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Autism, Infertility, and why April is an important month for me

April is a big month. Lots of causes and events that are close to my heart, including Anniversaries and angel babies.

Light it up blue for autism awareness!

Light it up blue for autism awareness!

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. I have many friends who are personally touched by Autism, and I want them to know they have my support. They have really opened my eyes. I see how amazing they are with their children, and their kids are truly inspiring to me! Children are so resilient, and many of those with Autism have exceptional intelligence and abilities. They can excel and go far in life. The sky is the limit. I commend my friends for being such awesome parents, and I am in awe by their children’s strides.

In the US, 1 in 88 children are on the autism spectrum. It is a a challenge every single day for the child and the parents. Not only that, but most people don’t recognize or understand the struggles of people living with Autism. Outsiders look upon them in judgment and ridicule, at times. No child deserves that. If more people create awareness, there could be increased development in effective treatments, as well as better understanding and compassion for the child/individual and parents involved. Find out more at AutismSpeaks.org.

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April 21-27 is National Infertility Awareness Week! Personally affected by infertility, this is a cause that I feel passionate about. For a condition that affects 1 in every 8 couples, there are still a lot of unknowns, stigma, ignorance, and insensitivity. Not to mention, most couples are left without financial means or insurance coverage to treat infertility.

Millions of men and women are struggling everyday with loss, heartache, confusion, lack of compassion, and serious debt for medical conditions that can be treated. There is no cure, but there is hope. Just like any other cause, disorder, or disease – we want to create awareness, provide education, and seek better options to end people’s suffering – or at least help them cope.

In my case, technically there was only minimal medical intervention needed, but it took us many years, several losses, and thousands of dollars to find the true cause and underlying issues. Infertility is so complicated, but it doesn’t have to be THAT complicated and difficult. To make things worse, we dealt with road blocks, financial problems, and lack of support and understanding from medical professionals, employers, insurance companies, and everyday people who knew nothing of infertility.

This problem is not going away. And we will not be ignored.

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Speaking of infertility awareness, I’ll never forget our struggles to get where we are today. April 12th is our 11 year Anniversary (and 5 year Wedding Anniversary)! We are so lucky to have each other. But it’s also our “TTC Anniversary” month. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant, this would mark our 6 year TTC Anniversary (but I count the last 4 years the most, since we were trying the hardest then). Every passing year, I wondered if it would ever happen for us. And it’s something you live with everyday. My thoughts and my heart go out to those still waiting. I definitely understand the pain and uncertainty of facing that type of Anniversary – or facing each day – period.

I’ll always keep my other babies in my heart. I had 2 early losses in April – in 2010 and 2012. One of my other angel babies was due in April 2012 right around our anniversary. RIP my sweet angels. As you can see, April is a bittersweet month for me. It’s important that I remember where I came from and what I went through, without letting it overshadow my future. This is why I feel even more blessed and appreciative to have something wonderful to celebrate now. I never truly imagined I would get here. But there is always hope!

I will do my regular weekly update for more info later today or tomorrow. 🙂

there-is-always-hope

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Possibly my last visit with Grandma…

I had just received the dire news from my Dad on Friday, that my Grandma was placed in Hospice. The DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order was in place. And the doctor said my Grandma only had days to live.

It didn’t sink in right away. I was shocked more than anything. How could this be? Just last weekend, she was sent home, feeling stronger and well again. We all felt hopeful for a full recovery. I knew she had been re-admitted to the hospital earlier this week with pneumonia, but it didn’t seem possible that the end of her life was near. She was sick and very weak, but surely she would get well again, given some time.

I decided I needed to make the trip to see her on Saturday. I felt an urgency to get there and be with her and my family. Despite my back pain, I drove out of town – by myself. Andy had to work. He wanted to be there, but he couldn’t get away. I started out feeling like the news couldn’t be true. That Grandma really wasn’t as bad off as they said.

It felt like the longest drive ever. I was alone with my thoughts.

My thoughts soon turned to memories of Grandma. Happy times with family, every Thanksgiving and Christmas at her house. Grandma is loved by many. She is everyone’s Grandma and Mother. She has 5 children and countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Grandma lives in a small town, so everyone knows her and loves her.

I fondly recall the time that I spent with her as a child, while she babysat for me. Grandma is an animal lover, like me – or maybe it’s because of her that I adore animals. She always had 3 or so cats, which she treated like her babies. I can remember all their names. One of them even lived to be 20 or so years old, because she cared for her cats so well. I’m just like her now, with 3 kitties of my own, and they are spoiled rotten, too. Grandma’s gentle, caring spirit has touched many lives, both feline and human.

Next, my feelings of guilt came out. I began getting choked up. Over the years, I hadn’t spent as much time with Grandma as I used to. Sure, I moved away, but I still could have made more time for her. I’m not even close with that side of the family anymore. It’s a shame. There has been some issues/drama, but that stuff is so silly and pointless. Life is so precious. You never know how much time you have left with your loved ones – usually until it’s too late.

Finally, the seriousness of the situation began to sink in. My Grandma is dying. That’s when the tears came. She’s probably too weak from her previous injury and illness that put her in the hospital originally. The pneumonia is taking over. Antibiotics, oxygen, breathing treatments – none of it is working. Her heart and lungs are failing her. Combined with her age and other health issues, it’s all too much. Poor Grandma is too weak to fight. I cried off and on, and tried to choke back my tears the whole drive there.

I finally arrived at the hospital, feeling nervous to see Grandma in that condition. However, I was very anxious to get in there. The moment I saw her, tears began rolling down my face. She looked like a ghost. I tried to stop, because I didn’t want her to see me losing it. I wanted to be strong for her, as well as for the rest of my family. It didn’t matter much though, because Grandma was unresponsive (and everyone else there was crying anyway). My Dad and my sister were sobbing. Even my cousin, the big strong Marine, was in tears. And that all made me cry even harder, as I tried to console them.

I quickly composed myself, and began speaking to Grandma, while holding her fragile hand. For awhile, she seemed to be hearing me, but she couldn’t open her eyes or speak. I was just glad she was responding to my voice, since she hadn’t been previously. Suddenly, it was like a miracle – she woke up and began speaking to us! She patted my belly, as I told her the latest good news about Graham. She looked very emotional, and said she’s so happy and proud. I told her I’m praying for her, and she said she’s praying for me, too. ♥ How sweet and selfless of her, especially when she’s going through so much. I’m so incredibly thankful for that experience.

Talking about Graham really perked Grandma up. I joked with her about the surprise she must have felt when she found out we were having a boy. That made her laugh. Grandma thought is was a girl all along. She and my sister fought about it (playfully), since my sister thought boy the whole time. 🙂 Grandma even joined my Facebook page months ago, so she could follow my updates. She’s been so supportive. She’s known about our infertility struggles for a long time, and she sees what a miracle & blessing our baby is.

Grandma actually sat up, had more color in her cheeks, talked to our family that was visiting, drank a little water, and took a breathing treatment. Dad said it was the best they’ve seen her in the past couple days. I’m so glad I could make her feel happy for a little bit. The whole family seemed in better spirits, smiling and laughing. It was a much different atmosphere from when I first arrived. After that, Grandma went back into a deep sleep. She seemed to be very comfortable though, which gave me peace.

My heart is with her and my family right now. All I want is peace and comfort for Grandma & everyone, no matter what happens. I hope that wasn’t my last visit with Grandma, but if it was, I feel so blessed to have had that time special time with her.

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