Finding Our Way -
learning to live life, as grieving parents of not one, but now two, of our three children.
"Grieving the loss of a child is a process, it begins the day your child passes and ends the day the parent joins them." BJKarrer
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Thought it was time to do a post on our son. He's 19 years old. Graduated last year from high school. And he suffers from depression.
Lets see. Where shall I begin with Brad?. Lets go back to BC (before Carly) years. Brad was a spunky kid. Full of life and laughter. Joking around was a constant with him. He was very close to Ashleigh, our oldest. He had many, many friends. He made friends quite easily. His friends always said that Brad was so funny. He could make anyone laugh at any time. Brad played baseball every summer. Soccer every spring and fall. He did eventually turn to football. He was 6th grade when football consumed him. He LOVED it. He was very good at it. He continued on with football through the 11th grade.
When Brad was 12 Carly came along. We involved both Brad and Ashleigh very much throughout the pregnancy. So much so, my doctor actually asked if I wanted both kids in the delivery room. Umm, NO! I told the doctor that I would really like to be a grandma some day and I was pretty darn sure that if Ashleigh saw what child birth was like, at the age of 15, I would have no grand kids from her.
During the pregnancy Brad prayed. No joke. He prayed for a brother. He was trying to come up with names for a boy. Both kids thought we needed to go with a C name that ended in the lee sound. To match theirs of course. The only boy name we could come up with that was even close to that was, Charlie. Brad wasn't too keen on that name though. We had our girl names narrowed down to Callie, Caylee and of course Carly.
The ultra sound day came and Paul and I headed to the appointment. We already new that we wanted to find out the sex of the baby. I had planned to find out and then hit the closest store to purchase a couple of little items to wrap up for Brad and Ashleigh to open. Thus to reveal the sex. We did find out that Carly was a girl. A healthy baby girl for that matter. Which couldn't have been further from the truth, but that's an entirely different post. So, to the store we went. Came home with two little pink items that I took the time to wrap up nicely. Let's just say, Brad was no happy camper after they opened the items up.
Jumping ahead to the birth day of Carly. My parents brought the kids to the hospital. I had just delivered when they got there. It was a joyous time. The kids both held their new little sister. They loved her instantly.
After a few hours of this picture being taken. Our lives turned completely upside down. My parents took Ashleigh and headed home. They were planning on stopping at a store to pick up a brand new outfit for Carly to come home in. Ashleigh was quite excited. Brad, was not. He choose to stay behind and go home later with Paul. As we sat gazing at Carly. Which we had named Carly at this point. Paul had taken the kids to the gift shop soon after the above picture was taken. They were looking for a "sign" as to what we should name this beautiful baby. Out of the three names we had picked out. Carly was the only name remaining on any item in that gift shop. The kids said that was clearly a sign. And so the new baby had a name.
Soon after all of that, the doctors came in. Brad was sitting in a chair watching TV. Paul and I were holding Carly. That's when we were told those awful words that no mother EVER wants to hear just after giving birth. "We're sorry, but" and they went on to tell us that Carly had couple of the markers that go hand in hand with Ds. Brad sat and watch Paul and I crumble. How unfair for him to have to witness that. He had no idea what the doctor's were even talking about. He just new, that whatever it was made Paul and I crumble into a million pieces. I will NEVER forget Brad's words to me when I cried, "how are we going to do this". Brad said, "we'll take care of her mom". Best thing I could have heard right about then.
Things went fairly well for a few weeks. Until we had been given the devastating news of Carly's severe heart defect. Again, we fell apart. He was 12. He had no idea what was going on.
The day of surgery came. It was awful. We all, my parents, my brother and sister in-law, Paul's mom and Ashleigh and Brad were present. I handed my tiny 3 month old 8# 8oz baby over to the anesthesia team. My knees buckled and I feel apart. Again, in front of my 12 year old son.
The night of surgery. Carly coded. It was 3:30am and we were told to call our family to the hospital. Ashleigh and Brad got there around 5am. Scared to death. Again, our son saw us falling apart. He saw his tiny baby sister fighting for her life. He held it in. He wouldn't talk much about it. He was terrified. Sadly, Carly needed our undivided attention. She needed it 100%.
Things continued on. Carly got better. We finally were a family again after 31 days of hospital living.
Then the second heart surgery came along. He was scared. He asked lots of questions. We told him things would be much different this go around. Carly was very healthy this time. Surgery happened, things went great. We were back at home on day 4 post op.
Three months after that, leukemia hit. That's when Brad started going down hill. He really shut down. He put more effort into school things. Hanging with friends. Which was fine. But he changed toward Paul and I. Sadly, we couldn't even see it then. We were yet again, totally consumed with Carly and her very fragile state of health.
Skip ahead to Brads senior year in high school. Well, actually, it was the summer before. He started to close himself off. He slept a lot. He refused to have senior pictures taken. He couldn't get out of bed the first day of school his senior year. He went the second day, but we were very concerned. Not the same kid he had been the year before. You wouldn't believe all the thoughts that went through my head at that time. Thoughts of what could be going on. How did it get to this point.
Two weeks into his senior year, he had gotten sick. Fever, sore throat, headache. It was over a weekend, so I couldn't get him to the doctor until Monday. That Sunday night I realized his neck was very swollen . I asked him if his neck hurt. He said,"yeah, it really does". Off to the doctor we went.
The diagnosis was Mono. Blood work revealed he was severely infected with it. The doctor said it was the worse case he had ever remembered seeing in all of his years of practice. Great. Just what we didn't need. Although, this did answer a lot of questions. As to what the heck was going on with this kid. Brad's Mono lasted through out his entire senior year. Not fun for any of us.
He could not function. The doctor had him on steroids. Then he was placed on an anti-depressant. He went to the doctor every two weeks. Since then. Brad has been a very depressed kid. That darn Mono was the icing on the cake. It put him right over the edge.
Through the last year. Brad has made great progress. He has been going out to family functions. Which he would NOT do during the Mono and severe depression. However, he is not back to Brad. He still suffers. It's very hard for him. It's hard for us. He is not working. Nor taking college classes. We encourage both, but refuse to push. The doctor has told us that now, it's likely anxiety issues. From being so depressed and from being out of the day to day functions of life for so long.
We now see that this was just the boiling point for Brad. He boiled over when Mono hit. It was progressing. How could it not. He had seen a lot. Been through a lot. All starting when he was 12 years old.
Paul and I are consumed with guilt over this. We know now, that we should have done things differently. Spent more one on one time with Brad during Carly's many health issues. We tried to. We did some. Sadly, it just was not enough. If I could go back to the diagnosis of Carly's leukemia and do things differently. We would have gone to family counseling. My mind was just swimming during that time. Again. I did not THINK very clearly. I'm angry with myself. I let my son down terribly. Now he pays the price.
Life is a struggle. No doubt about that. Coupled with depression makes for a big mess. We will continue to encourage. Hope and pray that some day soon, Brad will see that it's in his best interest to seek professional help.