Sunday, February 23, 2014

#10 - Journal Entry from December 26 and 27, 2010

December 26, 2010
Christmas is contagious.  You can't help but feel a little better, want to serve a little more, be nicer in the moment when it's Christmastime.  I hoped that the feeling wouldn't leave now that it's the day after.  I'm glad no one told Bryer that Christmas is over because she has continued to progress just the same.  They took her feeding tube out for a while, but they need to do a swallow study to make sure she's swallowing correctly before they allow her to take a bottle.  I had no idea the muscles and nerve endings used in the mouth just to suck.  It's a miracle that most babies are born with this reflex!  The nurses also worry that Bryer won't have enough coordination to suck, swallow, and breath all at the same time.  They put the feeding tube back in until the swallow study could be done.  She got her catheter out, but they still weigh her diapers.  One less thing to be hooked up to! 

She opened her eyes quite a bit today and will track a little with her eyes following an object or a penlight.  This is such a huge blessing since there was so much retinal bleeding in her eye exam.  It means she can see and that what she sees through her eyes is being interpreted into that part of her brain!  I had a couple of glimpses where I hoped she could see my face and recognize me.  She doesn't show expression, so I don't know what she's thinking or focusing on.  The doctors thought maybe I could hold her today, but that didn't happen.  Maybe tomorrow.  I try hard not to get my hopes up, but I'm so excited for her little body to rest in my arms!  Until then we will keep up the quiet singing and reading to her.  She gets worn out quickly. 

Mandy and I have been texting back and forth.  She asked if there was anything I needed her to do.  I asked her for one thing - that she would keep our pew warm at church until we could get back.  I told her about the empty-nest couple that sits behind us that would help with her kids if she needed.  I reminded her that church with kids might be hard, but it is always worth the effort.  I asked her to try to be still and just feel the spirit there.  One of her last texts to me said, "You are such an inspiration to me.  I used to feel intimidated by you, but with all the praying I have done for your family, I know you are confident and I want to be a lot more like you.  I am ready for the commitment.  You are such a great mom and wife."  I sobbed as I read those words.  She was intimidated by me?!  I try to keep my kids quiet at church, I try to teach strong moral standards, I look for those around us that need help.  I never thought of that as being intimidating.  Mandy, in fact, was one of those I tried to get to know and reach out to.  I felt sad that she viewed me as intimidating.  The Lord was using our situation to bring Mandy back to church, along with her kids.  He was also using it to change my perspective.  My pleading prayer tonight was that God would somehow help her kids be good so that Mandy could sit and feel the spirit; somehow feel rejuvenated.  She so desperately needed her cup full this first time back! 

Jason and I have interviewed more attorneys in the past several days and decided on a different attorney that deals with Family Law - these cases of children in the foster care system.  Our last attorney we needed quickly before the polygraph.  His specialty wasn't family law.  This new attorney will go with us to our hearing tomorrow. 

December 27, 2010
Mandy texted me this morning and said, "Church was amazing.  My kids were so good, I couldn't believe it.  I have so much to tell you, but it can wait until things are better."  I said a silent prayer of thanks that Mandy's spirit was filled.  If Bryer's mission is to bring more people to Christ, then I have to fight to maintain that mindset.  And it is a fight.  I have to remember that no matter how hard it gets for me, no one is exempt from feeling Christ-like love.  With my own heart so humbled, it seems to be easier to be tender to those around me.  It reminds me of the scripture in Romans that asks if God be for us, then who can be against us?  It's hard and I struggle with it, but if it were not for a specific purpose, then why would He let this happen? 

Bryer was awake a lot this morning.  I was so thankful for that time with her before we had to drive back home 2 hours for our Shelter Care Hearing.  I was really hoping to hold her before we had to leave.  I needed an extra oomph before we left, but I didn't get to hold her.  We had expected her EEG to come off to give her head a rest from all the little probes on it, but that didn't happen either.  She isn't having any seizures anymore, but some spikes show on the monitor. 

They are wanting to see what she does with something in her mouth to see if she still has the sucking reflex that she should.  They tried to give her a binky and she just bit on it.  The good news is that she is maintaining her own body temperature now, so they turned the warmer off above her bed and swaddled her tight in a blanket.  She looks so comfy now, like a large newborn.  Another thing to check off the list that she is doing for herself and one less thing to be plugged into!  I needed that progress that she showed before I left for the day.  My mom sat with Bryer again while Jason and I had to be gone. 

Jason and I drove 2 hours back to our little town for the Shelter Care Hearing.  When we got to the courthouse we weren't on the docket to be seen.  I tried not to get frustrated.  I was sure it was just a mistake.  After asking some questions, we learned that over the Christmas holiday the paperwork never got filed.  The prosecuting attorney hadn't heard of our case and there wasn't a judge available!  My heart hurt.  I was sacrificing time away from my baby and other 4 kids to drive to a hearing that wasn't even scheduled.  Where is the law that states this hearing should be held within 3 days?  Before I let myself get worked up about the legalities, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I really did.  It was the Christmas season after all.  But these are my children!  They are hanging in the balance of Health and Welfare.  If the social worker gets any false impressions, they could be moved to another foster care home or cut off from our visitations at any point.  It's a hard thing to put my faith in elected officials and a government system that has taken our kids from a very safe, loving home.  My only comfort is knowing that this is the plan we put in place months ago in case Jason and I were to die.  The kids are with Jason's parents.  That's the way God wanted it to be and we followed those promptings.   

When I was playing college softball, my coach lectured to us about "controllable and uncontrollables."  At the time she related to a bad call from the umpire or the other team's bad sportsmanship.  Those were uncontrollable outcomes.  Controlables were things like how we reacted after we made a bad play, how we could shake off a bad call, how to improve ourselves.  I found myself applying that hard and fast line of what was a controllable today, in my situation now.  I could choose to get mad, to get angry, to get frustrated.  Or I could make the conscience choice - and it had to be conscience - to see it how God saw it.  He prepared us and we had obeyed.  Our older kids were exactly where they should be according to that plan.  I have to have faith in that plan and know that He has things taken care of, however wrong it seems to be to me.  He knows us and our situation.  I feel like we are in a maze and can only see the choice to turn right or left.  He sees it from the top and although turning left doesn't make any sense to me, He knows the 'when and why' that we don't understand.  Maybe turning left means we get out of this whole situation quicker and smoother. 

The prosecutor's secretary wasn't in and he didn't know how to turn on his computer.  Whew.  Deep breath.  Really, it's just a computer.  Give him the benefit of the doubt.  I stretched my patience beyond what I thought I could be stretched.  We waited.  The prosecutor decided to hand-write an agreement.  We waited some more.  He came out and said he didn't know how to word it or what it should say.  (Please tell me I exercised my right to vote at the last election and did not vote for him.)  I was at a loss as much as he was, but he was an elected official.  He was being paid to do this job.  I had never been in this situation.  I just wanted my kids back.  We finally came to a verbal agreement.  All five kids would be 'ours' (not in the custody of Health and Welfare), and the older four would stay with Jason's parents and we wouldn't take them or be left unattended with them under one condition.  The prosecutor requested our older 4 be interviewed by child-abuse professionals.  He wanted to make sure we were safe parents for them.  (The thought made my want to roll my eyes, but I didn't.  I reminded myself this is just another hoop to jump through.)  This was actually great news at first.  Early on we had asked the child abuse doctor about interviewing our two younger kids since they were in the house the day I found Bryer not breathing.  They would know I wasn't frustrated or yelling or whatever state the doctors thought I was in.  He had put it off and avoided the option and now over a week had gone by.  Having a 2 and 4 year old remember that far back was very unlikely.  Jason and I live with integrity so if we say we will or won't do something, that's what it will be, so at first thought, this would be an easy verbal agreement to uphold.  I had no question about our home or the safety of our children.  It just reminded me of something from Little House on the Prairie with a handshake and everyone was expected to keep their end of the bargain. 

We counseled with our new attorney.  He explained that it makes him very nervous to have kids interviewed by these kinds of professionals.  He said that you just never know how a kid interprets something or what they will say.  He told us they could ask leading questions to get our kids to say something they wouldn't normally say.  He asked if there was anything in our home that our kids would misinterpret - yelling, hitting, fighting, arguing, punishing them for something they did that was wrong.  Jason and I agreed that there wasn't anything we would hide or that our kids would consider abuse.  There was the occasional sibling vs. Dad wrestling match, but that was playing.  Would the professionals read something else into that?  There were times I would raise my voice over two of the kids arguing or for getting out of bed for the 10th time.  Would that be considered verbal abuse in the eyes of a professional looking for child abuse? 

To be sure, Jason and I asked to visit alone.  As our attorney left the room, we both knew this was something we needed to pray about.  Would these professionals try to twist our kids' words, our actions, our family atmosphere into something that it wasn't?  Should we even put our kids in that situation to have them examined?  In that room of the law library, lined with books of worldly knowledge of the laws of our state, Jason and I pulled a chair away from the table and knelt down at it.  We asked God for His help.  As Jason prayed aloud the thought came to me, "By their fruits shall you know them."  At the end of the prayer, I felt the thought again.  "By their fruits shall you know them."  In the scriptures it refers to a tree being the parent and the fruit as the child.  This thought made sense for our situation.  I have had revelation before, but usually it comes as a thought or a warm feeling.  Very few times in my life have actual words come to me, but this was one of those times.  As we talked it over, we came to the conclusion that we were comfortable with exposing our kids to show the kind of people we are.  The professionals would know the kind of parents we are through our kids.  It's not ever a position I would want to put our kids in, but God knows they will be honest, good representations of us and our parenting.  Today, I am thankful to have the tools needed to teach my children in all that they do. 

It's a technicality really, but it feels good to know that Health and Welfare is out of the picture according to this verbal agreement.  We had started today with our kids in state custody and trying not to be frustrated that the paperwork wasn't filed and the hearing scheduled.  We walked out with our kids technically not in custody.  I can't explain it any other way than a tender mercy from God.  Now we await our kids' interviews and Bryer's progress. 

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