Faith, love and miracles …

I know that this is the 10th year that I’ve been blessed to share this story, but I still cry like I wrote it yesterday. This story is about our beginning together. The story that we all fought so hard to tell. It is a story of faith, love and miracles.

When I was about 11 weeks pregnant we were told that she did not look quite so “typical” … I didn’t care. I loved our baby. And I prayed.

A few weeks later we were told, that not only was our baby “not typical”, but that there was a chance I would be delivering her stillborn. I wanted our baby even more fiercely than I had before. And I prayed.

Several weeks later, we almost lost our baby … to which I screamed an angry and adamant “NO!” And I prayed.

A month later we were told that our baby had a “very large hole in her heart” … to which I said, “I don’t believe you.“ And I prayed.

Two months later we were told, “Your baby is small” … to which I laughed and said, “Of all the things that you have told us, this seems pretty manageable.” And I prayed.

Two weeks later, on what was supposed to be a brief doctor’s visit before we headed to our local water park, we were told that our baby was not growing, that she was too small and that she was not acting the way that she should be. We were told that I would be given another amniocentesis to see if her lungs were developed. If they were, my doctor wanted to take her right away. I felt like my body was failing her. And I prayed.

My doctor gave me a drug to speed up our baby’s lung development. The results of the amniocentesis were not what we had hoped for. My doctor told us that our baby’s lungs were not developed, our baby could not breath on her own. Now we had a team of medical professionals. They hoped nothing would go wrong for the next 48 hours so that the steroid that they had given me would have time to help our baby’s lungs grow … to which I said, “OK”. And I prayed.

Less than 24 hours later I had a hospital room full of people wearing blue. They were running around and pumping my body full of fluids and drugs. We were told that we could no longer wait. We were told that our baby would not be breathing and that she would be very small and weak … to which I cried in her father’s arms and said, “I’m scared.” And I prayed.

Minutes later I was strapped to a table. I had refused anything that would alter my mental state. I wanted to be there for our baby. It took a long time to get her out. I was told that she was so small that she kept slipping through the doctor’s hands. I kept screaming, “Is she out?!?!” And I prayed.

Then, I heard a cry … to which I thought, “That is a loud cry for a baby who is supposed to be weak, small and not breathing.” And I prayed.

A few minutes later our baby was brought over to me, warmly swaddled, pink as could be, breathing all on her own and with no hole in her heart. (Sure, she had some extra chromosomes, but who cares about that?) And when I saw her I thought, “You are my miracle and I love you.” And then, I praised God for our beautiful daughter.

Ten years ago today, through God’s amazing grace, Reese Lindsey Grace was born by emergency cesarean section. She was 6 weeks early. She weighed 2lbs 15oz and was 15 ½ inches long. My world has not been quite the same since that day … and I would have it no other way.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you celebrate a miracle … and always remember to pray!!!

I’m back and happy about it …

I took a few months off from writing. Well, I guess I was still writing just not the way I usually do and I didn’t publish anything. It’s the longest break I’ve taken away from my blog since I started it. And although a break was much needed, I did miss it terribly. This blog has very much become a part of me. The daily hope and silliness I seek to write when I am “here” is so valuable to me. It’s a habit that is now hard to break. And that is very good thing.

This summer was all about possibilities, opportunities and change. So I guess I just felt I needed to give myself some time to feel it, figure it out and to grow with it. To put it mildly we have had A LOT going on over here. For starters, I took and completed an herbal apothecary class that I needed to keep up my Nutrition and Wellness Consultant Certification. I absolutely loved the class. I learned SO MUCH. I couldn’t wait to personally add and implement the things I learned into my lifestyle. It definitely took up a chunk of my time but it was well worth it!

We also had a busy summer getting my son, George, ready for his year abroad. He left for Europe a few weeks ago and he’s settled into his dorm now. He’s enjoying the language and cultural summer program he’s enrolled in and will start his university classes in a few weeks. He has made some nice friends and has been able to do some day trips already. I am so happy for him! But as wonderful as all of this is for him, it’s been really hard on this mama’s heart too. I miss him HUGE and the worry is like NO OTHER. But like I always say, there is nothing more beautiful than watching your child chase their dreams. BIG SIGH.

Our summer wasn’t going to be complete without a few visits from my oldest daughter, Sidney. Luckily she had some time before her summer classes started to hang out with us. She lives in the Bay Area full time now and when she visits it’s always a whirlwind. We pack so much in when she is here that it’s shocking. I need at least week to recover when she leaves, HA!

Anyway, we also took a few small local trips for fun and a big trip back East to do some college visits for Libs. That is another season that we are in … again. This is my third senior year as a mom. It’s a time filled with an abundance of heartbreaking LASTS and exciting FIRSTS. Libs has a lot on her plate with school, tennis and performances this next academic year. I hope that she enjoys this time and savors every moment. I know that I will. History reminds me that this will also be an incredibly busy and unpredictable season with the completion of college applications, acceptance letters and decisions to be made. It’s a roller coaster to say the least. Libs has worked hard (this may be the biggest understatement I’ve ever written) to open doors for herself. Now I put my faith in God to decide what doors He will allow her to walk through. As a mom I’m ready for whatever opportunities come her way and I trust that God’s plan for Lib’s future will be good and that she will end up exactly where she needs to be.

On top of all of that I had some big decisions to make this summer about Reese’s schooling. At times, schooling for my typical children was hard to maneuver through, but having a child with special needs, I find that I put a whole different level of pressure on myself. I am so worried about making a mistake. This little girl deserves the best. MY BEST. I am her voice and I am her advocate. Responsibilities that I do not take lightly. As a social worker I typically feel like I know my stuff. I confidently move forward with my decisions once I think I have finally done enough research and had enough meetings and consultations to make the best ones for her. It’s getting to that point that makes for a stressful process. It took months to work out, but plans are set for the next three years and I feel good about them. Thank god.

So between ALL of that, birthdays, holidays and LIFE, I felt that my focus was needed elsewhere. And a lot of elsewhere-s at that! But as usual I severely underestimated my need to write daily. Be it a brief blog entry or a long journal entry, I need it. Writing is the creative outlet that nurtures my brain and my heart equally. I forget how much I process my world and my experiences through writing. And along with running and yoga I find that it’s part of what keeps me happy, healthy, growing and thriving.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are back doing what you love!!!

My heart is full …

Both my “little” girls had a rough day today. Libs is OVER school, testing and college prep. And I don’t blame her! She definitely needed a BIG mama hug when I picked her up from school. My poor Reese fell twice today. She is not clumsy so when she falls it can really upset her. Falling twice had her in tears the second she saw me at the school gate. My poor baby! My heart hurts for both of them them. But today I was also reminded of what all these rough childhood days can lead to. Like seeing both my BIG kids out there adult-ing like champs today. Trust me, Sid and George had their fair share of rough childhood days too but to see them now, you would never know it. They are so ADULT-ISH. HA! I admit that the cuddles and snuggles that this momma gets to give and get from her “Littles” on yucky days like this can’t be beat. But neither can the joy I feel watching my older kids spread their wings and fly. Today reminds me that EVERY season in life has its ups and downs, but if you push through and lean on the ones who love you then there will be brighter days ahead. I also am reminded of how much love I have in my life. Not just to give, but also what I get back. I’m blessed and so incredibly thankful.

Well, I hope you all have a day where your heart is full!!!

Thankful, grateful and blessed …

I am heading into this Mother’s Day weekend feeling pretty good so I want to write all of this now. It’s always unknown how the actual day will hit me. I can feel fine going to sleep the night before Mother’s Day and then BAM a blanket of sadness is there in the morning. But right now I feel overwhelmingly blessed and I want to stay focused on what I have, not on what I have lost. I truly have SO much to be thankful for. I’m thankful because I am a mom with the best kids in the world. I am thankful that I have been allowed to share so much of their lives with them. I am thankful I have watched almost three of them now grow to be adults. I absolutely LOVE watching them chase their dreams! And I am thankful that God entrusted me with Reese. I think I needed her just as much as she needed me. Of all the things that I have become in my life, MOTHER, is my favorite. Yes, I lost my mom, and that still hurts after 25 years. But being a mom has healed me so much and has eased my grief in a way that nothing else can. So, I want to give a BIG shout out to Sid, George, Libby and Reese (and, of course, Trevor Sid’s boyfriend too). Thank you. Thank you for taking the broken parts of me and putting me back together again. Thank you for understanding my grief and helping me grow through it. Thank you for readily seeing and honoring grandma’s legacy that has been weaved into each of your lives. You are truly my greatest joy. You are the reason I smile so much and why I laugh so hard. You are my hopes and dreams come true. I couldn’t possibly be me, without all of you. And there is absolutely nothing in this world that I love more than all of you!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you feel thankful, grateful and blessed!!!

The bigger picture …

This is a LONG ONE but it’s about Reese, my 9 year old daughter with Down Syndrome, and since I am her voice I felt it was time to write this all out. So please read with an open heart and mind. This is for the benefit of someone I love more than anything.

We had a situation today and I just want to share a glimpse of the BIGGER picture that sometimes gets overlooked. Reese is scared of animals. She never was, then one day, she decided NO THANK YOU. She never had a bad or scary experience. One day, developmentally, they just became scary. And that is OK. I am confident that one day she will learn to love domesticated animals again. I don’t care if she ever likes wild animals, they can certainly be avoided.

But let’s get back to domesticated animals, specifically dogs. I would absolutely love for Reese’s fears about dogs to fade away. And here’s why: I want Reese to have the benefit of a service dog one day. They can be so specifically trained that she could one day have a furry companion who helps her with her nutritional needs. AND they could help her to live independently.

Now, let me share my experience with dog owners. They absolutely love their dogs, AS THEY SHOULD! Almost every person I know who has a dog, or anyone I have casually come into contact with who has a dog, believes that their dog is “the sweetest” dog ever. This may, in fact, be true. But to Reese, they are all ferocious beasts. Telling her (and I) how good your dog is, isn’t going to change her mind about any of it. Hopefully time will. And most importantly, HER time will. I truly believe that every person who tries to sway her thinking only does so with good intentions. But it’s actually harmful. Forcing it will only delay or deny giving her the benefits of having a service dog one day. And that is why I wrote all of this down. Please don’t “push” a relationship with your adorable, loving and gentle pet on anyone, child or adult. It is disrespectful at its core and you truly don’t know the damage that can happen if you do. For Reese, and other people with disabilities, it could be a huge factor in hindering their ability to one day live independently. When Reese is ready, I want her to be able to feel the joy of having a loving and loyal pet. That day will only come if her fears and feelings are respected now. Thanks for reading.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you see the bigger picture!!!

Someone to walk through life with …

Happy Siblings Day everyone! I am an only child who loved it, but only until I got older. I would have loved to have had a sibling or two to help me through some tough times and to share in all the good. Heck, I still want that! You can’t help but see that there is something special about that bond. I’ll never personally experience it but I can tell you how beautiful it is from a mother’s perspective. I am so thankful that my kids have each other! I love how they experience the world independently yet together. They will ALWAYS have someone on their side, a cheerleader, a defender and a best friend. It gives me so much peace of mind!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you have someone to walk through life with!!!

Far away …

Today my son George officially found out that he will be studying abroad his next school year. He will be heading to Germany, and he will be leaving sometime this summer and he will be returning in late Spring 2020. When he sent me a copy of his acceptance letter I literally stopped and wept. My son’s dream came true. And it’s absolutely beautiful. As much as I struggle with the changes that have come with having adult children and the directions we have all been pulled, I can’t help but feel overjoyed. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities that have come George’s way. He has worked hard and he has persevered and God has blessed him abundantly. I know that at some point the distance and the time apart will hit me like a ton of bricks. But for now, I’m just going to be happy for my son and grateful that he is living the life that he’s dreamed of.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you get to go FAR AWAY!!!