Another week of tackling projects and wrangling these boys!
This week I determined to make all the phone calls that I have been putting off. The boys have appointments and surgeries scheduled at three different hospitals in Tennessee and Ohio over the next 3 months and we needed to speak with the providers to see which ones could be postponed a bit longer. Levi’s Cincinnati trip and surgery has been canceled completely and we will attempt that one again in the fall. Malachi’s orthopedic and spine surgeons in Nashville didn’t want to cancel their appointments but we did move them to July. And we were able to move 7 other Chattanooga specialist appointments to late summer.
Needless to say, I spent hours and hours on the phone. It is absolutely amazing how much Levi can get into in a matter of seconds! Trying to talk to nurses and chase around a half naked toddler who is swinging his dirty diaper around his head like a lasso is quite the challenge.
Ignore the mess in the above picture. Casualties of me being on the phone!
We had a tiny little adventure this week, which exhausted all four of us. We usually take our youth group to a summer camp in South Carolina but just don’t feel at peace about them going this year. We have been trying to figure out something else we could do with the group and we found a farm about an hour away that has all the things we would need to pull off a youth camp on a small scale with just our group. Obviously we are proceeding with planning knowing that we may have to postpone due to COVID-19.
The place has small 2 person cabins (think “glamping”/glorified camping) on the property so the teens wouldn’t be sharing confined spaces. It is set up for large weddings with plenty of outdoor places for us to congregate with the group and study God’s word. We feel like this is the direction God is asking us to go, so we are trying to put our fears aside and walk in faith with the planning for the beginning of July. The boys would obviously be coming with us and is the marker we have chosen for their first public venture out of the house.
On Monday we made the drive to the farm to look at the layout and figure out how to arrange the schedule for them. The groundskeeper unlocked the facilities for us to self tour and told us to take our time, so we ended up walking around for 3 hours. It is absolutely perfect for what we want to accomplish and we left there so excited but utterly exhausted. It was a wonderful change of pace.
In other news, the bears are back at the Carroll house. Here is a video of our newest furry visitor:
This big guy stayed for a few hours one night and I watched him closely on the cameras. He spent a little too much time hovering around the master bedroom window where Jake and Levi were sleeping (and where the shotgun was) so I went out on the back deck and yelled at him at he scampered back into the woods.
Malachi got a new swing adapter in the mail this week and has been absolutely loving it!
Here is a short video so you can hear his giggles:
And while we are at it, here is a video of my helper Levi doing one of his chores. He also helps me unload the dishwasher.
I can’t believe how much both of the boys have been growing. Levi is getting long legs and a sweet little personality. He is my shadow, following me around every step and crying uncontrollably when I leave the room. I asked him this week “Levi, why are you obsessed with me?!?” and he quickly and casually replied “You’re pretty”. Jake and I had a good laugh at that quick witted response.
Every year I have such a hard time with Mother’s Day and I still can’t fully understand why. This day is a day of rest and pampering for so many mothers around me but taking a break is something I don’t ever have the luxury of doing. Taking time for myself would mean burdening Jake and in my head I can’t justify that type of selfishness. The boys can’t turn off their medical needs, seizures, pump feedings, medications just because today is Mother’s Day. I guess this day always serves as a reminder that my call to motherhood is so different than everyone else’s…something I know and accept but sometimes mourn.
This morning Jake went alone to church and I stayed home with the boys. I could feel my emotions wavering so I decided to tackle a project to keep my mind off of things. I decided to organize the pantry which had grown embarrassingly out of hand thanks to my toddler “helper”. The distraction was working well until I dug deep on the bottom shelf and pulled out this.
The night Levi was born the nurses tried so hard to normalize the experience for me, even though it was far from normal. Levi was taken by ambulance to another hospital with a higher level NICU, Jake was home with Malachi tending to his medical needs and routine, and I was alone in a hospital with a fresh c-section wound and no baby to show for it.
They brought in this bottle of sparkling grape juice and a package of sweet things that they give to all new mothers. I remember looking at this bottle and hearing the babies and mom’s in the rooms around me and feeling so empty.
I don’t remember bringing the bottle home but somehow it made it to our house and shoved into the very bottom corner of our pantry.
As I looked at the bottle this morning I couldn’t help but imagine how special opening that bottle and celebrating must have been for the families that receive them. For me today it was such a tangible reminder of our pain and our loss of normal…a second time.
But it also served as a reminder that the devil can use even the smallest, most unsuspecting things to throw us into darkness. He can take something that was meant to elicit joy and use it to brew a jealousy of sorts that our story isn’t like everyone else’s. Verse after verse in the Bible warns us against these tricks of the devil but oftentimes we don’t recognize them until they have taken root.
These days Jake and I sleep in different bedrooms, each taking a kid. Non-traditional and definitely not ideal but necessary at this stage in life. Levi requires nighttime feeds so we are up and down dealing with his feeding pump and untangling his tubing. Malachi’s little brain is constantly misfiring so sleep for him is rare and very shallow- the slightest movement wakes him up. Having them both in the same room right now is not possible.
Malachi and I stay in the living room until he falls asleep, then I carry him to the bedroom which is getting increasingly harder to do. Last night he was sound asleep and I was getting ready to carry him back to the bedroom; he suddenly woke up with his eyes bulging out and his arms waving frantically. I could tell immediately that he couldn’t catch his breath, and when he panics like this he completely cuts off his air supply.
I snatched him up quickly to try to assess what was going on and after banging on his back a bit he took a deep, long gasp of air in and started crying. The only thing I can reason is that he refluxed a bit and when the burning hit his throat he freaked out. I got him calmed back down and he begrudgingly drifted back to sleep.
I carried him back and laid down next to him and started to cry. Why are MY children scared and suffering? Why is MY 7 year old waking up terrified because he can’t breathe? Why does MY 2 year old cry in anger every time I hook him up to his feeding backpack throughout the day, clearly wanting to run and play backpack free like every other toddler? Why does he struggle to run and do other simple physical tasks?
And then the sadness transitioned into my journey into motherhood. Why have both of my babies needed doctors to restart their hearts and breathe life into them? Why I have had to see the things I have seen? Why won’t my son be able to verbalize that he loves me?
As I dwelled in my pity party God spoke as He often does through a Bible verse planted into my soul. Last night through my silent tears He was loud and clear:
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
So what exactly is “doing good”? What does that look like?
The answer to that is different for each of us. Doing good is simply following in obedience to the things which God has called you to do. For me that includes caring for these precious boys in a Christ-like way. For others doing good is a completely different God assigned task. But to be perfectly honest, your “doing good” is something that will have a tendency to create a weariness in you…you will recognize it by the toll it takes on your heart.
And it is that weariness that urges you to stop, telling you that you can’t continue doing it.
But as the verse reminded me last night, in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. We have all been given a crop to grow. For some those crops spring signs of life quickly, rewarding our dreams and hard work. For others like me, we water and we watch. We weed to protect and we tend. But day after day we don’t see those sprouts of growth as we stare at barren land.
But the “due seasons” are different for each of us. And when we start comparing our crop to someone else’s we start to prematurely mourn our dry grounds and give up.
But we must remember that in due season we will reap. And it is that faith and unwavering belief that will give us the strength to water our dry ground day after day after day without ever seeing the results we expect to see.
So on this very hard Mother’s Day, I am choosing to throw away the grape juice bottles and remember that my path isn’t meant familiar to others. God is aware of my weariness and wants me to reach out my hands to Him and not let it overtake me.
Don’t grow weary in doing your good.