In this month’s issue, we share several stories of brave individuals who have overcome challenges in their lives and survived the unimaginable.
While I cannot begin to put myself in their positions, or even understand how it must feel to have your physician tell you that you are facing a life-threatening illness, I do have my own story of survival to share.
In February 2015, I became a new mother again at the age of 44. My husband Doug and I learned about a woman who was pregnant and incarcerated at a nearby prison. She had experienced a long life of drug addiction and was arrested on numerous occasions for possession and selling drugs. Facing a several-year term, she decided to place him for adoption.
When I heard about her, and this little unborn baby, I instantly knew I was meant to be his mother. It took a couple of months for Doug to feel that way, since we already have five other children. Our youngest at the time was about to graduate high school. But eventually, his heart opened, and we decided to adopt.
Little did I know when we made that decision that I was going to experience the most challenging year of my entire life. Don’t get me wrong; I love my son Conner, and he is a blessing to us. But Conner had a tough time, possibly due to being exposed to methamphetamine in the womb.
Most children begin sleeping through the night around the age of 12-16 weeks, not Conner. He would only sleep in two-to-three-hour increments, and cry most of the day and night. This pattern continued without relief until Conner was 11 months old. He suffered severe colic, acid reflux, and began teething at three months of age—which meant no sleep for Mommy. Sleep deprivation is a real thing, and it is debilitating. I have experienced hard times in my life, but nothing compared to living off three to four hours’ sleep a day while maintaining a full-time, very demanding job. I still needed to be available to my other five children, family, friends, and of course, Doug.
Due to a lack of sleep, I experienced blurred vision, fevers, and a compromised immune system, which enabled Conner and me to catch every cold and virus introduced to us. We both caught the flu, strep throat, stomach virus—you name it, we had it. I recall thinking that death might be pleasant, because at least then, I would be able to sleep. (Not joking.)
Needless to say, it was hard. But we made it. Conner is now 20 months old, and while he still is not a great sleeper, we are managing. He is an active, vibrant, funny, intelligent little guy who has an amazing life ahead of him. Doug and I could not be more excited to be his parents, as he has blessed our lives in ways we could never have imagined. I guess that old saying rings true, “Anything worth having, is worth fighting for.”