Tuesday, July 2, 2013

16 months later

I find myself not writing as much as I did in the beginning. I guess that means I'm busy?! Today marks 16 months since our son died. It's so hard to believe it's been that long. Sometimes it seems like a bad dream, a nightmare. I say his name out loud sometimes, and people shy away. I'm sure it's uncomfortable for them, but he was still my baby. Kiernan Patrick. There are days I still feel guilty, but now in a different way. Sometimes everything gets pushed to the back of my mind, and while its still there, I don't consciously think about it. Is it healthy? I don't know, but it works for me. I'm busy being a wife and a mother, as well as working a full time job. I'm slowly learning its ok to have a date night or a girls night out and leave Elleigh for a few. Don't get me wrong...Elleigh is a fabulous baby! But there are days that I want to pull my hair out...nothing I do can soothe her or "fix" it. I try so hard to not let it affect me..because if I do, then I'm not the best mom or heaven forbid someone will see me that way.  At least up north I could say screw you versus being southern and trying to please the world! ha! Goodness I hope I'm not the only insane mom that feels this way. After having a stillborn, sometimes I feel like if I admit to an "I'm a sucky mom" day, or "I'm at my wits end" day then people judge me....your child died, you have another, shut up and be grateful. Maybe that's just my whackoness coming through. I was told right after Elleigh was born that some of these feelings might surface, and they have. Truth is, Elleigh is an infant. I'm a new mom and trying to juggle mommy-hood, a full time job, and being a wife...lets not even mention weight loss or keeping the house clean!  There are days that she and I might have a who can cry more contest....and that's ok! We will get through it, move on, and NOTHING can diminish my love for her. Can I just insert here that I never fully understood the love of a mommy for her baby until I held her?  Kinda random, but so true. At the end of my work day I can't wait to snuggle up....then again, some Mondays I can't wait to drop her off to Mimi's and know that Mimi and Amanda will snuggle her and I can have some adult conversation...even if its repeating myself ten thousand times (oh the life of a geriatric therapist!). I say all this to say...own it. Whatever feelings you have, be open and honest and own it. I try to internalize it and be just peachy for everyone when some days I just wanna say, you know what? Life is sucky today. I've had several people reach out to me that have gone through something similar and I hope one day I can help someone through this. It's not inky the struggle of having a stillborn child, but the struggle of moving on, having more children, and functioning on a day to day basis that's hard. New people don't know what you went/are going through. Others try to act like nothing happened in your best interest. Several people have reached out to me through here..needing to vent or talk. I never thought anyone would read these, much less total strangers! I always like to talk about Kiernan and my feelings/thoughts..always feel free to reach out. It's ever good to hold it inside.

My birthday was last weekend and my husband got me an Origami Owl necklace. Who knew he listened to me?! My charms are a book (love me some reading time!), a music note...I sing and play piano...a little girl with Elleighs birthstone, and Kiernans birthstone. He also added a back plate of "love"for us and a dangly charm of angels wings...to always remind me our precious little boy is still with us. Elleigh is such a precious (and good!) baby....99% of the time she's asleep FOR THE NIGHTat 630...until 539ish the next day...and has been since about 8 weeks old (yes, we understand we are blessed -ha!). I like to think big brother has something to do with it..understanding how much we miss him. Of course Auntie Rebekah says when E is 2 or 3 she has to be bad, otherwise it's just not fair. Ha!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Life as a SLP..

You may or may not know, I'm a SLP....speech language pathologist. I have a Master's degree, and went to school for 6 years. I've done this for almost 10 years. Most people think of a SLP as someone who "teaches me to talk"...oh I could be rich off of how many times I've heard that. I've been called ST, speech therapist, speech teacher, SLP, and the girl with the brain games. I'm sure there have been more. What do I do in a day? Well, I work in the geriatric population and, most days, love it. On a day to day basis, I work on cognition..getting people back home safely, doing their own financial and med mgt, as well as safety awareness and community mgt. I work with people who've had strokes, who maybe can't speak clearly, or can't get out what they want to say. Dysphagia management is a big part of my day to day job...people who can't swallow safely, who may need alternate means of nutrition, thickened liquids, or a different diet texture. Sometimes people don't think about swallowing muscles getting weak, just like the leg or arm muscles. Developing and training patients and their caregivers on compensatory swallowing strategies, as well as strengthening exercises is a huge part of dysphagia mgt. I'm also Vital Stim certified.....providing highly specialized electrical stimulation as part of voice or swallowing therapy. So..yay...voice too..developing a specialized voice program, as well as good vocal hygiene to improve voice quality...whether it be for a singer, a speaker, or a person with Parkinson's disease. Aural rehab (hearing) is another aspect under the SLP umbrella....and just a hint...Medicare will pay for cochlear implants but not hearing aids!  SLP's work with patients with many different types of diseases..Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, ALS, Bells Palsy, CF, MS, MD just to name a few.

This is BHSM..Better Hearing and Speech Month. When I went to school for 6 years, no one told me that many times this is a thankless profession. Many times my job is belittled, or at least seen not as important as other therapy positions, by patients, families, and even colleagues at times. As an SLP, you are expected to do it all....the evaluation, the treatments, the paperwork...and be productive all at the same time. PT and OT both have assistants to do treatments...but not us.  However, I know my patient from beginning to end. There are days that I'm yelled at because I've brought a cognitive deficit to the forefront....I've recommended thickened liquids to stop aspiration of regular liquids into the lungs....I've argued my point over a specific strategy or specific device. There are days that I feel no matter what I do, it's not good enough, I didn't work hard enough. I've been thrown up on...I've been told by family they want to speak to the "real therapist"...cursed at..even a walker thrown at me! You don't hear "thank you" often...the progress you've helped achieve is not recognized. So why do I do it? I'll never forget the 25 year old head trauma guy who said his first word (since the accident)with me and eventually was off his PEG tube and eating a full meal...the single dad (he had a stroke at 43!) who could use a speech device downloaded onto his computer to speak with his kids' teachers...and order at Dunkin Donuts...a patient who gets to stay in their home because we've worked on cognition versus going into a nursing home...or seeing the gratitude in my patient's and his wife's eyes today about the progress he's made with swallowing and voice. I have many more, and maybe I just need to focus more on those. I love my job, I just take a lot of flack for it too.

So to all my speechy friends out there...happy ST month! Never forget that patient who makes you say..oh yeah..that's why I do what I do!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some days I just want to cry

Sometimes, I think people don't want to know, or maybe just not deal with true feelings...maybe feelings that aren't so happy go lucky. I'm just not that person who can fake being happy when my heart is hurting. I've been tearful all day. It's been a struggle to smile and act normal. My heart is heavy and just hurts so much. Saturday will be a year since Kiernan died. I still remember every second. I remember what I had on. I remember Steve thinking I was overreacting. I remember that sinking feeling when I just knew there wouldn't be a heartbeat. This isn't something a mother should have to remember. While tornadoes were tormenting our city, a whirlwind of emotion was just beginning in our life.

A lot has happened in a year. I never thought I'd have to read through an autopsy report for my child. I didn't know of I'd ever have a healthy child, or if I could physically, and emotionally, go through pregnancy for a third time. It was always so hard to answer the question "how many times have you been pregnant vs how many children do you have?" Even while I was hooked up to the monitors, getting ready to have Elleigh, when the nurses would refer to Kiernan's death as my "demise". Sigh.

As you know, we now have a healthy, beautiful baby girl. She's more than perfect. I'm still terrified of something going wrong...sickness, SIDS, anything that could hurt her. It's a burden, and I'm doing Bette twitch living for the moment...but it's still there in the back of my mind.

I've been told that I shouldn't be so sad about this weekend. Yes, it's sad that Kiernan died, but at least I "never got to know him"....any woman who has carried a child for 38 weeks, KNOWS her baby...maybe not the same way as others, but I knew him. Period. Another well meaning person told me "at least you have a baby now". I am absolutely grateful for my daughter...but I still miss my son. My heart still aches for me and to have seen him grow as we see Elleigh grow. That will never go away.

Bottom line, I just want to cry today. Maybe it is a pity party. All I know is that my heart hurts and I cry and I hold my daughter a little bit tighter, and a little bit longer.

I have a challenge. Most probably won't do it, and that's ok. Here it is...Saturday, do something with your child..something wild and crazy and fun. Let our child have an ice cream sundae for breakfast...go for a hike...get your nails done together....whatever it is. Do it...think of our sweet little boy in Heaven, and let me know what you did. I'd love to hear of some special time you spent with your child and have new memories of March 2.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The beginning of 2013

Well, it's been FOREVER since I've written anything on here (insert this might be a ramble!)  I don't know why...maybe we've been a teensy weensy bit busy! New house, new baby....whole new year!

When I was younger, I always said I didn't want kids.  It took me a long time..say roughly Feb 2008...to decide that I did want kids.  It took meeting Steve....knowing he'd be a hands on dad...knowing he would be just as involved as I was....most of all, knowing he'd love his child as much as I did.  That's extremely important to me.

On Monday, Dec 31 at 5 am, we were about 3 in line to fill out paperwork for having a baby!  We got called back almost immediately because we were a planned C-section vs induction.  Steve was like a giddy little girl...and I was a nervous wreck.  Nervous about the process, not about Elleigh.  Who am I kidding..they were about to cut me wide open..and my brother in law Tom had told all about how they take out your organs and then baby..ha!  He told Steve..most important...stay north of the tent and don't look over!  In my head, I kept telling myself to think about some of the people that have kids..and if they could do it, I could do it better! 

So on to the surgical room we go.  Steve's cracking jokes the whole time getting dressed...and I think a lot of it was to try to ease my nervousness.  He came in after I had my spinal (which yes I cried through...I think more because I was nervous than the pain....), blue tent is up.  Then, he did it.  He looked over the tent.  He got a strange look on his face and asked me if I the spinal was ready.  I said I wasn't sure...and he kinda laughed and said he hoped so because she was already cutting.  Then I remember hearing...here we go..and felt a little pushing and pulling....then heard Dr. Callison say "holy shit at the hair!" I'm just laying there like what???  Then, I saw her. My beautiful little girl.  It was only for a second, but she got to be with her daddy from then on.

 After she was here, and I heard her cry, and I laid my eyes and hands on her, it was the biggest relief.  She was here and she was safe.  Then one of the housekeeping women asked if Steve was a comedian...because she felt like she was in a Cheech and Chong movie the whole time.  What in the world was he doing?????

It's been almost a month.  I can't believe my baby is almost a month old!  In typical mommy fashion, she's the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen.  Sometimes, I just sit and stare at her, and my eyes well up with tears.  She's ours and she's ok.  Most of all, she's ok.  She's got a head full of dark hair, and the cutest pouty lips.

  I think her eyes are going to be like her daddy's and be a blueish grey color.  I love how little and petite she is..she's just now filling out her newborn clothes!  I love putting bows in her hair, and love how people are so happy for us. So many of you have been on our baby journey with us, and have been so wonderful in celebrating her life with us.  Words can't express how grateful we are.  And I'm sure we will continue to gush over her!  Even at 2 am, exhausted and ready to cry myself, when she quits crying, or protesting as we call it, and looks at me or grasps my finger (I don't care if it's a reflex!) and quits, my job is done.  I'm mommy, and I'm going to make it better. Whatever "better" is.  When daddy walks in and says "Hi little lamb" her little eyes go crazy around the room searching for him.  She's going to be daddy's little girl!  Most of all, when she's tired, and ready to cuddle, and curls up in my arms, all is right in the world. 

The past 3 1/2 weeks has taught me more than the past year.  The person who walks right on by you without acknowledging you, although you've known them your whole life...they don't matter.  The people who think you shouldn't be honest about how you really feel...it's ok.  The people who give you advice, and get upset when you go with your gut and instinct....they'll get over it.  Why?  Because everything has changed.  What I want to do on the weekends..the places I want to go...even the car I drive and how I drive it has changed.  What matters now is my baby is healthy, and happy...that my sweet girl knows Mommy and Daddy love her beyond the moon...and that Mommy and Daddy love each other more than ever (ladies without kids..think you can't love your husband any more, or find him any more attractive??  Have his baby and see him fall all over this tiny little bundle of joy....just sayin'...). 

Sweet Elleigh Makenna...you've changed our life...and not only Mommy and Daddy's, but so many more. Right now, you are lying beside me, doing your baby kung fu

and giving your opinion on the American Idol contestants.  I've loved spending the past 3 1/2 weeks with you every day and seeing how you've changed in that short amount of time.  We are so blessed to have you as our little lamb. Love you to the moon and back...