Friday, May 10, 2013
Happy? Mother's Day
After I hit 40, I resigned myself to the fact that I would never experience Mother’s Day as a Mom. I have always adored children and wanted my own- but the timing was never right, my career was not at the right point, the relationship was not stable, or and for the last few years, I have not been in a relationship at all. Somewhere in all of that I went from “putting children off” to being content as an aunt to many, but mother to none.
A year ago, all of that changed when an amazing little boy came into my world. He was in foster care and needed a Mom to love him. I was a woman whose heart had always ached for a little boy to love. At the risk of sounding cliché… it was just meant to be. Our story really is one of those pinch-me-because-this-is-almost-too-good-to-be-true stories of how God worked in many ways to create a very happy twist in the course of many lives.
I LOVE being a Mom. And although being an “older” Mom of a toddler is excruciatingly exhausting, it also allows me to have a perspective that I know I never would have had when I was younger. I take time to appreciate things that I know would have slipped by me unnoticed years ago. I let things roll off my back that would have had me tied in knots with worry in my 20’s & 30’s. I truly believe God had a Plan and everything leading to now has prepared me for this incredible period of my life. And I intend to make the most of every minute of it! I really have done that, until now. As I am getting ready to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as an “official” adoptive Mom -instead of feeling joy; I am overwhelmed by a sadness and sense of guilt that has taken me by surprise.
I always looked at Mother’s Day as a very special day for all Moms and their children. It always has been like that in my family, so I admit that I never really gave it much thought. But the last year has given me the gift of stepping outside of my little world and opening my eyes and heart to the world of foster care and adoption. It has changed me in ways I didn’t imagine were possible.
Everyday, I reflect on the fact that my greatest happiness comes at the expense of another mother who no longer has this precious boy in her life. Every.single.day. Few people in my life understand how I can feel this way and remind me that her choices led to this path- one that ultimately could have been even far more damaging to my son than they were. I recognize that and will even admit that I may have felt the same way not so long ago… before it became real… before it was my family. I know she loved him deeply. I also know she has her own demons and a terrible childhood that didn’t prepare her to know healthy love or how to make choices to put her child first. Please don’t misunderstand; I can never make excuses or condone a mother ‘s choices when she has placed her child at risk. Life isn’t black and white though and people aren’t all bad or all good. Could I have made better choices if my circumstances were different? I want to believe I would have, but I don’t honestly believe anyone can know what path they would have chosen until they are in that position. I do hold her responsible and absolutely believe my son needed to be removed from that environment. I also can’t stop my heart from breaking for a woman I have never met and yet feel strangely close to. And as Mother’s Day approaches, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. I know that only by the Grace of God am I the “Mama” that our beautiful son will make a macaroni necklace for, the one he will shower with kisses and the one he will spend the day with… and each day after that. And I feel sorrow that in addition to her horrific childhood memories and the demons she battles, SHE gets a day that undoubtedly will serve to remind her of mistakes made and of the child she lost. And I know she is not alone in that. I also look at my son- the boy who everyone says is so “lucky” because I adopted him. While I know he will grow up truly knowing security and a mother’s unconditional love, I also know at some time in his life he will also grasp the undoubtedly painful truth of another mother who was unable to care for him. My heart aches for my son and for all of the children in foster care or unstable homes who may be especially reminded on Mother’s Day that they don’t have a Mother like those described in a Hallmark card.
As a single mother, I am also acutely aware that my son has realized that he is different from his friends and he doesn’t have a Dad. I understand that I made that choice for him when I chose to adopt him. I also know that I will ensure he will have positive male role models and he will be just fine. Still, my heart aches this Mother’s Day knowing that soon his daycare class will be making macaroni neck-ties and he will feel the emptiness of a child without a parent to celebrate on Father’s Day. My head tells me that I should not let something like this color my joy on my special day- but somehow my heart can’t move past this sadness I feel for my son and all of the others I have come to care so deeply for and the thought of their pain on these two holidays.
In the end, I will smile, hug my son tight and cherish the day while proudly wearing my first macaroni necklace- I know I will. I am so honored to be his Mom. I also know that I will spend much of the day thinking and praying for the mothers and children who may not have that same opportunity.
I hope Lisa's words touched you as much as they touched me...God doesn't call all of us down this path, and I am so grateful He is there to help us with the sticky parts, and that He gives us other families to support our journey.
Friday, April 26, 2013
All I know is, after watching these today, while Eli was napping, I grieved. I literally grieved from the bottom of my soul. Sobs that wracked my body, I couldn't catch my breath. I have not cried like that since the loss of a family member suddenly a few years ago. I was riding full-speed on the Hot Mess Express. I was still not convicted "Yes, this is the path for you" or "This is not what I have in mind yet..." I was just convicted that we need to do SOMETHING. As Christians, as citizens of the US, as humans with compassion. There's a lot of hurt in this world,but hurting kids gets me the most. I love where the first video says "I am the gas,he is the brakes..." If Josh wasn't my brakes, I don't know where we would be. If I didn't give the car of our family gas, I don't know where we would be, either. We are a perfect compliment on this adoption journey.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Two years ago, we spent a week in the Keys. Same townhouse, right before Easter, similar activities and extended family there. Yet two years ago, my heart was so heavy. That December (2010), we were cautiously excited about a positive pregnancy test, then crushed by declining hormone levels over the next week. Chemical pregnancy, miscarriage, lab abnormalities- we don’t really know and it was very early, and to be honest I didn’t ask a lot of questions. What it amounted to was pain, dashed dreams, and questions about continuing on that path. A few weeks later, January 2011, is when we decided to turn from infertility and embrace the adoption journey. So two years ago in the Keys, my head was swimming with paperwork, questions, and doubt. I sat down on that beach and cried and cried...I saw toddlers running in the waves, babies in strollers, families all around me. It was almost painful to watch. My mom held me as I cried, and told me of the weeks she spent in the Virgin Islands (where my grandparents lived) crying and mourning the loss of my sister in a full-term pregnancy. She was sure she would never be a mom, after countless miscarriages and a stillborn. They were considering Chinese adoption, considering a million things. And she sat under palm trees looking out at that same ocean and cried. And then found out she was pregnant with me, just a few weeks later. I was born exactly 11 months after my sister Abigail.
So two years ago when we were at the beach, I sat down with my journal and wrote a letter to my future family.I had bought the journal as we decided to start a family, and the cover of it is where this blog derives its name.
In starting our journey I realized that despite whatever plans I laid, God would be the one to fill our nest. I needed to step out in faith and write this letter, to this family that did not yet exist. I decided that I would not feel overwhelmed or scared. I would trust that the desire to be a mom that God put on my heart WOULD be fulfilled. I wrote to this family and told them how we hoped the first of them would be here by Thanksgiving that year (through pregnancy) but that God had other plans. I told my future kids that I didn’t care how they came to us, and that it never mattered to us whether through adoption or birth. I told them how excited I was to take them to this beach some day. To see baby toes thrilled by the cold ocean water, young kids exploring the island, teenagers getting into typical teenage vacation trouble. And I signed the letter, “Love you, Mom.” Writing that, before it was true, was placing my trust in God that it would come to pass. It was hard to write. I remember forcing the pen to make the word.
This year, as Eli stepped out onto that beach and shrieked in excitement as the cold surf hit his toes, my tears began to flow.
During the course of the week, I sent some texts/pics to Eli’s birthmom- first steps in the ocean, sound asleep in Grandma’s arms after a full day of fun, playing with daddy on the beach. She loves being able to see all the things he does and enjoys, and the opportunities that we are blessed to be able to give him. I opened up to her a bit, sharing how hard the last trip down here had been, and how different it felt this time- with her to thank. Despite the fact that its immeasurably hard for her to miss him growing up, I also know she felt happiness for us as she told me that we really have come full-circle as a family...I am thankful for a relationship with her where we can be open to share those highs and lows- her struggles with missing him, excitement for the life he is living, our struggles before him. I was excited to learn that he “visited” the Pacific ocean in her second trimester, and therefore has been to both oceans before he is 1 1/2 years old ;) What a well-traveled little man!
As we packed up for the week, I took some time again to write a letter in the same chair, on the same beach, to our current and future family that God is continuing to build. I shared about Eli’s first trip and all the things we did. I shared about the struggles on my heart with where or when the next child/children will come to us. I wondered if our next trip to the Keys (probably in March 2015, every other year) will have us with two preschoolers, or a newborn and a preschooler, or any other combination I can think of...I don’t have any more clarity for my heart on what direction we are heading, but being on that same beach reminded me that despite the muddled mess I might continue to be, God’s got this.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Its been a long time since I sobbed in church...I know some people do often, I see it and appreciate it for the honesty and transparency of heart that they can show. I know some people never do, and I appreciate and recognize that the things that move them might be kept more private. I cried frequently through the six weeks we knew about Eli and waited for his birth, to see if he would come home with us. I cried realizing the enormity of the decision this young expectant mother, now his birthmother, was considering. I think the last time I cried in church was my first Mother's Day. I cried with joy for myself, grief for Eli's birthmom, thankfulness for the sweet babe in my arms, and the pain of knowing mothers who were still waiting for their babies. Knowing how I had felt a year prior, and the God-given ache for parenthood that seems as if it will only come by a difficult path. I sobbed through that whole service, like obnoxiously and sniffi-ily- the whole works.
Today, in church, my tears caught me by surprise...I didn't walk into church feeling emotional, and there wasn't anything in particular about the sermon that was any more or less moving than many other weeks. Our pastor said something about "We might be asking God to fix a roof in our life, and He decides He is going to build an addition." The concept that God's plans are different, and sometimes bigger, than ours. Not a new concept to me. My entire path to parenthood was a life lesson in that. My infertility, the greatest blessing of my life, that brought me my son. That brought me along with it a supportive and loving adoption community, and a beautiful relationship with Eli's first family that I could never have imagined. Only God can do that.
Today, though, when my pastor brought up God's plans being different than ours, I sobbed out of wishing sometimes this wasn't true. As we just completed our file for our next adoption, I have organized and sorted newborn clothing, lovingly packed away swing, bouncer, boppy pillow, and all accoutrements of life with a newborn. My hope and desire is for another baby to come home to us, and another open adoption where we get the chance to share our life and our child with their biological family. A child that comes to us by his or her parent's choice to make an adoption plan for them. Not by hard circumstances and removal by CYS...a child that is the product of a loving decision and a supportive adoptive/biological family. What we have now. That's what I want. Again.
I cried today because I am not sure that is what God wants. There have been a couple things recently that have been working on my heart recently. The first is a group study at my church entitled "Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break" by Kelly Minter.
Throughout this study she asks us what breaks our heart....mine has ALWAYS been children, orphanages, expectant moms without resources, adoption, abuse, neglect, child trafficking. These have ALWAYS broken my heart. I have been involved in Young Lives, a teen mom ministry. I have volunteered in an orphanage in Haiti. I have worked with special needs and foster children in the Pittsburgh area. I feel like I have responded, in many ways, like Nehemiah, to what breaks my heart. (Nehemiah's heart was broken by the City of Jerusalem, and he was called to rebuild its walls and lift it out of disgrace). But through the course of this study, I feel like God has broken my heart on a more personal level...
Combined with that, my husband and I have been attending the ADOPTS training that has been developed by Bethany Christian Services.
This training focuses on trauma after adoption. My husband and I are attending for both personal and professional reasons. This can be the trauma that Eli will later feel, as he realizes that he was separated from his family of origin, or it can be trauma experienced in children before they were removed from their home by Child Services, or in an overseas orphanage. The other families in the training have a wide range of stories- domestic infant adoption, open adoption of a toddler, overseas adoption, special needs adoption. The stories they share about their children are a mix of beauty and heartache...and I am moved. These families are brave. Loving. Honoring of God's call. I want to be too... But I am scared. I am scared of a high-needs child interrupting the idyllic little life Eli has. I am scared of not being able to handle the needs of a child who has a rough past. I am scared that home life will start to feel too similar to our "work life," particularly my husband's, as he works with high-needs children all day long at a residential treatment facility. And I'm just scared because I have no clear vision of what is ahead.
I am not sure where God is leading us. Perhaps its just to be involved in another way with the brokenness of the foster care system. Perhaps to volunteer, support. Perhaps its to help more, care more, be moved more. Perhaps its to open our eyes and remove some of the hardness that has developed after seven years in the Human Services field. Perhaps its more. What I know is, God sets kids in families. The child that will be ours, will be. I cried because I am not sure if God is trying to strip away my desire for another healthy open adoption of a baby...I cried because the thought of receiving my child out of their birthparent's neglect rather than out of a loving choice hurts my heart. I cried because how would we explain to our kids that Eli has this beautiful story, while containing pain and loss, that is borne out of a love and a desire for him to have stability and opportunity? And how do we explain if their story is very different than his? I cry now as I type this out of a sadness that someday we might have a child whose first steps and first words were not mine to witness. And my heart just hurts. Because I have NO IDEA what God is doing to it.
We could very likely still end up doing an infant adoption, with a voluntary termination. That is what what we have been planning to do all along. I have a strong, strong desire for another open relationship with our next child's birth family. Grieving the potential loss of that relationship is also why I cry. Many people still question why this openness is so important to me. It just is, and its just what God has laid on our hearts. To always value and never disparage where our children came from.I try to explain it to them, and I just can't. I often get the response "Well, you just lucked out that his birth family is so nice and normal and fun to be around." Is that the case, or are they nice and normal and fun to be around because we took the time to get to know them? Is our family normal? Is yours? Is any? Our open adoption is one of the things I value most in my life as important to Eli. To think about losing that gem of history with another child... I don't know....I just don't know why God is breaking my heart with this, or what He is preparing us for, or what He is doing. And sometimes, thats a very scary place to be. I am thankful He does not leave us to walk alone...I ask you to pray with us, and for me, as I try to figure out why the tears keep flowing. And I ask for support from those who foster if we still continue on with our decision to do a domestic infant adoption. I ask for support if we take on something a little more unexpected. I am so blessed and thankful for our church family, which contains so many adoptive families of varied stories and experiences.
Pray with me as I cry...thanks, friends.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Every parent’s number one priority is to keep their children safe and sound. In order to do help accomplish that goal, you must identify the potential dangers both inside and outside the confines of your home.
If you have young children, you’ll want to be extra vigilant in baby proofing your home. In fact, almost every room can be a minefield of potential hazards, many of which can be easily overlooked.
First of all, you should make sure all medications, cleaning products and other potentially poisonous household chemicals are stored out of the reach of young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60,000 young children visit the emergency room each year due to accidental medication poisoning.(And just because it is a child-proof bottle doesn't mean its safe- Did you know only 6 Tylenol tablets can kill a toddler? And they won't even show symptoms until their liver is too damaged to function. Keep medicine up high!! ~Meg)
Additionally, you should make sure to unplug electronic appliances when not in use and keep the cords out of the reach of children who may want to tug on them.
Trips and falls can also be an issue for toddlers, so it’s always wise to secure second-story windows with guards or safety netting. A guard can be as simple as placing two screws in the window frame to prevent the window from sliding up more than a few inches. Placing safety gates at the top and bottom of staircases can also keep unsuspecting toddlers from taking quite the tumble. Practice climbing steps with supervision so that if your toddler ever does access steps unsupervised, they will be more steady and less likely to fall. Window cord blinds have been known to strangle children as well. Tie them up in a knot or wind them into a child-safety device made just for this purpose.
If you don’t already have a home security system, you should strongly consider investing in one. In addition to providing monitored protection against burglary, fire and several other threats, many modern alarm systems also offer remote video surveillance and real-time text alerts. This can be a godsend for parents who want to keep tabs on their kids while at work or away from home. Many new home security systems can take the place of a baby monitor, and allow you to view your children sleeping or playing. For more information on home security systems, check out www.quortek.com.
Teach smart safety habits
Many parents would like to be there to look over their children’s shoulder at all times. But whether you have a toddler, preteen or teenager, the day will come where your little ones will have to look out for themselves. This is where "over-baby-proofing" can come into play. We still need to teach children words and caution such as "hot" or not to touch outlets, so that if they are ever in a situation that is not child-proofed, they will have a higher chance of being safe.
Consequently, it’s never too early to start teaching your kids smart safety habits. More specifically, you should instruct them how to recognize dangerous situations and respond appropriately.
Encourage your children to use the buddy system and to avoid talking to strangers. Make sure they never give out personal information such as their name, address or phone number to people they don’t know. Additionally, instruct them to get in the habit of checking in with you when they arrive or leave somewhere, or if their plans have changed. Choose a "safe word" with your children, so that if you ever need to send another adult to pick them up during an emergency, this adult would be able to confirm with your children that you did send them. Practicing a fire safety plan with your children is also important. When you test your smoke alarms, use the test as a fire drill as well. (For our home study, we had to come up with a fire safety plan. I am not sure we would have done this otherwise. Our plan includes a collapsible ladder that is in Eli's closet and a $10 garage-sale baby carrier so that one of us could safely carry him out the window. The carrier hangs next to the ladder, so they are easily accessible. Our home caught fire when I was a child, and while thankfully it did not burn down, it is a terrifying and confusing experience. Practicing ahead of time helps kids know what to do when there is smoke and noise everywhere. ~Meg)
Not only will these habits stay with your children for the rest of their lives, but they will also be passed along to your grandchildren one day as well.
I'd like to thank Quortek for their guest post and some of the helpful hints they provided. Some, or many, may be familiar to you. But a reminder never hurts!
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Monday, February 4, 2013
Looking back, it seems like it was so long ago. Almost three years ago is a long time but it seems longer than that. Let me take you back to the beginning. At 17 weeks in utero my husband and I were so happy to be finding out the sex of the baby. The ultrasound went great and we got to see a little boy moving around! We already knew he was going to be Christian. The day after I go to work and I show all my coworkers the ultrasound pictures and let them know it’s going to be a boy! However, I did not know that day I would be getting a phone-call.
Just the typical day at the daycare and ready to enjoy the day in the one-year old room with my favorite kids! Right before getting the kids ready for lunch my phone rang…”Hi Aimee, this is Jill, the mid-wife from the doctor’s office. I normally do not like to talk over the phone and would rather meet you in person but I didn’t know what would work well for your schedule.” My stomach was in a knot. “No go ahead, you can talk to me on the phone, that’s fine.” I said. “Well Aimee we talked with the radiologist and looked at your ultrasound and I’m sorry but we think there are some abnormalities with the ventricles in the baby’s brain and we see multiple cysts on his right kidney.” I’m trying to hold it together at this moment in time and be calm and just ask some questions on what we need to do next. She said they wanted us to get a scan at West Penn Hospital and see Genetics there for a more in-depth ultrasound and information. I hung up the phone in shock. There is something wrong with my baby. I’m just speechless and my mind is blank. As I’m helping the children wash their hands before lunch, my eyes just start tearing. Two of my colleagues walk in and are immediately asking me what’s wrong. As I just started bawling and just rambling about the phone call, they tell me to go home and they got the rest of the day covered for me. I worked with some very moving and supportive women at the daycare and I’m still forever grateful to my boss and colleagues as we went through this journey.
The months after hearing this news turned into seeing a high-risk OBGYN and multiple ultrasounds and stress tests before Christian would arrive. We were told everything from “You will probably miscarry and he could die shortly after birth; to he could have a feeding tube the rest of his life if his esophagus doesn’t attach correctly to his stomach, and he will most likely have severe cognitive and physical disabilities.” It was a lot to swallow but we knew that the Ultimate Physician was in charge. The Lord knew Christian inside and out and made Christian the way he wanted and God ultimately would guide us on what we needed to do for our son. Our friends and family joined with us in praying for Christian as he continued to develop in utero, knowing that we would not know exactly what was all going on until he arrived. And boy did God really help him develop and grow and surprise the doctors by not only making it to term, but he was doing well other than extra fluid on his brain and a cystic kidney.
Christian was born with Hydrocephalus (extra fluid on the brain due to a blocked ventricle), Rhombencephalosynapsis (a fused cerebellum), Polymicrogyria (extra folds on the right side of his brain), a Polycystic kidney (kidney filled with cysts and not functioning), Microtia (small ear canals and a smaller right ear), and Imperforate Anus (closed anal opening) and he had two skin tags (one on his right cheek and one by the left ear). Needless to say he went immediately to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh and was in the NICU for 17 days. While in the NICU, Christian received a VP Shunt for the fluid on his brain and had a colostomy done in order for him to pass stool. His left kidney was doing great and compensating for the right kidney. Since Christian was unable to eat anything right away due to the surgeries, he had a feeding tube for a while until we were able to get him to use a bottle. After the 17 days in the NICU, we learned a lot! Not only was our child a fighter, but he overcame so many odds in the past 9 months he was in utero to the day we left the hospital. The first time you are ever in the hospital for an extended period of time, it can drain on you. However, nothing matters more than your child and the fact that as long as your family is together, it doesn’t matter where you are. You adapt to the changes. We made friends with so many of the nurses and doctors and to this day, Christian still sees most of them.
Throughout Christian’s first year of life he underwent 8 surgeries. He had a colostomy, two shunt placement surgeries and two ventricle drain surgeries for the extra fluid, pull-through surgery for his anus and then the colostomy reversal. Christian also started his bout with Epilepsy when he was just 7 months old. Throughout this year we started Early Intervention and he was receiving Physical and Occupational Therapy along with Outpatient Physical and Occupational Therapy. Because of the hospitalizations and therapies, we were lucky enough for me to be a stay-at-home Mom. Christian is turning three in April and from hospital stays to surgeries; he’s been doing amazing. Last year he did suffer a brain hematoma from the shunt over-functioning so he needed to have surgery. But as always, he bounced back and we were in and out of the hospital in 5 days! Not what people were expecting.
"Not what you were expecting" has become a theme for us. Special needs are hard to accept; much nonetheless understand. I remember the one doctor’s appointment I took Christian to and his pediatrician and I were talking and he said “Well when you’re raising a child with special needs…” That was a shock to me and just stuck in my head. I wanted to look at him and say, “My child doesn’t have special needs; he just has a shunt for the fluid on his brain and that’s all. He has one kidney and his colostomy will be able to be reversed so he’s fine.” When I got home it just truly sank in. Aimee, you have a child with special needs. It doesn’t really sink in until the weekly therapy starts and he doesn’t hit those milestones that the “typical” child hits at that age.
What is typical? All kids are different. I often just want to look at those and be like well you know what, this is “our typical” and this is “our normal.”
What is our Normal? Our Normal is Christian rocking back and forth on his back to fall asleep. He sleeps in an inflatable pool with a mattress right now so he doesn’t fall out of bed. When you come to our house during the week you are going to see our Occupational Therapist twice a week, our Physical Therapist twice a week, our Speech Therapist once a week and our Hearing Therapist once every other week. We also go to outpatient for all of these therapies. Instead of just checking in with the Pediatrician every year we also check in with Nephrology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, ENT, Audiology, the Eye Doctor and the GI Specialist. Because Christian has some sensory issues going on, twice a year he is put under anesthesia for is MRI and teeth cleaning.
Our Normal is when Christian eats meals, they have to be smashed or pureed because he is working on chewing. Christian does not self-feed so we still try snacks but he just throws them on the floor because he does not want to put them in his mouth; although he is starting to try! He had problems with sucking on a bottle around 4 months of age and we went from no sucking to being able to suck through a straw. Christian shows his affection to you by sticking out his forehead so you can give him a kiss or he sometimes will give Mom and Dad a huge smooch. He does not want to be held at all and cannot sit or walk without assistance, but he knows how to get around on his back and his side to get to where he wants to go. Christian can only say “Mom Mom” but is working hard on vowel sounds and imitation.
Our Normal is washing your hands before you see Christian. When Christian gets sick, it always puts him at risk for a seizure. Our equipment at home does not include just your normal appliances; we have a gait trainer, a stander, a specialized feeding chair and a bath chair. Christian can walk for a full hour with his leg braces on in the gait trainer, he can stand in his stander for about an hour, and he can sit to stand with assistance. Although he hates tummy time and bearing weight on his arms, he is slowly getting there. Christian wears a headband hearing device for the time being until they can surgically reconstruct his ear canals when he’s 5 or 6. Our normal is also looking into specialized all day pre-schools for Christian that can provide for every bit of his cognitive and physical needs.
To us, all of the above is normal. This is what God has placed in our hands and has provided for us. We have had our really rough times and we’ve had really good times, but every family has those. And of course, when there is help from others and faith, you can get through anything. God had his hand in this long before we ever knew. I remember struggling through college trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I decided to work in the mental health field for awhile then got a degree in school counseling. God prepared me for my life ahead. After Christian was born we needed to file for medical assistance. I was familiar with this process after working with families in the mental health field. For a time in grad school I worked as a home health aide for a child with cerebral palsy. Her and her family taught me so many things. And when I went for school counseling, I learned the IEP Process and working with kids with special needs. Now there’s the light bulb when I was wondering years ago what I was getting prepared for. Not that you are totally prepared once it happens to “you” but I was a little more comfortable with the surroundings.
I never truly knew people could be so supportive throughout this process either. All of our friends and family have helped and prayed. People we didn’t even know were helping and praying for us. God provided such divine appointments through it all. I remember when I had Christian, there was a very nice paramedic named Jerome that came to get him for the transfer to Children’s. He allowed me to hold Christian for the first time and was just so sweet. The night of Christian’s first seizure when he was 7 months old, he was having a grand mal seizure. He got to the point where he was pretty much unresponsive and needed to be taken by helicopter to Children’s Hospital. Never guess who showed up for the transfer, but Jerome. We immediately were at ease. And to prove the divine appointments continue, after I wrote his letter I sat down to feed Christian dinner. I decided to throw on K-LOVE as we sat and ate. The song that came on was ‘I Need A Savior’ by Among the Thirsty. One of the songs I listened to a lot when pregnant with Christian. Nothing like God speaking to you when you least expect it. I just had to add this and share.
“Your name is Jesus,
Your name is Jesus, You're the wonderful Counselor
You're what I hold on to
I know that You've brought me through All the days of loss to the cross you knew That I'd need a Savior”
Not only have the people in our lives (doctors, nurses, family and friends) been such a blessing, God has financially blessed us. Yes there were some really rough times getting through all of my OBGYN appointments and tests before Christian came, but for the ability for me to stay at home with Christian after he was born was phenomenal. We’ve had our ups and downs but trusting in Him has led us to be able to care for Christian in ways we never thought possible.
When you are ever faced with “You have a child with Special Needs”…embrace it. It doesn’t mean that your life will never again be “normal.” You just make your own “normal.” There are truly some trying times and emotional days you need to get through…but guess what, you get through them. What was said about Christian possibly not making it to birth was crazy to hear if you look at him today. He’s going to be three and starting pre-school this year. He has his own system of communicating. He lights up when he sees people. He makes others smile. He’s got his own personality and is such a blessing; especially when you hear his laugh. He still eats, drinks, plays, walks, sits, takes a bath, etc. like everyone else…just in his “own” way and in his “own” time. We as a society have a sense of timing, but God has his own timing. Patience is so greatly learned throughout this process but waiting for all the good stuff and the developments yet to come is the best reward. It’s a different road, one which we would not choose, but wouldn’t change if you asked us to. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I thank you for reading Aimee's story and hope it was as much a blessing to you as it was to me. Any questions for Aimee can be directed to email@example.com and I will get them to her.
• Jeremiah 29:11 : Ps 40:5
• Jeremiah 29:11 : Isa 55:12
• Jeremiah 29:11 : S Job 8:7; Zec 8:15