Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Little Green Dress

When Sonzee was first diagnosed the immediate thing that occurred was exactly what her diagnosing physician warned us against; going onto the internet and googling C D K L 5.  Within 2 minutes our world around us crumbled and life as we knew it was never going to be the same.  A mere 5 character string that weighed more than our at the time maybe 9lb daughter.  A string of characters that we didn't quite understand more than it meant we had found our reason for her seizures.  It was the answer we had desperately sought but that we no longer wanted to have found. Yet through the darkness came a network, a secret club, really an immediate family we had no idea that existed up until then.

I cannot exactly remember the first time I learned of the CDKL5 little green dress, but it has been close to Sonzee's entire life since she was diagnosed so early on.  The dress began its travels in the UK and has traveled around the world since it began its journey years ago.  Facebook has really helped give it a sort of fame if you will, as it was the pictures previous recipients (members of our CDKL5 family) postings that originally caught my eye.  Over the course of its travels, I watched as parents dressed up their little girls in a green fairy dress, thinking how sweet the girls looked in the dress, but not thinking too much more about the bigger picture.   That was until last week when the box found its way into our house.

I waited a day to open the box because it was delivered right before Yom Kippur.  I knew no picture would be taking place on Wednesday, so I didn't feel the need to see the entire box's contents.  Immediately after the holiday ended I opened the box.  I saw a smaller box inside and I knew once I peaked inside that I was going to need some moments with that box.  This dress to me is more than a dress with fairy wings and some lime green accessories.  There are children who have worn this dress who are no longer with us, there are children who will wear the dress in years to come who have not even been diagnosed yet, maybe who have not even been born yet.  There is a world that is represented in this dress that is indescribable. 

After I took Sonzee's picture I posted this on her facebook page.  I won't ever know why our family was chosen to live among this community of rare.  I won't ever understand why my daughter has to struggle to live each day and why she has to have seizures all the time.  I won't ever be privy to the details of the greater plan, and truthfully, I am not even sure I would want to even entertain what I would be told because I would probably still be annoyed, upset, disappointed, and downright irate over the reason.  Yet, one thing I do know, one thing I won't ever take for granted, and one thing this dress symbolizes is that we are never alone on this journey.  There are families who have lived this journey before us, there are families living this journey alongside us, and there will be families living this journey after us...and that is something that is unique, powerful, and ironically beautiful about this whole entire world of CDKL5.

The Mighty Contributor

Monday, October 7, 2019

We all have...

Over the past few months, I have been fortunate to get closer to various women and have some rather intimate conversations.  They aren't just about Sonzee, they aren't only about special needs children, the subject matter varies depending on the person, and there is always discussion regarding a personal struggle.  I didn't need these conversations to know that everyone struggles in their own way, but they are always an incredible reminder of all the struggles that every single person has to deal with.  That part is double-edged because there shouldn't be such intense struggling for people to have to endure, but it is good for us all to keep in mind we all have to deal with less than ideal situations all the time.

So often I am told that I am so strong for dealing with what I have to, but I wonder how many of those people who say that to me realize they are the same strong for dealing with what they might not have even shared with me.  No one can begin to understand the exact struggle of another person because it isn't theirs to own.  It isn't one they have to understand inside and out.  It isn't one they wish upon anyone else.  It isn't one they even know how they are going to handle themselves.  But since IT was the struggle they were given, they will HAVE no other choice but to be strong and tackle it day in and day out.

To quote one of these amazing ladies, because it sums it up perfectly, "we all have our Sonzee's".

The Mighty Contributor

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Instead

On the first day of October, my newsfeed was filled with posts regarding infant loss and miscarriage.  This is such a sensitive and personal topic, but the more the posts that popped up on my feed the more my mind couldn't ignore my thoughts and feelings.  I personally make it a mission to avoid any controversial topic that could possibly offend others, but I just can't seem to bury my emotions on this one, so I am going to hope at least one other person will be thankful for this post.

3 years ago Sam told me to take a pregnancy test.  I argued with him, I told him I wasn't pregnant.  He said, "I have done this enough times to know you...take the test".  Three tests later and me convinced they were all incorrect we laughed and cried.  We weren't ready, Sonzee was not in the best place, our minds had not even settled on whether or not we could handle a fifth child.  I mentally had not come to terms with the fact that there would be absolutely no way to confirm if this baby would be healthy, how would I be sane for the entire pregnancy?  I emailed Sonzee's geneticist, I scheduled an appointment with my OB immediately, I panicked.

Our OB knowing where I was mentally immediately sent us over to the perinatologist we had used on the previous pregnancies for various unrelated to Sonzee reasons, and he got us in almost immediately.  We sat in his office and discussed all of the options should we find out this baby wasn't healthy.  He also said that during Sonzee's next labs we could send a vial over to a company that hadn't done her initial genetic testing to have them "confirm" the results so they would have it on file for any comparison testing we might do with the fetus.

4 weeks later we sat in the same office as he told us there was no heartbeat.  I recall feeling half relieved and half disappointed.  I rationalized that we had 3 healthy kids and that we weren't ready, but I feared that this baby might have had CDKL5.  Did that mean Sonzee was the result of germline mosaicism?  Did that mean we shouldn't even try again?

It took another 4 long weeks to actually miscarry and another 2 months for my lab work to return to normal.  The entire experience was 5 months in total. 5 months where others announced their pregnancies, 5 months where friends had healthy babies, 5 months that I was emotionally all over the place but few people knew the real reason behind it. 5 months where I couldn't move on.  I was and am still filled with mixed emotions over the experience.  I mourn the loss of the potential, but I do not mourn the fact that I truly believe something was unhealthy with the baby AND I know what having an unhealthy baby means. 

I spent a lot of time thanking g-d for knowing I couldn't handle another child like Sonzee.  I understand what happens when genetics doesn't get it right and the challenges that are the result of that shift.  I understand on an entirely different level than I could ever want, what happens if a child is compatible with life, but not capable of being a typical functioning member of society.  I understand how devastating the loss of a child can be, but I also know that in a lot of cases it is for a reason.  While we may never be told the exact reason, and not everyone can understand what it is like to be on the medically complex side of what that potential reason might have been, for someone like me, while I mourn the loss of what could have been, I am grateful that instead of having to watch another child of mine suffer, all of the pain of the what-ifs, of the potential, and of the unknown, was placed onto me to bear instead.


The Mighty Contributor

Monday, September 23, 2019

The stars

One of my mom friends, Bridget, who also has a child on a medically complex journey posted a song on Facebook with the words, "Might seem strange, but sometimes a romantic song can actually change its meaning when you have a child", she went on to say "If you're a mommy of a non-verbal child; this one's for you."  For the past couple of weeks, our house has been slightly obsessed with listening to "The Greatest Showman" songs on Spotify, on the house Alexa, on YouTube, literally, anywhere we can get the songs playing.  I love all the songs on the soundtrack, however, "Rewrite the Stars" is the one that if you pull up next to me driving, you can bet money I will be belting out the words as loud and off-key as possible with tears in my eyes or rolling down my face.  

It seems to be the perfect duet with Sonzee these days.  Almost every single phrase I can relate to her life and our situation.  From the heartbreaking reality that "Fate is pulling you miles away And out of reach from me", But you're here in my heart".  To the literal facts that I am sure she feels, "You think it's easy You think I don't want to run to you But there are mountains And there are doors that we can't walk through".  Which leads me to the basic question, "How do we rewrite the stars?"  

Oh gosh, if only we could, if only it actually was possible.  No matter how many times I listen to the song the words crawl inside my heart and just sit there.  These last few weeks have been ridiculously brutal on Sonzee, on Sam and me, on our marriage and general family life.  The situation we are placed in is not normal and shouldn't even be considered normal in our special needs, medically complex, "atypical" world.  Decisions have been made, choices have been made, but there is no winner.  There is no winning in this lottery.

"No one can rewrite the stars", but "Say that the world can be ours".  "Say that it is possible, because "It feels impossible...We're bound to break and my hands are tied".

The Mighty Contributor

Monday, September 16, 2019

September

I wonder what it is about September and my inability to get my thoughts out of my mind.  I am thinking it is because this month historically tends to bring about undesirable thoughts or just doesn't do much to bring closure to any situations we are currently facing.  I have spent the majority of the previous two weeks not even wanting to sit down and write.  A few times I did consider it, but then decided I wasn't ready to make my thoughts completely public.  One additional time I began to write and two paragraphs in I was met with a barricade and haven't gone back to see if I am able to finish.  Tonight I am watching the time tick by, my eyes are blurry, but for some reason, this piece of paper keeps calling me back to it.

There is a constant lump stuck in my throat and tears that are literally a blink away.  4.5 years ago I couldn't have imagined a more delicate, emotional, and challenging journey to unfold for us.  4.5 years ago she was doing so well comparatively, and we were going to have the child who "broke the mold", who was the outlier, who didn't check off every damn box in the potential for CDKL5 directory.  4.5 years ago I told myself that she probably wouldn't sit, and if she did it would be around 3 as a method of self-preservation, but deep down I rooted for her, and could envision the excitement and party that was definitely going to unfold when she DID meet that milestone.  4.5 years ago we were blissfully unaware of the struggles that were occurring within her body metabolically and gastrointestinally speaking.  4.5 years ago we took it all day by day but woke up each day celebrating whatever Sonzee-stone she met.

Today on the couch in our living room we had another weighted conversation.  This wouldn't be the first of its kind this month, and it certainly won't be the last.  They are conversations that I never anticipated could occur in a casual manner, as we were drinking some cold brew, and while two of our kiddos were running through the house.  Conversations that prompted us to keep sending the one child who was old enough to understand on various expeditions to keep him out of earshot because it probably wasn't the most appropriate conversation for a child to be overhearing.  But as everything else CDKL5 related, we find ourselves dealing with a new normal, of completely abnormal and just going along with it, because that is all there really is for us to do. 


The Mighty Contributor