Welcome to the Team Avery Website!

In the spring of 2008 my then 19-month old daughter Avery lost most of her sight to congenital cataracts.
The Delta Gamma Center for Visual Impairments in St. Louis was there for our family in our greatest time of need; teaching us how to alter our lives to incorporate a visually impaired child. To help them continue helping other families like us, we have formed Team Avery/ Team Margaret. ***To read about Avery's story, go to the Archives and visit Blog "Avery's Story" from January 24th, 2010.
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fear, Grief, and Giving Back

For the past two weeks I’ve been a mess.  (Yes, for those of you that are thinking it, even WORSE of a mess than usual).  I’ve just felt sad, down-in-the-dumps, depressed – whatever you want to call it.  First I attributed the somber mood to winter…I HATE the cold!  Then I decided it must be a result of our impending move to Georgia.  As happy as I am to head back South, it is an extremely stressful time.  Sorting through your things to evaluate what stays and what goes; packing up a life you’ve spent 6 years building…it’s emotional. 


But usually I’m pretty tough, emotionally speaking.  I tend to go running instead of dealing with my feelings directly. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I began CRYING during “Celebrity Rehab.”  Sobbing.  I’m embarrassed to even admit I watch such trash, let alone that it brought me to tears.  (Which is why I immediately followed my sob-fest by taking a pregnancy test.  NEGATIVE – phew!! Not that I actually thought I was with child…I tend to be an angry pregnant lady, not a weepy one. Poor, poor husband).

But it wasn’t until late last night – after I began crying because the Serena and Lily fabric swatches I ordered did NOT look like they appeared on the computer – that the source of my turmoil became clear. Surprisingly, Brian was the one who figured it out. 

My son turned 17 months old last Thursday.  He is the spitting image, size and shape of his sister Avery when she was a toddler…and close to the age of 20 months old. The age Avery was when she developed cataracts.  When she went blind, and my world collapsed around me. 

I was six-months pregnant with Auden when she got the diagnosis. I remember holding Avery during her second post-op visit and hearing that my unborn son had a 50% chance of developing the same congenital cataracts his sister was now dealing with. I stood, speechless, in the Ophthalmologist’s office: one baby in my arms, one baby in my belly. The thought of my second child losing HIS sight seemed beyond cruel. 


I felt so lucky when Auden was born healthy.

Since birth our Ophthalmologist has checked his eyes every 6 months, and of course I keep my own “eyes” on him. So far we’ve had nothing but great news. But in the back of my mind I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  I try to think positively, because “fifty-percent chance of developing cataracts” can also mean “fifty percent chance” of NOT developing them.”  But no amount of positive thinking keeps the turmoil at bay for long. Behind my happy smile on most days, there is raw fear.

The closer Auden gets to the age Avery was when she lost her sight, the more of a mess I become.  The past is resurfacing, and memories I want to forget are popping up.  In that Summer of 2008 the rapid surgeries, recovery, therapy, and new baby happened in a mere three-month span, and I was constantly too busy to process what was actually happening.

Suddenly I am being forced to think about that time again. All  the sadness, guilt, and anger that came as a package deal with my daughter’s blindness is resurfacing. I look at my son and I can't help but see my daughter at the same age, playful and unaware that in 3 months her life would forever change.

I haven’t gotten to the place where I can accept all that happened. So now that I realize why I'm so emotional, what will I do? I'll continue to run. And, I'll continue to throw myself into Team Avery. There is something so cathartic about taking your own grief and using it to help better someone else's life. Everytime I see that someone has donated or chosen to run/walk/cheer with Team Avery, I am buoyed up with happiness. I know that those dollars will go to a center that touched my life during my greatest sorrow. To a center I know will be there for me if ever I go through this journey again.

I hope that, by sharing my story on this blog, someone out there will be be moved enough to touch the life of a family they will never meet. And I hope you know how this helps me: I was once on the receiving end of a donor just like you. By supporting Team Avery, another mother will be able watch her blind or visually impaired child's life blossom. You never know who that child may be.


AB77 said...

OMG, I just wrote an epic novel comment, and it got deleted when I tried to verify it. UGH! Anyway, I was TRYING to say I can only imagine how you much feel. I cannot imagine what it was like to see your daughter have her sight and then lose it, and fear the same thing could happen to your son. No mother (or father) should have to go through that. I will also have you know that I have now cried ALL THREE times I have watched Mindy McCready sing "I'm Still Here" on Celebrity Rehab, and the song is currently also posted to my Facebook page. It hits close to home with me for the exact reason she is singing it, but I could easily see how applicable the very first verse would be to you:

"I’m still here, after the heartache
After the storm blew through
It kept me and it saved me,

I’m still standing
Right where you left me"

Just remember you and your family are still standing, and little Avery hasn't missed a beat. You guys are a incredibly strong family and she is a lucky little girl to have you and Brian for her parents!

jodypkearney said...

Oh jeeze...now I'm a weepy mess! Erin, it's completely understandable that you are feeling what you're feeling. Seeing your child go through something so scary as losing her sight is not a hardship that you just forget about overnight...or ever, really. And I'm sure that seeing Auden reaching that age is bringing up so many anxieties. We only want the best for our kids and you're simply being a loving Mommy, not an emotional wreck.

I love all of the pictures on this post. Your kids are so stinking cute!!!

claire.straight said...

They look like twins when you compare them at the same age, so I totally understand your fears; I feel them, too. Your blog beautifully stated how traumatic this has been for you.

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