Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time for Miracles by Kari

The past four weeks or so have been waiting, waiting, waiting for Monday, June 29th. Yesterday. THE day when the trach just might come out! But maybe not. Hopefully. Let's set the date and we'll see. No promises. But the prospects look good.

It's been a little like playing with a Magic 8 Ball. No. Yes. Reply hazy; try again.

We had a pre-op appointment the previous Wednesday. The surgeon repeated what he'd said before with some additional encouragement: William was talking around the trach and even breathing around it when the hole was covered up, so he didn't think he would have to replace the trach with a smaller one for a while. He would either pull it out, or leave it in if there was scar tissue. But he fully expected to pull it out.

The problem with the injury was that it was at the smallest part of the trachea. If scar tissue was built up there, it would leave an even smaller hole. They would have to leave the trach in, and over several months hack away at the scar tissue with lasers, so as not to irritate the site and create even more scar tissue. So yeah. Reply hazy. I was very apprehensive about Monday. I thought it would mean the difference between a great summer and a very intense one.

Our check-in time was set for 6:45 AM. We weren't given a surgery time, but were simply told that the surgeries are scheduled by age, youngest to oldest. When we arrived, we were put in a holding room with a bed and television. There was no bathroom or couch--this wasn't an overnight room. They filled out paperwork, and asked us the same questions we'd already been asked over the phone, at the surgeon's office, and would continue to be asked several times that day. I wondered if all these people might compare notes and if I was remembering everything the same way every time. I would probably crumble in an interrogation. Obviously, I was bored. And anxious. And starving.

I went down for some breakfast around 8 AM, since they told us the surgery would be at 9, and we wouldn't likely be called in until just before then. Ten minutes later, John called me and said they were ready to take him in. I dashed upstairs in time to meet them at the door to the Bunny Room. Thirty years ago, John stood at the door of the Bunny Room at this very hospital, getting ready for a surgery. He remembers the tiny room being much larger. From floor to ceiling of the space, toys for varying ages were stacked in abundance. We saw a little fireman's set complete with hat and fire extinguisher and showed it to William. He scanned the room in a matter of seconds, and made his way to a plastic yellow Saxophone sitting on the floor in its box. "This one!" he exclaimed. Not to be dissuaded, we let him pick up the toy, and we headed for the surgery waiting room. William stopped us, and reached for the other sax. "This-one-Stephen's!" he informed us, shoving out the words one breath at a time. We had to tell him no, but realized that Stephen might be getting a matching "happy" by the time William gets home from the hospital. They're getting to that age where it's prudent to have two of the same exciting toy.

While we waited to be called, William tried out the sax. The respiratory therapists introduced themselves, and the surgeons greeted us. We knew that once the room was prepared, things would happen suddenly. One of the technicians finally came for William. The first thing would be to give him the gas to put him under--we chose grape flavored gas. When John was six, he chose vanilla. They told him it wasn't very yummy--we asked, and they still offer that flavor, but nobody picks it. The woman carried William away quickly, and he cried for us, clutching his saxophone.

We were told that the surgery would probably last anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes They would be going down William's throat with a scope to view the injury, and to check out the trach site for any scar tissue or irritations. We were to wait in the temporary room we'd been given until he was moved to the Recovery unit. There, they would remove the trach after William was awake and monitor him. We would be called within about thirty minutes. By 9:30 with no word from anyone, my nerves were on high alert. At a quarter to ten, the female doctor, who was so kind to us on the night of William's injury, called to fill us in. She said that everything was fine, but that they had found a growth around the trach site and that the surgeons wanted to follow William into Recovery so they could clean it up and observe him awake. She would come get us when they were done. I took a deep breath, settled back on the hospital bed to watch the CBS news report on Michael Jackson, and worried over what "growth" meant in doctor speak. My father-in-law brought my sister Ruth, and John went down to get her. While he was gone, the doctor came for us. I grabbed the bags, and called John, telling him to meet us there.

William was awake and wrapped in a sheet, leaning weakly against the rails of his bed. He was crying. They told me he cried before surgery and after he woke up--not a happy camper. I couldn't blame him. There was a small square of gauze on his neck, held there by surgical tape. The trach was gone. I took another deep breath.

The surgeons explained to us that the growth they removed was tissue surrounding the trach. The plastic of the trach itself irritated the skin both outside and inside, but it was fresh enough that they really just had to pull on it a bit to get it out. He was fine. I squinted my eyes and asked the big question: "How did the injury site look?" Dr. MacDonald smiled. It looked great. Everything had healed up nicely, with no excess scar tissue evident. And to sweeten the news, any mild laceration to the surrounding tissues had healed up on its own.

William was a wreck. He wanted to sit in my lap, and within an hour he fell asleep there. His cheeks were mottled with red splotches, and the skin around his lips was white. The nurse told me it was a side effect of one of his anesthetics, and would wear off. We waited for a room. The floor we were to be moved to was full, and there were four children in Recovery waiting. Another child showed up. Their doctors finally all signed off for them to be moved to other floors, but we still had to wait to be assigned. By two-thirty, I was exhausted. William was rested, and had had lunch in Recovery, but I was tired from holding him, and couldn't leave to get lunch. Or I wouldn't leave--I was told that I could bring food in, but I didn't want to leave William and come back to his tears again. Ruth wandered around the hospital and came back with snacks. The nurse informed us that we'd been assigned, and we helped her push William's bed to his room. We turned on the television for him, and he watched it while Ruth and I wrapped ourselves in blankets and fell asleep curled up together on the couch.

Ruth left around 3:30 to go home and help Bill and Charlotte feed supper to the other kids. When she left, Dr. Lyman came in. I asked him what our time frame for healing was. He said that it would heal as best it could pretty quickly. But that in a year, I would have the option of having a surgeon clean up the rough skin around the trach site to leave a smoother scar. I had already been told this, and had decided we would do that. Then he told me something that rocked my world. Again. William's trach site would heal quickly, but it would likely not heal over completely. He said that they "train" the skin around the trach to act as a collar, and that it becomes such a strong seal that it won't bond completely without surgery. It would likely be left with a small slit. We could keep it covered, but it wasn't necessary, and not even recommended. Unless we're in a sand storm, or something. He said that it would have to be closed surgically later. A month later? No, he replied. They would close it up when they repair the scarring--in a year.

I sat back and looked at Dr. Lyman, speechless. This was information I wasn't given until just then--not by anyone. He would have a hole for a YEAR? We wanted to swim this summer--we had promised William he could swim again in a few weeks! The gentlest of surgeons smiled at me sheepishly, "I'm sorry I had to be the bearer of bad news on this one." Well. I'd rather know than not know.

When he left, a new friend, Christina, from my Multiples club came by for a visit. She has a three-month-old twin at LeBonheur with a trach. Her daughter will likely have it for two or three years. I know William is so fortunate compared to so many trach children, and I know that God has taken care of us up to this point and I can trust Him to take care of us. I held her child's twin sister and told Christina what I'd just learned. "Try a waterproof bandage," she suggested. Do it in the shower to see how he does, then try it at the pool. It's such a small thing, but her words helped. There are ways that we can make this next year work. We don't have to be completely on pause.

William fell asleep in exhaustion at 7:00 on John's lap. John had come up to bring me dinner. William played around him and on him, then laid his head on John's leg, closed his eyes, and was out cold that fast. I knew how he felt. John left and I turned off the lights and was asleep by 9. We both slept until 6 AM. Dr. Lyman said he would be back in the morning to check William one more time and let us check out. The last time were were here, his patient rounds tended to be very early, around 6:30, so we watched for him. I ordered William breakfast, and waited. Bernard, the little green puppet, and his Mommy came by to see William. Ms. Sara Jerkins brought him some fire and rescue matchbox cars and a coffee for me. I ordered William some lunch. Finally, at noon, the doctor walked in. He lay William down on the bed to check the trach site. There wasn't any tape or gauze in the room. No matter, he said--it wouldn't have to be re-covered right away. He pulled the tape off quickly, and William began to cry. I had seen a lot by then, and I wasn't too scared to look. The site was damp. There was some dried residue surrounding the site, and a bit of mucus showing. I didn't have time to be bothered by the sight of healing. I was too busy being shocked.

"It's almost closed up!" I exclaimed. Dr. Lyman nodded. "Do you think it might actually heal completely?! It's only been one day and it's already like this!" His face revealed little, but I thought I saw some surprise and a bit of a smile. "It might heal up completely," he said. I looked again, then up at the doctor, incredulous. "This blows my mind," I confessed. "I can't even comprehend how this can close up so much so fast. That hole was this big!" I held up my hand and put my forefinger and thumb together. "That's the body doing what it's supposed to do!" He sounded smug, like being God's helper entitled him to it. I couldn't have agreed more.

We will be checking out within an hour. My spirits are lifted, once again. I'm so grateful to God, once again. We'll have to see how things look over the next few weeks, but I was reminded today that this isn't something I have to worry about. I'm not in charge. I just get to watch and marvel.
William, playing his sax before surgery.

William

Hey all! Thanks for praying for the Underwoods yesterday. They were able to take William's trach out and now they are on the road to the final phase of recovery. Kari said she would update later about all that this last stage entails, so when she does I will be sure to share.

Thanks again for praying!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sights from the Trip

There are some random pictures from the trip that I thought I'd just post together here.

Here are the kids Monday morning - fresh and ready to head into adventure. By Tuesday afternoon they weren't nearly as fresh, but they did have lots of fun on the trip!
As we were on our way to MDO Monday morning, we were stopped in our tracks by a family of geese crossing the road! There is a pond off to the right that they were all trying to get to.
They were followed by quite a few more families of ducks! This is only a few of them! Drivers behind us were not pleased with the delay, but who are we to impede the progress of goose families?
We arrived in Louisville and went in to explore our hotel "room." We have become quite the fans of Residence Inns because they provide the space for a family of five to spread out - plus the rooms make it easy for us to dine in some meals instead of always having to eat out on our trips. We didn't quite expect the room we ended up with as it was so very different from the Residence Inns we've stayed in in the past. But, it definitely did give us room to spread out!

It was set up like a split-level apartment. On the main floor was an l-shaped kitchen/living/dining area. The dining area could be separated from the living area by a curtain and thus turned into a bedroom. And, where, you might ask, was the bed? In the wall! Where else! Yes, the wall right behind Angela comes down...
...and voila, you have a bed! The kids, of course, thought this was the most incredible thing in the world!
The girls found it quite a treat to sleep on such a bed. And I found it funny that they chose to sleep literally on top of each other! I think the problem was that Olivia was a cover-hogger, and Angela had to huddle up close to stay covered!
But, as with most children, the stairs were the greatest attraction. Upstairs was a sort of loft with a bed and a second bathroom. For the most part, the kids weren't allowed on the stairs, but they did enjoy throwing their balls up onto the stairs and watching them roll back down! That provided great and exciting entertainment on many occasions!
video
After traveling Sunday afternoon and all day Monday, being at the convention from 8:00 AM til about 8:30 PM on Tuesday, being back at the convention at 8:00 Wednesday morning, and having a collection of very late nights under our belts - not to mention the fact that we were in Eastern time zone for the week - we were all quite exhausted by Wednesday afternoon. This was Steven after his two and a half hour nap Wednesday afternoon! He stayed curled up in my lap for quite some time before slowly coming back to life for the evening. Fortunately, we were able to stay in all afternoon and evening to get some rest before heading homeward Thursday morning. Although the convention finished up Wednesday evening, all of the critical business had been completed that morning. We were glad to stay in!
Keep in mind, as I blog about our trip last week, I'm mainly focusing on the family side of things. At some point I might tap out a few thoughts about the convention itself on my thoughts blog, but for the most part I'm going to leave that up to Doug rather than typing up posts that cover what he's already covered! So, for thoughts about the convention itself, head on over to his blog!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friends

One of the first treats of our trip this past week was getting to see old friends again.

We left Monticello right after church and made it to Southaven in time to get checked into our hotel and then have dinner with our friend Conor before church. Conor was Doug's first supervisor at UPS. They became friends, and eventually he became a family friend as well. You can tell the girls weren't at all excited to see him! :-) It was such a nice visit!

After we left dinner we headed to Carriage Hills Baptist Church, the church we attended between our time in Joiner and our move to Monticello. I don't know if I can even put into words the welcome we received when we got there. We were only there for three months, but by the welcome, you would have thought we'd been born and raised there and were coming home! We definitely felt immensely loved.

It didn't take long for the girls to find their beloved friend Katy. Even Steven had been asking to get to see Katy all week long. "Mommy, are we going to Katy's house? Are we going to Katy's church? Mommy, when do we get to see Katy?" They were excited to see her little brother, too, but Katy was definitely the one they were most excited about seeing! After church we headed to Burger King with Katy's family so Doug and I could visit a bit with our dear friends Tim and Amanda while the kids played. Once again, it was so wonderful to be able to be with old friends and have nice visits. There's just something about God-given friendships that is so precious!

I'm realizing now as I go through pictures that I don't have pictures to post of all of the friends we got to see, but I can still write about them!

Monday morning we got up bright and early and headed to Mother's Day Out on our way out of town. It was such a precious blessing to get to see Mrs. Glenda, Rene, Susan, and Steffeny - the ladies I worked so closely with in the MDO office. They are and will always be precious friends to me. We also got to see Mrs. Helen who lovingly cared for my sweeties each work day before and after the normal MDO activities of the day. As we were getting ready to leave, many of the teachers were beginning to show up for the work day, so we were able to say hi to them as well.

After leaving MDO, we began the long trek north to Louisville. After a relatively smooth trip, we arrived, checked into the hotel, and then headed out to meet yet another friend for dinner! Carrie is a friend from Ouachita days, and we hadn't seen each other since graduation eleven years ago! There are some friendships that are for a season, and when the common ground changes the friendship moves on. Those friendships are still such a blessing, but God just moves us on. With other friendships, though, God allows us to find new common ground. That's the way the evening with Carrie went - although our old common grounds had changed, we found that we flowed smoothly into new territory and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. What a treat!

Then, finally, Tuesday morning came and the convention began. After we dropped the kids off in their classes and toured the exhibits a bit, we ran into Matt and Beth. They were the one family we missed seeing when we went to Carriage Hills because they had already left to head to the convention themselves! It was such a blessing to see them again as well. I wish I had pictures of the girls and their reunion - Angela was so delighted to find that Lydia was in the group right next to her own, and made sure to let me know at the end of each day all the things that Lydia had been up to through the course of the day! As we headed out together after one of the sessions, it was hard for the girls to pull themselves away from each other!

It was definitely such an amazing blessing to be able to visit with these sweet friends this week. God is good to us to give us such sweet fellowship.

Monday

Hey all! Just a reminder for those of you praying for William Underwood...he goes in this coming Monday to see if they can remove the trache. Thanks for praying, and I'll let you know as soon as I hear something from Kari!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

We are home! After a full six days on the road, we are back again. It was definitely a fun trip, and I look forward to sharing the details with you over the next few days.

I don't have the pictures of our trip uploaded yet (although I didn't take nearly as many as I expected I would!), but I figured I'd go ahead and start sharing tidbits of our trip with you. We enjoyed the wonderful excitement of making such a trip, the treasure of seeing friends, the experience of attending our very first SBC Annual Meeting, and the opportunity to see a few sights. And, as I get pictures uploaded I will share each of those experiences with you.

But, we also saw a few other blessings through this week that I wanted to share first.
  • About halfway between here and Louisville, our van turned over 180,000 miles. Running fully loaded down, A/C on full blast, and pushing through all sorts of terrain in the middle of a heat wave, the van didn't have a single problem. Well, I take that back - on Tuesday we had an indicator showing that the left headlight was out, but before we had to drive in the dark again it was working just fine! God just kept that van running beautifully the whole trip, and we are incredibly grateful.
  • The heat and humidity in Louisville were manageable! It's amazing what a few degrees can do - and it's especially amazing how mid-90's are so much less suffocating when the heat indices stay at or just below 100 instead of rising up closer to 110.
  • We got to run around barefoot in the hotel room! That might seem a bit silly, but it's something we miss here at the house - our wood flooring is buckled in many places, providing the perfect spots for pinching feet and stumping toes. So, no one is allowed to leave their bedroom barefoot. We thoroughly enjoyed being able to kick off our shoes and walk around in bare feet!
Pictures and stories coming, soon, including the kids' favorite things from the trip!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

At the Pool

Nope, no pics of the kids swimming, but here are a few shots of them at the pool drying off after we finished playing.

Olivia loves these flowers - she thinks they're so pretty!
Lounging Steven...
Sweet Angela...

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Few Random Pictures

My camera has been out of commission for a few days. No, there's nothing wrong with it, but it has been quite some time since I've cleaned it off. That's what happens with a HUGE memory card to hold hundreds of pictures! I had cleaned it off several months ago, but hadn't had the chance to go ahead and sort pictures and put them into their appropriate files for long-term storage. Instead I just made a backup of the unsorted pictures. So, not only did I have the pictures currently on the camera, but I also had a back-log on the computer. So, I spent all afternoon Tuesday and several moments here and there since then trying to get caught up so I can backup the pictures appropriately and clear off the camera. Angela's pictures and pictures of the kids together hadn't been properly sorted since January. Olivia and Steven's unsorted mess went all the way back to October! Oops!

I'm almost done at this point - I just have to finish Steven's pictures. As I was going through them, sorting them by month, though, I found a few pictures that I'd recently taken and forgot to post. They are just CUTE! At least in my opinion - I know, I'm a bit biased.

I was working around the house the other day, and I hear a little sing-song voice say, "Mommy, I'm hiding from you!" I found him under the computer desk! Then I hear, "Take a picture of me, Mommy!" (No, he's not used to me taking pictures of every little adorable thing! What could possible make you think that?)
Then there's the hat. He discovered Doug's straw hat the other day after Doug wore it while mowing the yard. "Look, Mommy! I'm a cowboy!" (Oh, and just FYI - that is Ouachita Tigers on his shirt, not LSU! :-) That's very important to him - in fact, he got mad at me both yesterday morning and this morning because I haven't gotten his Ouachita shirt clean for him to wear again! It'll be ready for tomorrow morning, that's for sure!)
He can see thorugh the straw weaving. So, he pulls it down over his face, walks around until he finds me, and then says, "Where's Steven?" He's a mess!
And now, back to finishing the pictures so the camera will be ready for our big trip!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

He Likes It!

Remember I mentioned last week that Steven didn't like going to the pool? We were kind of torn between the idea of making him get in to get used to it and not pushing him too hard. So, we let him sit out some - one trip we didn't make him get in at all. We just put him in a life jacket and had him sit in a chair while we swam. As long as he didn't have to get in, he was perfectly content to sit there and watch us!

The next trip, though, we said he needed to get in for a little while. As soon as I got him to release me a bit, we started singing and bouncing and he started to enjoy himself. By the end of the trip, he had graduated to just holding on to me with one hand, and he was even kicking his little legs like a pro!

Then came Monday...we weren't sure we were going to go swimming that day. But, Doug walked in the door from work, and Steven ran up to him and said, "We're going swimming, Daddy!" I said, "Honey, I don't think we're going today," and he burst into tears! Doug asked him if he wanted to swim, and he gave an enthusiastic YES!

So, guess what? Yep, we packed up and headed to the pool. He fussed a bit and clung to me when he first got in, but within five minutes he was not only having fun, but had totally let go of me and was maneuvering around in his floaty all by himself! He was ready to go! Mommy and Daddy were a little less ready, so we made sure to stay close to him at all times, but we were so proud of him! He kicked those little legs and moved all over that pool!

I guess sometimes all it takes is a little perseverance...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Felt Pattern Blocks

We're getting ready to head to Kentucky! Woo-hoo! We're going for the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting - the first we've ever been able to attend. We're quite excited. This will the extent of vacationing for us this year, so we're really looking forward to it.

The kids travel really well, but it will still be a much longer trip than they're used to. Going up we'll break it up and get in some very quick visits with some friends in the Memphis area. That'll be fun! Still, it's a lot of car time, and we're a little nervous about cooping pent-up Steven energy in the van...
video
See what I mean? :-) No, we're not really worried about it - I just came across that video from when Steven did have some pent-up energy on a recent trip to Little Rock, and I just had to share it. He was so funny that day!

Still, we are trying to be prepared. So, I've spent some time this past week printing off some activities and making a few things for their car activity baskets - stuff to go along with their books, our group car games, and lovely nap time.

I wanted to share one of those activities because it could be such a handy activity in the car or on a rainy day!

My kids love Cuisenaire Pattern Blocks. These colorful blocks are frequently seen with pattern cards that you can use to help create pictures, but we don't actually have the cards. I've thought about trying to buy some, but the kids make up all sorts of awesome patterns with them using their own imagination! So, I've never actually bothered with the patterns.
I knew if they were portable, the pattern blocks would provide a great deal of fun in the van, but I couldn't imagine how to keep them from falling everywhere! That's when the idea of felt pattern blocks came to me. Just in case you want to make your own, here's what I did...

All six shapes have one-inch sides - except for the trapezoid, which has a long side that is two inches. Using Microsoft Publisher's shape patterns, I sized all six shapes appropriately, colored them to match our wooden blocks, and then copied each shape until I had an acceptable number of each one. Then I printed them out on card stock. Using craft glue, I glued each card stock page to a piece of stiff felt and then cut out each shape. Yes, it was a bit time consuming to make enough for three kids, but Olivia was able to help, and the result was well worth the work!
I then made felt boards for each kid. I cut out lap-sized rectangles from very thick cardboard (an extra-sturdy box), and then cut a rectangle from some soft felt - about two inches larger than the cardboard.
Next I cut slits in the corners of the felt and then folded the felt panels down over the cardboard, pulling it tightly to give the board a very smooth, flat surface.
To test the end result, Olivia made a flower - I turned the board nearly upside down, and the flower still clung to the board! I think it'll work!
(PS - If any of you have Publisher 2007 and are interested in my pattern pages, let me know. I would be happy to email them to you.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life of the Hibbards

Lately we've had "normal" days for a while. That's kind of nice now and then, even if "normal" is still a bit wacky! Yesterday morning we were all hanging out around the house doing our own things.

Doug was at the office.

I was doing some housework and computer stuff.

Olivia was finishing up a couple of school work things she didn't quite get done the day before. (Yes, we do school year round. It helps stave off the boredom and allows us to take off whenever we want through the year.)
The explanation as to why Olivia had school work leftover leads me to our fun news for the summer. We have the wonderful blessing of an open invitation to the home of some church friends to use their pool this summer! We are having a great time heading out there in the late afternoon/early evenings (well, most of us - Steven still isn't very sure of it - in fact, he doesn't like it at all!). We've never had many opportunities for real summer swimming, so this is quite the fun treat. Maybe through the course of the summer, we can actually teach the girls to swim and get Steven to the point of enjoying the pool.

Steven sat at the dining room table creating all sorts of things with play dough. He went through three different colors and sat there for nearly an hour! Play dough is such an awesome thing! :-)
Angie hid away in her room playing with her baby doll stuff. She just needs that alone time every now and then, and yesterday was the perfect morning for it.
And our final news is that Angie's crossbite is no more! After four weeks of turning the little screw in her mouth, she now has a normal bite. This has also opened up her sinus cavities and airways, which might help with the congestion she has lived with since birth! She now has a nice, big gap between her two front teeth, something she is quite proud of. She enjoys playing with it with her tongue! The space should help ensure that there is plenty of room for her permanent teeth when they come in.
She still has to wear the appliance for three more weeks as a retainer, but then we'll be totally done. Thank you so much to all of you who prayed that this would be a smooth experience. God has definitely answered those prayers! Although she said it did hurt when we turned it each time, she was as brave as could be. We never heard a peep from her when we went to turn it, and she never hesitated a bit when it was time to turn it - she even reminded us several times! I must say, though, she let out a pretty big cheer when she learned that we didn't have to turn it any more!

And that's a glimpse into the Hibbard family of late. Hope all of you are having a great summer, too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Family Missions Day revisited

Arkansas Baptist News published an article on Family Missions Day at the Little Rock Zoo. My girls were quoted for the article, and there are pictures of all three kids included. Click here to read the article online!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Way We Were by Kari

Here is Kari's latest note. I have to admit, it made me laugh and cry all at the same time! Just one year ago I worked at the Mother's Day Out she mentions in this note. If I were still working there, I would have been one of the ladies in that office. In fact, I can just see the looks on the faces that she mentions! And, I know their hearts and am so thankful for their willingness to welcome William right back in. So, as continue to pray for William and his family, please lift up the MDO and Sunday school workers as well! Thanks!

I know it says in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. But there is certainly "new-for-me". The funny thing is that when new-for-me becomes been-there-done-that, I get to turn around and be the bearer of new-for-me for all of William's other caretakers, of whom there are many. New-for-them is just as scary as it was for me. How quickly one forgets.

The first inclination for a mother in a situation like ours is to want to coddle and protect. Surely the rest of life can wait for this difficult time to be over. William doesn't have to go back to his Sunday School class or to Mother's Day Out this summer. He can stay home with me while the other two children continue on. Well, not so, said William's child life specialists I spoke to, as well as the respiratory therapists who trained us in as deputy nurses. According to them, William should be allowed to go about life as usual. Their one requirement: that whoever is responsible for his care knows how to care for him. This is more easily said than done.

When I start to add it up, my kids are watched by others all over town! For one thing, we're involved in so many church events and productions, that some weeks out of the year, I find myself the first to arrive at our church nursery with my kids, and sometimes the last to leave. In order to get a chance to work out at my gym, I take advantage of the two-hour daily childcare limit in the staffed playroom at least once a week. All three of my kids go to Mother's Day Out twice a week, a church program at First Evan that is in my opinion one of the best kept preschool secrets in Memphis. My kids love all the different playrooms, classes, and teachers they have. They've rarely shown any signs of separation anxiety, which I know is a blessing I should count. Sometimes in fits of PMS, I wonder if I'm really such an ogre that my kids just can't wait to get away from me! Anna Kathryn tried to explain it to me once recently. "Mom," she said, "I just like to get to know other grown-ups sometimes." Hmph. I refuse to wish my kids would throw a fit at the door, but sometimes my mother-heart wants to see them want me. Then when I pick them up later, and their faces light up and they call my name, I realize that I've worried for nothing. They love me just fine.

I figure I can handle a month off from the gym, or go odd hours when John is home. And I don't have to be at church for anything except Sunday mornings this summer, so I won't be dealing with major commitment issues there. But the twins' Sunday morning class would be sorely missed by William if he had to sit out every week, and Mother's Day Out is also a much-loved favorite. And so, armed with my suction equipment and emergency gear, I'm heading out this week to deputize other people not related to my son. It's humbling to both John and me that they have all expressed such willingness to do what it takes for William to come back. Everybody wants him to feel as normal as possible, and as comfortable with this uncomfortable process as he can.

Sunday, one or both of us will stay in William's class with him the entire morning. We don't plan to leave him alone with anyone who doesn't feel completely comfortable with his trach, and looking back on these past three weeks, we can completely understand the psychological process it takes to get comfortable with it. Today was Mother's Day Out training. Once we had pastoral permissions all settled, and all the available former nurses and childcare staff at the ready, we sat William up on the table in the main office and got started. I went through everything that had been taught to me while the ladies listened intently and asked questions. I looked up at one point, and saw the exact same expression on their faces that I know I had in William's hospital room a couple weeks ago. Seriously? I'm going to do what? In where? I wanted to hug them all.

It's hard to believe it's only been three weeks since his accident. In these three weeks, I feel like I've experienced a lifetime of emotions. At the forefront of these is the constant desire to push forward. I can only describe it as an overpowering need to get to the end. If we keep pushing onward then we'll get there. To the end. Whenever the end is. Overshadowing my restlessness is the realization that I can't push at all. This experience is completely out of my control.

That being said, you will understand my elation when we walked out of William's appointment with his surgeon this morning. William was worked into a slot today, so we spent about as much time in the waiting room this time as we did waiting for him to come out of surgery a few weeks back. John caught up on his newspaper, and I wheedled the M-pages out of him so I could see the Thursday MidSouth Moms section. William and I will have a little story in there one of these weeks, I'm told. Then I pulled out the ball of yarn I'm learning to crochet with, and watched William watch Toy Story II and fast-walk around the chairs. When we were finally called, our visit lasted all of fifteen minutes. It was the best fifteen minutes I've had in a while. Not because we had to hold William tightly while the surgeon stuck a scope down through his nose. But because what he saw prompted him to set an appointment for June 29th at LeBonheur. To remove the trach. Oh yes. I punched the air in elation as we left the building. I can only describe my emotions as the fulfillment of that need to push forward. I was finally able to set a date to the beginning of the end!

Now, we still may have hold-ups once they go in there and take a look on the 29th. If things could use a little more time to get back to normal, we may have a few weeks or even months of continued trach, or smaller trach before complete removal. It will all depend on how well William has healed, and what kind of scar tissue they find down there. But I feel confident in the God to whom we have all been praying on William's behalf. And the doctor seemed reasonably certain that he would be able to pull out that trach and bandage up the hole. From there we will wait the several days for it to completely heal over. And after that, the end.

Hallelujah!
That boy loves his daddy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Finding Bricks

Yesterday morning we were getting going on our day when I just happened to take a sideways glance at Angie. I looked at her and then turned to Doug and said, "I think I might need to measure her!" He glanced at her and quickly said, "I think you're right!" So, a few minutes later I called to Angela and headed to the bathroom to measure her. Of course, this brought great excitement as all of my kids love to be measured!
I knew she'd grown, but I was quite blown away by exactly how much! See, I'd just measured the kids less than two months ago - April 17, to be exact! In that length of time, Angela, who has grown the least of all three kids over the past year or so, had grown an inch and a quarter! No wonder she looked taller!

Olivia grew 3/4 of an inch...
...and Steven grew 1/2 an inch.Do you think bricks would work? Can they be found with straps so they can be worn as hats? Na - I don't think it would work. Besides, to be honest, it's a lot of fun to watch them grow, even if I do occasionally miss the "little" days!