About a year and a half ago, I had one of the worst weeks of my life. It was about a month after I was diagnosed with PNH and I really hadn’t begun to deal with the ramifications of the diagnosis yet. We headed down to St. Louis to see Dr. Bessler, one of the top PNH specialists in the country. I suppose I had expected her to paint a rosier picture of life and pregnancy with PNH then the one that she described. While Dr. Bessler is an extraordinary mind and a huge benefit to the PNH community, she is far from the most positive doctor I have ever met. I’m sure having worked in the field for as long as she has and having seen every possible complication imaginable, it is to be expected. But it was a bit of a doomsday meeting, one that forced me to start admitting that there had been a serious change in my life.
Right after we got back, we attended an adoption meeting which left me feeling drained and overwhelmed, not exactly the feeling I had expected to be filled with. I wasn’t feeling the excitement I knew I should. As I read about the process, writing a birthmom letter, building a family portfolio, I simply felt over my head. But I continued to trudge along. I had been so focused on starting a family since all of the health issues had started six months ago that it didn’t even cross my mind to take a step back. At the time, it was simply the next step in the process for me and I wasn’t interested in taking time to deal with things and figure out what they actually meant to me.
But then, a few days later, something happened that forced me to slow down. My beautiful horse Twister, who I had sold to my friend a few years before, coliced and had to be put down. While she was no longer my horse, she was still my baby. I had raised her from the time she was 10 months old and I loved her dearly. Having sold her to one of my best friends had allowed me to continue riding her and left me with a tie to the horse world, even if I didn’t technically own one myself. To have all of that suddenly ripped away, to watch my baby in so much pain, and to be there with her at the end of her life sent me into a tailspin of grief. I began to grieve not only the loss of Twister, but the loss of my life as I had known it, the loss of the future I had planned, and the loss of the certainty of having a baby that I had once felt. Finally, a few days after that, I had a MRI Venogram, a full body scan to check for blood clots, which Dr. Bessler had recommended I have. Something about being stuck in that noisy tube for 45 minutes put a catastrophic crack in any resolve I had left. I felt completely and utterly broken.
As awful as the week was, it forced me to start dealing with the changes in my life and it helped me to slow down. I realized that I don’t have to rush ahead with starting a family, that it is ok to just put that on the back burner and focus on our lives right now. So Justin and I decided that it was time to add another 4 legged kid to our family instead of the traditional 2 legged kids. I had taken a break from riding horses in order to start a family but since we were putting that on hold, there was no longer any reason to continue putting riding on hold. So a few weeks later, Etta and I met a gorgeous 2 year old dun mare and fell in love. We named her Lily and she was just what the doctor ordered. She gave me something to focus on, a sense of purpose, a project that I was passionate about, a “baby” to care for. I was finally dealing with things but my days were also filled with something that brought me immense amounts of joy. She was my first step in realizing that my life might not end up looking exactly as I had planned but it could still be wonderful and filled with joy.