Olivia is a month old! And we have been here for a month.
Every milestone brings conflicting feelings.
That is much longer than I ever expected to be here. But I have learned to throw expectations out of the window. Thanks coyote wisdom (for more on that, click on over here). We still don’t really know how much longer we will be here and, really, I am not sure anyone would be really able to tell us that anyway so I don’t even ask.
Each day I hear from at least one person exclaiming, “wow she looks so good today!” or “I can’t believe how much better she looks than the last time that I saw her.” I find myself saying similar things and a few days ago I admitted to one of the nurses that I am not really sure why I keep saying that. Olivia amazes us with her progress in one way or another every day – sometimes more than once. I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore. We joke that all Olivia knows how to do is make big strides. That’s all she has done her whole life. We imagine her saying to herself, “Guys, I got this.” Casey and I nervously laugh in fear and excited anticipation when we think about our future with Oscar and Olivia because so far they both have bigger personalities than we could ever take credit for. It’s okay, guys, we got this.
And at the end of that sentence I exhale a sigh as the smile fades off my face. We are tired and some mornings it musters everything in us to make the (short) trek to the hospital to do “it” all over again. I know that some of the therapeutic-trained folks around the hospital are concerned about whether or not I am really coping in a healthy way. People continue to give me permission to cry or have bad days. They keep telling me that it’s okay to show that to the hospital staff. I always kind of smile and nod at them. I know that I am not showing the emotion outwardly, but I am feeling the up and down and every curve of this rollercoaster. And I am processing it inwardly until I am ready to share. I am learning that I am a very private person and what I share with a complete stranger is far less emotion-filled than what I share with those closest to me.
This realization has made me deeply thankful for our community near and close, far and wide. Casey and I have spent the last year thinking about the true purpose of community and the gift that comes from radical hospitality. For those that have visited our blog you may have seen a quote at the top of the page by Thomas Merton: “We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” I have it written on the whiteboard in our room, too. Earlier this summer, around the time I found out I was pregnant with Olivia, I shared with friends a similar quote by Dorothy Day: “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” We believe that it is within our communities that we find our identity. It is coming side-by-side with those that we are in relationship with and staying there. At this season of our life, these quotes have layers of meaning. I know the professionals are there to help me through my bad day, but I am one of the lucky ones that have a multitude of people around me that are truly committed to community and the beauty of being in relationship. What is jaw dropping is the way in which complete strangers have also stepped up to offer support. If anything, this experience just casted a wider net for what Casey and I get to call our community. I know the hospital staff is there when we need them, but so far our whole family have been taken care of in ways that we didn’t even know were possible. To that, we humbly and gratefully say thank you to each and every one of you. Thank you for your generosity, your prayers, your hope, and your willingness to be in community with us.
For those of you that follow Casey or me on our social media accounts, you may have seen a post I shared recently about music therapy. Olivia is still on pain medication and some days are better than others. We have been talking to the Music Therapy team for a few weeks and they finally came in to see how she would respond to some tunes. They were pleased with the results. When they found out Casey is a musician they suggested he play for her, too. We all agreed it’d be good. But none of us knew how good. In the first moments of Casey strumming the guitar and singing, Olivia turned her head to look at him, settled in, and her heart rate dropped and stabilized. Olivia has now been prescribed what I call “music meds” a few times a day. It’s a special time for us to share as a family as I am holding her and he’s playing for her. It’s healing for us all.
Thank YOU for your role in helping our family cope, heal, and transform.