A letter to Grandma for Her Birthday

Dear Grandma,

I can’t even to begin to imagine how hard these last few months have been for you. From the first hospital visit to today, your whole life has changed. Grandpa was your rock, and I can’t imagine anything that would be harder for you than losing him.

I’ve watched you this last year. I’ve seen the strength you gave him when you had no strength left because you knew he needed those last moments, we needed those last moments before he went to the Father. I know the nights you didn’t sleep because he didn’t sleep. I know that even when he did sleep you laid awake to keep watch over him.

I know how you struggle today to fill your time because he was your time. I know how alone you feel because he was your other half. I know that you never imagined a life without him because he was your life.

And I sat at your table this week. And you watched the boys play their games and we talked about life and everything that had happened in the week since we had seen you. And we even talked about Grandpa a little. Not in any big or hard ways, but just in the natural way he came up in conversation, in how he would react to the world around us. Or how we all think of him every time Purdue plays basketball. (Oh my goodness, he would be madder than my husband in how they have been playing!)

I’m not sure why, but this has been a hard week for me. I miss Grandpa so much right now, maybe even more than the week he died. He was always there to talk to, and sometimes when we talk I imagine how he would react to it. And if I’m struggling this much this week, I can’t even imagine how hard things are for you.

I love Grandpa so much, but I know you love him even more than I can imagine. I can’t imagine losing my husband after 11 years of marriage, and I know that’s only a drop in the bucket after 60. I wish I could tell you how to move on, how to breath in and breath out every day. I wish I could tell you what to do to make each day easier. I wish there was a way I could make each day easier.

And I know (and I know you know) there is a reason God called Grandpa home and left you here with us. And not that I would pick him over you, I’m just selfish enough to want you both here with me now. It makes me want to scream out that it isn’t fair. And we all know that isn’t the way life works. We all have a story to tell and God doesn’t call us home until our story is done, no matter how long or short the story is.

Sunday is your 80th birthday. Maybe that is why Grandpa being gone hurts so much this week. I can just see him trying to convince you that you needed a party and 80 candles on a cake. I can see him rejoicing that God gave us all one more year with you.

And maybe that’s where we all need to be right now. Yes, it hurts so much. Yes, we will continue to cry and miss Grandpa, but his story was told. Your story isn’t finished and we need to continue to tell it. And I thank God for every additional day I have with you, that my boys have with you because your story isn’t finished. And while I didn’t believe, even after he was sick, that Grandpa’s story was coming to an end, I am so thankful for every day we had with him. And I know you are, too.

So know that while you are struggling through this time of change, we are struggling with you. And know that while you are learning how to live without Grandpa, we are too. I know it’s not the same. I know as much as I hurt, you must hurt 1,000 times more. But also know that your story isn’t finished. God still has work for you to do here on earth.

This may be the least happiest birthday letter ever written. And this is probably your least happiest birthday ever. And while we celebrate God giving us another year with you, it’s okay to have tears for the year He didn’t give us with Grandpa.

I’m sorry this letter isn’t more cheery, but I don’t think cheer is what any of us have to give right now. Maybe for your 81st birthday we can be cheery. I love you very, very much. Happy Birthday, Grandma.

 

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so far, Big Kids are the best

This week my baby turned six. It seems almost unbelievable.  I’m pretty sure it was just yesterday that he was this baby I could easily carrying around and now he is this “big kid” who is officially an inch taller than his brother who is two years older than him and darn near 100 pounds.

birthday bowl

He thought he was so funny with his

fork and the bowl on his head ready for birthday cake

After every birthday, I find myself thinking back on the birthdays past and thinking of what the future might hold for us. And with every birthday, I find that as the boys grow older each age is better than the one before it.

I loved having babies and all that comes with having babies. And I know I had easy babies. It was so much fun watching them learn and grow. I loved all those firsts we got to experience, the rolling over, the crawling, the first laugh and smiles, the first steps. There is something so special about babies. And if I could talk my husband into it, we would have had a dozen.

And then those babies who are so soft and sweet and dependent on you, grow into toddlers who are learning about independence and pushing the boundaries and taking on their own personalities and feelings and attitudes. And while there are times that they want to walk on their own, they also want you to carry them, and they’ll curl up in your lap to cuddle and hear a story or even be rocked to sleep. And though there were times as toddlers, the boys made me absolutely crazy, I loved having toddlers.

And now I have two “big kids” which is just mind-blowing. I remember taking my little kids to the park and hating when the “big kids” showed up. These big kids have their own very distinct personalities and opinions. I’m afraid they are going to eat us out of house and home. They are growing so fast. They are so smart and are learning new and bigger things each and every day. I love having big kids.

At this point, we get glances at the men they are going to be when they are grown. They look at ordinary, everyday things and can envision something wondrous and amazing. They are learning to read and write and think up new things. They have wiggly teeth. They tell jokes that 99% of the time make no sense at all. They love to wrestle and “play rough” with Dad. They still love to cuddle up with Mom. This is the best age so far.

That may look like a broken cardboard box and empty wrapping paper roll, but it's actually a submarine looking for sea monsters

      That may look like a broken cardboard box and empty wrapping paper roll, but it’s actually a submarine looking for sea monsters

And since it was Connor’s birthday this week, let me tell you a little about the big kid he is. Connor has a very tender heart. He is as likely to get mad about something as he is to just have his feelings hurt and then the tears come. He is fiercely protective of his brother and although they fight and argue, you had better not be mean to his brother (a lesson he taught another kid last week). He loves animals and wants to help them and knows so much more about animals than I do, but they also make him VERY nervous in real life (even the baby deer and goats at the petting zoo).

He is willing to give in and let someone else pick or go first, however he always qualifies it with, “But I get to go next” because he wants to make sure he gets his turn. Connor is a deal maker. And once he has decided on what the deal should be, he just goes with it. It doesn’t really matter if you have agreed or not.

For his birthday, Connor got all the dinos

     For his birthday, Connor got all the dinos

 

So far, big kids are the best. Happy Birthday, Connor.

Merry Christmas

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. The presents are under the tree. There is a plate with cookie crumbs and a dirty milk cup next to it. And two sickly little boys are in bed, if they’d only stay asleep.

Merry Christmas from my crazy family to yours.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Happy birthday, Jesus.

 

How they really felt about me taking pictures

How they really felt about me taking pictures

Cameron is the biggest miracle in my life

It is so hard for me to believe, but my oldest turns 6 today. Time really does move faster the older you get.

 

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Cameron (in green) and his brother

 

 

All children are a blessing and a miracle from God, but Cameron has an especially miraculous story. Here is the story of Cameron.

If you’ve read my last two posts, you know I had two miscarriages. It was hard, really, really, hard. When I found out I was pregnant again, I cried. I was so scared that I would have another miscarriage, and I truly didn’t know if I was strong enough to go through that again.

God had a plan. The baby grew just like he was supposed to. I was amazed by the life growing inside me.

Cameron was stubborn even before he was born and wasn’t in any hurry to get out into the world. I was two weeks overdue (and scheduled to be induced) before he decided to make an appearance.

Labor was long and hard. Cameron’s heart rate started to drop. There was some nervousness around me. There was whispers of an emergency c-section. The decision was made to let me continue to push, and Cameron came into the world at 5:47 pm, May 9, 2008.

He wasn’t breathing.

Looking back on it all, it’s hard to know the order things happened. They took Cameron across the room from me and began working on him. There was panic and worry all around me. And no one was telling me what was happening.

Cameron was ten minutes old before he took his first breath. They moved him across the hall to the nursery to continue to work on him. My husband went to watch. My mother stayed with me.

I turned to my mom and told her that I needed her brother, she needed to call him and get him. (My uncle is a preacher.) She immediately pulled out her phone and started dialing. When he answered, Mom told my uncle that we needed him to come. He told her he was there. “No, Mike. We need you to come to the hospital. There are problems.” “I’m standing in the hallway with Chris (my husband).”

 

The phone call God made

 

A little addition background. The day Cameron was born my grandpa was in a different hospital having just had surgery. My grandma and aunt were with him and they all knew Cameron was going to be born that day. They wondered how things were going and why they hadn’t heard from us yet.

My uncle was at home with his family. His phone rang, and the caller told him that there was a problem and he was needed at the hospital. The first phone call we made was to my uncle when he was already at the hospital.

At the time, there was too much going on for me to even think about asking who made that call. Months later, I started asking. No one I talked to had made the call or knew who made the call.

May 9, 2008 God used an audible voice and a telephone to meet my needs.

(As I was writing this I learned of a second call God made that night. My husband’s parents were at home that night waiting to here from us. As everything bad started to happen, my mother-in-law turned to my father-in-law and told him they needed to go to the hospital. He told her they didn’t, that we would call them. She insisted and they got to the hospital just as Cameron was born.)

 

Newborn Intensive Care Unit

 

They got Cameron breathing and stable. He still wasn’t good. The cord had been wrapped around his neck twice. The hospital we were at was not set up to handle his problems so we had to transfer him to another one 45 minutes away.

At that point, I announced that I would be going with him. The doctor could either discharge me or I would just get up and leave. They agreed to discharge me.

At 9:30 that night, my baby got into an ambulance and I got into my truck and we headed to the new hospital.

We finally got there. My husband, my parents and I all finally got to where we were supposed to be. We walked (ok, I was wheeled) into the NICU and there was Cameron, surrounded by doctors and nurses.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget but find hard to describe. The lights were all down low except where they were working on Cameron. There were so many people standing around my baby, including the Russian doctor who would be Cameron’s doctor for the duration of his stay and who will forever hold a special place in my heart.

When it was clear that they would be working on Cameron for a while and I would be unable to hold him again that night, my family convinced me to go lay down and get some sleep. That night, my husband and I stay at the hospital in a room with a recliner and couch and got a little sleep.

 

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Cameron had a feeding tube and was on oxygen. He had an IV in his belly button and needles attached to his head to monitor his brain activity because he had seizures overnight. They were also monitoring his breathing, heart rate and temperature. He looked so helpless, but all I could see was how amazing he was.

 

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For the next five days we stayed at a hotel just blocks from the hospital. I sat next to him, holding him as much as I could for as long as I could. I would leave only when someone would force me to go eat, I had to pump, or shift change. In the evenings, my husband would make me leave to go eat supper and then we’d be back. Then he’d have to force me to leave again in a couple hours so I could get some sleep.

For the week after that we went home at night. First thing in the morning my mom would come and pick me up and take me to the hospital. We would spend all day there and then she would hand me over to my husband, who would meet us at the hospital when he was finished at work.

Cameron spent 13 days in the hospital. During that time he had all sorts of tests. He was poked and prodded. We learned he did not like a bottle. He “failed” every test the first time around. They talked about transferring him to Riley Children’s Hospital.

Our doctor believed in the decisions we made and in Cameron. 13 days after he was admitted, Cameron was sent home.

Before they would release Cameron, we had a meeting. They really wanted us to apply for disability. They told us that he would probably have developmental delays and mental disabilities from going so long without oxygen. They all but said don’t have hope.

 

I never lost hope

 

There’s one thing that we were told that I will never forget. After Cameron came home we had follow-up appointments at the hospital. My mom went with me and we stopped to see our Russian doctor while we were there. The doctor told us that he will never forget that first night either. He was so sure Cameron would die while we were standing (sitting) there watching.

Wow. That shocked me. It had never occurred to me. I was shocked by the idea that Cameron could have (really, should have) died.

He was born not breathing. I knew he would live.

It took 10 minutes for him to take his first breath. I knew he would live.

He had seizures, bleeding on the brain, wouldn’t eat from a bottle, and I knew he would live.

From before he was born until the moment it was said to me, it had never even crossed my mind that he could have died.

That’s how strong my faith was. I knew God had a plan. I knew we wouldn’t have gone through two miscarriages just to have a baby die at birth. I simply knew that Cameron would live.

I had no idea how strong my faith really was until it was said that someone thought Cameron would die. It really did shock me. Through all of it, I knew Cameron would live. I knew that God hadn’t let us go through all we had to lose the baby at the last moment.

 

Six years later

 

Those doctors were so wrong. Cameron isn’t normal. He’s better than normal. He is one of the smartest kids I’ve ever been around. He always knows a better way of doing something and will show you how it’s done. He is funny. He is sweet. He loves his brother and pretty much everyone else. He makes friends with people everywhere. He pays attention and picks up on everything.

Six years later, I have to laugh at all the things they told us would be wrong with Cameron, all the stuff they tried to prepare us for. They were just so wrong. My God is bigger than all their doubts.

All of the first year milestones, from rolling over to first tooth to walking, Cameron did them early. He is truly amazing and a miracle from God. The only sign today that Cameron had any problems at birth are his hearing aids. Cameron has moderately-severe hearing loss due to nerve damage due to his birth.

I can thank God every day for Cameron’s hearing loss. Knowing everything that “should” be wrong with him, hearing aids is an easy fix. There are so many more people in the world who deal with things that are much, much worse than hearing aids.

 

The big plan

 

I’ve said repeatedly throughout this blog that I know God has a big plan and it’s bigger than I can ever know. And every time I look at Cameron, I know Cameron plays a big part in God’s big plan.

I don’t know what Cameron’s part is, or if we will ever know what Cameron’s part is. But what I do know is that God has amazing things planned for my little boy.

Science can’t tell you why my boy is able to turn six tomorrow. I know everyone thought he was going to die. He went ten minutes without oxygen and has no brain issues.

My God is bigger than any of your thoughts or doubts.

My God heals amazing injuries.

My God has an amazing plan.

Happy birthday, Cameron. I love you and I can’t wait to see the amazing things God will do through you.

 

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Cameron at about 9 months old
 
 
 
cameron and baby a
Cameron (age 3) has always loved babies