Happy 3 years of not dying (to me)!

In case you don’t know me at all, 3 years ago today I suffered from necratizing pancreatitis which is a really fancy way of saying that half of my pancreas was dying inside of me.  You want to know what that feels like?

Get someone to shoot a metal pole through your middle, right under your ribcage.

As this day nears each year I feel a bit uneasy because it was one of the hardest times in my life and just being around that time brings up such memories.  My heart races just driving by the hospital that was my home for over a month.  I mark this time each year by writing what is running around in my brain.

You can read what I’ve written in the past here:

July 29, 2009

July 29, 2010

This year (beyond my nerves), I’m just truly happy to be alive.  Is everything perfect?  No.

However, I have a husband and son I couldn’t love more and friends and family who amaze me with their kindness, generosity, and love.  I have a roof over my family’s head and I have my health.

If someone’s taking orders, I would love to have a job and millions of dollars in the bank.

If someone was keeping score, I feel like I am winning by a landslide.

Since this has happened, my life has been very clearly divided between BP (before pancreatitis) and AIDD (after I didn’t die).  I suppose it helps that Finn was born weeks before BP so it’s also BC (before child).

It annoys me that everything that happens to me, I immediately see connections or is compared to when I was so sick.  So I can’t imagine how obnoxious it is to all of you that have to read this dribble.

As best as I can figure, when it was actually happening, I was just surviving hour to hour, day to day.  I just wanted to live (on the good days).  So it was after I got back to my life that I was able to feel, deal, and cope with it.  To some extent, I still am doing that today.

Today, I feel great sorrow for the lost time with Finn.  He was 5 weeks old when I was taken by ambulance to the Emergency Room and his mother didn’t emerge until he was 6 months old.  It really took until he was 18 months to make a strong connection with him.

This was the last picture I have with him (and my beautiful niece) BP.  (I hardly ever put pictures of myself on here because that’s just about the last thing anyone wants to see, so please forgive me for the ugly)
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Here is a picture from when I was in the hospital stay 1 out of 4 (day 7ish out of 12).  I’m guessing on the timeline because I notice I had IV lines, so it was before they put in my PICC line, so that’s my best guess.  This is the only picture of me in the hospital.
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And this is the only picture with my nose hose (feeding tube).  It must be between hospital visits 2 and 3.  I had to hook it around the back of my neck or else Finn would grab onto it and pull.
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Looking at these pictures is painful for me.

I remember how I chopped off my hair because I would get such high fevers that would break during the night and I would be covered with sweat and it was easier to deal with short hair than long.

I remember how my feeding tube would get clogged up (it seemed almost daily) and Josh and would take turns forcing scalding water or coke up the hose over the kitchen sink and into my stomach for hours.  If we didn’t get it clear I would have to go back into the hospital for another procedure.  It caused me great pain and I would sit and cry as we worked.  It was worth any price not to have to return to the hospital.

I remember feeling great shame as I had to ask my husband to help me take a shower because I had to keep the arm that had the IV in it stuck out of the shower as well as hang my head out of the shower so as not to get my feeding tube wet.  Josh helped me brush my teeth, brush my hair, put socks on my feet, get dressed, and get me to and from the bathroom.

My heart aches as I remember months when I didn’t want to be a mother.  I never blamed Finn for what happened or wished he hadn’t been born.  I couldn’t take care of myself much less anyone else, so I felt he deserved a much better mother.  My heart aches for the days, weeks, months…precious moments I lost with my son.

I really felt that I had been robbed of the motherhood I had been promised, moments I had dreamed of since I was a child myself.  Even before Finn was 12 months old I had decided the solution of the lost time was to have another baby.  I wanted a do-over.  I couldn’t have it with Finn, so I would have another baby.

Josh helped me realize (slowly, sometimes I’m not the brightest) Finn wasn’t getting another mother (even as much as he deserved it) and he needed a mom.  He deserved a better.  Finn hadn’t asked to have a mother who might have been there physically, but was somewhere else entirely mentally and emotionally.

From Josh I learned I owed it to Finn (and myself) to work on being his mom.

If I had never gotten sick, Finn and I wouldn’t have the relationship we have today.  Where Finn and I are today is perfect.  I couldn’t imagine it any better.  He is, by far, the very best part of my life.  I love him, I love being his mom, but mostly I just love the moments he and I are together.  In the end, I wouldn’t change where we are for anything.

If we had another baby right away, Finn and I couldn’t have gotten to where we are today.

If I had magic that would allow me to write the past, I would make sure I had never gotten sick.  I would give anything to go back and change it.

However, if I hadn’t gotten sick Finn wouldn’t have formed the close and unbreakable bond with Josh and the rest of our family.  I can’t ever say it was a good event in my life, but I can say I learned lessons from it, so I made the best out of a horrible situation.

It allowed me not to be SUCH a crazy mother.  My crazy meter probably went from 1,938% to 75%.

The first time we left Finn with Josh’s sister I called 14 times in the first 20 minutes to ask about his diaper, remind her to feed him, give her a lecture on if he was too hot what he should wear, and on and on.

Josh’s sister…she’s the one who not only kept 4 kids alive (fed, clean, and properly dressed) but also raised into the greatest people I know.  I told my mother-in-law if we mess up with Finn, we’ll just ship him over to her house for boot camp and she’ll straighten him out.  Yep, I was giving crazy directions to HER.   I’m surprised she didn’t shoot me, it wouldn’t have been any less than I deserved!

Today I understand, instead of trying to call a foul and having another baby, I learned to appreciate the amazing boy I have and today our family is my boys and the woman that loves them.  And that’s more than I would have asked for and much more than I imagined.  Our family is perfect just the way it is.

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6 Responses to Happy 3 years of not dying (to me)!

  1. Well, HAPPY anniversary! I can’t imagine being in your situation and coming out of it, but you did. I think the best part of this story is that there is no learning curve in parenting. No one does it better, every story is different, and in the end, happiness and love always triumph (ideally, work with me here). I will say you have an amazing husband for all that he has done for you and would do again if it were to come to that. You truly picked a winner.
    Sprite’s Keeper recently posted..Spin Cycle: Poetry in the techno age.My Profile

  2. Kate says:

    Jen-
    For sure, happiness and love are the most important parts of being a parent. When a child leaves the house, if they can say there were in a happy and loving home, that’s really what matters. Everything else is so secondary! However parents get to that point, is great by me. The destination is what matters, not the path taken!
    Josh is the best husband, he’s a keeper. It was during this time and also a million other moments in the past 8 years since we’ve been together. Each day I feel lucky to have him in my life and as a father for my son. I know you have a great one with John too! That also makes all the difference!
    :) Kate

  3. Denise says:

    It brought tears to my eyes, Kate… for many reasons… Not in order of importance, but just to list what I wanted to say, first of all you are not ugly and please never ever apologize putting your amazing pictures here! It’s your blog, it’s you, with your story and history, it’s your beauty, not ugly! You are a beautiful woman, inside and outside! And we all love you for what you are, this amazing, brilliant, loving powerful woman, who defied death and is a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend! You name it, you are brilliant!
    It triggered memories seeing your pictures… I am not bothered, not for a second, to read that you think of your life as before and after. I also think that people will be bothered by the fact that I also write about my parents’ death last year – I wanted to write about it everyday if I could, but I try to write about other things…the pain of that loss is here with me, Kate, every second… But Kate, this is what we are – before and after. And this is so important! If we don’t take some time understanding our friends, if we get annoyed or bored reading how these things impact our lives, what sort of people would we be?
    I am SO HAPPY to know you have a wonderful husband and a wonderful son! He has a loving mother, and I am sure you two will talk about the time when he was 12 months, one day (or even more days). But what is there is what matters: you survived, you are an excellent wife and mother, and this is what is there to think about… also about the past, no doubt, but the future seems now to be really exciting!
    You deserve all the love in the world, my dear friend Kate, and again here I am with tears…
    Denise recently posted..Shopping Mall or Shoeper Shoe Challenge # 54My Profile

  4. Tracey says:

    It’s good to remember the stuff that happened before, but since you didn’t die, I think you should focus on the positive stuff. And remember that you have a wonderful relationship with your son and I doubt very much he remembers the first six months anyway.
    Tracey recently posted..And why wouldn’t you go to the beach in the middle of winter?My Profile

  5. Kate says:

    Tracey-
    I think I mark this day each year for a couple reasons, but none of them are with the intention of looking at the negative (that’s what I do every other day) ;)! This day was very close to my birthday and so I choose to celebrate this day more than my birthday because any near death experience really changes your perspective on life. I celebrate this day for many reasons, and that’s what I was trying to do (apparently I failed)! It really changed the way I looked at life and what I think is most important. Although it was a hard time in my life, I really can see great things that came out of it. Finn doesn’t remember the first 6 months of his life (or what he ate for lunch), but we would be in a different place if it hadn’t happened. Not better or worse, just different.
    Anyways, thanks for your perspective though. It really reminds me of all the most wonderful parts of my life that I’m so blessed to enjoy.
    :) Kate

  6. Kate says:

    Denise-
    You are always far too kind to me. That’s always what I think when I read your comments. But they always make my day…I love them! I think your posts and what you share about your parents passing and also the amazing way you celebrate their life is some of the best parts of your blog (for me). Although it’s so hard to choose because I love them all. It’s a great variety, sometimes fun shoes, sometimes beautiful pictures and stories of travels, and sometimes some really deep and personal feeling you go through as you learn what the world is after you say goodbye to your parents in this world.
    I hope I don’t offend or overstep my boundary (I believe in everyone believing what they want and no one forcing their beliefs on others) but I do believe both your mom and dad watch over you and someday, in another way, you’ll be reunited. There’s no two ways about it, what you went through is truly hard and I know if I go through having to say goodbye to my mom in this world (that scares me SO much), I will go back and read your posts, because they are so true and so honest, yet so hopeful and filled with love. They can be amazing tools for others who are going through similar challenges as you did. That’s a great service. I believe that’s the best part of blogging, writing to heal and then helping others to heal as well. Oh and shoes and fun! 😉 I swear and promise that I will be writing a shoes post so soon.
    Oh and Denise, I have to tell you, I was down by the river in our town with Finn, just sitting around enjoying the weather and I started taking pictures of people’s shoes. You inspired me by taking pictures like that in London. I was laughing on the inside and thought if anyone caught me, they would think I was crazy!!
    :) Kate

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