Content Amidst the Chaos

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Four years ago… May 8, 2010

Filed under: S1,S4,Superman — jps23 @ 8:37 pm

I should be preparing for the dual birthday parties we are having tomorrow, but I’m so tired from working on that today that I thought I’d take a break and share a little story.  Picasso and Earnhart will be celebrating their birthdays simultaneously tomorrow, her 8th and his 4th.  I can’t believe our oldest is eight.  It is true.  It goes by way too fast.  Tipper looks just like she did as a baby, the first sibling of hers to strongly resemble her, so it’s kind of neat to look back at her by just looking in his face.  I’ll have to scan in some of her baby pics to show you sometime.  She looked a little something like this…

…only with longer lashes.  I can’t believe how much she has grown.  She is my precious first born, the one I learned how to do this job with, the one I let sleep with us in our bed too long, keep her paci until she was four, and threw the huge party with mulch ordered for the backyard, which she slept through.  She’s taught me so much about being a mom.  I just love her.

She picked the Target doll over the AG doll because it made more financial sense to her!

Our first son was born four years later, almost to the day.  His birthday is nine days after hers.  Only with him, we had a moment in time where we weren’t sure we’d be celebrating a fourth birthday, or a first for that matter.  When Earnhart was born, I was a pro.  We went to church just days after we came home from the hospital.  We visited a friend at a children’s hospital after she had major surgery.  We went to the zoo in an effort to make up for the last few weeks where I mothered mostly from the couch.  We were out there.  The girls were actually attending a preschool program at the local baptist church, so they could have brought the germs home, or it could have just been my carelessness.  Either way, Earnhart got sick.  I couldn’t keep him awake to nurse.  He slept all of the time, and when he was awake, he was very floppy and lethargic.  We had a meeting with a developmental pediatrician regarding some testing we had done with one of our girls, and she was very concerned when she saw him.  He was very yellow, and she was concerned about his jaundice levels.  She canceled our meeting and sent us to the hospital immediately.

At the ER, they took his vitals and weren’t happy with his pulse and oxygenation.  They admitted him and ran tests, and while he wasn’t having alarming results, the nurse kept saying that his tests weren’t matching what she was seeing.  That nurse was our angel.  She would not rely on what the machines were telling her.  The doctor decided to send us to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in order for Earnhart to have a spinal tap done.  The Children’s team from the ambulance came to load us up.  It was a huge rig.  Just before they put me in the front for the ride up, they warned me that they may have to intubate him if he stopped breathing.  I nodded my head and got in the front, just trying to process it all.  The driver shut the door and went to the back to assist them in loading the incubator that they had to put him in, and it hit me hard.  Intubate?  My baby could stop breathing?  Could my baby die?  The thought had NEVER crossed my mind, EVER.  I knew that babies have passed, but I had never consider that happening to one of my babies.  Superman had to go home and get some stuff for us and get the girls taken care of.  My parents couldn’t ride up with me.  I was alone, and I was terrified.  Then the strangest thing happened.  The driver hopped in the front of the rig, made sure I was buckled up, and took off with lights flashing and sirens blazing.  And he talked to me.  Not about the baby fighting for his life in the back, but just random stuff to keep my mind off of that very frightening situation.  And we were there in a blink, greeted by at least 12 people rushing to care for my son.  They talked me through every step and procedure, though I couldn’t tell you what any of those things were right now.  They did a spinal tap and sent cultures off.  He had meningitis, but you have to wait on the cultures for a few days before you know for certain if it is bacterial or viral.  Did I mention the sweet child was only 8 days old?  They put him on antibiotics to treat him just in case, and we were placed in the NICU, right in front of the nurse’s station.  He was put on monitors, under bilirubin lights, and under a warmer to raise his body temp.  He was also wrapped in several blankets and put on an IV to get his vitals to a safe place.  I was scared.  Terrified.  Oh, and I had three little girls at home who were just adjusting to having me back home with a new baby in tow, one of whom was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder that we were still figuring out.  How was anyone going to be able to take care of them the way only I knew how to do?  They were too young to visit, and they had no understanding of what was going on.  The youngest were just shy of their 2nd and 3rd birthdays, and the oldest had just turned four.  They needed their momma.

Sorry about the quality. It's a photo of a photo.

I went a couple of days without getting to hold him.

But I couldn’t leave my son.  I was the reason he was there, struggling, in the first place.  Or at least that is what I thought in my mind.  So I camped there in his room, watching nurse rotations and doctor’s rounds, waiting to hear what was going on, pumping so that I could supplement my breast milk with the formula he had to take because of his decreased weight from not eating much that week, and reading.  We got the cultures back and found out it was viral meningitis.  We were in the clear, sort of.  The urgency and edge-of-our-seats feeling had left the room, but you can still face complications with the viral, especially with such a young child.  I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I had become calm.  To some, I may have seemed like I wasn’t worried enough.  But I knew worry wouldn’t make him better.  Worry wouldn’t change our circumstances.  Worry wouldn’t reverse what had happened.  So instead, I prayed, and I had many prayers behind me through family, friends, and fellow church members.  Our parents visited daily, as did members or our church.  We were bathed in care and concern.  My sister-in-law helped out with the kids, and Superman spent some time going back and forth.  I was so grateful for the calm.  I was thankful for the nurses.  Even the lady that cleaned my room each day was heaven sent.  And I learned something.  I don’t have to do it all for my children.  I can’t do it all for my children.  My son needed those doctors and nurses to help him live.  I couldn’t do that for him.  He did need me there, which meant I couldn’t take care of the girls.  But you know what?  Someone else did the job and they survived.  And as you know from the fact that I am celebrating his birthday today, Earnhart survived.  I learned a valuable lesson those days I spent in the hospital.  God is in control of it all.  I can’t do it all, not without Him.  A lot of folks have some loud, obvious life changing moment that draws them closer to God.  He seems to be taking me on more of a path, with many events along the way that point to His power and might.  They aren’t always easy, but He’s always there.

Happy birthday to my very wild, fun, and rambunctious four year old son!  I’m so thankful for the gift of your life, no matter how loud you choose to live it!

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Chaos Clip February 4, 2010

Filed under: Chaos clip,S4,S7,Superman — jps23 @ 10:26 pm

Today was a circus day.  It was a day where more than one person’s help was needed to get our day accomplished.  The middle two boys went home with my mom after school, and a friend took the girls for the afternoon so I could take Earnhart to his eye appointment.  Let me back up a moment and fill you in.  Disorganization costs you, and this time it cost us $85.00 and a trip to the eye doctor.  We had an appointment scheduled for Earnhart.  He has amblyopia, which left untreated can result in lazy eye, so he has glasses.  Last year, he actually required more than just a corrective lens and he was written a prescription for his lenses (is that the plural form of lens?  I don’t feel like looking it up).  Superman We forgot to move the appointment from the 2009 calendar to the 2010 calendar, so when the appointment came, it also went, without us remembering it.  I called to reschedule as soon as I realized this, and the earliest date available for our doctor in the office closer to us was mid-March.  Uh, are you serious?!?!  So we tried the office on the north side of Atlanta and found the same time frame for our doctor.  They did, however, have an earlier appointment available with another doctor.  Okay, we’ll take it.

Today was that day.  Circus plan activated and off we go.  Well, my mom called me on my way up to the appointment to vent about a tough day.  I listen while I drive, but for some reason I think I need to go I-75 instead of I-85 at the split.  No biggie.  I’ll turn around at the next exit, EXCEPT that the on ramp back to southbound was backed up due to an accident.  So, I go through town to try and find another access ramp to I-85.  I take a right to head towards the exit, and the van cuts off mid-turn.  Just past the intersection on a busy Atlanta street, with Earnhart and Tipper in the back.  GLORIOUS!  I call Superman and let him know, so he heads up to meet me, and in the meantime, I flag down an Atlanta police woman who drives by, looking all too thrilled that I bothered her (she did sweeten up after seeing my two cute boys).  She calls a tow truck (because I can’t do anything with the van to get it going) and offers to take me and the boys to the precinct to wait for Superman.  The problem is that his cell phone is dead and I couldn’t call him to tell him that was the plan.  Fortunately for me, he arrived just in time, right as I was signing the slip with the $85 charge to tow my van to my house.  Earnhart loved sitting in the back of the police car, but alas, it was time to head home and stop interfering in the Atlanta afternoon traffic.  The tow truck guy, Kelvin, actually knew the area where we lived because his aunt used to live over here, and he currently resides in the city we moved from six months ago.  Very friendly.  I told Superman that I feel like God has sent angels to me in crisis situations to help take my mind off of the crazy hysteria that would settle in if I thought too long and hard about my situation.  I failed to mention that I was already frustrated about my turn around and the fact it was going to make me late, and I was yelling speaking to Superman about being tired of never getting anywhere on time.  How about I just don’t show up at all?  Pretty mad, but Kelvin helped me forget it, or at least not be as mad about it.  And he can drive a mean tow truck.  He backed our van, attached to his tow truck (not the bed kind), up our 57 degree-steep driveway, when Superman and I aren’t brave enough to do that driving our vehicles ourselves!   Thank you, God, for Kelvin, and the annoyed police officer who couldn’t help but smile at my sons, for Superman putting on his cape (or 12-passenger van) and flying to my rescue, and for allowing me to get lost so that I was on a city street instead of the interstate when my van decided to misbehave.

 

Wordless Wednesday January 13, 2010

Filed under: S2,S3,S4,S5,S6,Superman,Wordless Wednesday — jps23 @ 11:56 am

 

The boy January 3, 2010

Filed under: S4 — jps23 @ 2:23 pm

I was often known to say that if I never had a boy, S3 acted enough like one in her personality to cover that for me.  She was very active and physical, certainly as much as any boy.  And then I had one.  S4 is our oldest son.  He makes S3 look feminine and fru-fru!  He is loud.  He is very active and physical.  He loves riding his bike, and he actually prefers to ride his sister’s sixteen-inch bike (with training wheels).  He only has one speed, and that is fast.  He loves cars and anything else with wheels, for that matter.  When he was just a baby, the floor could be covered with “girl” toys, and he’d find the one thing with wheels and play with it.  If it didn’t have wheels, he’d drive it anyway.  He used the girls’ dollhouse as a parking garage.  The cute thing about S4 is that he wears glasses.  He’s actually worn them since he was just one-year-old.  His official diagnosis is amblyopia, a condition where the eye can become lazy.  The glasses serve to hold the muscles firm in the affected eye by using a lens that makes them work.  They can’t say for sure if he will wear them indefinitely, but it’s been almost two years, and while it hasn’t gotten worse, it also hasn’t gotten any better.  He also requires a slight prescription in one eye now, so I guess that alone will keep him in glasses.  It’s rare to find this diagnosis in such a young child, but there is a story that goes with that that will have to be saved for another post.  At eight days old, he was diagnosed with viral meningitis and we spent eight days in the hospital getting him better.  It’s a much longer story than this, so I’ll post on it another time.  He also has to wear ankle-foot orthodics, which could or could not have to do with the meningitis.  He has a mild diagnosis of cerebral palsy due to a one sided weakness (which probably explains the eye issue, too).  He doesn’t let either of these things slow him down, and it almost seems like they propel him to try harder in everything that he does.  His teacher says he’s the peacemaker at school, but at home, he is quite the instigator!  He loves and adores his sisters, looking up to them in everything they do.  He isn’t always as grateful for his brothers, but he does have moments of tenderness with them that are more frequent than when he does not.  He certainly wears me out, but I love him!

Wow, this car has five wheels!

Our little man

 

Manage-it Monday November 23, 2009

Filed under: Manage-It Monday,S4,The Siblings — jps23 @ 8:48 pm

So, how do you manage sibling rivalry?  It’s something that we have to deal with on a regular basis, seeing that there are so many siblings and they are so close in age.  I came across this tip on a few mom blogs a couple of years ago, and it has worked quite well for us.  They suggested having a kid of the week.  That child gets all the priviledges of the week, like going first (or last, if they prefer), being Mommy’s special helper, and sitting in the front of the bathtub, when sharing their bathtime (or maybe getting to take a bath alone).  However, they also are the ones that get asked for favors and special help sometimes, too.  In our family, the priviledge most desired is sitting in the front seat of the “mini” van.  It only seats seven, so when it is full of a parent plus all the kids, someone has to sit in the front.  This was a necessity before we got the “many” van, where we do not practice having a kid in the front seat because it isn’t necessary.  Fortunately, our “mini” van has a feature that shuts the airbag off when a certain minimal weight is picked up in the seat (like a child).  Before you report me, know that this is the only reason I will allow a child in the front seat.  I took this kid of the week concept and had a little fun with it.  I took the letters KOW and wrote them on a piece of construction paper.  I then found a blackline (coloring sheet) online of a cow and colored and cut it out.  I took the pictures of the three girls’ faces and cut them out, used velcro dots, and each week, we move the face onto the cow to remind us whose turn it is for the week.  Because of the front seat issue, you have to be five to be on the kow rotation in our house, and S4 even knows that when he turns five, he gets a chance to be the KOW!  This method greatly reduces our sibling rivalry issues.

In dealing with those issues, which we do in other areas now that the girls are older, I came across this idea.  We haven’t tried it yet, but it’s definitely in the toolbox.  When your child offends their sibling, saying or doing something hurtful or mean, send them to hammer a nail into a piece of wood.  Do this a few times until they seem to catch on to the connection between their offense and the nail.  Then tell them to go pull the nails out.  Discuss with them that although the nails are gone, the holes from the nails are still there and cannot be taken away.  This will help to illustrate the affects of their unkind words or actions on others, especially their siblings.  Of course, this wouldn’t work with my boys at this point because they are so young, but I think it’s something the girls would understand pretty quickly.  I think this idea was suggested by Kevin Lehman in one of his kid-raising books.

There are other tools and strategies, but that is the way we are managing it right now!

 

Thoughtful Thursday November 19, 2009

Filed under: S1,S2,S4,S5,S6,Thoughtful Thursday — jps23 @ 1:23 pm

My kids are some of the most thoughtful kids I know.  I know you probably think I am biased, but they really are extremely aware and respectful of other peoples’ feelings.  Even with each other, although they are close in age and with each other all the time, they practice compassion and thoughtfulness.  I’m not bragging or claiming this as an awesome parenting victory.  This one is all God.  Superman and I try to model and demonstrate such love, but we aren’t perfect.  You see, when I was “surprised” by my pregnancy with S2, just four months after S1 had arrived, I prayed, HARD!  I prayed for their development and their ability to get along.  God delivered, and He’s offered that same gift to us with each child.  I am grateful.  I’m not one of those parents bent on my children reaching (or racing to) certain milestones.  They’ll get there in their time, and when they need extra help doing so, we make sure they get it.  This, however, is a goal that melts my heart.  My 3 yr old son, who is every bit a rambunctious and wild little boy, came looking in the bathroom for his brother to give him his backpack today.  You don’t understand, either.  This isn’t just some backpack.  For a few months, S5 slept in this backpack.  It is very special to him, and S4 wanted to make sure that he gave it to him this morning.  As I type this now, I’m hearing S4 say to S5, “You wanna try that?” and S5 replying, “Yeah, sure, I wanna try that.  Do you wanna try that?” in his squeaky 2 yr old voice.  All the while, they are including their 1 yr old brother in their fun.  Little boys.  I don’t know if you realize this or not, but little boys don’t act that way a whole lot.  You might at one little boy who is sweet as can be, but put him with another little boy, just one year older or younger, to live and breathe with every day, and it can get tense!  That’s the one area my mom, who is my mommy mentor, has not mastered.  She was a wonderul mother and almost always has the answers to my parenting questions, but she only had one boy.  It’s different.  Just trust me when I say that.  So for Thoughtful Thursday, I’m going to abandon my post and finish listening to my boys being thoughtful of one another.  In a matter of seconds, it could be a totally different story!!!