Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Month of Gratitude

I am so grateful for the month of November as it is a time set aside to be more mindful of what I am grateful for and gives me an opportunity to identify what keeps me going (my happy place). I think we could all agree that being in our happy place just makes us better functioning people. Last year, I worked on a gratitude project where I wrote down in my journal one thing I was grateful for and why. That exercise lifted my spirit and my day, and I was visibly happier. It makes a huge difference as we seek out things to be grateful for and send off those positive feelings into the universe.⁣⁣
I know I’m a few days behind, but it’s never too late to share positive vibes. I’m going to post something I’m grateful for on my Instagram each day and I invite you to do the same for yourself and those around you. Believe me. It makes all the difference to add a little bit of sweetness into your day and that of those around you! The world needs more positivity and kindness, and it starts with you!⁣⁣

Today, I am grateful for my little family. I remember after my accident, being told that I would never be able to bear my own children. That was a devastating thought for me, as I’ve always loved children and dreamt of having my own someday. There was a sense of helplessness and lack of control in my situation, but I did the best I can to not focus on this prospect. 1. Because I wasn’t married yet so I had a while to think about that. 2. Like many things of my accident, there was no use dwelling on what I couldn’t do and had little control over, but it was imperative that I focus on what I could do. Because in situations where we have no control, acceptance will liberate us from unmet expectations, allowing us to press forward. ⁣⁣

AJ and I enjoyed our life together as a young married couple. Learning to manage finances. Coordinating our schedules. Taking care of each other. Finishing college. Going on adventures around the world together. Getting to know each other better and falling even more in love with each other in the process. When it came to children, we talked about adoption because it could make a huge difference in a child’s life to have someone to love and care for them, and we’ve got so much love to give. We didn’t know what was going to happen, but we accepted our slightly different reality. We were thrown for a loop when I out of no where started feeling ill and discovered that I was pregnant. I remember tears of shock and anxiousness, but most of all, gratitude streaming down my face. I couldn’t believe this was really, really happening. ⁣
A gift. A blessing. A miracle. A fluke. You can call it all of the above. I didn’t anticipate things going this way for me, but as my life has shown again and again, the only thing you can control in life is how you choose to respond. And in this case, our response was joy and gratitude. ⁣
I am so grateful for my family and my three little heartbeats. I thought I was really happy with AJ, but it only got better (and more challenging) with these little babes. Sure my experience in motherhood has been a lot different than I imagined, but I’m grateful for all they teach me and all the joy they bring to my life. I love seeing them grow, listening to them talk about what they learn, and laughing at all the funny things they say. And the endless snuggles and kisses are really nice, too. I love getting to understand how much love Heavenly Father has for me as I think of how much I love them. I am so grateful for them this month and every month. 

Happy thanksgiving, blessing, gratitude month! And as always, please share the love :)⁣

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Pressing Forward

In the first few days of my accident, amidst the pain and drugs, I remember being extremely confused about what happened. All I knew was that my back was severely broken, everything hurt, everything was fuzzy, and I was in bad shape. 

Over the next couple weeks, among learning to breathe and sitting up with assistance, I learned my spinal cord was completely severed and I would never be able to walk again. Never, ever? I was in worse shape than I thought. 

Shock. Anger. Depression. Bargaining. I’m pretty sure I hit all the stages of grief. Would have, should have, could have kept running through my mind.

But it had to stop. What happened already happened and there was nothing I could do about it. I am here now. Now is what I’m looking at. Now it what I can focus on. Now is what I can work with, and what I do now will stage my future. This quote by Thomas S. Monson sums it,

“There is no going back, but only forward. Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can.”

We are born with an inherent resilience. Use this resilience to face our challenges headstrong. We have abilities beyond our comprehension. We can do hard things. We can take on challenges like a boss. In fact, we are our own bosses. We choose how we respond to challenges. We can choose joy. We can face circumstances we never thought we’d find ourselves in, and say, “I can do this. I am capable of this.” We can do seemingly impossible things and come away winners on this journey called life. For believers, we’ve got God and Christ by our side, cheering us on. We’ve got to keep going.

And one month from now, one year from now, one decade from now, we’ll be grateful that we kept pressing forward. 

10 years have passed since my accident and I am here. I am in my now. I am happy. I am grateful. I made the choice 10 years ago to live my life in such a way to shape my now, taking on challenges proudly, and I will keep pressing forward to shape the rest of my life.

I know it’s not going to be easy. . I know there will be times where we want a do over. I know I won’t always know the right thing to say. I know there will be days that will test our bounds, our patience, our grit, our decisions. I know it’ll sometimes seem too much. But “this too shall pass.” But it’ll be worth it. Things will work out. What seems hard now is just staging our better now. We’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep pressing forward. 

If this spoke to you, please share.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Boston's Birth Story (Paralysis and Birth)

As we approach our firstborn, Boston’s sixth birthday, I’ve reflected on his time on this earth with us and the wonderful journey we’ve had with this little guy. In his story, we would be remiss to not mention the events and emotions leading up to bringing this little child into the world.  

Already nervous as most first-time parents are, uncertainty with paralysis and baby birthing added an extra layer of anxiety as we were going through this crazy, new experience. Going over a birth plan with our doctor added to the anxiety as no one had any idea what to expect since spinal cord injuries vary from person to person and each person's experience is very much their own. We had many questions: Can we do natural birth or C-Section? Will my body respond to pushing? Do I have control over pushing? Would I feel pain? Do we need epidural or no epidural? I wanted so badly to have this baby naturally as the C-Section option as described to me was left to even more unknowns, mainly ones that could seriously debilitate me. I didn’t want to transfer from my chair to other places and risk ripping open stitches every time, nor did I wasn’t to stay stuck in bed weeks after having my baby. As with from the beginning of this pregnancy, we went through this whole process as optimistically as possible, praying that everything will turn out alright, knowing that as with all pregnancies, there are risks involved and we were willing to go for it. To minimize some risk of me going into labor without knowing, we planned on an induction for the week before baby’s due date (Sept. 21).

On September 4th, we grabbed some burgers and fries at In-N-Out to satiate my pregnancy-induced carnivorous urges. After lots of emotions and goodbyes, we dropped my brother off at the Missionary Training Center for his two-year mission for our church. Trying to process all the emotions and go about the rest of our day, I started feeling a little more off than “off” has been since the onset of many pregnancy related offs. My stomach was feeling queezy, my head was spinning, my body felt weak, and I had a fever of 101.9F. Since pregnancy brain set in, I wasn’t one to remember much, but one thing I did remember about pregnancy is that if your temperature is above 100F, you should go see a doctor. So, my husband drove me to our primary hospital to check on my fever, thinking we would be in and out in 2 hours tops. Little did we know, we were going to be there for the long haul as we found out I was in labor and had progressed from 2 cm to 3 cm within the hour I was waiting. At 9pm, we checked in for the night. Suddenly, that anxiety got more real as the realization that this baby coming got even more real and that beefy In-N-Out burger was starting to feel extra greasy.

The spinal cord injury is a package deal that comes with a slew of crazy experiences, one of them being nerve pain. Usually, normal, able body nerves send signals to the brain to warn us when we’re getting too close to a hot stove. With nerve damage, everything is out of whack, so your body sends mixed signals even when you’re not even close to getting hurt. I get shock-like sensations that shoot through my back and around my stomach on a daily basis, sometimes to the point of debilitation where I have to stop what I’m doing (at work, in meetings, at school, etc.), take deep breaths, and try not to draw attention to myself until it passes. Over time, I’ve learned to just deal with it. During labor though, I noticed that as contractions were spiking up on the monitors, my nerve pain level was spiking as well—although the nerve pain went to a new level of excruciating and frequency. Along with that, extreme pressure surged through my upper abdomen, fading at the belly. These crazy sensations were particularly exhausting that night! So in a sense, I was experiencing pains of childbirth, but I guess a perk of paralysis is no need for epidural, right??

The nurses administered Pitocin to try to help with my progression. But by 2am my body had stopped progressing at 4 cm. My nurses told me to prepare for a C-Section, and my anxiety kicked in. My thoughts ran into a wild field of anxiety. I REALLY didn’t want a C-Section, but I will just have to go with the flow because it that was the only thing within my control. AJ and I said a little prayer to feel peace and at ease about whatever would come our way, which helped calm my “nerves” (haha) a bit. Miraculously, I progressed to 6 cm dilation within the hour—a ways off from 10 cm but still progression.

I was beginning to feel settled in, when without reason, the baby's heart rate started to dip with each contraction. At this point, the nurse was convinced that a C-Section was the only option. And the anxiety set it again. Between not knowing what my body was doing, the delivery dilemma, the unknown status of my baby’s health, and a whole night of NO SLEEP—this was an emotional roller coaster ride I tried to be prepared for but was NOT prepared for. All I could do was wait it out and tell myself it was going to be OK, because the other option was start crying hysterically and that really wasn’t a great option for anyone’s sake. haha

And prayers. Lots and lots of prayers, and resting whenever I could. Although, hospital resting is never really resting, right?

By 7am, my doctor came in, checked my progression and suggested that we just try it. “Let’s push and see how baby does,” he said. Hoping for the best, we all started the birthing process. I say “we” because it was a whole team effort. Nurses running around and getting things ready for the baby, doctor and AJ holding up my legs. It was a lot of commotion for one hospital room. Doctor checked the monitor for contractions and told me when to push. And I, of course, did the pushing. Pushes were relatively simple as I curled into a ball, took a deep breath, felt the tightness of the contractions descending from my upper ab, bore down, and pushed (The workouts paid off. Haha).

45 minutes and a pair of forceps later, I felt a huge release of pressure from my body as a little being entered the world. At 7:47 am, weighing in at 7 lbs 1 oz, 20.5 in. long, little Boston was born, healthy and happy. I remember after the nurses had cleaned him up and put him on my chest. As I laid there with this tiny little being on my chest, touching his baby soft skin, running my fingers through his little hairy head, relief and tears of joy streamed down both of our faces. FINALLY, after hours of anxiety and uncertainty, he was here with us and he was healthy. 

Not everything went as smoothly as hoped for, there was a lot of ups and downs in the process, tears were shed and pain was felt, but in the end, we were so grateful for this little moment in time. We felt so blessed and we knew were so lucky to have this little babe. It was so worth it. We embraced that little boy and savored that moment for as long as we could. And just like that, a little piece of JOY and HOPE straight from heaven was in my arms. And just like that, we were parents. And now, another adventure begins...

Our complete family :)

Happy SIXTH birthday, Boston Boy! We love you so!

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