The situation seems fitting that my first blog is on the day of my daughter’s first birthday party. Elizabeth’s birthday is a good place to start, as far as getting to know my family. Celebrating the end of her first year is quite a triumph for us. The past year has been one full of new experiences as well as struggles and that’s not to mention the nine months preceding her birth.
I am blessed with an adorable and hilarious daughter who has a talent for making me forget the labor pains and trials of pregnancy. Truthfully though, my pregnancy was not an easy one full of baby registries and butterflies like I had envisioned. I spent the first few months puking at least once a day. The next few months I had no appetite whatsoever and was constantly nauseous. Then I found out I had gestational diabetes, which complicated life with a painfully strict and specific diet. Naturally this occurred around the time my body decided to crave everything, mostly on my “cannot have” list. I was a student and finished the fall semester, which meant I went to class until the end of my 8th month. I struggled to get up every morning for 9am classes. Finally, the last month consisted of NSTs twice a week. A year has gone by; I don’t remember the details. I just know I had to lay in a hospital bed with a strap around my gigantic baby mountain for thirty minutes while a machine monitored my baby’s heart.
The few days before Elizabeth’s birth I experienced pain I had previously doubted possible. At one point I tried to climb the wall to keep my doctor from checking me because I was in so much pain. My doctor recommended I get an epidural. I am pretty sure the anesthesiologist stabbed a needle into my spine and then actually yelled at me for jerking. Later when my doctor broke my water, he stared at my lady parts for minutes, literally. He said he had never seen so much fluid; somehow his reason did not make his reaction less awkward. All of this went on while I was having contractions, not allowed to get out of bed and not allowed to eat.
However, the hours, days, and weeks to follow brought far more and much worse pain. After Elizabeth made her grand entrance via C-section, I was able to hold her for about thirty minutes before she started turning blue and I had to hand her back to the nurse. I would not see her without tubes and wires attached until weeks later. Elizabeth was born with a Esophageaol atresia and Tracheoesophageal Fistula. All of that simply means her esophagus and wind pipe did not develop properly. She needed corrective surgery as a three day old.
Our family spent the next five weeks in The Children’s Hospital at the OU Medical Center with Elizabeth in the Neonatal ICU. We lived in the Oklahoma City branch of the Ronald McDonald House for four and half of those weeks. I cried more in those five weeks than I probably had my entire life. After five weeks of recovering from her surgery, having tubes removed and learning to eat enough to survive, Elizabeth Jean Harrison was allowed to come home.
Since then, I’ve battled postpartum depression while dealing with learning to breastfeed. I have started taking classes full time again. My husband lost his full time job and took that opportunity to start his Master’s degree. And those are just the big adjustments. Whether we are dealing with weening, teething, learning to walk, no hitting, no biting, crying it out so everybody can get more sleep, or just trying to eat lunch without most of the food ending up on the floor, each day is filled with the small battles that we are learning to accept.
My family really is in a good place right now. We have some priceless experience and a direction for our life, and most of that has come about within the last year. Elizabeth’s birthday party proved to be a perfect opportunity to reflect and realize how thankful we are for the past year.
Special Thanks to:
The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center
The Ronald McDonald House in Oklahoma City
All of our family and friends who supported us during this year. We couldn’t have done it without you guys!
God for the abundant grace he has shown our family and the blessings he has given us this year.
Stay tuned next time for how to throw a great first birthday party.
-Sarah, One Curly Mama