God is. Archives

Perfect Chaos.

I think my perfect sleep hours would be 9:30 pm to 5:00 am. I’d sleep undisturbed and wake feeling completely rested and ready for a new day.
I would get up while the house was still quiet and actually drink an entire cup of coffee without having to reheat it 4 times and write a complete blog post and update my bullet journal.
I imagine I’d have thoughts. Real, uninterrupted thoughts. The kind of thoughts that adults have when they’re adulting. Thoughts about the meaning of life and foreign heads of state and who on earth invented algebra because I’d like to have a talk with them.

At around 7:30 my kids would one-by-one begin to make their way out of their rooms. We’d talk about dreams while we eat bacon for breakfast and then get our day started.

Reality, however, has 10-month-old Lanie falling asleep after midnight and waking up between 8 or 9 so when I get up for the day chaos has already set in.

Maggie is wearing her tights as pants and her shirt is on inside out and backwards and she is trying to get the last bit of oatmeal powder out of a used oatmeal packet she found in the trash can. Then I step in a half-wiped up orange juice spill while trying to clean a glob of something off the front of the dishwasher because my teenage sons started a ninja fight while making some breakfast. And while attempting to get the morning sorted out I misplace my fresh cup of delicious hot coffee which totally defeats the purpose of brewing it in the first place and who on earth thought it was a good idea to put a pull up in the washing machine?

And I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

But then.
The boys argue over who gets to hold Lanie first and she is all smiles with them fawning all over her and my heart melts at how much they love her. Lucy reminds me again how much she missed me all night while she was sleeping and Maggie says the blessing and she thanks God that Joe (her oldest brother) gets to come visit so often (he lives here) and somebody finds my coffee in the microwave because I had forgotten that I had reheated it just as Joe walks in from his early morning shift at the coffee shop with a white chocolate mocha all for me.

And we all laugh.

And I’m reminded that in the chaos, life is so good. So worth all of the sticky and smelly and accidentally washed pull ups.

Once my kids put an entire package of bacon in the pantry instead of the fridge and we didn’t find it for days and had to throw the whole thing out and I think if we could make it through that, we can make it through anything.

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adoptionawarenessGrowing up I clearly recall my home being a safe place, my safe place. If there is anything of more value to a child than a feeling of safety and security in a loving home, I don’t know what it is. I look back on my childhood and feel overwhelmingly thankful that my parents gave us a sheltered childhood.  We were nourished and taught good and right things and never lacked for anything and when the teenager that lived two houses down was irresponsibly sighting his rifle before going hunting the next day and I was sure his intention was to kill me…
I instinctively knew where to run for safety.

In the 27 hours of classes we were required to take to become approved to adopt through foster care here in Florida, I learned that every child in the foster care system has been through a traumatic experience that has cost them any hope of feeling that kind of safety. The vast majority of them have been either forcibly removed from their homes or given up voluntarily by one or both parents.  It leaves them feeling vulnerable and alone. The ultimate betrayal – turned away by the people who were supposed to instinctively long to protect them.

I have learned what kind of abuses take place and what effect that can have on a child. I learned that it is usually bad. Really bad.

I have learned that we, individually and as a society, have gotten far too comfortable with their cries.
Deafening. Silent. Raw. Hidden. Heartbroken.

I have learned that I can’t do that anymore.
And I have learned that sometimes all you can do is pray.

I have learned that there is a lot of fear in adopting a broken child and a lot of thought and consideration has to go into it before a challenge like that should be taken on.
And I have learned that no matter how much thought and consideration you give it there is no way to prepare yourself.

I have learned that the system that has been put in place to facilitate the best possible outcome for both adopter and adoptee is broken. I’ve learned that quite often, out of an understandable desperation to find children a home, the people in charge, the experts, will break the most essential of those rules and set everybody up for failure. Because there aren’t enough foster homes. Because the kids are close to being too old to place. Because they might have a disability that is just beginning to show and it’s RIGHTNOW or possibly never.

And that’s when failure happens.  And everybody is to blame but nobody is at fault because the real failure is not doing anything at all and nobody involved can be accused of that.

I have learned that it is hopeless.

And I have learned that there is hope.


I’ve already started writing a post about our specific experience. I’m not sure if it will be the next adoption post I put up but it’s coming.

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31 for 21 Day 19. Sometimes rough.

Things were hard for me for a while.  I didn’t even realize how hard until I was able to look back on the last year with the clarity of hindsight. And while I’m not happy with my then attitude and how I felt about things 10 months ago, I am glad that my now attitude reflects so much growth and a new understanding about life.  Things are different now. Things are good.

But I still find myself having rough days and there are always appointments to make and therapies to try and wild thoughts of what could still go wrong because one little extra chromosome can wreak so much havoc.

Therapy appointments, and weigh-ins, and blood work, and why is she sweating, and NOBODY MOVE SHE JUST LOST A CONTACT, and what the heck is T3 and TSH, and getting her to take those disgusting vitamins, and holy hound dogs petechia = leukemia does my baby have cancer?

And her eyes.  I can get so sad about her eyes.

Sometimes I feel so down about Lanie’s aphakia and I’m sad that I even know what that word means.  I feel sad that she has to wear contacts or glasses to have any kind of useful vision and, while I don’t know what either of those things feel like, I can imagine it to be uncomfortable at times, especially for a baby who can’t adjust her glasses or let me know when her contacts need cleaning.  She can’t tell me when her contacts are dry or itchy, or if her glasses are hurting her head, or if she just needs a break for a little while.

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I feel sad that she has to wear contacts or glasses all the time. All. The. Time.
And that this will go on indefinitely and she may be a teenager before she can get her implants.

I feel bad that I can’t know for sure what her vision is like.  Are the contacts blurry? Could we be doing more to help her see?

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Lanie’s ophthalmologist sometimes needs to do extensive eye exams that make her sad.

And that makes me sad.

I have to remind myself often, as Dr. Mickler firmly told me on the morning of her first surgery when she was just 7 weeks old and I was asking a million questions that he had already answered at her appointment, that the alternative to this would be complete blindness.

And what sometimes feels so frustrating is actually a miracle. Something to be thankful for.

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And that, clearly, she is not blind now.

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She sees us and she smiles.

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And that is really good stuff.

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Happy Independence Day, ‘Muricans! 

oldflagI don’t think many people, especially our younger generation, really appreciate what it means to be a citizen of the United States.  I was born in Rhode Island. Do you realize what kind of blessing that is?  What kind of gift it is to be born into the best country in the entire world? A country people risk everything, including their lives trying to get into?

Yes. The United States has its issues.  It’s a giant relationship and we have a lot of work to do but when you think about it, all of the best relationships in our lives require work and patience and care.

It’s July 4th, people.  Let our celebration of freedom mean something. Tell your kids what our independence means for them. Make a vow to teach them to love this country; their country. The only way to heal our nation is for the next generation to care enough to protect it.
People died for America. For us.  Take it seriously.

But, also, laugh.
And light a sparkler or something.

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My 3 month old wears contacts.

I don’t have many pictures of Lanie, and I only have one of myself with her and it really isn’t a good picture at all and it was taken with a smart phone in the hospital right before Lanie’s first surgery so everything was just weird.  I am unbelievably sad about this and really disappointed that I’ve missed recording so much of these first 3 months, but Kait’s camera is broken and I’m just not the photographic genius I always wanted to be.  I do take pictures, but they always turn out fair to awful.  I’m just saying this to let you know that I’m desperate so even though these pictures aren’t the best, I tried.

Lanie got her contacts last Monday and her brain is slowly learning to take all those new images and turn them into something.  I can see the daily progression in her eye control, her neck strength, and her attempts to communicate with us.  I’ve also noticed that she is beginning to associate sounds with the thing or person making those sounds.

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It is truly astonishing how necessary vision is to a child’s development. Her ophthalmologist told us that she was essentially blind before her cataracts were removed, with zero vision in her left eye and only some light and maybe some color vision in her right eye.  Nothing useful.  Then, after her surgeries, he said she could see but without focusing power everything was just a blur of shapes and colors.  So this past week everything has been brand new for her and I really love all the smiling she does now.

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It’s really crazy that my 3 month old wears contacts.  Seriously, people that learn this cannot wrap their minds around it.  It really is a gift though because her glasses, which are still being made because it takes at least two weeks to create the lenses she needs, are THISTHICK and I think it would be disappointing to not be able to see her eyes very well as they light up when she learns new things.

Her contacts are pretty thick too, but they don’t detract from her eyes at all.  If you look closely you may be able to see the contacts in this picture.

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She really does have the prettiest eyes.

Other than her eyes her health appears to be very good.  I still nurse her often but I also pump about 12 oz a day and add whole powdered goats milk to it to boost the fat and calories she’s taking in and she is finally gaining weight the way she’s supposed to. It is still a lot of work to make sure she is eating enough each day but it has definitely been worth it to see her get a little meat on her bones.  I’m hoping in a month or so I’ll be able to start weening her off the bottles and just nurse her normally.

FYI if you are ever find yourself needing to boost your baby’s caloric intake – I added formula to her milk in the beginning because that’s what her pediatrician recommended.  That turned out to be hard on her tummy and I started looking for alternative ways to boost her calories.  I came up with the idea of adding powdered goat’s milk after reading that many moms who cannot breastfeed are using goat’s milk as a base to make a better formula because it is easily digestible.  I chose powder because I wanted to boost the vitamin rich breast milk she already ate, not add more liquid.  I decided to add one scoop of it (I think it works out to be two tablespoons) to each 4 oz bottle of breast milk.  It took her a few days to get used to it but she does very well on it now.

She’s rolling over all the time now. She started rolling over from front to back at about 2 weeks, and has been rolling over from back to front from about 2 months.  She even rolls over when she’s swaddled.  It scared me to see her face down without her arms free to help her lift herself up so I’m not swaddling her anymore.

She’s doing so much better than we had hoped for and at her appointment today Dr. Mickler said he doesn’t need to look at her eyes until September. He’ll test for glaucoma then so please pray she’s one of the few who does not have that problem.

I can’t think of anymore updates to give so that’ll be it for now.

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Done

Lanie’s right eye surgery to remove her cataract is finished. She did so well.

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She’s much more interested in getting the eye shield off of her face this go round though so that might be a challenge. It’s amazing how much growth can happen in just two weeks. When she had her left eye done we had no concerns about her rubbing her eye. This time is much different. She’s got opinions about it.

We’re now on our way home and in hoping to get a nap before Lanie’s post-op eye appointment this afternoon.

I’ll write later.

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Waiting

We’re in the waiting room at the surgical center. Lanie is having the cataract in her right eye removed and the tear duct in her left eye opened.

This wasn’t scheduled until yesterday afternoon. We knew it would be done within the next few weeks but didn’t realize it would be scheduled with such short notice. It kind of left me with little time to worry and fret so it worked for me.

For some reason I’m more nervous about this surgery than I was when she had the left eye done two weeks ago. She didn’t seem bothered at all though.

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She slept and smiled, and smiled and slept.

I’ll post later on with an update.

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I still have my other kids

There has been so much going on with Lanie that I’ve neglected to post much about the 9 other children running around here so here’s a cute picture of some of them.

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Maggie’s duck face…  Kait taught her to do that.
Funny not funny.

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One cataract down, one to go.

Yesterday was a very long day even though it really wasn’t.  I think it just felt crazy because we were exhausted and I didn’t get very much sleep at all the night before Lanie’s eye surgery because, well, she was having eye surgery to remove her natural lenses and she’s my newborn baby and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I wasn’t able to sleep until about midnight because she couldn’t eat after midnight and I was trying to shove as much milk down her throat as possible even though she was like Mom, enough already! Then, when when I did finally get some shut eye it was a fitful rest and I was up at 2:30, then 2:45, then 3:00.  I finally just got up at 3:30 and at 4:00 Rabbit’s alarm went off.  We got out the door by around 4:30 to get to the hospital by 5 for her 7 AM surgery.  We signed in and then waited our turn to finish registration and be taken to pre-op.  Once we were in Pre-op we talked to several nurses, the anesthesiologist, and finally Lanie’s doctor.  Everything was as it was supposed to be.
While we waited, however, I developed a nasty headache that has been hanging on since.  Lanie, however was a trooper and didn’t seem fazed by the commotion around her or the fact that she hadn’t eaten in 8 hours.

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The hardest part of the day was giving her to the nurse when she came to get my baby for surgery.  I told her I wasn’t ready yet but the nurse just smiled and said she would take very good care of her.  Rabbit and I walked back to the waiting room and sat for what seemed like many hours while we waited for somebody to tell us everything went well.

A nurse came in about 30 minutes later and said they had just started her surgery, that she was doing well with the anesthesia, and that Dr. Mickler had decided to remove the cataract from just the left eye for now because the right one wasn’t as bad as he had thought and it would be better to wait a month or so before removal.

It was a little after 8 when the doctor came and told us that things went very well.  We were so relieved.  Really though, all I wanted to do was hold my baby and that was going to be a little while more because she needed to be woken from her anesthesia first.

My OB doctor, Dr. Medlock, walked in and saw us sitting there and came over to say hello.  He asked what Lanie was in for and we told him about her cataracts.  He chit chatted for a few minutes and then left to find his surgery patient’s husband, who was apparently not in the waiting room because Dr. Medlock stood there turning in circles like me in the Walmart parking lot when I forget where I parked, then he left.
About 5 minutes later a nurse came and got us and I was so very happy when I finally got to hold my sweet baby girl.
She was a little bit agitated but was consolable, and she was super hungry but couldn’t coordinate sucking and swallowing and that was ticking her off a little too.

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After just a half hour they discharged us and we went home.  Lanie was scheduled for an afternoon appointment with her eye doctor and that went well too.  He showed us what he had done (fascinating, people) and gave us two prescriptions for two different eye drops.  She gets 9 eye drops a day and I thought there was no way I’d be able to remember all of them but apparently there is an app for that and thank you Smart Phone!

She was super tired yesterday and slept fairly well last night.  I slept okay, not as badly as I had anticipated, but I still have that headache that developed in pre-op and I am really, really tired.  Like bone tired.  Rabbit thinks it’s stress and tension and he is likely right.  I just need to relax or something.  Dr. Mickler said to have a beer but I’m nursing a 1 day post op baby so I don’t think that’s going to happen.

My very good friend, Carmen, had dropped off her delicious chili while we were at Lanie’s eye appointment and I realized I had not eaten all day.  Her chili is delicious and I am so blessed to know her so I can eat it.

The first half of today Lanie was kind of grumpy.  She’s never grumpy at all so it was different.  This afternoon, however, she’s been really cool.  She’s looking around, trying to see things.  She doesn’t have a lens in her eye yet so she can’t focus but she can see out of her left eye for the first time and everything is catching her attention.  I can’t even get her to look at the camera for long enough to snap a picture so this is all I’ve got for you right now.
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That is her expression all the time.

She won’t have her contacts or glasses for another month or two, after healing from both surgeries and giving her eyes time to adjust so Dr. Mickler can determine the best strength prescription for her. I really cannot wait for this.  I’m excited for that time when she can see our faces and our smiles clearly.

Now let us all pray that she doesn’t develop any other issues like glaucoma, which is very common after congenital cataract removal.

I’m going to go kiss my baby now.

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Lanie update

Lanie did well. Her surgery was at 7am and we were home by around 9:30am. I did get a little nap and then Lanie had an eye appointment in the afternoon.

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Oh, and Dr. Mickler only removed the cataract from the left eye and her right eye will have to be done in a month or so.

I’ll update with more information later but it’s been a long, tired day and I’m going to try to get some sleep.

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