We started January with excitement as the "new baby fog" was starting to lift, but then at the end of that month my grandpa was admitted to the hospital and thus began the Year of the Crazy. We lost Papa in March (you can read about him here), and then things calmed down enough for me to start to wrap my brain and my heart around life again. I went to a fantastic Ladies' Retreat and was able to spend some time writing in April, May, and June. I was feeling like a human again. We had Sam's first birthday party in July which was over-the-top and ridiculous and utterly satisfying. And I'm STILL finding little bits of tape on the walls because of that darn blue cellophane. I can guarantee you that this year you won't see more than some balloons or streamers and a table of cupcakes. Then we had his one year doctor checkup and talked about "what a healthy little critter we have and thank God for that because we don't have health insurance and how many kids do you know that go through their entire first year without a single sick visit to the pediatrician aren't we lucky?!".
The very next week he got sick. Fever and congestion. And so we went to the doctor and got a diagnosis of strep throat. And then the next week when he wasn't better we went back to the doctor who did a chest x-ray and found walking pneumonia. He got a little better, but still wasn't himself. Still ran fever on and off for a couple of weeks which was attributed to lingering effects of the strep and pneumonia or maybe a little virus or two. At the end of August (a month after the strep throat diagnosis) we ended up at Children's Medical Center ER with a fever of 103.7. They said it was a virus. We went home. Still had a sick kid. Two and a half weeks later we went back to the pediatrician who did another chest x-ray. Regular pneumonia this time. Then two weeks later another trip to Children's Medical Center ER; this time at 2 AM because he couldn't breathe. By the time we got there his oxygen levels were good, but his heart rate and blood pressure were too high, so they did another battery of tests including an EKG. We eventually got a diagnosis of croup and were told to follow up with the pediatrician, so we made it through the weekend and went back to the doctor early the next week. We finally got a diagnosis of reactive airway disease and started breathing treatments 3-5 times daily. After 12 weeks of almost non-stop illness my baby boy FINALLY started showing signs of being healthy again, and he's been doing well since then. He's just apparently the kind of kid who is going to have respiratory issues every time he gets sick, but we've learned how to handle things and we've been able to get him insured so it all seems much less scary and overwhelming now.
Okay. Can we back up for a minute to that first visit to Children's Medical Center at the end of August? There's another little nugget of joy in there. A few days before our ER visit my grandmother had an ER visit of her own. I'll spare you the long drawn out story because it's a blog post unto itself (and I'll do it some day soon), but the bottom line is that my 78 year old grandmother with lymphoma (in remission) ended up in the hospital battling Neuroinvasive West Nile. That's right - the kind of West Nile that you saw all over the news this summer. We thought we'd lost her. I sat by her bedside and told her goodbye. And yet......she's still here. As far as I know she is the oldest person on record (with underlying health problems) to survive the kind of West Nile that she had. She's ornery and feisty and determined and wonderful. She also recently had another hospital stay where it was determined she has a terminal liver condition. They're not sure what it is or where it came from, but they do know there's not much they can do. We call it SLD (Stupid Liver Disease). And yet my now 79 year old grandmother is still ornery and feisty and determined and wonderful. When she was admitted to the hospital last month I jokingly told her that she needed to quit causing trouble. She told me that she was just being inquisitive about what a hospital stay was like since she didn't really remember the last one (because of the West Nile). See? Ornery. She just may outlive us all.
During all this my husband has been working full time and going to school full time and somehow finding it possible to be a husband and a father. His job situation had been steadily worsening until early December when it became necessary for him to find other employment. He's still not working. He has a job, but due to the holidays and the nature of the work it'll be awhile before he's up and running full time again. And money is tight. Very very tight.
Stress has been our middle name this year. I honestly feel proud of myself that I have not had a total breakdown. I have good friends, but I haven't been able to cultivate those relationships the way I want to and need to. Many days I feel isolated. I have wrestled with myself because I've been so overwhelmed that I've let people down and missed obligations and just generally have not been a reliable person. That's not like me. Other than the fact that I seem genetically unable to get anywhere on time I have always been a dependable person. Let me say publicly that if I've made your life more difficult because of my inconsistency I am deeply, truly sorry. There are times when I lay in bed at night and think about the way I have handled things (or not handled them) and I get knots in my stomach that can only be released by a hot bath and a long talk with God.
There were wonderful moments, but overall 2012 was a year of stress and pressure and survival. And yet, as my friend Paige reminded me on that previously mentioned Sunday morning, I've grown, too. I've learned more and more what it means to truly rely on God. I've had times where I honestly didn't know how we were going to buy groceries or pay the electric bill only to find an unexpected check in the mailbox or have someone slip me a little cash in secret. I've noticed that when I want to yell and scream and fight and explain and do and do and do that it's at that moment that I need to go and be still. (Notice I didn't say I've learned that - only noticed it? That one is gonna take more time.) I've learned that "overextended" has different definitions in different time periods. I've learned that simple can be amazing and that I do, in fact, have limits I cannot push past simply because I want to.
So that's where I've been. And, honestly, 2013 doesn't look a whole lot different right now. But I think this year I have a much better idea of where I'm going than I have in the past. I've made some goals (I refuse to use the word "resolution" - so there!), and I'll work on getting them out of my brain and onto my blog. Be on the lookout for "New Year Part II"! But in the meantime I'd like to know where you've been. It's so easy in January to bid the previous year goodbye and look forward, and it's a good cleansing thing to do. But for me it really helped to listen to my friends talk that Sunday about where they had been. About what God had done. And to be reminded of his faithfulness. So, if you're willing to share something you've learned this year or a growth experience you've had, would you please leave a comment? Maybe your words will help someone in this new year.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. ~Deuteronomy 7:9