Here I go...
I've been wanting to do this for a long time. However, I'm about as technically savvy as our hamster, so it's a pretty daunting task to set up a blog! We have four beautiful kids who I am writing this for and about, and I hope this is a way we can keep family and friends up to date on the laughter, tears, milestones, and joyful chaos that we call "our life".
I always wanted four kids, a big family. Alex said he wanted three, and then we'd see. I thought it would be incredible to have a big, boisterous, joyful, chaotic, loving family. I wanted kids all around, toys spread throughout the house for me to constantly step on, someone always yelling "MOMMY!!!", and love love love. I knew my heart would grow and grow with each new baby, and the love we would have in our family would keep us strong through any obstacles life threw at us. Little did I know.
We did have four kids. A big, crazy family. I'm always stepping on toys, there's always someone needing me, there's always a tushy that needs wiping, and there are always kids around-- sometimes ours, sometimes ours + friends. And there is always love love love. Our big love has kept our big family together and strong through 12 years of marriage and 10 years of ups and downs with our kids. It's gotten us through terrifying, dark moments. And our love has been part of our celebration when we have golden, perfect moments.
A little background to catch you up to speed: We have twin boys who are 9, Jonah and Ben. Jonah is four minutes older than Ben, he will have you know. They were born at 29 weeks, and have had to overcome many obstacles due to their prematurity. We'll talk about that a different day. The boys have both been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Dysgraphia, and anxiety. We have had years and years of therapies- occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling, developmental therapy...and we are beginning to really see the benefits from all those hours of therapy. The boys are sweet, engaging, hilarious, smart, brave, creative, and kind. They also happen to have some special needs.
Aidan is 6. His name means "little fire", which we thought fit his personality even when I was pregnant with him. He is a feisty little guy. He was born at 33 weeks with jet black, smooth, straight hair. All that smooth hair fell out and grew back blond and spiky, as if it knew it had to complement Aidan's spunky personality. Aidan makes friends wherever he goes. He is bright, sensitive, full of energy, thoughtful, loyal, creative, and funny, and his smile lights up a room. He also has some special needs and has had years of therapy to address those needs. Right now he gets weekly OT and speech.
Ella is 2. "Ella" means "complete", and also "fairy princess", which both suit her perfectly. She is the girliest girl you will ever meet, all tutu's and pink. She has completed our family in a way we only ever dreamed was possible. Ella is affectionate, passionate, intuitive, kind, and playful. She was born 7 weeks early, and...you guessed it, is just going through the process of beginning therapy to address some special needs that are popping up. She is getting physical therapy to help her with some muscle/strength deficits, and occupational therapy to address her sensory issues.
This past week, Aidan was officially diagnosed with ADHD and Ella started therapy- OT and PT. A double whammy for Mama. Aidan already has the diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder, and some speech issues. It was a momentous week at our house.
We go through times where things are even keel, the kids are healthy and their behavior is manageable. Then there are times that are painful and difficult to get through. This week was a hard one. Even though we've been through the whole process with Ben and Jonah-- the diagnosing, the medication trials, the doctor's appointments, the neuropsychological testing- it does not get easier. As I drove to the psychiatrist appointment for Aidan this week, I was surprised that I was feeling as sad and anxious as I was. I knew what he would be diagnosed with, I knew what the psychiatrist would say. But I was still dreading it. Dreading the whole thing. Dreading the 'officialness' of it. Of what it means for Aidan, the meds he will have to try that might have side effects, the testing, the psychiatrist appointments, rallying his team of therapists to have support for a special ed plan at school, going through that whole process with the school...whew. I'm tired just thinking about it. I felt, driving to the psychiatrist that day, the same way I feel every time I have to go to the dentist (which I have a huge phobia about), I just want to run away. I tell Alex this EVERY time I have to go to the dentist- let's just run away!! I want to leave and forget about this and just not do this. So I cranked up my music, and tried to sing away my blues, and force myself to drive the miles to the psychiatrist's office. My blues didn't disappear, but I did make it to the doctor's office. Where yes, Aidan was officially diagnosed with ADHD. On top of Tourette's. And whatever language disorders he has that we haven't quite figured out yet.
Ella is always jealous of her brothers, because they get to go play with the fun therapists at our clinic, The Therapy Tree. She always has to wait for them in the waiting room. We're there a lot every week, so she really gets sick of waiting. She was thrilled this week when a therapist came to get HER to play!! It was bittersweet for me, watching her bop down the hallway, piggy tails happily bouncing, side by side with her physical therapist. I felt sad because this is another milestone- another one of our kids needs therapy. But I also felt so hopeful, because I know what this therapy has done for my other kids. The therapists who work with our boys are angels sent straight from heaven and put on this earth specifically to touch our family's lives. I'm convinced of this. They have changed our lives so drastically in so many ways, I don't have words big enough to thank them. Every single week, they show up, they're happy to see our family, they are full of ideas for how to make our lives better, how to strengthen muscles, how to calm rages, how to brush teeth...they are amazing and we are so blessed to have them in our lives. So I know what Ella is in for-- hope. Although it's sort of a sad thing to have to need therapy, it also makes Ella's future so hopeful. And she was right to dance down that hallway with her new therapist. This therapy thing is something to dance about.
When you have kids with special needs, you obviously hope your other kids won't have any 'special' issues. And when they do, it just makes you sad. Just sad. For how hard their life is and shouldn't have to be. So whenever I've faced struggles like these with my kids, I let myself grieve and mourn. I cry if I need to, I let the sadness take over for a little while. I wonder why my child has to struggle. Why life has to be harder for him than it should be. All the while knowing that through my sadness I will fight like hell to make sure my child has everything he could possibly need to make his life easier, better, safer, more enjoyable. I let my soul cry for as long as it needs to, and then I stand up and fight for my kids with every fiber in my being. I've learned that you can fight and advocate even when your heart is broken and your soul is crying. You might be fighting with tears rolling down your cheeks, but you're still there, standing up for your sweet babies like no one else can.
Four incredibly brave, resilient children. Four kids who have special needs. It's a daily adventure, and it's always joyfully chaotic at our house.