Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

Apparently this is my bi-annual blog. Last I wrote in January and left with these prayer requests:

1a) starts feeling better.
1b) That her nausea subsides and that her emotions don't get away from her.

2a) comes home quickly and safely.
2b) Also, that he feels like he is truly making a difference in Afghanistan and enjoys what he is doing.

3) The girls aren't too overly stressed by all the craziness.

The baby:
4a) grows healthy and strong
4b) (and yes, go ahead and pray for a boy).

Over the past nine months from when that blog was written we have gone through so many challenges and yet seen God’s blessing on us. Srikant left for Afghanistan and I continued to struggle with the nausea. The doctor first had to be convinced that medication was needed to get me through this pregnancy; apparently a week in the hospital wasn’t a big enough clue. Once I finally got him to see reasoning the Pharmacist simply did not have/order enough to keep me going. In order to keep from spending my life in the bathroom I had to take two pills in the morning and two in the evening. They had enough to give me one pill a day. Thus, it was a very difficult time. Finally, my doctor fought the great fight (ok, not that great of a fight but it seemed very significant to me), and used his clout to get me the medication I needed. With the medication I experienced what I believe most women feel in their first trimester. I felt very queasy and nauseous but was able to keep my stomach down most the time. I was weak and tired and it was not fun but I could get through. (Prayer Request 1a)

Meanwhile, my friends were AMAZING. My friend Kym even took the girls up to three nights a week for me so that I could get some rest. Several people took them after church and then to AWANAs where Kym could take them from there to give me maximum time and rest. My friends Kristin and Tara provided a safe haven for me to come to when I needed to get out. Genesis especially had a very difficult time with the separation from her Papa. We dealt with behavioral issues we have never had before. A friend pointed out how blessed we were to have a father for our girls that was involved enough in their lives that it would upset them so greatly when he was not there. We talked with Srikant often and a Sesame Street DVD on parent’s deployment help Genesis to cope. (Prayer Request 3)

In Afghanistan, Srikant was in his element. He was finally in a place where he felt like his actions made a difference. He was able to lead and care for the troops down there as well as stock up knowledge on how to continue to help them after he returned to Belgium. He hated not being with us but would have stayed permanently in Afghanistan if we could have gone with him. (Prayer Request 2b)

In April I got a very distressing call in the middle of the night. If you look back at my August 2007 blog, you can see that my mother was diagnosed with cancer (again) and this is a little of what I wrote at that time:

My mom's cancer seems to be improving. The tumors were wrapped around her Syatic nerve causeing a great deal of pain, but that pain has reduced. Unfortunatly,
she has become extremely weak and unable to use her legs, so they have admited her in the hospital for a closer watch. Long term, they expect complete remission of the cancer, but we will have to see if she will get her legs back.

This continued to be the report that I was getting for MONTHS. I wrote that blog in August of 2007 and by the beginning of April 2008 I was still hearing the same news. She is fully expected to recover we are just waiting for her to get her strength back and through physical therapy get her home. The night I got the call it was from my sister-in-law warning me that she believed that my father and brother might be in denial about the severity and the worsening of my mom’s condition andthat she thought that it might be much worse than I was hearing. This made sense to me as my mother seemed to be getting weaker and weaker, but everyone kept telling me she was getting better every day and of course that is what I wanted to believe. Within a couple of days hospice stepped in and took over my mother’s care. They informed the family that my mother was at the very end of her life and that they would be surprised if she lived out the next couple of weeks. I went from thinking my mom was getting better to she has less than two weeks to live.

I was a little paralyzed by the magnitude of flying home pregnant and alone with a five year old and a one year old to say goodbye to my mother. Again, friends stepped in and my friend Kristin
and her cousin took the girls to Parc Paradisio for a day so that I could run errands and get everything ready to go to Chicago. Srikant did what he could on his end and within a day of each other we both arrived in Chicago. This stay was very difficult for us all. Because my brother and his wife are living in my father’s home we were forced to stay in a hotel for three weeks. One room for three weeks with two little ones. My husband was amazing! He took care of the girls so that I could spend every available moment at my mother’s bedside. This is not the way we wanted it but Prayer Request 2a had now been answered.

Because of hospice's care and a drastic clean up of her prescriptions, my mom made great improvements in the first few days of my visit. I spent that time talking with my mom, assuring her that we were excited for her to go see Jesus and that we would be ok. Together we planned her memorial the way she wanted and I did the leg work to set it in motion that her wishes could be carried out even if I couldn’t be there when the time came. After three long weeks I said goodbye and with Srikant and the girls returned home to Belgium.

It was not until July that our family was able to take a MUCH NEEDED vacation to the International Baptist Convention In Interlaken Switzerland. Although I was nine months pregnant we were able to spend time with dear friends and even made a trip to see the Matterhorn. We ate well and were finally able to take a short break and refocus. We sat under great teaching and had a lot of fun. The girls LOVED VBS!

In August we waited quite impatiently for our son to enter this world. About 11pm on August 10th I experienced my first contraction, An hour later I woke Srikant up to get his opinion on if we should get going to the hospital. We calmly got the girls up and into the car. When we arrived at the Belgian hospital we signed in and went up to maternity. The nurse took me in to examine me and was shocked that I was already over 8cm dilated. From there we called my friend Jamie to come pick up the girls. At about 1:30 am on Monday, August 11, 2008 Solomon Victor Mantravadi shot out into the world much to the nurse's dismay with no doctor yet present. Thus Prayer Requests 1b, 4a, & 4b had been answered.

I spent five uncomfortable days in the hospital. Anyone who is stupid enough to think socialized medicine in the United States is a good idea has never spent a week in a hospital where they already have “universal health care.” We as a nation are comfortably spoiled and could not handle, now should we have to, such poor care.

On a brighter, less political note, my amazing husband blew me away again when he brought my recliner from home so that I could be comfortable. A back injury I incurred a few years ago, coupled with the strain of labor put me in excruciating pain and only the recliner could support my back enough to add some relief. Knowing this, Srikant tracked that huge monstrosity through the halls of the Belgian hospital and put it in my room. Boy that man loves me!

On Friday, after much confusion, Solomon and I were released from the hospital. On Sunday, after church, we drove as a family to Brunson, Netherlands for a week's TDY (business trip). We decided that it was important for Srikant to attend this conference so we all went with him. That week the girls and I hung out in a very comfortable hotel room (with the recliner Srikant again lugged) and I could have some quiet without the craziness of keeping the house clean and cooking for the family. The girls had a blast running around on our attached balcony and watching the Olympics on the BBC channel. At lunch Srikant would come to the room and we would eat left-overs or something easy. For dinner we would go out for a nice evening. We were even able to spend some quality time at the BX there (like the military's version of Wal-Mart) and get some clothes for the girls. It was a great week of quiet and spending time as a family, even if Srikant did have to go to work each day.

The following week my father called to tell me my mom was at the end. Almost five months after we were told my mother had two weeks to live the end had actually arrived. She wasn’t able to talk but I was able to tell her that soon she would be in heaven holding Samuel, my son I’ve never had the chance to hold. The next morning, on Wed. August 27, 2008 my mother went to heaven. As I told Genesis, she is playing ring around the rosy with Jesus in paradise.

On September 7th a memorial was held for my mother at Willow Creek Community Church in S. Barrington, IL where she was a serving member for almost 30 years and worked on staff for over 10. Sadly, I was not able to attend as Solomon is too young for such a flight and still has no travel documents. I was also sad that the decision was made to ignore my mother and my wishes and the work I had done to prepare for the memorial was ignored and changed. Despite this, I have heard great reports on how beautiful everything turned out. Thanks to my dear friends, the Stangers, I will be getting a copy of a DVD made of the service. In January we hope to visit my grandmother in Springfield, IL and hold another memorial for family which will better reflect my mom's wishes and will help bring closure to the hearts of those not able to attend the first memorial.

Now we begin, hopefully, a new year. I know it’s only September but as you can see in our lives it has been a year. The past year has brought many tears as well as much joy. I am emotionally spent and yet so amazed at the evidence of God’s mighty hand in our lives. In this year we had another baby and my mother died (The Lord gave, the Lord took away, blessed be the Name of the Lord, Job 1:21). Selah is walking and talking and a joy to be with. She is now a Puggle in AWANAs and participating and learning about Jesus. Genesis has learned to read.

I told her that she could now read anything and she argued that she was not able to get the word “Archeologist.” I informed her that words we had never heard before would always be new to us and that it was not a sign of her ability to read. She has been opened up to a new world and especially enjoys reading and learning from her Science text book. She is in 2nd grade math at 5 years old and continues to grow and learn each day. She is now a Spark at AWANAs and actively “Hiding God’s word in her heart.” (Prayer Request 3) We now have a son who is strong and healthy and will add new joy to our lives (Prayer Request 4a). We have amazing friends and are a family who loves each other greatly. I could not be more blessed!

Last week my mother-in-law and her husband came to visit. We spent three AMAZING, MAGICAL days in Disneyland, Paris. The girls were at the perfect age for such a vacation. Selah watched wide eyed as Genesis met character after character. We especially enjoyed the parade and the Lion King Show and of course meeting Snow White and Minnie Mouse. The rides were fun and Solomon was passed around so that everyone could enjoy the trip. We stayed right at the park and were pampered with VIP privileges and rich food. The entire stay was fantastic!
The day after we returned to Belgium Selah celebrated her 2nd birthday. On that day we also had a baby dedication for Solomon where we were able to make a commitment to "raise up Solomon in the way he should go." Afterwards, about 50 people went with us to a nearby restaurant to honor Solomon and Selah. Again, we were awed by the support and God's abundant love for our family. Wednesday, we drove Srikant’s mom and her husband to the airport to say good-bye.

The chronicles of KC's life continues and I pray that there will be oh so much less to report when I once again get back here and blog. I am also hoping to let less time pass between blogs, but of course commitments are never my strong suite, (nor is spelling).

God Bless and Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Way overdue!

So it has been since September that I've written a blog. At first, there just wasn't a lot to report. I have been homeschooling Genesis and that is going extremely well. Genesis is extremely bright and loves math, reading, and grammar. She is doing first grade work two years ahead of her peers. Other than that, not much was going on. We did take an exciting trip in November to Font Remou, France. We also drove up and saw Andorra and a little of Spain. We played in the naturally heated pool and had a great time as a family. December got busy! When once I wasn't writing because not much was going on, now I wasn't writing because I just didn't have time.

Ok- December -

The second week in December Srikant and Genesis flew to California to visit with Nama who just had open heart surgery. She is doing very well and recovering perfectly, but really enjoyed having her son and granddaughter to keep her company. Srikant also got to take Genesis to Disneyland where she met several princesses and was quite excited. They were impressed by her Princess Jacket. Srikant and Genesis also got to eat at Chili’s twice, sorry I'm just a bit jealous on that one.

Anyway, they came back and were surprised to see a friend pick them up at the Airport instead of Selah and I. I was very sick and had to call our friend Travis at five in the morning to go get them. What started on Tuesday as a sore throat, by Sunday I was weak and spent from throwing up. (sorry for the graphic details). Well Srikant and Genesis got home Sunday morning and Tuesday Srikant took me to the doctor. The American doctor sent me to the Belgium hospital. There they ran a VERY slow dripping IV and did some blood tests. Guess what?!? We are pregnant!!!!!!! So now that they knew why I was so sick I guess they figured their job was done. After an ultrasound, where we found out the baby is due on August 12th, they said I could go home. I begged them for some medicine to help me stop the vomiting and so they did give me a shot as I walked out the door.

Unfortunately, the medicine made me incredibly light headed and dizzy but did little to stop the vomiting. By Friday Srikant took me back to the hospital. After some blood tests they decided to admit me. This was the Friday before Christmas. After several days in the hospital I had a little break down and at that time they put me on a new drug through my IV pack and finally I was able to fight the nausea. In all I was in the hospital five nights including Christmas.

Meanwhile, Srikant was scheduled to deploy the Thursday after Christmas. Praise God, they not only agreed to give him a week’s extension, but his flight got canceled and he wouldn't have been able to leave anyway. We were able to spend that week as a family and it was so nice. Srikant spoiled me rotten, taking full care of the girls, getting everything set up to help me while he is gone and literally waiting on me hand and foot. He is such an amazing man, and I am so blessed to have him!!!!

In conclusion, Srikant left this past Thursday morning and is now in Afghanistan where he will be for three months. I am still extremely sick and struggling greatly. Our friends here are wonderful though, and have all been stepping forward to help where they can. I even had a few of my girlfriends visit me in the hospital and comb out my hair and braid it for me. After laying on it for weeks, it was matted and I didn't have the strength to deal with it. It was wonderful. I also have people helping by taking the girls and getting Genesis to some of her activities. Please keep us in your prayers though.

Prayer Requests:

  • KC starts feeling better. That her nausea subsides and that her emotions don't get away from her.

  • Srikant comes home quickly and safely. Also, that he feels like he is truly making a difference in Afghanistan and enjoys what he is doing.

  • The girls aren't too overly stressed by all the craziness.

  • The baby grows healthy and strong (and yes, go ahead and pray for a boy).