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Archive for September, 2008

A 9/11 Moment On Bedrest

Every year when that fateful date 9/11 rolls around, I know we all recall where we were and what we were doing the exact second we found out about the planes and towers.  Seven years later, I find it fascinating to consider where God has taken me and why He’s placed me where I am today against the backdrop of an overwhelming international tragedy which became instantly personal for every American.

You see, 9/11 became a lens through which I began to view so many of my own life events.  I was eight months pregnant when 9/11 occurred.  My mother was staying with me since I was on bed-rest and had an active toddler.  My husband had already started a job in another state, thank goodness, since he had been unemployed for over a year and we were in the middle of renovating a house we couldn’t sell.  And the dot.com market had crashed, we only had one car, limited health insurance and had maxed out all our credit cards…and…and…and.

I had endured an excrutiating year.  During my 20-week ultrasound, the doctor announced Edward was a healthy boy, but also that a large mangly-looking cyst on my left ovary was threatening his very existence.  This grapefruit-sized growth looked suspiciously cancerous, and was growing every week.  Specialists were called in and consulted from all over as we charged $800 on our credit card per month for a COBRA from our last employer.

Everyone agreed the mass had to go so Edward could stay, and I could obtain further treatments, if necessary.  Yet removing the mass also involved risk for Edward.   The somewhat tricky surgery involved lifting my uterus out with baby intact, removing the cyst, and replacing the uterus.

When I share the “long version” of my testimony, I talk at length about what God showed me during this period because it is such a powerful rescue story.  I was at the depths of hopelessness in a pit of “cancer/miscarriage fear” as well as impending possibly bankruptcy.  Moving into my parents’ basement and going back to work four jobs became a clearly possible future for our family.

Yet as I lay on the operating table numb from the waste down, but fully awake since that was best for my baby, I could hear the surgeons speaking and working.  I had absolutely no fear.  No fear of losing my baby.  No fear of cancer.  When the doctors returned from pathology to announce the cyst benign, I was relieved but not terribly surprised.

Through scouring every Bible study on adversity and trials, through reading Job until I thought my head would split in two, through striving so hard to “dissect God and theology and intellectualize trials and pains,” I finally, some 15 years after I had actually become a Christian, made the important transfer from only believing in God to flat-out believing Him.  I finally laid it all down and begged Him to take control because honestly, all these years of trying to control everything and everyone had worn.me.down.

The relief was profound.

As the spinal and epidural wore off, the first thing I felt were those tiny feet, kicking furiously against my stitched stomach.  Not since the first moment of “quickening” had I been so amazed at the miracle of pregnancy.  The remainder of my recovery went much the same way.  Edward thrived, I had no premature labor, and I went home a week later to wait a few more weeks for my baby to be born.

Still, I was being wrenched out of my comfort zone and forced to abandon the town I was sure God wanted me to live in.  Why was God calling me to leave a sweet, beautiful town with a renovated house so close to a park and grocery store I could walk?  Why was I leaving the promise of an award-winning elementary school within walking distance?  Why was I becoming separated from my supportive in-laws who were previously an hour and a half away?  And now instead of two hours away, my parents were six.  I did not understand why all these changes were taking place.

So back to the 9/11 “moment” and my mom and the TV.  She’s not a big TV person, so the TV hadn’t been on.  Joseph, who was 19 months at the time, asked for Elmo–his favorite.  I flipped on the TV nonchalantly and will never forget standing there, my pregnant belly suddenly enormously heavy, staring at the towers…gaping at the plane…wondering how this could be real…fearful of my toddler watching the plane crash repeatedly into the large building…thinking at the time, “Will he remember this?  Should I move him away?”  I recall all of this as if it was yesterday, and I remember how shocked I felt as the reality slowly sunk in.

What amazed me most, however, is that my sorrow in leaving such a comfortable life and town faded into the background in the face of this instantaneous tragedy.  I don’t remember if I moved Joseph away from the TV, or if I let him sit there chanting “See plane, See plane!” for the next several minutes.  What I do remember is that from that moment forward, my own sorrows paled in comparison to those on the front lines of this tragedy.

Immediately God granted me perspective I never had before.

And that is what I think about when I remember 9/11.

Please also visit Monica Brand’s inspirational 9/11 post!  And Molly’s at The Girl in the Middle.  Don’t miss Cutie Booty Cakes 9/11 post.  She was actually there!

If you have a 9/11 post and want me to link to it, just let me know!

Posted on 11 September '08 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 24 Comments.

Wordless Wednesday: Candy Drama

I can’t top the leg drama from last week!

Posted on 10 September '08 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 17 Comments.

So Glad We Found Each Other!

Without sounding prohibitively schmaltzy, I do want to say that I have been unbelievably blessed by some amazing new friends during my short blogging career.  One great friend is Jamey from Walking by Faith!  If you haven’t checked out her blog, please do so because she is incredibly creative!  Plus she gave me a cool award that I’m terribly excited about!

If my husband has anything to do with this, it’s the closest I’ll ever get to a gold card.  (This is probably immensely wise on his part!)

Today I want to focus on bestowing bloggy honors on a few new friends:

Somebody Needs A Nap

Good Fountain

My Enchanted Dandelions

Two Sets of Twins

Blue Monkey Butt

The terms for this pristine BFF Gold Card are described as follows:

1. Only five people allowed.

2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog.

3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world.

4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award.

Spread the good cheer!

Posted on 9 September '08 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 9 Comments.

The ‘Good Mother’ in the ER

Tonight, I had it so made.  My wounded leg afforded me the luxury to relax with my foot propped up, swathed in a 1970s era mothball-infused heating pad, courtesy of my parents.  (So many things they loan me smell like moth balls and I’m not sure why because I’ve never seen them actually use moth balls.)

Anyway,  I had my laptop in bed, the TV on, and had actually closed my bedroom door.  I breathed that rare sigh of relief as I started catching up on comments and Twitter.  I was in the blogging zone.  Yes, I’m that corny!

And then the shrill, piercing scream.

If you’ve been a mommy for any length of time, you know the various tones and cadences of screams.  You are familiar with the generally affected “He-pulled-my-hair-to-distract-me-from-my-juice-box-which-he-then-stole” scream, or the indignant “He’s somehow overridden the Wii controllers and is controlling my Mario Cart man” scream.

Then there’s the tortured “She’s destroyed the Lego creation I spent 9 hours on” scream, or the woeful “He’s mined all the chocolaty chunks out of the Moose Tracks ice cream” scream.

Yet there’s one scream that’s the “I mean business and I’m most likely bleeding profusely” scream.  And that’s the one I heard tonight.

I flipped back the heating pad, tossed my foot-prop pillows to the floor and ran to the kitchen only to find my sweet Sue clutching her tiny chin, blood flowing.

Ugh, I thought.

We applied towels and ice, and got her generally calmed down enough to take a look.  It was a bit gaping and deep so I knew that meant the ultimate.

The dreaded.

The Saturday night ER trip.

Thirty minutes earlier and our local after-hour pediatrics clinic could have stitched her up in no time. Yet time was not on our side, so backpack filled with diversions and snacks, we trudged off into the darkness toward our local ER.

Because I’d been in this ER “impending stitches or staples” type situation before with Edward three times, I knew a little bit about the expectations a three-year-old has regarding any sort of medical escapade.  So I began, in three-year-old detail, to explain absolutely everything that was going to transpire a few minutes before it actually did.

We role-played how the nurse would take the bandage off to examine the wound.  We practiced seeing how bright the light would be when it shined on the boo-boo.  We talked about how cold the numbing medicine would be when the nurse poured it on our chin.

And, friends, for the first time in my life, all this stuff actually worked!

Sue never cried, never fussed, never whined.  It was one of those times when everything just goes so smoothly you know God has covered this experience completely.

The ER nurses and doctors were unusually kind and attentive.  I guess in an ER where it seemed half of the patients were only there to obtain enough methadone to make it through the weekend, we were somewhat of a bright spot.

(Incidentally I learned so much about the various excuses one can make when attempting to obtain methadone during this ER visit; it truly was an education.  Even Sue at the end was asking about ‘methdone’.  Great.)

The kind hospital staff kept waxing on and on about what a good mother I was, and how they never see good mothers any more.  And this was such a strange feeling for me because you see, I haven’t felt like a particularly good mother lately.

I haven’t been patient enough or intuitive enough or compassionate enough.  I haven’t made one single meal with two vegetables or bleached my sink to avoid bacteria or flossed my children’s teeth.

So many days I feel stretched so thin that I don’t have the energy to do the basic “decent mommy” things I ought to do, much less the truly “good mommy” things I want to do.  I have become torn between so many competing priorities that some days I’m not sure what is important anymore.

Yet during this ER visit tonight, there were no other children, no competing chaos, no conflicting diagnoses…just a calm, clean blond-headed three-year-old clad literally in cat pajamas with a mild, straight cut to the chin.  We needed to have it stitched, and that was our simple, straight-forward goal.

There was a certain peace in this simplicity.

Several times I toyed with the idea of hiking up my jeans and just asking the doctor to take a gander at my wounded leg.  But I didn’t want to push my luck.  It had all gone too frighteningly well.

So now as I complete this, Sue sleeps in the bed next to me, wearing her brother’s tye-dye shirt and clutching her pink suppy cup, her tiny lips working a familiar rhythm…even at the old age of 3, she’s still nursing in her sleep.

Posted on 7 September '08 by , under Faith is the Evidence. 38 Comments.

Spinning, Spinning: The Diagnosis Roulette

“He’s definitely got his own channel!”  Has he always been like this?

Over the years, this has been an all-too-familiar question for our family regarding our now 6-year-old, Edward.  Sometimes we hear this question for exceptionally wonderful or riotously funny reasons, and sometimes for confusing and somewhat concerning reasons.

If you are the parent of a child who hovers a few inches (or feet) away from the “box of neurotypicality,” or for whom there is no box in the visible horizon, you might know how I feel.

The first time I heard this question, my Edward was 15 months old.  He talked up a storm, knew all his numbers and letters, as well as the names of all typical and obscure musical instruments, and was an incredibly social child, too.  He never experienced any regression.

Still, he could not stand unassisted and certainly was nowhere close to walking.  He had macrocephaly, chronic ear infections, wretched allergies, sleep apnea, was underweight and fell so much his forehead was constantly peppered with bruises.

I won’t bore you by chronicling his development year by year, but I will share that academically he has always rushed ahead at a break-neck, almost frightening speed, while executive functioning, fine-motor and gross-motor skills have lagged.

I had such high hopes for Kindergarten.  After all, my child read on a 4th grade level the first day of kindergarten!  Certainly he would sail through this childhood milestone even if he couldn’t unpack his backpack, stand in a line or button his shirt.  I daydreamed of reading proudly in the Kindergarten class while my darling sat at my feet, looking up in adoration at his mommy in her neatly pressed cropped pants.

Instead, my sweetheart spent reading period either correcting the pronunciation of the teacher’s (or my) reading or busily prying up carpet glue.

I will never forget the day a well-meaning substitute teacher looked me in the eyes and delivered the blow: “You realize he’s twice-exceptional…and probably falls somewhere on the Spectrum.”

Boy, that hurt.

I always knew he was gifted.  I had just hoped the giftedness was the reason other behaviors and abilities weren’t falling into place.  I clung to that hope for a long, long time and while I believe that is still true to a certain extent, I have also come to terms with the truth that he needs quite a bit of intervention in several areas.

I am well aware that considerable controversy surrounds the concept of the Spectrum, and I do not pretend to be educated enough to even comment regarding which diagnoses should or should not be placed on that spectrum.

Intuitively, I feel he flits somewhere around the Spectrum.  I’m just not sure where, and from where I sit tonight, I’m not sure it truly matters.  And while one day it seems he is at one end, the next day he’s in a different spot.  I guess that is why they call it a “Spectrum.”

At this point, I’ve got about six different terms that have been written down on several different evaluations completed by everyone from neuro, clinical and developmental psychologists and occupational therapists to babysitters, grandparents, neighbors, speech therapists and well-meaning school principals.

And they are all quite, quite different.

Some of them include the word “possible.”

I just love that.

Yet what I am trying to do at this point is choose the interventions that best address his immediate needs, and not become paralyzed by this possible label or that potential definition.  God is helping me to see beyond the confines of this vast array of terms that have been used to describe my child.  Because they certainly don’t define him, or any other child.

So now when I hear the age-old question, “Has he always been this way?”  I have to smile slightly and wonder inwardly:  “So clever, so dramatic, so hypoglycemic, so hyperactive, so funny, so curly-headed, so inquisitive, so chicken finger-loving, so outspoken about foodborne illness, so…wonderful?”

And then I smile and answer, “Yes, he has.”  Because whatever he or she means, it’s probably true.

We fashioned “the box” into a pirate ship and are sailing, sailing, sailing.

They’ve each got their own channel, too.

Don’t we all?

Posted on 5 September '08 by , under Autism Spectrum/Sensory Processing, Faith is the Evidence. 15 Comments.

Tell Me Thursday

Well, I’m not making you wait too long to find out how I managed to mangle my leg so badly.  Let’s just say I don’t recommend holding a largish three-year-old clad in a slippery life jacket while scolding an errant 6-year-old floating in a lake and then simultaneously trying to walk down algae-ridden pier steps.  That’s what I did for Labor Day.

No, I wasn’t drinking either.  Although maybe I should have been and then I wouldn’t have fallen so hard.

And now my leg resembles sausage.

And my tush?  Well, I may blog about some controversial topics, but I’m not taking that picture, or going there just yet.

At least not this week!

Posted on 4 September '08 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 27 Comments.

Wounded Wordless Wednesday

My Labor Day leg wounding!  Come back tomorrow for “Tell Me Thursday” and you’ll get the rest of the story!

Posted on 3 September '08 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 19 Comments.

Happy Labor Day

Posted on 1 September '08 by , under Humor/Disconnected Miscellany. 13 Comments.