just another day, but not really

Today my youngest turns one!

The sweet little guy is currently fast asleep (which is a rarity, despite how much he still needs a morning nap and despite how hard I try to get him one).  Ahh, bliss.  I adore seeing him peacefully still (because, in case you couldn’t tell, it doesn’t happen as much as it should).  

So he’s not the world’s best sleeper.  So he only says a few words coherently.  So he’s not walking.

He’s just the best youngest son I could have ever hoped for!

He adores our VBS music from this past summer.  No matter how upset he is, sing those songs for him (or play them) and he almost always calms right down, listens, and mouths some of the words!  

He adores his siblings.  I think he feels a little lost at home with me in the mornings.  “Where is all my entertainment?  Why is mom the only one doting on me?”

His breakfast today was a gluten-free, sugar-free cinnamon doughnut (made for his biggest brother).  Chad thought they were delicious and gobbled up two of them.   Caleb had 5.  (They’re small!)

I just have to laugh at myself now when I remember how much I wanted another daughter.  I can’t imagine anyone but Chad.  Well, I have a pretty good imagination, so I CAN imagine it.  I just don’t want to.  

Chad is God’s perfect fit for our family.  He may not be perfect and we may not treat him perfectly, but God didn’t mess up when it comes to Chad.  We may not even have a bedroom figured out for him yet (which I’m pretty sure causes a bunch of the lack-of-sleep issues since he’s overly attuned to me…PHEREMONES, daddy says…), but there’s plenty of room in our hearts for him!

A year ago I had just been admitted to the hospital.  We had dropped off the older three at a neighboring church for our (then youngest) to sing with his preschool class.  Grandma and Grandpa were staying with them (BLESS them for coming that weekend to help us out, all the way from WI–a 7 hour trip).  I couldn’t find the words to say much.  I was so focused on the task before me.  I was so ready to meet my son.

Things got really, really scary during labor.  One second I’m putting my bed up to sit and take a drink, and the next my room is full of people, flipping me onto all fours with fear in their eyes.  Things settled down for a while and our journey progressed, albeit slowly at first.

After a while they told me to eat, thinking that with my track record this induction would take a good day.  When my food came and I sat up to eat, my room quickly flooded with even more people.  A dr. (not mine) was at my side, saying that she had conferred with my o.b. and determined that we needed to get baby out.  Now.  They would have to put me to sleep, and they were getting an O.R. ready for me.

I was sad that I wasn’t going to be awake when he was born.  I was terrified that he was in danger.  I wanted him SAFE.

When my dr. saw that baby was doing well with me on all fours, she requested that we wait.  The room was ready for me if I needed surgery, and I promised I could stay like that all day if I had to.  I didn’t like having my face mashed in the pillow.  I couldn’t see my husband.  I was terrified.  I could sense all the bodies around me and knew how serious things were, but a part of me was relieved that we were going to wait and see.  It seemed pretty obvious that baby’s cord was around his neck and that when I sat up it put too much pressure on the cord, making his heart rate quickly decelerate.

We realized that standing and sitting on a ball were also safe positions.  I went from 3 1/2 c.m to fully dilated when my water broke.  No one knew because no one checked me for hours, but I’m convinced, looking back at how I felt.  I am quite sure that I was fully dilated when they gave me my epidural (which I requested as soon as things settled down, so that if I had to have an emergency c-section I could be awake).  After never feeling relief, I suggested they check me, and boy were they surprised to find that it was time to push! Me?  Not so much.

Delivering him was also scary.  With every push his heartrate slowed.  I had to breathe big breaths to get it back up.  Every time I stopped pushing, he went back to where he started because of the cord.  

Finally I determined that I was going to keep pushing even if I didn’t feel the contraction anymore, and that did the trick.  I kept him moving, soon I caught him, I reveled in him for a moment and then they whisked him away with a quick kiss before having to get him to the NICU.

I kept praying that they would bring him back and say, “Guess what!  He’s really fine!  He’ll go home tomorrow.”  That didn’t happen.

Still, God flooded me with peace.  I could have been unable to sleep, wracked in worry, and constantly crying.  Instead, I felt calm.  I’d visit him in the NICU, go back to sleep when I was too out of it to safely hold him (when I got to hold him), feel very refreshed after a quick, deep sleep, eat something, and eagerly get back to the NICU.  I remember very well scooting past the nurses’ station, beaming, saying, “I’m off to see my baby!”  Many, many times.  

With all my other three, I only stayed at the hospital one day.  I gladly stayed the second day with Chad, because that second day it was important for him to improve with his feedings.  We started to get the hang of it, but Grandma and Grandpa had to leave that day.  We said goodbye, sad that they wouldn’t get more time to get to know him, but so thankful that they had been there.

A family sleep room had been arranged for me.  I was discharged late that night, and the nurse helped me move to the 5th floor, outside the NICU, in my sleep room–a tiny closet of a thing with a bed, a TV, a monitor (so they could wake me when Chad was ready to feed), and a powder room.  

I gladly awake (heart pounding) every time they paged me.  I snuggled my precious boy, fed him, and prayed that he really would get to come home with me tomorrow.

My family visited to bring me breakfast, and the kids stayed with me for a while, watching TV in my room.  I used the sink as best I could to clean myself up.  I napped when I could (after the kids left).  I prayed down the minutes, waiting to hear that the pediatric dr. was ready to let Chad go.

The call came!  All I had to do was change him and dress him, and we could go home!  

I called Kevin so that he would get there while I was doing those things.  He rushed over, put the kids in my sleep room, and helped me carry our precious newborn son down the hallway of the NICU.  

I went into the sleep room and gathered my older children.  I adore watching the video of them meeting their baby brother for the first time.  They are so sweet.  “He’s cute!”  “Look at the chubby cheeks!” “He looks like an elephant!” (His car seat had neck support with pillows on either side of his head which were intended to make him look like an elephant).  I can see in their faces and the tones of their voices that they loved him already.

What a wonderful time of life those days were, and still are.  Truly, he still feels new to me everyday.  I am so FILLED each time I pick him up, each time he arises from sleep (especially since they’re so few and far between)… 😉

Lord, thank you for the year you’ve given our family with sweet Chad Lawrence.  I know that every day of time together is a gift from you.  There’s no guarantee that we will all be together until we’re old and gray, so I ask that you continue to help us make the most of each single day.

Please keep him tightly in your fold ALL the days of his life, Lord.  Never let him go, I beg you.


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