Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Patrick's 5th Birthday!

I have neglected this blog for such a long time! 

I logged in this morning for the first time in years, and found so many half-written posts that I saved, intending to come back and polish them off and post them. 

Well, here we are.

Five years ago - January 6, 2010 - our lives were forever changed when Patrick made his grand and dramatic entrance into this world. We are blessed beyond measure, and believers in miracles. Happy 5th Birthday Patrick.

I wanted to post in this space a video I put together for Patrick's 5th birthday. Its about 6 minutes and its a slideshow of his pics from birth to present. 

Take a peek. 

Patrick Jeffrey Anderson

And stay tuned, maybe I'll post here sooner rather than later. 


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here are some Irish Eyes to get ya' smilin' on this beautiful day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Everyone's Got a Story.

Ask anyone you know where they were when the first plane hit the towers on 9/11.
They've got a story. 

Or ask where they were when they heard Kennedy had been shot. 
There's a story. 

Ask any bride-to-be to tell you about the day she became engaged. 
There's a story. 

Ask any parent about the day their child was born. 
There's a story. 

It is in the telling of the story, that we are healed. Comforted. We can relive the joy - and sometimes the sorrow. Retelling the story connects us to the events and brings us back to those moments emotionally.

If anyone asks me about the day our oldest son Luke was born, I can joyfully recount each and every detail of that warm, sunny Wednesday in May 2006. A C-Section scheduled mid-day allowed Jeff and I plenty of time that morning to pack our things, tidy up the kitchen, water the plants, double check that the coffee pot was turned off and the porch light turned on. We leisurely drove to Norwalk Hospital, enjoying our final moments together of being just Two.

We had only one task to finalize: what name would we give this baby boy, we would soon get to meet?

We were down to 3 names ~ Ryan, Luke or Matthew. We had settled on a middle name weeks earlier - so we repeated the names again and again... and finally as we arrived at the hospital, we settled on his name: Luke Charles.  Over and over again I repeated his name in my mind. Luke Charles Anderson. Luke Charles Anderson.

I liked it. This would work.

The events of Luke's birth rolled along beautifully . . . I walked myself into the OR at 1:00 p.m., and at 1:25 p.m. arrived our beautiful, 9 lb, 2 oz., almost 22 inch baby boy. 

Luke Charles Anderson.  

He cried the most beautiful cry I've ever heard -- loud, and powerful. . . And I cried too. Quietly. Joyfully. Amazed at how much I loved him from that very first moment. They bundled him up and Jeff held him next to me, and we were in awe. We were now Three. It was perfect. 

Fast forward three and a half years. 

The day was cold and gray. January in Connecticut. The post-Christmas bliss was wearing off and the doldrums of winter were quietly settling in. I was 33 weeks pregnant. I'd been officially on bedrest for 6 days. 6 LONG days. 

Sometimes I feel guilty when I look back and I am sad as I recall the day of Patrick's arrival. It was all so uncertain. So frightening. So scary. So freakin' scary. It seems so wrong, but I was so terribly scared on that cold, gray January day -- the day that this beautiful, miraculous, strong baby was born. 

But what I find so interesting is that this year -- much like last year -- our conversations always wind back around to the day of Patrick's birth. My mom and my sisters remember my constant updates from the Labor & Delivery floor-- my emails and texts, updating them with the latest ultrasound results, the latest conversation with the doctors.... they can remember my frantic call telling them I was going to be admitted 'for observation'.. and my total preoccupation with Luke... I had kissed him on his way to school that morning, with the assurance that I would see him at dinnertime. Never did I imagine at 8:00 that morning, that this baby would be born at 4:20 pm .... I still had 7 weeks to go...

As Patrick's birthday arrived this year, once again, we all seem to gather together and retell the stories from that cold, gray day... from the day the most amazing child was born.... I love to listen to everyone else's stories. 

Jeff remembers and retells the story from his perspective: being with me at the hospital all day, and then the sudden decision to deliver the baby today... Jeff remembers me kissing him, and I walked down the hall with the 'team' to the OR,... and Jeff went to a waiting room alone, praying and praying and waiting... alone first, and then with my sister Erin, for the news of Patrick's arrival. 

Erin's account . . . of being at work, receiving my texts and emails, and then rushing from her office, and driving 40 miles to Yale. And she remembers vividly being with Jeff for these gut wrenching, reports coming from doctor's and nurses. 

My mom and dad's account of receiving my phone calls, of rushing to the hospital, of seeing Patrick for the first time in the ICU... of waiting for me to wake up from general anesthesia... and, too, the account from our beloved babysitter, Helen... She was with Luke that day 2 years ago... and still takes amazing care of these two little guys today. Helen remembers picking Luke up that morning to take him to school, and promising to keep him with her until whenever Jeff and I returned home.... she remembers receiving the call from my dad that I wasn't coming home, and that Luke's baby brother was going to be born on this very day... 

So, you can ask anyone in my circle about the day Patrick was born, and they've got a story. A story indeed.

I can't wait to tell these stories to Patrick someday. I can't wait to tell him what an amazing, precious, miraculous life he's been given. 

Well, the truth is: I tell him all the time...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012! (How did you get here so fast?!)

Let's start with some overdue holiday cheer . . .

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Patrick started the holiday season with one of the worst stomach bugs I've witnessed in awhile. It started the day before Thanksgiving and then just continued to get worse. 

Both ends. 

Eight days. 

One short trip to the ER for hydration. 

There's nothing quite as embarrassing as arriving at someone's home on Thanksgiving for dessert - someone's home you've never been to before, I might add - only to have your child start vomiting almost as soon as we arrived, while people were still finishing their dinner. Luckily, much of the 'output' landed on me and my new sweater. The rest landed in their bathroom. Jeff scrubbed their bathroom, my family cleaned up Patrick, and I found a fleece in the back of our car, which I threw on.

Thank God for my family. And thank God for gracious, sympathetic and kind hosts ~ Bill, Marcia and Kristen. 

In the end, Patrick lost over 2 pounds in 8 eight days. 2 pounds is a lot for him to lose - 10% of his body weight in week... Getting Patrick to gain a few ounces is a big deal, so I quickly got disheartened about his rapid weight loss. But, in true Patrick form, just as he was teetering on the edge -- he suddenly pulled himself together. 

Mid-December we took Patrick for a hearing test at Bridgeport Hospital Pediatric Unit, because it required sedation. Its called a 'sedated ABR'. The results were not surprising - Patrick has conductive hearing loss on his right side. The audiologist said that his left ear is perfect, and he claims you only need one good ear to learn to speak. I guess that was good news. As much as I suspected he'd have hearing loss on his right side - given the size and location of the tumor - my heart still sank. Something new to figure out, diagnose, battle, etc. We did see the ENT this week and he suspects Patrick may have fluid in that ear and may be a candidate for placing a tube. We'll visit him again in a month or so, and decide then. 

Mid-December also brought a new resident to our home: Jack, the Elf on the Shelf. Holy Cow. This little guy ramped up the pre-Christmas chaos to a new level! Luke fell in love with Jack and actually cried when Jack left him a note on the morning of the 24th to tell him he'd be leaving but he hoped to be back next year.

I thought Jack might lend a hand in improving behavior and helping a Certain 5 Year Old stay on the 'Nice List'. 

It didn't help at all. Not one bit.

But Jeff and I had fun executing Jack's next move, each night after the boys were in bed.

Stay tuned. Patrick turned two last week, and I have lots to share about this milestone!

PS. New Year, New Look. Do you like the new blog design?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

With Gratitude.

Jan 6, 2010
May 2, 2010
April 25, 2011

Mother's Day, May 2011

Tomorrow, May 5, will mark a year since Jeff and I brought Patrick home from the hospital, after 120 days. It seemed surreal that we had arrived there early one cold, cloudy January morning, and left on a warm Spring afternoon. Those days from January to May were the most trying, the most challenging, the most hopeless, and eventually the most hope-filled days of our lives. 

For me, there is nothing more rewarding, more challenging, more gratifying and humbling, more heartwarming and, sometimes, heartbreaking than being a mother. So, to watch my own child, my newborn baby, lay still, so heavily sedated and totally dependent on machines, medication, and transfusions for such a long time was the most gut wrenching experience of my life.

I felt totally helpless. There was nothing I could do, except keep Patrick company and pray…. (I also busied myself with learning all my newly acquired medical jargon, finding the best spot for cell service in the hospital, and plotting the quickest route from the garage to Newborn Special Care Unit.)

But most of the time, they were brutal days for me, for us. And especially for Patrick. I signed more consent forms for procedures than I care to remember. We met with specialist after specialist, I spoke with Drs in other states, I saw every nook and cranny it seems of Yale-New-Haven Hospital – MRI, Radiation, Interventional Radiology, Operating Rooms… and waiting rooms aplenty.

Because of your prayers, and your kindness to us, those days are behind us.

When Patrick was discharged from Yale last May, he was handsomely sporting his oxygen cannula and feeding tube. He was prescribed six medications, and was on a ‘hospital’ schedule for feedings and meds around the clock. We quickly worked to adapt him and his schedule to fit in with a family that sleeps at night (this took MONTHS…)

Today, Patrick is almost 16 months old. He no longer uses a feeding tube, or oxygen. He is off all but one of his medications. He’s got lots of teeth and is recently discovering a love of Haagen-Daz milkshakes, along with his usual regimen of avocados, bananas, custard, Cheez-doodles and Chobani yogurt.  He is crawling everywhere, and pulling himself to kneeling and standing. He is opening cabinets and doors, and is obsessed with buttons on TVs and DVD players. 

He still receives physical therapy twice a week, and I take him to a private feeding therapist every other week. But he's doing great. 

Patrick's smile lights up the room. He greets us readily with “Mama” and “Dada”. He gives kisses abundantly, and when you ask him “Where is the cute baby?” he tilts his head to the side and smiles… He points to things he wants, proclaiming, “Dat!”.  He loves to play with the TV and wii remotes, and if I'd let him, he'd chew on my iPhone. 

And, when his big brother Luke enters the room, he laughs with his mouth wide open, with that smile that could stop you in your tracks.

He is a joy-filled baby, and he spreads his joy every where he goes. 

He is our miracle for sure. 

We’ve come a long way through this year. And we couldn’t have done it without you.

We are forever grateful.

Rachel, Jeff, Luke & Patrick

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby.

Patrick, with his cousin, Lauren, and big brother, Luke.

I've been thinking about what I might write in This Space for a very long time. What would the day feel like when it finally arrived? Would I be a basket case? Would I cry? Would I laugh? How would we spend our day?

I made no plans for today, or for tonight. I did take the day off from work and have just been enjoying Patrick's company all day. Earlier this morning, I took him to my office to meet my amazing friends who prayed for him from his first hour, and who continually take care of me.

Around lunchtime, my sisters, my parents and my neice joined us at home for a spontaneous lunch -- Jeff came home from work early, and of course Luke is here too. We couldn't help but recall and talk about This Day one year ago, but all in all, our afternoon has been joy-filled!

I know I will reflect and write more about this milestone in the days to come, but for now I just wanted to mark the moment.

I must share with you a most beautiful column written by my very talented sister Erin today. It captures the day of Patrick's birth so beautifully.

Happy Birthday, P!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Live the Questions.

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves.
Do not now seek the answers...
the point is to live everything. Live the questions."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke

I remember exactly where I was -- and who I was with -- the first time I heard this prose. It resonated with me then -- and now, too.

I heard it first over 10 years ago, in a hospital chapel. I was there as a student in a Clinical Pastoral Education Program. The blending of my deep faith and spirituality, along with my fascination with psychology and counseling led me to this program where I set out on a quest to become, perhaps, a hospital chaplain.

It turned out, that after completing my first Unit of CPE, I had learned more about myself than I'd ever imagined.

The most valuable lesson I took away from my year in CPE was identifying my personal struggle with the unknown, and my strong desire to put things in nice, neat packages... what I learned is that questions are often left unanswered, and packages aren't always wrapped elegantly and tied neatly with velvet bow.

As I reflect on this past year, this 2010, I am struck by the laundry list of unanswered questions I still have. Rilke's poetry comes to the forefront of my mind once again. So many of my questions begin with, "Why...?" And my instinct is to want them all answered. But the reality is, I may never know their answers. I probably won't. And it probably doesn't really matter.

Live the questions.

Without a doubt 2010 was the most difficult of my 40 years. But even with its challenges - and God there were many! -- it brought so many gifts to my life. Of course, my youngest child Patrick being at the top of this list, but I have also been gifted with stronger relationships, new friendships, renewed faith, and incredible kindnesses bestowed on me, on us. Thank you.

Cheers, 2010.

Welcome, 2011. I can't wait to meet you!