Do You Ever Get Over It?

Grief is a funny thing.

Actually there is nothing funny about it…it freaking sucks!

It’s an awful thing. It brings out anger and confusion and questioning. It brings out a sadness from so far deep inside you and you never knew it existed.

It catches up with you when you least expect it and it’s like a punch in the gut every time.

The grief I talk about today comes from the loss of my Grandma. It’s been a little over 6 months since I got the phone call from my mom. Wondering why she was calling so early in the morning only to hear her tears and knowing it wasn’t good news. Hearing those words took my breath away.  I walked down the hall into my living room only to see my oldest sitting there looking at me with complete worry. I then had to sit and tell him that his Great-Grandma had passed away and I held him as he sobbed into my chest. I broke his heart in ways that I wish he could never feel.

Now don’t get me wrong. She’s not the first person to pass away in my life. I’ve lost both my grandparents on my dad’s side and yes they hurt just as bad and I think of them constantly. But this one…it just flat out broke.

I find myself wondering why? Why does it hurt so darn bad? And the only answer I have for that is…I didn’t get to say goodbye. We knew she wasn’t doing the greatest but she was far from done! Every other important person who has passed in my life I got to say goodbye. We knew it was nearing then end and I got that closure. My heart wasn’t ready for her to be gone and I don’t care how much they say time heals…I don’t think there is enough time in this world to heal my heart.

She was supposed to move in with my parents and be there every time we came over. She was supposed to sit out at the pool with us while the kids went swimming just talking and smiling at her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was supposed to be there for my oldest and youngest birthdays just a few months later. She was supposed to be sitting in her spot for Thanksgiving. And she should be here complaining about how much she hates Christmas when I know deep down inside she truly loved it! She should be here as I get older and go through things and need to talk to her only to hear her say “I tried to tell you!” She should be going to Gracie’s first dance performance and to Matthew’s 4th grade concert. She should be here to make Grant crack up in ways that only she knew how.

We always joked when we saw something we liked we’d say “I’m going to put my name on that so when you die I get it.” We’ve said that for as long as I can remember. Well last winter she had a coat that I absolutely loved. It looked so comfy and warm. From the first time I saw it and probably every time I saw her wear it I told her “I’m putting my name on that coat so when you die it’s mine or just when you get sick of it.” She just always smiled and said “Okay!” Well dang it Grandma I didn’t want to be wearing it a few months later!!!

It still smells like her. I only wear it in the house because as Matthew told me “Don’t even think about wearing that outside, Mom, because it will make Great Grandma’s smell go away.” I feel safe when I have it on. How stupid does that sound…35 years old and I feel safe wearing a jacket that smells like my Grandma.

There are so many things I want to tell her. So many things I wish she knew. I want to hear her laugh again…oh just to hear that laugh one more time. But for now I will close my eyes and let the tears roll down my cheeks and pray that she’s up there watching down on us with a smile.

Moral of the story: never take today, or the people you love, for granted!

Have a blessed day!

My NICU Miracles

Did you know that September is NICU Awareness Month?

That’s okay if you didn’t. It’s one of those things that if you’ve never had a preemie or baby that had to spend time in the NICU then you wouldn’t know. And that’s okay. But I am one of those people that knows about NICU Awareness Month because I have two NICU miracles.

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My first experience with the NICU came when I had Grant 8 and a half years ago. He came 4 weeks early at 36 weeks. He weighed 5lbs 13oz and spent 18 days in the NICU. Things were a tad different in our situation with Grant because as I have talked about before with all the complications I had with my pregnancy with him and knowing before he was even born that he would most likely have Cerebral Palsy…I also knew that he would be born early I just didn’t know how early. Him having to spend time in the NICU was also pretty much a given. It was all dependent on when he would need his last transfusion and whether it was better to transfuse or go ahead and deliver. At 36 weeks the decision was made to deliver. So I headed in for a C-section. I heard the sweetest little cry as they flashed him over the curtain then quickly whisked him away. The next 18 days he spent trying to overcome swallowing issues which was the first obstacle of his Cerebral Palsy.

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My second NICU experience was almost 3 years ago when my daughter decided to “grace” us with her presence 10 weeks and 1 day early!! After a week of being in the process of active labor she came within a couple of hours. I was one push away from having to push her out naturally as opposed to a c-section. I didn’t even get to see her beautiful face before they whisked her away. She surprised us at 29 weeks 6 days weighing 3lbs 4 oz. She was a tiny little bitty ball of fire and strength from day one. She was my little Rockstar! I always said that she was too excited to meet her brothers. She spent a very long 46 days in the NICU which included a NICU transfer to a different hospital. She did amazing and spent most of her time being a feeder and grower. Her biggest struggle was learning to drink from a bottle. Once she got that she was good to go!

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To this day the hardest couple of days of my life was when I had to walk out of that hospital for the first time leaving behind a huge piece of my heart to be taken care of by complete strangers. I remember the day we left with Grant I was waiting for my husband to pull the car up. There I sat with my bags and flowers and balloons but no baby. I sat there and watched a couple get off the elevator all smiles with their baby in the car seat. They were beaming with happiness as tears rolled down my face. It seemed so unfair.

Every day after that when I would go visit my baby in the hospital broke my heart just as much. It is the strangest feeling for it to be your child but having to follow the rules of someone else when it came to caring for them. And it’s just so unnatural to sit in a room where your walls and privacy are curtains, hearing beeping from not only your baby’s machines but all the other baby’s also and spend quality time with your brand new baby. Your bonding time was spent being interrupted by asking if you were okay, if you needed anything, if you were going to pump. Some days I just wanted to scream “I JUST WANT YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE!!!”

And then it was time to leave again. I remember with Gracie everyday as I laid her back in her isolette and gave her a kiss and promised her I would see her tomorrow as the tears would stream down my face. Every day for 46 days I left the hospital in tears. Now don’t get me wrong…even with the pain of having to walk away everyday I knew that they were both in the best care they could possibly be in. I knew that the amazing NICU nurses and doctors were taking care of my babies better than I could’ve at the time. They knew things that even as a seasoned mom I didn’t know enough to help. But that didn’t hurt the pain!

Today they are a happy and healthy 8 year old and 2 year old (I refuse to say almost three because I still get 20 more days of her being two!) You would never know by looking at these two happy faces that their journey’s started out so rough.

Moral of the Story: I give a huge high five to any NICU moms and dads (and even NICU siblings because their lives are also turned upside down on this journey) out there. Whether it’s been decades since your NICU miracle or just yesterday. The journey is a hard one no matter how long or short and it’s a journey that a parent never forgets!

(If you are a NICU parent let me know in the comments!! I absolutely love hearing stories of NICU babies!!)

Have a blessed day!

There’s No Greater Love…

…then that of a special needs sibling!

One of my greatest joys is watching my oldest and youngest with Grant. I love the look of love and adoration in their eyes as they interact. I truly believe there is no greater love.

Matthew was only 17 months old when Grant was born. He’s been there through every triumph, every mountain, every tear and every smile. He’s been there for every doctors appointment, every bad day, every great day, every small feat…He’s experienced it all with a smile on his face. He’s never once complained. He’s never once acted like Grant is a burden. He’s never once acted upset over the amount of time Grant takes from him. He is truly Grant’s biggest fan and always the first to be excited over something he has accomplished. Grant being Grant is all he’s ever known. And he is truly amazing with him and the love that Grant shows for Matthew is indescribable. I’ve said so many times that I wish Grant looked at me with half as much love and adoration that he shows when he looks at Matthew.

And Gracie…oh my she’s Grant’s little Momma! She’s always making sure he’s okay. She’s worried when he cries. She laughs when he’s silly. She loves on him when he needs it. I can always count on her sharing her food or drink with him. She had a piece of cheese the other day and I look over and she’s holding his head so gently saying “here go Gant. Take a bite. It good.” She’s always asking “where my Gant?” One day we had to drop the boys off at school and it messed Grant’s day up so he was crying. I got back in the car and she said “My Gant cry, Mom” “where my Gant go?” She loves him fiercely and I love that he always has her to look after him.

Life as a special needs sibling is not a “typical” life. You see things you shouldn’t have to see. Like, for instance, being seven years old and watching your younger brother have a seizure…and then watching it again several more times. Having to ask your mom “Can you die from a seizure? Is Grant going to die?” It’s the worry that anything could cause it to happen again. Matthew is Grant’s protector when it comes to seizures. He is always making sure he is not doing anything or exposed to anything that will cause him to have one. 

Life as a special needs sibling is being 2 years old and watching your older brother throw up so many times over and over day after day to a point that when you play doctor you act like you have to throw up but you have to have mom take you in the kitchen and hold you “like Grant” so you can throw up.

Life as a special needs sibling means not getting to do some things just because Grant can’t. Because even though it’s 2018 there are still so many places that are not handicap friendly, wheelchair accessible or good for kids with disabilities. 

Life as a special needs sibling means being told to wait “just a minute” while your mom helps your brother with something as easy as getting a drink or eating.

Life as a special needs sibling means life isn’t always fair.

But…life as a special needs sibling means that you have a kind heart! It means that you learn compassion in a way most adults will never understand. It means that you learn to put the needs of others before your own. It means that you know a love deeper than any love and so unconditional nothing can break it because your brother loves you so truly, so madly, so deeply that it makes it all worth it.

Moral of the story: Be kind to special needs siblings. They have a life unlike any other. Most days their lives are chaotic and crazy. If you get a chance to be friends with a special needs sibling, do it! They will show you kindness you’ve never seen before. Special needs siblings are the unsung heroes. The superheroes that don’t wear capes!!

Have a blessed day!

I Smile Because…

Look at this picture…what do you see?

After looking for a second you will obviously notice Grace being silly and Grant cracking up.

Look a little longer and some of you might be saying “Look at the counter and sink!” Or “Look at all that junk all over the floor!” Or “Is that a TV in her kitchen?”

Yes! Look in the background. You will see chairs scattered, a printer on the floor, a misplaced Spongebob desk that needs fixed. You will see a broken TV that I have been needing to get rid of for a couple months and yes that’s a plate of food that looked like a good place for Grace to put it when I asked her to put it away because I was helping Grant.

You might also notice that beside Grace is a sink full of dirty dishes. They are in there because I didn’t get a chance to help Grant do his chore of unloading the dishwasher yet. You will find a dirty counter in need of a good cleaning because eating healthy requires a lot of mess in my kitchen.

Also, what you don’t see is on the floor beside Grant are some bags of groceries that are still sitting there from yesterday when we went grocery shopping. There are two baskets of towels and blankets that have been sitting since Friday because our weekend was so busy and I haven’t had a second to get them done.

But what you don’t see is that behind the camera I have the biggest smile on my face. I smile because of Grace being silly. I smile because of hearing Grant laugh (which is seriously contagious and can turn your bad upside down the moment you hear it). I smile because Gracie wanted me to fix pancakes this morning and the color of choice was pink and orange. I smile because I get to wake up each morning to three beautiful kiddos. I smile because these two are the silliest and love to make each other laugh.

I smile because in this picture there is no disability. There is no disapproval. There is no discrimination.

I smile because in this picture I see love. I see laughter. I see acceptance. I see a brother and sister truly enjoying each other’s company. And I see pride. Pride in these two little people I get to call my own.

Because of this…I smile!

Moral of the story: sometimes it’s easy to look deeper and see the bad and judge someone because of what’s in the background. But sometimes it’s okay to take it for what it’s worth and find the beauty in it and smile!

Have a blessed day!

God Gives Special Needs Kids…Blah Blah Blah

I’ve heard the saying over and over. God gives special needs kids to special parents. So can someone explain to me what makes me so special compared to anyone else?

I ask this in all seriousness! My feeling is this…I’m not a special person! I’m not! God didn’t give me Grant because I am special. God gave me Grant and that’s what made me special.

I know people say this with only the best intentions and it doesn’t make me mad or upset me when they say it but I’ve always just wondered.

I am a regular mom who has become a better mom and a better human being because of my special needs son.

Nothing about me or my life before Grant was “special”. Heck I had only been a mom for 9 months when I got pregnant with him. I didn’t even have a full year of mom experience. To me that doesn’t shout “give her a special needs child because she is so special”. Nope! Just a regular mom who didn’t even have the whole mom thing figured out.

BUT…isn’t there always a but…I feel pretty freaking special that God gave him to me! I love that I was chosen to be granted this special gift! Grant has not only made me a better and special mom but he’s made our family special!

Moral of the story: it doesn’t take a special mom to have a special needs child…it makes you a special mom!

Have a blessed day!