Just over a year ago, our life changed more than we ever could have predicted. Sure, we had planned to have a baby, but nothing could have prepared us to have Kenna. Suffice it to say…Kenna was planned…as best we could. We had worked with my OB/GYN to make sure that it was safe for me to have more children. Every one of my pregnancies previously had been a problem pregnancy. I was high risk and old…pushing 40. I had already been a mother for 17 years, thanks to Rachel and later Keenan. And now, I wanted to do it again, share the experience with Sam.
We were given the green light.
And because we planned, I had time to take vitamins early, to prepare my body, to get in the recommended dosage of folic acid. I cut out caffeine. I increased my fruits and vegetables. I ate more whole foods, less processed. I walked. I had left my previous job to work for Sam and build our home remodeling business months before. Since I worked from hom, our baby would never have to go to day care. I’m not sure how we could have planned this better. I never had my dream pregnancy, but I did end up with my dream family. Precious Kenna came ridiculously early. She was a 24 weeker that had stopped growing around 18 weeks. She weighed in at a whopping 9.6 ounces, 9 1/2 inches long, born on January 9th, 2012.
The prognosis wasn’t good. In fact, we talk now about how the worst part of the experience wasn’t the emergency delivery, or the bed rest for nearly three weeks before that. It wasn’t even the pre-eclampsia or HELPP syndrome. The worst part was visiting Kenna in the NICU those first few weeksnot because she looked frail and sickly, but because everyone looked at us with such pity…this poor family that was so in love with a baby who wasn’t going to make it.
So we developed a mantra. We honed our speech. And we shared it with everyone who needed to hear it.
We are choosing to be positive, we said. We have to believe that Kenna will heal, that Kenna will not only survive, but thrive. We hear you, but we are going to love her through it.
We made sure that even the doctors and nurses began to practice our brand of optimism. When they would share with us their honest assessment, what they knew to be true from years of experience, what they predicted would happen, we would make sure each discussion ended on a happy note.
me: Now say something nice. Tell me something good.
Inevitably…in an effort to do so…we would fall back on the same response. The one organ that was holding out really well…was Kenna’s skin. So for months we would receive a shopping list of her flaws and shortcomings followed by…but she has nice skin!
For once, we were the exception and not the rule. Kenna came home after 6 months and one day in the NICU. She weighed 6lbs, still needed oxygen to breathe and a g-tube with a pump to feed. The monitor that would alarm with disturbing regularity at night was supposed to provide comfort. Still, everything going on with Kenna, she would outgrow.
It was probably the most important experience of our life. We learned to let go. We learned how to love no matter what. We learned that reaching out and helping others helped us, too. We learned that anything is possible. We learned how to ask questions, ask for help, and accept love and support from strangers. Most of all, we learned that when it’s hardest to be positive, it is most necessary.
How has positive thinking changed your life?