I've been home for almost 2 weeks, and I still don't know if I have the words to adequately describe such an amazing trip. It was only 4 days, but if felt like forever. It was a first-time meeting, with longtime friends.
It was California...but if felt like home.
I left for Anaheim on Sunday, June 26th...our 12 year Anniversary, and the day after Maddie turned 2. Thankfully, she was finally getting over that stomach bug, and back to her sweet, happy self.
I was nervous the morning I left. So much anticipation over such a long period of time...I was going to the SBA National Conference in Disneyland. I knew I would be learning more about Spina Bifida than I'd ever allowed myself before...and that scared me a little. I'm a big fan of my bubble. It's a happy, comfy, little place, and I am quite content staying in it most of the time. Going to the conference meant I was leaving my bubble, and opening myself up to new information, and I would have to face the possibilities that may be in Maddie's future. This was both exciting and terrifying for me. I think for any parent, the future can be a scary thing. I'm not ready to think of Mason at 13, and what kind of crazy will come with that...So letting myself think of Maddie at 6...at 13...at 17...and beyond, was way overwhelming for me...and I'm still processing all of it.
The trip started with a very early flight out of New Orleans International. Great weather, and some decent gossip magazines made for a smooth, easy flight. We flew into San Fransisco, and then took a MUCH smaller plane into Anaheim. I went with my friend Brittnie..amazing Mama to one of our best buds, Breighton. Her brother lives in the Anaheim area, so we met up with him and his sweet family, for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.
That night was the opening reception. I was SO excited to see the other SB Mamas that I've "known" for the last two years. One by one, they started to appear...and it was the most incredible thing. It was like a family reunion... We knew each other. We knew each others kids. It's hard to explain the feeling, when you meet someone for the first time, and feel like you've known them forever. It's different from other friendships, because we are bonded to each other by this personal journey that we each found ourselves on. What makes us different, makes us the same. We've got the same hopes, and the same fears...The same things keep us up at night. It was so surreal to finally hug these incredible people, who have inspired me beyond words.
Monday morning started with an early breakfast, and the Plenary Session. The keynote speaker was Dr. Adzick from CHOP. He gave a presentation on the MOMS trial, outlining the specifics of the trial as it progressed, and the findings since it ended. It was fascinating. At lunch we all gathered together at the only place that could seat everyone in our group.
(even this picture didn't fit everyone!)
That evening, everyone in the Babycenter/Blogger/FB communities showed up for a meet-up at the Grand Californian Hotel. Our little group could have had it's own zipcode. What an amazing night!!
Afterwards, drinks and desserts!
Seeing everyone with their families in tow, really made me miss my crew. It had been an exhausting first day, with information overload, some jet lag...and I needed some hugs from my bugs. I called home from the lobby...and was so dissappointed to hear that Mason had 103 fever. Maddie had just started feeling better when I left, and now Mason was sick. I went to bed that night with a million thoughts running through my head.
The next day was an intense schedule of "Ask the Doctor" sessions, and a 3-hour session on Neurogenic Bladder. I learned so much...at times, too much. But I asked the questions I had, and now I have a new perspective to bring to our doctors here. It's amazing when you can step back and look at this with fresh eyes, and the conference was just that.
That night we went to Disneyland. After 2 full days of SB overload, we REALLY needed that night to ourselves. It was SO much fun! We totally got to be kids....without our kids! Of course I missed them terribly while we were there...especially Mason, because I knew how much he'd love it. But there's something to be said for riding rides till your sick, and screaming till your throat hurts. We had a blast! I'll never forget that night.
Wednesday was our last day there. Brittnie and I had to leave the morning session early to catch our flight...Bummer because it was definitely one of the best of the conference. Leaving in the middle of a session meant no big goodbyes, no tearful hugs. We said our goodbyes before it began...and with a little wave, and a promise to keep in touch, we were on our way.
It was an amazing trip...but I was so happy to get home.