Let the games begin!
Each August Jake heads back to work and life simultaneously amps up for us. The high school girls soccer team that we coach officially started their season this week which takes up every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoon. We are still youth pastors at our church which fills our Sundays and Wednesday night. Jake leads a boys only Bible study on Saturday evenings. And then there is life….lots of medical appointments and therapies every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And add in my part time job at the church every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10-2.
Life. Is. Bonkers.
But Jake and I both feel so strongly that we haven’t been placed on this earth for the four of us Carrolls. We need to pour out as much of ourselves as we can, trusting God to refill that energy supply.
With Jake back at work I took over bedtime shift, 4am shift, and early morning shift with the boys. Needless to say, my mood hasn’t been stellar this week as I am trying to adjust to the new schedule. I have been very short with the boys, getting frustrated at tiny little things. One morning this week I had yelled out of frustration which left both boys and myself crying and me googling anxiety medication. I felt terrible making them cry so I apologized and we prayed that God would help mom with her anger.
That night Malachi and I said another prayer that God would help him sleep through the night, something that hasn’t happened in months, maybe even years. We went to bed and woke up to sunlight peeking in the window! I snuck Malachi out of the bedroom so we wouldn’t wake up Levi and told him excitedly that Jesus answered our prayer! We rejoiced together and celebrated until we heard baby Levi crying in the other room. I set Malachi down to go get Levi so he could join the party.
When I walked into the bedroom and looked at Levi I saw that his outfit was sopping with formula. My heart skipped a beat as I ran my hand over his belly to check on his g-tube. And sure enough, one of my biggest fears had come true- his stomach tube came out in the middle of the night.
Stomachs heal insanely fast, so you have a two hour window to get the g-tube back in before the hole closes. Since it had happened in the middle of the night I wasn’t sure how far into that two hour window we already were and the local children’s hospital is an hour away. I stripped him down quickly to get a look and the hole looked completely healed. I grabbed a spare g-tube and pinned Levi down with my knees to try to get it back in and he fought me like an alligator. The tube did not go in and the site started to bleed.
At this point I was an anxious mess yelling out prayers to God for His help and running around like a wild woman. Levi didn’t trust me anymore since I had pinned him down so he was running from me as well. He likes sink baths so I filled the kitchen sink and set him in it so I could get close enough to look at his tummy again. I called a nurse friend down the road to come by and help hold him down and started to pack our hospital bags, assuming we were about to have to go into surgery. Jake is a basket case with medical surprises so I had zero intention of telling him until after the surgery was finished.
As I packed our bags my emotions overwhelmed me and I started bawling. This was the morning that God had answered Malachi and I’s prayer for sleep- and the devil attacked me in another way. Every single night when I get up with Malachi I check Levi’s tube, once when I get up with Malachi at 4 and once when we go back to bed at 6:30. Since Levi’s birth there has not been a night where I didn’t check the tube…except for this night.
I looked at the g-tube that had come out of his belly and the balloon that holds it in his stomach just completely popped. Think of an earring being held in an ear by a stopper on the back…and then the stopper essentially blew up letting the earring slide right out. Total fluke and not super common.
My friend came over and we tagged team pinning him down as I tried desperately to get the tube in. Fail. Fail. Fail. I ran out to the car and dug out a catheter I had in our emergency medical kit, hoping that the rounded tip might go in easier than the one I was trying. I know this all sounds so dramatic, but you need to know that for me in that moment it was totally dramatic! The muscles in my body were quivering with the stress of trying to hold him down.
And then the catheter went in. BOOM. I shouted THANK YOU JESUS and took a deep breath. If that catheter went in it meant the hole was still established. It took a few tries but I was able to get the catheter out and slide the tube in, avoiding a trip to the hospital.
Levi and I were both a mess by the time it was all over, and Malachi was wide eyed with excitement at everything he was hearing and the emotion in the room.
After my friend left I allowed myself another messy cry. We crave normalcy for Levi, and things like this remind me that we are far from that normal. I want to have normal mom frustrations, like cleaning up a taco my child chucked across the room. Not emergencies that involve me pinning my child down and inflicting pain on him. Blatant reminders like this chaotic morning are often an undesired reality check.
But in the midst of the stressful, we had some great moments this week too.
Levi got to ride in a shopping cart by himself for the first time! He grinned the biggest grin when I first put him in. Then of course he spent the next 30 minutes trying to sneak out of it when I wasn’t looking haha. Being able to push him in the cart and just pull Malachi made life so much easier!
The boys love the adventure of going to the soccer field with us. Due to the emergency potential I described above, we rarely leave the boys out of our sight. Thankfully we have my mom and some great friends willing to keep the boys company on the sidelines. We have been bringing Levi’s new truck so he is happy as a clam. And Malachi loves to hear the excitement of the fans. It does get a little hot so we have to be cautious about him overheating, but so far so good.
Levi tends to attempt walking more on the grass so we worked on taking a few steps! He is so so so close to walking.
The boys got to go to our soccer pool party….
And our back to school youth worship rally and pizza party….
And Malachi rode his horse like a champion. I wish I could get more photos of Malachi but he requires too much support for me to safely get good pictures of him. We started him on a new diet this week and so far it has had some pretty great results.
This week we have six appointments, including a visit to the Chattanooga pulmonologist to talk about the Cincinnati findings.
While we were in Ohio we were around people who aren’t used to Malachi. It is always so interesting to me to watch how different people interact with him. It always warms my heart when we come into contact with someone who truly SEES Malachi. Someone who sees past his physical differences and recognizes the sweet and silly six year old boy inside. Those people are rare and special, and Malachi connects with them instantly.
It is these people that take the extra few seconds to speak directly to him, and are surprised when he reacts to what they are saying. Malachi will always speak back in his own way, sometimes with his signs, sometimes with his eyes, and sometimes with his body language.
I always appreciate the people who see him and connect with him.
My friend told me a few weeks ago that she had a dream about me and the boys. She said when she walked in that both of the boys were teenagers and walked over to greet her. She looked at them surprised to see them typical and walking, smiling shyly at her as she talked. She said she turned to me and I unwaveringly told her “This is how I see my boys.”
When she told me this dream I teared up at its accuracy. I see them as whole. I see them as two of the most precious and beautifully unique jewels that God has ever created. They aren’t like everyone else, nor were they ever meant to be like everyone else. They are perfectly imperfect.
Malachi’s spirit is special. And when others get a glimpse of that my heart is so proud.
In Luke 1 we read about the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary to tell her she was going to bear the Son of God. Gabriel starts out his introduction with: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” He goes on to tell Mary “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”
Sometimes I think we forget that God is hand picking each of us for specific tasks. For Mary it was to be the mother to Jesus. For me it is to care for two special little boys. Both of us mothers with tasks that we never imagined we would be given. But both willing and eager to carry out the assignment God has given us.
As I thought about Mary this week I fast forwarded to the pain in her journey of having to watch her son die, and I was reminded that sometimes that tasks that God asks us to do are not easy ones. Sometimes the jobs he calls us to are not glamorous, fulfilling, or desirable. Sometimes they end in unimaginable sadness and grief.
But before you were given that job, God looked at you and said: “That’s the one. That’s the one that can handle this task.”
Often times we look at hard things as a punishment. But Mary’s task began with God sending an angel to tell her that she had found favor with God. He saw her, He was pleased with her heart, and He trusted her to do a very important job.
When I read that I am reminded yet again that God sees a strength in me that I sometimes can’t see in myself. Maybe some of you can also find your “Mary moment” and recognize that God sees you as highly favored, which is why he sent such big things your way.
Please pray for supernatural strength this week as we continue to adjust to our new routines.