Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lessons in Parenting

Little M and Uncle Forrest
When I was newly married, we lived near one of my older sisters. She was the first of us to have any kids, and at the time that this story takes place she had a two-year-old daughter and a newborn little girl. She would come into town to do some shopping and if I wasn't in class or at track practice, I would tag along and play with the girls while she shopped. On one of these occasions, we were driving from one place to another. My sister was driving, I was in the passenger seat and the girls were, of course, in the back. Sweet little M, the two-year-old, was really upset about something and she was crying and kicking and screaming and crying. My sister asked her several times to relax, to which M finally got so exasperated that she threw her sippy cup in the direction of her mom. My sister immediately pulled the car over to the side of the road, opened her door, and marched around to the other side to talk to her daughter. I looked back at little M who's face was covered in tears. She looked absolutely terrified. I whispered to her "Uh oh, you're really in trouble now!" As my sister opened the door to talk to her tantrum-throwing, sobbing child, I fully expected her to get a swat on the bottom and a good talking to. But what my sister said and did that day is something I will never, ever forget. She climbed into the back seat next to her daughter, put her arms around her and gently said, "Little M, I love you so much. Will you please tell me what is wrong?" I don't remember what exactly it was that was upsetting M. Something small and silly to us, probably, but I do remember that after her mom acknowledged her and tried to resolve what was bothering her, there was far less crying and tantrum throwing for the remainder of the drive.

Now, 6 years later, I find myself in a position similar to my sister's all too often. Whether we are in the car, at home, or visiting some friends, it seems like somebody is always crying or upset about something. Though I'm not always successful, I try to repress my feelings of frustration and show instead my love and concern for my children as I try to help them overcome the challenge (however small and silly it may be) that they are facing.

I am so grateful for my sister and the example that she showed me that day. I hope that one day I can be half the mom that she is!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bandaids and Blessings

My little lady has been such a trooper the last two weeks. She is so brave. Her most recent surgery went very well (I actually feel strange calling it a surgery since it's only a pinky finger, but that's what the surgeon and hospital call it so we'll go with that) and she still has a pinky, fully formed. There was some concern that the fingernail wouldn't ever grow back because there was some significant damage done to the nail bed. The surgeon worked some magic though, and was able to reform it all quite successfully. We are so grateful and our prayers have been answered. 
After surgery Caroline came home with instructions to keep her left hand completely dry and if it got wet at all the "bandaid" as she calls it needed to be replaced. We did great at keeping it dry for the first little while. But trying to keep a rambunctious two year old out of water is really hard, particularly when you go on a beautiful family hike that ends at a waterfall and all her cousins are playing
in it. She "fell" in not three minutes after we arrived and soaked her bandaid through. Changing the bandage that night was a nightmare. She was overtired, in an unfamiliar environment, and probably in a little bit of pain. As I changed the bandage I tried my best to avoid looking at her finger. I get woozy that way. It was traumatic for everyone involved. 
Only a few days after that traumatic event, the new bandage fell off in the car. Apparently in my hurry to finish the awful affair I hadn't put it on very well. Care bear was in the car holding the bandage on her finger and crying "no touch!" "No touch a bandaid!" I was heartbroken as we had to explain that we had to again replace the bandage on her sore little finger. But we did it. This time Forrest sat on top of her and held her hand flat for me. And she miraculously did great. She whimpered and cried a little, but it was nothing like it had been the day before. And this time, I actually braved a good look at it. And I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't black. It was pink, all in one piece, and somewhat normal looking. Not covered in blood, not crooked. Just bruised with a funny looking finger nail. It was such a relief to see that.
That was last night. And then today during bath time, the silly girl bit a whole in the bag that I'd taped over her bandaid and it filled with water. She knew right away that we'd have to replace it again, and though I could tell she didn't want me to, she laid down and put her hand out and let me do it, all the while saying "a brave a finger." She didn't make a sound other than telling us how brave she was being. Again I got a good look at her finger, and so did she. I left the bandage off for a minute to dry and she practiced bending and straightening her finger and even dared to touch it. She didn't flinch when I touched it, and she hadn't even had any pain medicine all day. It was wonderful and left me feeling so much better about things. I know she has a long way to go until she's back to normal, but things are improving steadily and we are so grateful! 
As for the blessings, they are two-fold. First, we had a wonderful weekend visiting my sister and her sweet new baby girl as she was given a name and a blessing. It was so refreshing, exciting and relaxing to spend a weekend away from the world and visiting with family. We hiked, talked, visited and ate. It was the perfect weekend. And second, we have been so blessed and overwhelmed by the love and kindness that has been shown to our sweet little Care Bear over the last two weeks. Friends, family and complete strangers have sent gifts, cards, prayers, treats and love. We feel so blessed and so thankful. Thank you, all of you, for your kindness toward our family. We love you! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Operation: Save the Pinky

Yesterday started out like any other Wednesday. The kids woke up earlier than I would like, and we took our time eating breakfast and getting dressed and ready for the day. At 10 we went to the church for a toddler music class that the kids just love. We were about 10 minutes late, per the norm. Charlie and Caroline sang their little hearts out. They did the actions and had a grand time. At the end of the class we were all playing around and talking. Juliet was sitting at my feet and the twins were over playing behind the piano. And then they weren't. So I walked out the door to find them, and I heard her. Poor little Caroline was screaming at the top of her lungs. I wasn't too alarmed because that happens 10 times a day around our house, so I found her with some other kids in one of the rooms. And I saw that her poor little hand was stuck in the door. It must have been slammed shut on her. My heart broke (I thought) and I ran over and opened the door, expecting to see an angry and bruised purple finger. But I didn't. I saw gushes of blood. I saw the end of her little finger barely hanging on to the rest of her hand by some skin. Just writing about it is making me sick all over again.

I panicked. I froze. I couldn't even pick her up. Thankfully another superhero of a mom was in there and quickly rushed Care into the bathroom and wrapped her finger in paper towels. There was blood all over the floor. In my delirium I didn't even know what to do, so I started wiping the blood off the floor. That mom had the good sense to clue me in that we needed to get Caroline to a doctor right away. We grabbed the other kids and rushed to the car. It's a good think the finger was covered up because I couldn't have stomached looking at it again. Once again, in my delirium, I thought it would be a good idea to take her to Urgent Care. They took one look and sent us to the nearest ER.

The same awesome friend who had helped Caroline at the church and driven us to the hospital took Juliet and Charlie home with her. Did I mention she's 9 months pregnant and has a 2 year old son, too? Rockstar friend right there. Forrest met us (me and Caroline, and my sister and nephew) at the ER. By the time we got in and saw a doctor, it had been about 45 minutes. All the while we were in the car and at the Urgent Care, Caroline was shaking and sobbing. "A sting!" "A finger, a door, a ouchie!" and I was trying to keep it together. Once we got to the ER though the immediate shock must have worn off and she was just somber. No tears. No shaking. Just being little and brave. When the doctor examined her finger, he immediately started discussing the likelihood of amputation. That shook me a little. I hadn't even considered the possibility that she would lose part of her finger. They finally got her some pain killer, did some x-rays, and then moved us to a room where they would attempt to reattach the end of her tiny little pinky finger.

When they started the surgery I had to step out. My mom was there with me and she walked the halls with me while we waited. They had given Caroline some anesthetic but she was still pretty awake and when they started hooking her up to machines she was crying "mommy! Mommy!" I couldn't handle it. Forrest stayed by her side the entire time as they stitched her back together. As I waited I had to keep reminding myself that it is just a finger. Even if she loses it, it's just a finger. But the thought of my baby girl being in so much pain just wrenched my heart out.

Once they finished, the doctor said it had come back together well and he was hopeful that she might be able to keep her finger. He gave it a 50% chance of success. We go next week to see a hand surgeon (who knew there was such a thing?!) and he should be able to tell us whether or not it will need to be amputated. My sweet little Care Bear was such a trooper through all of it, and she still is. As she was waking up from the anesthesia, I got to just sit on the hospital bed and hold her in my arms. Despite the trauma of the day, sitting there and holding my sweet sleeping little girl was a beautiful moment filled with peace.

When she woke up this morning she looked at the cast on her hand and said "A finger, a door, a ouchie" again. Besides the constant pain killers and antibiotics, though, she's been completely normal (albeit a little bit sad that she can't carry anything in her left hand for the time being). So now we just wait. Wait and pray that her tiny little pinky finger will heal and not cause her any lasting pain. If ever there was a time to just sit and watch movies all day, this is it.

In times like these I am always blown away and extremely humbled by the amount of love that others show to us. Friends and family that come to visit, bring meals and gifts to the hospital and to our home, take care of the other kids for us and offer countless prayers in our little Caroline's behalf. I'm so grateful. She is one loved little girl!