Thursday, September 22, 2016

Charlotte

For the most part, I try to avoid politics and current events.  I find them frustrating, and I'm not in a position to cause change.  I hate the political ads, both sides, hate the corruption and lies that have become accepted of our president (and those running).  I've seen various posts and articles about the police shootings and have been so frustrated with the ignorance and hate, again on both sides.  I've experienced it all with a certain amount of distance and callous.  If I can't change it, why bother investing?  What a terrible attitude!

All that changed with Charlotte.  I still consider that city to be my home.  I birthed my 4 children there, left my daughter's memory there, and spent 7 years of my life there.  I imagine it will be home for quite some time.  It's always been a mixture of so many different backgrounds, mostly transplants, never a true "Southern" city in the way my hometown Charleston was.

When I think back on my life, I know I worked hard to achieve my goals.  I studied hard in college, forgoing parties.  I started classes 5 days a week at 8 am, held various part time jobs, worked full time in the summers, and earned a full scholarship based on my grades.  I went my entire college career until 21 without alcohol, never did drugs, and spent many nights in the library.  I applied to grad school without any connections, did my interviews, and started my journey to becoming a PT.  I studied hard throughout grad school until I graduated with my doctorate.  If you had asked me then, I'd say that my race played no role in my achievements.  And to some extent, that was true.  But...

I grew up in a home where I believed in myself.  I was given every opportunity to succeed in life - a stable home with 2 parents, a stay at home mom who was involved in our daily lives (maybe too involved???).  I grew up feeling safe and loved and secure.  I am only beginning to realize how much that played a role in where I am today.  I knew, no matter what, that my parents loved me.  And, within that security, I flourished.  But not everyone has that.  Not everyone is safe at home.  I can only imagine what that does to confidence.  Andrew helped tutor a young boy in Charlotte, a little black boy who was raise by a single mother doing the best she knew, whose teachers were indifferent to downright hateful and discouraging.  What if that had been my environment?  Suddenly things get a bit harder...

I can't pretend I know what it would be like to be black.  I can't quote MLK and expect to even begin to understand the struggle.  I will teach my kids that the law enforcement is there to protect and serve, because that is what I know.  I don't even flinch when I see a cop (unless I'm speeding....and then I hold my breath for a second).  I fully expect that cop to protect me, to have my back, to have the backs of those around me.  And I expect my children will grow up with the same viewpoint.  But...what if I was taught the cops had it out for me.  What if I was taught I had to protect myself from the cops?  It doesn't seem like that is the situation Charlotte is currently facing, but suddenly things are taking on a new light.  I would hate that for  my boys, for them to live in fear of walking down the street at night.  But, what makes it better?  How do we overcome??  There are corrupt cops for sure, but not all of them.  And my heart just breaks for the protesters, for the anger they feel, the unforgiving rage.  It becomes more than just a black and white thing.  The system is broken, but this is not the way to fix it.

So, what does fix it?  Or rather, who?  The answer...Jesus.  Forgiveness.  Violence is not nearly as powerful as love and forgiveness found in Christ.  The shootings in a Charleston church, (maybe last year or early this year??) offer a wonderful example of that.  I was so proud of my hometown, of how the entire community came together to support the victims and FORGIVE the shooter.  The love of Christ was so evident following that incident that it quickly lost press.  THAT is how we handle things.  It seems the Charlotte shooting was clean - though facts are still coming through - that a black cop shot a black man because he had a gun.  Some new evidence may come through in the coming days, but until then, these protests seem to be fueled by pure rage.  There can be no racial drive, as the cop who did the shooting was also black.  Was the man who was shot simply scared for his life based on the police presence?  Maybe.  But what are we trying to accomplish by protesting, rioting, and shutting down the interstate?  The way to get people, to get the police force to understand and truly listen, is NOT by throwing a temper tantrum.  As a mom, I know that to be true - only makes me not listen, and in this case, only reinforces whatever prejudice is driving cops to be fearful.  Charlotte...do better.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lonely

No one ever told me how lonely motherhood could be.  For as long as I can remember, I longed to be a mother.  I wanted a big family, lots of kids.  I remember planning all this out when I was a child myself, sitting with my elementary school friends talking about how I want to be a stay at home mom, playing house and dolls, in a time when the world told me that was not enough.  I chose a career that would be easy to do part time, one in which I could have the flexibility to control my hours and work as little as 1 morning a week.  I remember those early years in our marriage, longing desperately for a child even before we started trying.  I remember the utter defeat I felt, month after month, in the years of our infertility.  All along, I thought motherhood would make me whole.  Happy.  Complete.  I had a great job, but it was never enough.

My journey into motherhood is scarred at best.  Broken.  I still feel these moments of overwhelming bitterness when I think of our infertility, still questioning why God had us wait for so long.  I question and doubt every decision we made leading up to IVF, wondering if there was some point where we quit trusting God to provide and He began punishing us.  My human heart just wants something to blame.  Being surrounded by other mothers in the same stage of life, dealing with unruly preschoolers, diapered infants, and no time for showers should bring me comfort.  It's the life I live each day.  And yet, I don't know how to relate to these women.  I still feel betrayed and a bit frustrated at the ease in which most of the women conceive.  "We weren't trying" or "this one was a surprise" still just cut right through me.  "God blessed us with a miracle" when I feel like He didn't bless me in that same why.  And I find myself wondering all over again what I did wrong.  Though my head knows the answer is nothing, my heart struggles to feel it.

And once Reagan died, my world was turned upside down.  The "why," never clear and always lurking the back of my mind.  I think pregnancy and complications with Warren and Dean simply served to cover over the grief.  I didn't have it in my weak heart to grieve Reagan's death while being pregnant with major complications with the boys.  And I shut down, not moving forward in the whole process of grief.  Life became simply  and literally keeping them alive.  That was all.  And now?    I'm facing my grief over Reagan in a whole new way, in a new city where people don't know about her life, in an environment surrounded by little girls her age.  I think I heard 4 times today how my hands were full.  But they're not...not as full as they should be.  And how do I communicate that?  I just don't even know.  It seems to keep me separate from other moms, as the hurt just runs deep.  I don't quite know how to move past that.  Or if I can.

Monday, August 15, 2016

9 months

Happy 9 (and a half...oops) months Hannah!!  This little girl is growing up so fast!  She is so incredibly full of joy, laughing and giggling at her brothers, content to play just about anything, in LOVE with peek-a-boo and flipping upside down.  Oh, she can throw her head back in a temper tantrum with the best of them, but I love seeing that innocence in her face, the quickness with which she forgives her brothers for being mean, and the sweet joy she has in life.

Have I really not given a Hannah update since 4 months??  Wow, I knew I was a little behind, but I fully expected that I had at least shared she was sitting...Hmm.  Anyway, she's certainly changed in the months since we moved, getting in 5 (almost 6) teeth, learning to sit, crawl, pull up and cruise, feed herself finger foods.  She looks like a little chunk to me but continues to only be in the 15th percentile and still fits several of her 6 month clothes.  Naps don't come as easily as they used to, but Hannah still loves her night sleep and typically gets a good 11.5-12 hours in.  I know we are completely blessed with that as I think back on those sleepless nights with the boys.

Here are some of her monthly pics.  Poor planning with the blocks as that child will not sit still if there is a toy nearby that she might be able to chew on, so we've lost our visual markers.

6 months, last with a block...

7 months

8 months

9 months

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Reminders

Facebook memories.  Most days I get a little reminder and see a fun note from an old friend, a picture of Andrew and I traveling, a video of the boys first walking.  Most of the time, it fills my heart, reminds me of how blessed we are.  But some days, it feels like I've been hit in the face with a brick.  I never choose to look at the memories in the weeks following Reagan's birth.  I know better than to look back and read the condolences, to see verses meant at comforting the gut retching pain, or to see my own words of despair.  It's been years, but it sure isn't any easier, and I still have to protect my heart.  But August?  August is one of my favorite memory months - with the boys in the NICU but growing stronger, experiencing so many firsts.  First time wearing clothes, first time breathing without tubes, first time taking a bottle, first time holding them both together without all the wires and tubes.  They still had a ways to come before they could come home with us, but these NICU days were incredible at showing us just how strong our little preemies were and just how miraculous life was in general.  So much we take for granted.

So today, I was completely caught off guard to see a memory of Reagan, our pregnancy announcement.  I was in that "safe zone."  I'd had 3 ultrasounds and knew she was growing well.  We'd heard the heartbeat, and I was moving into my maternity clothes.  How many years will go by before I stop feeling like my world is crashing down around me?  Does it ever?  Probably not...

Moving has been hard for many reasons.  To the outside world, I look like a mother who has her hands full.  Who has *that kid* who is screaming uncontrollably while throwing a crumbled cookie in Publix while the other one runs and grabs the avocados and starts dropping them on the floor while also wearing a crying baby.  I get stares and looks, though I've only ever had 1 person dumb enough to comment to me about where babies come from (if he only knew...).  Add to in the Florida humidity and a constant glistening of sweat, and I have all appearances of being an extremely fertile mother, with more than she can handle.  But the thing no one can see is how much I long for my first baby, how incomplete our family feels.  That I should also have a little girl about to turn 4, adding to the craziness. I hate that she doesn't exist here.  She still felt such a part of our lives in Charlotte - maybe because our friends knew us while I was pregnant with her and were praying for us while she was being born?  Maybe because we had just always imagined her running down the streets of our neighborhood, playing with the other little girls, swimming in the pool and having park dates. I never had those moments, those memories or hopes, in our new town.  And really, that's all we get with Reagan.  Memories and hopes, until we reach heaven.  And then I know (in my head) that it's all worth it, but my heart just can't seem to feel that some days.  I miss my Rea Rea, so much.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bob the Builder Birthday

This was the first year our boys were able to be involved in choosing their party theme.  Had their birthday been 4 months ago, it surely would have been Daniel Tiger.  They would play with a variety of toys, play outside, go to the park, etc.  But they LOVED Daniel Tiger.  With the house on the market, they learned to like this one TV show so I could stage things right before a showing.  But when we moved to FL, they discovered Bob the Builder.  Suddenly, everything was all about fixing things.  Block towers, forts, and puzzles were all completed with the aide of construction trucks.  Warren walked around "fixing" things with his drill.  They became obsessed.  So, when I asked them what kind of party they wanted, both Warren and Dean proclaimed they wanted a Bob the Builder birthday party this year.  Can't argue with that...

And so the planning began.

Birthday Boys!!


Tools for eating

Chips and dip, served in paint cans

Dumping chex mix.  This lasted for all of 2 minutes before Warren dumped the entire truck onto the floor. Sounds about right...

Build your own Dog station, paint brushes for Ketchup and Mustard.  It was actually so much nicer to get that even coat rather than use the bottle and get the big globs.  Just sayin...

Food table

Chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream

Strawberry cake with chocolate buttercream
Building station.  Such fun for the kiddos
Make your own dirt

Pinata.  Not gonna lie, the boys were pretty bad at this.  But it was Warren's one request.  AND we found one shaped like a dump truck :)


Because every girl should ride in a dump truck...

Mommy and Daddy with the birthday boys

And that's about it.  So thankful for everyone who came out to help us celebrate our little, no so little, miracle boys!  Happy 3rd birthday Warren and Dean!!









Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A letter for Warren at 3

Happy 3rd birthday Warrie!  This 3rd year has brought about so many changes, so much growth and development for you!  One year ago, you had maybe 2 or 3 words.  That's all.  And now??  Now, you wake up each morning singing Bob the Builder.  You talk to your brother constantly.  You have come so far, overcome so much, to get to this point.

You are my biggest little boy, older by 1 minute.  And you have done a wonderful job loving your younger brother and sister.  I have loved watching you learn so much this year.  You love your tools, using a screwdriver or drill to "fix" everything around the house.  And you love building a fort - stacking up all the pillows and blankets in the whole house in one big pile.  (I promise not to mess up your pillow pile again tomorrow!)  I love watching you play with your brother, asking about him if he's not in the car with us.  I love how you cannot go to sleep without giving Hannah at least 2 hugs and 2 rounds of kisses, even though you immediately complain about her wet kisses.  And I love watching you come alive in the pool, laughing as you splash us or jump in.

Warren, you are so special to me.  When I think back to your birth, that scary moment when I was told I would deliver before hitting the 3rd trimester, I am just amazed at you and all God has accomplished.  Through the years of therapies and changes, you have thrived.  I love you so much my biggest boy!

xoxo

Mommy

A letter for Dean at 3

Happy 3rd birthday Deanie Man!  I love you so very much!

This past year, you have grown so much.  You are such a sweet and caring little boy, always concerned when someone doesn't seem happy, making sure that everyone is included.  My heart swells when I see how you love your brother, how you wait for him and make sure he is okay.  I love your passion for life, how you feel so deeply, even though this often manifests in temper tantrums.  What you feel is always written right on your face, so easy to decipher.  There is no deceit there, just a air of innocence.

You love your cars and trucks, especially the construction trucks.  I love hearing you play and coordinate efforts with Warren to move piles of clothes around the room.  You also love reading and would sit in my lap for hours and hour reading the same book.  I love how, as soon as I'm finished, you ask to read it again.  And I love how you will sometimes come and find me and give me a huge hug, just because.  You love so deeply and I pray you never lose that trait.

Dean, your little life is a miracle.  You are thriving, overcoming your birth history to the point that I feel like I almost don't have to mention it!  Know that you are always loved.

xoxo

Mommy