I'm sorry I haven't written anything in so long. Life has been a roller coaster.
On January 10th, we received our travel approval and were able to get a consulate appointment of February 5th. We were SO grateful that we'd be able to get in and out of China just in time for Chinese New Year to start. (All the government offices close for CNY, and airfare and lodging costs go through the roof.) We were scheduled to fly to China on January 25th - one year to the day that we first saw Thalia's photo.
So we planned and prepared, and shortly before we were to leave, someone smashed out the back window of one of our cars. We were able to get it fixed just in time.
Over the past nearly four weeks, my mom has been in the hospital. She contracted influenza, in spite of having had a flu shot, and this progressed to pneumonia. Because my mom had pre-existing interstitial lung disease, she ended up in the hospital. She was having trouble keeping her oxygen level up in spite of being largely over the illnesses that she'd had. She spent about a week in the local hospital, but then started to do really badly and was life flighted to Billings where she spent several days in the ICU. She finally got stabilized and was transferred into a regular room. She was doing better, but still having trouble maintaining safe oxygen levels, so her doctors decided to patch her patent foramen ovale. They thought this would help her better oxygenate her blood and reduce her pulmonary hypertension. (I should mention that my mom has never had significant breathing problems, never used oxygen, and has never been hospitalized in her adult life. She has always been very healthy, a healthy weight, and an exerciser.) The plan was to patch this small hole in her heart, and then get her moved to a rehab hospital in Billings for 2-3 weeks to help build up her endurance, and then she'd come home on oxygen and with restrictions on visitors and outings for at least 12 weeks. This would keep her from getting additional sicknesses and give her lungs time to heal. She wasn't in the best shape, but her pulmonologist assured her that she was stable and that with time, she'd be able to return to her former level of activity. We felt comfortable going to China under the circumstances.
We decided to go to Billings and spend the night on Thursday the 24th, in part because we had a very early flight to China and didn't want the two-hour drive on the same morning, and in part because we wanted to stop in and visit my mom before we left. We expected to be visiting her in the rehab hospital on the way home.
It turned out that her patching procedure was scheduled for Thursday. It was supposed to be a minor thing, going in through a vein in her groin and without the need for general anesthetic. We fasted for her that day, just to be on the safe side, and by late afternoon we got a text from my dad saying that the procedure had been a total success and that she was doing well.
By the time we got to Billings, though, things had taken a terrible turn for the worse. Complications developed that had nothing to do with the procedure, and by that night, the doctor had told us that she likely would not survive the night.
We were completely devastated. My world was crashing down around me, and we were supposed to be on a plane the next morning to go get our new daughter. She did survive the night, and we cancelled our flights and went straight to the hospital the next morning. Two of my sisters arrived, and we, with my dad, stayed with my precious mom until she left us.
I can't bear to write about any of the specifics right now, but it was a horrible time with some very sweet moments mixed in. We're surviving because of our faith in God, and because of our knowledge that she is with Him, and with her family, and that we will be with her again one day.
Our trip is tentatively rescheduled for February 22nd.