Because we were out of town, I didn’t do a proper share of this video in this blog. So, if you missed it, here is Patrick’s traditional birthday video. Creating this video was a very emotional journey for me. Looking back at Patrick’s transplant journey, some images and memories that I hadn’t revisted in nearly a year was… well…. hard. I shed an awful lot of tears. Especially as we tried to capture our feelings of gratitude for the amazing gift that this year has been.
It’s long this year. It was just too hard to leave anything out of the story. So plan for 20 minutes and bring your tissues.
We had a very unique, but very amazing Christmas day this year.
It all started with a little bit of excitement. Every night sometime between 2 and 4 a.m. I have to get up to refill the formula in Patrick’s feeding bag. So at 3:30 I was up and it seemed to go really smoothly and I stuffed the little stocking that Patrick had hung on the IV pole by his bed. And then I went into the bathroom and the pump started to alarm.
Well, I got there quick enough that it didn’t wake Patrick and I fixed the kinked tubing. And then I noticed a very distinct smell. The smell of Patrick’s ostomy bag leaking. I felt around the pouch and it was definitely starting to come off. That usually would mean waking him to change the bag. But I looked around a room full of presents that Santa had already brought and I knew that if I woke him, we’d be having Christmas right then.
Now, my previous history of early Christmas mornings aside, I also knew that Patrick would not have time for a nap in the rest of the day without missing out on some big fun things. So I took a risky chance. I crawled in bed with him, wrapped him in a towel, secured the bag the best I could, and slept next to him. I knew we’d be starting the day off with a big mess and that we’d have to work hard to keep it from making his skin sore. But it seemed the best choice for a good Christmas day.
I had nightmares about ostomy bags the rest of the night and at 6:30, when Patrick started to stir a little, decided I’d waited long enough and let him wake up. I explained he was wet and needed to go right to the bath. He wasn’t so sure, but I didn’t give him a choice.
We got him cleaned up pretty quickly and changed into his spare Christmas morning pajamas. (We learned long ago that we need two pair of special Christmas PJ’s.) We asked him if he thought Santa would have come and he said no. Somehow, he’d missed all the presents on the way through.
But when he did see them, that’s all he wanted.
We let him start with his little stocking. That was simple stuff. A Dora doll, some hot wheels cars, some silly putty. Then Brian pulled out the big stockings.
I’ll confess. I was pretty worried about Christmas stockings this year. I could not figure out how to go about getting that part of Christmas ready when Patrick needed to be with me and time in stores was limited. Heck, we tried to buy stockings once and had to leave the store without. So when a package from Brian’s work showed up full of gifts, including stockings, I was relieved.
Patrick’s stocking was huge. It took half an hour to go through. Of course, that was the tip of the iceberg for Christmas morning. Between family, friends, DDM, and gifts donated through the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, we were very well taken care of this Christmas. When I look back at myself a month ago, lying awake in the hospital in tears and unable to sleep not being able to imagine how we could possibly pull together Christmas this year and contrast that with the abundant and generous outpouring that we received I am humbled and grateful.
A phrase from a verse in Malachi kept running through my head. Malachi 3:10:
“prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Indeed – it took most of today to make space to put away Patrick’s many gifts and there is a small collection in the corner of the “too much” that we will probably pass on to other children.
After opening gifts in our room, we let Patrick pick a couple of toys and we headed down to the kitchen to take care of meds and formula. It was fun to see children pop in and out with Christmas presents and smiles on their faces.
Finally, 10:30 rolled around and Santa was due to arrive. Christmas with Santa in the Ronald McDonald House is going to stay forever in my memory. Each family had a pile of presents with our names on them. Most were simple, some were astoundingly generous. Santa went around the room telling the kids about how he’d picked certain things just for them and which gifts were most popular. I’ll never forget the tears in the eyes of one mom whose family had arrived for emergency surgery just a couple of days before who really did think they’d be missing Christmas this year.
And then, after presents, we gathered for Christmas brunch. The Hilton had sent a gourmet meal over with roast beef and turkey and potatoes and stuffing and the yummiest green bean casserole on the planet and about 20 different desserts.
We ate well and then had to reign ourselves in because we knew we had other plans.
In fact, right after brunch, I went up to the room to pack our things to go for the rest of the day. A couple of my very close friends from college married and live two hours away in Iowa. And they invited us out for Christmas dinner. So, we took a drive yesterday. It was fun to see country life in Iowa. And it was amazing to spend some time with friends.
Drue and Rachel have to be two of my favorite people on the planet. They’ve been through a lot in their 13 years of marriage. And now seem so happy and in their element. Both grew up in smaller towns and so it is natural that they’ve settled down in bigger small town in Iowa with 5 acres of land and a historic house they bought for $1 and moved to the lot.
While they finished up making dinner, (smoked leg of lamb and homemade gravy and Idaho mashed potatoes!!) their daughter, Julie, took Patrick out to the chicken coop and he came back with his shoes all muddy.. So then he had to play around in stocking feet all the rest of the evening, which he loved. And they gave him a real metal slinky and showed him how to use it on the stairs, and he loved that, too. And mostly, he was tired because we gave up naps to try to get him to sleep at night and he might not really be ready for that.
BUT he made it and we had a lovely dinner and played Catch Phrase afterwards and reminisced and caught up. And we got to see the stars (something I hate that Patrick misses having to always be in the city so he is close to medical care and clean.) And then we drove back and Patrick managed to stay awake the whole way, which mean he would sleep.
But we ended the day almost as excitingly as it started because one of the bottles of formula opened and spilled in the cooler and so we had to make a new batch of formula and clean up the sticky mess. So we got to bed a bit late and then Patrick woke up at 3 and insisted I come sleep in his bed. So my dreams of an early bedtime and a then sleeping in till 9 were both dashed, but it was still a wonderful Christmas.
And today was mostly quiet with a trip to Costco (then a trip back to the room to replace the feeding button that Patrick accidentally pulled out as he got out of the car. That was traumatic and he talked about it all day.).. Then we took another trip to Costco where we actually bought the totes and batteries we went for. And we spent the day resting and cleaning and playing with new toys. And today we DID make it to bed on time. And maybe tomorrow we’ll even sleep in.
I will never, EVER forget this Christmas. This season brings out the best in us. We are kinder, more generous, more Christlike. And as I read the Christmas story with Patrick this month, I could relate more with the story of Mary and Joseph far from home, staying in a stable of all places as their baby was born. But Heavenly Father knew where they were. And He sent angels to tell ordinary, humble working men – shepherds. And then those shepherds went and it was through those ordinary people that the Lord sent the message that He remembered and He knew what was happening and was was going to happen.
And we, through the ordinary people, have seen the hand of the Lord this Christmas.
Some of you are reading this. I need to say thank you. You may think that what you have done was something small. But this Christmas was anything but small for us. So thank you.
It’s been two weeks since Patrick’s Hope Concert and I haven’t blogged about it yet because, well, how do you even try to capture something like that? It was something we’ll never EVER forget!
Friends, families and even strangers came together in amazing ways.
Brian met the sound crew and musicians at 1:00 p.m. I think he had a great time tagging along during sound checks.
Meanwhile, our wonderful friends and family worked to set up the silent auction.
It was after 5 when I got Patrick’s afternoon medical care taken care of and got back to the school where the concert was being held. What I found was amazing! All the auction donations displayed on tables looked so different than they have sitting in my basement. The community was so generous! There was far more there than I’d realized had been given.
The auditorium seemed to have been transformed. When we toured the school months ago it had seemed like a shabby school auditorium. Now, with instruments on the stage and Patrick’s image filling the wall, it looked like a concert hall.
Before long, volunteers and guests started arriving. Soon the lobby was shoulder to shoulder with people we love. Our adoption caseworker was there. So were some of Patrick’s favorite nurses. Co-workers. Friends from church. Family. His doctor. I wish there had been more time so we could have visited with all of you.
We decided to watch the concert from the balcony. (It wasn’t officially open). We wanted Patrick to have lots of room.. and to watch the concert where it wouldn’t matter if the applause scared him or if he was too sleepy. This was a good thing because his only nap was 11 a.m. and the concert started just half an hour before bedtime.
We owe a huge thank you to Paul Cardall for all he did to put together an amazing concert! He had me crying from the start. The other musicians deserve a thank you, too.. For giving their time, talent, and even equipment to make the night work. So thank you Charley, Sam, Mindy, Steven, Marshall, Kevin.. and to the other musicians who I may not have met but who came and shared their time and talents.
It was so fun to see everyone in Patrick’s “Got Guts?” t-shirts! Just one more thing that made us realize that this night really was for our family!
A big thanks is also owed to Seth Mitchell who worked miracles in getting us a concert quality sound system, donated no less, and a crew of very talented engineers who mixed sound, ran lighting, and otherwise put together the look and feel of the concert. We couldn’t have done it without you!
While I’m expressing thanks..Thank you to my mom who put so much time and effort into pulling this event off! Neither one of us knew what we were doing, but you certainly stepped up and figured it out. Thanks to the rest of our friends and family. Dad, Dick, Phyllis, Jill, Cindy, Michelle, Jay and friends Kirstie and Tifanie who came to meeting after meeting and worked to pull everything together. Thanks to the many friends and family members who came to staff the event. Thanks for keeping me sane!
Thanks to the businesses and individuals who gave to the silent auction. I was touched with each donation that would show up. I wish there was space to put all the stories here.. as almost every item has a story behind it.
And finally.. thanks to all of you who came to share the evening with us! In that big auditorium, we looked few in number.. but there were several hundred of you there. The event definitely made a difference! We more than doubled the donations received thus far. I don’t dare publish a number, because my doorbell still is ringing with people giving more.
Beyond helping with Patrick’s transplant fund, though… You helped us a lot by heart, too! Knowing that there are so many of you who would give up a Saturday evening to come and celebrate Patrick’s life with us was means so much!
This has been a tremendous journey with Patrick. Each day with him is a miracle. I feel as though he’s outlived his expiration date time and again. It was wonderful to be able to take a night and celebrate that miracle with the people who mean the most to us.
Patrick is feeling much, much better now. The infection has been well treated with the medicines he’s getting. He’s stable, happy, and playing. Doesn’t need monitors. Doesn’t need much attention at all, except giving his medications on time. There’s only one thing keeping us here. . .
Because this is the 2nd time in a very short time that Patrick’s had a yeast infection, they wanted to make good and sure that the bug is dead before they put a new line back in. Right now, Patrick has a good “deep line” in his leg. This means that it is in deep enough that they can draw labwork out of it and give better nutrition through it. However, it doesn’t go all the way to his heart, which means that it’s not as likely to get infected – but it’s also not really the safest for taking him home with. He’ll get a new central line on Tuesday and go home as soon as possible afterwards.
So, we spent Mother’s day in the hospital. It was a good day, though very quiet. We got to visit with both Brian’s mother and mine today. Patrick got to get all dressed up and go to church. (Best dressed patient in the hospital today, I’d bet.)
Being here has been a good opportunity for me to reflect on how grateful I am for the many different types of mothers who play a part in our lives. Mothering Patrick is not the kind of job I could do all by myself.
I’m grateful for a mother and mother-in-law who’ve been willing to step up and step in to learn how to provide Patrick’s medical care so that Brian and I can get the occasional night out or so that when I’m exhausted and at my wits end I have somewhere to turn. You may not know what a rare priviledge that is that you have given to us.
We are grateful for our mothers. You prepared us to be Patrick’s parents and you help us each day to do it. I don’t think it’s possible to count the number of prayers, meals, phone calls, visits, crazy projects, and more that you have offered for our little family.
I’m grateful for sisters and a sister-in-law who are also there to help lighten my load when I need it, to fill the fun aunt roles. They are helping to raise some spectacular children, Patrick’s cousins, and him as well.
I’m grateful this week for nurses and CNA’s who have taught me how to do this job, who’ve sat rocking Patrick in the dark so I can catch a few hours’ sleep, who listen when I need to cry or share in small, although sometimes icky, triumphs and who make my day every time we see them because of how much they love my child.
I’m grateful for Patrick’s birthmother. I have no doubt that she loves and is proud of Patrick. I am impressed by her strength. I’m grateful to his birth grandmothers who trusted in their children and loved Patrick. It’s not easy to support a son or daughter considering adoption when you know it means a grandchild will be far away. We are grateful for the love and trust and support they’ve shown in us. We also owe thanks to Patrick’s aunts who helped offer comfort when needed and still are lovingly watching over him. What a blessing it is that he was born into a family who loved him so much.
This mother’s day, thank you to all of you mothers who are there for us. You come in all shapes and sizes.. friends, neighbors, family, and more. I couldn’t do this without you.