Monday, August 18, 2014

Doing good, doing fine, so glad she's all mine.

This happy, giggly, active, vocal, plump slice of baby perfection is almost seven months and my heard just explodes with every grin she gives me.  She wakes up and plays alone for half an hour. Then when she starts getting louder, I go get her and sit her up. She smiles every time. Sometimes it's this funny bug-eyed, chin-in-the-neck and mouth-wide-open face. Other times it's softer, a little tired. She's happy to see her parents! Yay! And then we play some more. I'll set her stuffed toys up and let her choose who gets the nibble. I wait for her to fuss to feed her, but even she's crying she always flashes a smile at my boobs. She'll come off just to glow at me.

Aaron likes to flip her around and get her laughing. She doesn't really let the laugh roll yet. I like to project that it's because she's always so happy that laughter just isn't necessary all the time. She'll get a little giggle out, or talk to us as she smiles some more. She grabs Aaron's beard and blows spit bubbles in his face. Then we sit her down on the floor and pile her toys in her lap to watch her choose. Sometimes she'll fall over but she won't cry out; instead, she reaches for the nearest item to touch and work to get in her mouth. She's just that content and happy. She fusses right before naps but goes out pretty quickly.

We're sleeping a little better. It's hell when she's in bed with us, but I still love reaching over to feel her warm, small body or opening my eyes first thing to see her face. When she is knocked out her lips are pursed up in this silly puffy-cheeked way.

This journey down the parenting rabbit hole has been the most joyous path of our lives. Maybe it's because we're coming from so much pain so close to her arrival, but I just couldn't be more delighted to tend to our little benevolent dictator every day.

This has not been a struggle. This has not cost us. This has not hurt. Sure, it has its rough moments. I am sure it's going to cause us pain at some point. But right now, for both of us, we are just enjoying every single moment we can.

"Even the losers get lucky sometimes."

From Ashes Rise The Phoneix.

My friend Jessica and her wounded warrior Flip have been through it. He hasn't even reach his second Alive Day and has racked up more surgeries at Walter Reed than anyone except the guy who's been there about four years. So Jess gets on with life, gets a job working for The Yellow Ribbon Fund helping caregivers, becomes a Dole Fellow for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and overall just really starts doing amazing things for the community. Unlike me, who kind of spent months indoors and then got pregnant and now I just stress about everything all the time. So Jess is actually kind of awesome.

Her husband is pretty awesome, too. He's a triple who most recently walked a mile on his legs with knees. He is one of very few enlisted soldiers to have earned a position at West Point, actually becoming Captain America. He is an incredible solider and leader. He and Jess met at West Point, and while she transferred to another school, they stayed together and married after graduation and commissioning. A real American love story.

I know loss. I know what it's like to rebuild your whole life, and how weird it can make you feel about your life before injury. You might get kind of possessive about whatever choices you have left to make, and the things you have left to prove that it existed. So instead of taking the furnished apartment home, or sticking around the hospital housing for as long as possible, Jess and Flip searched high and low for a great rental so they could get their things and their dogs back. I think they are the only other couple I know besides us who did this. You just want whatever normal life you can get, even if you have build it from the ground up.

So it is just completely unfathomable to me that after they get into their rental, modify it, build a fence for their dogs, buy the best adjustable cooling memory foam bed so they both can get some sleep, fill the house with fans to keep it cool because amputees' bodies don't regulate heat well, fill the kitchen with all the things one could need and want to cook again, to have a real vanity for all the fun make up- all this little stuff you don't even think about- that it could just be gone in a few minutes.

Jess and Flip's home burned down the other night. Yesterday Jessica called and asked for a ride out to the house and lunch, which I was happy to oblige (she is the BEST lunch date ever, anyway, so I was happy to have an excuse to sip wine over sushi). I just can't get over how the house is totally destroyed. All the things they bought to make life easier. All the things they brought in from "before" injury took over. Jess said I could take some pictures and share them, so here they are:
 We pulled up to the house to find that someone had left a little reminder.
 The front porch area.
 The bedroom.
 The entrance inside the house.
 I actually can't even tell you where this was in the house.
 Flip's custom wheelchair with power assist wheels. This costs more than most cars.
 The custom electric wheelchair. Even if a lot of this will work, the smell will never leave.
 Soggy insulation everywhere.
 It's always a relief to find a shower or tub that will hold a full sized shower bench.
Headed upstairs from the front entrance.
 More bathroom. I didn't know what damage smoke and water could do on its own.
 Flip and Jess's custom memory foam, cool gel, adjustable base king sized bed. Sleep is hard to come by for the rest of your life as an amputee and caregiver, and anything that helps feels like a god-send. I can't imagine having to swallow purchasing another one of these.
 The garage leading into the house area.
 Upstairs, outside.
 I think this was a ceiling somewhere.
 While the kitchen wasn't burned, the water and smoke has destroyed everything.
 Just from the fire.
 Jess is a cook. She loves it. This whole set of cast iron is now contaminated and can't be used again.
 The landing to the upstairs.

While the donations and outreach has already surpassed any expectations, they still need us. They have at least one whole car to purchase, and might have to pay for some adaptive equipment because of program restrictions (no one is being "mean", you just only get so many adaptations in a period). They already started over once, and knowing what that is like I can not even imagine doing it again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hurled & Birthday.

I had a birthday on the 10th, and we found ourselves out of town for it. Aaron is trying to get licensed to skydive on his own, so I got to meet some of the people who do it on the regular. They were super nice people, and all day Saturday I hung out and got to see how safe skydiving can be. Aaron knew that if I was going to make a tandem jump I would arrive to the decision without pestering. On Saturday night I told him to text his instructor and let him know I was ready to go the next day.

So on my 32nd birthday I let a giant man strap me on himself and and hurl us both out of an airplane at 13,500 feet. Even Saturday I cussed when I said I wouldn't do it. But there I was, with my husband a few people in front of me doing his own jump. He's going for a license so he can jump by himself.

I watched everyone else get sucked out; at least, that is what it looks like when others exit the plane. The camera man climbed out the side of the door to film my exit, but we didn't move. Just when I thought we were good to go, my tandem master motions for the camera man to come back in the plane. We were stuck on the seat belt! So I got an extra three minutes or so to think about what I was doing. The plane circled around, we got untangled, and began to scoot to the edge of the plane. He then rocked us back and forth a few times and hurled us out over Suffolk. I shut my eyes until we were stable, and then I began to enjoy our view. After a one minute freefall, he deployed our parachute and we floated to the ground.

I could write on for pages on the total experience, but I will reduce it to this: It worked for me because I did not have to have any responsibility whatsoever. I raised my arms when instructed then lifted my legs at the end for the landing. I'm too much of an artist-type to be able to think about things while doing something so crazy. I wanted to see the world in a new way, and I did. Aaron loves to skydive and fly airplanes and now I know something new about him. I don't think I'll hanker to do it often, but I'd do it again. I'd encourage anyone who can be amazed by the invention of man, seeing life in a new light, and just likes to get a little crazy to do it. It's amazing that I did something not terribly natural but available because some other nutjobs wanted to jump from high places and live to tell about it.

I've got some things brewing for a new series of posts and details about our impending big changes. Baby girl is doing so well; gaining and growing. I can't get over it. I have the happiest baby ever.