Wednesday, September 28, 2011

things i want to remember. . .

There are a few things I don't really want to remember from my whole experience over the past month, but more things that I hope I won't forget.  Here are a few I've been thinking about. . .

1.  The nurses who took care of me.  I am certain we were blessed with the very best.  They were kind, thoughtful, and intuitive to how I was feeling.  Before I was taken into surgery, I remember one of the ER nurses crying.  It sounds a little crazy now, but that meant an awful lot to me at the time.  I knew she cared about me, and I realized that they were going to do the very best they could to take care of me.  It was such a scary time, and her kindness was an expression of love.

More than once when I was frustrated at my inability to walk that first week, I was blessed with a kind nurse who would kneel down beside me and offer words of encouragement and hope.  I needed those words.  The night before I came home, when I was so excited to be with my family, yet terrified because I knew I couldn't take care of them, one of my favorite nurses sat down across from me and said, "Listen.  You don't need to worry about that because you aren't going to take care of them.  You are alive, and they are so happy to have you.  Right now you need play a game of pretend.  You are going to pretend you are a princess.  All you are going to do is work on getting better, and you are going to let everyone take care of you for a change.  So you go home and let yourself be a princess."  How cute was she?

2.  A few days after being moved out of ICU, we received a phone call from one of the operating room nurses from the Logan hospital.  When I answered, the first thing she said was "Oh!  You don't know how good it is to hear your voice!  We didn't think we'd hear your voice again."  She spoke to me of her and the other nurses praying for me throughout the weekend after I was taken by Life Flight, and asked if she could share the news with the others that I had lived.  It meant so much to Courtney and I.  At the time, we were still a little bit in denial about how serious everything had been, and after we got off the phone with her, Courtney said, "Well!  They did a good job at making me feel pretty optimistic after surgery!"  He was so glad that they had been so kind and put on a cheerful face to him before he left for that long drive to Salt Lake.

Later, at the hospital we received this email from the same nurse,

Hi Courtney and Kelly,
I just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and your family.  I was your nurse in the Operating Room, and I just wanted you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers.  I am hoping for a speedy recovery for you.  I can't imagine the spectrum of emotions you have been dealing with over the past day or two.  I could see how much your family loves you, Kelly, and all of us at the hospital were rooting for you as well.  I know I went home and hugged my little ones extra tight, and here's hoping that is what you are doing in no time.  Best wishes always. . .

3.  I am grateful for the awesome Life Flight nurse who came to see me in ICU a day or two after getting me there.  When he walked in, he had a huge smile on his face and then asked, "Remember me?"  (I actually did!)  Then he told me how glad he was to see me and joked that I looked a lot better than the last time he'd seen me.  Once again, I was amazed he'd taken the time to check up on little ol' me.

4.  I loved the time in the hospital when Courtney was sitting up close by my bed, holding my hand, when he gave me one of his famous (reserved just for me) grins and said, "Thanks so much for not leaving me!"  It was if we'd finally gotten enough days behind us that we were both feeling we were going to make it.  It felt so good to share that sigh of relief together, just the two of us. . . a special moment I don't want to forget.

5.  The perfect-for-me caretaker Courtney was (and continues to be).  He supported me (literally) as I struggled to stand for the first time (and caught me when I'd faint- over and over).  He cheered me on when I made my feet move, even though I was completely leaning on him, and gave me pep talks when I'd have to be helped back to bed to try again another day. 

When I was having trouble wanting to eat anything (I lost 23 lbs. in ten days- making this the most difficult, least recommended, and by far the most expensive diet plan yet), Courtney would cut my food into small pieces and bribe me to eat "this many bites" before I quit.  It was fun feeling like I was four years old.  And on the day that I had Susan the Nazi Nurse who wouldn't let me do anything until I finished every bite on my tray (if you had seen her, you would have been scared too), Courtney let me fill his pockets with my food when she wasn't looking and only blackmailed me a few times- threatening to tell Susan on me if I didn't eat enough of the remaining items.  He spent plenty of time brainstorming to think of anything, anything! that sounded good to me.  Most importantly, he offered to let me eat dessert first and even made a few trips to get me a chocolate milkshake because I thought I could maybe eat it. 

He would rarely leave my side throughout that first week.  My brothers brought a trailer down and parked in the hospital parking lot for him.  Still, he wouldn't leave until almost midnight and would be back to cheer me up bright and early first thing in the morning.  I was so glad he was with me.  And once we got home, he'd call or drop into check on me every few hours.  He continues to cheer me on as I slowly work to get back to what I used to be, and doesn't make me feel one bit bad (I do that to myself) that he's having to carry both of our weight right now.  

6.  The first time Grandma and Grandpa brought Samuel to us.  I cried.

7.  The time my good friend Lori and her parents (my second family) came to see me in the ICU.  Lori came in crying.  She sat down, and just like her sweet self, began assuring me how good I looked.  (I didn't).  A little while later, her mom walked in and scolded me, "Kelly Croney."  Then, she smiled and said brightly, "I was afraid to come in here to see you because Lori told me how terrible you looked!"  Turns out, the minute Lori walked out of my room, she announced to everyone how horrible I looked!  I was too weak to laugh then, but my family and I have laughed about it since!  Later, Lori apologized, telling me, "I knew you looked awful, and I knew you knew you looked awful, but I wasn't going to tell you that!"  We know each other well enough to know just what she meant! 

Actually, I told Courtney the other day that I'm not going to believe what anyone says anymore.  One night, my mom was here helping us get the girls ready for bed.  Just before she left, she leaned down to me and whispered in my ear that I looked pretty pale and she thought I should have my blood checked again.  But the next day, Grandma Tam was here with me all day and kept telling me how great my color was and how good I looked.  So, I assured myself that I looked fine after all and my mom just had a case of worried mother syndrome.  I had to laugh when I was laying down in my room a few days later and Grandpa Lloyd came.  I heard him come in the door and ask Courtney, "How's Kelly?  Tam said she was here the other day and she sure didn't look very good."  I'm pretty sure I shouldn't believe anyone anymore!

9.  One night, toward the end of my stay Grandma Jones brought the girls to see me.  It was so, so good to see and cuddle with them.  When it came time for them to go home, though, they were all a complete wreck.  Everyone was crying and insisting that they weren't going home!  While it broke my heart, I realized that I am needed, after all!  There seems to be a place that only mom can fill, and I'm so glad it's my job to fill it.  What is more, I'm so incredibly thankful for Grandmas who can love my little ones when I can't.  That night, Grandma Jones left with a promise for an important story that she thought the girls needed to hear on the way home- a story about their daddy when he was a little boy, who too often had to be without his mommy while his parents were away at the hospital with his little brothers.  The girls have spoken of that story since, and other teaching moments offered by one of the grandmas while Courtney and I were away.  Thank goodness for grandmas.

8.  The too-many-to-count family, friends, and neighbors who visited, called, and continue to help our world go 'round.  What a fun surprise to visit with roommates I hadn't spoken with in years!  I have so many good friends, so many wonderful people in my life.  Once again, I feel so humbled when I think of everyone who continues to take time to help me and our family.  It was amazing how much my spirits were lifted in the hospital by phone calls and visits.  It gave me something to focus on when my brain seemed so foggy and brought smiles and laughter into my room.

To be honest, it has been pretty difficult for me to learn to accept so much help.  (Another lesson I needed, I'm sure).  But I realize we couldn't keep it together without every one's help.  Because of that, every prayer that is said in our home includes a heartfelt thank-you for all those who are keeping our family running.   

There are so many good people in the world.  So many good people in our world.  I'd like to write more about that, but it's taken me all day to write this much and my body says that's another post for another day. . .


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

i'm sort of an old lady

So, yeah.  I use a walker.
As in, the same kind of get-up that is typically used by the eighty and older set.  The kind with tennis balls on the back legs. (I don't actually have those on mine yet, but Courtney says we really do need some so I don't scuff up the floor so much. . .ouch). 

Right now my rig is pretty plain, but Courtney has great plans to spice it up a bit.   He and Uncle Nate talked it over at lunch the other day and decided that it would look real cool with a few accessories such as spinner wheels, a rear-view mirror, zebra print duct tape, and possibly a steering wheel.  Ryenne is sure I need a basket on the front- adorned with silk flowers, of course.
My girls call me Grandma. And the other day, Ryenne accused me of giving her my "elderly powers" after complaining of her aching back.

Where my daily exercise routine used to consist of  a run, (or at least a good long walk), weights, lunges and squats-  my current routine is filled with killer exercises such as lifting my toes up and down fifteen times, or straightening my leg while sitting (hey, I do it ten times, even twice a day if I'm feeling sassy). 

In fact, since coming home from the hospital a week ago, I haven't set foot out of my house with the exception of a doctor appointment last Friday.  Courtney dropped me off at the front door, where I slowly made my way to the lobby to wait while he parked the car.  I sat and watched several elderly couples walk in, arms around each other for support.  I was startled to realize I was feeling more than a little bit jealous of how fast they were moving.  Really, I'm not kidding.  They were white haired and shuffling, and I was coveting their speed. 

The young moms who fairly flew through the front door, purses and diaper bags in tow- rushing to the next thing on their to-do list of the day?  I couldn't even envy them, for what I used to be is so far away right now.   And actually, if I am honest, I don't know if I ever want to hurry that fast again.  Slowing down has helped me see my life- well, perhaps more accurately, the people in my life, differently.

For now, I'm satisfied with my longing to move like a seventy year old.  Young enough to get around, but not so young to be in a hurry all the time.

BTW, my appointment went well.  I was amazed at how heavy my shoes felt on my feet, but I did my best to shuffle along with my walker, and looked only at the floor as to avoid any eye contact.  Courtney did point out just what I had suspected.  Everyone else was doing their best not to stare, but wanting to really, really bad.  Because lets face it, how many thirty-four year olds use a walker?

And.  I walked the whole way in and the whole way out.  No wheelchair.  That makes it the longest walk I've successfully tackled since this whole affair started - by a long shot.  Plus, I came home from my big outing and did physical therapy for about an hour with my at-home therapist.  (He reminded me not to look at my progress day-to-day, but week-to-week instead.  That helps me.)

So, this is me right now.  Once upon a time I used to run marathons, and now I feel proud about making it to the family room.  My world is turning at a whole different speed right now.

The thing is, I know This Is A Time To Be Happy.  I'm home, and there's no place I'd rather be.  Surrounded by the chaos of my children,  I'm living my happily ever after. 

I've been wanting to slow down for quite some time, but didn't know how to make it happen.  In fact, I prayed all summer long that I would know how to help our family slow down and make time to do those most important things.  Just now I'm realizing Heavenly Father answered that prayer in a way I didn't expect.  Turns out I have an optimum speed for learning, and it's just a bit slower than everyone else.

Every one's prayers are answered a little differently.  I guess mine came by way of a walker.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

forever thankful

I have never had newborn pictures taken of one of my babies.  I've always waited until the girls have turned about two months old.  Those pictures are so fun, but now I'm so sad that I don't have those precious little newborn faces captured.  There is just something so special about those first few weeks.  I was determined to have Claire's pictures taken in the first week or two, but then my plans changed when she had to be on oxygen for two months.  So this time around?  It was going to happen, darn it.  I had talked to my super talented  (and, as you will find out, amazingly thoughtful, too) friend Nicole, and lined her up to come to the hospital so we could have those first few days to remember forever.

Then, like Claire, Samuel ended up in the NICU, and my plans were shot down.  Again.  I was hoping he'd be off oxygen in just a few days, but that didn't happen either. 

Deep down, I still wanted newborn pictures, and tried to think of a way to make it happen.  Courtney and I even talked about having them done with Samuel still on oxygen.

So when I found myself back in the hospital, I knew I needed to let it go.

But I hadn't taken into account what good people I have in my life.  I should have known better. 

Turns out, Nicole and my sweet sister-in-law Kelsey put their heads (and hearts) together and planned a surprise photo session for Samuel.  While I was recuperating in the hospital, the two of them, along with our moms, made the impossible happen.  Even better, his lungs were doing so good, they were able to get pictures with out the oxygen tubes.

Grandma Croney now tells how touching it was watching Nicole and Kelsey down on the floor with Samuel, snuggling and kissing and loving him into the perfect position.  I cry when I think of the love and unselfish kindness that went into making this happen.

When I called to tell Kelsey thank you, she told me how bad she felt that it was her, not me, who was holding Samuel's feet in one of the pictures.  I don't feel that way at all.  Instead, I feel thankful because every time I see that picture I will remember and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all of the people in our lives who loved, snuggled, and took care of my baby when I couldn't. 

Kelsey and Nicole, thank you so much. It's strange to think that I will never have a little newborn of my own again. Now I will have these pictures to remember this special, oh-so-humbling time of our lives.

You will never, ever know how much this means to us.

(If you are looking for someone to capture amazing moments with your family, you can see more of Nicole's work at  . . .You will fall in love with her and her remarkable talent.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

nothing left unsaid

Last night we were gathered around the dining room table reading scriptures with the girls.  (We are going to do better.)
We spent a few minutes talking about what happened a few weeks ago and how close we came to me leaving our family.  I cried.  And then I talked to them about something I had been thinking about. 

The past few days have been wonderful being home again, because this is just where I want to be.  I'm so glad to be a mom again.  But when I hear the girls being grouchy with each other, it makes me a little sad- even though I know it's normal.  It's just that I know how fast things can change.  Sometimes we don't get a chance to say "I'm sorry".  Sometimes we don't have time to tell someone how much we really do love them.

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time thinking back over the last few hours before my surgery (I have a lot of time to think right now).  It was a difficult, painful few hours, but the hardest part for me was most definitely watching Courtney.  I was scared, but trying so hard to not act scared because I could see the panic in his eyes.  It broke my heart.  But what I have been so thankful for was those last few minutes before surgery.  The quick, last minute request that I made as they were wheeling me out of the room, when I asked if Courtney could give me one last blessing.  He did- it wasn't long, but it was inspired, and I know it made all the difference- it allowed me to feel the peace I needed and enabled my body to do what it needed to do. We didn't have much time, and we knew it.  At that point, everything was rush, rush.

We only had a few minutes, but it didn't matter.  Everything we wanted to say to each other had already been said.  Not that night, when all was upside down.  But in the minutes, days, and years before.  There were no apologies to be made, no fences to mend.  We knew how we felt about each other.  We knew where we stood.  We voiced the knowledge that regardless of what happened, everything would be the way it should be.  Everything else?  We already knew. 

That's what I wanted the girls to know.  In our family, and in our lives, I hope we can realize that the words we say matter.  Courtney taught the girls last night that the way we live our life is much like gardening.  The things we say, and the way we act, are seeds that will become memories to those we love.  He asked the girls to consider if they are planting sweet memories, the kind they will be proud of.  He compared the ugly, hurtful memories to thistles. 

It was unanimous.  The girls heartily agreed with their dad that they wanted to plant more "watermelon, daisy, and tulip memories", and less thistles. 

It is a lesson I hope to never forget.  As I pondered over what could have been my last few moments with Courtney, I was so grateful that we didn't have to fill the precious little time we had with rushed words that shouldn't have waited.  There was no "weeding" of thistles that needed tending to.  But what about the other people in my life?  What words need to be voiced that I have left unsaid, and what things am I saying that I shouldn't?

It gives me much to think about.  From now on, I hope to take better care of my little garden.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

my second chance

*I began writing this post last Friday, but haven't gotten it posted until now.  It's been really hard for me to put everything into words.  I have lots more I need to record, but it might take me a while to get it out.  It is now  Tuesday evening and we are happy to report I cam home last night!  After considering sending me to a rehab for a while, it was decided that since I have a newborn at home, it would be best for us to be together.  It is so good to be home and be a family again.  I'm getting around with the help of a walker, and my stamina is very short.  To put it lightly, I have lots of work to do to get back to the physical me that we are used to.  While I can't wait to be able to get around like I am used to, I hope that in many ways, I will never be the same

Well, I don't know what to say. 

The past week's happenings were definitely not in my plan.  Not in Courtney's plan, or the girls.  We had no idea what was coming.

But Heavenly Father did.  I'm sure of that. 

One week ago today  (it is Friday, isn't it?) I came pretty close to leaving this life.  At least that's what they keep trying to help me understand.  I guess I knew it at the time, but it's one of those things that's a little hard to wrap your mind around.  A week later, I'm still trying to.  I'm thinking it's going to take a while to process everything. 

Last Friday, we had been home with Samuel for almost four days and I was feeling like we were getting settled in a bit.  While in the hospital, he had spent five days in the NICU, and so I was so ready to get home where I could hold him whenever I wished and have him to myself.  The girls were loving him!  That morning as I sat in bed feeding him, I had a thought that I would be going to the hospital that day.  It seemed out of the blue, because I had been feeling so well.  I thought of when I had to be hospitalized with pleurisy a week or two after Claire was born and figured that I might have the same thing happen again.  This time though, would be simple, because I knew what to expect and what would resolve the problem, and so I tried not to worry about it. 

The rest of the afternoon went by with me feeling great.  Courtney had gone to work and Emmy, Kate, and Claire were away for the afternoon.  Shortly after Ryenne got home from school, I saw Courtney drive in with his brother Nate.  He poked in his head to let me know they would be out at his desk working for a while.  It was about 4:30.  Almost immediately after he walked out I started feeling painful cramps.  I started bleeding and was barely able to make it to the bathroom and back to my bed, where I curled up in a ball.  I hadn't ever felt cramps like that.  Ryenne came in about this time and went running for her dad, but I told her to wait.  I didn't want Nate to come in and see me like that, which everyone laughs at no, but it seemed like a big deal at the time.  When everything continued to get worse, I texted Courtney and asked him to come in ASAP as soon as Nate left.  Later I found out he never got the text until I sent a second one about ten minutes later that said, "HURRY PLEASE!"  At that point he came running in and got everything rolling.  He called my ob's office, and began arranging for someone to come and stay with Samuel and Ryenne.  I was having a hard time deciding whether I should really go or not.  I kept telling Courtney I didn't want to overreact and be a drama queen!  About the time I changed my mind, the heavy bleeding turned to gushing and we knew we didn't have a choice.

We headed to Logan, and checked into the ER, where we were given a room and were blessed with a super nurse.   As the hours progressed, so did my bleeding.   Before long realized I was in pretty big trouble.  I could see it in the nurses eyes, and I definitely saw the panic in Courtney's eyes as he watched everything unfold.  I tried to calm myself by asking a nurse, "This is probably pretty common, isn't it", but she told us that no one had ever seen anything like this before.  As scared as I was, I think the hardest part was watching Courtney.  I''ll never forget his eyes. The ER brought in the on-call OBGYN, who I really feel was the perfect one to handle my situation.  She tried several different medicines (giving me 10 times the regular dose of one of them) to try to stop the bleeding.  Although they were hoping the medicines would work and spoke of the possibility of doing a D&C, I knew at this time that I would end up getting a hysterectomy.  This is a comfort to me now, because I feel like my earlier impression that day, in addition to this understanding prepared me for what would happen and helps me have faith that Heavenly Father's hand was involved with everything that was happening.  When my bleeding continued, I developed a life threatening condition called DIC.  Courtney says I ought to put a WEB MD link to explain it, but basically I have been told over and over that DIC is any doctor or nurse's worse nightmare, as very few survive it.   Everyday we understand a little more about what a serious condition this is and how difficult it is to reverse.  Fortunately our doctor acted quickly and decided to do an emergency hysterectomy.  

Not that the past few hours had been easy, but this is where it gets hard for me. I've put off writing it down, but Courtney's mom encouraged me to start writing, as it seems to help me process things and find understanding. I know she's right, but it's still hard for me to put that night into words.

The next little while was pretty scary.  The doctor had told me that the surgery was an effort to save my life.  That's a pretty hard thing to face.  At this point, some of the nurses were in tears and of course, we were too.  As they prepped everything for the surgery, Courtney and I had a few minutes to talk. He gave me a last minute blessing, which helped ease my fears and, we believe saved my life. 

The surgery lasted three and half hours.  I now have another incision, which runs up and down above my c-section incision.  (Courtney and Aunt Kelsey have some really cool tattoo ideas!)   I received ten units of blood, and have received two since.  (The doctors tell me I've had a complete oil change!)  Shortly after surgery, I was taken via LifeFlight to Salt Lake City and admitted into the Shock/Trauma ICU unit.  I've learned a few things over the past week, one being that there is a fast helicopter for LifeFlight and an even faster one.  I got a moonlight ride on the even faster version.  It took only 20 minutes to get me from Logan to Salt Lake City.  Needless to say, I don't remember a whole lot about that flight. I spent two days in ICU, and have spent the past week in the mother/baby unit where I'm still trying to recover.  I've had a really hard time getting back on my feet- literally!  My legs aren't working very well, and I pass out easily.  It's slowly getting better though, and I'm trying to be positive. 

The kids are in great care, thanks to great grandparents and aunts and uncles.  We miss them so much, but have been able to have a few visits.  Courtney is my rock, as always, and has hardly left my side in the past week. Everyone keeps trying to talk him into leaving, and I know it will come, but we are both feeling like we need each other right now.

We are so blessed to be to this point.  I am sometimes discouraged at the slow progress,, but realize that this whole experience is part of a greater plan and I have much to learn.  I'm so thankful to have another chance to grow and become the person and mom I would like to be. 

I'll continue to write more about our latest adventure.  We're hoping to get home soon, and get back to our kiddos. 

And, of course, we would love any prayers you could send our way.