On Thursday morning, as the sun was barely starting to crawl its way into the sky, Lucy and I checked into the hospital for her scoliosis spinal fusion surgery.

And ever since then, I feel like we’ve been in a time warp, tucked away from the world with no one but us (COVID rules: only one parent, no visitors, no leaving your room without an escort). It felt like it was just Lu and I against the world, trying to wrap my heart around the pain as well as the still moments of calm. I apologize for the late update for all those who have reached out with concern and sent so many prayers to buoy us up. Please know how much your love is appreciated!

Lucy marched into that hospital filled up with hope. Her excitement to get that painful back taken care of was palpable.

I, on the other hand, was in a secret fog of fear. They predicted she would be under anesthesia for six hours. I couldn’t help but imagine her back opened up, the doctor assistant prying at her spine to straighten it out, the nerves that could be affected, the danger that was involved. I was grateful over and over again for the blessings Dave had given both of us the night before…me trying to hide how scary this was and Lucy feeling like she was about to wake up to Christmas morning. Ha!

But all that excitement drained as we got checked in and changed and ready to go. She was closed off and teary. We played a few card games to ease the worries and my heart ached for her…

…which made me more teary as she was wheeled away from me down that hallway to the great unknown.

This is the fourth time for us: the fourth time I’ve watched that girl get smaller as she is rolled down a hallway to be put under anesthesia. Doesn’t get any easier.

I sat in the waiting room and waited and waited. And waited some more, along with Dave and the girls, and sweet family and friends through texts and calls who kept checking in waiting for updates.

Finally the doctor came out with a smile, assured me he was happy with how it went, and showed me the before and after pictures of Lucy’s spine:

Such a huge sigh of relief! I waited some more (seemed like forever!), for that girl of mine to wake up enough for me to see her, and then I got to accompany her to our new “home away from home:” her room in the ICU unit.

The doctor had warned me that since she would be lying face-down for such a long time, her face would be swollen. And he was sure right. For a few days it looked as if she had been in a punching fight.

She was pretty loopy at first. Her sisters (and Dad) had been texting and texting to beg me to please FaceTime them right when she was waking up. So I did. But she was still so groggy she wasn’t making much sense. So grateful we were able to be somewhat “together” even though so far apart in that moment. Even with smiles.

By evening Lu was energized enough that surprisingly she wanted to stand right up. And even sit up to play cards.

Then she didn’t any more, and the days blurred together.

Me on my little fold-out chair for a bed, Lucy tucked in her bed in various stages of medication and alertness, nurses and the doctor coming in to poke and prod all day and night. Lucy was angry at the world one moment, loving and sweet the next, trying to get comfortable, moving her pillows a half and inch to the right, then to the left, pain and relief..all of it mixed in together in our little room with the window frosted over so we could only see a corner of sky in the world outside.

Favorite moments: when she asked if I could slide in bed beside her and snuggle (a rare request from this sensory-sensitive girl), and when she was alert enough to be able to listen to the 7th Harry Potter book (Elle had gotten her started on the series, got her hook, line and sinker, and Lu had been saving the last one for the hospital).

FaceTiming with these people was certainly a highlight too:

They sure cheered her up over and over again…and me too! (It was miserable that we couldn’t see anyone while we were there because of the COVID-19 rules, couldn’t even leave the room without an escort, so I have a newfound deeper appreciation for FaceTime, that’s for sure!)

Of course, another favorite moment was when she walked out of her room for the first time.

Go Lucy!

Each day we got to lose a couple wires and tubes from her arms and chest that were linking her into all the machines to monitor everything:

But she was sure up and down. They estimated we’d be at the hospital for 3-5 days, and by that fourth day (Mother’s Day), Lucy woke up so sad and in so much pain. As she yelled out in frustration in the wee hours of the morning I was sure there wasn’t a chance we would be able to go home that day. She didn’t want to move at all. I don’t blame her one bit, but I was starting to think we’d be in the hospital forever. And to be honest, I was scared to death to leave that place. Oh, I wanted to get home, that’s for sure. But that pain was kind of scary. I didn’t know how we’d manage it. I didn’t know how we’d be able to keep her comfortable. I was reliant on those awesome nurses to tell me what to do (nurses are the BEST!!)

But do you know what? There is some serious power in family love because Dave, Grace, Claire and Bo Jangles FaceTiming her and getting her going turned everything around.

(…and it got me buoyed up with courage as well!)

Suddenly Lucy threw off her covers and started putting her heart to work to get going and get home to them all.

She even smiled (!)

She walked and walked, with cheerleaders cheering her on all the way:

She even walked far enough to visit the beautiful flowers Dave had dropped off for her a couple days before (they wouldn’t let us bring them to our room since we were in the ICU, so they were storing them at the front desk):

And as she walked, that big smile across her face, I knew she could do it. I knew we could do it. All of us together including those cheering from afar. Best Mother’s Day gift ever!

From there it was more Harry Potter while waiting for paperwork, more IV tubes removed:

More cheering from these cutest-ever couples:

…and some packing up to go.

We bid a happy farewell to our little room that had sheltered us well, and took our first stroll out into the great outdoors with our awesome last nurse on that shift, that hospital gown finally traded out for her famous pineapple pants:

And off to HOME. There is power in home. And a family who adores you. And friends too:

I had been so worried about leaving the safety of the hospital but as I watched those sisters and Dave greet that little sister of theirs, cheer us on as we drove in the driveway, the power of family love almost palpable as we all reunited, I knew we would all be alright.

(That was Elle FaceTiming on the phone, wanting to be with us for the reunion too.)

Oh we have a long road ahead of us. There will be lots of bumps along the way. This is not a quick recovery.

But we are on the right track!

This is one strong, brave girl, with grit that will help her continue to heal…and continue to take her places in life.

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  1. Lucy looks so beautiful and tall! I’ve heard recovery from this surgery can be tough, but if anyone can beat it, it’s your daughter. Go Lucy!

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been thinking about you and Lucy. So glad to hear she is doing well and grateful that she is surrounded by so much love.

  3. We are strangers but I honestly send you loving kindness…caring for a child you are so worried about is so difficult. So glad Lucy is doing well.

  4. I have been thinking about you and Lucy. So glad and relieved to read you are home.

    For Lucy – I had back surgery October 2018. You are right it is a long recovery. The surgery and pain now are so worth it, Lucy. Finally being pain free is such a wonderful feeling. Keep on doing all the crazy exercises advised. They work!

  5. Go Lucy! I just want to say you are an inspiration to mothers! I have followed your blog/instagram since I became a mom here in Toronto 12 years ago and you have helped me immensely. I can’t believe that in these last couple weeks in the middle of a pandemic you have had a wedding, mission call and major surgery!!!! Your mama heart must be ready to burst:) Lots of love and prayers and thanks for sharing your lives with us!

  6. Im so relieved to hear her surgery went well. This journey brought tear of joy to my eyes. She is a brave soul and to go through all of that during these times is truly amazing 🙌

  7. Your post definitely brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad you guys are home with your family and I wish her a speedy recovery, or as speedy as can be. HUGS!

  8. Shawni, this was such a familiar experience as I read your post on Lu’s spinal fusion. My daughter had the same surgery when she was 15. We had gone through a brace, with all the exercises to try to avoid surgery when we lived in El Paso. And then once we moved back to North Carolina her new ortho doctor advised the surgery because the brace was not helping. So we made that big decision for her surgery. She had 2 offsetting curves in her spine so has the titanium rods in two locations. Other than a little protrusion of one of her shoulder blades you wouldn’t know she had an issue. Of course, she probably knows of any residual issues, but has not expressed them. She has birthed 3 healthy boys and is doing great. She was in the hospital for 4 days and the very day we returned from the hospital she started her period. We figure her internal organs were aligned better with the surgery and things just finally took their natural course. I will never forget how her face looked after 6 hours of laying on her tummy. Her lips were huge. Lucy’s looked a lot better! We didn’t take any pictures of her while they were swollen. She would NOT have been happy with us. LOL. I was so relieved when they took out that chest tube. I hated hearing in go on and off. It’s amazing what they can do. I am sure the surgery has improved since then. She is almost 32 now. Family prayers, fasting and Priesthood blessings are awesome.

  9. This made me cry! Beautiful record and what a brave Lucy! We have been praying for you, my kids think Lucy is one of our family friends they just haven’t met yet!! We will keep praying for her recovery to be smooth. Yes for family love!!

  10. This made me cry. I’m so happy Lucy’s on the mend and surrounded by love. You are an awesome bunch!

  11. Love that Lucy! Praying for a speedy recovery for her! Praying that the surgery went well! Love this amazing family! You guys are amazing!

  12. So happy to hear Lucy is well on her way to recovery! I can’t imagine being in the hospital, just the two of you, during this time!
    Continued prayers!

  13. I’ve been praying for Lucy since I heard she was having the surgery. Thank God it all went well and those prayers will continue… not only for Lucy but for all of you surrounding her and helping her heal. All that love from family and friends will be the best medicine! Many good wishes for continued healing coming all the way from Canada!

  14. No need for apologies! You’ve had enough to do/feel. Regardless, thank you for the updates! Lucy is so brave and strong. I admire her.

  15. Goooo Lucy!!! You can do anything, beautiful girl!!! …especially with that amazing line-up of cheerleaders surrounding you!!

  16. Lucy, you are such a brave young woman! Before long, this will be a distant memory and you will be pain free. May God continue to bless your family.

  17. She is so strong! My husband had his whole spine fused because of scoliosis when he was just 15. It’s amazing what can be done now! Praying she recovers quickly from her surgery and heals well! ❤️

  18. Wow! The courage of Lucy is amazing! She reminds me of an angel and in the photo of her scoliosis it looks like she has angel wings 😇! She is such a blessing!!!

  19. So glad to see Lucy up and on the move! Lucy, you are so tall! Praying for you, for complete and quick healing. Go Lucy! You and your family are amazing. ❤

  20. Oh Lucy. I have been following your journey since you were only a baby from Australia and this post made me cry so many tears for you and your family. What a glorious bunch of humans you are surrounded with and I hope that their love will keep you strong on your recovery. You are amazing Lucy and inspiring people from all over the globe. Big love x

  21. Hi Shawni,
    Thank you for the update.

    I’m so glad that the operation went ok & that Lucy is now recovering.

    I will continue to pray for Lucy & your family as you all face the difficult time ahead. x

    Prayer, priesthood blessings/power really do work.

  22. Wow!! You are a super mom! So so happy for Lucy! She’s lucky to have you by her side as she continues to recover!

  23. Yay for doing hard things even when it’s painful, long, and takes time.
    Yay for an update, and that surgery went well, and that you both are now at home to continue this road of recovery. Sending continued extra care, and prayers to Lucy and you too. You’ve both got this!🙏🏻🥰💐✨💞

  24. So happy it went well! Our friend recently underwent the same surgery. I got her a large wedge pillow from a medical supply store that helped her sleep. Hope you both are getting some good rest!

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