When I can see past the grumpies… And I look back at this year, I can’t catch my breath for the gratitude that springs up.
Last Thanksgiving my Lainey came. Our little pumpkin pie. In a room with ten people not counting Andrew, Lainey, and me because things went fast as usual. Because I had a tumor. Because there were risks and we weren’t sure if the tumor would secrete catecholamines with the stress of labor. 10 people standing there…. waiting with us, helping us, coaching me through. Most of them doctors–an entire Grey’s Anatomy cast all my own in a world-class facility. I had a brilliant, compassionate doctor who intervened enough to get my baby here safely, but backed off enough to let my body do it’s own beautiful work. I just realized sometime in the last two months that the reason the nurse who coached me through the final stage of labor and helped me not to push reminded me with each contraction to lay my head back not to help me to relax, but to keep me from compressing the tumor on my carotid. What a terrifying mess… But we came through it to the other side… And somehow it managed to be breathtakingly beautiful.
And then she was here… After 24 hours of the induction doing nothing but causing hard, painful contractions… and 12 hours of ‘real’ labor… our, “Little Rock” arrived. I reveled in her. Here I’d wondered if I would be able to relax into her… Enjoy her… Love her without reservation after nine months of ambivalence and fear. Truly, truly my heart nearly burst with loving her. It still does.
We laid her under our Christmas tree last Christmas and what a gift she was… What brightness that season held even in the midst of uncertainty about Tomas and NIH and what was to come.
And then February 14th.. Another momentous holiday. Going to the NIH. A week of testing and getting answers and getting random extra minor illnesses. A week later, the surgery. Tomas was finally removed after 8 long months of waiting. The tumor had doubled in size and was encroaching on nerves and blood vessels. I had a world-class team. The top experts of experts. They very well may have saved my life. I know that they have given me the best leg up I could get in watching my body for the rest of my life in case any other Pheo or Para wants to come play. It was scary and it was hard and there were things that I wish could have gone differently, but it still comes down to the fact that I was given the best care possible by the best doctors possible in the best facility possible. How can I be anything but grateful for that?
Andrew was home for all of it. He was home for the diagnosis and the fear and the information scouring. He was home for the birth of our new baby girl… To hold my hand and keep me focused on the goodness to come instead of the scary precautions happening. He was with me for the surgery and walked me through recovery. He was there through the ugly post-op infection and the three “bonus” days in the hospital here at home. He was here for all of it.
And then there were beautiful ‘normal’ moments…. A trip to the beach–four days of breathing deep and watching God’s playfulness at work on the peek-a-boo waves caught us off guard. There were bedtimes and lullabies and snuggles. There was unceremonious family time. Watching our three beautiful daughters grow, change, mature…
When we talked about having a third we wanted him to be home for the first year. With Carolyn and Abigail both, Andrew had to leave when they were tiny 8 week old babies. We ‘planned’ our babe for when he could be home. And then we miscarried….. and that hurt so badly. But then Lainey came along…. And even with all that happened he was here for her whole first year. All of it. Every month and every milestone of the first year.
SO MUCH. I have SO MUCH to be grateful for: My life… The stark realization that I carry with me every day that there are no guarantees that you can be the 1 in 100,000 person, that we are not immune. I have the perspective that gives me, urging me to drink deeply of the time I’m given with those that I love. I have the growing gritty strength that these things have wrought within me. I have three amazingly gorgeous little girls and the most amazing man to walk through this life with me.
This week has been hard… Next week will be harder, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have SO MUCH… SO MUCH! to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.