Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lifetime Movies...

This morning I had the honor to speak to a local Mom's group about pregnancy and infant loss - and infertility. Unfortunately, I am an unwilling expert (by experience only) on this topic. The theme for their year is looking for the light even when darkness is enveloping... which is an opportunity to hope recklessly and to witness God's presence guiding things seen and unseen, comfortable and uncomfortable. Their theme for their meeting today specifically was "hope" - and how we can focus on our faith and hope to get us through even our darkest hours. I sure do hope I was able to provide some faith, hope and love to these lovely mothers. Here is my speech - minus the ad-libs that I really shouldn't attempt while giving a speech as I ALWAYS end up losing my place. Oh well, I'm still a work in progress...

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I’m happy to be back here today to be with all of you. The last time I was here, I talked about how our family walked through the tragedies of losing a daughter to stillbirth and a 5 1/2 year old son to a random febrile seizure that stopped his heart.

I’m back today to discuss how, as a Mother, I got through 13 miscarriages. But I also want to talk about infertility as well. If any of you have struggled with getting pregnant - then you know that makes losing a pregnancy that much harder. So basically, I’m back to lighten up the mood a little after my last talk.

But seriously, this is not even a joking matter. So many of us have endured the loss of a child… in one way or another. I am sure if I asked those who have lost a baby to raise their hands, more than half the room would. And you may be learning about a loss for the first time from someone sitting next to you that you thought you knew so well. And I bet if I asked those who have had seasons of infertility to raise their hands, we’d have similar results.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”  I uttered that phrase in prayer… out loud… to my parents… to my husband… and to the sky with my fists raised high many times in my life. 

If you know what it feels like to watch “everyone else” around you get married - as the calendar keeps turning and your birthdays keep returning and all you want is for your “life to start.” You may have said, “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

If you know what it feels like to want to start a family with the person you love, yet it doesn’t happen on the first try… or the fifth… so you get on the internet and look in books and learn about ovulation sticks and monitors, good lubes and bad, what foods to eat and which to avoid. If you know what it feels like to be red flagged at the pharmacy for stockpiling Robittussin during ovulation - or thought very seriously that you would do ANYthing under the sun just to get your stressed out partner to perform before your window closed. If you have had to practice patience with your partner who, let’s face it, doesn’t have the luxury of faking it like we do and is on a precisely timed performance schedule, you may have said, “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

If you know what it feels like to realize that, despite your valiant and best efforts, you’re still not pregnant. If you know what it feels like to accept that you need the help of a fertility specialist and you decide not telling anyone is the best worst idea. If you know what it feels like to inject yourself and feel your ovaries swelling beyond the size of your head. If you know what it feels like to experience medically managed hormones that are raging out of control - on top of your own emotions that are trying to fight for a place at the crowded table of rage and fear and sadness and hope and desperation. If you know what it feels like to be inseminated or retrieved or implanted or even to swipe right on potential egg donors that look a little bit like you - maybe - if you turn your head and squint a little. And all this time, the calendar keeps having the audacity to turn. You may have said, “Wow. It really wasn’t supposed to be like this.”


Trying to get pregnant - or needing fertility aid - is often a deep, dark secret. For some reason, many of us are told - or think we need to keep our struggles with fertility a secret. One of the most stressful things you can go through - we often go through alone. Our only ally the nurses we see at our appointments - or the fertility doctor who may have to refresh his memory on your case… or your name… before he walks in the room. And then there’s your partner. The one you need for the most obvious reasons - and the less obvious ones, at least to him. If we’re being honest, the woman endures the brunt of all of this. Much is asked of her body, her mind, her spirit. She is the one who will take her temperature, get injections, put her feet in stirrups, carry - and sometimes lose - a pregnancy. But we can’t forget the men. Their job is hard, too, and we expect them to understand what we go through when it’s hard enough for US to understand what we’re going through. They are on call, expected to perform - sometimes into a little cup with only a door between their most vulnerable moment and a room filled with strangers and an anxious wife. We can’t forget the men. It wasn’t supposed to be like this for them, either.

But then… hopefully… it happens. You get the two lines or the phone call or the ultrasound with the proof. You are pregnant and suddenly you feel like you can exhale. Finally your life can begin. You’re cautious, though, and decide to not tell anyone for fear of the worst - another best worst idea ever.

If you’re lucky, this is it. This is your happy ending. The worst is over and infertility or stressful trying or anxious waiting is all you’ll have to go through to have a baby in your arms. You will count your lucky stars - and thank the one who holds them in place - that you made it.

But one in FOUR - ONE IN FOUR mothers won’t be as blessed. It may be a shocking discovery in the doctor’s office when your labs are too low or the ultrasound doesn’t pick up signs of life. It may be a shocking discovery at home when you feel your hope slipping out between your legs. Or you may make it so far that you are able to deliver and hopefully even hold the baby you’ll never take home.

If ANY of these things have happened to you - whether it was one time or multiple times - I am so, so sorry.

ALL of these things… and more… have happened to me.


I have had quite a journey, no one can deny. I sometimes wonder if I should pitch my life story to Lifetime as a biopic. I’ve also had quite a journey with God. For some time it seemed that I’d be tested with a tragedy - and then lifted out of that deep valley and just getting settled when BAM - tested again - and that went up and down and on and on for years. Especially with pregnancies, motherhood and loss. Many times I would feel like I was stepping on lost futures and broken promises to climb out of the valley of loss. I couldn’t understand what God was trying to accomplish with my life. Often my prayers were angry ones. “What are you trying to prove here? Are you looking to break me? You got that - I’m broken. Why do these things keep happening to me? What is the point? Can you cut me a break - PLEASE?? I’m not a valley girl - I deserve some time up on the hills!”

Maybe you’ve been in that place. Maybe you’ve stood at the bottom of a deep, dark valley and scream/prayed the same angry prayers to God. If you have, I have news for you. God sees you there. And obviously he hears you because you’re “scream/praying.” But the God that is there for you on the top of the hill is the same God that is there for you, too, when you’re flat on your face in the valley. It took me a long time to realize something. If I prayed for something - even if it was temporary relief from heartache - and nothing changed - I felt like it was a failure. A wasted prayer. That God didn’t feel I deserved the happy ending. What I know now is that the answers to my prayers may not have been what I asked for - but they were what I needed in order to live out His story. The story He had written long ago. The answers to my prayers were the strength to stand up - even at the bottom of the valley - and to speak, to share my story and even have the guts to praise Him when storms would blow through.

You see, that Biopic of my life has already been written, casted, produced and directed by God. I may not like parts of it - I may be confused by a lot of it - I may believe that a few years back there could have used subtitles for me to understand them - but like any good and perfect thing from above, it will come together and make sense one day. And that’s true for all of you. You can’t walk out or give up before the end of your own stories. That’s why they call it faith. If you walked into a movie after it started and stayed for two minutes and then left - you wouldn’t be able to “judge” or “review” or even explain the story to anyone. Just from those two minutes, you couldn’t even predict how it would end. Well, that’s how it is with our lives. Don’t get hung up on year 12 or year 27 or year 43. See your “Lifetime movie” through to the end and trust that the Lord has it all worked out already and it’s a blockbuster. I promise.

If you’re in the thick of infertility drama… or you’ve had a miscarriage - or several - and you’re feeling discouraged, alone, forsaken, angry or depressed - I would encourage you today to hold on. I know, believe me, that it is very, very hard to be patient when you’re trying to conceive. But try to take a step back and remember that this moment, as painful as it is - and I know that it is indeed very painful - is just a two minute portion of that movie of yours.

You know, I’ve always wondered why women were so quiet about infertility struggles - or pregnancies - or miscarriages. Is it that they fear being labeled as “failures” because they aren’t getting pregnant as quick as they expected - or at all? Is it that they fear if they share their excitement about a new pregnancy - and then lose the baby - that they would then have to share their loss, their failure, their feelings with others? Well, I would ask you to consider this: What if it’s possible that what you’re going through isn’t really about you at all? God doesn’t waste any of our struggles. At the risk of sounding super “churchy” - I do believe that sometimes it’s the enemy that wants to keep us quiet. Staying quiet in our struggles can test our faith… test our marriages… test our emotional health. But do you know what kinds of things can happen when you speak up? When you share about your struggles with fertility, you may be very surprised to hear a lot of “We’re going through that, too!” or “We struggled and here are some things we did.” You never know when you’ll learn something new - and, as my Dad always said, don’t ever feel you’re so smart that you can’t learn from someone else. Especially those “unexpected” people. When you share about your pregnancy and the excitement of early life - you allow others to celebrate that miracle, too. Life - no matter how short it is - is truly a miracle of God’s. Then, if you end up losing that baby - you already have a group of people that will be there to hold you up for a while and mourn the life that they came to know for even a brief time. The more women talk about infertility and miscarriage, the less stigma there will be… and the more support they’ll receive. It’s really that simple.

If you’ve lost babies, also know that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to handle it. My first miscarriage was before I had Gavin and it was very painful. We decided to go away on a little vacation and shift our focus away from the loss for a little bit. But I was anxious to try again almost immediately. My second loss was drawn out. I lost Gavin’s twin at the beginning of my second trimester and there was nothing they could do but leave the baby in there with his brother. Every ultrasound was bittersweet - and slightly awful as I watched one son grow and the other slowly get inched out into nothingness. But I had to focus on my surviving baby and really didn’t have time to break down. As the numbers rose on my losses, I developed a thick exterior to deal with it and just kept plugging along. Does that mean I didn’t feel the loss enough? Of course not. When Darcy was born still, we had a cherry tree planted, a locket made with her name and date, we have her ashes in our home and bought a book to read to her brothers. Does that mean I loved her more than the others I lost? Of course it doesn’t. Someone else may have chosen to be knocked out and had her delivered and taken away - which was suggested to me. Would that have meant that they loved their child less? Of course not. We all do what we have to do to survive heartaches like these… and there is absolutely no right or wrong way to grieve a miscarriage, loss of a child or even the loss of the HOPE for a child. It is said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” But you know what I feel? I feel that comparison can also be the thief of grief. Don’t look to others to tell you how you should or shouldn’t grieve.

If you’re looking for ideas to help support a loved one or friend through the loss of a pregnancy or an infant - food. Through many of our losses, we had a wonderful neighborhood that would set up a meal train. Now that you know how many losses I had, it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t have to cook for three years. But meals - especially meals in throw away containers that are just left on the porch with no strings attached unless you are specifically requested to visit - they are the most delicious kind of meals. And if you do have the chance to spend time with the Mom - or even the Dad - just listen. There’s nothing parents like more than to talk about their children - or the children they hoped for. It’s not the time to tell your story - you’ll get that chance another day. Just listen. And listen some more. And maybe offer to pray. And food.

I have been outspoken about all of my personal struggles - and our struggles as parents - and it has been one of the greatest and most surprising blessings of my life. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of support and prayers and encouragement. But I’ve also - even without knowing it - been able to help so many others feel less alone. And I’ve hopefully been able to model what it looks like to trust in God’s plan for my life - even if I sometimes accuse him of throwing in an unnecessary plot twist that really doesn’t feel necessary. I worship a God who I know will use my story for good. I worship a God who I am SURE will give me that happy “fairy tale” ending when - not if - but WHEN I meet Him face to face and get to hold my children once again. And I worship a God who, in the meantime, is the best babysitter anyone could ever ask for. That God I worship is your God, too. He’s holding my babies - all of them. And I know He is holding all of  yours, too. And even though they are there and we are here - they will always be part of our "Lifetime Movies."

God bless all of you... and all of our babies.

(Feel free to share your stories of love and loss in the comments - I would be honored to read them.)




Sunday, October 9, 2016

Footprints...

"My precious child, I love you and will never leave you... never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
I have always loved "Footprints in the Sand." It was something that was always hanging somewhere in our home growing up and I could probably recite it by heart. (But please don't test me.) The poem took on a deeper meaning for me after Gavin died. In 2010, I lost Darcy. In 2011, I lost my Father. Then in 2013 I inexplicably lost Gavin - my firstborn - my entire world. You better believe I had some words with God along the lines of WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??? Who could blame me? But in my heart I know that He was carrying me. Carrying ALL of us... all along.
We weren't quite finished celebrating the day we welcomed Gavin into the world nine years ago. It has become our tradition to serve as "Home Cook Heroes" at the Gift of Life Family House as a way to honor Gavin's life - and his gift of organ donation when he died. The guests of the Family House are either organ transplant patients from all over the world who are getting treatment at a nearby hospital... or they are families and caregivers of patients who are inpatient at a local hospital.
Thanks to our dear friend, Claire Guarino, who helped us prepare a delicious dinner for close to fifty guests. Claire is the owner of a local business in Paoli, PA called (ironically) "Home Cooked." We hit it off when I walked in as a customer looking for a ready-made, home cooked meal to pop in the oven and look like a rock star chef by dinner time. We've been friends ever since. Each year, Claire graciously provides the meal that we then help prepare and serve to the guests. 
This year, we brought a big birthday cake for Gavin.
Everyone gets involved in the prep! 


Well, except Hope who basically just wanted to eat or lick everything so we kept her occupied elsewhere!
Claire's son, Ian, (who knows his way around a kitchen better than me!) is good buddies with Brian so they were excited to see each other. The kids had a great time. 
Each year I look forward to this event. I love the opportunity to serve the people at Gift of Life - whether they are transplant patients, caregivers or the staff. We have been touched by all. Each year I manage to have at least one emotional conversation with a transplant patient or family member. I am always honored to share Gavin's story and assure them - really try to assure them - that donating his organs brought me great comfort. I can imagine how hard it might be to understand that - especially if you've received or are waiting for a transplant and know that to live, someone must die. But there had to be something good that came from our tragedy. 
It was a successful evening - and a delicious meal...

...and a fitting tribute to our little superhero. 
He was our greatest gift of life.



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nine...

Dear Gavin,

You would have been nine today. 

I remember walking into the driveway to tell Daddy, who was washing his car, that it was time to go to the hospital on this day nine years ago. That night was a whirlwind. Quick decisions, emergency c-section, seeing you get whisked away to the NICU for what would end up being the first thirty days of our life together...
The next five and a half years were a whirlwind, too. 
Now is when I think most people would expect me to say - I wish I had known it was going to be such a whirlwind. I wish I had known your life would have been only 5 1/2 years long. And then I'd list all the things I would have done more of, less of or different.

But I can't say that. I feel like the way I parented you was the first best thing I ever did. I enjoyed every moment, I documented everything (thank God), we gave you lots of fun experiences, we tried not to limit you and I worked so hard to get you the help that ended up taking you so far. I don't feel a lot of regrets about the years you were with us. For that, I will always feel profoundly grateful.

But today was hard. We have been missing you a lot lately. It's getting harder to "wonder" what you'd be doing by now. Would you be holding conversations? Would you be running? There are so many unanswered questions - and our answers are only speculations... and they are all stuck in the past. 

We decided to spend the evening having fun as a family - something we know you would have loved.

We made the obvious choice to go to Arnold's Family Fun Center - one of your favorite places. And now Brian and Hope's, too! 
As hard as it is to live without you, Daddy and I agree that the smiles and laughs of your brother and sister make every day easier. 
In a book called "Second Guessing God" by Brian Jones, I read about two different kinds of miracles. The "instantaneous miracle" and the "perseverance miracle." I'd be lying if I sad I wasn't a little bit angry at God for denying us the miracle of letting you live.  But the only way I can explain how we've managed since you died is because we were granted a "perseverance miracle." God gave us the tools, the strength and the love to persevere. 
I know in my heart that you want us to be happy, Gavin. Some days are harder than others. For all of us. And some days are better than most. But my goal is the same. I want your brother and sister to always remember that it's okay to be happy - even when it seems impossible. And it's okay to be sad because we know the sadness won't last forever. 
We ended the evening with a birthday dinner at Pizzeria Uno. Brian and Hope made their own pizzas and shared a big sundae with two spoons. Your brother, on his own accord, wrote down all the people who were there at your "birthday party." I can't think of a better group to have dinner with. 
Nine years ago this night you made me a Mother. My life will never be the same. 
Happy Birthday, Bugaboo.

Love, 
Mommy

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Let's Keep This Just Between Friends...

Yep! It's that time of year again when I geek out over my favorite consignment sale. Every Spring and every Fall you can find me selling and buying at the Just Between Friends sale in Oaks, PA. I've been involved with this sale (at this location) since the boys were babies and have actually become very friendly with the owners. It's such a friendly sale!

I shopped this morning and shared my experience on Instagram, which was fun! And now I'm here to share what I ended up bringing home. I love doing this... so thanks for indulging me!

One of my favorite scores was this adorable bookshelf that I got for $20.00!! It will look so cute in Hope's room - whether she uses it for books or toys. I mean, for twenty bucks I couldn't just LEAVE it there!!
I ALMOST got a balance bike, but someone beat me to it. I was having reservations about the balance bike, so it's just as well. I ended up getting this Minnie Mouse bike for the same price - $10.00! Hope is always wanting to climb on Brian's bike, so hopefully she'll be thrilled to have her own.
This group is going to be put away for Hope for either Christmas or her birthday. The random group of animals will likely be her most favorite gift. Isn't that always the way? You could buy your kids the nicest, most expensive toy - and they love the silliest little things. Mark my words - she will covet these animals I got for $5.00! This whole group of toys cost me $22.00. I'm especially excited about the Imaginets. I love toys that encourage creativity.
Brian will get these for his birthday. We'll all enjoy having some fun new games to play together. Brian will be thrilled that he'll get to try out some new video games - and we're happy that they didn't break our bank. And who can pass up a giant slinky? This whole group cost me $35.00.
I couldn't pass up this blank canvas for Brian. He recently got a set of acrylics so I'm hoping he'll create something for me so I can hang it in the house! The canvas was $3.00 - and the two brand new aprons were $2.00 each.
I didn't get as many clothes as I expected. Things just weren't jumping out at me this time. But I do love what I came home with for Hope! It's hard to see, but the grey jeans are sparkly which Hope will love. This whole group cost me $20.00.
And these three adorable outfits cost me $16.00!
Brian was set on being a Minecraft character for Halloween and I was a little stressed that I would have to come up with something homemade. Not my specialty. So I was SO psyched to find this cardboard "creeper" head for $3.00!! And then I found this weird green body suit for $5.00 that is just so perfect, I can't even tell you. Brian has a hoodie to match the checks on the head so: check and DONE! And the only other article of clothing I got for him was a nice striped Gymboree shirt for $2.00.
I also got him a cool pair of dress shoes. We don't have too many occasions where we need to dress up, but for $3.00 - AND they're brand new - we're ready for a last minute invite to a Ball. Anyone having a ball?

Hope made out a little better in the shoe department. I got three pairs of Mary Janes: brown with pink butterflies, burgandy suede and black patent - and the cutest pair of Nine West boots. All of these shoes cost me $24.00.
And finally, I couldn't pass up a doll house this year.  Hope is just getting into a lot of pretend play, so I know we will have hours and hours of fun with this!!
This one needs a little rehabbing - I'll be honest. But I was sold because it came with furniture and dolls... and a husband who cooks!! See him right in the kitchen there?!? I mean, come on - that alone is worth the $25.00 I paid. 
I had such a great time shopping this morning. Now let's see if I can wait until Christmas to pull out some of these toys! (I have a proven track record of NOT waiting, if you were wondering.)

If you live in the Philadelphia area and you'd like to come to the sale - you won't be sorry. It opens to the public tomorrow, September 22, at 9am. Admission is $3.00 tomorrow only, but if you print out (or show on your phone) this coupon, you get in free! Children and strollers are welcome.

Greater Philadelphia Expo Center
Hall A
100 Station Avenue
Oaks, PA 19456

Hours:
Thursday and Friday: 9am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 5pm
Sunday: 8am to 3pm (many items will be 50% off)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Please Don't Forget...

Want to know what gets me every single time?

Helicopters.

I'm not one to burst into tears - or even get choked up - in moments you'd probably expect me to. I can talk openly about Gavin - about his life and his death - without a single tremble in my voice. Sometimes I wonder if that's an issue - but most times I think it's just one of those things that don't need analysis. 

But, helicopters. They wreck me.

Yesterday, I found myself standing under the giant, intimidating blade of a medical evacuation helicopter. I could barely hold it together.
It was part of a community event we attended that allowed kids to climb into, tour and touch all different type of vehicles. Brian loved climbing into a bulldozer!
We were blissfully playing on the playground when I stopped breathing for a moment. A helicopter approaching. We soon realized it was landing on the field as part of the event, Brian wanted to go over to see it. I smiled and said "Let's go!" 

As we walked, I prayed. Prayed that I'd somehow hold it together. Prayed that if I didn't, that I would use it as a teachable moment. Prayed as I always do for the crew that has one of the hardest jobs there is.

As we walked across the field, my prayer was interrupted with a shriek. "Look! A butterfly!" Brian exclaimed. And off they went to chase it...

We made it to the helicopter and walked under the giant blade to get to the door. The crew guided Brian in so he could look around. 

I could barely see.
The tears were streaming down my face as I took this picture of one son as I mourned openly for his brother. These dang helicopters get me every single time. And I'll tell you why. It was a rare moment for me to not be by Gavin's side. But on April 10, 2013 - after the emergency room team brought him back from death - a helicopter arrived to rush him to another hospital an hours drive away. For me to hand him over to strangers - hoping he'd be alive when I saw him again - it was the hardest thing I had to do. I couldn't be there for him - and it still haunts me. So now, every time I see or hear a helicopter overhead - I flash back to that terrible moment on that awful day.
But you know what? I often think of Gavin's organs getting on a similar helicopter just five days later to rush to the airport to get to the destination of his recipient. A strangely comforting twist of fate.
Today my family and I were invited to an event hosted by the Gift of Life Donor Program. During this event, which celebrated and thanked their many volunteers, they honored me (meaning US - meaning YOU!) with the Fundraising Ambassador Award. (The family picture they took of us will be added later - Ed and Hope were there, too! And so was my Mom!)
If you remember, last November I held a 40 hour fundraiser for the Family House. Together with many of you, we raised $10,820... in forty hours! Here is what was said about me... about you... about us.

You don't have to still be here with us. 
You didn't have to donate to any of the fundraisers I've held in Gavin's memory.
You don't even have to comment on anything I write or do.

But please, if I can ask one thing...
Please don't forget my son.
Please remember Gavin David Leong.

And if you ever see a Medical helicopter flying overhead, say a prayer for that person, that crew, and everyone waiting for... needing... a safe landing.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

And Then With Brave Wings, She Flew...

It was an exciting morning in the Leong house. Hope had her first day of Preschool!!
We didn't think it was going to happen. The church we go to has a Preschool and Hope LOVES going to church and seeing her friends on Sundays (as do we!). When I had the thought that she might love going to the Preschool for a couple mornings a week, I was too late. All the spots were taken. I added our name to the wait list... but as September grew closer, I stopped thinking about it and figured we'd send her next year.
But we came home from our Hershey trip to wonderful news! A spot opened up and Hope could start right away! 
We literally could have started the next day. She had already missed the first two days... but starting the very next day was too soon. We had a "first day of school outfit" to buy... and a backpack to choose! Priorities, people!!

I ordered an irresistible backpack with butterfly wings - which seemed perfectly appropriate.
Hope loved everything about it. The sparkles, the zippers, the wings! As soon as I put it on her, she ran around the house wearing it saying, "I'm a butterfly, Mommy! I can fly!" I bought the backpack from a company called "Bixbee" - and they donate a school bag filled with supplies to a child in need for every backpack purchased. I love companies that give back!
This morning, Hope decided to sleep in. I pulled the blanket off of her... pulled the lovie off of her head (which is exactly what her brothers used to do, too!)... tickled her feet... took this photo with a bright flash... she would NOT wake up. Finally, I resorted to turning on the lights and picking her up - fearing that this aggressive wake up would mean she'd be grumpy on her first day of school. As soon as I put my hands under her to lift her - she shot up with a start. And a smile! "It's time for school?" she asked.
WHEW!!!
We enjoyed a little breakfast and chatted about what she might do today and before we knew it, it was time to go.
I feel like I'm "supposed" to be very sad. And many wondered if this morning was hard for me - if I cried - if I will know what to do with myself. I have to be honest - I'm not sad at all. For many reasons... and I'll tell you why.
First - Hope is two. She will turn three in November, but she's two. Clearly I am not looking to start her on the road to a college scholarship or anything. If she didn't get in, I was happy to wait until next year. But I feel this is a fun opportunity for her to spend a few hours in a place that she already loves making new friends and learning fun things! I think since this was a choice we made, we aren't sad about it.
Second - I'm really not sad at all to see her spread her wings. I'm THRILLED for her!! Hope is my most independent child which means that I've really experienced the full spectrum. Gavin was completely dependent. Brian was somewhat independent - delayed in some developmental areas - and was quite shy. Hope is very independent and seems almost ahead in her development (based on our own family history). When your first child is completely dependent and you work so hard to help him do anything on his own - it changes your perspective. I am so, so thrilled when my children want to do something themselves... or when I see them overcoming something - a fear, a social anxiety, etc... or when I watch them make new friends. I really feel like I'm giving Hope an opportunity to fly - and that doesn't make me sad one bit.
The last reason I'm not sad? It's a tad bit selfish. Since Gavin's death, I have had anxieties about using babysitters for several different reasons. We tend to do everything together, which I love. But... I also need time to take care of myself and it's not always convenient to bring a child along. It's only a short time that she's in school, but I've already scheduled an appointment with my eye doctor... my rheumatologist (which is desperately needed)... the car dealership to get an oil change. It will be nice to have a few hours a week to get things taken care of. Like Mommy, for starters. Knowing she's happy, in great hands, learning and having fun? I'm definitely not sad about that.
It was a bit weird when I realized that today was my last first day of preschool! But that doesn't deserve tears... that deserves a hand clap! I want my children to grow!
I loved watching Hope's confidence as she walked into the building.
And by walk I mean RAN! She was so excited!!
She walked right down the hall...
...and stood right outside the door.
It took seconds for her to say hello to her teacher, hand over her backpack and join a group of classmates she had never met as they played. That is some enviable social confidence, Hopi! I need to learn a thing or two from YOU!
Hope has two teachers, Miss Meghan and Miss Alicia, and they're both very nice.
I'm sure it won't take long for Hope to warm up and be her true self with them! Hopefully they'll find her as much fun as we do!
When I picked her up at the end of the day, I had glowing reports. No one could believe it was her first day - she just slipped right into the already established routine seamlessly! That's just how she is at home - she adapts well to change and just goes with the flow. I love that about her. She also did her first art project - making apples by painting with actual apples. She hasn't stopped talking about it!
As a treat, I took her to a local Learning Express store to celebrate her big day. She had fun roaming the aisles, oooing and ahhhing and playing with some of the demo toys on the floor.
We left with a fun sticker book to do together - and the new confidence that comes with being a "student." Hope feels like such a big girl now that she goes to school. I love seeing her so happy and excited!
When we got home, I decided to interview her about her day. If you're ever wondering what Hope's personality is like - this is a great example. Sure, she has her moments of two year old screeching and being a pest during Brian's homework time... but 90% of the time, this is Hope...
I feel so lucky to be this little girls Mommy. One of my Dad's favorite quotes is: "There are two gifts we should give our children. One is roots and the other is wings." Today we gave Hope her little wings... and with those brave little wings, she flew!



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