Thursday, June 28, 2007
That question that I get asked has made me reflect a lot over the past years of my life. I want to be able to tell them exactly what God has done for me during these "turbulent" times. I am going to spend a moment reflecting on those things here. Most, if not all, of these incidences were written about in previous blogs, so if something is unclear and you have the patience, please reference those and feel free ask questions if you need/want to.
Lucky (dog): He was probably our first real "challenge" as far as medical issues are concerned. When we purchased him, we did a lot of research about what type of dog to get for our family. We settled upon a lab. When we were told his hip needed to be replaced, we were saddened...both for our dog and our pocketbook (Nope! It wasn't cheap!) Lucky is a very high energy dog. I always said the reason God put him in our life was to prepare us for a high energy child, which might hold some truth. However, the real reason I believe he put him our lives was to teach us love and compassion for the "disabled." It is funny how God uses the "little" things in life to prepare us for the big things. I seriously would have done anything for my dog and he is just an animal, could you imagine what I would do for a child??? Side note: when he had his hip replacement, I watched the entire surgery live. I couldn't let my baby (and he was my baby at the time) go in without me and the surgical center that did it allowed for people to watch by setting up a viewing station. Kind of weird, huh?
Infertility struggles: Many, many of my friends have experienced infertility issues. It seems way too common and very sad. The Designer and I waited 7 years to try to get pregnant. We wanted to be done with school and have a good start on life before bringing a little person into the world. Just like so many of our friends, it didn't happen without a lot of trying and various medical interventions. Lil Bug was born in our 8th year of marriage. Honestly, there were several (and I mean SEVERAL) occassions where we could have wound up pregnant earlier in our marriage (ok, truth be told...even before our marriage), but God was protecting us from that. He knew that Lil Bug would have needs that we personally wouldn't have been able to deal with as we have as older parents. I honestly think that God allowed us to experience infertility for that time period to be so thankful for ANY baby that we had and to realize the beauty of His creation. It isn't always easy and not everyone is made to be the parents of a little girl with Spina Bifida. I am so thankful he waited to bless our lives with her until we fnished graduate school and were prepared to move back to Michigan. Anything sooner could have changed/delayed so much in our lives.
Lil Bug 1: Oh there is so much to say here, but I will just touch on a few...first, we declined the medical testing that would have told us she had Spina Bifida. By God's grace alone, our OB "happened" to notice fluid on her brain at our 20 week ultrasound, which then lead to locating the hole in her spine. We could have never found out, had a vaginal delivery and caused an enormous amount of damage to her spine and head. God was watching over her and us.
Lil Bug 2: If Lil Bug had been born completely healthy, we may have missed so many of the little things with her. The doctor's painted a very grim picture of her existence. So grim, in fact, that we were offered an abortion about 9 times during a 3 week period. Disgusting, I know! Life was so much slower for us than my friends who had children her age. I noticed the tiniest little things. My friends didn't notice some of those same things in their children because they just expected them to happen. We celebrated (and still do) a LOT in our family. When she moved her toes a little for the first time (her feet and toes are basically paralyzed) we cried tears of joy. When she rolled over, we called everyone we know...ok, I know other moms probably do that too, but it was a HUGE victory for her and a celebration that lasted for weeks! When she took her first steps without the aid of her walker and/or crutches at 2 1/2 years of age, we cried out of happiness. Those little things were huge accomplishments for her and we cherished them more than I believe we would have otherwise. I also think that it taught me to value those same things in our next child. Not to let the hub-bub of life distract me.
Lil Bug 3: When she walks with a walker, she is easily distracted...she wants to stop and look at EVERY flower, every "new" thing, just every thing! It would be easy to be annoyed at this (and,sad to say, sometimes I do get annoyed) but it has slowed me down to really value and appreciate God's beauty. I have noticed flowers I never knew existed before. I literally have stopped more times to smell the flowers in the past couple of years than my entire life before Lil Bug. Now that, my friends, is something to be thankful for!
Lil Bug 3: My faith has grown tenfold since we learned about Lil Bug. Sometimes I need to be reminded, but for the most part, I have faith that God can and will heal her, provide financially for us, etc. At one point we were told that her brain damage was severe and she would probably suffer paralysis on her right side of her body and never be able to speak. I taught her sign language in case that happened, but I prayed that it wouldn't be necessary. I prayed that she would have mobility. I prayed for complete healing and no cognitive delays. Okay, we could debate whether or not God answered my prayers...some say yes, others may say no. I mean, she does still have significant brain damage according to her scans, but she is NOT paralyzed (she does favor one side just a touch more than the other) and she speaks at a four year olds level. She is not cognitively delayed at all...her only delays exist in the gross motor areas and those will eventually catch up too, just ask me!!! :)
Lil Bug 4: I learned how to pray. I mean really, really pray. I am so specific. I am so intentional. Before a lot of my prayers were generalized. Not specific. I touch Lil Bugs head and pray for her learning...He listens! He asnwers! He's awesome.
Lil Bug 5: We have had the priviledge of witnessing to some of Lil Bugs doctors. One in particular that comes to mind is her neurosurgeon. He is baffled by her progress. He is the one that broke the "bad" news that she would be severally cognitively delayed and not able to talk...when he sees her now he is baffled. One time I said this to him: "Dr. Foody, I mean no disrespect to you, your hard work and science as a whole, but God is the ultimate doctor. He hears my crys. He hears my prayers and he responds. Lil Bug is doing as well as she is despite what her brain scans show and He will continue to do great things for her. He hears my prayers and he answers me." Dr. Foody's response, "I have heard the prayer thing before and honestly, I don't get it, but it works for you and you are seeing results, so keep it up." A seed was planted, or maybe watered, I don't know...but either way, he has to admit that something bigger than science exists because his words were "Lil Bugs brain looks like scrambled eggs on her scans."
There are many, many more with regards to Lil Bug...I may write about them later.
The Designer: Before we moved to MI he flew here to interview for jobs. He was a licensed architect with many years experience. The market here in MI is tight, to say the least and there isn't a ton of new growth, so architects are not in high demand. He had something like 8 interviews in three days and we prayed hard that it would be clear which company he should work for. Although he had many companies interested in him, most of them didn't have the work to support his employment there. He only had 1 firm offer...and that is the company he felt he wanted the offer from the most. The funny thing is, it was a horrible job, but even so many great things came from it anyway. God lined it all up for us. First, the job was only 1 1/2 miles from our house, so The Designer came home on his lunch many, many days when Lil Bug was first born, which helped a lot. Also, their insurance package was amazing and during the two years he worked there, Lil Bug was in the hospital a LOT...the insurance covered everything. We didn't even have to pay a penny for the insurance. God knew that the job wouldn't be great, but the benefits would be exactly what we needed. He took care of us. He also lead The Designer to his new job, once he knew Lil Bug wasn't going to be in the hospital as much and we didn't need that specific insurance. The Designer now loves his job.
Adoption: This one is interesting because it is still being written. Although it hurt extremely bad when we did not actually become the parents to either of our previous matched babies, I know there is a reason for that. The baby that God has chosen for us will arrive in His timing. Because I have identified so many ways God has worked in our past experiences, I know for a fact that He is still working in our lives. I can't wait to see how this one turns out.
When I was at my darkest hour I was angry at God for a brief time. I couldn't understand why God allowed many of the difficulties He had...but now I praise God for them. I read Job every now and again. I actually see our challenges as an honor. How, you ask? Well, this is my way of looking at it...I know that God does not make bad things happen, but he allows them. I think that when someone is faithful to and favored by God you automatically become a target for Satan. That scares me a bit, but with God by my side, who can be against me? Anyway, I sort of imagine a conversation something like this between God & Satan:
Satan: I know that The Professor will turn on you. Just let me hurt her, she will become angry with you.
God: No, my child will not turn her back on me. She loves me.
Satan: Please, allow me to show you that she will.
God: Ok, Satan, go ahead and try, because I know the heart of my child. I know she loves me and worships me. I know that she will pass any test you send her way.
And so it goes...Satan tests me, I score higher and higher the more tests that come my way and God is pleased with me.
(by now you are probably thinking I am a little pyscho, right?)
If I weren't this strong in my faith, I honestly don't think we would be attacked. Satan does mess with those that are far from God. Usually he focuses on attacking those that are closest. I consider it an honor that Satan see's me as a threat!
God never gives you more than you can handle. I know this. I breathe this. I believe this. I live this. And, I must admit, it is the most reassuring thing I have ever known in my life...I can handle all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for caring for me and my family. Thank you for allowing me to be a witness for your kingdom. I am a willing vessel. I will obey your desires and do as you command, even if it is hard. I trust that you will carry me when I cannot walk and hold my hand when I can. I love you God. Thank you for loving me back! Amen
Monday, June 25, 2007
We have a tradition. Ever since I moved back to Michigan I have attended the B93 Birthday Bash. I go with my mom and whoever else wants to go. This year there were 11 in our group staying in multiple campers.
What is B93 Birthday Bash? Good question...it is a huge local country radio station. Every year in June they throw a huge 2 day concert. The majority of the acts are up and coming country artists, but there are always a few major artists there. The concert is free, so turnout is HUGE. I have heard estimates of between 75,000 - 100,000 people...is that possible? Anyway, here was the lineup.
Saturday, June 23rd
Bronk Bros & Headin’ South
Halfway To Hazard
Jason Michael Carroll
Sunday, June 24th
The concert is held in a big open field. There is very limited shade opportunities, so for 2 straight days, I sat and baked in the sun. I used lots of SPF, so no worries, I did not burn! But I was H~0~T to say the least. I left early the first day because it was so hot and I was beginning to not feel well. I left early the second day because I missed Lil Bug so much. This was the first time EVER that I was away from her for 3 consecutive nights. It stunk! I was happy to return home last night and find that she missed me too! What a wonderful feeling.
I have to say that more than half the fun of attending this shin-dig is the people watching. I am serious when I say, I can't imagine where most of these people come from...it is as if they came out of the woodwork! There are all types there. When you have a crowd that big, I suppose you would find all sorts.
Anyway, it was fun, but I am happy to be home. Will I go next year? Hmmmm, at the moment, I can't say for sure, but it is likely because it is a tradition.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Lil Bug left yesterday afternoon for a weekend at her Grandma & Bumpa's house.
I leave in a couple of hours for a weekend of concerts!
I will be home late Sunday night, so I will be around again on Monday.
Hope you have a great weekend.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I admitted that this whole journey is new for me. I am trying to navigate my way through this whole thing we call parenthood, not to mention parenthood involving a very special, special needs kiddo. She said she was happy to be navigating with me. I believe her. I know some people tend to blow smoke to make the peace, but I really believe her. I hope she doesn't let me down.
I plan to start back to the gym next week to see if the changes have been implented. I am sure Lil Bug will be a bit resistant still, but I will encourage her to give it a try and hopefully she will humor me. I think once she is there a few times and feels safe again, all will be well.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Lil Bug and I have been going about 3-4 times a week, but last week Lil Bug was resistant. Usually she loves to go to group activities. She loves MOPS. She loves Sunday School. She loves being around other kids. So, for her to argue about going to the gym concerned me. Then I got to thinking. The last few times we went to the gym, I would pick her up and she was happy and playing. She never seemed hurt, upset or anything. When we got in the car I would ask her to tell me what she did and she would tell me a few activities, and somewhere during the conversation she would say something like, "The boy took my walker." She would touch on it very quickly and move on. I always followed up with, "Did you get it back? Did the workers help you?" By then, she was off to something else.
I hated hearing what she had to say. As her mom, it stings. I want to protect her from everything. The reality of it is, I can protect her from very little and that gets less and less the older she gets.
So, this morning I ask Lil Bug if she wants to go to the gym. She tells me no, but I insist that we go because we are paying a lot of money for a membership that we are not using and because I want to move her past this resistance. So, we pack up, head to the gym and go in. The whole way in she was arguing about going, but when we go there, she seemed ok.
As I have to do every time I bring her there, I remind them that they have to remove all magnetic items from the area. Lil bug absolutely can not be exposed to magnets. If she holds them or if a strong one gets too close to her head, it can change the setting on her shunt, which in the worst scenario, could result in brain surgery. Magnets are NO GOOD. The gym is getting good at remembering to remove the items when we get there (although secretly I wish they would remove the train set permanently, to be honest). I also tell them I don't want her to go outside. That makes me feel bad, because there is really no reason why she can't go outside except for the fact that I don't think they would watch her or help her enough and that makes me too nervous. So, I sign in, tell them all the limitations and leave. Lil Bug seemed fine at the moment.
I was down the hall and around the corner and I heard a familiar screaming. I waited, to see if it would go away, but it didn't. I went back to see if it was Lil Bug and was told no. I asked them to open the 1/2 door and let me in to check for myself and sure enough, it was Lil Bug standing in the middle of the room screaming with about 8-10 children all standing around her pushing, shoving, and pulling on her walker. She was angry, overwhelmed and felt ganged up on. And the adults...guess where they were...just standing there watching. Yup, doing a whole lot of nothing much! I was furious!!!
I quickly got around the corner to her and grabbed her up and tried to ward off the children who were curious to see her walker. The kids were telling me it was THEIR walker and they could play with it if they wanted to. I tried to educate them that Lil bug NEEDS this walker and without it, she can't walk, but, of course, they didn't get it. This would be the point in time that I became unglued. As I am trying to "educate" the children and calm down my daughter, the workers continued to stand there with a sad look on their faces as if they felt pity for my daughter! DO. NOT. FEEL. PITY. Rather than feeling pity, do something you idiots! GRRRRRR!!!!!
So, after a couple of minutes of calming down Lil Bug, she seems convinced that staying and playing playdoh would be fun, so I put her back down into her walker and guess what happened? Just guess...the kids came swarming back and she started screaming again and between sobs she is trying to tell them, "That is MY walker. Please don't touch." I could handle no more so I grabbed up my child, fought off a little girl for her walker and left. As I walked out, I told the lady at the front desk that they need to do something about their workers and that EVERY child should feel safe while there. She tried to talk to me, but between a screaming child and my extremely bad attitude, I didn't hang around for a discussion.
We drove home and as we did, Lil Bug got calmer, which meant that I got calmer. After the 15 min drive home, I was able to speak without yelling, so I called the gym to speak to the director only to learn that she just had a baby and was out on maternity leave. Ok, let me speak to the person covering for her?!?! So, they transfer me back to the Kid Zone and I get the same lady that was trying to speak to me on the way out. I calmly explained that I am paying $90/month for a service and regardless of my daughters physical disabilities, she deserves to be there just as much as any other child and she deserves to be protected, just like any other child. She said she understood and felt bad things happened that way. I said it is unacceptable and changes need to be made. First she tried to tell me that kids are curious. I acknowledged they are, but asked her to explain why the workers weren't doing their job. The discussion continued and I think she understands the importance of the situation.
As it stands, I am waiting for a return call from the asst director. I have requested that I be invited to attend their next staff meeting so I could educate the staff on her special needs. Will they let me come? I hope so, but I will let you know if the director ever calls me back. If I don't hear back? Well then, the momma bear roars they saw earlier today will be NOTHING compared to what they will see next time! :)
There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and
noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "well," she said, "I think I'll
braid my hair today." So she did and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up and saw that she had only two hairs on her
head, "Hmm," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle
today." She did and she had a fantastic day.
Looking in the mirror on the third day, she took in her one remaining hair
and announced, "Today I'm wearing my hair ina pony tail." She hada
raelly great day.
On the fourth day, her head was completely smooth. "YEA! she
exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!"
The moral of the story? Attitude is everything! When you begin
to realize that attitude is a powerful tool, you can change your life for the
Do you see the good in things or the bad, the possibilities or teh
obstacles? Do you know you can make a differencew or do you give up?
You can choose to see the world in a whole new way by thinking
differently. When you think positively, you change your days. You
gain the power to look at a situation, person, job, moment or yourself and see
the good. You can create the life you imagine when you use your powerfully
positive attitude to define what you want to accomplish and affirm that you can
Borrowed from the July '07 Memory Makers Magazine
No need for me to add anything...this speaks for itself.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Now, I have to make a confession...before Lil' Bug was born with birth defects, I was a bit "scared" of special needs people. It isn't because they themselves were scary, but rather my ignorance scared me. I didn't know what was acceptable to say or ask and so I just steared clear. With that said, I can't be too upset about the ways others deal with the same situation when seeing my daughter. But it hurts.
Right now Lil' Bug doesn't understand any of this. This is all she has ever even known. She was sized for her first pair of A.F.O (ankle foot orthotics) when she was just 8 months old. She has been wearing the braces ever since (albeit, she is on her 4th set). She was given her walker when she was about a year old, so she has used it more than half of her life. She doesn't know the difference. In my research I have learned that children don't really have self awareness (or recognition of their differences) until they are about 4 or 5 years old. That is not to say that Lil' Bug doesn't know she wears AFO's, but it is to say that she doesn't realize that isn't the norm.
As she ages, I get a little more nervous. At some point she is going to realize she is different from the other children she plays with. She will ask questions that we will have to answer. She may begin to question her value in life. When I did all the research about Spina Bifida before her birth, I read that children with Spina Bifida (and other birth defects) often suffer from low self esteem. My responsibility as her mother is to help build her self esteem now, telling her of her worth.
Most of my encounters during Lil' Bugs first year of life were limited to doctor's and parents of other children with special needs. Her physical therapist came to the house. I brought her to a group therapy session at her school once a week for strength building and balance. That was about it for a while. Also, she was little enough that she wasn expected to walk, so she didn't stand out as much. When she was tiny it was hard to see that she had a birth defect.
As she got older, it became more obvious to others. The first time I really hurt for her (and for myself) happened when we enrolled her in her first semester of music classes. I called ahead and spoke to the instructor/owner of the class. I explained her circumstances and she assured me that Lil' Bug would be able to be involved in all the activities. I was excited because I wanted to be sure to expose Lil' Bug to healthy, typical children, not limit her to just the special needs circle we were so involved in prior. We went to the very first class and although I blinked back the tears and was hurting on the inside, I had a smile plastered on my face. That was the first time the reality of it all really hit me.
I sat there while the children (ages ranging between 3 months to 3 years) ran around singing, dancing, and playing and I held on to Lil' Bug. I held her tight. She couldn't run, so I ran for her. She couldn't dance, so I danced for her. I became her legs. She was just about a year old when we went to this class for the first time. She didn't notice the differnces, but I noticed. I was sad. The other moms smiled at me, but didnt' ever really talk to me. I know they were curious of our situation, but none of them had the courage to say much. I felt alone. I walked out of that first class and quickly walked to my car. I placed Lil' Bug in her car seat and I started the car and took off. The entire way home I cried...yep, I cried! It wasn't because anyone said anything inappropriate. It wasn't because Lil' Bug wasn't included. It wasn't because Lil' Bug didn't have a great time (in fact, she LOVED it!!!). Nope it was none of those things! My crocodile tears were because I hurt for Lil' Bug and I hurt for me. I knew our lives would be different, look different, but until I let us be exposed to those things, I was able to hide from them. This class made it so very real to me.
I have since involved Lil' Bug in a lot more activities in which the vast majority of the kids are healthy. It has gotten easier. However, there are some activities that I have to decline because it is too much work for me to help Lil' Bug. For example, our MOPS group doesn't officially meet during the summer. However, twice a month they do get together at a local park for the children to play. Most of the moms are able to sit and talk while their children safely run around, giggling and playing. Not me! I have to be by Lil' Bugs side 100% of the time. First of all, she can't maneuver her walker through the mulch and sand, so she needs help. Second, she can't climb steps or other playground toys without assistance. Third, unless I am there to protect her and her walker, often times other children take it from her. If she is in it, she falls. If she is not, she is stranded until they give it back. So, I stand guard for her. Not to mention that I get exhausted. She weighs about 30 pounds and all that lifting and carrying makes my arms and back ache!
No parent ever wants to see their child hurt emotionally or physically. But, I don't want Lil' Bug to ever feel entitled to special treatment or not worthy of it either, if that makes sense. The Designer and I have tried with all of our might, to make Lil' Bug's life be as normal for her as possible.
One of the ways we have done to help build her self esteem is telling her that God made her and God doesn't make mistakes. We talk about differences. We haven't ever addressed her differences, but we point out different colored doggies, different textures, different activites, different whatevers. We are always sure to tell her that just because they are different doesn't make one better than they other. They are just different. We can't get into deep discussions with her. I mean, she is only 2, but she gets it. When I ask "who made you?" She proudly proclaims, "GOD!" When I say, "Does God make mistakes?" She shouts, "Nope, never!"
I know that I will face many more emotional challenges dealing with Lil' Bug, but I must admit that by God's grace, we have fared well so far. I think Lil' Bug is a fantastic child. She is a social butterfly. She is sweet. She is honest. She is the light of our house. Everyone that meets her is drawn to her bright smile and inviting eyes. I have been told by more than one person in the past that when they see Lil’ Bug, they see Jesus. No, of course she can’t be compared to Jesus. Nothing compares to Jesus. But what that says to me is that they see His love, His grace, His spirit in her. For that I smile!
For those of you that might feel like I used to…a little intimidated by a special needs person, I have a challenge for you. Get to know that person. Ask questions. I LOVE it when people ask about her disability. That is my opportunity to educate them about Spina Bifida. It also shows me they care enough about us to want to learn more. I have never been offended by a sincere question. I have corrected people’s wording before. That is not to make them feel bad, but to educate them. When people ask, “What is wrong with her?” I respond, “nothing! She just walks a little different than you. She is different, but not wrong.” People get are starting to get it, I think. That, too, makes me smile!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Anway, for some reason I have been procrastinating getting my ticket. About 3 weeks ago they were under $300 and now they are around $500. I am not willing to pay that amount of money for a ticket that I know I could have gotten for $300. So, at this point in time, I am not taking the trip that I was so excited to take! :(
The only way I can make myself feel better about my stupidity is to think that maybe, just maybe, there is a reason I need to stay in town that weekend...maybe that will be the weekend N's baby will arrive. Or, maybe it won't be something that exciting, but just as important. Or, maybe it will be nothing and I just missed out on a great weekend. Oh well. Life goes on!
So, I told Lil' Bug we were going to N's checkup to hear the baby's heartbeat. She was beyond excited. She talked about it the entire day before. The next day we went, and Lil' Bug was so interested in N that she didn't pay much attention to her pregnant belly. That is very unusual for Lil' Bug since she is infatuated with pregnant bellies these days. So, we heard the beautiful, strong little heart beating in her belly and Lil' Bug didn't really have a response. I kind of thought she wasn't really taking any of it in, but I was wrong.
Second picture: Just hanging out, looking good!
Friday, June 15, 2007
As my level of frustration elevates, I spend more time trying to figure out how to teach Lil' Bug how to be an independent thinker. I want that for Lil' Bug. But it is a lot easier said than done! It takes a conscious effort. It won't just happen by accident.
When Lil' Bug was teeny-tiny I started empowering Lil' Bug to make her own choices. She didn't even know that she was doing it, but she was. At her young age it is about the small things in life. I always let her choose the books she wants read to her. I allow her the choice of clothes each day. I let her have a say on some of the activities we do each day/week. She picks out the color cuppie she drinks from and even the plate she eats from. She gets a say in choosing some of her own extra activities like whether is more interested in music class than swim class or vice-versa. The list goes on and on. I do not EVER let her make a choice that could cause her harm or harm to others. Obviously, I know where to draw the line.
Lil' Bug doesn't know what is happening right now. She doesn't understand that I am teaching her how to think for herself. I know that at some point this will cause her to question me about my choices for her and I look forward to that. I want her to be able to question things. I don't want her to be a conformist, a follower. I want her to be a free, independent thinker who is able to express her thoughts and concerns. I also want her to be able to express why she thinks that choice is the best choice for her. Yes, there are some people who criticize me. Those people think that a child is just a child and shouldn't have a say. But I wonder if those are the people who can't think outside the box?!?!?!
So, will my empowerment automatically push her toward what I want her to be? I honestly have no idea. I have never raised a child before. However, I know that telling her everything to think and do is not going to get her any closer to my goal so I am giving this a try. It is scary to think that my "experiment" now will impact her for life! But, I pray for wisdom on parenting and have felt lead to this, so I believe that I am on to something here.
When I think about it now (at the age of 30) I find it incredibly hard to believe that anyone let us actually get married at the young age of 19. The older I get, the younger 19 seems. Regardless, I am so glad that God allowed me to meet my soul mate so early in life.
There were so many people who questioned our motives in the beginning. People whispered , "is she pregnant?" Very few people actually believed what we knew to be true; We were meant to be married. Many people numbered our days together. They told us marriage was too hard for a couple of college kids to get through. I am so proud to have proved them all wrong.
I will admit, the road of marriage has not always been easy. Anyone that says it is easy is most likely lying to themselves and/or to others. I know for a fact that there were times throughout our married lives where the thought crossed our minds that it would be easier to walk away than to put forth the effort and make it work. I can also say that because of those tough times, we are a stronger couple. I am thankful for those challenges because that is when we have grown the most.
Thank you, Designer, for loving me. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for supporting my dreams and goals. Thank you for the fun times. Thank you for the not so fun times. Thank you for the gift of our beautiful daughter. Thank you for being a great daddy. Thank you for walking this road, we call life, together hand-in-hand with me! There is no one in this world I would rather be with than you each and every day. I love you!!!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I asked her when she was having a baby and she proudly announced, "September!" Then she quickly asked, "when is September?" Ha! I am still rolling on the floor. She is a funny kiddo.
Monday, June 11, 2007
It was about 2:30 pm when I got home. I called my mom to let her know I was there and she said she would come over soon. While I was laying on the couch, helpless, tired, and overwhelmed I couldn't do anything, but everything was running through my mind. I already had all the excitement any woman would have, knowing that my baby girl would be arriving in the next few days, but I was also so very scared. We didn't know how bad Lil' Bugs Spina Bifida would be and the biggest concern was her hydrocephalus. We wouldn't know anything about her brain damage until she arrived. So, although I was excited to meet her, I was scared to death about what life would look like in just a few short days.
As I was laying there, I could see The Designer our working on our deck. That's right, I didn't mention the deck. We live in a bilevel house, so the deck is about 1 1/2 stories off the ground. There were no stairs to get down, so the dog sitter was going to have to leash him up, walk him around the house and get him into the backyard. Ummm, yeah! That wasn't going to happen. So, he took on the challenge of adding stairs as well. Well, apparently our lovely dog found the stairs to be optional. He took a running start and over the side he went. Normally a 10 foot drop wouldn't be that big of a concern for a young, agile lab, but, of course, there is more to the story...When the pooch was 11 months old, he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Of course, he was our baby and we weren't going to let him suffer or put him down, so we did pain management for a long time. When he was three we couldn't help his pain any longer, so we had to do something for him and putting an otherwise healthy dog down was not going to happen. So we decided on a hip replacement. Yep, that is right...but not only was it a hip replacement. It was the Cadillac of hip replacements...I am talking titanium hip, dedicated recovery nurse and all...yes, we were crazy kids then. The final price tag...(drum roll please!)...just under $5k.
Ok, back to my story...so, here I am, laying on the couch, feeling sorry for myself, etc. and I see the dog take a flying leap off the deck. I flew off the couch to see if he was ok. I knew that if he were to injure his hip again, we would not be able to afford fixing it again and the thought of losing my pooch was unbearable at that moment. Fortunately he turned out to be ok, but that got me very upset (and up off the couch!).
My mom called to say she was almost to our house and asked me if I had eaten yet that day. I informed her that I had not eaten because I didn't feel well. She said that was my nerves talking and forced me to decide upon something to eat. I reluctantly decided upon a veggie sub from Subway. She arrived at the house about 20 minutes later with food. She nearly forced me to down the sandwich, which I did admit later, tasted pretty good once I began eating it.
While my mom was at our house, my sister decided to make a surprise visit before we left for California. She was a nice distraction. It wasn't long before I assigned her the task of going to the grocery store to pick up some groceries for the dog sitter. The Designer decided to go with her as he needed some stuff for the plane ride, so away they went on their "assignment."
My in-laws were on their way over at this time to help The Designer out with the deck/fence project.
My mom was cleaning my house, packing stuff up, being wonderful and then suddenly IT happened!!!!!
What happened, you ask? Well, let me tell you! I was readjusting myself on the couch and GUSH! I was suddenly peeing all over myself, or was I? Nope, nope, it couldn't be, could it? You're right! My water broke! This couldn't happen...no way! I ran to the bathroom and called for my mom to join me. I asked her to grab my cell on her way by. She asked if I was getting sick. Uh, no! This was much worse than that!!!! (just so you can keep track of the time line...this was about 2 hours after my doctor's appointment in which they assured me, I was fine to fly the very next day!)
My mom FREAKED out! I mean seriously, she went nutso on me. The Designer didn't have a cell phone, so I called my sisters phone and told her to get home ASAP. I told her what happened. They were checking out and The Designer told the cashier to forget everything and just ran out without ANYTHING. :)
Since we had just moved to the state (and our house is about 40 mins from all of our family) we had no idea how to even get to the hospital. I sent my mom to the neighbors house to ask if she could give us directions or drive us. I called my in-laws (which were only about 5 minutes away and told them of the news). They said they knew how to get to the hospital, so we called off our neighbor and waited for their arrival.
When I was at the doctor's office earlier that day I requested that they fax all of my medical records to the Children's Hospital "just in case." They laughed at me, but obliged. They also made a copy for me to keep, in case I needed them in California. So, on my way out the door, I grabbed my copies.
The Designer was freaking out! He kept saying, "You can NOT have that baby. You must keep her in!" Ha! Like that was going to happen! Was he serious? I turned around (I was sitting in the front seat, my mom was driving, The Designer and my sister were in the back seats) and I said to him, "Get ready, daddy. You are about to have a little girl!" We followed my in-laws to the hospital. I can honestly say that I was the only calm person in all of this. Everyone else was freaking out.
The Designers fear was very legitimate. Consider this...when we lived in Colorado, all the necessary doctors knew about our situation. In California, of course they knew our situation. We never dreamed of contacting a neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon, pediatric doctor, etc. We definitely needed a c-section, for the sake of our daughter, but would we be able to convince the hospital of that quick enough? Would they take us serious? I was scared, but there was an enormous about of peace that filled my entire body. I was ok. I knew our daughter would be ok. I was actually looking forward to meeting her, even though I had no idea what the next few hours would hold.
On the way to the hospital, The Designer did calm down a bit, but the fear was still showing on his face. I tried to calm him between contractions. We arrived at the hospital and as I was checking in, I informed them that I MUST have a c-section. They didn't completely discount me, but they didn't completely take me seriously either. I was mad!
They got me to the labor and delivery floor. I told them my water had broke, (uh, yeah...just look at my clothes for proof!), but they told me they couldn't take my word for it, so the doc checked me. OMG!!! That was pain. The contractions were hard and coming faster and faster. My MIL called the whole family and before I knew it, my room was FULL of people...I was mad about that too. I didn't want them all there. She was scared and wanted them for her (as support), but they were surrounding me and every time I had a contraction, I was furious that they were standing there looking at me! I swore at the doctor. Yep, that's right..I said that he was pissing me off! I told him this was ridiculous, I wasn't suppose to have labor pains, only c-section and emotional pains. I am sure they are used to getting yelled at, but I really wasn't nice. My family laughed and that made me mad too!
I told the doctor that I was sure the c-section needed to happen NOW! The contractions were hard and I was feeling the need to push. He wouldn't do the c-section because I had eaten that dumb sub a few hours before. He wanted to wait until it had been out of my system for 6 hours, but there was no way that was going to happen. This little angel was ready to make her grand entry into the world NOW!
Finally, after about 4 hours of pain, they agreed the c-section could wait no longer. During that 4 hour period, they were able to contact all of the specialists needed for Lil' Bug after her arrival. I was wheeled into the OR and not long after the spinal was put in, our little girl arrived.
During the actual c-section The Designer stayed up by my head and sang to me. I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was the sweetest thing he has ever done for me. He sang a song that we learned while we were teenagers at a Christian summer camp. I have no idea what it is called, but on rare occasion he still sings it to me. It always makes me smile. The gist is that only God can make the "right" things happen and He will.
I didn't get to see my princess when she was born. They moved me to the recovery room and brought her to who knows where and then ultimately to the NICU. The Designer did video record the entire process, but for some reason God didn't want me to see it, I guess. The Designer was able to show all our family, but by the time I was able to watch it, it was gone...it vanished like it never existed. We brought the DVD to a specialist and they said it looked as if nothing was ever even there. I am not sure what God is protecting me from, but even though I am sad I never got to see it, I am relieved as well. We don't have pictures either, as that is the one thing we forgot to take with us to the hospital (not bad considering the circumstances, huh?). So, we have pictures of her in the NICU (a couple hours old) but nothing before.
I will write more at a later time discussing the details of her first couple of weeks of life in the NICU.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Lil' Bugs due date was Sept. 27th. The MOMS coordinator wanted The Designer and I to fly to California on Thursday, Sept. 2 and planned to deliver her on Friday, Sept. 3 via c-section if the amnio showed her lungs were developed. After some thought, I decided to ask if we could change her birthday to Sept. 7 as that day is special to me. That is my grandma's birthday and she passed just a couple years before. They were not pleased with my request, but they agreed. So, we were scheduled to fly to California on Monday, Sept. 6 (Labor Day) and a c-section was scheduled for Sept. 7. (side note: they scheduled the c-section early as to avoid the possibility of her arriving naturally and risking a vaginal delivery, which could have caused a significant amount of damage to her open spine.)
So, we went about our summer. Many things happened between when the date was set and her actual birth day. One major thing was that we moved from Colorado to Michigan. That was a treat. I will write a post about that some other day maybe. But, imagine my mom, my 110 lb yellow lab, me (8 1/2 months preggo with pneumonia) in a Jetta packed to the gills and you have some idea of what it was like traveling for 1200 miles!
When I left Colorado, I had not been feeling good for about 4 weeks. I had been to the doctor a couple times at the beginning and they kept telling me I just had a summer cold, but I felt horrible. By the time I moved, I had not slept well in nearly 2 weeks. When I coughed, my ribs hurt so bad I would cry. I was wheezy. Something was not right. When I arrived in Michigan, my MIL (a nurse) told me that I needed to see a dr. right away. I wasn't sure there was a point to it, because I had been twice already, but reluctantly went.
The doctor listened to my lungs and sent me straight to the hospital. Mind you, I had been in Michigan for all of 2 days and I was being sent to the hospital for chest x-rays and a possible stay. They did the x-rays and informed me that I did have pneumonia. I was relieved to have a diagnosis, but worried because they put me on a cocktail of medicines to help alleviate the pain and heal my tired, weary body. I didn't want to do anything that would hurt my baby, but the doctor told me that the constant coughing was doing more harm at this point than than any medicines would. I couldn't take the pain any longer and took the drugs. About a week later, I was feeling MUCH better. Finally, relief!
The Designer had to stay in Denver to finish a few more weeks of work before he could join me in Michigan. I missed him so much. I wanted him with me. I was feeling very lonely, homesick, pregnant and I just wanted things to be normal. Whatever normal was suppose to be.
When we originally planned to move to Michigan, we planned to buy land and design and build a house. We looked for land for a long time, but we never did find anything that was just perfect. It was clear that God was leading us in a different direction. When we found out Lil' Bug would be born with a birth defect, it was also clear that I would be a stay at home mom (I had not considered it up until that point). When we realized I would be staying home, we realized that building a house was not a financially sound decision, so once again our plans were redirected.
During one of our many phone conversations, The Designer told me that he wanted me to go buy a house. I was a little resistant. I wanted to do that with him, not alone. Because he wouldn't be moving until just before we flew to California for Lil' Bugs big arrival, we wouldn't have time to buy one once he got here. So, I contacted a realtor and went out house shopping. I had no idea what would be the best house. I prayed and by the end of the day, I made a decision. The house was a new construction, so it was ready for immediate move in. I told the realtor I wanted to close within 14 days and he told me that was impossible. I politely told him that either he could make it work or I would find a realtor that could. Amazingly he got it to work! We closed on the house and moved in within a couple of weeks.
My mom knew that I was a little worried about the c-section, Lil' Bugs health and the whole flying to CA while 9 months pregnant bit and was trying to find something to help take my mind off things. She was successful! On Thurs, Sept. 2 she and I went to a Tim McGraw concert. I had not been feeling good for the previous few days, but was definitely not going to miss out on this concert! The Designer didn't think it was the best idea, but he knew better than to suggest I actually stay home, so he didn't. I had a great time. I didn't do much except sit there. There was a NICU nurse sitting behind me and she promptly informed me that I needed to remain sitting during the concert BUT if something did happen and I went into labor, she would be more than happy to deliver the baby! Ha! Yeah right!
The next day arrived. It was kind of weird in the fact that I remembered this was the day that Lil' Bug was originally going to be born via c-section, had I not requested the change. I had a doctors appointment that morning (only my 2nd appt with this doctor because we had just moved). I was getting ready to go to the appointment and before I left the house, I used the ladies room. At the risk of sharing too much information, I will say that during my potty experience, I lost a part of my mucus plug. Of course, being my first pregnancy, I wasn't sure that was it, but I had a strong suspicion. I was relieved to know I was on my way to the doctors, so they could answer all of my many questions.
The purpose of this particular doctor's appointment was for them to check me progress and then if everything looked ok, they were to write a prescription for me to fly the following Monday. I told them that I had a lot of low pressure, but they informed me that was normal and nothing to be concerned with at this stage of the pregnancy. The doctor checked me and told me that I was dilated 1 cm and 80% effaced. I was not concerned about being dilated, but 80%! That made me nervous. They decided to monitor me for contractions, even though I wasn't having any. After being monitored for nearly 1 hour, it was determined that the pressure I was feeling periodically was actually contractions. Ha! Who knew? I was shocked. When I realized what that feeling was, I told them I had been having contractions for over 2 weeks.
Even with all of this information, the doctor felt completely comfortable with writing a prescription for me to fly to California. At that stage, no airline would have let me on an airplane without that prescription. I told them I wasn't comfortable flying and began freaking out because here I was, feeling like Lil' Bugs arrival was imminent and yet I had to get to California for her arrival.
I decided to call the MOMS coordinator in California to have my doctor in MI talk to them to see if they wanted me to fly still. After the doctors spoke, they determined that it would be ok for me to fly, but they decided to move the flight up from Monday to Saturday. That's right, the very next day! I had nothing packed and they were telling me I had to be on an airplane the next morning. Oh yeah, and they said that I couldn't do anything until the flight. They wanted me on bedrest! I was very overwhelmed. I called The Designer on my way home (correct! He didn't go with me to this appt!) and cried to him. He assured me everything would be ok. I called my mom on the way home and asked her if she could change her plans and come to our house instead of going out of town. I needed her to help pack all of my stuff for my trip to California. Of course, being the good mom that she is, she changed her plans and came over right away.
To be continued...
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4)
If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from th Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. (James 1:5-8)
So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course, Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers and lights cascading down from teh Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (James 1:18-18)
FAITH IS NOT SIMPLY BELIEVING GOD CAN DO IT! IT IS KNOWING THAT HE WILL!
I am not going to lie. I am a talker. I have lots to say. My nickname was Jabber Jaws when I was younger. Sad to say, I have not really outgrown that a whole lot and if you know Lil' Bug, she is following closely in my footsteps! It is no surprise, really, that The Professor is the quiet one in our family. He and I have talked about that alot over the past 14 years. We are comfortable with our roles in the family. He definitely has a voice, but he only speaks when necessary. I speak just to speak! :)
So, with that said, it surprises me that so many people tell me so much. I mean, who knew I stopped talking long enough to listen? HA! Anyway, it has been this way since I was young...people would meet me and almost immediately, they felt compelled to tell me their deepest, darkest secrets. I never understood why. I still don't fully understand it, but I a couple of theories I will share with you in a little bit.
Most people who know me know that if they ask, I will not say a word to anyone. There is one exception to that, however. I will not lie to The Designer. I mean, I will not keep anything from him, if he were to ever ask. There are things people have told me that I don't plan to tell him (they do not impact him and he probably wouldn't care anyway), but if, for some reason, he were to ever come out and ask me something specific, I would not lie to him. I respect him and our marriage too much to lie to him.
Ok, I digress, back on track! People have told me some very interesting things over the years. Some I find comical, others I find scary and most are somewhere in between. People can sense pretty quickly that I am a sincere, honest, trustworthy person. I think the reason I struggle with that is because I have a hard time trusting other people. It is not because those people aren't trustworthy most of the time. It really stems from my past, I know, but it exists, nonetheless. So, if I can not confide some of my deepest fears, greatest joys, my sadness's, my confusion and all of that, why do they feel so comfortable telling me? I wonder if they think I share everything with them? Or, I wonder if they know that I keep many, many things to myself and only share those things with a VERY select few? I just don't know. I do not mean to be secretive. I don't do it on purpose, really. I just don't feel like most people would honestly care about what is going on (I mean REALLY going on) in my life. Does that sound harsh? Maybe it is. Maybe I don't give people enough credit. But, most of the time when people ask me, "How are you today?" I honestly don't think they really want to know. They are expecting to get the "Good, thanks. Any you?" response. So, that is what I give them. There is an exception to this and those of you that I am close with, you know who you are!
Another thought occurred to me last night, while I was talking about this with my friend. The thought was, maybe people don't realize how unbalanced it really is. I have always been there for people. That is important to me. But, if others are always expecting me to be there for them and I never call upon them to be a supportive friend to me, they get used to it and that is sort of just how things go. They don't mean to be rude, inconsiderate or hurtful, but that is really all they know because I have allowed it to continue that way for so long. So, if this scenario really is the case, the only way to "fix" it and not feel so overwhelmed about it would be to address it with each person individually. Seriously, though...am I going to do that? Not likely. That seems like a lot of work and I have really gotten good at playing my role in life.
A third thought regarding this topic also popped into my mind. God created me this way. He created me to be a good listening ear, the good friend everyone trusts and likes. He created me to be honest, loving, empathetic, sympathetic, caring, understanding. All of that was on purpose; he had a reason for it. So, when I feel overwhelmed by all the "secrets" people have shared with me, I think of God and give thanks, for he is good!. He wanted me this way for a reason. He is perfect and makes no mistakes. I am not a mistake.
As you can see, I really don't have a clear thought on this whole topic. I do know that there have been a few events recently that have rocked my world (both good and bad) and it saddened me to think that although I am the friend everyone turns to when they need to vent, share, etc. I had a very select few I could do the same with. I will try to open up more. I am getting better at taking down some of my walls. But, I can't make any promises.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
When we made the decision, we were excited about the next chapter of our lives...the chapter of parenthood. We had no idea what that really meant, but we were so ready to tell our friends and family that we would soon be pregnant and making major changes in our lives.
We had a great plan, but as it turned out, the Lord had an even better one! :) Go figure!!! We had been married 8 years before we tried to get pregnant. Prior to us trying to get pregnant, we had a conversation about whether we would even try to get pregnant or if we would jump straight to adoption. Now that I think about that, I laugh because I know that it would be nearly impossible to adopt an American infant just because we wanted to, but we knew nothing about adoption at the time, so ignorant or not, that is the decision we were trying to make...get pregnant or adopt.
We opted to try to get pregnant. I suspected that getting pregnant might be a challenge for us, so I immediately started charting my cycle. I am a research nerd and knew from my reading that if we were going to get infertility treatments from the doctor, they would require we do this anyway. I charted for about 4 months, but after the first month I noticed that it appeared I might not actually be ovulating. The next 3 months confirmed that. I made an appointment to see the doctor and told her I wasn't ovulating. Because I had charts to prove it, she didn't make us go a whole year of trying before she prescribed Clomid and Progesterone for me.
I was excited about taking the "drugs," but nervous because I wondered if we were taking too much into our own control. I mean, really, does God want humans to interfere with that kind of thing? He knows what is best, right? Well, I can honestly say I still do not know how I feel about infertility treatments, but regardless, The Designer and I decided to use the drugs and after a while, we finally became pregnant. (side note: I hold nothing against anyone that uses alternative methods to get pregnant. I just didn't know if it was right for us or not.)
The Designer was away at a conference the day I learned I was pregnant. Of course, since we were trying to get pregnant, I knew within a couple of weeks when we finally were. I was so excited and wanted to share the wonderful news, but I had to wait until The Designer was home to tell him. How horrible would it have been to tell him over the phone. So, I went to the store and bought a card and wrote a nice little note in there and then included the pregnancy test. He returned home the next day and upon his entry into the house, I gave him the card. He opened it up and said, "Great! Now you are giving me used pregnancy tests. Another negative, huh?" I was dumbfounded...that wasn't the response I expected...I quickly said, "No! Read it!"
After he read and processed it, he was overjoyed. We hugged and cried. It ranked as one of the best days of our lives thus far. I quickly phoned our parents and told them that they would be grandparents. The best news was that we were moving in 8 months, so we would be back home (in Michigan) before our little miracle arrived. They were more than excited. Life was good.
I called our doctor and asked to come in the next week to take a test and confirm that I was pregnant. I was very disappointed to learn that they would not let me come in until I was 9 weeks pregnant. Their reason: many women miscarry during the first 8 weeks and we don't want you to come in, get your hopes up and then lose your child. Well, I already had my hopes up, but I still had to wait.
About 1 week prior to our scheduled 9 week appointment, I started spotting. I was very nervous about it so I called the doctors office. They wanted me to come in to do a blood test to check my HCG levels. I didn't tell The Designer about my appointment because that day he was scheduled to take 1 of the 8 all day tests that he needed to pass in order to be licensed as an architect. I didn't want to distract him. I went to work that morning and left to go to the appointment alone. I was a little nervous, but more than anything, I was excited because I wanted confirmation of my pregnancy. I ran in, they took my blood and sent me back to work. They said they would call me later.
I taught the remainder of my classes and at the end of the day I finally received a call from the doctor's office.
Nurse: "Hi. How are you?"
Me: "I will be better once you tell me everything is ok with my baby."
Nurse: "Well, are you sitting down?"
Me: "No? Why? What's wrong?"
Nurse: "Well, technically we don't think anything is really 'wrong.' But, we would like you and The Designer to come in for an ultrasound. You were advised of possible side effects from taking Clomid, correct?"
Me: "Well, if nothing is wrong, why do I need to come in? Are you concerned that...wait...are you saying...no! you aren't saying...tell me...am I having twins?"
Nurse: chuckles "Well, to be honest, I am not sure how many children you are having, but your levels are 6x higher than normal and we would like you to come in for an ultrasound so we can take a peek to see how many babies you are carrying."
Me: "Are you saying there might be more than two?" A bit of fear comes over me.
Nurse: "The doctor is guessing that you might have four or more babies, but you really just need to come in and let us look. Can you come in today?"
I hung up the phone in absolute disbelief. I phoned The Designer. Fortunately he was done with his test and was home. I told him to meet me at the doctor's office. I told him everything was okay and to drive safe. We both rushed to the doctor's office.
We walked into the office, hand-in-hand. A bit of a terrified expression frozen on both of our faces. In fact, if I remember correctly, The Designer looked a bit green at the thought of having 4 babies at once. The receptionist was all smiles. She excitedly announced to the rest of the office that we were there and then said, "I bet you are so excited!"
"Um, excited? We're not sure just how excited we really are. Can we just find out how many babies we are talking about here and then we can discuss how excited we are? I and not a dog. Woman shouldn't have litters!"
We were escorted to the room. I laid down. I have never had such a mix of emotions at one time before. We were thrilled to be having an ultrasound. This was our first peek at our Lil' Bug. But, we were worried about my health, the health of all of these possible babies and we worried about supporting them all...the appointment went fast.
The doctor came in to do the ultrasound. After a few minutes of checking, she confirmed that there was only 1 healthy tiny blob (a.k.a. baby). We were relieved. We were sad a little bit too. The thought of having our entire family in one pop was kind of exciting. We left the office and went home, glowing that we just got to see our Lil' Bug for the first time.
Friday, June 1, 2007
I have to point out a couple of things...watch Lil' Bugs face. She is totally thinking, "what in the world are these people doing?" Watch the very "happy" guy jumping around when we go in circles. For some reason, he makes me laugh every time I see this.
Anyway, now that I have built it up, I hope it isn't too much of a let down! :)