Tag Archives: FMF

Five Minute Friday | Breathe

Ready, set, go…

Last year, I was tucking Graham into bed when he started a difficult conversation. One I wasn’t yet ready to have. We had just lost Laurence and Flannery the day before. 

“Mama, I’m so sad our babies died, but I’m glad I get to sleep in yours bed. How long we gonna be so sad? And can we be sad and happy? Cuz I wanna be sad sometimes and happy lots of times. Will we get babies again in your belly? Can we be mean to people? Cuz I wanna be mean to people. Am I still your favorite boy? I’ll be okay if you get more favorite boys. I’m so happy you aren’t in da hospital again tonight cuz I missed you last night. Someday you gotta tell me about the dead baby surgery. Da hospital was pwobly too quiet, huh?”

“We will be sad when we need to be sad and happy when we want to be happy. We can be sad as long as we want to be, as long as we don’t hurt ourselves or be mean to other people. That’s not being sad, that’s other things that aren’t showing God’s love to ourselves and others. I don’t know if we get to have other babies in my belly. But I love all five of you so much! And, yes, you’re still my favorite boy. And I’m so happy I’m home with you. The hospital was very quiet, which was nice. But I missed all our noise.”

“You forgotted da surgery part.”

“When you are older.”

How that was exactly one year ago yesterday, I’m not sure. Time is so strange when you’re 33-going-on-34. 
We made it through the anniversary of the twins’ birth and death. I had been dreading February 1st, but it ended up being easier than I thought it would be. Partially because my kids kept me completely busy and I barely had time to think about it. And partially because I decided to place zero expectations on myself. 

I didn’t make plans to commemorate it at all. No tattoos. No visit to the cemetery. No “one year later” post. Just regular life. Just breathing in and out. 

My word for 2017 is breathe. For whatever that’s worth. It came to me at the very end of December. 

Yesterday, in conversation with Nicole, while our kids were running through the house laughing and screaming, I realized I had found my word for 2017. Nothing profound. But the last several years have been more difficult than not, and I’m choosing to focus on the basics in the new year. Breathing in my husband. Breathing in my children. Breathing in new baby smell. Breathing in friendship. Breathing in the Holy Spirit. “Nicole, I think next year is my year to breathe.” She nodded, then we cleaned some weird orange goo off Graham and Thatcher’s hands, changed Adelaide’s diaper, hunted for Chandler’s missing drink, and averted a near disaster as Bess stuck her head into a birdcage. I was breathing in motherhood, and I felt alive.

I breathed my way through February 1st, the anniversary of losing two children. And I breathed my way through February 2nd, the anniversary of coming home from the hospital empty-handed. And I breathed my way through preschool drop-off and pick-up. I breathed my way through homeschool and pottytraining and dishes and laundry and calling in prescriptions. And I breathed my way through making room for another baby. A baby brother. Who probably eased some of the pain on February 1st. But in the words of Graham, “Getting a new baby doesn’t make me miss our dead ones less. I wish we could have all free of dem!” We’re all breathing our way though pregnancy after losing children. One breath at a time. 
Time’s up.

Join me over at katemotaung.com with your own five minutes of raw and unedited thoughts on the word “breathe”…a safe place to share. 

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Five Minute Friday | Limit

Ready, set, go…

“We can’t underwrite your policy due to your drug use.” It ended up being a clerical error. Someone checked the drug box. Who applies for life insurance while on drugs, anyway? A nurse came to our house. Weighed me. Took my urine. Two vials of blood. Cried with me about losing the twins. I told her I had taken an 800 Ibuprofen 3 days before. She told me I had ridiculously perfect blood pressure. But someone somewhere said I was a druggie. I have had one sexual partner. I’ve never smoked, done any drugs, or been drunk. And I had one very questionable moving violation when I was 16. The officer said I didn’t come to a complete stop. He said he turns his eyes at reckless disregard for speed limits, but failing to stop actually kills people. I resisted the urge to ask for statistics of how many people were killed by my supposed stop sign roll with zero cars around vs. a speeding vehicle causing a truck to jack-knife on the highway. But I kept my mouth shut and paid the ticket. I should’ve gone to court. I would’ve won. On my application, I marked the ‘no’ box for every risky behavior: paragliding, rock climbing, motocross, and traveling to the Middle East. Honestly, I’m a homebody. My riskiest behavior is taking three kids to the grocery store. Preschooler in a wheelchair. Wearing my toddler. And keeping my kindergartner from touching every piece of produce. I do a fine job dragging a cart behind us. But then a random stranger always says something rude to me. And I suppress the urge to throatpunch that person. That clearly shows I am a responsible person who deserves life insurance. Their form didn’t have a box about taking strong-willed kids to buy almond milk, but it should have…because that is a better question than asking me how many times I’ve gone bungee jumping. I need this policy. Navigating my bathtub is more dangerous than a crocodile hunt in the bayou…

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Time’s up!

Join me at katemotaung.com with your own five minutes of unedited, raw, zany, or poignant writing.

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Five Minute Friday | Focus

Ready, set, go…

Two of our children died this week. My brain is so fuzzy. I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder why I’m not nauseated. Confused that I can sleep on my back. On my stomach. I don’t need to pee. And it makes me sob. Because I’ve been unpregnant for only a few days. Yesterday, two-year-old Bess came up to pat my belly. “Babies!” I can’t correct her. I just can’t. But Graham does it for me. “No, Bess, our babies died. They are dead now.” Bess giggles and runs off. Graham asks for chocolate milk. I go cry in the laundry room and try to pull it together. But I’m constantly reminded that they are gone. My belly is smaller today than it was last night. My breasts are actually shrinking. My hormones are starting to level out. And I hate it. I want my hips to ache. I want to be vomiting. I long to be peeing every 2 hours. I can’t have it back. It’s over. And everyone keeps asking if I’m okay. I smile and say, “I’m doing okay.” But I want to scream, “Of course I’m not okay! I just packed up all my babies’ clothes. All my maternity clothes…except for these jeans, because I’m so swollen from 7 liters of iv fluids. And I just want to cry for an hour until I can’t cry anymore, but I have apples to cut and diapers to change and pee sheets to wash.” Because life keeps going on. There’s barely any grieving time when you have 3 littles who need a mom. And how ironic is it that I can’t focus on being a mom to 3, because I’m aching from being a mom to 5?

Time’s up..join me for your own five minutes of raw, unedited writing at katemotaung.com

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Five Minute Friday | Quiet

Ready, set, go…

“She seems so loud to be nonverbal.” What a friend said about Adelaide. “Yes, it just means she can’t actually communicate with us verbally. But they don’t have good words to describe these things.” Well, they do. But not ones I use with my friends and family. I also don’t use colpocephaly everyday. Or her six other brain abnormalities. But all the people who love Adelaide know about PMG. Polymicrogyria is in our dictionaries. And we use nonverbal. Even though it’s not entirely a great fit. She says some words. She signs some words. Adelaide is constantly counting up to 20 and back. And she recites letters in meaningless orders. She often sounds like a Spelling Bee contestant who forgot to practice. Adelaide makes a noise that sounds like “Ditididddittttttidit.” It has meaning for her. It means, “I’m very excited right now!” When she’s actually tired, or pretending to be tired, she makes a baby-seal-being-devoured-by-a-polar-bear cry. I get horrible looks when we are out and she makes that cry. She’s learned to use it when she’s done running an errand. Because we *must* leave. It is impossible to remain anywhere when she goes baby seal. The looks. Those people who keep Child Protection Services on speed dial start to twitch. On Wednesday, I picked up Adelaide from school and her paraprofessional asked if we spell her nickname at home. “Yes, to the tune of B-I-N-G-O.” “Well, she spelled her name today! I asked her how to spell her name, since we were going to write it in shaving cream, and she started spelling it. A-D-D-I-E!” It’s a milestone I had removed from our table. We don’t actually have a table…house is too small. It’s a milestone I had removed from our kitchen island. Our daughter spelled her name. Our nonverbal, but rarely quiet, four-year-old spelled her nickname.

A-D-D-I-E. A-D-D-I-E. A-D-D-I-E. And Addie is her name, O…

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Time’s up! Join me at katemotaung.com with your own five minutes of raw, unedited, milestone, or mundane writing.

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Five Minute Friday | Time [and my thoughts on Alan Rickman]

Ready, set, go…

I fell in love with Colonel Brandon when I was 12 years old. As soon as I finished watching the Dashwood Sisters’ story unfold on the big screen, I checked out Sense and Sensibility from the library. I wondered if Alan Rickman was anything like Austen’s brainchild. And he was. As a preteen, I couldn’t understand Marianne’s inability to see Colonel Brandon from the beginning. He was everything I thought I wanted in a future husband. It doesn’t surprise me that I married Dave. I never thought love would be sex and roses and vacations. I desired for love to be sacrifice. I wanted a man who poured himself out for others. Gave his time and sweat. Dave’s dad unexpectedly died a few weeks after our engagement dinner. My fiance put his college on hold, in order to take care of his mom during their crisis. He did dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and checked her homework when she was getting weary and blurry-eyed. And he worked full-time. When she lost a second husband in a decade, this time with months of notice and preparations, Dave was there again. Mowing the lawn, doing home repair, cooking, and helping with his stepdad’s care. Dave hated the word stepdad, because he said Bob was more than that. “Bob loves my mom, my wife, and my kids as his own. He’s not my stepdad. He’s one of my best friends.” And when cancer took Bob from us, I watched my husband. My own Colonel Brandon. The one who does for others. Alan Rickman was an actor. A phenomenal one. And cancer took him, too. But I watch Sense and Sensibility with my breath caught in my chest. I marvel at how beautifully he portrays Brandon. Of all Austen’s men, the Colonel is one of my favorites. And when Mr. Rickman reads Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, I am transported to a 12-year-old Lyndse. Hoping she gets to marry a man who reads to her. And a couple decades later, she did. My love reads to me. My love has one of his degrees in English Literature. My love cares for others when things are falling apart and storms are raging and all hope seems lost. Austen wrote the man. Alan brought him to life. And I get my own little piece in my real life world. The one that’s filled with cancer and heartache and true love. Austen lived in that world, too. It’s why she was able to make a girl in 1995 fall in love with an ideal. RIP Alan Rickman. You will be greatly missed.

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Photo credit

Time’s up…join me at katemotaung.com for five minutes of raw, unedited, from-the-heart writing.

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Five Minute Friday | First

Ready, set, go…

In December, Bess said “I love you” for the very first time. To Adelaide. She hugged her big sister, said “I love you, Adelaide!”, and left Dave and I speechless. I can’t quit talking about the beauty between siblings — those with typical development and special needs. Bess shows so much compassion to Adelaide. She shares toys with her. Two-year-olds don’t naturally offer their favorite snacks to another child, but Bess willingly gives her food to Adelaide. She brings things to Adelaide and presents them with glee and pride. She greets Adelaide every morning. “Good Morning, Mama! Good Morning, Adelaide!” When the naysayers frown upon having more children, I’m just going to show them my daughters. Bess could’ve professed her love to anyone. She chose Adelaide. And she chooses her everyday.

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Time’s up.

Join me at katemotaung.com with your own five minutes of raw and unedited writing. It’s a new year!

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Five Minute Friday on a Monday

I’m taking all the vitamins. Drinking all the water. Eating all the lean protein and fiber and healthy fats and leafy greens. Trying to sleep. With three kids under seven, that’s not always a reality. And a few people have mentioned miscarriage. I try not to think about it. I know the truth. I know all the percentages. But I try not to think about the possibility, because there’s nothing more I can do. I am literally doing everything I can do for a healthy pregnancy. And I don’t think about genes and defects and mutations. Because I can’t control that either. Once, a woman looked at Adelaide and said, “I’m glad I miscarried. My baby probably would’ve been like her.” I said, “You wouldn’t be that lucky.” Walked away. Why does our culture think it’s better to be dead than to be disabled? So even though I don’t focus on it, I know the possibilities of losing a baby. Having a baby who isn’t typical. And I still announced the growing human in my womb. As tiny as a poppyseed. This week is one of his/her most vulnerable weeks of development. But I still rejoice and buy maternity clothes and let Graham touch my stomach…which isn’t baby, but is actually bean burritos and candy from my Christmas stocking…and we just live in this moment. Aware of danger, but reveling in the beauty of it all. And I look at Adelaide and think, “You are more precious than anything in this world. Do not listen to the ignorant and misguided people on this broken, fallen planet who worship ‘perfection’ and think death is better than being different. They’re so very wrong.”

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***Five minutes of raw and unedited writing.

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Five Minute Friday | Season

Ready, set, go…

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Photos courtesy of Myra Wike Photography

I try to be really honest here. So I’m going to share something tough with you.

Adelaide’s birthday is hard for me. Not just because it falls in December. But because it brings up fears, questions, and this gnawing sadness that another year has passed us by. Sure, I’m happy that we get to celebrate her. But my daughter turns 4 this weekend and my mind is reeling with how little we gained and how much farther behind we are with every day crossed off a calendar. It’s not logical. Rationale says, “It is what it is. She’s making progress. Rejoice.” My mom heart counters with, “I need to clean the highchair for food time. I need to let everyone know she outgrew size 5 diapers and needs size 6. Does she even care that we’re having a party? Cancel.” Every year, I want to cancel and spend my own child’s special day hiding under covers. But I keep going. And this year has actually been the worst. I almost cancelled our family brunch 12 times. And even know, I’m thinking of canceling. I didn’t finish decorating. I have no food. I’m buying her Wal-Mart cinnamon rolls for her cake. This party is going to be a direct reflection of my broken spirit. It’s not what I had intended. I spent hours pinning things to her birthday board. I had grand vision for this birthday. This time to honor one of my favorite people. To start a new year. And maybe that’s why it’s been so incredibly difficult. We are starting a year that will be full of difficulty and changes, and I wasn’t expecting 2016 to usher in such a hard season. It was sprung on me. Unlike Adelaide’s birthday, which I’ve been planning since last Christmas. But plans can only take you so far when your soul won’t follow through. And this special needs mom is between happiness of surviving another year and feeling downtrodden for surviving another year, but falling so incredibly short. And trying to figure out which drool bib will look cute with a birthday dress sucked the wind right out of the Pinterest sails. Adelaide’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s party became a breakfast. Just like that.

Time’s up.

Join me at http://www.katemotaung.com with your own five minutes of raw, unedited, and probably-shouldn’t-be-sharing thoughts. It’s cathartic, at least.

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Five Minute Friday | Table

Ready, set, go…

Adelaide slept through Thanksgiving dinner.

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It didn’t surprise me. She’s had an exhausting week. A 6 hour round-trip for a 2 hour appointment with our new neurologist.

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A 30-year-old woman who’s studied in Pakistan, Texas, and at Duke. We loved her. She was caring, funny, and thorough. We left with a seizure action plan and a prescription for rectal diazepam, even though we just passed 9 months of being seizure-free.

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She was shocked by Adelaide’s progress. We were, too. Adelaide decided to take 10 steps with Dave’s help. He was holding under her arms, when she decided to go from standing to taking 10 reciprocal steps. Ten.

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So I wasn’t surprised that she slept through Thanksgiving dinner and missed sitting in her highchair at the kids’ table. She ate both her meal and her pie during dessert time. And she laughed and played and watched her Aunt Kita’s team play on tv. And she giggled so much we all couldn’t stop laughing at her.

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She did Thanksgiving on her timeline. Which is how she does life. And we are thankful for the inchstones and the milestones and everything in between.

Time’s up.

Join me at katemotaung.com with your very own five minutes of raw and unedited writing.

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Five Minute Friday | Dwell

Ready, set, go…

We are in the middle of life stuff. How’s that for annoyingly vague… And I got so stuck in it, I just wanted to crawl into my perpetually unmade bed and cry myself to sleep. Is it worse than terrorist attacks? No. Is it worse than not having a toilet? No. Is it worse than a million other things I see everyday on my phone? Of course it isn’t. But I can become so myopic. It’s why I keep photos of our sponsor kids all over our fridge. It reminds me that my life is easy. And I stop to pray for them. Write a note. Mail some stickers. Not one ‘trouble’ in my life — at this moment, or any other moment — even compares to what our sponsor kids are living right now. I usually have more change in my van than most people in their countries make in a day. But I forget. And I feel trapped. When my blinders go on, I become self-centered Lyndse. It happens so quickly. Nanoseconds. But it always takes longer to snap me back to my cushy reality. Where we have food. Water. A home. Laundry. Clothes packed up for when we grow or shrink. “I feel stuck.” That’s what I said to Dave. As we were in our 8 x 8 office-turned-bedroom. I cried. We are in the middle of life stuff. And then I got a message from my brother. No, they literally can’t leave Phnom Penh with their children. They are truly stuck. Because their kids were birthed in their hearts, and not from my sister-in-law’s womb, it’s a mess. And only God can fix it. And only God can take off my ‘woe is me’ glasses, so I can correctly see the world. When I dwell on Him, I see how silly I am sometimes. Most of the time. Nearly all of the time.

Time’s up. You can join me at katemontaug.com with your own five minutes of raw, unedited rambling. It’s a nice and non-judgey group.

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