Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving and Mood Swings


So… I cried most of the day Thanksgiving Day. By Saturday night I found myself dancing (yes, dancing) and laughing harder than I’ve laughed in a long time. And I get the feeling this is how it’s going to be for the next couple of months. One of the side effects of Libby’s steroids is “mood swings”. She’s got an excuse. I don’t.

You may, or may not, know that I wrote a while back about thanksgiving. About giving thanks in all things. About how I wanted to practice doing this.  About how I have been practicing doing this. Sometimes. Let’s take Thanksgiving Day. Yes, the one day of the year that literally has the word thanksgiving in it. Yeah, that’s ironically the day I failed most miserably at being thankful. Embarrassing, right? Libby was sick. Really sick. She couldn’t keep anything down, she didn’t want to eat or drink anything, and I was a nervous wreck because I had all this medicine I desperately needed to get in her. I had to call the doctor. Hib and I weren’t being exactly kind to each other. We missed Thanksgiving dinner with his family. Which was a major bummer because we missed seeing some beloved family we don’t get to see that often. And this was Annie’s first Thanksgiving. I tried hard all day to be thankful. But my thankfulness felt sarcastic, probably because it was. And so I resorted to complaining. And crying. Ah, “mood swings”.

Of course, looking back there were plenty of things to be thankful for. PLENTY of things. Like the cozy home we’re blessed with. And doctors who work on Thanksgiving Day. And zofran. Like my sister and her family coming over so we could spend time with family, after all. Like Libby’s cousins who comforted her with her favorite books and songs.  Like the amazing friends and family who checked in on us all day long. And who pray for us. I AM so thankful. I was so thankful, but I couldn’t see it for the mess that is myself. Hey, I’m a work in progress.

By Friday, Libby was feeling much better and we were able to make it to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. This side of our family is huge. And I found myself basking in the love and laughter we were surrounded with for the weekend. And by late Saturday night we had a full-blown dance party raging in the kitchen because, well, that’s what we do. And I am so thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Delayed Intensification


Libby starts her next phase of treatment, Delayed Intensification, on Monday. You can tell by its name, it’s not one of the better phases. It looks similar to the induction phase (the one where they kept us in the hospital for a month), but even more drugs are introduced in this phase. The steroids are back. Not really looking forward to that. She’s got two clinic days this week, Monday and Wednesday, with Thanksgiving on Thursday. We had kind of hoped she wouldn’t have to start until after the holiday, but her counts are good, so here we go.

We knew this phase would fall somewhere during the holidays, but I have to laugh a little that it’s literally starting the week of. I know it’s not a coincidence. God continues to show me, over and over, that His timing is perfect. Initially, I was a little bummed about the timing, but as the holidays creep closer I feel better. And I think I get it. I love the holidays. We’re blessed to have a large, and awesome family. And this is the time when we all get to spend lots of time together. Everyone, including Hib, has some time of work. Family and friends are already asking to come visit and help out however they can. I can’t think of anything better to temper sickness and clinic visits than lots of time with the ones we love. I pray we get to do all the fun things we usually get to do over the holidays. And if we don’t, it’s okay, because I know we’ll have lots of company ready to spend time with us wherever we are-even if it’s in the hospital. I am so thankful, SO THANKFUL, for all of you.

Please pray for us, especially Libby, as she starts this treatment. I’m hoping to give you lots of updates, despite the craziness of the holidays. Wishing everyone a wonderful start to the season! Happy, Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!

Why Vacations Are Better Now


Thank you so much for all of your sweet wishes for our trip. It. Was. Fabulous! Perfect, really. We had perfect travel days, perfect weather, perfect delicious food, and perfect relaxing days with no agenda. And it was the perfect amount of time away.

For most of my life I’ve vacationed in the summer. And, being a teacher, I’ve always had my summers off. So vacations, for me, were just vacations from my vacation, so to speak.  And don’t get me wrong. I cherished every single one of them. But I don’t think I could’ve possibly known how much I would eventually value vacations.

The reason being that vacations are such a stark contrast to life with babies.  I didn’t change a diaper, wipe a nose, wipe away tears, feed somebody, bathe somebody, console somebody, clean up a mess, fold laundry, sing a silly song, or listen to Elmo. Not once, for nearly five days. Instead I found myself lying by the pool, reading magazines, having food and drinks brought to me. Somebody made my bed and cleaned my bathroom. And they left chocolates on my pillow. Everyday. I slept until I felt like getting up. And I found myself asking, This is my life? Funny thing is, it’s the very same question I ask myself a lot of the time, here, at home. I asked it today when Libby pooped four times, Annie pooped twice (in the car, the only place she ever poops), Libby decided to do the opposite of nearly everything I asked (including putting her shoes in the toilet, not on her feet), and Annie continuously had a mystery morsel of food in her mouth (none of which I had given her, but she had picked up from who knows where). This is my life? 

 Yeah, vacations are way better now. They’re infinitely more luxurious. And the best part is, as much as I enjoyed myself on vacation, I couldn’t wait to get home. I would never have imagined being so excited to leave behind the five days I just experienced. (Although, I have reminisced about them often!) But I was psyched. I couldn’t wait to get home to Annie scurrying, as fast as her little chunky thighs will take her, to get to me. I couldn’t wait for Libby’s constant requests for hugs all day long (especially when she knows she’s in trouble). I couldn’t wait to get home to my precious babies. With their poops and all.   

Monday, November 5, 2012

What God Does

I’ve been a little down the past few weeks. Not all the time. But there is this sadness that seems to creep in, unexpectedly, and gnaw at me. I can’t pinpoint it to one thing, exactly.  I wrote a couple of days ago about my heart aching for Libby. I think that’s part of it.  I’ve had some loved ones dealing with some suffering in their lives and I hurt for them. I’ve also been feeling overwhelmed. I feel guilty. Like I’m not doing enough as a mom, as a wife, as anything. I feel helpless. Most of my days feel unproductive. I’m not a person who tends to wallow in self-pity. But I’ve been wallowing a bit. I know God doesn’t see things the way I do. I know He doesn’t see me the way I see myself. And I’ve prayed for God to help me. Not for Him to change my situation or my circumstances. But to help me with my attitude, my outlook, whatever you want to call it. And He did. 

First, I had the most vivid dream of Libby walking. It was crazy. I know not all dreams have literal interpretations. But I’m choosing to believe this one was from Him. Whispering to me that Libby will walk. He will help me as I work with her, He will guide me with what I need to do. And in His perfect time, she will walk.

Next, I received two incredibly kind and encouraging emails. Now mind you, I am beyond blessed to have the family and friends that I do. I am humbled by the way I’ve been inundated with loving and inspiring blog comments, notes, emails, and phone calls over the past several months. I am forever thankful for every single one of them. You all need to know God speaks to me through each and every one of you. These emails came at just the right time. These dear friends could never have known how I needed to hear their perfect words. But He knew.

Then, my sister and brother-in-law called from their vacation in Mexico. It’s a trip the four of us have taken together for the past three years, and we treasure it. This year Hib and I would have to miss it, obviously.  There would be no way we could have ever planned it with Libby’s treatments.
Interestingly enough, we could have never known, this would have been a perfect time to take a trip since Libby is well and in between treatment phases. The phone call. Are you ready for this?  My sister and brother-in-law were gifted a free room when they arrived at their resort. A free room, I tell you, no kidding. Long story kinda short, thanks to the four most amazing grandparents in the world, fabulous surrogate Grandparents Becky and Randy, our precious invaluable friends Karen and Tara (does it take a village, or what?), and most importantly the fact that Libby is so well and in a holding pattern until we begin “delayed intensification” in a couple of weeks, we are on our way to Mexico!!  Friends, this should not be happening. This is a gift. One I am so thankful for. One I would have never even dreamed for myself. But this is what He does. He dreams much bigger for me than I do for myself. 

There’s more. How He proved this week He is also providing for us in other ways. Glaring proof. We’ve had beloved family members give to us in ways I can’t begin to describe. Tears stream down my face as I type. They give the way I want to give. They give the way He gives. Generously. When I don’t deserve it. They give. They give because they love.

And so we ask for your prayers. I don’t know if it’s become clear, yet, but I’m a planner. This jetting off to Mexico at two days notice is not exactly my style. We’re scrambling to pull the logistics of childcare together, gather everything we’ll all need, and pack. We don’t even have sunscreen.  I’ll be sporting my old stretched out maternity swimsuit (Yes, unfortunately it probably fits just fine. And yes, I’ll be drinking a margarita in it this go-round.) I feel a little uneasy, a little disorganized, and a little scared. But I also feel giddy. Like a child who just received a gift from her Father.  A gift she didn’t deserve. But a gift He wanted to give, because He loves her so much.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Praying For Who Our Daughters Will Be


Lately, I have been praying, more than usual, that Libby would start walking. And, while I’m at it, I’m praying for her to start talking more, too. These have always been prayers of mine, but recently I’ve been praying extra hard.  I’ve recruited others to pray with me. Because truthfully, lately, my heart has been aching for Libby. I think it has to do with watching her little sister, Annie, and knowing that she will, most likely, walk soon. And maybe even talk soon. I want so badly for Libby to be able to do these things. And I know Libby wants these things for herself even more than I want them for her. And it’s not easy for her. She’s got a lot going on. 
 When Libby was born, we were flooded with calls and emails from family and friends who knew couples, like us, who had a child with Down Syndrome. It was amazing. It was also overwhelming. I remember trying to figure out which couples we might actually try to meet and talk with. It’s a pretty incredible story, but I believe we were divinely led to one particular couple in the very early days with Libby. They were an awesome couple. They were our same age.  Their firstborn son had been born with Down Syndrome. I still remember almost everything we talked about the day we went to their home for breakfast more than two years ago. But one part of the conversation replays in my head a lot. This couple told us they refused to be overly concerned with their son meeting milestones. They would do anything for him and wanted everything for him, but were simply more concerned about his character. Their focus was not going to be on what their son would be able to do, but rather, who their son would be. 
And although it should have been obvious, it was exactly what we needed to hear.  During the first months of Libby’s life we were bombarded with doctors and therapists and all of these things we needed to do for our precious little girl. And to be honest, I still tend to get really bogged down. I’m so thankful God had someone actually say those words to me out loud. Words I’m convinced were from Him. I cling to those words. And the prayer that is always at the forefront of my prayers for both my girls is that they would love God, know that they are loved, and that they would be, in turn, loving. I pray they learn early that their identity rests in their knowing they are children of God. And these prayers help all my other prayers for them fall into place. But I sure still pray them.