Sunday, 27 November 2011

Advent 2011

The first Sunday of Advent and Mary and Joseph have started their long journey to the stable, following the stars. We've used this Nativity scene every year since my eldest was a baby. It's so lovely getting the box out and being reunited with all the figures. Invariably there is a new star or two to be made every year as they become aged and ragged with time. There are so many memories associated with the scene, the stories we have told every year and the delight of the children's faces as each day we move our Holy couple along their way and that days star is put into the sky.  

We also enjoy our family tradition of the Advent String, a new parcel to open each day, beginning on Advent Sunday. This years string is ready and waiting with lots of lovely surprises, some old, some new. A little gift to make us smile every day as we move towards Christmas

Friday, 25 November 2011

Still singing it loud

Driving in the car yesterday a song came on that had me singing at the top of my voice with tears in my eyes and a daft smile on my face. I must have looked like a completely crazed woman. In some ways, I was.

I used to listen to this in the car when I was traveling backwards and forwards to the hospital visiting my husband earlier this year. It will remind me forever of that dark period of time, with it's shades catching a light reflection now and again, making the future look brighter.

I wonder when I will next be touched again by the strong emotions that are stirred in me when hearing this poignant music and its powerful words. How much further along our path will we be then?

It's always good to have a powerful anthem to make you smile and give thanks for all you have. Love it!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Love and Hearts

The school residential trip was a huge success for our daughter. She had an amazing time away and returned home with many happy stories and memories to last forever.

Our hospital appointment was  also a success -

We were very fortunate to find that two of the children's echos were entirely normal. The third one has a defect in the atrial septum which we have been advised to have closed.

Traveling home from the hospital I felt like I had had a huge blow to my body. Physically, I felt drained of all energy and utterly exhausted, unable to move and having to concentrate on breathing.

I cried and felt hollow - upset by so many emotions.

Over the following days we have worked our minds round to the logical positive mindset.

How amazing that we have been able to find out this information through such non-invasive testing.

It has been difficult to explain to the children, and obviously to the child with the positive result. It has been a balance between sharing all the information we know, with not allowing them to be scared or with a feeling of vulnerability. This is just the first step along the way, but what a huge leap it is.

This mechanical defect within such a precious organ, central to our life being, and also the symbol of love and humanity has been found and will be repaired before any major repurcussions due to it can occur.

How lucky are we??

Our fourth child will have her echocardiogram shortly and then we will begin to make our plans with the drs, who will once more help to 'patch up the holes' and allow us to get on with living our full lives.

Our children are incredible and we will support each other as only a family can - with exceptional love and all of our hearts

Monday, 7 November 2011

Night soul letter to my friend

  • Dearest Friend, 
    So here I am again in the dead of night tired and awake and praying hard, tonight, for my babies. The babies who are sleeping soundly, and who as I move from room to room, can hear gently breathing and snoring. I've been to them all, watched them intently, and felt their bodies breathing deeply and soundly.

    Tomorrow is the beginning of an adventure for one. A magical trip for a ten year old - a five day long adventure with her school to N Yorkshire with all of her precious best friends, her classmates and her teachers.

    We've packed the bags, listed the items and talked about her hopes and dreams for her time away. In the morning she will choose one of my scarves to take away with her - she asked so sweetly to borrow one as they smell so beautifully - of me! How my heart melted.

    I will give my child to the trusted hands of her teachers tomorrow morning, to the coach driver who we're assured has many years experience, and to my daughter, herself, that she may make her own decisions wisely and with care.

    She will have such an adventure, making memories to last a lifetime. And I long to hear about some of those experiences when she returns. Others, she will keep in the magical private box of her mind. A mixture of these may be the stories she returns to for many years with a smile.
    So tomorrow I'll wave my second baby away on her bus, wipe away my tears and know that I am letting my baby chick fly the nest for a short time, prepared with the skills of life that we have shared with her for this moment from the earliest time we held her in our arms and gazed into her eyes. She will be safe and protected and will return to the nest happy and with a new sparkle in her eye.

    Unbroken Hearts

    Our long day tomorrow will continue with a trip to see the wonderful cardiologist who has played a helping hand in my husbands recovery from his stroke five months ago, and hopefully to avoid any further strokes in his future. 

    During one of many investigations my husband endured after having his stroke, he was found, among other things, to have a hole in his heart, a Patent Foramen Ovale - a PFO. This, the drs almost rejoiced in as a possible cause of his stroke. It was operable and a well-known phenomenon.

    He had a surgical procedure done to close his PFO and recovered well.

    Tomorrow we return with three of our children to undergo initial tests to see if they have this genetic structural heart defect which could possibly lead to their own health difficulties.

    Knowledge is power here for us. We were counseled about the decision to investigate the children's health now, how it may affect their life insurance in future, how further decisions would need to be made if initial ones suggest it. All we know is that if we can do anything to help prevent them from suffering the awfulness of a stroke in their young lives, it must be done.

    1 in 4 of the general population may have a PFO. Some of these may have the further structural heart anomalies that my husband has.

    Tomorrow, 3 of our 4 children will meet with the consultant again, this time as patients. I pray so hard that all of their scans are clearly a positive result for us, healthy text book hearts.

    Our little bird out on her first free-flying adventure will be seen for her investigation at a later date, when she returns.

    So tonight as I now kiss my babies a final good-night, I pray that tomorrow will be a great day to remember for us all

    Thank you for your support and love, my dearest friend. You really have made my days lighter and my long dark nights shorter 


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Seven years

Another year has passed and I find myself looking back once more with sadness.

Time is a great is true, yet a heart remembers the wounds with a sharp memory and painful movement.

Seven years, we are told, is a natural cycle for so many things in our lives. The turning wheels of time come to a full revolution.

Every cell in my body has been renewed over the past seven years - I am led to believe -
Does this mean I am any different to the person I was? In many ways I am...

The blood which some kind soul had donated, helped my body to recover from a violent cycle of nature where my body had failed. I am forever grateful for this gift so precious. I was angry for the need my body had at the time - my body had failed in taking special care of a baby so small, had allowed it to fall from my womb so bitterly. I tried to cling with all my might, hold her tight, never let her go...but she was gone. 

Thank you to the selfless person who donated their blood that I may live now. 

My memories return also to the network of support I had around me seven years ago. My family, continously there for me.... My husband, my rock - he's still here today fighting for his fitness... How truly lucky are we as a family? 

Friends....I remember like yesterday the support and love I felt. My mind returns to these people with great fondness these last few days. They shared a special time with me, and my family, and I will hold a tender place for them in my heart forever. Ever grateful and with a strong emotional attachment. Some remain friends today, others I have lost touch with. Tonight, I remember them all, with love.....

As this seven year cycle draws to a close, I look forward to the next but will always look back, maybe now I can smile with fondness, the wisdom of experience and the space that time brings....

Thank you to all who helped and loved me. I wish you joy and peace tonight x

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Hearts Together

This photograph makes my heart ache inside, but smile with thankfulness from somewhere deep within.

Five months ago my gorgeous husband, at the very young age of 41 suffered a brain stem stroke.

The day before, we had celebrated his birthday at home with a party for family and friends. 
The suddenness of his awful condition was devastating to us all. He suffered from paralysis on his left hand side, affecting both his movement and his speech. 

In the hospital the amazing medical team were very open and frank. His condition was very serious, and after a further incident noted to have occurred on his brain while in the hospital a day later, the wonderful doctor took me aside and cried as she told me that the next 48 hours were critical.  

Our beautiful children were at his bedside when I noticed that his condition appeared to be worsening.  
The completely wonderful consultant, upon further investigation, confirmed that he had suffered another trauma. She suggested that I stay at the hospital to be with him. My mum was also invited to stay with us that night for my own support. We were moved to the room opposite the nurses station where a chair beside his bed became my base. 

This photograph was taken at on 24th May 2011 at 5am, following a very long and emotional night. As my lovely man had slept, I kept guard over him - waiting to fight whatever it was that was threatening to take him away from me. My mum and I cried and shared. We willed him with all our might to keep fighting, to beat this sorrowful experience. 

At 5am he finally opened his eyes to the day and for a moment we were able to share again the love that flowed between us. It is a moment I will remember forever and ever. So painful, yet so honest. Those few minutes were full of everything that had ever been between us, and whatever was still to come in our future.....

This picture gives me hope, for always

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Uses of Sorrow

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. 

It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift. 

- Mary Oliver, "The Uses of Sorrow"