Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Entering the Stage of Acceptance: My Daughter Has Leukemia

It's a little after 4a.m. and I've just finished nursing baby Anderson. He's such a gift from God. We truly are blessed to have such a sweet, angelic little baby boy. This is my first night home since we left for the hospital to have him last Thursday morning. I thought it would be good to be home, that it would make me feel better. Some who were once subscribed to this blog when I compassionately pursued writing may not know that on Friday, June 24th, my youngest daughter Alaina, who is 2 1/2 years-old, was diagnosed with ALL leukemia. She had been running a fever of over 103 for 6 days. Because of the fever she was not able to see her baby brother on Thursday, and after urine and blood tests were done late Thursday, Friday turned our world upside down when we received the news. I was unable to see my baby girl until released from the hospital. My amazing husband stayed with her, along with my mother-in-law and mom, who alternated shifts to be with the confused, scared little girl as they admitted her into the children's hospital, ran a bone marrow test and spinal tap on her, and poked and prodded her throughout the weekend. Finally, on Sunday late afternoon, I got to see my baby girl. And she was NOT happy to see me.

No one prepared me for how steroids change a little girl's personality. I knew she was angry at me. She didn't understand why I'd been gone while all these strange things were happening to her and it broke my heart. It still does, typing it, I have to really hang onto my composure. I had a cesarean, and crying really hurts. She kicked at me, bit me, pinched me, screamed with tears rolling down her cheeks.

Thursday was one of the best days of my life, Friday the absolute worst, and Sunday the second-to-worst. But Monday brought me new strength. She finally got around to sometimes accepting me again. Her personality is still so different because of the steroids. She is unable to make decisions. Everything is always "no". She has massive fits when she wakes up, or when a stranger comes into the room. My sweet, precious, outgoing little spitfire is hidden somewhere beneath this new little girl. I know she can't help it. I know she's scared and confused and doesn't understand. And it kills me.

But God is leading me. I know we can get through this together, as a family, because God only gives us what he knows we can handle. With this knowledge, I've somehow found a mother's strength I didn't know I possessed. I took Monday with some acceptance that life would never be the same again. I numbed--distanced myself--from the constant pain and dark thoughts and pulled through the day, helping Alaina learn to control her fits a little, and learning how to manage her new personality. I know she'll come back to me, when the drugs have worn off and she's in a more familiar place. I spent the night Sunday with her, and came home with my husband and eldest daughter close to midnight tonight (Monday). I was eager to be home, to sleep in my bed, to see what was once my normal life. But everywhere I turn, everything I look at, reminds me of our old life not less than a week ago. Of a strong, bright-eyed little girl who could talk to me sooo well, who was potty trained, who had this endless amount of boisterous energy and lit up anyone's day who came across her. Pictures are everywhere in our house. Her toys, her room....our old life already seems so long ago. So far away. Untouchable. It will never be the same. I know this. It won't always be this hard. I know this as well. But it hurts. It hurts so bad that the only way I feel I can manage staying as strong as I was with her today is if I share my story, our struggles, our good days, our bad days, our acceptance of this new life.

I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep until I had this written down. Just as I know that my husband, children and I, could not get through this time in our lives as easily without the help of such amazing friends, family, and people we hardly know. It has overwhelmed both Chad and I at how much GOOD there still is in this world. At how much people truly have a need to help other people. God knew we could handle this, else it wouldn't have happened. Everything happens for a reason. We may not know what it is yet, we may never know. But the key is to stay positive.

We're blessed this happened when it did. During the summer, when our eldest daughter doesn't have to attend school and my mother-in-law is off work to help us. During a time my husband had already asked off for work to spend time with the new baby. As well, giving us such a little miracle that sleeps quietly through the night, fusses just enough when he's hungry, and let's me stay over night at the hospital with my sweet Alaina and not disturbing her sleep. He's such a good, good baby. Were he any different, I might not be able to stay with her over night. He might wake her, or upset her. Just another blessing from God.

And the friends and people coming together to aid Alaina in her fight against leukemia. It fills my heart up so much. It swells with amazement and hope at all the people reaching out to us. From donating blood for Alaina through Carter Blood Care, to preparing us meals, to offering to go grocery shopping, do yard work....surprise us with a filled up gas tank. We're floored by this generosity. Another lesson from God. We're humbled and are inadequate in receiving all of this love and support.

I feel better now. Writing this down has helped me to at least attempt sleeping again. It's hard not to think of her, though. To think of what she was like, of what life was like just a week ago. So many changes are around the corner, if not already on top of us, smothering us senseless. But we'll get through this. Together, we'll help our baby girl get rid of this ugly disease. 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy is ahead of us, and all the trials that go with it, but together, with God and our sturdy network of friends and family, we will conquer this battle.


  1. You are one of the bravest women I know, sharing your story like this, after not only just having a baby, but reeling from the news about Alaina.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. I wish I could bring you cake.

  2. I am in awe of the strength you and Chad have. You both have given some much of yourselves to others, now it is time to receive back.

    Alaina is strong and she is just getting started in life. That "I can do it by myself" personality will be back in no time. She IS such a joy!!!

    Christa & Chad, you two, as parents demonstrate each day the true meaning of parenthood is so many ways. One day the seeds you are planting within your children will bear more fruit than you can ever imagine. Stay true and strong.

    Love you all,
    Lisa Andregg

  3. Christa,
    I am a friend of Christy Stacy's and she reached out to her group of friends in a prayer request for your family. I wanted you to know that I am praying earnestly and diligently for you, your husband, Alaina, Anderson and your other daughter. I am praying for the team of doctors and nurses around Alaina, for God to heal her, for your recovery process after the baby, for all of your family that surrounds you and is pulling together for you. God is good and I can't imagine the plans He may have for your family, but know that he is already using your story, your words, your strength to touch others and even minister to them...including me. You are an amazing woman and I will continue praying for all of you. I have a daughter Alaina's age and can't imagine what you are going through. I am donating blood today for your precious girl and promise to continue to lengthen the prayer chain in honor of Alaina and your family. Love to all of you,
    Kari Anderson

  4. What a beautiful, moving, heartfelt post.
    Lots of love to you all.

  5. Oh no! I'm so sorry that this is happening.

    I will keep little Alaina and your family in my prayers.

  6. Might I offer a suggestion to you....hum quietly when your daughter is upset...it will help to calm her. Also, sing silly songs and soft lullabies... I have found these simple things to be the most help.
    Praying for you and asking God to touch you and your family as you travel the road to a complete cure.

    God bless.

  7. You are very very brave. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family, and I have no doubt that God will see you through this. Your little girl will bounce back in no time, I've had many a family member had to battle cancer, though no children, and the best thing for you and them is to stay positive. Something you already have going for you.

    Chemo can be brutal, when she starts the best thing you can do is give her a food to blame. Well not blame, but subconsciously register as the reason why she is sick. It's a psychological thing, when she eats and then goes to get treatment she is going to get sick. Pick a food she is indifferent to, for example oatmeal--a bland food that isn't a favorite nor is it disliked-- and then have that be the food she eats before every treatment. That way once its over she wont have ruined her favorite food by associating it with getting sick. I can't remember what the exact term is, but I hope that helps.

    I will pray for you and your family, I know you will get through this.