Letter to Baby W. Davis

Dear Baby,

Your dad calls you “Little Willie” so addressing this to “Baby” sounds weird to me. You’ve been in there for 30 weeks, which is a really long time. It has felt like it has flown by, but it also seems like forever ago that I found out you were growing inside of me. We went to see Ann last week, the midwife, and she tells me you are active, healthy, head down, and looking good.

I want to tell you so much, I have so much to say. I know it will be a long time before you can read, or understand anything that I say, really. But know that so many people love you. Every day, I watch you move in my stomach, I feel you kick and turn and I must admit, it’s quite bizarre. You move a lot. I feel you the most around 10:30 in the morning until about 3, and then again at night when I’m laying down to go to sleep. Almost every single night, your dad talks to you, and you kick him in the face. It’s neat to see him talk and you respond.

Yesterday, I started thinking about what I want for you in life. Of course, what I want is nothing compared to what God has for you, because He plans great adventures and greater love than even I can imagine. But there are so many wonderful things that God has given us as gifts in this world, and I want you to see them all.

I want you to know what it is to fully trust God. Fully trust that He will provide what you need, because He will. Fully trust and rest in the knowledge that He will not forget you, leave you, drop you on your head, abandon you, or forsake you. Fully trust that He is for you, He is with you, and He sees everything your heart cannot express. When you are happy, He is glorified. When you are sad, He holds those tears in his hands, He knows every thought and dream you have, and He has dreams for you, too. I want to you to know that and trust that.

There will be times in your life when it will hurt. Your heart will break, you will question God’s goodness, you will be sad and cry. I have had those times, and they can be so difficult and hard. You can tell me what’s on your heart, you can tell your daddy what’s on your mind, and you can ALWAYS tell God what’s going on. Even if you are mad at Him, it’s ok. He can handle that, and He wants to hear you. And if you are mad at me, or daddy, or someone else, tell us. It’s ok to be mad, it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to question and wonder and express all your thoughts.

There will be times when you are so happy and joyful, too. And those times are so fun! It’s so fun to play in the sunshine, laugh with others, sing silly songs, jump into swimming pools, and explore. And when you feel so happy in your heart that you don’t have words for it, know that is God. You can say “thank you” to Him for yummy foods, tickles, sleeping late, funny movies, playing games with cousins, and laughter. God made those times because He is good.

God made you before you were even growing inside of me. He knows every single day of your life, He planned them. He knows how many hairs are on your head, what color that hair is, what color your eyes are. He has known that forever, because He has formed you. You are a work of art, and God is the artist. So whether you are short or tall, athletic or not, brunette or blonde, God planned it that way. Whether you have eyes that see far or you need glasses, whether you have ears that hear or need hearing aides, whether you have freckles or not, God chose that and He didn’t make a mistake. There are no mistakes in His creation. He made each person exactly how He wanted them to be. Sometimes, I think He made a mistake in the way my body is shaped, and I know what it’s like to feel ugly, but I do not want you to know that sadness. I fight that lie each day, and I will teach you how to fight lies, too. I pray each day that you love who God made you to be, and that you are healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

More than anything, I want you to know we are excited to meet you, you are wanted, loved, and cared for. You are coming into a world full of people who love you already. You have many people in your cheering section, waiting to encourage you to do the wonderful things you will do. You are loved by mommy and daddy, and even greater than our love is the love of God, who created you and gave you to us. You are loved, you are safe, you are prayed for, you are wanted, and you are celebrated.

We cannot wait to meet you!

Love,

Mommy

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Head Down

We went to the midwife last week, she felt the baby and told me it’s head down, facing left, and ready to head out. She then let me know it was time to start coming in every two weeks for checks and time to register for birthing class. It’s almost time.

I am at 30 weeks today. And all I keep thinking is that at any moment this child could be born and would survive. I’ll be honest, my emotions are all over the place. Part of me just wants it to be over, I’m ready to run without being uncomfortable, I’m ready to ride my bike, I’m ready to have a diet dr. pepper the size of a car. Part of me wants baby to stay in longer, because I have no idea what the other side of this looks like and at least I can sleep right now.

Occasionally, very occasionally, I will find myself worrying about what this baby will be like. I see all sorts of disorders and struggles, and I get afraid. I am afraid that the food I’ve eaten, the caffeine I’ve ingested, the hours I’ve spent walking and working out this pregnancy will somehow break my child. I’m afraid that my child will struggle in life in heartbreaking ways. I fear my child being hurt, being bullied, being afraid, not loving who they are, struggling with anxiety, and whatever else comes to mind at the moment. (currently, it’s my child having gender confusion because we are all being inundated with Bruce Jenner). At other times, I find myself just thinking “This kid is going to rock my world. He/She will sleep well, eat well, and be calm. They’ll love long runs and walks in the jogging stroller, and even more than that, they will be born quickly, with ease, and in a calm environment”. It’s one or the other. It’s extremes.

Collin and I were talking about this on Saturday. He said he was talking with his friend and just saying “we’re doing the best we can, and we have no control over what happens with the baby, but we won’t blame God or each other. There’s no room for that.” And it’s true. We cannot control this child, this child’s life, this child’s thoughts and actions, but we can do our best. We can pray and seek God, and pray over our home, and be honest with emotions and struggles. We can have  a home that is a safe place to talk about the good and the bad, where we are accepted for who we are and challenged to be better.

And I think of this as battle. Just as Baby has its head down and is ready to take on the world, I will put my head down and march forward. I will keep my eyes on God, knowing that no matter what happens, it will be ok. He’s got this. And I have learned that lesson so many times in life, but I am starting to believe it. I am at peace with this baby coming into the world. I am confident that God is going before Collin and I and He is doing things. He is working, and no matter what He plans for our family, He is good, and we will be okay. We will grow and learn to love and learn to live and He has never failed, so He won’t leave us out to dry now. We are all head down now. It’s coming. And I am excited.

March has come and gone…

Well, March has come and gone, and with it, lots of activities. I feel like we have been so busy with birthdays, school, easter, spring break, ect. It was nice to have that week off, although, it came a little too soon after the snow days. I could probably have better used it in mid-April.

We spent a few days in Fayetteville, Arkansas over Spring Break. Collin wanted to play in a disc golf tournament, so we went up there, spent a few nights in a bed and breakfast, and hung out in town. It was misty and a little cold, so we’ll have to revisit when it’s warmer and hike.

Later in the month, we celebrated my 31st birthday and my niece, Livi’s first birthday. Collin and I spent the night in a bed and breakfast in Fort Worth, had dinner at Spiral Diner, and woke up early in the morning to run a 5k! I ran from the B&B to the race, ran the race, and then ran back. We then had breakfast, hung out, got some lunch, and headed to Livi’s party. After Livi’s party, we had dinner and FroYo with my family. It was a busy weekend, for sure, but it was so nice. I really enjoyed my time with Collin and how thoughtful he was.

March came to an end and we celebrated Easter weekend. Collin and I attended church on Saturday night, and Sunday morning his parents and sister came over. We all went to my mom’s house to have lunch and an egg hunt. There were a lot of people there, which was a little overwhelming for me. It’s been hard for me being pregnant because I get a lot of attention for it. Everyone wants to talk about my body and comment and I just get so overwhelmed. It’s been difficult for me, but I am learning to be okay with the attention because it means people care about us and the baby. I’m 27 weeks today, baby is growing, and we are a month away from baby showers. It’s getting real, people! And in about 13 weeks, a little baby will be gracing us with its presence. I’m getting more and more excited, that is for sure. 🙂

Here are some shots from Spring Break:

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Here are a few shots from Livi’s 1st Birthday:

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And here are some Easter pictures:

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And because we live in Texas, bluebonnets:

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If you know one child with Autism…

It’s World Autism Awareness Day. It’s estimated 1 in 68 children are on the Autism Spectrum (although who really knows). There is little that is actually concrete about Autism. I usually only say one thing as “fact” when I speak about it. I say “If you know one kid with Autism, then you know One kid with Autism” because they are all so vastly different in ability, intellect, and interest.

I started working with kids with Autism almost by accident. I was 21, and a girl I knew from church said a family where she worked was looking for a person to work a few days a week with their son at the daycare. He had Autism. I was familiar with Autism because there was a boy with Autism in the Sunday School class I taught, and my mom was friends with his mom. But that was about it. I didn’t understand functions of behavior, I didn’t understand speech delays, I didn’t understand stimulatory behavior. I didn’t know what I was getting into. Or how much I would love it.

The first few days, I worked closely with another therapist and the Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to learn what we wanted to work on with him and the programs we were going to run. I learned how to track behavior (later learning that everyone has their own little system, so learning to track starts again with each new client/job). I learned how to ignore maladaptive behavior and reinforce appropriate behavior. I learned how to get a kid to engage with another child and how to become a reinforcing presence in the room. I learned what to ignore, what to engage, and what to challenge.

And then, I changed my major. I didn’t want to teach general ed anymore. I wanted to help families and children with developmental delays, I want to make an impact on someone for their whole life. I wanted to reach into the world of Autism and engage a child who is trapped in there. So I changed my major, and I started working with Special Needs kids at my church, and when I graduated, I got a job at a small non-profit school in Grapevine. (This school is by far the best school I have ever seen for children with Autism, it’s now a part of Easter Seals North Texas). I learned how to engage typically developing children and children on the spectrum at the same time, I learned how to take data, modify curriculum, use a device for speech, and change things up on the fly. And that was the first year there, after that I taught in Honduras, then came back to Easter Seals, did individual therapy, and then ended up in Special Education in a public school. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in my almost 10 years of working with kids on the spectrum, and I am so glad to have love and known so many students.

But I think the biggest thing I ever learned was how to treasure a child for who they are, instead of getting frustrated because they were not who they “should be”. There is rarely a day that goes by that I do not struggle and get frustrated. Children on the spectrum can be very trying, they can have violent behavior, they can be destructive, and they can drive a teacher up the wall. I would be lying if I said that’s not true. But, for some reason, I keep coming back to them. I guess it’s for those moments when they “get it”. When, all of the sudden, they listen and follow instructions independently. When they answer to their name, when they read a sentence, when they remember something that was told to them, when they have success. It’s not the big victories I rejoice in, although those are awesome. It’s the day the student finally signs the correct day of the week, it’s the time they sit at the table the correct way, it’s the day they can go to the restroom independently, or make a sandwich on their own. It’s that day when they remember the answer to question, or call you by your name. It’s little things.

I guess what I love about students with Autism is their genius. The way that they figure out how to communicate with you, if you’ll listen. The way they look at the world around them, and explore the things we all find mundane. (Like the student obsessed with vaccum cleaners or the one who always turned his toys upside down, just to check it out).  I love how they listen, they learn, and when they are ready, they’ll show you what they know.

I think what the world needs more of is people who are willing to change how they listen, because if we can change how we listen to those around us, we would probably learn a lot. If the whole world could see that Autism does not equal stupidity, and that the behaviors displayed have a purpose, I think we would all be more accepting of all sorts of differences.

There are ways we can all help those with Autism:

-don’t stare when a meltdown happens. Who knows why it’s happening, and most likely, the child cannot control themselves. (it could come from lights being too bright, a song that hurts their ears, or fear of crowds)

-if a person with autism walks too close to you, ignore it. Who cares if someone got in your space for 5 seconds?

-if you know a family with a child on the spectrum, offer to babysit, or pay for a babysitter for them. It can save families.

-if your child’s friend has a sibling with Autism, invite them to birthday parties, and let it go if they grab the cake or scream.

-an Autism meltdown does not equal a temper tantrum. And it’s not mom’s fault. Sometimes, it is because they didn’t get what they want, but that’s not mom or dad’s fault, so stop the dirty looks. For the love of pete.

-JUST LET IT GO. Yes, a person will autism might yell, or grab something, or flop on the ground. Who cares? They aren’t harming you. They are trying to live their lives and they are doing the best they know how to. They may be dressed oddly, or only like the same shirt because it has no tags. It doesn’t matter. And if you explain that to your children, that everyone is different,  that they are doing the best they can, and that there’s a reason for what’s happening, then the next generation might be a little more kind.

So, if you’re a parent, caregiver, or sibling of a person with Autism, you are doing wonderfully. You can do this, and your child is a treasure. If you’re the teacher of a person with Autism, you might get frustrated, but you are changing lives. And if you have Autism, you are loved and amazing and made by God.