A Reflection on Our Year of Miracles // One Word for 2018

It’s ten days into 2018 and I’ve finally started to remember to write 2018 instead of 2017.  Which means 2018 must be here to stay, right? 🙂

We kicked off the New Year with a sick baby – full blown coughing, sneezing, snot drizzled everywhere, low-grade fever, no sleep…oh the joys of parenthood.

And just as the kiddo started to get better…the husband got sick.  And then just as he started to get better…yup, you guessed it…I got sick.

Which is why this is being written ten days into 2018, instead of on the 1st of January.

I digress.

A couple of years ago I learned about One Word 365 from my sweet blogger friend Sarah.  And heading into 2016, I just knew with a strange certainty that the word for that year would be “Immanuel” – God With Us.

At the time, I had no idea that my first-born son would be born in 2016, 10.5 weeks early.  There was no way to anticipate the up and down journey it would all be, and that my one word – Immanuel – would become such an anchor for us in that season.

Heading into 2017, I felt such conviction that it would be a year of miracles.  We had just witnessed our little 29 weeker thrive in the NICU, surprise the doctors despite all of his medical diagnoses, and come home before his expected due date.

But there I was, the last day of 2017, permanently situated on my glider as I tried to rock a very cranky, sniffly little boy to sleep. Read more…

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Dear Son, Today You’re One…

Last night, I started to remember the hours that led up to your sudden entrance into this world.  I pulled up the note that I still have on my phone where I documented every hour that I was feeling what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Looking back, I should have realized I was in preterm labor.  But in the hazy fog of pain, my brain just couldn’t even fathom the idea that you would be born at 29 weeks.  So early…too soon.

Every time I drive past the hospital where you were born, I remember your dad speeding down the highway at 3:30am…and that’s when I realized you were coming.  November 20th would be your birthday.

I still remember the moment you were born and the nurses found your heartbeat.  You were alive.  All 2 lbs and 6 oz of you was alive and ready to fight for survival.

They asked us what your name would be.  Daddy and I looked at each other and we knew exactly who you were meant to be.  Josiah.  It was God’s promise to us – “Jehovah Has Healed.”

Those early weeks in the NICU were a blur.  Every day we stepped into your little hospital nursery we didn’t know if it would be a good day or a hard day.  We definitely had our fair share of both.

But eventually we fell into a rhythm in the NICU.  And your little corner of the hospital became mommy’s bittersweet sanctuary.  It was my season of sitting in the refiner’s fire.  It’s where I started to learn that sometimes we don’t know the answer to “why?”  But in that tension of what is and what truly is, that is often where we find the greatest treasure.

And then, after 9 weeks in the NICU, you finally came home!  And that’s when it really started. 🙂

Those newborn days of over-exhaustion and total inadequacy.  Of looking at myself in the mirror and realizing that motherhood simultaneously ruins you and rebirths you.

But also realizing that the whole “the days are long but the years are short” and “babies don’t keep” are all true.  One day, this would all be a thing of the past.  And it made me try harder to treasure each moment, to mentally capture exactly what I felt when you first laughed, to breathe in your scent after a nighttime bath.

We had our everyday days.  Days filled with playing outside and learning new things.  And we had our hard days.  Days in the hospital, surgery after surgery, realizing that this was also a part of our reality.

But looking at you now, all I see is a sweet, smiling miracle.

Son, your life is living proof that God is good.  Every breath you take and every ounce you gain is living proof that God loves to do the impossible.  Every moment you learn something new and every time you continue to defy the odds and medical expectations, you are living proof that God has the final word.

So, thank you son.  Thank you for coming into our lives and turning everything upside down.  Thank you for giving your daddy and me the greatest year of our lives yet.

And I pray for the day that you begin to realize all this for yourself.  That you ask us about the story of your birth and how you came to be.  That you start to understand that your name holds God’s promise for you.  That you can read this and know just how truly blessed you are and how much you have blessed so many just by being alive.

Above all else, on this first birthday, I want you to know that everything we have been through this last year we would do it all again in a heartbeat.  Every joy and every trial has been more than worth it to witness the living miracle that you are.

So happy birthday, my sweet, sweet son.  The best is yet to come.

Love,

Momma

P.S.  I’m still banking on you saying “mommy” first.

 

 

Summer Fun + More Surgery // An Update on Josiah

As many of you have probably realized by now, I tend to be a little verbose.  What can I say?  I like a good story.  And I think it is in the details that life becomes more scrumptious.

But sometimes, it’s just been a long day.  And the creative energy (any energy actually) is just non-existent.

So concise will just have to do.  So here it goes.

Summer flew by.  Josiah had surgery in June.  It went well and in hindsight, it was good “practice” for the one coming up.

July was filled with lots of “firsts” for our not-so-little-anymore little man – first plane ride, first time experiencing a Phoenix summer, first haircut, first time seeing the extended family, first time hanging out at the bowling alley, etc.  Cue the pictures.

It was the best three week vacation any momma could ask for – a.k.a. sleeping in, not having to cook every meal, doting grandparents to watch the baby, actually getting dressed up for a night out.  Pure bliss.

And now somehow, it’s already August.  And the date that’s been looming on our calendar – August 16th – is already here.  The date of Josiah’s next surgery.

This is “the big one” that I have been alluding to in previous posts.  There are three main objectives for this surgery

  1. Go in and separate Josiah’s colon/rectum from his urethra as they are currently fused alongside each other,
  2. Bring his colon/rectum down through the right muscles in his bum without damaging any other nerves, and
  3. Create his anus.

The procedure will take a minimum of four hours and we will be admitted into the hospital, so we are anticipating having to stay a few nights.

A couple weeks after this procedure, we will begin the next step in this process – anal dilation.  Josiah’s body will think this new anus is an open wound and potentially try to close it back up.  Thus, we will need to dilate morning and evening to stretch out his new anus and prepare it to be able to pass stool.  Josiah will still have his colostomy bag during this time.

Depending on how the dilation process goes, we will do this for a couple of months before Josiah has his final surgery to reconnect everything so that he will pass stool through his anus.

A poopy diaper is probably not at the top of anyone’s list of dreams but for this famiLee, it will be a dream almost a year in the making.

And then the real journey of faith begins.  But more on that later.

One thing I have learned over the last almost nine months since Josiah was born is to never be ashamed or afraid to ask for prayer.  And to keep asking for it.  And to keep believing with a crazy, ridiculous, incomprehensible faith that the impossible can happen when God’s people come together before the Almighty Creator.

So, will you pray with us?  

Please pray for God’s healing hands to guide our surgeon and his team.  For the surgery to be 100% successful.  That there will be no damage to nerves, muscles, tissues, etc.  For Josiah to wake up from anesthesia well and quickly resume his happy, healthy, giggly, hungry ways.  That my husband and I will have grace for ourselves, for one another, and for everyone involved in this process.

But most of all, please pray that God’s glory would be revealed through our son’s little body.  That somehow, a testimony would arise from the ashes of this season.  That healing would triumph.  

From our lips to His throne – “Jehovah has healed.”

One Day

My dear son,

I remember that moment like it was yesterday.  You were still in the NICU, but we had just gotten the news that you were going to be discharged earlier than expected.  Mommy had not yet finished your nursery, so she found herself standing in a long line at IKEA that morning before heading to the hospital.

Behind me was a family with two little boys, probably about six and eight-years-old.  They were running in and around the bins of extra stuff IKEA tries to entice you to buy while you’re checking out, making a huge, fun mess of things.  Without even turning around I knew that their tired mommy was giving them the “you-better-stop-this-right-now” look.

As I watched their little mischievous antics, I found myself asking the same question I had been asking on repeat since you were born – “When will Josiah be big enough to run around and play like that?”  

At the Baby Gap store, it was, “When will Josiah be big enough to wear newborn-sized clothes?”  At Costco, it was, “When will Josiah be big enough to be in size one diapers?”  You get the idea.

Right then, I heard the two older women in the line next to us comment on how cute the little boys were and how it seemed like yesterday their own children were that age. Read more…

The Ugly Beautiful of Motherhood

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It’s funny that I use this picture to start this post because this is everything I imagined motherhood would be – soft lighting, sweet babe wrapped up in a ridiculously overpriced muslin blanket, and hair perfectly curled while wearing pre-pregnancy clothes.

And yes, this is still a part of motherhood.  But it’s just one second of it.  One perfectly captured still shot.

What you don’t see in this picture is that the sweet babe was up almost every two hours the night before, wanting to nurse for at least 30 minutes each time because he’s hit a growth spurt.  And this is the first time you’ve used a curling iron in months.  And you’re still sporting your maternity jeans not because you can’t fit back into pre-pregnancy jeans but because who really wants to traverse back into the land of zippers and buttons anyway??

I’m only about 100 days into this being a mom thing so I am not claiming to have it all figured out.

But here’s what I have realized thus far.

Motherhood will take all of your idyllic Instagram-worthy daydreams and shatter it into a million pieces.  Because even after you’ve spent months preparing and planning for how this little human being will change your life, you’re never, ever ready for it.  There is no way to prepare yourself for how becoming a mom will utterly and completely change your soul in all the ugly and beautiful ways.

Motherhood is the ultimate lesson in learning how to die.  There’s an old life…an old you…that can never ever exist ever again once you’ve birthed another human being and are now in charge of keeping said human being alive in this world.  It’s like you see pictures of your “pre-mom” self and you don’t even know who that girl is.  And as selfish as it may seem, you find that you need some time and space to grieve the death of who you once used to be.

As if dying isn’t enough, motherhood is also a constant journey through the refiner’s fire.  Just when you think you’ve learned how to surrender, how to let go and trust in His ways, you find yourself back in the flames.  Every part of you that ever entertained the silly notion that you could have any control over anything gets burned away.

But out of the ashes, another you that you never imagined comes to life.  A better, stronger, more compassionate you.  A more selfless and humble you.  A you that cannot help but grow more and more dependent upon a miracle-working God, the good, good Father.

And in the midst of the mundane chaos that is daily motherhood, it’s in the moments when you lock eyes with this little life you have been entrusted with…when you feel as though you can see deep into this little one’s soul…that’s when you get caught up in the delicate beauty of it all.

That somehow, as imperfect and as broken as you may be, you were given this little life, this beautiful, precious little life to steward and give back to the One who created all things.

You were the one chosen to be this little one’s momma.

Motherhood may be the messiest thing I have ever gotten into yet.  But when my son’s little, chubby fingers are wrapped around mine, when he opens his eyes and looks straight into my heart, I just want to freeze time.  Because I know that this moment…this sweet, fragile moment is the most beautiful life I could have ever dreamed of.