I’m happy to finally be able to share this year’s Single Parent Giveaway winner with you all. Her name is Kyla Gillespie, and she is mom to Jameson and Harper. Kyla was nominated by her friend, Amanda, and was happy to send me her story in her own words to share.
My story…The Beginning
In the Fall of 2003, I began the Master’s Teaching program at the University of Arkansas; an internship of teaching full time 4 days a week, heading to teach dance in the early evenings, then sometimes off to my third job as a waitress, sometimes till 2am. I was worn out, but enjoyed staying busy very much! I had been seeing a guy for almost two years at this point, and in November, just 3 months after starting the Master’s program, I found out I was pregnant. It was such a shock, and even though I had just turned 24, I was still scared to death! We decided to move in together and see how this next level of our relationship would work out. Our sweet baby boy Jameson Gabriel-Silva Miller was born August 10, 2004, sharing his birthday with his “Nana”. It was such an overwhelming experience, and one we will always cherish. For the next week, Jameson would remain in the hospital, being treated for pneumonia because of the fluid he had built up in his lungs. I was thankful the hospital released me, but allowed me to stay in an extra room so I could be close to my baby boy. The next few weeks and months would prove to be very challenging. I began my first teaching and coaching job, and Jameson’s dad continued working. I worked days, he worked nights. Needless to say, it took a toll on our relationship, and the following December, Jameson being only 4 months old, we decided to go our separate ways. The breakup was very rough in the beginning. We did not communicate very well as parents and adults. Eventually, he would move back to Kansas City, and I was officially a single mom. Luckily, my dad moved from Little Rock to Springdale to be closer to his new grandson. I was very grateful for the extra help. Fast forward a few years to 2007…Jameson had just turned four years old, and I decided to challenge myself and commit to running the New York Marathon. I wanted to accomplish something big before my 30th birthday. That’s when I met the guy I just knew I would spend the rest of my life with. He was the athletic trainer that prepared my dad and I for the marathon. I found out that he had graduated high school with my best friend (so he wasn’t a complete stranger), and as our relationship grew, I learned that his grandfather was the doctor that delivered my sister and I into this world. Talk about a small world! I just knew it was meant to be. And it was; we married in July of 2009. I was ready to open up the family that was just Jameson and I, and share it with someone. He and Jameson got along really well, and I was looking forward to the future. Then in January of 2010, we found out we were going to have a baby. I was so excited. My best friend had just found out the previous month she was pregnant with her second as well, and we were ecstatic to share our pregnancy woes together. Our sweet Harper was born later that year, September 27, 2010. It was another unforgettable moment in my life, but at the time, I didn’t realize just how it would change my life in so many ways….
Harper’s Story (short version)
I knew as soon as Harper was born, something wasn’t right. She wasn’t crying, only gasping for air. I held her for what seemed like a split second, then the nurses rushed her off to the NICU. It was unclear at the time what was wrong. All we knew was she was not maintaining oxygen and something was obstructing her airway. The doctors here could not figure it out, so the next day she boarded “Angel One” and was air-lifted to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Jameson was very jealous his baby sister was getting to ride in a helicopter. I was a wreck. Not released from the hospital yet and wanting to be with my baby girl. Two days later I was in Little Rock with her, not knowing she would be there for the next four months. Harper ended up having a tracheotomy at two months old, and a feeding tube put in place at three months old. There is so much more to tell about her story. Here is a link to her story that was published in Peekaboo Magazine. http://www.peekaboonwa.com/?p=686
Our new reality…
Harper came home on 1-11-11. As much as I was looking forward to this day, I still cried as we left the hospital. Those doctors and nurses became our family, and it was hard to say goodbye to them. Just like bringing any newborn home, there is an adjustment period, and new parents must establish a routine. This is exactly what we had to do with Harper, although her routine was a little different because we had medical equipment, scheduled medicines and treatments, and a baby that could not make any voicing sounds because of her trach. It was quite an adjustment period. As the months and weeks went by, I found myself feeling alone and overwhelmed. I was married, but didn’t seem to have any help. I was told that I was better at taking care of her than he was. I also noticed a decline in his and Jameson’s relationship. I felt like a referee, caught up in the middle trying to make peace among everyone. I remember them telling me in the hospital that oftentimes “special needs” parents end up divorced, but I laughed it off. We were going to beat the odds right? But there was a lot of stress there. We forgot how to talk to each other, I never got a break, and Jameson was always sad; we began to “walk on eggshells”. We decided to go to counseling, and we continued for nine months. I finally, after a lot of soul searching, came to terms with the fact that after 3 short years, my marriage was older. I was sick to my stomach in finding the words to say that I wanted a divorce; I’ve never been one for confrontation and I surely didn’t like hurting people’s feelings, but I knew what I had to do. As soon as the words came out, and we had been living apart for a day, I felt like I could breathe again. I also saw a smile on Jameson’s face; even he felt a sense of release (although I know he really didn’t gather all that was going on, as a mom, I just knew he was happy again). I felt like a failure at deciding to end my marriage, but realized that any man that truly loves the mother of his children would never ask her to choose between them. So our divorce was finalized January 2nd of this year and I am now a single mom of the most precious kids anyone could ask for.
While single parenthood can be tiring and overwhelming at times, I have a great support system and at the end of the day, those two smiling faces fill my heart. Although it has taken time, I am at a good place co-parenting with Jameson’s dad (still living in Kansas City), and I know in time that my ex-husband and I will hopefully set aside our differences and co-parent just as well. And maybe one day I will find love again, but I am not going to rush it. I am at a good place in my life right now. We just moved into a new house, school will soon be out, and I will have the summer to spend with my kids. We also have a big surgery set for Harper this summer. They will do a complete airway reconstruction on her and hopefully if all goes well, she will be living her life trach free. So we will continue to take one day at a time and enjoy the life that God has given us and all it has to offer.