Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sweet Gloria Rose

Seven years ago today, our sweet Gloria Rose entered into our lives.  She was seven weeks premature and spent the first 12 days in the NICU.

Can I just tell you, that ever since that time, every time I hear expectant mothers wish their baby would come early, I cringe.  People say, "Gloria was 7 weeks early and she's ok."  Oh, if they only knew!  We were blessed to have had some warning of her imminent arrival.  A week and a half before she actually came into this world, I ended up in the hospital with contractions and other complications.  For four days I lay in a hospital bed and was given shots of steroids to make sure our little one could breath if she came ahead of schedule.  When I came home, it was to be nothing but bed-rest...with 5 little ones wondering why I couldn't do things for them or take them upstairs and put them to bed.  But, I thank God for the extra 10 days for Gloria to grow inside of me.  I thank Him for the advances in medicine that allowed us those necessary (and painful!) shots of steroids.

When Gloria was born, she was 4 lbs., 13 oz....not bad for a preemie!  She was crying and pink.  But, because she was 7 weeks early, there was very little fat under her baby skin.  Due to an infection we both had, she was automatically slated to be in the NICU for 10 days until her antibiotic was finished.  While I tried not to set my heart on it, I was crushed when, on that 10th day, she could not go home with me.  Due to the lack of fat, Gloria could not keep her body temperature up and gain weight at the same time.  She could do one or the other.  Therefore, if her weight was up, her temperature was down and vice versa.  Finally, on the 12th day, the doctors decided that since it was August and it was in the mid-80s outside, they could attempt to release her.

I left with strict instructions to keep her warm, check her temperature, check her weight, and not to let her around people for a few months.  MONTHS!  We brought Baby Gloria home.  Her 5 siblings were not able to hold her for 6 weeks.  While the outside temperature read 83, we swaddled her up and turned the heater in the nursery to 80 degrees.  We had to take the job of keeping warm away from her so she could concentrate on gaining weight and fat.  Once she did that (after a week or two), she could then maintain her body temperature.

The following is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a year or so ago:

On August 2, 2005 I sat in the NICU next to the bassinet of my 2-day old baby girl.  She arrived exactly 7 weeks early.  She was tiny and not quite ready for this world.  She was hooked up to a... monitor for 12 days. It would beep and set off alarms.  I spent many a long day in her little area....holding her, watching her, praying for her.  I'll never forget the first time she really bonded with me.  I had been released from the hospital on August 4.  I had intended to arrive at the hospital the next morning around 6:00, but, as it was the first night of decent sleep in over a week, I slept in a bit.  When I arrived around 8:00 a.m., the nurses had just finished a 2-hour long ordeal of putting an IV into my tiny daughter.  She was screaming as hard as a premie baby could scream.  She was so upset.  Had I come early, there would have been nothing I could have done....but have my heart broken as I'd helplessly stand by waiting for the trauma to end.  Instead, the Lord spared me that and had me walk in just in time for the nurse to hand me my baby.  As soon as Gloria was cradled in my arms, she began to calm down and nestled in for comfort.  She knew I was her mommy - the one who loved her and would comfort her.

Yes, things turned out well...but not without a price.  Expectant moms, the last stage of pregnancy is hard and wearisome.  But, be grateful for it and know that with each day, your unborn baby is becoming stronger in order to face the physical challenges of this world.  Rejoice that you'll be able to take your full-term baby home with you and not leave him/her behind in the care of strangers.  Rejoice that you will not have to look in the faces of other parents who have made the NICU their home for months.  Rejoice that you will not have to see tiny babies left with little or no visits from the ones responsible for bringing them into this world.  Rejoice in every day of your healthy pregnancy.

However, if the Lord chooses to bring your baby early or your baby has health challenges requiring you to walk that road, rejoice in the grace and strength He will give you each day.

With all of that said, I am so very grateful that the tiny baby we brought home has grown into a healthy, happy, sweet ray of sunshine in our family.  Gloria loves to give hugs and love and desires to receive those things.  We give as much of it as we have to our precious gift from God.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Fair

Last night, we took our kids to the County Fair.  Our two oldest girls have enjoyed the Fair for the last 3 years as they've helped with the tent our church has located there.  Last year, I took Katrina for a mommy/daughter evening and we had so much fun that I planned on taking the rest of the crew this year.

Back in the day, I used to be able to ride just about anything.  Roller-coasters, tilt-a-whirls...you name it, I loved it.  I used to laugh at my mom as she would only be able to ride the Merry-Go-Round.  Today, she's my hero as I can't even stomach that!  In all honesty, I can't even swing on a swing-set for more than a couple of minutes.  Something happens when some of us have kids...maybe it's a natural inclination to protect life.  I don't know.  Whatever it is, it keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground watching my children ride the rides.

Which, brings me to another interesting phenomenon.

Back when I was a kid riding all the rides at the amusement parks, I would feel bad for my mom who would just be sitting on the bench or standing by the gate watching us.  I'd ask her if she was bored and she would say, "Oh no!! I'm having so much fun watching you all!"  I used to think it was one of those "nice lies" moms would say to their kids to prevent guilt.  Similar to the line, "Oh, I don't need anything for Mother's Day.  Having you all is enough.  Just be nice to each other."  Whatever.  However, last year as I was watching Katrina have the time of her life & this year, as I watched the laughing faces of my children as they sped past me, I realized my mother was telling the truth.  I discovered that it is truly MORE fun to watch my children have a blast than it is to actually ride the rides myself!

Interestingly, when my kids and a bunch of their friends went on a ride and their friends all left me holding their bags - THAT was the moment I turned into my mother.  I was now the one laden with bags, cameras, etc.  The pack-mule, if you will.  I had to laugh.

The kids rode rides.  Some became nauseous. Zane won a fish.  I ate fried dough for supper and cotton candy for dessert.  My husband and I sat among our children and watched as fireworks lit up the sky in front of us while carnival lights blazed behind us.  We laughed and cheered together as we watched the greased-pole climbing competition.

 I smiled at my littlest one as he could barely stand on his feet at mid-night while I got him changed into his PJs.  We all fell into bed...with dreams of rides, sugar, and fun.

These are the things childhood is made of.  These are the memories a mother treasures.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thanking God for Family

As this is Thursday, my niece & nephew were here for the day.  This is truly one of the highlights
of our week - especially for the children. They love having time with their cousins.  Today, they read together, played games, baked cupcakes...overall, just had a great time.  My favorite part?  My nephew discovered how much fun Zane is.  He never really realized what a fun kid his cousin can be and it was
sweet to watch the two of them play together.

Family is such treasure.  While I was never close with my cousins while we were growing up, I am so grateful that my children know almost all of theirs.  Though a few of their cousins live hundreds of miles away, they've met most of them and truly can say they love them.

Tonight, I thank God for family and the precious relationship we have with ours.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I've Been Up To

Yes, I'm still here.  This summer has alternated between crazy busy and crazy relaxed.  Either I'm too busy to write or there's nothing to write about.  It's feast or famine here on the blog.

So, a quick re-cap of the last few weeks:

1)  Our whole family, along w/ Grandma, Grandpa, & cousin Erin headed up to Niagara Falls on July 3rd and had the time of our lives doing the "tourist-thing"!  The 2 highlights were the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds.  Had a soaking-great time!

2)  The kids and I have had a good time serving in our church's CHOICE Kids Club a couple of Saturdays this summer.  Three more to go and then we head into our first-ever VBS in August.  It is great to serve our God by loving kids.

3)  Wheat harvest came early and it was a record-breaking year.  With 100-130 bushels to the acre, my husband began to wonder where he was going to put it all.  Now, we pray for rain to save the soybeans and corn.

4)  I've been organizing and it makes me HAPPY!  Shelves that were a wreck are clean, straightened, and organized.  The attic and basement still loom over my head like a bad dream.

5)  Two of our friends have opened their pools to us this summer.  We have been taking advantage of that several days, so far.  Let's just say it's been a few years since my skin has been this dark!

6)  As mentioned earlier, my husband's niece is here for the summer visiting from Texas.  My kids have loved getting to know her and are looking forward to meeting her older sister in a couple of weeks.

7)  I've written all of my "end of year" school reports and am working on the "beginning of year" reports!

8)  I have sent out 121 invitations for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary party and am now taking phone calls w/ the RSVPs.  Next week, I'll be making several calls to those who haven't RSVPed.  In the meantime, I'm making final plans and will soon be ordering party supplies, etc.

9)  We've celebrated Zane's 5th birthday & Cassia's 13th birthday and are getting ready to celebrate Gloria's 7th birthday.  Busy month!

10)  I have this year's classes for our homeschool co-op planned and am working on the schedule this week.

I'm sure I could add to this list, but that's the Top 10.  It's been a good summer and I look forward to the remaining weeks of fun and accomplishment.

Hope your summer is going well.  What have you been up to?