Monday, June 25, 2012

big and little.

there was a prayer i prayed before abigail came, one that takes a little explanation.  you see i am of average intelligence.  this isn't a 'woe is me statement.'  i'm not putting myself down.  i'm average.  it's fine.  i did fine in school for the most part.  i sucked at math (still do).  jason, he's of well above average intelligence.  and this causes him to really over-think some things.  it certainly helped him (and continues to help him) in life, but there are things that he must understand before accepting.  me, not so much.
so when we were praying for our first child, i prayed for a child who didn't cry through geometry homework and still get a d, but also one who wasn't so intelligent that they had to understand the reasons for things to accept them.  perhaps God thinks He's funny.  perhaps i just don't know what is best for me.  either way, my older daughter is definitely closer to the end of needing to understand everything.  some of the thoughts she has, conversations, questions, they just blow me away.
so on friday night we went on a mama and big date night.  we went to johny rockets, got her some sandles (and she picked out matching pajamas for her and shilo), and just hung out together.  as i am in the habit of doing when we are in the car alone together, i turned off the music to initiate a deep (she's strapped in and can't escape) conversation.  she has been having some moments of 'being mean' to her sister.  i wanted to try to understand them, without asking, 'why are you being mean.'  so i brought up mama and shilo being gone so long, and how that felt, and us being home, and what she likes about that.  somehow i managed to lead into what i was trying to say (i'm guessing somewhere they Holy Spirit took over because i don't remember what i asked to get this response).  abigail thought for a few moments, and responded (more of less) with this (mind you she is three):
'mama, sometimes you say 'hang on one second please, hang on one second please, hang on one second please, over and over and it makes me angry.  then i hurt my sister because i'm angry and i want you to pay attention to me.  when i hurt her, you pay attention to me.'
all right, my three year old just verbalized.....ummm....that.  we talked about other ways that she could get my attention that would be more appropriate (like saying, 'you keep saying hang on one second please, and i really want some attention).  we talked about how silly it would seem for me to hurt papa if i was mad at abigail, and how sad that might make him.  i just had a crazy grown up conversation with my preschooler.  and this, my friends, is both wonderful and extremely scary.  because she is going to be smarter than me within the next few years, and then i am not going to know what to do.

tonight, i held shilo as she did her nebulizer before bed.  i could see her eyes getting heavy.  and like we did with abigail, we want shilo to learn to sleep in her bed, and to be able to lay her down awake so she learns to go to sleep on her own (even if we rock her or snuggle her right until her eyes can barely stay open).  but it went so quickly with abigail that one day i woke up and she didn't want to let me rock her anymore (thankfully she still loves snuggles).  and so i pulled shilo in closer and held her a little tighter.  she quickly settled in, and her little body became limp in my arms.  she molded perfectly into the crook of my arm, and i stared at her beautiful, peaceful face.  memories of the last few months rushed over me quickly, and my eyes welled up with tears.
if i let my mind go too far, too fast, i am suddenly sitting in a hospital room, exhausted.  i have a little girl who hasn't slept in two days unless i was holding her.  and finally, i give in and let the nurse hold her so i can go to the bathroom and grab breakfast.  and as i walk in the ronald mcdonald house, and the phone rings, i know it's about my little.  it's the actual doctor on the other end, talking about her needing intubated, and her heart slowing down so much that it wasn't pumping blood, and chest compressions.  and i stand there alone, people walking in, staring, with tears streaming down my face.  i feel guilty for leaving her, even for a few minutes.  i feel like if i had stayed she would have been okay.  i know this is untrue, and irrational, but even now, when i think about it, the guilt is heavy.
but i also try to fast forward through the ugly parts.  the hard days of not knowing if she was going to make it.  the short nights of trying to get sleep, and feeling guilty for leaving shilo at the same time.  and the day we handed our daughter off to the man who humbly and gracefully fixed her heart.  i remember six days later, when for the first time in nine weeks, i see my baby girl without a tube in her mouth.  i remember hearing her cry again for the first time, seeing her smile, and with every ounce of my being, finally being able to hold her.
i doubt that the memories of those 96 days of life will ever even diminish by much.  and i don't know that i really want them to.  they grew me, stretched me and taught me.  i would not have chosen this path for her.  but now that we are two months out from her heart surgery (and almost a month home) it seems like so long ago already.  life is happening, and it feels like this is how it always has been.  dishes and laundry.  walks and swimming.  books, and toothless grins.  it's all the same as it was before really.  
but, even though nobody else may be able to see it, it will never be the same.  we will never forget what it's like to not know.  i will never forget trying to figure out what words to tell my big girl if her sister doesn't make it.  we hold in our heart that we have been given two very beautiful gifts.  and so i hold a sleeping baby longer, just because she won't be a baby forever.

yes, we are truly blessed beyond measure.  i know people probably believe that because we have two small children with special needs that we must sit around, sad, and bemoaning how hard and unfair life can be.  but, i assure you, our lives are pretty normal.  i mean, look at these two sisters, with their matching pajamas, and tell me it doesn't look like most other homes (you know, aside from the fact that the sisters are different races).


  1. Shilo looks worried but like a real life baby doll. What a darling little girl and Abigail is such a sweetheart. What a beautiful big sister.

  2. Oh my goodness!!! That last photo is waaaaay tooo cute!!! Such sweet faces :)

  3. Well said! I see your family and just think... Wow, look at all that love! The last picture made me laugh. Abigail looks like such a good big sister holding Shilo and Shilo has this OMG Mom, enough with the pictures look. Too cute! Oh and they both have such soulful eyes!

  4. That picture of them in their jammies is so gosh darn adorable. And that Abigail...she is one wise three-year-old.