Saturday, November 12, 2011

Meditation and finding myself again

My last post I'm sure scared some people, since I'm usually not so sad or sound so angry as I did. To be honest, I had been feeling like that since we came back to the PICU on Sunday, I don't know why it happened, I'm usually much more optimistic and calm. But when I saw my beautiful baby in the state she was in, it was heartbreaking and I couldn't stay as strong as I usually do.
I poured my feelings into that post at 4 am, when I had been awake all night, but I'd like to let you all know what happened after that, since I had a pretty big shift in perspective a few hours later.

I decided that I couldn't stand being in the room anymore and decided to take a walk to the store to get some fresh air. I left the room at around 5:30 am and it was still dark out, the cold air of the morning was a welcome change from the stale stuffy air conditioned air in the hospital. I walked to the CVS pharmacy, a couple blocks away and bought a bottle of water and some gum, and browsed through the store, not really looking for anything else in particular. As I made my way back to the hospital, I noticed that it was beginning to get lighter, as the sky changed from night to day. I start work at 10 am usually, so I'm not one of those people who ever sees the sunrise, but just walking and watching to sky get brighter with light of a new day gave me hope again. I felt like I was witnessing something amazing and beautiful as well as symbolic. I felt like all the worries, stress and dark feelings I had had for the past day were being erased, and a new day meant the light, brightness and illumination that I had desperately needed, was finally coming out. I sat on the step of one of the hospital buildings and just absorbed everything. There were no people or cars, just the light of a new day and sounds of nature all around me. I walked back into the hospital building, but instead of walking towards the elevators that would take me to the PICU, I walked to the meditation room at the entrance to the hospital, a place I had passed several times, but never bothered to go into. I went in, and there was one other person already there, who left a couple minutes after I came in. The meditation room is interesting, it's not a chapel, but a non denominational room with a big blue dot at the front where they usually hold services like mass on sunday and shabbat on Friday. I decided sitting on the floor would be more comfortable since I could sit cross legged to meditate as I learned in yoga. I closed my eyes and began to meditate. I learned how to meditate from Zev, when I was in labor with Leah; since I wanted to do everything natural and not take pain killers, meditation was the one thing that helped me through the pain of labor. I started taking deep breaths and imagining with each breath that I was inhaling all of that light,a ll the brightness of the new day outside, I was breathing it all in. And when I exhaled I imagined I was breathing out all the dark, sad feeling I had had just a few hours ago. I don't know for how long I did this, but after a while, I could only hear the steady rhythm of my breathing and bit by bit I could hear the blood and my heartbeat rushing in my ears. I had no thoughts in my head, and I realized just how loud my thoughts usually are, when I heard the blood in my ears. When you concentrate enough and quiet your mind, that sound of your heartbeat is actually very loud, but I could never hear it because, I assume, my thoughts are louder.
After a while I opened my eyes and just stared at the floor, and I don't know if this happens to you, but when i look at something long enough, it sometimes begin to look like something familiar. I was staring at the carpet, and it had these things that looked like little worms in a row. The longer I looked, the more it looked like that, and I suddenly was reminded of a book that I hadn't read in years, since I was a child, maybe 10-15 years ago. The book was called "Hope for the Flowers" by Trina Paulus. I remember my mom bought me a copy of the book and I loved it because of the drawings and it was a very nice story, very simple but very deep.

If you haven't read it, it's about 2 caterpillars called Stripe and Yellow and they live life as caterpillars but get bored and decide to try and find something else to do, until they find this pillar that is made of many caterpillars, all trying to climb to the top of the pillar (this is what the spot on the carpet reminded me of). They even see other caterpillars fighting and stepping on each other to get to the top; and even some who fall to their death from so high up on the pillar. Yellow decided to not climb the pillar and Stripe goes back to climb it but finds out when he gets closer to the top that it seems like there really isn't anything at the top, but the others keep climbing and don't say anything so that they don't fall. Meanwhile, Yellow finds a cocoon and another caterpillar who tells her that she can become a butterfly and fly wherever she wants. She tries to find Stripe once she's a butterfly and finds him on the pillar but can't talk to him, he finally climbs down the pillar once he realizes there is nothing at the top and tries to find his love, Yellow. He finds her as a butterfly and she shows him how to make a cocoon and he eventually turns into a butterfly as well, and they live happily ever after.

I never truly understood the meaning of the story until that moment in the meditation room. As I recalled the story in my mind, I started to see the symbolism with everything that's happening with Leah and our lives. And after I realized that, I discovered other truths about myself and this whole situation as well. I had been so focused on myself and how I felt that I couldn't see past this moment. I realized that the pillar represents all of us, trying so hard to achieve something that in the end is not important. We think things like our careers and having a certain car are what we need to strive for and we don't realize that the caterpillars who love us, like Yellow are really what matters most. I realized that this whole time I kept thinking why me? and why does this happen to us? we're good people, why should such a bad thing happen to us; but in reality it's not happening to me, it's happening to Leah, this whole ordeal is part of HER life, it's what will shape her future, and what will make HER stronger and what will carve out HER personality forever. Everyone has difficult things they struggle with in their childhood, or teens, but this is what is what she is struggling with now, and it will be with her for the rest of her life. Whether she recovers from all this or not, it's always going to be a part of her. I imaged that maybe everything that's happening to her now is like that cocoon stage, the dark part, the uncertain part of her story, but this is what she has to go through to become the butterfly that's inside of her. This is what we all have to go through to discover our inner butterflies. Maybe I should stop focusing all me energy on the struggling part of it, the attempting to climb this impossible pillar, and just accept that I need to be in this cocoon for a while, and after some time, the butterfly will emerge, the happy times will come. In a way, if our lives were a book or a movie, this chapter is still in the middle, still in the juicy, nail-biting part where you don't know how it's going to end. But, eventually, I know there'll be a happy ending, there has to be; there always is, one way or another.

I know, some of this stuff is pretty deep, right? I never thought meditating could do this for me. It was like my mind was on another plane, I even began thinking about life and god and it was a great experience for me. I thought about how the universe is so old and in the grand scheme of things, we are so infinitely small compared to the expanse of the galaxy and the universe. This period of time is like a blink of the eye in comparison to how long the universe has been around and will probably continue to be around. Our time on this planet is extremely short and these hardships are even shorter. I need to appreciate the time I have with my daughter, my husband, my family. I'm in awe at the fact that my baby is almost 9 months old (even shorter time than a blink of an eye!) and she's changed thousands of people's lives, all around the world, with her story of courage and strength. And even though I seem strong, it doesn't come from within me, I know I draw my strength from her. She's taught me so much, I shouldn't complain about my frustrations. I could never truly appreciate her as I do now, if none of this had happened. She really is my hero, and I'm thankful to be her mother.

I want to thank you all for leaving such touching and uplifting comments as well. I know now that I can't lose hope, and I have to continue to fight for my daughter, my hero.

For now, we continue to wait in the PICU. Leah is being weaned off her induced coma, and will hopefully be waking up soon. They plan on doing another MRI to make sure there is no damage from the seizures in her brain. She's on antibiotics again since one of her IVs got infiltrated and created a blister which has turned into an open wound on her foot, and seems a little infected. We are going to make sure we keep on eye on it, that it doesn't get worse. They also mentioned that we might want to start looking into seeing other doctors at other hospitals like Children's Hospital Philadelphia, since we aren't making any further progress on her condition here at UCLA. Not that they haven't tried, we know they have, but it's time to look beyond this group of doctors for answers.

I love my husband so much. Last night it was my birthday (11/11/11, you can guess what my wish was), and Zev took me out to dinner in Westwood with a few close friends who I hadn't seen in a while, and made me laugh and we had a great time. Then today, he got me a spa day at the W, also in Westwood with a full 1 hr massage, manicure, pedicure and facial. He really outdid himself, and I felt amazing after I got back.
We'll try and post again tomorrow, since there may be more updates then, but until then, keep praying and sending us your positive energy through the force.




  1. I don't think you would be normal if you didn't wonder "why my child". Believe me, you have earned the right to be a little cranky with doctors who AREN'T LISTENING and making decisions based on what you already know. Even after Sunday, I still say you are the strongest woman I "know"...same goes for that thoughtful husband of yours! You are ALL in my prayers!

  2. It’s so true frani. At the end of the day it’s about your amazing little girl Leah. I also want you to know that if you like Miami children’s has amazing doctor’s st Jude. Shriners, there so many for me to go on Monday I will send zev a list of hospital in Chicago to new york to even Miami… good luck love and light and look as a mother of 2 girls. You know I have a special place for Leah in our family and in my life. Mazel tov to you and your family. That god finally listens to your prayers. I will continue to pray for you and the family…….

  3. This post is amazing and I'm so thrilled to have read it tonight. You had an amazing experience and sharing it with us will make a difference in all our lives. There is no way I can reply so eloquently, nor is there a reason I should. I just want you to know you helped me with your experience the other night and I have no doubt you will be helping others. We do get too wrapped up in climbing that pillar and forget that isn't our purpose in life. Beautiful book and beautiful imagery. Thank you and bless you all. We may never meet but I will never forget Leah and her family and all the blessings we have been given because of her.

  4. Dios bendiga a su familia y les de la fuerza que necesitan, leah es una linda angelita de Dios que nos enseña muchas cosas con su fortaleza y valentía siendo tan pequeñita, se que Dios esta con ella dandole todo su amor ¿, tengan mucha fe que Dios muy pronto les traera alegría en sus corazones. bendiciones para leah hermosa bebita y sus padres.

  5. YES, YES, YES to Children's Hospital Pittsburgh. I know several people (one of them personally) who just rave about how they saved their child. Fresh eyes on the situation might just be what is needed. My best friend's niece had an emergency liver transplant and they just have nothing but incredibly wonderful things to say about them. For now, I think of Leah all the time and hope that you guys have relief right around the corner. I'm hoping for the absolute best for you ALL!
    Brandy Davie