The Story of 2017
2017 was a big year for the Anderson family! We celebrated our growing family, moved to a new house, changed jobs (me-Carly), celebrated milestones of many kinds, faced the unknown with a scary medical situation, learned how to function in a crisis and more than anything, were shown just how kind people can be. Here is a summary of all of that with pictures.
Really I should start just a bit before the beginning of 2017...when I made the decision to go no nursing school. I had a restless itch to do something that would combine my ASL interpreting skills with another field. I worked hard studying for the nursing entrance exam, and at the very last minute, applied. To my surprise, I actually got in! Why was this a surprise? Honestly, it was because I tried several other things post-bachelors degree that didn't work out. I think it looked bad that I was so unfocused until the end of college and that stuff stays around to haunt you.
After a summer vacation, where I felt sick (because of the humidity, right?!?! Nope...wait for it...) I started to work as a technician at a hospital so that I would learn nursing skills. Soon after starting I thought I picked up bug from the hospital, right?!?!. (Nope...wait for it..)
Then, came the shock of a lifetime! It took me time to wrap my mind around it. Seth, on the other hand, was immediately thrilled.
I needed time to process this and be ok with life suddenly putting us on a different path.
Seth thought it would be a girl because of her "ponytail". I thought it would be a thumb-sucker. (she does)
We found out that "it" was a "she" and I knew immediately that she would always be protected by her two older brothers, Brody and Keegan.
I ended up dropping nursing. (although later I realized I was destined to spend time a lot of time in a hospital around nursing)
As our due date neared, I wanted to always remember the special relationship of carrying another person. I wanted to remember every sweet word whispered to her by her rascally brothers (and all of the plops, car vrooms and crashes into my belly).
And then, all of the sudden, she was here! Zoe Quinn Anderson! We became a family of FIVE! She was perfect. She quickly wiggled her way into our hearts, and this BOY mom became comfy with having a girl, too! She had Seth and the boys wrapped around her little finger from the beginning.
I started adjusting to being more of a "stay at home mom" (It was, and still continues to be a huge adjustment for me.)
We adjusted to being a family of 5...it was quite the adjustment for Keegan, especially!
The boys started mastering new skills.
And soon after bringing her home, we decided that we were ready to move.
The boys were good about helping...
It sold in one day. Maybe two.
We had planned on shacking up with family because the housing market was so hot, we didn't think we would find a place!
And then, St. Patrick's day was EXTRA lucky! Our offer was accepted on a new house!
And it was crazy timing, because something wasn't right with Zoe.
Her eyes didn't look right and people started commenting on her color. She wasn't born jaundice, but I did have a gut feeling something wasn't right with soon after bringing her home. Her eyes looked grey to me. Because I have rushed to the doctor with the boys, only to find out things were FINE, I pushed my gut feeling aside. When people started commenting on her color, I paid extra attention and learned there is something called breast milk jaundice and assumed it was that, I kept an eye on it.
And then, one day, she looked up and I could see yellow in her eyes.
She was 6 weeks old and I took her into our pediatrician, who was immediately very concerned-she was very jaundice and hadn't gained weight. She ordered labs and scans. I could hear her in the hall talking to colleagues and heard something about "liver, transplant". I was terrified. I waited for the call with her results. We were sent to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis immediately.
A whirlwind of emotions hit us as we learned of Zoe's liver disease. It was extremely hard to be split apart and be in the middle of getting ready to move. It was also hard to be released and then have to return via ambulance with an emergency. We didn't know exactly what we were dealing with.
Zoe had her first life-saving surgery- Kasai Portoenterostomy
Our friends and family carried us through this tough time.
Easter came, we tried to keep things as normal as we could for the boys. It was a tough few weeks and it was wearing on them. I was a hormonal post-partum wreck. We had TONS of help and support. It still makes me cry thinking about how people carried us through this tough time.
We were discharged excited to spend the last week in our old house together, but then had to return to Riley AGAIN. It was demoralizing.
We managed to stay afloat.
We moved. Our new neighbors were impressed by how much help we had. It was chaotic and it poured down rain the entire weekend, but our friends and family saved the day! A few days after moving in, we got another huge shock. Our neighbor directly nextdoor IS A SURVIVOR OF THE SAME LIVER DISEASE THAT ZOE HAS!!!!! This disease is so rare, we were are still SHOCKED!!!
Brody finished preschool.
Seth started on projects at the new house. There was no shortage of help...
I tried to adjust to all of the changes. It was a lot. I became depressed and felt I couldn't possibly juggle my three children with competing demanding needs. Zoe's nutrition and appointments and medicine were a lot to handle, in addition to our normal routine. She started throwing up non-stop, was failure to thrive and had poor weight gain. The pictures don't show the reality of the worry and anxiety I felt. I was literally worrying myself sick.
Besides our frequent clinic visits and labs, we were fortunate to only be hospitalized once for adenovirus and we were headed towards needing to be hospitalized anyway due to Zoe refusing to eat and vomitting. It was a tough one that lasted longer than it should have due to her NG tube being placed too far and it making things so much worse.
We celebrated 7 years of marriage and a 3 year old.
I tried new hobbies to keep my mind busy, trying not to be consumed with worry and fear. I tried to take on more of Seth's attitude about trying not to anticipate what would happen next. Some days were better than others.
Fall came. Our back-to-school included a kindergartener and a preschooler.
With the help of the NG tube, Zoe slowly but surely started to gain weight and had her two biggest gains in the fall!
By fall and Christmas time, we could see that she really started making gains in both weight and development (with the exception of gross motor). I found strength and comfort meeting other liver moms. Zoe's liver bestie in Georgia sent her a gift, it was a good reminder for her mommy, too.
She was the best Christmas gift we could have asked for.
The holidays were extra special.
And now, Little Miss Fancy is ready to ring in the New Year! We are ready for 2018, no matter what it brings!
2017 was extremely tough. It is hard knowing she is going to need a transplant but not knowing when. Little Miss Zoe, whose name means "LIFE," has taught us a lot this year, about letting go, patience, faith, accepting support and making the most of each day. What a gift she is. Our lives will never be the same!