Our new normal

This past weekend, we had our first big outing as a family of 6. We traveled to Kitchener and celebrated with my (Sara's) parents -and many other friends and family- their 10th wedding anniversary and my dad’s 60th birthday. Traveling any distance can be a challenge with tube-fed children, particularly when they need to be fed along the way - and when you forget to bring along the AC adapter to keep the feed pumps charged.

But the day happened with just a few minor problems. We were exhausted but thankful by late evening. We aren’t exactly sure what Emily and Sophia did that day; they were with us, but we spent most of our time feeding or caring for Rachel and Janneke - and chatting with well-wishers. (That’s when we are especially thankful for aunts and uncles who have time to help them out - thanks, Laura and Rhodes.)

My dad said something that night that I haven’t quite forgotten: He said that truly the celebration was not so much about the wedding anniversary or his birthday, but it was more importantly about God’s faithfulness to our family. Though the families were initially brought together because two very special people died, God showed his faithfulness through the new memories and blessings of blending a family and bringing fourteen grandchildren.

I also thought that when we talk about God’s faithfulness, it isn’t that we say God provides us with exactly we want... but He walks with us and provides us with the strength we need - His faithfulness means He will never leave us, even in the darkest moments.

I’ve been asked more than once to describe a typical week here at the Pot house. Ralph is back at work, and I am managing the home front. Monday through Friday, there are volunteers and people we've hired in the mornings. Home care nurses (VON) provided through government services come from noon to early evening. This makes for a busy week, but the help is greatly appreciated. Meals are being made for us twice a week (which guarantees at least a third meal of leftovers!), and currently, there are three handsome gentlemen volunteering their time to help us finish some home renovations.

All this help means the laundry and groceries get done, and both Rachel and Janneke can have their physio-therapy sessions. It also means I can pay attention to Em and Soph when they come home from school. Admittedly, the idea of someone always in my house is a bit disabling... funny as it sounds. I find it still awkward that someone is in my house, caring for my kids while I am also in the house. There are moments when I want everyone to leave; I don't feel at ease in my own home. But, I recognize the fact that everyone benefits when we work together, and if I were to try this all on my own, it would be rough. (Saturdays and Sundays, Ralph is home, and we sometimes have extra care but not as regular as during the week.)

Having two children who are tube-fed means I have a typed schedule for the day. The girls have their routines colour-coded, and there is something happening every hour or every half-hour. Rachel is fed four times a day, along with several meds and inhalers, and Janneke is fed six times a day. Presently, we are doing oral stimulation with a soother during Janneke’s feeding to encourage possible bottle feeding. A feeding for either girl takes over an hour, but you can sometimes multi-task during a feeding. It sounds nutty, but it’s becoming normal, and it is not always chaotic. A friend stopped in this morning and remarked at how quiet and ordinary things seemed... and that’s what I hope for - a new ordinary, a new normal.

God IS faithful, and that’s what I have to remember. I also have to remember His faithfulness is that much more evident when I count my blessings and reflect on what went right each day. If I spend more time frustrated over what isn’t going well or what is bothering me, those feelings will slowly blind me from seeing His steps alongside and in front of mine.

Now, if I can get my hair cut this week, that would be another blessing. : )