The Business of Risk

I’ve been thinking about something a lot lately.  I’ve been thinking about Risk. About why we do things, or why we don’t.  How we weigh and measure the benefit vs. risk quotient, and maybe we don’t. Maybe we just do things because someone else said we should…. without ever thinking about it.  I want to tell you a story, a story about how risky things, in my life…. have caused the least harm, and how the “Safe way”…. has probably caused the most.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m getting angrier and angrier.  I’ve spent most of my existence as a special needs mom, pointing out the positive. Mourning and expressing the harder things, but purposefully focusing on the good. I had to, to stay sane. But it’s not working anymore.  I’ve been going through cycles of grief when it comes to Benjamin that in 15 years as his mother I never have before. It feels a bit like a puberty of grief.  It was his birthday this last week, and all I could do was cry. All Day. I cried.  All the tricks I’ve done before to shake myself out of it aren’t working anymore.  I realize I’m angry.  I think it’s a righteous anger. As a Christian, I am a big believer in Giving it God. Laying it at the cross and letting the love of Christ, wash away my pain.  It works, I invite you to try it. It’s amazing and beautiful.  For some reason, this time, it won’t be washed away. I’m starting to believe it’s not supposed to be.  Maybe, just maybe, my anger will produce some words of encouragement, or support, for other people going through the same thing we are. Or maybe it will save a child from what happened to Ben. So here I sit, angry, sad, despairing, and deeply, deeply sorrowful over what happened to Ben.  So here I go, I’ll tell the story, maybe for some of you it will be the first time. For maybe some of you it will be the 10th time you heard me talk about it, but this time, in a different light. I want to talk about RISK.

You see, I was born into a “Hippy” family.  I was born at home, without the slightest medication. I was not vaccinated. My parents didn’t believe in them. My sister, brother and I were not vaccinated as babies. When I became pregnant for the first time….. I considered home birth.  However, I bought into the lie that it was “Risky”.  That I would be putting my child and myself at risk if I took that route.  So I signed up for the hospital birth. Now, please know, I’m not downing hospital birth. For those who want the interventions available to them, or just feel better in the hospital, it’s the best choice. But that wasn’t me…. I didn’t take that route, because of was afraid…. of the RISK of it.   I ended up with high blood pressure, that the only medical model of dealing with that was induction… early induction.  I was induced at 37 weeks, because it was “Risky” to have that high of blood pressure. Even though as long as I was lying down, it was fine.  I wasn’t given the option for Bed rest. The “Safest” thing was to induce. Knowing what I know now, had I planned a homebirth, I would  have been given dietary advice that could easily have helped my blood pressure. I would have been given herbs and salt water baths, and massage and bed rest.  I probably would have naturally cured my blood pressure issue, and went on to give birth on time. But instead I was induced, and from that I received, (and chose) every “Safe” intervention available to me. Day’s of Cytotec and Pitocin, Narcotic pain medication, artificial rupture of membranes, Epidural, and finally Cesarean birth. He was early. My next child was born about a week after his EDD, so my guess was Ben was born 4-5 weeks earlier then he was supposed to be. I was happy as a lark. So thankful the Dr.’s had rushed to my rescue and SAVED my risky birth and baby from certain demise.  When I left my 6 week appointment, my midwife, who I love and trust to this day, and know she was only advising what the medical model taught her to advice and her supervising OB’s told her to advise during my labor and birth told me…. “For your next pregnancy, check out the Brewer’s diet”. You mean there was a natural way of dealing with PIH (Pregnancy Induced hypertension).  They said I might have had Pre E….. but the symptoms did not appear until I was already in the hospital being induced… which came first, the chicken or the egg.  It must have been too risky to try that instead of induction….. but wait, isn’t induction risky? Isn’t the fact that it doubles your chance of Cesarean birth Risky? Isn’t Cesarean birth much more risky than vaginal birth? Those were topics never discussed, never brought up.  But I get it, I really do….. What if something happened to me, and they HADN’T advised it….. I could sue them!! Perhaps I would have. I’m not making light of it, or being funny, it’s a real issue and one I don’t take lightly.

So Ben is born. He’s a very happy and content baby. He smiles by 6 weeks, sleeps great, and makes great eye contact tracking from the moment he was born.  But he was a bit sickly.  Maybe because of the Cesarean, but he had lot’s of colds and ear infections that first year or two.  The answer to every single one, antibiotics. Every time. It was just what was done.  It was too RISKY to let it go on, what if it kept hurting….. what if??? I don’t remember how many times he had antibiotics that first year, but my guess it was over 6.  And the Vaccines…. my parents didn’t believe in them, but I was a rebel.  I believed and trusted that the Dr’s would never allow something to be given to my baby if it could harm them in anyway.  And so, without question or much thought, I vaccinated him. Fully, and completely… on schedule.  I don’t have the same reaction story as other people do.  I don’t remember a super high fever and high pitched screams. Which is why, until recently, I thought MAYBE it had to do with that, but probably not….. just just in case, I wouldn’t vaccinate my other kids. But I do know, that especially after a year, he started to change.  I actually started to get concerned about him when he stopped hitting developmental milestones by about 8 months. Before that, he was on track. He Rolled at 4 months, sat at 6. Babbled, tracked, and interacted.  I’ve doubted his normality during this stage for many years. Convincing myself that because of his low muscle tone that was diagnosed and obvious, he was ill from birth. But there are a couple of factors that now tell me that wasn’t true.  Because I was concerned about him, I had him tested by early start.  His Pediatrician told me he was FINE, and that I just needed to put him in the Johnny Jump up more to strengthen his legs.  But Early start came and did an evaluation. They tested him on Expressive and Receptive language, Gross motor and fine motor skills. Cognitive functioning, and social emotional functioning. At 11 months he tested NORMAL or ABOVE NORMAL on all these things, EXCEPT Gross Motor. But  guess what…… Hannah was the same way.  And she is totally fine. Low Muscle tone, but totally fine. Late walker, but totally fine.  Having Hannah, and seeing her development, makes me really think he was fine until after a year.  Not surprisingly, after he got the MMR Vaccine, that at the time did have Mercury in it, that they later removed.  They tell you not to eat Tuna or Fish high in Mercury in pregnancy and then they pump your baby full of it with Vaccines after it’s born but still tiny and fragile.  INSANITY! He also started getting constipated after a year. An issue that we would deal with for a very long time. An issue that took our soul and his trust as we shoved suppositories up his butt and held him down for enemas on a weekly basis for years. Another thing I remembered is that I was participating in a “Star is born” program at California Parenting Institute where I took parenting classes. It was a program where I would meet with a parenting specialist who was trained in developmental stages, every 6 weeks. She videoed Ben and I, and we talked about parenting and life and development. She never showed any concerns outside of low muscle tone.  Did not direct me to services, did not point to any signs that he was different or disabled. I WISH I still had this VHS…. but it’s gone, and I have no idea where it is.  Probably lost in the fire, although it may have been lost before that too.

At about 18 months he was definetly showing signs of language delay, but had about 5 words.  Enter another round of vaccines. Those 5 words were gone, not to return for many, many more years. He started having staring spells, and focusing on himself in mirrors and doorknobs instead of interacting with people or playthings.  Things just got worse and worse from there. I still vaccinated him. By the time he was 2, and Elijah was born, I started to question vaccines.  Elijah got his at 2 months, but then I stopped going to the well baby appointments.  I didn’t want to vaccinate him so young, but I figured since Ben was now bigger, he would be fine with more vaccines, (what the heck was I thinking!!) and he was fully vaccinated through school age because I thought he had to be to receive the services that were being offered to him. (Special ed preschool and the like).  He got worse and worse. I was kicked out of the Ped’s office I was at for missing so many appointments for Elijah. So we moved to another, they sent the paper copy of his records over to the other office, somehow, in transition,they were lost.  All his vaccine records, all the records of his early days….. lost, forever. Could they have been trying to hide something? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We will never know.

As the years went on his signs of disability just grew. We saw so many Dr’s, specialists, therapists, and had so many tests. Genetic tests, MRI’s, Cat Scans, Brain Scan’s…. blood tests….. everything came out NORMAL.  NO REASON whatsoever that he should be disabled….. yet he was…… more and more severely every year.  When he was 8 the Seizures started. At least the big and obvious ones. We avoided medication for a while, but then they started getting worse, so we started it….. we would try one, and then he would have more seizures, instead of taking that one away, and trying a different one, we would just add more and different kinds. He would do better for a while, and then the seizures would be back, slightly different, but just as scary.  So here we are today. 15, still in a diaper. Still having seizures several times a week. Not the happy always smiling boy he once was.  Not cuddly and cute, but distant, and sensitive to sound and touch more than ever before. Not able or wanting to be out of the house or his school for any length of time. Not able to take him to church or his brothers baseball games. I blame the seizure meds for that more than anything.  But to stop them, would mean major, major seizures, ones that I don’t think any of us could live through. Not Necessarily because the meds are saving his life, but because his body is so dependent on them now, that to take them away, that in itself would make him have huge seizures….. if that makes sense.

For so many years, he didn’t have an Autism Diagnosis, and it was ruled out many times. When the seizures started, they added that to his list of diagnoses.  Athetoid Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, Mild Mental Retardation, ADHD, and now….. AUTISM.  Because he didn’t have that Autism Diagnosis, I guess I really refused to believe that he was Vaccine injured. Because that was what all the fuss was about, Autism and vaccines. But he didn’t have Autism, so he couldn’t fall into that category.  I think that is a gross misrepresentation about what this whole vaccine issues is about.  We are talking about Vaccines causing BRAIN INJURY and Auto Immune disorders,  sometimes that looks like Autism, sometimes it looks like death, sometimes it looks like ADHD, sometimes it looks like major food allergies,  or asthma.  Sometimes it looks like Epilepsy, sometimes it looks like Developmental delays, sometimes it looks like all of it together.  Because of the SLIGHT possibility that a vaccine could have contributed to his unknown issues, I didn’t vaccinate the other kids. I wasn’t sure, I didn’t REALLY think it caused it, but I didn’t know it DIDN’T…. so I didn’t vaccinate the other kids. But last year, when the state of Ca decided to make a law MANDATING vaccines because there was a supposed “Outbreak” of Measles in Disneyland that no one died of or got seriously sick from…… I started reading. I started studying. I studied the angry articles people would post about how stupid and quacky the Anti-vaxxers were and why.  I read the much more scientific and less emotional articles about how in fact vaccines CAN and DO cause brain injury of all kinds. And I read the heart-wrenching, emotional stories of so many parents, who saw their child slip into Vaccine reaction, over and over again.  These stories hit me the most.  Then I read stories about the CDC and huge studies that proved their WAS NOT a link were falsified and lied about. I asked myself, these parents, what do they have to gain by telling a lie? By making up these stories of extreme reactions, or slow fades into disability and Autism. Nothing. They have nothing to gain.  But the pharmaceutical companies who pay for and are back most of the studies trying to prove that their is NO LINK? What do they have to lose if the link was found, millions, and millions of dollars. I don’t believe studies anymore.  They mean nothing to me.  I believe people. I believe parents.  I also started to see our own story in many of the stories I read. And as I go through this, I know more and more everyday…. that BEN WAS INJURED. Harmed, hurt, and disabled by Vaccines, combined with tons of antibiotics. And he even started off at a deficit because of his Cesarean birth.  A fact that just came into light a few years ago.  Babies born via Cesarean have an  unhealthy gut at birth because they do not pass through the birth canal and get the healthy bacteria in their mouth from that.  Unhealthy immune system from birth, add the assault of several rounds of antibiotics for ear infections that are now said to not need antibiotics, killing all the healthy flora and immune fighting flora that WAS in there, and then vaccines. Insult to Injury as they say.

So what happened to “Playing it safe”. Doing the Safe thing by having him in the hospital and vaccinating him against ancient diseases with a ton of toxins in them, just in case he came in contact with one of them.  Just in case…… For my next three births I planned home births. I didn’t vaccinate. I took the RISKY route.  I had a VBAC….. Risk.  For Micah and Hannah…. at home… double risk. I didn’t vaccinate them, for the homebirths I didn’t even do Vitimin K. Wow…… good thing they didn’t turn me into CPS for being so RISKY.  But guess what……. THOSE BABIES ARE HEALTHY as all get out.  Especially Micah and Hannah.  The ones I took the GREATEST supposed RISK….. are the strongest and healthiest kids I’ve ever known.  They were born SAFE.  The remained SAFE and healthy through their early years. Micah has only had antibiotics twice in his life, Hannah never so far.

So when I look back on it all….. and think about the Risk Vs. Benefit of all of these things put in place by RICH Pharmaceutical companies with no possible way of being sued themselves if something went wrong, and hospital based interventions to HELP US……… JUST IN CASE……… I call bull.  Not for me. Not for us. The things that I was told were there for my protection, for Ben’s protection, were the very thing that caused his demise.  I will be looking at Risk in a whole new light.

 

A short hard look.

Tonight, after a shower all by myself. I stood naked and took a long hard look at myself.  Actually, it wasn’t a long hard look. It was a short hard look.  I had seen enough to come up with some pretty awesome realizations, and I really didn’t need to keep looking and change my mind.  At this particular moment, my newly washed and specially treated (rather than just conditioned ) hair was hanging down in front of me, and streak of white covered hair.  No, it wasn’t the kind of white that your thinking it was.  Not a gray hair, although I have plenty of those,  it was Soft Scrub.  Yep, with Bleach.  You see, I had decided in the middle of my relaxing all by myself shower, that the walls of the shower needed to be soft scrubbed with bleach.  What else would I do while I waited for the speciality hair treatment.  So I did it while I showered. Brilliant.  I’m so genius I thought.  Killed two birds with one stone while Hannah was downstairs with daddy. After I had these amazing realizations and subsequently decided I would write about it. I should take a picture I thought…. for my blog.  But looking down into the Mirror I saw the rest of the photo that shouldn’t be included.  The part of the photo that is only for the eyes of my husband, and every once in a while….. when I dared to look… myself.  Even in those moments, where I didn’t smile at what I saw. Tonight at least, I wasn’t bashing it.  Tonight at least, I was accepting it. Almost dare I say, loving it.

I am not who I once was.  I used to say, I’m never going to be sad about getting older and losing my body, cuz I never had a nice body to begin with. I’m lucky because of that I said. I’ve spent most of my life around 200 lbs, which for me is about 60 lbs overweight. But…. then there was a time from age 34-37  when I DID lose the 60 lbs, where I looked in the mirror and thought Wow….. you have done SUCH a good job with your body.  You’ve lost a lot of weight, and you’ve really toned up.  Jason even thinks I could wear a bikini…… even if I think that’s ludicrous, at least he truly does believe I should be able to wear one. He’s my hero, my biggest support, my love.  I felt great about myself. I looked at pictures of myself, and was proud, and thought…… Willow IS beautiful. But….  Not any more.  I’ve spent at least the last few months cringing in disgust every time I happened to accidentally catch myself naked in the mirror.  Something has changed in me.  It might be hormones, turning 40 and not able to keep the weight off in the same way that I could before I had Hannah, maybe it’s because for some reason, I can’t seem to get my but to the gym more than 3 or 4 times a week to the gym, when I used to go 6 days a week, every week.  Or maybe it’s just because despite the many different ways of eating or not eating, fasting or binge eating….. it all comes back to the fact, that I just REALLY like cookies and candy and sugar, and I’m more interested in enjoying that aspect of the world than being thin.  Even if in the moment that’s not what it feels like, in all reality……. it’s the truth.

But in that moment, that monumental moment after my shower tonight, I saw myself in a new light.  I saw my shoulders…. strong, and capable. I saw my breasts, fuller with the weight gain, but still evidence of four pregnancies, four babies, and four nursing kids. I saw the weight they carry, for me, for my kids, for my husband.  I saw my misshapen stomach.  My least favorite body part, the one I still think if I had the money I would get cut off and cleaned up……. the belly that stretched to accommodate four kids, and the belly that is still there, to hold and comfort those kids. I saw my legs, and feet, that are not what they once were, not small, not healthy….. fragile, despite the increased width.  But when I look at myself as a whole……. I see Maturity…. I see life, I see strength. I see newness. I see leadership ,I see a counselor, a better friend,  I see beauty.  I am being ushered into a new time.  I can feel it, and see it in every ounce of my being.  AS much as I fight it, and buck against’ it, it’s coming. And it’s good. The young Mom with young kids days are over. Sure, Hannah is still only 2, almost 3…… but that’s not the point.  There is a different role I am taking on, and it’s okay.  It’s good, it’s important, it’s a normal part of this earthly plane that we are blessed to experience.

 

As Jason has tried to love me through these months of self-deprecation, self-doubt, and disgust……. he has been very clear with me about one thing. It’s not about what you see in the mirror. It’s about where your head is at, it’s about where your heart is.  The negative self talk, the self-deprecating comments break him, and make him worry about me. I am a strong girl. I can withstand a lot. And that is the Willow he’s used to seeing, to knowing, to being around. His concern is and always has been, not what I look like, or how hard I work out or how much I weigh…… but how I feel about it. How I feel about myself. Who I am in this world, in Christ, has NEVER been reflected in my obsessing about looks or weight or beauty…. but only in the confidence and get it done mentality that I have seemed to carry the last 6 years that I have been into fitness.  Not the weight loss, not the hot bod, but the confidence and steadfastness to reach a goal. That’s what matters, that’s what makes a difference.  The truth of the matter is, I LOVE to exercise. I realize it’s a gift, that most people wish they had…. and I have it. If I had two hours to myself with no other commitments, my activity of choice would not be reading, sleeping, lounging, getting a pedicure, having drinks with a friend…. it would be working out. The harder the better. The more intense, the more fun.   And exercising makes me feel GOOD. Great, confident, happy. The most beautiful woman in the room is the most confident woman in the room he says.  Beauty is fleeting he say’s, if one thing is for sure, we will lose our looks.  Eventually, we will be old and wrinkly and beauty will be the last thing on our minds. And there we still will be, together, and old with a different kind of beauty…. that we might not call beautiful today, but we will call beautiful then. Because we will see it for what it is, a beauty for the time. A beautiful 40 year old, is different then a beautiful 30 year old. A beauty 70 year old will be even more different.  I’m so thankful for Jason, and his Wisdom, and how much he loves me, and knows me.  How he speaks into my life when I need it the most.  When I think of what is to come, I  think of all I have accomplished in the last 15 years.  15 years I have been a mom…. and yet, I feel a shift coming. What will happen in the next 15! I can’t even imagine all of the amazing and awesome things God’s got in store.  Maybe getting back in great shape will be part of that. Maybe….. or maybe it won’t.  Maybe I’ll do something else amazing and new and awesome that gives me confidence and strength, all the while REALLY enjoying my cookies and cake…… Maybe I’ll do it all, at the same time.     Who know’s really. The doors wide open at this point.  I’m along for the ride, but I’m also purposing the ride.  I’m destined and determined to make a difference in this world…… and nothing can stop me until I do.  Just watch.

Everything she does is Magic……….. #2

IMG_2301So here we are…… on the evening of Hannah Joy’s 2nd Birthday, and I can only stare at her beautiful face, amongst the balloons and feel overwhelming thankfulness, for what she is, and who she is.  Have you ever felt like you didn’t deserve something…….. I mean, not because you are bad, or evil or mean, but just because, you realize not everyone deserves every good thing.  Sometimes I feel that way about Hannah.  Who am I to get to be her Mother? What special task did I perform to deserve such a gift? None that I can think of, but because of this feeling, I appreciate her ever so much more.  Everything she does is magic……. still.

At two years old, Hannah is still sweet, still Gentle, still kind.  However she is now also funny, and playful, and silly.  She messes with her brothers and they mess with her.  She is ALWAYS proud of herself when she successes.  Yelling…. “I did it!” with exuberance and excitement.  She loves to sing the itsy bitsy spider, and she has a little drum roll thing she does with me all the time just to be funny.  It’s hard to explain……. she will say, “Mamma, Mamma……. Mammmmmmmaaaaa…….. and then to psh, psh, psh, and pump her little fists like she’s hitting a drum.  It’s hilarious, and I have no idea where she learned it.  It’s totally awesome and I NEED to get it on video.  She has lots and lots of words, and can repeat almost any word you ask her too, but is still a ways from being a “talker”. Her many early words did not lead her to be an early talker in the same way as Elijah was, but I have no doubt she is developing perfectly and wonderfully.  I just can’t wait to be able to really know what she has on her mind.  She speaks lot’s of gibberish in her own fanatical way. It’s awesome.  She loves to dance, and to play. She still loves books, but has a hard time sitting still long enough to read one.  She loves to move, and to jump and explore her world.  She still loves her brothers and her daddy like they were the most amazing thing in the world. She even adores Benjamin in a way that is almost surprising. He isn’t mean to her so much, but he doesn’t give her much attention. Still, she adores him.  When he takes things from her, or turns off her show, she doesn’t care.  She would care if Elijah or Micah did it, but she doesn’t care when Ben does. It’s as if she knows he’s different, and he’s not doing it to be mean, but just because he doesn’t know why he SHOULDN’T do that to her.  I know they have a very special relationship, and I’m so, so thankful for that.   She still loves the water, but hates getting her hair washed because she doesn’t like how the water runs into her face.  She LOVES her naps.  I’ve never had such a great napper.  When you tell her it’s nap time, she happily trots upstairs, preferring to stand and hold the railing as she steps up, rather then crawling. She LOVES her Huggy the Elephant and her Blankie, the one with the lambswool on one side. She holds her Huggy or her Ba Sheep tight, and with one free hand rubs the lambs wool and goes to sleep. She will sleep for at least 3 hours, sometimes more, unless you wake her up. I usually need to wake her up, either to get her brothers from school, or just to keep her from being up till 11pm because she’s slept so late in the day.  On the rare day that she doesn’t get her at least 2 hour nap, her temperament is still good, and she doesn’t seem to mind.  She’s starting to love and tenderly care for baby dolls. It’s moments like this, when I see her loving on her baby dolls, that I am shock and awe again and again……. I really have a daughter.  Something I never thought I would have.

She LOVES Elmo and Abby from Sesame street. It’s so much fun to see her love these things with a passion and an intensity that I don’t remember seeing with the boys.  She is starting to really love to play with other kids.  She loves to go to the gym, and play with “kids”. She went through a brief time of crying when I left her there, but she got over it quickly and now easily and exitedly goes in to play, even when I take her several days in a row.  Now that’s she’s two, she will get to take part in their kids Fitness that they do everyday……. I can’t wait to see it, I imagine I won’t work out but watch her from the Window.  I’m sure she will be athletic, not because her Momma is, but because her brothers are, and she loves to do anything they do.  I can’t wait to see how that will manifest in the years to come.  She loves to pray. She say’s “A-Meen” at the end of every prayer, we have come to expect it and wait for it.  One day, she started putting her hands on me, whispering some gibberish, and ending with “A-meen”. She prays for me, and anyone or anything else she’s asked to. She will even pray for her food by laying her hands on it.  It’s adorable. But more then anything it’s important.  I pray she never loses the boldness to pray for others, outloud, with confidence.

I speant a good amount of time today reminiscing her birth. Looking at photos of my labor and birth, and her first moments on earth. What a special night and day it was.  So much expectation, so much anxiety and worry, and then it happened. My labor took off, I worked hard, had faith in God and in my birth team, and in her……. and she was born. Perfect, pink, healthy. All of the worry, concern and anxiety washed away with the blood of birth.  I listened to a song that was on my birth playlist over and over today. I wept as I sat it gratitude of her grand entrance into this world. What a gift, what a memory.

And with that, I will rest. I always want to remember 2 year old Hannah Joy…….. I know there will be so many new memories to enjoy, but for now….. I’m so thankful for the ones I already hold, and the years ahead I get to enjoy her.

 

Ben’s story… a perspective about Vaccine choice.

Dearest Readers,

IMG_0655If you’re reading this, you’re probably curious on my thoughts on the vaccine law in California. Many people have asked me what  I think, and so I have been forced to think more and more about it. I’m going to be honest, I hate thinking about it. I try not to. If I think too much about the “What if’s,” I might lose my mind. What if I hadn’t vaccinated him, what if I would have gone with the way I was raised and questioned things in the medical field….. what if? What if he would have grown to be a normal boy? What if he didn’t struggle the way he does? What if it was MY FAULT he is the way he is because I BELIEVED that it was safe for EVERYONE?

Many of you grapple with this question of vaccines with the “What if’s,” too.  What if you do vaccinate and your child is injured, what if you don’t and your child get’s sick?  What if someone else unvaccinated kid gets your child sick? I get that. I know that feeling.  But realize I’m coming from a different place than most of you. My child is sick. His life is forever altered.  He will never live alone. He will never poop in the toilet.  He will never have a girlfriend, a real job, a wife, a child, a love of his life.  He will always be severely disabled.  And Jason and I will be taking care of him like this until we are dead and then likely his siblings will take on this role. I’m going to warn you right now. This post is sad.  It’s not happy and positive and wonderful.  If you’re looking for that, read this Blog Post “A Letter to My Special Needs Son“.

So you want to know what I think about the law that says you have to be fully vaccinated without exemption to go to school or daycare? It makes me sad.  And it makes me worried.  I had a choice.  I saw what happened to Ben, starting reading, doing research, and was able to choose differently for my other kids.  I have never told anyone else what to do, and in fact, if someone asks me my feelings on the matter, I make it very clear that it’s a very personal choice and they should never make their decisions based on what I did. They have to choose for themselves.

But now I’m speaking out about our story.  I’m speaking out because people are so angry and hurtful  in their social media and personal comments about those who choose a different vaccine schedule or choose not too.  Every mean and angry article that was posted about people who choose differently, I read it, and it hurt me to the core.  Every time someone ignorantly tells a non- vaccinating parent that she just listens to Jenny McCarthy, or that doctor whose studies were said to be falsified that they are wrong because of these  two things……. or because they are just plain stupid or ignorant or a bad parent…….. I wanted to scream………. IF YOU SPENT ONE DAY IN MY SHOES, IF YOU HAD ANY IDEA OF WHAT OUR LIVES ARE REALLY LIKE WITH BEN, YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND. IF YOU REALLY KNEW HOW HARD IT IS TO LIVE WITH THE “WHAT IF’S” THAT WE AND MANY PARENTS LIKE US LIVE WITH EVERYDAY, YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND!!!   I can promise you, unless you had to do a Masters Thesis on the subject, or are in the medical school, you have not read as many articles, as many studies, as many pages or reports as a Special Needs parent who is left to wonder………WHAT HAPPENED TO MY CHILD? For the record, I didn’t read any Jenny McCarthy books until long after I stopped vaccinating my other kids.  Hardly any of the people I know who chose to delay or stop vaccinating read her stuff.  So I want to give you the opportunity to come into my world for a bit.  Walk in my shoes, and then if you still want to tell me I’m a hippy stupid idiot for not vaccinating my other kids as babies, go ahead.  But first, walk with me…………. and don’t stop till you get to the end.

Before you enter my world, I want to give you a few facts as you read.

Benjamin is the only person in my personal bloodline fully vaccinated on schedule.  My sister, brother, and I were not vaccinated as kids, and my parents had only a few vaccines as kids. After Ben, I stopped vaccinating my kids as babies.  In the last two years I have caught the boys up because I figured their immune systems were healthy enough to take it, and I didn’t want them to be socially ostracized for not being vaccinated.

I have heard from MANY families over the years that have much more detailed and obvious vaccine injury stories than I do.  But they, too, are too scared to speak out because they are too tired, too exhausted from trying to live their lives to deal with being called a loon, or crazy, or stupid, or delusional.  So they keep quiet because they can’t handle the backlash.

MANY families who have one with an Autism Spectrum disorder have others in the family on the spectrum, especially boys. I stopped vaccinating.  My other kids are totally FINE. In fact, they are the healthiest kids I know. When they get sick, they are sick for 24 hours and then it’s gone. They have VERY healthy immune systems, functioning just the way they were designed to.

Ben reacts opposite to MANY medications. If it’s supposed to make him tired, it makes him hyper; if it’s supposed to take away appetite, it increases it.  If it’s supposed to calm him, it makes him insane. I do not think it would be crazy to say that he had an opposite reaction to vaccines as well.

He was born normal. He had no lack of oxygen at birth, even though he was born via Cesarean, his heart rate never went down, only up.  I used to question this, he had low muscle tone when he was a baby. He was tested at 11 months old by North Bay Regional Center because I was concerned about it. He tested totally normal on every test: social, emotional, cognitive, fine motor, expressive and receptive language. The only thing he was delayed in was gross motor skills.  So was Hannah.  She’s now almost 2 and totally on track. He had the classic regression at around 18 months, where he had language and it went away. He started having staring spells that were probably seizures, but we didn’t know that then. All of this started shortly after the MMR vaccine. He did not get an autism diagnosis until he started having grand mal seizures at age 7.

I read many, many articles when the recent measles outbreak happened in Disneyland.  No one died.  No one was even very seriously sick, just a rash and a fever. I read the pro-vaccine, and the anti-vaccine, and the simply “pro-choice”. I found it very interesting that the pro-vaccine ones were mostly emotional, pulling at your heartstrings, and feeling angry and hurt that other people’s choices could affect your own children’s health.

But the anti-vaccine or pro-choice articles were filled with research studies, science, and sound medical facts.  Check it out. It’s fascinating.

So here we go……… take a walk in my shoes. Live my life for a day or two….. and if you still want to call me names and tell me I’m wrong go ahead. But read to the end.

Go to bed with me at night. It’s midnight, you’ve just gotten Ben to bed, you’re exhausted. In fact, you’re angry. You aren’t sure if you’re mad at yourself, at him, at God…. but you’re mad.  He wouldn’t go to sleep again………. despite the Benadryl and Valium and Ativan….. he’s wired. Lay next to the monitor, listening to his every breath as he goes to sleep. Every night, for the rest of your life. You will be listening your big boy breathing in the monitor as you go to sleep till the day you die. Pray there isn’t a power outage or internet failure and you miss a big and dangerous seizure or escape attempt as you sleep. Wake up at 3 a.m. with him as he decides it’s play time, and watch as your husband goes downstairs to sleep on the couch with the monitor because he can KINDA sleep through Ben’s noises and awakeness, but you cannot. Wake him up in the morning and pry off his pee-soaked clothes and decide whether or not his sheets can make it another night, or is it just too smelly to bear. Wipe his butt. Get poop on your fingers, your arms, under your fingernails, sometimes even your face.  Everyday. Several times a day. See him in his 14 year-old manhood. Growing into a man, knowing he will never know the touch of a mate, or the love of a woman.  Grapple with that.  I dare you.

As you prepare him for the day, doing everything for him, and then shovel 5 different kinds of meds into his little body…Hating every one. Wishing with all your heart they weren’t needed. Watch him take a head dive into his cereal bowl with a seizure. Spilling all the milk everywhere, and having to change all his clothes and diapers, and wash his hair. Rush.Try not to cry. Send him off to school. Try to go about your day. Try. Try going to the gym, checking your phone every 5 minutes during your intense workout just in case the school has called to say he has had too many seizures for them to handle. Wonder what he’s doing at school, if he’s happy, or sad, if he likes it or he doesn’t. Is he being abused? Physically? Sexually? You really wouldn’t know, he can’t tell you. Pick him up from school, ask him how his day is, because even if he can’t answer, you just desperately want him to know you CARE!! You’re always ready, always waiting for that breakthrough. Once home, more poop, more diapers, more glaring in-your-face manhood that will never be realized.  He’s bored. Easily. He makes messes everywhere he goes. He rarely wants to even be in the same room as us.  Miss him.  Miss what he could have been. Wonder. Wonder what he could have been. Don’t sit down for more than 5 minutes at a time when he’s awake and home.  You never know what he’s getting into, or he may even be trying to leave the house.  Be in a constant state of alert and alarm.  Always. Whether you’re with him or not.

Go to church, without him.  Praise God for healing your brother, your sister, other people’s kids……… and wonder why God isn’t healing Benjamin? Grapple with that. Love and Praise God anyway. It’s not His fault.  It is what it is.

Have your brand new hand soap, spray cleaner, dog shampoo, bubbles, spices or cleanser that you JUST bought opened and dumped out. Laugh as other people just tell you to put a baby lock on the cabinet to keep him out. He’s taller and stronger than me. There is no keeping him out of stuff. And try as I might, I can’t watch him every second.

There’s a BBQ tonight for Elijah’s baseball team…… you weren’t able to get care. So you have to go without your husband; you can’t be together as a family. Ben can’t or won’t go anywhere these days. Not to the park, not to the baseball games, not to church. Not to a movie, not to Six Flags, not to the pool.  He hates all of it. He’s too big to force to do things anymore. So we split up.  And then the days we do get care, come with us as I introduce our family to new people….. dying inside knowing our whole family is not here, not represented. Newer people in our lives don’t even know Ben. A little piece of me dies every time that happens.

Or come with us as we attempt to go to one of the other kid’s sporting events…Ben will stay in the car, for a while, but then he get’s bored. He gets out, runs around, and then runs back the car. His butt and diaper are hanging out as others look at us scrambling after him in a fury.  People are feeling sorry for us, thinking we are some kind of freaks or heroes. We don’t like people feeling sorry for us. We are not heroes; we are just doing the best we can with what we have been dealt. Grapple with the fact that Jason and I will NEVER be able to go away alone unless we want to go knowing Ben will probably have lot’s of seizures because of the anxiety of us leaving, or not being there.  It’s happened twice already when we tried to leave for one night. We left in the middle of the night both times. I don’t imagine we will ever be able to fly anywhere as a family.

Be embarrassed at the state of your home, because a) you can’t have nice things since Ben pees and poops and pours spices and soap all over everything. He opens things, breaks things, colors on things, spreads stuff out, dumps things out, and just causes disarray everywhere he goes. And PLEASE don’t compare his mess-making to your toddler. He’s not a toddler; he’s 5’3″, 150 lbs. It’s what he likes to do. That, or it’s a coping mechanism for the daily pain he’s probably in. Or b) because you’re so busy cleaning up his messes you don’t get to the deep cleaning stuff like the shower doors and mopping the floor. Don’t let people in. They wouldn’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like.

It’s dinner time now… make him different food because he won’t eat what you make for everyone else. Worry about his health. Worry that he’s dying inside because you really have no idea what’s going on in his body. Hardly ever eating vegetables and pumping him full of INTENSE meds everyday, but he won’t sit for a blood test.  Try, try it with me. Try giving him Valium that works for everyone else, but not for him. He won’t be held down… we can’t test his blood without putting him all the way under, something the hospital doesn’t warrant necessary.  Too much work. He’s just a kid with special needs.

Try watching your child, your first child, whom you love with all your heart, shake and tremble in seizure, fall over, hit his head, foam at the mouth, go purple. Watch all that happen. Then tell me if there was a 1% chance that vaccines caused that, that you would continue to give your other babies those vaccines.

THEN come with me, to doctors in Hayward, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco…come with me to expert after expert, test after test over the years….. and hear them with all their schooling and expertise tell me, “We have no idea why Ben is the way he is.” No one in all of his years has been able to give me any kind of clue as to what happened to him. No one except……….. a few off-the- grid doctors who point me to the written inserts in the vaccine packages themselves, that point to possible risks of seizures, brain swelling, autism, death. Sit with me while I pour over article after article that says things like: over 50 people have DIED from the MMR vaccine in the last 12 years…… but NO ONE has died from measles, mumps, or rubella!!!! (in the US). Or that measles and polio were on their way down long before the vaccine, due to other changes like hygiene and antibiotics. I don’t KNOW that vaccines caused Ben to be like he is. But I DON’T KNOW THAT IT DIDN’T!!!!! And either do you.  Most of the studies that say it doesn’t have anything to do with autism are flawed. There have been whistle-blowers coming out left and right saying results were fudged, one way or another.  Whole populations of people were left out of the study because it showed a link. Most of the big studies, the ones that take a lot of money to do, the ones everyone listens to, are FUNDED by the Pharmaceutical companies that stand to lose a lot of money if a link is found.

This is why the new vaccine law makes me sad. I don’t ever tell anyone else what to do with their kids. I don’t share my view because I am too exhausted by my daily life to fight for a cause. Just posting that I had an opinion and I was going to blog about it brought on slew of people trying to fight with me and others about it on my facebook page. I cried all day. I don’t want people to dislike me because of my choices. I love people. I’m just trying to stay afloat here. I’m just trying to be the best I can be for the family that God gave me. I love them. All of them. I’m so thankful. Even with all of these hard things I have listed above….. I have joy. Everyday I have joy and peace and thankfulness. Our lives are so blessed, because of Ben, through Ben, and surrounding Ben. God is our rock, our savior, our everything. Through our Faith in God, we do not despair, we have hope for a future for Ben.  Something beyond the pain and despair of this world. We know Ben’s life is not an accident, and are confident that God is using Ben’s life, regardless of how difficult it is on him and on us, for HIS Glory. However, it does not take away the above facts.

I am confident, that if you were to really spend the time, living my life, walking in my shoes, poop on your arms, pee smell everywhere, fighting, grappling, crying… you wouldn’t DARE tell me I should have vaccinated my other kids. Or that I should not have had the choice not to (or home-school them). And because I’m thankful I had the chance to wait, I am very sad, and angry that there are those who are trying to take the rights away from others. It does NOT seem to be based on science. It seems to be based on money and scare tactics to the general public who don’t really know much at all except the fear in their hearts. I’m sad for my friends’ kids, and especially for my one-day grandkids.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Now please be soft and loving in your responses. I have cried all the way through writing this. It’s hard for me. I am fragile. I am tired. If you still want to debate, or inform me of how I’m wrong, take a few days. Sit on it, and come back to me after the emotion has worn off. Please. I beg of you. If this post has effected you, and you know someone it would benefit, someone who needs to share it,  please, share away. I love you. I love your supportive, loving comments, and prayers. Thank you again for listening.

A letter to my Special Needs son…….

This afternoon…… you stopped as I hurried you into the car, to say something…. I tried to hurry you on, literally pulling at your Jacket, but you wouldn’t let me.  I saw you look down, point, and say, “A Roly Poly!” And there it was, a little bug, wiggling on the sidewalk, and in fact, it WAS a roly poly.  I didn’t even know you knew what a roly poly was, much less how to recognize one, and name it so clearly.  It’s times like this, that break my heart and bring me joy all at the same time.  As I say to myself, there is so much more going on inside his 13 year old pre-pubescent head then we know.

Sometimes, on days like today, where I catch a key’s hole view into your beautiful soul, I have deepening  worry and fear.  The fear is deep because I’m about 60% sure it’s true.  Every once in a while…… I’m afraid, and hopeful all at the same time…….. that you are completely aware of everything around you.  As we sit and talk about the woes and hardships of changing your diaper, about the anxiety of your seizures, and mess of your medications.  I’m afraid you feel bad when we talk about you as “Severely Special Needs” because you still wear a diaper. Although I’m sure you would actually love to use the toilette, but your body won’t let you.  I’m afraid that you know how much time and effort, and honestly loss it can take to be your mother sometimes.  I’m afraid that every time we go somewhere without you, you know exactly where were going, and what were doing……. without you, because although maybe in your heart you want to come with us, your bodily and mental limitations won’t allow you to do it.  I’m afraid when you retreat into your room when a bunch of people are over, it’s not JUST because it’s overstimulating and you want to get away from it, but because although you might like to interact with them, talk to them, make a friend, you can’t. Your body and your mind won’t allow that kind of thing. I’m afraid the reason you never want to eat at the table with us, is because you would really like to join in the conversation, but because you can’t, it’s easier and less stressful to sit alone in another room.  I’m afraid you hear us talking about your school behavior, your budding puberty and all it’s challenges. I’m afraid you know how hard it can be on us.  I’m afraid you like girls, that you have real honest romantic and sexual feelings that you will never be able to explore, because we won’t ever let you.   I’m afraid I don’t spend enough time telling you……… how much I LOVE BEING YOUR MOTHER.  So just in case, someday you can read, or perhaps I’ll read this to you someday soon…… I want you to know, how special and amazing you are, and how blessed I am to know you.

 

Benjamin,

I want you to know…. I LOVE being your mother.  I have loved it since the day you were born.  Your amazing dimples, your chub that has rivaled all baby chub from then until now.  Your smiles and laughs, your simple peace that seemed to be always with you.  I love the way you love Elijah. Your baby brother born 23 months after you, you loved him, held his hand, and connected to him, more then any other person I have ever known.  I love how you love little kids shows, and things, even though your 13 and a half.  I loved how when you first discovered tellytubbies, that you would cry every time the sun would come up towards the end, because that was the clue that it was about to be over.  I love how you know how things like that are laid out.  I cherish your ability to know where we are about town, and when we make a turn that is not in the direction you wanted to go, (usually home, or Mcdonalds) you let us know by saying, “Where are we going?” over and over.  I love that.  It makes me smile.  I love to see you thinking and reacting to your world. I love your hugs. I love your cuddles. I love how your favorite thing in the world is for me to pretend to eat your face (because it’s so delicious), and not let me go until I say, “I almost ate your nose! What would you do without a nose?”

I love how you will take any amount of support that is given to you, even as far as falling into me when your perfectly capable of doing it yourself.  Your so smart, you know exactly how to accept support.  That is such a rare thing in this world. One that most of us could learn a thing or two from you about. I love your absolute passion for Blue’s Clues. How you just HAVE TO lick your hand and put a “Paw Print” on every clean Window or mirror.  I’ve stopped washing windows…… I just love to see them there.  I love to watch you eat something you love.  You cherish it.  You relish it.  You eat it slowly and deeply, with eyes half closed in ecstasy.  You truly know how to simply ENJOY.

I love how selective you are about who you give your attention to, because when you do, it lights up their world. I love how you make your desires known, but without attitude or a fight, just simple unwillingness to do it another way.  Call me crazy, but I love that about you.  I love that you will always be my baby.  So silly and sweet, crazy and cute.  How you are sometimes amazingly silly, like putting a diaper on your head or putting socks on your hands and making them talk in Benjamin-ese. Or when you take your shoes and socks off right after I have put them on, and then crack up about it.  You are full of such Joy.  I love how anger is not in your skill set.  Really. Who else on earth is blessed with such a gift? Your rarely sad, but never angry.  I love how you hardly ever cry. Because when you do, it breaks my heart into a million pieces, I can’t imagine if you did it more.

I love how you study your teachers, parents and caregivers. You know the exact moment when we look away, the exact time you can make your move to do that thing you REALLY want to do, without being discovered.  Oh and I LOVE LOVE LOVE how you play.  Your amazing make believe world.  Tonight, as you watched Sponge-bob on the iPad with one hand, an episode with snow in it, you poured the torn up pieces of a band-aid wrapper into your sponge-bob house you got for Christmas, as the exact right moment when snow appeared on the screen.  I love your love for houses.  How you just as easily play with a speck of fluff as your main character, as you can the actual plastic character.  Your imagination is HUGE and your are constantly in your own world of play.  Your memory for sequences is remarkable, I wish I had your skill.

I love having you around. Introducing you as my son.  I am telling you I love it because I want you to know, how sad I am when your not there. When I have to introduce my family, and your not with us.  I want to scream……. someone very important is missing, he’s just not able tot handle being with us at this event.  It’s usually church.  I just miss you so much at church.  But you don’t like being there anymore.  It’s just to hard for you.  It’s okay, but I just need you to know how much I miss you, and so does everyone else.

I love how you sit in the sun.  How you seek it out, and move chairs around the yard to get the perfect spot.  You don’t often sit still that long any other time. It’s breathtaking to watch you.  I love how much you love the holidays.  How for at least a month before every holiday you go to bed every night telling me that it’s “Halloween, or Santa’s Coming”.

I love how much you love your birthday. It’s your favorite day of all time.  I love how birthday parties are your favorite thing in the whole world. Your birthday party especially. And even though, when it comes, you don’t spend much time with the party guests, you LOVE LOVE LOVE opening your presents and blowing out the candles.  Your JOY is permeating and contagious, and although you don’t write thank you notes, the folks that see it know how thankful you are, and how special it was to you.

And I love how you never stop surprising us, the simplest10358736_10152931672370502_689537361074848937_n thing lights up our worlds. This was the first year of your life, by scrolling through the amazon website, you were able to tell us exactly what you wanted for Christmas. I LOVED getting that for you.

My dearest, darling Benjamin………… I just LOVE YOU!! Soooooooo much. And I LOVE being your Mom. Don’t ever forget it. Ever.

 

Love,

Your Mamma.

 

 

 

When hard decisions turn out great…

You have to know it’s God. It’s fully leaning on, trusting, and moving forward. Despite our fears, despite our uncertainties, we move forward in faith. It’s a beautiful thing when the answer comes with a victory. What am I talking about specifically. The decision to stop homeschooling after only a half of a year. The decision to send Elijah back to public school. To say I had grown terrified of public school was an understatment. When everything came together so beautiful and perfectly to send Elijah to a private Christian school after our traumatic house fire, I was sure this was our new normal. There was nothing better then this awesome, private, higher education, christian school. He would make Christian friends, who didn’t cuss and who didn’t offer him drugs and talk to his young innocent mind of things like sex at such a young age. We had it all. We afforded it, barely. The plan was to start to work more during the day as all my kids were in school now, and Micah would spend Kindergarden and first grade at Maddie, a wonderful school, and by 2nd grade join Elijah at Windsor Christian. That was OUR plan. But as often is the case God had other plans. I found out I was pregnant in December of Elijah’s 4th grade year. And as the reality of a baby set into our lives, we knew that private school was no longer a luxery would could afford, not only for Elijah, but especially for Micah too. It wasn’t fair to just send one kid. But the awesomeness of this school, I almost held onto like an idol. As if this kind of education and ONLY this education was good enough for my kids. When Jason told me, we have to tell him he’s not going back there next year, I cried. I remember pulling up to the school that day to pick him up. As I waited for him to run out with excitement and love of life and school, I sat in my car and cried. Christian school, for Elijah was one of the hardest things I have ever had to give up. And if I couldn’t give my boys that, I would give them home school. The thing I said I could NEVER do. The thing I said I would be HORRIBLE at…….. I all of a sudden changed my mind. It was a desperate plea to hold on to my idol. I had friends who were doing it successfully, and heard stories of the big bad public school and the kinds of things my boys would encounter there. So on August 12th, 2013, I began to home school Elijah and Micah…… that was about 2 weeks before Hannah was born. Within days of her birth, we sat together in her bed, doing work, and lessons. There were great days, but mostly hard ones. Although it seemed to work out well with Micah, Elijah was miserable. Most days we cried, both of us. My principals list (highest honor at WCA) student, who was well known as a good writer and gifted at Math, was nothing like that in homeschool. I started to wonder if in fact his teachers just gave him easy work, and he wasn’t that smart after all. Because I was NOT seeing that smart, driven, loving learning kid kid that I had known him to be since his early days in Kindergarten. I quickly learned that Elijah THRIVED on competition and companionship. And even with the counsel of other homeschooling moms to change the very difficult curriculum I had started with, no amount of curriculum change could have offered him that. It was with a heavy hard that we called it quits after only one semester. I felt like a failure, I felt inadequate. What was wrong with me? How come we couldn’t make it work when so many others could? Other successful home school moms said, “Yes, it’s hard work, but we do it for our kids” I felt like I just wasn’t a good enough mom to do the “hard work”. But I knew that wasn’t really true. I would do anything for my kids, anything. And the whole reason we started on this educational adventure was because I wanted what was BEST for my kids, and this was NOT best. Although I tried to convince Jason that I would JUST home school Micah, because he did fine with it……. Jason convinced me that it wouldn’t work to just have ONE boy home school. So in January of 2-14, they both went back to their Windsor schools. Micah got into the best class with the best teacher, and two of his best buds from baseball and Kindergarten in it. It was immediately as if he was there all year long. He loved it, as he is just an easygoing guy who does well in many different types of situations. Elijah went into a 5th grade class, with a recommended teacher and one person he knew. He did……. okay, still didn’t love school, or love learning, but definitely liked it better then home-school. He now jokes about home school as the worst thing he’s ever done. We laugh about it together, knowing how hard we tried and how we struggled. He would come home every day and shock me with all of the crazy things he heard, all the cussing and sex talk, and all the kids who played rated M video games at age 10. We marveled together at what a different world it was. And he kept talking, telling me everything, growing together, learning together. Their were days that he got caught up in trying to be liked and cool, and found himself throwing out cuss words here and there. He told me about that too. Even though he knew I would be upset. He trusted me, and it helped him move through it to tell me about it. Then the summer came. And he realized he didn’t need to be anything else other then himself to be liked. He was a well liked kid, whether he cussed or not. What a gift. A true, and real gift.

As the summer came to a close, and the reality of middle school got more and more real…… he began to be nervous. So did I. Anxious, awake, fearful, nervous. I was literally trying to figure out a different way to school because I didn’t want to drive past Windsor Christian everyday, fearing that both of us would cry and pine for what was before. Again, we talked about these things. He was brave, and coming at it with confidence and a precious spirit that in his real fear and anxiety, he was trying to make me feel better. Always a peacemaker, and lover of others, he was brave, so I wouldn’t worry.

After only two days of middle school he exclaims………. I LOVE MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! And he did! He loved the moving from class to class, all of the different teachers, and enviroments. He loved his math teacher and his Language arts teacher, he loved PE, and well, he just loved all of it. I was sure it would fade. IT didn’t. He loved it. He once again LOVED TO LEARN!! I was a very happy Mamma. As the weeks turned into months, the workload got more intense. He got way behind, not because he couldn’t do the work, but because he was having a hard time turning things in, learning the process, knowing what was due when, remembering to write it all down. He had an F in math and and F in Journalism, and a C in social studies, because he just couldn’t seem to learn the system. I was in contact with his teachers regularly. They were AMAZING at getting back to my emails within the day, usually within the hour. We worked together to help him improve. I even found myself in the school office one morning after a meltdown on his part, where I once again heard, “I hate school!”. The school counselor talked to me, we found a way to make things work better. They really cared. The following Monday, he loved school again. He worked hard to get his grades up. By mid quarter he had gotten all his grades up to an A except math which was a C. I knew he could pull it around, and promised him his own cell phone, (only a flip phone, not a smart phone) if he got his math grade to an A. He worked hard, I had to work with him, and still was in almost daily email communication with his Math teacher. We changed some things around, moving him from Journalism to Leadership, (a GREAT switch and leadership is a wonderful fit for Elijah). He had now said again……….. “I love school!” and then he said, “I just love middle school so much mom, it’s not JUST moving from class to class, I love what I’m learning, I LOVE TO LEARN!”. It was one of my favorite things he has ever said, and this is a boy who say’s A LOT. By the quarters end, he has ALL A’s, and a B+ in Math. He didn’t quite make the A in math, but he got it up from an F mid quarter….. and all of his other grades were soooo impressive, he got his phone. He doesn’t use it much yet, but the fact that he has one, inevitably gives him a little more freedom. I like to know he has it to call me if he needs me, or send me a text if he’s coming back late from school so Ben and Micah and Hannah and I don’t have to wait in the car wondering where he’s at. By the end of the First Semester he had ALL A’s, and even an few A+’s.   And for all of the fear, anxiety and anxiousness I had about being a homeschool FAILURE……. I now feel great. I think homeschool is so great, and if I had to do it all over again, maybe I would have started them that way, and in that I think we would have been successful. But since we did not, for Elijah anyway, it was not the right thing. Is he running into all of the horrible things I worried he would, many of them, yes, and I’m sure there will be more to come. But he LOVES to tell me about it. He thinks it’s funny and he loves to share it with me. Am I sure he won’t ever engage in it. Nope, I’m not. I hope he doesn’t, and I think he’s got a great foundation, (very much thanks to Christian School, but mostly because of our family structure and faithfulness to our Christian values and church). I am trying to keep him connected with his Windsor Christian friends, as I know most of them will go to Windsor High in 2.5 short years, and then he will have that great foundation of friends in high school. But most of all, I’m so very proud of him. I can’t even put it into words. I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of us. I’m proud of Jason for standing firm with me, and I’m proud of myself for doing what was best, even though I hated doing it. But this is only half of the story….. there is still Micah.

We have always talked about Elijah and how he was smart, and good athlete, but he had to work hard at athletics. Micah was a natural. Everyone see’s it, he’s amazing with a bat and ball for his young age, and currently excelling at Basketball. We never though too much about academics, because well, he was just so young. But man oh man, now in second grade he’s showing to be right in line with his big brother. He loves to learn. He does his homework with excitement and intensity. He cares. And guess what…….. he’s super smart. Super duper smart. Math comes easy, he’s a great reader, and an even better speller. He’s at the top of his class. I look at these boys and wonder how they got so smart, and then I remember, oh yeah, Jason is their father. Who although never went to collage, due to life circumstances and not being encouraged to go really, is truly the smartest man I know. I am excited to see where Micah goes in academics….. he’s moving towards greatness. I’m along for the ride, here to help, and I know they all thank God daily that I am not their teacher. 🙂 I thank God for that too.

A new take on Hospitality….

Hospitality. I have been thinking about this idea a lot lately. What does it mean to be hospitable…. to open your home to friends, family, food, laughter, and fun. That’s what it means to me. It’s actually a high calling as a Christian to have an open and hospitable home… ready to serve and feed those who might need it. The official definition is this:

Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
synonyms: friendliness, hospitableness, warm reception, welcome, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, kindness, congeniality, geniality, cordiality, courtesy, amenability, generosity, entertainment, catering, food

I love the thought of this…….. the friendly and generous reception of  visitors or strangers….. ahhhh…….. it sounds like a nice warm hug,  something I would just be SOOOOOOOO into.  But to be honest, I struggle with hospitality.  The thought of someone coming over to my house  unannounced terrifies me to the core.  Most people who know me know your NOT allowed to just stop by.  I need to know your on your way.  I need a chance to quickly pick up stuff, throw away the poopy diapers that I haven’t had a chance to get to the outside trash can, (Diaper Genies don’t work  on a 13 year olds poopy diaper).  But away to loads of laundry baskets that hang out in my entry way because well, that’s right near the washer and dryer, among other things.  And no, it’s not because I’m a perfectionist and want everything to be perfect, it’s because unless we are PLANNING on having guests, or maybe it’s at night after all the kids are in bed and by some crazy chance Jason and I had the energy to do dishes after dinner and getting the four kids to bed…….. the house is a mess. Not a dirty, unsanitary mess, but yes, a mess.   Oh, one other  time it’s often clean, between 4:45 and 5:30, so Jason has a relatively clean house to come home to after work.  (this is something I try to do, but do not by any  means  always succeed in).  But if you came over at 5:45, it would be a disaster again.  I have spent YEARS beating  myself up for this.  Not only is  it usually messy, it’s not decorated and adorned like other peoples houses.  I don’t have nice stuff.  Why should I? My kids, especially Ben destroy everything. Ben actually plays by destroying stuff. It’s his happy place.  And to be quite honest, home decor and stylish walls are not a passion or a gifting of mine.  I have no clue how to put stuff like that together, and I don’t want to spend money and time on that kind of thing.  So my home  is functional, and cozy, and I love it.  I really do.  It is perfect for the family that  I have, no matter which house we have lived in, it’s always been this way.

But as I have grown as a woman and especially a Christian woman whom Hospitality is almost a commandment, I have come to believe that you can only have a hospitable home if it is fancy, and beautiful, and sparkling clean.   Some of my favorite people in the world model this kind of home and  hospitality so well, that I pretty much believed it HAD to be this way of you just shouldn’t have people over at all.  And to be honest, this lie, has kept us from being hospitable………… A LOT.  Way too much.  When I think about having someone over for dinner, It’s a plan to spend the WHOLE day cleaning, (which means kids watch to much TV, or Screen time, and then the WHOLE late afternoon early evening cooking, about 2 hours of enjoying peoples company, and then having a big mess to clean again tomorrow.  It’s exhausting. And most of the time it just doesn’t seem worth it.  Every time I tell my husband I invited someone for dinner, he’s glad, but his shoulders slump as he realizes the work that’s going into it.   Like somehow in order to have someone over, we have to pretend, to the best of our ability that we are not the family of 6 with one special needs child and a baby with two in between that we are.  That just because our house is never going to be featured on homes and gardens that they won’t have a good time.  These are lies, all lies.  Lies from the enemy to keep us from opening our home with the love, and acceptance, and Christlike compassion that is in our hearts.  It’s sad when you think about it that way.  A dear friend of mine recently said, “God gave me this home, I’m going to use it for  HIS purposes”.  So true!! My home is  a gift! It’s beautiful and big and I’m proud of it!  I giggle with others about the Forest Green Plush carpet, because it’s so out of fashion.  But It’s GREAT.  Nothing stains it, it’s super comfortable, and it’s actually my FAVORITE COLOR!! HA!  The house is not unsanitary.  I’m not a hoarder.  There is not garbage laying about and rotten food under stuff.  I vacuum  and sweep at least every 2 to 3 days…….. but it’s never enough to maintain a sparkling clean home.

BUT……… Here is where the CHANGE OF HEART comes in.  First, a horrible, awful confession: I guess having a beautifully decorated, well put together home is the best of the best, the end all- be all of being a woman.  Well, I gotta tell you, people with homes like  that……. I put up a barrier with them.  I have several friends who’s houses are like that, that I  will  do almost  anything to keep them out of mine. It’s horrible. Great people, loving, hospitable people, who have a passion for the art of creating and keeping a nice home, are only welcome to be my friend if we do it outside of my home.  I have lied, (yes, folks, sometimes I sin too) to keep them out of my home.  I have waited for them out front, I have cracked my door when they came over……… I have been HORRIBLE!!!  The hours they spend decorating and cleaning, and making their home beautiful, do you think they ever thought THIS would be a by product of that?  Willow who loves everyone doesn’t want them in her home? Pretty sad, and I’ve done this to myself, THEY have done nothing wrong, and they are being treated unfairly.  Still, this will be a hard habit to break.  But recently I REALIZED SOMETHING THAT HAS REVOLUTIONIZED THE WAY I THOUGHT ABOUT HOSPITALITY.

We were having a family over for dinner, I was excited.  I loved this family so much.  They were due to arrive at around 6, and Jason got home around 5.  I was making dinner and he comes in the house ready for battle, “Okay, what can I do to help you clean”.  I said, “It’s fine, the house is picked up and the toilette’s cleaned, diapers put away, it  doesn’t need to be perfect, they have lots of kids to and a simple home”.  They were a family with 4 kids that lived in a two bedroom apartment, and were happy, and healthy.  I had the OPPISITE feeling with them, then I did with the friends with “perfect homes”.  Their home was kid centered, cozy, warm, and fun.  Just like mine.  I was excited about them coming, because I  love to cook, and love to have people in my home, I LOVE to be hospitable, but  I didn’t feel the pressure to be anything other then what we were.  A busy family who has 4 kids! A family who  loves people but doesn’t have a perfect home.  And that’s when I realized………… I am excited  and happy to have these people over, and I don’t have any fear of judgment by them, because they have a simple, non fancy home like ME!!!! WHAT IF…………. WHAT IF……….. people felt MORE  comfortable in a home like MINE because they realized  that I am NOT  perfect.  That  they don’t have to lie to keep ME out of their home, that they don’t have to scramble to clean and throw things away when I come over, because I get it.  I live that kind of life too.  WHAT IF being HOSPITABLE even with the limitation of my life and my personality and ability makes people MORE COMFORTABLE IN MY HOME…… and COMFORTABLE having ME over to theirs.  I gotta tell you, I love walking into a home with dust-bunnies in the corners and a carpet that may not have been vacuumed that day, or maybe  even the day before, (gasp).  I let out a big sigh of relief and then I can relax.  I love to walk into a home with toddler toys or legos scattered about, because even if they were put away before we go there, they were going to be that way in 5 seconds. That makes me feel good.  That makes me feel accepted, and normal.  I realize not everyone is like  this………. there are A LOT of germaphobes out there, who are terrified by dirt and disorder, but not me.  (Surprisingly, (not), those people seem to be sick the most often).  I like to see a messy desk and some dishes in the sink, and laundry piled and not put away, because, well, it makes me feel like i’m  not a horrible person for not getting around to that at my house  either.  I can relax, and enjoy, and let  go of any self judgment, or self criticism, and just truly BE present with the person who has allowed me into their home.

So with all that said, I’ll finish by saying, if you have a perfect home, your not welcome in mine. LOL…………I’M JUST KIDDING. 🙂 No, but here it is: I’m done with ONLY having people over if I have time to do a deep clean.  I’m DONE with only having people over if I have hours to prepare.  If your going to be offended by my cozy, warm, KID Centered house………. or not feel comfortable because there is not beautiful art on the walls and yes, there might even be a spot on the couch where a kid wiped their hand after eating a PB&J that I  don’t notice till right before you get here, then you probably shouldn’t  come over.  But otherwise, you are welcome. I love you.  I love to cook. I love to serve.  I love people.  And because of Ben, unless we get care for him, going over to other peoples houses just doesn’t work.  So if we want to visit, it’s got to be over here.  And so if your okay with my house being imperfect, let’s do it.  Let’s plan a dinner  party. Maybe, just maybe, my home, will make you feel BETTER about yours.  Our homes are gifts given to us by God, let’s use them for HIS Glory. And being Hospitable is doing JUST THAT.  But still……… don’t stop by without warning me your on your way first, I’m not ready for that. 🙂 Baby steps  folks, baby steps.

And here are some photos of the current state of my house……… just to desensitize myself to it all. 🙂  And not be panicked if you  happen to drop by today. 🙂  The Desk i’m typing on, is a piece of junk.  It’s the desk with Ben’s computer on it that he eats at, colors on, and messes with all the time.  Keys, a screwdriver , toys, andpapers all on it.  Oh,  and dust.  The floor, swept yesterday, a diaper Hannah brought over while I was typing, a Q-tip that has fallen from the counter top, Hannah’s snack cup, and well……… crumbs and stuff.  The Kitchen…… it was spotless  yesterday. 🙂

kitchenFloordesk

Fitness with 3 big kids and a baby……

It’s different then I thought it would be. I have FOUR kids. Four. Four seems wayyyyyyyyyy more then three. I’m not sure why, but it does. After spending most of my life about 50 lbs overweight, when my third child was 3, I decided I could no longer afford to be fat, and unhealthy. My oldest special needs son needed me to be strong, fit, and able bodied to care for him the rest of his life. So I did it, FINALLY. Exercise became a priority, EVERY DAY. I counted calories for over a year, calories in vs calories out. I lost almost 60 lbs. I was at my goal weight, and fitness was my new passion, my favorite thing in the world to do. It was almost an addiction, as I was in a super bad mood if I didn’t get it in. Being in the birth and pregnancy business, (doula and childbirth educator), I imagined how I might mold the two worlds together. I would become a personal trainer, and specialize on pre-natal and postpartum fitness. Because even though I had never worked out through pregnancy and postpartum, I now knew so much, that I just KNEW that EVERYONE should be able to do it, and had no good excuse for NOT being fit. Uhhhhhhhh…………… yeah. Until I got to live it. In December of 2012, we found out we were expecting a new baby, a fourth, our very first girl.

How exciting! I was going to be able to LIVE OUT working out while pregnant and staying fit and getting back into shape quickly and easily after birth!! Um, yeah. Not so much. It wasn’t quite like that at all. During those first few months, I kept my workout regimen about the same, maybe only getting in 4 days instead of 5 or 6. I was tired, and really nauseous, but I kept at it. After-all, I had to be an example for all of my future clients. I couldn’t run anymore, at all. My huge boobs and growing belly would not allow it, or my breath. I just couldn’t breath and run anymore. But I modified. In boot camp, I walked with weights instead of ran, I was an inspiration they said. But man, did I go carb crazy those first few months. My previous non pregnant lifestyle included staying away from things like bagels and cream cheese, Peanut butter and Jelly and pasta. In the first 4 months of my pregnancy, that was literally ALL I could eat. I was queasy all the time, and the only thing that made it better was bread. Usually white bread of some kind. Oh, and McGriddles from McDonald’s. I would go to boot camp, workout, (be that inspiration) and then hit the Mcdonalds drive through from a McGriddle, hash-brown, and OJ afterwards, just hoping none of my workout buddies would see me. I was STARVING all the time. But the ONLY things that sounded good were things I didn’t have to cook, and usually included total crap. However, I did make sure I was getting adequate pregnancy nutrition as far as protein, veggies and iron……….. but just ate too much sugar, carbs and junk food on top of it. Sigh. So even though I stayed VERY active during my WHOLE pregnancy I gained over 50 pounds. Ouch. At the end of my pregnancy I was just over 200 lbs, which was the weight I started my weight loss journey at almost 4 years prior. But I was pregnant, and as soon as that beautiful baby was born, the breastfeeding alone would be enough to shed that weight in the first 6 weeks, as it did every-time with the boys. Nope. Wrong again. With the boys I lost all the weight in the first 6 weeks, but that was always RETURNING to the 200 lb mark, not starting at it.

So without spending hours writing about every aspect of what it’s been like, I just highlight a few things. It’s different. It’s hard to make the time to workout. It’s hard to WANT to make the time. I still LOVE to workout. I still do it at least 3-4 times a week in some form. But I’m not as strong, at all. I’m not as fit or thin, and the thought of someone at my new gym even KNOWING that one day I thought I was fit enough to be a personal trainer kinda terrifies me. Eating well has been especially hard. While breastfeeding, I was starving all the time, so busy being a mom of four kids, (with school and sports to and therapies to manage for each) a wife, an active church member and leader, a childbirth educator and doula, spending time on ME just didn’t seem as important. I don’t have time to make all the amazing healthy food I did when I first lost the weight, I don’t have time or energy to make three different meals every night. I just needed to fill my belly, and if the kids were having PB&J it was just easier to eat that too. I started to NEED chocolate again, in a way only a tired, hormonal, hungry woman NEEDS chocolate. And I started to REALLY relish my time with my kids, especially my baby girl. Times like this morning, when I slotted specifically to work out, I even got all the way dressed down to my sports bra and running shoes to go to a spin class I have been going to regularly on Wed mornings. But after being up with Hannah THREE times last night, and looking at my day, realize the ONLY time I was going to really have with her that was not in the car or making dinner or having everyone else to take care of was indeed THAT morning………… I decided against it. I love to watch her play. To move about, to interact with her world, to dance whenever she hears music, to hug everything with a face, (stuffed) to work hard on puzzles and shape sorters, to stabilize and move forward towards walking…… I just can’t get enough of it.

Jason and I were talking the other day, and he said, “If you had two hours with no responsibilities, what would be your absolute favorite thing to do” My answer, was “Go the the gym, or exercise”. He agreed, and knew it was true. We both felt good about the fact that I had such a healthy hobby. But I realized this morning, that has changed. I think watching her play, and interacting with her, is my new favorite hobby. Even on top of exercising. Because I know all too well, that I will never get these moments back with her. She will grow, and grow, and soon she will be a sassy 6 year old who’s friends are more important then her mommy. I’m starting to be more okay with it….. I’m starting to believe even if I’m not the super fit and thin and healthy eating Willow I was before I got pregnant with Hannah, that I still can be someday, and committing to myself that I WILL BE. I’m starting to accept the fact that I can still be beautiful and healthy with 15-20 more lbs on me then before. I am thankful I can still run, (jog), can still lift, and squat, and have God willing many years to get my optimal health and fitness. It hasn’t been easy, and check with me tomorrow because I might be back into the self doubt negative self image trash talking, (about myself) Willow that I have spent too many days in the last 13 months being. But for today, I’m thankful for the day. I am enjoying every minute of my baby girl, who is quickly growing up. Going to my big boys baseball games, and laughing with Benjamin. Turns out, there is more to life then being thin. There’s living. I’m just thankful the passion is still in me, and looking forward to the day where I can say……. I knew I could get back there……eventually.

Saying goodbye to nursing….

(Disclaimer. This is a post about me being sad that Hannah stopped nursing at one year. I understand that may seem silly to some of you, and that a year is a great amount of time to nurse, especially for those of you who were not able to nurse at all, or not been able to have children, or had to stop sooner then hoped because of going back to work or another reason, however these are my feelings, and I needed to write them out. I also needed to share them so I could let go of some of the shame that I hold on to. Most people who know me, know my birth choices and profession will assume that I will nurse her for much longer, and so it makes me sad when I have to tell them she’s not nursing anymore. I apologize if this offends or hurts anyone, it’s my process)

I need to write this out. It’s not for you, it’s for me. I need to say goodbye, and be okay with it. Maybe I need to cry. Just maybe writing about it…. will allow me to cry, and let it go. To be honest, I never knew it would be this hard.

My little lovie is done nursing. I will never again nurse a child. There, I said it. And now I’m crying. It’s hard moving through these things in our life, that bring so much joy, comfort, peace, and know that the are over, forever. It wasn’t always like this. With the boys, nursing was hard. It did get easier each time, but it hurt, always, and I did it more as a labor of love rather then a beautiful, enjoyable bonding thing I had with them. But with Hannah it was easy. She latched in her first moments of life. I never bled, never cracked, her latch was perfect and she knew exactly what to do. Let me say again, it never hurt, not in the beginning, not in the end, it never hurt. So when the other boys, at around the same age told me there was other things they would rather be doing then nursing by turning away or running away, I easily said goodbye. Knowing even with Micah, that there would probably be another child…… probably.

From the very beginning Hannah would only nurse for nourishment. The ultimate easy baby. Hungry, she would nurse, and pop off and go to sleep on her own. She never really nursed for comfort, because she was always happy. She never nursed to sleep really, except for a short while. She would nurse until full, pull off and then fall asleep, either just laying there or sucking her thumb. When she would wake at night, I would just lye on my side and nurse her, and I would usually fall back asleep before she did. She was the first out of the four that I was able to co-sleep with. She never moved much, just layed there peacefully, only waking every 3 or 4 hours in her early days. I was planning on sleeping with her and nursing her for A LOT longer then my boys. It worked, I wasn’t overtired, she slept great, and everything was just perfectly in tune.

Around 7 months we started putting Hannah to sleep awake in her crib every night. I worked a few nights a week, so it just worked well to do that for her. She did great with it, easy transition, and although sometimes woke after that, for the most part she slept until I got home from work. Around 9 months, she only woke up once a night and when I would pull her in bed with me to nurse her, and try to fall back asleep, she wouldn’t sleep. She would think it was play time. It wasn’t until I figured out she wanted to sleep in her own bed, and I put her back in it, she would fall asleep promptly and sleep till morning. I was mostly thankful, but still really sad that she was not going to be the one who slept with us till she was 3. I was so ready for that. I know that sounds crazy to some of you, but Jason and I were both open to it, our darling girl, close by all night, sleeping peacefully.

Around 10 months the biting started. She wouldn’t bite when she was finished nursing as so many of the books I read said, she would bite in the beginning. Telling me she didn’t want to nurse. She would not latch. She would bite instead of nurse. I could only get her to nurse in the morning and usually once during the day, but at night before bed, no way. I tried to pump up my supply, I took the placenta pills I had made that I never took because I never felt like I needed them. I’m not sure if it upped my supply or not, but her nursing behavior didn’t change. She DID NOT want to nurse. The times when she did nurse, it was if she was “accepting it” but it never felt like she wanted or needed it. I was heart broken. Would she even nurse till her first birthday? The minimum recommendation of pediatricians…….. MINIMUM!!!

The self judgmental questions that I was SURE other people would ask came into my head: How could you nurse her less then a year? Your a doula and a childbirth educator for God’s sake. What happened? You just aren’t trying hard enough, it’s a stage, she’ll start wanting it again. IT’s because you chose to work, now she just likes the bottle better. It’s because your using birth control, you should have done NFP, and then you would have no risk or hormones being involved, (except the hormones of pregnancy which of course would have happened by then, Hannah was conceived after 5 months of NFP) We started giving her bottles when we were out sometimes because it would help fill her up and get her to sleep at a baseball game or something. I was, (still am) TERRIFIED of anyone seeing her with a bottle. Willow Sanders does not give her baby a bottle when she has plenty of good milk in her breasts. I did have plenty of good milk, Hannah just didn’t want it.

For over a month, the only time I could convince her to nurse was first thing in the morning after sleeping all night, or if she woke in the middle of the night which was rare. There were two days right before she was done for good that she nursed mid morning too!! But then, a few days before her birthday party, she started refusing even in the morning, and even in the middle of the night. She would flail and cry and push me away if I offered it to her. I knew she was done, and me pushing the issue was not helping either one of us, I needed to let it go. We had made it over a year and at least I had that. So on September 12th, 2014, was our last time. She nursed for maybe 30 seconds and then pulled off and pushed away. I cuddled with her and loved her and thanked her for a wonderful year of closeness. I promised her that we would find other ways to be close, and that I respected her, and knew that this was her choice, and she was fine, and I was going to be fine. And then I vowed not to think about it at all. Just to go as long as I could without thinking about it so I wouldn’t mourn. But that hasn’t been working. Every time she asks for a bottle, or pushes me away, or doesn’t want to cuddle I start to cry. I miss that closeness, I miss her needing me. It sounds so pathetic, but it’s true. So I wanted to write this out…… for me, and for you if you happen to read it. To explain why no, in fact, I’m not nursing her anymore. It was her choice, not mine, not mine at all. I still believe in extended nursing, although none of my kids did it.

Everything she does is Magic…… Hannah at one Year old

Hannah swingI pretty much can’t get enough of her. I could just sit and watch her play and interact with her world all day. I actually spend more time doing just that then I did with the boys. It’s not that she is more amazing and magical then they were, it’s just that I didn’t realize that there was really NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT then soaking in every moment of these baby years, and so, with this last baby……. I am doing just that. I’m not as fit as I could be, the house is not as clean and I’m certinly not writing as much as I could be……. but I am soaking her in. All of her. Here are some things about Hannah as a one year old girl. Yep, I said it, girl. Not baby, not toddler. Girl.

She is very independent. She stopped wanting to sleep with me at all around 10 months old. She slept better in her crib, and although she would come in to nurse at night, as soon as she was done she would sit up and act like it was time to play. She wouldn’t go back to sleep until I put her in her crib. Which she went promptly to sleep at that time. This was the baby I was FINALLY able to co sleep with, the baby I didn’t care if she slept with us till she was 5. Jason didn’t care either. But she had other plans. She also started often sleeping through the night at this time. And she also slowly started getting less and less interested in nursing. 🙁

By around 11.5 months, she pretty much refused to nurse most times of the day and evening, only conceding to the occasional middle of the night session and consistently in the morning. And when I say refused, I means she arched her back, and screamed, or quickly bit my nipple to tell me she didn’t want anything to do with it.(this went on for at least 2 months) I’m not going to lie……. it broke my heart. I’m broken hear-ted about it………. so much I can’t really write much about it. As of ab out 4 days ago, (12 1/2 months) she is totally done nursing. This was the baby I was going to nurse until she was 2………. at least. This was the first time I have ever truly LOVED nursing. But enough about the things she won’t do……… let’s talk about what she DOES.

She’s kind, sweet, and loving.
She’s always happy. Really.
She loves Balls, and she LOVES her elephant stuffy Huggie.
She hugs any doll or stuffed animal you give to her and says……. “Awwwwwww”.
She gives great open mouth kisses.
She points at everything and say’s “Dis??” in the most adorable high pitched voice that you know she’s asking what something is.
She has many words……… bye bye, mama, Dada, Cracker, (pronounced, CRAW-Kar)ball, Elmo, hot, eye and eyes, up, down, uh-oh, when something falls, baby, bubu (for Micah), and E-shy-sha (for Elijah), and Ba for (Ben). There is so many more I’m just not thinking of them right now. She makes great attempts at words like doggy, and butterfly and flower, (some of her favorite things), but they don’t really sound anything like the words. 🙂
She LOVES books. Her favorite is “Rachael Isadora I see”………. it was Micah’s favorite, and it was blackened by the fire…. but I saved it. I’m so glad I did. She loves it. She loves to touch her bellybutton when the part about Rachael’s belly button, and she pretends to splash the water on the page about the bath. Her other favorite is Mr. Brown Can Moo, especially when Daddy reads it to her.
She still loves water. From day one, she just loves to be in it. Never one moment of fear.
She still is a major thumb sucker…….. I still love it. I’m sure I won’t always feel that way.

She LOVES Elmo. This is a new obsession. But it’s adorable, and it’s one of her most reliable words.

She loves the swing at the park.

She’s totally fine to play for long periods of time with toys whatever. She loves to take things out, and put them back in. She’s a good “cleaner upper” She loves to explore.

She just learned how to use to remote, she’s turned the TV on, and turned it to a channel about woman’s hair. 🙂

As from birth she’s very interactive. She makes great eye contact, and will draw you into her world with her smiles and babbles. She wants to know your with her, but then she’s fine to explore on her own. Since she started crawling, she doesn’t feel the need to be held much. (much to her mamma and Micah’s dismay). She’s pulling up and cruising now, but still seems far off from walking. She can get up and down with no problems, hold on with one hand, but is still very wobbly and unsteady. I worry sometimes, and then I remember, she’s so smart, she’s just got hyper-mobile joints and low tone like her Mamma…..

She’s obsessed with climbing the stairs. I’m so glad we got a gate to block them. This is why I can sit and write this now, as she plays around me.

I just love how she does something, then looks at me to make sure i’m looking, with the most adorable smile. I’m telling you……… everything she does is magic. Seriously.