A year ago, I had books on my nightstand about happiness, birthing, and babies. I was waiting for Quincy to join us and complete our family, and I was happy. Today, my nightstand has a big basket full of medical equipment. An oxygen saturation monitor, a stethoscope, inhaler medication, spacers, and nasal aspirators sit where once there were books. And I am tired.
When Quincy got RSV at two months old, I had no idea how large of impact that would have on her life. Asthma took hold of her lungs after that, and I’ve struggled to breathe right along with her. She was okay for a while after she got out of the hospital, but she always sounded raspy and got out of breath easily. She worried me to no end. I would stay awake watching her struggle to breathe, doing anything I could think of to help her. She had two more stays in the hospital since her first with RSV and gained her asthma diagnosis at six months old. It’s a non-stop battle to keep her breathing “normal.”
As illness after illness came through our household those first six months of her life, I survived. I took care of everyone and worried about everyone and tried to be strong, even when I, too, was very sick. Well, I tried so hard to be strong and keep it all together that I broke. September broke me. I was gearing up for our first move with three kids. We move ourselves, which means it’s up to me to pack most of our belongings. I was also preparing to travel across the country solo with the kids to celebrate my sister getting married and my sister-in-law having her third sweet baby, a boy named Koleson. As I packed our suitcases the day before the trip, I got a call that I will never forget. Sweet baby Koleson was gone just days before his due date. The hurt that swept through the family was and is so unimaginable. It has changed my heart to witness loss so great. I went home to Oregon with all three kids for a wedding and a funeral, and I returned home unable to process it all and unable to breathe. I was depressed and overwhelmed. My chest hurt, my heart sometimes raced or skipped a beat, and it scared me. I was packing the house, saying goodbye to our awesome friends, and watching Quincy work harder and harder to breathe. I was also waiting for results and more testing to see if I had a problem with my heart. Lack of sleep and worry eventually got the best of me.
One night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I had a severe panic attack. I literally thought I was having a heart attack and that it was the end. I sat straight up in bed, gasping for air. My arms and chest tingled, I was cold, and my heart was pounding erratically. I passed out and started seizing as Dustin tried to get 911 on the phone. I went to the ER in an ambulance, scared and alone. I was relieved to learn it was “just” a panic attack and that my heart was fine. Unfortunately, anxiety had settled into my body, and it doesn’t leave willingly. It’s something I grapple with now any time my body is stressed by lack of sleep or overdoing it. My thyroid is acting up since having Quincy, so it’s possible that is playing a part in all of this anxiety. I’m waiting for answers on that. Quincy’s ongoing breathing troubles have not helped me relax. It’s been a sleepless and worrisome battle. Words have failed me much of the time. Finding the energy to write them down has also been difficult when I have managed to find them. Surviving has taken all of me.
I find myself reflecting on this past year a lot as Quincy’s first birthday approaches. It has been, by far, the most trying year of my life. Quincy came full of happiness and joy. Then came illness, worry, and discontent. In some ways, I feel like we were robbed of that carefree, fun baby stage. Mostly I’m thankful we have Quincy at all and feel lucky it’s “only” asthma. She is my last baby, and this will mark the end of the baby stage in our house, which breaks my heart in so many ways. I don’t know if I’d ever be prepared to say goodbye to having a baby in the house. Despite that, I also know that I’m into mothering as deep as I can be and don’t have enough left in me to share with another. It also seems as though we’ve somehow “made it” through this last year and can move on, which is amazing to think about. One year old, so many meanings and so many emotions. Who knew that a first birthday could be such a big milestone to a mom. It has become clear to me from my urge to stare at her nonstop so as not to miss a moment of her fleeting babyhood, that I will be that crazy mom bawling at kindergarten graduation. Okay, so I may have already known I’d be that mom, but this just seals the deal.
Not to come back on a low note, but this is my life right now and I don’t want to forget this part and years from now wonder why the stories stopped for so long. Sometimes there just aren’t any words. Happily, today there are.