Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Birthdays Are Important to Reflect On...

We're not big birthday people around here but I think 5 years old is probably a big deal in terms of life stages. Novan turned 5 today and so I thought a little reflection was a good idea. Of course, I thought about when Novan was born. It was beautiful, terrifying, spiritual, horrifying, and sad time all at once. Just thinking about it makes my head spin. Golly, 5 years ago Novan made Brad and I a real family.

The story probably starts when Brad and I offered to babysit our friend's 5-year-old son for her while she went to a Make-A-Wish Foundation vacation for her would-be sister-in-law for a week. I was 34 weeks pregnant at the time. I gotta say, I had babysat all of maybe 2 times prior to that in my lifetime and was not that excited about kids. In short, I disliked kids a lot. I was rather nervous about having my own child, worried that I wouldn't like him. So while I agreed to watch this 5-year-old, I wasn't excited about it... AT ALL. Having 5-year old Ethan for a week wasn't so bad but I proved to myself once again that I still did not like kids much. They just didn't do anything for me, ya know what I mean? So I remember having a couple dreams during that week that included PTAs and chaperoning field trips. That made me even less excited. In short, I was down right terrified that I really was going to hate this parenting thing. What was I thinking getting pregnant when I didn't even LIKE kids?

Musta been the nerves because literally the day after I delivered Ethan safely back to his mom, I went into pre-term labor at 35 weeks. I was disappointed to not be getting the birth center birth I had planned on but in the midst of labor I wasn't caring much one way or the other. When labor went rather faster than expected, Brad and my doula Lorell drove me to the hospital in Fontana, CA where I was passed from the first doctor on call to another because the first doctor didn't want to deal with a mom doing natural childbirth. I have no idea how long I was in the hospital before he started crowning but I am pretty sure it was under 20 minutes.

Phew! What an amazing experience pushing a baby out is! Anyway, because he was preterm, they never let me hold him... well correction, Brad yelled at the nurse for like 5 minutes while she was cleaning off his vernix and they finally let me hold him wrapped in a big blanket for all of 5 seconds before they whisked him off to the NICU. I'm still a little bitter about that. Why was it too risky for me to be able to hold him for a few minutes yet they could take the minutes to unnecessarily wipe his vernix off BEFORE administering breathing help? I have a lot more to say on that but it's not soapbox time.

OK, so I remember right after they took Novan away and I was left alone in the delivery room with Lorell while Brad accompanied Novan, I delivered the placenta all by myself... that was weird. But I do remember being totally endorphin high despite the feeling of having my body flattened by a Mack truck. I told Lorell, "Man! I could so do that all over again!" It was so amazing, that feeling of pushing a person out, bringing a separate life into the world, and doing it all on my own strength and ability, enduring every painful feeling and good feeling together... and having control over it all. *sigh*

I said exciting AND sad, right? Yep, cuz the sad part is Novan in the NICU for 2 weeks. I was an emotional wreck those 2 weeks. There's something about not having a newborn to keep you awake at night and having to set an alarm to get yourself up every 3 hours to have a machine pump your breasts that is incredibly UNsatisfying and emotionally depriving. I know I still suffer a measure of guilt imagining my poor baby bonding with a plastic bassinet box, IV tubes, and monitoring equipment. No wonder the poor kid has some emotional issues. But what the heck did I know. If I were able to do it over again, I probably would have found some legal way to stay there 24/7 with Novan in my arms the whole time instead of getting kicked out all the time for shift changes and visiting hours. What a crock. *sigh* This time, it's a sigh of frustration.

Two frustrating and depressing weeks. And finally we brought our baby boy home. I will NEVER forget the first hour he was home. I was changing his diaper and when I took it off, he let out a huge number 2. I mean projectile style. I thought it was hilarious. Brad thought it was horrifying. Seriously, I am laughing out loud at the memory. THEN, when we finally got everything cleaned up and we laid him in the crib, he throws up all over the place. Novan was always a big spitter-upper, but this was like... big, ok? Or maybe in my new parent memories, it just seemed huge. So Brad, who was already freaked out by the poo projectile, thought we had done something horribly wrong. He gets his mom on the phone to I guess tell her how unequipped we were to have the sole care of a newborn baby. HAHAHA! I remember just thinking it would make a great story one day... and it did, see? Thank goodness Brad's mom talked him out of returning the baby to the hospital to pick up at a later date when we were more ready to be parents. Thrown into the fire, that's what you are as a new parent. But let's face it, it's usually mom who is REALLY thrown in the fire. I know there were sleepless nights, frustration in breastfeeding which I thankfully conquered, and lots more blow-outs and ruined outfits, but I do know that Novan was the BEST baby ever. He was abnormally good, bizarrely good. No wonder Brad and I had another one as soon as possible. We wanted like 7 more after that because Novan was so good. (For the record, we do NOT want that many anymore)

And my Novan is so special to me, my firstborn, my first love, my refiner's fire. He's so subtly brilliant in strange little ways, ways that you wouldn't notice if you weren't with him all the time like I am. And he's fiercely protective of his brother and sister and loving to them, his Dad, and I. I get to be privy to how much he loves his siblings and how he really is getting the hang of being the oldest finally and having a little responsibility. He's so fun! His stubborn focus is astounding. I can see this usually annoying and daunting trait in youth developing into a person firmly grounded and continually in pursuit of Gospel truth, undeterred by the direction of the general populace... an unusual man, one comfortable in his own skin and steadfast in what he knows to be true.
  Happy 5th birthday Novan; you were the beginning of real life and real joy and fulfillment for Dad and I. We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father for sending you to us!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I LOVE this place


I cannot tell you how happy I am, how exited about and mostly how grateful I am for Novan's school ABC of NC. Novan hasn't even been there for 2 months yet, and he can not only already write his letters (upper and lower case) but also his name on demand. He also knows and can write his numbers. He knows what day of the week it is, the season, the weather, count and write numbers and he also can HOLD A PEN properly. That is SO huge. I had been trying to teach him that for months and they taught him in a couple few weeks. It sounds easy to most people but unless you have had a child with little to no fine motor skills, you have no idea how frustrating it is for you to try and train them to get their muscles to work properly. Beya, for instance, learned to hold a pen without any prompting. She started doing it without direction. But Novan never could get it right. But now he now doesn't need ANY prompting to hold the pen correctly. His motor skills are vastly improved and I know it might be TMI but he can now wipe himself without my direction most of the time. (not that they work on that at school of course but it just testifies his improved motor skills)

A few weeks ago we were at the Dr's office for Iyov's checkup and the doctor pointed out how much more engaged Novan was socially. Novan spoke to the doctor and looked at her in the eye and smiled. He rarely would do that with strangers and the last time the doctor had seen him he didn't do any of that. She had suggested getting an assessment for him. I never did though and decided we were going to work more on his motor skills at home. But when the Dr pointed it out this time I told her it was the school he was going to that was specialized for Autistic kids and he was going as a "typical child." I swear, it's like he gets occupational therapy and school as one 5 days a week except that he's not labeled and it's MUCH cheaper.

I can only imagine how wonderful it must be for those parents whose kids are actually diagnosed on the spectrum. No wonder the school is growing so much. They do such an amazing job helping kids with disabilities on every level.

And Novan LOVES school. He absolutely ADORES it. We get out of the car every day so I can walk him to his class and he always has a big ole' smile on his face. Novan is generally a reserved person when it comes to excitement and so to see that just makes my heart glad. They have these one-way glass windows looking into all the classrooms so parents can observe without their kids knowing, and today I watched him (like I do most days) run in and drop his lunchbox off and go to the table with the other kids... just grinning ear-to-ear. Just happy to be there. My heart swelled and I shed a few tears there watching him, just so grateful that Heavenly Father answered my prayers that I could help Novan be ready for public school, that he would help me to find a way to make Novan's growth and development a little easier. I felt so bad about all his tears when we were trying to get him to write and his emotional breakdowns when he got so frustrated that he couldn't get his body to work right. I worried for him to be in public school where teachers are outnumbered 20 to 1. Novan really needed someone to understand his needs and be able to focus lessons around his needs with innovative teaching styles. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love that school. I wish I had more money and I would pay them what they're really worth... soooo much more than $165/month.

Brad said to me this morning "Man, that place is so great. How long can he go to that school?" Yeah, my thoughts exactly.
I replied that unfortunately they don't have inclusion classes for higher than preschool but I now feel like Novan is well on the way to excelling in kindergarten and beyond where he won't get as much specialized help and personal attention. He's being taught coping skills and learning methods that will be applicable wherever he goes... which will hopefully be Moore Magnet Elementary where they use the 5 intelligences alternative teaching methods. Yep, that's another thing on my prayer list right now. =)

I also have Gammy to thank for sending the play-dough and hole punch stuff for Novan's "at-home-therapy." I am sure that helped/still helps as well.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Calling all Avid Readers

Hello my friends. OK, so I am looking for volunteers to read Chapter 1 of book 1 of my 3-book trilogy. I will be submitting book 1 soon to my favored list of literary agents and I need chapter 1 to be especially fantastic because that's the most I can send most of them that they will allow/read. If you are interested please let me know via the comments or my e-mail (rachelelizkelly@yahoo.com) and I will e-mail you chapter 1. No, you don't get to read any more than that. If you like it, you'll just have to buy it when it's published =) Only a select few are actually able to read the whole manuscript and I won't be giving you any more information about the book other than the first chapter. So if you can stand the suspense I would love some honest and critical feedback.
Thanks!