Thursday, July 01, 2010

Anniversary thoughts & more

First family photo
Today is my 10-year anniversary with Brad. As I reflect today on my marriage and my child, my mind is really all over the place. Before I married, I didn't really know if I wanted children, as I thought I was too career driven and selfish to even consider it. Funny how finding a true partner in life can really change how you feel about something like that. I never questioned that one day Brad and I would have children together - he's a natural mentor and I just couldn't him imagine not teaching his own children how to do things.

I am glad we took our time to get pregnant, we needed some time together where one of us wasn't in school and we weren't both working 2 and 3 jobs just to make ends meet. Our thought process is that we needed to really connect as a couple before bringing kids into the family... because when they grow up and graduate... it will once again just be the two of us. When we did decide we were ready, we knew God would provide us with the right timing. Just when the 16 hour days were over and I was settling into a slightly more relaxing work setting at LSU, we got pregnant. Even the timing was dramatic, as we found out when we evacuated from our home to bunker down for Hurricane Katrina.

In dramatic fashion, the pregnancy was not usual - as I carried 8 lbs of EXTRA fluid with Braden. After bi-weekly sonograms revealed his organ functions were normal and his practice-swallowing seemed normal, we weren't given any reason to worry. Having never been pregnant before, my horrific tear-jerker back spasms would later present themselves as labor pains - yes, I got to have back labor. Lucky me. They gave me the epidural, and it was nice - but did nothing to touch my labor pains. They gave me morphine, although I warned them I might be allergic. Sure enough - after an urgent C-section, Braden would come out blue, and mommy wasn't breathing enough on her own and spent a night in ICU just like Braden on oxygen.

Retrospectively, we know that Braden is a POOR swallower, hence all the extra fluid. And I think we will find a new Maternal Fetal Medicine doc... not that I could expect them to have any kind of diagnosis for Braden in the womb, but I was certainly not given any reason to worry about him. So in addition to all the emotion of having a first baby, I was also trying to deal with the difficult first days where they were telling us things were definitely not right with Braden, but they just couldn't figure out what's going on.

Once we knew our little boy would not be "normal", I had to adjust to all my broken dreams of what I thought life would be like with our son. Brad seemed to take it all in stride and really helped me realize that I too have always been an optimist, and have handled every difficult situation in my life with optimism, hope, with a little dash of reality and healthy sense of humor. With that, I gave it all to God, and He has lead us on our journey of hope, despair, joy, anxiety, anger, love, optimism and faith.

The divorce rate among special needs parents is 80%. Perhaps it is because Brad and I weathered many storms early in our relationship, but we both feel that our situation with Braden has only made us stronger as a couple. I think the thing we were both afraid of the most has become the biggest blessing we could have ever been given. We only prayed for a healthy child, but that's not what God chose for us. It's hard to believe the thing I was most afraid of could have been the biggest blessing in my life. Another lesson about just giving your life to God... He knows what's best and when you open yourself up to that, He really will bless you ways you cannot fathom!

So before we expand our family, we go the chance to reconnect again on our recent trip to St. Lucia to celebrate our 10 years of married life together. It was strange to just have one another to worry about, and a vacation well-deserved and very much worth it! Once again, we are just taking our time, and telling God we are "available" to have another child, as I'm sure He would be laughing about whatever "plans" we might be making:-)

My son is outliving his prognosis by two years now, and we look forward to celebrating another half birthday in October. We continue to enjoy every day we are given with him. Our marriage is also beating the odds, and I look forward to another 10 years with the man God chose for me.

Have a wonderful 4th of July holiday, and thanks for checking in on us!
Kodi, Brad & Braden