Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thankful for the Tears

My youngest son has probably spent more of his short life crying than any of my other children. As his ability to deal with life improves and the amount of time he spends crying becomes less, I'm incredibly thankful for the change. It has been slow in coming, and, after a year, well over-due.
He started out crying...

And he kept crying... that is why we don't have many photos

Recently, though, I was reminded of just how wonderful a crying baby really is. You see, only healthy babies cry. Babies who are sick are generally too sick to cry; the sicker they are, the quieter they become. And, only babies who are very much alive can cry; graves (and those in them) are silent.

Orphanages, I've been told, can be silent too, but for a much different reason. Orphans learn very quickly; their tears are silenced by neglect. If no one comes, if no one cares, why invest the energy to cry. The emotional scars may never heal.

Thankfully, my son's cries have not been silenced, either by neglect, death, or serious illness. He is very much alive, and very vocal about his needs, knowing that his cries will be heard by someone who cares.

If you are struggling with a fussy baby, don't lose heart! Fussy babies (whether you have a high-needs baby, a baby with colic, or a refluxer) are incredibly challenging. But, at least they are alive. And that is definitely better than the alternative.
Isn't he cute?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A Life Worth Celebrating

I really believe life is precious; worth celebrating. Whether big or small, young or old, neuro-typical or not, life is worth celebrating. So are milestones. You know, like birthdays and anniversaries and major accomplishments.

But, on the eve of a very significant milestone, I find myself ill-prepared, not ready to celebrate. My son turns one today. One year ago right now, I was in the hospital, working very diligently to bring this boy into the world. He didn't arrive for another twenty hours, but who is counting (besides me)?

It has been a very difficult year. Instead of being amazed at how quickly the last year has gone, we have made very slow progress; each month marked not by celebration and milestones, but by survival and sickness.

Admittedly, baby J isn't as sick as some. But I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted by his needs. The energy and effort required to mount a celebration is simply not there. And that makes me sad.

Baby J will not pass this milestone uncelebrated, however. His big sisters worked on a cake, and his grandma is coming to visit in the afternoon. We won't make his favorite dinner (a long-honored family tradition), because he can't tell us what he wants. But he will eat cake and blow out candles to the tune of "Happy Birthday."

And I will have a choice; to focus on celebrating my sons first year, or on the fact that I am too tired to throw him a party. Honestly, I feel like a terrible mom for not doing a better job with birthdays in general. Instead of letting I ruin my day, however, I am going to make the most of what I've got. My son is a gift. His life is a precious treasure. And though the last year has been incredibly challenging, his is a life worth celebrating.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Stuck in the Desert

As I type this, it is 3 am. Awake and in pain, it has been an interesting journey the last few days. My back is out (though I have no idea what I did); I have a large sliver in my foot (I know how that got there, but not how to get it out) that hurts if I move my foot wrong or touch it to sheets or bed; my youngest son has been throwing up (no idea why that is happening, either), and he threw up on me multiple times.

In spite of the misery, this journey is almost comical, honestly. The problems, the illness, the struggles just keep coming. No sooner has one issue been resolved or overcome than another takes its place. None of the problems are really life-threatening (though the baby's have been close), just difficult; they are draining emotionally and physically.

This journey through the desert is also very isolating. Friends are busy; their lives full of their own challenges and struggles, joys and adventures. Like the old song goes, nobody likes a party-pooper, and people stuck in the desert can easily become party-poopers.

So far, though, God's grace is enough. He is helping me (begin to) embrace this journey in the desert. He is bringing comfort and peace, showing me that this journey is His call on my life right now. As I embrace God's invitation to journey in the desert (and one can either embrace God's invitation or reject the blessings; the invitation cannot be refused), I can clearly see His hand at work, orchestrating details and proving His "Godness" in many little ways. As crazy as it sounds, I am even finding reasons to rejoice and celebrate in this desert of loneliness, isolation, abandonment, and exhaustion.

Somewhere in the Bible, it says that God will never give you more than you can handle. I've wondered how close to the limit He is willing to go (since I am pretty sure we've gotten right up to that line more than once), but as my journey continues, one lesson stands out above the rest; God can be trusted. Knowing I can trust the God of my salvation brings a comfort I can't explain. Do I wish this sojourn in the desert was over? Yes, definitely. But will I trade what God has been doing in my life, what He has been teaching me for a shortcut to a beautiful oasis and an end to the lessons? No! I do not want short-circuit God's plan for me, or miss out on what I will learn about Him along the way. Life, I am learning, is much more about the journey than the destination.