Yesterday my friend Karen shared some photos I had never seen before of me with my youngest, about 2 years ago.
The photos (below) were taken during a visit prior to my son’s 3rd heart surgery, and my daughter was 5 months old. It was one of the most out of control anxiety ridden times in my life~ preparing to bring my baby, 3.5 year old, and husband 3 hours away to live for 2-??? weeks during my son’s 3rd open heart surgery. So many unknowns.The photos took me right back.
I’ll never forget that crazy time in my life.
We were having close family and friends visit the week before to wish us well, say goodbye, and give us all snuggles and hugs before we took on this adventure. We were heading into the medical situation in a good place, as he was just outgrowing his current heart wiring and needed a new pipe setup.
The photos Karen took capture such simplicity, beauty, and naivety going into the few weeks that lie ahead. The photos during his hospitalization haunt me, still. I’m so glad I took them but they are hard to look at, still. He was so weak, frail, and dehydrated (dry in the medical sense). He didn’t smile for days. It was true. No smiles for days.
His surgery lasted long, almost 8 hours. He had a bad reaction and needed to stay on the ventilator due to his airway needing to be protected. You know, needing to breathe. Kinda important after heart surgery. He came off the ventilator the next day, and progressed slowly. He amazed us with his strength, but he was so weak, had endured so much.
8 days after surgery when my mom was there to help out, the RN decided it would be a good day to get to the play room. We trusted her, and waited until my husband was there to watch the baby while we took him down to “play”. Balancing a baby, a 3.5 year old post-op, and our basic needs was made possible by our amazingly supportive family and friends who took shifts with us, every single day. We would overlap for a few hours so that we could be together as a family for a little while.
Back to the playroom.
In theory this sounds awesome as he had been in his room or hallway for a week. But the reality of making this happen was pretty insane! He had 3 chest tubes that were each draining into containers. These tubes were stitched into his skin, and the slightest pull would cause pain (and they hurt anyway…) He was on oxygen at this time as well. He also had multiple IV lines, and pumps going. He was too weak to walk more than a few steps. You also couldn’t pick him up underneath his armpits. We loaded everything up and scooped him into a red wagon, and wheeled everything down to the elevators. The crack between the elevator and floor bumped everything so much I was on high alert, just thinking that this better be worth it.
When we got to the playroom there were about 6 other kids there. Owen had been on lock down from kids and germs for days prior to surgery so it was the most kiddos that we’ve all been around in a while. It was a bit overwhelming for us all.
We got him situated in a chair, and he approached everything so carefully. His spirit was so small, so cautious, so gentle. The other kids were giving my mom and I heart attacks as they were literally climbing around him and all of his tubes! But after a few minutes a small smile crept onto his face. He was back!
Back to the photos….
As someone who takes thousands of photos regularly, very few of myself are not selfies. I’ve used my timer on my phone a few times as well but it seems a little forced, like the moment 10 seconds from now is different than the now.
As a chronic sufferer of nostalgitis (read more Here), I do strive to actually use my mind to remember things in addition to the photos I’m taking. I really try to, but the photo taking addiction is hard to quit!
To see these “recovered moments” of amazing quality snaps of me with my babe~ instantly my heart was so full. It brought me right back to that time in my life, not an easy time, but still an integral part of my life, especially as a mother. It’s not that I don’t have any of me with my daughter- I’ve probably taken at least 1 photo of her every day of her life! I was also mildly obsessed with breastfeeding and have many breastfeeding selfies of us. But these I treasure, as someone else thought it was a sweet magic moment to capture.
I love capturing those moments for others, but sometime the photog does need some moments captured as well. So, all you selfie taking mothers, ask a stranger, spouse, or friend, to take a few photos of you with your children from time to time. It can be planned (if you’re asking a stranger!) or not, but just a simple invitation. I wish I would have asked people to take more photos of me with my children, but I’m so glad I’ve asked now. Thank you, Mama Karen, I am so grateful for these!