Thursday, April 7, 2016

Anniversaries

Today is the one year anniversary of the scariest day/weeks of our lives. On this day, April 7th, last year Lily had her spinal fusion surgery. It was an awful day that turned into an awful 2 weeks. Well maybe an awful 6 months. Things happened we never expected. Our fears caught us off guard as they were rational fears. Believe me, I am used to irrational fears, but these were rational. She was a sick girl and it was hell to witness.
But I can honestly say we are thankful for today. We are thankful for a healthy girl. A happy girl. A brave girl, well frankly, a brave woman. It's been a year a many changes and those changes were hard. They were so hard. There were more hospitalizations, ER visits and Dr. appointments than we have had in her entire life this past year. Things that were never a concern had become a concern. But today. Today things are good. Lily survived the flu without any respiratory distress, at all. She has been able to wean off some seizures meds (she still has seizures it appears with or without the meds) and is much more alert and happy. She has been more communicative with her devise and despite all the wishing the day would never come, Lily has become a woman and it wasn't the end of the world. Not at all actually. Tough on us emotionally, yes, but not tough on her and that is what matters.
So guys I am so happy to say this April 7th we have a beautiful, brave, healthy 13 year old daughter. One who has made enormous strides this year and one whose been nothing short of a miracle.
I know this special needs journey is a roller coaster. I know some days will hurt more than others. But I have a perfect sense of acceptance with Lily and her being exactly who she is. 
I know it takes a long time to get here and even tougher time staying here, but when we face what we could lose, it changes what really matters. And what matters is we are who we are and we are exactly where and who we are meant to be.
Can I get an Amen?
Her brutiful scar one year later

Friday, April 1, 2016

Andi Jane turns 11

So somehow it's been a year since I wrote this Andi Stuck in the Middle post. 
One year. Like 365 days. Actually since it is April 1st it's been more like 380 days or something. I'm not doing the math. There is no need. You do it. OK so I did the math.. 378 days. 
But my point is somehow after all that marveling at the fact our middle girl was 10, well now she's 11. What the heck.
Why do they keep getting older, it's so unnerving. 
So Andi Jane is now 11. Dude. 11.
She is still full of fire and crackers. She is light in the dark and can be a million shades of blue when she isn't feeling what we are feeling.
She is getting better each season at volleyball and basketball. She loves to learn ways to take care of her skin and hair and bake all kinds of treats. She makes about 80 billion Musicallys a day and she really likes Instagram. She has amazing best friends that I prayed she would have and pray they continue their relationships.
She fights for injustice at her young age. Sticks up for kids who don't stick up for themselves. She stands beautifully tall at 5'7" and continues to grow what seems daily. 
She has recently started babysitting and has become CPR certified as well as completed a days course of babysitting class. 
She loves babies and is the best little mama I know.
She is smart, she is funny, she is sassy and full of spirit. Her compassion surmounts anyone I know and I know it stems from loving Lily unconditionally from the day she met her. But also know it comes from her being her.
When she was a little I used to wonder if we would ever both make it out alive, I always knew she would move mountains when she could figure out how to focus her energy and she is getting there. 
I pray she continues to learn on her own about things that light her fire. I continue to pray she walks with Jesus and learns to know him in her own way, not her parents way. I pray she just continues being who she is, because no one does Andi Jane better than Andi Jane!
May you always be comfortable in your own beautiful skin. May you always proudly stand a head above the rest (literally and figuratively). May you always just be you. There can never be a more beautiful you! 








Thursday, February 4, 2016

Oliver's 7!

So 7 years ago today I went into labor after a pedicure and a castor oil root beer float. I did what I had to do. If he didn't come before Friday the 6th I had a c-section scheduled and I didn't want a c-section. So 7 years ago I, for the first time and with my third child finally went into labor naturally at home, well as natural as I could manage.
I didn't really want him to come out. I knew it was my last pregnancy. I knew life as we knew it was gonna change. But I didn't want that c-section and I heard that you really can't stay pregnant forever.
After a fairly quick, painless (haha, just kidding) labor at 12:13 AM on February 5th 2009 Oliver Isaac Steven came into our world and changed everything. For the best!
Here we are 7 years later and ever since December 26th all we have heard about was this day's arrival. I just emailed his teacher these words "as I am sure you are painfully aware, tomorrow is Oliver's birthday. What time can I bring snacks" She emailed me back "Thanks for the laugh". This boy has made his birthday known to anyone and everyone he meets!
Just last week he took his gift request to our friends/neighbors house and showed him what he wanted on Amazon, walked away and came back a few minutes later and asked, "so did you buy that yet?" It was something for $150!
His guest list is huge, his gift list is huge. I wish I could say he is one of those kids that said instead of giving me gifts send all the money to an orphanage. And maybe we will get there. But not this year. Not at 7.
I had another friend ask me to clarify his gift as he requested to her daughter. I clarified and she said thanks, you never know with Oliver, he dreams big :) and that got me right in the heart, in a good way. He does dream big. He does everything big. He lives large and he is only 7.
Sad things break his heart, funny things make his sides ache, owies hurt him more than they probably should, he lives life to the fullest and almost always with a smile. Unless someone or something died in a movie. Or he fell. Or someone hurt his feelings. Ha! He is just one of my most favorite people in this world.
He has it all figured out at 7. He is a quirky kid, he isn't a "boys boy" and probably won't have a professional athletic future, but whatever the future does hold, it's big.
He loves his family and it is so obvious. Last weekend we were all walking around an outdoor mall area and we saw a bunch of princesses standing outside a restaurant  (I am serious, like Cinderella, Jasmine, etc) and I said "Oliver want to take your picture with those princesses?" He said "No, I don't like princesses, except for Lily. I love Lily" he genuinely thinks Lily is a princess. I remember him saying a very similar sentence when he was 4 and he still doesn't waiver from Lily's princess title.
Also last week during football he was on the bench with a couple other kids, those kids were jumping over water bottles and Oliver said to the kids jumping over water bottles, "My parents didn't pay good money for us to jump over water bottles". He's that kid. He may never be super popular sporty guy, but he sure is funny. He loves me to read to him every night and he loves to read to himself. He loves school and he loves his friends. He has more girl friends than boy friends but plays great with everyone. He is just easy to be around and so easy to love. I can't believe tomorrow he will be 7. My heart aches a little when I see baby pictures of him. I just can't believe how they just keep growing up. {Sigh}
Happy Birthday sweet boy, I am so glad God gave us you!












Thursday, January 28, 2016

I'd Always Choose You

I'm waiting for the fog to lift. Or maybe I am waiting for my stomach to settle. I am wondering if I will wait the rest of my life for those things.

2016 has come and it didn't get the memo. Sadly several stars names have been written all over social media with their too early dismissal from this world. And although it didn't make the news feeds of everyone, my news feed was filled with the loss of not one, but two little girls who share the same genetic mutation as our Lily girl. CDKL5. Their names might not have made the national news, but their lives were great and they fought harder to live than they ever should have in the mere time they were with us. Harper, 5, and Sorrel, 15 months, both left this world this month and it's been shocking and well to be honest, I don't have the words because I don't have the comprehension.

When Lily was diagnosed it meant nothing more than finally a name. We spent 6 years not knowing and a name said this wasn't my fault. It meant by pure spontaneous luck, a gene wasn't made appropriately and it had devastating effects. How devastating? We didn't know, we only had a handful of other cases to look to. Kids seemed to be similar to Lily. OK we have a sweet kid in a wheelchair with seizures that we will never control, we already have that. We already knew that. It sucks, but death wasn't on that list. Death was never on the list.

Our plan is to get the other two to college and careers/families of their own and Andrew, Lily and I will ride off into the sunset in a handicap accessible RV and then the story ends. That's it. We all live together forever in an RV. The story ends there because the thought of loosing her is unacceptable and imaginable, yet on the other hand her loosing us is the same result. So no one looses anyone. We live to our 100's and then we all fall asleep together peacefully.

But my rose colored glasses are getting foggy with all this reality surrounding me. Children are dying and that just seems so incomprehensible to me I still can't wrap my brain around it. I realize I can't change the way we go about life. I can't hide under the covers (although some days it is tempting) I am just lately feeling like I am on heightened alert. It's like I know a bomb can blow at any minute ruthlessly destroying my entire world, but it hasn't, there are no warning signs so I am going to try not to think about it. And if I do think about it, I can be more intentional with my touch. My words. My love.

I want to hug those mama's (all of them who have experienced this loss) until I can't hug them any longer and some how take away even an ounce of their hurt, but I can't take anything away. It's an unfix-able thing; loss. It's unimaginable until you are there and then that's it. Unfix-able.

I loved the book (and movie) The Fault in our Stars, Hazel Grace was so afraid for Augustus to get close to her because she was, as she said, a ticking time bomb. She wanted to protect him from being broken by her but he didn't care. Augustus wanted to love her regardless of the fact that she could die at anytime. The book was devastatingly tragic and ended different than we all thought it would at the start, but it was so beautiful. Or as Glennon from Momastry would say brutally beautiful - "Brutiful".

Sound familiar? Kind of like life right? It can be so devastatingly tragic and how often does it ever end how we think it would. But it is such a beautiful ride. It is filled with laughter and tears. Heart fillers and heart takers. Love and indifference. It's messy, it's sweet, it's harsh and it's filled with special people that show us unconditional love that we would take the heart breaks that we may endure because their love filled us deeper and made us better than we ever could have been without them.

So regardless of all this, all this hurt, all this risk, I would choose Lily any minute, any day, any hour, any world. I would always choose her.

Being Lily's mom I get to see life in a way so many others don't. I get to experience life in a way so many others can't. I am lucky to be her mom and I would, no matter what, have never chosen anything different. Time bomb or not.




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