The folks at Vanderbilt were so incredible. I remember Mary – the nurse that keeps that place running – calling me from home on her Christmas holiday because she didn’t want to leave me worrying for days. I remember flying up for the consultation, Stephen and I both feeling strongly that if we got the all clear for surgery we had already made up our mind that we were going to do it. I remember doctor after doctor after doctor coming in to the room we were sitting in and saying again and again that we were perfect candidates for the surgery. I remember specifically the neonatologist saying that he is known as the Debbie downer or the group because he is often the one encouraging patients to not do surgery due to risk for preterm delivery – and then looking at us and saying I think you are a perfect candidate for this surgery. God was swinging doors open….WIDE OPEN!! I remember the billing department asking about my insurance card, specifically if I had a suitcase on my card. When I said yes she said then don’t worry about a thing – you’re insurance is going to cover the surgery….there goes God with his doors again!
I remember insisting that we come home for the weekend between the consultation and the surgery (consult was on a Thursday and we had to be back on Monday for preop) because that was the last weekend I would be allowed on my feet before this precious baby was born and I had stuff to do!! I cleaned out closets, painted rooms, situated the nursery as much as I could – everyone was trying to help but I was being a brat – I wanted to do it all myself because I was going to HAVE to rely on all of them after Tuesday. I think I was up past midnight every night that weekend…soaking up every last minute of my no restrictions life.
We got back on a plane – Stephen, my mom and I on Monday morning to head back to Nashville. Grandma and Grandpa Diehl stayed here to take care of the twins. Sarah met us in there. I don’t remember much about Monday – I had a few appointments, did some blood work. I remember going out to eat and honestly thinking about what to eat because I was convinced that the meds they would give me in the morning were going to make me puke. I didn’t want to ruin something I loved like French fries so I had a salad….one heck of a last meal right?? Salad??
I remember staring at the ceiling that night in the hotel – not sure what to hope, wish and pray for. I don’t remember much sleep!! Tuesday morning, my most distinct memory – this is sad but if you know me well you will know it is so honest – is telling EVERY PERSON that walked through the door that I didn’t want to throw up and wanted them to do anything and everything in their power to make sure it didn’t happen. I’m not exaggerating, every one who walked in the door…to the point that eventually the anesthesiologist said to me – “sweetheart, I promise that I have given you everything I can to keep you from vomiting and I promise to continue to give you everything I can – you let me know if you start to feel woozy ok.” Seriously, I’m about to have major abdominal surgery on my unborn baby and the only thing I’m worried about was throwing up!
I also remember them warning Stephen, my mom and Sarah that I would be pretty out of it that day and in the times when I was awake, not to be alarmed if I asked the same questions over and over. I don’t remember having my eyes open very much that day but I do remember hearing what they were talking about and being fairly aware while the three of them hung out in my room for the afternoon.
The rest of the week is more of a blur. Stephen went back home to take care of the boys – which I am sure was one of the hardest things ever – and my mom stayed with me. For the record I never threw up!! I was in the hospital at Vanderbilt for a week. There was a lot of HGTV watching, some reading, resting…I was allowed 2 laps around the nurses station a day and they were the best part of the day!! Mom took me on adventures in the wheelchair several times too….
All of my nurses were awesome! Several times they would hang out in my room just talking about their own kids at home. Many times we heard how well I was doing compared to other patient’s they had cared for after this same surgery.
One week later….the big moment…..I had an ultrasound appointment – no pressure but the results of this ultrasound would determine if I was allowed to go home. They wanted to check my fluid levels to make sure that they were within an acceptable range – that was what they watched like hawks the remainder of my pregnancy. My numbers were great – and the ultrasound tech that gave me the good news was also the one that had been in the OR with me….she told me that I had a beautiful uterus as well!! Who knew!?!!
After some final instructions from the doctors I got to break out of jail. I was allowed to be up for 15 minutes of every hour…PERIOD! They told me they would know if I was behaving based on my fluid levels. They sent me home with strict instructions for my high risk OB back home and gave me their personal cell phone numbers with instructions to call if I needed ANYTHING.
Mom and I spent that last night in a hotel and then got on a plane the following day, finally back to my own house and by boys – all three of them!
Every single pain, ache, question about whether I was making the right decision, worry, financial stress – everything was totally worth it as I look at this sweet baby boy that we were blessed with.
Last night, before bed Easton asked to rock with me – “Lets rock momma, just for minute” – any mom who can say no to that has no heart! So we did, just him and I in the dark in his room. He patted my arm and I held him tight and we rocked and I thanked God for the incredible blessing that he is in my life. I can remember thinking when we found out that our baby would have spina bifida….”Why us God? I have dedicated my profession to helping kids like this…I do this every day and now I’m going to have to do it at home too??”
I had NO idea what God had planned! What an incredible boy He has given us – one who is full of determination and drive. One who doesn’t understand the meaning of can’t. A boy who has a laugh and a smile that could melt even the hardest of hearts. I don’t HAVE to do this every day at home….I GET TO!!
Have there been challenges?? OF COURSE! Have there been days when I longed for Easton to not have spina bifida?? HECK YES. Have there been days when I have shed tears over the struggles or the comments that have been made in haste or as I watched other little ones surpass his abilities – yep. And I know there will be more to come BUT I also know that this boy is mine for a reason. The impact that he has had already in his 2 ½ years of life has been incredible. The encouragement we have been able to be to other families – awesome! I am a different physical therapist because of him – I understand in a whole new way where these mommies and daddies are.
I am also confident that God is far from done with this guy. Last night I found myself praying for his future – for the cruelness that I know he will endure because he is different, for the surgeries that might come, for his ability to do well in school and hopefully college. I found myself praying for guidance as we as his parents answer the hard questions that are to come as he gets older and for wisdom to know when to push him and when to hug him and tell him that we will get over the disappointment together. I found myself praying for his future spouse and hopefully even his future children. Praying that Easton will always remember that God made him different but that He made us all different in different ways. Praying that Easton will know fully and completely what his purpose is on this earth.
And as I prayed all of those things…I know that God was listening and smiling because He already knows the plan and I think He is pretty excited about it!! This boy of mine has already been a wild ride – taken me places I never planned to go, given me the opportunity to meet people I never planned to meet and taught me how to deal with situations that I never intended to deal with. He has changed me….for the better and I am so glad that God chose me to be his mommy.
Easton, your mommy and daddy love you so much. We are so very proud of how far you’ve come, all the obstacles you have already overcome and your constant go get ‘em attitude. We are so excited about all that the future holds for you. We promise to constantly seek guidance and wisdom from above as we make decisions, we promise to be honest with you and we promise to encourage you with each step you take.
Easton, God has big plans for you – I hope your seatbelt is buckled and I hope you don’t mind if I tag along because I can’t wait to see where the wild ride of life is going to take you!
Happy Butt Day (well, Bottom Day around here for now) – here’s to many more years of celebrating all that God and the amazing medical team at Vanderbilt Medical Center made possible!!
Thanks for hanging with me on this long stream of consciousness as I reminisced of days past and looked into the future some….
As I was reading Time Hop (love that app!!) yesterday and today I was brought to tears over all the encouragement and love that we were given on the days leading up and through surgery. We love that so many people love Easton and love even more that so many people continue to follow his story and pray for him regularly. We know that the power of prayer is a huge part of how far this guy has come!!
Continued prayers for him in this next year – it’s going to be a good one….I can feel it!!
Love and Hugs