It’s always the questions. The unspoken ones — the ones people aren’t sure how to ask but they may really, really want to — that unwrap my heart.
Will Reed ever __________? (Does Reed’s diagnosis perfectly map out, hem in, and decree exactly who he will be and what he will do any more than other children?) What’s it like having a kid who needs therapy three to four times a week? Will your other kids have the same issues? Does Luke?
Are you relieved that Luke doesn’t? (How can I value the health and typical-ness of one without devaluing the one who’s atypical-ness has won and reformed my heart?)
But, you know what relieves me most of all? Realizing a Reed-formed truth: What I want most for both of my boys — more than typical genetic structures — are faith and character and strong minds.
My beautifully talented sister-in-law Sarah (who owns Blue Couch Studios) captured some wonderful family pictures for us. Like this one over there to the left.
But everyone knows that behind every smiling, perfectly poised picture are a hundred that, let’s be honest, are just hilarious.
In particular a certain two and half year old had his own ideas for fun and that didn’t necessarily include posing in any form or fashion.
To one unruly toddler, add an unseasonably cold, windy day in mid May and a newborn. That we captured quite a few good pictures attests to Sarah’s photography skills!
Here are a few of my favorite out-takes!
Let’s play “Run, Squat, Pose Like a Dinosaur”!!
Done with that game. So, what can — oh, look – a pretty flower!
And now Dada, let’s play blow the petals off the flower!!
You’re going to take the stick?
Yep! So I can play with it!
…..aaaand we’re done!
Feel free to leave your own captions as comments!
Our May baby came as an April surprise! Exactly three weeks before his due date, Benjamin Lucas Byxbe arrived at 9:31 a.m. on Sunday, April 28th, weighing 8 lbs 4 oz and measuring 20″ long.
While my first pregnancy was declared “boring” by my then doctor, this pregnancy was anything but! Gestational diabetes, gall stones, high fluid, and measuring full-term an entire month before I technically should were all minor complications that made for a very uncomfortable pregnancy.
If my first delivery was long, drawn out and a bit emergent, this second one was quick, albeit unexpected, and calm. Around two in the morning on April 28th, I rolled over in bed thinking I needed to go to the bathroom. As I tried to heave my 37 week pregnant body out of bed, I felt my water break. When others say you just know when your water breaks, they are not kidding! I tried to run to the bathroom (but even not pregnant and 30 pounds lighter, I’m not much of a runner) as I’m yelling to Ben that my water just broke (okay, this wasn’t exactly the calmest part of the story!). I’m panicking a little bit at this point but the on-call doctor says I should wait six hours before coming to the hospital. Six hours!?! In my mind, water breaking = immediately proceed to the hospital, do not pass go, do not collect $200. And then she tells me to go back to bed. Ha! Back to bed, yeah right. After cleaning up, I spend the next couple of hours texting family and friends but definitely not sleeping. Ben on the other hand, who is always the calm and collected one, has the good sense to actually go back to sleep knowing it’ll be out last night of decent sleep for months.
At 5:30 a.m., the on-call doctor calls back after reviewing my not boring medical file, to ask us to come on into the hospital. Apparently after she talked with me at 2:15, she had to deliver a couple of other babies before getting a chance to review my file. With the series of minor complications I had, she thought it was best to come on in.
We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 a.m., by 8:30 the doctor made the call that we needed to proceed with a c-section, and by 9:30 a.m. our dark-haired, three pounds heavier than his brother at birth baby was born. Surgery always makes me a little nervous (especially the kind where I’m numb from the chest down but completely cognizant), so Ben held my hand the whole time and I cried at the first glimpse I got of Luke.
Two and half years ago I was a very anxious first time mom, so I’m relieved that this time I’ve been more calm and relaxed, making it much easier to enjoy having a new baby around despite the sleep deprivation!
Here’s a side-by-side of my two boys from birth, Reed on the left, Luke on the right.
Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
I know we’ve reached a mountaintop. I can breathe more freely than I have in two and a half years. How far we’ve come indeed. Feels like we’ve lived a thousand years and walked a million steps. I’ve let go and pressed in. I’ve smiled genuine. Knowing. Knowing is the battle. Knowing that what could be used for evil, You have used for good. Our good. Even in those valley drifts and shadowed places, You were Emmanuel. We see another set of little footprints now because he, with our hands, is walking. He, with our patient guiding, is talking.
Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
But I haven’t forgotten the battleground. Knee to earth, hands to grass, I feel the place where my heart bled, my knees scraped, our future pierced me through. Eyes closed, my body trembles through the earthquake where we felt life shift. I couldn’t know then what sweet victories we were fighting for. But You knew and You know, even as the next battleground slumbers.
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Like a small child proud of her battle wounds, these scars attest to great joy and greater grace. To a soul reformed and repurposed for You. Scars that carve out grace and wisdom and peace permanently on my soul’s skin. Your handiwork of a tattoo on my heart, which will forever know, really know that…
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Your love is unfailing. You loved us through people’s kindnesses and generosity. You loved us through hope and prayer. You loved us through mercies of grace upon grace. You surrounded us with so many people. So many sojourners. So much love. So much goodness. So much. And we share this mountain top, this season of goodness with them. For without them, apart from You, we might not have.
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone
Carried and held when the darkness was its darkest. When grief was its hardest. When fear held its greatest sway. When the distance seemed too great. When we mourned our fading dreams. Carried and held. Constantly and perfectly.
Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Lyrics in bold: Matt Redman’s “Never Once”
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.
We’d stepped out into the hallway so Reed could play while waiteing on dinner to be served at the wedding reception. In his trademark move, he scooted around on his rear-end, exploring every square inch of the carpeted foyer. A gentleman from our table joined us in the hallway, looking for the gift table, I think. He watched Reed for a few seconds, and already knowing a little bit of Reed’s story, said “That’s hard” — I guess referring to the challenges he/we face because of the developmental delays — shaking his head slowly while a sad smile passed over his face.
As a mom to a kid with special needs, I both appreciated his acknowledgement — yes, there are moments of great difficulty — while also struggling with his limited assessment of our situation. Hard? Yes — my heart feels that often! But…
I looked down at Reed, studying this little person who is part me, part Ben, and wholly himself. I remember smiling as I watched my son but I don’t remember my exact response to this gentleman. I was distracted by the realization that erupted in my mind. I didn’t feel sorry for us anymore.
Actually, I love us. But I didn’t always. Wanting anything but this. People’s pity only reflected the acute ache in my heart, and as those comments trickled in, I nodded sadly along. Isn’t it so sad that our son is atypical? That he can’t yet walk like other toddlers have been for over a year now? Isn’t it heartbreaking that he can’t verbalize what comes so easy to others his age?
The difficulties haven’t passed. In some ways, they continue to grow. And even once he’s “caught up” — walking and talking — we’ll likely know new challenges. But my heart and mind and way of seeing has changed. I can remember that first year, that entire first year, before there was this other thing, this rare statistic, this realized fear. I only knew Reed as Reed. And that is such a gift — then and now. I just didn’t realize that the gift I had that first year, I still have now.
For most of us, Christmas isn’t a time of unexpected gifts. Even if we don’t know what we’re getting, usually we know something is coming. But this Christmas, as I study the gifts under our tree, I know that the greater gift for me came unexpectedly through the same comment I’ve heard and seen a thousand times in others’ eyes — the pity, the sadness, the questions. And the gift is no longer seeing that within myself.
Last night we were warmed and filled by this delicious soup and freshly baked bread. A good meal can simply be soul satisfying. This food reminds me to give thanks for abundant food, for the hands to put together a homemade meal, and the gift of sharing a table with people I love.
Enjoy this Italian Tortellini soup around your own table by checking out the recipe I used here.