Thursday, September 27, 2012

In the Rocking Chair: A Tale of Two Brothers

Playing together
Sitting in the rocking swivel recliner where I spend so much of my time nursing Oliver, Elijah often comes over and looks at us.

Sometimes he walks away, having been told many times already that "mommy is feeding Oliver right now, I'll be able to help you soon."

Sometimes Elijah wants to watch TV, the same first minute of Yo Gabba Gabba over and over and over again.

Sometimes he wants me play basketball with him; surely I can multitask.

Sometimes I will be rocking Oliver and shushing him to sleep. Elijah will come over and smile at us, his body blocking my ability to rock. A few times he's even crawled into the chair with us and I rock and hold both boys while I think about how ridiculously blessed we are, all the while trying to protect Oliver from his brother's long legs.

And for the past month or so, little Oliver will watch his big brother with great interest. Weeks ago, sitting in my lap, with my hand under his chin, little Oliver smiled at his brother for one of the very first times.

My eyes filled with tears.

I cried because it was so very sweet.

I cried for Elijah because he was unable to notice his little brother's smile.

And I cried for Oliver because his big brother was unable to respond.

And this is the truth I knew long before Oliver was ever in my belly: parenting our two children is going to be bittersweet. Thankfully, the sweetness overrides the bitter so much so that we usually can't even taste the bitter.

Since that emotional moment in the rocking chair a month ago, Oliver and Elijah have shared many smiles. I'll place Oliver right in front of his brother's face and they smile at each other. It's pretty spectacular and the cutest thing ever. They love each other.


...And then Elijah employs his "no thank you" gesture, which is a push away, and tells us that he's done with his brother being in his face and pushes his brother away.

Oh, brother. This is going to be an interesting ride indeed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering (Grief and Joy)

September 11, 2001. Andy and I had been dating for less than a year. Both of us were attending the same college and that semester I didn't have any classes on Tuesday mornings. The night before the attacks, Andy and I had stayed up late having an in-depth conversation about bible prophecy. When planes were used as weapons eleven years ago, I was sleeping.

"Do you remember what we were talking about last night?," Andy asked after waking me with his call. He was at work. "A plane just hit the pentagon. Go turn on the TV."

Still waking up from my slumber, I floated downstairs and turned on the television. I'm sure we stayed on the phone for awhile, but I don't remember. I sat in shock as I watched the Twin Towers collapse before my eyes. They played the footage over and over and I watched it over and over, glued and unable to leave. What does it mean? I wondered. I called family members just so that I could hear their voices.
It's hard to believe that it's been eleven years since that day. I think about how much has changed since then. I'm married; we have two sons. Our country is different. The same, but scarred.

In some ways, I'm like that. Scarred, but still me.

September 11, 2011. One year ago today, Andy, Elijah and I went swimming at a local lake. It was unseasonably warm. I kept thinking about how it was the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and how we were still living our lives. Maybe it seems cheesy, but I thought about how we were swimming in honor of those who couldn't; we were living our lives to the fullest.
That evening, I took a pregnancy test and we found out we were expecting a little baby, our Oliver Luke. We were so excited and for awhile it was our big, wonderful secret. Immeasurable joy.
September 11, 2012. Today was Elijah's first day back at school. This is his third year of preschool and he was ready to go back. Our boy is growing up.
And this is life: full of grief and love and joy. We remember and we keep on moving, putting one foot in front of the other, always looking up for direction and comfort and thankfulness.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This Day

Five years ago today we took Elijah home from the NICU. It was one of the best days ever.
Yes, I share this photo every year
As I sat on our chocolate brown couch clutching our three week old baby, I thought (hoped) our journey had ended. I didn't quite realize that our journey had just begun. Our world would soon be immersed in therapies and we would begin to collect diagnoses, one of which is cerebral palsy (CP).

Today, the anniversary of Elijah's NICU homecoming, is World Cerebral Palsy Day. Seems fitting, doesn't it?

I thought I'd share two things for you to peruse in honor of this day:

This post (by Ellen of Love that Max) in which she describes what CP isn't and also what it is.

This excellent video by an online support group friend, Rachel (her adorable son Cohen reminds me so much of Elijah!):

Five years ago we got our son. We also got CP. But CP certainly didn't get him.
Stumbo Family Story
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