Are We Lucky?

I’m not ready…and probably will never be ready to say, “it happened for a reason”.  To see your child in pain, fighting for their life.  I can’t think of many outcomes that makes me think my child…any child…should have to go through that existence as atonement (as some suggest) or as part of the process to get a good result.  I can’t say I’m a religious person, but I do believe in a higher power and in my personal belief, that higher power isn’t master planning terrible events to teach people a lesson.

My theory is we are an imperfect species and sometimes things, for a lack of a better term, malfunction.  In my pregnancies, my body malfunctioned.  Especially for Owen, the results of that malfunction was pretty horrific.  The physical pain and suffering that he had to go through – it was intense.  I can’t identify any “reason” that makes it okay.

But I do believe that I have a choice on how I respond.

Let’s be honest, a response is a moment in time.  Some days I respond really quite well.  Other days aren’t quite so exemplary.  In truth, there are days that getting out of bed seems like a super human feat.  On those days, my focus is what we all lost.  What we’ve been through, how our life has changed forever and that Owen never got a choice in any of this.

On my best days, I sit and wonder about the same events that can get me struggling to get out of bed, but instead of being overwhelmed with how hard it was, I am awed by how lucky we have been.

  • My symptoms of preterm labor were really mild.  In truth I called the on-call OB-GYN on a Saturday night at 10:00 because I had a gut feeling and the tiniest sliver of pink in my discharge.  The fact that we and the OB took my symptoms seriously meant that I received the steroid shots to help Owen’s lung development and when he came very quickly with no warning, we were in a hospital equipped to give him his best chances.  Lucky.
  • I went into the hospital at 24 weeks exactly.  Our hospital assumed Owen was viable.  Thankful.
  • The statistics we were given were grim.  For a white male at 24 weeks who was typical sized and received the steroid shots via mom,  he was given a 40% chance of survival and a 20% chance of having no long term issues.  Owen is a survivor. Blessed.  Owen has global delays, but he’s only 2.5 and he’s surpassed so many expectations.  Hopeful.
  • Complication on top of set back on top of “never seen that before”.  Owen pulled through it all.   Miracle.
  • Bilateral PVL with Cysts diagnosis.  The doctors didn’t give statistics but I scoured medical research papers and found them.  They weren’t pretty.  Nearly all had CP diagnoses and about half weren’t able to walk at three.  Owen’s tone continues to look good (CP not an expected label) and he’s taking a few steps here and there.  Odds-Defied.
  •   Minimal vocal sounds at 1-year old.  Turning into a little jabber jaws at 2.5.  Amazing.
  • 230 days in the hospital in his first 53 weeks of life.  Days in the hospital ever since?  Zero.  Mind-blowing.  (knock on wood)
  • Tears of fear and frustration for months.  Tears I’m wiping away as I write this post.  Joy.

This smile while dressed in scrubs in homage to NICU nurses on Neonatal Nurses Day on Sunday.  Serendipity.

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I don’t expect my response to be perfect to all of this.  I accept bad days.  Not bad days that Owen and Kellen need to see…but bad days that I need to give myself.  After all, I am human – an imperfect species – and I do malfunction sometimes.  I am also lucky and blessed and thankful and incredibly grateful for all the “what ifs” that have turned out in our favor.

I won’t accept that it happened for a reason.  I’d rather it not have happened at all, but it did and in many, many ways we were so very lucky.

© Copyright Tatum, All rights Reserved. Written For: Ain't No Roller Coaster

10 thoughts on “Are We Lucky?

  1. Once again your post hits home. I cringe (and get angry) everytime someone tries to tell me my daughters premature birth and suffering are “for a reason”. I agree there is no reason that will make it “OK” that she has suffered and continues to suffer. I try to understand that my emotional agony is uncomfortable to others and so it makes them feel better to think there is a reason for it. It would be refreshing for others to just acknowledge that sometimes tragic things happen without trying to use cliches to make me feel better. Again thank you for this post. Reading your blog helps me to cope and gives me hope.

  2. I agree with you here, Tatum! There really is never a “reason” for things like this. We are human, and putting a reason on something gives us a feeling of explanation and ownership. I think that’s why people feel it’s comforting to say to someone.

    When good things happen, do we say the same thing? I like to think the “reason” for the good things is because I made good decisions and worked hard for what I wanted. So it is difficult for me to think that I experienced hardship because I made poor decisions and was lazy? I don’t think so!

    Thanks for this post. Brava as usual! 🙂

  3. Lucky. This says it all. We are lucky. Our bodies may have been broken, but the boys are fighters. And we are lucky. It also gives me hope. Because that fighting spirit is going to serve them WELL as they grow up. (Ideally not driving parents completely insane along the way.)

    As for my own Destroy who has been routinely refusing to nap, instead singing Daft Punk’s “Up All Night to Get Lucky,” at the top of his little allegedly CLD lungs – I think I just got a new perspective. 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh, Tatum, I love this post. I think too that like Allie, Kellan didn’t get a say in any of this either. But when you look at the odds, Owen has redefined them. I hope you print this post out and save it for the next time those same odd make it so you cannot get out of bed.

    Oh and I am totally knocking on wood for the no hospital stays.

    • Thanks for remembering the siblings, Kerri! I love having another mom in you that tries to always bring awareness of the impact on the sibling.

  5. What a good lookin’ kiddo. He has certainly done miraculous things in his young life and I expect he will continue doing miraculous things. I also think his victories and inner strength comes from his mom as you are a prize fighter also.

  6. I shamefully admit that I still don’t feel lucky. Maybe further out from all this I will. However, despite everything we’ve been through I’m happy.

    Another excellent blog post. Kudos

    • I’m sorry I made you feel shame about not feeling lucky. We all have different ways that we cope and rationalize our experience. Feeling lucky may not be your way of coping…or, as you suggest, you just may not have hit it yet. You’re happiness is the key – not which specific emotions make up your happiness. xoxo.

  7. Yes, you are lucky to have your amazing miracle, but he’s pretty darn lucky to have you as his mom too! 🙂 Another great post.

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