Well…..doesn’t this picture grab your attention? It’s only because of my terrible cut and past skills that this pic is even here…….I tried to get it down into a more appropriate section of this post, but to no avail. I suck at at this. It’s supposed to go in the super hero comment of this post. Deal with it.
If you read my About section, you’ll know that I have 3 grown kids. Some of you might be thinking……man, she’s lucky that everyone is grown and out of the house. She can just do whatever she wants. But….once a parent, always a parent and shit happens. You just never stop being there for your kids. Things will be going along just fine….la-tee-da (did I just write that?), and all of the sudden, the bottom drops out and you have to spring into “parent super hero action!” This is where the pic was supposed to go…..dammit….
Anyway – my 2 oldest kids, Chris ( and S/O Kristen in first pic )and Caitie (and S/O Kevin with Leah and Hazel in other pic) are unmarried (see above pictures….damn this blog….I really don’t know how to post these pics where I want them), but they are dating great significant others and they should be marrying soon (right??)
My youngest daughter,Leah, has always been an enigma (read – problem). Both of my daughters are neonatal intensive care nurses (NICU nurses) in really great hospitals. First daughter, Caitie, is a NICU nurse at Hershey Medical Center. Leah is a NICU nurse at Primary Children’s in Salt Lake City, Utah. My son, Chris, is an awesome Pharmacy Specialist (in Cleveland) for a leading health care company and he pretty much has the greatest job in the world (we’ll be asking him for a loan soon). Chris and Caitie are copacetic and all is good and their S/O’s are awesome. Third child, Leah, is….well……a third child. But – she did do something that has changed all of our lives forever. While working in the NICU at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska, she fell in love with a very sick native Alaskan baby.
I need to give you some background here – Bio parents of said baby are from a remote Alaskan fishing village and just could not provide for this sick little girl they named Hazel. Leah took care of Hazel in the NICU because none of the other nurses wanted to be assigned to Hazel. Leah asked for Hazel every time she reported to work (see….this could happen to you in the nursing home…..no one could want you and your only hope is some drunken nurse who says, “Oh….What the hell? Yeah – I’ll take bed 7”)).
Leah became Hazel’s foster medical care giver and took her home once Hazel was discharged from Providence Hospital. Hazel needed a very complicated surgery because she was born with long gap esophageal atresia (a disconnected esophagus). She only had a small part of esophagus at the top of her esophagus and a small part at the connection to the stomach. The only optimal surgery to correct that condition is done at Boston Children’s Hospital. Leah fought very hard to get Hazel that corrective surgery. The state of Alaska did not want to spend the money to send Hazel to Boston Children’s. After much documentation, legal wranglings, etc., Leah was given consent to take Hazel to BCH for the surgery. Leah quit her job as a NICU nurse at Providence Hospital in Alaska and she went with Hazel to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) for the 7 month procedure. This surgery for Hazel required induced comas, external stretching of the esophageal nubs which involved major surgery, a plethora of chest tubes, PICC lines (that often clogged), painful tests, etc. The surgeons that are pioneers of this kind of esophageal repair are angels. The intricate surgery is incredible! BCH takes takes a limited number of these complicated cases and they agreed to take Hazel! She endured so much……While all of this surgery was going on, Leah and her partner, Jen, filed to legally adopt Hazel. Leah was good about staying in touch with bio mom and bio mom and dad agreed to give up parental rights to Leah and Jen so that they could officially adopt. The above is only one of the heart-wrenching pics I have of Hazel in the hospital.
But the good news is that Hazel’s esophageal connection was successful! She is now an adorable little punkin with a totally functioning esophagus! She eats like a horse despite having some food allergies.
Unfortunately, Leah and Jen broke up although they have joint custody of Hazel. They both now reside in Salt Lake City, Utah because of Jen’s military assignment. Leah wanted to keep the family together despite the break up, so she moved to SLC with Jen. They both are totally committed to Hazel and being co-parents to an amazing little girl!
This is Hazel now with me. We are so in love with this little girl who has gone through so much and inspired us all. I wanted to introduce you to this amazing story because my posts will refer to Hazel and Leah often. Leah keeps in touch with the bio mom who lives in a very remote Alaskan fishing village. Someday, Hazel will want to know her bio mom, her sister, and her heritage. When that time comes, Leah will foster that connection.
So – this is my intro to grandmotherhood……a native Alaskan charmer who has stolen mine and Kevin’s hearts. Leah and Hazel are surrounded by lots of drama with such issues as health scares, job woes, and the break up of Jen and Leah. It is a reality TV show that some astute producer should pick up on! I have soooo much blog material just involving them, it isn’t even funny (or sad…..depending on your outlook)!
It’s so weird where life takes you……..I never would have guessed that I would be so enamored and in love with a Native Alaskan granddaughter who is fraught with medical issues.
My advice – don’t ever take for granted your position in life. In an instant, it will be turned upside down. And the plans you thought you had……..they disappear into a cloud of love for someone you didn’t know months ago. Where you thought you would be going can take a 180 degree turn and take your heart with it.
As parents, your love is never divided, but multiplied among your children. When you add grandchildren into the mix…….well……the multiplication table explodes!