Saturday, June 4, 2016

Raising "Technology less" kids in a "Technology more" World

I have a confession to make. Our kids don't have electronics. At 9 and 6, they don't have phones. And they won't be getting them anytime soon. They don't have iPads. They don't do gaming. They don't even have a kindle. We have one (yes ONE) "family iPad." It's actually dad's, but he let's us borrow it for really long doctor's appointments. And for hospital stays.

We have a TV, and we have Hulu for tv shows and DVD's for movies. We don't have cable. And (gasp), we don't have Netflix. 

We still read printed books.

True story.

We have computers and I'm constantly battling my own phone addiction, but as a family, weren't just not that heavily into electronics. We didn't set out to isolate our children, for them to be social pariahs because they didn't know who Miley Cyrus is or the latest dance craze. It just sort of happened. Part of it is because we're just cheap. We're not buying the coolest newest phones for our kids when we don't even buy them for ourselves. 

But it honestly has become intentional. We want them to be kids as long as possible. And there's just SO MUCH on the other side of technology, a whole new world they'll be spending the rest of their lives trying to navigate. Our kids have been through so much, had so much of their childhood taken from them, that if we can control this one little thing, why the heck not. Why not let them hold onto their childhood just a little bit longer? 

Our kids like to watch movies, they will absolutely play games on my phone if I let them, and they love to keep up with their friends via mom's Facebook account. 

But, you know what happens when kids aren't given the first choice of electronics? 

They play. 

They really freaking play.

And their imaginations run wild. We are told all the time that our kids have really active imaginations and I think a lot of it is because they're not given technology as a first choice. When I ask my kids what they want to do, the answer is usually "play Legos, do art, play outside or read books." They can play for hours making up all sorts of scenarios. Last summer, we were listening to The Magic Treehouse on audio cd in the car, and the kids were constantly running around the house, pretending to be Jack and Annie on various adventures. It was messy, but super cool. 

Today, we were at the park and they were pretending to be on a pirate ship, running all over and having me be their prisoner. 


The really cool thing about giving less technologically savvy options is that the kids don't rely on them as much. Last summer, on our roadtrip, we brought our DVD player in the car, and the kids never asked for it. Not once. They just wanted to listen to the Little House on the Prairie series, which we were listening to as a family. And we got to talk about it, which wouldn't have happened if they had been watching their own movies in the backseat wearing headphones while we were listening to music in the front. 

There is a time and a place for technology. Although we've started bringing Lego's to longer doctor's appointments instead, there are many times where the iPad is the only thing that gets us through hospital stays (there are only so many ways to entertain a young kid confined to a hospital bed). But we try to maintain a balance away from so much technology where we can. It is not easy, but if you're intentional about it, you can do it. 

I know technology less isn't the right choice for everyone, but as we head into summer, I encourage to check out your kids' summer activities and figure out if there might be ways to spend a little more time outdoors, exploring - and a little less time in front of a screen. You never know what sort of magic might emerge. (And don't worry about them missing out on all the Miley Cyrus garbage - they'll get it at school anyway!)
Photobucket

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Back to the OR

Our sweet, crazy, full of life, brave little boy is heading back into the OR this summer.

And this is exactly how I feel about it.
(By the way, this crying fit was in response to Daddy killing a caterpillar he had just found eating plants inside our house. Bodie was unaware of the caterpillar's existence until Daddy killed it, but even so, they apparently shared such an intense bond that 20 minutes of heaving sobs was warranted.) 

But I digress.
We knew this surgery was coming. But we just didn't expect it to be this summer. If we had, I wouldn't have jam packed our summer with awesome plans already!!! But there's been some changes in his rhythm lately that are all telling us that it's time.

He will be having a left cardiac denervation, also known as a sympathectomy. Feel free to google it (really, it's loads of fun, especially when they talk about the potential side effects and complications). In simple terms, they'll be going in through his side to clip the nerves that send adrenaline to the heart. Which, in Bodie's case, is a good thing. Thanks to the CPVT he inherited from Dusk, his body sends too much adrenaline to his heart. The consequences, as we've seen with Dusk twice in the last year, are grave. So, we're doing what we can to reduce the likelihood that Bodie will have a serious episode.

The good news is that the surgery has a pretty good likelihood of working. It's becoming more and more successful in treating CPVT. And the great news is that they can do it laparoscopically (and they probably will when it comes Dusk's time for this surgery). The really, really, really NOT fun news is that Bodie has too much scar tissue for them to do it laparoscopically. Which means they'll have to go in via a thorocotomy, which will mean going in through his side and spreading his ribs. 

According to Wikipedia, "Thoracotomies are thought to be one of the most difficult surgical incisions to deal with post-operatively, because they are extremely painful and the pain can prevent the patient from breathing effectively, leading to atelectasis or pneumonia." 

Which means, at the tender age of 6, our son will be able to tell you whether a sternotomy (having your chest cracked open) or a thoracotomy (having your ribs spread apart) is more painful. This straight up sucks. And really, really, really makes my mama's heart hurt. 

Again, let me refer you back to "Exhibit A: Amy's feelings on the matter."

And "Exhibit B. I.just.can't.even."

My poor baby.

Thankfully, setting aside the pain issue, this surgery should be less invasive and complicated than any of his previous heart surgeries. He'll probably be in the hospital 3-5 days (at least 1 of those in the Cardio Thoracic ICU) and then, once we have his pain managed well, he'll be home resting for a couple more weeks after that and then should be good to go. We are grateful for that, and we're hopeful that when all is said and done, this will just be another blip on his really noisy radar.

We appreciate your prayers heading into this surgery. Prayers that we can shift our summer plans around to fit this in. Prayers for Dusk and I. As any parent who has been through this will tell you, having heart surgery looming over your head is no joke. It's hard, the worry is always there and it takes a good deal of effort to shove the worry down and choose to focus on God and trust in Him. Because, at the end of the day, it is a CHOICE. And we're trying to daily choose to trust God and His plans for our special boy. 
And please pray for Sierra. This is hard for her, too. Her best-friend-slash-arch-enemy is about to have another surgery and she's worried for him. And she'll need to be flexible since she tends to get passed around to family and friends when Bodie is in the hospital. 

We don't know yet when Bodie's surgery will be. We're still managing schedules at this point, but it will likely be either mid July or early August. So please just cover us in prayer as we head into this summer. Thanks!
Photobucket

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Gifts in unconventional packaging

Parenting a medically fragile child bites.
I mean it really sucks in a million different ways.
We live a pretty "typical" life, but even so...

I could list all the ways it sucks for you.
The moment we were diagnosed and our entire world shifted on its axis. The hospitalizations. The surgeries (duh). The medications with side effects that would keep you up at night thinking about. The things you're a witness to. The pain you watch your child go through. The pain you participate in, holding your child down for repeated blood draws and other procedures. The brave children you pass in the hallways, in the elevators. The ones you know and love personally who earn their angel wings far too soon. 

But that's really just the tip of the iceberg.
Everything underneath that.
That's where the scary stuff really starts. 
I could try to explain it to you.

But the thing is, if you haven't been there, you wouldn't understand.
You try and we LOVE you for that effort. 
Please, please keep trying. 
We need you to keep trying.

But unless you have been there, you cannot begin to understand how sitting in a hospital bed next to a truly, truly sick child changes you, your mind, your outlook on life, how it hits your soul. How it literally crushes your heart and forever alters it. 
What it's like to watch your child suffer. And to suffer in a way that you could never make better no matter how much you tried.
What it's like to wonder whether your child will get to grow up, whether you're parenting for the here and now or for the future. 
What it's like to look at their siblings and wonder how this journey is changing them now, how it will change them in the future. 

Every parent worries. 
But the thing is...but when you have a medically fragile child, they're not just crazy overreacting typical parent worries. We fear what we've already seen and know can happen. It's literally like holding a ticking time bomb. One that could go off at any moment. So you hold on for dear life. And pray for more days.

This past week has been tough for us, with conversations about Bodie we weren't quite ready to have. (He's fine cardiac wise, but his rhythm stuff is giving us a run for our money.) 
Lots of feelings coming up. 
And not the good kind. 

So I've been in a funk the past few days, just processing it all. 
Hating CHD. 
Wishing with every ounce of my being that my sweet, silly boy had been born with a whole functioning heart. Just wishing for the hundredth (millionth?) time that I could take it away from him.

And then today, as we were riding home from school and stopped at a stoplight, I looked back to see this. 
And I stopped, struck by his smile. 
And I realized how lucky I am. 
I get to see this smile on a regular basis. A smile that literally lights up his entire being. And reminds me how uniquely amazing God made him. 
You know what that smile was for? Because I had gotten him Reeses peanut butter cups as a snack.
I mean. 
Reeses peanut butter cups are pretty amazing, but even so...to be this excited? 

And you know what this smile a few weeks ago was for? 
Because he found a ladybug. 
A freaking ladybug.

What an incredible approach to life. 
Couldn't we all use a little bit of that?
Man, the world is a better place because this kid is in it.

I know his joy is not larger than life because of his heart, but the two go hand in hand. We get the beauty in the imperfect package. 
In his imperfect heart, our family has experienced perfect joy.
Because of his trials, we have rejoiced at quiet, happy moments.
Because of his perfectly imperfect future (but aren't ours all?), we have been forced into the here and now.

Here's the thing. A medically fragile child pulls you off autopilot. They bring you into the land of the HERE and the NOW. The land of childhood, of laughter and pillow fights, of snuggling in bed and extra stories. Of taking a little extra time.  Of rejoicing over Reeses Peanut Butter cups. 

So, yeah, this medically fragile journey thing sucks times infinity, but the beauty and joy it brings is also times infinity. 

What a gift, even if wrapped in unconventional packaging.

Photobucket

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nine.

Oh, my sweet girl. 
NINE?
How are you already halfway to being an adult? Yowza!!!

We love you SO MUCH. 
And we are so so grateful to be your mommy and daddy. 

You know what, Sierra? 
You are a good kid. 
You really are.
You're sweet and you're kind (well, except to your brother sometimes. But in all fairness, he sometimes makes it pretty hard to love him, what with all the piss and vinegar he throws in your general direction). 

And you're one of the bravest kids I know. 
You're not afraid - of anything. (well, except spiders and bugs, but that's really just self preservation and good common sense to be scared of those suckers. You won't find me holding that against you.) 
But you're not scared of LIFE and that's what we love so much about you. 

We have this picture of you from your third birthday party, which totally encapsulates EVERYTHING about who you are. Messy, sweet and OH SO EXCITED. 
You dive in feet first, screaming in excitement. Whether it is ballet, or swimming, or going somewhere new, all I have to say is "hey, do you want to try - " and your answer is an emphatic "YES!!!" before I've even completed my sentence. And whatever it is we end up doing, you always have so much fun.

That is such a gift, baby girl. Because someday God will speak deep into your heart, and He will call you to go somewhere scary, somewhere uncomfortable, for His sake. And, with every beat of your excited heart, you'll jump to say "YES, Lord! Send me! I can't wait!" (and I'll be scared to death, but oh, so proud, of you.) Don't ever lose that love of adventure, of life, of looking expectantly down the lane at what's coming next, just knowing it will be good. It will make your life so amazing.

I know our life has been tough, but even through it, you have prevailed. You have kept pushing on, over the obstacles and the hurtles. Eight was a bittersweet year for you. It saw your best friend move away, with a little bit of your heart (and mine) with her. But it also saw so much good. Learning to play the clarinet, an exponential increase in your reading and writing abilities, an increased self confidence in your ability to handle stressful situations, and a newfound love of spelling lists, Nancy Drew and karate. 

We have loved watching you grow. The past 9 years have been amazing. We've watched you learn to talk, to crawl, to walk, to read and write. We've helped you learn math and social studies (and sometimes science, but, well, let's just say that's not really our forte in the Bennett household).  

But the next 9 will bring so much more. 
Tonight, we snuggled and I stroked your hair as we talked of what the next 9 years will bring - boys (eeeeek!!! I'm not gonna lie - that was a sigh of relief you heard come out of my mouth when you swore you'd never marry and that boys were kinda icky), learning so.much.more, driving a car, going to high school and picking a college. 

All of these are such wonderful things, but my heart is already a little sad in anticipation of the natural separation you'll start to have from us as you grow. So I'm milking this time for all it's worth - extra snuggles, extra reading, extra talks. Just extra "us" time. Now. You know, when you still think we're cool. 

So many fun adventures ahead. We're so grateful to be here with you, watching you start to spread your wings and grow. 

We love you, girlie. Every last fearless inch of you. 
Happy 9th birthday.

Love,
Mommy & Daddy (& Bodie, who adores you even if it doesn't always seem like it)
Photobucket

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

We need help.

Friends.

We need your help.

We have seen your help work in the past in so many ways, in your prayers for all of Bodie’s multiple heart surgeries and Dusk’s surgeries and heart attacks. We have seen it work in how quickly you mobilized to come alongside us and rebuild our lives after our house burned down. Today, we need it in a way we never envisioned asking for it. 

We need the power of social media.

As you may know, Dusk had to have both of his hips replaced at the age of 39 due to a bad reaction to 6 days on Prednisone for an inner-ear imbalance. We have not discussed the aftermath of his first surgery on social media, because, to be honest, we have never wanted to publicly disparage the surgeon involved. We understand the power of social media, and have never wanted to use it to disadvantage someone. But we have no choice at this point.

The surgeon who replaced Dusk’s first hip was Jonathan Nissanoff. He represented prior to surgery that he was a Blue Cross PPO Preferred Provider. After the surgery, we were billed from a different office that was NOT a Preferred Provider. His office and our insurance company fought for almost 2 years before coming to an agreement. During that time, Dusk underwent a particularly difficult recovery due to the way the surgery was done (and still has significant pain to this day), and we had tremendous issues dealing with the office, among other problems.  You can read about some of our issues here and here

Some time after the insurance company and the doctor’s office came to their agreement, we were verbally told by the office that our balance was paid. Shortly after that conversation, Dusk updated an already unfavorable Yelp review about Dr. Nissanoff. 

Since that time, we have been sent a cease and desist letter based on the Yelp review, a collections agency has been sent after us for what we believe to be a fabricated balance, and we are now being sued for over $14,000. 

We offered to take down the Yelp review.

The doctor did not budge, claiming the lawsuit has nothing to do with the Yelp review.

Earlier this week, someone else posted a negative Yelp review. We did not write the review. Despite us indicating so, the doctor’s attorney has now subpoenaed Dusk’s IP address as well as the IP address of the negative Yelp reviewer, because they believe they are the same. Even though the case "isn’t about the Yelp review." I wish I was making this up. 

You guys. 
We are being harassed. 
I wish we had money for days to fight all of this off, but, unlike the doctor’s insurance company, we don’t. We are just a family living in Los Angeles, just trying to survive,  trying to make ends meet. A family who has been through way too much already. If you’re new to our blog, you may not be familiar with our story. I’ll summarize it below.

In the last 9 years, Dusk and I have had 7 miscarriages; he had a bad reaction to a week on Prednisone, causing him to need both of his hips replaced at 39 years old; our son was born with a severe heart defect that has required 5 open-heart surgeries, 5 cardiac catheterizations, over 7 months spent in the hospital and countless other procedures (so far); Dusk has had 2 heart attacks and his knees are shot; our house was burglarized and burned down a year later. Oh, and I am looking at surgery for a herniated disc in my back.

(As an aside, I wish I was also making all of that up.)

The doctor knows ALL of this, and is choosing to pursue this lawsuit anyway. It is really beyond unconscionable. His office had the nerve to send the collections agency after us just a few months after our fire, as we were dealing with living in a rental home and trying to inventory the enormous losses in our home. We know he was aware of our situation as we made both his office and the collections agency aware of it.

We have tried being reasonable. We have tried to satisfy him. But it is clear he will not stop. We can’t keep fighting this, either monetarily or emotionally. This has to stop.

We don’t know what else to do other than to spread our story. 

Please help us. 

How you can help:
1. Share your opinion. 
If you don’t agree with the way we’re being treated and harassed, please go to Dr. Nisanoff’s Yelp page and share your concerns. Let him know that it’s not ok to take advantage of weakened people, especially people who have already been through so much. His Yelp page can be found here.

2. Spread the word. 
Share this post with your friends – forward it over email, share it via social media. However you get word out on issues that are important to you, please consider sharing our story. If you have media contacts, please reach out to them and share our story. Amy can be reached directly at amykbennett@gmail.com

3. Advocate. 
If you know friends in the Southern California area who are contemplating orthopedic surgery, particularly hip replacement, please steer them elsewhere. We personally recommend Dr. Joel Matta  in Santa Monica. He did Dusk’s second hip surgery and, if we could go back in time, we would have had him do his first. People travel from all over the world to see Dr. Matta. He is an incredibly talented surgeon, his bedside manner is wonderful, and his office is a dream to work with billing wise. Please help your friends and acquaintances avoid finding themselves in the situation we have found ourselves in.

4. Pray. 
Please pray for our family. All of this, culminating in the lawsuit, has brought so much stress into our lives, which are already much more stressful than they need to be. Please pray in particular for Dusk, as his arrhythmias are adrenaline induced and can be exacerbated by stress. It is hard to believe that no cardiac events for years and years – and now 2 in the last year, since all of this harassment has started – is simply a coincidence. At a time when we are trying desperately to identify and eliminate stress inducers, we have no ability to control this one. Please pray for health for all of us.

As a final note, if you are in the Southern California area and find yourself in need of a good litigator attorney, we highly recommend James Johnson. He has been enormously helpful to us in this stressful time. 


Photobucket

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Courage of a Lion

When Bodie was 18 months old(ish), we enrolled him with an amazing company called Beads of Courage, who provides beads to children who've been through medical trauma, so that they can "record, tell and own their stories of survival." At that time, Bodie received beads for his first 3 surgeries and accompanying hospital stays. You can read about that (and his massive collection of beads) here. It was amazing, we all ooh'ed and aah'ed. And promptly put them in the bag they came in. And left them on his dresser.

And then totally freaked out when we thought we lost them in the fire.
And then found them again.
And then left them in the bag again (in my defense, we kind of had a lot going on).

Fast forward to last month, when Bodie wanted me to help him share his Beads of Courage with his kindergarten class (so.stinking.cute) during CHD Awareness Week. 
Which was about when I realized "holy crap, he only has 3 open-heart surgery beads on here. We haven't updated them since he was 18 months old!!!"


So, I tallied his procedures from 18 months until now. Ok, I estimated, because we all know I have waaaaaaaayyyy too much PTSD to actually remember everything that happened. But whatever, it's the thought that counts, right? 

His beads arrived last week and he and Sierra (and Dusk and I) got busy stringing them. 
And he had too many beads to fill the strings allotted (again!), so we'll have to get more. But we strung what we had and I'm kinda loving them.  We put the 2 new strings right up with the rest of them (now on his wall, so I'm not worried about losing them anymore).
The string with his name on it is his first string, which includes all 3 of his first open-heart surgeries. We put his Fontan string right above it (you can tell it's his Fontan string, since it has 2 open-hearts on it (the red hearts - duh, right?) and a new special bead, made just for him with a sweet message (the lobster one).
(for the record, his "what the heck happened?" string (i.e. not his Fontan string, but where all the other beads from the past few years went) is on the bottom right of the picture of all of his beads.)

I tried to do a "then and now" photo op, but I'm pretty sure this is officially classified as a Pinterest Fail.
Whatev. Nailed it.

And, if you're counting, his bead total now includes 5 cardiac catheterizations, 17 central line and PICC placement & removals, 42 clinic visits, 100 nights spent in the CardioThorasic ICU, 15 days spent on TPN, 50 dressing changes, 61 echocardiograms, 4 emergency/unusual occurences, 26 antibiotic infusions, 53 nights spent in the step-down unit, 75 days spent in isolation, 7 different instances of learning new medications, 170 IV Starts and blood draws, 185 CT scans, EKGs, MRIs & X-rays, 6 tranfusions, 28 NG, chest tube & foley catheter insertions and removals, 22 days spent on a ventilator, 65 visits from PT/OT/Nutrition, 3 extraordinary experiences, 5 cardiac surgeries and 11 hospital discharges.

For all of that, and the privilege of seeing how far he has come, I'll gladly take a million pinterest fails. 


Photobucket

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

On rising up...

Two years ago, at almost this exact time, our house looked like this.
(as an interesting aside, this picture was taken by a mom in my local moms group - she posted it in our group asking what was going on. I saw it later that night. Cannot explain how crazy it is to see a picture of YOUR house on fire on social media before you have even had a chance to tell anyone yet.)

 By the next morning, our home would look like this, and our life would be forever changed.
It's amazing to look at these pictures. It almost feels like it happened to someone else, like a bad dream. Looking back, I can't believe that actually happened to US.

Tonight, we celebrated how far we have come as a family since that night, and how much God has done for us, and protected our family. We celebrated with dinner at one of our favorite local haunts. 
 And lest you think that picture is bad, this was my other option. 
(better known as the mug shot and poltergeist boy, with some random girls behind them.)

Whether we should "celebrate" or just pretend this day never happened was a bit of debate between Dusk and I (and apparently everyone else in the human race - with me falling on the lone side of believing that we should indeed celebrate). But I think it is SO important that our kids understand that we rise up from experiences like this, that we live through them, that we fight through them, that they shape who we are, but that they do not define us. So, we recognize the day and celebrate that today is NOT that day, that today our house did NOT burn down. (As it turns out, I may have a slightly lower than typical threshold for things that require celebrating.) At any rate, we ultimately used it as an opportunity to reflect on God's abundant blessings on our family, and the beauty amidst the tragedy. 

May you also find beauty amidst the tragedies of your lives. 
Or, you know, just celebrate because your house didn't burn down today.
Photobucket

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Embracing the chaos

We made a pretty big change to our family this week. We added a pet! 
I know, for most families that's not such a big deal. But for our family, it's huge - and here's why. 

Our family has been living in chaos. 
Pretty much forever at this point.
In fact, I don't remember a time when our family wasn't marking time from trauma to trauma.

Dusk and I both grew up with pets. We absolutely fundamentally understand how good pets are for kids. But, with all the trauma in our life, we just couldn't bring ourselves to bring a pet into our home. (And I don't just mean because of Bodie's heart defect - we know tons of HLHSers with pets. It's because of everything else - Dusk's medical issues, the fire, and just everything else. We just didn't think we could handle a pet on top of everything.) That wouldn't have been fair to the pet - or to us. 

But this past weekend, Dusk and I decided that we were ready, that the kids were ready. That maybe our life wasn't ever going to be free of trauma and chaos, that maybe this is just the season God has called us to. So maybe, instead of waiting for things to be perfect, we just needed to make the most of this season we're in and add a pet. (But just a cat - a cat we could do. A dog we're not quite ready for.)

So we put ourselves on all the local shelter lists for (what they so eloquently described as) "a bombproof, sweet cat" that could handle a household that runs on chaos. We walked into our local no-kill shelter on Tuesday afternoon, and wanted a male, orange tabby kitten or maybe a 1-2 year old (so basically either one we could mold, or one who had been manhandled a lot and could handle us). 

And we walked out with this.
A beautiful, sweet 6 ½ year old, white, female kitty.

She wasn't at all what we wanted. 
But, as it turned out, she was exactly what we needed.
An unbelievably sweet and mellow kitty, who can't help but purr the second you start petting her. 

Dusk and I are both in love.
She loved me…until she met Dusk…and then it was over.
 
I'm not even kidding when I say that. 
The kids and I were home tonight and she had run under the bed. She had been under there for awhile. Within minutes of Dusk coming home, she was out on the bed, purring away, just waiting for him. 
I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to remind her that he is MY husband on a regular basis. 
But I'm ok with it, because if someone in this family needs some pet therapy, it's Dusk.

And the kiddos absolutely love her…which she tolerates, for the most part. 
She's getting better. She opened up to Dusk and I really quickly, sleeps on our bed already and loves to lie next to us. She acclimated very quickly for any cat, let alone a rescue kitty. It's taking a little longer to warm up to the kids. She likes them, but will only let them pet her for a short period of time. Yesterday, she shot under the bed the second they got home from school. But today was better and she let them pet her for a bit. They were over the moon.
She's opening up to Sierra and definitely vibes with her more mellow side.
Bodie…well, he's a whole nother Oprah. He is obsessed with her and she is pretty scared of his crazy energy. He's trying to learn to be calm (which is GREAT for him), but is a hard lesson. He's taking it pretty personally that she looks like a deer in the headlights when she hears him running down the hall. 

I was feeling so bad for him tonight when he was crying about it. I was almost regretting the whole cat thing. And then I walked into our bedroom to see Bodie hanging out with Dusk and the kitty was right by his side. For the first time, she was cool hanging near him. 
(Yeah, I know, she looks pissed in this picture. But his face is priceless.) We're so hopeful that the more she adjusts, the more she'll bond with the kiddos.

So for now, we're embracing the chaos in our life. And this sweet little kitty is helping us do just that. 
Photobucket

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

SIX!!!

Our sweet Bodie,

Six.
S.I.X.
Wow.
Your first two handed birthday. I know you had a hard time understanding what we meant by that when we said it, but you'll just have to trust us, it's pretty cool.

Wasn't it just yesterday that I was pregnant with you, that we were learning about how there was something wrong with your tiny, walnut sized heart? When we toured the cardiac ICU for the first time and thought "how will we ever survive this, spending even one night in here?" 

And yet, here we are, 6 years (and many, many nights - and days - spent in that cardiac ICU) later. And here you are, the bravest little boy we know. We are so blessed we get to call you ours.

I know as parents, we're supposed to be the ones teaching. And we have. 

Or, at least we've tried. 
You can strip a bed really well now, although remaking it still continues to be your Mt. Everest. And at least twice a week you magically forget how to put on your socks and shoes (somehow, it becomes a task fit only only for an individual celebrating a double digit birthday). But you have finally mastered underwear, so there's that. 

And yet somehow, you have taught us even more. In your early years, your infancy and toddlerhood, you taught us resilience. You taught us fight and bravery. You taught us to trust God with this tiny human being, and to trust others to help you when we couldn't. You taught us to revel in the beauty of life, to find the magic in every day. You taught us what our limits were, how far we could be frustrated before we could break (and, well, let's be honest, you're still teaching us that - you're kind of an expert in that area).

The past year, you have taught us even more, maybe even more than you did in your entire first 5 years of life. This was the year where you started to move outside the protective confines of our family, of a preschool, and out, just a bit, into the real world. Where you weren't the kid to be treated with kid gloves, the kid with a heart condition. You were just another kid. A little boy obsessed with Legos, Star Wars and paramedics.

When we got back from Boston last August, we weren't sure where this year was going to go, how you would do in school. The challenges before you seemed so daunting. But I remember daddy telling me 

"Just give him a chance. He's always risen to the occasion. I have no reason to think he won't this time, too."

And you know what, Bodie? He was right. You have totally risen to the occasion this last year. You have stretched and grown this year. So, so much. You have shown us that, no matter what you bring to the table, no matter what happened to you before you got there, you bring your A game and do the best you can. And you enjoy the heck out of it while you're doing it. 
Gah. Your joy for life is unreal, kiddo. I don't know where you got it from, but I thank God for it every.single.day.
This was the first year that you didn't have a birthday party where we invited a bunch of heart families and reveled in what a miracle you are. Because, of course, you are, but you don't need to dwell on that too much these days, lest you think it's an excuse on the whole socks and shoes thing. Instead we did a joint birthday party with your friend Garret, and invited only school friends and just did a regular kid birthday party. 
And it was pretty awesome. 
You're starting to grow up on us, just a little bit. 
Last night, you told me "mama, I don't want to be 6. I like 5." 

I know, buddy. Change is weird and unfamiliar. Tell me about it, kid. If daddy and I thought 5 was hard, where the statistics and survival rates stopped for kids with your heart condition, 6 is even harder. We're kind of into this weird abyss, where we don't have survival rates anymore and things might be really great or they might not. So, you know "go have fun and live life." It's weird and unsettling for sure. 

But you know what? It's also so so amazing. You're our pioneer. We get to watch you do things we didn't know you would ever do. And we can't even put into words the pride we feel when we see you doing those things. 
And we love every inch of you. 
Well, except for the inches that won't help clean the house or put your socks and shoes on. 
Because, seriously, dude. I don't care how many heart surgeries you've had, you can't walk around barefoot forever. 
We love you so much, buddy.

Love,
Mommy & daddy
Photobucket