Tag Archives: change

Real, Fake Eyes

19 Feb

“Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Three Weeks With My Brother

A few days before Oli’s first birthday I woke up after only sleeping a few hours. The big day was finally here. The biggest day! She was getting her first pair of painted prosthetic eyes!

I could hardly contain my excitement. I couldn’t even imagine what she would look like. All of those feelings returned from when I was pregnant and would lie awake at night trying to picture her.

Before she was born I imagined her with big brown puppy dog eyes, long full lashes, and a sparkle that would melt everyone’s heart. Now I was imagining the same thing minus the long lashes and the sparkle. Little did I know how fantastically real, ocularist’s can make fake eyes. That sparkle was there, just painted on.

I rushed everyone through breakfast and we all piled in the car for the trip to L.A.

The drive seemed to take forever. Seth and I passed the time talking about what we each thought she would look like and what color we were going to choose.

“Brown. Or maybe blue. Kekoa has blue eyes. Or green like yours?” I couldn’t make up my mind.

“Blue. Kekoa and Thalia both have blue eyes and her little left eye looks like it is blue.” Seth makes the final decision.

“Blue it is.” I honestly really could have cared less by this point. All of those dreams of big brown eyes were receding from my mind and by the time she was 1 year old I just wanted her to have any kind of eyes. They could have been purple, red, or painted like cat eyes and I would have been absolutely thrilled.

Months and months of staring at blank eyes had made me realize how much I wanted to look at a pair of real looking ones. Although we had shed the ghastly pegs months ago, I was now anxious for the conformers to be painted.

I knew that I would love them, but I had no idea how much the prosthetics would change her whole face and appearance…

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Oli before she got her painted prosthetics.

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A Chance To Go Back In Time

15 Feb

I wonder if they will ever invent a way to travel back in time? If they do, there are a few moments that I wish to revisit and appreciate a little more.

I would like to go back to my wedding day. Not so much to just relive that moment, although it was wonderful, but more to go back and see my grandmother again. I was such a bitch that weekend. It was all about me and I didn’t spend enough time with her. She flew all the way from Iowa to Hawaii to see her first granddaughter get married even though she was dying. I wish I could go back and realize how short her time here really was. I thought, Oh I’ll see her again in a few months. I don’t need to go check on her in her room or have dinner with her tonight….Selfishly I let these moments slip by.

She died a few weeks after my wedding.

I would like to go back to the days when Oli was a baby. I cannot believe I actually just said that! I used to say you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to return to those days. But here I am saying it.

I have come to realize that something happened or changed in Oli after she turned one. She seemed normal as a baby. No head shaking, no flapping, she babbled and was interested in other people. Other than her blindness, she was typical. I was so distraught and terrified that I didn’t appreciate that she was okay. She was okay back then. She’s okay now, but it’s different.

I just watched a video of her yesterday from when she was about 6 months old. She was playing in her bouncy seat. I almost couldn’t watch it. I had an inexplicable urge to reach through the TV and scoop her up and transport her to now. Avoiding whatever it may have been that caused her autism. Whatever connection that she lost or was broken between then and now.
My family will mention to me lots of times that they just don’t understand why she stopped talking and why she started shaking her head, flapping her arms, and having extreme meltdowns. They will say things like “Remember when Oli said _____?” And then look at me like I can somehow offer them a reasonable explanation for the change in my child.

I can only look back at them with my own expression of bewilderment and shake my head. I don’t know why, but I do remember those days. Some of those memories are starting to fade. Much like when my grandmother died. I have a harder and harder time recalling her face and voice as the years pass. Seeing a picture of her brings it flooding back. Watching that video of Oli yesterday did just that.

Yes, now I remember when she said mamma, milk, juice, out…. I remember when I used to do something to make her giggle and could snap a picture of her and it didn’t just show a blur of movement. I remember when she used to try and hold a spoon and feed herself, when I could keep her engaged and she showed interest in things outside her body….. I do remember all of those things. Even when sometimes I don’t want to because it’s just too painful.

I hope they invent a time machine some day because I would also love to go back and knock some sense into my head. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and pay attention to all that your daughter can do. Because some of those things will fade away…”

I Thought I Was The Only One

12 Feb

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I began to think that all of the feelings in my heart about my daughter were terribly wrong. I was a loathsome, despicable mother for not just accepting who she was and continuing to battle with thoughts of alternate realities.

I began to hate myself.

I no longer believed that God had given her to me for a reason. Why didn’t He give her to an extraordinary mother who could just deal with this unexpected twist and not ritually beat herself up about what was wrong.

I felt small and worthless. Tired and overwhelmed. I felt like I was sinking on a slow leaking ship. I watched all of the other passengers confidently leap to safety while I remained steadfast, determined to somehow repair the damage or die trying. Everyone else was moving on, but I just couldn’t.

I loved her. I knew that I loved this little girl with all of my heart, but hated the fact that she had a disability. More importantly I hated that I hated that she was different.

I felt like I was all alone and that I was the only mother in the world with a special needs child who had experienced this sense of loss. I felt like I was the only one who grieved what might have been. Although I had all of these feelings in the beginning, as she got older they only intensified.

The weight of this emotional load began to get heavier and I grew weaker.

Growing up with Oli

4 Feb

IMG_1076“You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.”
― Woodrow Wilson

I have often wondered what it is like to be a sibling of a child with a disability. I know it’s an adjustment for any child when a new baby is brought into the house. But, what about the child whose life is forever changed beyond just having another little person to live with. It is so much more than parents now being more preoccupied with feeding routines, frequent diaper changes and crying episodes. And it’s more than just knowing that you now have to share mommy and daddy’s attention with a new sister when, well lets face it, you probably weren’t all that thrilled about her joining you. Especially since you were an only child up until now.

Your life changes because now life is riding in the car for hours and then sitting in little rooms with crappy toys and being told to “be quiet” while you try to wait patiently. It’s waiting in these rooms several times a week when all you really want to do is go back home and play with your toys and watch the Cars movie…again. It’s sensing the atmosphere change in your house and feeling the weight of a sadness that you don’t understand but, seems to have followed your sister home from the hospital. The weight that seems to intensify after waiting in another one of those little rooms.

As you get older you start to notice that your sister, who you have waited to play with since she was born, never seems to get old enough to play like you. She doesn’t sit up very well when she does learn to sit up and then she can’t see when you try to show her your newest Lightening McQueen car or your new Hot Wheels race track. Mommy tells you to put your toys in her hands to show her things, but frankly this doesn’t make sense either because then she only puts your new toy in her mouth and ruins it with slobber. She never learns to move around the house which means mommy has to carry her every where. The words “Oli just needs more help” are lost on you when you just want to be picked up and carried around like before. You love your sister but, just don’t understand her. You ask questions and want to know why she is so different than you but, mommy’s explanations that God made her different don’t make sense. Why can’t the doctors just make her better. She is obviously sick and this is what doctors do. Why doesn’t she ever get any better? Why do they keep taking her to the doctor if they don’t fix her?

As you grow and change, learn your letters, learn to count and tie you shoes you try to show your sister so she can learn too. But, your attempts are to no avail and she doesn’t seem to get it. She won’t talk to you and now you are drifting farther and farther apart. She starts to do strange things like flap her arms, hum loudly and shake her head. You try to play like her to connect with her in some way but, what seems to amuse her is just boring to you.

You never give up though. You never give up trying to form that connection with her.

She is your sister despite your differences. Mommy and Daddy have always taught you to love her and help her and that is exactly what you do. Not so much out of a feeling of obligation but, because that is just who you are.

Kekoa you are such a special little boy. I love that you just love her and even though it’s been 5 years since everything in your life changed, it has never dampened your spirit or your love of your family and life. Please keep your kind heart and don’t pay any attention to people who may try to lead you down a different path.

You, my son, are going to change the world.

Will she forgive me?

30 Jan

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

I wasted so much time at the beginning of Oliana’s life wishing and praying that things would change.

I wished that we could find the right doctor for her. I wished that she had been born without a disability. I wished it was easier.

I prayed that God would let her have some vision and that nothing else was wrong with her. I prayed that she would not be significantly delayed.

I prayed that I could just accept her as she was.

One by one, as these wishes failed to come true and my prayers were left unanswered, I became angry.
I was angry at my friends and family for not understanding what I was going through. I was angry at the doctors for continuing to give me bad news. I was angry at God for thinking that I could handle this.

I was so angry at God.

What did I do to deserve this?

I felt like I was being punished.

Much later I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself. I was being selfish and turning Oliana’s disability around and making it about me.

The angrier I became, the more I began to detach myself. I started pushing everyone who cared about me away.

I would often think, why can’t they just understand how hard this is?

As we continued to receive disheartening news about Oliana’s condition, I spiraled deeper and deeper into a vortex of anger and despair.

The things I felt during those dark days are very hard for me to admit to now. I wanted to be okay with who she was back then. But the truth is, I just wasn’t.

I know that I am going to have a very hard time as my children grow older and want to read this. I never want them to look at me and think that I didn’t love Oli because I wanted to change her. These two things seem like they can’t co-exist but, in my life they did. I did want to change her. I also loved her. It just wasn’t easy.

As I continue to write this, the hardest questions of all are:

How will I read this to Oli?

Will she understand?

Will she forgive me?

As long as nothing else is wrong…

29 Jan

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

As we left the Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation that day I felt a little less alone. I finally met someone who knew what microphthalmia was. I still didn’t know what this would mean to my daughter but, I began to have that tiny seed of hope again.

The woman from the foundation told me that even though her son had bilateral microphthalmia and the doctors told them that he would be totally blind, he was actually able to see a little bit of red light. So maybe that was a possibility for Oli. Maybe she wouldn’t live in complete and total darkness. Maybe if I began to pray hard enough she would be given the gift of having some kind of light perception.

I began to once again direct my prayers toward Oliana having vision.

I didn’t realize then, that praying for someone to be given something, is not really how the whole prayer thing works. Although I was praying for her to have some sight, part of me was really praying for an easier life for myself. If she could see something, anything really, it would probably make this whole thing easier.

If she could see something she wouldn’t be among the small percentage of people who are totally blind. That small percentage that I had read about, many of whom are illiterate and unemployed. And if she wasn’t completely blind, I could probably still force her to fit into my little box of perfection.

As long as nothing else was wrong.

Many times I also prayed “God if she is going to be blind, let her just be blind. Please don’t let anything else be wrong.”

Life…it’s not always easy

28 Jan

“Life is loving so hard you inspire and become inspired to be the next level of the person you never knew.” -Unknown

After Oli’s bath that night I gave Kekoa his bath. He was so happy that we were home and he was especially happy to have his baby home. I got the cutest pictures of him with Oli that night.

Babykoababyoli1

He was so amazed that this little doll was real. She wiggled and cried. She would grasp his chubby finger if he placed it in her hand. He just kept staring at her tiny hands and feet.

After I took some pictures we went into the bathroom and I started filling the tub with water. When it was ready Kekoa climbed in and began to play in the warm water. I was just staring at my perfect little boy.

My little boy.

I cried the day I took Kekoa home from the hospital. I had to go out to Target and I started sobbing in the passenger seat on the way there. Seth looked over at me like I was crazy.

“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

“I don’t know. I’m just so afraid for him. I’m afraid we’re going to get into a car accident and he’s going to get hurt. I’m afraid someone will want to look at him and accidentally sneeze on him and he will get sick.”

“I’m afraid someone will want to touch my new baby.”

“I just want to protect him from the world.” I sobbed.

I remember all those fears while I watch my son take his bath. I am overwhelmed again by my fierce instinct to protect him.

I want to protect him from this challenging and unfair life that now lays before him.

I want to protect him from the bullies at school that will tease him because his sister is different.

I don’t want him to ever see people staring at Oli. Watching his little face as he tries to comprehend why people are looking at his little baby and then turning away with pity on their faces.

Watching him try to understand the question that will inevitably come.

What is wrong with her?

I just love him so much and I want to give him everything.

I realize now, that I just wanted to give him everything that was easy.

Life is not always easy.

She gave me a new meaning to that phrase.

It no longer meant that life wasn’t easy because the money was a little tight that month. Or that it wasn’t easy because I might not be able to afford the new car I wanted or the bigger house with a bigger yard.

It used to mean that life was hard because I might not get what I want.

Now it was hard because I began to see how small and insignificant this all was.

It was hard because I now realized all that I had taken for granted and just thought I was entitled to.

It was hard because I really wanted my old life back.

I didn’t want to think about all of the challenges that now faced my family.

I wanted to remain where I was, even if it meant I would never grow.

I wanted my son’s life to be easy.

I could only look at him and cry. I just looked at him and repeated the 2 words that had become my mantra to my children.

I’m sorry.

Never going to be the same…

26 Jan

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

We drove baby Oli home on a warm sunny day.

I was trying my hardest to be upbeat for my son despite my inner turmoil. I was sitting in the back seat with Kekoa, listening to his favorite nursery rhyme CD.

As we were driving past the desert mountain bike trails that Seth and I used to ride, I am reminded again of another life. Another person that I’m having a harder and harder time connecting with.

I feel like I am floating away.

Leaving behind the person I was. My life, that used to make perfect sense to me, now I can no longer recognize. I am being consumed by despair of the unknown.

I look at Seth in the review mirror.

Our lives are never going to be the same.

Mother’s Day Weekend

23 Jan

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” -Anais Nin

After the doctor left my hospital room that day I felt pain like I have never felt pain before. I started questioning things that I have never questioned before and I began to ask the obvious question, “What the hell just happened to me?”

In a mere 10 minutes my entire life had changed.

The worst thing was, I had to be the one to tell my husband. He didn’t even know yet. I had to tell this poor guy, who wanted nothing more than to give his children anything and everything in this life, that there were going to be things he wouldn’t be able to give his daughter.

I was going to have to break his heart like it had never been broken before. Damn that doctor for leaving me with this responsibility!!

As it was, though, I couldn’t really think of anyone else who should tell him. I surely didn’t want that doctor to come back in here with his emotionless tone and his slightly bored attitude. I didn’t want that guy telling him that all his wonderful dreams of showing his daughter the beauties of Desert Mountains and Hawaiian sunsets were never going to happen.

I had to be strong for him.

I had to pretend that I knew we were going to get through this. And I was going to have to do it soon because he had just walked through the hospital room door. He walked in holding my beautiful baby boy and an armful of balloons and flowers.

Because…it was Mother’s Day weekend.

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