Monthly Archives: January 2015

Our New Normal

We have now been home for a week. And we are starting to settle into our new normal. It goes a little like this:

7:15- Beckett stirs in his bed. Addie also comes in the room. “Hi Beckett!” I smile and lay in bed for a few more minutes while my oldest sweetie talks to her little brother.

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7:30- Beep! Beep! Beep! Beckett’s TPN and lipids are done. We have to unhook the tubes, saline flush his picc line and then flush it with heparin to prevent clots. We finish by placing a sterile alcohol cap on the end. We pick him up and cuddle on him now that he is tube free.

8:00- Rae starts to stir and Shawn prepares all of Beckett’s meds. 6 in the morning. A vitamin supplement, two diuretics, an antibiotic, a blood pressure med and a med to help keep his bile thin. He puts all the meds into Beckett’s feeding tube. Thank goodness for the feeding tube so we don’t have to fight him to choke them all down.

From 8:15-9:00 we get ready, head downstairs, let the dog out, feed Beckett, eat breakfast, sometimes get the girls dressed, and Shawn heads to work.

9:00/9:15- Tuesdays and Thursdays Addie goes to preschool. Oh how lucky I am to have a neighbor who takes her and picks her up. I don’t know how I’d do it. Beckett gets tired and I take him upstairs. Thankfully, he is starting to get back to his old self and has been putting himself to sleep.

9:15-11:00- The girls and I play, I clean, they play and make messes, we work on potty training Rae, I stop fights, we snuggle.

11:00- Beckett wakes. He is hungry again. He takes 2.5 ounces. It’s amazing. He used to only take 1 ounce every 4 hours. So this is huge for him. He now gets excited to see the bottle. We are making progress!!

Noon- I feed the girls and myself. Usually something easy like sandwiches or soup but sometimes I feel ambitious and make spaghetti or stir fry.

12:30- Nap time/Quiet time. Oh I love this time. It’s crazy getting the girls situated in their beds. And we just switched Rae to a big girl bed so it’ll be interesting to see if this time exists anymore. Once the girls are down Becks and I get a little time to ourselves before I put him in bed.

1:00- Beckett goes down for another nap. I head downstairs and clean up the kitchen. Straighten up the house a little and then I get to sit down. I either nap a little or I watch a show.

2:00- Addie’s done. She comes down to get a snack and watch a show while her siblings sleep. I clean some more or read a little.

3:00- Beckett and Rae get up. (Oh please Rae! Please take a nap in your big girl bed today!!) I feed Beckett again.

3:00-5:00- This is the time I usually get a lot of phone calls. The liver clinic will call, or home health. We change his meds every few days based on his labs. And home health is constantly talking to me about bringing me deliveries of NG tube supplies, or picc line supplies or the pharmacist calls to discuss his TPN and lipids. I also get calls from the home health nurses checking in and seeing if his picc dressing needs to be changed. Then I get calls from the delivery drivers letting me know when they will be coming by. The girls and Beckett just play and make messes. I love hearing the laughter and coos.

4:30/5:00- I put Becks down for a mini nap. And then I finally start thinking about dinner. Sometimes I make something nice. Sometimes I’m super prepared and throw something in the crockpot around 3. Other times we just make grilled cheese. Or grab take out.

5:30-7:30-  Shawn gets home from work, we eat, we clean up, we play, we dance, we feed Beckett. Then we like to watch a movie together and eat popcorn or ice cream.

7:30- The utter chaos starts. I head to the fridge and pull out Becks TPN, lipids and vitamins. I head upstairs to get it all ready and Shawn starts working with the girls to get them ready for bed. I’ve gotten pretty quick with setting up the TPN and lipids. I have to set the pumps up, prime the tubing, infuse the vitamins into the TPN bag, connect all the tubing, and change the end of his picc line. All while keeping everything sterile and clean. If I touch things, I have to start all over again. IMG_7622It’s quite the process. Meanwhile Shawn is battling the girls, getting jammies on, getting them to go potty, cleaning their rooms. Finally we reach a point where we all gather together, sing songs and say prayers. Then we put all three kids down. And then battle them to actually go to sleep. Becks is the easiest. He crashes and lately has been sleeping much better. The girls are a different story. Addie gets out several times, to tell us she loves us, to go potty, to get a drink. Then she goes right to sleep. With the introduction of the big girl bed, we are working on Rae staying in bed. We put up a baby gate so she can’t leave the room. Last night she yelled for Addie to save her. She also likes to strip naked at night. So it’s a work in progress.

Usually by 9:00, it’s quieter and we get a chance to relax a little. Talk about our days, watch some shows together. Then we head to bed around 10;30 and pray that all the kids sleep fairly well so that we get some rest.

My life is chaotic. My life is messy. My kids probably watch more tv than they should. We don’t always eat healthy. I get stressed and short tempered sometimes. My house is cluttered a lot. Things get neglected. I forget a lot. And guess what?

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.

I love that we are all together. No one is in the hospital. Beckett is rolling over and has become a tummy sleeper (which is terrifying with all the cords). He is laughing. My girls are BEST friends. They love each other so much and are closer than I ever thought possible. They giggle and play pretend. They get to be kids and make messes. Shawn and I get to spend time together. We aren’t trying to keep our marriage strong from two different places. We are in the same house, the same room. We are happy. We are finally feeling a break from all the massive stress and fear. We are closer than ever. As much as I wish that Beckett didn’t have to go through this, that my girls wouldn’t tell people that their brother has a broken liver, that I hadn’t had to cry and worry as much as I have, I would never NEVER trade my life now. I love our new normal.

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Light

“We see no reason not to move forward and list Beckett.”

Oh the words that I’ve known were coming. It came out of the blue though. We have been in limbo for quite some time. Beckett’s liver labs and bilirubin levels keep going down and yet we’ve been in the hospital almost weekly dealing with massive amounts of belly fluid (ascites). Nothing works and yet they kept telling us that he was fine. It was so hard. How can he be fine when we are here all the time getting his belly drained? So when we found that there was a potential clot in his portal vein the doctors made the decision to move forward with listing Becks for transplant.

I saw the light. Finally. Instead of drifting around aimlessly, I finally felt like we could see the lighthouse. Our little boat had direction. We could now navigate through the big waves and stormy seas because there was the light. Even though I knew the light was still far away, I could see it! And then our week exploded.

We met with countless doctors, kidney doctors, surgeons, infectious disease doctors. Beckett had a cat scan, more ultrasounds and he had an incredible amount of blood drawn. We knew that we would still need to meet with social workers, financial aid people, and our liver team for a day of education. Holly, our liver transplant coordinator, brought by an entire binder of information for us. In the meantime, we were trying to get Beckett’s ascites under control. They drained his belly twice. They left the drain in. We tried IV diuretics. We tried multiple new diuretics. He started getting fevers. He wasn’t eating much. But as stressed as I felt, I could still see that light. He was being listed. The end was coming. Eventually.

We solved some of the problems. The drain was taken out and the fevers went away. We started TPN (total parenteral nutrition) and lipids (fats) which is a boost of nutrients, proteins etc to give him the calories and nutrition he needs so that he starts gaining good weight. We started him on a blood pressure med and several new diuretics in “industrial sized doses”. And suddenly his belly stopped growing as quickly. We were finding answers. Because of the cat scan we found that his portal vein was not clotted but instead it is incredibly narrow causing the same effect.

“Because we have things under control and his vein is not clotted, we are going to hold off with the listing.”

Just like that the light was snuffed out. We were adrift in the ocean, being tossed about, lost. No direction. This has happened before. We find a solution. It works for a couple days and then we are right back in the hospital. I don’t think I can do this. There is no ending. Will we spend days in the hospital? Months? Years? How do I raise my children when we have no security? When our lives are constantly tossed to and fro?

I was devastated. Don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled that he was doing well. But I have a hard time trusting that these solutions will work when they never have previously. It’s not that I want him to have a transplant at 6 months. I would love for him to be big and strong before he needs it. But I don’t know how to survive for a long time when we spend so much time in the hospital trying to get him to be ok and he’s not even listed. Mentally those hospital stays are easier when I know that transplant is coming. Now I just feel plunged into the darkness and the despair.

Then my baby boy laughed for the first time and a light appeared. He rolled over for the first time. Another light. His belly stayed small for 4 consecutive days. It did not slowly grow bigger, but it stayed small and soft. Light. We had friends and family reach out and bless our family. More lights. We came home and I watched my children together. Saying sweet things. Watched as Beckett couldn’t stop staring and touching Addie. Watched his smile. More lights appeared. In my mind I looked around and realized that I am in a dark field looking to the sky. And it is full of stars. As my world gets darker and scarier, more lights appear in my sky. Some are little, others are large. But they are my hope. That this will end. That things will get better and brighter.

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Life’s Battlefield

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I was given two weeks off by my employer for the holiday season. Due to Beckett’s health, I have spent three whole days outside of the hospital. The family/home situation has been a little tricky and so Kim has spent a majority of the hospital time at home with Adalyn and Raemee. It has been such a blessing for them to have their mother around. I think it has helped them feel ok about their brother being gone.

While being alone with Beckett I have experienced some of the best moments of my life. Quickly followed by some of the hardest. I have learned things about my son that I probably never would have paid much attention to. His development in some areas are prohibited and yet he is shining in others. He has found his imagehands and his mouth during these past two weeks. He keeps me on my toes as he grabs all the wires and tubes attached to his body. My favorite is when I put my face close to his, he will reach up from his hospital bed and start to run his fingers and palms over the skin of my face. He does it so gently, inspecting every little part of me, and then will occasionally stop at my nose and squeeze. It makes me laugh every time and turns my insides gooey. I love the feel of his soft skin and scrawny fingers as he explores my facial features.

As I look over him peacefully sleeping, I am overwhelmed with feelings. Feelings of all kinds. Feelings I have never felt before. I have so many wishes. Wishes for Beckett. Wishes for our family. I am conflicted. I feel in over my head. I feel more love than I thought was ever possible to feel. I have to go back to work tomorrow and it pains me to leave my lil buddy’s side. Since our first child Adalyn was born I have bonded deeply with my girls. Yet, there is something different about Beckett. It is almost like, I can’t take his battle away from him, but being by his side makes me feel like I am fighting it with him. I want to spend every possible minute with him. The reality of Beckett’s possible future haunts me and I don’t know how to properly manage my feelings with what I have to do and am personally responsible for. Which is go to work and bring home the bacon.

imageI keep telling myself that if I don’t go to work, Beckett has no chance for survival. His battle would be over without our insurance and income. Does that mean our battle fields are changing? Can I still a member of Beckett’s army but can no longer fight by his side? He stays and fights in the hospital and I take the fight to the office? The weight is setting in and I realize that I have to bite the bullet. There is strategy in battle and a war is never won on a single battlefield. Some battlefields however may be the turning point of a war. Losing on the financial battlefield would absolutely be the turning point for Becks and our family. As I leave my general’s side, I know that this is the fight that must be fought. It’s a fight against my emotions. It’s a fight for survival. It’s a fight because I love ya Beckett! I’ll be back fighting by your side just in time for the weekend.

 

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“Look Not Behind Thee…”

It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. The Christmas tree lights are on. My babies are asleep in their beds, occasionally coughing. I text Shawn at the hospital. Happy New Year’s Eve. What a year this has been. What joy we’ve felt. What peace. And then what heartache, anger and frustration. I start to feel myself sinking. Sinking into sadness at the direction my life is taking.

I need the Spirit. I need my soul to be taught. I say a small prayer and act on the first thought that comes into my mind. I find a video about New Years. And my soul soars.

We had a hard year. We’ve been terrified. We’ve learned many medical terms that I wish I didn’t know. We know how to take care of NG tubes and PICC lines. We have watched our baby endure surgery, blood draws, and watched as his belly fills up with fluid only to get to the point where he is struggling to breathe and needs the fluid to be drained. 8 times now. 8 times in two months. We are watching him waste away. Watching as his spine sticks out more and more. Watching as his arms and legs and bum get skinnier and more saggy with just his skin. It’s hard. It breaks my heart.

We haven’t said anything yet but when we came into the hospital this last Monday, we found that his portal vein is clogged. This is the reason we can’t get his fluid buildup under control. His surgery worked. It worked! But there is this weird disconnect where his liver is able to drain the bile but the blood can’t circulate the way it needs to because of the clog in the portal vein and the scarring of his liver. This means that the fluid leaks out of the veins into his belly. There is no fix except through a transplant. So the decision was made to list Beckett for a transplant. We were relieved. Finally a reason for why he is still so sick. Finally a direction to go. And then reality hit. A transplant. He is not even five months old. He’s so little. He’s so scrawny. Now we’re moving to major surgery. And lots of waiting for an available liver that matches him. Knowing that he is going to get so much worse before he gets better. We could lose him. We haven’t had enough time with him. So much fear and anxiety.

I’ve had many moments of wanting to go back. Wanting to go back to the time when life was easy and perfect. When we didn’t know about liver disease. When I didn’t know heartache the way I know it now.

But I’ve made a choice. I am not Lot’s wife. (Genesis 19:17,26). I will not look back. “She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind” (Jeffrey R. Holland ‘The Best is Yet to Be’).

As I watched the New Year’s video last night about Lot’s wife, I had a glimpse of my future. I saw vacations with my whole family. I saw laughter. I saw late night conversations. I saw a little boy running around with joy on his face. I saw a future missionary for our church. I’m never looking back. I’m never wishing away this life I have now. I’m never wishing away the person I am becoming nor the people I’ve met who have helped me and changed me. I know that this year is going to be hard and painful as we potentially will watch our son receive a transplant. We will have many scary days. Lots of time in the hospital. And yet, I know that the Lord has such amazing plans for my family, whatever form they come in.

Today is the first day of 2015, the first day of the rest of my life. The first day of the rest of all our lives. Stop looking back. Focus on the future. Because it’s bright. And shiny. And wonderful. And God loves us. He loves me. And He loves my son. IMG_7496

 

 

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