The emotions attached to the first day of school were extra overwhelming this year. My daughter started high school, my middle son is now a sophomore in high school, and Sam started first grade. My babies are growing up way too fast.
Six years ago, I planned to come home from the hospital to get my other three kids off to their first day of school. I didn’t make it home from the hospital very often and was excited to see them off on their first day.
During the middle of the night, Sam went into cardiac arrest for a second time. Needless to say, when my baby died in the middle of the night, for me, leaving was not an option. There are many times this past six years I wish I could be in two different places at a time. Or three. Or four.
It slightly haunts me sometimes when I think of the nurse who told me at one point during Sam’s seven month hospital stay, “Jamie, you need to go home, Sam will not remember this, but your other kids will.” She was right and it was said out love.
I have also had several nurses tell me, “Sam would not be here today if it wasn’t for me being by his side all the time.” Talk about having to wrestle with what the best thing to do is. I still struggle with this every one in a while, but it’s neither here, nor there. I cannot change the past. We did what we thought was best for our kids at the time. That is all we can do.
It was an emotional day, but most of my tears were happy ones.
We’re back to that resilience thing I wrote about quite some time ago. Click here to read how I feel about resilience. I know it could be SO much worse, and once in a while when things are harder, my thoughts go to, “but God”, don’t we have enough on our plate? Why does it seem when life throws you a curve ball, more keep coming?
If you have more than one child, my guess is you love each of them equally, and you likely express your love differently based on their needs. Each of our kids are special and unique. No one else in the world can offer what he or she can. I believe this with all of my heart. We do our very best to give each of our children what we think they need from us emotionally, socially, physically, mentally, academically, etc. You get the point. We do our best to raise virtuous adults.
Sometimes circumstances and/or nature gets in the way.
We do very best, and that is all we have. At times, our very best, doesn’t seem or feel like enough, and during a trauma there is only so much we can do, even if we want to give more, circumstances can stop us. We carry the weight of our children’s bad choices on our shoulders whether they are six or twenty-one.
Sometimes, no matter what we do or say, I believe nature will take over nurture and our children can take a destructive path. It comes to a point where we have to set boundaries, and they have to figure it out on their own.
For parents and loved ones, watching the destruction, makes for heartbreak, anger, pain, frustration, sadness, despair, etc. It’s a road no parent foresees for their child. We can try all the things the experts say to do, but those things don’t always work. It’s a road you think can’t happen to you, because you are good parents.
We fight for all of our children. We love each of them equally and want them to have happy, successful lives. They grow up and make decisions of their own. How we set our boundaries doesn’t mean we love them any less. We can set boundaries and love our kids at the same time. Boundaries are an important part to healthy mental health and love for our children.
I have to admit, most of us in this family have handled adversity like rock stars. Daily, I hope, pray, and believe, someday I can tell this part of our story. It WILL BE a story that ends with restoration, meaning better than it was before.
We fight for all of our children and sometimes that means letting go of what we cannot fix or change. At the end of the day, there is very little we have control over and we have to rely on hope. Hope that the old will be made new. Hope that faith will prevail over our fears. Hope that restoration will come.
Getting all of Sam’s medical equipment and supplies situated on an airplane takes quite a bit of patience. One of the bummers when flying with someone who has oxygen, is they have to sit at a window seat. This makes things a bit more difficult for us, but thankfully Sam has done really well flying.
We got all of our stuff situated and sighed a big sigh of relief. Right away, I smelled a familiar smell. No, not now Sam. Remember when I told you our only option for diapers was a size too small? Yeah. When I turned to look, “it” was already coming out the back of his diaper. Oh great. What do you do with a five year old who’s pooped on an airplane?!
We were still on the ground so I unbuckled Sam and carefully picked him up. Sean followed me to the front of the plane with the diaper bag.
I explained the situation to the fight attendants. “Can we just lay him down right here?”, I asked. It was the only place I didn’t see carpet and knew this was going to be a messy situation. They politely obliged.
A messy situation might have been an understatement. As we started to change him, there was poop EVERYWHERE. We ran out of wipes. Of course we did. At this point, there was one flight attendant holding open a garbage bag, another one wetting and handing me paper towels from the bathroom, and another giving us moral support. Sean was helping wipe the poop off Sam and that, was everywhere. Bless all their hearts.
After we wiped the poop off the floor and were about to pull Sam up to put new pants on him, Sean stopped me. “Jamie, look at your arm.” For real?!?! There was literally poop from my wrist to my shoulder, on ALL sides of my arm! You cannot make this stuff up!!! You know your husband loves you when he’s holding your hand and wiping poop off your entire arm.
We remedied the situation as much as we could, obnoxiously thanked the flight attendants, and trudged back to our seats. I’m pretty sure we held the plane up a bit longer. Okay Lord, I’m done with the mishaps. Get us home safely and smoothly.
We hooked Sam up to his oxygen once we got into the air and he fell asleep shortly after. My sweet little boy was clearly exhausted. He slept for almost the entire flight. Thank you Lord. I needed that.
We were all very happy to be home, even if it was below freezing.
Like I said, we made lemonade, out of quite a few lemons on this trip. Would I do it again to not miss out on the good parts I had with my family? Absolutely.
Our flight was not scheduled to leave until 8:00 p.m. the next day. Since we had to check out of our rental by 10:00 a.m., we spent the day at the Tampa Zoo. We had a great day at the zoo and celebrated Will’s fifteenth birthday. How is he fifteen already?!
We returned our rental vehicle at the airport early in the evening. Not only did the rental company not charge us for the upgrade, they took a good chunk of money off of our total bill for the inconveniences. We took the tram to check our luggage.
As we were waiting in line, a staff member from the airlines called everyone who was flying to Minnesota up to the check in desk. She informed us, “I’m so sorry everyone, but this flight has been cancelled.” Are you serious?!?!All fifteen of our family members made it home today! Not that I didn’t want them to make it home. Why us?!?! I’d be lying if I said these thoughts didn’t come into my mind.Now, pull yourselftogether, Jamie, and never mind the “why’s”.Do I have enough medical supplies for Sam?! You can’t buy suction catheters at Target!
After four hours of waiting in the airport, the airline booked everyone on the flight a room at a nearby hotel. We waited at least another hour for the shuttle to come get us. Thankfully, I had already drawn up Sam’s nighttime meds that morning. His nighttime nebs would have to wait. To say we were all getting cranky at this point would also be another lie.
The airline was very accommodating to Sam and his medical needs. We were the first to get on the shuttle to the hotel. We were getting some major dirty looks, which made me feel sad and a little annoyed. Most people take one look at Sam, us, and all that comes with us and give us looks of sympathy. If they only knew.
It was pretty late (for us) when we finally made it into the hotel room. We were very grateful, the airline booked us two adjoining rooms. As we came into the first room, we discovered if we didn’t get two rooms, we would have had a very difficult time getting all of our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies in one room! After we got Sam’s nighttime nebs (thankfully I had packed a few extra neb cups) done, we sandwiched him in between Sean and I, and tried to go to sleep. He still sleeps in a crib so he thought this sleeping arrangement was very funny. After about forty-five minutes of me grabbing his ankle to slide him back onto the bed, he finally fell asleep.
The next morning, we got ready and packed up our obnoxious amount of stuff for the airport again. We realized we wouldn’t have enough diapers to last us through the day. Sean tried the gas station across the street from the hotel. No such luck, and the attendant told him unless you have a car, there’s nowhere close to get diapers. Great. The hotel had them, but they were going to cost us a pretty penny. Fourteen dollars for four diapers! For real?! It’s important to note for the last mishap, the diapers were a size too small.
The shuttle took us back to the airport and we checked our bags. The airline gave us meal vouchers so we ate very well for lunch.
We headed for security. We were without a TSA agent to help us this time. Going through security with Sam’s oxygen, emergency bag, suction machine, med bag, diaper bag, feeding bag, and our things is quite the ordeal. They have to check every med and test every liquid, which includes his sterile water for suctioning and all of his formula. If people stare, I wouldn’t know because my focus is on Sam and getting us through as quick as possible.
We were almost through security when a woman walked up to us. She said, ”You guys are amazing. You must do this often.” I laughed and told her, ”No, it’s only our second time traveling with him, but thank you so much for the encouragement.” She responded, ”Well you make it look flawless.” With much sincerity, I thanked her, she smiled with all her heart and walked away. It felt like an angel was sent from God in that moment. After the last twenty-four hours, she had no idea what that did for my soul. I call these little moments in life, God winks.
Sam and I had wandered off. Sam is a very busy little boy. Although he’s five, I would say he functions more at the level of an eighteen month old. That being said, we tried to let him be as busy as possible before the plane ride. We wandered back towards our boarding gate.
Sean and Will were walking towards us on a mission with somber looks on their faces. Oh no, what now?! “The flight is cancelled.”, they informed me. You have got to be kidding me!?!? No!!!!! They instantly started laughing. Hahaha, real funny you two. I think I might have cried at this point. Actually, with the lump in my throat that built up instantly, I know I would have cried. Although the flight was not cancelled, they did tell me it would be delayed another hour. Now that doesn’t seem so bad.
We were all extremely happy to board the plane and get situated in our seats about an hour later.
The next day was my niece’s wedding. This mishap is not ours, but I couldn’t leave it out of the story.
The wedding was suppose to start at 5:00. My sister-in-law had ordered flowers that were suppose to be delivered at 2:00. At 3:00, the flowers had still not arrived. After failed attempts of trying to get a hold of someone at the flower shop, it was time to figure something else out.
By looking at the beautiful flowers, that matched perfectly, you would never know this mishap even happened. The original flowers showed up during the wedding ceremony. They made for some more pretty décor and thankfully my sister-in-law did not have to pay for them.
The next morning Sean had a voicemail left from the middle of the night. Hmmmm, that’s weird.
As he listened to the voicemail, his facial expressions told me something was not right. Oh boy, now what?!
The call was from the sheriffs department at home. The officer explained Sean’s car was in the impound. Say what?! Overnight, the police found it crashed and deserted in a snow bank on the side of the road. They had to impound our car because it was blocking traffic. Is this really happening?!
Yep, it was really happening. We were in Florida, what could we do?! We did what we could by calling the police and our insurance company explaining we were in Florida. We tried not to think about it after that. We’ll deal with it when we get home. And, we still are. Thank you Lord for insurance!
We weren’t going to let that stop us from enjoying this beautiful day.
We had a fantastic week at our first destination. We were able to spend a few days with my mom and my sister’s family. The weather was close to perfect. We mostly hung out at the ocean and went on long walks.
The little boy with a hole in his neck loves the sand and the ocean, of course. Sand and water might be a pulmonologists worst nightmare for a trached kid, but look at this guy! How can you not?!
On Day 6, we were headed to a different destination to spend the rest of our trip with Sean’s side of the family. We packed some stuff the night before. We wanted to try and make a somewhat early start the next day. There was about a four hour drive ahead of us.
We had to play quite a bit of Tetris to get all of our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies in the rental minivan. We were all packed and ready to leave by nine-thirty in the morning.
I pressed the start button. Nothing. It’s not like back in the day when you put the key in the ignition and turned it to start your car. I tried again. Nothing, not even a sound. Sean, Will, Abby, and I looked at each other and instantly started laughing. Is this for real!?
Sean and Will got out of the van and popped the hood. Abby and I thought this was pretty funny stuff. Um, what are you guys gonna do?! Neither of you know anything about cars. Gotta give them credit for trying. Hehehe. All four of us had another good laugh about that.
I called the rental car company and after we tried a few tricks they gave us, they decided it was time to send us a tow truck. Bummer. We had to wait for the tow truck to come, which of course, was going to take at least an hour. We decided to get something to eat. The place we wanted to go to was closed. Fitting. We went to the little café in our condo which also had lots of convenient store items right at Sam’s eye level. Oh boy. Not the best place to bring a very busy little boy with special needs. Sorry to everyone else in the café, I’m doing my best.
About an hour and a half later, we walked back to the parking lot where the rental van was. Because we had so much stuff, the rental car company was going to send us two Ubers to bring us to get a new rental vehicle. The more we thought about it, we figured two probably wouldn’t even be enough. We decided I would go to the rental car place myself, get the new vehicle and come back to pick everyone up. This way, we wouldn’t have to unload, load, unload, and load again.
On the way to the rental car place, I got a call from Will telling me the tow truck driver jumped the van and it started. We contemplated keeping the van. The tow truck driver told them, ”It will get you to wherever you need to go, but don’t shut it off.” Hmmmm, probably not a good idea to keep it.
Shorty after, I got to the rental car company. I waited my turn in line and explained our situation. The manager looked at me with a bummed look on his face and said, ”I’m sorry, I already told them on the phone, I don’t have anything big enough here for you. The biggest vehicle I have is that.” He pointed to a very small blue SUV. Ummm, yeah, that’s not going to work. I kindly explained, how unfortunately, it wouldn’t work. Now what?!
The manager told me the airport is the only place that will have a vehicle big enough to accommodate us. Oh no, how far is that?! Thankfully, the airport was only twenty plus minutes away. Thank you Lord!
Soon after, the fam arrived in the van. I could see them laughing when I came out. Apparently, Sean and Will quit playing Tetris. They quickly jammed everything back into the van, which meant Abby and I had to share one seat. Hopefully we can make it to the airport without getting pulled over! Don’t worry, we did. Whew.
We got to the airport and jumped through a few hoops to finally get to the company we rented a vehicle through. A sweet pregnant gal told me to walk through the lot and pick any car I wanted. She said after I picked one, I should grab the keys out of the console and bring them to her. I searched for the biggest vehicle I could find on that lot and quickly grabbed the keys! There was no playing Tetris in this vehicle. We quickly loaded our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies easily into the new vehicle. Five hours later, we were finally on the road to our next beach destination.
We made it there after dark. Our family happily greeted us and helped unload our obnoxious amount of stuff. My sister-in-law and mother-in-law rented a beautiful mansion on the water. No lie, it was literally a mansion, with an elevator and all! It easily accommodated all twenty of us.
We got somewhat settled, did all the Sam stuff, and went to bed.
Okay, the suspense is finally over, partially anyway. I decided to tell each mishap separately. I thought it would be much more fun this way. Like I said, you seriously can’t make this stuff up and it makes for a good story…later anyway!
Don’t worry, the medical emergency was not Sam.
We set off to Florida very early in the morning. TSA Cares is a wonderful program and definitely makes going through security with a complex child a much more smooth process. I would highly recommend taking advantage of this service if you are traveling with a medically complex child.
All was going well. We had just got into the air. All of the sudden, I hear screams coming from the back of the plane. My instant thought, looking at Sam’s nurse, ”You’re a nurse, you should go back there!”
Come to find out an older man had passed out. They were about to lay him on the floor and start chest compressions, but thankfully he came to. Sam’s pulse oximeter came in handy. We took it off Sam for a few minutes and Sam’s nurse was able to use it to check the ”patient’s” oxygen level and heart rate. His numbers showed he would hopefully be okay.
They turned the plane around to go back to Minneapolis. After we landed, the ambulance got the passenger, and who I assume was his wife, off the plane, we sat on the runway for a very long time. During all of this, we were not allowed to “move about the cabin”.
Sam did great on the almost six and a half hour flight we were not planning for. Like when we went to Cincinnati, he needed a little oxygen in the air. This VERY busy little boy surprised us for how well behaved he was. Thank you Lord for IPads!
Once we finally got there, got all of our luggage, and the rental car, we were all pretty hungry at this point, except for Sam, of course. After searching for a bit, we found a great place right on the ocean. We had some time, or so we thought. It was around 3:00 and check-in wasn’t until 4:00. We got our food and I began to get text messages from two different people about checking into our condo.
The message that took me by surprise, and the only message I remember is, ”The office closes at 5:00.” Say what?!?!
I knew we couldn’t check in until 4:00, but I had no idea we only had a one hour window! Uh oh! Everyone, eat fast because we have to go! Sam’s activeness didn’t leave much food in the bellies of Sean and I. Oh well, we gotta go!
We made to it our condo and that’s another story in and of itself. There was A LOT of confusion and a language barrier. We rented two different condo’s with different owners. Thinking this had something to do with the confusion.
After things had mostly been figured out, I asked the about the packages I had delivered and where we could get them. The security officer, responded, “Sorry, the office closes at 5:00, you’ll have to get them tomorrow.” Um….yeah, that’s not going to work. This isn’t extra clothes I sent. My son needs the things in those boxes to live. I politely explained the packages were for my son who is medically complex and needs the supplies in the boxes in order to live. For real. Their eyebrows went up and all of the sudden, we were able to get the packages. Whew.
Once we finally got all of our luggage and Sam’s medical supplies to our condo, we were all pretty tired and hungry, but weren’t going to let that ocean wait another day for us! It might have been dark, but it was still beautiful!
We it made home from Florida, Sam stayed healthy and out of the hospitals there. Overall, we had an amazing time and awesome weather.
It’s seriously insane the events that took place from the beginning of our trip to the end, but I wasn’t sure how to title this post so I figured I’d keep you in suspense for a few days and throw out each title I thought applicable.