In the beginning... Perfect pregnancy. Perfect delivery. Perfect baby.
Quickly after, there were small signs that things were not perfect. She took FOREVER to drink a bottle. I mean FOREVER. I would sit there FOREVER, and then just when I thought we were finally finished she would spew the entire contents all over me, the floor, and anything within 3 feet. And an hour later, it was time to start all over again. I would go to the store and buy new bottles hoping that perhaps it was just the bottle, but nope...she was just going to take FOREVER to drink her bottle.
The doctor said there was no need to do anything about the reflux because she was thriving and didn't seem to be in any pain. Good thing I secretly enjoy doing laundry and folding clothes and putting everything away in the perfect order. Laundry and closets are something I have complete control over. The long feedings and spewing...well there was no control over those.
Scottie would cry and cry for two hours every evening. I would just walk circles holding, singing and loving my baby. I was convinced that she was the last, the finale, the omega for our family. I wanted to enjoy every single minute, even the crying for two hours. I am so grateful that I thought she was my last because it gave me a little extra dose of patience.
But lots of babies have reflux and are colicky. Nothing to be alarmed about. Right?
Around 8 months, I vividly remember looking over at a friend as she pushed her baby in a stroller. Her 6 month old little girl was sitting up and soaking in the world around her. It was that moment that I knew...something wasn't right. There was NO way Scottie could sit up in her stroller and she was 8 months old. We would have to recline her seat just right and prop blankets and toys around her just to make sure she didn't topple over. Eight months. She should totally be sitting up and playing. Shoot, Emma Grace was probably menu planning and cooking by 8 months. Slight exaggeration...slight...she was walking (more like running) by 9 months and taking steps at 8 1/2 months, but she was a freak of nature (the most amazing freak of nature...the girl had things to do!)
A friend of ours worked for a state organization called ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) who provided services for children from birth through 3 years of age. She came to our house to do a little informal evaluation. She told me that Scottie would most likely be able to receive services because she was developmentally behind by at least two months. So we called ECI and set up a formal evaluation. Of course, she qualified for services. (And I must SHOUT from the roof tops how incredible ECI was to our family and life changing for our Scottie!)
It is a hard thing to realize that your "perfect" baby is developmentally behind. It is a hard thing to wonder what is wrong. It is a hard thing to question yourself and how you missed it or how you may have caused the delays...what did I eat, drink, do? It is a hard thing to watch your baby struggle to do what other babies did instinctively. It is hard to learn for the first time how to teach a baby to reach for a toy when baby #1 and baby #2 did so without any effort. It is hard to ask for help. It is hard not knowing...
Remembering how hard it was is important, but knowing that we did it is such motivation to keep on doing it. We can do hard things! We loved harder. We loved more. We asked questions. We did research. We prayed more. Our hearts grew a little larger because we needed to learn to love differently, better.
I wish someone had told me that it was going to be hard on our hearts to raise a child with special needs. I wish the doctors who talked to us didn't seem so disappointed for us. I wish someone had told me that even though it would suck, we would also discover an amazing love and appreciation for the world and all of God's people because of Scottie. I wish that someone would have said that there would be days when we felt like it was just all too much. I wish someone had said that there may never be a reason, and that's ok. I wish someone had said it is acceptable to cry. It's ok to freak out. I wish someone had told me that Jacob and Emma Grace would become the most amazing siblings. I wish someone had enthusiastically told me that even when it all seemed too impossible, that we could do hard things. That the hardest things in life are often the most beautiful blessings.
Those first few years were hard because we were living in the moment without realizing the amazing life blessings we would receive because God gave us the most incredible gift. Ultimately, we are able to do hard things because we are not doing them alone.
In the beginning of Scottie's life, we learned to love unconditionally, to love completely, and to embrace hard things.
May we not forget to love like that.
May we have the chance to share with new mommas and daddies as they question whether they can do hard things.
May we use our Scottie story to encourage and speak truth.
May her story be a story of hope and bravery.
May Scottie's life be one of overcoming the hard things with laughter and joy always shining through.
God uses the hard things for good. He is using Scottie's life and journey for good. What hard things in your life is He using for good?