Friday, October 30, 2009

The First Week

Several times this week it has been ever so politely pointed out to me that this is the first week of the rest of my life. Well, the rest of my life as a nurse that is. I appreciate the support, encouragement, concern, and love. I have tried to take to heart advice from my family and friends to relax, get some sleep, not burn myself out. The truth is what I really want, no need is to find my footing on my own. To call to vent, to express my frustrations over the disorganization, to just have a listening ear and nothing more. I know that I am a little stressed right now, yes I know it will get better. I just need time to balance school, work, family, endless studying, oh and the plethora of hands on stuff. My confidence is slowly returning, soon the old strong, determined me you have all grown accustomed to will reappear propelling me forward towards my goal. For now though my perspective is that it's only the first week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And So It Begins

Tomorrow is my first day of nursing school. There I said it, it's real, I am actually finally starting. The truth is I'm not quite sure I am ready for what comes next on this journey. Sleepless nights, stress, tests, clinicals, nightmares, studying for hours on end...did I mention sleepless nights? I just want to relax and enjoy each step of this process. To live in the moment, to simply be, soak it all in, but in my head at least it is not that simple. I am having doubts about my abilities, losing my confidence, hoping it all comes back after the first few days or weeks. My stomach is in knots and I feel nauseous, I am not certain I can handle this. Remind me again why I wanted to go to nursing school??? Oh yes, I felt "called" to become a nurse after Cam's birth.

Last Thursday I was awakened in the wee hours by Cam, who had been awakened himself by the newest insomniac, I mean member of our family, Gracie the cat. Climbing into bed with Craig and I, he snuggled up to me, said "I love you, Mom" and fell back asleep, It was lovely, amazing, sweet even at 3am. Earlier that evening he had lost his first tooth, excitement gave way to tears as he went to rinse out his mouth and washed his baby tooth down the drain. As I ruffled his hair and listened to his soft sighs give way to the deep, gentle breaths that signified his transition into sleep, I marvelled at this boy who has so quickly become an adolescent. My "dented and dinged" baby that was always falling, crashing, jumping, full of bumps and bruises as he cruised his way through the toddler years has become a big boy. As dawn broke, I gave into my thoughts, fears, hopes, rising from bed to prepare for orientation for nursing school. It seemed so fitting that he would lose his tooth that night, signifying yet another milestone on his way through childhood. Closing a chapter, much like I am, moving on to the next step in a life that never stops moving, changing, going forward regardless of whether we are ready.

Seems I just need a little perspective. So I will focus on the big picture, this incredible adventure that lies ahead, embracing whatever comes next just as my son has taught me to do.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two Weeks of Summer...Part I

The long awaited vacation post is finally here...yes I know our vacation was two, uh make that three months ago, but I have been a little er busy. Okay I have been procrastinating...and preparing for nursing school...and working full time...and getting the kids back to school...and attending awards ceremonies...and getting the theater season up and running...and looking for a house...and planning a move. Well, you get the picture. No more excuses as the summer fades to fall here is the story of our adventures in the Midwest.
We began our trip in Indianapolis arriving late in the evening kids and luggage in tow. After a night's rest we headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, followed by lunch in downtown Indy. The gray skies and drizzles of rain were a welcome respite from the 110+ degree temps we had left behind in AZ. I wish I could tell you that I enjoyed Indy more, but the fact is I was excited to get going to Michigan, looking forward to seeing Tamara, one of my best friends, again. So, off went through the fields of the Midwest, hours of gorgeous countryside as the sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds making our way to Michigan. We arrived as the sun began to descend, it's last rays reflecting off Indian Lake. Their home was filled with light, warmth, wrapping it's arms around us much as they did welcoming us into their lives for a brief moment. After a lovely weekend we were off to the first part of our trip to Chicago. We arrived for a lovely, albeit brief and somewhat delayed lunch with one of my favorite writers/bloggers, Claire of Life in Chicago and her newborn daughter Veronica. She was even more interesting, lovely, and warm than I could have ever imagined. It was a joy to meet this writer whose words I have admired and followed for several years. After exploring Lincoln Square on foot, we headed out to the aquarium with the kids. Dinner at Wishbone, followed by another night's rest, prepared us for another day of exploring. Starved Rock State Park was the next adventure on our list. Let me just say hiking at home is desert, rocks, mountain views, steep dusty trails...nothing like the lush green paths, views of the water, and pitter patter of rain drops we encountered on our hike at Starved Rock. I can not simply describe it in words. So instead I will share a few pictures of the gorgeous sights that day.
The next day we spent at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. One of the highlights for the kids of that day was the Harry Potter exhibit with costumes, props, and clips from the actual movies. Finished with the first leg of our Chicago trip we again journeyed back to Michigan to spend 6 more days with Tamara and her family.
Those days were spent blueberry picking...
Hanging out at the beach....

Cruising Indian Lake and jumping off the boat into the cool water...

Venturing to Michigan Adventure...

A week full of moments with friends and family, eating, cooking, shopping, playing, reconnecting, reveling in the simplicity of just being...then it was time to exchange hugs, promises, tears as we were swept up in the last few days of our vacation and the second leg of our trip to Chicago.
To be continued...

More Than I Dared Hope For

I remember the first morning after Cam was born, once the fog from the drugs I was given during my emergency C-Section had lifted, once I could think clearly, having a moment with my son that is captured forever in my memory. As the first rays of sun began to stream through my hospital room, I picked up my son and sat in the chair next to the window. Filled with wonder, amazed at this child that had come from deep within me, I knew a love that was beyond anything I had every experienced. His ten fingers and toes, his wispy hair, long eyelashes, soft sighs, I traced his sweet face, in awe of this miracle of life in my arms, my son. Two days later we were devastated at the news of his heart defect. My world had come crashing down in one sentence. It was the deepest loss I have faced in my life, the loss of this idea of a perfect child that I and so many other expectant parents cling to so dearly. It would take years for me to come to terms with Cam's heart, years to reconcile my love for my son with my fears of losing the child I loved so deeply.

The past eight years have been filled with surprises, heartaches, unexpected and planned surgeries and joy beyond compare as I have watched my son grow. After his second surgery there was the prognosis of no more surgeries and complete recovery followed by a reversal one month later when we saw his cardiologist for a post surgery checkup. Cam would need a new pulmonary valve, followed by another and another as he outgrew each subsequent valve. I learned to let go, to face the unknown with strength, to enjoy each day of his life and mine as we forged ahead.

So each time we have gone in for a checkup I have braced myself for the worst, knowing the next surgery could be closer than we anticipated. The checkups have ranged from every week during the first months of Cam's life, to once every six months following his last surgery, that was the best we could hope for his cardiologist advised. Two weeks ago we headed out to meet with his cardiologist again. Hoping that nothing had changed, that he was holding steady, and not progressively getting worse. Instead we were shocked to find out that Cam's heart is growing, adjusting, for the first time healing itself, giving him the gift of time. So, the view has shifted with surgery perhaps 10 years or more out. Options have emerged with the possibilities of ballooning and stents rather than another valve. Cam may be well into his teenage years before we face another tough decision, another surgery, more hospitalization. For the first time checkups have now been pushed to once a year rather than weekly or monthly. Quite an amazing new development in what has been a remarkable and adventurous life thus far. They say having a child changes your life forever, but I had no idea what challenges would lie ahead of us when Cam entered my world. My life has been shaped by the experiences of being his mother and I wouldn't change a has been more than I dared ever hope for that first moment when I fell in love with my son.