Monday, December 25, 2006

Sadie's first Christmas

The morning began as it does for most moms of preschoolers on Christmas - with Katie running at breakneck speed into my room at an ungodly hour and shouting that Santa had arrived. This was by far the most fun Christmas morning we've ever had. Sadie enjoyed watching us opening gifts for her, Katie was on cloud 9 and I was close to tears all day, just thankful that our family was together, and missing those that we lost over the past year.

The one that is most closely on my mind today is our beloved Nana, who passed away last January. She is Sadie's namesake, and was one of the most loving people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Since I haven't had the time to add the story of how Sadie got her name, now is probably a good time, since we're all missing Nana so much today.

Sadie Esther Blanton was a strong-willed woman, and the matriach of my husband's family. She had many things she loved - her family, a good game of Rook, the church she went to most of her life, good food, and, most of all, babies. When Jason and I found out we were pregnant with Katie, she was the first person we told. When we found out we were pregnant with Sadie, however, it was a different circumstance.

Last year, Nana was 96 years old, and her health began to deteriorate in the fall. By Christmas, we knew her time was close at hand, and the entire family - even very extended ones - was there by her side for Christmas. Despite her failing health, it was one of the happiest I have ever known. Nana enjoyed watching the children playing, and loved having the family all together in one place. I did not know at that time that I was pregnant, but Jason and I had been hoping for another child.

Several short weeks later, I confirmed that I was pregnant. I went to the doctor to make sure everything was ok, but they could not confirm the pregnancy through ultrasound. A week later, things still looked grim. I had had a miscarriage that began similarily several years before, and the doctor told me to prepare myself - that this one looked like another miscarriage. I was heartbroken, and so was Jason. It was hard enough watching Nana struggle through the end stages of life without having to deal with a second loss at the same time. We chose not to tell the family of the pregnancy, as it would be just too much to deal with.

Several days before Nana passed away, she could barely talk anymore. She said very little to anyone. I had gone to the doctors office for my third ultrasound, which confirmed the pregnancy, but did not show the growth rate we had hoped for. After coming home from the appointment, I got the call from Jason's mother that Nana was failing fast, and that we should come soon if we wanted to see her again. I was devestated by it all, and just could not deal with going to Nana's side at that time. So Jason went without me.

When Jason arrived, he went to Nana's side. In the background, his mom was talking to his aunt and uncle, about this wierd thing Nana had been saying all day - "Tell the Grandson, name the baby." No one knew what it was about. We had not told a single soul that we were pregnant. But Nana knew somehow. Jason talked to her, and she responded with some of her last words - "I love you so." Jason left the room, overwhelmed with emotion. His mom followed him, trying to comfort him - telling him Nana had lead a full and happy life, and was ready to go. "No mom," he said, "you don't understand. Kim is pregnant, and we thought she was likely going to have a miscarriage, so we hadn't told anyone."

Two days later I went with him to visit Nana for the last time. She could not speak, and could barely respond, but her eyes still had that twinkle I so loved about her. As I talked to her about the baby, I said, "Nana, you knew about this baby, didn't you?" and her eyes smiled and she raised her eyebrows a few times. So I started trying to come up with names for the baby, and told her that we would try to use a family name. I even mentioned Sadie, which I could see her laughing at internally.

Just before Nana passed, we were able to confirm the pregnancy, and got the good results we knew we'd receive. The months passed, and we were all calm and happy - the family was thrilled at the prospect of a new baby. We had been plagued by so much loss - Jason's brother, cousin, grandmother and uncle all passed away within a short span of time. We could not wait to celebrate new life.

Jason and I could not agree on a name for the new baby, though. We racked our minds, scoured countless baby books, but just could not find the right fit. I think we both felt a little pressure - Nana had specifically talked about a name for the baby. We wanted something she would have liked. On the night of Sadie's birth, we still had not agreed on a name. Just that morning we had started to throw around Madeline Sadie, and were thinking of calling her Maddie. We knew that we wanted to have Sadie as part of her name, no matter what - in honor of Nana. But I knew that we'd constantly mix up Sadie and Katie... so we thought perhaps Madeline would be a better name. But when we found out that Sadie had some health issues, we knew that we would go with Sadie - after all, Nana lived a long, wonderful life.

When the devestating news of the severity of Sadie's heart defect sank in the evening after I gave birth, my heart cried out, and I just couldn't understand why Nana would have given us "the sign that everything was ok," as I had come to think of her prophetic words. As I cried that night, it slowly dawned on me. Nana gave us an invaluable gift - the gift of hope. Through all of the days that would come, her words sustained me. I just knew Sadie would be alright, and that Nana was watching over her.

On the night before Sadie's surgery, that hope and faith, I admit, were shaky at best. I can't tell you the fear that was in my heart, or explain the anxiety that a parent in that situation faces. Sadie had this wonderful nurse that evening, though. She told me that she felt bad that there was nothing she could offer me, but she said she could give a prayer for Sadie. Now, I am not a religious person, as most of you know, but I do know that there is power in prayer and meditation and my heart was crying out that evening. This nurse was so sweet, and wanted to help, and so I said yes, and we placed our hands on Sadie and she said the most beautiful prayer. I can't recall the words today, but it was a plea for peace for our family, for healing for Sadie and in it she said, "we know that you did not bring Sadie here for disaster, but that you brought her here to fulfill a purpose." Those words brought to me a peace that I can not describe, and soothed my aching soul. It reminded me of what, I think, Nana had been trying to convey with the limited breath she had left on her deathbed. That Sadie was brought to us for a purpose, and that she was going to make it.

So, this Christmas has been a bittersweet one. We are so thrilled with Sadie's progress, and that she is here, at home with us today. We are thankful for our family and friends who have surrounded us with love, and lifted us up when we felt like the world was crumbling beneath our feet. We are grateful and amazed by the love that has been poured out to our family over the past several months - from our family, friends, friends of friends, and the total strangers who became our friends or whome we have yet to meet, but who have been praying, meditating or thinking of Sadie. And, most of all, we are remembering Nana, who for the first time in 12 years I did not spend Christmas with (and likely the first time in Jason's life). We are so happy that she was able to be such a large part of our lives, and thankful for the wonderful gift of hope and the legacy she left behind.

With this, I'll close this overly sentimental Christmas blog and return to my favorite role - Mommy of two. If anyone has suggestions on how to remove ground in candy canes from berber, please let me know. In the meantime, I will vacuum up tiny parts of dolls that Katie will cry over when she discovers they're missing tomorrow and try to make a path through the main areas so that no one steps on a scooter or noisy animatronics animal on the way to the restroom in the middle of the night. When I finally fall into bed, Sadie should wake up within 15 minutes of my dozing off, requiring immediate attention. And I will happily oblige - she is, after all, my little miracle - my own personal little Christmas angel.

Merry Christmas!!!

I do NOT recommend the Rescue Pet toy dog. If you got one for a kid, and he/she has not yet taken it from the package, destroy it before said child wakes up and has a chance to play with it. The dogs are actually torture devices. All they do is whine and bark. Incessently. In fact, they have two modes on their control box. Whine or bark (the modes are marked "happy" and "sad"). Worst of all, it's got a motion sensor. With the slightest motion in a 10 foot radius it will begin to whine. And of course, it does not come with volume control. Thus, your kid will love it. You, however, will want to permenantly disable it within 15 minutes or less. The only suitable time to give a Rescue Pet is if, for some unknown reason, you are required to give a gift to the child of a mortal enemy. Otherwise, skip it. You'll thank me later.

1 comment:

  1. Teri Strickland5:30 PM

    hello i just love hearing how your little grils are doing iam your cousen Kenyon stricklands wife my name is Teri we have been reading this blog just to see how every thing id going

    well if u would like pic of me, kenyon and our six mouth old Clyde just email us at