Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Love Boat (Healing Our Hearts Too) Part 1

Another ride in the Heartland Amusement Park is called The Love Boat.  This is supposed to be a "happy/easy" ride--a water ride that gently wound around a tropical paradise in which one could sit down, relax, and take a break from the other crazy rides in the park.  The ride began as tranquil as promised--we floated effortlessly through this paradise ride.  Then, all of the sudden, our boat dropped straight down off of an unexpected waterfall.  We were at loss for what was going to happen next.  The stress of it all created tension between Scott and I.  There are other couples on this ride.  We all thought this would be easy and that it would bring us closer together and none of us were truly prepared for the fall.  

My Inspiration to Write This:
One of my fellow heart moms, Amy Bennett, wrote a series on her blog entitled: Healing a Hurting Marriage.  I read these posts and felt like Amy had opened my heart---had wrote down my feelings.  So, I am going to quote, with her permission, directly from her blog:

"Having a medically fragile child, particularly with a diagnosis like Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, involving multiple open heart surgeries, can put an unbelievable amount of stress on a marriage. Before your diagnosis, it’s like your life is a nice tiny little ball of neatness (for the most part). Then, you get your diagnosis and the ball gets thrown in the air and completely explodes. Then, until your baby is born and for the first 6 months to a year of your child’s life (sometimes longer, depending on your child’s complications), you’re trying like mad to keep the pieces in the air as much as you can. You’re trying to keep things from hitting the ground. And you’re so busy trying to keep the important pieces (you know, keeping your kid alive) up in the air, you’re pretty much ignoring the unimportant ones. You’re making spur of the moment decisions on what’s unimportant enough to hit the ground.

Then, once things settle down,  and you’re far enough past the Glenn that the surgical experience starts to fade and the Fontan seems light years away, you finally have some time to look around and examine all of the pieces of your formerly tidy little ball of a life. Some pieces are bent, some are broken, some are just flat out missing. Where’d they go? God only knows – you were too busy juggling the other pieces to notice. And you try to scoop everything up into that tidy little ball again, desperate for order amidst the chaos.  This is what I lovingly refer to as “post-Glenn Fallout” period.

You have to spend time getting to know this new life, this new “normal.” Maybe you allow yourself to process the grief – maybe you don’t. After all, your child is thriving, so what right do you have to feel any sense of grief? In so many ways, this life is SO MUCH better than the life you had expected. But it’s still different. And you can’t ignore the ways it’s different. And, as tempting as it is, you can’t ignore its effect on your marriage or relationship."

Our Back Story
Scott and I are high school sweethearts.  We met at church when we were 15 and 16, started dating at 16 and 17, married at 19 and 20, and had Emma when we were 25 and 26.  So, as you can see we have been a part of each others lives through many milestones.  We could not have been more excited to have a baby.  We thought we had everything planned out.  Scott was finishing up Pharmacy School, I was going to "retire" at the end of the school year, and we were more than excited to move into the next phase of our lives.  We had our share of disagreements before Emma, but when we said "I do" we burned the ship so-to-speak and we would work through whatever trivial disagreements we had.  Our foundation had really never been truly rocked and tested.  Along came Emma's diagnosis, moving to Texas, Emma's complex and complicated medical conditions, living in the hospital for a year, making difficult decisions about her care, almost loosing her 6 times, being away from our support system, Scott traveling a lot for work, me trying to finish my PhD, etc. and we not only fell over the edge of that waterfall, but we fell out of the boat and felt like we were drowning.  However, we were pretty good at making it look like we were still in the LOVE BOAT enjoying every second of the ride.........

Way Back in Younger Years
Two Were Joined As One
And Baby Makes Three

I will write PART TWO of this series tomorrow.  What steps have we taken to help bring us back together, restore our marriage, and live like God intended us to?  I have gone back and forth on writing these posts.  I hate to be vulnerable like this, but I was so encouraged by Amy's posts.  And, my goal is let others know that they are not alone in feeling this way when their WORLD is rocked by unexpected tragedy, illness, etc.  And, why Scott and I are INTENTIONAL in working on our marriage and strengthening the foundation.  

Thank you Amy for opening your heart and allowing me to share!
Here is a Bio on Amy's ADORABLE SON Bodie:

Bodie Isaac Bennett was born on February 16, 2010. He had his first open heart surgery, the Norwood, on February 22, spending 5 weeks in the hospital before coming home. He was home 3 weeks before being readmitted to the ER for low oxygen saturations. On April 26th, he had his second open heart surgery, a takedown of his sano shunt, and addition of a bt shunt and pacemaker. He flew through recovery, returning home a mere 2 weeks later! 4 days later, he was readmitted to the hospital for blood in his stool. He then spent 66 days in the hospital, battling c-diff, parainfluenza and MRSA (medically resistant staph). He came home 8 weeks later!

He then spent almost 2 months at home before having his bi-directional Glenn surgery on September 13th, returning home just 5 days after surgery!!! He will have one more "scheduled" surgery, the Fontan, sometime this summer.
Despite Bodie's rough start, he is amazing. He has caught up developmentally in every area and will be starting preschool next week. He continues to inspire us and we are grateful every day that God chose to bless us with Bodie.

I mean seriously, he is ADORABLE!

Bennett Family

Sweet Heart Mom and her Heart Hero

God is Good!  All the Time!  All the Time!  God is Good!

He is giving us the strength to get through and praise HIM through it!


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