On June 10th, 2011 we welcomed Allyannah Alexsys our beautiful little girl just before 24 weeks gestation. We found out at 12 weeks something was not right during routine screenings. We spent the next 12 weeks trying to figure out what was wrong. We found out through many extensive tests that our little girl had Turner’s Syndrome, heart defects, and many other severe health issues. It was so hard to hear and every day we lived in fear of whether that was the day we would lose her or have to make a life-changing decision. Since the day we found out the screening had terrible results, our life forever changed. I literally collapsed on my knees and cried when I received the phone call.
When we lost her, I was not able to see or hold her to have closure. I am the type to always put on a brave face, and make the best I can out of any situation. I dug deep. Michael and I bonded even more. Michael was supposed to leave for a deployment June 12, 2011. We continued to make preparations for that. At the ripe age of barely 22, I stayed strong to comfort Conner and told him his sister decided she was not ready to be born yet, and wanted to stay an Angel. I stayed strong so Michael felt, “okay about having to leave two days after everything”. I had lost a piece of me that day, I am still trying to get it back or at least healed six years later. Michael’s deployment was postponed since his troop and him traded spots so he could go a few months later. I am forever grateful. After a few months of healing, we decided to try again for a baby. We were led into an unknown secondary infertility battle for years. I blamed myself for it since I could not protect our daughter, a mother’s ultimate job. I was being punished, I felt. Yes, looking back I can see it was irrational. I have suffered from anxiety, OCD, and PTSD from different things in the military. To manage that, I worked out 4-5 hours a day, ate obsessively clean, worked a lot, and focused on school and Conner. All the while, even hidden from Michael, I secretly fought depression.
When I was pregnant with the quints, I always stayed optimistic. Even when doctors said it was grim. I stayed strong when incompetent doctors told me to selectively reduce or what hospital I should deliver at to make them look good. I stayed strong, after being alone on hospital bed rest for 10 weeks, eagerly awaiting my mission of getting the babies as far along as possible at a specialist in AZ. I stayed strong getting surgery with no family or friends in AZ when I was 23 weeks 5 days gestation with the quints. That was the exact same gestation I lost Allyannah. I finished 3 degrees online during that time to stay busy. Although, I felt like breaking when we lost our house in another state after tenants moved out, moving caused me to not finish my last semester of nursing school, and I ended my Air Force career when I was 20 weeks pregnant. Michael arrived with our stuff from NJ 2 days before they were born to a house I rented site unseen from hospital bed rest in Arizona. Michael finished his Bachelors degree the night before they were born. He submitted his last paper as the nurses prepped me for my csection. I had gained 40 lbs of fluid in 4 days, had fluid weeping out of everywhere, and felt my skin constantly ripping with every move. I still made the doctors decide when to deliver since my goal was 34 weeks 1 day and I was only 31 weeks 1 day. We were scared since we were having 5 premature babies with unknown outcomes.
Five days after having the babies, I left them in the NICU to go to an unknown house that needed to be unpacked. I did not want to but needed to get strong again since Michael went back to work 10 days postpartum. I sat through multiple surgeries with 3 lb Elias alone as Dad took care of the girls at home or worked. The NICU staff told me I would not be able to breastfeed them for a long term solution. I did for a year. One staff member even said, “you will get postpartum depression, all multiple moms do and you have a lot more happening”. I told her, “Can you let me know when please, my calendar is booking quickly with appointments for everybody. I don’t have time for that”. I stayed strong and always love proving people wrong. When Michael left for a month with the military when the quints were 7 months old, I started passing kidney stones in the middle of the night. After waiting for a couple of hours for my mom to arrive to watch the kids, I took an ambulance to the hospital since I collapsed on the front porch. I didn’t want them waking the babies so I tried to walk outside. After a long night in the ER, I took a taxi cab home from the emergency room, and called Michael to tell him not to come home early…the mission came first. He came home 3 weeks later.
Add in a few more moves, lots more trips, my own health issues, Michael leaving for work a lot, having Gideon, family not acting how family should, and keeping up with everything, you still have a breeding ground for depression. Every aspect changed for my life. Life changed for Michael too. However, he still had his career, body, and a break away from the home craziness. After Gideon was born, I was busy packing for our cross country move, downsizing, and taking care of 6 kids under 20 months plus Conner. We bought our fixer upper house in GA sight unseen from AZ. After our move, Michael worked more than ever so I tried to settle the house in between life. Michael then left for 10 months. I settled us in and made the best of it. The kids all continued to thrive. I definitely felt overwhelmed at times but my anxiety always pushed me to do everything. I can not relax unless everything is done! I stayed strong for Michael who I could not always talk with (sometimes for weeks) so he could focus on doing his job. Some of the kid’s therapists doubted I could do it all. I gracefully showed them I could and told them they could, “pack sand, and start acting professional”. We found new amazing therapists at another facility who we all love! There will always be people who doubt you. There will always be things thrown at you in life.
When Michael came home in May, we started the reintegration phase. It is always a hard phase since the kids, Dad, and Mom have to relearn each other after 10 months. I quickly realized, I haven’t felt like myself in a long time. My depression never really had left but life’s needs pushed it down so I can always thrive. I have begun counseling again (I have done it off and on throughout the years), exercising consistently, reading, and making time for me. I have learned you don’t always have to be brave, or hide your tears in a pillow, and to always keep picking yourself up. Even on my overly depressed days, when my head is in a total fog, I still accomplish a lot. My family demands it and that makes me demand it too. If I can not keep progressing, I have a plan with the doctor for medication but I am not there yet. Baby steps…
Allyannah’s due date week in October and her birthday week in June are always two times that me sad/emotional. This year was no different in that regard. However, this was the first year, I could bring myself to get Ally a cake and have us all celebrate together. It was a huge step in the healing process. We celebrated the quint’s birthday on Ally’s birthday this year since they are only 3 days apart. Another first! I tried to make it a joyous day and turn sadness around. I wanted everybody to remember her since a Mother’s fear is that people will forget the the precious life they lost.
Tonight, I am sad as my babies leave the twos behind and journey into the threes tomorrow. The twos were not terrible and they have grown so much. I hope they embrace being three just as much! It has been a very stressful day as Michael got in a bad car accident early this morning (thankfully, he is okay his and the other vehicle are not), my nursing school had a glitch that made me have to go for an extra 8 weeks and costs $4k extra, Conner’s school tuition of $6k was due, and everything that could go wrong seemed to today. Even my flipflop broke, as I was taking the trash cans down the driveway, causing me to sprain my ankle. Tomorrow will get better. In this house, we turn lemons into lemonade.
(sorry for typos)…this one took me a lot of tears and redoing to accomplish it and put out there.