Monday, August 25, 2014

If you had told me last Sunday that this week would be incredibly stressful, I would have laughed.  How is that different from my new normal, I'd think.  But, stressful doesn't even begin to cover it.  Truly, Murphy has moved into the guest room upstairs and put his Law into the drawers and closet.

I fought it all weekend.  Trying to put off another emergency room visit.  Keep her hydrated.   Her fever had shot up again, and she looked awful.  It really isn't fair when someone so tiny gets so sick.  Her eyelid was puffy, her nose so stuffed that I was aspirating it every fifteen minutes. Her cough was awful.  I noticed it, too.  She would cry, but no tears would come.  She had no drool.  What's left of her soft spot had started sinking in again.  My heart was heavy.  Monday morning, I took her in.  Pnuemonia.  Croup.  Upper Respiratory Infection.  Seriously?!

"We could admit her.  Hydrate her.   It's up to you."

Up to me?!  I prayed.  Hard.  I have already done two hospital admissions with this tiny one, one very recently.  I didn't want to navigate that again.  Especially with my help-mate half a world away.

"What's best for the baby?"

I took her home, and we sat.  I fed her and fed her.  Administered antibiotics. Prayed some more.  Hospital admission was possible Tuesday.  And Wednesday.  I fought so hard.  Fought her, as she screamed and refused to take more milk.  Fought to keep her fever down.

And then the curve ball.

A major sewage vent pipe in the house had separated.  The house had smelled since we moved in.
We had reported it numerous times.  They kept ignoring us.  So we had to call in the Cavalry, so to speak.  They found a huge pipe busted, and we had to vacate the home Wednesday.  They sent us to a flex home...where the air conditioning was broken.  My sweet girls were sweating, and my tiny baby with pneumonia was flushed.  I finally stood up.  I had to leave.  We went back to our home out of desperation.  I continued to push fluids as she reverted in her recovery.

Thursday, we nearly had to vacate again, but were spared at the last second.  That afternoon, my sweet Mary's temperature soared out of nowhere.  I administered Tylenol and then Motrin with no success.  She spent most of the afternoon in bed.  That night, she woke up screaming multiple times each hour.  Again the next afternoon, her fever was high.  I was very concerned.

Saturday afternoon, she went to the bathroom.  Her urine was completely red.  My heart was fearful.  Blessedly, someone came to watch the girls, and off we went to the emergency room.  My sweet girl had a UTI that had progressed upwards to her kidneys.  As they poked her multiple times to administer antibiotics, she screamed for me to help.  Instead, I had to hold her down.  My heart ached for her.

She's still very sick, but slowly on the road to recovery.  She's still resting a lot, and is not her normal active and laughing self.

So, we've slowed down again.  We are hunkering down.

We will be okay.  I know we will.  Our plumbing is repaired.  We are healing.  My poor sweet girls are improving.

I never thought I'd be so joyful to see tears streaming down my baby girl's face, to see my two year old rejoice that going potty doesn't hurt.

We made it through.  With prayer.  With help.  With support.  God always provides when we need it.

And now, I need to go evict Murphy and his Law from the guest room.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Dear Angie,

I don't know a lot.  It has taken me awhile to learn that.  Years.  In fact, I feel sometimes that I know nothing.  I will think I know enough about something in life. Enough to get me victory over that.  And in the middle of it all, I will realize how I know absolutely nothing.

I do know that you just entered into the Army Life.  Active Duty, Reserves, National Guard--it doesn't matter.  Every Soldier in each gives so much.  Each Soldier, regardless of classification, is willing to do one thing: give everything he has, everything he is, to defend our country.  I know that is a source of great pride, but also a source of great fear.  I know that, no matter how hard the day or the week or month, you must make sure the pride wins over the fear.  Never let Fear win.

I know that you are an Army Wife.  That makes me so proud!  I know you are strong, resilient, beautiful.  Proud.  I know that you love my brother fiercely.  And that love will give you victory every time.  I know you have two families who love you dearly and support you completely.  You have a wonderful husband who will make you so proud.  Proud.  Pride.  It's a huge part of what goes into this life.  It's a humble, strong virtue that will keep you going, even when you feel you cannot.  I know you are worthy of the title of Army Wife.  I know that I am proud and comforted by you being one.  Because I have a fellow sister-in-law, a fellow sister in my ranks now.  I know you will kick butt.  I know this because you are amazing.

I know that nothing will suck your joy away like this life.  I know there will be days when you feel you cannot move forward anymore.  But, I also know you have Faith.  Faith in your Soldier, faith in our God.  A God who will never leave your side.  I know He is a God who, I believe, gives us Army Wives special graces to survive this life.  Thrive in this life.  I know, on those days when you are down, trodden, so sad, that I am here.  In prayer, a phone call, in letters, cards, cheer.  I promise you that.  I will never let you fall.  Because we are sisters.

I know that nothing will give you greater sense pride than this Army Life.  Pride in your capable, strong Soldier.  Pride in your Soldier.  Your husband.  I know that people will thank you for your service almost as often as they thank him.  You will stand a little straighter, hold your head a little higher than others when the American Flag waves, when you hear the National Anthem.  Because you know the blood, sweat, and tears that weave the threads of that flag, play the notes of that song.  You will laugh about how handsome your Soldier is in his uniform.  You will sacrifice much, because of your love and pride for our country.  And I know this will slowly but definitively make you a stronger woman.

I know he will go away.  I know he goes away today for four months.  And all you will have are letters.  You will not see his face.  Those last precious few hours will tick painfully by.  I know you will stare at his face, trying to take in every distinct characteristic of his face, his hands, his eyes.  Praying you don't ever forget.  I know this will tear you apart.  I know, as you turn away after saying good-bye, you will finally completely understand the phrase, "ripping my heart out of my chest."  I know you will cry.  You may not be able to catch your breath before the next sob.  But, I know I am so proud of you.  Because you do this out of love for him.  Something most women will never have to do.

I know you are not ever alone.  You may feel so isolated, so terribly lonely in some moments, that no one can possibly understand it.  I know this because I've felt it.  I have gripped the table, the sheets, the tissues, so tight my knuckles turned white.  I have sobbed so hard that I couldn't breathe.  Because he was gone.  I missed his face, his voice.  His presence in our home.  But, I know I am not truly alone.  I know I have God.  I know I have sisters who know.  I know I have you.  And I know we have God, where all souls are united in His mercy.  There, you will find your Soldier, because God has us all in His merciful loving heart.

I know that you inspire me.  I know that I look up to you.  I know that I am so joyful, so blessed to have you a part of our family.  A part of my earthly family, but also a part of this Army family.  I know that you have added a precious, irreplaceable dynamic to my brother's life and my family's life.

I know you will survive this.  I know you will thrive.  You will stand on the other side of this stronger, braver, more mature. You will not want to ever go through it again, but you will find yourself grateful for the woman it made you.

I know I am praying for you.  Praying for your Soldier.  My brother.  I know that for every card I send to him, I'll send one to you.  Every pictures your three nieces send to their uncle, they will send one to their aunt.  Because I know that for all the sacrifices he is making, you are making them, too.

I know I love you.

I know at least this:

You are incredible.  Charlie Mike, Sister!

Friday, August 01, 2014

The last three weeks have been insane.  No, really.  Chaotic, stressful, intense days filled with many prayers and nights full of running between children.  

It started out as it always does lately.  A fever.  The two year old bit the dust first, and oozing congestion from everywhere on her face.  Her eyes--I'd never seen that--were so gunky, I was wiping them as much as her nose.  Then the four year old fell.  Then, yes, the baby.  I was hoping she wouldn't get it.  I was paranoid  because after the last major illness hit the family, she ended up in the hospital for three days.  So this time, I fought it again.  After a week of illness, I brought all three in.  A virus.  Okay.  We went home...and then I got sick.  It was awful!  Achiness and joint pain so bad that I could hardly move!  Stuffiness and gunkiness like none other.  I was trying not to stress out.  Taking care of children and feeling disgusting is mutually exclusive.  So, I just fed them.  The house did not get cleaned, except the necessary.  
We were hoping to head to Dallas to see my brother and his wife.  It's about a five hour drive without stops.  Mostly the trip, aside from seeing family, was an opportunity for me to overcome fear--the fear of a roadtrip alone with three children.  Self-doubt of course was surfacing, but I was determined to prove to myself we could do it.  And we did.  We felt so much better, and hit the road.  We had such a good time! 
"Helping" Uncle Drew.
They have a sweet home and my brother is doing amazing things in updating and improving it!  It was such a blessing to have time with family.  

But, then Anne started getting sick again.  Really sick.  By Sunday, she was hardly having any wet diapers.  I began offering even more milk and water all day Monday.  Despite that, her diaper output decreased further.  Early Tuesday morning, we hit the road.  I needed to get her home and to the hospital.  We arrived home at noon, and that evening I took her in.  At 2 am, she was admitted for severe dehydration.  I had thought many times, I wonder how a mother would deal with hospitalization while her husband is deployed.  I wonder...and here I was dealing with it.  I ended up having to leave Anne at the hospital and go home to the older girls.  I felt like someone was tearing my heart out of my chest.  I desperately wanted to split myself into two people, and be present for all of my girls.  But, I had to Charlie Mike.  

Anne was released the next day and, praise God, we are all completely well.  But, the house and the stress had just left me burnt out.  I am so thankful today that I am getting three hours to myself while the girls play at Hourly Care.  I needed a refresh.  It's so crazy how fast a mama can get burnt out alone.  I have so much respect for single mothers.  

Healthy Baby! 

So, today we had an intervention on the house.  We girls teamed together and cleaned the downstairs.  I mopped the floors and cleaned the kitchen.  A dirty house makes me really stressed out. Because of this, I sat down yesterday and made a weekly cleaning schedule.  I am pretty excited.  Printed lists were made for people like me.  I found a template, modified it, and printed and laminated it myself.  It took a lot of work, but I am very happy with it.  And I think it's going to make cleaning and handling the house alone much easier.  

My new schedule! 

I am actually excited about Monday, and implementing the new schedule!  I know, I have a problem.  But at least it bears good fruit.  

Happy Friday!