Monday, May 27, 2013

A Jam-Packed Month of May

The month of May is already nearly over - it makes perfect sense why it went by so fast as this month was jam-packed. It's hard to believe that June is just around the corner. I can share in our pastor's sentiment when he said the year is half over but it seems like 2013 has just begun!

On the first Thursday of May, JOY International had its last Java JOY of the season. We had a great get-together as we celebrated moms and discussed the powerful prayers of a mom. We had a wonderful panel of three amazing moms who shared their hearts on praying for their children. We also shared testimonies of answered prayers for ourselves and our children. As Java JOY coordinator, I am relieved to be taking some time off but I already have lots of ideas for our next season which starts up again in September!
Me with our mom panel at Java JOY

Me and Faith on Mother's Day
Me and Faith playing our favorite game - Wheel of Fortune
At the beginning of the month we had another round of Anal Baniel Method (ABM) lessons for Faith. This time she had six lessons as opposed to four the previous time in March. In July, when Pati comes back to Bismarck we are hoping to get Faith in for eight sessions. We won't have to schedule around school so more lessons will be much easier to do.

This last time around, Pati showed us some weight-bearing techniques that do not involve her being tightly strapped in her stander. She also did something with Faith I would have never thought possible - she had Faith in a kneeling position on her knees being supported by the bed. Doing things like kneeling seems like such an easy thing to do but for a child with spastic muscles, these movements can be nearly impossible.
Pati working with Faith during a session in March
Pati said there is so much she wants to do with Faith and wishes she could see her more often. It really is optimal that when kids start having ABM, they have lessons every three weeks. With Pati coming here from Wisconsin, this is just not a reality unless we started taking Faith to see Pati in Minneapolis. There is a ray of hope, however.

One day after Faith and I were leaving from one of her lessons, we ran into one of Faith's former speech therapists. Some of this speech therapist's patients have been doing ABM. She was so impressed with the results, that she is taking lessons to become an ABM practitioner. It would be so wonderful to have someone who could be here in Bismarck full time - not just for us but for the many kids who could benefit from this alternative form of therapy.

Besides ABM, Faith has been super busy in school this month. They try to pack in as many activities as possible before the school year ends. Rob took her to two field trips - one at Bismarck State College for a water festival and one at the University of Mary for fun and safety day. She also went on a class picnic at a nearby park. Faith had a great last week of school and I know she is especially going to miss her teacher who is retiring after 30 years of teaching. 

Ever since Faith was a kindergartner at Centennial, she and this teacher have had a very special relationship. They just sort of took to each other right away and when Faith reached third grade, we were so excited that Faith would have her for her teacher. In fact, during Faith's open house before starting school this year, her teacher told her, "Faith, we've been waiting for this since kindergarten!"
Faith with her very special teacher, Mrs. Ternes
Faith with her teacher and the girls in her class
Faith with some rambunctious-looking boys
Recently this month, I took part in classes at the Healing Rooms. I have taken the classes twice before but this time, the classes were in preparation for becoming part of the Healing Rooms ministry. I have sent in my application and my pastor also sent in a letter for me. This afternoon I have my interview with the directors.

I know they are needing help in the reception area so that is what I hope to do but in the future I would love to be part of their prayer team as well.We have been going to the Healing Rooms for prayer ever since we moved here in 2004 when Faith was just eight months old. By volunteering, I am hoping to be able to give something back to this ministry that has been so instrumental in our lives.

Aunt Audrey on her 85th birthday earlier this year

On a sad note, we lost our precious Aunt Audrey on May 9th. She had been fighting various illnesses and this month, her health continued to deteriorate. It was hard for Rob being so far away as it just wasn't possible for him to travel to Toronto for the funeral.

Aunt Audrey was a very kind, caring and generous person. She only got to see Faith about three times, but Faith was very special to her. She was an avid reader of this blog and loved to keep up-to-do date with Faith and her progress. She will truly be missed by many.

I think that pretty much sums up our busy month of May. We are looking forward to using Faith's time off of school to make some changes in her therapy, her diet and other areas. We are also looking forward to seeing Rob's parents in Winnipeg next month! We only get to see them every couple of years and I know they will be amazed at how much Faith has grown this year.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mom - Something I Never Thought I Would Be

Growing up, I never honestly thought much about what it would be like to be a mom one day. In my preteen years, because of the heart condition I was born with, my cardiologists told me my heart would never be able to handle a pregnancy. I determined that when I grew up, instead of having kids, I would have lots of pets. I loved cats, dogs and horses and envisioned a future with at least one or two of each.   
Growing up, being a mom is something I never thought I would be
I was fine with the fact I would never be able to have a baby. I really was. Until the day in my early 20s, I visited a friend in the hospital who just had a baby girl. I walked in to see a tiny little bundle wrapped in a pink blanket snuggling in her mother’s arms with daddy beaming with pride alongside the bed. I was not prepared for the emotion that would stir my heart. I put on a smiling face for my friend but left the room in tears. I would never have that opportunity, I thought. I would never know what it was like to hold my own baby in my arms.

I got married in 2002 and my heart was doing well. My husband and I decided to step out on faith. If it was God’s desire for us to have a baby, we knew it would be so. I also knew that thanks to medical advances and further knowledge of adults born with congenital heart defects, it was more of a possibility for a woman with a single-functioning ventricle to sustain a pregnancy.

Even so, my doctor sort of freaked out when she realized I was pregnant. She hinted that I should terminate the pregnancy. When I told her that was not even a possibility, she referred us to a specialist in Billings, Montana who had experience in high risk pregnancies. I had also called my cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic and we came up with a plan that closer to my due date, I would stay in Rochester where I would have the baby.  That was the plan, but that is not what happened.

Most of you know the events that transpired: the air ambulance ride to Rochester, Minnesota when I was just 26 weeks along, the premature birth of our baby, the two month stay in the NICU.

It was nothing like the birth of my friend’s baby where I had witnessed such a happy scene in the hospital room that day. I didn’t even get to hold Faith until she was one week old. But that didn’t change the fact that I was a mom – something I never thought I would be.

As a mother of a child who was born too early and having special needs as a result, I have had my share of heartache, disappointments, discouragement and struggles. But I have also had my share of peace, joy, happiness and encouragement. The blessings have far exceeded the challenges.

Having Faith is one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened to me. I thank God every day that He chose me to be the mom of this precious daughter of mine. But most importantly through it all, I have learned that with God, all things truly are possible.