Old School Background

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Mary Evelyn!

Two years ago, in the wee hours of the morning, James and I made the crazy drive into town while I was in hard labor, wondering if we'd make to the hospital on time.  Little did we know the surprise in store for us.  We were expecting our fifth child and the last one had come in just about four hours so we knew the rush was on.  We were met in the emergency room parking lot by my sisters and eager staff who refused to let me walk up to labor and delivery, although I insisted I could.  We were whisked into a labor and delivery room and one nurse took my vitals while the other nurse checked my cervix and exclaimed she's at 10 centimeters.  A few minutes later she informed us that the baby wasn't coming head first.  The presenting part was an elbow.  They roused the on-call doctor (as it was about 3:30 a.m.) who came in an discovered that the baby was indeed sideways trying to come out elbow and shoulder first.  Without getting too much into anatomy let me just say that doesn't work.  So I went from we'll have this baby any minute to we need to do a c-section and quickly because if my water broke (which amazingly it hadn't) the baby's umbilical cord could be compressed underneath it.  The hospital had to call in a very grumpy anesthesiologist and I was wheeled down to the OR and surgery commenced at 4 a.m.  Because of the baby's position they had to make a much longer incision than usual.  Mary Evelyn French was born at 4:39 a.m.  She weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long and other than needing a little extra stimulation to get breathing was fine.  I wish I could say the same for myself.  Mary's birth took me much longer than any of the others to recover from.

Mary was born at a difficult time in our lives.  Naomi had just been diagnosed with celiac and was still struggling greatly to grow.  Two days after Mary and I were discharged we were at a speech and hearing evaluation with Naomi.  By the time Mary was two weeks old she had been to two medical appointments for herself and many more for Naomi.   Being the baby has it's advantages and Mary has never been at a loss for an audience.  From the moment she learned her grins and laughs delighted the other kids so much she has been our family entertainer and if being nice doesn't get everyone's attention, she'll get it being naughty. 

Mary is the most curious spunky little girl I have ever known.  We've thought about starting a service to ensure your home is childproofed.  It is quite a simple business plan.  We will drop Mary off at the clients home for half an hour, if there is anything remotely possible to get into Mary will be in it.  She's stacked stools on chairs, opened a childproof lock or two and has sonar abilities that can tell if a bathroom door has been left ajar anywhere in the house.  And given a minute or two she can make toothpaste into hair gel, flood the kitchen floor, eat half a box of hidden candy and draw three masterpieces on the wall and the newest appliance. 

Despite her constant "trouble,"  Mary is truly a delight to have around.  She freely gives kisses intermixed with headbutts and has a delight in the world around her that can only be seen through the eyes of a small child. 

Happy Birthday Mary Evelyn.  Mommy loves you!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pinewood Derby

Last night was the AWANA pinewood derby.  My kids love this event.  I love this event.  It's a lot of fun, but it is also a great reminder of one of life's lessons better learned early.  Not everybody wins.  Actually most people lose.  In a society that gives an award for everything, it is kind of refreshing to go to an event where most of the kids leave with only the satisfaction of having tried and putting forth their best effort. 

Learning this lesson isn't always easy.  All the kids had a great time designing and painting their cars.  They went with high hopes of how their cars would do in the races, but Naomi was the only one who left with a trophy.  She got third place for design in the Cubbies division. 
Elijah took losing the hardest.  He cried.  Big, fat crocodile tears.  Disappointment is hard to take but it is part of life and as much as I hate to see him cry, I want him to learn that we often lose and when we do it with grace and then learn from it sometimes were better off than if we had won.  Overall the kids had a good time and the oldest three are already talking about how to improve their designs for next year.

I swear Naomi wasn't clobbering Sam with her trophy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To My Friends With Special Children...

We always gravitate to those like us.  We join knitting circles, book clubs, hiking groups and community service organizations.  We watch the game with other sports fans and we go to the beach with other beach bums.  Whatever your fancy there is a group for you.  When we become parents, at least the females among us, we often join mom's groups. 

But there is one group that none of us aspire to join and that is support groups for parents of medically fragile or challenging kids.  We join these groups for the same reasons we join the others.  We want to be with someone like us.  We want someone we can relate to.  We want to vent to people who REALLY get it.  We want someone to lift us up and celebrate each milestone no matter how obscure or non-eventful it might seem to others.  We pass on doctor's names, funny little tips (how else would I have found out that the syringes that are made for feeding baby squirrels are highly superior to the medical grade ones), the latest research and tried and true wisdom.  We also share each others sorrows.  For as much as there is great joy, there is great pain.  As I become more and more involved with other mothers who have medically challenging children, I know more and more who are suffering, from depression, from despair and from grief.  

This is something I did not realize was part of the package of getting the support, encouragement and understanding that I so desired.  The grief of one mom, is the grief of us all.  Even if our child is not suffering now, we realize how fragile they really are.  Nothing can be taken for granted.  Every day children are hurting, they are in pain that doctor's cannot touch.  Every day their parents are watching, hoping, praying, researching and feeling utterly helpless because their child suffers and they cannot fix it.  Every day a parent gets bad news, really bad news.  The kind you hear about and think I don't know if I could handle that.  Parents get told their child is dying, there is no cure, there's nothing else we can do and then they have to go in and decide if and when and how to tell their child.  They grieve their child's future while trying to make the most of every day.  They appear strong, almost saint-like but inside they are all churned up, so many feelings, so much pain.  I am here to say they are not alone.  I grieve for their children and for them.  So do many others.  More often than we would like to admit we are unable fix things and the only response is to grieve and pray.  Grief is not giving up hope for a future, that is never done.  Grief is realizing that something precious has been lost and mourning that.

To all my friends who suffer with your children, you are not alone.  I grieve with you.