Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Real life is the good life

Honeymoon phase between the kids and I is officially over!  They have resumed their normal sibling rivalries and the occasional defiance, though I think my senses are still heightened.  It doesn't take much for me to remember how much it ached to be far away and I'm reminded to not take for granted this precious time with them.  The joy from returning is still present.

I picked up my camera this week for the first time in about a month and it felt SO good.  I had forgotten how much I love to document our family life in this way and let myself enjoy the creativity of taking pictures.


Capturing family pumpkin carving, rolling down the leafy hills at the park, and drawing on the screen door window, freshly steamed from dinner baking in the oven - this is the real life I've been able to capture, reminding me in this season of difficulty, to just be thankful.

And, um,  check out that boy in the 'big boy' undies!  Today was day one of potty training and not one single accident ALL DAY!  Can I get a woo hoo from all the parents out there?!  He told us each time he had to go (even after we put the diaper back on for bedtime tonight) and made it through nap time.  I think Landen really loves me - or maybe it's the M&M reward system.  :)

As for me, I'm doing well!  It's been four weeks today since surgery!  I look for the joy and the humor in the place I am.   I mean, I have some serious ventriloquist skills going on right now.  Jon enjoys thinking up funny things to make me say.  Jon so easily makes me laugh and laughing, while not totally comfortable, is stretching out that scar tissue and I believe it's bringing my face back to life.  :)
My sister and I.  I think we are looking much more alike now, after surgery!

 After the joy, though, I sometimes get discouraged.  Discouraged with the discomfort (though, thankfully still no pain), with the numbness and inability to open my mouth very far,  and with the blended diet.  Wonderful friends have been bringing the kids delicious meals and while serving them, my mouth waters and I imagine enjoying these yummy foods, while instead I wait for Jon to blend my can of Campbell's soup (yes Jon blends most of my foods for me.  What a guy!).  It's only a short time until I can eat real food, though, right?  Only 28 more days, at three meals a day... ugh!  I'll get there...

(And you know, some of these friends' meals I've been able to blend, and there are those who bring me shakes or juices, so I suppose it's not entirely bad ALL the time!)

But real life is resuming.  Taking kids to school, picking them up, naptimes, bathtimes and all the playtime in between has gained momentum in our routine again.  And for this I'm thankful.  Life is moving on.
 Thanks, friends, for doing this journey with me.  :)

(Oh, and mostly for me, here are a few from Emerson's birthday and party!)


Happy day to you!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A letter to my girl on her birthday

I'm a week late posting this (man, life has felt like it's getting away from me these days!).  A week ago today Emerson turned 7 years old.  Seven!  When I imagined having kids I imagined the littles I've had.  Seven, though.  That's big.  That's old.  That's not even close to a baby anymore. 

But my baby she'll always be.

And when she's someday older, together we'll sit down as mom and daughter, friends, and I imagine us chatting, laughing, and maybe crying together.  We'll talk about life, how things were, and what we were most thankful for.  Here are some of the things I hope to tell her, about the things I knew and saw when she turned seven. 

You are SO special.  I can see clearly some of the gifts that God has gifted you with in your seven years. You are one of the most compassionate, caring, sensitive, and most aware little person I've met.  And you may think I'm biased, and I am, but you are what you are.  You are my beautiful girl.

You're so smart - surprising me sometimes with an understanding beyond your years.   Your inquisitiveness feeds into  thoughtfulness - always wanting to know more so you can understand better and therefore do better somehow. 

When someone has caught your heart, I love how you let them know.  In pictures of crayons or paint, words, phone calls (and now lately, texts!), or any way to help, you'll find a way to show it. 

You are an artist!  I'm so excited for you about this!  You have a fantastic creative mind and a perseverance to do things right that makes your work shine!  I am so proud of you!

You can also be a perfectionist, practicing and practicing until you get it absolutely right.  Every time. (And right now your cartwheels and handstands amaze!)

You love us well.  I can see in you a genuine desire to serve us and show us that we are important to you (even those brothers who pester and pick on you most days!  :)). 

Someday, that smile of yours will melt the boys' hearts.  But for now it brightens the room, spreads easily, and makes my day. 

You are such a good friend.  Your desire to care for your friends and give them gifts is beautiful.  I pray so often that you remain the faithful and true friend that you are and that you find the friends who are the same to you.

I don't use feisty too often when I describe you, but I know you have a little bit of it in there somewhere!  And I can't wait to see how you  use it to push yourself and others to do well and at the same time use it for some fun and harmless mischief along the way.  :)

Kiddo, you celebrate life.  You celebrate well.  For any occasion (even our hamster's birthday) you are my go-to girl.  Decorating, planning, inviting, and preparing - you love to do it all.

I'm thankful to have you on my team in this house.  Just us girls.  :)  And there's something to say about that - something special about us.  We stick together.

I also want to tell you that you have blessed me so much since coming home from our long trip to California.  Your desire to be with me, to help me, to show me love and hugs and words of affirmation when you sense I'm discouraged has meant the world to me.  Don't let your young age fool you.  He is using you even now.  For a girl of now only seven, you have served me and showed me your faithfulness and kindness.  I'm so, so proud of you.

I can't wait to watch you grow and learn, fall down and pick yourself up again, and hear the details of your every day as long as you want to tell me them.  I pray that I show you every day that you are worth my time, my energy, and my heart.  There is nothing more pressing to me than our family and each other.  You are, and always will be, my sweet girl.

You are my first born.  I thank God for you every single day and pray for the special plans He has for you.  Happy (belated) birthday to my Emerson Anne!  I love you so much.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Post op Pictures day 16 and Welcome Home

A quick update!

My facebook status yesterday:
The kids won't let me out of their site, want to help me with everything, and Landen announces anytime we see anyone, "This is my mommy!" as he snuggles his head into my neck. All fears of their hesitation because I look different are gone. They knew me as mommy from the moment I walked in the door.
 A very happy status update.
Those first moments when we walked in the door were wonderful.  We've picked up right where we left off.  Landen wants to be held, Emerson wants to just be with me and Braeden has almost literally not ran out of stories to tell me.  We had a family sleep over (with the kids on the floor because I was slightly nervous about having flailing kids in our bed with us!) the first night home.  The kids and I are currently in a honeymoon stage since being home and I'm down with that.  They want to be with me all the time and I am happy and absolutely ok with it.    
 I'm so, so thankful to be with them again.  I can't tell you what it did to my heart to be away from them for two and a half weeks.  However, these last few days have been SO sweet.  
This whole healing process is turning out to be a very humbling thing, however:
My energy still doesn't measure up to what I'd like to do, so I'm depending so much more on Jon, which is hard for me to do (mostly because I like to be busy and doing things myself).   However, I do seem to be improving every day.
This blended diet thing isn't my favorite.  Yesterday Jon blended some lasagna for me.  When it was still to thick to be able to drink, we added some milk, warmed it up and that was my dinner!  Sounds gross, huh?  It actually wasn't too bad.  I very much dislike the eating process because I'm still numb and so it's just, well, messy.  Very humbling to say the least.  (7 more weeks of the blended diet before I graduate to a soft chew diet.  My soft chew diet will start 2 days before Thanksgiving - I'm sure that'll be one of the things I'm giving thanks for about that time!)
 I still have some swelling and lots of numbness, though every once in a while I'll get a zing from a nerve trying to wake up.  Though the numbness is kind of annoying, I'm thankful that it's probably saving me from some of the pain from the surgery.  
My muscles are still learning how to do what they need to do in the new position.  Because of that and the numbness the animation in my face and smile still isn't quite normal, but as time passes I should start looking more and more "natural."
I'm down a little more than 15 pounds.  Not too bad considering!  
Per Jon's request, here are some side by side pictures so you can see the difference a little better.  In the pictures that I'm not smiling in (both before and after), I tried to relax my face and just let it "hang" naturally.  Again, they moved my jaw out (and up) a total of 17 mm.  They didn't touch my nose, and they shaved off quite a bit of bone just under my nose (and I believe they took some bone out of my chin, too), shortening my gums and my face in general. 
You  can see that before my lips wouldn't meet naturally.  Now, they do.

The surgeon said that once more of my swelling goes down, I should have more of a jawline, as well.

It's still a little difficult to smile, but it should hopefully come more naturally with time.

Landen didn't want to be left out of the picture taking.  :) 
 Thank you so much, AGAIN, for all of the prayers and encouragement.  This healing process has sometimes been frustrating and uncomfortable, but I truly believe I've been spared what could have been so much worse because He has answered yours and my prayers.  So thank you!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

As time passes...

I have been continually amazed.  After reading experiences and talking to someone who has also had this surgery, I projected the near future in my minds eye quite clearly.  Things like pain, fatigue, and learning to swallow again were to be my hard reality for quite some time.  But, as Jon has said again and again (I just don't ever listen!) my experience would be my own.  And boy, it has.  That first week was rough, especially with random feelings of suffocation came and went without warning, however as each day passes I find myself amazingly almost without pain, swallowing has become natural again, swelling is slowly coming down, despite my only liquid diet I have yet to feel extremely hungry, and my strength is returning - slowly, but returning none-the-less.  My lower lip and chin are mostly numb still, but I've been assured that the feeling will come back in time.

I find myself looking in the mirror a lot.  My profile seems so different.   My nose wasn't touched during surgery, yet even my nose looks and feels different.  I  have been smiling at myself in the mirror over and over to see if I can tell how my lips will set over my teeth.  Much of the gums above my teeth have been removed, so I know that gummy smile of mine will be gone.  Because my lips and chin are still so numb and because there is still a bit of swelling it takes work to make a smile and it comes slowly.

My teeth are banded shut (and will be for about 7 or 8 more weeks), but I've been able to drink easily despite that (with many small sips and yes, some drooling) and as I type this Jon is out getting some Cream Soda and soft serve ice cream.  The plan is to let it melt a bit and mix it together.  It'll be a treat if it works!  Here's hoping!

And then there's Jon.  He has done and seen  things the past week and a half that a spouse would probably not ever desire to do or see, but he has done them without complaint.  Even beyond that, he has done them with joy and literally smiling at me the entire time and reminding me that he loves me.  Seriously, he has.  Someday, if the roles are ever reversed, I pray that I can be that to him, to serve him so compassionately and lovingly as he has the past 10 days.

All of the encouragement, love, and prayers sent for me have been working, I have no doubt.  God has been SO good.  I was expecting the worst and while this hasn't necessarily been a walk in the park, it's been exponentially better than I was anticipating.  There is still a long road ahead, but I find myself looking forward, no longer scared of whats to come, but excited about the changes that were made, the headaches I won't deal with anymore, the locking and pain that will be no longer there.

My spirits have been lifted.  I've said before we're staying at a friends house.  In the room they've given us there is a white board.  On it they wrote this verse:

"If you make the Most High your dwelling - even the Lord, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;  they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;  you will trample the great lion and the serpent.  Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him;  I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him;  I will be with him, in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." -- Psalm 91:9-16

I've looked at and read this verse every day I've been here and I just give thanks to Him who has been with me this entire journey and answered my prayers and yours.   He has most assuredly protected and answered me.  Though I never feared anything near death, I still feel He has delivered me.

Thank you SO much for your prayers.  Please continue to pray as I continue to recover, heal, and especially as we are going to head home in just a few days and re-adjust back to real life again (and can I just say I have no plans to be away from my babies for at least the remainder of this year, probably much longer!  I have missed them fiercely and can't wait to hug and kiss and just be with them again - just writing that is making me cry!).

Now that my swelling has begun to go down, I plan on posting some newer pictures sometime soon.  I feel like my face is changing each day and becoming more "me" every time I see myself in the mirror.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Turning a corner and some 'after' pictures

I began writing a post last night and wasn't able to finish, but now that I come back and re-read it, I decided to erase it all.  The difference between yesterday and today has been so drastic.  I haven't meant or wanted to complain - at least for complaining sake - but I've just wanted to be real.  After re-reading the post, however, it sounded like a lot of complaining.

So, let's start again.  Today has been good.   Beyond the tug on my heart of missing my kids, I feel like I've turned a corner. My energy is slowly returning.  I felt pulled to want to go DO something, anything other than laying in bed.  Today was my first post-op appointment with the surgeon, so I had a reason to put real clothes on and at least brush my hair (no brushing teeth yet, though - not for another week.. kinda gross).  So we packed our bags (it was our last day in the hotel) and off we went to the doctor's. 

Until today, I've had some surgical tape pulled across my face to hold my cheeks in place (now that's kinda wierd, eh?  At least I thought so - more crazy info on that in a bit) and made me quite self conscious.  It was the same piece of tape from immediately after surgery, so I'll just say it wasn't very pretty.   So having that taken off today also took a layer of self consciousness off with it.  They also changed the bands holding my jaw closed (with the screw - like a Philips screw - stuck in my upper gums and a hook stuck in my lower gums) allowing me more room to move my jaw making it much easier to talk. 

On my way out of the office I was able to talk with two other patients - one having had the same surgery 3 months ago, and another having had it 29 years ago.  I received so much encouragement and kindness from them and reassurances of how good I look, I finally allowed Jon to take the 'after' picture of me he's been asking for all week (which I will also 'reveal' as you've probably already seen below).

Oh, I wanted to explain the cheeks - apparently the length of my face was shortened so much during surgery that Dr. Gunson decided that my face needed a little more definition in my cheeks, so he took some of my own bone, removed from my upper gums, and grafted them over my existing cheekbones, to give me just a little extra.  I learned today that cheek grafts can be "manipulated" (just the thought of that gives me the shivers) for up to 8 weeks.  And today, he manipulated them.  I'll just explain the sound of it - it sounded like loose gravel being ground into - or maybe like two pieces of sandpaper held scratchy sides together and being firmly turned back and forth.  I didn't feel much pain, but just hearing the sound was enough to make me feel lightheaded and have to sit down (he 'manipulated' while I was standing). 

The biggest breath of fresh air today, however, came with arriving at our friends' house.  They have so graciously allowed us to stay with them for the remainder of the time we have to be here.  Being here for the few short hours we have been has been like being in the midst of life again.  Their three kids are only a little younger than hours and I'm so thankful we can share our time here with them.  (We didn't know they lived so close to where we would be having surgery until after we had scheduled it.  SUCH a blessing.)

And Skype date tonight?  Hands down my favorite part of the day.  Finally I felt able to talk and interact so much more with the kids and I don't know what happened to Landen, but he was all about talking on the computer tonight - complete with several " Mommy loves me!" inserted into our conversation.  My heart was full and every moment of watching cartwheels and seeing Emerson's new library book and watching Braeden give the others many hugs and kisses completed my day. 

So yeah, what a day.  I'm glad to be past the dreaded 'week 1.'  I'm glad it's over.  Now onto counting the days until we're homeward bound.

And the reveal pics.   Again, energy level low = no fancy hair.  My face is still very swollen (leaving things looking slightly uneven) and very numb from my upper lip down, so though it's hard to tell, I'm trying to smile.  :)  Oh, and excuse the oiliness.  Apparently when one swells so much for so long, their body produces extra oils to protect the skin.  Still a ways to go, but seeing the difference.


(If you look at the post just before this one, or click HERE, you can see the pictures I took before surgery)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Update: Post-Op Day 4

This will be quick.  I'm still really tired.  This has been one of the most trying weeks of my life.  Most of my face has been numb up until today and I am just now feeling it slowly 'wake up.'  Swallowing has been quite a learning experience, swallowing lots of air each time I try, though not quite as scary as I was anticipating (still a little frightening, though).  Swelling and nights have been the worst part.  Swelling makes my head feel so heavy and big and uncomfortable.  The nights are bad because I've been swelling up more in the evenings.  Between a stuffy nose and my mouth and face swelling so much, it feels like I'm suffocating.  The doctors warned that may happen, though they assured me I wouldn't suffocate.  It's hard to remember that, though, when it's happening.

The differences in my appearance are very apparent.  I've seen an 'after' picture Jon took right after surgery, but don't care to look at myself.  It actually makes me quite sad.  It doesn't look like me, or at least, just a different me.  The swelling is so big right now that it's also hard to know exactly what it will look like after the swelling goes down (they say 80% of the swelling will go down by 2-4 weeks post op - the rest will take the remainder of a year to completely go away.)

I can tell I've lost weight, though I don't know how much.  I haven't been able to weigh myself since the day of surgery.

Oh, and tonight was the first time I've felt hungry.  I saw a Subway commercial and it made me crave some. Not bad, though, considering I haven't eaten anything in 5 days.  

The worst is missing my kids.  Crying makes everything feel more congested, so I've tried to resist, but it's hard.  I just miss them.  I miss my sweet girl, and funny Braeden, and Landen's "Hiyah's!"   We've been able to talk on Skype each night (though the first few nights I stayed out of view of the camera because I was afraid of scaring them).  I LOVE hearing their voice and about their days.  Landen isn't really into talking on the phone or computer, so I'm really missing him, but since he's only 2, I knew he would lose interest fast.  I just miss them so much.  I want to be with them, take care of them, and tuck them in bed.  My heart is aching for them.

I'm going to stop there because it's making me want to cry.

Please pray for swelling and the feeling of suffocation.  Please pray for my nerves as they are beginning to wake up that I wouldn't be in too much pain.

Pray for Jon.  He is doing an AMAZING job of taking care of me.  He's really been on top of it the whole time we've been here and is making sure have everything I want and need.  He stops and prays with me quite a bit, which I've really needed.

Most, please pray for my babies who miss their mommy and daddy.  Pray for a quick 9 more days of being away.  Pray for patience and grace for my parents, who are doing a fantastic job with my kids, but I know how hard this may be for them, too.  

Thank you for all the encouragement and support.  I'll try to update with pictures soon.  


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...