Monday, October 10, 2011

I had one of those experiences that left me feeling inspired, humbled, and restored all my faith in the world. Every single little moment in an entire series of events fell into place at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place, and I am still in awe of the world.

This all happened Friday evening, after Matt had left to go spend the weekend with his family in Bald Knob (about 4 hours away), and after I had decided to keep a friend's 15 month old for a few hours so she could study. My car had started making some strange noises about a week or so ago but I didn't really think much of it, just another inconvenience. Friday night this noise got way more intense. Had I been driving by myself, I might not have even pulled over, but with someone else's kiddo in the car, I wasn't taking any chances. I pulled over on the next street I came to. It was a small street that you almost miss when driving by. I parked directly under the only street light and popped my hood. I didn't see anything on the dip stick so I immediately assumed that I had just blown my engine up.

Around this time, I heard some footsteps coming up behind me. I turned around right in time to see this big, 6 and a half foot guy walking up. He immediately said, "Don't be alarmed," which is always a great intro. It turned out he was a mechanic and he offered to push my car into his driveway. It was when we were getting it into the driveway that we realized it was definitely nothing to do with the engine, and most definitely something to do with my tire area. After I pulled into the driveway, I got the kid out of the car and we introduced ourselves. His name is Cecil and I met his wife Melissa as well. As we were doing introductions, a very loud Bronco drove by and Cecil got excited and instructed his wife to call Curtis. Then he explained that Curtis was the guy who had just drove by and that he was a technician at Firestone. Just a few minutes later he pulled in in no time at all, had my tire off of my car. He quickly discovered that it was my entire hub assembly that was shot. When he took it off my car, pieces of ball bearings were falling out all over Curtis' driveway. He told me there was no way I was going to make it home. During this whole time, I was just feeling so stressed. Here I was at some stranger's home, with someone else's baby, my husband was hours away at this point, no debit card (because Matt took it with him), only $20 cash,  and quickly feeling like I was going to have a panic attack. I mentioned something about calling a tow truck and Cecil let out a laugh and said, "Why would you do that? We have a trailer right there we could load it up on." He paused for a minute and then asked what time it was. Melissa replied that it was 7:57. Cecil asked Curtis if he thought O' Reily's auto part store would have a new hub assembly for my car and they quickly decided to go check. I explained my money situation and Cecil just shrugged it off like it was no big deal, insisting that he pay for it. I told him that was ridiculous and that I would most definitely be paying them back. They left about 8:15 to get the part and by 9:00, they had my entire car put back together. Cecil has purchased an almost $90 part for a complete stranger with the full faith that I would come back as promised to pay him back. They put in the labor of taking a wheel off and putting it back on without asking for a penny in return.

During the whole time that the guys were talking and working, Melissa and I were talking and sharing about our lives. I learned about her two preemie babies who were now 4 and 5, both with vaccine induced encephalopathy. They were completely bed ridden, nonverbal, and require a lot of care. They receive their food and meds through a PEG tube in their stomachs and Melissa is the one administering these feedings and meds all day long, seven days a week. This family has always just slipped through the cracks, having never received home health care. They were actually living out of their car when their daughter was released from the hospital and had to stop at any place they could to plug in her heart monitor. They only recently finally got a diagnosis for their children after years of testing. Once the children's hospital here decided they couldn't figure it out, the National Institute of Health flew her, her husband, and both kids to Bethesda, Maryland for a week of every single genetic test under the sun. After everything came back negative, the timeline they had to create revealed that about 5-7 days after her children received their shots at 5 months, they started having grand mal seizures. It was likely that these seizures which resulted in large amounts of swelling, led to the brain damage that made them how they are today. I just can't imagine how hard that must have been to watch one child go through this, have another preterm birth about a year later and then watch him go through exactly the same events with no explanation. Thankfully, they may have some sort of end in sight now that a governmental paid medical expert decided that her children's brain injury was definitely directly caused by the vaccines. They were told that their court case will likely be settled outside of court this spring and it will likely be for millions of dollars on top of a yearly medical stipend for each child. She asked if I would like to meet her kids since I was thinking of doing pediatric nursing and of course, I said yes. We went inside and she introduced me to her sweet children. Her son tries to communicate by blowing bubbles with his mouth and her daughter is nonresponsive to almost everything but when any one sings "Amazing Grace" she just lights up and smiles. They both have absolutely no muscle tone and sleep in special beds. They are on so much medication that I was really surprised by their activity and facial response. There was so much love, faith, and strength that just filled that room. It was also amazing to realize just how much I've learned this semester as I talked with this mother who really has become an expert on encephalopathy. Even after my car was repaired, we stayed about a half an hour longer just visiting them (and thanking them profusely while Cecil kept saying "it was no big deal.")

Their incredibly tough lives makes their kindness all the more incredible to me. I have always been fascinated with people who can continue to smile and not become hardened by the constant crap shoot in their lives.  It's a lot of envy and desire to learn from them, to let their attitudes wash over me. It was so awesome to me how every single little detail fell into place just right. Had I turned down any other street, I doubt my car would be in working order today. Also, the part was almost entirely paid for by the babysitting I was doing when I broke down. There is just no way I can do this story any justice with my writing, but I just felt it was a story that needed to be told. Call it fate, coincidence, God, or whatever you want to, but that doesn't make it any less wonderful.

When I returned Saturday to pay them, it was late afternoon and I apologized for not coming earlier in the day. Cecil said that they hadn't even thought about it and it was easy to believe him. I gave them a $25 gift card to the restaurant I wait tables at to give to their friend Curtis, overpaid Cecil for the part, and gave his wife a gift certificate for an hour long massage that I think is likely way over due. I assured them that this wouldn't be the last they heard from me and I hope to help them in every way possible to find home health care. They have received news today that all they need now is to get a prescription from their primary care provider that says home health care. Since my husband works for a home health care agency, I just can't help but feel like there was a reason that we met each other. It's strange, but this feels like just the beginning of something far more than one random act of kindness.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

These past few weeks have been awesome. I attended an amazing (and insanely long) birth that you'll be able to read all about at my doula blog pretty soon. I ordered some awesome business cards that I can't wait to show off. I had some amazing clinical days at an elementary school and a developmental school. Those incredibly precious kids and some great deals on Craigslist have me so much more excited about our foster-adoption journey.

Our spare bedroom is undergoing a radical change. The queen guest bed is gone (well propped up against the wall in our room until someone comes to buy it - hopefully today) and there is a white convertible crib/toddler/full bed in its place. I got a super cute safari bedding set that came with a super plush 5x7 rug, all from Pottery Barn for about a fourth of what it originally cost. It has a pink sheet right now which makes it look acceptable for a girl, but all it would take was a blue sheet in its place to change for a boy.

I still have to find a place for my filing cabinet and all the clothes I have in the closet, touch up the pain on the door frame where my puppies cut teeth, put up these adorable book shelves, and find Matt a comfy chair for him to have story time in. But there is that forward momentum again.

The night that I got the bedding set, I just couldn't help myself. I was exhausted after clinicals but just felt like I had to put it all up so I stayed up way past my bed time putting together the crib and washing all the bedding. I think it looks so inviting and I am just filled with such faith that we are finally going to become parents this next year. The simple act of opening the door to that room makes my heart swell and motivates me to stay on top of this process. Right now, the plan is still to turn in our paperwork in November, attend classes in December, give them about 3 months to get our homestudy approved, and then we'll be open for placement just a few months before I graduate. I haven't felt this way in a very long time. And I can see the hope in Matt as well.

I've started reading books about parenting adopted children, attaching in adoption, and educating myself about all the resources and support in our area. I am trying to be as prepared as anyone can possibly be for parenting. I know our children will face unique challenges simply because they're adopted. No matter if they come to us as infants, toddlers, or small children, by the time they get to my home, they've already suffered a loss so large that no amount of love and attachment could ever possibly erase it. Matt says I'm being negative to think about it in such terms but I've seen it first hand with the children I've advocated for through CASA. I think I have every right to ache for our future kids' heartbreak and be sad that our family will be built on the basis of others' loss. I just feel like our child is out there right now, just waiting for us to get our crap together and it's filling me with emotional extremes.

Extreme joy. Extreme sadness. Story of my life.

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