A Mama’s Heart

I know, I know…still no picture.  Thankfully, if you wanted a picture blog you would be visualizing on some other website.  Today is my birthday, so maybe we will get some photos tonight, though the pink highlights aren’t as bright as they were before.

Have you ever walked into a trap that triggered an event in your life that cuts deeply and you were surprised by your reaction?  I had that experience when I took Lydia to the dentist a week and a half ago.  The particular dentist’s office is pleasant enough, but when I brought my three preschoolers for their appointment, Lydia was refused to be seen.  I was accused by the hygientist of not getting them a letter stating that she could be treated.  I don’t know what sent me into a spiral.  I understand that the doctor wanted to cover her bases on risk to treat her.  Maybe it was the stress of knowing that Lydia had cavities or it was the accusation of being a bad parent.  I don’t know.  You try to do your best, but that isn’t good enough.

They saw her last week, and told me that she did indeed have cavities and would need to have one day surgery at Children’s  Hospital to take care of it.  The only problem is that she doesn’t do surgery during the summer.

Grandparents are very good friends with a pediatric dentist in town, who use to teach at the school of dentistry.  He gave me a call after speaking to the Grans and was so wonderful to give me all of his phone numbers and said that we were family.  He saw Lydia the next day and agreed that she needed surgery and that it would be done as soon as possible.  She will get 4 crowns on August 3.  She will be worked in earlier if anyone cancels.  They go to Children’s every week, but right now they are booked.

Ok, so I knew that her teeth would have a weird side effect of her previous treatment,  but here are the specifics:  She has feeding issues.  You may remember that she was fed via a blood line or through a feeding tube for about 8 months of her baby life.  When she was bottle fed, I could give her a bottle while she was asleep to keep her hydrated if she did not get enough during her waking time.  Even then, she would refuse a bottle of water while she was asleep, but except milk.  I finally gave up these feedings and now when she goes to clinic she is most often dehydrated.  So much so that I am to do what it takes to make the girl drink.  I only offer her apple juice, milk, and water.  I have just started freshly pressing apples to get pure apple juice without citric acid or any sugar or anything to not hurt her teeth.    I am my wit’s end balancing how to take care of her fluid intake and her teeth.

In addition to all of this, she has GERD (acid reflux).  This too rots teeth.  The good news is that her enamel is growing normally!!!  That was a scare.  When she is put under she will get her first set of x-rays on her teeth.  I am hopeful that she has some adult tooth buds forming.  Because she had Total Body Irradiation so early in life they might not form…but there is HOPE.

Thank you for letting me share my frustration and prayer requests with you.  I am in a really good place, resting in the one day at a time aspect of life.  God gives peace thankfully.



Lydia is walking!  Really walking…chasing all of us around the house and being chased herself.  The boys are amazed and curious to know how a baby is able to walk.  Realize that she is nearly two, but she is still a baby in their eyes…that’s about to change.

Tonight, David and I got out and went to a marriage and family Q&A at out church.  I was so excited getting ready for our “date”.  It was a date to me, because we would be without the kids for a couple of hours!  My friend, Taylor, has been watching my sons while I take Lydia to the Bell Center for therapy.  She graciously offered to watch the guys again tonight during our outing.  David’s parents watched Lydia.  So we were foot loose and fancy free.

This was the first time we had been to church since Easter.  I was so glad to be in community with other adults.  A friend came up to me and began talking about Tucker Beam.  She was so touched by Tucker’s life and his parents.  How Courtney and Jason are such beacons of light and hope.  My friend was glowing and beaming with seeing Jesus in them. 

I burst into tears.  I know your not surprised, right?  The survivors guilt hit me all over again.  As she was talking about Tucker’s beautiful story, I had flashbacks of crying out to Jesus to please take her NOW.  I am so thankful that He didn’t.  So, so thankful.  Words cannot express how I feel…for our past and other’s present.  I still don’t know how to come to terms with “what now Lord?”  My friend was talking about a book she was reading about EVERYTHING is for Jesus’ glory.  Everything.  I cannot comprehend the hows and whys.  I am glad that God is in control and I am not.

I loved talking about the Beams, better than anything else tonight.  I am so thankful for friends who aren’t afraid to talk about how such incomprehensible things impact their lives so deeply.  I am thankful that the incomprehensible things are used for His glory.

Lord, please be with the Beams and Brittains tonight and every night.  Let them sleep in your peace and wake up walking in your light.

I have been away from my computer for sometime.  I broke my laptop.  I have really missed writing.  I didn’t realize how healing it is for me, until I stopped.  I have so much to get off my chest.

First, life around here has been wonderful.  Lydia has had so many firsts:

  • First time to the grocery store
  • First time to go swimming
  • First time to walk unassisted across the room
  • First time to play in the front yard in the grass
  • First play dates with preschoolers

I have been overwhelmed with joy of her new experiences.  As our whole family has been able to do more things, I have been overwhelmed with emotion and grief as well.  I am so thankful for the Lord to have brought us so far.  He is continuing to hold us up.

I snapped at a lady at the grocery store on our second trip.  She was making eyes at Lydia and telling me how sleepy she looked.  Honestly, I was so sick of people seeing her as “sleepy”, because truthfully, I wonder if she is feeling well when she is “sleepy”.  She had a good nap that particular afternoon, and I snapped “she’s recovering from leukemia”.  I was able to keep the waterworks from busting at the seams, but it was hard.

I don’t understand why I am filled with so much grief right now…at a time of such thanksgiving.  I think it is because we are entering a new stage of life, but it is not as I had hoped for my children.  Please pray that we feel freedom where we are right now.

So this is not the post I really wanted to share, but it is from the heart.

When I was in middle school, my sister Sally and I moved in with my dear grandparents Blanche and W.H. lovingly referred to as Mama B and Papa Shorty.  Mama B was a wonderful influence in my life.  She taught me by the way she lived:  to the pure all things are pure. Life was to be lived to the fullest.  Her love for family was intense and her love for community evident.  God blessed the works of her hands in her own children and in the children she taught.

Mama B could think like a child.  She taught me to short sheet a bed.  Yes, Ms. Benson, much of Amber, Allison and my camp shenanigans were by my dearest Mama B.  In fact, last night, mom and I had fun short sheeting Allison and Amber’s bed…all in Mama B’s honor of course!

She taught us to have fun while not making fun of anyone…and always taking up the cause of the weak.  She taught us that education was needed to support the weak and that the arts was a great way to express yourself and hear God more clearly.

I never knew her as a young woman, but I thought of her as one.  As I watched her age over the past few years her beauty and love for life remained.

I am thankful that she is in  peace and now dancing for our Lord.  I will miss holding her loving hands and look forward to a time when I can hold them again.

Today’s funeral was beautiful.  Funeral’s are strange.  During a time of great mourning, people whom you love surround you.  I was honored to have such good friends travel so far to support me and my family.  I was deeply touched.

Today is also Lydia’s rebirthday.  One year ago Lydia had her bone marrow transplant.  Today after I returned from the funeral Lydia started to spike a fever.  I am so glad that she didn’t attend.  David’s cousin Kim traveled two hours to babysit her in Mama B’s house.  I cannot thank her enough for such a grand gesture.  After her temp climbed to 100.3 we returned to Birmingham.  If it got to 101 then she needs cultures drawn.  The alternative was to wait it out in the country and go to the county (adult) hospital.  She is a hard enough stick for those specializing in pediatrics.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of putting her through that agony.  Thankfully, since we have returned this evening her temp is in the 99 range.

I left the celebration of my grandmother tonight with the reminder of my job right now continues to be taking care of my children.  Lydia continues to do marvelously, but is still at risk for infection.  We still hope to go to Seattle next week to see her progress.  I pray she is well enough to attend.

To say we have a little on our plate is an understatement right now.  Sally and I took my children to Vanderbilt yesterday for Lydia’s Ophthalmology appointment (which was today).  While there found out that Mama B, my sweet 93 year old grandmother had passed away.  I feel really raw right now.  I am so thankful that she is in peace, but am so sad that I can’t hear her voice or touch her sweet hand.

I am planning on spending the next few days with the family.  BTW, please let me know if you have any cold or sickness symptoms so that can avoid Lydia’s exposure.  AND please do not touch her no matter how much you want too.  I cleared going to the funeral with Seattle as long as I don’t let people touch her/me.  That will be hard at a funeral.

As far as her eye appointment.  More surgery is anticipated this summer.

This afternoon I ran into a couple that I hadn’t seen since Lydia’s diagnosis.  The couple was aware of Lydia’s cancer and was surprised to learn that she was alive and thriving.  They asked if she had undergone a stem cell transplant.  I could tell by her intonation that she was locked and loaded with opinions.  I answered her “yes, she had a umbilical cord stem cell transplant”.  She answered me, “praise God for stem cells”.  She went on to let me know that she was glad that they were doing something good with those embryos and look they saved my girls life. 

Whoa mama!  Did she really say what I think she said?  I had to speak up.  I quickly let her know that I am so thankful that a mother offered her babies umbilical cord when he/she was born to give life to my baby.  I also let her know that I was opposed to embryonic stem cell use.  She asked me why very tersely.  I told her that I thought that it would be a justification for abortion.

She went on to say that a woman who is thinking of aborting will abort anyway.  I responded that I have two children that were so close to being aborted, but their birth mothers had thankfully changed their minds.  The boys birthmothers didn’t have any easy solution, but they chose mercy and justice…as hard as it was for them.  I am glad that embryonic stem cells were not offered for Lydia, because that temptation would be too much to bare.

She responded that you never know what someone is going through.  She is right.  I have know idea what she was going through.  I wish that my responses to her had been filled with compassion instead of shock.  I truly didn’t feel defensive, just stunned. 

The reason that I relayed this conversation was to straighten out any confusion about the stem cells that were used in Lydia’s bone marrow transplant. 

My heart is filled with compassion for mothers that face(d) decisions for the life that they carry.  There is grace for all of us. My sins are just as large as anyone elses.  God is so much bigger than anything that we can come up with.  No matter what our opinions are, they don’t change our gracious God’s love for us all.

This afternoon, while the kids are somewhere between sleep and some sort of consciousness, I am enjoying the view of the countryside from my mama’s living room.  Their are several large trees along the perimeter.  I am imagining how beautiful and grand they must be in the summer when they are full of lush green leaves.  

It has been years since I have enjoyed spring break.  Sitting here looking at the landscape I see that spring break shows a preview of what is to come…late spring and summer.  When things are full of life and beautiful.

There is an large oak tree that keeps drawing me in.  It has fresh greenery budding all about.  Though it is not yet lush, I can see what looked dead is leaving and new, fresh life is coming out of it.  Winter wasn’t the trees story.  Spring doesn’t complete the trees story.  There is more coming.

This is the first time I feel like I have a hope for something new.  In fact, as Lydia has been recovering I have always been surprised that she looked sick to others (even when she had her tubes).  The reason it would catch me off guard is that she looked so much better than she did when she was filled with leukemia.  So as she recovers their are still bare parts to her that this new life will continue to fill.  This is not the end, but the beginning of a new season.

Thinking of it, we have been in spring break, since our return from Seattle.  I just didn’t recognize it yet.

Once again thank you for joining me in my stream of consciousness.  I am so thankful that there is more to the story.  More to hope for.  More to be thankful for.

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