Sincerely ‘Fro Me to You-Grace

Thanks for joining me today for my little carnival of remembering.  If you want to link up, you can read the details and grab the button here.

This is the first time I’ve ever written this story.  

For months after my third child was born, I told it over and over to anyone who would listen.  I think I was trying to purge myself of painful memories, doubt and guilt.
Then I read in some parenting magazine that women who tell their traumatic birth stories again and again need to let it go.
And so I did.
Until now.  I stumbled upon this picture the other day (meeting my daughter for the first time) and I want to tell you the story.
After God did a miracle in my marriage, I started dreaming of having another baby.  A third child.  We already had a girl and boy and thought we were done.  
But then, we fell in love again.  And it just seemed right to create a baby from our new union.  
I got pregnant right away, but that precious baby flew to the arms of Jesus.
Several months later, I conceived again.  I was very sick from the beginning and spent almost the entire summer in bed, watching my six and four year old play in the backyard from my window.
My pregnancy was a nightmare.  I faced serious problems throughout from a kidney stone, among other complications.  During my pregnancy, I was seen by 5 specialists, took  14 rounds of antibiotics, and had a medical procedure by a Urologist when I was 27 weeks pregnant without anesthesia.  

At 32 weeks, they diagnosed my baby with a failure to thrive and decided to deliver her.
I went through hours of labor and developed a fever from the infection that wracked my body and she was delivered by emergency c-section.
It was terrifying.  I remember being rushed down the hall and the panic that surrounded me. And do you know how I felt?  Even in that moment of terror, I was simply relieved that my hellish pregnancy was ending.
My hubby nearly missed the whole surgery because he had gone to Walmart for slippers. (Yeah, about six months after my baby was born, we argued about that!)
My tiny daughter was born and whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care because she wasn’t breathing well and they were considering transporting her to a hospital downtown. 
I sent my hubby to be with her.  He stayed by her side the entire night, praying.
She was born on Dec. 16th.  Part of her name is Grace, to remind us of God’s grace to our marriage. I spent my birthday and my anniversary in the hospital.  She stayed through Christmas and New Year’s.
Guilt was my friend during my hospital stay.  I felt terrible for wishing for her early birth and scared that she wouldn’t make it because of my body’s inability to sustain her in utero.
I could write a post just about holding her for the first time, she was nearly a week old and another post about the NICU experience.
The night that I will remember forever was Christmas Eve.  We were home trying to make things ‘normal’ for our other kids.  It was bedtime and we got a call from the hospital.  Our baby had taken a turn for the worse and they wanted us to come.
My Mom slept on my sofa and my Dad went with us to the hospital.  
It was the most difficult night of my life, watching my tiny baby stripped naked, hooked to wires, fighting for her life.  My Dad laid hands on her and prayed.
And I cried.
Nothing else mattered at that moment.  Not the car I drove, the decor in my home or the money in the bank.  
It was about life and not losing it.  And about me, giving God my child.
That was hard.
She stabilized and we made it home just in time for Santa to fill the stockings.
I fought back the tears while my children unwrapped presents.  At one point, my daughter said, “Are you sad, Mommy?”
My son piped in, “She’s just happy because Santa gave her just what she wanted:  a baby.”
I hugged my kids and sobbed.  
We spent Christmas afternoon at the hospital and every day after that until our baby came  home.
We learned CPR and she stayed on a heart monitor until she was six months old.
We returned to celebrate her one year anniversary at the hospital and delivered gifts for the NICU babies and treats for the doctors and nurses (we hope to make this an annual visit).
And here she is today, a healthy handful and a true reminder of God’s Grace.
I don’t let her cry as much as I should and I spoil her too often.  But when you come so close to losing someone so precious,  it stays with you forever. 
Food for the Soul:
I Cor. 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

Some Days, Parenting Bites!

It’s not easy being the baby of the family.
Some days, it’s just down right hard.
Just ask my third child.
She is carted all over town.  Many days, I have to wake her from nap time to pick up or take my older kids to their activities. 
She is exposed to toys and choking hazards daily.  Every person in our family has done the finger swipe to clear tiny objects from slipping into her esophagus.
She is not enrolled in a toddler music class or a tot program. Because I’m mean.  And let’s just face it, I don’t plan to, until she asks.
If her pacifier hits the floor, it’s not even cleansed with spit.  Odds are, it’s not even wiped off.
She can stand up to have her diaper changed, if I’m in a hurry.  Which I am.  In a hurry.
Her favorite food is fast and favorite drink is generally the one NOT in a sippy cup.
And her favorite phrase?  “Let’s go.”
Because we do.  All the time.
She has come up with a new way of getting some attention in this crazy family.  It stops us all in our tracks.
And oh, she makes her mark.

[insert picture here]  This is where I show you a picture of the BITE mark on my upper thigh area.  But if you think you’re going to see my upper thigh, you’re kidding. 

It’s for your protection.  Seriously.
I thought she was going to hug my leg.
It turns out she was still hacked off that I pried her sibling’s Capri Sun from her sticky hands.
And now, when our sweet baby leans in for a kiss or puts her arms up to be held, do you know what I do?
So, how do you stop an 18 month old from biting?   
Because being bit, bites.

I googled for an answer.  I came across these tips from here.

    1) Firmly say “No bite!” and remove the biting child offender from the situation. 

    2) Administer an appropriate consequence such as removal of the toy or a time-out for a biting child. 

    3) Lavish positive attention on the bitten person. 

    4) Use distraction between young kids and watch their interaction closely to avoid placing youngsters–especially one to be known to be a biting child–in a conflict situation. 

    5) Resist the temptation to bite a biting child back as a way to “show them” their wrongs. Use a positive approach instead. You don’t want your toddler telling his teacher that he bites because that’s what his parents do!

Yeah, #5 got me, so, we stopped biting her and that seems to help.  
For more great tips, visit Works For Me Wednesday.
P.S.  Between writing this and pushing the publish button, she bit me again.  On the shoulder.  Another fake hug.  So, I’m open to suggestions.

When Time Stood Still

As I sat in the Emergency Room with my 6 year old son, I pulled his feverish body close to mine and rubbed my hands in his hair.

Not exactly the way I planned to spend Father’s Day.
My son had been feeling badly most of the weekend.  In our home, the squeaky wheel gets the most oil and, well, he’s not squeaky. E-ver.  He’s so unassuming and easy-going that by the time I realized he was really sick, his temperature was 103.8 and his throat was so swollen he could hardly swallow.  He needed antibiotics and, of course, the only thing open was the ER.
And so, I left my hubby home with a napping toddler and an 8 year old to answer his ringing bell.
As we waited, I held my son’s small hand in mine.  I traced his jaw line with my finger and noticed a couple of new freckles.  I watched his dark lashes grace his cheek and the rhythm of his breathing.  
Can I just say that I enjoyed every single minute of it? Not that he was sick or that we were sitting and waiting, but just the quiet of the moment, to take him in.  
And notice.  
How did he get to be so big?  My chubby toddler with curls was long gone.  
Three elderly people walked in and sat across from us. The husband escorted his frail wife in front of us to address the gash on her forehead.
They left a sweet 73 year old lady in the waiting room, named Emma.
She watched me stroke my son’s head.  We started chatting.  She was visiting her sister and brother-in-law from Ohio.  Her sister was very ill with Alzheimer’s and she wanted to see her while she still remembered.  She shared that it was hard watching her sister lose her independence and struggle with daily activities. Just a few minutes before she had fallen and cut her head on the dishwasher. 
Emma told me she lost her own husband just six months ago, after 43 years of marriage.  “I don’t like living alone.  It’s hard.”  She shared that she had eleven children- ten sons and one daughter. Her daughter died when she was 36 years old with a brain tumor.  She told me about her new job and how she was trying to live a full life.  She told me her deceased husband’s favorite joke and smiled kindly at my son.
There was nothing to pity about Emma.  She had a sparkle in her eye and a beautiful smile.  
We were still talking when my son’s name was called.  She stopped me and said softly, “That was my husband’s name, too.”
And something in that moment, made me want time to stand still.  And I think it did.  Just for a minute.  Long enough for me to realize that it doesn’t stop.  

But I should.  
Because every day my kids are getting older.  My parents are aging and one day I will be old.  I might be alone, like Emma. And I want my eyes to sparkle because I have lived well.
I think my intuitive son sensed something about that moment.  He squeezed my hand and once we were settled in another room, climbed into my lap.  
“Mom, I don’t have to get married and move out one day. I can live with you forever, okay?”
“Forever?”  I asked.
“Well, maybe me and my wife can move in with you.”
I hugged him and whispered to myself, “Stay six all day, okay?”
Time stood still and I noticed.

King for the Day

Hail to the King!  Hail to the King!

In a few hours, my hubby will awake.

And be crowned.

He will relax on his thrown.

When he needs something, he will just give his bell a ring.

And his servants will heed the call.

His feet will be propped up on a cooler filled with his favorite drinks.

The remote is strapped to the chair, waiting to do his bidding.

Nascar will blare on the TV.

Favorite candy and snacks adorn the sacred area.

The streamers and balloons announce his Greatness.

A picture of his Royal servants will greet him.  A Nascar grilling cookbook will quench his kingly boredom.

Coupons from his prince and princess are at his disposal.  (One free back scratch and a Texas Tickle Crunch Box are but a few).

When he gets into his Royal Chariot, he will be surprised at the loving grafitti.

Especially since he has an important business meeting early Monday morning. 

Happy Father’s Day, King Daddy and Hubby.

We love you!

I’ll add a picture of his Royal Greatness later today!  Hopefully of his surprised face!

Yeah, I think he’s gonna have a good day.  But would it be bad if I hid the bell?