On a beautiful Monday morning, we dropped Bou off at school and headed for the local beach park. Buddy rode his scooter while I followed behind with Bella in the stroller. Things were just right.
Forty-eight hours later, things were all wrong. Bella had been vomiting for 24 hours - she could literally keep nothing down. She also had a fever and was complaining of both head and leg pain. It was almost exactly the same scenario that played out when she broke her hip. I didn't know what was going on (although I had a very good idea) but I knew that it was something serious. When Bella broke her hip, she became a different person. The normally happy, talkative girl became withdrawn and silent - markedly different. The same thing was happening now. By six pm I felt she had to go to the emergency room. I packed a small bag for us because while I didn't know exactly what was happening, I knew we weren't coming home that night, and that she would be admitted to the hospital for whatever it was that was causing these symptoms.
Bella has a complex medical history, and I am very careful about choosing which details regarding her health I share on this blog. I realize that I haven't talked much at all about what her diagnoses are. That is because I think about her teenage years, when egos and self-images are fragile. I wonder how she might feel about her friends (or people who aren't her friends) finding her mom's blog and reading about her diagnoses. I think about her adult years, when a potential employer might pre-judge her abilities (as so many others already have) based on the labels she has been given. So while part of me wants to share so much more about her health, a bigger part of me feels the need to protect her from the cruelty that lurks in cyberspace.
So if I am vague, that is why. Anyway, when we arrived in the emergency room I honestly expected to be seen immediately given her history and the current symptoms she was having. We checked in and were told to have a seat in the waiting room. After about 20 minutes she vomited everywhere, and then we were taken to triage. From that point on, things moved quickly and efficiently. She was taken for a CT scan of the head, then for xrays of her hip and leg to rule out any problems with the recently repaired fracture. Before the xrays were completed I turned around to see her neurosurgeon standing in the doorway. He began to tell me about the swelling she had in her brain, and how she needed to go to the operating room that night to relieve the pressure. It was what I had suspected based on the extreme vomiting, but I was still shocked to hear it.
Bella was in the operating room very shortly, and though I sat alone in her hospital room during the wee hours of the night waiting for the surgery to be over, I felt very much at peace. I messaged a couple of fellow adoptive moms with special needs kids and they made me feel very supported. When she emerged from the O.R. with head half-shaven my stomach knotted up a little. Her growing blond hair had been symbolic - its length marked the passage of time since she was freed from the orphanage, since the very last time they shaved her head there, as was the norm. This was a setback in more ways than one (of course I realize that hair grows back, and it really is insignificant in this kind of situation, but I am just describing how I felt at that moment).
She came through the surgery in usual Bella-style: with flying colors. In fact, the next day I think she looked better than she'd ever looked before. Maybe it was because she finally FELT better than she'd ever felt before too.
After spending a few nights in the hospital, she was discharged on March 23rd, the same day we'd planned Bou's seventh birthday party - aaaggghh! Somehow we pulled it all off that day even though the party didn't go as I'd originally envisioned it. With Bella in the hospital, I had no time to put together the activities I'd planned so entertainment came in the form of a last-minute bouncy house rental (not sure if this is just a Hawaiian thing or what, but everyone here rents bouncy houses for just about any type of celebration).
We did do Shrinky-Dinks and the girls liked watching them shrink in the oven :)
The impromptu cake - thank you to my friend who went to Costco and got it for us, otherwise we may have been eating graham crackers with candles stuck in them!
So the party wasn't Pintrest worthy - not that any of my kids' parties are, haha! That was okay. All that mattered was that our entire family was under the same roof once again, everyone was still healthy, and my little girl had a great birthday with her friends. That night after all the kids were asleep, I walked in their rooms and kissed each forehead ever so lightly, so as not to wake them, and then I just thanked God. Because, as we've learned in the last five months, there is nothing better than having all three precious little people tucked safely in their own beds with Mama and Daddy just down the hall.
So blessed to have this beautiful, fun, tender-hearted, nature-loving child as my daughter.