Monday, March 11, 2013


Spring is coming.

I felt it on my face as we walked to church yesterday morning. The cool air competing with the warmth of the sun. It felt vibrant. Alive.

Ji wore a little red riding hood cape Boo has in her dress up and said he's Superman and ran with his fisted hands out in front of himself. Boo admired the silvery shimmer of her white dress, the dress she wore into the temple the day she was sealed to us.

Our goal has been to survive the winter. Now winter is ending. We are nine days away from spring. So far we have survived.

But survival hasn't eased the pressure in my abdomen, nor has it cured my baby of his challenges.

Tomorrow Baby will see two doctors. The cardiologist anticipates a procedure to help his delicate heart close up. The other suspects a stricture in his esophagus where he had his first surgery the day after he was born.

 Autumn and winter have been unkind this year. In the changing leaves and earliest snowfalls, we were a family divided--the hospital, aunt and uncle's houses, grandparents' homes, school, and work. Amidst the chaos, I have never seen so many people willing to help: Aunt Lizzy slept over Sundays and Thursdays with Ji and Boo, so James and I could spend more time with Baby at the hospital. We made new friends of the Scalleys who opened their doors and let us sleep in a bed and eat their breakfast cereals. Our neighbors kept watch of Boo, so she could be safe after school. Our church family brought meals, gave rides to and from Salt Lake City, and slipped us gas money.

Here's a miracle: James and I calculated the amount of money we spent on gas for those 47 days Baby was in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Friends and family gave us that exact amount. Honestly.

My mistake was thinking everything would be fine once Baby was home with us.

He came home with 2 1/2 inch stents in his nostrils, needing suction, humidity, and extra oxygen. The stents came out within a few weeks, but the doctors' appointments are continuous: surgery, ENT, cardiology, pediatrician, nurse visits for shots or weight checks, dieticians, and development nurses.

It is better. I can hold him in my arms without worrying about leads or tubes that are connected to his body. He can play on the floor and work his leg and neck muscles. I can read books with my two little boys cuddled up on the couch. Home is more quiet and private, and that's worth the dozens of doctors' appointments.

But my body hasn't forgiven me for the neglect I inflicted upon it those seven weeks. Maybe for the way I've distrusted it for the last five years. The mastitis went away quickly with antibiotics, but I had an allergic reaction to the medicine.

On Christmas Eve James flew to New Delhi, explored Punjab and parts of northern India, experiencing the grandfatherland firsthand. At last. He came home with presents and a traveler's sickness.

I felt overwhelmed but all right. Baby's home. James is home. We are all together. I could still cook dinner, wash the laundry, nurse the baby, and bathe the children.

And then the cyst appeared. It felt like a plugged milk duct at first. But it grew bigger. Quickly. At its worst, the milk-filled cyst (called a galactocele, for real) was about the size of a softball. That was the night of the abscess and needle aspiration. I screamed and cried at the clinic. The next day they sent me to the emergency room.

No more breastfeeding. No more milk or the cyst would come back. The frozen milk from two months of pumping would only last so long. Baby didn't even eat for his first month. He didn't breastfeed until he was two months old. And then he only got about six weeks of breastfeeding.

I don't know why that makes me so sad. I produced so much milk while he was hospitalized, but had so many problems when he came home. Maybe the transition was too hard for my body.

Maybe all of this has been too hard on my body and that's why a resistant infection lingers inside of me. I suspect that an explanation exists. I just haven't found one yet. I mean, it's all right. It's mostly abdominal discomfort, some in my kidneys and pelvis, but I am tough. Packing an open wound with gauze for two weeks was worse. Much worse. I could see my insides. It made me want to wretch. I'm not tough when it comes to open, fleshy wounds. Gah!

But have you seen the color of the sky? It looks like heaven: with its fat white clouds, perfect for an afternoon stroll. The air smells green and every tree is ready to burst its leaves out.

Spring is coming. Winter can't stay forever.


  1. Grandma Gill emailed this comment to me, but was unable to post it on the blog for some reason. She gave me permission to repost here.

    I find this a very touching description of all you have been through the past six months. I hope the coming six are much better.

    With our love,
    Grandma Gill

  2. Oh Nicole. It sounds awful. (Not the spring, the winter.) I'm so sorry. :(
    I hope this last month has been better.
    Thank you for writing a little about it and sharing (with beautiful words, as usual).