Friday, May 23, 2008

Our Anniversary

Last weekend Brett and I went out (without children). Gasp! I know!
We have not been out on a single date (outside the home) for a year. Gasp again. I know.

Our sitter brought crafts for the kids to do. They painted aprons. She took pictures. Each hand painted child stashed said pictures into their apron pocket. No one has seen them since. (The pictures not the children.)

On our celebratory date night (celebrating our anniversary) we had reservations at a swanky restaurant downtown. Very nice. There were no scary clowns handing out twisted balloon animals. Our meal did not come with a cheap toy. In fact there were no straws, paper napkins/bags or children's menus. Seriously. Children were not allowed!

There was candlelight, soft classical background music, a simple but elegant menu and a fully stocked bar. Supposedly the restaurant is haunted. The only premonitions I had (okay, wistful daydreams) was living in such a pretty, well maintained and very old house.

Conversation beyond parenting and our children was challenging at first. These days this is so much of who we are ... "Did you register the kids for school today?" "I can't until you get me a copy of their immunizations." "Awwww, right! Ben fell on the air vent again." "Did he ask for a band aid?" "Of course!"

When I reached across the table, illuminated by candle light, I grasped the hand of my husband. Someone I have known for twelve years. Whom I've been married to for eight. Someone who has moved with me through some very good and bad times. A wonderful husband and father. Someone I look forward to growing old with .....

Brett .... "P.S. I Love you!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Our world is abuzz with the tidings of spring. Just a few weeks ago we still wore long sleeves and heavy jackets. Today my kidlets are roaming around the house in shorts and bare feet.

Benjamin will soon be out of school. He will "graduate" from his Pre-K class on the 23rd and next year go to the "Big K".

Through my eyes Benjamin will always be ten feet tall ... even when standing next to his much larger peers. Likely he will always be on the small side. So what. He is alive. Something I once constantly worried he would not be able to achieve.

There are still some preemie eccentric behaviors that make him stand out in a crowd. If the crowd is really paying attention.

Of course he is legally blind. Again, so what. This is just one small part of who "Big Ben" is ....

Due to a still touchy nervous system he covers his ears when overstimulated. Not bizarre looking. He just covers his ears and moves along.

Sensory issues are sometimes still apparent. Some foods he prefers not to eat because of a dislike of texture. He loves to wear belts, hats and blankets (tied like superman).

So what. So what. So what.

He thrives. He is alive. He is hilarious!

There were five times Ben overcame dying.

1) Being born at 1 pound 4 ounces and a quadruplet. He was just 25 weeks gestation.

2) On day 3 when the blood in his lungs reversed.

3) When he acquired a bilateral Grade III brain bleed. Without warning it grew to a Grade IV on one side (the highest severity of bleed). This caused hydrocephalus that resolved without a shunt.

4) Projectile vomiting from terrible reflux caused him to weigh just 13 pounds on his first birthday. This resulted in surgically getting a g-tube and fundo. There is no doubt this saved his life.

5) He stopped breathing the evening of day 3, after discharge from the NICU. Brett and I performed CPR on him. He spent two week more in the hospital due to pulmonary edema.

Yesterday his Pre K teacher was sharing with me how far Ben has come since being placed into her class in the middle of the school year. "He has just blossomed. Playing with other children, participating in activities and giving us lots of information without being prompted .... He is a smart little boy filled with questions and answers."

So I asked a few questions.
Me: Do you think he needs a neurological done? Any strange behaviors or learning problems.
Her: No

Me: Do you think he is ready for kindergarten?
Her: Absolutely.

Me: Is he enjoying school?
Her: Yes. Very much.

Me: Do you notice his vision issues holding him back when in the group?
Her: No. He goes for it.

Me: Do you notice his size making a difference?
Her: No. He just asks if he needs help due to being a little smaller.

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Can you see me jumping up and down? For the first time since his birth I exhaled. All the while I did not realize I was holding my breath.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day

Yesterday I was thinking about what it means to be a mother. For another purpose and in another spot I wrote this for some special moms. Because I have such a great mom and because I know so many too ... I thought this might bring you a smile today.
Here it goes:

Happy Mother's Day to Every Mom

Mother’s Day brings for many women affirmation of our sense of purpose. Yes jobs and hobbies are fulfilling. School degrees and clean homes are important. All of the history we bring to present helps make us who we are … Being a mother is a sacred job.

If ever a woman’s heart twisted with happy anticipation whenever she felt a wiggle in her womb … If ever a mother giggled triumphantly when her baby spit out stewed carrots but swept it back in again with his tongue …. If ever a mother’s heart split in two when her daughter was not chosen for the team …. Then you wear the shimmering banner “Mother” across your shoulders more inspiringly than Ms. America.

Some mothers lose their babies before a noticeable wiggle or after first steps. There may be none or few photographs proudly adorning living room walls. Unused or barely used cribs may wait lovingly re-packaged in attics or basements. The sound of tiny footsteps running down the hall may be a yearned for echo only in our dreams. Yet these women are undeniably mothers.

Some mothers may have babies born far too soon or with a serious birth defect. First pictures were snapped inside a sterile intensive care unit soon after baby was quickly taken from mom. Bedside bonding may include reading a book by bili light or pressing head against isolette to count baby’s toes. Everything is different. How can anything be the same again? Yet these women are most definitely mothers.

Some mothers rejoice in a full term, happy baby. First time moms may take a deep breath and wonder why baby was not delivered with a “how to” manual. Moms two, three, four times over may immediately fall in love with their new addition, a sloppy baby sitting on her chest. Other moms may feel overwhelmed at the mysteries of motherhood. All of these women are certainly mothers.

Whether you have lost a baby, have survivors or have living children all born healthy …. Happy Mother’s Day. No matter your experience with motherhood ….I wish you this: Peaceful moments in a day celebrating you. All you are. All you’ve been through. All the different roads you’ve taken to exhale in this moment. You are a mother full of special insights and gifts. Thank you for wearing the banner called “Motherhood”.

Sending this to you with love and best
wishes! - Melissa

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Running Around Town

Friday is a busy day. After dropping Ben off at school, Callie and Donovan spend the day with me running errands. This gives Brett (who works nights) a full eight hours to peacefully sleep .

At Michael's we look for paper to finish the kids birthday scrapbook (their birthday is not until June).

The kids each pick out a pair of sunglasses. We remember to choose a pair for Ben too.

An elderly woman laughs when the kids "ahhhed" and "oohed" over the eye level candy display. When a lane opens she insists we go in front of her. She remarks, "You have such cute kids."

The check out lady asks, "Can I give them a cookie?"

"Sure. Thank You."

Pre-wrapped cookies suddenly appear in Donovan and Callie's hands.

At SAMS we stop at the bakery. I have been asked to bring a cake to the hospital on Monday. Pink and blue booties adorn it. March of Dimes, March for Babies will be skillfully written across the center.

Callie and Donovan introduce themselves to the lady helping me with my order.

"Hi, I'm Donovan. This is my sister Callie." He jerks a thumb towards his sister.

"Hello, I'm Callie. We are running errands. Mommy bought us sunglasses. Mine are pink. His are orange."

Smiling the lady responds warmly, "You are both the cutest kids. How sweet." She turns to me. "Can I give them a cookie?"

I nod. She disappears. When she returns she offers a plate of chocolate chip and snicker doodle cookies. "Which one would you like?"

Donovan picks a Snicker Doodle. Callie chooses a chocolate chip cookie. We all thank the kind lady.

We stop to eat lunch. Several employees stop by our table to chat with the kids. I slurp down my cup of soup and the kids graze through sandwiches.

After a lengthy conversation with Donovan one waitress hands him a sticker. "You are both so cute I could stick you in my pocket and keep you."

Callie giggles. "We are too big to fit in your pocket."

After picking Ben up we head to the library. Old rentals are returned. The kids sit down around a small table. I skim through the children's section looking for books the kids will like.

Callie begins chatting with a lady shelving books. "Hi, my name is Callie. What is your name?"

Smiling the lady stops what she is doing and answers. "My name is Nog."

"Oh, that is a very pretty name." Callie bats her eye lashes and smiles.

"Thank you."

Callie's face twists in concentration as she tries to think of something else sweet to say. "Once I had a puppy. His name was Nog Nog. He liked to drink water from a bowl."

Laughing the lady turns to me. "Your children are very kind. Can I give them coloring sheets? I'll get them some crayons."

So the kids color while I finish making book selections.

At check out the kids introduce themselves to all of the librarians and receive stickers.

Seriously. By the end of the day we acquired four cookies, five stickers, three coloring pages/crayons, and an invitation to skip in line. Not to mention we had many opportunities to practice our manners.

At bedtime the children go to sleep without protest. That is my freebie. Enough of a reward to run around town with them all day again .... some time.

I am so exhausted by the day's end that I go to bed early too. "ZzzzzzzzzzzZ"