Friday, May 08, 2015

How to date your Husband

How to DATE your husband

Brian and I got stopped the other day in the gym. We had just worked out together and were on our way down to get the kids. A guy, who had just had his second baby, stopped us. He wanted to understand how we did it. How do we date? How does this all seem to look easy for us when he knows its not. We ASSURED him that nothing about us or our life is easy. Nothing. It is NOT easy. And that we are drowning. I told him that I often feel like I have one nostril out of the water and I am treading water. Not a neck out of the water. Or a head. Just a nostril. I'm not treading water and moving. I'm not going anywhere. We are just barely surviving. 

These last few months have been HARD. 

When I was a little girl, we traveled a little bit. When we traveled, we traveled in the car. Only in the car. Never planes. Just an old clunker of a station wagon. Blue, with wood paneling. I rode in the back seat. But sometimes, I sat in the way-way-back. The seat that faced the back window. My sister and I did the silly honk-honk motions with our arms. I don't think the truckers could resist honking at two little giggling, strawberry blonds. I have fond memories of that time of life. Being a kid. Maybe I've forgotten the negative….how close my legs were to my siblings. And how small a car can feel. How hot it got in the back-back. How little there was to do in that back seat. But from where I am now, I remember it with fondness, those super sweet trips. To the mountains. Or to Michigan. It was simple. The sun would be in our eyes. Siblings would be smashed on either side of me. And I had not a care in the world. Mom would pass a snack back to us. And Dad would drive. Fast. It felt like he was going 100 miles per hour. I remember the journey. Even more than the destination. I remember the journey. 

The journey. My  journey is blowing me away right now. 

I read a quote recently about travel. I'm paraphrasing from what I remember. The journey should be as much fun as the destination. 

I feel like my journey right now is so incredible. Much more full that it ever has been before. And if you've read my blog over the last years, you know life has already been full of the goods and bads.

The girls are doing out-of-town, competitive dance, so every week requires a lot of time on the road just for practice, with competitions and rehearsals on the weekends too. 

Last week, I was pulling back into Florence, with the girls, after a dance rehearsal. It was Tuesday about 7:00pm. My friend, Kesler, was at the house with the little three. Brian was at Jiu Jitsu. As I drove, I was trying to figure out which night we could do date night. And realized that tonight was probably the best night. 

So I pulled into the Jiu Jitsu academy where Brian was training. I sent my girls in to get him and tell him we were there. And when he came to the car, I like a smiling school girl, asked him out on a date. I asked if he wanted to go to dinner with me. 

He smiled, said Yes. He IMMEDIATELY told his training buddies goodbye. Like immediately. Talk about making me feel loved. He had gathered his bag and stuff and was out in the parking lot before I even pulled away.

'Successful marriage requires falling love many times, always with the same person.'  German Greer

True dat.

He told me later that night on our date, that when the girls went into Jiu Jitsu, they said, 'Daddy, Mommy wants you!' All the guys said 'Uh Oh. You're in trouble.' 

Interesting that the reason I came was exactly the opposite. I am so desperately in love with him that I was there to ask him on a date. Not to fuss at him…or whatever the guys thought I was going to do. 

Makes me sad that when men see a wife wanting to talk with her husband, they think its trouble. 

We have a date most every week. Some weeks we have two. As much as we can get away together, we do. Our lives are very extreme. Because of the size of our family and some of the decisions we have made, life can be intense. So slipping away for us is vital. 

I love this guy. 

Dating your husband is worth it. No matter what the cost. 

We went to our favorite date-night restaurant. We rarely go anywhere else. Maybe every 38th time. So we sat in a big booth, in our favorite restaurant, and slid over to the far side, beside the wall, so we could really talk. 

We left a naked, potty training 2 year old, piles of dishes, mounds of laundry, a little one on roller blades rolling at breakneck speeds through the house and other wild shenanigans We just left. We unplugged. There were lots of things to be done and reasons for me to stay and check off of my endless list. Please ask me often about our date nights. How do we, of all people, date every week, since we have all these kids. 

Here's what we've learned about love and dating in marriage after 15 years. 

How to Date your Husband:

* Go on a date night once a week…or more. Love is like water, you can never have too much. (You can quote me on that.) :) Take advantage of every opportunity to be together. 'And let us consider how we may spur on another on toward love and good deeds, not  giving up meeting together.' Hebrews 10:24

*Make it happen, even if it's inconvenient. 'I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.' Song of Solomon 6:3 

* If you have a hard time switching hats from Mom-hat to fun out-to-dinner-cute-Wife hat. Here's my advice. Go to a movie first. Go bowling. Play tennis. Take a run together. Whatever it is that will get your mind off challenges with the kids. That gives you time to shift gears so that when you finally slip into a seat at the restaurant, you are enjoying being there across the table from your husband. Not telling him about the bottoms you just wiped, or the fight you just broke up, or the other endless challenges that go with parenting. That stuff never changes...Use date night to build one another up. Encourage him. It's not the best place to complain about the kids. Save that for a boring night at the house :)  'Therefore, encourage one another and BUILD EACH OTHER UP.' 1 Thessalonians 5:11

* Have your babysitter come 30 minutes before you leave. Or an hour if your budget allows for that. The babysitter can be helpful with feeding the kids, or acclimating to the kids, or finishing put the dishes in the dishwasher or whatever you need help with. Her arrival gives you 30 minutes to calmly get ready without someone hanging on your leg, asking you every question in the book, running circles through your closet as you try to get dressed. The $6.00 or $7.00 you spend on those 30 minutes will be the best dollars you've spent that week. Then when you are done getting ready, dash for the door, don't do long goodbyes. It is after all, just dinner. 'Take me away with you-let us hurry!' Song of Solomon 1:4

* Use date night as an opportunity to profess your love for him. 'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth- for your love is more delightful that wine.' Song of Solomon 1:2

* If you are not in a financial position to dine out every week AND pay the babysitter, do a swap with another couple that also has kids. We did that for YEARS. You watch all the kids while the other couple goes out. Then they watch the kids while you go out. And, the swap will hold you accountable too. 

It's crazy fun for me to have spontaneity in our wild life. I've never lost the desire to WANT to be spontaneous. But it seems like, in some ways, I've lost the ability to BE spontaneous. 

So we went on our spontaneous date night. Over dinner we discussed the coming week. I told Brian that I think for the first time since Christmas, the girls would have a week long break from dance. While we sat at the table I emailed to double check. 'No rehearsals?' 'None.' Was the reply. 

I got a wild hair, I suggested to Brian that we go away to the beach for the week. Brian is very very very not spontaneous. He likes a very well thought-out plan that he's double checked. So God gave him me. :) I am good for him. I pull him out of his well-thought-out/planning shell. 

Could we do the impossible? Could we pull off leaving for a vacation, packing, getting subs for aerobics, making sure Brian's office is settled, book a vacation home and unplugging our whole family for a week…with only 4 days notice?  

Maybe it was the delicious dinner, or that we were tucked away in a little booth, or that it was date night, or that I had asked him on the date, which he LOVED, or maybe he is becoming more spontaneous, or maybe it's just because he loves me, but he said it sounded like a wonderful plan. Hmm? My planner husband is becoming spontaneous? 

By 10:00am the next morning, he had not yet pulled the trigger on a rental house in Destin, FL he'd found. He had searched rentals on the entire Gulf coast of Florida and come up with a handful that fit our criteria. 

We talked, he texted me some pictures. We agreed that one of them looked incredible. 

He. booked it. It was Wednesday. We would leave in 4 days. 

And in that short time, I drove to TN and back, to speak at the His Proposal conference with my best friends. 

We pulled out of our driveway on Sunday morning at 5:00am. Hunk-of-Burning Love and Me….and 5 little girls. We pulled them out of the bed and put them right into the car. We were almost to Georgia before anyone really said a whole lot and before we stopped for the first time. Thankfully. And somehow we made it 9 1/2 hours with only two stops. Pretty sure that if we did that trip again 6000 times we'd never be able to make it in only 2 stops. The drive home was not so lovely. I asked him sometime during our trip back home. 'Do you need a break from driving?' He said, 'No. I need a break from stopping.' 

Destin was gorgeous. It had been 5 years since I've been there. I forgot how blue the water is and how bleach white the sand is. It was a time of REFUGE for our family. We laughed. And lingered over lunches. And moseyed down to the beach. And dug in the sand. And relaxed. I got to read my bible on the beach. The girls slept in bunk beds, which they loved. Brian and I slept in a king size bed, which I didn't love. We had dinners in. Dinners out. Two of the girls had a stomach issue.. Each lasted about 24 hours. The roughest spots during the night. But it wasn't even a blip on our map because everything was so lovely. 

It is absolute heaven. Dreamy views for as far as the eye can see. We have had the doors open from the moment we checked in. 

It's late, got an early morning tomorrow. 

A few more thoughts. Baby Genevieve is heavenly. Growing wildly. She tried those squeezy baby food packs that Target sells, for the first time here at the beach. Somehow I've always forgotten to give them to the other girls when they were the right age. She loves them and they are easy. 

Hope to begin blogging again once school is out. Only 5 days until we are out for the summer. Really fun things await. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Sometimes life feels like sunshine and rainbows. Something comes along to bring in the dozens of sun beams. Full throttle. That is what has happened around here. 

Her name is…. Genevieve.

She was born at 2 minutes to 11:00am on a Thursday. She is probably one of my favorite births to date. I think birthing her hurt the least….but that's all relative too. It's like I've always said, getting babies from the inside of your body to the outside of your body is hard, no matter the method.

She is LIFE. She brings even more laughter to our home. She makes me cry I am so relieved to hold her and kiss her sweet smelling face. She was a bit jaundice at birth, so her coloring made me think of a chocolate chip cookie. Warm and orange-ish/brown. The jaundice is gone, but she's still a warm, right out of the oven, cookie. More like a sugar cookie now. :)

She's my SIXTH pregnancy. Six babies. Our first went straight to heaven. Grace Katherine. (Click her name or here.) She would be 10 this February. Her special, brief and impactful life changed our family forever. I still fear death with each pregnancy, the whole time. 

So when Genevieve (and each of our other girls) emerge, our world stops spinning, until we hear these few and wonderful words from the doctor….. 'Ahhh. Jennie…. Brian look here….she's….PERFECT.'

I love the fact that God gives Momma's amnesia. That makes me belly laugh. He knows that if we remembered this time, we would literally all have one baby. It's too hard to have more. So, God gives us blissful amnesia and all we can remember is the moment the baby emerges and life is perfect, and baby is well. And the surge of hormones make us think that we in fact created birth and birthing babies and we are the first person to have ever done it…ever. 

Birth with drugs...
It's so big, I write it down. Type it. And I blog it. I want to encourage others. Most think I'm nuts. You may be one of those. Here's the deal. Women can do this. I am living proof. I want others to try it. Not because it feels good. Not because it is not the-hardest-thing-ever. But because it is a way to experience a connection with the Lord that is only found in PAIN. I have found this connection in my emotional pain too. 

I wanted to write about this awesome event my first night with my sweet Genevieve. It was just me and my precious baby. Brian was home with the other four. I tried to do it. But I was so tired. I had missed a full night of sleep + been in labor for 12 hours. Instead, I kissed the face of my newborn angel and fell sound asleep the second baby Genevieve did. 

1 day old pictures.

So now, here it is, on her 2 month anniversary and I am finally finishing it up. I sneak away from time to time to recollect that day. To write it down...And I'm finally done. 

The Story of Genevieve

The contractions came in the night.…just as I was laying my head down on the pillow.

But let me back up a little.

Carlisle and Evelyn had a late party in Columbia from 7:00-9:00pm. It was still summertime, and I am crazy enough to be in another city at 39 weeks pregnant. So I dropped them off at the pool party and went searching for a place to have a pedicure. I had really strong pain in my back for the last few months of my pregnancy. Tylenol had long ago stopped working to help me.

So, when I turned on the massage chair at the nail salon, and it started pummeling my back, I was so relieved. I don't know whether it actually massaged my pain, or it took my mind off of it because it was hitting me so hard on other parts of my back. But either way, the aggressive massage chair was awesome. The sweet guy gave me a hot pink pedicure. I laughed and apologized for my swollen ankles. One of the workers asked if this was my first baby. When I told her it was my 6th all of the other workers jumped in on the conversation. They asked when I was due and I said, '5 minutes ago'. Truthfully, I was 39 weeks. And had never naturally gone into labor on my own.

I think each of my babies have preferred the snug, quiet, dark, tightness of my womb as opposed to being birthed and joining girlville. Labor never comes. With each of my girls, I have had to have my water broken to jump start labor. One very patient pregnancy, with Eleanor Bliss, I waited until 41 1/2 weeks. And again, had to have the doctor break my water. Vivian was born at 40 weeks. 

The pedicure was good. The massage chair was great. I went back to get my girls from the party and we drove home. I think we got home around 10:30pm or so. Of course, the girls fell into bed. And so did I. I laid in the bed and Brian and I discussed names for our unborn baby. 

What would it be? How were we ever going to decide? 

We had a few favorites. Camille? Genevieve? Amelia? We discussed it for 30 minutes or so, and resolved to still not have made a decision.

During our discussion, I got kicked, or had a weird contraction or something painful. I jumped and grabbed my side. I was so loud that I alarmed Brian. He said, 'What was that? In all of the pregnancies I've never seen you do that?!?!' 

I wasn't sure what it was. The pain was gone as soon as it had started….maybe a hard kick from a big baby?

Minutes later, he brushed his teeth and crawled in bed beside me. It was almost midnight. I listened as his breath slowed and he quickly fell asleep. A few more minutes later, I had a whopper contraction. A doozy. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months. Especially when I taught aerobics. This was NOT a Braxton Hicks contraction.

10 minutes later, I had another one.

10 minutes later, another.

I knew after these first few contractions that she was coming. I just wanted to get a little sleep. It was 12:30. I was tired. It'd been a long day. I couldn't figure out how in the world I was going to find the energy to labor and push a baby into the world with no sleep. So I did what any girl that has had 5 other babies does….I updated my Facebook status that I was in labor and fell asleep for 9 minutes. And so it went. Doozy contraction and fall back asleep…for 9 minutes.

Strangely, the way I knew this was the real deal was because I heard myself doing labor breathing through each contraction. I was breathing so loud, I couldn't believe I wasn't waking Brian up. He was laying 6 inches away.

3:30am - The contractions are closer and I wasn't falling asleep between them anymore. I was ready to go to the hospital.

So after hours of contractions, I woke Brian up and told him it was time to go.

His response; 'Take two Tylenol…and try to fall back asleep', said like only a sleep deprived Dad could say.

I assured him this wasn't a false alarm.

'Brian, the baby is coming…. this morning.'

That got his attention. I called my precious friend and babysitter Rachel. I told her to take her time, that I still needed to pack a bag, but if she could head our way in the next half hour or so.

She arrived quickly.

She walked in the bedroom just as I was having a contraction. I was laying on my side. Brian had just gone upstairs to get a few things for the hospital bag. She rubbed my back and listened to my breath as I fought through. She tells me later I was the first women she'd ever seen in labor and that watching a woman endure a contraction made her realize how powerful and strong I was. How powerful and strong women are.

Brian and I each got a bag together and strolled outside into the cool morning. It was in the 60's, a cool breeze blew through my hair. I could NOT get over how good it felt. It was such a dichotomy between the hard, strong, debilitating contractions and the sweetness of the breeze blowing over me cooling me and comforting me. I was full aware that the weather had to have been a gift from the Lord for me. To ease some of the toughness of labor. I prayed, thanking the Lord for the cool morning. It's August. Temperatures hover in the high 90's / triple digits during the day and in the 80's and 90's at night.

I was hesitant to get to the hospital because I knew they'd put me straight in an uncomfortable bed. My freedom would be gone and I would be at their mercy. But the strength of the contractions were only increasing. And while I had thought about home birth, it wasn't in the cards. I was a chicken. What if something went wrong?

I had a few contractions standing in the driveway and then had a super strong one. I knew it was time to go.

I sat down in the passengers seat and without a word, Brian slipped in the drivers seat beside me. He pulled out of the garage. We went over the big hump at the end of the driveway onto the street and it gave me another whopper contraction. Worst one yet. I was the exact opposite of how they depict women in labor. I asked Brian to please drive super slow. We rolled the window down and whispered, 'this is the last time we will be a family of 6.' 

We get to meet her today. Amazing. He was sweet. Quiet. And he drove slow.

I've never enjoyed a cool breeze more than this morning. We arrived at the hospital around 5:00. He asked me if I wanted him to drop me off. I said no. We parked and he asked if he get me a wheelchair, and of course, I said no. I thought 'I can do this.' 

It took me a while to walk to the front desk, and by the time I got there, I had changed my mind. The lady at the desk started asking me check-in questions and I couldn't answer because of the contractions. A result of my walk from the parking lot, I guess. So she turned her questions to Brian.

I was happy to have the wheelchair. We went up to the 4th floor. As he wheeled me around the corner, one of the nurses at the desk said, 'Jennie. We've been waiting on you. I saw your Facebook status 5 hours ago. I can't believe you're just now getting here.' I think I smiled weakly at her. 

She said all the nurses at the desk had wagers. But the consensus was that my cervix was a 6.

I get a room. It all feels soooo very very familiar. And it makes me NERVOUS. I have experienced so much physical PAIN in these delivery rooms over the past 8 years. I can't believe I am about to do it again.

They started an IV with fluids only and I got in the bed. My least favorite place to be when in labor….except this time.

I was SO comfortable. SO comfortable that I cold turkey stopped my labor. Somehow I found a spot to sit on that bed that was comfortable. Crazy.

They check me, the nurses were right. Cervix is a 6. 

The doctor on call was already on the floor taking care of another pregnant momma. I asked my nurse to have the Doc come in and break my water. He came in. He wanted to check my cervix also. But he wanted to do it with the bed flat and he did it during a contraction. I almost crawled up the walls. Insane pain.

6:35am - Doctor broke my water and he walked out. 

I didn't say anything at all…but I did... accidentally... flip him the bird as he left the room. 

His back was to me. 

Whoop-see daisy. 

The contraction passed and I had totally rational thought again. I told Brian and the nurse that I needed to pray. 

'God, I need your help. These contractions are crazy, they are hard, they are bigger than me, but I know you can help me. Help me birth this baby. Keep her healthy and safe. I pray that she is perfect without any problems. Give me super natural strength that comes only from you.

And Father….please forgive me….for flipping off the doctor. 


Brian and the nurse were in hysterics. I smiled quickly. Then was thrown into another contraction. 

After this, I found my very comfortable position on the bed again. I was sitting almost straight up, and if I stayed very very still, my contractions all but stopped. I was petrified to move because I knew that it would bring them on again. So, I was like a statue. 

Brian tells me he's going to go get coffee. I remember then that he too, is tired. When he comes back a few minutes later, he's standing about 12 feet away from me. The smell of his coffee is so strong I feel like he has shoved a coffee bean in each of my nostrils. 

I tell him I'm so sorry Bri, but I can't handle the smell. He smiles and puts his perfect, hot, yummy cup of coffee in the bathroom on the sink and closes the door. I apologize to him and immediately start having a just-smelled-hot-coffee-what-else-is-there-to-do-but-have-a-contraction…contraction. 


I'm scared out of my mind. I keep saying 'Brian, I am petrified. I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I want to do this.'

He came over to stand beside me. His face is sincere. Serious. 

I looked at him and tell him 'BRIAN. This hurts too bad. There is no way. I think I should just get an epidural and call it a day. What if she gets stuck? What if she is really big? What if something goes wrong? What if she is not face down. I. AM. SOOOO. SCARED.'

Brian looks at me and says NOTHING that I expected him to say.  I knew he was going to tell me just get the epidural and lets have this baby. 

Not on your life. 

He said, 'Jennie. Look at me. You. Can. Do. This. You are strong. You are capable. You have had FIVE babies. This time is no different. You are a birthing pro.'

Two things crossed my mind as he was telling me this. 
Number 1... I was watching his face, studying it. Somehow what he is saying and what his face is conveying are totally different. 

He doesn't look convinced about his strong words. Does he really not believe in me? What is this all about? Why does he look nervous…..?

And Number 2… Does he realize how insane this is? Does he know how much this hurts? What makes him think that he knows what I am capable of? The bible talks about the worst pain being childbirth….has he read that verse? 

He said, 'Jennie, you don't like epidurals. Your blood pressure bottoms out, you pass out, you cry getting epidurals. You will never regret doing this your favorite way, with no drugs. Getting an epidural will set you back. An epidural could drag this out. You could be done in an hour or two without it. You KNOW how to do this.'

I just stared at him.

Black coffee purchasing guy. 

I trust this guy with every fiber of my being. 

He probably likes me more than I like me.

I love him. 

He's incredible.

He's very handsome. 

He's mind bogglingly wonderful.

He would never lead me astray. 

I trusted him with my life and love 14 years ago when we got married. 

Birthing pain is immense….rational thought is totally gone. I just flipped off a doctor. 

I know that Brian has rational thought. I know that he is the only one that can think rationally. I. Can. Not.

I have to listen to him. 

(All this is processing through my head as I stare at him. He looks handsome. Tired. Eager. Nervous. And in love.)

He knows me. He knows my weaknesses. He knows my strengths. He's been at the south end of my bed for every second of every day that I've birthed a baby.  February 10th, January 30th, September 12th, February 19th, April 10th and August 14th. All the top days of our lives. He and I have shared them. 

He loves birth. He doesn't want me in pain. 

I pray. And we forge forward. 

Once I make the decision to be brave, it's like whatever I had been holding back was done. Gone. And my body prepared to get the baby out. 

And… the contractions came on like Donkey Kong. 

8:45am - Contractions are 4 minutes apart. 

They went from being incredibly hard….to….couldn't get any harder. Mind blowing. I am sweating.

The comfortable spot on the bed turned into my zone. At this point, I don't know how I was sitting or laying. I was just surviving the waves of contractions. Sometimes Brian held my hand and often I held onto the bed for dear life. 

During this part of labor for me, I don't talk. I don't move. My eyes remain shut. It's strictly SURVIVAL. 

In-between seething pain, I said, 'Brian get the nurse.'

Sweet Brian whispers, 'Sure…ok….um….well….what do you want me to say when I get her?' :) 

I think I inadvertently growled, (I'm really sorry for growling Brian, I had no control of my vocal cords at that moment.) 'JUST GETTTTT HERRR.'

10:25am - When the nurse arrives, I ask her to check me. Just as I thought, my cervix is moving. I am 7.5 cm. She tells me this. 
No surprise. This baby is coming. She leaves again.

I had been focusing my thoughts on baby girl and her moving through my body. Weird. Sounds weird as I write it, and if you don't like stuff like this, stop reading now. But, for me it was necessary to think of exactly what is happening. In previous births, I endured the contractions and pulled away from them. I would lift off the bed I was pulling away so hard. But really, I wanted to grab my little overnight bag and hold my hospital gown closed in the back and dart down the hall. That was past births.

This time, was SO different for me. 

When the contraction hit, I would push down into them, not pull away. My job was to use my strong abdominal muscles and push with my body, with her and speed this thing along. The result, the prize, is her. Genius.  I wish I'd thought of this with all the other births. 

My thoughts are always on this sweet unborn and unnamed baby, not as much so on the pain. I was more fully engaged with my body than I had probably ever been in my life. 

And I prayed. 

I didn't pray chapter and verse, never once. My brain was definitely NOT working that well. I was in survival mode. It was simply the character of God that got me through. Knowing Him and asking Him for help. Asking Him to get me through the next 30 seconds or 60 seconds. And time and time and time again, HE DID.

When the contraction would hit and begin to build, I entered into the presence of the Lord. Like I'd walk right up to Him. We were face to face. I'd ask him to help me and He did….EVERY SINGLE TIME. This birth was very spiritual for me. God held my hand. He welcomed me into His presence and comforted me. 

I didn't cry. Or scream. Or talk. Or even open my eyes. 

I always ask others who birth babies without drugs how they possibly have the energy to scream. It seems like a waste of really good energy. I need that energy. It is so useful in pushing this 8 lb baby out. 

It is time. I feel it. I have an urgency to birth this baby RIGHT. NOW. I don't care if its just me and Brian. It's time. This baby has to come. The room is still dark and quiet. It's just me and Brian.

Its hard to breath and talk during a contraction. So I grit my teeth during a contraction and tell Brian 'It's time. Get the nurse.' 

By the time that contraction passes, I open my eyes again, and the room is full. A nurse walks in talking extremely loudly and I SHUSH her louder than I've ever shush'ed someone in my life. I spewed spit I was shushing so loudly. I couldn't help it. Noise is so exacerbated, it's deafening when I am in labor. 

The next contraction comes and it seems everyone is talking to me. I hear Brian's voice on one side of me and the nurse is on the other side. I hear them talking. But I have NO. IDEA. what they are saying to me. And whatever it is will have to wait, I am pushing. 

Its the strangest thing to push a baby out of your body. Because when I push, my eyes are squeezed shut, its a natural response for me. But it is a time that it would be helpful to be able to see what is happening. 

I am in the home stretch. 

The energy in the room is insane. I have a few moments to breathe, maybe 20 seconds… or 30?

I try to ask the nurse and Brian what they were trying to say to me, but BOOM, I am hit with another contraction. This is THE time. I get behind the pain and push. I know how to do this. 

And I fill my head with the most positive talk. 'Push Jennie. You can do this…You're about to meet your baby!' I'm sure that the people in the room were saying the same thing, but I couldn't hear them. It was just me, my breath and this little sweet girl. 

The best moment comes now…as I am pushing, she arrives. She comes sweetly into our lives at 10:58am and everything stands still. In an instant, I am not pregnant. I am done. The pain subsides immediately and I am meeting a little precious part of Brian and myself. I've been DELIVERED. She's delivered. As if I have just run a marathon. I am literally heaving catching my breath. I am trying to slow my breathing like I just crossed the finish line, which, I guess I just did. A 9 month marathon. I close my eyes, throw my head back on the pillow and just breathe. They ask me if I want to look at her. I look at them blankly. I am exhausted. I don't even know what they are saying to me. They ask me again, 'Look at her Jennie.' I lift my head off of the pillow and there she is. Screaming and crying. She's beautiful. She is WONDERFULLY made. Oh gosh. She's absolutely beautiful. I smile weakly. The nurse asks if I want them to lay her on my chest. I nod that I do and lay my head back on the pillow. And I breathe.

'When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.' 
Psalm 118:5

All that is going through my head is….She's so beautiful. She is here. She is finally here. The pain is gone. God in his love and kindness heard my cries for help, he DELIVERED ME. Praise God. 

And then over and over I repeat….'Thank you Jesus…Thank you Jesus…Thank you Jesus….'

'Come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my DELIVERER; LORD, do not delay.'
Psalm 70:5 

I hear the doctor ask Brian if he wants to cut the cord. Bri tells me later, he is always so surprised at how thick and sturdy the cord is. Makes me think of the Lord and how He makes things so well. 

They lay her on my chest. I bring her close and then I pray out loud. I hug her tightly. I almost don't have the energy to hold her. I lay my head back on the pillow and whisper…'Thank you Jesus….Thank you Jesus…Thank you Jesus.' 

The nurses and even the doctor wait. There was a moment of profoundness that happened as we all felt the goodness of the Lord.  They are all still staring at me. At my baby. It's silent. 

'He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.' 
Colossians 1:15-18

Brian gave me a super special gift for baby Genevieve. As he has for each of the girls, including Grace. Its a gift that I will have forever…and treasure. He, somehow, knows just what I like.
So, here we are. A family of seven. Six of us are girls. Life has changed. We don't get out much. I feel like I'll be home forever changing diapers with spit up on my shoulder. But somehow, one day I know, we will grow out of this. These little ones will grow up quicker than I'd ever want them too. Baby Genevieve, my sleepy girl, will soon wake up and I'll miss the days of a sleepy, snuggly, nursey girl. I know that this really are the 'good old days'. 

One day when they are teenagers, or in college, or married with their own families and spread out all over the city, or state, or world…I will long to come back to these days. Even these sleepless nights. The nights that I can walk upstairs and see them all tangled up in a heap of blond hair, pink blankets and jammies. They are breathing heavily and all is well. They are quiet and all safe and my world is quiet and perfect for now...

I sometimes wonder if, when I was a young, self-centered college girl dating Brian, if God had allowed me to just take a glimpse of what my life would look like now. Five children. Five daughters. 14 YEARS of marriage. What in the world would I have thought? I'm pretty sure there is a chance I would have run the opposite direction. Good thing God knew me. And my self-centered heart. 

I wouldn't want to miss out on this life for anything. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Evelyn got Shingles…and I got PTSD

My journal of our journey.

'When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart's delight, 
for I bear your name,
O Lord God of Heaven's Armies.'
Jeremiah 15:16

Day 1 (Thur)
Sometimes they wake up in the night. Any one of the girls. Shoot, sometimes I  wake up in the night. So this started out as nothing unusual.
It was a Thursday, she came downstairs around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and was crying beside my bed. I pulled her in beside me and snuggled against her before I even knew which one of the girls it was. Turns out it was Evelyn.

She said her head hurt and I murmured 'I'm so sorry Baby…' and I fell back asleep. But after she had said it another few times and really seemed to be bothered, I got up and found some Children's Tylenol. I told her, 'You'll feel better soon. Try not to cry. It will make your head hurt even more.' The Tylenol did nothing to ease her pain. The day before, she had been swimming a ton, had a typical active day with tons of exercise and playing outside in the hot 90-something degree heat. I thought of myself and headaches that I get when I am dehydrated. So, I got her a huge water and encouraged her to drink it every time she cried throughout the night. She drank the water, sweet baby. She cried and kicked and thrashed in the bed all night long. I figured she was having bad dreams, but it was so much more than than.

She raked her fingers through her hair. She said it was itching and burning. She was so uncomfortable. It looked like misery. But all was located only on one side of her head. The pain. The burning. The itching. All in one location.

When we got up the next morning, she had drunk so much water like I'd asked her to that she'd wet the bed. But she still had the headache. I gave her more Tylenol and cluelessly asked if she wanted to go to swim team practice. She said 'No way, I can't'. She's my trooper, so I knew she wasn't better. Brian took Carlisle and Vivian to practice and it was just me, her and Baby. She was rubbing her head and constantly telling me how much it hurt. After an hour, I told her we needed to go pickup the girls from swim team practice. She was so disappointed that we had to leave her cozy spot on the sofa. She got in the car and laid the seat down. When we pulled up at the pool, she asked me to please tell the girls that her head still hurt and for them to be quiet. She put on a pair of my sunglasses.

Sadly, after that, we headed to the gym. I had to sub a class. As the girls and I walked in, she and Baby sat side by side in the stroller, holding hands. She begged me not to take her to the childcare area, saying it would be too loud. During the 45 minute class, she sat in my managers office, in the stroller, with the lights off.

I continued alternating giving her Tylenol and Ibuprofen. She was in horrible pain. Always looking miserable. Not complaining, just explaining that she did NOT feel good. The medicine was a joke. It never even began to touch the problem. I was already traumatized. I called and talked to our pediatrician and explained her symptoms….headache only on one side of her head, pain behind her eye, sensitivity to light and sound, itching and burning on the head and none of it responding to pain meds. He told me that it absolutely concerned him and to come in immediately.

I put the baby down for a nap, turned on a movie and left the girls with a friend who had come over. Evelyn bawled all the way to the doctors office.

He examined her. Nothing looked unusual except a slight ear infection on the same side that her head hurt. So he prescribed her a pain killer and antibiotics for the ear infection. She cried all the way from the doctor to the CVS. I was dying to give her the pain meds. I just knew it would give her head relief and then we could get past this. But the drugs weren't ready when we got to the CVS. The Pharmacist at the window of the drive through commented that Evelyn didn't look well and that she would hurry to get the medicine ready quickly. I took her home and laid her on the sofa. She was miserable. I asked my friend if she could stay a few more minutes and ran back to get the medicine. Somewhere in here and I can't remember when, I talked to Brian. I explained all that was happening with Evelyn. He said he was having a crisis at work, a missing bank bag from the week or two prior. He said he would be working late.

I gave her the pain medicine, she found so little relief. I was amazed. And scared.

That night, I laid her in my bed. I was nervous to leave her alone. I told Brian that I would sleep with her. He had to work, so he slept upstairs in the guest bed.

The night went just like the one before. Only it was getting progressively worse. She was screaming in pain. Terrorized by the pain. All through the night, eyes wide with horror, she would grab my shirt and ball it up in her fists and shout in my face, 'HELP ME MOMMY….IT HURTS SO BAD!!!!!!' She even pulled my hair. 'MOMMY!!!! HELP ME!!!!' I think she was just trying to find something to hold on to. She reminded me of a woman in labor. The pain laughed at the pain medicine. It did NOTHING to help her. Nothing to ease her pain. I was living a nightmare. I would say, 'I am so sorry.' I tried a wet cloth on her head. It was just an irritant. I tried rubbing her back. It was like putting a bandade on an amputee. This pain was WAY out of our league. She was completely inconsolable. I sat up in bed, pulled her into my lap and told her, 'I wish it was me'. I told her, 'I wish I was the one with the headache'. And here is her response...

'No Mommy. I am glad it is me. I would NEVER want you to feel this way. I would never want you to hurt this much. Especially since you are pregnant.'

She cried. I cried. I asked her if she wanted me to pray. She always said 'Yes'. I would wrap my arms around her and I would pray that God would protect her, take away her excruciating pain and itching and HEAL her. Tears would stream down our faces. And then she would continue to scream, cry, and writhe in pain all night long.

Headaches go away. But that was just it. This was NO HEADACHE. This was something WAY worse.

How do we get through THIS?

'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'
Jeremiah 33:3 

Day 2 (Fri)
During the day, sometimes the pain would ease just a bit and she could sit up and eat a little. But she and I would have tremendous anxiety as the night got closer. She would sleep a little and the pain would wake her up to cry. Her cry was desperate. Her fear HUGE.

Our family seemed to be under attack.

I left Evelyn's side for 3 minutes once Brian got home from work, to water the flowers. In the few minutes it took me to water the flowers, I got stung repeatedly by a swarm of wasps or yellow jackets. I never saw them coming.

Brian was contacted by the bank because of a missing bank deposit bag. Our family is most assuredly in crisis.

I continued to dose her with the pain killer and Tylenol and Ibuprofen around the clock, down to the minute. And we would pray. I kept calling the doctor. He said if it isn't better to head straight to the ER. It wasn't better.

I kept thinking…this is the definition of INSANITY. Doing the same thing and expecting different results. We are INSANE. THIS IS INSANE. Or maybe I am going insane. Same medicine, same excruciating pain.

Brian had a Jiu Jitsu tournament in Atlanta. The plan was, if she felt better, he'd go. Of course she didn't.

Day 3 (Sat)

Brian called her doctor and he admitted Evelyn to the hospital on Saturday morning. He picked her up in his big strong arms and carried her to his car. I look at each of the girls, at Brian, at Evelyn. We all looked so sad. Her coloring looked weird to me. A grayish color. Her eyes look tired. I am so traumatized.

And then they pulled out of the driveway. Being in the hospital will have to be better than this. They are going to do something to help her. Something…..

She missed the huge end-of-the-year swim meet. I sent Carlisle on with friends to the meet. She begged me to come and watch her. I wanted to, I just couldn't. I had to be with Evelyn. So once she was on her way to the meet, and the two little ones were at home with the babysitter, I left to meet Brian and Evelyn.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Evelyn was having a CT scan. That is the moment for Brian. Everything changed. There is life before his sweet baby in the CT scan and a new life after. No exaggeration. Sometimes we can pinpoint those events. For him, this is one. He can't talk about it without crying. He said she was just sitting there in the CT machine and he had no idea what they would find. Would she have something terminal? Would this be fatal? Everything fell into place. All the things that truly matter became important and all else slipped away.

By the time I got there, she was already in her room. The nurse was there to give her an IV. She chose to put it in the top of her hand. It hurts so much in your hand. I've had IV's there. When Grace was born I had an IV in the top of my hand. It is seared into my mind. Very hard memory.

She bravely accepted the needle being thrust into her little hand. She cried, of course. She still seems like a baby amidst all the bigness of the bed, the wires, the adults everywhere. She's six. She's in horrible pain. The nurse kept saying, 'Its ok, the needle is out. Only the tube is in. It doesn't hurt anymore.' And then she left. I cried with Evelyn and said, 'I'm so sorry she said that. It DOES hurt. The whole time it is in….it hurts. I remember. And I'd hug her and tell her that I too have had an IV in my hand and its awful.

And then I would sit in silence and stare at her in that big bed. And I'd think, what are we going to find? And I'd watch my precious baby in such tremendous pain. There was talk of this being a migraine. Which was traumatic to even think about a 6 year-old with a three day migraine. Really? It never made since to me.

She would beg us and then we would beg them to hurry with the pain killers. For the first time since it all began, it helped….a little. She would have about two hours or so of some relief. But the pain never LEFT. She still had pain. And she still had itching and burning in her head, but it would be slightly better. Then it would wear off and she was absolutely miserable again.

I was in a horrible time warp.

When will this end?

I just knew that somehow this would end and that we would go home and have our normal happy lives back. I was thinking, take me back to my love bubble where people aren't screaming and in agony 24 hours a day.

But instead, we continued to beg for more medicine. Here we were in the hospital. I wanted them to give her the relief she hadn't had in days. I asked for something to help her rest. She hadn't slept well in 3 nights. They gave her the 'really strong medicine that will knock her out.' IT DIDNT EVEN AFFECT HER.

Instead, she was tired for a few minutes, and then she began entertaining herself raising the bed up….putting the bed down. Raising the feet up. Then the head. Sandwiching her in the middle. It was then that Brian and I would joke and laugh. We were so happy that the 'sleep meds' were giving her relief and that she wasn't laying comotose or screaming in pain. She was funny, funny, funny. She was herself. Busy. Full of energy. She has always been our most active of all of them. She's the one who walked first, climbs like a monkey, stopped napping at 18 months because she had way better things to do. So pushing buttons for hours on the bed was Evelyn being…Evelyn. Thank you Lord for those few hours of normalcy. She looked like a crack addict. Her coloring was terrible. Her eyes were half open swimming around in her head and she moved like an dope head. But she wasn't screaming in pain. So it felt good.

With some of the stronger meds, they monitor pulse rate. So of course, she pulled those monitors off, setting off all sorts of alarms in her room and at the nurses station. And then she would complain bitterly about how loud the beeping noise was. Then she'd tangle herself in all the cords and be jumbled up and complaining about that. She was a full time job. All this, while she was supposed to be sleeping from the 'strong sleep drug.'

I'm 9 months pregnant and am tired. I left Brian that night with her and went home to try and sleep. I crawled into bed looking so forward to a night of rest. I'd been asleep for 2 hours or so and the burglar alarm at Brian's office goes off. The alarm company calls me. They say that they have tried Brian on his phone but no answer. I explain that we have a child in the hospital and he is there with her. They ask if I want the police to be dispatched. I am suddenly wide awake. I think back to the missing bank bag. I say yes. The police department calls a few minutes later and says that he has checked the entire premises and that nothing or no one is found. I thank him and crawl back in bed.

Minutes later…maybe 20 or 30…maybe an hour later, the same thing occurs. The alarm is set off, the alarm company calls, police go. They check, nothing. They encourage me to go there and reset the alarm. I call an employee and she happens to be awake. Thankfully, she heads to the office to reset the code for me. This goes on another time during the night. Life is spinning. Its hard to have rational thought. I'm numb. And always, I am thinking of Evelyn. I couldn't feel more helpless and scared.

There is a story in the bible that I love. A sick man. He was blind. Forever blind. Not days into his blindness, but a lifetime. He hears Jesus is near and BLOWS IT UP! He starts shouting for Jesus. SHOUTING. Everyone told him to hush-up. It fueled his fire. He just got louder. When we are in need of Jesus….CALL TO HIM…..LOUDLY!!!! Jesus walked right over to the man who was shouting for him. I imagine that he continued to shout even as Jesus stood near because he wouldn't have been able to see that Jesus was RIGHT there. And Jesus loved him. He loved that he screamed out for him. Jesus immediately healed him!

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means "son of Timaeus"), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Mar 10:46-52 

Day 4 (Sun)
Two of my friends and their daughters come by and pick up the other girls. They split up the girls. Two went with one family to church. One went to another church. I'm so grateful for their help. I can tell my girls are strained. I wonder if they know that they are being dumped on others so that Brian and I can focus on Evelyn. I know they need me. I am so divided. I cry. They cry. They leave. And I head to the hospital.

By the time I get there, the nurse is removing her IV. We are so relieved. We celebrate the removal of the IV. She looks HORRIBLE. She hasn't had a bath in who-knows-how-long. Her eyes are rolling around in her head. She's got dreads. But she's not crying. So I am grateful.

The Doctors tell us it's probably what they call Cluster Migraines. We are told to continue the pain killers and they discharge us. Somehow none of this makes since. But she is happy to leave. And I think to myself, 'if this is infact a migraine then it will GO AWAY. We are on day 4. It WILL go away….right?'

We get home. Sisters are still with friends, she is soooo loopy from all the fluids and pain killers and drugs floating through her system. She sits down on her new surf board with a guitar and starts writing music like she's Bob Marley or the Rolling Stones.
She seems to have a good afternoon. Her bestie stops by for love and hugs. I think she scares her acting so strangely different from her normal sober self. Brian takes her out for ice cream. Seems like maybe this will be a thing of the past.

Carlisle gets home from church and lunch with friends and is so relieved to see her sister. Evelyn is wallowing around moaning and agitated. She's unresponsive to normal conversation and a shell of a person. Carlisle tries to talk with her and play and Evelyn is like a druggie.

Carlisle nervously whispers to me, 'Is Evelyn going to be like this forever?' I tell her honestly, 'I hope not Carlisle.' Everything is so grim. Everyone is so affected. And nervous.

But this thing is going to pass. We cling to that hope quietly.

'I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.'
Psalm 63:8 

At the same time, we know that this is not over. And, unfortunately, we were right.


And so we cling. To the LORD.

That night, we give her the maximum amount of medicine we can give her, put her down early and Brian lays with her until she falls asleep. Once the other girls are asleep, Brian and I sit down to talk. We decide if she wakes up screaming in pain, we go straight to the Children's Hospital in Charleston and get her admitted to the ER.

Worst night yet. The pain medicine does nothing. She and I cry all night and pray to the Lord who takes away pain.

'Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.'
Psalm 31:24 NIV

Day 5 (Mon)
Brian is still sleeping upstairs in the guest bedroom when I wake him up early and tell him of her night of suffering. The pain, the screaming, the agony. He immediately picks her up, carries her to the garage and puts her in his car. They are gone within moments. I'm pretty sure he just picked up the same bag he'd had at the hospital in Florence. It had never been unpacked…

I am standing there with three other little girls standing by my side. We are motionless. Sad. Quiet. We watch them pull out of the garage. The garage door closes silently. I am dumbfounded. They are confused. Scared for their sister. And even a bit selfish. 'Mom what is going to happen? What about ME?'

We are somehow living someone else's life. Or a nightmare. I occurs to me that this seems like a task impossible to do well. I am so tired. My belly is so big. My head is spinning. And the one I am SO worried for, just left. My heart is swimming. Three other little ones look up at me with big blue eyes.

I assure each sweet girl that God is taking care of us. Because HE is. That I know. HE is our anchor. He is GOOD. He is right. He will help make since of this for me. And for them…

'We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.'  
Hebrews 6:18-19

And so I cling. To the anchor of my soul.

Then, little Vivian… who will unintentionally break your heart with her sweetness. She, who never asks for anything, says, 'Do I get to go to Horse Camp this week?' Oh my gosh. Horse Camp. It's Monday morning. She is supposed to be there in 5 minutes. A 20 minutes drive away. Into the country. She's waited all summer for this. How am I going to be in two places at once? My heart is ripped out of my chest.

'Of course you get to go to Horse Camp.' And all of a sudden I can focus for a moment. On that. On her. A new focus. The other daughters…who need me desperately right now.

And I get her ready. She's so gentle and quiet. Excited. But pensive. It's a stretch for her to do anything without big sisters. Especially something new. I'd thought that if she was too apprehensive for camp that I'd let Evelyn do it with her too. Of course that was before all this sickness.

Everyone is ready and in the car quickly. I'm pretty sure Baby went in her wet diaper and jammies to the farm. We got there a half hour late. Vivian is as I knew she'd be. Apprehensive. Nervous. But eventually the horses win out. She's eventually brave and after 15 minutes or so, she's happy and we leave.

We get back home and I don't know what in the world I am supposed to be doing. I busy myself with laundry because my head is swimming. And mindless laundry makes a little since. I talk to Brian on his drive to Charleston. I can hear Evelyn moaning in the seat beside him as they drive. He tells me, 'You're pregnant. Take care of the other girls. Stay in Florence. We don't know what is going to happen.' He sounds the way I feel. Confused. Unsure. Scared. I'm spinning. Carlisle tries her best to help. I speak to a friend on the phone who has endured more sickness and hardship than I. She listens as I cry. She wants to help. She offers to take the two little ones. I just say yes.

Time passes quickly and it is time to pick up Vivian from Horse Camp.

I talk to my friend again. I can tell she's had time to think through our situation. She tells me go to Evelyn. 'Be with her. She needs YOU.' All of a sudden, CLARITY. She's right. I get a text from another friend that says the same. That's where I am needed. So the little two girls go with my friend. Carlisle goes with another friend and I pack. I am gone within the hour. How in the world is this going to work? The needs of this one family all of a sudden are so overwhelming. How can I take care of each girl? Or each girls' heart? And then there is Evelyn.

But I have to go.

'Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, Your Majesty." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
Daniel 3:19-25 

It was the three of us in the fiery furnace. Brian, me and Evelyn. But as we looked closer, it was so obvious all along. The Lord was there too.

I arrive in Charleston. I tell the front desk lady in the ER that I am here to see Evelyn. She says, 'And YOU are?' I said, 'Her Mother.' She raises her eyebrows and quickly ushers me to a tiny room. There is Evelyn. Brian. Brian's sister. A Doctor. A nurse. He is the Pediatric Neurologist. Simply put. He's eccentric. Brian is describing what we have been through. And in the middle of the storm is Evelyn. MISERABLE. Eccentric Doc is loud and seems like just insane enough to help us. He says 'You know what I think this is? I think I know….' He scratches his head. He talks so loud. 'I think this is SHINGLES.' And he says he's going to think it over some more. And then, he is gone. I kiss Evelyn. She's thrashing around in this tiny bed. I ask Brian if it hot to him. He offers for me to sit, but my back can't hack it. My back constantly hurts from the pregnancy. So I stand. I rub Evelyn. She's constantly in motion from pain.

Eccentric Doc is back a little while later. He says, 'I'm going with Shingles.' He starts asking her about her favorite Disney movies. He starts singing songs from The Little Mermaid. He tells us, that he's ordered her some anti-viral medicine.

I tell him that's great and that she is still in extreme pain. The drugs she's been taking haven't worked. He orders her a new drug. He explains that it is stronger than morphine. The nurse has it within a few minutes. I am blown away with how quickly things in the ER move. Its thrilling. The medicine is going into her IV. We happen to all be watching. The medicine is 1/3 of the way out of the syringe and she rolls over to her side. By the time the nurse has 1/2 of it in her IV, she shuts her eyes. As the last half goes in, she is GONE. ASLEEP. Brian and I look at each other. The whole administration of the medicine took 6 seconds. Max. I've never seen anything like it. But finally she is still. She is content. She is quiet. She is out of pain.

The room seems cooler all of a sudden. She is completely and totally motionless.

I sink into a chair beside Brian. It's just us and our baby lying comatose-ish in the bed. The nurse comes by and offers us something to drink. I accept. So grateful for water.

Time passes. I get texts from concerned friends offering their experiences with children and headaches. Things for us to consider when talking it over with the doctors. My head swims. I don't answer my phone much. I don't dare go to Facebook. To overwhelmed with this whole situation. Feels very quiet. We sit and listen to her breathe.

The nurse is back. She explains that the medicine going into the IV now is the anti-viral medicine. If it is, in fact, Shingles…then this is the drug that will heal her.

Time passes and we are being transported into a room. Evelyn still hasn't moved. They wheel her through the halls and into an elevator. We must look so shellshocked. People step out of the way shooting sympathetic glances towards us. Others hold the elevator doors as she is pushed onto the elevator and murmur that they will get the next one.

They put us in a room. The nurse welcomes us and gives us the welcome spiel, he is so friendly and helpful that we can't help but smile and talk about him after he leaves. It seems to be the first time Brian and I have smiled all day. I can't think of another time.

There is very little to smile about these days.

There is a flurry of activity around Evelyn, while she is still sleeping, and we settle in for the night. I am on a pull out cot. Brian is on the floor. Life is just nuts.

Nurses and others are in and out all night. Asking important questions. I am not sleeping well. So its fine. I sit up and answer all the questions. Sometime around midnight they make us pack up and change rooms. Brian just about blows a gasket. I forget how hospitals and those who work in them never-ever-ever sleep.

Day 6 (Tue)
The new room is smaller. At sometime before 7:00am, the barrage of student Doctors, resident Doctors and Doctors begins. Evelyn, in the middle of this horrible storm, is always miserable. They try to joke with her and make light. She sometimes weakly smiles. They see her as another patient on their rotation. That is not how we see her, needless to say. They ask about her habits. We explain that she is a competitive swimmer, a dancer, a surfer. That gets their attention. 'A six year old surfer?' She weakly nods.

One thing remains the same. We are always begging for more medicine for her. We are so new to this. They often have to call the doctor to get orders. As we see our Doctors we insist that they write orders that stay in the computer that keeps her pain medicine coming around the clock. They agree. Victory number one for Ev.

I can't think of the last time I've brushed my teeth. My makeup is smeared under my eyes. We are in survival mode. I look ridiculous. And I couldn't care less. The agony of watching a child…your own child, suffer in pain, is simply one of the greatest form of torture I have ever endured.

'Listen, you women, to the words of the Lord;
open your ears to what he has to say.
Teach your daughters to wail;
teach one another how to lament.' 
Jeremiah 9:20

Evelyn's nurse is a sweet girl named Ellen. She and Evelyn become fast friends. Evelyn adores her. The feeling is mutual. On one of her visits into our room, Ellen mentions that she had a dream just 2 days prior…. about a little girl named EVELYN. She doesn't elaborate. And I don't ask for more details. I just know that this is a divine appointment. We were supposed to meet her, to meet Ellen. And God has prepared Ellen for us. Amazing.

The longest day continues. They are giving her the anti-viral medicine every 6 hours. I keep thinking, this will be the dose that changes everything. She will feel better soon. But she hasn't made progress. No progress. Her head is still killing her. She still rakes at it, complaining of itching and burning. And the Doctors parade in. And the doctors parade out. And in the middle of the storm is a precious little girl with a heart of gold, who, when asked how she feels 100% of the time says, 'A little bit better.' No matter what her condition.

I hurt for those who deal with this day in day out. I cannot imagine a child with chronic pain. Chronic sickness. No end in sight. It hard for me to get it out of my mind. I just want her to feel better and our family to be back together.

I was so focused on Evelyn and worried for her that I just let go of the details of the other girls. And I mean, I let it go.

I don't even know where my other girls were some days. Most days. I couldn't keep up. My friends had them split up at different houses or sometimes they were together. Somehow, thankfully, Vivian was shuttled to and from Horse Camp every morning thanks to our dream babysitter, Rachel.

It was such a blessing knowing that they were with friends and safe…and happy.

The Doctors call for bloodwork on Tuesday. Unfortunately, they decide to come to draw the blood in the middle of the night. Like 12:00 or 1:00am. Needless to say, we are all asleep. Brian and I took turns sleeping beside her in the bed. One of us on the pullout chair. One of us snuggled in with her.

So about Midnight, Evelyn wakes up to a nurse standing over her with a needle and a mask like a VAMPIRE. She completely lost it. She had been in so much pain, so traumatized, so poked and prodded, so many needles. She was SCREAMING. Inconsolable. She became completely and totally unglued. The nurse kept explaining that she just needed a little blood. It was the breaking point for Evelyn. I tried to tell her that it wouldn't take long. That the masked lady would take the blood and then be gone. She would have NONE of our talk. The more the nurse persisted, the more wildly she screamed and spun out of control. She was like I have NEVER before and never since, seen her. She was done. I had no skills to deal with this little girl, a little girl I had never known. But Brian…he did. He didn't try to talk Evelyn into allowing the nurse with the scary mask and the big needle to suck out her blood. Instead, he told the nurse this was ridiculous. And rightfully so. To wake a sleeping baby up to withdraw blood from her in the middle of the night. He was so rational. Thankfully. He asked why this couldn't wait until the morning. Evelyn is still HYSTERICAL. He said, 'She's just a child. She's scared. She feels horrible. Can this not wait?' And the Papa Bear won. The nurse was either compassionate or noticed his Papa Bear-ness in full effect, and she left.

He asked me if we could switch spots. He wanted to sleep beside her and she wanted him there beside her too. It was precious to watch. A Daddy protecting his baby. And the baby knowing exactly who her protector was. We all fell asleep…

Yet, I still dare to hope when I remember this….

'The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease, 
Great is his faithfulness'
his mercies begin afresh each morning.'
Lamentations 3:21-23

Day 7 (Wed)
The morning starts as the others have. A barrage of Doctors, young and old all asking Evelyn how she feels. But something HAS changed today. We were probably 7 or 8 doses into the anti-viral medicine. And all of a sudden there is less of the raking at her head. The itching and burning seems to have dropped noticeably. All along, the doctors have been asking what her pain level is on a scale of 1-10. She ALWAYS gives them an answer that does not, at all, look like what I would have guessed.

So this morning she says she is a 3. THREE!!! Brian and I start to smile and relief spreads across the room like a blanket. After that sinks in, Brian asks her…'so if you were to go to dance class, or surf camp or run and do cartwheels…what would you need to be??? She says, 'Um…a 2.' TWO!!!!! What?!?!?!!? Brian and I laugh and laugh with relief. A ONE must be life in heaven!

I ask her if she wants to take a shower. She nonchalantly says, 'Sure.' Pretty sure it is her first shower in a week. She has dreads from all the laying in hospital beds and the scratching and racking through her hair. For me, I knew she was coming into the clear just listening to her shower. She was humming….then the humming became a song…and then she was singing. I don't know what the song was, but it was worshipful. She's the one born with a song in her heart and it was emerging again. Sunshine started spewing from her again. I see her as she once was, a happy little six year-old. Not a six year-old fighting a weird illness that is robbing her of joy and making her miserable.

Hours later, after multiple discussions with Infectious Disease doctors, Pediatric Neurologist and teams of others, it is decided that the fact that she seems to be improving is probably indicative of the fact that it IS Shingles and that the anti-viral IS working.

She tells the doctors that she wants to go home and be with her sisters. They all agree that we can be discharged. Brian takes off for home and I stay to sign the discharge papers, get prescriptions and finish one more yucky thing….

They want one more vile of blood before we go. Nurse Ellen is on the day shift again.

Evelyn falls apart. Screaming that she has given enough and that she can't give anymore. And she didn't mean blood.

She asks for Ellen to be the nurse who draws her blood. Ellen agrees. But looks really apprehensive.

After much screaming and being wildly out of control, we coerce her to let Ellen draw some blood. It took an hour and much positive talk from both Ellen and me. Evelyn is so spent and I can't blame her. I want to scream and cry too. Once the needle is in, Ellen is able to get a half of a vile of blood. She's supposed to have gotten multiple viles. She pulls the needle. She tells me she can't do this. I can't either. I'm relieved that she has given up. Or given in. I'm DONE. She has stayed well past her quitting time.

'There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. 
Deu 33:26-27 

We say goodbye to the nurses. It feels like a door is closing and we have to quickly find the exit. Evelyn is basically bolting for that door. She's pulling my hand, dragging me. I am carrying all our bags. I think to myself that I should have asked Brian to carry some of this for me. Soon she wears out and wants me to carry her too. I cannot say no. It doesn't matter that I am 9 months pregnant. I carry my sweet baby. We make it to the car and I realize that this nightmare is starting to come to a close.

We pull out of the parking garage and onto the street. And there she is. Ellen. The nurse who is an hour and a half past the time that she is supposed to have gotten off work. The nurse who looks visibly shaken.

Evelyn rolls down her window and shouts out the window, 'We love you Ellen.' It's only then that I see that Ellen has been crying. Sickness is hard on everyone. Even those who see it all the time. She waves and we drive home.

'Blessed is the girl who perseveres under trial because when she has stood the test, she will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.'
James 1:12

Since then, Evelyn has made a full recovery. Praise God. She recently competed in a Jiu Jitsu tournament and won first prize.

Her reward was a sword.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

God is our great healer and deliverer. He didn't delay. He was right on time. And He rescued my little Evelyn out of the most scary place she's ever had to be. What a deliverance. What a blessing. What a great God we serve.

But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.
Psalm 70:5

We had a conversation one week later standing in the back of the church. It was with a missionary. Lifetime missionary that has given his LIFE to serving the Lord in the Amazon. He reminded us of the TRUTH. This was an attack. When Satan can't get you, or your marriage, when unsuccessful, he goes after your kids. He has seen it 1000 times. This is a scheme of the devil. And it is effective because of our love for our children. 
Either a wedge is placed in between you and your spouse, fighting for your child, or you get bonded and fight as a team for your child. 

We chose to fight as a team. 

Thank you God for healing Evelyn.