tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Archive for the month “December, 2014”

Ready for a New Year

This has been a tough year for us. It didn’t start off great, a stomach bug ripped through the family twice in the first few weeks, and then it got worse when I landed in the hospital on bed rest at 28 weeks pregnant and delivered my baby at 31 weeks. This year wasn’t all bad but I’m definitely ready to say good bye. Before I do though, I wanted to count my blessings and remind myself that even the darkest hours can bring light, it might just take some time.
Like many of my readers, we sleep-walked through the nightmare that is the NICU. We did 77 days there, though it certainly felt longer, but like my husband remarked today, that nightmare feels so much longer ago than it was (even if I still have some PTSD from it). We took home a struggling baby, still living off a feeding tube and struggling to breathe. We received crushing news that he was probably going to have repeat surgeries for his first year, possibly longer. We dealt with a second hospital stay only two months after bringing him home. We found ourselves in some very dark hours. During those dark hours though, we learned who truly cared for our family (and unfortunately, who couldn’t be bothered with us). We saw the great compassion of strangers and became closer with people we barely knew. I found a renewed sense of God and religion. We also received better news than we could have hoped for.
Now we have a happy, healthy, wonderful baby boy. We feel so blessed. Our struggles were tough, but instead of feeling like we were cursed by all that happened, I feel like it has given me hope and purpose. I discovered multiple preemie support groups on line and I’ve continued to keep in contact with them. I feel like my pain and experience can now help others going through similar situations. I feel like we received so much love and charity in our time of need that I want to pay it forward and make next year not a year of need, but a year of giving.
Looking back at this year and coming out on the other side of everything, I feel blessed. I have four beautiful boys who I love with all my heart. I have a wonderful husband who helped me through this year and I feel closer to for it. My baby made it out of the hospital just in time to enjoy nearly perfect summer weather which allowed us to be outside. We had family outings to zoos, beaches, and parks. We welcomed my all my family for a reunion and enjoyed time together. I witnessed my usually timid 4 year old (now 5) decide to take off his training wheels, hop on his bike, and start riding all by himself. Despite everything this year, we laughed, loved, and enjoyed each other as a family.
This year didn’t start off well and the majority of it sucked, but it also brought hope. So for those of you still living through those struggles, just know that they do eventually end, hopefully in a positive way. However and whenever they end though, you will be stronger for it and hopefully find a higher purpose through your struggles. 2014 wasn’t my family’s year, maybe 2015 won’t be your year, but whatever this year brought and next year brings, count the blessings you do have, enjoy those little moments, and know that there is always hope with the New Year.


Your presences is the true present

Dear Husband of Mine,

It is only a few days until Christmas and you are now on vacation, so I just want to remind you of a few things. First and foremost, you are on vacation from work, not your family and it is the holidays, a time for family, so please be mindful of this.

You have worked so hard the past few months, working long hours, missing meals and bedtimes, working despite being sick or it being your day off. We appreciate all this hard work, but we’ve missed you. We have dealt with you being tied to your phone, answering every email and text and even jumping up in the middle of dinner to log back into work. We worked around your sudden call into work on the boys’ birthday when it was your day off and rearranged our day so you could deal with problems that arose, but now your big project is done and launched and you have a break, so please take that break. Put your phone down, stop checking your emails and texts, don’t even look at newsfeeds or blogs. Let this be the last one you look at, let the message sink in, then put away your electronic devices, and enjoy some time with your family.

The boys have all missed you, they crave your attention. They don’t want you half paying attention, they want you involved. They may not be doing what you want to be doing, but they want you to take an interest and spend some time with them. Our oldest is already 7 and they are all growing so fast. One day you’ll come home and the kids will all be gone. They will be off doing their own things and want nothing to do with us, so savor these moments, don’t waste them and miss out. This time doesn’t last forever, you will miss it when it is gone.

This is the baby’s first Christmas, sure he won’t remember it, but we will and so will his brothers. Think back to 9 months ago, when he was in the NICU, we didn’t know if he would make it to his first Christmas. This could’ve been a sad time, if things hadn’t turned out ok. This Christmas would feel a lot different if we had lost him in our struggles this year. We’ve been through so much this year and now it is almost over, so take some time to reflex on this past year and all that we’ve survived. Take some time for quiet appreciation of all we are blessed to have.

Remember what this time of year is about, family and traditions, giving and loving, and selfless acts of kindness. Your boys look to you to see how they should behave. If you lack the Christmas spirit, they will do the same. Show them all the fun they can have enjoying the simple things. Help us do some baking, wrapping, and celebrating. Watch holiday shows, sing Christmas carols, wear a silly Christmas hat. Show them how important it is to give and not just receive. Put away your yelling, aggravated voice, chose to laugh instead.

Lastly I ask, for the one true gift I want. Please be present this week in all we do. Listen to me and actually hear what I say. Please pay attention, make some memories, and enjoy our beautiful family. We love you and we want you here physically, mentally, and emotionally. Now go put your phone and tablet down and let’s enjoy this holiday.

Your Wife and Children

Fear of the common cold

It is past midnight and I should be long since asleep, especially considering that just two days ago I felt like I’d been hit by a very large automobile, but instead I’m awake, more awake than I’d like to be. I’m sitting here, holding a sick baby, trying to make him more comfortable, and worrying. I’m worrying like only the mother of a child whose spent time in the hospital knows.

In the past two weeks sickness has ravaged my home as it has so many lately. This horrible cough, cold, fever, and overall miserableness has taken down family members one by one, myself included. I knew it was bound to happen despite my incessant nagging, of everyone who entered the house, to wash their hands constantly. So when it happened I did everything I could to shield my littlest guy. I kept sanitizer in the kitchen and next to my bed, I washed my hands until they were chapped and raw, I started taking vitamin C and D in hopes it would pass on to the baby like the doctor said, my husband slept in a separate room with which ever child was sick in order to keep them out of my room, where the baby sleeps, and I wiped down surfaces that germy fingers touched, like my phone and iPad, in hopes of stopping the spread. I knew it would spread amongst my three older boys, my oldest is not good about covering his coughs and my Middlest drinks out of everyone’s cup, so my goal was to keep the baby healthy. It didn’t work.

A few days ago the baby woke up with a hoarse little cough and a runny nose. His symptoms have continued to progress as I watch him carefully for any signs of troubled breathing. Then tonight, as I was falling asleep, I heard him cough, gasp, and saw two little trachea-tugs. There were just the two and most people wouldn’t think anything of it, but we have a history with them. So now my mind it running as I worry about my son’s health. Will his cold get worse? Will he have trouble breathing? How can I sleep if he might get worse? What about his RSV shots? He’s only had one, what if he gets it anyway? Speaking if shots, how will I afford the three he receives after the New Year? I have to pay about $4,000 for the one in January before insurance will cover the other two! We only found this out a few days before Thanksgiving. Will I have to pull my middle two out of school in order to afford it? They love their school and have already had to give up so much because of their brother’s health issues. I didn’t want to start off another year with all these worries and problems, I wanted next year to be a fresh start where everything is better than this year. It isn’t fair to have to choose between my kids’ education and their brother’s health. Obviously health wins out, but it is so unfair to the other two. What if the shots don’t matter anyway because he’s sick now and it could get worse and he could still end up in the hospital? I’m so tired, but he is so miserable and just wants to be held. I’m sure to most I just sound like I’m overreacting or a hypochondriac, but to those who have sat next to their child in a hospital bed, unable to make them well, they know this feeling, this panic, this constant worry.

I know I’m not alone, that there are many out there that share this paranoia of cold and flu season; this fear of a simple cold. For us we aren’t worried that our child might have to miss school or that we might have to take off work or even that we might be inconvenienced by the household shut down of a cold. For us, the risks of this time of year are much greater and the fear is warranted. For us, the simple cold could turn into something so much worse. So I sit here, thinking of all these things, as I cuddle my baby, and prepare for a long night. I just pray that neither my baby nor yours has to experience the worse case this cold and flu season.

Saving my son from the world

I’m afraid it is starting, the world is beginning to try to ruin my sweet little boy.
The other day, my sweet little My Little Pony loving, nail polish wearing, pink is his favorite color little guy came home and told us that liking princesses made you a girl and that he no longer liked My Little Ponies. I know he really doesn’t feel this way (he fell asleep with one of his mini ponies in his hand tonight), but someone is telling him this and I’m afraid that one day he might believe it is true.
My first though was naturally to homeschool him and never let him leave the house again in hopes of persevering his pure sweetness, but I realized that wouldn’t work because he’d still have contact with his older brother who already teaches him plenty of bad things. So I had to settle for a less drastic route in dealing with this, I had to set him straight and arm him with the strength to stand up against this kind of thinking.
My husband and I talked to him together about what he said. I figured, if he didn’t believe me because I am a girl, maybe he’d believe his dad since he is a boy. First we asked him who told him this information. He just acted a little embarrassed. We didn’t expect him to name names, we were making a point to him that we knew someone else had told him this and that it wasn’t his thinking. We then told him that whoever told him this was wrong. We explained to him that there are no “boy” things and “girl” things and that he could like whatever he wanted. We told him that boys and girl could like, be, and do whatever they wanted to. I explained to him that the only true “boy” thing or “girl” thing was what was between our legs in our private areas and that was the only real difference between boys and girls (we’ve been having the “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina” talk for years). My husband even went a step further than he probably needed to at this age and told him that if, when he was older, he decided he want a girl part instead of a boy part, he could even have that. My son just laughed and didn’t believe that part of the story, which is fine because I’m not about to try to explain that to him. Our main message to him was that he should like what he likes and not let others tell him what he could or should like and not like. We told him that we love him and the person that he is and that he shouldn’t change.
I’m sure this won’t be the last time I hear from my son about messages he is getting about “girl” things and “boy” things. I’m sure one day my son might even bring home worse messages that other people might try to convince him of and ruin him with, but I’m hoping that if we keep sending my son the right messages, he will not believe the wrong ones. Hopefully, if we just instill self-confidence in my son, other people wouldn’t be able to make him doubt himself and ruin him. If we are lucky, maybe one day, my sweet little boy will even help fix the world with his kind, gentle, loving acceptance and help others open their eyes to see the world the way he does.

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