This weeks Mommy..
Melanie is wife to Clay and mother to Myah (5) they reside in a small community east of the mountains here in Washington State. Last summer I had a long conversation with Melanie's Mom. She told Mel's story about her first born baby girl, Shaya. It was one of those stories.. the kind that stick.. the one you don't easily shake. Let's meet yet another amazing Mommy.
Mel! Thank you soo much for your willingness to share your story this week! First, let's talk a little bit about your life before Shaya. You and Clay had been married a few years before she came along. On 11/29/04 you welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world. What were your thoughts on becoming a new Mother?
We were both so excited! Both of us were ready and our whole family was happy for us!
How was your pregnancy? At what point did you know something was not quite right.
I had a normal pregnancy. In labor, the baby was in distress so the doctors delivered her c-section. She was PERFECT. Then when she was 6 days old, we noticed a few things were off. She wasn't eating, she wasn't peeing a lot, and her left leg was turning a little "off color" (blotchy purple). We were having Clay's 30's birthday party at the beginning of December and we asked a friend our our's (a nurse practitioner) what we should do. He told us we should go to the ER in Spokane.. just in case. After 6 hours in the ER and then another several hours of test, X-rays, scans, ect, the doctors determined that she had a blocked clot in her descending aorta. It had cut off blood flow to her kidneys and lower extremities. She was taken into emergency surgery and give a 5% chance of survival. She was then flown to Seattle Children's Hospital.
So here you have this "normal" pregnancy, pretty normal delivery then 7 days later you are on the other side of the state.. your sweet baby girl is given a 5% chance of survival... talk a bit about what you were feeling then.. coping? Even putting one foot in front of the other?
Coping with the sheer trauma of the situation was something that I could only do by the grace of God! When I boarded the back of the plane from Spokane to Seattle, I had no idea if my baby would make it there alive. It was in that moment that I prayed and asked God to give me the strength to keep my emotions as "in check" as possible so I could make sound decisions about her care. I knew the doctors would give us tons of information that we would need to make decisions about - and it would be my job to know all the facts. Shaya's nurse Stephanie (who was with us the first night) made us feel so supported (as did many of the other staff there). She did one small thing that made a huge impact - she made us SMILE again. Our friends and family were also an amazing support system. Faith in a sovereign God...family....friends...and a caring medical staff...without all of those elements, I could not have coped.
Clay is driving back and forth over the mountain, going to the police academy during the week.. that must have killed him, talk a bit about your relationship during that time.
Yes, Clay was traveling back and forth across the state each weekend and it was SO DIFFICULT for him to be away from us. He doubted his decision to go to the academy the whole time. But he was such a rock for me while we were dealing with all of Shaya's medical issues. I felt like I was able to draw from his strength. He always seemed to ask the doctors all the right questions and fight for Shaya. It was intense, though. Now I see why situations like that either make you or break you as a couple. This ordeal definately drew us closer together because we made each decisions together and relied on God for the strength to make it.
4 months in the hospital is a long time. Did it feel long? Was it hard to watch everyone around resume normal lives?
4 months seemed like a long time. My friend Shanna at the RMH was there with her daughter who had cancer and she would say things like, "All I want to do is sit on a porch swing with a glass of iced tea with my family and be normal." And that's how I felt, too. I felt like I would never take a "normal life" for granted ever again. I would appreciate little things like: sipping iced tea, walks and sunny days. By the 3rd month there, I was getting into a routine. I had many, many visits from friends and family, which helped me not feel lonely.
Speaking of visits, you had (and still have) a simply amazing support system..talk to me about your peeps:)
(Shaya and Granny)
My mom and my family were by our side the entire time. Mom, Mark and sister-in-law drove Clay from Spokane to Seattle in a blizzard when Shaya was first hospitalized. They made sure we were all set up at the Ronald McDonald house. Mom stayed with us for 2 months and took care of us. She was an INCREDIBLE support! My friend Mary came up from Portland to be by my side several times. Our friends and family were there for us constantly. Some of our friends and Clay's parents even flew out from Virginia. Our church family in Summit Valley sent letters, cards and money to help us out. We never really felt alone because we had so much support. We had about 30 visitors come see Shaya in the hospital. Without all that support, I'm not sure I could've made it emotionally.
4 months into this new life...
the heartache we felt as we said goodbye to her.
Then came something a little unexpected..
About 5 months after I started my new job, I found out I was pregnant. Truthfully we were devastated at first. We did not feel prepared for another baby AT ALL. My entire pregnancy was filled with tests and ultrasounds. The thought of the same thing happening all over again was terrifying. Then, when we went in to the ultrasound and found out we were having another girl, we both fell apart (the poor ultrasound lady must've thought we were crazy!). But once Myah arrived, we were so happy. And looking back now, I'm glad we had another girl! After we had Myah, we found JOY again!
How did Myah help you heal?
Having Myah has been healing in so many ways. She brought our JOY back. She makes us SMILE and LAUGH. She helped us move forward. I'm not sure we ever would've "planned" to have another baby so she was definitely a gift from God! Just the other day she told me that she wished Shaya was still alive. We talked about it for awhile. I explained to Myah that when Shaya passed away, our hearts were very, very sad. But then God gave us Myah and our hearts were HAPPY again!
Even if I don't understand all the REASONS we go through trials, I know that God can use our heartbreak to comfort others....2 Cornithians 1: 3-4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
Ok lady, fun question.
10 days outside the US with 10 people. (this might be hard because you have such a big family!!)
10 Days outside the US with 10 People....I would love to go somewhere like Australia or Bora Bora and enjoy the beautiful beaches! This sounds horrible but I might not take Clay because he HATES flying and would probably rather NOT go!! If we were taking a road trip, he would be #1 on my list, though! I would probably make it a "girl trip" and take: Mary Jane, Rachelle, Jennie and Michelle (four of my close girl friends) and Tammy (my sister in law), Mindy (my sister), my Mom, Mikaela & Morgan (two of my nieces who have baby sat for me so many times that they deserve a trip!) and Myah.