I am 11 weeks postpartum and it seems like just yesterday I had little Jackson, who by the way is not so little anymore. I haven’t written in a few weeks, not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because sometimes life gets busy. Over the last few weeks we have gone non stop. We threw a surprise party for Lauren’s darling friend Macey a few weeks ago. She was turning 14 and was ready to have a heart transplant any day so we wanted to give her the best birthday ever!! The yard was full of 8th and 9th graders and they awkwardly mingled, not knowing how to interact with people they didn’t know. Most of the time I would look around and see their cell phones in their faces. In fairness to many of the kids, they didn’t know each other but came to celebrate with Macey and show her the love and support she has around her. Getting ready for the party was pure madness. Patrice, her mom, had a very busy week with Macey starting school, 2 doctor visits, a funeral, a birthday afternoon with Macey and her friends and a wee toddler to tote around. I will say that Patrice somehow managed to get all the decorations, make 40 Instagram s’more kits and still kept herself sane. Thanks to my friend Joy and her daughter Hanna and friend Ella, plus Lauren and Patrice, we got the backyard decorated and ready to go just in the nick of time. Macey thought she was coming over to do head shots with Lauren for acting classes so when she arrived she had no idea what was waiting in the backyard. Watching her walk out into the big surprise was overwhelming. The delight that filled her eyes made me so happy, I was so grateful we could be part of this wonderful experience for her.
At the party we had food and snacks, fizzy drinks, an Instagram photo booth and a s’mores bar. Billy was in charge of chopping wood for the fire and had a bit of an accident. When Will came running to me to drop everything and “go to Dad right now, throw the pizza boxes down” I knew that whatever happened wasn’t going to be good. In my mind I thought he tripped and fell down the stairs and was hurt, he found the kids doing something they shouldn’t have, the cops showed up because it was too loud or someone was hurt. So when I walked into the house to see him covering his eye and blood running down his face and he was stumbling down the hall saying he needed a band aid, I knew something bad had happened. I got him to sit down on the toilet and wiped away the blood to find he still had an eye…phew, and there was a puncture wound to his eyebrow as well as a very red and blood shot eyeball. While he was chopping wood a piece broke off and flew up and hit him in the face. We rinsed out his eye and wiped down his face, but it was apparent that this accident would leave him with a gash, swollen eye and the possibility of eye damage. Sure enough the next morning his eye was swollen shut and just to make sure that it wouldn’t leave any permanent damage we made an appointment the following Monday with an eye doctor. I am glad we did because the doctor said that the wood hit him with such force that it created a ripple effect in his eye and that we had to watch it closely. He was concerned that if he stressed it too much it would cause more damage which could lead to long term complications. So he was put on strict restrictions from heavy lifting, yard work and other strenuous activity for a week. Even though we had a little accident that night, the party was amazing and the turn out with all of her friends was exactly what she needed.
On that Monday after the party, a whirlwind of events ensued. My dear friend Piper was coming over to decorate Lauren’s room. We have been rounding things up for weeks, painting and getting everything ready. Piper found a woman to paint all of Lauren’s furniture for a very good deal and it looked amazing. So after Macey’s party, we spent the better part of Sunday cleaning up and painting Lauren’s room. Her old color was Tiffany blue and we were going back to a light cream color. In addition to throwing parties and decorating, we were in the process of determining if Lauren could switch schools and move into 9th grade rather than stay in 8th grade. On that same Monday, August 26th, we were checking out the new High School to determine if it was the right fit for Lauren and we got a text from Macey that they thought they had a heart match for her. This was the moment we had been waiting for and yet I couldn’t believe that it was here. The three of us cried in the empty high school halls overwhelmed by the news and felt nervous and anxious for the surgery to be over. Macey and Patrice were coming into the school a bit later to adjust Macey’s schedule, but with the news of the heart, they asked us to let her counselor know she wouldn’t make it. When I told the counselor I couldn’t help but get teary and I could barely get the words out of my mouth. As we finished our tour and were heading out we ran into the Principal and he had a very concerned look on his face when he saw tears streaming down our faces. I think he thought this was too much and we had changed our minds, but I let him know we just got some very good news and were just crying tears of joy. Lauren wanted to see Macey before the surgery so we rushed over to try and make it before she headed out to the hospital. On the way into her neighborhood, there was a darling little bunny that came out of the bushes to greet us and then hopped away. Being the superstitious person that I am I just knew that the bunny was a sign that everything would be okay, I mean people rub a rabbit’s foot for good luck so a full bunny has to be a massive amount of luck…right? After a quick hug and more tears, we let their family head to the hospital and we waited in anticipation for the final word from Patrice that Macey was out of surgery and in the CICU. The happy news came in the middle of the night to let us know she was out of surgery and recovering well. Once Macey was in her room and out of CICU we went for a short visit. The girls sat out on a patio in the hospital talking and catching up. Patrice and I hung out in the kids playroom while Cozi entertained herself. It was so nice to catch up and hear about Macey’s progress. I am always amazed at how strong Macey is, she constantly surprises me. She is a tiny delicate girl and yet she is filled with a fierce will and positive energy radiates from her. Patrice let me know that while they were doing her feeding tube, they found out her Gallbladder was inflamed and had stones. So just shy of two weeks after surgery they would have to go in and remove her Gallbladder. Plus she had her first heart biopsy the following Monday to make sure there was no rejection.
The next few days after Macey’s surgery were a whirlwind for our family, which included more testing for Lauren, helping to organize care for Macey’s young sister and making sure their family had everything they needed so they could focus on taking care of Macey. By Thursday we received the call from Lauren’s school that the school board approved her acceleration and she could start the following week. Later that night, Billy and I surprised Lauren with a balloon and her favorite candy bar to tell her the good news. She was very excited but nervous and a little sad that her BFF was in the hospital recovering and would miss the first few months together in the new school. The following morning we headed to the new high school to register her and get her schedule finalized. Walking into the halls with all of the kids that morning was a bit overwhelming, but Lauren took it in stride, the way she handles most intense situations. After she was registered and her class schedule was finalized, we headed to her middle school so she could check out of her classes and say goodbye to her classmates. It was a little bittersweet for her. She was excited for a new and more challenging adventure, but she would miss her friends and would miss not having Macey by her side.
That weekend we headed up to our friend’s cabin for some R&R with their family. Lauren was so tired from the emotional week that she slept a good portion of one of the days, went to bed relatively early and slept in late. She was exhausted! The following Tuesday, Lauren started at her new school, and I had knots so badly that you would have thought I was starting a new school. I remember my mom telling me a story about when we moved to New Jersey and she sent me off for the first time to the bus stop. She said that she watched me walk to the bus stop and was so anxious and nervous for me and couldn’t get me off her mind all day. I never understood why she was so nervous for me, but after that first day I knew exactly how she felt. I had a nervous pit in my stomach all day. For any parent, sending your child into their next adventure can be difficult but you know they need to make that next step. In this case, it wasn’t a forced step, it was chosen and altered Lauren’s path. It took away that last year in awkward middle school, it created more of an opportunity for earlier experiences and it cut our savings plan short a year for College. But in my heart I knew it would be the right thing for her, even how that we have had a few weeks to settle in, I know this will provide her with an amazing opportunity to be pushed harder and make new friends. On that first day, I kept sending her messages and checking in and had her call me as soon as she got off the bus. She was so nervous and her first night of homework was a huge challenge, but she dug in and gave it her best try. We are now two weeks into this new routine and I still get anxious for her, I still hope she finds a group of friends she connects with and has friends to eat with at lunch.
As I sit and look back on the last few weeks it is amazing how much as transpired. Lauren’s best friend was struggling and the outlook kept getting worse and worse until one day someone’s child passed away and they made the courageous decision to donate a gift of life. I think about that family constantly, wondering about how they are healing, wondering if they know their child saved a child’s life. With transplants you don’t know who the donor is right away (or ever) and for good reason. Macey’s parents at some point may want to find out but for now they are grateful for the gift that was given to their own child, something they will always cherish. The next few months are the most critical of milestones. After three months they wait for the next big milestone of six months and so on until the doctors feel more comfortable with the match.
With all of the craziness, I think it jump started my metabolism again. I am finally starting to lose weight and I am down four pounds, putting me at 11 more to go…woot woot!!! Now I just have to figure out how to motivate myself to workout again. I have good intentions the night before. I set my alarm, I lay out my workout clothes and I get plenty of rest. But as that alarm goes off early in the morning, I hit snooze and sleep past my workout class and wake up frustrated by my inability to motivate myself to workout. It is so frustrating!!! Before getting pregnant, I hit the gym 4x a week and 1-2x on the weekends, now I can’t make myself go 1x a week. Plus I have had to take Lauren to school each day since the bus comes an hour before school starts and that is SUPER early. But Billy and I have settled into a routine and we are going to break up the drop offs and pickups so I will have NO excuse and get my butt back into the gym.
Little Jackson seems to be doing so well, and Sara and Derek have been sending pictures of Jackson periodically. He looks so happy and healthy and I can’t wait for our November trip to Napa, which is just around the corner.