Monday, December 19, 2016

A Year of Ups and Downs

As this year comes to a close, I could not have even predicted how many ups and downs we would have. This year has been filled with huge highs and huge lows in our family, much more than the average year.

I'll start with the best parts:

This year, after years of planning and financial struggle, we finally laid ground on our apartment building. Seeing the building actually start was a miracle in itself - being the future home that will house us, our children, our parents, and husband-ji's parents. A home that our entire family will share and benefit from for years to come.


Another amazing thing that happened was that my in-law's finally got their Canadian permanent residency, after 6 years of waiting - allowing them to come and join our family permanently. Now my in-law's are living with us in a traditional joint family setting. We currently live in a 1000 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment, and despite the small space we are so happy to finally be together!


The best part of this year was that we were able to get pregnant!!! We were trying to conceive for nearly two years and the stress from that was one of the hardest things I have had to go through as a woman. It is such a relief to just be enjoying the moment and not feel stuck waiting anymore. This pregnancy has made us feel so grateful. Children are such a blessing and a gift from God. We are so excited at the chance to be parents again to another little unique being.

The worst parts:

Earlier this year, it seemed as if it was a domino effect of good fortune, but then the wheel of fortune turned and we got back-to-back bad news in the last half of the year. I have not yet talked about this on my blog. A close family member was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She is already a breast cancer survivor, but to have it come back again is extremely frightening.

During all of this, my aunt's wife died of breast cancer. It was a somber moment for our entire family. She looked well the last time I saw her, so I assumed I had more time. I was so wrong, and I didn't have the chance to say goodbye. It was the worst feeling in the world. I still can't believe she's gone, and the holidays just won't be the same without her. Thanksgiving was really hard without her. And it was hard seeing my aunt by herself, after 40 years of partnership.

My father's health has also been steadily deteriorating and he has undergone a lot of testing. It turns out that his Ataxia diagnosis was false, and in fact he has a very rare disease called MSA. The doctors have given him 3-5 years to live, many of which will be spent disabled. Not only that, but because this disease is so rare, there is no cure for it. So he has been coping with his own mortality, and the fact that he will soon be living as a disabled person. Right now, my dad can barely walk. He has two kinds of days: bad and worse.


If that wasn't awful enough, in the Fall, my mother-in-law started having severe chest pains. I took her to the ER and she ended up staying in the hospital for 2+ weeks and undergoing an emergency heart bypass surgery. We also found out that she has type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. She is doing a lot better now. She has healed from her surgery, is working on her diet, and attending a post-heart surgery exercise program. Luckily by the time she started having the chest pains, she was already a permanent resident and had Canada's universal free medical coverage. The same surgery would have costed $75, 000 if we were in the U.S.

Although I am healthy, my baby is healthy, Maya and husband-ji are healthy - it was SO hard to watch our loved ones suffer from major, life-threatening illnesses. And there is nothing any of us can do about it. Our days have been a blur of taking our parents to their doctor's appointments, hospitals, on top of the busyness of our everyday lives. There was a month-long period where we were at the hospital for more than 16 hours a day, which is thankfully over now. I was quite worried that the stress would affect the baby - even though the stress was unavoidable - but the baby is totally healthy. It's just me who has been a wreck! Sometimes we cry ourselves to sleep, sometimes we shout at each other from stress, but more than anything we are leaning on each other. I am glad that our new apartment building is being constructed, because we really need it right now to take care of our parents - with all of us living on one property. It is really easy to take care of my mother-in-law because she lives with us, but it is very hard for me to take care of my parents because they live 30 minutes away. When they live right above us, in the same building, it will be a whole lot easier.

The good news is that my mother-in-law has completely recovered. My dad will not recover, but at least we have the next few years to try to make the most of it.


It has been tough, but we are trying to focus on the good parts and hold on to that. When you watch the people you love experience something like this, you feel such a loss of control. You feel helpless. The only option is to have faith and just appreciate any small thing that comes your way. On really bad days, it can be just being grateful for the beautiful weather, or the cashier that was kind to you, or the picture that your kid drew. I am so excited about bringing another baby to the family to add some joy - especially for the grandparents. I'm not sure how much help I will get with the baby, but at least it will bring us all some delight. When the baby kicks, only I can feel the joy. I'm looking forward to when the baby is born so everyone else can get to know her too.

During these tough times, Maya has been my savior. In this whole picture - children are what really matter. I am taking such a delight in the funny things she does and says, and relishing in her hugs and affection. Every thing she does is brilliant. I'm so grateful not to be working right now so I can just spend the maximum amount of time with her. She has been mostly sheltered from all of this, but she knows that people are sick. She has not been sad about it, but rather more nurturing and helpful. She has not even had a single tantrum! She has really been mommy's little helper.

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What about you, dear readers?
What happened in your life this year?
What were the best & worst parts of your year?

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6 comments

  1. So sorry that you are going through this Alexandra. My father is a cancer survivor and has just been diagnosed with another cancer in a new area of the body. I know how hard it is, and your outlook on life and where to find joy is really helpful. Best of luck to you & your family.

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  2. Alex

    So sorry to hear about your Dad, this really a tough time. I hope you are able to care for him soon when the apartment is completed. Really heartbreaking about surgery with your mother in law. She is in good hands having you there to help. Hope your father in law is well. Glad they were able to have good insurance. Will pray for you and all your family. Happy Holiday to each of you.

    Melissa

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  3. (((((( Hugs)))))). I don't know what to say. You have been through some tough times recently. Lots of best wishes to your baby who will enter your world soon.

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  4. This post is incredily inspiring- your blog is inspiring- thank you for sharing your life with us. So sorry to hear about your father- what an incredibly tough time for you and your family. Hugs.

    Raina.

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  5. It is incredibly hard to watch your loved ones suffer. Hope 2017 brings better health for all of you and glad that some things worked out in 2016!

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  6. Oh dear. My mum had a severe heart attack 2 years ago when I was alone with her and my kids, it was a matter of minutes to save her, and I felt so blessed it happened when we were there to call an ambulance. In the same way, I feel you were blessed that your MIL got sick in Canada, close to you and a top hospital covered by medical insurance. And your family flat will be the perfect solution for your joint family, good thinking. Wishing you all the best for 2017 xxx -Pad

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