catching sleep

I used to have a hard time sleeping anywhere besides my bed. Then I became a mother four times over, and I can sleep just about anywhere. I have even had the thought, "If this red light is long enough, I could maybe close my eyes..." I can sleep curled up into a tiny, uncomfortable chair, on a hard floor, I could probably fall asleep under an ocean pier.
Young mothers go around with a quiet desperation; there just isn't enough sleep or food or peace of mind to go around. Its because you are around these small proto-humans all day and all night, asking hundreds of questions that you are compelled to answer. "How can Santa and God see us all the time?" "How do flying squirrels fly?" Or, "I think I just threw up. Can I sleep with you?" Some days I feel like all I do is work in the kitchen, preparing food for these children or cleaning it up, or working on homework or preparing medicine. Its no wonder I catch myself fantasizing about endless rest.
But for now, I'm going to bed, in the hope I can catch some sleep tonight.


Thanksgiving '15

There are so many reasons to love a holiday where naps make an appearance! I love a family cuddle. Don't they look like fairy princesses?



It is scary to read a book by an author who is perfectly willing to kill off characters and let the heroine suffer. I have two chapters left in this book, and I swear if it doesn't have a happy ending, or if I have to read to 700 more pages for satisfaction in a sequel, it's going to ruin my week.


Medical milestones

Eloise just had her 6 month assessment with her occupational therapist, and she did not meet any of the goals we set 6 months ago. They were lofty goals, but did not seem unattainable, like she would orally eat 25% of her nutritional daily intake. Yeah, she is not even close to that one. She might put food in her mouth, and maybe swallow, but she usually gags on it, or the food gets lodged in her pouch and she coughs it out. Her esophagus is pretty lousy. She gets one initial swallow, then she has the big, floppy pouch, and then a whole lot of scar tissue, and then a narrow distill section tied into a Nissen fundoplication. Its a wonder anything gets to her stomach through it.

I work so hard with her every day. I try new ideas, new foods, old favorites, and clean up a lot of messes. Its hard not to become discouraged, especially because doctors and nurses in the NICU would casually say things like, "Don't worry - these babies pick it up quickly. 18-month-old so-and-so just had their G-tube taken out." Maybe babies who did not have a 4 vertebral body gap with their esophageal atresia, or babies whose repair did not dehyst, resulting in a life-threatening infection lasting weeks and weeks, and three chest tubes. Maybe the luckier kids.

I frequently have nightmares of Primary's, where Eloise has died or is still suffering, and I startle awake, panting in a cold sweat. Then I go upstairs and check on her, her Joey pump trickling food into her stomach via her G-tube, and she is still breathing.

I can't help reflecting on the decisions I made for her when she was born. It doesn't help to wonder about the path not taken, but its hard not to when I am responsible for this little child's quality of life. I wonder if I had chosen a spit fistula right after she was born, and a gastric imposition later, if she would be doing better now. If I could have avoided heartbreak, or if she possibly would not have laryngospasms now. I have had to resuscitate her more times than I can remember, and the worst things about those blue spells is that there just isn't much I can do. Her airway is shut tight. The best I can do is try to relax those muscles, and I've come up with lots of way to do it. It requires quick thinking and fast action, but it still makes adrenaline race through my body.

The worst part for me is that I don't feel like God has a plan for me anymore, or if he did, it was derailed somewhere. Because being in the NICU for nearly 8 months, and my child coming so close to death so many times, has changed me forever, and I'm not sure if its for the better. I mean, the experience has made me feel pretty fearless. I'm unfailingly patient and kind, and I'm giving everything to my children. But isn't it one of those promises that if you give yourself up to service, and 'lose' yourself, you're supposed to feel fulfilled?

I don't know. This is just another 6 month milestone for Eloise, and she is improving in other areas. She is speaking and communicating as well as any other 2-year-old, which is cool. She's a smart little girl. Gross and fine motor skills are coming along, but still slow going. Josephine, Amelia and Hazel are growing beautifully, learning so much, and I am seeing the kindness and goodness in their souls shine through everyday.

I needed to acknowledge this milestone and the goals not met, because its time to keep going. Let it go, have more patience, clean up more messes, and remember to love.


Budgies need buddies

Little Dorrit would only eat or drink if I played parakeet chirping sounds on the speakers. She needed a friend, so we picked another bird. Introducing Miss Flora Finching! They cuddled for hours after Flora moved in. It was pretty stinking adorable. I thought birds were more like dogs. Not these two!


Meet Little Dorrit

Its been a horrific and emotionally painful week and a half. I can hardly wrap my mind around the Paris shootings. It is too awful. I've had to limit my time listening to the news because I don't want to scare my kids. I've already been told by a wide-eyed Millie, "Mom! You can NEVER go back there."
Besides that, the new church policy on children living in households with homosexual parents has been impossible for me to understand. Its been a tearful time. So I was in a vulnerable and reckless place when I took all four children to the pet store to buy Samwise some new dog food....and we came home with a yellow-blue-teal parakeet. I can hear you now, "What?! A bird?! Um, don't you hate birds Shelley?" Why, yes, but I can explain how all this came about.

When I worked at the best bookstore in Utah, The King's English, I formed a close and loving friendship with a coworker, Kelly Wells. We became best friends, and I love her. Sometimes we had lengthy arguments about birds. I assured Kelly that birds were nasty, beady-eyed cretins. She refuted with, "No they are not! They are adorable! You have to give them love and attention, and they will love you back. And they are smart." There were several of these lively discussions in the year I worked with her.

When she passed away, I know what she did. She found my future children, and told them: "Okay, when you come to earth and learn to speak, tell your mom your favorite animal is a bird. It will be hilarious." And my girls remembered. Millie's favorite animal has been a blue bird for at least a year. Every time Eloise sees a bird anywhere its "BIRD MAMA BIRD!!!!" The girls were entranced with the cage full of twenty parakeets at the pet store. Josephine especially loved the only bird with tri-colored feathers. I'll be honest, I was entranced too, by her dainty feet and beautiful plumage. So when Millie turned to me and said, "I know you'll say no....but I would really love a bird pet." I said
sure! What the heck! Lets pick out some bird toys. "Really, mom?! AHHHH!"

Extend a warm welcome to our new animal, Little Dorrit. She is awfully sweet, and has finally seemed to relax in her new environment. I think I love her as much as my daughters do, so Kelly won the argument. Bringing a little more love, a little more life, a little more delicacy and nurturing and happy chirping to the world right now feels just right.