My Little Tortoise

I love recording memories during this time. Especially when Abigail is changing almost overnight! I have photo albums, an app, journals, and baby books (and this blog of course) that I use to record this time in our lives. It might seem like overkill, and I know if a second child comes along all that might not be possible to keep up with. Hopefully my poor second child will not be forgotten and left out of baby memories, at least I am going to try to do my best when the time comes. It is wonderful to go back and look at what was happening a year or two ago, and see where we are today. This time two years ago I was about 38 weeks pregnant, and ready to meet our little girl. How time flies!!

But as I sat filling out Abigail’s baby book last night in preparation for her second birthday, I came across blanks everywhere in the ‘Firsts’ section of the book. When was the first time your baby sat up? When was the first time your baby crawled? When did your baby take their first steps? When did your baby first hold their sippy cup? All blank. But, oddly it brought a smile to my face. I just wanted to ditch the baby book and create a whole new baby book unique for Abigail. The questions would read more like, ‘What brings a smile to your face when you see Abigail? What is she good at? What are some of Abigail’s skills?’

Abigail has the ability to do so much more now than she ever could! In just the last few weeks our little girl has learned so many new things. She is responding to commands. She can now lift her leg, blow kisses, clap, and lift her head when you ask her. It is exciting to be able to communicate with Abigail and know she is understanding what you are saying. She is also blowing tummy time out of the water! This baby used to hate, and I mean cry when ever you even attempted to place her on her tummy, tummy time. She could tolerate about three minutes and then she was done. She would lay her head down in defeat because she just did not have the strength to do it any longer. Today, she laughs and smiles and plays while on her tummy, and she never complains or lays her head down even after 10 or 15 minutes!!! Her physical therapist is even trying to teach her how to army crawl in hopes of giving her some mobility soon! It gives me hope for her future.

I believe Abigail will be able to talk, roll around and sit some day. It might be tomorrow or it might be 4 years from now but she shows she has the potential to do these things. Her trunk and arms are getting stronger each and every day. She is getting louder as she babbles to us. In the car I feel like sometimes I need earplugs with her constant squealing. She is rolling from side to side and flipping over from her back to her stomach and visa versa when she decides she wants to. I know we have the potential to have a roller soon and that excites me!!! My baby could be independently mobile!! Honestly, I would just love for her to be able to sit on her own. Then she could play so much easier and we could do so much more with her. We just have to get Abigail some abs!

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It is a s-l-o-w process. We have been working on tummy time since day 1. We have been working on prop sitting for almost 18 months. And we have been working on talking and babbling for about a year now. It has been a long two years of waiting to see what exactly this little girl is capable of, and it is amazing to know we still do not know. She has so much potential in her tiny little body. But that is what keeps me going – the potential for change, for improvement, for independence. To imagine Abigail one day being able to communicate with us or being able to move herself around brings tears to my eyes. I know this day might still be a long ways coming. I mean she has been able to prop sit for over a year now and not once shown any desire to even attempt to sit on her own. Did I mention she is also a little stubborn and independent? If anyone asks, she got it from her daddy. Unless Abigail wants to do something, she will not do it. Trying to get that child into her positions to exercise her is a trip. For a baby who seems to have no muscle tone, she is STRONG, and she will fight you with all she has to not be put into a certain position. But this is also good because at least she has muscles to fight with!

Abigail reminds me of the tortoise in the “Tortoise and the Hare” story. All the other toddlers her age are running laps around her right now, literally. But Abigail is not concerned with them. She is marching steadily on in her very, very slow speed. Still gaining ground everyday, but you wonder if she will ever get to the finish line. Right now it does not look like it most days. But I just think of the end of the story. It is the tortoise that wins the race. I do not say that to say that all the hares will lose, but maybe the tortoise had something going for him. He enjoyed every leg of the journey. He was not rushed or hindered by anyone else. He did not try to keep up with his neighbor. He was on his own journey, loving every minute of it and honestly he probably did not think he would even win himself. Maybe, as always, my little tortoise will teach me something yet. This life is not about how fast you get to the end. We will all get there one way or the other. But life is the journey. Am I enjoying each day? Am I living each day to the fullest? Am I doing my best in everything God has called me to? Abigail may be my little tortoise, but maybe that tortoise will be a winner yet!!!

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One Day at a Time

I write a lot about the positive side of raising Abigail because often that is how I feel. I love her and her little personality. I would not change Abigail for anything, but I am not as strong as some may think I am. Often, people will comment about my faith or my strength or my endurance as I write about our life, but often I feel like I do not have any of those things. Here, we simply take one day at a time because we just do not know what tomorrow will hold.

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Abigail around two months old – about the time we first learned something was not quite right.

That is hard for me. I am a planner. I love lists and schedules. Part of me wants to already be looking for a school for Abigail or planning our vacation for next year (this year is already planned). That’s me. My husband says I plan way too much and way too early. He describes himself of flying by the seat of his pants but in a controlled way. He was that guy in school who wrote his paper the night before it was due and then made an A on it. I was not that person. I loved syllabus day because that night I would lay out all my syllabi and make a semester long schedule and calendar of when I would start every project or paper. Everything was done with days, if not weeks in advance of the deadline. I do not work well under pressure! I tell you all this to show you that this new life is not my favorite.

Babies mess up schedules. I usually plan out in my head how my day will go hour by hour. Even though it does not affect anyone but me if things change, I just like having order. But I have learned that babies do not live on schedules. That’s a tough one for me to learn. You never know when Abigail will have a day when she will not nap so there goes my hour I had planned to clean or organize the house. My ‘perfect’ made up schedule gets ‘ruined’ a lot. It used to bother me more than it should, but just the other day our plans got changed last-minute and my husband said that I was handling it a lot better than I used to! That was a huge compliment for me!! I am improving.

But all this is just petty worries that I am learning to dust off and move on with. There are some moments where it all just hits me that we have no idea what the future holds. There are some moments where I completely doubt myself and my ability to mother. There are some moments where I am jealous as I watch other two-year-olds with their mothers. There are moments when I fear, worry, and analyze way too much. There is no book that tells you how to parent. There definitely is no book that tells you what to do when you hear the worse about your child. That something is not right with them. One day at a time is all I can do sometimes.

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My family taking it one day at a time – enjoying some frisbee golf at the park!

We met with our Babies Can’t Wait counselor this past Thursday. Babies Can’t Wait is a program that helps special needs parents work with the local school system to prepare your child for an easier transition into school once they reach that age. She was explaining to me about the process of getting Abigail in preschool in the next few years. Then she asked the dreaded question I try not to think about “has anyone mentioned to you about getting a wheelchair and other equipment?” Yes, a wheelchair. I know that’s a huge possibility in our future, but no one in the medical field has ever asked that before and it broke my heart. I want my baby to walk and explore and be able to get around on her own. I know amazing people in wheelchairs, and I know it would not be the end of the world if Abigail was placed in one as she gets ready to go to school. But it is the thought that my baby would once again be seen for what she could not do rather than what she could do.

One day at a time. That is what I remind myself when the fears of the future prevail. Today Abigail can wiggle and twist all on her on. Tomorrow she could stand. We simply do not know what she is capable of, but I have seen that child do things I would never thought she could do. Yes, therapy helps her a lot. Yes, I work with her some at home. But she does a lot of things all on her own. She is learning and growing everyday. So no, I do not think I am strong or even capable of mothering this stubborn blonde-headed baby but I know that Abigail is strong and we will continue to fight for her each and every day!


“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.” – Karen Salmansohn

What is Excellent?

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In Philippians, Paul instructs the believers to approve what is excellent. Not what is good, but excellent. So often I fail to reflect on the good much less what is excellent, but as I stopped and read that verse over and over this week in my study I could not help but wonder why those words stood out to me. The excellent. When Jesus came over to Mary and Martha’s house to eat one day Martha got upset that Mary was not helping her but instead she was just sitting at Jesus’ feet apparently not doing much. Jesus gently rebuked Martha and reminded her that Mary was doing the excellent thing – listening to Him. There it is again the excellent, not the good. Jesus told His disciples He came to give life, and not just any old life but the abundant life. Over and over the Bible lists examples that God is not a good or just good enough kind of god, He is the God of abundance and overflow. He is the God of the most excellent way.

God knows we have a tendency to dwell on the bad. To dwell on what worries us and what has gone wrong with our day. We are people who lean toward the negative.
I would even claim to be a positive person but I still worry and think about the worse outcomes at times. But He tells us again and again to find all we need in Him. Do not fear, do not worry, do not rely on ourself. Why are these instructions in the Bible so much? Because we so often forget and worry, and do not trust the God of everything.

I often struggle with trusting God. With Abigail it is easy to dwell on the bad and the what ifs. What if it was my fault she is like she is? What if I had not taken that medicine while I was pregnant or been induced for convenience sake? What if it is a genetic issue with Jordan or myself? What if she never walks? You see, there is a lot of bad to dwell on.
There are also a lot of cannots in Abigail’s life. She cannot sit up. She cannot talk. She cannot feed herself. She cannot stand. She cannot do a lot of things. But I hate looking at these! These things do not define my child, they are simply a list for people to use to determine where Abigail is in life. But Abigail is not a list of what she cannot do.

My Abigail can make anyone smile. My Abigail can giggle and make you laugh too. My Abigail can drink from a straw, and has done so since she was six months old. My Abigail can tolerate tummy time now. My Abigail can clean out a basket of toys and make a mess in about 30 seconds. My Abigail can clap joyously. My Abigail can find her nose, ears, and hair. My Abigail is beautiful!

It is so easy to be worried and distraught over Abigail’s situation. It is easy to say what she cannot do. It is easy to think things will never improve or change. But I choose to make the harder choice. I choose to see what Abigail can do. I choose to have hope that her improvement will only continue. I choose to be my daughter’s biggest cheerleader and her strongest fighter. I choose today and all the days of Abigail’s life to keep working with her, keep making her stronger, and keep showing her that she can do these things. I choose the more excellent way.

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Being the mother to this beautiful, perfect little girl is my more excellent way!

Yes, she will probably always have to work harder than other children her age to do the same things, but I think Abigail will have a fierce little personality that will be hard to contend with. She will be a fighter, and she will know what hard work and determination are. She is already stubborn and independent, and these qualities will make her into a little lady who will make a difference in this world.

So my prayer for my child, myself and for my readers is that we would all see what is good and excellent and right in this world and in the people we encounter everyday. That we would not define people by what they can’t do or what they can’t give, but we would see what is good in people and desire only good for them. I pray we can all be fighters in a world where it is easier to sit back and watch. I pray we will intentionally love others and show them there is a battle to be fought, and that there is only one winning side to be on. May we be able to approve what is excellent in our lives!

Why Therapy?

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We started therapy when Abigail was about 6 months old, so we have been in therapy for almost a year and a half. I have learned so much in the last eighteen months that I would never have learned anywhere else. When we are meeting new people, and explain Abigail’s situation therapy always comes up at some point in the conversation. What therapy do we do? How often do we go? Which therapy center do you go to? But I am more concerned with the why. Why do we put our daughter in therapy three days a week every week? Why do we do speech, occupational, and physical therapy?

Therapy is a big part of our lives. We make our schedules around it, because it is a priority for us. Since we do not have a diagnoses, or even an idea of why Abigail is behind developmentally, all we have to go on is the ‘symptoms’ she displays. Therapy can help these symptoms. The thing I love about therapy, is that it does not matter what is wrong or right with my child. They simply see what she can do and then try to make her stronger and better. They do not look at the cannots and shrug their shoulders like so many doctors we have been to. They see what she can do and how she has improved and encourage her to exceed expectations the next week. Therapy motivates, not only Abigail, but myself to try new things and work harder because there is improvement that can be made. Therapy gives me hope.

That is why therapy is so important to us. We see improvements every week. Whether it is something small like she looked around more on tummy time, or something bigger like she started to chew better in speech therapy. We celebrate everything, and are so proud of our big girl for all her hard work. And I know it is hard work because Abigail crashes after therapy – she is just so tired. I am very appreciative, well beyond appreciative, for the therapists that have been apart of Abigail’s life so far. We have been blessed to have some great ladies work with our little girl, and they love her so much. That means more to me than anything. To see our therapist proud of my child truly touches my heart more than anything.

I am thankful for our time in therapy, and I am excited to see what the years ahead hold as we continue our sessions. I love that through therapy we see improvement, we find encouragement, and can seek help with what we need. Therapy is a comfort and a blessing and I am thankful that Abigail was able to start as early as she did. Therapy has changed our lives, and has taught us so much and I am glad when no one else seems to have answers for us that we have a place to go to find the help we need. So why therapy? Because it is a blessing to our family, and it shows that my little girl is capable of things we could not even imagine! We will always choose therapy!

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We love therapy!!!

And the Mystery Continues

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Waiting on our x-rays. Abigail loved this doctor! She has smiles for everyone. 

The doctor looks at us with the saddest look in his eyes. You know he is about to tell you the worst news about your child and you brace yourself for what you are about to hear. Then he says, “I am so sorry Mr. and Mrs. Lidh. But everything in Abigail’s tests shows up normal. She could not be any more perfect.” A big sigh and a shoulder shrug. You just want to hug the doctor and tell him everything will be okay. This is nothing we have not heard before. Most people would be jumping up and down about hearing a normal diagnosis, and yet here we sit with the doctor who looks like the worst thing has just happened.

This was our experience Thursday morning at the orthopedic office. Our therapists wanted us to get Abigail’s hips looked at, and make sure everything was growing properly since she never bears weight through her legs. We scheduled our appointment and had x-rays completed of her spine, side, hips, and legs. Everything looked perfect! Her bone structure and growth plates were exactly how they were supposed to be, and the doctor could not find one thing wrong with her.

At every doctor appointment we have to list all previous doctors and tests we have seen and preformed to date. The list is getting rather long. As I began listing Abigail’s previous medical record to the orthopedic doctor you could tell he was thinking this was a lot for a baby who is not even two. Then he asked the age-old question, “And none of these tests came back with any answers as to why Abigail is behind?” Nope, not a single one. Every test has come back with the same answer. Normal. Normal. Normal. Her eyes are normal. Her brain structure is normal. Her bone structure is normal. Her brain activity is normal. Her muscle responsiveness is normal. All her blood work has been normal.

Usually when a doctor comes back with lab work and test results that are normal, both you and him are very relieved. Everyone likes to be normal. But when all tests point to normal, and still the patient is very abnormal something does not add up. Jordan and I almost laughed when the x-rays were completed. We are so used to Abigail’s tests being normal, why should we think anything different. But that poor doctor wanted to help us and let us know why our daughter is behind developmentally. He even said he looked for possible spine tumors or anything odd. Yet, there was nothing. We walked away laughing, leaving him looking stumped in her chair.

Abigail has baffled many doctors. We have had doctors consult their medical books in their office while we wait. We have had many a doctor scratch their chin and shrug their shoulders looking very puzzled. Our one neurologist even referred us to another practice because they were not sure in what direction to go in anymore. What can you do? Your baby defies all medical odds so far. At least she is cute.

So who knows why Abigail is the way she is. We are still waiting for the genetics testing to come back from the blood work we did in November. We will not know anything on that until May at the earliest. So, maybe we will find our answer there. But we are not getting our hopes up too much because the genetic counselors have told us again and again that with this test there is only a 25% chance they will actually find anything abnormal with Abigail’s genes. Genetic testing is such a long, detailed process that finding one abnormality on a strand of DNA is slim to none. But we are happy with the negative results, and we are very thankful to have such a healthy, happy little oddler! Maybe one day the mystery of the little oddler will be solved.

An Altered Pace

I am reading Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst, and she had a wonderful quote sandwiched in chapter 2 that just really spoke to me. “Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race. He’s into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling – all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace. Words used to describe us being with Him.” As I think about an average day in my life do these words describe myself and my family? These words challenged my heart because they seem so inviting, but do we abide in God on a daily basis?

This makes me think of what does a day in the life of us look like? I have wondered what word to use to describe a day of our life, and the one word I would describe it is peaceful. That is probably not what you, or even I think of initially, but as I have thought about writing this post peaceful is what I have concluded.

Our day is filled with what everybody else’s day is filled with. Morning and bedtime routines, running errands, playing, napping, cleaning, eating, talking and laughter, and simply being a family. If you came to spend the day with us it would not be anything special, but everyday is special to me.

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I don’t always let Abigail make a mess while she eats, but she was so cute playing with her rice the other night. 

Having Abigail has taught me to slow down. You cannot rush with any child. There is no last-minute lunch dates with your best friend or random adventures with your husband. Every child slows you down to some extent. You have to take time to take care of them and love them. But with Abigail those things are slowed down even more.

Every simple routine thing takes a little longer to complete. Whether it is meal time, or getting clothed, or buckling her into her car seat things just take an extra minute with her. But through that I am learning patient endurance. It is not something someone picks to learn, but it is teaching me that life is not meant to be rushed. Jesus was intentional with every thing He did, so being intentional and present in every moment is something I strive for even if I fail often.

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Soaking in every bit of this beautiful weather we can!

I am a schedule and to-do list junkie. I love lists and schedules and I often get too caught up in them. It is my strength and my weakness. I love routine and order. But Abigail is showing me that a list is not as important as quality time. A schedule is not as important as showing love. And a routine can be changed and the world will not quit revolving. Abigail takes me out of my comfort zone a lot of times. I make a pre-planned schedule of the day in my head each morning and rarely does it ever play out the way I think it will. Abigail ends up liking an activity more than I thought she would, so we play a little longer than expected. Or she ends up not napping which means I do not get the chores I was planning to get done. She messes up my made up schedules a lot but it is teaching me to let go of them and just relax and enjoy each moment.

Today the world says rush, rush, rush. Do this event or this activity or make sure your child is in this certain thing. The comparison game is stronger than ever through social media. But I am learning not to listen to these messages the world screams. Instead I choose to listen to what my God whispers through my soul and time spent with Him. It is hard to compare Abigail to other children. I used to, but as she got further and further behind toddlers her age the comparison game quickly came to an end. She is unique and truly in her own category. She’s already backtracked on every single milestone so now any progress she makes is an answered pray. She teaches me to slow down and let peace reign because God has created her exactly the way He did for a reason.

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Our little, smiley blessing

Abigail does not run around and talk about toddler things. She does not scream or fuss or throw fits. These are not things I wish. I want her to walk and talk and communicate with us. I want her to interact with her environment. But because of the way she is our life is peaceful. We have other stresses in our life. But Jordan is always so good about reminding me that there is no need to worry about things that are out of our control. That is hard for me because I like control, and I like knowing what tomorrow holds and what next month holds. But we are living in the unknown with our little one. And we are learning to embrace the unknown.

I want to do better and live in each moment. I want the pace in our house to slow down. I want my home to be a place of rest and shelter. I want the peace of God to reign in our lives everyday no matter the situation. The days we live may pass slowly sometimes, but the years are flying by. I do not want to miss a moment of Abigail’s life. A day in our life might not be extraordinary, but it is what we make of it. And we are trying to make it the best life, full of abundant blessing!


“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

My prayer for you, dear reader, is that the peace of God finds its way into your heart and life today. It is a wonderful thing to rest in God’s able hands. May you surrender all your cares and burdens over to the Lord, for He can do much more with them than you ever could.

This Could be the Year

 

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Jordan and I stood beside Abigail’s crib on New’s Years Day right after midnight to whisper happy New Year to her. We stood there watching her sleep, and Jordan leaned over and whispered, “This could be a big year for us. This could be the year Abigail starts sitting or standing or walking.” I just looked at him and smiled.

A new year usually brings hope, change, and a sense of renewal, but for me the new year has been different. I am scared a lot of times that things will not change, and nothing will be different this year than last year. The doctors have warned us that if Abigail begins to regress in her progress that could be a very bad sign that something is very wrong, so this fear is always in the back of my mind. Will this be the day, the week, the year that Abigail does not improve? Will she always be like this and will dependent on us her whole life? Am I able and ready to care for her in the capacity that she needs? These are all fears that run through my mind as this new year begins.

But then I think of those simple, whispered words, “this could be the year….” This could be the year, and I am filled with hope. Lysa Terkeurst wrote in one of her blogs, “I want God’s truth to the loudest voice in my life.” What a powerful thought to remember. In all the unknowns, negativity, and evil happening in the world today lies fill our heads. We lose our hope and joy as we survey our lives so often. If you are anything like me you try to map out the future, and it is not always good. But God is good, and His plans are good. His Truth must reign in our minds and in our lives.

His Truth that says He makes nothing wrong or with flaws. His Truth that says that children are a blessing, and arrows to be used to fight the evil one. His Truth that says children precious in His sight. And these truths are like balm to my soul. My sweet child is perfectly and wonderfully made. She is a mess and a half. She now knows how to take her socks off, and if she could take her other clothes off she would have them off too. She lifts her shirt for you to tickle her tummy. She has the best giggle I have ever heard. It is hilarious to watch her try to sit up. She can really only lift her head, but her face shows how hard she is straining. She reaches out for everything in sight, but then does not want to really touch anything. Since most of her teeth have come in now, she clicks them together and Jordan says she sounds like a little zombie. Jordan also calls her Grabigail because she loves to grab his face and beard, and she is really strong when she wants to be. Any funny face or noise sets off her giggle box. She is beautiful inside and out, and I would not trade her for the world.

So even though all the worries and fears  of what tomorrow will hold will remind I am sure, I still hope and pray this will be the year. This will be the year we see Abigail exceed expectations. The year our family grows in new ways. The year I let God’s voice and His Truth reign in my life instead of fear, doubt, and worry. This could be the year that leads to better years ahead.