Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving {on Abel's deafness}

This year, man. It's been a tough one. I can't say that it has been totally awful because I got to welcome the sweetest surprise baby into my life and I love him deeply. We sure have much to be thankful for. Still, I strive to be honest here and this year has not been the walk in the park we expected when we finally got to move home to East Tennessee. Looking back, I can see God's hand in all of it and his divine plan is truly what I want.

I don't know why Abel is deaf. He's not broken, but I still grieve for his "normal" life from time to time. It hits me like a ton of bricks. It comes at me when I least expect it. 'Sorry, we can't go to the park right now. We have to go to an appointment.' Little things like that get me. He's (almost) two. Now's the time to play. Instead, we spend a lot of time driving and waiting. Waiting for an appointment to start. Waiting for some other problem to arise. Waiting on him to hear consistently. Waiting on him to try to talk. Waiting for me to feel okay about this decision we made to get him cochlear implants. That's what this is about, really.

The truth is, I've never felt completely confident that this is the route we should have taken. Sure, the surgery is in and out for most kids, but my curly headed middle child has had more than his share of hiccups already. It has been roughly three months since his surgery. Since then, he has dealt with constant ear infections because the surgeon removed his tubes during the procedure. While many babes are up and running around within a few days, our post surgery days looked more like this:

He couldn't move his head off the pillow. Then when he finally did a day or two later, he was very off balance. That comes and goes. This past week, he started having symptoms of Bell's Palsy on top of the ear infections. His immune system has been compromised and now he has come down with the flu. And I can't help but think it's my fault that he's dealing with any of it. What if I had just developed my sign language more fully? What if we sent him to the deaf school so he could be around that language? What if I hadn't allowed the cochlear implants to be put in his head, would he still be having all these health problems?

There's the other side of it, too though. What if he resented me for not taking advantage of the window of time as a baby that is best for success with CIs? What if he felt disconnected from his family or his brothers because our sign language skills lacked? What if he never heard his child's voice thirty years down the road and he wondered why I let him miss out on that opportunity?

I could go on forever. Back and forth. Back and forth. I'm not called to do that, though.

In the book of Luke, it says: "Who of you can add an hour to your life by worrying?" Still, I tell myself that I will go into each situation with a positive attitude and I keep up the facade (fake it til ya make it!) for as long as I can muster and eventually end up in a puddle of tears.

Today was no different. Because he has all the issues going on, they wanted to put his ear tubes back in immediately. That procedure is pretty standard. But what was planting itself in the back of my mind was that he had the flu and is having a hard time breathing. It turned out to be a problem with the anesthesiologist, too and he refused to do the surgery. The surgeon was persistent saying that he had to have them (which gave me more to worry about in the back of my mind) and the two of them went toe to toe eventually settling on having the surgery today. I stayed back with the baby because he seems to be developing a cold and I'm nursing. I also needed to be here to get the oldest kiddo, too. During these heated conversations with the doctors helping our boy, I didn't hear from Jordan. After multiple calls and texts went unanswered, I called my sister in a panic attack. I couldn't breathe. I was crying hysterically. I just knew something bad had happened because it always seems to this time of year. I have so many people tell me I'm strong, but these moments remind me I have a long way to go. I think maybe God is slowly peeling back all the layers. Guilt, be gone. Worry, be gone. Trust in ME. I hear it, but I'm like Paul in Romans

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Romans 7:15)

So while this may not seem like a typical Thanksgiving post, it's mine. I'm thankful that God is still working on me, that He hasn't given up on me, that He won't. I'm thankful that He is authoring Abel's life. I'm thankful for this amazing opportunity for my boy to have cochlear implants. I'm thankful for his deafness....and I hope he will be, too.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

3 Month Letter

Dear Sweet Merit,

Happy 3 months to you. I suppose I should start with thank you! Thank you for being such a good, happy boy. You've made the transition from two small kids to three much more manageable than I ever expected. I'm delighted to celebrate three months with you on the outside and in my life officially. From the moment you were born, I've been smitten. You've been a wonderful blessing to me and I'm so thankful that thus far you've been an easy going child. You've been smiling a lot more this month. It's not so hard to make happen. I simply get close to your face and start talking and you are quickly "talking" back and grinning. I love it. You've been grabbing on to toys that dangle above you when we lay you on your play mat or in your bouncy chair. You will also explore by rolling on your side, but that's as far as you care to get. You hate tummy time (so do I!) and you come by that honestly because you're brothers weren't too fond of it either. They are pretty good to you. They are jealous at times, but both quick to help you with your paci or pat your sweet little head. We all love you so much! Daddy keeps telling me how you two have bonded this month and every time it's time for you to go to bed, he says, "He is a cute one, isn't he?" You are. The cutest.

Love you to the moon and back,

P.S. You were adorable last month, too. I just never wrote you a letter to tell ya!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tender, Tough, and Strong

It seems like there's hardly time to stop and write here. When I think about what keeps me grounded most, it's time in God's word, exercise, and creating. Usually that creating is writing. I need it in my life. There has been a lot of stress this past year and the busier I get, the more out of my control everything feels. The kids are at trying ages. Abel is in that wild stage of the terrible twos and Kinley is a strong willed, whiny three year old. I love them and they're fun, but they also have a way of making me want to pull all my hair out. Merit is still at the sweet baby stage that makes me think I could have a few more kids if they were all like him. I know I'll be singing a different tune in about a year! Anyway, these days are long and I often feel I'm bad at my role as Mom.

But I know I'm not. 

I know I'm not because I think about it all the time. Is this what God wants me to do with my children? Is this how I'm supposed to treat them? Reprimand them? Should I teach them this? Or that? Or both? 

How, how, how do I do this? No, really- HOW?

I look back to life with one and it makes me smile. I thought Kinley was a difficult baby (he was!) but I had no idea what was headed my way. Handling three babes three and under is a whole new adventure that I felt ill prepared for. Now that I'm in the trenches, there is some clarity that one day the pitter patter of little toddler feet on the hardwood or the newborn cries of my youngest won't wake me up in the morning. I know I'll miss hearing Abel jumping in his crib in the early morning and then giggling in his room all by himself. These boys are my life.

They are. I don't care if I've lost a little of myself because I'm pouring as much of me as I can into them. I'm trying to use a strainer, though. A little of this patience and none of that anger. It's such a hard, thankless job raising kids and I know as a sinner I'm bound to screw up daily. But just as God picks me up, forgives me, and loves me when I veer off in the wrong direction, I'm the same with the boys. I put them down at night and feel totally and completely emotionally tapped out. I can still easily recall all the  mischievous happenings of the day yet as I watch them sleep there's so much love in my body for them. I can't explain it. They make me want to be better for them. 

I was reminded of this song when I saw it on Good Morning America last week. The guy who wrote it performed it in my hometown and dedicated it to me when I was pregnant with Kinley. I think it means even more to me now that I know how incredible it is to be mama to three wonderful little boys.

Cue more tears. 

Thanks for listening, y'all. I know there's more of you out there who feel like I do. I make it a point not to sugarcoat how tough this job is because so many of us pretend to have it all together. I promise not to do that. Is being a parent difficult? Yes-in so many ways. It's difficult if you care...and I do. But these three boys have changed me, God is changing me, and in that regard, I couldn't be happier. I never knew I could love like this.

 "Hush now baby. Don't you cry. Because there's someone down there waiting whose only goal in life is making sure you're always gonna be alright- a loving angel, tender, tough and strong. It's almost time to go and meet your mom."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween 2014

Typically, I'm a bonafide Halloween nutcase. Elaborate costumes are planned months in advance and I spend time carefully selecting and making all garments and props. This year? Well, I had another kid to think about--making the number of costumes to create climb to FIVE. I started feeling as if I shouldn't go all out because we didn't have the money to spend on such things. I was getting a bit down because I love Halloween so much. I always have. But I started thinking maybe it's time for me to grow up.

I quickly came to my senses and reminded myself that, of course, I was going trick or treating with my kiddos. It's quite possibly my favorite day of the year and I didn't want to miss it just because I was having a hard time managing to get my act together. I decided I wasn't SuperMom, but I could totally be her for Halloween. I thought, "How perfect would it be to all be superheroes in honor of Abel's first hearing Halloween?" I set to work making SuperK and Bionic Boy costumes.

I made them masks, capes, and shirts but of course it didn't all get worn. There's always someone mad on October 31st and it's almost always a toddler. This year I have two toddler/preschool aged crazy people so they took turns refusing garments, pictures, and/or having to {gasp} walk to retrieve their candy. It's a hard life, you know?
Anyway, we had a great evening. Perhaps my favorite costume this year that I threw together at the last minute was baby Merit's. He made the cutest Superman.

Jordan pulled off a spectacular superhero last minute costume, too. I thought my SuperMom threads looked pretty dang good, too. Total cost for this entire family of five costumes? Less than $20. I hope I never buy store bought costumes.

The boys' babysitter joined us in our trick-or-treating. I just love her. She's wonderful with the kids and I feel like I can just sit and talk to her like a friend. I know God blessed us when He sent us her. I was glad to have her helping hands, too when Abel decided that all he wanted to do was plop down on the road and dig into the chocolate. It proved to be quite a task to carry Abel on my hip while wearing Merit on my front. Jordan was busy chasing after Kinley who was excitedly running house to house and thanking all our neighbors for their generous candy donations. Then it started raining. That cold rain, you know? We hurried home after hitting a few houses and built a fire and ordered takeout.
It was a great day.
What costumes did you come up with this year?
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