• My Special Children

    Date: 2012.03.01 | Category: Family Life | Tags:

    I’ve been thinking about this lately.  I post about Gracie, Hope, Codey, Benjamin & Maisey.  I talk a lot about how Kyle’s death affected me.  The truth is I have two other very special children,  Zachary and Cassandra.  Zach and Cassie are exceptional in so many ways.  I was further reminded by an article I read last night.  http://shelby-utica.patch.com/blog_posts/dont-forget-about-mebeing-a-special-needs-sibling   I try my hardest to be there for them and to show them just how special they are. But the reality is they’ve had to grow up watching some pretty hard stuff.  They’ve been there when we’ve called 911.  They know how to do tube feedings.  They understand p.t. and o.t.  They’ve sat through countless doctor appointments and hospital stays.  Their lives have been anything but normal, but I think that is what has made them so exceptional.  I remember people commenting because I wouldn’t let them join the sibling support group at the hospital.  They went one time, but they came home talking about how everyone sat around and complained about how hard it was to have a special needs sibling.  I couldn’t let them do that.  One, because we couldn’t change what Codey’s reality was and two, because what you tell yourself over and over again becomes your reality. If I wake up every morning saying I hate my life, I will hate my life.  They were allowed to be frustrated.  They were allowed to complain, but then we discussed what it was like to be Codey and how privileged they were to have their health and the ability to dream and be whatever they chose to be.

    I know it’s hard to feel like you are in the shadows.  To feel like what you do isn’t as important as someone else or that you don’t matter enough.  Believe me I know.   The kids and I have had discussions about what it is like when everyone always talks about their siblings and their dad.  We have talked about how funny it is when Dan is interviewed and I’m always listed as the wife.  We joke that at least they get their names in the paper or magazine.  I’m married to a man who gets e-mails asking for advice from Turkey, Columbia, China, etc.  Who’s been asked to talk all around the world.  He has a book, writes articles, and most of all saves babies lives (with the help of God).  He has an amazing job and an amazing gift.  I have been at places where people have walked up to him and said, “You are THAT Dan!?!?”  It’s the most hilarious thing because it embarrasses him to no end.  I love that Dan does his work because he wants to make the lives of babies better not because he wants glory or fame.  He tells me constantly that he couldn’t do it without me, but it’s hard when people ask you if you are ever going back to school to do something with your life.  It’s funny because to me I always wanted to be a teacher or a nurse and I get to be both to the most amazing group of kids ever.  I feel like I have done something with my life.

    So today, I will talk about my third born.  Zachary is very bright (like score a 24 on his ACT in 6th grade kind of smart), sweet and kind. The kind of boy who always takes a moment to be with his siblings. The kind of boy who would give up working at EA Sports in Florida to come home and be with his new siblings.  How many 23 year olds do you know that would do that?  Codey grabs him the minute he sees him to say, “Drive, drive hurry.”  because Zach will take him for a ride.  He throws Codey in the car and off they go.  Zach’s only concern when we had Gracie?  That she wouldn’t know him because he was going to college.  He lived near home and drove daily for 4 years to get his degree at Iowa State University in Ames.  He did that because he knows what is important in this life. Gracie and him are extra close to this day for just that reason.  That is not to say he didn’t hang out with friends and spend weekends gaming with his buddies.  He’s still a boy, but he’s just a good kid. He has always put God first and then his family.  Zach has many good qualities but the one I love the most is his love of God.  He just trusts in God’s plan.  He always has.  One of my favorite moments with him was him sitting beside me on the step to our kitchen in our old trailer.  I had just miscarried and I was so sad.  I just sat there weeping with a 3 year old holding my hand.  He hugged me and kissed me.  He then told me how God had a plan and that I just needed to trust it.  I remember calling Dan and crying because my 3 year old was being more mature than I was.  Zach has his faults as we all do, but he is a man of integrity and honor (MOIH).  We have talked about it since he was little and he has grown into that man today.  I love him so.  I couldn’t have even dreamed of a better son.

    Cassandra is joy. There is no other way to describe her over-the-top bubbliness.  She is just plain joy.  She has always been the child who lives in the moment.  She is happy.  She will thank you excitedly for the smallest of gifts.  She has become one of my very best friends.  I love that she still wants to snuggle up and watch a movie with me.  That she will still sit and hold my hand.  We never had that angry teenage daughter/mother stuff.  She has always been a sweet soul.   She gets grief for telling people that “We are adopting.”   They always say “Your parents are adopting.”  But the truth of the matter is WE are all adopting.  If Cassie and Zach hadn’t been on board, we would have had to really consider whether it was right or not.  Dan and I are getting close to 50.  We are bringing 2 more special needs children into our family.  If Cassie hadn’t said that she was willing to parent them if something happened to us, I don’t know what we would have done.  But she was more than willing.  She is so excited about Benjamin and Maisey.  She is a girl with a great big heart.  She tries to do what is best.  She tries to follow God and where He is leading her even when the decisions are hard.  She had to make a really big decision when she was almost a senior.  It was what she believed was right, but it got blown out of proportion and she lost a lot of friends.  She has to deal with the gossip from her decisions to this day, but she does it with grace.  I love that about her.  I can almost guarantee that in high school I would have never had the courage to do what I believed God was telling me to do if it was going to cause discord.  I’m amazed at her strength of character.  She has been criticized many times for being too happy.  I love that about her.  If the most you can ever say wrong about my little girl is that she is too happy, well, then she will have done well.  She is sweet, caring and compassionate.  She is beautiful inside and out.  I love that about her.  I used to dream of one day having a little girl.  She is so much more than I ever dreamed.  And just in case you don’t know, on top of being sweet beyond belief and beautiful, the girl is smart as a whip too.  She won a Belin Blank award for scoring in the top 5% of the ACT too.  🙂