flee, flu, fly

I wish this flu would fly.

Rachel and Janneke have been dealing with a nasty flu bug this past week.  I thought we had turned a corner Monday... but nope.  Then thought we turned a corner again on Wednesday... try again.  I'm too old for this.

It's a bit of a guessing game as to how to help them.  When they cannot tolerate their formula, we have to create new recipes that usually include Pedialyte and whatever else to prevent dehydration. A g-tube makes life so much easier in these moments.  Chest physio and taking them outside for a few minutes on the covered deck also helps too.

Mendelt's music therapy sessions (recorded on the iPad) bring much comfort to Rachel.  These last few days, she has been laying in bed, content to be still and listen.  Medicine for her soul.

Over the past week, there's been more laundry than sleep - and lots of worry.  I am always surprised by my higher levels of anxiety that accompany Rachel and Janneke's illnesses.

It's not as if I am not concerned when Emily and Soph are sick.

It's more because of all the unknowns with Rachel and Janneke, I wonder if their bodies are strong enough to fight.  Anxiety creeps in and consumes me.  Each time they get sick, I wonder and worry. When they return to good health, I breathe deeply again.

Anxiety is a thief that steals time, energy, and joy.

* * *

I remember a different kind of anxiety when my first daughter was placed in my arms.

That was an experience of terror and love rolled into one moment.  I realized I was more confident of leading a gym full of kids from Kindergarten to Grade 8 than assuming the care of this single (albeit beautiful) 8 lb infant.

And I had thought I was all set to be a parent.

Funny how you have these expectations for your child - their name, where they will sleep, the sweater knitted by Oma they will wear, complete with booties... all these great future activities and goals.

During the first weeks of Em's life,  I thought I was soothing my anxiety by reading various parenting books and asking others for advice.  But all that work only served to further befuddle me.

I remember Ralph saying to me in a sleep-deprived, exasperated moment, "Throw all the books and advice out the window!"

Try as we may, we cannot orchestrate the perfect kid.  Makes me think about this article on genetic testing.

That child you are anticipating maybe so very different from your expectations.

All four daughters continue to surprise me.  Though Em and Soph seem to fit some of the "normal girl" patterns, they are still so very different from what I first expected when they were placed in my arms.

Obviously, Rachel and Janneke are not all what I anticipated - and there was a sorrow when we celebrated their births.  Yet, they have also surprised us as they develop, and I can testify to the stubborn joy that pervades even these flu-ridden days.

Now if only that flu would fly.

* * *

Despite the sick stuff, it is starting to look like Christmas here.  Thanks to some good friends, there are decorations outside and inside.

The tree is up, and Em and Soph painted the windows on their own this year.  I am humbled by the way they "step up" when I am consumed with their sisters' care and can't help them.

We recognize this season of anticipation for Christmas in our family with a couple of traditions - the Advent candles, a story (this year, it's Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide), songs, and other remembrances.

All of this points to a Baby who both shattered and exceeded human expectation, a story that I wrestle with daily.  A story that reconciles a loving God with a broken world - a story that isn't easily understood or accepted but carries amazing grace.