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How My Life as a Mother Has Been 'Rerouted'


Rerouting isn’t always a bad thing.

I was excited to get my iPhone years ago, partially because of the navigation. I’m awful at directions, and tend to think I know better than the person who gave them to me. I’m almost never right about this. So when I started displaying the same behavior in response to my phone’s navigation, that annoying voice kept telling me it was “rerouting.” Again and again it would say that to me, never learning this is just what I do — and while I don’t take the expected paths, I usually, eventually, get there. Sometimes I find something unique along the way I would have missed. I wish my navigation voice (I named her Camille) would tell me she was “rerouting” in a more hopeful voice. While I’ve changed which navigation app I use, and now Camille is programmed with a British male voice, it still tells me when I’m not following directions. I just laugh.

The other day when I was growing impatient with the necessary changes in our lives due to my daughter’s diagnosis, I heard that voice tell me we were “rerouting.” I can’t say I had a complete moment of Zen, where all of life’s lessons were illuminated, but it did make me relax and forget about the stress. For a little while.

When I was younger, my plan was to marry someone lovely, move to Ohio, be a nurse, have four kids, two dogs and a beautiful, charmed life. None of my children were going to have medical issues, I would not experience divorce and of course my dogs were going to be perfectly behaved. There’s been some rerouting since then.

My daughter’s diagnosis — when I was 19 weeks pregnant — changed that. There were many stops along the way that changed it, but this was certainly a big one. It didn’t feel like a traffic back-up or lane closure, it felt like a major intersection inexplicably vanished and there was nowhere to go. I could stop there, along the path, and flounder. Or I could find a new way to get there — whatever there ended up being.

Along the way I’ve ended up in Ohio, after all, because it had the hospital my daughter needed. I am not a nurse in the typical sense, but I can talk medications and equipment and diagnoses and neurological symptoms with the best of them. I have five amazing children, four dogs, and a beautiful, chaotic life. One divorce, one dog who flunked out of being a service dog, and a few other hiccups seeped in as well. Just a little different path, but I got there.

My rerouting has reminded me to celebrate every milestone, even if it only seems like an inch. I’ve stopped at roadside diners that include medical formula, feeding tubes and way too much coffee. Souvenirs along the way include swag from lots of hospitals, charity walks, non-profit organizations and quality medical-goods stores. I can tell you how to find the best formulary pharmacy in several states. I can talk to an out-of-town emergency department nurse about a key piece of medical equipment when I’ve traveled 12 hours for my daughter’s cheerleading competition.

It takes longer to take these other roads, and sometimes it results in frustration when you’ve typed in the wrong address and end up in the completely wrong spot. But there’s usually something to remember along the way that’s unique to my family, my child and my own life. If you’ve found yourself unexplainably rerouting, try to enjoy the amazing views you’ll see if you give yourself room to notice them.

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Thinkstock photo by: oatawa