Blessings to All, December, 2002
Life just gets crazier around the MacDonald house. Last Christmas our present to ourselves was our new house. I'm so thrilled with our new home. It's beautiful (when it's clean which isn't very often), and spacious. Except for a basement, it's everything we said we wanted. Dave and the girls truly miss our first home and still speak of it often. One family, one mission, and all of us are different people. The pregnancy was a struggle for the whole family since I was put on partial bedrest from January until April. Infections and fear, frustration and anxious test results plagued the first quarter of the year. Friends and family were truly heaven-sent and provided help, meals, cleaning, babysitting, and lots of prayers. To our relief, Peter Michael was born HAPPY and HEALTHY on May 2, 2002 at 8lbs and 12oz. Finally a child who looks more like me than Dave. His dark skin, eyes, and hair are a definite contrast to our hazel-eyed, blonde, fair group. (Emmy has brown eyes, too!) During this past spring Emmy had fallen off a patio table (that I'd told her not to stand on many times) and broken her collar bone (the opposite one that had been broken at birth). Being on bedrest, it was hard to keep Drew from running and tackling Em as they as they often did to each other. It took 3-4 weeks to heal up.
Due to spring colds, I had gone into labor on little to no sleep from the previous two weeks. Dave's parents (saints that they are), had all 3 children, (Kate was 6, Emmy was 4, and Drew was still under 2) overnight while Sweety-Petey and I were in the hospital. To get some rest, I took my healthy, happy, big baby home before the 24 hours were up. Dave's parents brought the kids home that evening. Then life really got started. As soon as Kate got home, she ran a fever. For the next week and a half, she spiked temperatures of 104, had swelling throughout the glands in her neck, was in agonizing pain that the codeine didn't do much for, slept little, and cried all the time. She threw up with the fever and the pain. Kate and Peter were both in our room this week. We went to the doctor's 3 times that week, and finally when Peter was 9 days old, the pediatrician admitted her to the hospital. At just 9 days old, with NO sleep, I let a wonderful friend take my new baby home with her for the night with pumped milk, so I could sleep.
That first night in the hospital was horrible. The pain medication and the antibiotics didn't seem to do much and in the middle of the night, though she was burning up to the touch and delirious, the nurses wouldn't believe me that the thermometer was broken when it continued to read 99.5. I was too tired to argue and just fell in and out of sleep on the couch in her room with her cries. At the morning shift change, when her fever felt like it had gone down quite a bit (by my touch), the new nurse found a new thermometer that measured 104.8. She slowly got better and I kept the baby with me in the hospital most of the time. Em was taken in by her Godparents, and Drew by my family. They kept Kate in the hospital for 4 days and sent her home with lots of medication and still quite a bit of pain, but no more fever. She'd had all the symptoms of West Nile, including the rash, but that was before anybody (including the doctor) knew what it was - lymph adonitis was the diagnosis. Dave had been off work since the baby was born and had to go back to work the day we came home from the hospital. I was scared to handle all those children on my own. Exhausted, I prayed for life to get "normal". God said, 'Not yet.'
The next day, I had worked hard to get all the children down for a nap at the same time...I just had to get some sleep. I fell asleep in my panties and bra after nursing Peter to sleep in my bed. Hearing a scream, I thought Drew had climbed out of his bed and into Kate's top-bunk and was hurting her. I scooched Peter to the middle of the bed and ran down the hall. Passing the upstairs bathroom I saw the screen inside the house and the window wide open. Praying that Drew hadn't fallen out of the window (how could the screen be on the inside, though, God?), I looked out. Emmy was screaming on the ground 2 floors below me. Running through the house (wishing I had some clothes to put on) I ran outside and brought her in. Her foot was swollen up and she said she couldn't walk. I called Dave and our lovely neighbors to see if someone could talk me through checking for broken bones. Dave rushed home, the neighbor rushed over, and both Dave's parents came from work to help. Em could put weight on her foot but her back hurt. I couldn’t stop laughing – Dave wasn’t as amused. Just a day after gettting out of the hospital we went back to X-ray Em. Nothing broken and in 5 days she was wrestling with Drew again. When asked why she did it, she said she knew she wasn't allowed to go out the door to play without asking, but no one said anything about the window. My basic prayer for the rest of the summer was for God to please help me keep all these children alive.
Dave planned out the landscaping in our new backyard over and over. It was so nice working on something together that didn't involve the hospital. During the pregnancy, Drew kept getting out of the yard and running toward the street. I couldn’t catch him, so Kate had to. The big accomplishment for the summer was getting our white vinyl fence installed. Dave, some good friends, and wonderful family all worked their rear ends off to get it done...it's lovely. Peter was baptized this summer and we had a big party with balloons flying off our new fence. We've been discussing a brick patio and various beds for next summer, we'll just have to wait and see.
Our next interesting story is our lifestyle change...Kate is now homeschooling. We prayed and talked and prayed and talked. Everyone is happy with our new routine including Kate. Dave was impressed with the opportunities in Fort Wayne for homeschool activities. It's been a very easy transition. This just seems to fit us and our family. About a month after we started to homeschool, Child Protective Services of Allen County knocked on my door and demanded to see the children. Someone had turned us in as endangering the children - taking Kate out of "school" was part of the report that was made, although it's completely legal. The lady from CPS was very nice and said our children DID NOT look neglected or endangered. It was scary at the time, and we'll be under investigation until April, but it seems to have come to nothing. (THANK GOD!!) Em is still in preschool at St. Jude Catholic Church, but we're discussing bringing her home to homeschool for Kindergarten. I'm a little anxious about homeschooling two kids with the boys underfoot, but God has time to prepare me.
Peter is a big, EASY baby. He's so happy and rarely cries. He's almost crawling at 7 months and gets into everything by scootching like a little commando. We can barely keep him in baby food - he eats sooo much! Drew is spoiled to the core. He's just so cute, I can hardly stand to discipline him, so he's gotten to be somewhat of a terror - but so sweet and cute you want to melt. If we could just get him to stop playing and wandering the house in the middle of the night, we'd be great. Em's gotten to be such a terrific big sister. Her favorite thing is to take care of the baby and except for being more precocious than I can quite keep up with, she's tried so hard to please us. She's either hot or cold and sometimes both at the same time. Kate is learning so much, she's such a joy to be around. Sometimes she wants to please a little too much and we have to insist that she do what she wants, not someone else (including us). She paves the way for her siblings and is a genuine leader. Right now she's in love with the movie 'Grease'. It's pretty bawdy for her, but she doesn't seem to get those parts. She loves the music.
The 2 big stressers this past year have been money (almost $10,000 out-of-pocket medical bills) and adjusting to (what seems to us) our very large family. Our 2 big joys this year have been God keeping our family from those near-miss disasters (we're all still here and basically healthy) and God granting us one of his most precious gifts - our new baby. Such is life - joy and sorrow mixed - we haven't gotten used to it. Life has been challenging this year. Wonderful, good, full of life, and challenging. We trust that God will hold us up to the challenge. I recall the year Em was born being a rough one , too. Life gets easier ... please, please, please.
For Halloween Kate was the Statue of Liberty, Em was an American Flag, Drew was a fireman, and Peter was a dalmatian. The next day was All Saints Day and the kids dressed up and I had their picture taken. The others were the Holy Family, but Kate wanted to be St. Bernadette. So... St. Bernadette and the Holy Family wish you a Blessed Christmas.