Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Girl

This title has been hanging here, lonely, for entirely too long. I didn't mean for the title to post. I was trying to write, but I just didn't know how to say it all. We were still at the hospital, in the thick of it, and I couldn't settle on any words. How could I say how very, very sad I was and still sound faithful, hopeful, acknowledge that the Lord is in charge? Exhaustion and worry hung in the air, clawing at my emotions. And so I didn't write, couldn't write.

Now we've been at home for nine days, and I'm drawn to write. She is doing beautifully, recovering faster than anticipated. Her headaches are controllable, which is a major improvement. She smiles, paints Brooklyn's nails, hangs out with Conner in his room, laughs with Amber, and asks when she can go back to school. Prayers are being answered and I am grateful beyond words. So why are there moments when I still feel like exhaustion is weighing down on me; the worry permanent, constant and sometimes paralyzing?

Braelyn doesn't remember much about being at the hospital. This is a blessing because Pain was a large portion of her time there. But she does remember hearing me cry that first day when I was calling family. She remembers me crying when they told us she had a 6-7 inch fracture in her skull. She wonders why I was crying. Seriously, she wonders why I was crying? This is my girl. My first baby, my only daughter for 12 long years. From the ages 2-5 I spent collective hours tickling her back, playing with her hair to help her fall asleep at night. Now I was spending hours every day stroking her hair, softly touching her face, legs and arms (while Amber spent literally hours standing behind her hospital bed massaging her head) to help her stay as relaxed as possible when the medicine refused to offer the desperately needed relief.

I need to say that I do understand that while this was difficult, heart rending, and emotionally/physically/spiritually draining, it wasn't tragic. My girl came home. My girl will still grow up smart, beautiful, talented and righteous. She may have a few bumps in the road, but her goals and dreams are all still within her reach. There was a little girl brought in to the PICU while we were there who had been pulled out of the family pool. Her room was just around the corner and I could see her parents standing vigil at the end of her bed for three days. On Friday morning when I came back from one of only two nights away from Braelyn (thank you Amy and Melissa), the room was empty. That little girl didn't go home. Not too her earthly home. And my heart ached for them. Prayed for them. And I prayed for my girl.

I prayed because I believe. I believe in the promises, love, and comfort of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe that my Heavenly Father knows me, knows Braelyn, and is always listening. I believe that atonement offers balm not just for the sorrows of sin, but for all of our sorrows. I believe that while I can have my moments of worry and sadness, those emotions don't say who I really am. Who I really am, or who I am truly striving to be, is a disciple of Jesus Christ. I love Him, I try and follow Him, and I put my faith and trust in Him. When trials come, I know that I am being given an opportunity to show where I stand. Fear or Faith. Trust or Doubt. Love or Anger. I believe that our family is being given an opportunity to grow, to be shaped and molded, to learn more about Him and grow closer to Him with the deeper realization of our personal need for Him.

Braelyn sustained a severe concussion, a fractured skull, contusions in both of her temporal lobes and her right frontal lobe. The one in the frontal lobe will leave a scar on her brain, which may cause seizures at some point. There are several other small bleeds throughout her brain. Her kidneys were bruised and bled for several days. Some problems with her short term memory and impulse control could be a part of her life for a time while her brain heals. Her sense of smell may be diminished (really, if you had to choose a sense to be impaired....). Headaches are probably here to stay.

And yet, she will heal. For all the small moments of worry, there were long hours of peace and calm. Reassurance came through priesthood blessings, priesthood leaders, and personal revelation. I am so thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the fasting and prayers by so many people, some we know, many we don't. I am thankful for amazing ward members and neighbors who stepped in and took over daily tasks so we could focus on Braelyn. I am thankful for friends an
d family who came and sat with me, cried with me, and cared for Braelyn with me. I love you all.

I am thankful to Jody for being my rock, for being the one I get to lean on and cling to. There is no one I'd rather have by my side.

Braelyn got the clearance today to try and go back for half days and see how she does. Her faith is amazing. She keeps telling me that she always knew she would be fine. She moves forward with faith, trusting in the Lord. I want to be just like her. Just like my girl.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


At 8:00 p.m. on a typical Wednesday night, I found myself in a dilemma. I had been promising my boys a trip to Walmart(ugh). Walmart because one of them had a gift card there, and there were also some supplies we needed for our new adventure into the world of home schooling. I had broken my promise several times because things kept coming up unexpectedly. My most recent promise had been "Wednesday night. I'm sure that will work. Right after dinner." Of course, one thing led to another, and it was already 8:00. Family prayer was called, and after the Amen all my kids jumped up and said "We're ready!" I had thought it was a given that we WEREN'T going. We'd had prayer, by jove! It was 8:00! Brooklyn and Colton were already in pajamas! But those pleading eyes, hands pointing to feet that had shoes tied and ready to go, tugged at my heart strings and I gave in.

Seven children headed excitedly to the van, and I dragged my tired, weary mind and body to the drivers seat and we were off. I should mention, we were outfitted for Walmart. Cannon was wearing one of his most awful shirts, which had layers of dirt and dinner proudly displayed across the front. His face was a map of meals and snacks from the day. Brooklyn and Colton were in oversized t-shirts and mismatched pajama pants, no shoes. The others looked only slightly better. And me...well, I looked like someone who had spent my day chasing this wild group and had never quite caught up.

After spending a good thirty minutes on the same three toy aisles, I was mentally congratulating myself on my unselfish decision to bring them. My thoughts were interrupted by the ring of my cell phone. It was one of my best friends, a kindred spirit, seeking a little consolation and commiseration on the joys and trials of being the leader of a large and demanding brood. Toys selected, supplies collected, I summoned them all to follow me to the grocery side of the store, all the while talking and laughing with my friend. At some point during my trip across the store I thought I heard my name over the speaker. I strained to hear, but it didn't seem to be for me. Rounding the corner that dropped me off at dairy, I noticed that Cannon had NOT rounded the corner. "Cannon? Cannon?" Oh dear. While talking about the "not so great" moments of motherhood, I found myself smack dab in the middle of one of those "moments". I quickly said goodbye and organized my posse. "Conner and Cooper, retrace our steps. I'll look on this side. Little kids stay with me...." My words just hung there in the open air, because the two younger boys had already bolted, determined to hang with the big guys. I was stuck with two full carts, a toddler in each, thinking, "great, now I'm missing five children".

I must admit, I was momentarily paralyzed. I was planning my next move. Did Conner and Cooper even know the little boys were following them? What if they were separated? And where in the world was Cannon? How long had he not been with us? How was I going to get us all together again? I wasn't really panicked, or even very nervous. I was just on thought overload. My thoughts were once again interrupted as I heard the loud speaker calling:

"Attention, Attention, we have a LOST MOMMY. Will Angela White please report to customer service. We have a LOST MOMMY."

So, picture this. I haul myself, along with the two full carts with pajama clad, shoeless babies up to claim my status as LOST MOMMY of one filthy (but still amazingly cute) red head. Apparently they had been calling me for some time, and Cannon had come to the conclusion that I must not be there anymore. He confidently explained to the workers that he should call his dad, because he knew his cell phone number. (Don't worry, I've since taught him mine!). Just as I came up he was finishing these instructions to his dad:
"Um, Dad...Could you please call Mom and tell her she left me at Walmart?"
Cannon caught sight of me, said "never mind", hung up the phone, and ran to hug me. His little eyes betrayed the false bravado, and I hugged him to me tightly. Both women behind the counter were talking at me, telling me how many times they'd called me. Brooklyn and Colton were loudly and joyfully exclaiming that Cannon had been found. We were quite a scene. Then the thumping sound of eight feed pounding, running quickly, filled my ears. Four more voices added themselves to the cacophony, each trying to relate their version of their search for Cannon. We were quite the sight. Pretty much the perfect stereotype of a large family at Walmart.

I felt everyone's eyes upon us, heard the whispering back and forth, as we proceeded to check out...kids grabbing their toy selections, finding things that were unknowingly placed in my cart, discussing why we were definitely not buying checkout aisle candy at 9:30 p.m., please stay over here, NO you may not "run to the bathroom real quick" (like I'm letting us get separated again), stop pushing, please don't touch the cash register, stop spinning the bag holder....

However, our moment of infamy was short lived. As we were leaving firefighters came in and were helping a man lying down between two checkouts. I felt badly for him and sincerely hope he was okay, but was glad for the opportunity to quietly slip out the door and try to regain my dignity.

I didn't like being a LOST MOMMY. I like them knowing right where I am, stepping on my heels, begging for things with high fructose corn syrup, and adding interesting things to my cart while I'm not looking!