Seventeen

Bea turned seventeen months over the weekend.

View More: http://kimmyhowardphotography.pass.us/miley View More: http://kimmyhowardphotography.pass.us/miley

We hardly noticed this milestone but it did give me a brief moment’s pause on Sunday.  Seventeen months. More toddler than baby.  More sister than doll.

With each passing month, I am enjoying the little glimpses of human we are gaining from our Bea.  While still a few months from talking, she communicates very well….nodding “yes” or “no” to our questions (the answer to “do you want more?” is always yes), grunting her way through her desires and needs, and taking it upon herself to get where she wants to be when she wants to be (like on top of the kitchen table).

One thing I’ve come to learn about Bea is how much of an exuberant lover she is.  She doesn’t just hug us, she drapes her body weight against ours, pressing her cheek as deeply into our neck as possible, rocking her body to cover more surface area.  She doesn’t just give kisses, she gives cold, wet, open-mouth saliva kisses, so sticky you have to wipe them off. She is a lover, that Bea.

View More: http://kimmyhowardphotography.pass.us/miley View More: http://kimmyhowardphotography.pass.us/miley

(all pics from Kimmy Howard Photography)

This month we’ve seen a small but important change in her play.  She can now sit and focus for little periods at a time.  It may cost us all of the books pulled off the shelf to sit and look at one, or all of our kitchen spoons placed in a bag to be taken out and put back in over and over, but those small periods of engagement are heavenly.

With each passing day, the girls play together a little more, communicate a little bit better, and find new ways to love each other (mostly through food).  There is a tight bond forming that we have prayed about for a long time.  I can only imagine what the future holds for these dear sisters.

View More: http://kimmyhowardphotography.pass.us/miley

Seventeen months in and we’re starting to hit a beautiful rhythm.  I no longer ache for Bea’s baby days but look forward to all that is to come with my wild, adventurous one.

-smk

Guest Post: The Story of Kade

Today I am sharing the words of a new friend, Shannon.  I met her through MOPS shortly after we moved here last year.  We were having a Mom’s Night out, eating at Panera, and doing some shopping when she told me she was pregnant.  I knew she already had two little girls and I was very excited to hear there was a third one coming (although at the time it was a secret that it was a going to be a boy).

I will let Shannon tell you the rest of the story in her own words but I will warn you that Baby Kade only lived for a short time on earth.  His story, however, is very powerful and very important.  Shannon bravely shared her story with us at MOPS and it touched us all, and especially me, very deeply.  I asked her to share her story here because of the power of her words and the message behind them….where does your hope lie?

*******************************************************************

The following is the story of my baby boy, Kade Robert William’s, birth and death. As you read this, maybe you know someone who has experienced the death of an infant or child, or perhaps you’ve gone through this painful experience yourself. Although my story is unique to me, I know that it unfortunately happens to too many families. If you do know someone who has suffered this dreadful loss, please take time today to just reach out to them, even if it’s just a quick text, to let them know their loved one is not forgotten.
I was surprised when I found out last November that I was pregnant. After 15 years of marriage, I thought that my baby-bearing days were over. I’d even just started selling some of our baby items to clear up some much-needed storage space. It took me a couple of days to process the idea, but then I quickly became excited about this third child we would be adding to our family.
Although I was considered high-risk due to my age and history of infertility and pregnancy problems, everything seemed to be going well with this pregnancy. Every ultrasound showed a normal, seemingly healthy baby boy. An ultrasound when I was 29 weeks showed that there was a little extra amniotic fluid than normal, but no one seemed worried about it. We know now that it was because he wasn’t able to swallow properly. Another ultrasound three weeks later showed even more fluid, so my doctor sent me down to Indy for a 4D ultrasound with a specialist. Although the fluid was still high, he too agreed that my baby looked perfect. Everything was growing as it should, including his brain.

DSC_7760
I returned to my doctor the next week on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, where he hooked me up to a fetal monitor. The test strip showed a strong heartbeat, but no accelerations and decelerations, indicating possible fetal distress and neurological problems. He immediately sent me to the local hospital for another ultrasound and more monitoring. After more tests showed the same results, he decided that he wanted to deliver my baby boy that day. However, since my doctor suspected he would need to be in the NICU and may need very specialized care, we decided to have us flown down to Indy for delivery so that we’d have access to a Level 4 NICU, if needed, and it certainly did end up being needed.

DSC_7757
Since the children’s hospital was full, I was flown by helicopter (sounds a lot more fun than it was!) to another excellent hospital in Indianapolis. The doctors there repeated the same tests as my doctor, but didn’t feel the urgency that he did. Over the next two weeks I was pretty much confined to the hospital bed hooked to monitors. I would talk and sing to my precious boy, grateful to have a couple of weeks with just him before I was going to be taking care of three children at home. Two of my favorite songs to listen to while bed-ridden were Oceans by Hillsong United and 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. I remember crying as I listened to the lyrics of Oceans.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I truly meant these words as I sang them. Little did I know just how deep into the ocean of trust I would be called over the next few weeks. Every step of the way, though, I was never alone.

The Lord blessed me with the most amazing doctors and nurses who genuinely cared for my baby and me. I saw on their faces the struggles as they made decisions, wanting the best for us both. They would do daily ultrasounds looking for practice breaths, but never saw any, another sign something was wrong. We were all worried and knew he’d probably have some health issues, but no one expected what we would discover after he was born. He was very active, almost constantly moving, so much so that one of the nurses and I jokingly and ironically named him “Baby Chyll”. But then on the morning of Tuesday, June 17th, he was very still. I was 35 weeks at that point, and the doctors decided it was time to meet him.

Kade09

They wheeled me into the operating room. It happened so quickly, that my husband, Brian, didn’t make it in time to see our son’s birth. He was still back at our house with our 2 little girls, almost an hour and a half away. One of the doctors that I’d grown close to over the last couple of weeks asked me if I’d like to hear some music. After I replied “contemporary Christian”, she found a station on her smartphone. The first song to start playing? 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

The first melodious notes were like a salve to my fragile nerves. It was as if God Himself was there in the room with me reminding me that I am never alone. At 10:46 a.m., my son was delivered into this world. I remember not hearing him cry at all, but everyone seemed so upbeat that I didn’t think much about it. Despite all the test results, because he’d been so active, I wasn’t concerned. They cleaned and wrapped him up and showed him to me for about two full seconds before whisking him away to the NICU. He looked perfect and even made a soft little whimper.

IMG_3703_2
What I didn’t know at the time was that he’d started having seizures about two minutes after birth, so they game him medication. Brian finally arrived a little while after the nurse had wheeled me to the recovery room. I remember asking the nurse how my boy was doing, if there were any red flags. Although she gave me a quick shake of her head to assure me he was fine, this usually friendly woman who’d spent the last few days taking care of me, couldn’t quite look me in the eyes. A few minutes later, an EMT came in the room to explain to us that our son had been having seizures and to let us know they were moving him to the children’s hospital NICU just a couple miles down the road. At this point, I still wasn’t overly worried. I’d dealt with seizures with my oldest daughter, Aubrey, already, so I thought that maybe I’d just have another child with epilepsy. They brought him into the small room in an incubator. I could barely reach him, but was able to hold his tiny hand for five minutes before they transported him down the road. It was there in the recovery room that we decided to name our son Kade Robert William Dewar (after our grandfathers).

Kade36

Still unaware of the direness of his health, I chose that evening to rest in my hospital bed while Brian went to see Kade. I knew they’d be running tests on him, so I wouldn’t be able to hold him. I thought I’d have plenty of time to do that later after the meds from my surgery wore off.

The next morning, Brian and I went to the children’s hospital to see our son. It was shocking to see him hooked up to so many machines. He seemed to be sleeping soundly. Kade was big for being 5 weeks early, I thought, 5lb 5oz and 19 inches long. Shortly after we were there, about a half dozen doctors and nurses stepped into our room and closed the door. We knew it wasn’t going to be good, but I never would’ve guessed what they were about to tell us. They proceeded to say that the MRI showed Kade’s brain had stopped growing around 33 weeks. At first I thought that they just meant he’d be behind a little developmentally or mentally for a while until his brain could catch up. Then they explained that it had stopped growing and started dying. The cells were not growing anymore and he was losing more each day. I finally mustered up the courage to ask what his chances of survival were. I’ll never forget the pain and sympathy on the doctor’s face as she replied, “Not very good. I’m so sorry.”
It seemed so surreal, and it took me days to actually accept what they were saying.

My only son was not going to live.

Still the doctors agreed with us to give Kade every chance we could. I knew he was in the hands of a God who could save him if He so chose. The doctors experimented with weaning him from the seizure medicine then adding a different one. I will eternally be so grateful to each nurse and doctor that cared for Kade so lovingly.

Over the weekend it finally hit me that my son was most likely not going to make it, though I still wasn’t ready to give up. We made the most of the short time we had left with our son. I gave him his first and only bath. I dressed him in a soft pair of blue newborn jammies, jammies that I keep near my bed and that still smell like him. We brought Aubrey and Avery in to meet their brother for the first and only time this side of Heaven. We got lots of hand and footprints and even molds. On Monday evening, one of the pastors from our church came down to have a baby dedication for Kade, while his wife took the most beautiful pictures.

kadeaves

On Monday afternoon, we met one last time with his doctors. Another MRI showed that his brain had started bleeding, he was having both the visible and non-visible seizures and he was getting sicker by the day. I could see it. Over the weekend, he had some muscle reflexes when the nurses would pick him up. By Monday morning, he was so limp, his arms just dangling when he was picked up.

On Tuesday morning, June 24th, I woke up knowing it was the day we’d be saying goodbye to our son. We spent every second with him that day, and I spent the afternoon just snuggling him close to me, skin-to-skin. When the nurses needed him back in his bed briefly, they carefully lifted him from my arms. As they did, I noticed two perfect little imprints of his feet on my bare belly. It was as if they’d been engraved into my skin. I had Brian take a picture so I’d never forget.

The whole day I’d been praying, begging God not to make me make this choice, to have to decide when to remove his breathing tubes. How is a mother ever supposed to choose when to give up on her child? It was so unfair! I prayed that God would let me know when His timing was right. I knew God had ordained the days and even seconds of Kade’s life before time even began. Realizing that gave me the strength I needed.

DSC_7757

We had chosen to have a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer come to capture the last hours of Kade’s brief life on earth. It has been such a blessing to have those photos of our cherished son. After Jason finished the photos and quietly left, Brian was snuggling with Kade in a big blue chair. I was sitting next to them in a separate chair. I knew that I’d never really be ready to remove his tubes, but I leaned over anyway and whispered to Brian, asking if he was ready. His response was truly heaven-sent.

“I’m not ready, but he is. Kade is ready.”

His words gave me the peace and knowing I’d been begging God for. At 6:30 p.m. on June 24th, we removed Kade’s breathing tubes. Although they warned us what it would be like, I wasn’t prepared. As he struggled to breathe, I started to scream, “I’m so sorry, Kade! I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you!”
I felt so helpless! I wanted to run and get the nurses and beg them to put the tubes back in, tell them I’d made a huge mistake!

Pictures 005_2

Brian’s gentle words reminding me that Kade needed me helped me calm down so I could sing to my son and whisper words of comfort. At one point, Brian asked me to hold Kade because he needed to get up and walk around the room. As he handed him to me, I immediately felt at peace. For a good part of an hour and a half, as Kade fought to hold on, I rocked and snuggled him. The doctors had turned off all the monitors in his room before removing the tubes so we didn’t have to see or hear his heartbeat slowing. I didn’t need the monitors or the doctors to come back in the room to know when he’d drawn his final breath. I just knew. I looked at the clock and it was exactly 8:00 p.m, the time God had chosen. I kissed my son goodbye and later watched as they placed him in a beautiful little paper casket, placed the lid on top and tied it with a dark green satin ribbon. He was gone… but not really.

The Hands that are holding him right now are holding me, too. Kade and I will always have that connection. And one day, I WILL hold him again and never have to say goodbye! The time I have ahead of me to spend with him in eternity in the presence of our awesome and faithful Creator is far greater than this short amount of time I have to live without him now.

I still struggle with the grief and sorrow every day, but even among that grief, there is Joy! I’m learning surrender, full and absolute surrender. I’m learning that my hope can only be in Christ. Everything else is temporary. If I place my hope in having another healthy baby, as wonderful as that would be, and maybe God will allow me to have that, it cannot be where my hope lies. If it is, I’ll be disappointed. I’d love another baby just as much as Kade, but he could never be replaced. He is unique and as much my child as my others. If my hope is in Christ alone, that can never be taken away, no matter what trials may come.

I challenge you to ask yourself today, honestly, where is your hope? Is it in the temporary: a new baby, a new job, the perfect house, the perfect weight, the perfect husband?

In his book, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times, Henri Nouwen says,

“Hope born of faith becomes matured and purified through difficulty.”

If your hope is honestly in the Eternal, in Christ alone, you will be able to survive when your own difficulties and trials strike. It won’t be easy, and the tears and sorrow will come, but so will the Joy!

Thank you for allowing me to share Kade’s brief but precious life with you.

-Shannon

******************************************************************

A link to the video tribute they made for Kade’s memorial service.

 

In honor of all the precious lives lost and remembered worldwide on October 15.

-smk

Daily Rhythms: A Guest Post/London Calling

I’ve been writing a series called Daily Rhythms.  You can catch up here.

A few weeks ago, I chronicled an entire day in the life of Sweet Mama K.  Today, I am happy to share with you a slice of life from all the way across the world.

1

Kacey (you may remember her as the founder and chief editor of inspowoman) lives in London, England with her family of 5 and I was so happy when she decided to share with us what a typical day looks like for them.  I think you will find her life, with all its similarities and differences to ours, so interesting.   There are two things I especially enjoy about this narrative : 1) the names of their English friends (okay, alright, I am a self-admitted baby name enthusiast…I guess this even translates to other countries).  and 2) Her pictures.  The one of her eldest in the eye exam chair looks like something straight out of a turn of the century movie.  So dreamy. Enjoy.

****************************************************************

The day starts at 5:30 am when my alarm goes off. But let’s be honest, I’m incoherent thru snoozes until closer to 6. I make my way down from the 3rd floor master suite in our London flat, stopping on the 2nd floor where my daughters (5, 3) and my son (2) are sleeping soundly in their respective girls and boy rooms. Slowly (& ridiculously quietly) I push the girls’ door open and hang a scarf on the inside doorknob- their signal that they can come join me downstairs once they wake up. Down another flight of stairs to the main living room, down another flight of stairs to our “basement” dining room/kitchen. I grab my cozy corner of our little couch and pull out the current bible study I am working thru with an incredible group of women that I’ve met over the last year and a half.

A few pages in and I am joined by my eldest daughter. Who promptly curls up next to me on the couch and begins flipping thru her own book, knowing that this is sacred quiet time. By 6:45, the littlest guy begins stirring and I begin the climb again to get him out of his crib before he climbs out on his own. (a skill he has mastered during play time but thankfully has yet to do during bed/nap time….) my middle daughter joins us and we head down for breakfast. Today? We had Natural Greek Yoghurt and Gail’s granola. As well as strawberry banana puree smoothies for the kids. We finish up together and head upstairs to get dressed for the day, I make sure this is by 7:45 to keep us on track.
2
The girls dress themselves and I dress my son and the 3 of them play in their rooms together while I get myself ready. On this particular morning, they are playing quite nicely. My husband joins each of us for awhile before he goes- he’s headed to Germany for the night. Kisses good-bye and big “I’ll miss you!s” and he’s out the door. The kids and I end up down in the main living room and pick out shoes and jackets for the day and pack 3 bananas in 3 mini backpacks for the communal fruit bowls at school. We prepare for our commute- which means, the little guy is strapped into the seat of the stroller, my middle daughter stands on a board on the back of the stroller, and my eldest daughter straps on her helmet to scoot. All armed with muffins for the long trek. It’s 8:45 am.
We walk 1 mile along the Kings Road, a very busy and very popular shopping road in Chelsea. We left in enough time this day to stop at the fire station and stare at the fire trucks and wave at the firemen for a few minutes and to pack a lunch for a homeless neighbor that we surely will bump into along the way. Thankfully, it is beautiful day so our commute is greeted with sunshine and comfortable temperatures.

3

Once we arrive at school, the children are each in charge of their backpacks and we travel down the flight of concrete steps outside leading to school. I fold up the stroller and carry that and my purse and barely hold my son’s hand. I am sweating like it’s my job. I run up and grab the scooter and we finally make it in the front door. We shake the teacher’s hand as a greeting and the girls go into their classroom while I take my son to his. It is his FIRST day staying at school today and we are a mix of unsure, excited, ready and not ready. He has been doing this drop-off with the girls for a year and a half, so naturally he thinks he owns the place and walks in in such a way. Upon my departure, I have 3 very happy children ready to do a half-day of school and I leave, thanking the Lord for the way He has provided for us with our move from the US to the UK- providing an intimate school that has been such a blessing to our family.
45
I have nothing in my hands and no stroller to push. Um, the first time in 5 years, really… And it is an odd and invigorating feeling. I’m really excited for the season of life where I get to run them around from hobby to hobby, help them channel their passions and strengths and talk thru things. I’ve loved babies, but I find myself eager for this next season. Anyways, I set off on a run (all by myself) and I get a quick 4 miles in at Battersea Park before heading back to the house to shower (all by myself) and prepare lunch for the kids (all by myself) and walk back to school to pick them up (all by myself…). All by myself? Yeah, for the first time in 5 years.

After repeating the commute steps in reverse- schlepping the stroller and scooter back up the steps, gathering the children, strapping 1 in, standing 1 up, and preparing the last to scoot; we head home. They are too hungry to make it home before they break into their egg & mayo sandwiches, ice waters, and dried mango. We eat & chat while we walk our mile back to the house with many complaints of hot/cold, tired and needing the toilet along the way and many funny stories about how Miss Anita forgot her crackers so she had to run to the store before lunch so she would have something to eat. Can you imagine?! Home at last, I scoop up my big school boy and bring him right to his crib for a nap. Us girls play in the main living room for a bit before the world’s best nanny arrives in our door. Another one of God’s incredible blessings to our whole family. I grab my laptop to get an hour’s worth of work in for Inspo- the website that I edit. I settle in at Café Nero and my fingers get to moving as quickly as possible for the hour that’s mine.

After that, I boogie back to the house (2:30 pm) and grab my eldest daughter for an eye exam and ballet. An eye exam for a 5 year old is kind of hilarious- can you read those letters? No. Now can you? Yes. Which was better? The first one. Um, but you couldn’t read them with the first one… Yes. Once we are done and we establish that she could probably benefit from reading glasses, but would she actually wear them? We head off to ballet at Chelsea Ballet School. It’s about a mile in the other direction of school. So my big girl scoots and this time I pull her most of the way. This is one of my favorite times with my girl because it’s just us and she really gets to chatting when she’s in the middle of things. Like scooting. We talk about schools and new schools and friends and missing friends. We talk about who would win in a race between a bike and a scooter. We talk about what we will have for dinner and what she likes about ballet and whether or not her sister would like the Bounce ball that she is snacking on. She tells me about visiting her brother in his classroom at school because she wanted to check on him (which she asked to do about 30 times in the 3 hours that they were there..) and I marvel at her big and kind heart and remember that this will be her “proud moment” on the day.

6

We make it to ballet and see our good, good friends, Slavyana and Vasilisa. The girls run into class together in their matching uniforms- hyacinth blue leotards, white skirt, white tights/sock, pink shoes, hair in buns- and Slavyana and I sit on the concrete steps outside and have 40 minutes to just chat. They are newer friends who moved to London recently from the Ukraine by means of Los Angeles- London. We talk about schools and a project she is working on. She seems to accept my invitation to join our Alpha group this term and once again I’m humbled to our Father for the way He works. We gather the girls and scoot together for awhile on the walk back home.

7

Once home, our nanny leaves and it is time for the triple threat- dinner/bath/bed. My wild child (middle daughter..) decides she’d rather bathe first and before I know it, she is naked and climbing in the tub. I decide this is not a battle we need and declare bath/dinner/bed instead. All 3 kids in 1 little tub and I spray them with the removable showerhead like an assembly line. “Heads back, eyes closed!” “No, mommy, no!!” And just like that they’re clean… While they splash and spray each other with squirt guns, I run down the 2 flights of stairs and pound some chicken to throw in the oven and boil some water on the stovetop for pasta. Somehow we all end up downstairs and we brush hair and put on pajamas and “help” add the pasta to the boiling water. Once it’s all ready, we sit at the table to eat. Dinner can be hit or miss with a 2, 3, and 5 year old but tonight seems to be well-received. They all actually sit in their seats and we consume our food together, wrapping up the day. It’s about 6:30 at this point. Ahhh…. We clear our spots and the kids play while I clean up the dishes. We live in quite a small space, so rooms are very multi-purpose. The dining room/kitchen/quiet time space also serves as another playroom- with doll houses, pretend food, and lots of books. As well as our arts & crafts room, laundry prep room, ironing room. Oh yeah, and a treadmill,-exercise room. Naturally.

Finally, we are ready to head up to bed. Teeth are brushed, hands and faces are washed with pink soap and more stairs are climbed. My son goes down right then, at 7:15 and the girls crawl into their beds for a bible story. We read thru the Jesus Storybook Bible on the iPad each night, a great habit that started about a year ago when we did it for Advent before Christmas. It usually seems like they aren’t listening until they ask ridiculously intelligent or involved questions. I bend over each girl and share a moment that I was proud of them during the day, kiss their heads about 100 times and get 1 more snuggle. I close their door and head back downstairs. A bit more tidying up and I finally sit down. Tonight? They don’t call me upstairs for at all- which is not the norm. So I enjoy sitting all the more.

I fold laundry and watch Ted Talks. And then head up to bed and crawl in with a murder book that I’ve been enjoying. I reflect on the day: 3 healthy children, a good connection with my traveling husband, overall joy thru some of the current challenges of life right now, 9.4 miles on foot, and topped off with a phone call to my mom and a good night call from my lover. It is 11 and I drift off to sleep…

*************************************************************

-smk

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers