Monday, December 31, 2018

Reflection of 2018

More often than not, I hear people say whether they have had a great year, or a bad year when we reflect our year as a whole. It is true. There has been some tough years, and some wonderful years. As I sit back to reflect 2018, my first response is that our year has been neither terrible or amazing as in going on many adventures, experiencing a new life coming into the world, or winning a lottery, but it has been a pretty good year. A lot has happened to Russ family in 2018! 

January and February were uneventful with an exception with Franklin becoming extremely ill with a nasty stomach virus, and it landed him in ER due to dehydration. That was a tough experience to go through without Stu by my side. He had a work conference out of the town, and was unable to be there for us. However, I was so blessed to have Spencer and Wally in the town as well as my mom visiting, so they were able to help me out. Franklin made a quick recovery after getting IV for hydration. I was so thankful to a wonderful staff of nurses that helped to ease my worries, who took their time to write to me every time they checked on us, and for taking care of Franklin's messes without batting their eye. What a wonderful people, really. I had no idea how they did this every day, but I was sure thankful for them. 

I celebrated my 33rd birthday, and embraced being a mom of three. While we battled winter doldrums, the boys kept me on my toes, and eagerly looked forward to spring. Unfortunately, we had to wait a bit longer for spring, because we had a freak snow storm in mid-April that invited about 30-33 inches of snow! Stu sure shoveled A LOT for almost three days! The entire town was snowbound! It was very exciting for the boys and Beatrice, because they had never seen this much of snow, and they spent a lot of time playing in the snow. During late part of winter and early part of spring, I felt I needed to start focusing on myself. I had lost myself to motherhood, and allowed it to become a big identity of who I was. I loved being a mother, and loved every bits of it...well, most of it! But I needed to reclaim myself. I was slowly losing myself, and realized I didn't really know who I was. I struggled a lot emotionally with that. My clothes were from my younger days and didn't reflect who I was, but I had no idea who I was other than being a mom. I was tired of dealing with toxic friends who wanted nothing but drama. I felt emotionally drained by catering to their problems. I didn't like how I neglected myself in the past seven years. I felt I didn't quite fit in with the parents at Forrest's school. I wondered what they really thought of me. I was always in leggings, sweaters or sweatshirt decorated with baby vomit or food stains, and had my hair up in the bun. I did feel insecure, and hated that feeling. Stu suggested that I should start making a list. I laughed at his suggestion. He insisted, and reminded me how MUCH I LOVED lists. I figured he was right, and I started making a list....and forgot about it, because life happened while we were busy making other plans, right?

I made a small step that seemed insignificant to me at that time, but later held a huge significance for me. I said good-bye to several of my toxic friends, and their constant drama. I felt guilty at first for cutting the cord, and say good bye. I struggled whether it was a nice thing to do, or not. Later I did come to a realization that I made the right decision. I was not cruel with how I ended things. I sent them with love, and best wishes. I left several groups on Facebook. The dynamics had changed over the years, and I felt I no longer belonged. The members in those groups were not bad folks. Matter of fact, they were (and still are) good folks with your everyday problems. It was just not the right group for me anymore. I figured that people who cared, and wanted to be a part of my life would have found their way to become my Facebook friends, or remain as Facebook friends if they were already my friends. Most of them did remain as friends, or found their way to be my friend on Facebook. Doing this alone made me feel lighter, because I was able to refocus all of my energy into my family, and myself. 

Then spring finally came! The weather became warmer. I was able to get out of the house, and shake off the cabin fever. My internal struggles were briefly forgotten as sun came out to warm us all, and by a dilemma that fell upon our laps. 

Stu wanted to advance his career, and become a principal. He felt he had gained enough experience as an associate principal to try his hand at being a big guy of the school. I fully supported him. There came a choice of us leaving Shawano for a job opportunity with more guarantee, or staying in Shawano for a job opportunity that was up in the air, and held a lot of uncertainty for a short while. Stu and I had a lot of heart to heart talks. We created several lists of pros and cons. Ultimately, I felt we were given many signs to stay in Shawano, and had a strong conviction that staying was the right decision. We held each other's hands as we plunged into the murky waters, and prayed that our choice was the right one. I continued to be Stu's anchor as he fretted about his decision. I figured that he was there for me through my challenges earlier in the year, then it was a mutual decision to keep him bolstered until he steadied himself. Stu dove into his work, and pulled up the sleeves to start his role as a principal at Shawano Middle School.

My conviction to stay here in Shawano was further confirmed with Forrest finishing his first year in LEADS program. I loved the teachers in the program. They all were wonderful, hand-on, and engaging. I knew that it was a program that I wanted to keep our kids in for as long as possible. Shawano may have had its own set of problems, but what a town doesn't come without problems. There were also a lot of good in the community. This was reinforced even more when we befriended a wonderful family, and through them, we met even more wonderful people. If that was not telling enough, then I had no idea what else that sign could have meant. We always had signs all around us, and it was just a matter of learning how to read them. Those became the answers to the prayers, thoughts, or a confirmation to a gut feeling that one may have had. 

The summer rolled around. Fox turned one! It was hard to believe that a whole year flew by with Fox being in our lives. I had a hard time imaging what our lives were like without Fox. I always believed that our kids were like puzzle pieces, and once fitted in a bigger picture, it was like they were always there from the beginning. Our summer was not filled with a big vacation, or major events, yet it was still a great summer. We visited our family quite often. The boys went to Camp Grandma for a week while I stayed behind at home with Fox and Stu. Our summer may have been relaxed, and unstructured, yet it was a nice summer. The boys had a lot of time to play outside, to enjoy family time, and celebrate friends both new and old.

I started purging a lot of my clothes. I said farewell to the Pre-Mom chapter, and began shedding off what did not fit me anymore. I realized that a lot of my clothes indicated a very young age more than what was appropriate for my age. I still saved my favorite T-shirts, and my comfortable leggings.  Now, that were not going anywhere! Once I made that realization that I was dressing too young for my age, and that it no longer fit my identity, I started browsing around on Pinterest. Now I was far from being the most fashionable person. I had never been into fashion. Comfort was my thing. I also liked to look nice. I needed to blend those two somehow. Pinterest was a great place to start.

Slowly but surely, I began to replace every article of clothing with a new item that fit me personality-wise. The more I did this, the better I started to feel about myself. I began to focus on my skin care, and putting more work in myself. Sure, that sounded a bit vain, but I needed it, because I had neglected myself for so long. The summer gave its way into fall, which was one of my favorite seasons, and school began once again. I looked forward to structure, and routines.

Forrest began kindergarten through LEADS. Franklin joined St. James for 3K program shortly after, and continued speech therapy with a new therapist. Franklin slowly flourished with being in St. James, and with continued therapy. Fox took his first steps, and eventually started walking! He also finally got teeth. No longer was he a gummy joe anymore.

An opportunity presented itself when my friend asked me to become one of the tutors for her Deaf/hard of Hearing program. I had met my friend at Gallaudet all of these years ago, and it was amazing how little things like that became useful later in our lives. I decided to take up on her offer, because I did really enjoy teaching people about Deaf culture, and American Sign Language. I worried a bit at first whether it was going to work out with my kids, and Stu's hectic work schedule as a first year principal. Stu encouraged me to saddle up anyway in despite of my worries. So I did. It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I made. I LOVED being able to sit down, and work with the students. I loved watching them grow in term of signing, and becoming more confident with themselves. I enjoyed learning a bit about them. I never had one session of feeling that it was a work, and I was not looking forward to it. I looked forward to every session I had with the students. I wanted to see them succeed, and they did. I was pretty proud of them when the semester ended, and I was a bit sad to let them away from under my wings, but I had a feeling they were going to do just fine. To my surprise and pleasure, I was given an opportunity to tutor again next semester! I gladly took up on that offer again. It was nice to do something outside just being a "mom", and do something that I enjoyed.

While I was doing all this, I decided to sign up for a 5K walk, in honor for my friend who had passed away from Breast Cancer at a young age, and realized how much I enjoyed doing something for just myself. Feeling inspired by my lifelong friend, who was participating in 5K races and by Brittany's dedication, I decided I wanted to take up on running. I did my research. Of course, I had to research! I looked around for a gym with a childcare. I found one! I was pretty excited about that, and figured I could start in December instead of January. I felt that starting in January was a somehow doomed. You know how New Year's always had those commercials of people trying to be fit, and lose weight, then by March, more than half of those people gave up on dieting or working out! What else was a good way to end the year other than starting something new JUST for myself. I decided I'd participate in at least 2-3 5K races next year; Alzhemier's, Color Run, and Breast Cancer. That should motivate me to keep going for the whole year. The idea of having a childcare in the gym helped too!

Stu and I also paid off our debts through doing Dave Ramsey program. It was crazy, because initially, I was not sure about Dave Ramsey. I told Stu that Dave Ramsey was a loony who wanted fame and money from people subscribing to his program. Stu insisted it was a good game plan, and I trusted him. Well, sure enough, Dave Ramsey was not a looney, and his program DID work. We had worked extremely hard to better ourselves, and to pull ourselves out of the debt. Because of this, we have decided we deserve a reward for our hard work, and sticking to it, and we decided to set up a family trip for next summer. We began planning our trip.

Of course, it wouldn't be almost to the end of 2018 without Franklin's adventure to a hospital once again. He had swallowed a quarter, and needed a GI scope to remove the quarter. Stu jokingly said that it was the most expensive quarter ever. Once again, I was reminded by how wonderful the team of nurses and doctors were by how well they had treated especially Franklin during a scary situation.

Then we also decided to have our shed to be built. We needed more space for our home, and we were slowly outgrowing our home. The possibly of house-hunting for a bigger home was brought to our table, but we decided we would stay in this home for at least one more year to see how Stu's job was going first before committing ourselves to such a big purchase again. We felt that by having a shed would boost our house's value for future buyers. The idea of selling this home made me feel a bit sad for some reason, yet I was looking forward to the idea of having a bigger home with more space.

As each one of us continue to grow in our own ways in our family; let it be Fox learning how to walk and talk, Franklin becoming more confident with his speech and language development, Forrest acquiring chapter books to boost his love of reading (his current favorite is Magic Tree Clubhouse series and Goosebumps), Beatrice sleeping more and more these days (she's doing pretty good's just a Basset thing to sleep day away), Stu navigating as a first year principal, or I with discovering who I am all about outside just being a "mommy", we are also growing as a family unit, and changing our dynamics as we grow older.

We are not sure what 2019 will bring to us. It is definitely a new beginning being forged, and we are looking forward to what our new beginning will look like. We wish you a wonderful New Year, and all the happiness that comes to your way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Franklin is FOUR Years Old

Dear Franklin, 

You are FOUR year old. Oh, sweet yet mischievous Franklin, Mama and Daddy ARE SO blessed to have you to be their child. Just like an excerpt from the book called, Love you Forever by Robert Munsch, sometimes Mama feels like sending you to the zoo..and on some days, it feels like she IS IN A ZOO with you. Never would she trade that for anything else in the world though, dear Franklin.

You're mischievous, funny, sweet, loving, affectionate, moody, fiercely independent, curious, stubborn as heck, impatient, and bear such a big, big heart. You are your dad reincarnated. You are a very tactile child, and must touch, touch, and touch everything...sometimes much to Mama's and Daddy's dismay. This is why you love tinkering, building, and helping to prep as long as you get to use your hands. Your sense of humor is hilarious. While Forrest bears dry and more of a timing based humor, you are roaringly, ruthlessly, and wildly funny. You draw laughter from others that are loud, deep to to the belly, and genuine. You have such a loving soul. You love to kiss, hug, and be constantly touching someone. You are the first to cuddle with anybody. You treat things with such love...sometimes too hard. Missy is the only cat out of two that tolerates your rough handling, and god bless that cat.

You negotiate when you can. When Mama tells you that you only can have X amount of certain something, you fire back with a higher amount suggestion, and Mama has to stick to her original offer. The bargaining can last for about five minutes, and every in great while, you manage to outsmart Mama, because she forgets what is her initial offer is to start with!

You're sneaky! Sometimes you appear in places that are unexpected, and random. For example, when it is your bedtime, you sneak into the kitchen to get a banana or two (your favorite), and sneak back to the stairs to enjoy your late night snack...all this without Mama's knowledge...that is until she catches you! Then some other times, Mama discovers you sleeping on the edge of their bed, and she wonders how you manage to get into their bedroom without being heard or felt. You have a tendency to hide in most unexpected places for your naps, which has caused Mama to grow some gray hair strands from panicking over not finding you immediately.

You love, love, and love food. Your passion lies in eating, touching, smelling, tasting, prepping, and cooking food. When Mama is preparing food on the island in the kitchen, you are right by her side 95 percent of the time helping out. It brings back a lot of memories for Mama, because she used to do the very same thing with helping to cook food by your Grandpa's side, or helping your Grandma to bake the holiday cookies. It is very rare that you'd turn up your nose to food (sometimes you have to be a kid after all, and be picky from time to time, or an illness strikes you and you just don't feel like eating). You very much prefer fruits over chips. Vegetables can be a hit and miss. You usually don't mind eating vegetables, but you definitely DO NOT like anything "green" (broccoli, kale, asparagus, green beans). Don't worry, one day you will end up loving them. Maybe you will become a world famous chef someday? A food journalist? A TV food host? A cookbook author?

You learned a hard lesson earlier this year with putting things in your mouth. You had always been the one to find things only to have it end up in your mouth! Mama or Daddy often had to fish something out of your mouth. You had a couple choking incidents! It has taught Mama how to stay calm in a crazy situation, and how to perform a quick CPR to get it out of your throat. The first time was on a piece of large sausage off a pizza, and the second time was a small dime. Then the third time, you visited Grandma's house up north, and told Grandma that you "ate" money. It led you on a whirlwind adventure to having to go to the hospital to have a GI scope performed. Daddy said it was the most expensive quarter you'd ever have in your life. The good news that happened from a bad situation was that you NEVER put anything else in your mouth far.

On one Sunday, it was as if something clicked in your mind, you decided to sit on the toilet without any prompting, and pooped! Just like how you approached with peeing, you took your pull up off, declared to the world that you no longer wanted them, and started using toilet to pee. Ever since, with one or two accidents here and there, you were able to use toilet every time you had an urge to poop.  Very recently you decided that you did not want to wear pull ups overnight, and have had a very few accidents. What a great feat you have done! It was quite awesome, because it meant less hassle, less work, and less struggle to get you on the board with potty training. Mama and Daddy were quite thankful with how easy you have been in this department! It went to show that once you put your mind on something, then you definitely achieve it!

You're 40 pounds. Your height will be determined tomorrow when you go to Dr. Karbon for your 4-year old wellness check! You're not that far behind from Forrest height-wise. Mama thinks you are around 38 inches tall, but she shall see if she is right in her guess.

Even though you are our middle child, you are our biggest kid out of the bunch, and people have stopped Mama to ask her if you were the oldest, or at least very close in the age to Forrest, because you are tall for your age, and do not look like your age. When it is time to swap out clothes for a seasonal change, Mama often faces a challenge of having to share clothes between you and Forrest, because you share the same least until Forrest hits his next growth spurt, which usually occurs halfway into the winter, and go into the next size. You often skip a clothing size, because you hit your growth spurts earlier. For example, when Forrest is on the verge of going into size 6, but not quite so yet,  you skip 4T completely, and go into 5T right away, but Forrest is still wearing 5T. Because of this, you both have to overlap clothes, and share for a while until Forrest fully grows into size 6. Then Mama switches 5T completely over to you. Daddy and Mama thinks that you will be the biggest kid out of the bunch when you all are teenagers!

You are very sensitive. When you are hurt, you scowl, and cower into a small ball, or turn your back to the offender. A part of this has a great deal to do with your speech delay. It is difficult for you to vocalize how you feel, find vocabulary to express yourself, and show what you are feeling on the inside. It is a struggle for you, and result in a lot of meltdowns. You struggle so much in articulating what you want to say, or what you need. You've come a long way from working with Early Intervention home therapist to working with Colleen, and now Erin, yet you still have more work to do. There has been many nights of Mama worrying about you having to face so many challenges in your short life, from being born with Torticillis and plagiocephaly, enduring physical therapy for 18 months to learn how to crawl, walk, eat, and alleviating tight neck, needing helmet to help round out your head, then your speech delay appeared, and she just wants the best for you. So does Daddy.

Ever since Colleen retired, you got placed with a new speech teacher, Erin, at the school, and have been working with her since the second week of the fall semester. Erin has a different approach of how she would like to work with you. While she may have the best interest in why she prefers the approach she has chosen for you, it is not necessarily the one Mama and Daddy hoped for, and felt you needed more. Because of this, fate has led them to successfully enrolling you into a private 3K program at St. James. Their program allowed you to meet with your classmates three times a week from 8 am to 11 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It were in their hope that by sending you to St. James, you will be able to get much needed social interaction for speech development as well as working with Erin.

Because of this, you got enrolled into St. James 3K program, and you flourished! You love being able to interact with other kids, and to grow independently away from home. You appreciate having just FRANK time away from your brothers to explore your own interests, your own identity, and your favorites that are just YOURS. You love bringing artwork home to show them off. You are such a class clown. Your teachers are always telling Mama how endearing you are, what a comedian you are, and how wonderful you are. 

You loved your ratty old Puppy Paw Patrol slippers. You wore them EVERYWHERE. It was not worth the battle sometimes to try convince you to wear your gym shoes, also in Puppy Patrol theme, because you just loved your slippers SO MUCH. So Mama let you wear them when they go out to do errands (as long as it is not wet outside). You did get compliments on them quite a lot especially from the elderly. They loved it! And you ended up with a big smile on your face too. It's sweet. Sadly, your puppy paw patrol slippers had to be retired due to having so many holes on the soles.

Fear not, the replacement is on its way! You also love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You love the color, GREEN, and RED, even though you show a stronger preference to green. After all, you insist your birthday theme to be entirely in only green. You want a GREEN CAKE with GREEN FROSTING to go with GREEN CANDLES. Your request is duly noted. A green cake with green frosting to go with green candles coming up!

You dislike to be told no. What an almost four year old doesn't?! You are filled with cute quips for every predicament you find yourself in. Your favorite phrase to use for when you are quite frustrated is "IT IS NOT WORKING"! More often than not, when you struggle to zip up the zipper, you scream just that, and Mama goes to help you to get started, then you finish the task. When you find that you are unable to mold the play dough into a shape you want, you scream it is not working, and have someone come along to help you to mold the dough into the desired shape. When Mama finds that she is being faced with a challenge and grows exasperated, you approach her with a squinted eye and sign that's okay.

You love helping with cleaning. Your favorite chore is cleaning the toilet bowl! Mama isn't very sure why. It's yucky. But, you enjoy immensely by using toilet brush, and swirl the blue dye around. You also love wiping down the counters, and carrying the cat dish bowl to the laundry room. You are such a wonderful helper. You clean up after yourself, and put things away nicely. There has been some days when you just don't want to clean up your toys, and that's okay. You're just a child learning boundaries, and having said this, you still gotta clean up even when you don't feel like it!

In the time since you got enrolled at St. James and continuing speech therapy at Hillcrest, Your speech development has exploded. Your words are more clear, and you're making longer sentences. Your voice has become less gruff, and use more appropriate tone with speaking. You love to talk about anything, and everything. You often add funny quips, and phrases while talking, and it cracks everybody up. You are such a darling, sweet Franklin. Your speech has improved so much with the help of speech therapy and being in 3K program to the point that Mama and Daddy decided to reduce how much time you are spending in speech. Instead of going three times a week for 90 minutes, now you are attending twice a week for 60 minutes, and you are still in St. James three times a week.

Your melt-downs are less frequent now that you are able to communicate your needs and wants, and also to understand what you are being told. It is nice to see an improvement in your behavior, and to ease some of that stress on you. It has made a difference in how you respond to the situations. With saying this, you are still only a 4 year old, and a 4 year old is always learning how to modify how they behave in both public, and at home!

Ever since Forrest started school, Mama has noticed that you are starting to sign a lot more than ever, mainly because you no longer rely on Forrest to "interpret" for you. You wiggle your fingers while you talk, or come up with sign associations for a word you don't know a sign for. For example, you forgot a sign for banana so you sign GORILLA then EAT. It makes Mama laugh when you do this, because it's so clever, and just precious! Then Mama shows you the sign for the said item, and you repeat by signing the word. You try very hard to be able to sign, and communicate with Mama. She has no doubt that as you continue to explode in your speech development, the signing will come along closely, and you will be able to communicate in both languages fluently in no time!

You love having one-on-one time with Mama at home while Forrest is at school. You love playing a math game or any board games really, making crafts, and art. You are so creative! You love designing unique art, and showing them off. You have declared that your favorite color is GREEN, and RED. You want to be T-Rex when you grow up (Mama didn't have a heart to tell you that you can't instantaneously switch species). Your favorite animal is cows. You absolutely adore your ducky and Buh-Buh the Bunny. You insist on cuddling with Ducky and Buh-Buh every night when you go to bed. You rarely nap these days, because sleeping is for "babies". You love roughhousing with Daddy and Forrest. You go on adventures of chasing after Pokemon, dinosaurs, and travel to unseen lands with Forrest. You enjoy reading anything that is funny,  or eliciting a wild acting from Daddy while reading. You're such a ball of energy--always moving, and bouncing around. It is not very often that you sit still, and not do anything. You love playing hand-five with people only to trick them in the end by pulling away your hand faster to cause them miss, and tell them that they are TOO SLOW. 

You love Fox so. You are always moving Fox away from dangerous spots. You help Mama out by tossing out dirty diapers, or giving her a new diaper for Fox. You sit down and talk with Fox. If Fox is doing something naughty, then you try to scold him, and tell Mama what has happened. You tell Mama when Fox is crying, or if he needs anything from Mama. You are concerned for his well-being, and want to make sure he's okay. You are such a wonderful brother. 

You are an amazing boy with such a big heart, with such a big imagination, and brings so much happiness to those who loves you. This family would not be the same without your spunky nature. We love you so, Franklin. 


Mama, Daddy, Forrest & Fox

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What I Would Like You to Know For This Day

                                               Image result for pregnancy loss awareness

I tried writing this post two years ago, before we became pregnant with Fox, and I was unable to even get through the post. I also searched for this particular post in my draft, and it apparently no longer existed. I must have deleted it. 

I think it was just too difficult for me to put my feelings into the words. It was a matter of not being ready, and guess what, that was okay. It was not the right time. I needed to work through stuff, and to begin to heal. 

So, why now? Why share it so publicly? I have a few reasons. Please do not take this away with you to think to yourself that I'm self-seeking for attention, or self-serving in such way of making myself out to be a victim (you know, woe is me, the world is against me, blah blah). One of those reasons is to reach out, and hopefully to make a connection with someone out there who may be going through this right now, or is still grieving for a loss that happened a few years prior, or wondering what can be done for their loved one who is struggling with a loss. 

Image result for missed miscarriage

This is a very painful topic. Some people get alarmed when I start tearing up while talking about what had happened, and they feel awkward. What to say? They feel terrible for causing pain of asking, or to witness such an emotional moment. People are comfortable with discussing about what they know, and understand; a death of a parent, a friend, a colleague, a relative, or someone you knew that had a life, because they understand that kind of loss. With pregnancy loss, it's harder to understand the pain that comes with it, especially with early pregnancy, because only mothers (and their partners to a degree) knows how it feel, since it is a physical experience. Not everybody knows what it is like to experience such a trauma of this loss. It is easier to place that burden on their shoulders, and sweep this under the rug. Once this event has passed, it is never really spoken again. 

This is what our society has taught us. We are uncomfortable with someone's pain. It is more comfortable to laugh, smile, and focus on the good. Of course, we should do that. At the same time, we also need to be comfortable with painful, uncomfortable, and possibly taboo topics. Pregnancy, infant, and child loss is one of those taboo topics. We may shirk away from someone's grief regarding this topic, wondering why that person has not moved on after so many months, or we end up fumbling for words to offer to the bereaved person. It is easier for people to not mention anything at all. 

We cringe when we hear the following statements: 

"Oh, she lost the baby." 
"She had a miscarriage." 
"The baby was a stillborn." 
"The baby has died."
"There was no heartbeat." 

No one wants to hear those words, yet they are still being uttered. Death can, and DOES happen. My oldest child asked me recently why do we have to die? My answer is simple. We have to make a room for new lives on earth. If we don't die, then there won't be a room for all of us to live here. Every living thing that comes into being must eventually end. When we think about death, we definitely don't apply that to unborn babies (or babies that are born but only lived for a short while). It is why pregnancy loss is very difficult. We are so full of hope. So full of anticipation. So full of love. So full of naivety. SO full of innocence. Then you get that statement that everybody dreads to hear. In that very instant: that hope, anticipation, love, naivety, and innocence are gone. Just like that with a snap of your fingers. 

With my older two boys, my pregnancies were very uneventful besides from Gestational Throcembeyenia. I carried them to term without any serious problems. I loved my ultrasounds with them. I loved documenting every minute of my pregnancy. I just LOVED being pregnant, even with being so sick in the beginning of them, and I cherished every moment of it. My labor and deliveries were quick. They came into the world, squalling and red in the face, as perfect as they could have been. I developed a thinking of "Oh, it will never happen to me. I've had two successful pregnancies with no problem. I'm young." 

Then our 3rd pregnancy happened. It was a surprise. We had always been a planner, and always wanted to plan everything from A to Z. The unexpected things had a tendency to jar me. I didn't like unexpected things. I had to prepare for everything. It was just how I functioned. But this happened unexpectedly, and earlier than I wanted, but that was still a welcome surprise. I knew I was pregnant the moment when I made myself a fried egg on a toast, and nearly vomited from the smell of it. I was sicker with this pregnancy than I was with other two. I had no reason to be worried. The older two, and Stu were sick with a stomach bug. Being a germaphobic, I pulled out bleach, and chlorox wipes. I obsessively cleaned the house around the clock, and quarantined the boys and Stu until they recovered. I was pregnant, and it was my duty to protect the baby at any cost. Plus the idea of being sick with a GI Bug on top of being sick from pregnancy didn't appeal to me. I did not honestly think of anything different. I was not obsessively on top of every little symptom I had. After all, this was my third pregnancy, and I had no worry. I had been around the block twice. I would have known if something was wrong. 

I was busy raising two very little boys, and we had just moved to a new area. I did not know anybody, and had no friends locally in the town other than our family. I kept myself busy with a lot of walks, and chauffeuring the oldest to 3K. I had forgotten that I had a strange discharge the other day, which I had put it in back of my mind, and did not think of it since it did not happen again. It was just one of those weird pregnancy thing. Looking back, I should have taken that seriously, and have always regretted dismissing it. Looking back, the week before the ultrasound, all of my symptoms gradually disappeared. I had assumed I was getting better from my nausea, because I had no morning sickness with Forrest, and it lasted briefly with Franklin. I didn't think anything of it. 

Then we had that big ultrasound that I have always loved while pregnant with my older boys. 

I remember, and do not remember much of that day. It is funny how you recall some things, and some other things you just don't remember. 

I remember laying there, getting anxious, because the technician was taking too long. I remember telling myself half assuredly that I had a long, and tilted uterus, and how sometimes it take a while to find a little bean of a baby in there! I remember finally seeing the baby, and thinking, what a relief! There you are, baby! I remember the technician turning to me, rather abruptly, and telling me, "I am sorry. There is no heartbeat." The first emotion I felt was anger. I was ridiculously angry at the technician for being cold. Why was she not more warm? Why didn't she give me a hug? Why didn't she say something nicer? Anything but "no heartbeat". 

                     One day I had a great Step-brother who I loved and looked up to and the next day he wasn't my brother anymore...I have wanted to talk to him and tell him how much he meant to me and I still have never gotten the chance.

I don't remember sitting up. I don't remember getting dressed. I don't remember either Stu or my interpreter talking to me. I don't remember how I ended up in the exam room. I don't remember the wait. I don't remember any thoughts I had during that time frame. 

I remember my doctor walking in with a gray laptop in her arms. How gracefully she soared across the room. Her blue scrubs stood out at me. Her nimble fingers opening up the laptop, and turning it on. Her expressive brown eyes looking at me, taking me into her arms, and giving me a hug. I was struck by her compassion. She did not let me go even though I did try to break the hug. To have her tell me that it was all a mistake. But she didn't. She kept hugging. 

Then I don't remember what Dr. Mbah said. I don't remember how long the visit took. I just nodded my head, and allowed Stu to make decisions for me. I could not feel anything. Then I was told that I needed D&C the next day to rule out a Partial Molar Pregnancy. My doctor gently explained how serious the condition was, and how it could become cancerous. It was when Stu broke. He started crying. I remember that. I also remember my interpreter telling me how there was a song by LeAnn Womack playing in the background: 

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you will give faith a fighting chance
and when you get a choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance, I hope you dance....

I am not sure how I broke the news to my family. I don't remember that part. I only remember seeing a rainbow on way home, and somehow made a way into my bed. I stayed in my bed for a long time. Probably the whole night. I don't really remember that night. I don't remember if I had dinner. Or if I even ate. All I knew was that I had a dead baby inside me, and how much I had hated myself for killing the baby. I scrutinized every little thing I did; what I ate, how much I had obsessively cleaned, how I had been exposed to the germs, the exercises I did, and you know what? I really beat myself up. 

The D&C itself went well. I had a wonderful staff of nurses, and an amazing doctor who were there for me. Stu was a source of my rock. So many people poured support, and love. It was very humbling, and touching. I could not have asked for a better support system. I was very thankful (and still am) for all the comments, love, and support. I was fortunate that the initial suspicion of molar pregnancy was ruled out, but I was left with no answers why my baby died. I really struggled with not knowing why, and the lack of closure. When we got a medical bill from the hospital for that surgery, I was smacked in the face when I read SPONTANEOUS ABORTION. Logically, I knew it just meant sudden expulsion. In my case, it was anything, but that. It was not spontaneous. I had carried that baby inside me, not alive, for a possibly week without knowing it. It was certainly not an abortion. My body held on to that baby as if it was desperate to remain pregnant, desperate to believe that the baby could be retrieved, and desperate to continue with the pregnancy. 

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What surprised me the most was HOW MANY people came forward to tell me that they also had lost their baby, and sometimes, how they lost their babies one after other. I had no idea that they experienced this. I had no inkling that they struggled with infertility only to lose their baby, or that they gave birth to a baby that sadly did not survive, or that their baby passed away in their sleep a few weeks later. I had no idea. That floored me, and not in a good way. It was not a wonderful "floored" kind of emotion. I felt terrible for not knowing, and how common it was for us to remain silent after our losses. 

Let me tell you something. I blamed myself for a very long time. After the surgery happened, I lost it. I really lost it. All the sense of normalcy, denial, shock, and detachment were sucked out of me, and what took its stead was a terrible darkness that left nothing but a raw pain. There were days when I felt that I did not only fail our baby, but I also failed our older two. I sat there on the sofa, frozen by grief, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Forrest often patted me on my back, played with my hair, and put blanket on me as I laid there. First two weeks were incredibly difficult. I kept telling myself to get up, survive the day, and go back to bed. It was all I did. I had no recollection of what I did during those first two weeks. All I knew I was empty, and I failed so badly at everything in life. My kids were what got me through the days while Stu worked. I worked so hard to pretend that all were fine when I went out. I didn't want to appear vulnerable, weak, and sad. I worked hard to appear strong like how I always had been for my entire life. I was stuck in the limbo for 12 weeks as my HCG slowly dropped to zero, and waiting for my first cycle. I was secretly glad to not have to go to my OB clinic, and to go to a hospital for lab draws instead. I was unable to bear to see pregnant women, and unable to bear to see babies. 

I had no anger toward pregnant women. It was just so sad. So sad. It was difficult. I had no strength to face them. I hid myself away from the public, and from Facebook. I even ended one of my acquiescence with one of the pregnant ladies, because she was treating her pregnancy so badly with abusing drugs, eating bad food, and not exercising. It angered me, because why was she still pregnant with everything she had been doing wrong, yet I did everything right and lost mine? I desperately wanted to be pregnant again. Then I learned that my brother and my sister in law were expecting their first baby shortly after we had our loss. It was such an odd feeling; I was beyond thrilled to be an aunt, couldn't wait to meet my niece, and to spoil her yet at the same time I was also sad about the idea of not having my baby grow up with her. Later in the year, we found out we were pregnant once again! 

My pregnancy with Fox was emotionally difficult. I dreaded every ultrasound, and cried at each one of them, thinking we would find him without a heartbeat, and go through hell again. The first ultrasound was difficult, because I had started spotting, and needed progesterone to get through the next 14 weeks. The first ultrasound, there was a heartbeat, and it was the best thing ever. Then we had another, and our specialist was wonderful. He bid arrivederci with a smile on his face, and told me that my tears better be one of joy instead of sadness, because all looked fantastic with our Fox. The rest of my pregnancy with him were great, even though I held a lot of fears that something terrible would happen to him, and when he was finally born, I felt like I didn't fail him. I was so scared the whole pregnancy that something would happen to him. So for him to be born safely, and be here with us was a relief. With him, I began to heal. His coos, smiles, and twinkle in his eyes kept the oppressive pain away. When I felt overwhelmed, I just picked him up, and held him against my chest. Then I looked at our two older boys, I felt such gratitude to be able to keep them, and to be their mommy. 

I really believed that if we had our rainbow baby, then everything will be all right in my world once again. In a sense, it was true. Fox helped to narrow the hole in my heart. When I held Fox in my arms for the first time, I had a stark realization that my heart held such contradiction, it was still broken, but it was also whole, because we had a new life in our arms. Fox helped the pain to become softer, and more bearable, but the pain still remained. 

Two and half years later, I still do wonder about our angel baby. If you ask me today, then I will tell you how old our baby should be today. I should have a soon to be 2 year old running around. If you ask me, then I will tell you how much I wish I had that baby with us along with our other three. If you ask me, then you will know how conflicted I feel when I think of our angel baby, because as much as I want that baby, then that means we may not have had Fox. Why can't we have both Fox and that baby? If you ask any parent with a pregnancy, infant, or child loss. They will tell you the same thing. They always know. 

The pain has changed. It is softer, and no longer raw. Instead of darkness, there is sorrow. When I come across a post of a bereaved parent lamenting their loss, I give them words of solace with that quiet empathy, and wish them nothing but love. When I meet someone who shares their story with me, I give them a small smile, and in our eyes, we acknowledge each other's pain. When I learn that a friend, no matter how significant the friendship is to them or to me, I send them a card with money for food. It is a club that we all belong to. The instant knowing in our eyes. How we reach out to each other. We sit with each other in silence as tears come. We say the words that many people lack. We are brutally honest by telling them that there is no antidote for the pain, yet we are gentle with how we carry their pain until they are able to carry it themselves. 

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This is something I wish people would know:

The pain doesn't go away ever. It just gets softer. So please don't tell someone to move on no matter how long ago the loss occurred. Grief has its own timeline. Allow them commiserate their loss in their own way.  

Don't devalue early losses. They matter, and hurt as much as late-term losses does. 

It is okay to sit in silence with them. No need for words. No need for anything, but a physical presence. Please don't feel uncomfortable with the tears. They can be very healing, and cleansing. 

It is okay to also ask, are you doing okay? If they capitalize on the question, and start talking, then let them. If they don't, then that's okay too, and change the topic. Just let them know you are thinking of them. It's also okay to say, "I don't know what to say, and I am sorry that it happened to you. If you need me to listen, then I am here. If you need my shoulder to cry on, then here's a tissue box, and I will sit with you." 

Remember dads/significant other hurt too. They just hurt differently. Don't forget them. 

If you are close to someone who have had experienced a loss or recurring losses, even if they go on to have a successful pregnancy after their loss(es), then remember that underneath their smiles, they are scared to death. 

I still struggle. There are some days when my anxiety gets so bad that I just sit down, close my eyes, and try let it pass. I worry so much about my kids, about things I can't control especially when it comes to death. I can't bear the thought of being an executor, and kill a living being with my hand while knowing that I had somehow 'killed' off my baby. There are many people who struggle with  similar feelings.  

Sometimes I don't know what to tell you when you ask me how many children I have. Should I say 3? Should I say 4 without explaining? Should I say I have 3 living kids, and one in heaven? Should I just say I have 3 kids, and spare you the confusion? 

When I sit in the office for my examination, I have to be reminded that I had four pregnancies. Not three, yet I only have three children to show for it. 

Not everybody will be as open as I am. Some people will be more private about their loss. Some will be a lot more open. Some may share pictures of their stillborn, or have pictures of them in their homes, or on their social media sites. Some may have nothing to show for their loss. Some will talk about it. Some won't. There is no right approach to this. 

I wish I have a picture of my 3rd baby. I desperately wish I do. I have nothing to show for that baby. I struggle to wonder if that baby ever exist. I have no grave, or the ashes. I have no pictures. I have nothing, but my memories. My account. My experience that I am currently writing about. 

I struggle with whether my grief is excessive, or appropriate for an early pregnancy loss. After all, our society places more value of a loss on if a person is further along, or had a baby. I may have been almost 9 weeks when we lost our baby, and understand that we saw our baby, and our baby did exist. This struggle feels very isolating at times. 

In early days of loss, time has no meaning. Even if you don't know what to say, or do, then just show up. Be there. Give money for take out foods, or even better, make home made food. Or just sit there, and acknowledge the silence. Acknowledge the tears. Help with child care. Help with chauffeuring. Trust me, they won't be thinking about those things, or just going along with motion. It's probably one of the hardest things I had to deal with in those two weeks. 

Parents may become fiercely protective of their living children, and of their rainbow babies, mainly because they have been touched by a loss, and have come to a realization that life is fragile. There are some actions I take with my children that could be interpreted as overprotective, and it is because I can't bear the thought of losing them. 

A pregnancy loss is not a competition. It doesn't matter how it happened. It doesn't matter how far along the person is when a loss occurred. Do not devalue one's experience just because someone else had a different experience. What all of those people share in a common is that they have been touched by a loss. 

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This is something I wish people would not say: 

At least you were not that far along. 

No matter how far along you were: 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks. That's a lifetime to that baby. This platitude offers a lack of empathy. 

At least it was not a baby. 

It was a baby. From the minute we got a positive pregnancy test, we celebrated the new life even though it was surprising. We developed the idea of a little third set of pitter patter keeping up with the older brothers'. We started brainstorming names. The nursery room was already being devised in our minds. We fantasied about how we will announce to the world, and how to break the news to our boys. Will the baby be another boy? Or a girl? You see, that baby was wanted, cherished, and celebrated. We saw the baby on the large ultrasound screen. It was not a specimen. It was not a blob of cells. It was a baby. Most of all, it was a loss of dreams we had for our baby. 

You can always have another. 
You can always try again. 

We wanted that baby. 

At least you didn't know your baby. 

 We may not have had a full term pregnancy that ended up in having our baby placed in our arms. We did know our baby. My belly grew. After losing our baby, we didn't just lose an unborn baby. We lost our 6-month old baby sampling food for the first time, a year old taking an unsteady steps, a five year old saying goodbye as he/she runs into the school for kindergarten, a 10 year old smiling shyly at us, a fifteen year old expelling a huffy breath and rolling eyes, and a 18 year old walking across the stage with a diploma. It's the milestones that you see with your living children that will be absent with that baby. In your heart, you know how old that baby will be. Always. 

There must have been something wrong with the baby. 

While statistically many early pregnancy losses are a result of chromosomal defect, low progesterone, immunity issue, pre-existing condition, or infection, it is not helpful to hear the statement about whether the baby was healthy or not, or if the mother was healthy or not, because mothers blame themselves so much. In some cases, like mine, we don't have an answer why it had happened, since my surgery did not yield any answers. Many of us, more than not, would love to have that baby, even if there is an extra special touch to them that may make them different from other babies. 

Be grateful for the children you have. 
At least you have others. 

Should you be grateful for your other relatives? Your other parent who is still living? Your other siblings? Should you be told of this if you lose your parent, a sibling, or a relative? If you find yourself shaking your head no, then don't say it to someone who have had experienced a loss.    

             Grief never ends... But it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith... It is the price of love.

Having said all of this, I want you to take away from reading this blog post by remembering why today is such an important day for many of us. If you are dealing with a loss, then I walk with you, and carry you until you have steadied yourself. If you are still grieving for a loss that has occurred a few years prior, then I hold your hand, and acknowledge you. If you're someone who loves a person who has a loss, and have no idea what to say; admit it, and tell them you don't know what to say, and that you're there for them. Sit with them. Lend them your shoulder. Listen. Check on the Dads, and Moms, who are bystanders, to their wives or girlfriends going through a loss. They grieve too. Just in a different way. Don't forget them. Most importantly of all, don't forget the babies even if they've never been born, or lived briefly on Earth before departing.

Tonight, I will be lighting a candle for our angel baby, and for all the others who have gained their angel wings.  Would you do the same? 


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Forrest is 6 Years Old

Dear Forrest, 

You are SIX year old. Holy batman. It is getting to the point where Mama is telling people that it no longer feels like as if it is yesterday when she and Daddy brought you home from the hospital, because so much time has passed. This brings up a weird juxtaposition of having emotions of both sadness, and happiness. There is sadness because time waits for no one, and you're growing up too quickly for Mama's liking, yet there is a lot of happiness, because it has been so fascinating to watch you grow into an awesome person, and to develop a more meaningful relationship with you.  The relationship with you is no longer 'one way street' of Mama and Daddy pouring love onto you, and taking care of you. Mama and Daddy encased their ideas, hopes, and dreams onto you. Now it's becoming two way street. You're shedding that encasement of what Mama and Daddy put on you. You're able to interact more, show different interests, a plethora of lessons to be discussed about and learned from, and to really get to know you.

The best news came from your former speech teacher, Colleen, was you being officially released from IEP. It was hard to believe that you came to her, barely speaking and communicating to being a very talkative little boy! The hard work you put in with Colleen paid off! She informed us that she had released only a handful students during her career, and she was proud to include you to be among of the few. It was an emotional moment to have her retire, because she had put in so much in teaching you and Franklin to communicate, and to also have you to improve so much under her care. It didn't surprise us though that you were able to blaze through the last two years in term of your speech development.

Your second year of 4K was a wonderful one. It confirmed our decision to hold you back for another year, because you had grown so tremendously in Michelle's LEADS class. It also helped to learn that the majority of your classmates were held back due to their late birthdays. You were placed at the first grade reading level, and you joined the first graders for reading time. It blew our minds how well you were able to read. You showed a preference for a silent reading. Mama and Daddy encouraged your love of reading by picking books in your favorite topics, which usually meant nature, cooking, dinosaurs, Big Foot, myths, and Star Wars! More often than not, people told us they were also mind blown by how well you read. Your mathematics with counting was marked to be at end of kindergarten level. Your writing had improved from being barely readable to Mama and Daddy being able to understand what you were writing. Your coloring, and cutting skills were difficult for you last year, and this year, you had no trouble doing them! My, what accomplishments you had achieved, and on top of this, to have your skills to be fine tuned by attending this wonderful program led by a great teacher.

You remained to be a social butterfly! You loved to talk loudly among your friends during the class, and often needed to be reminded by your teacher to settle down some. It was wonderful to hear that you were the life of the classroom. At the same time, we wanted to make sure that you learned proper social norms, and to be a polite boy. Your emotional maturity level had also grown. There were a lot of lessons for you to learn how to socialize with your friends, how to resolve conflicts and arguments, to apologize, and to accept apologies from others. Your friendships brought a lot of teachable moments involving discussions about your feelings, and thoughts. It prompted your teacher to encourage us to give you a journal. Boy, you sure loved writing in your journal! It helped you to identify, and label your feelings to reduce some of the outbursts you had. By the end of the year, you gained confidence, and Mama and Daddy could not be any happier than they already were for you. You were more than ready for kindergarten this fall.

Your signing has also exploded. It is wonderful to see you developing fluency for a second language. Your signing has gotten to the point where you are able to carry on a conversation with Mama. You have been complimented by some folks in the public on how well you sign for your age. When you try to ask Daddy to interpret for you on the days when you feel discouraged, he tells you no, and to keep trying. This fuels your drive to overcome obstacles in not knowing certain sign words. You love reading with Mama, and having her sign along with you reading so you can learn signs. It is amazing to see how children's minds function in term of developing language, communication, and blending two cultures into one. By your persistence in learning signing, Franklin is also encouraged to pick up on his language development, and he has been improving greatly as well! You're a wonderful mentor for your younger brothers, and becoming into a fascinating CODA (child of a Deaf adult).

You went to your 6 year old wellness check. Everything checked out to be great with you! You were a bit worried about getting immunization shots, and fortunately, you did not need them until you turn eleven year old! You clocked at 3 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed 42 pounds. Dr. Karbon said you looked great. 

It has been amazing to see you growing into a little boy, and how much you resemble Daddy! When people share with you that you look like Daddy, you smile and nod your head, then say, yes I know rather shyly. You are no longer a small child, but a young boy with so much yearning to explore, and learn about the world around you.

While you look so much like Daddy, some of your personality traits reminds Mama so much of...her! Mind you, while you share some similar personality traits with Mama, you still are uniquely YOU. There are a lot of things about you that are just YOURS. 

You love books, especially Goosebumps, anything about Big Foot, mythology, dinosaurs, and adventures. You often hoard books on your bed, and Mama have to clean off your bed at least once a week so you have some space to sleep in your bed! You get quite upset when one of your books falls apart from being handled so much, and ask Mama to fix them for you. Sometimes, she has to replace your favorite books by ordering new copies! It warms Mama's heart so much that you love to read, because Mama was (and still is) still the same way. You love scary movies! Mama looks forward to the day when she can introduce you to to the world of zombies, monsters, aliens, and outlandish creature movies...but that will be some time off yet, and you will need to be a bit older before that happens. Right now, you enjoy Goosebumps, and kid friendly scary movies, books, and all that. 

You love pizza, home made garlic bread, and hot dogs. You're starting to accept the idea of eating broccoli, and certain vegetables. It's a work in the progress, but you will come to like to eat them. You have found that you love eating yogurt, and cheese sticks. Mama has to watch over how much you eat dairy, because it can cause your eczema to flare up. Finding a right type of milk that you will drink is a bit tricky still in term of not causing your skin to flare up, or finding something you will drink. You're such a picky eater! Mama and Daddy are still constantly encouraging you to widen your palate with food, and you usually end up liking them! 

You dislike being discouraged from doing certain things by yourself. Sometimes you think you are able to make your own rules, because you are the oldest child in the house. Mama and Daddy often have to remind you that while you are the oldest, your parents still determine, enforce, and establish rules for everybody to follow. You struggle with Franklin copying you in everything you do. You often need to be reminded that Franklin looks up to you so much, and loves you so. He thinks you are the most awesome person on the planet, and craves your approval. Franklin gets quite heartbroken when you try to do your own thing without him. Because of this, Mama and Daddy have to find a happy ground of allowing you to do your own thing and him with his own, and making sure you both have time to play together. Sometimes it can be such a challenge for you, because Franklin struggles with his speech development and doesn't always express himself appropriately, which annoys you, and you want him to stop. It is a constant balance of making sure all cogs in the wheel continues to function properly. This brings a lot of lessons in appropriate social interaction, how to express ourselves appropriately, when to apologize and forgive, to give and take, and apply those to life outside home.

You're so full of personality! You love to show off, and make everybody around you chuckle. You have a sharp sense of humor. For instance, the other day you asked a nurse why your doctor was mean after she told you the doctor's name, Dr. McMeen. The nurse assured you that Dr. McMeen was anything, but mean, and that it was just her surname. You said without a beat, "Oh, she must be mean to the adults then." You started cracking up shortly after.

You're also filled with surprises. In the same conversation, You asked your doctor if she was from France, or Europe, because of how her last name was spelled. The doctor smiled, and later Mama learned that your doctor, in fact, was from Kiev, Urkaine! How did you know that? Or you will randomly tell Mama or Daddy (or anybody who is listening) facts about nature, and it blew their minds. It was like how do you know this stuff at age of 6?! Mama tries to remind people (and herself at times) not to make intelligence a sole bragging point for you, because there ARE MANY wonderful things about you that are always praised, and reinforced.

While we miss Dr. Warpinski, our previous allergist who had retired last year, we have come to really appreciate our new allergist, Dr. McMeen. 

She was full of wealth information with helpful tips, and suggestions. Some of tips were new to Mama, and she appreciated all the help she got from Dr. McMeen regarding your eczema. Your eczema had been a huge struggle this summer with you swimming all summer long, and being exposed to pollen in the environment. She explained that your previous blood test had cleared you of all tree nuts allergy, including the cashews to which you were allergic to as a baby, however, she still erred on the cautious side. She wanted you to wait a year before retesting to make sure that it was completely safe for you to attempt tree nuts trial. A challenge remained with tree nuts, and that was the case of cross-contamination of them being mixed with peanuts. It was a bit mind boggling to see how EXPENSIVE tree nuts were when they were labeled to be processed in a separate facility from the peanuts. It was Mama's hope to find tree nuts that were affordable, and ALSO safe for you to eat, so she can go ahead and make homemade granola bars for you to snack on someday. 

Your score was higher than the last time you had your blood test from a few years prior, which pinpointed to a severe peanut allergy, and it was a bit sad to hear that. Mama wished she was able to find a cure for your peanut allergy, so you can always remain safe, never having to worry about rejected by insurance someday for having a pre-existing condition, stressing about having epi pens with you at all of the time, dealing with general ignorance surrounding food allergies, and enjoy food carefree, yet at the same time, you were given this for a reason. Mama felt that by growing up as a Deaf person, she was able to prepare you for life challenges, and the struggles that may come with you having a peanut allergy. At the same time, remember that this also shared a lot of benefits, such as making you more empathetic person, shaping your assertiveness, and standing up for those with conditions that may invite others not to be as understanding toward them. 

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You have grown into the role of an oldest brother rather wonderfully. You're extremely protective of Fox, and always want to make sure he remains safe under your watch. You love picking him up in your arms, and carry him to whatever you think he should go. You let Mama know when Fox needs her, tells Franklin to be "soft" with Fox, and helps Mama out by throwing away soiled diapers. You proudly tell people that you have two brothers, and that you love them so (despite your sibling rivalry with Franklin from time to time).

We look toward year 6 with you!

We love you so, our dear bookworm.


Mama, Daddy, Franklin, and Fox

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fox is ONE Year Old

Dear Fox,

The tradition continues with you as it has with the other two, and your first letter is in the making for you to cherish someday. Daddy and Mama have always known that we wanted a big family. What they did not know is that they will end up with three very rambunctious, loving, sweet, and beautiful boys. We are blessed to have you three in our lives. You each brings an unique factor to our family, and to not have one of you with us most certainly will cause a void. Mama hope you each will come to understand that you are valued, wanted, loved, and cherished. 

Daddy and Mama does not make it a secret that you came after a loss of their third baby. It is their hope that you understand that you are not going to be associated, or shadowed by that experience, and that you are uniquely you. You are not a replacement, or a filler for what is lost. You, and your brothers are gifts. With having said this, you are also shaped by what had happened, and you are our rainbow baby. It goes to show that love, and hope are always going to prevail. After all, you are the living proof of this. You come bearing with a valuable lesson that it is possible to survive a storm, and to be still blessed. 

You are our third living child. You have two older brothers to look up to, and it is in my hope that you three will form an unbreakable bond that will continue long after when Daddy and Mama are gone. Your relationship with them will not going to be perfect, easy, or neat. There will be moments when you may not like them very much, or them you. There will be moments when you may feel that they outshine you. You may feel left behind as they get older, and lose interest in things that you still enjoy. Do know this though, you will always be cheered on, exalted, loved, and supported by all of us. The sibling rivalries will fade away. You are never left behind. You are always kept in front of us with your brothers. You three may end up on different trajectories in your lives, the love and brotherhood you have with each other will be what holds you together.

Forrest made Mama a mother for the first time. They navigated through the murky waters of parenthood together, experienced a lot of firsts, dealt with a lot of tears, trying to adjust to the life of a baby which was hard for someone who was fiercely independent, and to be honest, Mama did not know what she was doing most of the time. Everything was so new, overwhelming, amazing, and beautiful with him.

When Mama went into labor with Franklin, oh, she cried, and cried as she held Forrest against her chest, because she was so worried about losing that unique bond she had with Forrest, and whether she was going to love this baby as much as she loved Forrest. Then Franklin came into the world, and floored her completely, because her heart grew so large with love, and she realized there was no limited capacity of how much you could love someone. Franklin was such a happy, happy baby despite his medical problem, and she gained confidence. She had some idea of what she was doing the second time around with a newborn. Franklin taught her that love had no bounds, and that it just kept growing.

Then, you came along. Mama was not worried about not loving you as much as Mama loved Forrest, and Franklin, because Franklin showed her otherwise. You healed what was missing in our hearts. You anchored us in a midst of a tumultuous storm, and brought a rainbow into our lives. When Mama's heart felt sad, all she had to do was hold you, and all was right once again in my world. Because of this, you three are so special to us.

You're such a cunning, funny, sweet, wild, and loving boy. Mama can see you becoming an imaginative, adventurous, and have a wicked sense of humor. You're going to be an unpredictable one. You are quick witted, and expressive yet you can be broody and serious. You love to scrunch your face, and it is one of the most awesome facial expressions you have. We never know which side we will end up with!

You're never without kisses, and hugs. You're always being picked up, and talked to. Your brothers are beginning to discover how much fun you can be now you're more mobile! I imagine watching you growing up with them, and developing that close bond with them. It is my hope that you continue to foster that relationship with them, and keep your brothers connected with you.

Dr. Karbon gave you a clean bill of health. You measured to be 31 inches tall, and weighed at 18 pounds! Mama called you her Bean pole! She was not used to having such a thin baby, but Dr. Karbon assured her that all was well with you! You hadn't begun to walk on your own, and showed no interest in doing so. She diagnosed you with eczema, and suggested cutting out cow milk to see if it helped your skin to clear up. At this point, Mama was an old pro in handling with food sensitivities, and had no problem switching over to almond milk. All left she had to do was finding the right management for your skin to remain clear.

Fear not, it will happen when you are good and ready. It can happen any time between now until 18 months. You still sport a gummy mouth with no hint of tooth on the horizon! Mama is told that you can get your first tooth at age of two! She certainly most hope not, because then it would be harder on you to deal with pain.

You are so chill. You are happy to go along with everybody. You're perfectly content to just sit on Mama's or Daddy's lap, and watch the world go by you. Your only requirement is that you get to be a part of the flurries during the day. Once in every while, you will throw a fit, and be upset about missing out life. You love your older brothers so much, and to see you being upset by how they handle you is very rare. If you are being tripped over, picked up, held funny, or dragged around, then you just laugh, and want more of it! Mama suppose with you being a third child, you just have to take life's knocks, and see a humor in it!

Mama and Daddy are looking forward so much to watching you grow up into a little person in the following days yet to come.


Mama, Daddy, Forrest, & Franklin