George and I prepared ourselves as best as possible as we headed back to the PICU to see Taryn for the first time. Only 2 people were allowed in a room at once. We walked hand in hand down the curvy hallway, so anxious about what waited ahead. Taryn’s room was in the very back. As we passed the other rooms, I nervously peeked inside. My eyes scanned the surroundings, darting from room to room. I tried not to look. It felt like I was invading others privacy. But, it was impossible not to wonder about the other patients, the other families, and the other trials flowing throughout this ward. Continue reading
The morning alarm came all too quickly. My adrenaline spiked the moment it went off. We took turns taking a quick shower and dressing in our comfortable clothes as we prepared to settle in for the long day ahead. Taryn was happy and as sweet as ever. Meanwhile, the pit in my stomach nearly swallowed me whole. I tried not to think about what was about to happen to her, now only hours away. I took pictures with her in the hotel room. A nice round of selfies, because, well… I wanted to remember what she looked like right before surgery. And because I was so scared at what might happen next that I wanted pictures to remember her by. You may sit back and think “that’s dramatic,” but it was my truth in that moment. Continue reading
The days leading up to surgery were such a blur. I committed myself to helping with family gatherings in an effort to turn my attention away from my fears. But let’s be honest here, no matter how I tried, those fears haunted me daily. Remember, our pre-op (which was an all day event) was moved to the day directly before surgery. Initially, I wanted to come home after the pre-op. I wanted to spend the night before surgery in the comfort of our own house, as a family, all together. I desperately wanted to cloak myself in the last minute, unchanged normalcy of happiness with my children. However, instead, we agreed to reserve a hotel in Seattle near the hospital, relieving ourselves from the potential struggle of the morning commute and uncertainties surrounding it (surgery check in was 6:45 am). Continue reading
With our new date upon us, I was quickly trying to arrange everything to be as organized as possible. Tying up loose ends at work. Putting Taryn to sleep with a sweet bear that played music to give her comfort in the hospital in case her eyes ended up swelling shut. Organizing who was going to watch the boys, what days, letting teachers know the circumstances…. on and on. Amidst all of this, I was reminded of just how out of control we truly are, which of course, is horrible for me at any time given my personality, and even worse given, well, all of the circumstances surrounding my reminder. It was horrific, heartbreaking, and simply put, too much.
The way I consumed information started to change. I joined a few Facebook groups for craniosynostosis searching for comfort from others who had gone through the same experience as us, and yearning for the reassurance of positive outcomes. While I didn’t actively participate in these groups at first, I did constantly read stories, feedback, suggestions as much as I could. Real stories, real outcomes, real successes. It was here that I learned of an amazing organization, Cranio Care Bears [please check them out at CranioCareBears.org] and donate if you can!
I had no idea what to expect when we first visited Children’s Hospital in Seattle. I had heard wonderful things about the care there, but had never had to put it into perspective as a mother of a potential patient. We packed up early morning, and left plenty of time for the rush hour commute to Seattle. I was worried about trying to navigate my way around the hospital. And apparently, as I drove, I absentmindedly drank a TON of coffee. By the time we arrived, I was sufficiently jittery and well caffienated (on top of nerves). My concerns about being able to find where I needed to be in the hospital were cured when I was met immediately by the reception team ready to direct me. Continue reading
There’s been an unusual lapse between my last string of posts and this post. At first, I didn’t think much of it. But as more and more time started passing, and I felt the urge to write to get this one out of my system and move on, I found myself in a strange state of paralysis. And then, it hit me. This next post would be the diagnosis. The day when everything became a reality. No more what if’s (in regard to what the diagnosis would be). No more, maybe it’s not true’s. This was the date when our fears were confirmed.
We didn’t have to wait long for the CT scan appointment to arrive. Thank God. As we waited, I lived in a private, tortured state. To the outside humming world, I appeared fine. Inside, I was falling apart. On an nightly basis I would frantically and neurotically research online, consuming anything and anything about Craniosynostosis.
This was a day of the unforeseen. We all have days like this. When something occurs, so out of the expected, that there’s not really a way to put your reaction into words. Taryn and I headed to the medical facility in Tacoma. I was familiar with this campus from taking my oldest son there when he was young. I felt prepared for the drive, prepared with the small details as to where to park, and ultimately, prepared to hear that my daughter may need a helmet. When they called us back to the exam room, I wasn’t nervous. Not at all.
As we near the 2 month mark of switching from a comfortable booth for 4, to a table for our new family of 5, I’m pleased with how easy the integration of a Harding baby girl has been. Time has been rolling by, and perhaps it’s strange, (alright, I’m sure it’s strange) but every day since we’ve had our little one I reminisce about her birth. I can’t help but think — I want to do it again. Don’t get me wrong, 3 is the perfect number of babies for me, and my family feels wonderfully complete. I’m not looking to have another baby here, however, I want to relive the entire delivery day over again, exactly as it occurred. Throughout my pregnancy I was always trying to savor each moment, and I did the same with about 99% of my delivery. I made a point to be present. The pain, the excitement, the surprises, and the tears. Now I’d like relive that moment in time again. If only the Delorean sat in my garage…
I don’t know if any of you experienced fear about introducing your children to each other for the first time, but with each sibling I have been concerned. I always want the older siblings to immediately love the younger, yet know that my feelings for them haven’t changed. Quentin was in love with Kaden as soon as he laid eyes on him. And though I was intimidated by the boys meeting Taryn for the first time, I realize now I had no reason to be. They were smitten from the start.
The other day, as I sat rocking Taryn, Kaden looked on, sitting as close to me as he could with his eyes firmly planted on his baby sister. “You know, Taryn’s the cutest in our family,” he said without breaking his gaze. I felt a twinge in my gut, thinking perhaps he was feeling insecure due to all the of the hoopla surrounding the baby. “Oh no, you and your brother are both extremely cute!” I comforted back. Kaden took a big step back and looked at my like I just said something asinine. Confused by his response, I continued, “You guys are my most handsome boys and…” Before I could finish my sentence Kaden put me in my place. “Taryn is the cutest mom! She is, she is beautiful!” He was serious and his tone took me by surprise as he looked at me with something nearing disgust. He couldn’t believe I would question his initial statement. It’s clear my worries were unfounded. He really felt that way about his sister. The fact he loves her so confidently fills my heart.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still things all of us are learning and working on. And in 2 months, I’m sure I’ll want to relive the previous 2 months…But the fact that at the foundation of our learning and adapting is a deep and organic love, I have a new found confidence in our changing family dynamics.