And then he was 18!
On the day he turned 18, which was just a few days ago, I was filled with many different emotions: sad, happy, worried, scared, weepy, excited, thankful, joyful, blessed, and peaceful. One might say this is a lot of emotions to feel all at once. And it is. I keep thinking of Hermione, Harry and Ron having a discussion on whether someone can have that many emotions and Ron being flabbergasted that Cho could!
We celebrated his birthday with family, and it just so happens Vicki, Steve's little sister's birthday is also in May. So we celebrated both! We are family!
Through all of these emotions I realized that we have been blessed to be his parents. That being parents is the most challenging and yet the most rewarding job. I also realized it is important to let him go and let him follow his calling. As I think about his future and the path he has chosen, Psalm 127: 3-5 keeps running in my mind, reminding me children are like arrows in a parent's quiver, and when they are ready it is time to release them. And as we have watched him grow we know he is ready.
We prayed so hard for this boy! We went through years of infertility due to endometriosis. We went through several specialists and doctors until we found a doctor who believed me and who was willing to try something different.
At the time, in the early 2000s, endometriosis was rare and many doctors didn't know a whole lot about it. And the only reason I started looking at endometriosis is because our landlords were going through the same thing! We were renting the pool house on their property so we would see them regularly and one day the landlady saw us and she saw I was in lot of pain. She started asking me questions and then proceeded to share her story with me. I am so thankful she decided to share her story because I didn't feel alone anymore and it gave me great encouragement to keep searching for the right doctor to help me. After we talked I started doing some research and found that almost everything I was experiencing was pointing me to endometriosis. Once we found a great doctor who would help me, we started by doing a battery of tests to find out if there were any other health issues Steve and I had which would prevent us from getting pregnant. When all tests came back negative and we ruled everything else out, the only thing that remained was the endometriosis. I subsequently had 2 surgeries. The surgeries were done laparoscopically and with a laser to burn as much of the endometriosis as possible. The goal was to clean up the uterus, the pelvic wall, the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. The endometriosis was so invasive, attaching itself to everything including major veins and arteries, that the surgeries always lasted longer and not every endometriosis was lasered out. And as a result the first surgery wasn't successful. So we waited for a little while before going for the second one. At our second surgery's post operation appointment our doctor said we had a window of 6 months to get pregnant. The good news was that this time he was able to laser almost all of it out and our chance of becoming pregnant was higher. The 6 months came and went. I thought I was never going to get pregnant and started thinking about other treatments. But at the end of the 6th month God sent us a miracle! I was pregnant!
The whole pregnancy was a miracle. Not only was I dealing with endometriosis but also with kidney issues. At the time I didn't know that I shouldn't have gotten pregnant because my kidneys couldn't handle the demand of cleaning and supplying blood to another human being. As a result my kidneys started shutting down, I was swelling in an out of control fashion, my blood pressure was through the roof, I was exhausted. I should have been watched as a high risk pregnancy from the beginning, but I really didn't think I would have any issues. I was always told I would have a normal life. At 28 weeks I was admitted in the hospital where doctors thought I would have to give birth. However, from resting, careful food management, and medications we decided to continue the pregnancy for a little while longer. I was released 5 days later and was put on complete bed rest. We went back to the hospital 2 weeks later to deliver our baby. The doctor administered Pitocin to start the delivery process, but Aleksei was not ready to come! As a result, I was sent home at the end of the day, still having to be on bed rest. We tried again 2 weeks later and this time it was a success! The delivery was also a miracle (a lot of things happened during delivery and at one point we weren't sure what would happen). He arrived at 32 weeks, after a traumatic birthing experience for both of us. But again, God was watching over us and we delivered a healthy baby weighing in at 5 lbs! The most wonderful thing was that he didn’t even require to be placed in the NICU! We went home 2 days later, both of us doing well!
If you would like to learn more about my story with Chronic Kidney Disease click on the link right HERE. I also continued to suffer with endometriosis, even after my pregnancy, for years, until it was time to have one final laparoscopy to pull out the last ovary. I had 8 laparoscopies in total, each time lasering or taking out a part of my reproductive system. This is another long story, but I am now free of pain!
I can’t believe this was 18 years ago. Time has gone by so fast. It is true what they say: Don’t blink, enjoy every moment because it truly goes fast. One day they are babies and the next their are graduating and moving on. I will be warning new parents of how precious every stage of life is. Your babies don't stay babies for long! Hug them often and tell them you love them!
There are days I wish I could go back to when he was 2 years old and would bring me his favorite construction vehicle books to read or when he was 5 years old and we would have S’mores (made in our oven) and picnics in the living room on our favorite blanket. Or when he was 4 and would run across the room to tackle his dad as hard as he could and he would just belly laugh every single time. Or when Steve would wrap him in his favorite blanket and Aleksei would call it a burdito because he couldn't say burrito! Or when we would pretend to fish in the black river aka blacktop in our little neighborhood, and watch the cars drive over the rubber fish and laugh! Or go back to the time when I would let him and his friends slide down the stairs on his little surfboard. Or watch him and his dad build rockets in the yard and go chase them in the neighbor’s field. And when he and his dad learned to scuba dive together to be able to go on a live aboard scuba trip with the boy scouts. Or the day he and his dad helped me climb Precipice Trail by never leaving my side. And the epic hiking adventures we had in Mt. Rainier and Glacier and of course playing pickle ball. And how he always knows how to bamboozle me into doing the craziest things! How he was able to convince me to let him hop on my paddle board on Lake Macdonald because he thought it would fun and then I ended up in the water and he stayed dry!
What priceless memories we have made. I am so thankful to be able to preserve all these precious memories in our blog so that I will never forget them. There are many more memories to be shared, and I am forever grateful for the life we gave him. We encountered difficult times during the last 18 years, but his resilience, his faith and his love for Jesus are what shine through. We treasure the relationship we have built together and our prayer is that he would always want to come back to us, regardless of what is going on in his life. He is a joy to be around and will be missed.
In exactly 2 months he will be joining the US Army as a Combat Medic and has big plans. The adjustment for me is going to be hard. But I know he will be doing what he loves. He has always loved helping others in need. While in the Boy Scouts he went through Wilderness Survival training, Blue Cross training, First Aid, and more. And as a scuba diver he went through the Rescue Diver course (among others). And lastly, he had a strong role model in Steve, who would show him to not be afraid to do what's right even if it's difficult; how to fight for others who don't have a voice; to have respect and love for our country and for those who fought for our freedoms; to provide and fight for your family and to be selfless. I guess it is no surprise he is meant to go in that direction.
Fun fact: when I had my kidney transplant he would come visit me in the hospital and every time a nurse or a doctor would come in he would always ask questions about what was going on with me. All the nurses and doctors would always take time to answer him. He found it all fascinating, and was never afraid to look at the needles, the blood, the ports in my body, or the drains, and there were some disgusting things to look at!!
He is so excited about leaving and serving his country that it brings me peace and joy. I know God has him right where he needs to be. He was born for such a time as this. We are so proud of him.
Heavenly Father, please continue to protect and guide our boy. We love you. Amen!