MiKayla turns 18!! What an exciting milestone in her life! This milestone I have been able to thankfully celebrate with all three of my children, and I am ever thankful for each one. I found out that I was pregnant with MiKayla when I was just completing my master’s program in administration. She was set to be a new year’s baby, and her big brother and big sister would be 4 and 3 when she would arrive. I remember feeling quite tired in the beginning of my pregnancy with MiKayla as I had early morning summer classes to finish my program, was working full time, and my two children were active and fun and keeping me busy! 🙂
MiKayla was to be born at the beginning of the year 2000. During that time, there was a lot of anxiety about Y2K. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, then I will briefly explain it. Y2K or year two thousand was predicted to cause all sorts of havoc due to a shortcut in computer programming where system programmers had assigned two digits to denote the year in dates as opposed to four. For example, a year would be listed as 95 rather than 1995. The concern was that when the computer’s clock came to 2000 that the math would be all messed up. There was much anxiety about what problems this would cause, and people were conducting wilderness-survival bootcamps in order to prepare. Basically, I tried to just pray and tried to not spend my pregnancy filled with anxiety about delivering in a time where so many problems were predicted. My husband thought it was hilarious and was filled with jokes about the hype. The great news is that most of the necessary programs were fixed in time, and most of the scary predictions did not come to pass.
MiKayla’s C-Section was scheduled for January 3, 2000. My husband desperately tried to convince the doctor to make it for New Year’s. There were to be many gifts handed out to the first baby of the new millennium. Our doctor patiently explained that scheduled C-Sections would not qualify. LOL. MiKayla was born early on that January 3rd morning. During the C-Section, I was awake and listening as the two doctors were performing the C-Section. All of a sudden, I heard some words that scared me. The wall of my uterus was so thin that the one doctor exclaimed that he had almost cut her. Later, it was explained to me that due to how thin the wall of my uterus had become that it would be dangerous for me to have any other children which led to a tubal ligation for me that year. I was sad as I truly wanted four children; however, I knew that it was important for me not to put any future babies at risk or to risk my own health. I wanted to be able to raise my three children to the best of my ability.
MiKayla, like my other two children, was in the 7 lb range, and she had an unbelievable amount of thick, dark hair. She was such a beautiful baby. My sister Kim had driven to stay with PK and Kylee and brought them each day to have time with us and their new baby sister, They were both so excited about their new sister. PK had someone else to do all of his tricks for, and little Kylee soon got into mommy mode as the big sister. She had many things to teach her new baby sister.
After we had gotten home, a few days had passed, and MiKayla began making loud, strained noises as she was breathing. I became so concerned and quickly got her to our doctor. Our doctor immediately referred us to a specialist who order a scope down her throat. I still remember that day as they came in with this long scope that they were to insert through her nose and down her throat. The medical staff looked at me and questioned, “We have to do this to her?” as they looked at the tiny one week old little girl. I responded yes and was so upset. My husband ended up holding her as I cried. I could not watch them do that to my new little baby girl. The results were that MiKayla had extra tissue in her throat. The danger was is that it could interfere with her breathing and cause her breathing to stop. Their treatment was that MiKayla would be placed on a heart monitor for the next 6-9 months. It was expected that somewhere around that age that she would outgrow the condition. They shared that it was probable that she would develop asthma when she got older which she did. MiKayla developed exercise induced asthma when she was approximately 5 years old and has used an inhaler during sports ever since.
I was thankful that their prognosis was that she would outgrow the condition; however, I will honestly share that I battled much anxiety during this time while MiKayla was on the heart monitor. For those 9 months, MiKayla was not away from me. I took her to work or worked from home. I held her during the night. The different times that the heart monitor went off then I was terrified that I was going to lose my baby girl and that her breathing was stopping. It was a scary season for me. I prayed. I tried to trust that God would take care of my baby. However, I still was scared. I was so thankful when MiKayla outgrew it as they thought and did not require the heart monitor anymore after she was 9 months old.
MiKayla and I have a very tight bond. I have teased her that part of the reason is that not only were we together while I was pregnant for 9 months, but for nine additional months, I did not put down or leave my baby girl. After she started going to daycare, we definitely felt some after effects. I would go to get her and ask the worker, “How did MiKayla do today?” She cried is what I was told day after day. I knew that my anxiety caused this as for 9 months, MiKayla knew that I was there holding her. When I would give MiKayla to someone else, she would cry. She thought that we were to always be connected.
As she grew, she was such an adorable, bright little girl. She could not say her “r’s” correctly but she definitely had a lot to say. When she was turning three, she had overheard me talking about her becoming a preschooler. When MiKayla would introduce herself at this age, it was very important to her to tell each person that “I not a toddler no more, I a preschooler.” As she would say this, then the cute way that she said her “r’s” made the whole statement even more adorable.
MiKayla had an independent personality. It did not matter to her that all of her friends played with dolls or barbies as she had other interests. When her other friends wanted princess parties, then MiKayla wanted a jungle party or a cat in the hat party. She liked what she likes and did not seem to be influenced about what those around her liked. She wanted to always keep up with her big brother and sister. From the time the kids were little one of my goals was to take them to as many places as I was able to and expose them to as many things as I could. One of our weekend adventures led us to climb a 100 ft tower that overlooked some beautiful scenery in the NW part of our state. MiKayla was three, and I planned on carrying her as the kids and my sister and I climbed the tower. MiKayla announced that she “would do it herself.” That little cutie was climbing all of those stairs with the rest of us. Remember how she said her “r’s”? LOL. She would exclaim over and over, “my legs are hurtin” and she would breathe so loud; however, every time I would ask if she wanted me to carry her then she would reply again that she was going to do it herself. She made it all 100 feet. Even from 3 years old, I could see the fierce determination in this beautiful little girl. I loved it. 🙂
When MiKayla started school, then her perfectionism was definitely on display. MiKayla was a bright girl and did exceptionally well in school. However, she was such a perfectionist that she would always arrange her papers in order in her folder from highest to lowest. Her 107’s and 103’s would be in the front and her 97’s in the back. I would discuss this with my little girl and try to get her to see that all of them were wonderful. That began one of MiKayla’s and my continuing discussions on how important it is to give your best and if you make a mistake to just learn from it but then move forward. I did not want her to focus on her mistakes. She was such a perfectionist. I think as she has continued to grow and mature that she has lessened the pressure on herself. She continues to do exceptionally well in whatever she does and hopefully will continue to be satisfied always with giving her best regardless of the outcome.
MiKayla had some fears of being in front of people as she grew. She wanted to clog like her big sister and had already picked up a variety of steps from Kylee. However, she did not want to have to perform in front of the large crowds at the competitions. This began our ongoing discussion of not letting fear keep you from doing the things that you want to. MiKayla did clog and would absolutely be worried about performing in front of the large crowds; however, at the competitions you would never be able to tell as she would be in the front with the biggest smile absolutely doing her best. The night before the competition she would have herself about sick with worry, but I am so proud that she continues to learn not to let this rule her. She continues to shine. Such an important lesson for us all when we battle fear and/or anxiety. We need to learn to recognize it, discuss it, and deal with their effects; however, we also need to learn to not let it rule our lives or cause us to miss out on life’s moments and treasures.
When MiKayla was 11 and getting ready to enter the 6th grade, her dad had a work related accident which caused him immediate paralysis from the chest down. He was in the trauma unit for four days and died as they were prepping him for surgery on August 14, 2011. This was so traumatic for an 11 year old girl to experience. She loved her daddy so much. Her daddy was her protector. She felt safe when she was with him. She knew that he adored her and cheered her on everything she did. She knew how proud her daddy was of her. These last 6 1/2 years have been extremely difficult for MiKayla to be without her dad. She misses him and longs for his presence in her life. I do my best to teach her about her dad, but that does not take away from the grief, sadness, or longing that she has for her daddy. I am thankful for each positive male role model in her life that reaches out to her in an encouraging, fatherly way. None of these men can replace her daddy, but their presence in her life is crucial as she continues to grow and learn and to set her own expectations of what she wants in her future.
Tragedy again struck for MiKayla when her big brother was instantly killed in a car accident at the age of 18 on June 26th 2013. MiKayla and PK had a fun-loving relationship and truly enjoyed each other. They had many similarities in their personality and in their sense of humor. I cannot express the pain that I experience as a mom watching my two incredible daughters having to deal with so much grief in their young lives. These two losses of the men in their lives is beyond tragic. I cannot be more proud of how they continue to learn to heal and grow in the midst of their pain and loss. They amaze me.
MiKayla has dealt with much fear and anxiety that have been brought on by these two traumatic deaths. Learning to drive, for example was so scary for her. After having her brother die in a car accident, then she was simply terrified of having to drive herself. Experiencing these two life changing losses brought the reality of death in her face on a daily basis. I am proud to say that MiKayla has continued to learn to not let her fear or anxiety rule her, and I believe truly enjoys driving now.
Her incredible love for animals definitely defined itself during her grieving. Her kitties and puppy are beyond special to her and continue to travel with her as she navigates through her own personal journey. I continue to work with MiKayla on being able to express her feelings. I think after journeying through these terrible tragic awful deaths at such a young age that she can continue to let her feelings get bottled up and can have difficulty expressing her feelings as so many of her feelings have been so overwhelming. It is extremely difficult to emotionally navigate through the death of her daddy at 11 and the death of her big brother at 13 and to be able to sort through and express all of those emotions. What we are working on is truly expressing how she is feeling with whatever is currently going on in her life and practicing expressing her emotions in those moments. I am seeing growth in MiKayla in this area and believe that it is an important part of her healing.
After PK died, MiKayla wanted to immediately quit basketball. I was convinced that this desire came from the extreme pain that she experienced as she would walk on to that basketball court and think of all of the times that she had watched her big brother on that very court. As her mom, I did not feel like it was in her best interest to quit at that time. I had witnessed MiKayla demonstrating much skill, success, and enjoyment while she was on the basketball court in the past; therefore, I requested that we did not make any big decisions at that time due to all of the pain that we were going through. My request was to not quit anything at that time until we worked through some of our grief and pain. MiKayla agreed to stick it out for that year. I am beyond proud to say that she did not let her pain keep her from doing something that she loved so much even though there was such a connection for her to basketball with her big brother. Last year, as I watched my daughter and her team win the state basketball championship, and I witnessed her become a part of the state tournament team, I could not have been more thankful. As the tears poured down my face, I was so grateful. This was about so much more than a state championship to me. This was the opportunity to witness my daughter battle so much fear and anxiety in her life due to the trauma that she had to endure and to watch her experience such success as she fought her way through those times. Tears are pouring down my face now as I write this. What an awesome moment in her life for her to see that hard work, team work, and effort truly pay off and that even though we may not always feel like giving our best due to our own pain and trauma that it is always worth it.
As MiKayla enters this next season of her life this year, and she prepares to graduate from high school and begin college, then she has had to continue to battle fear and anxiety. One of MiKayla’s desires after all of the trauma was for things in her life not to change anymore. It has made sense to me. She has had to deal with two of the worst changes that anyone could imagine, the death of her daddy and her big brother. It is understandable that she does not want to deal with any more change. However, as her mom then I have known that one of my tasks was to help her to see the positive things that can come from changes in our lives and to help her to develop the ability to realize that there are changes that exist that can be positive and wonderful. This is one of my prayers for her as she prepares for big changes this year and begins a whole new season of life. I pray that my baby girl can experience the joy and wonder and growth that these new changes can bring.
Wow MiKayla! I have sure been reflecting on your life this Saturday morning!! I can not be more proud of you. Keep growing and doing your best. I love you more than you will ever understand. Happy 18th to you my sweetheart! May we continue to celebrate each moment that we have! May you know how incredibly loved and wonderful that you are. Thank you for the extreme joy and love that you bring to my and Kylee’s life and to so many others. I am so proud of you sweetheart. Love you more than you will ever know.