Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday, Cecely!

Cecely (one year old) and me...

Today is my sweet little lady's birthday!  Cecely is 10 years old!  Double digits...I cannot believe it.  It has been an absolute joy and challenge to be her Mama.  I am so proud of her.  Cecely is compassionate, loving, kind, bold, brave, genuine, and wonderfully weird.  I love that she is her own person.  I love how she stands up for her friends and for those she doesn't even know.  I love how she reaches out to the hurting.  I love her servant's heart.  I love that she is already asking me when we can go on a family mission trip.  Cecely is a miracle and a blessing.  Sometimes I am in complete awe that God has trusted me to be her mother...

Cecely was a bit of a surprise for me.  I had always wanted to be a Mama, but she wasn't exactly planned on.  Thankfully, God had planned on her, and I was excited and overjoyed when I found out I was expecting a baby.  I had a wonderful pregnancy with Cecely.  My favorite foods when I was carrying her were fried chicken and blueberry donuts...yes, I know...super healthy.  We lived in Georgia when I was carrying Cecely.  We had literally lived in our house 1 week when I went into labor 2 months early.  My sister, Andrea, and one of her friends from college were visiting me and helping me get the new house set up.  I remember getting up to go to the bathroom around 7 am and my water broke...2 months early!  At this time, Mark was stationed in Mayport, Florida, and he would drive an hour to work each day.  I yelled for my sister when I realized what was happening.  Now, I love my sister deeply, but she was not so helpful in that moment.  I believe her words were "that's disgusting...what am I supposed to do?"  So, while she is freaking out about how gross everything was, I was yelling "this was not in any of the books I read!  What to Expect When Your Expecting lied to me!"  Let the record show that we have had our fair share of crises in our family, and usually Andrea and I handle them well.  Not so much this time.

Andrea called 9-1-1.  Within 10 minutes, we had a firetruck, ambulance, and police car in our tiny front yard.  I was thinking "our neighbors are going to love us".  With great pomp, I was loaded onto a stretcher while my sister hid behind the door.  No kidding, the fire truck, ambulance and police car all escorted us 2 miles to the little hospital in St. Marys.  This was also in a time before cell phones were widely used.  The only way I could get a hold of Mark was to call the base in Florida and use the Red Cross emergency line.  Somehow, during labor, I didn't process that.  All of my family lived in NC, and they all thought we had 2 more months before Cecely would arrive.  Andrea did contact everyone, and my Mama and Daddy started down.  Later that day, my friend Stefanie, would drive down with Tyler and Timothy.  Mark came home from work early, by chance, and he saw that the bathroom wasn't cleaned up.  I'm a little OCD about bathrooms...I always have a clean counter.  Mark said he knew something was wrong when he saw my toothbrush sitting on the sink with the toothpaste still on it.  I think Andrea may have left a note or something...I don't remember, but Mark did get to the hospital around 4pm, and I was still in labor.

I opted for an epidural.  The anasthesiologist came into the room.  I had been doing yoga for months in preparation for this moment.  I was ready to contort my body in whatever way that would get that needle safely in my back.  Mark was not so prepared.  One look at the needle, and he almost blacked out.  It also didn't help that the guy sticking the needle in my back was new...as in I was his first epidural!  He was shaking like crazy.  He hit 2 different veins and blood spurted everywhere.  Mark finally made him leave and asked for an actual doctor.  I finally received an epidural.  However, I was in labor so long with Cecely, that is had worn out when it was time to have her.
Uncle Tyler with a brand-new Cecely

Cecely was born not breathing.  She was blue and silent.  When the nurse took her from me, they rushed her out of the room.  There was no warm moment where she was laid on my chest.  She was whisked away in an instant.  We later learned that she spent some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and that the doctors were debating airlifting her to a bigger hospital in Jacksonville, FL.  We didn't know any of this until later.  When she was brought back into us, I could not get over how beautiful this little thing was.  She had the biggest, bluest eyes, the cutest nose, long fingers, long toes, and a little smirk of a smile.  She was stunning.  I was speechless.  What a treasure...what a gift!  Thankfully, by this point, my entire family had made it down to see our little miracle. 

When Cecely did start crying, her cry was very different.  It sounded like a cat wailing.  Again, we later learned this was caused by lack of oxygen when she was born.  It was a few days before Cecely could come home.  And, when it was time to bring her home, she was very jaundice.  We had a nurse come in daily for a week to give her shots.  She had to spend most of the day on a bili-bed...she looked like a sweet little glow worm.  It killed me to have a baby in my home and to not be able to hold her.  I literally was allowed to take her off of the bed long enough to feed her.  Sometimes I wonder if that built some of her independent qualities...just a thought.  After she was over jaundice, she developed a sever case of colic.  By this point, Mark was back to work in the Navy.  This meant there were stretches of days where he would be on duty on the ship or even have to go out with the ship for drills or whatever else sailors do.  Cecely's colic was so bad that I spent several nights in the emergency room with her.  I was so blessed to have made friends with Norman and Faye Ard.  They became surrogate parents for me.  Papa Norm would carry Cecely around for hours to keep her from crying.  Mama Faye would rock her and feed her so that I could rest.  I was truly fortunate to have this help.

Uncle Timothy reading to Cecely
As Cecely grew, she never "measured up" to those stupid charts they show you at the doctor's office.  She was always too small.  She didn't do things on the time table that the books gave.  But, I never worried about that.  Cecely was slow to walk, but early to talk.  She was a feisty and sassy toddler.  She had (and has) an independent streak in her that is a mile wide.  She gets that from her Aunt Andrea.  Twos weren't so bad.  When she hit three, I began to question procreation in general.  I wasn't sure how this precious gift had turned into a mini monster.  Thankfully, we made it to four, and I regained my love of parenting.  When Cecely turned four, she qualified for an amazing pre-K program at Hazelwood Elementary School in Waynesville.  She had two wonderful teachers, one with a special education background.  She suggested that Cecely be evaluated for developmental delay.  The pediatrician did not agree with the teacher, but having an educational background, I tend to side with a teacher over a doctor.  After several arguments with the pediatrician, we finally were able to get Cecely in with a specialist.  
            
Cecely was taken to a pediatric neurologist.  There, we learned a wealth of information!  We learned that Cecely had sustained a stroke in-utero, and that was what triggered her early arrival into the world.  Because of her stroke, and her loss of oxygen at birth, Cecely has developed a mild form of cerebral palsy.  The cerebral palsy had caused developmental delay that was affecting Cecely's academic performance.  I have been told by many people who have experience with CP, that they can see it in Cecely.  Other people typically miss it.  Cecely does a great job compensating for her physical weaknesses.  But, if you keep an eye on her, you can see her hands and arms tremor when she goes to do fine motor skill tasks.  Writing is completely laborious for her.  Simple things like putting money in her wallet or picking a chicken wing off of a tray can cause her hands to shake.  Her arms also draw up and her legs turn in.  This typically only happens when her body is tired.  This has brought great complications in the public school realm, and that is why we had homeschooled.  Now, Cecely is going back into public school.  I am a little worried.  I don't like seeing any child reduced to a piece of paper, and that is what I feel testing does to our children.  However, regardless of what tests say about her, I know Cecely is brilliant.  She may struggle with writing and reading, but the things I care about, the things that really matter, are where she shines.  
 
Cecely and Aunt Andrea...two of a kind!

God created Cecely to love others.  I have never met a more compassionate child.  I have witnessed her talking to kids who are on the outskirts, with no prompting from me.  I have heard her stand up for a friend who was being picked on.  I have seen her reach out to adults who look sad or lonely.  Cecely's smile lights up a room.  Her laugh is contagious.  She is confident who God made her to be, and I pray that she will keep that attitude.  Cecely is honest to a fault...she doesn't lie, and if she does, she tells on herself instantly.  While she is headstrong, I see it as being determined.  She wants to prove herself.  She knows her limits, but she does not want any special treatment.  Cecely is my first miracle.  I am so blessed to be her Mama.  I cannot imagine a day without her precious smile, her sweet hugs, or her encouraging words.  

Happy Birthday, Cecely!  I am so proud of you.  Stay true to who God called you to be.  Be strong in the Lord, don't lose sight of His grasp on you.  Keep standing up for yourself and others.  Never stop loving on others.  Always be wonderfully weird...I love you to pieces!

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