It’s been awhile since you last heard from me!
A Wild Ride
It’s been awhile since you last heard from me, and if you don’t know follow me on my personal instagram or facebook you probably have no clue where I went. I’ve gotten several messages wondering if I am still shooting weddings, portraits, etc. So I wanted to just drop a line and say- I’m back!
Last year you guys read my post announcing that we were expecting another member of our tribe! After much anticipation he arrived on 11/5/2018. Joseph King came into the world with the sweetest holler I’ve ever heard and a head full of red hair! (Jury is still out on his ginger status, some days it’s gold, some days it’s red) But it wasn’t without complications. Towards the end of my pregnancy I got very, very sick and he had to come out early. I don’t remember much about his delivery, but I do remember that one of my L&D nurses was a former client! So it was nice to see a familiar face during that time.
After he was born my husband noticed that Jojo was breathing a little funny. So after a lot of speculation and insisting he wasn’t being paranoid they took him to the nursery for an evaluation. That night all of my worst fears came true. Just like my first son, Brody, Jojo was taken to the NICU. He had bilateral pneumothoraces (holes in his lungs) and needed to be put on oxygen. I knew at that moment that we wouldn’t be leaving the hospital with him right away. He ended up being put on a vent for life support because he couldn’t breathe on his own. They couldn’t find a viable vein for an iv so they had to create a line via his belly button. He was strapped down and we weren’t allowed to touch him. For the first 4 days we went to the NICU 4 times a day for 15 minutes to get updates from the doctors, nurses, and to watch him sleep. One silver lining was that it was the same staff that treated our other son, so we knew Jojo was getting the best medical attention and treatment. During this whirlwind time the NICU doctor printed our other son’s medical records from his stay in the NICU and the similarities were eerie. He concluded that my husband and myself both carry a recessive gene for bad lungs and our kids has the misfortune to inherit it.
On the 5th day of Joseph’s stay they were able to pull his breathing tube out and let him breathe on his own. On the 6th day something wonderful happened, I was able to hold and touch my son for the first time. The night of his birth I was so out of it from the pain meds that I couldn’t keep my arms up, and I was afraid I was going to drop him so I wanted my husband to hang on to him. When they came in to tell me several hours later that he wasn’t coming back to our room my heart sank. So that day when they finally placed him in my arms I never wanted to let go. My whole world stropped.
Jojo was in the NICU for about 2 weeks. I know there are so many people that have their babies there for such longer periods of time, and I consider myself lucky that that stay was so short, but going home from this hospital without a baby in your car is heartbreaking. Nobody prepares you for that. And this pregnancy I had hoped we’d all be leaving as a family. It was hard not to be bitter, because I feel like I was robbed of the newborn experience with both of my sons. The time we spent shuffling back and forth was exhausting. We live about 45 mins from the hospital and Brody wasn’t allowed in the NICU because it was RSV season, so going to the hospital as a family wasn’t an option. If there was one thing that terrified me it was Jojo getting RSV. It had been drilled into us that RSV is somewhat of a death sentence for preemie babies. So I understood the caution, but when you have no family and nobody to help drive you to and from the hospital it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. As soon as I was discharged I was driving. I got yelled at by the nicu staff but there wasn’t anything that was going to keep me away from my son. For 3 hours a day I got to hold onto him and feel him breathe.
City Views And Dirty Windows
I wish that I could say that when we got home everything was smooth sailing. We got 4 great days at home with Jojo before shit hit the fan. He stopped eating, he was coughing, and he was having a hard time breathing. We had done everything we could do to protect him against germs, but he still got RSV. We were sent to the children’s hospital downtown where he would stay for almost another week. There are things you become numb to when you have a sick child. You learn to put up a barrier made of stone so that you just get to be in the same room as your baby. I watched him being stabbed over and over with needles, strapped down to tables and boards because he kept ripping out his iv’s. Countless times I stood behind a barrier as he was placed in a plastic tube, arms sticking straight up, and screamed his head off so they could get x rays of his chest. My child became a learning tool for certain nurses as his chest bone is caved in and when he inhales his rib cage collapses. Apparently this is rare in a baby. I’d put my hand into his crib and had his tiny fingers wrap around mine just so that he’d know I was there. There was no picking him up or holding him. All I could do was talk to him, let him know I was there, and watch helplessly as they suctioned him. It was brutal. He was discharged the evening before Thanksgiving and we spent the holiday relaxing as a family.
We were able to stay home for almost 2 weeks before we were back in the hospital. Joseph wasn’t gaining weight, he wasn’t eating, he was vomiting, and one evening while feeding him he aspirated and I knew our journey was just beginning. We were sent back to the hospital because the rattle in his chest from his formula hitting his air pipe was so bad his nurse could hear it over the phone. That started the title wave of tests. More chest x rays, more needles, an echo that revealed a hole in his heart, ultrasounds of his gi system, and an mri of his brain. One day I was cuddling my son, the next day I was sitting next to this huge machine while they strapped a 6 week old baby into a tube and holding a clicker to notify them in case he started screaming during the scan. I became too familiar with the pattern of the streetlights outside of his window. Everything except the echo and upper Gi scope was normal- thank God. But his GI showed a malformation in his flap so that when he breathed in you’d hear this awful, loud noise come out of him. It also caused him to aspirate when he swallowed. We also found out that his stomach wasn’t emptying which is why he kept vomiting. Just shy of 2 months old we rechecked into Le Bonheur for his first throat surgery. It was short, nerve wracking, and successful. They were able to work on his flap and give us meds to help the contents of his stomach move.
We were almost in the clear but something just kept bothering me. He’s purple probably 40% of the day. His legs, arms, and stomach all have a purple hue to them. So I brought this up and his doctors agreed something isn’t right. There’s either something still wrong with his lungs or the hole in his heart is causing an issue. So we’re headed back to the hospital in May for a new clinic they are opening where ENT, GI, Pulmonology, and several other departments all meet at once to check him out.
I never thought that my journey as a mother would lead me here. I never thought there would be a time in my life when I was comparing how many nights in the hospital vs how many nights at home. But for now we are enjoying life. Jojo is gaining weight, he’s hitting his milestones, and he’s happy and full of smiles. I’m slowly and steadily starting to get back to business. You will notice many changes in my company, starting with my style. I am also still booking portrait sessions and weddings, but not as many. I will also opening my schedule to studio sessions that will be more of an editorial style. Hopefully this season of life will be a short one and I’ll be back to shooting full time soon. Until then I hope you stay with me, follow along on my blog and social media, and still come to me with your portrait and wedding needs. To my clients that have stuck with me this last year- thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t even begin to describe what your loyalty and support means to me. The messages of well wishes, the prayers, the kind words have been appreciated more than you will ever know. I’m so honored to be the one who gets to tell your stories.