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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day Poppies

In 1992 when my Dad died, he was living alone in his house near Cobbs Hill Park. At one time his wife & he had beautiful gardens. His wife developed brain cancer at a very young age & when the cancer came back a second time, it left her in a coma. She moved into a facility where she died a few years after my Dad. Cleaning out his home was a challenge as his mental state had deteriorated badly & he had stopped caring for the house & the gardens. He & I had been estranged for years before his death because of his mental illness. I had not invited him to my wedding & he never met my Mark. One of the few things I wanted from his home was plants. The poppies in my garden were my Dad's. Every year they remind me of him & the happier days before his mental illness took him from me. Often I have wondered if his serving in Korea played a part in his decline. This is my Memorial Day story...May the poppies bloom.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Power of the Mind

I wrote this a few years ago on Facebook  & thought I'd share it here in my blog.

The other night I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. Visions of Teale's first Grand Mal seizure suddenly flooded my thoughts. I had this overwhelming sickening realization that if I had not gone into her room that night, the next morning she would have been gone. That first Grand Mal was over an hour & a half long with ambulance transfer to Strong & a critical care team jumped onto the ambulance with us mid route. Our minister met us at the hospital, just in case Teale didn't pull through.
I'm not sure why I had such a horrid vision the other night, but I woke wondering if the Anniversary of that first seizure was upon me. Ironically our next door neighbors had moved in the day of Teale's first seizure, so yesterday I texted them asking out of curiosity what day they had moved in, the response;  April 15th, 2003. The power of the subconscious mind is astounding. Even though I had chosen to not remember the date, my subconscious mind knew it was upon me. We could have lost Teale that night, she had aspirated vomit, was grey & foaming at the mouth when I found her. If I had rolled over with baby Gwenn curled up to me & fallen fast asleep, what would I have found come morning? Luckily I listened to the nudges from God & got up to check on Teale. A forever reminder to me that if I listen, I can hear God.

PS 4/15/06 was the date of my Mother's stroke that she passed from a week later. Strange today's date is filled with so much heartache. A connection I had never made until this year.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Always a Musician

When we married, we had no idea how many twists and turns our life would take. Every marriage starts out with hope and promise. I'm sure I didn't know how complicated combining our separate lives into one would be. I was filled with the euphoria of a new love. Mark, a kind, gentle man, seemed to fit my life well. He was still attending a community college in our area plus, filling his time, in a band. Although I knew this was important to him, I don't think I knew how much Mark's music would be a part of our journey together. What I've learned, a musician, is always a musician. When Mark has taken breaks from that life, I don't know, if during those times, I appreciated what a huge sacrifice it was for him? As I age, I understand better how much his soul needs music, to not only enjoy life, but mostly, to truly thrive! I believe his busiest times, playing many gigs, with a variety of musicians, are his most joyful. In the beginning I may not have truly understood, but as we age, I realize, Mark's involvement in bands doesn't take from me, it enhances our life together. In my acceptance & understanding of this, we have bonded & our marriage has strengthened.
This Sunday, 28 years ago, we told our families and our friends that we planned to marry. We had, in our eyes, been engaged since February 14th, but had chosen to keep that to ourselves. So on Easter Sunday, 1989, we announced our engagement and our Wedding date. It's hard to believe it's been 28 years, and then again, it feels like forever. The lessons learned in my marriage have been many. I'm always working to be a better spouse and partner. Recently, someone pointed out to me that Mark and I are good at not making a big deal, out of every little thing. I know Mark is quick to forgive, I'm still working on that. We have grown in many ways, picking up each other's, hopefully, better qualities. There were times I just didn't understand Mark's need for practicing, every single day! I even felt slighted by it, like he chose his music over me. Now, it's just part of our daily life.
I'm proud of how far I have come in understanding Mark, as a person and a musician. There were and will be, times of not understanding, but as we've grown, those happen less and less. He's a musician, possibly, before anything else, sharing his gift and showing love in his own special way. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Proactive Overthinker

Tough conversation;  Would you sterilize your daughter if her getting pregnant would jeprodize her life?
These are things I overthink.
I know I would have to make a choice to abort, if God forbid, Teale were to become pregnant.
Mark and I have debated this much, but today I asked the question at my support group. I often attend a group on Saturday mornings, all the adults are caregivers of someone with special needs. These peeps normalize my life, they "get it." They have lived through or thought much about the strange things we, as caregivers, have experienced.
They don't run or judge, when someone asks a very difficult question, they sit back, breathe and talk it out.
Today, we talked it out. We talked about my daughter, we talked about their sons. We expressed the fear of our children bringing another child into the world. We also talked about how, in my situation, Teale could die from a pregnancy or the baby could be born with multiple disabilities because of the many medications Teale is on.

In many ways, being proactive is the right choice. Why put any of us through a painful choice like abortion. But, then there are the great strides being made medically, every day. What if Teale could be "fixed" someday? What if her brain damage could be reversed and she then couldn't have children because I had made a decision to sterilize her?

It's heartbreaking but a real reality that Teale could, at some point, be sexually active. My gut says she won't choose to be, after all, she is barely receptive of physical contact. I'm not a bury my head in the sand type of person though, so I accept things change. The other sad reality is that she is vulnerable and she could be violated. With my being a proactive person, I'd rather deal with this now, before any tougher decision must be made. I am a pro choice person, who personally would not have an abortion.

When I had this conversation with Teale's previous OBGYN, it seemed like it was a possible and probable choice to sterilize Teale, but then she retired suddenly.

Now I will have to find a new doctor, who understands my heart. A doctor that doesn't see me as a monster, but as a Mom, trying to do the best she can for her daughter. I deeply love Teale, her mental and physical wellbeing are my only concerns.

So, I ask, would you sterilize your child? Would you judge me for wanting to? 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Learning to Let Go

We are slowly working on transitions for Teale to be in the care of Beau, eventually. The process & thoughts that flood my mind are so overwhelming. I am realizing all the things I automatically know & do for Teale's care that I never voice, even to Mark. We are a good team & support our family in certain roles/duties that the other may never do or even know about. It has worked well in our life, but the thought of handing over the reigns to anyone, is a struggle.
I know I'm a bit of a control freak. I need/want Teale cared for to my standards. Starting a notebook of every detail of care may help me to let go, as I work through this process, but will I ever be at peace with "the letting go?" There are many before me, who have had to give up care of their special needs children. I try to learn from their experiences. I try to be realistic, Teale could easily outlive me by thirty years. Someday, I will be too old or gone & that day is slowly creeping up on us. So before it is too late & I need the transition immediately, I will prepare as best I can. Loving a child with many needs teaches us much, but letting go probably comes the hardest. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Gwenn's Birth Day

I forgot to publish this on the day, but want to save this memory.

Fourteen years ago on 1/13/03; Beau was 7 years old & in the 3rd grade. He was very excited about being a big brother again & hoped for a boy! Teale had just turned 4 years old, her behaviors were getting more intense & more difficult to control. Sadly, we had just switched her from her very sweet classroom at Augustine Children's Center, to Mary Cariola Children's Center. The all day program at MCCC was recommended to help us & Teale, as our discovery of her mental illnesses was starting to unfold. It had been a difficult switch, because she had been at Augustine 2 years & we were very comfortable there, but the drs and the staff at both schools assured us, this was for the best.
Our new baby was to be born on a Monday morning, by planned cesarian section, since our first 2 births had been quite traumatic, my dr thought this was for the best. We had chosen, once again, to not find out the sex of our baby. For me, it gave me something to look forward to, God's surprise. I had no real opinion on what I wanted, a boy for Beau seemed nice, but a sister for Teale and a typical daughter for me, seemed sweet too. As cliche as it sounds, Mark & I were just hoping for a healthy & uneventful birth, still we had the trauma team scheduled to be in the delivery room, just in case.
I desperately wanted to be handed my baby immediately, as this was my last chance at experiencing the birth of my own child & both of our other two had been rushed off to the NICU.
The day before, a Sunday, had been filled with much anxiety & overwhelming fear. I recall being teary & trying to hold in all the emotions I felt. I was so scared of delivering a baby not breathing, for the 3rd time.
I wish I could have known it would all be ok & enjoyed my final pregnancy & birth more.
Gwenn Gabriela came into the world silently, but breathing on her own. To this day, her silence @ birth, is indicative of the person she is. Gwenn is Gwenn & always has had a very "quiet & chill personality." Her excitement over anything is practically nonexistent, so her birth makes much sense. But, as I waited for her screams in the delivery room, I remember being terrified "I had done it again."
Mark videotaped much of the moments immediately following Gwenn's birth. Her incredible patience as the nurses poked & prodded her, is actually very funny. Beau was probably a little disappointed he didn't get his brother, but he never let on & was very sweet with her. Teale told every person she saw ~ "The good, good baby came out!" And we would have to explain...
Those were sweet times with my young family.
And even in the toughest times of their young childhood, I have loved being a wife and a Mother.
Happy Birthday to my youngest, Gwenn Gabriela! I 💗 you!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Abortion is...

As I drove past the Mother Teresa billboard on 390 East this morning, so much went through my head.
"Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace."
As I passed the sign, with my 18 year old daughter, who I had just been granted guardianship of, I thought of her journey. I thought of the moment I was told she had gastroschisis. I thought of the offer, actually, the push, in that consult room, for us to have a late term abortion.
My head has been spinning in so many different directions after reading that quote. Mother Teresa is a woman I admire, a woman I think of, as an angel on earth. She helped so many with her kind acts and with her deep, spiritual thought.
But that quote seems destructive, divisive and even cruel. I personally struggle with abortion. I do believe a soul is made at conception. I believe in a God and in his will of a child to come to us.
There is something in her quote that speaks to me though, after all, if Teale had never been born, I may have never known peace. Her life has much meaning, it has changed hearts and expanded mine. Mark, just the other day, bragged to our court appointed lawyer for Teale's guardianship ~ "Teale's life has made us closer as a family and strengthened our love."
 Life without Teale is unfathomable, my purpose here on Earth was changed the moment she came into my heart. So in some ways the quote speaks to me, peace surely would have been destroyed, had I aborted Teale. My own soul may have forever struggled?
But then there's the other side, the unthinkable "what if." What if Teale were ever violated or were to become pregnant? She could not safely grow a child in her body. The medications Teale needs to stay mentally and physically well, would surely harm an unborn child. To take Teale off those same medications for the health of a baby, could easily kill Teale. She has severe mood disregulation, bi polar disease and Epilepsy that are all well controlled on medications. Taking away any of her needed medications could spiral her issues and be quite disastrous.
So in this case, I see the need for a choice, I see that even though we take precautions to protect Teale, a pregnancy could occur and I would need to chose her life over an unborn baby...
Mother Teresa has been quoted many times, her deep spirit is an inspiration to many, but this quote troubles me.
It is an age old argument whether abortion should be legal or not. The reasons on both sides are great, but in the end, it is a personal choice.
For me, I continue to remain conflicted. If I had been easily swayed in that room 18 and a half years ago, where would I be today? Surely I would not be as loved or know love as deeply...