Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Reflection of 2009

As I sit with Jack on my lap, I can't help but look back on 2009 and think about how much our life has changed. Jon and I went on a date New Years Eve and we both agreed that 2009 was both the best and worst year of our lives. Our miracle was born and we went through hell and back with him.

2008 ended with joy and excitement. I found out I was pregnant the week after Christmas. I was going into the New Year with much hope, anxiety and general happiness. I was determined to keep my current job (was mentored by wonderful women in the ministry who guaranteed I could do both - be both a great mom and a run a successful non-profit). There was a whole lot on my plate, professionally speaking, and I was slightly nervous that I might not be able to do it all. I had the best example in my own mother though. She has worked my whole life and taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. I was determined to stick it out, even under hard circumstances.

January came and I was hit with the worst morning sickness (really all day sickness) imaginable. I thought... how can I work and be so sick? I would wake up in the morning, puke, try to take a shower, barely get myself to work, puke again, get dizzy... day in and day out. I would come home from work and literally curl myself up in the fetal position asking God "why is this happening to me?" Little did I know that how I was feeling was just the beginning of the sickness and heartache I would go through. I was feeling the beginnings of the condition that led me to have Jack so early - severe preeclampsia.

Around this same time, things at work started to get extra dicey. I wasn't being treated the best by a certain few people (oh the joys of working with human beings!), especially given the circumstances of having such a complicated pregnancy.... very ironic. Those who read this blog (my friends and family normally) all know more about the details of my work and all that went into it. But for those who don't, let me just tell you... the stuff that went on in no way reflects the awesome staff and ministry coming out of there. I have absolutely no regrets in starting that ministry and just know in my heart that the time was right for me to leave. Capable hands have taken over and I pray that many women continue to be blessed!

I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life - to leave the organization that I started from the ground up, and pray that someone would get the vision and take it to the next level. I just couldn't do it anymore, especially being so sick. I gave my notice in February and resigned. I basically spent the next 3 months sick on my couch, wondering what in the world would happen next.

In late April we received the awesome news that we were having a boy! I could not believe the ultrasound... boy parts! I for sure thought we were having a girl. At that point, we could finally start to wrap our minds about being parents to a little boy. My dreams started to take flight...

One week in May, I was particularly sick. I was having horrible back pain and thought I was coming down with the flu. I headed to bed early one night, hoping to get rid of my horrible headache. I awoke in the night with extreme nausea. I thought to myself for the first time... this just doesn't feel right. I went back to bed and woke Jon up. Told him I was not feeling good. Now to him, this probably sounded normal. I had been sick for 4 months by then! I tried to fall back asleep, but something wasn't right. I decided to call the Doctor.

When I got him on the phone, it was almost morning, He said, "how about you come in and we can take a look at you." When I got to the hospital (after stopping multiple times on the way for some roadside puking... I know YUCK! ) we were told to sit in the waiting area. I was getting a little mad at this point thinking "why are they just having us sit here?" Finally, we were told to go up to the 3rd floor and check in. When we got there, I was told to gown up and put a mask on. They thought I had the flu and was contagious. Needless to say, it took them a good solid 6 hours to figure out I was on death's door bed. When my OBGYN came in the room and started crying, I knew it was going to be bad news. No flu, no gall bladder problems, but something much more serious. I would have to be life flighted to Missoula to be with a high-risk Doctor and a top-level NICU.

I hate flying. This goes down as the worst flight in my life. The helicopter (thank God!) was smooth sailing and I don't remember much because of the drugs I was on. I do remember it was quite beautiful out, no wind, and the sun was shining right in my face. The pilot gave me his hat to wear.

Forty minutes later we arrived in Missoula safely. I remember being wheeled off the helicopter ramp and my parents waiting for me. Relief washed over me. I was at an excellent hospital and my parents were there. Jon had to drive and he made it moments after. The Dr. did a quick checkup on me and gave us the devastating news - I needed to have an emergency C-section because of a condition called severe preeclampsia. Basically my blood pressure had skyrocketed and my organs were shutting down. I was in danger of permanent brain damage and death, unless the baby was removed from me.

My Helena OBGYN had told me, through tears, that our baby was not viable. Basically, they had to deliver a baby that could not survive. I am crying here typing this because I still have not worked through all the emotions of what we went through in May. This is hard to type, but I need to.

Our precious little Jack (John Allen Bennion) was born Friday night, May 15th at 1 lb, 2 oz. at 23 weeks, 2 days gestation. I remember hearing his little voice squawk when they took him out of me. It was unreal and precious.

The first few days of being at the hospital are still hazy. I recall certain friends visiting and of course, seeing Jack for the first time. But I was definitely in denial and shock about what was going on. That is probably a good thing. If I would have known the emotional rollercoaster ahead of us, I would not have made it.

I don't want to write about our 4 month long NICU stay in Missoula for this reflection. Jon already did an amazing job of that and it was posted on this blog. Let me just say this though - when you go through something so life-altering, your whole perspective on life changes. I am stronger than ever before. I am also damaged like never before. It is a rough paradigm to wrap my brain around.

In September, on my birthday, we got to take Jack home. This fall was spent learning how to be a mom. And how to survive on zero sleep. Jack has a lot of medical problems that keep us on our toes. We put lots of miles on our car with back and forth trips to Missoula for Dr. visits. Truthfully, I don't remember much from this fall... time flew by. We tried to enjoy each milestone and I definitely cherished being at home with our baby.

I prayed for one thing for the Holidays - that Jack would stay healthy, no surgeries or sickness, and that we could enjoy being in our home to the fullest. We did just that. Christmas 2009 goes down as the best ever. I have no complaints and much thankfulness.

2009 was the best and worst year. The best because our sweetie fought for each breath and survived. He is such a happy, good, easy going baby. I thank God for that! I want to leave the worst of 2009 behind and move on. I know life is never easy, but I desperately want an easier 2010. I know that whatever comes our way, we can survive it.

What will 2010 bring? I am not sure. I have made one resolution for this new year - to heal emotionally from everything I have been through. I want to be a strong mom for Jack. I want to be an awesome wife. I need direction from God about what I should do professionally, because I know there is life beyond mommy hood for me. I have much to offer and much to learn.

Mostly I pray for health and safety for Jack in 2010. There is much, medically speaking, that will happen this next year. I pray for the grace to take what comes and roll with it, always looking to God for direction and hope. I'm believing that 2010 will be the best year yet!
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Tami said...

Jessi - you are an incredibly strong mommy to Jack! Everything that y'all experienced as you rode that NICU roller coaster has strengthened you. I can't imagine the trauma you experienced that led to Jack's birth. I hope that you can begin the healing process and find that path that is right for you. As always, my prayers are with Jack for his continued growth, strength, and health.

Lauren said...

You are so amazing. I love reading your blog. You have been such a great example to me through your trial. I can't imagine what you and Jon have been through. So happy that Jack is doing well. We love you!

Julie said...

You made me cry!! What a beautiful post. I appreciate your vulnerability and your willingness to embrace the brokenness this experience has caused and let God use it to create beauty in your life. You inspire me!

I'm hoping 2010 will bring a Jack that can take road trips to play with his buddy Caleb and his girl friend Baby Girl!!

Blalock said...

Mmm...my heart is heavy for you. You have been through so much. Give yourself time to heal. You are in my prayers daily. That being said, you are an amazing person Jessi. Absolutely amazing! And you are already a wonderful Mom.

Brandi said...

You are so amazing. I cannot even start to comprehend all you and Jon went through and all Jack had to overcome to get to where you are today. You are an amazing mother and will continue to be just that! You are an inspiration to me! A truly wonderful post. 2010 will be so wonderful for you all! Thank you for sharing! Big kisses to Jack! See you soon.

Barbara said...

Beautiful post, Jessi. You definitely made me cry. I cannot imagine what you went through in 2009, but it looks to me like you made it through with so much grace. Here is to your and Jon's strength, to baby Jack, and to a wonderful New Year. Cheers!

Lindsay said...

Wow! What a year! I never knew the details of what you went through the day Jack was born. I didn't even know that your OB said that the baby was not viable. How heartbreaking! I'm so thankful and happy that the doctor was wrong. Jack is such a precious gift and a true miracle baby. After what you and Jon have been through, I think you can stand strong through anything life throws at you! But I do hope that 2010 is kinder and gentler to you all. Happy New Year!

Celeste Johnson said...

You are amazing and strong. Thank you for your honesty and realness... you are an inspiration to me! 2010 will bring you much healing... and joy! Love you.

katieoz said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing yourself this way, Jessi. I feel your ache, tiredness, joy and hope. Your vulnerability is beautiful. Praying also for this to be the best year yet!

lvaughey said...

Jessi....we've not yet met, but I was on Jon's distribution list during the NICU weeks, and therefore privileged and able to be part of your journey through prayer. I have the picture of Jack's first smile on my laptop screen as a reminder of God's great miracles; and Jon shared with us your feelings (yours and his) of how much that first smile meant to you both. Thanks to Jon for including the link to your post in his latest update, and thanks to you both for sharing your extraordinary experiences. Your testimony strengthens others. Prayers for all good things in 2010.

Rebekah said...

WOW! You continue to inspire and motivate me to take every moment as something precious and given by God. I am thankful that you have allowed me to be a part of your life and that you have been so willing to share it with all of us! I love you and pray for a amazing, blessed new year for the Bennions in 2010!