Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2007 - karen and leah karen

just so you know, i won't be able to do this post justice. many of the posts have been difficult to write - bringing all sorts of emotions and memories to the surface, but this one is hard...i'll do my best...

in the fall of 2006, i got a phone call from my mom that no child ever wants to receive. she had breast cancer. i don't think i let the news really register until a month or two down the road when she was in the middle of her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. we were sitting in the "secret room" in her house probably doing some craft or another, when i just broke down and said, "mom, i can't be a mom without my mom." i was pregnant with leah at the time and was just so overwhelmed with the idea of being responsible for the well being of another human life and knew i would be calling my mom daily for hints, tips and a long-distance shoulder to cry on. she needed to make it through this. i needed her to make it through this.

i felt so tied to my mom at that point. i also felt such a strong connection to my soon-to-be-daughter. it was a heart wrenching, mind wrestling, extremely emotional time in my life. 

i accompanied my mom to her first two chemotherapy infusions. there were to be four, but i moved at the end of january to california and wasn't able to be by her side for the final two. i was glad for the opportunity to go at least twice - to see what it was like and to just be by my mom's side. i remember going to the grocery store to pick up a prescription with her after her first infusion. at this point, she hadn't lost any hair and really looked quite normal. i'm not sure anyone would have known she had just come from the hunstman cancer institute. and it was with this realization that i scanned the grocery store and realized that i had absolutely no idea what any of these strangers were going through. where they had just come from. where they were going. what they were wrestling with in their own lives. 
{after my  mom's second chemo infusion - december 2006}

when we moved to california at the end of january, we had six weeks until baby layton was due. ryan started his new job two days after we arrived, so i had some time to find a doctor and get all settled at home. it took a bit of time to find a doctor, but i was able to get in with a high-risk specialist at stanford so he could monitor some of the potential complications with my pregnancy. 

at my second appointment on thursday, february 22, 2007, after determining that baby layton was still breech, we scheduled a c-section for the following tuesday when i would be 38 weeks along. i then walked across the street to the hospital for my non-stress test. at the conclusion of this test, the nurses informed me that i was in labor. i was having regular contractions - big ones - and they were pretty close together. i assured them they were braxton hicks and that i had been having them for weeks. i felt no different {it was true!}. they sent me to labor and delivery just in case, but they figured if i had been feeling this way for weeks, the nurses up there would most likely send me home after the hour or so of monitoring. when they first checked i was at a 3 and when they checked just over an hour later, i was at a 7. and still couldn't feel a thing. in a panic, the nurses told me i'd be delivering this baby tonight and we needed to do a somewhat emergency c-section. so, a very scared maren called a very surprised ryan and told him he needed to find a ride to the hospital! 

at 8:10 that night - with ryan by my side - i delivered a beautiful baby girl. 5 lbs. 14 oz. and 17 inches long. yes, she was tiny. she went to the nicu immediately for some monitoring for a heart issue, so i didn't even get to see her for more than a moment. after a day or so when i could get up and move around, i went to the nicu to see her and nurse her a few times each day. ryan split his time between leah, me and home {sleeping on the hospital chairs and getting urine spilled all over your pants while you sleep wasn't ideal so he opted for home instead}. so there were long stretches of time when i was quite lonely. i didn't really know anyone in california. my mom was in between her third and final chemo infusions and was in no condition to travel. and ryan's parents were serving a mission for our church clear across the pacific in tonga. so i wasn't expecting any visitors.

i decided i should at least contact someone in the area to let them know i had had my baby. so on saturday morning, i called julia - pretty much my only new friend at the time. i had what was probably a very awkward conversation with her while i sat on the side of my recovery bed. i told her i wasn't sure who i should call, but i thought someone should know. as i hung up the phone, i felt a tap on my shoulder. i turned around and couldn't believe my eyes. it was my mom. 

she and my step dad drove 12 hours in a snowstorm just to see me. just to give me a hug. and to reassure me that no, i will not have to do this whole mothering thing without a mom. i'm crying now just typing this so you can imagine the tears that flowed that morning. ryan and i took them up to the nicu to see their newest granddaughter. 

it was that moment when my mom first held leah and i watched the two of them basically make eye contact that i knew what her name should be. 

leah karen layton. 

leah, because it was a name that ryan liked and i didn't dislike and he started telling people that was to be her name. and karen because of my mom. it just seemed to fit. 
in a letter i wrote to my mom about a year later, i explained my feelings this way:

“In Helaman 5:6, Lehi and Nephi remember the words of their father, Helaman, as he said, “…Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know . . . that they were good.” This is one of the main reasons we gave Leah the middle name Karen. I can’t think of a finer person than her grandmother after whom she should pattern her life. When Leah thinks of her middle name, I want her to know of her grandma’s faith, testimony, works, and example, and that her grandma is “good.” I look forward to watching all the wonderful things Leah will learn from and experience with mom.”

we went to utah for a visit in april and it was fun to see my mom and leah interact. leah was still just kind of a blob, but she really reacted to my mom. and they started a hair growing contest. {my mom totally won, by the way...but now they might actually have a competition.} 

my mom was in remission for two years before the cancer returned, but is now is now cancer free and has been for nearly three years. her second bout came the same year leah's diagnosis came, so that was another connection between the two. and now they share a month - october, to be more exact - breast cancer awareness month and rett syndrome awareness month both happen to be in october. so each fall from here to the cures, i'll be buying pink and wearing purple to fight for two of my favorite girls. 
{proof that my mom blew leah out of the water in the hair growing contest - september 2007}

i don't know what i'd do without either of them in my life.

also in 2007:
{p.s. this was really hard to narrow down. i had to keep reminding myself that this wasn't a place to post picture after picture of leah! so many to choose from...but lots happened in 2007!}
 {january - the big move from provo, ut to mountain view, ca}
 {february - 35 weeks pregnant. yes, i'm aware i carried very, very high. i wore regular pants my entire pregnancy.}
 {february - family of three}
 {may - leah's blessing day}
 {may - los altos hills pathways run take one with ryan and julia & jona wade. is it depressing to anyone else that i'm skinnier three months postpartum than i am right now?}
{june - kelli and ed's wedding}
 {july - first swim}
 {july - san francisco half marathon. it hurt. maren, leah, ryan, jona, julia, kaylynn, brook}
 {august - leah's inaugural visit to lake merwin}
 {august - the master mimicker}
 {october - cats for halloween. she totally rubbed off her red nose.}
{october - nike women's half marathon. this one didn't hurt so much. rebecca, kaylynn, julia, maren, molly}
{october - family pictures}
 {october - visiting dan and heather/trip to san diego}
 {november - leah's first thanksgiving. i ran my fastest 5k ever that morning.}
 {december - cal marathon. my first. it was hard. i cried when i crossed the finish line. and not because my hair was so hot.}
 {december - first piano recital. a fourteen minute success!}


Karen Hauley said...

reminder. don't. read. these. posts. at. work.
Love you shmave.

lmackay32 said...

Wow, you know how to get the tears flowing. What a beautiful story!

Anonymous said...

I can't even describe the wonderful spirit I feel as I read your blog. I love it. Thank you!!

You are meant to do great things!!

Kristen said...

Maren, I have LOVED these posts. What am I going to do after your birthday and there are no more of these posts to read daily???

One very important thing you forgot to include though, 2007 was the year that you met me. :)

ed and kelli said...

i'm a puddle. i remember mom calling and saying she couldn't take you being alone and far away anymore and that she and richard were driving out to see you! I also was just telling ed the other day about how leah is the only baby i have ever dreamed or pictured and how i bawled when ryan called me and told me her stats cause they were the exact stats from my dream. love that little bean and love my sister.

Rach said...

Wow. I know I haven't commented on hardly any of these posts, but I have absolutely loved each one. I love getting to know the real Maren and see how things came about.
But this post was a must to comment on because this is when we met you. I love that we were able to see this part first hand. I love your family picture with Leah and always want my hair to look like yours. I love that in the picture of you and Leah at the park, Leah is wearing Ty's sweatshirt. I guess it is safe to say that I just love the Laytons!

Julia Wade said...

I remember that phone call clear as day. Not awkward at all ... I was so happy to be a part of it and to know your sweet family. Love you Mare!!

Tiffany Toronto said...

Maren, I absolutely cannot believe how tiny your baby bump was with leah bean. I'm seriously jealous. Also jealous that you guys got into the cape cod half. i didn't sign up because Michelle said there was no way she would even get in. Love you and all your fun posts about your life :)