Friday, January 17, 2014

Dear Sophie

Today you are 6 years old. It's the first birthday where you actually understand what is going on. (Mostly.)


You asked for purple cupcakes and pink balloons and pink party hats. I found pink cupcakes to bring to school but I'm making purple cupcakes for tomorrow. I even have a pink birthday 6 candle just like you asked. There are balloons, a giant sock monkey, your first real doll and a giant "Happy Birthday" banner.

6 years ago, you were in the Baylor NICU and I was in my hospital room. I had a booklet with three pictures of you. It was still hard to walk so I had only seen you once. We couldn't really hold you because of all of the wires. Your daddy and I lifted you up while the nurses changed your sheet. You weighed 5 pounds 2 ounces. I'm sure it didn't take both of us to lift you up but I'm grateful to that nurse for giving us the chance to be parents to our little girl.

I will always remember that night. I couldn't sleep. At 3 AM, I walked down to the NICU to see you again while your daddy slept. The nurses set me up in a glider rocker and helped me arrange you on my chest for kangaroo care. Your tiny head barely rested on my left breast and your feet tucked right into my cleavage.

(16-year old you is asking me why I'm talking about boobs. Settle down, cranky.)

Your entire body relaxed. You sighed and fell asleep. I held your hand and looked and your tiny fingers while tears ran down my face. You weren't supposed to be here this soon. You were still supposed to be safely growing in my belly. Monitors beeped around us. There was an IV taped to your scalp. You were so tired after such a long ordeal. I was so sore. I hadn't slept. My hormones were running wild.

So we rocked. We both relaxed. We both slept. Mother and daughter healed each other.



Thank you, my girl. Thank you for being my Sophia.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Evaluations

Milly went for her evaluation by the school district this week. We sat in a room full of toys with a psychiatrist, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist and another professional that I can't remember. They led Milly through different play to make some observations while the lady I can't remember asked me a bazillion questions about Milly's habits at home. This isn't new to me. I've done this twice before with Sophie and Gideon and knew what to expect.

One thing that I hear often that is both flattering and a little off-putting is when therapists and teachers ask me if I'm a teacher or a therapist. They praise my methods with my kids. They act amazed at how I try to coax eye contact and words out of my kids. I know the lingo and I answer questions before they're asked. I've been told that I'm one of the most involved and educated mothers that they've seen.

This is great, I'll admit! Who doesn't like being told that they're doing a great job? But I feel so inadequate. I could do so much more. My playroom isn't fully equipped with centers and reading nooks. I don't have PECS charts around the house. We don't have any social stories on the iPad. Actually, we still need to fix the iPad. So many parents go way beyond what I am doing and it shows in their potty trained and speaking children.

Then comes the feelings of "Yikes, what do you guys see on a regular basis?" If I'm impressive then there have got to be some children to worry and pray about. There are parents to educate and encourage. Being the parent of a special needs child is incredibly difficult. The bare minimum doesn't cut it and your child will regress. But I understand how overwhelming it can be to change your life like that.

Milly's evaluation went well. It looks like she'll be approved for PPCD classes. They are leaning towards a diagnosis of autism. I don't really agree with this but I'll go with it for now. I'll go into that on another post. For now, I'm glad that my daughter will have a structured half day day of school. I'm eager to see what progress can be made when more people step in and help me with my girl.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Healing the Hurt

One of the first things everyone comments on when they see my girls are their beautiful blue-grey eyes. They are just like mine. Gideon has amazing brown eyes just like his daddy but he has my nose and ears. It's so interesting to see these little people with my features running around. Especially when they smack into a door.

Because they also inherited my grace.

We have a lot of cuts, bruises, owies and scrapes here at the Dyer house. The kids are long-legged, fearless and not that aware of the world around them leading to a lot of falling and smashing into things. Not a day goes by where I'm not sitting in front of a crying child or holding a crying child saying the same thing;

"I know it hurts. Let me see it and I'll help!"

Sometimes it's easy to coax them to look at me so that I can get a better look at a goose egg. There are a lot of times where they gingerly but fiercely guard a new hurt because they're afraid.

Don't touch it! It will hurt!

Don't look at it! I wasn't supposed to be up there!

No! I'll fix it!

Sophie is the worst. It takes a long time to convince her that I'm not going to walk away from her while her forehead bleeds through her fingers. I need to look at it and I'll probably need to clean it. It might hurt but it will be better soon. I'll be there the whole time and I'll be as gentle as I can.

Yesterday, during the sermon, I realized again that God was speaking to me through my children. Our new teaching pastor was talking about becoming a new person when we accept the gift that God has given us. That we are to put aside bitterness and put on forgiveness.

Bitterness or hurt can start small and can fester. It can become infected and eventually we almost get used to that nagging pain. When we invite the Holy Spirit in, He begins to gently pull our hands away from that hurt. He needs to see it before He can heal it. Sometimes we hold on tighter and guard our hurt. We get embarrassed because we got hurt doing something we knew was wrong.

God doesn't care about any of that. He only sees that His child is bleeding. He's not going to walk away from a hurt child any more than we would walk away from one of ours. He's going to continue gently asking us to put our hands down and let Him work. It may hurt. It may even leave a scar.

But, He will be as careful and gentle as He can be. He will be there the whole time. He will love us even if we are scarred.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pick Me Up

Rory has started crawling and pulling up. As I watch her explore her world, I think.

I love watching those chubby little legs.

DON'T CHEW ON THE CORD!

This is the last time I'll watch a baby learn to do this.

You're going to regret putting that hair ball in your mouth.

I really should vacuum more often.

God looks at me like this.

The last thought is what set me down to write in between lunging at my newly mobile daughter. There are so many times when I watch my children try out a new skill like walking or climbing. Sometimes they'll push it a little too far. Sometimes they'll do something I've specifically told them not to do.

Don't jump down the stairs!

Don't balance on the back of the couch!

Don't throw your brother/sister into the wall/floor!

Don't chew that!

Because they are young or simply don't understand, there are not a lot of instances where I can sit them down and explain the reasons why I have these rules. Our main reason that we repeat is "Rules keep us safe." Just respect that I am your mother, I know more than you and I have a reason to tell you not to run in a crowded parking lot.

Still, my children are realizing that they have free will. They can run faster than me at times. They might get that yummy looking cockroach into their mouth before I can launch myself at them. And, darn it!, they're just going to try! I must be overreacting. It can't possibly be that horrible to drink a muddy puddle on the ground!

There are times when I will quietly stand to the side and allow them to make what I know to be a not-so-smart decision. I'm not talking about touching the stove or riding their bike in traffic, but I'll let them try to carry 19 toys upstairs because they don't want to make 3 trips. When Sophie drops all of her babies and cries then I'm there to hold her while she cries. I'm there to gently ask if that was the best decision. I'm there to offer another solution.

God does the same with me. When I don't follow His plan, I find myself dropping everything sometimes. There are times I might make it up the stairs and I get triumphant. But I can't do it every time. God's plan will work every time. Sometimes I'll drop everything and in the midst of my tears I'll lash out at God. Why did He let this happen?!? He could have helped! He could have snapped his fingers and I wouldn't have to carry anything! No matter what I say, He always holds me while I cry. Sometimes I push him away and cry on my own. He waits and watches. He wants to comfort me and show me a better way. I'm that loved. I'm that wanted. We all are.

Whenever things go wrong, I'm trying to look through my tears at who is really making the decisions. Did I stray? Was I tripped? Where is God? He's always near and I can ask Him for help. Instead of curling up or lashing out, I will try to choose to take a deep breath and lean on my Father. He knows better.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Movember Mulling

Each November there is a movement where men grow mustaches to raise awareness of men's cancers. (Prostate, testicular, etc.) There are fundraisers and contests to see how can grow the most impressive soup strainer in a month.

I have to wonder if it would be more effective to have women refuse to shave our pits and legs until our men get tested or sit down with their doctor and talk about their history. There would be lines wrapped around urologists' offices full of men ready for juggling.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fear

For years, I have struggled with fear. It's been given names like nightmares, anxiety and timidity. Sometimes it's easily managed. Sometimes I can take the highest dosage of medication and still have to breathe through panic attacks.

I'm 34. Logically, I know that there are no monsters under my bed. I know that the odds of a killer hiding in the dark room are slim to none. I know that this house is sound and that the second floor won't collapse while my children sleep.

I still fear these things.

My biggest struggle has been agoraphobia. When these fears begin to drown out my logic, the world takes on a different shape and color. Everything becomes too large. Sounds and colors are harsh. I feel like Alice after a bite of mushroom.

It's started to affect how I use social media. I don't get out much with my friends so I rely on Facebook, Twitter and texting to keep in touch with friends and relatives. When the fear gets out of hand then I shy away. I bring up the page and everything distorts. I feel as though everyone is reading what I'm typing and judging me right that second. I'm terrified to open a new page because it will just bring news of some disaster.

This last week has been buried in fear. There has been a lot of time on the couch with my head buried in books. I haven't spent nearly as much time as I should with my kids or cleaning the house. I haven't left the house since Sunday. I've rarely texted even my best friend or my mother.

Today, I took the kids for a walk. I texted my sister. I'm posting this blog post. I'm surfacing. I know that I'll go under again sometime but I'll still be OK. Fear will never win.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

That Moment When...

You're sitting on the couch feeding your outrageously cranky 7-month old baby and she's only squirming around a little and not actually trying to roll over in your arms because what is life unless you're rolling over, Mom and then you look up and your 2-year old is curiously looking at the poop on her fingers.

*deep breath*

The baby is only halfway through her bottle so you know screams are coming and urp is probable so you're resigned to that but if you lay her on the couch next to you then she will immediately flip off and conk her giant noggin on the wooden floor and that really can't happen again - yes, again - so you lay her down and hook your leg around her as she desperately starts clawing at you trying to hurl herself to the floor while you reach towards the child who is digging for another handful.

*meditative thoughts*

Stretch your arm out while channeling ElastiGirl and grasp the stinky 2-year old by the wrist just before she wipes it on her shirt and gently lead her to the couch where you lay her in front of you and contort yourself to grab a wipe to get all visible poo before standing on your head to wrench a diaper out of the end table - thank The Lord, you refilled it - and calmly change your daughter while holding the snarling baby back with your calf.

*calm blue ocean*

Kiss the stinker and release her to the toys while picking up the baby who has now urped on your leg - but at least it's not the couch - and plug her gaping maw with the bottle behind your head.

Realize that bathtub gin did not come about because of Prohibition but because of desperate mothers needing a bigger receptacle.