fed her, I wondered if this was one of the last times I would nurse her. There was a chance I could be arrested. Strangely, I felt calm. Like Joseph Smith said as he knew he would be martyred - he felt as a lamb going to slaughter, yet felt as calm as a summer's morning. There's a huge comfort in a clear conscience.
In times of stress, I have felt that it's easier for me to deal with things around people. Unusual for me since I'm normally an introvert. I think it came from being 'watched' 24/7 while we were going through our whole ordeal. It's easier to be in public or around people, especially when Bryer is crying, like I have to prove that I can handle a crying baby. She wasn't even crying that day when I layed her down, but all the doctors said that's what HAD to happen. They all think it's a violent thing. A loss of patience. After what I've been endured mentally and physically, I can honestly say IMPOSSIBLE! Whole-heartedly, 100%, with a capitol I - Impossible for me to 'just snap.'
I am so thankful for the eternal plan of salvation. I am thankful for a big picture view of things. If I can keep that frame of mind, I'm a lot better off. It's when I get caught up in this worldly, day-to-day, court stuff that I start worrying a little. I wonder if those in the scriptures found themselves on that fence or if they just kept their eyes pointed at eternity.
When my Mom came to keep kids before our hearing, she brough me a polka dot umbrella. I was so thankful and it made me teary. She found it at the $1 store. It was all by itself, the last one. Meant for me. The song Bryer and I dance to is "Dancing in the Rain" on the new Hilary Weeks CD. We dance when she's happy and when she's sad. We dance in the kitchen and up the stairs. She loves music and movement, and no matter how heavy her little body is getting, it's worth it to dance. For my spirit and hers. The song talks about finding joy in the trials and enjoying every minute of life. Dance in the rain. And thank the rain for coming. That's how we grow - through trials and being tested.
We got to the courtroom and it seemed cold to me and brought stress to my body. I'm at peace, but in a stressful situation. I don't like being seperated from my kids. And once we were ready to sit at the front of the courtroom, this was the first time I had to be seperated from Jason too. It was the first time I couldn't have him hold my hand and sit by my side. A scary thought. Yet I know that in my preparation in the near year we've been fighting this, I can stand for myself with his support nearby. It doesn't mean that I wouldn't prefer him to be at my side, but I can temporarily stand. And I never stand alone.
I took my place at a big table with a sign titled, "Defense." There were other people in the room waiting for their turn also. Court was short. The judge didn't even have me enter my plea of Innocent, as we thought he would. They set a time for a future court date, of Dec. 1 at 9:30 a.m. and then the judge asked the prosecutor if I could continue on my own recognizance - basically asking if I was okay 'on the loose' still. She said that would be fine, so they didn't arrest me. Back home to my sweet family to dance in the rain some more!