Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why I'll Never Trust my Dog around my Child Again

We adopted Bailey from the Humane Society 6 months after we married.  We had been every week for several month looking at the dogs.  We would watch them, analyze them and go outside to see how they reacted to us.  This was our first big decision as a married couple.

When we saw a litter of hound mix puppies, we fell in love.  They were so cute with their floppy little ears and extra folds of skin.  We had it narrowed down to a brown one and tri-color pup.  We decided on the little guy with the black face, brown eyebrows and black and white body.  He had come up to us sniffing in a curious, sweet way.

The cutest pup in the litter.
The next week we went to pick him up after he had been neutered.  The poor little guy was still groggy from the medicine.  Eric cradled him carrying him to the car to take him home while I went to work.  He was the cutest little 3 month old puppy we had ever seen.

 After that, he was like our child.  We took him to ride in the car with us to run errands letting him hang our the window with his ears flapping in the wind.  We taught him how to do tricks and got up every 3-4 hours to let him out while potty training.

Neither one of us had ever had a dog that was so obedient and sweet.  He tried to console us when we were upset, snuggled with us on the couch and wanted to please us in every way, it seemed.
Now, I'm nervous looking at this picture.

Five years later, we brought home our daughter from the hospital.  We followed all of the guidelines you read about letting him adjust to her and keeping a watchful eye.  After a week or so, he seemed adjusted-sleepy, but adjusted to having a little human around.  As she started talking, "Bay" (short for Bailey) was one of her first words.  She would ask where he was, call for him, she fed him under our supervision, and she gave him commands that he listened to...

That's why what happened a few weeks ago shocked us beyond belief.

It was a Saturday evening, and we had just finished dinner. The kitchen and living room are closed off from one another.  We had moved from the kitchen after cleaning up and turning the light off to the living room.  We were letting our almost 2 year old daughter play before bath time.

Sitting on the couch watching her play with her tea set, she saw us give each other a kiss.  She wanted to give us kisses and then asked to give Bailey kisses.  We told her she could, and she proceeded to go find him.  About a minute passed with silence.  And then we heard a growl and snap from kitchen.
We ran in to find, in horror, that Bailey had bit the side of her face.  He had been getting into the trash, and he reacted when she tried to grab him and kiss him.  At first we thought it superficial, but then saw his teeth had penetrated her precious, perfect skin in three places.  Not knowing the extent of the injury, we quickly scooped her up, threw on some shoes and ran to the car.  It was terribly cold and had been snowing all day.  The ride to the emergency room was a slippery one.

We went into the ER and immediately got a room.  We waited an hour or so for the doctor to assess the damage.  She needed stitches, and since we knew our dog had his shots, she didn't need any vaccinations.

It was over 3 hours before the doctor came in with two nurses, a long board with straps to hold her, and the supplies needed.  She did amazingly well, not squirming at all.  My stomach sank when the doctor inserted the needle into my baby's face.  I turned my head into my husband's chest and held back the tears.  She got 5 stitches overall.

When I asked about scarring, the doctor stated he was most concerned about infection.  Of course, this was my first concern.  However, I didn't want my little girl to have a dog bite scar at the age of one.  I didn't want my precious baby's face to bear the scar of something that was avoidable.

Maybe it was kind of selfish, too.  I also didn't want to explain to people that our dog did this to her. Not because I am embarrassed...because it's heartbreaking on multiple levels.  The dog we love could have seriously injured our baby girl.

We proceeded home with an antibiotic and finally got her to bed around midnight.  Our snowy evening turned into a scary night out-at the last place you want to be with your child.

She started healing very well that next week with three bandages on her cheek.  She wasn't afraid of Bailey when we got home, but wary of him.  And I'm glad she has learned to stay away from his face.

I was so angry at him.  Not only did he hurt my baby, he changed my view of him.  I couldn't look at him for days, and probably said some things to him that I wouldn't want others to hear.

But I think we needed to change how we treated him.

I look back now and see our mistakes.

He is a dog.  Not a human.  We never should have treated him that way.  We never should have assumed he would never do anything to our child, because he's still a dog.  He still has innate instincts.

He was in the trash knowing he wasn't supposed to be.  He was in the dark.  His back was turned, and a small child, much like a small animal, got close to his face while he was devouring something coveted.

We didn't see it, but I'm sure knowing him, he abstained from snapping as long as he could.  She probably tried to kiss him and he moved his head, and then she tried again.

He did what I think any dog would do.

Since then, she knows not to get close to his face.  He isn't allowed in our kitchen when food is present or anywhere near our daughter if she has food.

Some have asked if we're going to get rid of Bailey.  Well, the thought has crossed our minds.  But then I think, how can we fault him for something we chose?  We chose to treat him more like a human than a dog.  We chose to let our daughter invade his space by giving him kisses.  We weren't remembering he is still an animal.

My sweet girl with her bandages.
I get emotional when people ask what happened.  When they see the bandages, they usually get this surprised look on their face and say something like, "Oh no!  What happened?"  I try to just say she got a boo-boo, but that doesn't suffice usually.  And when we say it was our dog, people always ask what kind of dog and tell stories of malicious dogs they know that have hurt children.

But that isn't what happened here at all, and it's even worse to have to try to explain and defend our dog.  No, our dog is not vicious whatsoever. He is a really good dog that did something instinctual. And yes, we still love him, but we do treat him differently.

I can't go back in time and change things, but I can write this so that other parents are aware.  The best dog in the world can do something terrible just because they're guarding their food from something they think is below them in the pecking order.  Don't assume an animal will never act like an animal.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day, Darling

I sit here with a sick toddler on my lap and a load of poopy clothes in the washing machine as she watches cartoons.  My husband is upstairs asleep after getting home at 2 a.m.  He will awaken in an hour to get ready for work once again not getting home until 10 p.m. tonight.

And this is our Valentine's Day.
And I am filled with joy that this is our Valentine's Day.

There was a time when I would have been upset that I didn't awaken to a card, flowers and chocolates.  There was a time when I measured how much he loved me on what he got for me on this day.  And maybe I still do feel loved based on his actions...but it's different now.

Maybe it's because I'm a mother now and God has taught me so much about my own selfishness. Maybe it's because difficult times have put priorities in perspective.

Or, maybe it's just God working in me.

Today, I feel loved by my husband, because he works so hard to provide for our family.  He loves his daughter, and our beautiful daughter to arrive in a few months, so much that he never gets a good night's sleep.  And even after an 11 hour shift, he stops by Wal-Mart to get our sick little angel some Pedialyte.

Today, I know I am loved by him, because he doesn't quit when times are not ideal.  When we don't have a lot of money in the bank, when sickness, disappointment and let downs have beset our family the past year; he keeps loving us.
He keeps loving me by being the leader our family needs.  He directs us to focus our attention on who God really is--His love demonstrated on the cross, his grace given every day and his never changing state.

This Valentine's Day, my husband Eric, has given me the best gift of all.  The gift of himself.  He is truly my dream come true.  I see that more now after 8 years of being together than I ever did before.

He is my best friend.  My rock.  He is, now and always, my Valentine.

I love you, Eric.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Why I Hate the Question, "How are Feeling?", When I'm Pregnant

When a woman is pregnant, others who care want to know how she is doing.  Of course, they do. They are excited and hopeful.  They want to know if she feels sick, tired and any other quirks the pregnancy brings.
Loving people are going to ask.

I totally understand this. 
That's why it is so very difficult when those wonderful people  ask me the question, "How are you feeling?"

It's like a punch in the gut for me-like someone is poking around in a very sore, tender wound.  And I hate that it's like that.

I am pregnant.  I am happy about that.  

But I'm also still grieving the loss of the baby I carried months before this one.  
I'm also grieving the first 3 months of this pregnancy that were very scary not knowing if the bleeding would ever fully stop or the hemorrhage would get bigger and end the pregnancy.  
I'm not completely off of those pins and needles.

I also wish that, this pregnancy, I could have told people about how terrible my morning sickness has been.  I WISH I could have vomited at least once.  I wanted confirmation that my body was doing it's job.  I wanted to be sick.  

But, I wasn't sick in the traditional way.  After being diagnosed with a missed miscarriage and threatened miscarriage within a few months, I was overwhelmingly sick with heartache.

So, when someone asks how I'm feeling, it kinda sucks.  I don't want to answer. 
I don't want to think about it.  I want to continue with life without being reminded of all of the pain and concern that surrounds this pregnancy.  

As time passes it helps.  As we pass each milestone in the pregnancy, I hope more and look forward to the day this baby will rest in my arms.

I know my awkward answers may baffle some well meaning people who ask how I feel.  Well, here's why I give short answers and change the subject quickly.  It's nothing anyone else did.  It's my own way of trying to get through another day and focus on what is ahead instead of what I can't control today.

I thank all of you who have asked out of concern.  I haven't known what to say many times, but I do appreciate the support.

On a brighter note, the baby is developing perfectly so far.  We are so very grateful for this.  Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

To Know Christ no Matter the Cost

I've been putting off writing this.  But I really need to.  Not just for myself, but for others that read and need to know that someone else in this world feels the same way.

I love Christmas.  I love the carols, lights, the excitement, the smell of a fresh cut tree and making Christmas cookies that never quite come out looking like reindeer but some sort of blob with antlers.

With that said, this Christmas, I find myself just wanting it to be over.  I still love all of those things.  I mostly love seeing my daughter enjoy looking at our tree and participate in the fun holiday activities.  I am not enjoying it the way she is, though.  I wish I were.

I miss the baby that I would be 27 weeks pregnant with right now.  I miss so much of what I don't get to experience with that child.  And I feel very alone in this.
Life goes on.  But, the pain is real.  It's hard to resume normal activities and be blissfully happy during the holidays-even if you're pregnant again.

Every child is important and loved.  If a child died of parents who had several children, would the parents cease to mourn if another child came into the family?
I feel as though people forget that my child died.  They never got to know them.  Never saw them, and therefore, don't miss them in the same way.

I intensely miss my baby.
I carried that child.  I talked to, sang to, prayed for, and hoped for that child.  I felt the signs of life in my body-and the signs of death.  My arms still ache from the emptiness.  My soul grieves.

It's as though you are shown something so fantastically beautiful you can't take your eyes off of it.  It creates something wonderful in you as you take in it's magnificence.  But it is suddenly taken away-without explanation.  You are left stunned.  Dumbfounded, and deeply saddened.

So, the holidays aren't exactly super fun this year.  Although, I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life, I still have the right to be sad.
Even if people don't understand.

If a loved one passes away, family and friends can reminisce about them at the holidays. Cry with each other.  Comfort one another.
But, this is different.  Because a loved one that no one knew was lost.

No one knew the baby in the same way the mother did.  There is a degree of separation others have from the pain, that I almost envy.  That creates an intense sense of isolation.

I am pregnant again.  I am thankful for this baby that looks to be okay so far.  It was touch and go there for a few months.  And, I will most likely never fully feel at ease the rest of the pregnancy.

However, I take each day as it comes.  Good or bad.  Whether I'm crying about what has or may happen or busying myself with other things.  I ask God to have mercy.  I feel wholly inadequate that he forgives my screw ups and lack of faith so completely and lovingly.  Yet, he does.  It is often more difficult to accept that fact than to focus on how you'll never measure up.  It is so much better to focus on the Christ that saved the world by entering it as a helpless child.  With a word, he saves, calms, forgives and transforms.

The fact that he even blessed me with the knowledge of the 2 babies we lost, is beyond gracious.  I am so happy we will be reunited in heaven.  I can't wait to hug them so tight for about 1,000 years!

I thank God for being separated from his Son while he was on this earth and the cross.  For going through the ultimate separation when Jesus endured hell for us.  He watched his Son die the ultimate death.

Although, I don't understand why this grief is mine for this lifetime, I know there is a plan far reaching my understanding.  I know my God grieves with me as well.

That all may know him-no matter the cost.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I Miss You

Missing my babies so terribly tonight, and praying fiercely for the one in my womb.  God, have mercy.  See the plight of one unworthy but covered in the blood of the Lamb.  
Thank you that we will see them again in our eternal resting place.

Monday, November 17, 2014

To Be, or Not to Be...

You know those times when your heart is so full-full of happiness or sadness or anger or...all of the above-that your brain just can't form words to truly express what's happening in there?

Yeah, that's where I'm at.

I find myself on the verge of tears, wanting to laugh out loud and scream all at the same time.  

Here, writing, seems to be the only safe place to express the true inner ruminations that could easily be viewed as diagnosable. 

So, I thank you for reading and caring and praying.  I open my heart up in a way that helps give me peace in a way that I know God designed.

Our latest outing with baby was to the ER.  Yes.  Just 3 days after we had a great doctor's visit, saw the baby, no problems...there I was bleeding heavily.  

Stunned.  Scared.

"Why God?"
"Why would we come this far, to lose the baby now?  I know you are good and love me...but I don't understand this."

I cuddled tightly to Sarah as what I hoped would get better, didn't.  I sat on the kitchen floor watching her cook me plastic food when tears started streaming down my face.  And then the inclination came.

After we had our service in the mountains for the babies in heaven, we always sang It is Well with My Soul.  Standing over those little graves, I thought of seeing them again as the notes rose into the sky.

My mind went back to those moments.  I wasn't thinking. "My baby is gone."  No, I was thinking, "God knows what is best.  He takes care of all of our babies."

As I sat there, watching my little girl play so happily, a half smile spread across my face as I sang this beautiful song-the tears rolling over my quivering lips.  

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
    • It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. It is well with my soul,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

We went to the ER that day.  I was a bit apathetic about it.  So much has happened.  I know that things can very quickly change. I have learned more so not to take anything for granted. 

Thankfully, we had wonderful staff at the ER, barely any wait and the baby looked great.

The diagnosis was a hemorrhage, which I had already and thought had healed.

The next day at church, tears came again as we sang that familiar hymn.

It is well. 

Yes.  It is well with my soul, Lord.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Are We There Yet? Early Days with Baby #4.

The news of baby #4's existence was a surprise...a very pleasant surprise.  On the heels of a painful miscarriage came the news of a new baby.

6 weeks
Within a week of finding out, I found myself preparing to miscarry again.  I started bleeding, and more than a little.  I came to accept the fact that this could happen and waited for it to get worse.  But it didn't.  It got better over that weekend.

At our already scheduled appointment that Monday morning, we saw the tiniest little being whose heart was flickering like a beacon of light on the large screen in front of us.  There was no explanation for the bleeding. 

I left so relieved, and hopeful.  
And scared.
7 weeks
As the days passed,  I continued to be cautiously excited.  Some spotting continued here and there. At the next appointment, we saw a strong heartbeat.  

But there was a clot.
Blood/bleeding showed up next to the baby. The doctor said that these resolve themselves in 90% of cases.

Having our recent past in the forefront of my mind, I was very unsettled with these odds. The doctor read the concern on my face and scheduled another ultrasound when it wasn't necessary.  For this, I am so thankful and absolutely love this doctor so far.

Thankfully, that ultrasound was perfect.  The ultrasound tech first checked to see a heartbeat which was evident.  She zoomed in on this little miracle.  Little arms and legs wiggled around as she let us hear one of the most beautiful sounds on this earth.  
9 weeks
The sound of a child's heart.  

After the tech left the room, I broke out in sobs. Weeks of wondering got answered in the matter of a few moments.

There was no bleeding.  No clot.  I'm pretty sure it passed the night before.  That tiny little thing caused me so much grief as it rested beside a tiny little being that brought me so much joy.

A few days after that, the nurse called saying I need to take an antibiotic to eradicate bacteria seen in my urine.  Sigh.  I thought.  "Can I just get through this pregnancy without something else happening?"  I realize this problem seems insignificant.  
Keep in mind...I've been to that doctor's office almost every week, sometimes twice, since mid August.  It's exhausting, and I just want everything to be okay for awhile.

So, here we are.  We're a few weeks away from the end of the first trimester, and honestly, I'm very ready to get there.  I'm ready to get to the end of the pregnancy and hold my baby.  I loved being pregnant with Sarah, and I'm praying I will truly start to love being pregnant with this baby.

Just because I'm pregnant again, doesn't mean I've stopped grieving the child we lost just months ago. It's so different this time.  Different than it was after we lost our first child.  It's confusing.  

I am elated that the baby I carry now is doing well.  Yet, my heart still hurts missing the child that resided in the same place a short time ago.

I am thankful for new revelations in my heart this year that have helped me prepare for our circumstances.  I have learned, and continue to, what God's grace really means.  What his sacrifice means.  The all-encompassing covering of his redemption.  I have to thank Eric for leading our family to a church that has taught me so much.

I've come to realize that "giving it to God", "letting go" and "just trusting Him" are not ways that are natural to me.  When people say to do those things, I've always felt helpless and thought, "Okay so, how do I do that?"

I'm thankful God doesn't require me to do anything at all before I talk to him.  I've always believed that there was something wrong with me if I was worrying, not able to be free from the burdens of life.  But, there isn't.  It's a normal human condition, that even Christ felt the weight of.  Yet, He knew how to pray.  

I am learning that I don't have to feel guilty, because I can't "let go".  No, I need to pray!  I need to open myself up to God and be vulnerable.  I need to talk to Him about it, because he is the only one that can sufficiently carry my burdens.  I don't have to figure out a way to let go of something inconceivable to me in order to please God.  No, he loves me as I am, where I am and in what state I am.  

Christ is well acquainted with grief.  He knew sorrow to a depth far reaching my understanding.  I can spout nonsense, and he makes sense of it all.  My journey is not about what I have done on my own for God.  No, it's about His love that covers, renews, enlightens and ultimately brings glory to the name that is above all names.

I will continue to share our story as Miracle Baby Russell grows.  I included the pictures, because it amazes me to see how intricately God creates us in such a short time.  Just astounding and touching.  Our God is so great.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support.  It means so very much to us.