Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas 2005

Christmas 2005 was kind of a hard year.  We went through a lot during the previous year.  In February, Sam was hospitalized for a week for RSV.  In April, he was hospitalized again for a week because his white blood count was super high.  It turned out to be a major sinus infection caused by silent reflux.  He was relatively healthy over the summer which was such a relief.  He turned 1 in September and soon after that, I learned I was expecting our 5th baby.  This was a complete surprise!  In October, Sam wouldn't wake up one morning and when I called the ambulance, they found that his blood sugar was at a 17.  We really should have lost him that morning.  It was a miracle that he came back from such a low number.  What followed from that was a trip to the hospital for testing and a diagnosis that something metabolic was wrong with him.  We were sent to Salt Lake City Utah to meet with specialists.  We spent our 10th wedding anniversary (at the beginning of December) meeting with specialists and having more tests ran.

Also, that fall, my husband quit his job with the law firm he had clerked for and then worked as an attorney and opened his own practice.  It was exciting and scary, all at once!

On the 21st of December, I was home alone with the younger kids and John had taken Chipper with him to Las Vegas to watch the BYU bowl game.  Sam started running a fever and his breathing was very shallow.  I was used to this routine by then, so I loaded up all the kids and drove to Vegas.  It was a 2 hour drive and already dark when we left.  I called John from the Emergency Room and he headed over.  He picked up the other kids and headed back home while I stayed there with Sam, hoping for the best.

Around midnight, they admitted him to the hospital and I was hopeful that with some oxygen, he would make a quick come back and we could be home by Christmas Eve.  They diagnosed him with RSV, so it was really a waiting game.

John and I stayed in contact over the phone, but because we had nowhere for our other kids to go, it was best for him to stay with them and for me to stay with Sam.  It was exhausting.  I was pregnant and worried and tired.  The hospital room we were in only had a fold out cot which wasn't very comfortable.  It did have our own bathroom, so that was nice.

The 23rd was spent hoping and hoping he would show signs of improvement.  I missed my other kids.  I longed to be home getting ready for Christmas and to finish up all those last minute things.  During the night of the 23rd, he went downhill and they ended up transferring him to the ICU by the morning of the 24th.  I was heartbroken.  How was this possible?  Didn't parents get a free pass for holidays?  Did sickness really have to exist over Christmas?  I finally accepted that there was no way he was coming home for Christmas, so we needed to adjust accordingly.  The ICU is a difficult place for parents, not only because of all the worry you have for your child, but because they keep the room very simple.  We didn't even have a cot to sleep on, just a chair and we lost the private bathroom we had had before.

My husband drove down the morning of the 24th and he stayed with Sam while I went home to be with the other kids.  I remember crying all the way home.  It didn't feel like Christmas. I didn't have a single part of me that felt happy or joyful.  I hated every moment of this and just wanted to simply be at home altogether.

When I arrived home, my other kids seemed pretty oblivious to the depression I was feeling.  They were just excited that Santa was coming that night.  I finished up my wrapping and went through the motions of cooking food and making a little Christmas candy.  I still look back on that Christmas and feel like that day was in a fog.  I called John often and learned that Sam was continuing to get worse and if he didn't turn around soon, he would be placed on a ventilator.  It was really a very, very difficult day.

By bedtime, I let the kids open their Christmas pajamas and get ready for bed.  We called daddy and  let him listen in while we read the Christmas story.  He talked to each of the kids and I choked back the tears.  I missed him and Sammy so much.

I sent them to bed and was lucky that my little brother came over to help me.  I don't think I could have put things together and put them under the tree by myself. I was a total basket case!  I held it together well, but on the inside, I was so, so sad.

I went to bed that night and prayed for strength.  I just wanted to feel happy.  I knew that Christmas was more than about Santa and gifts and all those commercial things.  I had always known that.  But I didn't know how to be happy when my husband and baby son were 2 hours away and that my little boy was struggling to breathe and live.  I wanted to be in both places at once.

Somewhere in that dark night and in the early Christmas morning light, I came up with a plan.  As soon as the kids woke up and after they saw the gifts that Santa brought, we all hurried and got dressed.  I used some santa hats, elf hats and reindeer antlers I had, to dress us all up.  We loaded a chunk of the gifts up and we drove the 2 hours to the hospital.  We were going to take Christmas to daddy and Sam and they had no idea we were coming.  We arrived, with smiles and holiday cheer to find Sam feeling much better and actually sitting up in his crib.  The worst was over and he was going to be okay!

I will never forget that Christmas.  I will never forget opening presents in a cold ICU that suddenly felt like home because we were there together.  I will never forget how dark things seemed the night before and how bright the sun shone that winter morning.  In some ways, it was the best Christmas ever because of what we learned and how hard it was to find that holiday joy.

Sam came home 3 days later and we still had presents under the tree, the turkey I had bought for Christmas dinner and Santa toys to play with.  We decided to do a mock Christmas Day, just for fun!  We didn't answer the phone that day, we didn't change out of our pajamas and we ate yummy food and played with toys all day long.

I'm sorry that this was so long.  This was one of those Christmas memories I haven't looked forward to blogging about because of the emotions it still stirs up.  But I want my children to always remember this day and to have it recorded before I forget even more!  As it is, I don't really remember what everyone got that year.  I guess it was because our greatest gift was just being together!

A week from today will be Christmas Eve. I can't believe how fast it has come!  I'm mostly ready-well, in the physical sense!  But emotionally, I just want to slow time!

For today's freebie, I made a little photo mask.  This is one you actually put over your photo.  You can leave it as it is or blend it or soften it-to create the look you want.  It is in a 5x7 size!

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this memory. It's given me a little perspective on my own challenges, which I desperately needed. --CindyB

Kristy Beins said...

Can I just send a hug up to Provo? Love to all the Browns.

ShortCake said...

This is awesome, thank you!

Janneke said...

Wow.. this post made me tear up! Thank you for sharing your Christmas memories. I don't have as many to recount yet, but we're already starting and I think you've inspired me to journal a little more often. These are the stories we will tell our children someday and it will be all they know (except for their own memories when they start having them). And thank you for the mask.

I am glad that your son got well and that you and your family got to be together that Christmas in 2005.

CBH said...

Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 5 post on Dec. 18, 2011. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful memory. thank you for sharing

Mara said...

wow, what an experience Ramona. Thanks for sharing.

Cassandraann said...

I'm glad that your family was able to be together that Christmas and make the best of such a difficult situation, I can't even image how hard that must have been! It's cool that you are recording your memories of each Christmas, a priceless treasure for your family! Thank you for all the wonderful downloads too!

That Warwick Woman said...

Thank you for the wonderful overlay and for your post. It made me tear up a bit. I'm glad everything worked out and the baby was ok. I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas :)

Cytisia said...

Thanks for this so cute sharing

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your heart-wrenching story. It helps me to have hope for what's going on in my own life.

Ruth said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Do you know that you are blessed? With your ability to put things in to words, you have no need to fear. Your children will be able to "see" and "feel" how things were through your journaling - just as I did while reading it. I hope I can learn to do half as well when making my own scrapbooks.