Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Time to Remember

It has been one year since I first brought my precious boy home. Looking back, I can hardly believe how quickly time has passed and how far God has carried us. It has been a year of deep emotion and so much answered prayer. 

My son was born addicted to methadone, to an incarcerated mother, who abused heroin and other hard drugs throughout her entire pregnancy. 

Infants born addicted to heroin and methadone experience what is known as neonatal opiate abstinence syndrome (NOAS). This syndrome is "characterized by dysfunction of the central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory system" (Kandall, 1999). The specific symptoms of NOAS include: irritability, tremulousness, hypertonia, excessive crying, voracious appetite, exaggerated sucking drive, abnormal coordination between sucking and swallowing, regurgitation, pulmonary aspiration, and abstinence associated seizures typically seen only in infancy. (Kandall, 1999). Additional problems approaching the toddler into adolescents include language and motor delays, learning disabilities and behavior problems. 

As a nurse, I had no confusion about the difficulties my son could face, or how hard raising him might be. However, I also was choosing to believe that with a loving mother, who would fight for him and by the power of a mighty God, he could have a hope and a future.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11.  After all, God was with Samuel from the beginning.

Psalm 139:13-16 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

At seven months old, when I brought Samuel home, he could not hold his head up on his own or roll over, skills typically achieved by 3 months. We began physical and occupational therapy and I prayed for healing every day.
7 months old
Slowly but surely his neck muscles and core strengthened. At 8 months he began rolling over and holding his head up. At 9 months, three months later than the norm, he finally was sitting alone. And the day before he turned 10 months old he began to crawl. The pediatrician was pleased with his progress, but told me not to be disappointed if he did not begin walking until 18-24 months. So, when he began walking three days prior to his 1st birthday, I felt like I had seen a miracle.
12 months old


My second answer to prayer came with the completion of Samuel's adoption in March, when he was 17 months old. I had such a sense of relief and peace, knowing that he was mine forever. Samuel was God's perfect gift  to me, three days after I turned 28. From my birthday until the adoption hearing, felt like the days following good Friday, waiting for Jesus to rise from the dead.  I was waiting for the promise to become a reality. 
18 months old
After having two previous foster children returned to a less than ideal environment back with their birth parents, I knew all to well the heart ache, bitterness, and sheer agony, of watching the ones you love be ripped from your arms. Until the completion of Samuel's adoption, this fear loomed over my head and was prevalent in my dreams, despite my faith in the promise I had already received from God.

Now at 19 months, we embrace yet another hurtle.  Samuel has a questionable sensory processing disorder and will be evaluated by a specialist next week.  Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or "sensory integration." 

I know whatever the diagnosis my God is able! God is so faithful.

Even though Samuel is growing and changing rapidly, I am grateful that glimpses of the baby I brought home (at 7 months old) can still be seen as we venture into toddler-hood (now 19 months old). The baby fat seems to be melting, but the beautiful smile and huge eyes remain. What an amazing, beautiful journey these last 12 months have been for me. Thank you so much to all of you who have traveled this road beside me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Green Living With A Toddler

When I say "Green Living" with a toddler, I am not talking about the nasty color you occasionally get in a diaper or the junk coming out of their nose when they are teething or have a cold.

In my attempt to provide a higher quality food to my child, without breaking the bank, I decided I would embark on the composting, planting, growing journey; which is part of "Green Living."I was not raised on a farm, so can I just say this has been a major learning curve for this city girl.

In the fall, in preparation for the Spring, I started a compost, but not just any compost, I started a worm hotel. The idea is that these massive red worms, the size of small snakes, break down compostable materials quicker than just leaving a pile of stinky fruit and vegetable skins rotting in your back yard as they bake in the sun, meanwhile drawing all of the cities stray cats, skunks, mice, etc... into your back yard. This is not a good way to make friends with your neighbors.

I built the thing according to the directions so that the worms would crawl up to level one of the hotel eat their food and fill the first room with worm poop, which is suppose to be great for your plants. Then, they are suppose to continue upwards into each suite until they reach the roof, so that it is easy to separate them from the soil. What a joke! The lazy suckers refused to move, they apparently missed the memo.

 After reading on Pinterest about a woman with a similar problem, I just dumped the several hundred worms and all of the rotten produce into a garbage can where they are all living together happily in my garage....and no I have no idea how I will separate the little beasts from the beautiful rich soil they are creating for my plants.

Then, realizing that I had more compostable material than these little suckers could process, I purchased a rolling composter (A large black garbage can that lays on its side on wheels, so that all of the compost tea (liquid produced as compost breaks down) can drain into the platform it sits on. Now this contraption is brilliant and works exactly as it should.

So after settling how I would enrich my soil, I went to work growing organic seeds, under a light hung with chains, on a table in my kitchen. I nursed these babies for 8 weeks and was ready to plant the beautiful things, when the weather of upstate NY decided to bring a frost the second week of May, followed by temperatures in the 80's. No biggy I thought, I will just let them keep growing on my table. Sadly, their roots had a different opinion and my plants started to die.

This week after all fear of frost had passed, I planted the strong few that remained, only to have them all practically drown in a weeks worth of torrential downpours. After watching helplessly while my plants tried to stand firm in water up to their little necks, Samuel, myself, and our faithful side kick, Auntie Ria, set out this morning to dig a trench and drain the water from our garden.

Now it seems, I just have a river leading to a lake in a different part of my yard. And it continues to rain. Could I please just catch a little break... and I don't mean I want to fall down the stairs.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is my first Mother's Day, since the completion of Samuel's adoption. I am a single mom, and my son is just a toddler, so their will be no Mother's Day cards, flowers, gifts, or breakfast in bed, as many of my friends will experience.

Instead, I will wake up to the sound of my son knocking on his wall telling me he is awake and waiting for me to get him out of his crib. He will have all 5 of his favorite blankets in his arms, his stuffy (a stuffed Zebra), and 1, 2, or 3 pacifiers (depending on how many he found stashed in his bed from previous nights), all of which must be scooped out of the crib and carried into the living room with him.

Once in the living room, he will point to the couch where we will climb under a giant weighted blanket surrounded by all of my couch pillows, thereby looking like two eggs in a nest.  I will cuddle him for as long as possible, breathing him in (he normally smells like sweaty toddler, peanut butter, which he rubs in his hair, and Shea Butter). I will kiss his chubby cheeks and tiny toes, and thank God for him, just as I have done every day for the past year. It does not matter to me that I will not experience all of the commercialization of Mother's Day. The best part of this Mother's Day for me is that my son knows that I am his "Mama" and he can say it!

However, while I will be rejoicing over my very busy, ever dancing toddler tomorrow, I know that other mothers will be weeping over theirs. As they sit in the dirt holding their children's frail little bodies, my heart breaks for their quiet suffering and the helplessness that they must feel.  Many of these mothers will not have another week, let alone a next year with their child, due to starvation and illness.

Mother in Mogadishu, Somalia
Picture taken by Nick Owens
Samuel in our backyard

Picture taken by Nick Owen
While I watch my child's eyes sparkle, other Mothers will be watching as the life drains from their child's eyes. These women will not have any more of a place to lay their child to rest in death than they have had in life. Please pray for these women. Being from a third world country where pain seems to abound does not make it any less painful. Pray that they will have hope amid their present suffering.
Romans 8: 18- 28 

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.

"Come Quickly Lord Jesus!"