Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Emery is 1

With the blink of our eyes, Emery is now 1. She has brought so much joy and love in to our lives. She came out holding her head up and hasn't slowed down since. She had a love for all things adventure. She loves climbing, going down giant slides, being dunked in the lake and swinging really fast. She loves being tickled and babbling. She loves her dog and gives her hugs and climbs in her bed daily.

She knows how to soften a hard part of Bryan's soul that war caused. I knew that when he became a father that I would see this part of him change. He is so protective of her, he loves getting her out of her crib in the morning and wishes he could see her more through the week. He has more patience than me some days. She causes him to act silly again and forces him to get out of the house on adventures to do her favorite things.

Parenting isn't easy and we never expected it to be. Emery likes to get all of her teeth at once and it causes a lot of early mornings. Bryan has been there every step of the way to help where he can. He has empathy for her when he has lacked in that department since being wounded. I see a love and joy in his eyes where that was vacant for so long. He is so helpful in ways that he wasn't before. He does the dishes while I put her to bed, he even changes diapers when he swore he wouldn't. He loves helping me pick out her Halloween costume, Christmas and Birthday gifts and he spares no expense.

She is love and light of our lives. I wish I could accurately put in to words the love and bond we have with her.
It is like she was always meant to be with us.
It's like she can erase some of the damaged bits in his heart.
He pushes through the pain to do things she wants to do when really he wants to just lay around.
He looks to me for guidance on all things parenting related, but really he doesn't need guidance. He is pretty amazing at reading her cues.

We still have challenges. He doesn't drive her if at all possible and he doesn't spend large amounts of time alone with her. This is for her safety as he isn't the best driver and he is forgetful. We make it work though. He may not be able to do all the things that other Dads can do but he surely does an amazing job.

We are thankful for this gift. She is healthy and perfect and we couldn't ask for more. I never forget where we have been, when we were childless and desperately wanted to become parents. Even having Emery doesn't take all the pain away from the infertility. It is still there, it lurks in the dark corners that I have neatly tucked away. It comes out when I hear pregnancy announcements or siblings that will be close in age. People constantly ask if or when we will have another. But we are happy, we won't do infertility treatment again and we are blessed with someone so perfect. Our hole has been filled.

We have just what God wanted us to have. Our sweet, little Emery.

Friday, June 27, 2014

PTSD Awareness Day

Today, June 27th, is PTSD Awareness Day. I am one of the many that lives with someone with PTSD. PTSD has changed our lives immensely since Bryan was injured in Iraq. 

Crowds are now an issue, riding is a car makes him very anxious, meeting new people is very awkward for him and he has trouble focusing and sleeping sometimes. Some people may think he is being rude when he is in a new social situation by not talking but I assure you he is not. People may think he is totally fine on the outside but he may be dealing with anxiety in crowds on the inside. This is just part of our life. We have found ways to cope with PTSD that works for us.

He sits with his back against the wall facing the crowd whenever possible. We see movies during the day instead of at night. I do a lot of the driving as he sits anxiously in the passengers seat. He takes medication to help him sleep better and feel less triggered. He taps his hands when he is feeling overwhelmed. All of these things, along with extensive counseling has made his PTSD manageable.

If you are challenged with PTSD, contact a Doctor, Therapist or local support group. Find something that works for you. Recently I was emailed about a series of guided meditation that was very calming and relaxing. It may help you or your wounded warrior reduce the number of PTSD symptoms. For more information check out Health Journeys here. You can receive a 20% off discount on the downloads now through July 6th. The code is PTSSAVE. 

Provide me some feedback if you tried these meditations and what you thought about them. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Grief


The morning of February 20th my mom called me. I had just sent her a funny text while I was lying in bed nursing Emery. I thought she was calling me about that. Instead, she dropped the news that my father was dead.

Suicide.

Of course I lost my breath and didn’t know what to say.

My parents were together for 20 years and had my sister and me. They owned a business together that my grandfather had started. When I was 15, my grandfather had a surgery that left him in a coma for 18 months before he finally passed away.

My dad changed after that. He left the family and my relationship with him was never the same after that. We were very close growing up, but he left, and it was hard for me to understand as a teen.
At the time of his death, my dad had remarried and his wife was ill and living back home with her family. He was in the process of remodeling his utility closet and was having furniture delivered the day after. I don’t know why he did it. I never will. He didn’t leave a note. None of this makes sense. I can’t understand it.

We hadn’t talked in a few years for reasons that are personal. He visited us a few times when Bryan was at Walter Reed. But he never got to meet Emery, and that breaks my heart into a million pieces.
Bryan encouraged me to reach out to him when we got pregnant. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want her to be hurt in some of the ways that I had been. I teetered back and forth on what to do. I had forgiven a lot and wasn’t sure I was ready to do it again. I can’t seem to fully grieve as he didn’t want a funeral or memorial service. It doesn’t feel real and I can’t truly break down when I have an infant to care for all day.

I am left with guilt and regret but I have to process that. I have to remember the good times. My dad was a good father while I was growing up. He was a successful businessman. He loved fishing and to be outdoors. We loved having long conversations on the phone or hanging out in the woods. We took amazing family vacations every summer for weeks on end. He taught me to water ski, fish, ride horses, and patience.

Bryan is doing the best job he can to support me. He isn’t much of a conversationalist but he is an excellent listener. He spent hours listening to my mom and I talk with all his family. He has held me as I cried. I begged him to never do something like this to Emery. Watching him with Emery reminds me of the times my dad spent with me. It is healing but also painful to watch.

Rest in peace, dad, you were loved by many. I miss you…

                This is one of my favorite memories of us at the daddy/daughter dance.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Help Us Get Through “Fussy Time”

Our little miracle, Emery, was born at the beginning of October. I was so blessed to have an amazing labor and delivery and healthy baby girl. After all the heartache of infertility, everything was what I imagined it would be and more. The early days after bringing her home presented some challenges that any new parent faces but Bryan was so patient and supportive of me through the first few weeks.

Bryan’s biggest fear is falling down the stairs while holding her or tripping since his legs don’t always work properly. So far he holds her close and watches each step he makes and he hasn’t tripped. Every night after she has a bath and a full belly, they cuddle on the couch. He lays her on his chest and she dozes off to sleep until we go to bed. It is the sweetest thing I have ever seen.

Emery started to be more alert and she went through her first developmental leap around four weeks. Bryan would get home from work right at her fussy time. She only wanted me to nurse her and comfort her. It broke my heart that he only saw her at her hardest time of the day. The screaming was really hard on him and he would admit that sometimes he just couldn’t listen to it anymore. I think this is pretty normal for a new dad but even more difficult for a wounded warrior. I didn’t want him to get overwhelmed when he held his crying daughter. I would ask if he wanted me to take her, and sometimes I just took over. We were both navigating this together.

Bryan can’t do much to help with the night feedings. Unfortunately, her cries or the having light on when I am feeding her wakes him up. He has been struggling with the lack of sleep. There have been a few times where he has been late for work because he can’t get out of bed. With his TBI, he requires a lot of sleep so I know this is hard on him. Now that she is getting up only once a night, it is much better.

Do you have any advice on how to make it easier for a wounded warrior to adjust to a new baby at home?


Friday, June 28, 2013

16th Surgery


Left is pre-op and right is post op. The gray area is where there is a hole in the bone from the screw.

I hate that almost seven years after an IED blasted through my husband’s body, he still needs surgery to repair the damage.

Last Friday Bryan underwent his 16th surgery since the blast. But this time, we are blessed that the procedure was minor and his recovery, unlike previous times, was fairly short. Doctors removed a screw in his left heel that was inserted during a previous surgery and had begun backing out of his foot. The doctor didn’t want it removed until we could feel the head of the screw on the surface of Bryan’s skin. If it broke the skin, it can cause an infection. Since our baby girl is coming in September we decided it was time to get it taken care of.

Luckily, this surgery was fairly minor compared to his previous ones. He did have to stop taking his anti-inflammatory medication as it makes his blood thin and increases the risk of excessive bleeding in surgery. Without the medicine, he was in a lot of pain the week before surgery and had quite a bit of swelling. We thought the medication wasn’t that effective anymore but once he was off we realized it was working more than we thought.

During the pre-op appointment I warned the doctor that Bryan tends to be aggressive and combative when he comes out of anesthesia. He asked if Bryan has PTSD and we said “yes.” The doctor said that it is normal for vets with PTSD to be combative after anesthesia because it taps in to their psyche and stirs up those suppressed memories. This was the first time I had heard this but it makes sense as to why he is this way when normally he is very calm.

On the day of the procedure we left home by 6 a.m. and he was in surgery by 8:15. The nurses kept me informed and the resident met with me when they finished. He said the screw was lifted up from where it was backing out and it was fairly easy to remove. He said Bryan should have less pain now but it is hard to say since he also suffers from arthritis in the same place. We decided ahead of time to leave the rest of the hardware in because to remove it would mean a much longer recovery time. 

The post-op nurse said Bryan was nice when he woke up and that he was worried he hadn’t been nice to her. He is so sweet. When I was able to finally see him, he kissed me and immediately put his hand on my belly. I have real issues going in to post-op rooms with all the equipment and people lying there. There was blood on his blanket and I tried not to focus on the fact that they cut him open. I have a weak stomach and seeing my husband is pain makes it that much worse. It brings up too many memories of our time at Walter Reed.

It has been a long road of 16 surgeries but his recovery is getting shorter, and better and with each surgery he grows stronger and more ready to welcome our wonderful baby this fall.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thank You Video

When Bryan arrived in Landstuhl, Germany after he was blown up, I knew he was in good hands. I received frequent updates and the nurses even allowed me to talk to Bryan after he was off life support. Even though we only spoke maybe a minute before he got sick, it eased my mind to hear his voice.

I tried to find a way to send a thank you note to the nurses once he arrived at Walter Reed, but I couldn't figure out who they were.

Here a video that we filmed in NY after a fun day of skiing. Finally we get to thank the selfless nurses that take care of our Nation's wounded warriors. We are so thankful to all the nurses active in his recovery.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Beauty of Surrender

Sometimes you have to give up to receive the most precious things in life.

In December we did our last round of infertility medications. I spent a little time grieving the loss of a child I never had. Bryan didn’t know how to help and I didn’t know how to voice what I was feeling. Bryan did an excellent job of being emotionally available and a listening ear. That was a huge accomplishment for him as he had become so emotionally vacant after being wounded.

We were going to move on … but I didn’t know to how at first.

I resolved pretty quickly to being childless. We were already abnormal in the civilian world because of his injuries and now we didn’t have children. The question that everyone asks, “Do you have kids?” became more and more painful to answer. I just started telling the truth.

“We can’t have kids.”

I started making big plans for 2013. I made plans to see friends, went skiing and booked a very adventurous trip to Costa Rica. I hid everyone on Facebook that was pregnant so I wouldn’t be painfully reminded of how I can’t have one of my own.

I knew I was going to move on. I always had and would continue to do so with grace and humility. Because of infertility, I was thankful for what I learned about my marriage, my friends and myself. If I had to experience infertility at least I could help others by sharing my story.

And then came the news we were almost too afraid to hope for. 

Our baby is due September, 2013.

Below is a video of our journey through infertility.