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:
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)
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.
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.