Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Day After CP Awareness Day....

Yesterday was Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. I thought about it all day as I often do. I knew I should blog but honestly, it was a day where I didn't feel like celebrating Cerebral Palsy.

If you have been here for a minute or more, you know that I think my four kiddos are pretty stinking amazing. And CP does not stop my boys from grabbing life and running with it -- except you know, Benjamin ROLLS with it. And yes, if you ask them, they know that while CP does not define them, it has probably made them the men they are -- and I adore the men they are.

But sometimes, I want to post Facebook pictures like my friends do. Sometimes, I want them to have the sports photos. Or the prom pictures. And yesterday, I just wanted Benjamin to be able to embrace college life with the same fervor that Claire and Mason can.

So as my news feed blew up on Facebook declaring the DAY. And all I wanted was to pound my fists and scream that the thing I am aware of most this week is that I want my super amazing, obstacle-overcoming young men to NOT have Cerebral Palsy.

Because in spite of all they overcome, there are still very real challenges. Typing papers is hard for Benjamin. Living in the dorm will be a challenge for Benjamin. Navigating campus will require a lot of effort for my Benjamin.

And that is just the stuff that I can type about. There will be so much more.

And my talented, driven son knows this. He knows it. And it is weighing on him. I can see it. The strain is palpable. He is worried. His attitude towards everything is affected. And I can not fix it. I can assure him that we will put everything in place for him to be successful. I can assure him that we can arrange for  him to live on campus and put the necessary assistance in place to do that. But it is frightening for him to think about -- it is frightening for ME to think about. And it is just not as simple as choosing a school and packing your bags. AND I WANT IT TO BE THAT SIMPLE.

Furthermore, Mason continues on the quest to get to the root of this awful pain he is living with. We are waiting on tests, wasting time on hold with scheduling departments, and feeling frantic that we need answers and solutions and a plan in place before August!

So Cerebral Palsy Awareness day happened and I guess what I want to say is that CP -- the most common motor disability in children --  is hard. It is hard when you hear the diagnosis. It is hard when you take your itty-bitties to multiple therapies a week and micro-analyze every single movement in hopes that it is a milestone breakthrough. And even after you think you KNOW how CP affects your child, it is STILL hard as you attempt to navigate the academic, medical, emotional and social waters as your child grows. It is hard.

And though my glass is always is not filled with false sunshine proclaiming all is right with the world, when in fact, all is not right. So when you see these beautiful smiling faces on my four, know that they are overcoming every minute of every day. And know that like them, the more than 800,000 Americans affected by CP are overcoming every single day. (And just so you know, that is about 1,600,000 American parents knocking down obstacles and working to make their corner of the world a bit more accessible!)

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A drum roll and a kleenex please.

The room was spinning as the doctor walked out. He had just looked at Wade and I, holding two amazing one-year-old boys and said, "Of course your boys have Cerebral Palsy. What did you think I would say to you today?"

As we regained our equilibrium -- sitting together in that little exam room with our beautiful boys --  we knew one thing: Benjamin and Mason were exactly the same in that moment after the diagnosis as they had been before the diagnosis. They were exactly the same amazing, extraordinary gifts from God and we were grateful for their lives!

And as we drove home from the hospital, I felt absolutely certain of one more thing, my job had not changed. My job the moment Benjamin, Mason and Claire were born became to lead them, guide them and cheer them to the potential God had planned for them. Cerebral Palsy would not stop that. No, CP has forced me to add obstacle-knocking-down to my duties, but primarily, I am and will forever be the biggest fan of these three amazing young adults. 

Today, my trio announced their plans for college. I am delighted to share their little announcement with you. God has orchestrated everything from the day they were born -- the college decision is no different. They will be within 20 miles of each other. Wade will be able to see both the boys' college campuses from his new hospital! And sweet Claire is just a few miles down the road.

Now, I will say that you'll notice not one is wearing our beloved maroon -- not one is headed to Mississippi State. But rest assured, they remain bulldogs at heart, they can ring a cow bell and scream hail state with the best of them. But for my three, smaller campuses and some really unique God-given opportunities were the deciding factor. I am so excited that my front-row seat in their cheering section is secure!!


Carol - The Blessings Counter

Friday, March 20, 2015

Skip Skip, Skip to My Lou...

I loved to skip as a child. Very few modes of ambulation felt as joy-filled as skipping.

I remember skipping out of Joyner Elementary school with my best friend Neece's hand firmly in my grasp. There was no greater joy at 7-years-old than a Friday night sleepover with your bestie (though I'm not sure we used that word in 1970-something.).

I remember my cousins and I skipping to the neighborhood pool every summer afternoon at 2 o'clock on the dot. With a dollar in our little grips -- 50 cents for admission and 50 cents for snacks -- we were absolutely gleeful about the afternoon ahead.

Oh dear ones, my heart has felt like skipping all month. First, I became an aunt for the second time on March 5th. Olivia's birth was such a joy-filled moment that I honestly wanted to skip down the halls of the hospital every time we went to visit her. 

On Monday, I became an aunt for the third time when a precious little boy was placed in the arms of my waiting brother, Talley, and his wife, Sarah! Such joy! (I don't have pictures I can share just yet.)

And oh y'all, this Tuesday, we closed on our Mississippi home in preparation for our upcoming move this summer. As friends stopped by to say hello, as the neighbors all around us popped over to introduce themselves, as my cousin brought the sweetest pillow to christen the house -- you guessed it, I wanted to skip. I wanted to skip right through the neighborhood squealing the whole time. (I didn't. I didn't want to scare those welcoming neighbors to death.) But hear me, the delight was coursing through my veins and I felt that overwhelming feeling of skipping in the sunshine!

One day when we were barely 8, my dear friend and I were skipping out of the school when an older boy stopped us cold. He called us a name that neither of us knew the meaning of but his message was crystal clear: we were odd for the skipping. He squelched our joy that day and made us rethink our behavior every day after.

On occasion, my cousins and I would skip to the swimming pool to find a CLOSED notice on the gate. The pool needed repairs or had a swim meet being held. I still remember the sharp pang of disappointment such a notice would bring to our day.

When joy is brought up short, the hurt is powerful. When a skip turns to a slump -- well, there is pain.

Wednesday brought us that pain.

My dear darling sister-in-law (oh those words don't do it justice...I picked this wonderful woman to be my brother's wife and God has blessed us all with her addition to our family) at two weeks postpartum began experiencing some very frightening symptoms. Her mother rushed to get Olivia and my baby brother Len rushed her to the Emergency Room, no doubt saving her life.

Stephanie has been diagnosed with Postpartum Cardiomyopathy. Her heart is sick and strained from the pressure pregnancy places on a woman's body. She is comforting us all from her hospital bed -- true to her personality -- but our skip has been stunted.

Sweet Olivia misses her Mommy. And though my phone just lit up with the news that Stephanie will be discharged later today, we know the next two months are critical for her body to recover.

With her permission, I am sharing. And with my heart laid bare, I am begging you to join us in prayer for Stephanie's full recovery. We serve a God that cares about all the details and one who encourages us to boldly come before the throne with our requests. I am crying out to Him for my sister, for this young mother who wants to be 100 percent for her beautiful Olivia.

Will you help me restore the skip?

Carol - The Blessings Counter