Monthly Archives: July 2010

God Uses Baseball?

My youngest son, Isaac, is my youngest son because of baseball.

Sound crazy? Let me explain.  We had always wanted another child after Nick was born, but because of his needs, we waited quite a while before even trying again.  There is almost a five year gap between Matt and Nick, so we weren’t concerned about a similar gap between Nick and a younger sibling.  When Nick was four, we decided we were ready.  When I still wasn’t pregnant a year later, I went to the doctor.

Nothing seemed amiss and yet I still wasn’t getting pregnant.  We thought maybe we weren’t supposed to have any more children.  But the desire was still there. So we prayed.

And prayed.

…and prayed some more.

My eldest son, Matthew, was born an athlete.  I say this because from the time he could walk, he turned everything into a game of athletic skill.  His first word besides “mama” and “dada” was ball.  Not french fries, not bottle….BALL. Any ball he picked up, he could do damage with, whether a basketball, a football or a baseball.  Had he liked the sport, he would have been an excellent soccer player.

His first love was basketball.  He would shoot dirty socks through a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle laundry basket into the waiting bucket below.  He practiced dribbling with a ball that smelled like strawberries when he was 18 months old.

When he was 3 he got a Little Tykes basketball set.  The hoop extended from 4 to 6 feet high.  The first afternoon it was put together, he was happily shooting the tiny basketball into the 4 foot high hoop.  A friend was over and said, “put it up higher and see how he does.”  So, I did.  First to 5 feet.  The first shot sailed in and as I have heard it on ESPN–NOTHING BUT NET.  So, I put it up all the way to the top…6 feet.  He looked at me and smiled.  Shot the ball…SWOOSH!  My friend turned to me and said, “He is going to be paying your bills someday!”  We laughed but I knew then that he was gifted athletically.  God blessed him with incredible hand-eye coordination (something i definitely don’t possess), with speed, with the ability to see something and mimic it when it comes to anything pertaining to sports.  He is a sponge.  And he loved basketball.  So, we tried to get him onto a team anywhere.   And, for reasons that are varied and ridiculous…it never really happened.

He was able to play one year with a school league but didn’t enjoy it as much as he thought he would.

And in the meantime we tried to have another child.  But it just didn’t happen.  And as Nick requires so much of our time, we thought maybe God was telling us we had our hands full.  We prayed.  We cried.  Finally we said if it happens it happens if it doesn’t then we can be thankful for the two boys we already have.

The End.

Not yet. God answered our prayers with baseball.

We had just moved and thought Matt needed something to occupy his time.  So, we signed him up at the local little league.  He is 12 years old.  It is opening ceremonies and the day is dragging on and I am sitting next to one of the dads on our team.  And I say to this gentleman, “your son looks like his mom.”  And he laughs and says he is not sure about that one because his son is his adopted son…his chosen child.  So we begin to talk.  I had always believed that adoption was a lengthy expensive venture–that only wealthy couples could dream of adopting.  He explained to me exactly how the process works and that no…it actually doesn’t cost thousands upon thousands of dollars.  It just takes time.

That was when I knew we would have another child.  I had always believed that we were promised one more child and that if it was a boy we would name him Isaac because he is the child God promised to us.  A little over 2 years later, we brought Isaac Lee home.

And every time I look at Issac I think, thank God for baseball, and thank God that He brought Isaac Lee safely home.

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Filed under Adoption, Baseball, Family, Kids

A Different Life

When I read the prompt from Mama Kat–“What one thing would you change about your life?”, the first thing that came to mind (of course) would be Nick’s brain.  I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and have those gaps filled in.  Wouldn’t I?

I mean…to never know what it felt like to have a doctor tell me that my infant son has this rare crazy diagnosis—Partial Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum?  To never hear those words-“severe brain damage”?  To never have a smug doctor, when I asked him what this means, respond “You are an intelligent woman.  You know what this means.”

If this had happened now, I may have slapped him.

To never have all these questions immediately come to mind–would he be able to have a semi-normal life?  Would he be able to play like other kids?  Would he be able to have a family of his own someday?  Would he even know that he has a disability?

Would it have been nice to have given birth to a “healthy” baby?  To never have known the world of neurologists, behavior therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, IEP’s,  cranioplasty bands, AFO’s, surgeries, nephrologists, gastroenterologists,  etc.?

Would it be amazing not to have stares from people ad nauseum?

Would it have been wonderful to never have to tell either the older or the younger son “we can’t do that because Nick can’t deal with the heat/lines/crowds/etc.”?

Would it have been a much easier life to just pick up and go to a baseball game and not look like we had 10 kids with us due to all the stuff we absolutely had to take?

Would I have been happier if I never had to deal with special education–which, for the uninformed–rarely feels special?

Would I have loved to be able to get anyone, perhaps even one of my sisters to watch Nick overnight so my husband and I could actually have just one night to ourselves?

The honest answer is of course.

But…and there is always a but…what would I lose by gaining all of this freedom?

I would lose my Nick.  At least the Nick I know and love with all of my heart and soul.   The Nick I know is assured of his place in heaven.   This is the Nick we were given, and we believe that he was designed.  I may not understand the design at times, but I believe that he was created and we were chosen to care for this incredible boy.

I would also miss out on seeing some pretty incredible things.

Just last night, the youngest said to me, “Mom, I wish Nick was able to do everything.”  He said he felt bad because Nick couldn’t do all the things he could do.  He is six and he not only realizes that Nick needs extra help, he is constantly trying to help him.  And that is a level of empathy and compassion that eludes a lot of adults.

My eldest is fiercely protective of Nick.  And I believe that is just how he is.  But I do wonder if he would have been nearly as awesome a young man had he not seen first hand the struggles and triumphs his brother goes through on a daily basis.  Would he have been as willing to defend others had he not had Nick in his life?

The truth is I will never know.

And what about me?  The first time Nick said “ma” I cried tears of joy.  When Matt said it?  Of course I was excited.  But I didn’t realize the true miracle of speech until Nick uttered that tiny word.

The same is true for every other milestone Nick reached.  I realized that I was witnessing a miracle for every accomplishment, no matter how small it would seem to the outside world.  And that is something I will never take for granted again.

On top of how having Nick (with his wonderful brain) in our family has affected us individually, it has affected our friends and family as well.  People in our circle don’t use the phrase “retard” or “retarded” flippantly.  They understand what that word really means now.

We have also seen who people truly are because of Nick.  You can’t hide who you are from him.  And we have seen both our share of gems and people whose hearts have to be made of ice.

So…yes…I would love to “fix” Nicholas.  But what if upon fixing him we all are so different I wouldn’t recognize or even like who we became?  Yep…this life seems tough at times.  But I love my family and wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

Corny, but true.

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Filed under Family, Nick, Uncategorized, Writer's Workshop

Just Can’t Say No….

So, here’s the deal.  I know I am supposed to tell my son “No” periodically.  I realize that I am setting myself and him up for failure for saying yes after just a few of those looks. Not to mention after just a couple of please Mommy’s. But almost since we were told of his diagnosis, I have wanted to make his life easier.  I want to do everything in my power to make him a little bit happier.

So, giving in to him has become like crack to me.  I just can’t say no.  Not to Nick.  Ask the little one…Isaac…and he will tell you that my favorite word is no, and that I hate to say yes.  Unless it is Nick.

I think the problem is that when he was little we were told he might never walk, and he might never talk.  The doctors just told us to be thankful for whatever he could do, because anything was just about a miracle, given what his brain looks like.  (To put it bluntly, a fellow parent , when given this diagnosis, was told her son’s brain looks like swiss cheese.)

So, every time Nick did anything we cheered.  The entire family.  Literally….it got to the point that every time Nick moved a muscle, he would turn around and anxiously await the standing ovation.

Through the years, Nick’s possibilities seem to diminish.  I know that he will never have a family of his own, or drive a car, or even live on his own.  He will always need someone on this earth to watch over him.  So, if he wants candy for breakfast–yes. Popsicle before dinner?  Absolutely!

The only thing I really deny him are things that I know will truly be detrimental to him.  And this has been especially hard with his whole gluten-intolerant thing.   So, he doesn’t get cookies, or doughnuts(his favorite!), and he can’t have milk because dairy has also become an issue.

So, maybe I say yes to him when I would say no to the older or younger son.  But, seriously, how can I say no to him when his life has so few yeses?

Plus, how can I possibly deny this face?

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Filed under Family, Kids, Nick

Alone

Mom and her violin

October 28, 1990

Sunday morning

standing ever so impatiently at a table

waiting for the parents to take charge and

give me their kids dang order already!

Finally!

2 Teddy Bear Pancakes

2 Jr OJ’s

Got it.

” And for you Ma’am?”

A tap on my shoulder.

My boss.

“Follow me for a sec”

Puzzled

following….

walking outside.

My sister, 5 months pregnant.  Crying.

She never cries…what the hell is going on?

Kirk, my marine brother-in-law, in the Middle East.

Oh my God, no…he can’t be gone!

My husband, holding our 9 month old.

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Sister:  There is no easy way to say this (still crying).

Mom is dead.

IMPOSSIBLE

Me: Car Accident?

Sister:  No.

Suicide.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO

PLEASE GOD NO!

THIS CANNOT BE

Staring blankly.

Cars rushing past on the freeway.

STOP!

Crying, shivering.

My boss is there still.

He hugs me.

I pull away.

Black mascara marks on his plain white dress shirt.

Weird.

Stupid.

Lost.

I am 5 years old again.

Empty.

Alone.

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Filed under Family, Mom