Friday, April 28, 2017

They showed him.

I was so thrilled when the Phoenix, Arizona therapy agency sent a man to be the boys' occupational therapist.  Don't get me wrong -- we had had some amazing wonderful women in their 16 years of therapy. Women who held my hand in those early years; women who cried with me when we realized things were not going to come easily; women who pushed with me when the boys needed to reach the next milestone. I know with certainty that Susan, Tonya, Laura, Kim, Rose, Tami, Barb, and so many others shaped me as a mother through their attitudes and belief in my boys as we wrestled with diagnoses, surgeries, setbacks, and milestones. I know.

Occupational Therapy!

But now I had two almost-16-year-olds and I thought perhaps a guy could motivate them to push through some of the fine motor struggles. I was hopeful.

He had only been providing therapy a few months when he showed up late. I explained we couldn't stay late that day because we had the triplets' first college tour scheduled for immediately following therapy. He abruptly turned his head to me and said, "College?" And I nodded. To which he looked at Benjamin and Mason and said, "Really? They will be able to go to college? How will that work?"

I opened the door and showed him the way out.

You may have already heard that story. I find the need to repeat it every semester about this time. And today, I am repeating it at the end of my triplets' FOURTH college semester. Fourth!

See, not only CAN those kiddos of mine GO to college -- they can excel!

Benjamin is in the middle of performing in Belhaven University's production of "Music Man."
He is performing every night, while still going to classes, writing scripts, short stories, and political science essays. He is performing every night while still studying for exams and preparing for the end-of-semester rush.

During his Fall semester, he added a class to his already full load. I will admit to being a bit concerned for his endurance taking such a huge class load. Can I tell you that at the end of that semester,  I received a letter from the president of his university commending him on being one of 83 students in accomplishing a 4.0 that semester. He doesn't just go to college -- he thrives at college.

And Mason, well Mason was just given the Greek Award -- no not for anything related to his fraternity. He was given the award for having the highest GPA in GREEK class! Greek.

So today, my boys (and their amazing sisters) would tell you they aren't doing anything spectacular. They are simply going to class, doing the work, and studying hard. But I know. I know that what they are really doing is far far bigger. They are re-coloring the book. They are re-mapping the roads. They are re-defining what it means to live with cerebral palsy.

And hopefully, somewhere a male occupational therapist is taking notes and being educated. And learning that CP does not stop us from reaching our dreams.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Monday, April 17, 2017

God took the unremarkable and made it so very markable!!

The day had been completely unremarkable. And unremarkable was exactly what we were looking for on April 18, 1997.  Our normal for the previous 10 weeks had been anything but normal. I was in a hospital bed on the Labor and Delivery floor at the University of Chicago. We had thrown away all the parenting books because we weren't completely convinced we would be parents as a result of this pregnancy.

I mean. I was convinced. God and I had spent a week in prayer meetings when the ultra-sound at 7 weeks revealed four possible sacs but the doctors thought they could only see heartbeats in two. They sent me home to come back the following week.

And so I spent that week in prayer. I mean in serious every-minute-talking-to-Jesus-prayer. And I had begged him to show us OUR children on the next ultra-sound and then prepare our hearts to accept the two, or the four.

Of course, we didn't anticipate the three fingers the doctor held up. But from that moment, I knew these were our three.

But weeks of bed rest -- complete and total bed rest (I won't give you the gore but just know I didn't so much as wiggle a toe out of that bed for ten weeks -- NOT FOR ANYTHING! Are you tracking with me??) had left me exhausted, humbled, and doubting. Doubting. I was too far removed from my week-long prayer meeting and fear had crept right up in that hospital bed with me.

The day we hit the 28-week-mark was a good one. Doctors had described it as a milestone -- the UofC had a high survival rate for premature babies IF WE COULD JUST GET TO THE 28 WEEK MARK. 

My body seemed to know. At 28-weeks I began to hemorrhage. When the attending physician wanted to see if she could stabilize me and stave off labor for even a few more days, I was in complete agreement. 

And that brought us right up to April 18 -- four days past the 28-week mark. And suddenly unremarkable, turned completely markable. I began to hemorrhage again. This time, my health and life were at risk as well as these amazing babies. Before Wade and I could even absorb the facts, I was being rushed to the operating room.

My mother describes the hallway on that L&D floor as coming to life -- nurses running up and down yelling that the triplets were coming. Everyone seemed to have a role, she says.

It has been 20 years. TWENTY years. If you asked, I could tell you exactly how that operating room felt and how many people were there. I could tell you that Benjamin was delivered first and at a whopping 2 pounds and 15 ounces cried for me before being whisked away by his medical team. I could tell you that Mason arrived on the scene a minute and a half later and weighed 2 pounds and 4 ounces. Even so small, he too cried and let me know he COULD before being whisked away. I can tell you exactly how I felt when Dr. Hibbard leaned over the drape to warn me that I might have three boys since we had all thought Mason was going to be a girl. I assured her there HAD to be a girl in there and she should definitely keep looking. My sweet Claire-bear -- all 2 pounds and 9 ounces --  was hiding (she of course KNEW it was too early to be born) but still cried for me before her team took her to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

 It has been twenty years. And still I can describe how cold I was in the recovery room and how grateful I was when the nurse took down a Polaroid camera and sent Wade to get pictures for me to SEE our three. 

It has been twenty years, and I still remember the overwhelming thankfulness of being Mommy to the tiniest little humans I had ever met.

Today, we celebrated this trio a day early. Because they are busy in college tomorrow -- their actual birthday -- pursuing their dreams and making the most of the lives that God granted them!

 It has been twenty years of birthdays and I promise I am just as grateful for THIS one, as I was for the BIRTH day in 1997. 

Oh Benjamin, Mason, and Claire (birth order, always birth order), I thank God for twenty years of being your Mama. You -- and your baby sister -- are the brightest stars in my universe and the biggest blessings of my life. Happy Birthday, my trio. I love you so.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Monday, April 10, 2017

Brothers and sisters.

Apparently, today is National Sibling Day. Siblings.

My babies don't know a world without siblings. Benjamin jokes that the minute and a half before Mason was born was the best time of his life. And we all laugh. But I will tell you that these three have had their own way of communicating, of finishing each other's sentences, and of defending each other since the moment they were born.

It is really so much fun to watch. 

But why would we stop there? We decided when the triplets were eight that maybe another sibling would mix things up a bit.

And Cate has done just that. She has given us a different focal point. She has taught us that it's ok to try the unexpected. She has shown us that even the baby can take up for her big kids.

She has evened our boy to girl ratio -- bringing balance to our force!

She has taught us how to try new things -- from fishing to softball. 

The truth is, my girls have carried a super-sized load of sibling-hood. They have walked with their brothers through dark valleys and cheered them through incredible victories. Gratefully, that hasn't been a one-sided street -- they boys are the loudest cheerleaders for their sisters. I am just so grateful.

So as we zoom to the 20th birthday of my original three -- I am thanking God for these siblings.

I am thanking Him for the relationship they have always enjoyed and praying for their relationship as they continue to grow and pursue their own dreams.

Happy Sibling Day 2017!

Carol - The Blessings Counter