To the Mama of a Special Needs Child,

You never thought that would be your name, did you?

You used to look at other mamas with children who had special needs and think to yourself, "I could never do that. I'm not strong enough."

But now that's you, and you're proud. Because that little one that calls you mama, he is the strongest soul you know.

With everything he has experienced in his short little life, he is so happy. And it makes you want to be like him, full of joy, even in the hard.

He has more "labels" than you can sometimes remember. You have to count to make sure you include all of the specialist you see. All of the hours of therapy during the week leave your schedule full before the week even begins. And those therapist, they become friends.

You cringe when you're in public and someone sneezes or coughs. You whip your head around and move away as quickly as possible. Because a little cold for them, could be life threatening to your little one. Your knuckles are cracked and you can never keep polish on your nails, because you wash your hands all the time. I see you in the back of the church, walking and bouncing, so desperate to hear Truth because you NEED it. But putting him in nursery is not an option.

Most mamas, save their work sick days for when they are sick, or their kids are sick. You walk into work on those days either feeling guilty for leaving your sick children at home with the nanny, or walking into work so sick yourself.

Because sick days are not for being sick, they are for hospital stays, and you never have enough.

And then on the days that no one is sick in your house, you wonder if you can even make it to work, because the day to day of caring for that sweet baby with special needs is more work than anyone ever understands. The worry of leaving them. What if he falls? What if his tube gets caught on something? What if he stops breathing? What if he aspirates?

It's too much. It's too hard. So you do your job as best as you can. But you know the whole day, he needs you more.

Being a nurse was the last job you ever wanted. Bodily fluids, blood, and needles, they used to make you squirm. Now, you give yourself a high five, because girl, you are doing it! You get a ferrel bag, a connector, and sister, you are good to go! You can prime a tube with your eyes closed. J connectors, G connectors, bag tubes... there are all kinds of tubes in your life. For someone who wasn't that great at math, you can calculate rates and doses better than the nurses. The beeping of the trash truck down the street, or the microwave, or a sound on TV, will send you running to the pump. You hear every beep, all the time.

You can syringe meds in the dark, almost with your eyes closed. The day when the medical supply shipment comes in, is sort of like Christmas, in a weird way. Four whole boxes to sort and store, and a fresh batch of feeding bags laying neatly face up, it's satisfying. And there's nothing more exciting than new syringes.

Your two year old, puts medicine in her baby's tummy, because she watches mommy do that to brother. She is the first to tattle on him, "No, broder! No playing wifth your cords!" And thinking of her, sometimes you feel guilty. Because that baby with those special needs, gets a lot more of your attention. And it isn't fair. The hospital stays split your heart. Because he needs you so desperately, but you feel as if you're missing out on sweet days of her life. Those moments, when everyone is together in the hospital room, are the sweetest. You remember that's really home, where you're all together.

And right when you begin to hear good news, when things start to become your kind of normal, the bottom drops out again. And a test that was supposed to be nothing, turns into something, a big something, and you can't imagine how life will go on.

You hear someone complaining about how their kid has the flu, and you would give anything for the flu. The flu goes away.

But this, what your baby lives with everyday, this doesn't go away. And now, just as you start to learn to live with the first thing, now you're facing a whole new mountain. It's way bigger than the last. More complications, more risks, more "less normal." And you wake up every morning, still living in the dark, reminded again that this is real life, and you must choose to reach out and grab the Lord's hand.

Because, ultimately, He loves that baby with special needs more than you can ever dare. And those things that make him so special, are not mistakes. He was formed perfectly in the dark, in the uttermost parts of his birth mom's womb. The Father was there, intently watching him, purposely forming him to be special, creating him for great things. He was carefully planning out the days of his life, and choosing YOU to be his mama.

Because this child, was wanted more than he will ever know. You prayed, begged God even, for him. He is a miracle. And a gracious gift.

He's special alright. He has obstacles in his life that might make things a little harder, but nothing will hold that boy back from doing what he wants!

Mama, you teach him that.

And when you are so tired, when you feel so misunderstood, you start that comparison thing, and you begin peeking into the future, stop yourself. Because tomorrow will bring enough worry on it's own.

Be here, now. In this moment.

You study every sweet line in his face. Etch that grin in the back of your mind. And you enjoy him.

Because he is a gift. A very special gift.

When It Can't Be Fixed

We heard words today no parent ever wants to hear.

Words void of hope. Words worthy of grieving. Words that caused silent sobs, red eyes, and a heavy heart for the rest of the day.

"He can't be fixed." 

After a night of no sleep, I was getting ready for work this morning and heard it through the monitor.

Gasping. 

By the time I got to him for what felt like the 100th time that night, he was lying flat on his back, gasping for air and choking, once again, on his vomit. 

I immediately flipped him to his side and started beating his back. This time, at least he wasn't blue. It took a few minutes, but after he started crying, I heard the rhythmic sound of his breathing begin. It was such a treasure. 

We sleep lightly. We run to him every time he coughs. We freak out about little things because what if we don't get there fast enough.

It happened one time at Salsaritas. Brandon and I were in line ordering our food and he was only a few tables away. We heard that little cough, and both of us ran through the restaurant to rescue him. The restaurant fell quiet, and people wondered if they should call for help. We ate a silent meal after that. 

So when the doctor looked at my husband, square in the eye and said "he can't be fixed," that feeling of panic we experience all too much, settled in to stay. 

"We'll try continuous feeds for two weeks and then if he still isn't better, we'll write orders for surgery." 

A more evasive surgery with a more permenant tube. And a lifetime of continuous feeds. Making void the hours upon hours of therapy we have spent each week for the last three months.

And the continuous feeds...being attached to a tube and pump all day long with only a two hour break. How is my already "developmentally delayed" baby going to roll around on his tummy, learn to crawl, and play? How will he run one day? How will he learn to ride a bike? Or swing at recess? Or play baseball like his daddy? 

I spent most of the day grieving for him. 

He doesn't know what it's like to feel hunger or a full belly. He doesn't know what comfortable feels like. He doesn't know all he's missing out on.

But I do. 

And it breaks my heart for him. 

Some of you reading this are walking through darker journeys than ours. 

For some of you, all your baby knows is the four walls of that hospital. Some of you are sitting beside your baby's hospital bed praying they'll fight through the night. Or some of you have stared at a grave where you have laid your baby to rest.

And I am so incredibly sorry.

Some of you are sitting in empty nurseries wondering if you'll ever get a chance to be a mama. Some of you stare at black and white photos and dream of the life that little baby would've had.  Some of you are sharing your children with an ex spouse, staring at a report card of failing grades, or praying your prodigal returns home. 

And you hear those words, "It can't be fixed."

Every bit of hope deflates your heart and you're left grieving what could have been.

After those words, I spent the rest of the day asking the Lord what to do with them. I spent silent moments lamenting to Him, grieving with Him, for this sweet boy He's given to our family. 

Those moments of blank stares throughout my day were silent cries to my Dad. The car ride home was filled with lots of tears and loud music. I didn't say much to Him. Because I knew I didn't have to. He already knew.

And as I prepared myself to walk through the door to mother my precious children, I heard Him whisper to my broken heart, "You are not alone. I'm right here. And I fix broken things every day. I've fixed you haven't I?" 

We have hope in Him. It anchors our souls when the waves of life are too scary. We have life, abundant life, in Him through deep waters. We have a shelter, a refuge, an ever present help in times of trouble. 

We have Him. 

So wherever you are right now, whatever darkness you're treading through, He is light. 

And when you begin to hear those words, "it can't be fixed," remember a manger, a cross, and an empty tomb. 

He raised a dead man to life. He conquered death once and for all. 

He can fix anything.