New year but nothing is

I have never gotten too excited about the calendar turning over to another year. Especially in the past few years, it has become evident to me that a new year doesn’t mean anything has changed. That sounds somewhat bleak, but really, every moment of your life, you have the ability to pivot. You can make a change any day of any month of any year. January first doesn’t hold some supernatural power over change-making abilities.

I do love any excuse to celebrate, though, and my soul still has an air of optimism on January first. My brain tamps it down and makes it cautious, but I do tend to take stock of my life.

I got a text from a friend this morning – and as my first act of vulnerability for the year – she will know who she is after this blog post. It was actually a group chat so she technically said to Eric and me, but I took it personally: “I hope this year is better than the last, but if for whatever reason it isn’t just know you have 2 friends here to fight the fight with you.”

I believe her, and I also know that I haven’t allowed her – or anyone – truly come fight the fight with me, lately. The walls I have built around myself are there to protect me, but they have also prevented further developing these types of relationships with people.

So – vulnerability is what I choose to focus on this year. It is a natural progression – very closely related – to authenticity, which was my focus for 2022. But it’s diving deeper. I have been in survival mode for so long, and it just occurred to me today that if I let the people in my life in, allow them to “fight the fight” with me, I might just have the energy and capacity left to also be there for them.

Put simply: I want to be a good friend, and I want to have good friends. And at this stage in life, if we want authenticity in our relationships, vulnerability is a must.

In college, when I went through a period of wanting to be shocking on my Christian campus, I made a t-shirt I wore often. On the front, in bright red letters, it said “Nakedness is Key”. On the back, the true message: “True intimacy requires certain vulnerability.”

How was I so smart then (albeit attention-seeking), and where did I lose that important message along the way?

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Holidaze

My inner two year old has come out this holiday season. The one that wants to cross her arms, stomp her feet, and shout how unfair this all is.

It’s not that I assumed we would never get Covid. We have made deliberate, intentional choices that invite greater risk now that we are fully vaccinated and boosted. I knew it would happen eventually, though I held hope it may not. But to experience it the way we have, over the Christmas holiday, feels severely unfair.

Eric tested positive first, and Kiran and I tested negative. We immediately isolated and began masking when we were in the same areas of the house. Kiran and I still tested negative Christmas morning, which means we were not together. When Kiran went to his dad’s at noon, I spent the rest of the day alone on the couch watching TV, while Eric isolated his positive self in our bedroom. We still wanted to give Kiran the best possible chance of not getting infected.

But, as the universe would have it, Kiran and I tested positive the very next morning. So glad we sacrificed our Christmas (I am – I will never regret the precautions we take to keep Kiran safe and healthy)….

For me, Covid has sucked. The worst part is the sheer exhaustion. I vacuumed the living room yesterday, five days into my illness, and felt like I needed to lie down afterwards.

Kiran has held his own. He’s a tough guy. I am relieved and thrilled, though I have some concerns with the new research coming out about how Covid may affect our immune systems long-term. We are where we are, and I am thankful he had the most mild symptoms in our household.

We are still postponing – and anxiously waiting – our family Christmas celebrations. I was so disappointed we had to miss so many fun plans. The day Eric tested positive, I had texted my parents prior and said “I just want to skip over all this stuff (referring to food plans, etc) and relax and be with my family. That’s all I care about.” I was looking forward to spending quality time with my parents, with Eric’s girls (and one fiance), and with Eric’s extended family for their last big Christmas hurrah. I am still grieving what we had to miss – I have strengthened that muscle of disappointment over the last few years, I suppose – I hate missing out on Christmas. It’s my favorite, and now it feels over.

It just sucks.

Influenza A

This illness has solidified my suspicion that Kiran has never dealt with flu before. It’s rough. He’s had his flu shot already this year, and he’s on Tamiflu due to his underlying heart condition. Still, he’s waking several times a night, coughs are rough, energy low, and you can just tell he’s not feeling well. I’d imagine some of the minor body aches I am feeling today (he always shares with his mama, sweet boy) is nothing compared to how he’s been feeling.

He remains fever free, and he is very slowly – more slowly than I’d like – seemingly getting better. He requires fewer doses of Tylenol to stay comfortable and is waking up fewer times each night (twice last night versus four times the night prior).

It still amazes me how much he has changed from when he was an infant. He never wanted physical comfort back then – if he was frustrated or not feeling well, he wanted space. Now, he wants to be attached to me and pulls me closer and closer.

I’m touched out. I don’t feel 100% myself. Today has been particularly difficult because of the logistics in our house – people are still in and out all day long, working on the bathroom; the poor dog who had to be kenneled while bathroom was being worked on has way too much energy despite a few walks today; Chef Eric is as busy as he’s ever been preparing for all the Thanksgiving meal items he’s sold.

I am still thankful. Both can be true. I am completely overwhelmed and exhausted – and so thankful. I am thankful pneumonia hasn’t developed. I am thankful he is able to recover at home. I am thankful we are together. I am thankful I worked so hard to get to a place with school that I could just focus on Kiran and his recovery this week.

I have had a couple of friends drop off little care packages – toys/activities to keep Kiran entertained, and even some chocolate/flowers for me. I am humbled and thankful people think about our family. I am realizing the friendships I am building are becoming the ones I have always hoped for.

This fall has been a trying time for our family. It seems, though I disagree, I needed to strengthen my resilience by practicing. A LOT. I am struggling with living inside survival mode for so long again.

But I know this will pass. It always does. There will be the other side. No matter what, I’m still standing. My family is together, and we are determined to build the life we want, despite the unexpected circumstances we have found ourselves in.

And I haven’t dropped out of grad school. Yet. 😅

It’s a long road ahead, but we journey together. If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s the importance of who you invite along on your journey – and it’s equally important to pay attention to the ones who only join when the path is easy.

Practicing Resilience

Seven years ago, at about this time, I was having contractions. A lot of them. With little break in between. For hours.

I didn’t have time to really dwell on my fears when I was actively in labor, bringing Kiran into the world. In quieter moments during my pregnancy, I had ample time to ruminate over the “what ifs”….

But in those active moments, inside contraction after contraction, all I could focus on was that moment, getting through the pain.

It seems a good metaphor for my life, lately. It has been yet another season of contraction after contraction, painful moment after painful moment, being pulled through a lot of darkness. All I can focus on is surviving the moment I’m in.

Last night, I pulled myself out of that survival mode as I reminisced about the drive to the hospital to be induced to have our baby boy. And I remembered the overwhelming fear. And I acknowledged – internally – that I still carry fear in my heart when it comes to this little boy.

The difference is living for seven years as his mama and taking on all the experiences that has entailed has equipped me to work through the fear and take on the painful fight. Again and again. Wave after wave comes at me, and I just keep pushing.

Resilience isn’t something you have; it’s something you practice.

Lightning Rainbow

Seven years ago, I was being induced in a hospital bed. Scared out of my mind, with little idea of what was ahead.

On the ride to the hospital, about two hours from home, we were driving through a storm. The sky was simultaneously lit up with lightning as a rainbow appeared. Kiran’s dad said it’s the kind of night superheroes are born.

He was right.

Tonight, when I showed Eric the picture of the sky from that night, he said it made sense. The lightning signifies the challenges Kiran faces in his life. The rainbow? His personality, his attitude, his demeanor – always. That boy brings all the colors to our lives. Every. Single. Day.

I can’t believe we’ve had seven years of color-filled days.

I am the luckiest mama.

Disappointment

What a privilege it is, that I get to hold all your disappointments. And you don’t have to.

Kiran was supposed to go with his first grade class to a pumpkin patch today. But he has pneumonia, so he’s missing it.

And I am SO disappointed he doesn’t get that experience this year.

But he has never given any indication that he feels disappointment. He is so present in the moment he’s in. So he doesn’t have to feel it. But boy, I do!

And that’s okay. This version of motherhood is different in this way. The positive is I don’t have to watch my baby boy feel disappointed. I don’t have to help him navigate that – at least not yet. Maybe someday.

But the negative? I hold it all myself.

But, watching his body struggle through this illness, I would take it from him without hesitation if I could.

And so, I am happy to take the disappointment. It is a privilege I have as Kiran’s mom.

New Keen on Kiran Shirts!

We are overdue for new shirts showing we are Keen on Kiran! Mine have been slowly deteriorating due to multiple washes because I love wearing them!

All profits from shirt sales will go toward an accessibility need in our home, ensuring it can be as functional as possible for Kiran.

Here’s the link to our design: https://www.bonfire.com/keen-on-kiran160/

As always, we appreciate your support. I mean it when I say it’s a long road ahead, but we journey together. And who isn’t Keen on Kiran 😍

Heart Stability

Kiran’s heart seems to have found a new stable – for now. His echo today showed similar pressures and pictures as the MRI and last echo six months ago.

So. We get to keep waiting and watching. Fatigue and fluid retention will be the first signs his heart function is declining further.

He got approval to move forward with his otolaryngology procedure next week.

The only change that will be a permanent one is we are starting him on a daily dose of aspirin. Studies have been done that show it helps prolong the life of the valve. Dr R mentioned he had remained skeptical for awhile and had put off a strong recommendation, but the results had him convinced and he felt it to be best protocol for kiddos with heart valves.

So, after we get through his procedure next week, we will be starting a daily dose of aspirin that will continue for life.

These are my favorite appointments. No surprises. Stable results. Assurance of what to watch for and when we will know it’s time for an intervention. Wonderful echo and ekg techs – and of course, I always appreciate chatting with Dr R.

Sticking with six month check-up protocol as well. Keeping a little closer eye on that precious heart. I’m glad it’s not time, yet.

Heartiversary

Tonight, I gave you ice cream.

And I remembered what it was like, to create your bucket list. I didn’t know how long I would have you. And life had only taught me about loss.

So when your complex open heart surgery was scheduled, I made you a bucket list.

You were not even a year old.

I don’t remember all of it. I wanted you to be in your kiddie pool. Experience the ocean. Taste ice cream.

Ice cream. Tonight, you kept opening your mouth for another bite. But every single bite shocked you, because it’s cold. And we don’t do it often.

But tonight, we celebrate. Look at all the firsts you have had – so many more than I would even allow myself to dream about back then.

And now – I dare to dream. And you continue to amaze and exceed all expectations.

It’s a long road ahead, but we journey together. Happy sixth Heartiversary, my warrior.