After about two weeks of not continuous, overnight feedings, we talked to Kerstin's clinical nutritionist at Children's Hospital. Since, she has been doing fine with only taking gravity boluses throughout the day, it is officially okay to discontinue her continuous feedings! I am so happy and very thankful! She is continuing to make strides and is doing well! No more beeps in the middle of the night because she may be laying on the lines. Don't have to worry about her accidently pulling the ports open and not being fed. No more phantom beeps in the middle of the day...hopefully! Yay for Miss Kerstin! Another step on our journey of Growing With Kerstin!
So, I think all of our family and friends know that Kerstin is a huge Target fan! No kidding! The child LOVES Target! You may have seen the pic I posted a few days ago of her looking at the store with dreamy eyes like "I love this place!" I have been wondering what is it about the store! The Bullseye? The red letters? The lights? Store signage? The conversations that Kerstin eavesdrop on when we're walking aimlessly through the store? What is it? Whatever it is, she loves that place. This past Saturday, I decided to go in with her as an escape and a treat! It was crowded, more crowded than on our weekday trips to the store yet, Kerstin was still very happy being in the crowd, in Target. Shopping alone with a child in a wheelchair can be a task. Try pulling a shopping cart while pushing the wheelchair, and add in a crowded store. Sometimes the customers can be understanding and happily allow room, other times some can be assholes! This crowded Saturday, the checkout lanes were busy and crowded, there were workers stocking items around the lanes. One in particular stopped what she was doing, came over and spoke to Kerstin. She asked her name, seeing that she was nonverbal, she looked to me to tell her Kerstin's name. When I did, she proceeded to talk directly to Kerstin. That made me smile! A kind act like that meant so much. It didn't end there, she took the shopping cart and put all of our items on the counter! I thanked her, she assured me that it wasn't a problem. Our encounter with this store associate didn't end after she placed our items on the counter, she went back over to Kerstin and told her that she would probably have to be reminded of her name a couple more times but, she would get and that she looked forward to seeing her next time! This lady we met Saturday wasn't the only employee in this store location that remembered us on our visits. We were once again, walking around one day when another associate seem to have come out of nowhere to speak and ask how we were that particular. This lady told me that she sees us in there a lot and that Kerstin always looks happy. Yeah, happy because it's one of her happy spots! Target, if you happen to read this, she will happily model for your ads, LOL!
I can proudly say that I am not one to brag...or at least I try my best not to brag. When it comes to Kerstin and a milestone or achievement she has made, or something she's involved in, that all goes out the window! It is with so much happiness that I can honestly and very proudly say that this post is nothing less than a brag post. *insert a happy smile* So, I'm sitting with Kerstin, giving her a bolus and like always, I casually talk with her about what's on TV or the day we've had. I notice that her little hands are growing, as is the rest of my little lady. So, I take her hand and kiss it, telling that it's so soft and that is why my little one year old niece always kisses her hand. I continued holding it as were bonding and I'm feeding her. Suddenly there is a strong grip on my hand!! I looked at Kerstin and she's looking directly into my eyes with a big smile on her face. I said to her, "You're squeezing my hand!" Without any hesitation, she squeezes it again! Four times in a row and at my command of "Can you squeeze my hand again?" She did so!! My sweet girl is strong and a very determined little girl. No matter how tired I may become, which happens every single day, no matter how often I feel like I want to give it all it...those times have hit me. I know that if all that Kerstin has been through in her 13 years of life, I can and should be able to continue on! And continue on is what I will do! She squeezed her momma's hand...
The mere thought of this post bought tears to my eyes. It is about the inevitable, that one thing that no man can escape. No matter the exercise routines, the meds and vitamins we take daily; they may aid in prolonging and making this life a little better and healthier. They just cannot keep us here forever. Death is that thing we will face and we can't get around that. I must admit that I have selfish thoughts when it comes to death. Since Kerstin came into my life 13 years, 1 month and 11 days ago and my entire outlook on life has changed forever. I cannot imagine my life without Kerstin and I can't even comprehend her living a life without me! One of those may happen, sadly. Back to my selfish thoughts, I have prayed at times, that when that time comes, that it be in a manner that we could leave this earthly home together. I can't imagine the heartache it may cause my family but, it can't possibly compare to that of Kerstin or myself to have to live without each other.
With Kerstin in Selma at the Edmund Pettus Bridge
So, I thought about writing a letter to my sweet daughter. My sweetest Kerstin, I have loved you more than my own life. You have meant the world and more to me. Words can't fully express the love that I have for you, my sweet girl! This journey we have been on together has been one of many ups and downs, some pains but great joys. When I was pregnant with you, I imagined a life much different than the one we have lived. I hope that I have shown you a smidget of the love that I have for you. I have loved the cold winter days when you didn't got to school and we sat watching whatever animated, you not wanting to share your blankets. I have loved taking you to the movies and you ignoring me completely once the lights went down. I love the way you stare at me until I looked at you only to poke your tongue at me. Your laugh, I just love hearing you laugh so hard that you begin to shake. Kerstin, you made me look at life differently! Before you, I never thought about things like accessible parking, hand rails in bathrooms, ramps, inclusion and so much more. I never knew that I would be required to do and learn so much in order to take care of you. I would not change any of the things we have endured together. The many surgeries and hospital stays only made us stronger! You have been a true example of strength and courage sweet girl. I love you darling! No one can say that I didn't do what I could to be a voice for you. You have been my life! We are forever together! Loving you always and forever, Your Mommy! So, I can only hope that, if I should leave this place before or without my daughter, someone would read this letter to her and continuously remind her that her mommy loved her to no end!