Monday, December 22, 2014

Spike the Egg Nog!

Some girls dream about their wedding day. Others dream about their future homes or their perfect jobs. When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of the day that my future family would have matching Christmas stockings. I just know that this is normal. Right? No? I'm the only one?

Okay, so I'm the only one. Regardless, I have dreamed of the day that I would hang my family's stockings on the mantle and they would all be matchy-matchy, and they would all be embroidered with our names--except for mine and BJ's, which I firmly wanted to spell "Mom" and "Dad." It only made sense to wait until our family was complete before spending money on stockings though, lest I be the fool who wanted a discontinued stocking once Baby #3 arrived. Since ordering these stockings in early November, I have suddenly become less sure that we are absolutely finished having kids, but that's a story for another day. Suffice it to say, in early November our family seemed complete (and it quite likely is), so I made the purchase.

I'm only sorry, Pottery Barn, that I hung these expensive stockings inside on the mantle, and not outside on a pasture fence for a horse to goober on.

This Christmas season is in many ways far less eventful than last year's. After all, there was no 9-1/2 pound baby birthed out of my body a week before Christmas Eve. Somehow, though, it all goes by too quickly. Much as I strive to not get over-stressed or overly-busy during the month of December, the last four weeks have been a doozy in terms of my time getting dominated. My bedtimes in the last week have ranged from 1:00AM to 2:30AM, and never sooner. I find that my time to begin on tasks like Christmas shopping, meal planning, and details like making Christmas cards is usually about 10PM, and that's if I don't have to write work reports. Plus on many nights I squeeze in a jog through the neighborhood Christmas lights to keep myself in shape and headed toward my running goals, if I haven't already run earlier in the day. The three boys have kept me happily busy during the day with playing, crafting, Taekwondo classes for Silas, and planning Van's first birthday party, plus keeping up with the duties like housekeeping, grocery shopping, and general slave labor for children who can't do much for themselves yet. We also went to Indiana for five round-trip days to visit some of BJ's extended family. The visit was wonderful and well worth it, though it required organization nearly beyond my capabilities. A few days ago I almost cried and suddenly had the absurd notion that this isn't even any fun, all of this busyness!

Wait a second--really? Time spent with family isn't fun? Finding the perfect gifts for the people we love to make happy is somehow not fun? Seeing Silas' face light up when making Christmas crafts isn't fun? Hearing the chorus of loved ones singing happy birthday to my baby isn't fun?


Remind me, folks, that if I ever get so wrapped up in my first-world, privileged glitter and somehow begin to think it all isn't worth it, that I need to be slapped silly. In the not-so-distant future there will be nights to sleep better and more hours to call my own. This time of hustle and bustle with three small children is fleeting, and my personal moments to myself during this Christmas season have been spent relishing the goodness of their little voices, bodies, and minds.

Love and merry holiday wishes to you all this week!

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Happy Ending

Today, I could use a story with a happy ending. Sometimes we look around at life, or we get consumed with other people's stories on the internet, and we get bogged down. Sometimes life deals awful blows, and sometimes the very best of people get sucker-punched, and it makes you want to scream.

But, sometimes, life hands out really great endings.

Do you want to hear one?

I only briefly blogged about Van's hospitalization with RSV in February. As significant of an event as that was for our family, it's surprising that it didn't come up much here on this blog. By the time my third baby rolled around, I felt like a baby pro. However, I was a complete newbie when it came to respiratory illnesses, and most certainly with respiratory distress. Before my dad picked me up in a snowstorm to drive Van to the hospital, BJ and I didn't realize how bad it had gotten. Van was truly in respiratory distress, exhibiting strong "retracting" reflexes (which I was clueless about but quickly became an expert on--see the second video below if you want to be informed about what it looked like with Van), and was only breathing at an oxygen level of 83%. Admittance criteria was 92%, so he was well below that. Somewhere between the triage nurse hurrying with my baby in her arms through the emergency room and the IV going into his hand, I realized that this was really, really bad.

People, through their life experiences, invariably earn 'club memberships' to different groups as life takes them on their journeys. Some people become marathoners, and only other marathoners can really understand what they've been through. Some people earn 'homeless' memberships, and others earn memberships for 'hurricane survival.' Some people get 'badges' for eating ghost peppers, and some women join the club of 'miscarriage.' Some clubs you want to be a member of, and some you surely don't. On February 2nd, I earned my membership in the Club for Mothers of Tiny Hospitalized Infants. It is a lonely and frightening place to be, watching your tiny one struggle and wishing it could be you instead. One of the few membership benefits, for me, was an incredible amount of support from my entire community of friends and family. I felt the love all the time, whether from family visits or Facebook comments, and--believe me--I relied heavily on it. Some of my biggest supporters were fellow club members, and, even worse, friends who tragically belong in the awful club of Moms Who Have Lost a Child. Where those women found the strength to support Van and me I have no idea, but they did, and I will always love them for it.



For four days, Van rode the hospital wave. He was never the sickest baby on the unit, and I attribute this to his sheer bulk and to our good luck. I don't know why my baby got better when others didn't, and I don't think there is any semblance of a satisfactory answer for it. When we arrived at the hospital, Van was struggling so hard to breathe, you could hear him across the whole house. He had teams of doctors and nurses on him the second they laid him on the table. But you know what? Day by day, two steps forward and one step backward, Van beat that virus. It got worse before it got better, and I know without a doubt in my heart that he would not have survived it without medical intervention. Our baby is with us though, and he doesn't have a single ill-effect from his battle with RSV. If you're in need of good news this morning, there is a happy ending for you, my friends.

Going home

Vanners, my littlest babe, turns one year old in less than two weeks. I can hardly believe it, and the nostalgia is overwhelming for me at this time. I have found myself holding him tighter, kissing his cheeks more, smelling his hair with abandon this past week, because my baby is becoming no longer a baby. While I obviously have mixed feelings about this, the foremost emotion I experience for Van is gratitude. Grateful each day for this sweet, little Christmas babe.

*First video: my sweet babe interacting with me near the end of our hospital stay. Second video: that hideous, awful retracting. I think all parents should know what this looks like.*