Behind the Author

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Life Update: Trying to Breathe through Change and Loss

Ever have something happen so unexpectedly horrible, that it takes you nearly 7 months to write about it? Yeah, that was the last half of 2014. So, to you 2014, you can suck it!

I apologize that my last post left you all hanging..things just got so stressful. I feel like I can now, finally catch my breathe and recap for you all what has transpired. To summarize my last post, I talked about my husband getting ready for major back surgery and announced I was pregnant with another baby due Thanksgiving.

My husband was diagnosed with Stage 5 Spondylolisthesis,  Basically, the vertebrae in his back got severely out of order, his nerves were pinched and the only fix for his severity was a fusion from L-3 to S-1.  So on July 7th, my husband had his major life changing back surgery. He came through it with no complications and everything went better than expected! We were told about numerous complications that could arise, however,  my husband had NONE! Not only that, but all his nerve damage, has completely gone away. God is good.
Pre-surgery selfie
His back before..
It wasn't an easy road, but we've been getting through it. He spent 5 days in the hospital and another week and a half in a rehabilitation center building up his strength, and learning to live with his year long restrictions.

First time standing after surgery.
Coming home was a challenge. The boys had to get used to their "new bionic" dad. We also had to make accommodations for his new restrictions. We became equip with a wheelchair, walker, bed rail, tub seat, handicap toilet, and a whole kit designed to help him not bend twist or lift for the next year.
6 week post opp x-ray
Now 7 months out, he is doing so amazing! Still sticking to the restrictions. I don't think we (I) truly understood how much his back pain had just become the new "norm" for our family. Not to mention the mental toll it took on my husband, being in such severe pain for so long. The surgery literally gave him his life back! A life, pain free! We now are going out places we've had been avoiding because walking was just too stressful on his back. As hard as it's been on our family, especially, the early months after, as I was heavily pregnant during most of his recovery, it was worth it to see my husband happy and "alive" again.

I guess now would be a good time to mention, I had the baby! I'll do the introduction in another proper introduction post, filled with tons of adorable baby pictures, but for now, I'll do a brief recap..

At 20 weeks, while Tony was in the rehab, we found out we were pregnant with another beautiful perfect little BOY! It was a bit of a shock, because I swore up and down that I was surely pregnant with a girl this time, but nope! :) Needless to say, the "big" boys were thrilled!
Lots of people asked if I was disappointed, but nope,  I was more worried about what others were going to say, but screw those people who said, "I wish you would have had a girl." Because God knows best, and another boy was the PERFECT addition to our now complete family!

31 weeks and 6 days pregnant.. 
I sooooo wish I could continue this post straight into his birth, but tragedy struck my family, just 8 weeks after Tony's surgery on August 31st... My mom's birthday. A day supposed to be of celebration of life, turned into heartache over a death.  I got the call, merely a few hours after I left my parents house. It was my dad crying. He said, your mom is dead..

Have you ever got punched in the stomach so hard, it takes your breathe away? I have, and I can honestly say that's what that moment felt like..just in slow motion.

In that moment I couldn't speak, I hung up. Jumped back into my car (I just got home from dinner with a friend) and sped to the hospital. I made several phone calls on the way, no words came out really, just tons of screams of wailing. When I got there, I was met by my older brother and my dad.. they had told me what happened. Apparently, she had an asthma attack and basically, the lack of oxygen put too much pressure on her heart and it just gave out. The paramedics were able to revive her. Yet she was in critical condition and completely unresponsive. She actually had a pulse less heartbeat and in a coma.

Family and some close friends filled up the waiting room area that night...We were briefly let back to see her. I can't say for certain when exactly my mom passed away, but looking at her in the er, with her open eyes, she wasn't there anymore. Her once life filled eyes were empty, kept alive only by machines. I didn't give up hope then though, but I knew deep in my heart she was already gone. They spent the next two days trying everything in the their human power to heal my mom, but it was to no avail, she was declared brain dead on September 2nd and we surrounded her bedside and said our goodbyes.
Dominic and my niece, saying goodbye to their maw-maw

I thought I've been through painful times before, and I have, but losing my mom was a heartache I've never experienced before. My heart, literally hurt. And, honestly, 6 months later it still does. You only get one mom in life. Good or bad, there is only one and mine was gone. I was almost 7 months pregnant when she left. That was one of the hardest parts, knowing she would never get to meet my son, her grandson.

Words can not describe the gratitude I have for my closest friends, my husband, and my therapist. I don't think I could have made it through it all with out them. It was rough couple of months. September flew into October, and my aunt gave me an amazing baby shower, that my mom was actually planning for me. : /
 It was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. I am just so thankful for the love that was shown to my little man! And then finally in late November, the day before Thanksgiving at 3:18 pm, our little guy made his debut! He was and is absolutely perfect!
Day 1, Thanksgiving 2014

I am so thankful that God brought this little guy into our lives. He truly has been the silver lining in 2014.  So, here we are, well into the new year, I'm slowly learning to take deep breathes and enjoy each good moment given, because one never knows what life will throw at you.





Friday, June 27, 2014

One HUGE Mega Family Update! (Great news/bad news!!)

I know, I know. I keep promising I'm back, only to be gone again. I'm apologize, the moment I think I have free time, my schedule books up and I barely have time to sit down. I guess that's life.  Kuddos to all you, who can do it all! I'm jealous, because I really do miss blogging!

Anyway, some MAJOR life changing things have been going on with our little family, and it was most definitely time for an update.


Major Life Change #1

Let me start back 3 years ago.... Tony's back took a turn for the worse. He's always had back pain, but this last couple of years, the pain has gotten out of control. He has shooting pains down his legs, they go numb, go out on him, he can't stand up straight, it's hard to walk, and he wakes up nightly with leg cramps. It's so hard to see him in pain. He has done Chiropractic care, diets, therapy, pain injections, but the pain has just increased. Finally, after many conversations and doctors appointments, he decided to see a surgeon.



We went with a highly recommended doctor at Barnes Hospital, here in St. Louis. After waiting months to get seen, multiply tests and scans, it was determined that surgery is really the only option and not to wait. We were told basically, that we had up to a year before the symptoms would get to an unbearable emergency situation. Things were already unbearable for him, so we didn't want to find out how it would get worse. So on July 7th, he will under go surgery.

His official diagnosis is a Grade 5, Isthmis Spondylolisthesis/ Spondyloptosis and will under go a posterior spinal fusion from L2-S1/IL. It's a major and very serious surgery, as it deals with very sensitive nerves. We were told by the surgeon that it is one of the most serious back surgeries they do, and while it's an all day surgery, it's the kind that he stays up worrying the night before. However, though rare and serious, it's a surgery that he is highly trained in.


 Above and below are grading scales of Spondylolisthesis...as you can see Grade 5 is the worst you can get. There is even a special name for it, Spondyloptosis. Apparently, Tony's an over achiever. :(
Below is the new back accessory he'll soon be sporting! We're telling the boys daddy will soon be part robot! ;)


Recovery for this surgery is grueling, especially on him, but really for the whole family, as we have two little ones (4 & 3). He'll be in the hospital a minimum of 4-5 days. Depending on his recovery there, he will either come home or head to a rehabilitation center. He's not allowed to bend or twist for a full year or lift anything over 10lbs. It's going to be hard. He'll be spending most of is recovery time laying down or walking, and will be on a tight schedule of laying down for 20 minutes, walking (flat surface) for 20 minutes, and then sitting for 5-10 minutes, every hour. By one month he should be walking 1 mile a day, 2 months/2 miles and 3 months/3 miles.  He will be off work a minimum of 3-6 months, however we were told at our last meeting that it's probably more like 6 months off and then they will allow him to slowly return to work 1-2 days a week. All this for a desk job!!It's going to be painfully brutal, but we are trusting in God to give us the strength we need to get us all through this and to bring Tony healing and pain relief. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during this time.

Now, if all that wasn't stressful enough, we've also have to worry about the financial aspect. Tony's work has great short term disability coverage, however, 12 weeks post op, we will loose Tony's income and our insurance, as his work only covers short term disability.  There's more details, and steps we are trying to take, and I'll try to get into them in another post, but that's the gist of what is going on with that. This is another major prayer request we have.

Onto...

Major Life Change #2

Back in March, I went on a photography conference for a week. (Side note, it was amazing!!) On the conference I started throwing up every morning and had horrible heartburn! A little light bulb started to go off that I could be pregnant. I was in denial.. major denial.. Fast forward to April 16th, (yes nearly, another month)I woke up with the worst nauseousness. I KNEW. I immediately went to Walmart, bought a test and sure enough...



 I'M PREGNANT!!!

The pregnant line turned instantly...way before the test line. It was obvious! I went that day to the doctor for a blood test. They measured me and drew blood. Since I had no clue when my last period was, an ultrasound was ordered!Turns out I was already 8 1/2 weeks along! Baby had a great heartbeat of 178! :) We are Due November 30th! Which, if you know our family, our oldest has a birthday on November 29th! So they will be exactly 5 years apart!


Going back to the day we found out... I was in shock. When I told Tony, he sat staring off into space munching on the kids doughnuts for an HOUR! LOL he was so in shock. He didn't say anything. It was so funny. I think we were both in shock. We were done. Our family was complete with our two little boys. We had just decided that a few months before. Thank the good Lord, He had other plans! Once the shock wore off, we are now so excited!!

Note that the timing is incredibly difficult, as we have outgrown this house and need to move, and then now with Tony's major back surgery, but I know we'll get through it. We have too.

Back to more exciting news! We told the boys soon after the ultrasound.. and OH MY GOSH, they are so excited!!! They both want a baby sister. (Dominic's been asking for one for almost a year! ha!) I'll do another post on their reaction, with the reaction video. It's adorable. They are going to make the best big brothers!



We let our little super heroes announce the pregnancy on Facebook, once of course all our family and friends knew. Everyone is excited! I think everyone is more curious over what we are going to name the baby, rather than the sex, although most of our family is pulling for a girl. ;) A healthy happy baby is all I care about!


I'm currently almost 18 weeks and feeling great! I'm definitely feeling the baby move, which is so exciting! For mother's day, my husband bought me a fetal Doppler, so I'm loving the fact that I can check his or her heartbeat every night. Such an awesome sound!

All in all life is good! We are maxed out with stress over the future, but we try and focus on knowing that God is there. He knows our worries, He knows what problems we face and He is in control! Please keep our family in prayer. It's a long road ahead, but one we know is filled with many blessings!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Sucks... Sometimes

Okay, okay, so as a WHOLE March doesn't completely suck. But it's sooooooo frustrating to have 5 days of bad weather and then a perfect 70 degree day and then back to the cold! UGH! I just want my Spring!! lol

Rant over.

That all being said, last Friday, the weather was PERFECT! The boys and I play outside pretty much all day. It was a slice of heaven. We also got to spend part of the day with my niece. The boys and her played on the pirate ship playing make believe forever! So cute! I finally got my camera out to capture some of it. The boys were Mario & Luigi and Sarah & I were Bowser. Good memories!















Sunday, March 16, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday Giovanni!

Happy Birthday to one of the boys who make my world a little brighter! 

 This was last night, his last night as a two year old!
 We took him out for Spaghetti! :) 
Happy Birthday Giovanni!
 May this year be the best year yet! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Instructions For A Bad Day

Today was bad. 
Horrible.
Absolutely awful.
The kind of day where there isn't enough time to cry all the tears you need to. I'm just going to give you a quick summary on what all has happened. Basically my mom was taken to the hospital, the kids went crazy, Tony had a back procedure done leaving him inactive for a week, and the dog got into poop.. and by getting into.. I mean it was smeared all over our dining room. And to top it off I'm sick. And let's face it, when you're a mom you don't have time to get sick. Seriously, poop butts (or floors..ew) don't wipe themselves folks!

So, as I took our new pup out for a long walk, wallowing in self-pity,  I remembered a video I just came across last week, "Instructions for a bad day".  And wow... it's powerful. Puts things in perspective!

So here's to all of you out there having a bad day..
or maybe a good day, listen and enjoy!
 Be inspired. 
Be empowered! 





Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WW: Meet Our New Family Member!


After searching for months, Tony & I drove Sunday 3 hours round trip to a rescue center and picked up our new handsome 2 year Lab & Husky Mix puppy! 

Meet Mr. Winslow!




The boys meeting him for the first time..





So far so good. I think God seriously blessed us with the best dog ever!! Seriously, he's potty trained, calm, happy, friendly dog. Not to mention he's trained and knows sit, stay, lay down, and shake. It saddens me that someone would abandon and mistreat such a great pup.  He really is the perfect fit for our family!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'm back? Say it isn't so!

Holy crap it's 2014?! Good grief how did that happen? It's been a long time blog world!

Here's the run down:

Tony (the husband)- Still working hard at his job. He loves it there and it's been a blessing to our family. He however, is dealing with some major back pain. Next week he sees his doctor about back surgery. It's been a year of trying different things to help elevate his back pain, but nothing has seemed to help. This is going to be a pretty big deal. He'll be down and not working for a while, and as a father to two little boys, this is going to be rough..on all of us (mainly him of course!).


Dominic - He turned 4 in November and he started preschool in August. He LOVES it! He has learned so much! Truth be told I was so worried about this over the summer. He has so much energy, but school really helped calm him down. He just had a doctor's appointment today and he weighs 33.5lbs and is 38ins tall! That puts him in the 20-25% for weight and 15% for height. Growing like a weed! :)
He knows how to write his name and is pretty proud about that. He has really taken a liking to drawling and painting. He also loves to build things. His imagination is amazing! He's obsessed with Robots, transformers, and pretty much anything super heroes. But he also loves dogs. He's so curios about how everything works. Just like his daddy. He also loves to make people laugh. He's now at that stage where he's trying to learn the art of jokes. So much fun watching him grow!



Giovanni- Oh boy! This little guy (now 2 & 1/2) is our ball of energy. He is constantly getting into something or climbing something. He's quiet and fast. A dangerous combination. ;-) Although he practically eats non-stop, he's a very little guy!  He knows how to count, some letters and all his colors. He's really not into sitting and learning like Dominic was, he just picks things up on his own. He's a super laid back kid. He has the deepest and loudest voice for any 2 two year old. :) He's ALL about cars and super heroes, but mainly cars.



I guess that leaves me...

Rachel - Oh boy! This year (or dare I say 2013) was a horrible year. And yet, some pretty amazing things happened. My photography business boomed! Like for real! So thankful for all my amazing clients!! I am truly blessed!

However during my booming business, I ran into some triggers that unleashed some severe anxiety (PTSD), stemming from some past trauma.  I debated on whether or not to put this on here. But why not? My blog is called THAT'S LIFE. And this is life. Life isn't all roses and sunshine. Sometimes it's yucky and painful. And truth is, it's been a brutal 7 months, dealing with panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks, and some social anxiety. I've been/was a mess. (more on this later..) Thankfully, I have some amazing people in my life who I've been able to lean on and help get me through it. It hasn't been easy, but nothing that's worth it ever is.




So that's the run down on us. Hopefully, 2014 is the best year of our lives, or at least better than last year! Although, with good health, a stable job, and food on the table, who can really complain? :)