Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Check Ups...and Checked Out

Great news! We went for our first nephrology checkup in Houston last week. The results of the blood tests came back today. Little AL, girlfriend, you are a cool kid. Her tests showed NORMAL kidney function and electrolytes. We have many years of these tests to go, but I will never ever tire of hearing them tell me normal results.

It was a quick(ish) trip to Houston, quick doctor's visit, long wait for blood work. After waiting for over an hour to get her blood drawn, we were finally called back. The doc had ordered for the blood to be drawn from her arm, so I had to hold her down while the nurse dug into her arm for a vein. No luck. They attempted the other arm, going deeper this time. Finally blood came and it was over as soon as it started. Poor little AL. When she quit screaming, her mouth was blue. I could have vomited from the emotional pain of holding her down while they dug around finding the teeniest little vein.

Luckily, babies forget easily. But in my mind all I could think was that we will have to do this...forever. I'm trying not to be the most negative person ever, but I do get haunted by that "forever" word a lot.

On a different note Saturday night Cash and I got to get away for a few hours. I knew, but I guess I didn't realize, how much I missed my Midland folk. We went to the Jr. League's Buckshot Bash, and I was on cloud 9 the entire night. It was so, so good...therapeutic see friends. I realized later that was the first time we had been out in public in Midland (excluding church and the doctor) since early February. Shoosh! So many asked about AL and gave us hugs. I love you, Midland. You are so good to us.

Monday started my first full week by myself with both kids. Oh. My. Gosh. Survival mode at its finest. I swear these two are so close in age they have a twin complex. When one stirs to wake up at one end of the house, the other instinctively knows and begins to wake up on the complete other end of the house. Y'all. This has potential to make a mom go mad and lose her mind.

I'm trying to learn to be patient through the cries and that it is in fact okay to let one child cry while I attend to the other child. I'm getting this down...they are not. 😂

It's a good thing they're cute!
Henry is learning all sorts of things. He has found the stash of koozies. I think we have 2 or 3 koozies from every oil company in the Western Hemisphere. Seriously. It is like those things mated and our stash keeps growing. They must be so fun to play with. Henry has an entire office full of toys, yet he would rather string the koozies out across the kitchen and dining room while I'm nursing. This game isn't as fun to him when my hands are free though. But, boy, every 3 hours when sister has to eat this is a real treat.

I wish you could see the energy this kid feels.

Something I've learned this week is that once you hit your 50s you must get a funny bone where everything around you is just downright hilarious. I am looking at you here, Ron and Brenda. I see the way you "hide" your laughter when Henry tosses his lunch on the ground and claps for himself. It must be funny. I'll tell you when I hit my 50s. In my 30s, though, I just quite haven't hit the humorous note.

On a serious note AL starts her physical therapy next week. At her consultation yesterday the physical therapist was blown away with how she could hold her head up so well already. I don't know when I'll quit being surprised by this little girl. Gah, I love her.

Well, I hear a boy saying "uhoh" from his crib. Break time is over. Thanks for all the kind words y'all have sent as we learn our new normal. It is a hot mess over here on Shell Avenue, but goodness gracious it is a fun mess (most of the time).

Avery Jane

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The True Emotions of a Mom's Dash

I've heard 1,000 times about the love you experience when you meet your child for the first time. But I have to admit something. When I became a mom for the first time and Henry was laid on my chest, I thought, "Sure I love this baby..but I don't KNOW him. And honestly, I'm really tired. And hungry. I've been in labor for 22 hours. I want to eat and take a nap. Then I will hold this stranger baby."

That first night in the hospital after everyone left and we had some peace and quiet, my husband and I had this awesome moment where we just looked at this baby and did not know how we loved him already. For me my love was abundant in that moment, but I didn't know I had motherly love until the nurse came in early one morning and said they had to take my helpless little baby for some tests as he wasn't doing great. I quietly cried in that hospital bed and whispered to Cash how I couldn't stand the thought of it.

I guess I finally felt that overpowering love. But in the days and months after he was born I would have days where I felt too tired to parent. I loved him to the depths of my soul, but I remember thinking that no one told me about the hard things. You prepare (as much as possible) for the sleepless nights. But you don't know what you don't know.

I didn't know how hard nursing a little alien would be. Or how confining child rearing was. Cash and I were trying to do yard work one day, but I spent 99% of the time with this little baby. I was complaining to Cash that I couldn't get anything done because Henry was crying or needed fed or whatever and no one was there to help. Cash looked straight at me and said, "Well, you are his MOM." It hit me then that being a mom was harder than I had expected. Before Henry was born I had never thought about how I would get household chores done, but I learned quickly that my work was Henry and everything else held a distant second.

It was in moments like those when I had to give up not only fun things but also chores, when I had to rock him to sleep at 2 am, when I almost got 1 bite of lunch but got called to him instead (and found said lunch 4 hours later) that I got to know Henry. And I learned how deeply I love him.

Going into the days before AL was born, I was in a state of panic. I knew the hardships of motherhood by then but didn't know how I would ever love this child like I do Henry. When she was born and they laid her on me, I felt differently than I did with Henry in those first few moments. I loved her instantly. I had prayed for this child...we had all prayed for this child..and there she was, finally, in my arms. I couldn't believe it.

But for the next few days I didn't get to bond with her like I had Henry, and it really bothered me. She was in the NICU with cords and IVs and a catheter, so I couldn't get the hang of nursing. Let me be very honest. Nursing my children had/has been the most difficult part of their first year for me, but it is the most intimate too. I have a love/hate relationship with nursing. But when I had to settle for pumping every 3 hours for 2 weeks, I was frustrated. There is no bonding to your baby when you sit alone in a pumping room and wait for the 15 minute alarm to go off.

The first couple of days were a blur, but then reality became that my baby had a chronic condition that does not have a cure and my other baby was at home spending the majority of his days without his parents. That was a hard time for me in so many ways, but in one way that I never talked about. In those hard days I thought I was gearing up to be the 1 parent who never loved their second child like their first. This baby I prayed so hard could I not be bonding with her?! I fought for AL and had to be strong for her, but inside I was becoming very bitter to not be able to spend my days with Henry.

One night as she was crying and I was exhausted, I asked Cash what was wrong with me. I didn't think I loved her like I should. I loved her. But did I LOVE her like I did Henry?

Over the next several days I had to learn to give grace to the one person it was hardest to give grace to: myself. I had to give myself the chance to get to know AL and not put so much pressure on myself. And I had to learn to see her as AnnLouise. Not AnnLouise, the girl with Prune Belly. Or AnnLouise, the miracle baby. Or AnnLouise, and any other identifier I had in my head for her. I had to see her as just AnnLouise and let her define who she is over time.

Of course she's only 5 weeks old now. I don't know much about her other than she has the most endearing eyes when she stares up at you and that she somehow inherently already adores her brother. Speaking of her brother. Oh my. Watching him love his baby sister is the best thing I've ever witnessed. For a rough and rowdy little boy, he is so gentle with her, always kissing her. Sometimes we have to plead with him to stop kissing his sister and go play.

I've ready many times about the "dash". The dash between your birth and death that makes up your life. This is our dash. Our dash is filled with these wonderful moments of seeing your 16 month old slobber on his sister's head. It is filled with those dark nights when you sit there crying for your baby's future. It is filled with wild days when Dad is at work and you're trying to balance who eats first and whose cry is the loudest. It is filled with Sunday afternoon naps and Monday morning coffee brewing. As wild and hard and fun and insane as it is our dash. A dash filled with all the love a mom can muster, even, especially when...her children interrupt the fun and the chores to create their own dash.