An Announcement

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Sunday, we celebrate Andie’s eleventh birthday!

Yesterday, I received an email from a woman who’d been born at 28 weeks, thirty-six years ago!  Her parents had been told there was little hope their baby would live.  Today, she’s earning a nursing degree and hopes to work in the NICU, helping preemie babies like herself!

How’s that for full circle?

When Andie was born I had been so uncertain of so many things.

Do we grieve?  Do we celebrate?

I knew for sure I didn’t want any photos taken of her in those first few days.  I’ll be eternally grateful to my sister-in-law for convincing me otherwise, allowing her to bring in a camera and take just a few.

Those photos are so precious to us all.

They helped me see that yes, we should celebrate our daughter’s arrival.  That she’d come, not when we expected, but still, she deserved the same welcome we’d given her full-term brother two years prior.

The photos inspired us to make a birth announcement.

Lee and I wrote it together.

It was our holiday card that year.

Many friends report that they still pull the card out every year and wonder at the memory.   One friend still has the announcement hanging on his refrigerator!

I’d been so scared, so uncertain about everything.  But writing that announcement brought a certainty I hadn’t felt until then. It was a way of saying, Our daughter has arrived and she’s really something! Look out world here she comes!  And believing it was true.

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“From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank all of you for your overwhelming love, support, kindness and prayers.  It has been simply amazing.  Andie’s early arrival certainly came as a shock to us all.

To our question ‘Why?’, we have been offered few medical explanations.  Yet, we have found many reasons that are so clear to us.  We have discovered:  how much love, kindness and support exists in our world; that no matter how much we try to plan and control our future, much is out of our control; that prayers and positive thoughts really do work; that a baby born at 25 weeks can grow into a healthy child; and finally, that angels reallydo exist!  We continue to learn new lessons each day.

The next few months will be the same roller caster ride we’ve experienced in the last few weeks, full of ups and downs, yet we are very hopeful about Andie’s future.  Her doctors project that she may be able to come home sometime in March or April.  That is a long time to wait, but at the hospital there is a saying:  ‘Be patient, God and the NICU staff aren’t done with me yet.’

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and please continue to keep Andie in your thoughts and prayers.”

The card was meant as a way to thank all those supporting us and properly announce Andie’s arrival.  Looking back now however, I see that we were setting our intentions and declaring to the world that our girl was here to stay!

How about you?  Have you ever celebrated something that you felt uncertain about?  Did you send out an announcement when your baby was born?

The Breath of Life (or Growing a Sequoia in NH)

andie

Eleven years ago I gave birth to a baby who needed machines to breathe.

Which is why I can’t wait to tell you this story.

It all began with a tree…

It was a silly purchase, really.  The nursery was having an end of season sale.

It was 75% off, but still, we should have known better.

“A Sequoia?” my friend asked. “Don’t they grow like a thousand feet?”

Not 1,000.  60 maybe.  I know, silly next to our house, but the kids got all excited…

“Do they even grow on the east coast?”

Turns out, they do.  But just for a little while.  And then they start to die.

We gave it a couple of years, but this fall my husband and I decided to finally dig up our California Dream and put in something more suited to our yard and east coast climate.

It was after dinner one night, I was washing dishes, he was digging up the tree, when Andie came flying through the kitchen door, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Daddy’s digging up the Sequoia,” she cried.

“Oh honey, it’s nearly dead,” I said.

“No it’s not,” she said, wiping tears from her cheeks.  “I’ve been bringing it back to life.”

Way back in September, at the beginning of the school year, Andie’s class of 5th graders had been given the choice to learn to play the soprano, alto, tenor or bass recorder.  Andie chose alto and had been practicing everyday out in our backyard.  Turns out, she’d been playing to the tree.  And in fact, upon further investigation, the tree was coming back to life.

“I thought I was only planting one tree tonight,” Lee said heading off to help Andie choose a new spot for her tree (by then under moonlight!).

It was only a few afternoons later that I was at school picking up the kids, when Andie’s teacher approached.

“I thought you’d want to know…” she began, and went on to tell me that the recorder teacher had asked every 5th grader to pick up their instruments, choose one note, take in the biggest breath they possibly could, and play that note until they ran out of air.

“I watched as the breath slowly seeped out of every child and they set their recorder down on their desk,” she paused.  “And then I saw that Andie was the only one left.  The only one still holding her note, long after the rest had stopped.”

I had to take hold of her arm to steady myself.  I didn’t even try to stop the tears.

I thought of all the years we’d given Andie kazoos and whistles, straws to blow feathers across the table, balloons to blow up… and to hear those words.  And to see the image of her holding that long, clear crisp note.

A dream come true.

Here is a short videoof Andie playing to her tree.  Her visitor is Meg.

 

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Dear Pediatrician

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I wonder if you remember me?

We met almost eleven years ago?

I was that one with the really preemie baby.

Remember?

She had an ostomy bag and a scar on her back from a heart/lung surgery?

I carried her in a soft pink fleece and was a little shaky having just brought her home from the NICU?

Do you remember me?

Well, I remember you.

I remember your charcoal-colored cashmere sweater and matching thick-framed glasses.

I remember the glossy photo of your three beautiful children hanging on your office wall.

I remember the shiny silver pen you used to record your notes and how you never looked up when you said my daughter would always be small.

I remember you did look up when I said, “No,” and how I had to explain that I meant No, she wouldn’t always be small.

I remembered how you chuckled, and mumbled something about denial.

But I remember knowing that I was Not in denial.

I remember the deep knowing I felt within my being.  The knowing that my girl would not meet your expectations, but mine and the expectations of those who loved and believed in her.

I remember wondering about the other preemie parents you might meet and what would happen if they believed Your Truth.

I remember promising myself that someday I would tell you just how wrong you were.

Well, someday has arrived.

My daughter, her name is Andie, in case you don’t remember, is turning 11 at the end of the month and had her annual check-up yesterday.

I just wanted to let you know that she’s bumped up a little on the growth charts.

She’s still in the 75th percentile for weight, but is now in the 90th percentile for height.

I did promise myself I’d say it, and I’d like to, but instead, I think I’ll just say… Thank you.
110911-2 Thank you for your certainty in all the things our daughter would not be and your certainty in all the things she could not do, because without your certainty, perhaps I would never have found mine.

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go,

only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.” ~ Karen Ravn

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What about you?  Have you ever experienced someone else telling you what will or will not be?

I’d love to hear your comments!

RSV Article and Video

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Andie at two-years old

Chances are, if you don’t have a preemie, you’ve never heard of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).

But if there’s a preemie or vulnerable child in your life, you know RSV, and you know the fear that accompanies it.

When Kelli from Hand to Hold asked me to record a video segment describing Andie’s bout with RSV, I readily agreed, never imagining how difficult it would be to speak that story into the eye of a camera.

It took several weeks and many failed attempts until I finally sat down and made it through the entire story.

The process made me realize just how deeply the trauma of RSV still lives beneath the surface of my skin.

The article Now I Know begins:

On Friday morning I sat down on my yoga mat and the tears instantly began to flow.  They journeyed from my eyes, down my cheeks, to the edge of my jaw line, dropping in little puddles on my mat. 

Looking at the tiny pools, I wondered what the heck I was crying about. 

And then, in the next moment, I knew.

I knew why on Monday, I’d screamed at the man who pulled out in front of me as the traffic light turned green.

I knew why on Tuesday, I’d snapped at my son when he’d forgotten his homework at school.

I knew why we’d eaten takeout three nights in a row and why I’d had to drag myself out of bed each morning.  I knew why my lower back throbbed and why I hadn’t walked all week.

I knew why I’d forgotten my dentist appointment on Wednesday and why after a lunch of coffee and cookies on Thursday, I still hadn’t mustered up the energy to return phone calls and emails.

As the tear puddles grew and my teacher began class, I remained still, sitting crossed-legged on my mat, absorbing the realization that all week I’d been stuck back in time, nearly nine years ago when my daughter had contracted RSV…

Click here to read more.

The video accompanies the article, but is also on youtube.  My story begins around 5:25. The squinty eyes are a result of crying all through yoga class and sitting in the drizzling rain to finally record the story!

love and appreciate your comments over here and know they would feel the same over at Hand to Hold!

Thought You Might Like… (apple peeler)

Ok, here I go again… shouting from the roof tops about another somethin’ I thought you might like...

Remember when I thought I wanted to be a farmer?  Well, still no chickens or cows in our backyard, but I did buy this handy fruit-picker, and we’ve been pulling apples down from the tree in our own yard!

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(Love this, but it’s not what I’m all excited to tell you about!)

 

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Yet all that apple picking fun, leads to a whole lot of apples, which means lots of peeling and slicing, which isn’t much fun at all.

Until I found a solution to our apple surplus!

A couple of weeks ago, we stopped at a local orchard for carmel apples and a trip through the corn maze. I stayed behind, because, true confession, corn mazes creep me out.  I think it has something to do with the movie  Children of the Corn which I watched way too many times as a teenager!

So while Lee and the kids navigated their way through the corn maze, I was left to browse around the farm stand.

And there between the bags of apples, checkered napkins and dried herb wreathes, I found this:

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It doesn’t look like much, but this little gadget is FUN! 

It peels the apples in one long continuous peel and also slices it into a perfect ring.

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The kids love it and have eaten more apples then I’d ever imagine!

I paid $22 for mine at the farm stand, and found it online for even less!

Unfortunately, it appears our apple-picking season has come to a sudden end, as we and our apples are now buried beneath two feet of snow!

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Andie with her ‘snow ghost’

Hopefully, you still have apples to pick where ever you are!!

By the way, if you’ve been wondering about my Bubblah order…

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…it arrived within one week and was just like the one I had ordered from QVC years before.

Now we have one in our master bedroom and my husband no longer sticks his head under the faucet to drink!