December 31, 2011

2011 - An Emotional Year

I can't believe 2011 has come and gone.  Part of me is sad that my first full year as a mom is coming to a close however, there is a bigger part of me that is ready to tell this year "so long".

When I reflect back on 2011, my mind is filled with tests, medical procedures, worry, chemotherapy, a life saving bone marrow transplant, more worry, and even more medical procedures.  To say this has been the hardest year of my life would be an understatement. 

Thankfully, we also made some incredible memories as we watched our 4 month old change and grow into a precious, curious 16 month old!  I find myself reflecting, and searching for blog posts to relive the year. 

So, here is a recap of our 2011!

We kicked the year off with a Bulldog bowl game win!  Kate was the cutest little bulldog and loved cheering for her team!  Kate learned how to sit up, attempted cereal for the first time, and made the transition to her nursery and crib after 5 months in our room!

January also brought about Kate's first surgery to investigate her blood issues.  She had her first of several bone marrow biopsies.  Unfortunately, the biopsy in January did not really tell us anything and simply kicked off more testing.  I didn't blog about our journey to Kate's diagnosis but, the fact that we started our year in the OR was very telling to how hard, physically and emotionally, 2011 would be for our family.  I wrote a post about my feelings regarding my 4 month old being "put under" but never posted it.  I finally clicked post today as I really want my emotions and feelings regarding Kate's situation to be documented.  Reading that post shows just how naive Alex and I were.  I literally wrote "what if she has to go through horrible treatment to get better?" Clearly I had no clue what year would actually bring...

February was my last month as a stay at home mom (or so I thought - again, man was I clueless as to what this year would bring).  We enjoyed Gymboree class with friends, started the nanny search, celebrated Valentines day, realized our sweet girl wanted to be on the go early, visited the butterfly garden, enjoyed the beautiful Houston weather, and welcomed the Trail Riders to town to kick off the Houston Rodeo!  We also started our regular ER visits due to fever (thanks to a neutropenic baby) and spent at least 2-3 days a week at the Texas Children's Cancer Center working with our wonderful hematologist as we continued to search for the cause of Kate's extremely low ANC and platelets. 

I suited up (literally) and headed back to my 40th floor Downtown office in March.  I survived - and actually enjoyed being part time!  Kate visited the animals at the Rodeo, learned all about Mardi Gras from her native NOLA momma, remained a horrible sleeper, and made several trips to the Houston Zoo! March still did not bring us any answers on the medical front - we continued to make many visits to TCH, search for answers, and pray that it wasn't anything major.

April taught me the challenges of being a working mom - I was in the midst of quarterly stewardship reporting when Kate came down with strep throat.  It was a miserable week in our house - I worked 60+ hours (so much for part time) and cuddled a super sick baby.  We had amazing professional pictures made of Kate, she celebrated her first Easter and also decided that yoga would be a fun pastime!  In a last ditch effort to diagnose Kate, her doctors sent off genetic testing for several very rare disorders.  We were told "the chance of any of these being positive is extremely rare.  We just want to cover all of our bases."  Again, if we only knew what was to come...

May was a busy month!  I started the month off with a new toy and celebrated my first Mother's Day!  I also had a working mom with a sick baby break down.  Despite said break down, we managed to squeeze in lots of fun!  Trips to the beach, the zoo, and Florida to visit family!  Kate also took her first steps at the ripe age of 9 months!  Alex and I waited, rather impatiently, for all of the genetic tests to come back.  And enjoyed what we now realize were our last blissful days before a diagnosis took over our life.

On June 6 our lives were forever changed.  June is kind of a blur to me.  We tried to keep life as normal as possible but, Alex and I were both dealing with the emotions of being told your child has a life threatening genetic condition.  I vented my frustrations, answered questions, and made the decision that I would be stepping away from my professional responsibilities as soon as a donor was found.  We also celebrated the best Daddy ever!

My sister hosted a bone marrow donor drive in Florida in July while I spread the word of getting swabbed to help save so many lives! We celebrated Forth of July, made yet another trip to the zoo, transitioned to a big girl car seat, and got the best call ever!  On July 21 we found out that an amazing 24 year old man was a perfect 10 out of 10 match for Kate and officially agreed to save her life!  What an amazing day that was!

August would qualify as the hardest month of my life.  Kate's transplant was scheduled extremely fast which lead to stress.  We dealt with surgery for her central line, an admission, fever, postponed transplant, discharge, re-admission, chemo, and finally on August 31, Kate received her life saving cells.  During all of this craziness, we celebrated Kate's first birthday, got the surprise of our lives when we learned about baby #2 (and kept him a secret for almost 16 weeks), and lived in a hospital. 

September is yet another blur!  We spent the entire month in the hospital dealing with horrible things like mucositis, morning sickness (for me), the stress of watching Kate's counts like a hawk, and finally celebrating engraftment!  We also got to bring our sweet girl home after nearly 40 days in the hospital!

We transitioned to life back at home in October.  Sleep was a nightmare but we worked through it all!  We spent many days in clinic monitoring Kate's progress and even spent a few nights back in the hospital due to a fever.  Kate also started having issues with her liver which we initially thought was GVHD.  On the baby #2 front, I had my CVS testing done in October and we waited, and waited, and waited some more for results.

We made the big announcement about Will in November - and opened up about his health issues as well.  Kate had a liver biopsy that gave us absolutely zero answers and miraculously, her liver started healing on its own.  We had a low key, yet wonderful, Thanksgiving and really reflected on all of the blessings 2011 brought to us. 

I've become the worst blogger in December.  We've done a good bit this month but I am so far behind on recaps!  Hopefully I will finish up my December posts next week!  We had a wonderful Christmas and Kate got to leave Texas for the first time since May!  She had a blast in Mississippi! 

Looking back at 2011, I've realized that Alex and I are so blessed to have such an amazing support system.  Our faith, family, and friends have carried us through this year and we can officially say that we have survived the hardest year of our lives so far.  We are blessed that so many "strangers" have prayed for our family during this time.  We appreciate each and every one of y'all so much!

I am eager to see what 2012 brings.  I'm praying for continued healing for Kate, a smooth transition to two children, and health for Will so we can have a "normal" year and avoid major medical issues until his transplant in (hopefully) 2013.  However, I've learned that no matter what is thrown our way, we will somehow make it through!


Lucy Marie said...

Wow girl. What a year. I didn't "meet" you until shortly after her birthday so much of this is new to me. I didn't know you were working out of the home through so much of your journey. Wow! Praying that God pours blessings on your sweet family in 2012!

Lindsey said...

What an incredible year for you all! So many changes and also many blessings but through it all you have remained so strong and the amazing mother that Kate has needed in these difficult times- I pray that 2012 brings you much joy but more so- health and happiness as you welcome sweet Will into your family! You are always in my thoughts and prayers! Xoxox

Hailey @ Me and My Boys said...

Wow, that's one heck of a year! Thanks for writing this. I'm a new reader, so it's nice to have a quick "catch-up post". :) Can't wait to see what 2012 brings for you and your family! Happy New Year!

Laura:: said...

What a year! I truly believe every experience in our lives shape us to be who we're supposed to be. I am sure that 2012 will bring many more challenges, adventures and special moments to be treasured.

Fairdale Diaries

Leigh-Ann said...

You guys have had an emotional and exhausting year to say the least. I pray that 2012 brings you some better moments and happier memories to document this time next year. I doubt I could survive everything you guys have been through, although we know the Lord gives us what we need when we need it. Yall have been tough as nails through all this and I know its because of Him. I pray He will send love, peace, strength, happiness, and rest in the new year as you prepare to welcome Will into your lives. Im excited to follow the rest of your pregnancy! :) HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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