My understanding of gratitude exploded in 2014. Besides it being the year of my spiritual awakening and the ending of my 2nd marriage . . . it was also the year that my youngest son got his life back.
When Hoyte was born in 2010, we had no idea that he would have birth defects. My world went from shaky to shattered in an hour’s time. Let me just frame what was going on in my life:
- I had 22-month-old twins (who were sick A LOT)
- I was in an emotionally abusive marriage
- My husband was in financial crisis . . . and hiding it from me
- My precious father-in-law was dying from Parkinson’s
- I was isolated from the world
- I was in an intensive doctoral program
In comes baby #3, 2 months early, via emergency C-section following a placental abruption. Within an hour, Hoyte was taken to the nearest children’s hospital for surgery.
He was diagnosed with Esophageal Atresia with Trachea-Esophageal Fistula (EA/TEF), and his life hung in the balance. Being in the high-level NICU for five weeks was more than life changing. Learning how to care for, feed and monitor him was beyond the scariest task I had ever faced.
After returning home, Hoyte suddenly came down with Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) and was within hours of losing his life. He was taken off foods at 5 weeks old, with around the clock x-rays. Even though I was nursing, I was forbidden from feeding him as he clawed at my breasts for nourishment. He screamed, I wept, and the world seemed to stop as we waited on every x-ray. It was the most gut-wrenching week of my life.
Hoyte had a miracle – he not only lived but kept his entire colon. Alas, even as we celebrated his life, he was not out of the woods. He had long-term GI issues and stayed high risk for lung infections and choking.
When my husband’s father passed away, he disappeared in his grief. For years, I tried to hold everything together. My life was a roller coaster of motherhood, ER trips and doctor’s visits. I became a medical expert on GI and respiratory issues, and I gave up the rest of my life to maintain theirs.
Over the next 4 years, Hoyte would get many life-threatening infections, have multiple surgeries, admit to the ER 39 times, code blue, and die once at home – leaving his body for 5 minutes.
During those years, I lived on the opposite side of the house from their father, rarely slept more than an hour at a time, and spent hundreds of nights in the hospital. Besides that, we rarely left the house for fear Hoyte would get infected.
In 2014, everything broke. My sister-in-law tragically passed away, and again, life completely shattered. The darkness in our home seemed to turn pitch black. Days later, I brought the kids to the pool to get some fresh air. I took a phone call about the funeral while all 3 were in the hot tub. Looking away for several seconds, I turned to see only 2 kids in the hot tub and a shadow at the bottom of the pool. Hoyte had wiggled out of his floaties and silently stepped into the deep end.
Jumping in with my clothes on, I pulled him out, screaming for help. He was still conscious and breathing, but something was not okay. Rushing him to the hospital, he soon contracted double pneumonia and had the lowest stats since birth. I could not lose my baby now.
Something shifted in me. Something deep inside me decided, if he survived, we were never going back. I had been going through a spiritual awakening in those months and was seeing life in a new way.
I was studying Law of Attraction and realizing the power of our words and belief systems. I decided I was going to change the way I believed and spoke about his health – about all our health.
I felt something powerful arise in me when we finally came home. I knew we could not keep living the way we were living. Something had to change. Immediately. I realized how much I had expected and talked about illness – how much I had repeatedly told him that he was ‘medically fragile.’
I lived in total fear. His body did too.
So, I did something different. I looked my gorgeous 4-year-old in the eyes and said, “Hoyte, this is the end of your sickness. Your BODY is HEALTHY now. We are NEVER going to the ER again.”
I started focusing on positive outcomes. I let go of my victim mindset and shifted my language from fear to strength. I never predicted sickness again, and I regularly told Hoyte that his body was ‘all better.’ I spoke wholeness over all of us and watched the sicknesses get fewer and fewer between.
The miracle? We never admitted to the ER again. That was 4 years ago.
My miracle? I also claimed my own freedom.
I filed for divorce several months later after discovering that my husband had been defrauding me for years.
Needless to say, Hell broke loose before I broke free.
When I speak of gratitude now, I am instantly reminded of the shift that came into my soul in 2014. The year I almost lost everything to discover everything I really needed.
I gained my freedom, my children’s health and my new beginning.
Now, when things get bad, or when I feel challenged, I pause and reflect on the strength I gained because of 2010-2014. The dark nights of my soul.
NOTHING could challenge me more than those years. When I start to get scared or feel sorry for myself, I remember the resilience that I gained in those storms. I remember the miracles.
Now, I am often asked how I keep my energy and joy so high? GRATITUDE. Gratitude for my new life. Gratitude for my children’s health. Gratitude for my awakening.
Gratitude for the laughter, health and happiness that now echo in my home. Gratitude for the possibilities that are still yet to be, and the incredible choice I made to finally break free.
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