Infancy

The Start of our Journey

Recently, I sat down with my computer and thoughts when Matt was out of town and the kids were all in bed. Nary a creature was stirring, but my ideas were bouncing around and coming together without my trying to make it happen. I had been bottling up all of my emotions, thoughts, and ramblings about Keira’s health for quite some time. You could say I’d been keeping it all to myself {mostly} for the past six months, but in reality I’ve been frustrated and holding back for over seven years. 

So, a few days ago I sat down to let it all out. It took me a matter of a few hours, but 13 pages all about Keira’s health poured out of me. I felt drained of all creative energy afterwards. Though that can be damaging to my career, it felt nice for a change. I felt like I had confessed to a crime and the weight of knowledge I didn’t want was finally lifted from my shoulders. There was freedom in the act of writing. Ridding my brain of these ideas was long overdo.  This sounds a little dramatic, but that’s how us passionate people are. And if you can’t put up with that, then this certainly isn’t a place you will want to spend much time. Just FYI…

So, I thought for my first official post, I’d tell the first part of her story:

 

“I think up until a year or two ago, I had never heard the word ‘celiac.’ I didn’t know what gluten was until a year or so before that. And what I knew about it could be summed up in a sentence—something like, “ummm… I think it’s bad for you.”

I didn’t know about these things, because according to me, I didn’t need to. My kids were fine. I was fine. My other family and friends were all fine. I didn’t need to be up until 2 am several nights in a row for months on end looking up ridiculous amounts of information on mysterious symptoms. If we had a complaint, we went to the doctor. They know everything there is to know about illnesses and diseases, so why should I worry about it? This was my line of thinking for a short while before I started to think and reflect on what was happening before my very eyes.

Blame it on the fact that we had several babies back to back and with that came enough sleep loss to consider ourselves delirious and weary for a decade, but I did very little reflecting the first few years of motherhood. I was blissfully unaware of anything that did not meet the day-to-day needs {not wants} for my rapidly growing family. I was too busy. I spent my days changing diapers, holding crying babies, being miserable and pregnant, sneaking bites of chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese, chasing toddlers away from toilet water and the middle of streets, teaching at night, writing a book, nursing or pumping, and trying to manage my new mom life. There was hardly a moment to even consider doing anything besides surviving. I do admit that every once in a while–usually while nursing or pumping and exhausting all of the channels on cable  television–I would take pause and think about life. These moments were few and far between, but they did happen. Keira’s health popped its little head into this window of time every now and then. As it did, little bits and pieces of her health journey started to come together like a puzzle. But instead of starting with one piece and finding the next one that fit it, we started with a random piece. And it did not come together smoothly after that, either. It was like we would find one of the corner pieces, and then another random piece not knowing where it belonged. I knew I had puzzle pieces, but I did not even realize they all belonged to the same puzzle. None of them seemed connected at first, but I eventually learned they were all part of the same big puzzle. I started to rethink everything I knew. It made me start to question what I’d always held to be true.

Sometime in the last 7.5 years, let’s just say about 4.5 years ago, I really started to realize something was different about my daughter, Keira.

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She is our second daughter—just 13 months younger than her big sister. She came into my arms on a fall night in 2006, a screaming, pink, plump, dark-haired beauty. I fell in love instantly. We had a bond like we knew each other in ways that no other person could know. The day after she was born, I remember photographing her like I was getting paid per picture. Her daddy left the hospital that afternoon to go home and take a shower, so naturally, I dressed her up in several outfits and made sure to capture each one on camera. We snuggled. We slept. We even got yelled at by a nurse for sleeping together in one of those “unsafe,” gated hospital beds. That’s neither here nor there… , but I was simply smitten with my new bundle, and we were released as scheduled, to go home.

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It is incredibly difficult to remember much of Keira’s first months at home. I really hate to admit this, but I can’t remember so much because she completely blindsided me, and I was consumed with all things that come with having a new baby. I had no idea just how different two babies, from the exact same parents, born just a year apart, could be. Where Kenli, our oldest, was mostly quiet, happy, slept through the night from the get-go, ate like a champ, did everything according to the books, and just loved her little world—Keira was almost completely the opposite. To say there was a stark contrast between Kenli and Keira’s infancy would certainly be an understatement.

I remember one of the first signs that something with little Keira’s body was different. My husband was out of town, and my mom was visiting us. We remarked at how bloated her belly was. It was rock solid. The poor girl hadn’t had a bowel movement in days. I remembered in my childbirth class just a year and a few months prior, the nurse commented how different babies have different bathroom schedules. Well, Keira’s was certainly different from Kenli’s, but she was so young I really hadn’t noticed a pattern for her movements yet. I didn’t know if a week without pooping was okay, but in my gut I did know. I could see the signs in front of me—a grumpy and grunting baby, a bloated and hard belly, a restless infant who looked at me with the saddest eyes. After putting a call in to the doctor, we were prescribed a suppository for her. It seemed to help, and naturally I was happy it worked, but the next few months proved to be tougher than I ever could have imagined.”

I’ll end there for now, but I’ll be back tomorrow to share more of Keira’s journey.