Manifesting Gratitude

A few years ago, I was scrolling through a Facebook group called “Mom’s of Trach Babies” as I often did, looking for suggestions or tips for taking care of my sweet son Jacob and his tracheostomy.

Jacob had a rare neurological genetic disorder and he depended on us for everything.

I feel like there was a point where it would have sounded silly that we found better information from a Facebook group than from some of the doctors we encountered, but now, its fairly common to find valuable and needed information on social media. 

As I was scrolling, a post struck me.

A mother was sharing about her child who had passed away.

This happened now and then in the group and each time, it created new fears for me…I feared for Jacob’s life.

Often times, I didn’t read those posts. Not because I didn’t care, but because of how much I cared.

I couldn’t possibly comfort every hurting heart, so sometimes it was just easier to not know how much those hearts were hurting.

For some reason, I decided to read her post in depth and it has stuck with me since then.

She said a lot about her child and about trach life, but the sentence that got me and still constantly gets me is when she said, “suction with gratitude.”

What?

I’m supposed to be thankful for suctioning?

For sticking a tube down his trach and using a suction machine to remove any mucus blocking the area?

For having to suction boogers and spit and all kinds of yucky stuff?

She meant we should have gratitude for that?  

Yes, that’s exactly what she meant. Find the gratitude because one day, it might all be gone.

There would likely be a last time I turned on a suction machine, a last time I changed a trach, gave medications, all of it.

Jacob’s life was always a rollercoaster and death in childhood was a very real worry for him and all of us. 

Where I used to see inconvenience and frustration, I started to find joy and thankfulness.

Instead of being upset for having to change another total blowout, I was thankful we weren’t in the hospital with severe constipation as we had been before.

Because I didn’t have a lot of free time, I found myself becoming extremely grateful for our nurses and extra staff.

That gratitude helped me overlook the fact that we sacrificed privacy for four years as they came in and out of our home daily.

Instead of being frustrated for giving up my career and having to learn all these medical things I never wanted to learn, I became thankful for my ability to care for him and for my body’s ability to lift and move him as he needed.

Instead of being sad and disappointed Jacob needed a wheelchair, a trach, a feeding tube and more; I found myself thankful they existed and thankful it meant he could be at home with us and we could be out in our community enjoying life and not in the hospital. 

Its hard to find gratitude sometimes…in a meltdown, when you’re putting on and taking off a shoe twelve times because a sock is wrinkled wrong, when the noise in your environment is so loud you wonder how you aren’t deaf yet, when yet another seizure medication doesn’t do its job, when bedtime comes and goes on the clock for the fifth time in a row and you’re nowhere close to having your kiddo tucked in and ready to drift away to dreamland.

But, its there if you look for it.

Maybe if you’re struggling to find it, ask a friend.

I have some amazing ones who help me find perspective and find gratitude in every day. 

I’ve often shared about how important I feel kindness is, but I think we also need to acknowledge gratitude.

Finding gratitude helps us find joy, just like being kind does. 

And now, while Jake is in heaven and he doesn’t need any of those interventions anymore…I’m thankful I got to be his mommy.

I am thankful that I took the time to be thankful.

I am thankful that pediatric hospice programs exist (even if those are the saddest words anyone ever put together in a sentence).

I have gratitude for his whole life, even if it was hard from the start. I’m thankful he taught me how to be strong.

I’m thankful his hurdles taught me that I am very smart and resourceful, and I’m incredibly thankful that he was ours for seven whole years.

Seven years of gratitude for the hardest things because they made me who I am and they built my family into an amazing little, tight knit unit. 

You might argue that it’s impossible to find gratitude in some things…and I would agree.

I cannot find gratitude in his death other than to say I am thankful he is no longer suffering and having to fight to live. But I will say, I have gratitude for that mother and her words.

Thank you, whoever you are, for helping me remember at a crucial and important moment that life is a precious gift filled with blessings even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside. 

Written by, Kari Olavson

Kari Olavson is a wife and mother to two (one in heaven) and an advocate for those with special needs. She is cofounder of a photography based non-profit called Brave Souls Photography created in memory of her son, Jacob. She enjoyed sharing about Jacob’s journey through his life and continues writing and sharing as she can. Her first book about Jacob’s life, special needs parenting, and being a fierce mama-bear advocate is nearing completion and she plans to continue writing and increasing awareness of this special part of the world. You can follow her page on Facebook at Jacob’s Journey.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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