Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Better Week

This week has been a little easier for me in terms of grief.  I have felt more hopeful, a bit more like my normal self, more able to be in the present, more enamored with Caleb and Joel...and even with Bryan.  :)  I have had a noticeably absent spring back in my step this week, and it's hard to know if that's partially due to being on thyroid medicine or if it's just a better week.  I have had countless ups and downs in the grief process, and I know I will have countless more.  No matter what the cause, I am grateful for a more manageable week and a more positive outlook on life.

On Monday I had my doctor's appointment about my thyroid, and I found out that I do have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).  The doctor told me that there is a small nodule on my thyroid, but it's not cancerous, and the likelihood of it becoming cancerous is essentially zero, but they will monitor it over the next year or so to be sure it doesn't grow or change.  I go to a specialist (endocrinologist) in April, and at that point they will check my levels and see how much they need to increase my meds.  My TSH is quite high (32, for all you people out there who have hypothyroidism -- and I must say I can't believe how many of you there are!  My two best friends from college, one of my closest friends from high school, another college friend, a small group friend, a church friend, the list goes on and on...), and the doctor is almost certain I will need more medicine than I'm currently on, but I have to go on it gradually, or there are some adverse effects.  She also said that she thinks I developed thyroid issues postpartum, but there is no way to know if they came after Samuel or after Joel or even after one of my miscarriages.  My theory is that I became hypothyroid either after Joel or my first miscarriage, but there is no way to prove that.  And I don't suppose there is a lot of point either.  Finding out that I do in fact have this condition has probably contributed to a better week for me --just knowing it's treatable, and some of the symptoms I am experiencing can be allieviated. 

Sometimes it's the little stuff that makes a day or a moment hard, and this week that's been especially true.  Most of the time, I have felt joyful and peaceful and content, but then something small will happen, and I'm knocked off my feet.  I am guessing this will be true for a long time to come.

On Friday Bryan had the day off, and we headed downtown to the Atlanta Children's Museum for a fun family outing.  As we got in the car, Caleb was wearing safety goggles that came with a whole workbench my mom gave the boys for Christmas.  The band on the goggles was sitting on his ear funny and had folded his earlobe down.  Immediately I was hit with a wave of sorrow, thinking about Samuel and his right ear.  Most of the first few weeks of his life, Samuel laid with his head to the right, pinning down his right ear lobe, usually folded in half. When we would shift his position, his ear wouldn't lie flat because it had been folded down most of the day.  I was continually trying to unfold his little ear.  And Samuel had this little point in the top part of his earlobe that I loved.  Caleb has the exact same point.  Looking at Caleb's ear that took the breath out of me for a few moments and made me so lonesome for his little brother.  And it made me remember the far more painful last week of Samuel's life when his body was so swollen that even his ears were puffy beyond recognition and couldn't have folded in any way, much less shown the little point I loved.

Ths past weekend we had our first truly warm, sunshiny days of the year, and I kept thinking how perfect the day was -- if only we had Samuel with us.  After we got back from our walk on Saturday, Caleb and Joel ran to the backyard to play, and Bryan and I got lunch together.  While we were in the kitchen, Bryan said, "These are the moments when I can really imagine how I would have enjoyed Samuel.  While his big brothers are in the backyard, having a few minutes with just him.  I would have loved that."  I can totally picture Bryan sitting down with Samuel for a little one-on-one time.  It was a heartbreaking moment to have a glimpse of what we're missing.  And as wonderful as Saturday was, no day can ever be perfect now.  The possibility of a perfect day is forever gone.  I lament that.  I lament the days when I could call a day perfect and believe it.

One night this week I put Joel down by myself and prayed with him alone.  Usually we pray all together as a family, but for some reason we did it differently this night.  I asked Joel, "What do you want to pray about?  Is there anything you want to say to God or ask Him?"  Joel's response put a big lump in my throat.  He prayed, "Dear God, please help Samuel come back."  Then he lifted his head, looked into my eyes, and asked, "Is Samuel coming back, Momma?"  It was painful to have to tell Joel yet again -- though it's been several months since the last time -- that no, Samuel is not coming back.  It hurts my heart to know that the thing he wants most is for his little brother to be here.  I want it too.

Last night we got a voicemail from Dr. Videlefsky, Samuel's pediatric cardiologist.  He was calling to be sure we got his email about hypothyroidism and whether or not it could have contributed to Samuel's problems.  Dr. V continually amazes me.  Who does that?  Who calls to check up on the parents of a former patient to be sure they got his email?  He did some research for us and sent us an article, which he didn't have to do.  And then he calls to see if we're well and if we have any questions.  That astounds me.  He has a deep and true heart, and I always wish I could find a way to thank him, but the truth is I've been paralyzed by my inability to put thanks into words, and so I've never even sent him a letter to say thank you.  I'm ashamed of this, and I want to tell him how grateful we are, and yet I have no idea how to say it.  The worst part is, I know from the last 7 months how much it means to me when people just say something.  It doesn't matter how it's worded or how far short of what they wanted to say it falls, the fact that somebody said means a lot.  So I am baffled by my own paralysis.  Dr. V's call was another moment that left me breathless for a stretch, but I was so touched by it and grateful for it.

There are many such little moments that sneak up on me unawares and leave me reeling for awhile after them.  As much as they are hard and painful, they are also healing and treasured.  I am thankful for the moments that take me back to Samuel's side, that bring his little face to mind, or make me imagine what he'd be like now.  I am still convinced that this road of grief is God-designed, and I am thankful for the journey -- even on the truly bad days.  Most of all, I am thankful for a God who understands just how I feel even when I don't (as I told Caleb last night when he said in a shaky voice, "I'm about to cry, but I'm not sad.  I don't know why I'm crying.")  It is a compassionate, kind, understanding God I serve, and I am so glad to stand firm on Him.  Even when the world around me shakes, even when I feel like I'm falling, even when I can't see straight through my tears, my foundation is secure and firm.  The ground on which I stand cannot be shaken.  I am so glad for a God who isn't caught off guard, who doesn't lose His breath, and who is never at a loss for how to move forward.


  1. You don't know me, but I know the Ott family and they directed me to your blog when Samuel was in the hospital. I have followed since then, but never commented. My heart breaks when I read your posts. I just pray that God finds ways for you to feel "perfect" again. Your ability to be so vulnerable about grief and faith is astounding. May God continue to use you to reach people that you may not even realize you are reaching. :)

  2. I haven't posted a comment before because I think I keep trying to find words to help your hearts- to maybe be a bright moment in a dark day, but words have continued to fail me because nothing I say will be able to "fix" your hurt. I work with UpStreet at NP and have followed your story since the beginning. I think my heart has been especially soft for you all because I was halfway through my pregnancy with my 2nd child when you lost your sweet Samuel. There is just something about the love you have for your child that cannot be described and yet Kathryn, you have so eloquently found words for that love. I wanted to comment on your last post because I have thyroid problems too- mine is especially weird because I have both hypothyroid and Hashimoto's (hyperthyroid). I am on Synthroid and have been monitored throughout both of my pregnancies. Today I wanted to comment because of another connection we have. My son went for his two month appt. last week and my pediatrician noticed a murmur in his heart. We were referred to a ped. cardiologist and went to our appt. on Monday. I was nervous going in because I wasn't sure what to expect and as they hooked Finn up to the heart monitor I could not stop thinking about you and your little man and the bravery and honesty that your whole family has shown throughout this journey. The doctor was very kind and explained in great detail, so that I could understand, about the type of murmur that Finn has- thankfully it is "innocent". You have written about him before but today the name popped off the screen- Dr. V! I wish I would have put it together before the appointment but you are so right about his kindness. Sorry for the rambling comment. I hope to see you around the weekday halls sometime, I'd love to introduce myself in person. Thank you for continuing to share your heart with us. I have been forever changed.
    Sarah Carroll

  3. Kathryn,

    Your post brought my favorite Psalm to mind.

    Psalm 16
    Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.
    I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
    I say of the godly who are in the land,
    “They are the noble people
    in whom is all my delight.”
    Those who run after other gods
    will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out their libations of blood
    or take up their names on my lips.
    Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
    you have made my lot secure.
    The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
    I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
    I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
    Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
    because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
    You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

    Praying for you and so, so happy you are on your way to health with the thyroid stuff!

  4. dear friend, so thankful to hear of the spring in your step. It makes me happy to know that you're happy. wishing for many more sunny days for you as you continue to live and love your three precious boys(and Bryan too. :) Jennifer Conley