Wednesday, May 29, 2013

712 days...104 weeks... 24 months... 2 years

Happy Birthday Alicia!!

Baby Girl is 2 years old today.  Time sure flies! Hard to believe that two years ago, Linda and I were still recovering from one of the most eventful night of our lives, and our little girl was clinging to life by a thread. Now look at her. So full of life and most importantly she's thriving and improving each and every day.

I still remember clearly doctors telling us that they had no guarantees for us on how long Alicia would be alive. The odds were sorely against her, and if she survived to the end of the week, it would be quite amazing. Back then all we had to cling on to was our faith that Alicia was in God's hands. We kept praying for and proclaiming with all of you health, and life to our little one. Back then there were moments when it felt like we were maybe kidding ourselves. But we clung onto God and his promises. We knew that he would carry us through no matter what. And we believed that Alicia was going to be all right.

And as you can see, today, she's not only OK, she is blossoming into an adorable little girl.

Does she have challenges? Sure. She's a bit behind developmentally, but that's OK. We will continue to take her to therapy and get her the help that she needs. At the same time, we're going to continue what we've been doing since the beginning and continue to cling on to the hope that she is going to be able to live a 100% normal and healthy life with no disabilities or handicaps. We're going to continue to speak life over her and full health. And we ask you to continue to do that with us as well.

A year ago, on the eve of Alicia's first birthday, I wrote about how I look forward to the day when I'll hear her call me Daddy for the first time, and while we're not quite there yet, we're getting there! A couple of weeks ago, she started adding the syllable "ba" to her babbling. Now we just have to help her to associate "ba" with me! =D She is definitely understanding more and more. When we ask her "Where is baba?" she'll look at me. And if I say, "Give it to baba" She'll reach out and give me whatever's in her hand. So she's definitely more aware and interactive, which is an encouraging sign.

Now, on the day of Alicia's birthday, allow me to leave a little message for my baby girl, so that one day when she's older she can read and know what Daddy was thinking on her second birthday.

Dear Precious Baby Girl,

Happy birthday! You are 2 today. You probably have no idea right now what a special day we celebrate today, but in time, and as you get older, you will know. But for now, Mommy and Daddy will just celebrate for you.

Baby girl, you are growing and learning so much. You have your challenges and Mommy and Daddy need to give you some special help, but it is worth it. To see how much you are improving and growing makes Mommy and Daddy's heart smile.

Alicia, I hope you know how much Mommy and Daddy love you. Mommy pours out so much of herself to take care of you. And her heart is continuously wondering what else she can do to help you to grow physically, mentally, spiritually and in every other way. Mommy often exhausts all of her energy in trying to get you to eat, or nap, or just to finish your milk. You are an amazing girl. And overall, you are very well-behaved and cooperative. But little girl, you have to eat and sleep. That's how you'll get bigger, healthier and stronger. One day you'll understand and one day you'll have children of your own. I hope they eat better than you do, but if they don't, then maybe you'll understand the struggle Mommy goes through every day to feed you. Haha.

But Alicia, you are an amazing little girl. Your smile is like a splash of color on a dreary gray canvas, it brightens everything up. I love playing with you and making you laugh. And I love when I hold you and you hold me back, snuggle and bury your face in my chest. You make me feel like I am the biggest coolest superdad in the world.

There are times when I get frustrated and I yell or put you aside, and I am sorry. Daddy is learning, too. I am learning I need to cherish this time I have with you, because you won't be small forever. One day you are going to be all grown up and have a family of your own. And I'm going to have to compete for your time. But for now, your mine and Mommy's and we will continue to cherish the gift that is you.

Daddy and Mommy have a lot of hopes and dreams for you baby girl. But mostly our prayer is that we would train you up in the way that you should go. We want you to have an amazing relationship with God, and know that he has created you and that you have an exciting purpose here on Earth. You almost went back to Heaven early, but God sent here, and I know you have something important to do. And Mommy and Daddy promise that we'll do our best to help you find out what that is, and support you so that you can have every advantage, resource and tool you need to thrive and give God glory while you're alive here on Earth.

Precious girl, you are my treasure.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Missing Something?

Seriously, how do all of you do it? I mean those of you with 2, 3, 4 . . . 19 kids? How do you do it?

How do you do it, while still maintaining your smile, your energy, and most importantly your hair? Alicia is a great kid and all, but seriously, lately, I feel like we're coming apart at the seams.

Those of you who know me well, know I once had a lofty dream of having four, yes, FOUR, kids. I love kids, I reasoned, it'd be fun. MWUAHAHAHA. Lately, I've really started to reconsider. I mean, part of me still hangs onto the hope that by some miracle of God, we get this supernatural stamina, patience and energy to handle four little kiddies running around our house. But right now we're doing all that we can just to survive.

I sometimes wonder, is it us? Are we doing it wrong? I mean, how do some moms have the energy and capability to have three young boys under the age of five, be pregnant with her fourth child, bake amazing treats and still run 10 miles every day. (Yes, I'm talking about you Mrs. Sawatzky.)

And then others who find the time to sew, and bake, and keep their house clean and take their child out for modeling shoots, and still have time to make baby number two, or three.

I'm like... I really would like to have a second one. But really? Do we dare?

And I'm at odds, too. Because part of me is like... we want a second one, let's get it over with. If we're going to be tired, let's just be tired all at once. I don't want to get to a point where Alicia is a bit older, she can do more on her own, and we can take things a bit easier, and then BAM have to start all over for another 3 or 4 years with kiddo numero dos. At the same time, can we really handle adding another person into the mix, with everything that we have going on?

I mean, seriously, am I missing something? Other families seem all the ready to have more kids. Parents whose kids were born about the same time as Alicia, if they haven't already added to their pantry, are in the process of creating or baking their next sweetie pie. But in our little bakery shop, as the chief baker (my wife) so tactfully put it, "The store is closed."

And while, I would so like to contest and on occasion do try to persuade my wife to prepare for our second, part of me feels like, who am I kidding? We have four hands full with Alicia. How can I even think of having a second, or a third, or dare I say it? A fourth.

On a side note, in my naivete as a young single man, I thought, hey wouldn't it be fun to have twins? Now I think, WAS I CRAZY?! So you parents of multiples out there - hats off to you.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of joys that we experience. Like the sweet smiles that we get from Alicia each day. Or even her crawling up to me just now, putting her little hands on my knees and pulling herself up to be close to me. Those things are precious.

I mean, I honestly have no answers. I don't know what I can do to make things easier for Linda or myself. Or maybe there is nothing we can do. Maybe it's just a phase that we need to go through.

I guess part of me writes this to let those of you out there who are in the same boat as me know that you're not alone. Not all families are idyllic with well-disciplined children who sleep, eat, and poop on schedule, and moms and dads who keep a spotless home, while cooking dinner with one hand and changing a diaper in the other.

All I can say is I am clinging on to God for dear life, I tell you. =D

Monday, April 29, 2013

Such a Time as This

Had an interesting conversation yesterday with a new acquaintance of mine that really injected me with renewed sense of gratitude.

One thing God has been speaking to me over the years is that no matter how much at times I think that God has left me in the dust to fend for myself, he never has nor will he ever abandon me. In fact, truth is, sometimes there are things that I take for granted as, "well that's just how things are" when actually, there is no such things as "that's just how things are." We are not guaranteed that things are supposed to be one way or the other. In fact, all we have is because of God's grace and mercy.

What I'm realizing is that it is would be nearly impossible for me to wrap my mind around and comprehend just exactly how much the Lord has done for me.  In fact, I think I am probably blissfully unawares of some of the imminent dangers that the Lord has thwarted from coming my way simply because I never experienced it, so I didn't know it was coming.

I think this cartoon illustrates what I'm trying to say well:


I mean of course, I don't think God is ever capable of accidentally "missing one". But you get the idea.

So basically yesterday, I was having a conversation with this acquaintance when he just casually mentioned that his mom has had a series of health issues ever since she gave birth to him unexpectedly during the hottest part of the year over 20 years ago. Being a dad of an ex-preemie, my ears perked up. Unexpected birth? So I asked him what he meant. He explained to me that he was originally due in November, but he was born mid-August. Three months early, just like Alicia!

He told me that he stayed in the incubator for 10 days. "Ten days!" I exclaimed. He said, "Yeah, I know. A long time, right?" Flabbergasted I explained that Alicia was in the hospital in the incubator for four months! It was his turn to be shocked. After further discussion, we realized that the reason he was only in the hospital for 10 days was because back then Taiwan National Health Insurance was not as comprehensive as it is today. His family could only afford to keep him in the incubator for 10 days.


One other thing about this acquaintance of mine, is that he walks with a limp. Turns out one of his legs is longer than the other and he's had the problem since he was a child. But, since info on preemie care and early intervention was not as prevalent and developed when he was young, his parents were unaware of his need for therapy until he was nearly five years old and still unable to walk. By then it was a little late for him to begin therapy and get the help that he needed, and so he ended up with a permanent limp.

After this conversation, I was just in awe. I mean, have we had a hard time? Yes! Have we had to face a slough of unanticipated trials and uphill battles? Sure! But could things have been 10 times worse? Oh, MOST definitely!

I mean, seriously, we were already so thankful for the medical insurance that brought our over $1,000,000 NT hospital bill down to only $50,000. But to think that had Alicia been born 20 years ago, we would have most likely only been able to allow her to stay in the hospital for 10 days and then what? Linda and I would have had to provide all the medical treatment and care for her at home. (On a side note, we've heard rumors that the government is considering cutting funding in preemie care so that insurance will go back to covering only 14 days of incubator usage. ARE YOU KIDDING?! Talk about sentencing these kids! But that's another soapbox for another time.)

And is it challenging and draining for Linda to schlep Alicia, her diapers, toys, bottles and formula multiple times a week to therapy? OF COURSE! But, am I grateful now for the availability of such therapy and the protocols and resources available in order to diagnose Alicia's need for said therapy so that we were able to get it so early for Alicia? OH, FOR DARN SURE.

So, Father, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that sometimes I take things for granted. I'm sorry that I think I'm entitled and that you're not doing enough. And I complain and whine that it's too hard! When, in reality, you have already done so much. Every day I'm sure there are countless things that you do for me and my family that I am quite unaware of and oblivious to.

Lord, I want to say thank you. Thank you for all the things that you have done and continue to do for us both seen and unseen, known and unknown. Thank you that nothing gets by you, and you know exactly what we need even before we are conscious of it.

Thank you for allowing Alicia to be born at a time such as this when medical information and knowledge is more developed. Thank you for providing insurance so that Alicia was able to and continues to be able to get the assistance that she needs without costing us an arm and a leg.


P.S. Here is on other amazing thing that Linda just pointed out to me after reading what I wrote above. Even if Alicia were born 20 years ago without the developed medical care and insurance, God's grace would have covered her and us even then. Things in the natural realm may have been more "difficult" or "challenging" but in the spiritual realm our God is the same God he was yesterday, today and will be tomorrow. So his grace would have been sufficient for us even Alicia were born back then. THANK YOU, LORD!

Only God knows why he had Alicia born at such a time as this. But see, that's actually the only thing that matters. God KNOWS. And he has plans for her. Plans to prosper her and not to harm her, plans to give us hope and a future.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Too Much, But HE'S MORE!

It's 4:30 a.m. By the time I finish writing this, it'll be probably closer to 5. This is about the fifth night in a row that I have not had a full night's rest. Alicia has been having trouble really sleeping soundly and has been rolling, climbing, kicking around in our bed for the past week. Before you say anything about this being the consequence of her sleeping in our bed, let me tell you, that we are quite aware. We have actually being trying a new system. 

Last week, I deconstructed her crib, removing certain parts and reassembled it into a toddler bed. Alicia's new bed is now right beside ours. For the past week, we've been rocking Alicia to sleep and then putting her in her bed. Which is great for the first three or four hours. But then for some reason, midnight or 1:00 a.m. rolls around and Alicia wakes up crying wanting to be held. By then we're exhausted, so Linda will pick her up and have her sleep with us. Which to tell you the truth, I love . . . when we actually sleep. 

However, after 5 nights of restless sleep, and one of the worst nights/mornings ever today, I gave up. I decided I needed to come up and pray. But if I am to be honest. It's hard to pray. 

I am cranky and just feeling overwhelmed. I'm feeling like, IT'S TOO MUCH, GOD! It's too much. And you might be like, "WHOA, Campbell, calm down. It's just sleeping problems. She'll get over them. It's not a big deal." But the thing is, it's not just about the sleep. It's everything!

Every time, I think we're over a hurdle, every time, I think it'll be smooth sailing from here on out, I'll get rudely jolted back to reality by some doctor prognosis, or a reminder of some special need that Alicia still has that I conveniently had let slip my mind. 

As much as I am absolutely thankful for the beautiful baby girl that we have, and that she on the whole is more healthy and normal than not, which is a miracle considering the circumstances surrounding her birth, there are still lingering issues that just continue to get deflating and disempowering.

One condition that has been on the forefront of my mind is Sensory Integration Disorder. It's one that doctors warned us about when we first brought Alicia into therapy. Actually, scratch that. I think I remember hearing about it in the hospital during an info session just a few days or weeks after Alicia was born. Except at that time, I heard the words and description, but kind of half tuned out because a) it was all in Chinese and b) I had no context at that time to really make sense of what was being described. 

Long story short, Sensory Integration Disorder is a condition where children aren't able to process or organize the sensory stimuli that they are receiving. 

The interesting thing about Sensory Integration Disorder is that there are actually those that don't really think it exists. They believe that the symptoms described are actually indicative of other developmental issues and not unique enough to give it its own diagnosis.

Regardless, I believe it exists. However, until this morning, I had a hard time really grasping exactly what it was. Thing is most of the time when Sensory Integration Disorder is talked about, they describe a child who is hypersensitive to stimuli. They cry at even the slightest touch. They get overwhelmed by noises that you and I would deem as normal. They get irritated by even the most minute of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch. But that wasn't Alicia. She wasn't hypersensitive. 

In fact, for the most part I felt really blessed to have such a good child. She didn't cry when she had a poopy diaper. When she got immunization shots, she'd cry for about 10 seconds and then she was fine. All things that I thought, wow, we are so blessed to have such a good one. 

Come to find out, these things might not be as good as I thought they were. Yes, Alicia, isn't hypersensitive. But as I learned from research, there is actually the other extreme of the Sensory Integration Disorder. One blogger describes it as seekers verses avoiders.

Avoiders are the hypersensitive ones. Seekers are the ones that go after stimuli as if they can't get enough. Alicia seems to fit under the latter. 

She is constantly on the move. Unless, she's strapped in a chair, or she's strapped in her carrier, she's crawling around and ...

I started writing the above at 4:30, but now a half an hour later, I'm convicted. The above was a gripe. A complaint about why I felt overwhelmed and drained. But as I was writing, I just felt very clearly in my heart that it was a waste. It was nothing more than griping and complaining. And yes, I think there is a place for sharing your heart and your struggles, I just felt that I was being overly negative.

Sure Alicia needs special help. Sure she has some potential challenges and she needs extra care. But there is also PLENTY to be thankful for.

In case, you can't read the above, most of it was about a certain disorder called, "Sensory Integration Disorder" or "Sensory Modulation Disorder." And while, yes, admittedly Alicia does have some of the symptoms of this disorder. I do not believe that complaining about them will do any good. I mean sure, she's always getting into everything, constantly emptying a whole box of toys just to look at everything, constantly crawling around, unable to sit still unless strapped down. She's often chewing clothing, playing with food, under-responsive to pain, chewing on toothbrush, oh, did I mention not sitting still, especially when we're tying to change her diaper, etc... But thing is she has many moments when she's completely focused, engaged and fully alert.

So do I choose to focus on the negative and frustrating things or do I choose to focus on the things I'm thankful for? Sure, I can't deny that perhaps Alicia needs some help to learn to organize some of her senses. However, I do NOT need to wallow. We get Alicia the help she needs. We help her as much as we can. That's a part of being a parent.

Do I feel, at times, that we got the short end of the stick? SURE. But truth is, there are plenty of kids who are FAR worse than Alicia. (Not that we should be comparing.) I mean can you imagine not being able to touch your child, or sing to her for fear that it would overstimulate her? Or how about your child purposefully running into things, or doing dangerous things because they are under-stimulated. Alicia doesn't do any of that.

Yes, she has certain things that are indicative that she has SID or SMD. But, they are mild.

But I will ask you to pray for this. Pray for Linda and I to have strength and keep focused on God. It's been said that, "God will never give us more than we can bare." Well, unfortunately, this is a gross misquote. The Bible doesn't say that. He says he won't allow us to be tempted beyond what we are capable of resisting. In fact, Paul in describing his experience in Asia says that "We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself."

God does put us in positions where we can't handle it. But as Paul continues to say, "[It's so that it will] make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." 

Is it always easy to rely on God? NO! I am tired. I am not going to lie. I am drained and exhausted. BUT he has us in this position for a reason. He apparently loved Alicia enough to give her to Linda and I in this condition. He felt that we were the best parents to help her through this life. And I am honored. But MAN, do I feel completely overwhelmed and inadequate. And I can speak for Linda here, too. We both feel the same way.

However, as I have been reminded several times, just this week itself, my God is a big God. He is BIGGER than all of these struggles and trials. He is bigger than the storm. And as Jesus did in the boat, as it was being tossed about by the storm, I need to rest and know that he's GOT IT.

I may not be able to calm the storm, but HE CAN. And HE has promised that we will come through on the other side. So you know what, SID or SMD, and any other thing that may want to try to hinder my daughter? I'm going to tell my Daddy on you! Actually, no, I'm going to tell YOU about my Daddy.

He's the one who put the world in place. He's the one who knit Alicia fearfully and wonderfully in Linda's womb. He knows every fiber and cell in all of our bodies. The wind and the waves obey him. And HE PAID the ULTIMATE PRICE so that we can have life ABUNDANT! And this abundant life? It does not include you. So go on and git!

In the words of Gloria Gaynor, "Go on now go. Walk out the door. Just turn around now. Cause you're not welcome anymore. Weren't you the one who tried to hurt us with goodbye? Did you think we'd crumble? Did you think we'd lay down and die? Oh, no not us, we will survive.  Oh, as long as we know how to love, we know we'll stay alive, we've got all our lives to live, we've got all our love to give, and we'll survive, we will survive (hey hey)!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Judge Not

 Prior to having a child of my own, I thought I knew a thing or two about parenthood. I'd look at parents with their children, and I confess, I'd judge. "I'll never yell at my child in public." "Look at them, why can't they control their kids? My kids will be so much better behaved." "Those parents are softies. They let their kids run their lives." Ha. Oh, my naivete.

  Thing is, I know I'm not alone. I have read a number of blog posts and articles, written mostly by moms, that have confessed the very thing that I just shared. Many writers frame their posts as an open letter of apology to any and all parents they may have judged in the past. I guess, I'll follow suit.


 To the parents with the kid who takes forever to eat, or refuses to eat, that I judged. I'm sorry. To those parents that co-slept with their children, that I looked down on. I'm sorry.

  I am learning fast and hard that parenting IS NOT easy. I read books, I tried to prepare, but seriously, I feel like when you're actually on the field in the game, most of that knowledge just goes right out the window.

 When I first started out in this world of parenting, I was determined to be the model father - one who walked the fine line of love and discipline. One who would have well-behaved children, who knew they were loved and yet would keep in line and know what to do when and where.  I rejected the notion that my daughter would ever be capable of wrapping me around her little pinky. I was the authority, not her, she would live by my direction and not the opposite way around.

 Right. Did someone just splash cold water on me, because I am now fully awakened and out of my dream-like fantasy?

  The longer I am a father, the more I realize, I have NO IDEA what I'm doing. Half the time I'm guessing at what the best thing to do is. I try to stay strong and maintain discipline, but I fear crossing the boundary and inflicting some trauma or emotional scar on her.

  One clear, example, as those of you who are my friends on Facebook know, is the idea of sleep training. Seriously, I thought I knew what I was supposed to do, but truthfully? I don't.

  I got into this thing, completely believing in the philosophy that a child needs to sleep in his or her own bed, and they need to learn how to soothe themselves to sleep. If that means crying it out a couple of nights, then that means crying it out a couple of nights. I was determined to have a heart of steel, my child will cry, and I will be immune.

  Linda (my wife) and I even had several arguments about the best way to put Alicia to sleep. I felt Linda was being too soft, she felt I was being too hard. And I was angry. I really wanted to teach Alicia to sleep on her own. But it was hard for Linda to hear Alicia crying so relentlessly. I even went so far as to lock Linda out of the room so I could put Alicia to bed MY way. (Note to husbands out there, NOT A GOOD IDEA, unless you really want to see the Mama Bear rear its claws.)

  As determined as I was,  I quickly learned that I was no superhero. And even if I were, every superhero has his weakness. My Kryptonite? The tear-soaked, snot-smeared red face of my poor little girl as she cries pitifully on her knees with her arms raised begging me to pick her up.  I mean, I couldn't. I just COULDN'T just leave her there.

  Eventually, Linda and I came to a compromise, and by compromise I mean, I completely crumpled to the pressure and we have been rocking Alicia to sleep and lying in bed with her until she's asleep pretty much every night since she was a few months old.

 Oh, don't get me wrong, we've tried, several times in the past year or so to do the sleep training thing. We got into a few more arguments. I even tried to do research to prove that I was right. Yeah, well, I don't know what's right. Is there even a right?

  It just doesn't feel right to let a child cry out in desperation and not respond.  I mean what does that teach them? I know the arguments. Life is cruel. People are harsh. We don't always get what we want. But really? Are we, as parents, supposed to be the ones to inflict that on them so they can learn?

  So often I try to think what God would do? I mean, he's supposedly the perfect Father, so what would he do? Somehow, I just can't imagine him turning his back on us if we're crying out desperately to him.

  And thing is, I know the idea of putting them in their crib, leaving the room and letting them cry it out. But again, I just feel wrong about that. Cause I mean, how do I know that it's just she doesn't want to go to sleep? What if I'm wrong? What if she just really doesn't want to be left alone? What if she's scared? What if she's really stressed out about the separation? Am I to just leave her? How does that not create abandonment issues?

  Let me take a break here and say that I'm not advocating or condoning one method over another. I am not placing any sort of judgment or criticism on the cry-it-out method or the co-sleeping method. I am simply sharing with you my thought process. So if I have offended, please forgive.

 Back to what I was saying. So recently, Linda and I thought it might be time for Alicia to transition into her own bed. She's getting bigger, and so three of us on the bed is getting a bit crammed. And honestly, I don't think I've have one night of uninterrupted rest whenever she sleeps with us. It's not that she wakes up, because on most nights she sleeps through the night. It's just that she moves around a lot, so if it's not a foot in the face, it's a head-butt to the gut - hard not to wake up under these circumstances. So we thought, OK, let's try to teach her to sleep in her own crib.

  Right. You'd think I was inflicting some sort of cruel and unusual punishment on the child, the way she carried on. Eventually, I had to tag out. Linda took over, rocked her to bed, and then placed in her in the crib, while I went to do some self-soothing of my own.

  The next morning, Linda took Alicia for a routine check-up with a doctor specializing in developmental issues. Linda shared with her how we were trying to transition Alicia into her own bed. The doctor actually recommended that we not rush.

  She asked Linda if Alicia when sleeping with us, would crawl over to one or the other of us and insist on some sort of physical contact with us. Linda confirmed that this was indeed the case. We'd place Alicia somewhere between us while we're settling in for the night, and try our best not to to touch her, for fear of disturbing her sleep. But somehow in the middle of the night, Alicia would always crawl or somehow maneuver her body so that her hand, her head, her foot... some part of her body was in contact with either I or Linda.

  The doctor explained that since Alicia was born so early, she lost three crucial months in the womb for bonding and connecting with mom. It's also during these last three months that the senses are developed and infants brains learn to receive and organize various stimuli. So now, she seeks out extra stimuli in a way to make up for what she lost in those last three months.

 Also, the co-sleeping allows her to build a bond and connection with us that she didn't get in those four months in the incubator. So apparently, her co-sleeping helps with her emotional and cognitive development. And to be honest, I do see a difference. I feel like I've heard somewhere that preemies in general are very irritable, anxious and rather insecure. But Alicia is none of those things. She's actually rather happy, mild-tempered and quite secure. And I do think that part of that is the bond that she gets when she sleeps with us.

So I really don't know. I mean part of me thinks, man it's a lot of work to have to rock her and hold her every night until she falls asleep. There are so many other things that I could be doing. But then the other part of me thinks, well, just suck it up. She's only going to be a baby once. And really, to who's benefit is it for her to "cry-it out?" So she stops crying after a few nights, but is that really because she's learned to self-soothe, or is it because she's learned that crying is of no use, and well, so why bother? I don't know. I mean, I just keep thinking, am i just being selfish and trying to let myself have an "easier" time?

Then there's the fear that we'll spoil her by rocking her to bed every night. But studies have actually shown that kids who co-sleep with their parents for even a brief amount of time, end up being more well-adjusted and more socially adept. And I mean I have also conducted my own non-scientific, non-professional observations. I have noticed that those kids who co-sleep with their parents tend to be more outgoing and less fearful and shy than those whose parents force them to learn to sleep on their own. Again, non-scientific, definitely not conclusive, and for sure there are exceptions to the rule. But for the most part the kids that I know that are more happy and less clingy are those that have done some amount of co-sleeping. I wonder.

  Anyway... so, conclusion? I don't really have one. Only that Linda and I will continue to love on Alicia in the best way that we can. And that we will continue to pray for wisdom.

  I believe eventually Alicia will outgrow the need to sleep with us. Hopefully she won't, as Linda said today, go straight from sleeping in our bed to sharing a bed with her husband. But, I think for now, we'll just stick with cuddling up with our little angel while she's still wanting to be with us, cause for sure, soon enough, she'll be all grown-up and out of the house and well, it'll probably be me who'll need some rocking and soothing the first night that happens.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


What is time? Minutes, hours, days pass. Time continues to move forward. And yet, so often it feels like things continue to stay the same.

As I write this, it is almost midnight of March 10, which means that in a few minutes Alicia will be 18 months old adjusted (her age she would be if she had been born on her original due date). Our daughter would have been one year and six months old if she hadn't decided to come out early.

In the beginning, when I was still learning all about what it meant to be a parent of a preemie, I learned all about adjusted age vs. actual age. For a brief short hours, I had the naive fantasy that because she was born early that she would maybe somehow be ahead of the curve. She'd develop earlier than everyone, she'd learn how to walk, talk, etc... before everyone else. Well, it wasn't long before my metaphorical bubble was quickly blasted into tiny fragments of imagination. I learned from doctors and my own research that not only did her being a micro-preemie mean that she wouldn't be ahead of the developmental curve, but also, the truth is, the condition of her birth might cause her to be "delayed". I was disappointed.

Being someone who likes to be ahead of the curve, years ago, whenever I'd hear stories of my friend's children learning to walk at 8 months, or learning to talk before their first birthday, I used to think, someday, I want my child to do that. Ha. Well, as I've learned, things don't always work out the way you'd like.

While I was disappointed at first to hear the news, it's only recently that I've begun to feel the full brunt of the let-down.

I see my niece, Hope, who was originally due within weeks of Alicia, walking, running, picking things up, holding her own cup, feeding herself, and I can't help but think, wow, if Alicia were born "on time" she'd probably be doing those things.

But I comforted myself, and thought, it's OK, she's just a little behind, she'll catch up.

Then I see, Karis, one of Alicia's closest friends, she just turned one a couple of months ago. She's already started walking and toddling around, and I think, when will it be our turn?

It's gotten to the point where kids who are younger than Alicia are surpassing her in the developmental milestones, and I just keep thinking, when, God? When will she catch up?

And then there's her size and her weight. When I look at her just on her own, I think, she's great. She's growing, and wow, she's so much bigger than when we first brought her home. But then I look at other kids her age, and they're like twice her size. And today, I learn that Alicia's other friend, Joshua, who is 5 months old, is wearing the same size diaper as she is. I'm like... ARGH!

And the doubt starts creeping in. Am I not doing enough? What can I do to help her develop faster? She's only started babbling, and even then she just makes the one sound over and over. How much longer before I can hear her call me "Daddy"?

I feel like ever since Alicia's been born, it's been this constant waiting game. Most parents hear their child's cry within seconds of delivery, we had to wait months. Most kids get held within moments of being born. Alicia had to wait months. Most kids go home with Mom and Dad a few days after birth, we waited... yes, that's right, months.

In fact about the only thing we didn't have to wait for was to see her, because she came out early. But you know what, I could have waited. I really could have.

But there's no use playing this could have, would have game. She came out early, we can't change that. We just help her with what we can now.

And I know there are people that say, "What's the rush?" Let her crawl a bit longer. She'll talk when she's ready. I know all that. It's just as a parent, you can't help but wonder, is she OK? Will she really "catchup" as everyone says.

I'm sure that in a year from now, I'll look back on this and think, what was I so wound up about? She's fine! And I know she's OK.

I guess, I'm just tired of waiting. I want to hear my daughter call me Daddy. I would give anything to not have to think about her muscle tone being tight, and not having to wonder if she's using her left arm enough, or is she standing right, or why isn't she making more sounds?

Thing is, it's a huge lesson in NOT COMPARING. Right? I mean, yes there are "norms" for development but each child is different. Each child develops at his or her own pace. And barring some huge unforeseen circumstance she's got a good 90-100 years here on Earth ahead of her to walk, talk, dance, etc... So why am I in such a rush?

I think I just want to know that she's OK. I just want her to have a good life. I want her to have full function of her body. I don't want her to have any "problems".

But really? What can I do? Not too much. I can pray, and that's a huge deal. But beyond that, she's going to develop at her own pace.

And besides, she is doing so well. Alicia is such a happy, well-adjusted, secure child. She isn't overly emotional, and doesn't cry for no reason. She isn't afraid of strangers, and will readily share a smile with people she just met. She is so responsive when we talk with her and play with her, and seeing her face light up every time I walk in the door after work just fills my heart with so much joy.

So really, I just need to suck it up and trust God. Time is such a relative thing anyway, eh? What is "on time"? What is "late"? God is ALWAYS on time, and he will never be late.

Do I wish that he would do things on my time table? OF COURSE! But, he's God, he created Alicia, he brought her out when he did. I've got to trust that he's got her life in his hands. He has come through again and again with Alicia's life, so there's no reason to think that he's going to stop now.

So, Daddy. I just let go. Alicia is your daughter. You've entrusted her to our care, but ultimately, she's yours.

And I will just relish the milestones just that much more when we arrive. =D