Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Quiet Hour of 2013.

I’m sitting here in the last quiet hour of 2013.  I feel the need to sum up our year but I begin to try to to write or compose my thoughts and the year just seems so…vast before me.  How do I possibly put into words the year that changed my life? 

And I mean truly changed.my.life.

Last January 1st saw me miserable with shingles on my face, my eye swelled shut from the pressure, super pregnant and just sooo over it all.  It’s funny what you THINK is the worst…the absolute pits…and then you are really FACED with the absolute worst and you just want to mock yourself for thinking you had it bad.   I look back at myself and I feel so much pity and also longing for that innocence I had and I didn’t even realize it.  I was only 21 days away from my world being flipped upside down.

One thing this year has taught me…the difference between what is really a big deal and what is not.  I joke like anyone else about “first-world problems” but for real?  Your child with their chest sliced open? That’s a big deal.  Walking past parents in sealed rooms with protective gowns covering their clothing, while their child’s door plaque in the PICU reads “Neurosurgery?” That’s a big deal.  Holding your daughter with cords attached to her chest that monitor her every breath when suddenly the baby across the hall in the NICU starts alarming and the nurses go running? 

Big deal. 

Most of the rest?  Not so much.

Before this year I had never spent more than a night in the hospital {not counting my c-sections}.  God has now opened my eyes to a whole “sub-culture” – a whole life group of people that I never knew existed.  I am now constantly aware that at any given time there are mommies and daddies in NICUs and PICUs, praying, praying, praying and crying their eyes out for their babies.  When the rest of the world is having Christmas morning.  When the rest of the world is out at the park on a beautiful spring day.  When the rest of the world is waking up in a warm house on a regular old Saturday with sleepy kiddos and bedhead and hot coffee.  They are there and they are lonely and they are sad and they are wishing they were on the outside, not the inside. 

Sometimes I let myself slip…just dip a little…into that dangerous pool of self-pity.  I get a little angry with God that my beautiful, precious daughter has a permanent scar in a very girl-sensitive area.  That there will come a time when she will get more and more tired due to her pulmonary valve getting weaker…and I’ll have to watch that and there’ll be nothing I can do.  And that when she gets close to middle-school age, I’ll have to deal with the ticking time-bomb of another surgery.  That my beautiful daughter will be forced to deal with surgery again when all she should really be dealing with are friends and homework and what boy she has a crush on. 

But most days, the majority of days, I just live in awe.  Awe of what God did for us and how lucky I have it.  I told a friend the other day that realizing you’re really lucky…that you have it really, really good…is a great place to be. 

And believe me, I know.  I think all the time about everything that could have been and how much worse it could have been.  I’m in a support group on Facebook for parents of kids with Tet and believe me, I read nearly everyday about some sweet baby going back to the hospital after surgery because it didn’t work.  Or whose scar got infected.  Or who is having seizures and “Tet spells” {aka not breathing because there’s not enough oxygen in their precious little broken heart.} 

There’s not a day that goes by {and many days, not an hour –literally} that I’m not silently lifting up a prayer to God to tell Him how grateful I am for His gift of my daughter’s life.   I feel like I have walked through fire and come out on the other side a more compassionate friend and momma.  God has given me the amazing gift of being able to truly understand others’ pain in a way that I never would have been able to before.  Those NICU mommas?  I get them now.  Mommas in hospital rooms, praying over their babies?   Yup, I’ve been there.  I’ve lived it and I know it.  When people share Facebook requests for a sick baby, I pray immediately and I know specific things to pray for for that family that I never in a million years would have thought about before.  Isn’t that awe-inspiring?! I am so grateful. 

All because of Olivia.

Oh, Olivia…my little miracle baby that was never supposed to be because I was “supposed” to be adopting my next child, not getting pregnant again.

You know, in my perfect plan. ;)


And of course I can’t forget about my precious Luke.  He continues to make us laugh every day with his funny little sayings.  Today he watched Toy Story 3 and about 5 hours later asked me, “Mommy, is Ken a toy or an accessory?”  Which is just hilarious if you’ve ever seen the movie.  He is extremely spiritually sensitive and every.single.night starts his prayers with “Dear Lord, Thank you for Jesus…” even though that is not how Chris or I ever start our prayers.  If I forget to pray for a meal I serve him, he always says, “Mommy, you didn’t forget to pray!!!”  He is constantly – like multiple times every day – running up to me and giving me a kiss or a hug.  Sometimes taking my head in his hands to do it. 

This year saw a new classroom for him as he moved to the 4-year-old room, and most importantly the beginning of food therapy.  That deserves a whole post of its own but the progress has been astounding.  I am so proud of him.  He still struggles with multiple issues, and life with him is not always easy, but he really is so precious to me and dear to my heart.  I love him sooooo very much!

This year we said goodbye to two cars that flat-out died on us {Chris informed me that three more cars in a calendar year and we’d have to register as a dealer in the state of CT! ha!}, and I finally got a station wagon which I LOVE.  A very special “angel” gave Chris’s parents a new car, which led them to give us their old car – for free, mind you - the very same week our car died.  I mean really…is God awesome or what?!

Also exciting was that Chris started his new job as a salesman this fall and we are so excited for the opportunity to live a liiiiiitle less tightly and have a tiny bit more breathing space. 

I am looking forward to 2014 with so much happy anticipation.  Chris and I love our babies…and love holding other people’s babies…but we are NOT “baby people” and we are both so thrilled that the baby stage is ending for us in just a few short weeks!  I’ll be honest…a lot of 2013 felt like trudging for us, emotionally and physically {Olivia just started sleeping through the night about a month ago}.  I am so ready to start anew and afresh, done with the burdens of such a hard year. 

In fact, Chris already went to bed but I informed him that I couldn’t come to bed before midnight because I had a physical need to say goodbye to this year. 

I want to shake it off and give it a good kick in the bum. :)

I wish you all many blessings….and a beautiful 2014.  And if this new year brings you hard lessons – lessons that make you cry and mourn and question everything you ever knew about your life – may you come out on the other side stronger, and grateful for what the hard things have taught you. 

Being grateful makes all the difference.  Trust me…I know. 

Happy 2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Who said blog posts needed photos?! Excellent reflection! Well said and I have a tear in my eye reading that! Great perspective about life and your precious babes. God is using you well! {And PS. I love the kick in the bum comment!}
    Good health to all you *insert last name* in 2014!!!

  2. What a beautiful post. I was once one of those NICU Mommy's and still struggle with many issues with my daughter 40 years later but she is the love of my life and I would not trade my life lessons for anything. I am a better person for having had my precious daughter. She has taught me grace, patience, kindness and compassion. I wish you and your family and happy and peaceful New Year.

    1. Thank you for sharing that! I feel the very same way about my Olivia. I know it's belated, but happy New Year to you, too! :)

  3. Beautifully written, Jessica. I'm so thankful that the Lord has brought you through the fire, increased your faith, given you compassion, and enabled you to see things through His eyes. I'm with you in the continuous grieving over the condition of our children--it's a never-ending process, I think. And with the Lord's enabling, we can grieve with hope, knowing that there is something much better in store for us in eternity! Happy New Year to you, blog friend :)

    1. Love that phrase "grieve with hope," Lauren! So beautiful!

  4. I too, was once a NICU Mommy from March 2010- May 2010 and I can honestly say that you nailed every heart wrenching and eye opening thing down with this post. You took words from my heart and mouth. It is amazing how God can use our not- so- wonderful experiences to mold us into better Women, Mothers and Friends. Thank you for opening up to your readers. I loved reading this and got so teary eyed. And, it wasn't just because the pregnant emotions. Praying for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014, for you, my Friend!

    1. Awww, thanks Alicia! I did not know you were a NICU Mommy, too! So glad that is not a part of my life right now! :)

  5. I just found your blog! I'm looking forward to following! What a beautiful family and testimony of God's grace in your sweet daughter's life! We live in North Jersey so possibly close to you since you're in CT?! {I was a teacher, too, before becoming a stay at home mama!}


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