Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 A Year of Blessings and Miracles

This year began in the worst way. Audrey and I were in the hospital receiving a chemotherapy treatment. The doom of our separation for radiation in Jacksonville loomed. After Audrey recovered from chemo we went on a weekend trip with our cancer group to Charleston. From there Audrey and I travelled to Jacksonville where she began her proton radiation. We made it through the first week on our own until the issues with my back and leg became so severe that I passed out from the pain. The next five weeks Ryan's mom came to save us and stayed with us for the duration of our time in Jacksonville.

During our separation Nathan grew up a lot. Though he and Ryan were able to come and visit most weekends his daily after school care was done by church and school friends and Aunt Sandy. When I say that Nathan "grew up a lot" this was noticed by his teachers as well. He began doing more and better work at school. He dropped his shyness in class and began speaking up. He learned how to make friends without Mom around. He learned how to listen to other adults. And he may have even tried a new food or two.

My mom came to help out for nearly a month. Time spent with her was wonderful. When we weren't in the hospital we were very productive. There were many sewing projects, Easter, yard work and preparation for Elysse.

Ryan's parents came to stay with us and help again. We thought they were going to be here for Audrey's last chemo treatment but her immune system was taking longer to rebound than we had anticipated.

During an OB visit I was told that the baby had stopped growing. I was then taken to ultrasound where it was determined that the baby had probably stopped growing for several weeks. The ultrasound estimated the baby to weigh around 4 pounds. I tried to separate myself from the baby and figured that I would never hold her alive. An induction was scheduled for Friday, May 28th. As Ryan was at the hospital with Audrey for her last hospitalized chemotherapy I had to drive myself to the induction. I arrived at the hospital with a large suitcase by myself and the nurses could hardly believe it. Soon enough they learned my whole story and supported me throughout the process. Sandy dropped Nathan off to our friends' house and came to stay with Audrey while Ryan joined me. At 4:01 p.m. Elysse Jayne with a head full of thick dark hair joined us.

We experienced a miracle that day – a baby I never expected to hold was born healthy and weighed nearly a pound and a half more than we expected. Audrey finished her last hospitalized chemotherapy and has been cancer free ever since. That night I enjoyed a cheeseburger from Texas Roadhouse and a cookies and cream shake from Chick Fil-A.

Over the next few months we dealt with Audrey's week immune system. It was so much more difficult than I had ever anticipated. Never did I think the period of time after chemo would be more difficult than the time during the chemo. I believe that my expectations are what made it so hard. During chemo we expected fevers and illnesses. It seemed that fevers were more frequent after the treatments had stopped. I wanted so badly for it to be over that any time something happened it felt as if life would never be "normal."

My brother Chad and his wife Sarah came with my parents to go camping in the summer. We had a fun time and the kids still ask about going to "the camp." We looked forward to Christmas when we expected to travel to Michigan to be with them all again and with Justin who was still serving a mission in Idaho.

We celebrated Nathan's birthday. Audrey's birthday celebration was the best ever. I had a good birthday. Then came Thanksgiving – Ryan's entire family came to celebrate Thanksgiving here. We had a wonderful time. It was especially nice having both our house and Sandy's to accommodate everyone.

In mid December my brother, Justin, came to visit so we could drive up to Michigan together. We had a going away party for some of the closest friends we have made while we have been here in North Carolina – luckily they are only moving a few hours away and we anticipate being able to see them still. We travelled to MI for Christmas with three healthy children and experienced the blessings of a safe holiday with family.

This year may sound terrible to some. But all I can see are the blessing and miracles we have been given. I will forever be grateful for the friends and family that loved us, cared for us, prayed for us and sacrificed time and money to come to our aid time and again. For without all of you we could not have made it through this past year.


Can you tell which baby is which? Yes, I have captured the "same" picture with all of the kids wearing the same snowsuit in the white powder. Can you tell who is in each picture?

Christmas 2010

For years Ryan and I have played with the idea of not going to Michigan for Christmas. We moved away from Michigan in December of 2004. We moved to sunny, beautiful Venice, Florida, when Ryan began law school. After completing his law degree we moved to Miami, Florida - despite my negativity there were some good things about Miami: Audrey was born there, we made some wonderful friends there, they have the most rocking zoo I have ever been to, Pinecrest Gardens, the best smoothy place on the planet at some roadside stand (on the way to Pinecrest Gardens) and Ryan's favorite restaurant ever Pollo Tropical - where Ryan earned his Master of Laws degree. While there we job HUNTED and were offered a position at a law firm in Asheville, North Carolina.

Anyway, we have lived away from Michigan for a long time and the drive that is required to go to Michigan during the holiday season is long - from all three of our locations, it is long. Last year we were unable to travel to Michigan for the holidays due to Audrey's health. 2009 will probably be referred to as the year without a Christmas forever in our family. Why the year without a Christmas? We couldn't go to Michigan, we couldn't be with our family and it stunk. We will never play with the idea of not going to Michigan for Christmas again!

So, we made it. My younger, but much taller brother, Justin, flew down and stayed for a few days so that he could drive up with me and the kids. (Thanks Justin I couldn't have done it without you!) We had a wonderful time. As mentioned in a previous post, this is the first time my family has been together in three years! We aren't very good about remembering to get out the camera so we don't have too many pictures but I will share a few that I do have.

There were many highlights to our trip I will try to hit them

# I was able to attend the Hiatt (my mom's side) family Christmas
- I only wish I had more time especially to talk to my cousins. Addie, you went above and beyond last year with your warm wishes during our difficult Christmas. Organizing everyone to send letters to us was incredible. You are extremely gifted and talented with your crafting abilities and the angel you made for Audrey is fantastic. Thank you. I wanted to tell you all of this in person and failed. Sara, how I wish we had hours to just sit and talk. We grew up together and I wish that our children would have that same chance. Breanna is so much like you both in appearance and attitude!

# Time spent with my family both individually and collectively
- Justin I seriously could not have driven to MI by myself. I am glad for all of the time we had to talk. Soon I think everything will fall into place for you. You are a hard worker and know what you want. Chad, Nathan said he wants to be just like you, what more can I say? I appreciate the love you and Sarah show to all of my children (even though you keep trying to take them). Mom and Dad even after all of these years I feel guilty that you don't get to see the kids more. But the time they spend with you is never wasted. Everyone soaks up the time and love enthusiastically.

# I was able to visit with my great Aunt Linda
- She looks and sounds just like my Grandma. Aunt Linda is my Grandma's youngest sister. I never realize just how much I miss my Grandma until I am with Aunt Linda. When she walked in the door I nearly cried. And even now thinking about my time with her brings about the same emotions.

# Time Nathan and Audrey had to play with Zachary and Alaina
- We went down and spent a day at their house and I honestly never saw them. The cousins were so excited to be together that they occupied themselves and had the best time. There are always tears when we have to leave the cousins!

# Generosity and gifts
- To Ryan's parents: we are so grateful for your generosity - not just this Christmas season. Without your generosity we would have a mountain of student loans, we wouldn't enjoy the beautiful home we have and we certainly wouldn't be able to help others in the way we have been able to. Thank you for a great example.

I hope everyone had the merriest of all Christmases this year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Posts are on the way. I promise I haven't forgotten. Life has just been crazy busy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I have been wanting to post for days now. However we are all sick in one form or another. Over the weekend it was the worst. Ryan and I have the same crud - nose throat yuck. Elysse was running a fever and seemed that her ears were bothering her. Audrey began to run a fever as well. We gave them Tylenol and held out for Monday morning walk in clinic at the pediatrician. Elysse did have an ear infection - in fact it was in both ears and the poor little thing had puss draining from both ears.

We have been sick for nearly two weeks so I cannot even remember what day it was - maybe last Friday - I was sleeping with Elysse in the basement when Ryan and Nathan came down and woke us up (accidentally of course). I was talking to Ryan and said that he would need to pack lunches because I wasn't going to be able to. After a few minutes I was not able to go back to sleep and Elysse definitely wasn't going to. I walked up to the kitchen to find that Nathan had begun to pack Ryan a lunch for work. It was so sweet. If I hadn't been so sick I probably would have taken a picture.

The funniest part is that Nathan packed Ryan a half peanutbutter sandwich (folded over) without jelly - just the way Nathan likes it. He then put all of the other items for Ryan's lunch on top of the sandwich:)