Friday, August 29, 2008

What a Week

Wow. What an emotional week. Monday I had to hand my baby, who has major medical issues, over to virtual strangers. He seemed so overwhelmed that morning, but willing to participate. I was determined to stay strong. And while I've done pretty well on the whole, I have small panic attacks every few hours when I think of him having to face the big old world "all alone." Yes, I know he's not really alone, but Brian and I both wish he could just have a personal play assistant with him at all times. He needs lots of help in order to "play" like and with the other kids, and his teachers do their best with the hands that they have. But for us, it would be easier if he just had his own set of hands to help constantly!
Anyway, I thought he was doing great until yesterday morning. He picked that day of all days to break down when I left him . . . I almost had a nervous breakdown right in front of the teachers--I just kept saying "why is he doing this today??" "why now??" I think it had finally set in that this was going to be the daily routine and I don't think he liked it much! And since it was yesterday, I basically just wanted to scoop him up and run out the door so we could love on each other all day! I stuck around the office until I got word he had calmed down, but his O. T. did say he did the same to her when she brought him back from therapy, which proves that he just wants his best friends around him, forget those new people!
That little crying and screaming fit of his just set my tears flowing for the day. I cried the whole way home and spent the next few hours crying and developing a horrible headache. Thankfully, after several rounds of chocolate my headache went away, just in time for the school's Open House. Clayton got to show Granny and Pop his classroom and seemed so excited for them to see his school. I just knew he would be excited this morning since they had been there. No go on that. He cried this morning when I left, but at least I was a little more emotionally stable--able to handle it lots, lots better today. Hopefully he's having a good day. I'm thinking we've just got a few weeks of adjusting to do and he'll be good to go. At least that's what I'm banking on, because I won't be able to bear him screaming for me every morning!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Love Remembers

(This is a photo of me by Shawn's bed during his first week of life--he's so tiny you can barely see him!) I usually feel guilty after a post like this. Anytime I bring up Shawn's death and how I still hurt and grieve after so much time, I wonder who's out there saying "GET OVER IT." "MOVE ON." "COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!" But then I got a card this month from the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Bereaved Parents of the USA and it had this poem in it:

When you need to . . .
Reach deep inside and take one of your precious memories.
Wipe away the cobwebs, lay it out in front of you.
And let the sunshine and the sounds engulf you.
Revel in then experience of it.
Relive each precious moment, be overwhelmed by them,
And taste the wonderful sweet tears that are their gift.
When your needs have been almost satisfied
Pause for one more second.
Then gently fold it back up, give it a big hug and a tender kiss,
And return it to where you found it.
Then to make the experience complete,
Find someone special and share the feelings with them.
For surely something as wonderful as this is meant to be shared!
Don't be afraid of using them--that's what memories are for.
You will never lose them.
For as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow,
Love once attained is never lost.
~Steve Channing
And after reading that I realized I need not feel guilty for reliving the memories--he did live after all, and I should go on celebrating the gift of his life no matter the time that has passed. And pouring my energy into a scrapbook page is definitely my way of not only coping, but honoring Shawn's life in my own special way. So from these thoughts "Love Remembers" was born:
Dearest Shawn,
I’m writing this just minutes after the anniversary of your death. Somedays it seems just like yesterday, amazing how my mind can keep some memories so fresh. Every August is a month of anniversaries and memories for me, and I can’t help but relive them in your honor each year. I’m determined to keep your memory alive no matter how short your little life was. Some details that are fuzzy, but I do the best I can with what my mind remembers.

You were determined to be born that morning—it didn’t matter to you that it was too early! So at 1:42 am on August 10, 2003, you came into our world. You were whisked off to another room so fast that we had to be told you actually cried out loud before you were intubated. Man, what I would give to hear that cry now! I barely remember getting to see you while I recovered from surgery. I know I got to touch you, but it upsets me that I can’t remember that first touch. I do remember how excited your Pop was when Daddy told him your names. With pride he said, “that sounds a lot like John Phillip.” I was so glad he liked it. The next few days were a blur, but in general I remember you doing much better than your brother. It was during these first few hours that I realized how different you can love your children, but still love them the same. You were the oldest and I saw you as the strong, silent type. Just biding your time and spending each day getting better and stronger. Of course Clayton being the youngest, he kept us on our toes constantly—craving attention from day one! All the while, you calmly fought your battles—never having any major troubles. I do remember that the doctors talked about 72 hours being a magical number—your first milestone reached if you could make it that long. So EARLY Wednesday morning, Daddy and I left my hospital room to go be with you to celebrate in the NICU. We began to bond with you both that quiet night. That whole first week was spent watching your ventilator settings and keeping up with Clayton’s issues. And that first weekend was spent juggling the task of visiting you both at different hospitals since Clayton had been moved. We were so relieved when you moved to ACH on the 18th. You even got a bed right next to Clayton’s! Again, the second week proved to be a battleground for Clayton, while you made improvements each day. I was overjoyed when you started “drinking” my breast milk 1 cc at a time—I was finally a part of your care!!! And it was so neat to watch your little mouth do the sucking motion on the ventilator tube—you were definitely ready to eat!! Another big memory of that week is how you literally tried to crawl out of the bed a couple of times. One doctor told us he had never seen another 24-weeker just days old and still so agile. We were beaming because we just knew you were advanced!!! We were starting to settle into a routine, learning the ropes of life in the NICU. We visited you and Clayton on the night of the 25th and it ended up being a very special time. It was just us, our little family (and all the NICU babies and staff). It was quiet that night in the nursery and we were able to bond as best we could with you both. We loved your strawberry blonde hair and how you responded to our touch. But YOU made our night when you opened your right eye to peek at us! We were ECSTATIC! It’s like we could finally see into your little world! I thank the Lord for that night. It was as if you were sending us a sign of some sort, a sign that you were going to be okay. We had no clue that it would come in the form of us having to say goodbye though. And even though you aren’t here today, you are still with us in spirit—a vital part of our beings. I love you so much, Shawn! And as long as I’m living, I will always remember . . . Love, Momma 8/28/08
And now, for this day at least, my "experience" is complete . . .

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More of the Baby

We went to see Baby Tucker this weekend and he was looking so cute!! His Daddy will appreciate that I got a picture of him in his Razorback hat--this boy will be red and white through and through!

I had to get a few of the family since I wasn't able to at the hospital. Some of the proud parents:

And grandparents:

And then it was time for the photo shoot . . .but Tucker didn't get the memo that he was supposed to be sleeping peacefully in this basket . . .he slept the whole day EXCEPT for when we shot these pics! And during those he was probably wondering "why don't these people give me some sunglasses?!" I'm not posting too many online simply because I don't want him to come hunt me down when he's fifteen and ask why I humilated him by posting naked pictures of him on the internet! But here's a few for you to ooh and ahh over. (Brian and I were both shooting these so I have no idea who actually shot which pic--it was a team effort!)

Monday, August 25, 2008

He Survived (and We Did Too!)

Of course we knew he would, but it was questionable if his parents (and grandparents) would make it through the milestone! You can see by the pic that he really liked the markers, so much so that he decided to even wear them as lipstick! He looked just like a little girl when I went to pick him up! His teachers all said he did great except for naptime (surprise, surprise). He just kept saying NO to Ms. Marcia and she said he cried enough she finally gave up--he ended up down the hall being an "office helper" until the other kids finished his nap. That's where he got a hold of the markers. Hopefully he'll learn to use them on paper instead of his face before the year's over!
You can probably see in his eyes that he's pretty tired. He came home and immediately went to sleep when I held him. I tried to get up but he woke up CRANKY. He just wanted me to sit and hold him--guess he missed me after all! Hopefully he'll start resting with his class soon--I'd hate for him to come home so exhausted every day.
Thank you everyone for your prayers! Today was definitely the start of a new era in his little life and we can't wait to see what it brings!

First Day

Okay, so it happened sooner than even I thought! Dr. Craig must have been waiting by the fax machine Friday because he had the prescription sent back to the school by that afternoon. Normally I love that he is so fast with prescriptions, but this time, NOT SO MUCH!
At any rate, we all three set out for school this morning and Clayton suddenly got cold feet. Brian and I were really talking it up and every few seconds the whole drive there he would say NO. NO POOL (school). NO. NO, he says . . . that did not make it easy to leave him there! He DID NOT want his picture taken. He seemed pretty overwhelmed by all the activity going on around him. After I talked the teachers' and nurse's ears off we finally made our departure. I had to pry Brian away from him (he's worse than I am I think!). We left him playing in the floor with another little boy--he didn't cry or seem to notice us leaving, definitely a good sign he'll be okay.
With bleeding in the brain you never know what you're going to get. And one doctor had us thinking Clayton would be a vegetable his whole life--basically bedridden. And while Clayton isn't running and jumping like most five year olds, he is leagues away from bedridden! I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!!!!!! He has come so far and overcome so many obstacles! Yes, I'm sad that my baby is growing up, but PRAISE THE LORD he's able to reach these milestones!!
***ETA: While I was typing this blog post, Hannah (Clayton's PT) called me with Clayton--she had gone to check on him and they were calling to tell me he was having a "big day" at school. Gotta love those therapists--they know I need just about as much therapy as him!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Closer Than Ever

It's been a long time in coming, but Clayton is almost all set up for preschool at the clinic. I can't believe the time has finally come for me to hand him over to someone else---I'm not liking it one bit!! He was checked out by their medical director this morning and all we're waiting on is the prescription for special schooling and therapies. His doctor is pretty fast with prescriptions, so I'm scared to death he'll start next week! He is so ready, but this momma is gonna have a hard time letting go of the control for even a few hours a day! We visited his classroom and I started tearing up and it wasn't even his first day! He was probably so embarrassed! Oh well, just one of many times I'll be embarrassing to him . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Welcome Baby!

Congratulations to our friends Jamie and Allison on the birth of their first child, Baby Tucker! We are so proud for them and can't wait to see the little person he becomes!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Emerald Coast

The vacation started out a little rough simply because it didn't ever seem like it would stop raining. The ocean was extremely choppy and when it did quit raining, the wind made you feel like you were in a sandblaster!

Clayton and I got to take a dip in the pool Tuesday afternoon, but it was on the chilly side for me--all that rain had it COOOOLD!
But we did finally make it to the beach once the sun came out. Nothing like relaxing on the white sands of the Emerald Coast!

Dad and Brian did some body surfing on the good waves and Brian decided our last day to rent a surfboard, but by then all the good waves were gone--he mainly just got a workout paddling around in the ocean!
Clayton just wanted to be wherever Granny was--no surprise there!
I roped everyone into posing for a group photo. The sunset was perfect.
Brian, Clayton and I went for a ride on the "Seablaster." It's a huge power boat that cruises through the harbor and then out into the open sea. Clayton got a turn at driving the boat and everyone clapped for him when he was done. It was a nice ride--I was fine in the harbor, but I got extremely seasick in the 3-5 foot waves--I'd never make it on Deadliest Catch! I'm so glad I didn't decide to go deep sea fishing with Brian!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back from Destin

We spent the last week in Destin, Florida and had a great time. We didn't let the rain and storms spoil our fun--somehow rain is better when you get to see and listen to the ocean! We did have two really good days on the beach, which for super white folks like us is really plenty! We spent today recovering from the long trek back, and tomorrow it's back to the grind for everyone. I'll be posting more pics soon, as I've barely had time to look through them. (This pic was taken by Brian during the sunrise one morning).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Momma's Helper

Clayton loves to help these days!

But of course, it doesn't take long before watering himself becomes more fun than watering the plants!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Family Harmony

Got to sing with my brother and husband on Sunday. Josh was slated for his first solo and decided to enlist me and Brian as backup so the pressure wouldn't be so bad. We did a simple song, but it actually turned out pretty well! You never know, we may just make a habit of it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Was it Really Five Years Ago?

Sometimes it seems like just yesterday, especially on days like today!
Here's Shawn:

And Clayton:

Can you believe his little ribs?! He's definitely gotten over the skinny part of being a preemie! And just for comparison's sake, here's a pic I took of him the other day (after playing outside in the August heat, no doubt).

You've come a long way, Baby! Happy Birthday!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Birthday Party!

We had Clayton's party last night and had a really good time! I think this year he finally got it--this party was all about him and he was eating up the attention! From the moment people started getting here, he was hamming it up!
And as a special treat, he even got a concert from Momma, Daddy and Uncle Josh. (Totally unplanned, but we were roped into it!)