11/2/09

Go Bananas

Monday~November 2, 2009

Asher was just standing here driving me crazy, the way he was demanding a banana.

He shouts and he screams! I sigh and boil.

Then I turn to look at him and I see how he sticks his tongue all the way out to say nana, and it totally cracks me up.


What Asher gives off, his contagious joy, even trumps sibling rivalry. Most of the time.

It was right around this time last year that we found out he has hydrocephalus. (If you don't know what that is, it's what used to be called "water on the brain," where valves are not doing their job of getting fluid to the spinal cord...in short. Asher had a brain shunt (a valve that works) put in last December.)

From October, when we got the news, to December, when he had surgery, we really had no idea what to expect. I don't know that we even really understood what was happening. It was a blur of appointments with a neurosurgeon pointing at cat scans and saying things like, "Then we'll pass through here, to the center of his brain and tubing will be put in through his neck to his abdominal cavity," and oh my mothering heart was constantly weeping.

Just look at him now.



We were at our city's annual Halloween bash the other night and I thought, what a difference a year can make. There I was, sitting back all relaxed in our cute little Pleasantville-like city hall, all decorated with orange and black. Miles and Asher were going through the spooky tunnel over and over, and it hit me... I was having normal conversations with people, about the weather and pretty much nothing, and that felt good. Because last year at this same time I was a bundle of nerves, fresh off the phone with doctors, hearing this news I didn't want to hear. Back then, I could not stop telling everyone who innocently asked how are you all about my child and his upcoming brain shunt surgery, somehow slipping it into the conversation.

Seriously. Everyone. I suppose this is pretty typical, this need to be heard, for sympathy, for attention in the midst of fear and hurt.

Looking back, I can see the way I would nearly interrupt a person mid-sentence while they tried to talk about the weather. It's actually quite funny to me now...

How are you, Heather?

SHUNT! Er, I mean...fine! Shunt you for asking.

I can vividly remember the responses, some distracted or uncomfortable, and others truly feeling it with me, bringing me to tears with their big hearts in their eyes.

I can look back and laugh at how I would bring it up now because everything is OK. It's really OK. Asher is going to be just fine, even if he's not always. I'm so glad, of course, but I say that with a bit of a heavy heart because I know that there are so many people out there struggling through things that aren't even close to fine.

I think about that a lot. I've always been somewhat uber-sensitive to what other people are feeling, but it's even more intense now, especially for people who are struggling through medical issues with their children or have lost a child or children. I'm not tooting my own horn here, this is not about me, it's about changes in me that came about because we've gone through something like this. Something that left us waiting through neurosurgery, wanting our baby boy back, and then sitting in pediatric intensive care, watching our child suffer through recovering.

I get something I hadn't really gotten before, and due to some crazy twist of grace, I'm glad to get it.



Asher may drive me bananas with the way he demands nanas, but he is here with me. And the thing is, I'm not saying that all of us who have children that are OK, or at least healthy-ish, should feel guilty about our children's good health, kicking ourselves for ever being grumpy about bananas. I don't think that kind of guilt serves any purpose at all.

But I guess what I am saying is that we should pound the ground with thanks, and then we should listen. Because there are people out there who can't stop themselves from sharing their terrible news, the news that's always there, that horrible thing that sits on everything in their lives, engulfing. These are people who need to be heard and they should be heard and I want to hear them. I want to stand there or sit here and say I know, but I don't know. I get it, almost. I'm just so sorry, friend, because there's nothing else to say and then just listen.

That's largely why we're here, I think. To listen. To just be quiet and listen, not steering away because we have no words, but simply being there.

So let's listen, big hearts in our eyes. Most of the time, that's all a person needs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why hello! Are you new here? Did Mama Kat send you? Isn't she the best? (and I'm not just saying that because she chose my Motherhood post, really.) Thank you for taking the time to come by and for "listening" to another post. I appreciate it muchly.
You can find my posts that aren't too shabby on my Hits page. I mean, you know, if you've got all the time in the world or something. Mostly I just want to thank you for coming by. And I did that, so I'll go now...

65 clicked right here to comment:

Jessica said...

Yes, I so get this . . . this is what blogging is about, why we are so attracted to it, is because it is the one place where we can say what is really on our heart, and hear and identify with the hearts of others. So glad you wrote this! And so so glad for all of the great Asher stories, that his joy is still infecting all of us, too.

5thsister said...

So perfect and eloquently said. I went through the same thing with all of Paul's issues arising from his prematurity and with the cystic fibrosis scare we had with Bethany. It is, indeed, wonderful to be in the place where we can just be "normal". Very well put, Heather.

"Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose love endures forever"
Psalm 107:1

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh Heather, I know exactly what you mean. I am so glad you are where you are now. I am so glad I am where I am now. I have my pity parties now and then that we had to go thru what we did with Noah, but then I look at him and things could have gone SO DIFFERENTLY.

In the midst of it all you really didn't have time to think, only time and energy to just survive it.

I find myself thinking about these things often, and comparing other's whining and complaining about THEIR situations and how AWFUL their life is because their kid has a cough or their baby won't sleep thru the night or whatever and I think, oh if you only knew...

Yet, everyone has their own thing they can handle. Maybe THAT stuff is *that* Mom's trial.

We must be really strong.

And maybe I think about this TOO much and should shut up now!

I get you.

Steph

Lindsey said...

Big hearts in our eyes.

Oh, yes, yes, yes.

Thank you Heather for always bringing me back to what matters most. And for reminding me of the kind of mother - frankly, woman, PERSON - that I want to be.

Thanks
Lindsey
www.adesignsovast.com

Sabrina said...

I remember this from last year... you are right, What a difference a year can make... with so many things!
I'm so glad asher is doing well!
Love you!

Octamom said...

Listening, listening, listening--a gift to the speaker--and most often to the listener--
beautiful--
Blessings~

Emma said...

I love to read your posts the are allways so thoughtful and make me think!!

I'm glad your little asher is here and can ask for nana's. love the little ones.

I so agree with you on being more sensitve once you have gone through a trial!! After I had my first child I couldn't even watch the news and any thing that dealt with little ones was just to hard to take!!

Becca said...

My Dad has this line he likes to use: "Don't just say something; stand there." Being nearby to listen is such a gift.
I'm feeling like you're a gift, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your mother heart.

Lara said...

Sometimes I think that's one of the huge reasons the Lord gives us trials such as these. So we can be empathetic to others as they go through their own. So we can be more like Him.

And I must say, I love your new profile pic. You are beautiful, girl!

Stu Pidasso said...

COngrats on your win at Mama Kat's and a lovely blog. Beautiful boys and it seems like a ball of funthere. Great ages for the kids.......Good luck and a happy holiday season to you and yours!

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

So, so true.

Love this. And you. :)

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Lovely post, and so true. Warning-- very religious coment: You know, the reason that Jesus Christ can heal us and comfort us is because he took upon him (and literally felt) all our pain and suffering. I think that sometimes he lets us suffer in unexpected ways so that we can learn the lesson you've learned here, to be more like him-- to reach out to others in their suffering and offer love and comfort. Wouldn't it be nice if we could bypass the personal suffering and just be nice to everyone anyway? I guess it just wouldn't be the same kind of lesson.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I just realized that I practically duplicated Lara's comment. I knew I liked her. :)

Mainly a midwife said...

Your Motherhood post was beautiful. Congrats!

Heather | Cookie Mondays said...

What a great mentality as we head into November. I am so glad this year is so much different for your sweet little guy {and his family!}. AND... my 2-yr-old sticks her tongue fully out with almost EVERY word. She looks really funny singing.

warmchocmilk said...

Love this! The city party was so fun. I was thinking a similiar thing the other day on the way home from Menards... "in this exact moment, my life is perfect" no we don't have a ton of money and my daycare issues are still problems but I have my kids and Nate and just....wow. Every once in awhile it sinks in...and then I'm sort of scared to think it and want to yank it back, like thinking it might jinx it.... (sigh)

Tiaras said...

I thank God so often for allowing me to have beautiful and HEALTHY children!

blueviolet said...

Our children are true blessings and let us never forget it.

Melanie J said...

I felt the same impulse to "spew" for a while after my parents died. It was just too big to keep in and process all by myself. Luckily, the world is surprisingly full of compassionate people and they helped make the burden lighter.

I'm so glad for you that your great stress now is demands for bananas. That's truly awesome! (I mean stress besides the whole moving thing.)

Annette Lyon said...

That's one thing I've learned from trials--they can make us more compassionate toward others. I know I'll never take my healthy children for granted after the major complications my brother went through with his son, including a liver transplant at the age of one. The fact that he's alive at all is the result of literally dozens of miracles stacked on top of one another.

Many of my own trials have had similar results--while I wouldn't have asked for them, I'm a softer, wiser, less judgmental person for them. I guess that's what it takes for the Potter to rub off the rough spots.

Rebecca said...

So well said - and yes, when we have our own struggles, and come through them, it is hard not to feel guilty because of those who don't make it through, but what a great point of view, of now taking a look at it differently, instead of with guilt, but rather understanding.

Nikki said...

Hey there! Stopping by from Mama Kat's page, What beautiful boys! They are adorable and the second pic of them smiling and laughing just makes me want to put on my warm comfyest pjs and cuddle with my husband! :)

Laanykidsmom said...

Yeah, I am there. We just got home 3 days ago from our daughter's second heart surgery and I am in that limbo of wow-I-can't-believe-we-went-through-that-again and wow-I'm-so-thankful-she's-home-with-us. But I also can't quite put my finger on what I need or how I feel when people ask what they can do or how I'm doing. I think your post just about described it. Thanks.

Muthering Heights said...

It must be so nice to be in such a place...praise the Lord!

Heather said...

This whole internet-bloggy-twittery thing is so very therapeutic for me as well. I'm not quite to where you are yet. I cry. A lot. I still cry when people ask if I'm OK. Why? Because it's not about ME. It's about the story...the interweaving of beauty and grace and horrible diagnoses and doctors and...

Dave said...

It is so easy to forget how much begging and pleading we did before we were blessed with them.

I am so grateful to have them, and the little demands of "choclate milk" are a small price to pay :-)

Jen said...

Just listening is such a wonderful gift.

Kimberly said...

That crazy twist of grace...so exactly right. Everything I have ever suffered has stretched my heart and taught me to love and care in ways my innate selfishness never used to le me. It makes me grateful for the pain. It really does.

Beautifully put as always.

Tamera said...

You're right! mama Kat did send me! Your post is so true and poignant and lovely....such writing!
Thanks for summing it up:)

Tamera@doubledelight

Boy Crazy (@claritychaos) said...

'pound the ground with thanks'

You are right. Very different circumstances led me to this place you describe - the gratefulness and new perspective and the realization of how important it is that we listen. Good for you for using this space you have to share the message and gently nudge others to do the same. xo

H-Mama said...

"big hearts in our eyes"

So true... and beautiful, like you.

Aunt LoLo said...

It can be so hard, Mama, to just listen. To know that you have no words...no special Gift to make the hurt in your friends go away. It can be so hard to admit that...and to just sit still and listen while another friend weeps.

If you've learned the secret to listening with grace, then you're miles ahead already.

Kelly @ The Miller Mix said...

Sometimes that ability to see through to the heart of someone can be so overwhelming, but then there's a hug or strong squeeze on the shoulder or a firm grasp of hands and I say, "You're so brave" or simply, "I know." And the gratefullness and grace rushes in. You captured it perfectly.

Elizabeth said...

As a person who's had my own medical dramas, I totally understand what you've written. Asher doesn't look like anything's slowing him down,that's for sure! Thanks for visiting my Halloween parade!

Heidi Ashworth said...

People who have never contemplated the possible death of their child or the death of their normal every day life dreams for them, just don't know how life changing this can be. I, too, am so grateful that I understand what I understand because of my Big Guy who will never ever be okay or normal, even when his abnormalties drive me nuts or make life heart-heavy-hard. I don't know if he would say the same and it hurts--but for me, it is worth it to go through what we have gone through b/c of how it has changed me as a person.

Cynthia said...

I first started following your blog during the 'Big Scare'. I'm so glad to see him thriving now!

JustRandi said...

I love this Heather.

I particularly love the imagery of big hearts in our eyes!

Though I haven't been through that kind of brush with life and death yet with my kids, I really think it's more a matter of "when" than "if".
Thanks for the gentle reminder to slow down and be a little more empathetic. :)

Lee of MWOB said...

Yes my friend. Pounding the ground with thanks. I'm doing it. Today and trying to everyday.

Your little Asher boy is an angel love....what a face....he's amazing.

:-)

L.T. Elliot said...

It's that soft listening that I appreciate the most. That compassionate "I can't really do anything for you but be here" that really says it all. I don't share much of my big problems but when I do, I'm so grateful for those people who don't coddle me and over analyze my situation. I'm just grateful that they're there--holding my hand in the silence.

I'm so happy for your family, Heather. What a difference a year makes. I'm especially grateful for that year because I found you that year and you'll never know how much peace you bring my heart. Thank you, friend.

Manic Mother said...

That made me cry! I know you get it, and I love you for it. Having a sick child really changes you as a person and your perspective on life as a whole. Its nice to have someone else get it.

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...

BEAUTIFUL! That one word says it all!

Corinne said...

This was what I needed to hear tonight - that sometimes listening is the best thing for someone going through an intense (to say the least) situation. I know a lot of people right now who need that, but sometimes just listening feels inadequate. Love that it's not.
Among the other things in your post... :)

Em said...

Listening is so hard for me - I just want to fix, but you're correct, sometimes the only fix is to listen.

Perspective is amazing and fortifying - you all survived and look at that sweet boy bloom!!

Good job Mama.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Heather,

I am so glad that you are able to really enjoy this season with your little ones to the fullest this year. Perhaps the one good thing about Scary Times is the ability to relate when others go through theirs. Thanks the reminder that those times aren't to be forgotten--but thankfully they do fade and we can laugh again.

Thanks for stopping by over at my place yesterday :)

Chief said...

YOu never know what your challenges are going to bring in the way of blessings.

I love your new pic! BTW

Heather said...

Listening is a wonderful gift. It took me many years to just listen and not try to interject.

such a beautiful post.

Heather said...

Listening is a wonderful gift. It took me many years to just listen and not try to interject.

such a beautiful post.

Kristen@nosmallthing said...

Oh yes. I get this whole post. I remember when William had his stroke...almost feeling guilty leaving the hospital so soon after getting there. While those moms of other sick children remained. And I knew how very very lucky we were, right there in that moment.

We do need to tell. And when it's not our turn to tell, we need to listen.

And I love the image of Asher saying nanas. That made me smile, girl!

Anti-Supermom said...

Heather, what a beautiful post!

I'm so happy to 'meet' some more Minnesota bloggers - and you are a fabulous one at that.

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

Once again you have said it so well. I desire to be that kind of listener that someone needs...I really do. I have a feeling you are a most excellent listener.

Charisse and Holly said...

Love hearing how you walked through that...emotionally. Life is a sequence of really hard stuff, and if you're lucky you get lots of love from little hands along the way. Come on by sometime...Holly at lifelaughlatte.blogspot.com

Haley said...

This post is perfection.

Graceful, well said.

: )

Elaine A. said...

I often have similar thoughts, that I'm SO lucky to have healthy children. I hope and pray that continues.

And thanks for giving more details on your son because although you've mentioned it before since I've been reading, I wasn't exactly sure what all in entailed. I'm glad he's well and he's gorgeous! : )

Mayhem and Moxie said...

Mama Kat? Who's that? :)

Yes. What a difference a year makes. It is good to take a moment and see how very far we've come. In your case, it is definitely worth the look back.

Glad to see you enjoyed the holiday so much. May the rest of the season be like this.

AllisonO said...

O what a good reminder for me. My husband and I were just talking about the motif of tragedy amongst really popular blogs. This was a good perspective check to keep listening rather than tune it out when the blogosphere seems rife with it.
-AllisonO

Debbie said...

Why does it seem to take something so earth shattering to wake us up to what is important? Or maybe I'm the only one that needs a good slap to wake up. Anyway, another great post.
And, I still miss you.

Rach@In His Hands said...

Ditto to what everyone else said. Ditto.

Beautiful Heather.

Love that Asher boy!!!

Carrie said...

What a wonderful reminder to be thankful for our babies & their nana-demanding ways. Thank you for sharing!!! I'm so glad Asher is okay, and I know exactly what you mean about the understanding - I am that way about people who want children just b/c of how long we waited to be blessed with our Z. :)

mama-face said...

"A mothering heart that is constantly weeping" oh my.
That element is always there. You are so gifted in your portrayal of motherhood. I sincerely love being to able share moments like this with my real life and blog life friends.

I have to backtrack, cuz I don't know what you are referring to at the end of your post...I am so out of the loop...

--It's Your Movie-- said...

I am grateful for my healthy kids and my family and my life and my groceries every single day. But it's definitely the kid part that takes my breath away. I love this post.

BoufMom9 said...

Heather...now I can see exactly where your HUGE heart comes from. You are SO right. Going through something like you did, makes you see things so differently. The blinders suddenly come off and the world is vivid.
It's so beautiful that when your blinders came off, that you embraced what you saw. The whole world is so much richer for that.
Blessings!
Debi

Angie said...

Another amazing post, Heather. You GET it... you do. And you share it with us so well! I spent two hours on the phone last week with a woman who has been suffering for years with malady after malady. At first, all I could think was how I didn't have time for 2 hours with her... then I realized she probably has no one who WILL listen to 2 hours of her pain. We all need each other!

Graceful said...

This is my first visit to your blog, and I just read your amazing story of Asher. Thank you! And thanks for reminding that I need to "pound the ground" with thanks (love that phrase) and, above all, to listen to my fellow human beings in their suffering and joy.

Sue said...

Lovely thoughts Heather. You're such a poet.

BabyonBored said...

This post really hits home for me too. I know my problems with my daughter are nothing compared to brain surgery but the watching and waiting and wondering I can relate to. The appreciating that my daughter is doing well and HERE WITH ME is never far from my brain no matter what kind of crazy shit she's up to. We are truly lucky and dare I say blessed.

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