Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gavin's Gotcha Day & World Prematurity Day

Friends, this week is always hard for me. I'm not sure how it happens that the happiest and saddest moments of one's life get all wrapped up in one single week.

Perhaps, though, it's fitting, as they all serve to remind me to be thankful.

Today is the day that Gavin came home from the hospital after 82 days. Today is the day that we stopped depending on monitors and tests and measurements to tell us how he was doing and we just got to be his parents.

Today is a day that also brought us full circle, as Gavin came home one day shy of the first anniversary of losing Ella. Which also happens to be Chad's birthday.

A marriage, a birthday, a loss, and a homecoming, all wrapped up in this one short week. So if you find me on the verge of tears at any given moment, now you know why. It sort of makes my soul raw to process it all.

While I can appreciate that this is also World Prematurity Day to help raise awareness of this issue, I think it's important to note that for many people, prematurity day is every day.

We are so, so lucky. Gavin ended up on the best part of the bell curve - that tail end to the right, the statistically optimistic.

I can honestly say I've moved on (mostly) from the tragedy of the NICU.

It took a year to get over the fear that he would just stop breathing all of a sudden. It took another couple years to get over the fear that an illness could take him out in an instant.

As he started walking, talking, socializing, I got over the fear that his brain bleeds had caused any serious development issues.

It took until 2nd grade to realize that he would be able to keep up with his counterparts at school, that he would have the same potential as any other kid.

Some fears are still there. Knowing that he is doing so well, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can't believe that we have left prematurity quite this unscathed, when I see so many others still struggling. I keep waiting to discover the big scar that prematurity left on him. I realize, by now, that this fear is mostly unfounded at this point.

Prematurity is not just one day out of the year for us. I live out every day with fear and gratitude from the path we have walked, etched in my heart.

And it's not just one day for the mothers that never get to raise their children, the ones that didn't survive prematurity. It's not one day for the parents taking their kids to endless therapy sessions and doctors appointments. And it's certainly not one day for the parents sitting next to an isolette, today, wondering what the future will possibly hold.

It's not one day for this mother, who will always wonder what would have been different. If I had known more about pre-term labor and the warning signs. If I hadn't trusted the stupid ER docs that sent me home that night. That hadn't wanted to be that annoying patient, that hadn't asked too many questions, that hadn't insisted that I see an OB.

You see, prematurity awareness isn't about not smoking, or not drinking, and not doing drugs, eating right, or taking vitamins. We know all that. We need to find a way to educate pregnant women to recognize when things are going wrong, so that they can advocate for themselves if they do. So often, it seems, this information is withheld unless the person is at risk. Maybe we don't want to scare them, or give them more to worry about than necessary. Whatever the reason, there just isn't adequate information out there, and the greatest tragedy is that in many cases, prematurity could be prevented, or at least mitigated a bit.

Is it possible to wish for things to be different, and wish for things to be the same, all at the same time? That's where I always find myself this week. It's hard to understand, and hard to know just how to feel.

But here is what I do know:

If we didn't have this picture

I wouldn't have the appreciation and gratitude nearly so much for the boy in this picture

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

EIGHT: How I Met Your Father

There are likely countless journal entries in those diaries in my garage from my 15 yr old self gushing about Chad Sellers.

The first time I saw him, I was sitting outside school in the fall of 1994. He pulled up in a huge white beater of a car, hid his keys on top of the driver side front tire, smiled at me and told me not to steal his car.

The next time I saw him was on the cross country course. I was running my first meet and he happened to be standing right where I stopped to take a walk break (so embarrassing). He cheered me on and told me to keep going. I still managed to run 2 miles in 15:05. Sure wish I could do that now.

Then in 1995, my sophomore year, he walked into my English class, as I was taking 11th grade English. He sat one desk to my left and one desk back (behind Megan Anderson) and made witty comments all through class.

The next month was spent plotting how to get him to ask me to Homecoming. Another girlfriend was in his geometry class so she was my spy, finding out if he had a girlfriend, a date, you know important intel.

Our first date was October 9th, 1995. Chad and Zach picked me up from my friend Ingrid's house and we went to the football game.

And that, kids, is the story of How I Met Your Father. And "Uncle" Zach is still around too.

A lot happened between then and 2003. We dated through high school, then went our separate ways when Chad went to college. We maintained a friendship over the years, through college, relationships, break ups. Eventually Chad came back to Des Moines.

On February 19th, 2003 we went on our first grown up date.

On April 11th, 2003 we were engaged.

And on November 15th, 2003 we were married.

It certainly doesn't feel like it's been eight years, it does make me feel ancient to think it's been that long!

Eight years of marriage has not always been easy. We have our moments like anyone else. But it has always, always been worth it.

Love you, Chad. Thanks for letting me sink my claws into you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sam's Baby Brother Named....Eisley??

Yesterday we were at my mom's for lunch with my brother, SIL and niece Eisley. I was talking to the boys about how fun it would be when Eisley had a little brother.

They started in with their typical "I want another brother" spiel, until Gavin decided that he wanted another sister. I was pretty quickly able to convince Gavin that mommy could not, in fact, actually handle another child, and that he didn't want another pesky sibling getting into his stuff or otherwise abusing him.

Side note - Sam has been putting it to Gavin lately. Gavin has been an amazing big brother and takes a lot from Sam on most days, but Sam has been crossing.the.line lately. Looking forward to Sam getting a bit older so that he can start getting into his own activities!

At any rate, Sam made up his mind that was IS having a baby brother. Not even that he's going to have a baby brother, but that he already has a baby brother. And his baby brother's name stopped and thought about this a good long time)....his baby brother's name is Eisley!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. He is trouble, but he's darn cute and funny. See?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State

I've never cared about football at all, so the name Joe Paterno has never entered my consciousness until the last couple days.

As a parent human being, I am sickened, and appalled, at how many people failed to make sure that what they saw was reported to police. If you can't advocate for a child, then who will you stand up and fight for? That kid is somebody's child, nephew, grandkid, and he/she is a person that can't fight for themselves that will have to live with the abuse for the rest of their lives. How can anyone turn their cheek?

Why are students rioting at Paterno's firing? I don't know his history as a coach, apparently he was legendary. Guess what people, you got played. He may have been an effective, even amazing coach, but he's turned out to be a world class loser as a human being. And yes, his actions should overshadow anything great he may have done as a coach.

This whole situation brings up a point that we all need to be sensitive too. We might as well learn something from this right? How many times have we turned the other cheek, or not said something when we saw someone being mistreated? Hopefully none of us would find ourselves in the position of reporting child abuse (and if we are, you need to not just see and report, you need to intervene immediately). I think we have all found ourselves in much less serious situations - someone speaking poorly to a cashier, a parent dragging their child by the arm a little too roughly, a man verbally abusing a woman in public.

Do you say something? Or do you walk away? Where is the line? How badly does the injustice have to be before you will intervene? How many times do we say "it's not my problem" before we become desensitized to the actions of people around us?

What would it mean to the victims of these scenarios if just one person would step up and do the right thing?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Want....

to read a grown up book all the way through

to see Brothers & Sisters return to TV

to do better at loving unconditionally

to make the transition to being a vegan

to get a degree in nutrition sciences

to recover from this running injury and kill the next half-marathon I run

to have an all-day spa pampering complete with champagne and fuzzy slippers with my bestie Becky

to have this upcoming IVF cycle for said bestie work so that she can experience all the wonderful things that I have experienced in motherhood

to stop underestimating people

to raise my boys to be amazing stewards of their gifts and talents

to believe that one day I will be reunited with my grandfather and Ella

to visit India

to hit the ski slopes at least twice with Gavin this season

to live each day with gratitude

Thanks to my fabulous bloggy/preemie mom friend Mel for this terrific blog idea

What do you want?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Haps

Here's what's been going on around our house lately:

Gavin finished up outdoor soccer Saturday, and promptly started indoor soccer Sunday.

Sam is potty trained completely at school. He refuses to use the potty most of the time at home. He wants to stay my baby (I think). He is not a fan of me calling him a big boy.

Gavin joined cub scouts, which pretty much means more homework for him (and me!) as we work to earn badges and catch up on the badges the others earned before he started. Last night we memorized the cub scout promise and I had to awkwardly explain what doing his duty to God meant, even though we don't go to church.

Sam is sad that his best friend Kelsey moved into the 3 yr old room at school. "I want to be with Kelsey!"

Gavin is turning into a little rock star at school. We are almost a third of the way through the school year and he has not pulled any sticks in class. When I go on Fridays, I am so impressed with how he behaves in the classroom (especially when I got a couple super naughty, talk-all-the-way-through-the-spelling-test boys last week - I had to remind them after every.word to stop talking!) Kids these respect! He seems to have gotten the hang of learning the spelling words, while he still misses quite a few on the pretest, he is now getting 100% on the final test.

Sam is soaking up all the work that Gavin and I are doing. Last night while working on spelling with Gavin, he informed me Soap begins with S!

Wonderful moments like this:

Last night after dinner, Chad went down to his office and I hung with the boys. Gavin was watching a show on TV and Sam as playing a game on my phone. Sam was on my lap and Gavin was snuggled up against me. I sat there in the dim light, just breathing in the smell of baby shampoo on their hair.

And then I made the mistake of trying to capture this moment on film.

Sam promptly tried to snatch the camera from my hand so that HE could take the picture and the spell was broken. The evening quickly degraded into the 90% of the time status quo, which kind of looks like this:

Pinned Image

In case you are not familiar with my boys, Sam (the little brother) is protrayed by the cat on top in this picture.