Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dear Sweet Boy... Love, Mama

Hi sweet boy~
I've dreamed so many times about writing this letter to you....  the letter that would re-cap your first year of life... the one that would pin-point highlights of the past year....
The first of many many letters.
But there was one day, not too long ago, when your Daddy and I were faced with the terrifying reality that this letter might never come....
Or that it would read quite differently than we had planned.
There was a day, not too long ago, when we truly believed that we would be celebrating this special day without you.... or, if we were able to celebrate WITH you, that it might be the last.... But,
We celebrated your first birthday a few days ago ...

The decorations were colorful,
the cake was simply amazing,

 the food was so yummy,
and we were surrounded by our biggest prayer warriors... the one's who stand mostly responsible for carrying us through this past year and who remain your biggest fans....
But we could have celebrated your birthday without the colorful decorations, the amazing cake, yummy food, and wonderful family and friends...
Those are all so important....
But what made that day so special ...
Was you.
YOU were at your birthday celebration.
And one day, not too long ago, that just didn't seem like a possibility.
Now? It's our reality.
We didn't celebrate your birthday under a cloud of worry and doubt and fear, wondering if there would be a 2nd... or a 3rd... or....
And though we celebrated with unimaginable joy and hope and laughter...
Our hearts were so incredibly heavy with gratitude and awe as we reflected on the miracle that is your life.
Your Daddy and I look at you every single day and marvel at who you are after all that you have been through...
"You are so blessed!"
You'll probably hear that most days for the rest of your life...
And I'm sorry for that.

There are some things I want you to know as your enter into your second year of life.... things I want you to remember, always;
1) You are not defined by all that you have been through...
The NICU doesn't define you.
Apnea doesn't define you.

Heart Conditions don't define you.
Hearing loss doesn't define you.
Prematurity doesn't define you.

You are not blessed.... you are the blessing....

To me, your Daddy, our family, friends, and so many people who haven't even met you.
2) Grace.

When I look at you, all I see is God's grace. Grace so powerful and prevalent that it often brings me to my knees.
You are one of His most precious miracles. Your life was perfectly planned and defined long before your Daddy and I knew you....
Your life is defined only by God's grace.
Your first year of life was hard...
For some reason your life plan included events and processes that most people will never face.
Your strength and will were tested long before you took your first breath.
My heart has broken for you more times in the past year than I can count...
But I will never apologize to you for the path you life has and will continue to follow, for what you've faced and for what you might face in the future...

Becuase your life, no matter what shape or form it might take, can't be anything else... it can't go any other way...

Because if it did, you wouldn't be you.
And I cannot be me, without you.

3) Your purpose in life is extraordinary.
I don't know what your future holds... I don't wish to know because one of the most rewarding, surprising, and wonderful things for your Daddy and me is to watch God's plan unfold for you.
There is no doubt in my mind that your life's plan includes a few more bumps and maybe even mountains along the way. But I know you. And I know that you have been given a strength and will and determination that I have never seen before.
I'm not so sure I will 'appreciate' that will in your toddler years ;-)....
But I will do everything i can to nurture and encourage that part of you...
You might climb a few more mountains...
But, if you allow God to continue to mold and shape and guide you, you will move so many more.

Writing is one of my passions and I'm sure, that by the time you're old enough to read, you'll have stacks of letters to read through...
But I will never, ever be able to express to you in writing just how much you are loved.
You are valued and cherished and are continually covered in prayer....
And you will remain wrapped in Jesus' strong and capable hands every day of your life.
A few stats from your first year...
* You weighed 2 pounds, 13 ounces when you were born.... on your birthday, you hit 18 pounds!
* On your birthday, you made the growth chart!
~ 3rd percentile for weight... 10th for height... 5th for head~
* You have mastered sitting up!
* You are no longer considered a 'beginning' crawler!
* You LOVE pulling yourself up on my laundry baskets!
* You don't sleep.
* Your Sister gets a smile from you that you don't give anyone else...
And she is your protector and your biggest cheerleader...
* You drink 8 ounce bottles and always eat better when you're being held... even though you like to be a big boy and hold your own bottle....
* You LOVE the weirdest baby food combinations... apples & bananas, sweet potato & apples & raisins, ham & pineapple & apple & rice, to name a few. And you eat a LOT of it...
* OH WAIT!! You DO sleep!!!!...

Good thing Mama likes to shop :-)
* You already look up to and admire your Daddy...
Don't ever let that change.
* You're ALL BOY...
* And you're Mama's boy...
Don't forget it ;-)
One day, sweet boy, I might come up with a saying to replace "I love you"... because "I love you" just doesn't seem big enough.
So, for now...
Happy birthday, my precious boy.
I love you.
I love you more than...
Sleep ;-)
~ Mama
PS... Another BIG day is coming up in a couple weeks... the day we met!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Circle of Life; Mufasa Might Have Been on to Something

From here on out, for the rest of our lives, March and April will be such exciting months for us!
In March we celebrate many family birthdays but we also celebrate our sweet boy's first breath of life... the one that happened 10 weeks before it 'should' have.... but didn't happen one moment too soon.
We celebrate Easter this month... and not only the sacrifice God made for our sins but also the MIRACLE of His resurrection!
April brings with it many more family birthdays and also April 16... the day we met our precious miracle... and the start to the most terrifying, exhilarating, challenging, and joyous year of our lives.
It's this time of year when we anticipate the start of Spring, longer daylight hours, evening walks, ice cream!, flowers....
Even in light of the exciting weeks that lie ahead, my heart has been so heavy... conflicted, even.
For one precious family, March will always bring much different memories... of their sweet baby girl who, born too early, breathed her first breath on Earth in her Mama's arms... and her second in the arms of Jesus.
For another family, March will always bring so much pain... one very normal morning in March, they couldn't wake their sweet baby boy... and that memory will never leave them.
And another family... they are so precious to us... while they will always take comfort in knowing that their baby boy's first breaths were filled with the fragrance of Heaven, his first hug was in the arms of Jesus, and his first sounds were the Angels singing.... and even though they will celebrate his birthday this month and look forward to seeing him again, March brings them heart-ache and pain.

Another precious family in our lives.... planned and prepared to welcome their baby boy into their family through adoption... arrived at the hospital on the day of his birth.... met him and held him... and learned that his First Mama wasn't completely honest with them... about her life and hopes and expectations.... and as much as their hearts hurt, could only make decisions for their sweet daughter and her future... and they had to say 'no'. They know their family will grow and when it does, it will be right... like God planned... but March will always remind them of that sweet boy they expected and lost.

An then yesterday.... a family we all 'know' now.... fought with everything in them to be able to give a special baby girl their love and home... and we fought with them, too. Then, unexpectedly, in a matter of minutes.... their hearts were crushed. And if you were anything like me yesterday... your's was crushed, too. March will always remind them of the baby girl they so vividly saw becoming a member of their family.

For us, March is now one of the best months of the year for all of the miracles is represents.... but I also can't help but remember the boys we had planned to bring home in March, 2 years ago. As much as I believed then that they were our's... that they were meant to be in our family... I also know now that they weren't. They are someone else's.  I am so thankful that they weren't meant for us and I wouldn't want it any other way. But still... I think about them and I remember the physical and emotional pain we lived in for weeks...even months... after their birth. I remember the empty nursery and the precious bedding... the adorable clothes.... car seats... 2 of everything!

We could probably do this about every month of the year, huh?

It doesn't matter that each memory revolves around a single day...the month will still hurt.
It doesn't even seem to matter that each family has HOPE in Jesus Christ and peace in knowing that their babies... their lives... are with Him or live in His hands.
And even though each memory, each heartache, happened to one family... the circle of people who hurt with those families goes so far beyond them.
 It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle The Circle of Life

That song has always felt so ... 'Earthy'... 'New Agey'. And I haven't seen the Lion King in years... like, many years. But that song.... it's in my head and even though it's driving m crazy I knew there had to be a reason for it....

A few years ago... right after we brought Hannah home... a friend of our's lost her baby. Every miscarriage is devastating. Heart-breaking. I wasn't sure how to encourage and support her when we had just brought our own long-awaited baby home.. surely our joy only deepened her pain... right?

So I distanced myself. I didn't know what else to do.

She and I reconnected when Hannah was about 6 months old... her baby would have been celebrating a birthday the next week.

She had felt my distance and asked me about it... I explained my 'reasoning' as gently as I could and her response shocked me...

"Yeah, I lost my baby.... and as painful as it was and as much as I didn't understand 'why', I also knew that it was God's plan... one I would understand when He knew I was ready. Seeing you and Joey with Hannah only made me happy... in a way I was thankful that, even though we lost a life, God was showing me through Hannah that He creates it, too! It was a strange circle but seeing you happy wasn't painful... it gave me hope for our future."

And she quoted my 'life verse'...

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you... plans to give you hope and a future."
~ Jeremiah 29:11

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle The Circle of Life

It still sounds strange and new-agey to me but there's truth in King Mufasa's words, too ... words that seem to be in line with MY King's Word.

Those families and their memories will last forever.... and maybe time will dull the pain... or maybe, one day, like us, they'll be able to look back at where they were, and compare that to where they are and know 'why'... and then maybe those memories won't hurt so bad...

But time doesn't heal all pain.

It just doesn't.

And I am SO glad it doesn't!

The circle of life.....

I need those memories and the pain they still bring me today, to be able to fully appreciate and take joy in what is happening in my life now...

'Till we find our place on the path unwinding.

Our path's are unwinding, aren't they?

None of us will look back in time, to the 'March' of our lives and think that, if they could have changed it, they wouldn't.


They'll feel it all over again. They'll hurt again. And cry again.

As I prepare for Hunter's first birthday, as I decorate our house, wrap gifts, and prepare myself for the emotions that are sure to overwhelm me in the next few weeks...

My heart aches...

For my friend who only lets herself break on the drive to and from work.

For my friend who only gets out of bed to take her daughter to school... and then comes home and gets right back in.

For the mom who is still recovering from giving birth to her baby girl.... but who doesn't have her baby girl to hold.

For the family who is solid in their faith and knows how to write about how great God is, even when things don't go as planned.... but who still ask 'why' and hurts so badly inside at the loss of the future they had hoped for.

Nothing anyone can say will make March easier for them...

Not "I'm praying for you." or "It will get easier." or "Just focus on what you DO have."

(Honestly... those well-intentioned remarks almost make it worse.)

So as I prepare for MY last couple weeks of March, that look so very different for us now than they used to...

I'm going to remember that we are all only part of the way around our own circles of life...

the path is still unwinding.


To each of you...

Your hurt is not your own... and it won't go away. 
But you've already gone through despair.
Your story isn't done... and I don't know what April will look like... but I know it won't be March.
 I'm here... and I love you...

and I can't wait to watch you travel soon, through hope and faith and love.

~ Me


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hello. My name is Lindsay. I am a Mom. And I am a pathological complainer.

I'm exhausted, my feet hurt, my neck won't turn to the right, I haven't peed by myself with the door closed in over 4 years, and when I ask my 4 year old to pick out her clothes for the day, she goes straight to the laundry room and digs through the piles until she finds what she wants to wear!

Sound familiar?!

I sure hope so!!!!

For the first time in a loooooong time, we made it to church this weekend!
Yep... all 4 of us! I even put Hunter in the nursery.... and if you know me AT ALL, you know how big that is for me ;-)
One of my biggest challenges in motherhood is trusting other people with my kids. I have extremely high expectations for MYSELF when it comes to them, I take my job very seriously, and I do a damn good job at being their Mama... 2 women handed me their babies to love and take care of and I do it with every single ounce of me. (Sorry for saying 'damn' ;-)
It's hard for me to even comprehend that someone else in this world 'might' be able to care for them even a fraction as well or as much as I do.
Hannah was 10 months old the first time I left her in the church nursery...she screamed the whole time and no one paged us so the next time I left her in the church nursery, she was 15 months old.
She was 16 months old the first time I hired a babysitter for her... and the rash on her butt because the sitter didn't change her took 2 different Rx creams and about 2 weeks to go away. The next time I left her with a sitter (that wasn't family), she was 2.5 years old... and then we moved. (I don't believe that it's a coincidence that she now goes to school only 35 minutes away from our new house... Molly; WE MISS YOU!!! :-))
Our church has many different campuses and each campus has an 'overflow' or 'cry room' that is somewhat more private and a little quieter than being in the service. We went to church about 6 months ago and kept Hunter with us in the overflow room... and it still didn't go well :-/ When we decided to go to church this weekend, I had NO intentions of leaving Hunter in the nursery! NONE.
And then we walked in and signed Hannah in.... my Daddy's words to me from almost 3 years ago echoed in my mind...
"There are very few people in the world who are patient and loving enough to volunteer their time to spend with babies and kids. God has given the people who volunteer in church nurseries a very special gift... and for you to not trust them with your baby is almost like denying them the ability to act on the gifts God gave them."
And he was so right.
So I left my 11 month old, 10 week premature, sometimes breathing-challenged, always snotty and coughing baby who sometimes hears and sometimes doesn't in the church nursery... with 6 women who's faces light up at the sight of those babies coming through the door.
I gave them a 'short' synopsis of Hunter's life (they put him in the baby-baby room instead of with kids his own age, since putting him with runners and crawlers when he just learned to sit doesn't really seem fair), and made sure they had my cell number so they could text me AND page me if they needed something... Yep... I'm 'that' mom.

And I am 100% ok with that ;-)
He did great!
And so did his Mama ;-)
It felt SO good to be back in church, singing praises to my Jesus, and sitting next to my handsome husband!
I expected no less than a punch-to-the-gut sermon on our first Sunday back ...
and that's what we got!
I could hi-light so many points from Sunday's sermon.... but I won't. What I WILL do is confess something to you...
something I am working to lay at the feet of Jesus.
I think one of the most challenging aspects of parenting is working hard to reign in our children's attitudes and defiance but being able to balance that with allowing them freedom and independence. I also think that the single most difficult part of parenting is not allowing our own attitudes and defiance to control our daily lives.
In short:
We're hypocrites.

And we're complainers.
Our list of daily complaints is long...
The laundry never ends! I can't take them anywhere! When will he finally sleep through the night?!
My confession; I complain entirely too much. I allow my list of complaints to overshadow my purpose... and all that God has called me to do... to be.

This week I'm making a new list and I would love your help...

Seeing the Hidden Blessings in Every Complaint!
"I've had enough of her attitude!"... But that attitude is what will make her a strong, independent woman.
"The laundry never ends!"... But my kids are active and so they get dirty!
"I just want him to sleep through the night!"... But I will enjoy every second I have with him when his cheeks are rosy and eyes are heavy with sleep and his body is limp against me... because one day, not too long from now, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and my arms will ache to hold him... but he'll be asleep ;-)
"I just want to be able to pee with the door closed!"... But one day I will find myself sitting by the phone just waiting to hear the voice of one of my babies... so I'll keep peeing with the door open so my kids don't kill each other and there will be someone to call me when that day comes ;-)
** Ok ok... so I'm stretching a few of these... but really, some of them require a little digging in order to change them from a complaint to a blessing ;-) **
"Why can't he just put his stinkin' coffee cup in the dishwasher when he gets home?!"... But what makes his coffee cup any different than the dozens of bottles and sippy cups I wash each day? He works hard so our kids can be raised daily by one of their parents... pretty sure i can handle one more cup to rinse and put on the rack.
"I am so sick of having sick kids!"... But sick kids = exposure to germs... and exposure to germs = exposure to other kids... and exposure to other kids = social, active, happy kids. So ok... sick kids it is... at least their happy and sick :-)

Your turn... please help me turn those complaints to blessings.... because we truly, every one of us, have been blessed with so so much!

** Disclaimer... sometimes complaining is just necessary. It's better than yelling or screaming or giving up so please, don't block me from seeing your FB status and don't stop leaving your honest comments.... we need to support each other and have a forum where it's safe and acceptable to complain sometimes! I just need a break from it for a few days... and I can't help but think that it'll do everyone some good to just turn some of those into blessings :-) **

And just to humble myself a little bit more...

Me; It's time to get dressed... go pick out you clothes for the day!
Hannah; Umm Mommy? Where are my clothes?
Me; Hmmm.... Either in the laundry room....

or on the living room floor...



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Change of Plans... A Video Post!

I had a great post to share with you tonight...

and then this happened.

And this is even more incredible...

So I'll save that post for another night :-)

(If you're new to Hunter's story, head over here to catch up on the miracle that is his life... and remember to scroll all the way down in order to start from the beginning ;-))

If you know Hunter's story, then you know that his first birthday is only weeks away... and you know that we were told over and over and over again that his first birthday would never come... and you know that we were told that, IF his first birthday DID come, his quality of life would be no where near that of a typical one year old...

and so you'll know that this video is just the beginning of one more miracle in this sweet boy's life :-)

And just in case you thought it was a fluke (like I did ;-)....

God is so good. He is so so good!

(Blogger is being SO difficult tonight because it knows how amazing my post is so please excuse the crappy video quality :-/... AND... also excuse my squeaky voice; we had been at this for 10 minutes before I grabbed my camera and by that time I was barely holding it together... about 10 seconds after the second video, I lost it ;-))