Being on this side of these 'looks,' my heart has softened in the judgments I never knew I had. I am more likely to give people the benefit of the doubt. They are probably having a bad day; they just lost a spouse; they are running late; I'll give them any excuse in the book and have compassion for them. I see people with struggles. Real life, mind-changing, life-altering struggles. So when someone cuts me off on the freeway, maybe they are trying to get to the hospital. If a clerk is short with me, maybe she would rather be home with her kids, or is tending to a sick parent. If someone at church looks like they have it all together, maybe it took an extra amount of effort to pull it all together just to be there. I just never know what people are going through, what they are hoping for, what they are working through. There are many, many ways to be a good woman and mom. Some choose to have kids, some don't. Some nurse, some pump, some use formula. Some co-sleep, some let their babies cry it out, some stay at home while others work. I never would have understood how much time, effort, and heartache it takes to make this single decision to continue nursing until I have been through it. There are a million choices we make each day. Who am I to say that the choice I make for my family is the same choice someone else should make? We all make decisions based on our past experience and the knowledge we carry with us right now at this point in time. I am in no way capable of thinking my choice is the right one for any other person. That was my ah-ha moment for the day, and something I hope I will never forget!
I left the women's bathroom with my three kids in tow and I took more notice of the people around me... The mom with the fussy baby, the toddler throwing a temper tantrum, the guy with all kinds of piercings and tattoos on his face, the elderly single man sitting on the bench. They all have a story. Every. Single. One of them. Each, a child of God. Each overcoming obstacles at their own level with their past experiences and knowledge that makes up only them. The least I can do is to be kind. Be soft. Be compassionate. It's when I start getting 'me-centered' that I miss the whole point of where and why I'm here.
On the same token, as we stood in line at the grocery store today, a woman behind me started making conversation with my kids and mentioned, "I can tell that your Mom sure loves you!" My eyes got a little misty. This lady had no idea that I will soon be on trial, defending myself from false allegations of hurting my baby. This woman that I am, loving my kids so much, may all be taken away from me. I am just a normal, every day Mom, being asked by the Lord to conquer this huge mountain that stands in front of me. Everyone has a story. Everyone.
|Piper and I feeding our babies in their highchairs|
Our last court appearance was in preparation to see if we were on track for our jury trial. Sometimes it just hits me like a ton of bricks. This isn't a Law and Order or a nightmare I can wake up from. This is my life. My family on the line. It's as real as me walking to the front of a court room to sit behind a table labeled 'Defense.' It's responding to "All rise," and standing when the judge walks into the courtroom, just like on TV. It's the moments that I answer a question from the judge with "Yes, your honor." It's getting dressed up each time, sending my kids off to school and hoping that at the end of court they won't arrest me and I can return to my family. It's carrying on with my everyday life, despite the pressure that the legal side carries - being completely upheld by the prayers of other people.
In court the prosecution asked to add an enhancement to the original charge. The judge hasn't decided if he will allow it, but if he does, it would carry an additional 10 years incarceration - for a total of 20 years. Our attorney didn't see how he would allow it, as it's similar wording as the original charge, so they shouldn't be able to duplicate it for an enhancement.
There has also been talk of a change of venue, as the prosecution doesn't feel I will receive a 'fair trial' in our town because I have too much support. She brought in examples - the donation cans that sat at the gas stations and grocery store checkout stands in town, the 'prominent figures' she said Jason and I are, and the fundraisers that have been done for us. Between helping at the school regularly and doing story time at the library I have friends. Is that a bad thing? Jason is the bishop of our church congregation and sits on the Board for Planning and Zoning and we have both coached high school sports teams. We own a business in town. People know us - not in a show-y, 'look at me' kind of way, but we like to be involved, and now the prosecution is trying to use that against us and asked that the judge consider the change of venue for the trial to be held in a different county. I will admit, in a small town and small county, it will be hard to select jurors that either don't know Jason and I or who haven't heard something. It's a small town. People talk - good or bad. Our attorney has pointed out to the judge that there are other towns in our county to choose jurors from. The judge isn't ready to make a decision yet either way. What the judge did say is that he sat down to lunch at one of our restaurants after court the last time and some people at the table next to him started talking about our case. To be completely unbiased, the judge got up and left. I can appreciate that about him.
From our side of things, we've been back and forth with our expert witness, the neurosurgeon from Maryland. He is still in the process of reviewing our binders of information and said he would like to call in a radiologist to advise him specifically about the skull fracture. He's worked with this radiologist in the past and is the lead pediatric radiologist at Stanford. As we wait to hear back some definite answers from our experts, it's a little overwhelming that doctors with their kind of credentials would come to our lil ol' town to testify.
In the meantime, I take more pictures of my kids doing everyday things. I need to capture these images in my mind and soak it all up. You just don't get these days back once they are gone.
March 13, 2012
I lay in bed last night. Worried. Confused. Overwhelmed. Most days I am able to carry on as usual, but all these feelings just seem to catch up to me every so often. I have learned to just let them come, cry, and get over it. It shows that this is not easy. It was not meant to be easy. There would be something wrong if it were easy. Bryer's recovery, therapy, appointments, and everyday needs would be a 24 hour job. Then I have a curious-about-everything 3 year old, a 5 year old wanting to learn to read, and an easy going 11 year old that could easily just slip through the cracks if I didn't make a conscience effort to make a connection with him everyday. He and his brother would be happy to play the Wii everyday after school if I would let them. I want to visit with them about the day, play, enjoy each other, soak them up. Every so often, there's a day that ends in bedtime before I get to visit, and by then I'm so ready for quiet that I feel guilty that I didn't have a meaningful 1-on-1 conversation with them.
Don't worry - I didn't forget my 7 year old. In fact, that's what tipped off my night and I ended in tears. On Saturday, Sawyr asked for the library book to teach him to tie his shoes. My plan was to sit in the back seat with him on our long road trip and help him but I hadn't had meaningful conversation with Jason in so long that I delegated the shoe-tying-lesson to Hunter for now. I physically pulled out my phone "memo board" and put it on my To Do list: teach S to tie his shoes.
Sunday I walked past as Sawyr sat on the bottom stair. He tried and tried to tie his shoes. This is after seeing his sister (2 years younger than he is) tie a big bow on her skirt the day before. I silently spied on him as he gave up and stuffed the ends of his shoe laces into the sides of his shoes and finished getting ready to leave for church. I mentally took note and assured myself that that would be the day, after church, that I teach him to tie his shoes. After all, he is 7. First grade. It's time he learned to tie his shoes.
Monday night I layed in bed. Worried. Confused. Overwhelmed. And then the vision of my little boy sitting on the bottom step trying so intently to tie his shoes flashed through my head again. And I realized I had let 2 more days go by without teaching him to tie his shoes. Such a simple thing, but something that matters to him. And if it matters to him, then it matters to me, and it matters to Heavenly Father. I prayed for yet more dilegence in being a Mom and having the time, energy, and patience that I need to fulfill everyone's needs.
I woke up with parts of the Hilary Weeks song He'll Carry You playing in my head, so I had to go find the CD and listen.
Jason and I lay in bed last night. Bryer's been sick, so finally to lay next to each other without a baby in between was nice. No coughing baby. No fever. No child in between us. It was a calm moment to just BE. To just think. To just lay next to each other in silence. I took a deep releasing breath. And then Jason said the words I had been thinking, "What have we gotten ourselves into?"
A reassuring conversation followed of the gospel and the plan of salvation and the eternal scheme of things. I said, "Sometimes I just want to move away and leave all our problems." He assured me that our problems would come with us, but that moving maybe would relieve a lot of other problems - travel time, doctors being so far away, having the help of family, etc. We have tossed around the idea of moving closer to the bigger city where we take Bryer for appointments, more therapy options, more activities for our older kids. It breaks my heart to think of leaving this little town with all the support we have received. I love knowing my kids friends and their families, being involved, having leadership opportunities. We have decided to pray about this decision and where the Lord would have us be.
Sometimes I think about what our life was like after Bryer was born. I remember laying in bed on another night next to Jason and I said, "I thought 5 kids was going to be harder than this." I remember that question like it was yesterday. It was the calm before the storm. All our faith and knowledge and understanding and learning and progress had prepared us and led us up to that point. Heavenly Father knew we were ready. Ready for a challenge. The biggest challenge we would yet survive together. I think about some of the smaller tests we must have passed along the way - letting our hearts mourn through three miscarriages was a hard one. Then the thought of our good friend with special needs came to mind. When Jason and I were new parents, I was given an assignment to help this woman at church. She lived alone and had help to balance her checkbook and pay her bills and someone taught her to clean her house and cook for herself. We took her with us every week to the library, grocery shopping, the bank, whatever errands she needed to run. We surprised her by taking her along to a few of Jason's college basketball games. I was released from that official responsibility, but what had started as an assignment had turned into a wonderful friendship. Did I pass that test too well? So well that God thought I was ready for a child with special needs of my very own?! Lucky enough to have that influence not just once a week, but every hour of every day? Did He take into account the knowledge of child development we had practiced all along the way, the sign language we taught our other kids, the patience it would take to raise this special little girl? Yes, I think He knew. More than I ever imagined. And He has more confidence in me than I often have in myself.
I compare the 2 comments in my head, just a year and a 1/2 difference in time.... "I thought 5 kids was going to be harder than this..." and then "What have we gotten ourselves into?" So much growth, humility, understanding, and spirituality between those 2 comments. I wouldn't have raised my hand and said, "Pick me! I'll take on that challenge!" (Or maybe I did before I came to this earth?) Either way, I wouldn't trade it for anything.
We have been traveling 2 hours at the beginning of the week to do hyperbaric chamber appointments with Bryer. This week we stayed with Jason's brother and his wife. I had another "mourning time" today as I watched Walker run around on the back patio, shooting bubbles out of the bubble gun. His younger cousin ran around chasing the bubbles and loving Walker. As I held Bryer, her head resting on my shoulder, I felt sad that she wasn't out there running and catching bubbles with them, giggling. At home she uses her vision, but when we are away lots of times it's easier to use her hearing, so she looks like she's tuned out, but she's just listening and soaking everything up. She had her head rested on my shoulder so she could concentrate on all the sounds of the kids, not worrying about using her body to sit up or use her vision. Someday she will be made whole again. After this life, when she isn't tied down with tight muscles and eyes that don't see like ours do, she will run and chase and play with the best of them. Until then, I will hold her and love her into that day. And then I will appreciate it so much more than if I had experienced it today.
April 16, 2012
Saw the eye dr. today. He was impressed right off the bat when Bryer picked up on him coming in the room, then tracked him side to side as he wheeled his chair around to check her out. She is tracking lots better than she was 4 months ago and they didn't have to use any sound-makers to get her to attend to what they wanted her to look at. Lights, yes. Sound, no. That's a good sign that she's relying more on her vision than just sound like she was. She did good on the cards too. She saw better in both eyes - 1 card better actually. Last time we went, she stayed the same in her left eye.
4 months ago:
right eye - 20/470
left eye - 20/710
right eye - 20/380
left eye - 20/470
|Good news at the eye doctor today, and a little girl wanting to stand after many trips to the hyperbaric chamber!|
When the sale was all over and done, Jason and I talked about the money. Here it sits. I so bad want to do more for Bryer. But the fact of the matter, Jason pointed out, is that if I am not here to care for her, then all the therapy options in the world won't help her. I am reluctant to put that money toward more attorney fees. It feels selfish. I don't want all this money to be dumped into keeping me out of jail when our little girl could use it. It hurts to know that we have a chunk of money that we could use to help Bryer, but feel that defending me is the best way to spend our blessing. There have been tears and anxiety since the sale, trying to decide what to do with this money. I have to accept that the Lord will help us make this decision however we are to spend this money.
March 14, 2012 - HBOT
We have completed 24 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) that our friends and family had bought through Living Social for Bryer... We prayed about a way to make it happen and God sent us the answer and made it possible. The staff at the office was the very best. Bryer and I climbed into a long, white container that looked like a large duffle bag, and lay side by side. They gave us a walkie talkie to communicate with them while we were in it. They sealed it shut and it began pressurizing, with our ears popping similar to going up in an airplane. Bryer had a nose tube that delivered 100% oxygen - a much higher percentage than the 20% that we breath with our normal air. Plus it's at a pressurized rate, so it's supposed to force the oxygen into the cells more efficiently and create changes in her brain. If we stop breathing, our brain is the first thing to be affected, so it's thought that our brain is the first to also benefit from the pressurized oxygen.
The following is my report to the doctor after we had completed all 24 sessions:
5th week - We saw the eye doctor. The time before we were there she hadn’t showed any improvement in her left eye. After a 4 month period, 2 of those months doing HBOT, she showed remarkable improvement in her eye sight. She remained a happier baby and is on track with a sleep schedule and kicks her legs a lot to facilitate movement.
We finished our 24 sessions of HBOT and were happy with the results with intentions to return to do more after moving closer. Other financial circumstances made it impossible to make it work. We only saw minimal regression with regards to her eye sight after we stopped HBOT. Everything else remained a good foundation to build on.