Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dada's Annual Guest Post!

Keeping with tradition (started last year), B has written his own birthday letter to Samantha. And, if this one doesn't make you cry, you are tougher than me . . . His love for his girl -- his complete and total awe of her shines through.


This past weekend, your mother and I along with your nanny, Nana, Papa and Gigi all celebrated your third birthday with you. What a weekend!! There was a bitter-sweet graduation party at your school on Friday, a fun movie and pizza day on Saturday, and then a swimming party with friends and (more) family on Sunday. I think I can safely speak for everyone when I say that we were exhausted by the end! In a good way, to be sure, but still exhausted. Throughout the weekend there were lots of smiles, presents, hugs and kisses and a very noticeable absence of naps for you! It was great fun and touched my heart that you have such wonderful people around you that all came together to celebrate you. Sweet. Wonderful. Magical. You. (I'm stealing this style of punctuated writing from your mother.)

This last thought--that there were lots of wonderful people around you celebrating you--is the theme for this year's birthday letter. Here goes.

Your life will take you places I can only dream. You will visit places I have only read about in books. You will do things I was too scared to do. You will overcome obstacles that I have never had to face myself. While I cannot begin to put names to the places you will visit or adventures you will have, I can be sure of this --people will come into and out of your life along the way. You will meet interesting people in cafes, share fleeting glances with mysterious strangers walking down the street, enjoy colleagues at work and school, have friends and best friends (and ex-best friends; I'm told girls go through best friends quick as "noodles through a goose." Look it up, I had to.). Just remember that no matter where you go and what you accomplish, these are not as important as the people around you. Cherish them. Listen to them. Learn from them. And make sure you have the right ones around you.

Your mother and I have worked very hard to ensure that the right people are around you now. People who get you (get your essence, as your mom likes to say). People who see all of the amazing things you do every day like tell knock knock jokes, or yell at Dude for taking your Winnie the Pooh bear or Dora doll, or ask for ice cream for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert. People who see no limits to what you can achieve. People who you can ask for help, and who won't think twice about giving it. Again and again. People who recognize that we all need help at one time or another.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that people and the relationships you have are really what matter. And just so you don't think that your dear old Dad is perfect (far, far from it, actually), I don't always practice what I preach. I can be better about appreciating the people in my life, too.

When I was a little younger and had a slighter lower hairline, my dad (your papa) shared with me a poem written by American poet Max Ehrmann, called Desiderata (or, "desired things"), that resonated with me. I saved it, and share it with people at every opportunity. I won't quote the entire passage here, but the following verse speaks to what I'm trying to say to you in this letter: "As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story [....] You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Be sure to speak your truth quietly and clearly but don't be afraid to speak up when necessary. You are an amazing little girl. You are sweet and gentle. Funny and mischievous at times. Sensitive. Hard-working. A beautiful soul. Be true to yourself. Always.

At the very core of my being I am enjoying every single second of watching you grow. I consider myself blessed to be a part of your story.

I love you lots and all over the place.

- Dada

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Remember Sammie B's first day of "school?"

Here she was, all dressed and ready to go for Day 1, back in November (and thinking "why in the world did my mama wake me up so early?"):

It has been 10 months, and she's just thrived there. Friday, she graduated, and we were so, so, so sad. But, also feeling so very blessed to have had such a wonderful program for her, with such amazing, loving people that cared so deeply for her. And the benefits - to her - have been huge.

Graduation was a fun, but bittersweet day. We woke up early (to have time for pictures) and our whole crew (Sammie B, B, me, + 3 of the 4 grandparents) headed out the door to school.

She donned a party dress and a huge smile for the occasion:

While the kiddos were outside, we set up the room for a graduation party (Winnie-the-Pooh themed with brownies, both Sammie B's request). After singing "Happy Birthday" and enjoying brownies, they played a slide show of pictures of Sammie B over her time there . . . complete with really sappy music in the background (sob much?!) and then we did closing circle, just as we've done at the end of school three days a week for the last ten months. Only this time, singing "This is the way we say bye-bye," had a deeper meaning, and brought lots of tears.

We've been talking to Sammie B about how now that she's three, she'll go to a new school with other three-year-olds and we explained what the graduation party meant, but I wonder if she's missing her teachers? She had just fallen so in love with all of them, and looked forward to school so much . . . and my hope is she will feel the same about her new school and her new teachers. These last ten months have just flown by.

As one chapter closes, others will open, I know. But its always heartwrenching to have such a wonderful chapter close . . .

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear Birthday Girl!

Time for my annual birthday letter! (The birthday posts are likely to continue for a few days . . . ).

Dear Sweet Sammie B -

You, my girl, are three!

Over the weekend, we spent three days celebrating YOU. With a graduation party on Friday, gifts, a birthday movie (Lion King in the theater) and dinner on Saturday and a swimming birthday party on Sunday . . . we spent the entire weekend focused on YOU and your fabulousness. Some might say that we went overboard, but I say . . . you deserved it. It is so very true - I can't think of any little person more deserving of such an extended celebration, or any one (or thing) I'd rather celebrate.

With your third birthday comes a lot of change for you, and for us. You are no longer going to be in the birth to three EI program for your therapy services, and you graduated from your little school program you've attended for the last year (where you've absolutely flourished!). Your dada and I have worked hard over the last months to make this transition more smooth - we managed to switch many of your therapists to ones covered by insurance so that you'd have some continuity, but still, we know, it is a lot of change for a little girl. But, I have no doubt, that you will handle the transition as you do every thing else in life - with grace and perseverance not found in many children your age. In your three years, you have taught us so, so much. You have made us better people, and each day, you motivate me to strive to be an even better parent than I was the day before. You deserve no less, my girl. You have shown us more love than I ever knew possible. Literally heart-so-full-it-feels-like-it-might-burst kind of love.

As one chapter closes (and mama feels anxious about change, as I always do!), I keep reminding myself to just trust that new chapters will open. New, fabulous chapters. Your new teacher will, no doubt, fall just as in love with you as your old teacher did, and well, things will just fall into place as they are meant to be. My prayer for this new chapter - for you - is that the right people walk into your life. The people that are meant to be in your life - to enable and empower you right along side your dada and me.

"Two" proved to be an amazing year for you my girl. Your vocabulary and personality both just exploded. You make us laugh every day. Many who meet you (including your developmental pediatrician, and she's an expert!) comment on your charming sense of humor and your wise-beyond-your-years sense of self. So true. You tease us, you tell "jokes," you light up our every day in a way that words just cannot express.

Your dada is trying to teach you to tell "knock knock" jokes. So far, you've got:

Sammie B: Knock knock Who's there?
Dada: Who's there?
Sammie B: Mama
Dada: Mama who?
Sammie B: YO MAMA!!! (with squeals of delight).

See? You are funny!

We also know that you are starting to recognize your challenges. That some things are just hard for you. We wish we could make everything in life easier for you. I never want you to doubt yourself. And, my sweet girl, I want you to know that your dada and I are committed to making sure that your challenges will never define you. No label will ever define you. Your magic, love, giggle, sense of humor and amazing little personality will define you. And, I promise you this: your dada and I will always be beside you, and together, we will take on whatever life throws our way or your way. We are, after all, "Team Sammie B."

I know that "three" is going to be a big year for you too . . . you are starting a new school, our family of three will soon be a family of four -- you are going to become a big sister! And, I have no doubt, you will be an amazing one.

My sweet girl, I have to tell you, you may be "three" but you are still MY baby. I still love nothing more than snuggling up with you for a long weekend nap and having you asleep on my shoulder. I still tip toe in your room at night just to see you sleeping, snuggling with whatever baby doll and stuffed animals you've chosen that night (usually at least three, tonight you chose to have three different Minnie Mouses!). I stand there, and I watch you sleeping, and I whisper, "you are perfection." You are my girl. You are perfection.

I cannot believe it has been three years since we welcomed you to our world.

Three amazing, wonderful, magical years full of love and joy and happiness.

I look forward to the coming days . . . as these new chapters open in your life. As I've said before, my girl, this is your story. You get to write it. Dada and I are just lucky to be along for the ride. I am so, so lucky to be your mama.

Happy 3rd Birthday, my girl!

I love you with every ounce of my being.

- Mama

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Three Fabulous Years

The past three days have been spent celebrating our fabulous girl. It has been, in a word, FABULOUS. More on our fabulous three days to come!

Two months old:

One year old:

Two years old:

Three years old:

My baby girl (though not such a baby these days), you melt me. Happy birthday sweet Sammie B!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Day (or Two) In the Life of Sammie B

In spite of the stress of this week and the list of things B and I have to think about after touring pre-schools today and for gearing up for Thursday's IEP, this week has brought tons of giggles. Once again, our girl is reminding us of what really matters -- the giggles, the love, the moments of magic -- in a week filled with other stuff. And, now, I share with you a few of those magical moments (THESE moments are why I adore having a camera phone nearby at all times . . . ).

A REALLY big proud smile after "climbing" up dada's chest.

Snuggling on the couch with mama while talking about (and patting) Baby Mia:

Reading (these are the moments that just melt me - I walked out of my room to get her jammies and came back and she was "reading" one of her books to herself - obviously from memory, and when she noticed me taking a picture, she smiled this adorable smile!)

Sporting new Strawberry sunglasses in anticipation of her upcoming Strawberry Shortcake birthday party:

Here's a sign that your kiddo has spent A LOT of time in physical therapy. I've probably mentioned before that her favorite thing to do with her dolls is help them "walk" (just like we help her). Well, tonight, we caught her doing some exercise ball/core strengthening work with her baby. Pretty stinking cute. Creative little lady.

And, tonight, Sammie B was rolling/scooting around in the floor. Her new PT has been very adamant that we encourage ANY kind of movement and just let her explore. So, when she made her way to the dog's water bowl, rather than running to get her and moving it away, we just watched (except when she tried to drink it - we told her "no."). she dumped the whole thing out, and then, I kid you not, was trying to swim in the floor in the water . . . she was a mess, floor was a mess, but she was giggling and loving it, and so were B and I.

Bringing dada in for a big smooch before bedtime:

Mama's genius idea to motivate Sammie B to hold different positions for longer periods (strength-building!) -- being different animals! Here's Sammie B and dada being kitty cats:

She brings so so much joy and love to our every day.

[And, in case you were waiting for a Cervix Watch 2011 update, I saw my high-risk OB today and while I'm still having mild contractions, all looks pretty good. I'm just supposed to keep doing what I've been doing - sitting/lying as much as I can, lifting as little as possible, etc. I don't need to go back to the high-risk OB again unless something goes wrong or I just want to . . . I will hit 34 weeks on Friday and after that, even if I went into labor, they wouldn't stop it. Truthfully the 34 - 37 week period is going to be tough for me . . . up until this point, I've felt like if I DID start real, active labor, these doctors I trust so much would somehow stop it (or try). . . knowing that if I went into labor now, this baby would be coming is different territory. I just want to get to full-term. So very badly. 3 weeks, 3 days to go].

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Week Ahead

B is back, and all feels a little more right in our world.

The next few days will bring a few things that we have not been looking forward to . . . including Sam's first IEP and her graduation from her amazing little school she's been at the last year.

Tuesday, B and I tour preschool programs that we *think* are likely candidates for what the school district will offer for Sammie B. I already toured these programs at the end of last year, but since the district made some changes over the summer, we are going back to see them in action again now that we've also looked at a few private programs and have more to compare them to. Tuesday afternoon, I'll see my high-risk OB for my now weekly appointment.

Wednesday, I'll spend the day preparing (from bed!) for Sammie B's IEP meeting on Thursday -- pulling all the evaluations and assessments, therapists' reports, her teacher's reports from her current program, drafting the IEP goals B and I would like to see, talking with my special education attorney friend, and just generally getting our ducks in a row. (Can you say, "bring it on school district? This mama will be prepared!").

And, then . . . Thursday is the IEP meeting. I *feel* like we have a great IEP team, and I'm cautiously optimistic, but at the same time, lately we've heard so many absolute horror stories from other kiddos transitioning out of Sam's little center-based EI program (her school, as we call it) to the school district, so I'm scared we'll walk in "cautiously optimistic" and get blind-sighted. Part of the stress of this journey is constantly worrying that *this* will be the meeting or evaluation or report or doctor's appointment or whatever that will knock me over. (Good lessons that I'm not in control, perhaps?) Plus, no one wants to sit in a room for hours and discuss your child's areas of weakness and struggle. Seriously, can't we all just recognize that she's awesome and magic and wonderful and deserves the world and move on from there?

I *hate* that the stress and worry and anxiety of the IEP has to happen the WEEK of her birthday. A week that should just be about celebrating my girl. But, B and I decided today that we fight like hell (if needed) during the IEP meeting, and then . . . we walk out, and we forget about it for a few days. And, in those days, we focus on the most important thing in all of this . . . our girl. And, in celebrating three magical years of her. Three wonderful, magical, amazing years in which we've learned so much and felt more love than we ever knew possible. The IEP reports and the goals and the school district's "offer" will still be around next Monday, but the weekend will be about celebrating our girl. Our family.

Friday, Sammie B graduates from her EI center-based program, and B and I both know we will likely SOB at the graduation. The people at that program have been ah-maz-ing. Plain and simple. Her teachers have clearly fallen head over heels in love with her (hard not to) and made every effort to "get" her . . . and have never, ever underestimated her, but have believed in and fostered and encouraged her potential in incredible ways. I mentioned to B tonight how much I HATE leaving that program and I couldn't even talk without crying. At the end of her last school day there, we'll have a little graduation party with her classmates and teachers (Winnie-the-Pooh themed, Sam's pick!) with ice cream and a little slideshow of pictures they've taken of Sam during her time there. Sure to be a tearjerker.

Saturday is Sammie B's actual birthday, and we'll spend the day celebrating and well, just loving on her and enjoying our girl. We have a few VERY fun presents planned for the day, and plan to spend it as a family (with grandparents who will also be in town).

Sunday is her birthday party - Strawberry Shortcake themed (her pick and ironically, the same theme I had for my own third birthday party) - at the little swim school where she takes lessons on Saturdays. Sammie B is truly, truly, truly "in her element" in the water . . . where her body is weightless, and she can move, move, move. We couldn't imagine a better place to have her party.

And then, after a weekend of magic and celebration, Monday we can go back to the IEP, planning, services, etc. (blech) . . . but not over the weekend. Her weekend. That's going to be about CELEBRATING her, CELEBRATING the little girl that made us "mama" and "dada" and celebrating three amazing years of her in our lives.

Even though the coming days bring anxiety, I know we'll get through them. Despite the bumps along the way (including those I share here), this little family is resilient.

* Photo taken by my sweet friend, H, over at Capturing Motherhood. P.S. She also happens to be the mama to little L, Sammie B's classmate and friend.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big Sister-in-Waiting

Several weeks ago, I took Sammie B to a "Big Sibling" class at a local hospital. A friend suggested it because her own little girl had LOVED a similar class when her little brother was on his way, so I looked around and found one offered at a hospital not too far from us and signed Miss Sammie B up. The class was for ages 3+, so I wasn't sure how much she'd get out of it, knew she'd be the youngest, etc., and called ahead and asked if she could attend even though she wasn't quite three if I stayed with her, and they said "YES!"

So, Sammie B sported her "Big Sister" shirt and off we went.

When we got there, the instructor asked all the kids to come sit on the floor in a circle. I went and sat next to Sammie B, and just marveled at her as she sat there, so attentive, listening to EVERY word. (And answering questions when asked, which surprised me because our girl is usually oh-so-shy in groups and with new people!)

First we passed a baby doll around and learned how to hold a newborn close to our bodies, which Sammie did very well! Then, we took a quick tour of the hospital and then . . . THE VIDEO.

I was a little startled when it started out by discussing HOW babies are MADE, and I breathed a sigh of relief that my kiddo was too young to understand any of it, and that I WOULDN'T be answering THOSE questions on the way home like some of the moms of the older kids likely would be . . .

Sammie watched the movie attentively, then she got to pick out a new hat for her sister, then she got her little graduation certificate, and home we went. One of the suggestions in the parent handouts from the class was to look at pictures from when our bigger kids were born and talk about it. So, I got out Sammie B's baby album and we started talking. I showed her the pictures of me in the hospital, just starting labor, and I said "that's when I went to the hospital because you were ready to be ______" and she filled in "born." (I was thinking, "WOW, she was really paying attention in the movie!").

Then . . . the kicker. I showed her the first picture of HER and we talked about how that was baby Sammie B, and I said, "that's right after you came out of mama's ______" (FULLY EXPECTING HER TO SAY "BELLY" because that's what I've always said before) and she said:


I looked at B and almost fell over. I said, "I didn't tell her that." I hadn't. . . I've always just said that after Sammie's birthday, when the baby is ready, she'll come out of my "belly." BUT, the video had gone into the full deal, though quickly. My girl doesn't miss a thing, does she? That story had me smiling for days. Still does. Bah-nye-nah!

Sammie B is going to be an amazing big sister. We talk about the baby a lot. We talk about how Sammie B is going to teach her things and she lists the things she'll teach her (so far, we have eating, playing and dancing, which sounds good to me!). We talk about how lucky the baby will be to have Sammie B as her big sister, and Sammie B touches my tummy and talks to her sister and kisses her sister. Whenever I change clothes, she looks at my belly and says "baby!" And then she usually touches her own belly and says, "me baby!" I ask her if she has a baby in her belly, and she always says "Yeah!". We go to the store and Sammie helps me pick things out for her sister. When she sees baby stuff in the store, she says "Baby Mia!" She is, by all accounts, stoked about being a big sister.

Occasionally, I'll feel the baby kick and say to B, "want to feel the baby?" and if Sammie B overhears, she yells "me!" and reaches out to feel. The sweetest.

For all my fears and anxieties about what parenting two little beans will mean (and how we will continue to balance our crazy lives), I KNOW Sammie B is going to be an amazing sister. I'm not too naive to think we won't have an adjustment period . . . or that once "Baby Mia" is a reality (and not just an abstract thing in mama's belly) that we won't have some jealously and confusion. But I know, without a doubt, that my big girl is going to be an amazing big sister. She's going to teach Baby Mia so, so, so much. Not just eating, playing and dancing, but big, important life lessons about love, determination, hard work, empathy, and much, much more.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

After I posted last night, I got the sweetest messages from friends. The sweetest.

What would I do without my girlfriends? Who comfort in a way only they can. Who've carried babies, some pre-term, some through bed rest and not-easy pregnancies, and who just know the weight of it all?

I wish for my Sammie B to know friendships like I have as she grows older. And, I'm pretty sure she's on her way. Check out this little pair. (Or maybe this is the start to falling in love? Who knows?) This whole series of pictures just makes my heart happy. They were so stinking cute sitting there, we couldn't help but snap away (with several cameras -- so you can see they aren't quite sure which one to look at!).

To my friends, and my girl's. Cheers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


So, I've officially been told by my doctor to It has been a fairly crappy few days. B is out of town at a conference. This is, for his field, the BIG annual conference, and he was speaking. So, he went. The week leading up to the conference he worked extra hard, extra late, and extra often (including going in on his day off), our nanny has also been out of town a lot this month (including during the days leading up to B's conference and part of while he was gone), so I've been pushed to the "modified bed rest" limit.

I cannot do it all. I am not superwoman. Especially not now. But lately, B has been preoccupied with work and this conference and as a result, a bit absent (and recognizing my own character flaws, I am not one who easily asks for help or admits when I can't keep going at the rate I'm going) so I have been TRYING to do it all. Not because I wasn't listening to my doctor, but out of necessity. And not without guilt and worry and wonder about the "what-ifs." Because I know the "what-ifs" all too well. I've had a pre-term baby before, and I know, we just don't get "do-overs" when it comes to pregnancies.

So, after a few straight days (Wed - Sun) of living solo with Sammie B while our nanny was gone and B was preparing and then gone for his conference, on Sunday morning, I woke up with a stomach ache. And it hurt. All day. Just a dull ache. I figured it couldn't be contractions because it was kind of a constant pain, not a coming and going kind of thing . . . so I didn't worry too much. But around 5 pm, I decided I'd better call my doctor and just ask if she was worried. She was. A little. She wanted me to go to L&D and just be monitored. So, I scrambled to find someone to watch Sammie B and off I went. I didn't call my mom, I didn't call anyone. (Other than telling B, of course!). I really really thought they'd monitor me for an hour or so, tell me all was good and send me home.

Except, I was having contractions (unbeknownst to me, but the monitor picked them up). So, they monitored me for about 5 hours (Sammie B went to spend the night with her nanny, who had just gotten back into town . . . thank goodness!). I laid in L&D alone for 5 hours, texting/calling B with updates, and hurting (emotionally, not physically). I could have called friends, but truthfully, if B couldn't be there, I just wanted to be alone with my feelings. And, being there brought back a lot of emotions about the trauma of Sam's birth and her subsequent NICU stay that I really thought I'd healed from. Obviously not. It was, a rough night.

Eventually, the contractions stopped (they were never frequent or strong, but my doctors, knowing my history, and Sam's, are thankfully, super cautious with me), and I was sent home. It was so hard walking back into my empty house, alone with my worry and fears. And thinking, "shit, is my body failing me again?" And, in all honestly, it made me feel so very alone in this pregnancy. When we've had the scares along the way, like when I got put on modified bed rest at 21 weeks, B has been quick to comfort, and has always said, "we'll get through this," and the thing is . . . I know we will . . . but sometimes it feels like there's so little "we" to pregnancy.

I followed up with my high-risk OB Monday. Cervix is still long (good!) but funneling (not as good, though also not tooo alarming at this point in pregnancy, but still, something to watch). She was less-than-thrilled to hear that my husband was far away and gave me strong warnings to "slow it down." And, I am. But as the support from friends poured in on facebook with messages like, "listen to your doctor!," I couldn't help but be MORE hurt. I HAVE listened to my doctor. TRUST me, I know the consequences of early labor. As I laid in L&D Sunday night thinking about the possibility of going through the NICU roller coaster again, I felt my heart shatter. It just seems like there's a whole lot of unnecessary blame in the "listen to your doctor" statements. I AM listening. And worrying. And doing everything in my power to keep this babe baking . . .

So, that's that. Rough week. B will get back on Thursday. And we will get through this.

I'm four weeks and 3 days from full-term, and hanging in and hanging on. And hoping to get some "we" back into it all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Perspective and the Other Mothers

As I sat at Children's Hospital with Sam today and had a little picnic with her before her PT session, I looked at her sitting, in big girl chair at a big girl table, and I felt so proud. She looked like such a little girl. Not a baby, but a little girl. I stared at my big girl in awe and had to stop to snap a few pictures.

As we sat there longer, I found myself focusing less on how awesome it was to sit next to my big girl at a little table, and more on the fact that sitting there, she was wobbly, and my heart went from happy to hurting in an instant. I thought about how hard it must be for her to focus her eyes and pick up food when her body is wobbling. As I've said before, it is not that I want more from Sammie B, I want more FOR her - an easiness that she hasn't yet known. And as I sat there, watching her eat, I was just struck with how something so mundane as picking up her food is made more challenging because her little muscles don't always do what her brain wants them to do. Because balancing in a chair takes work for her. And my heart just hurt. Plain and simple.

And, then we went on to her PT session . . . and I looked around the room. PTs working with a (probably, I'm guessing) 12-year-oldish girl on sitting independently. Another similar-aged girl, non-verbal, with a shaved head and huge scar, probably from a recent brain-surgery. And suddenly, I was hit with it . . . perspective. A reminder about all of Sammie B's "cans" . . . Not that this was the first time I was hit with it . . . it happens often. There's always that "it could be worse" sentiment or the "at least she can do x," or whatever, and don't get me wrong, I am grateful for every single one of Sammie B's cans. EVERY one. For EVERY word that comes out of her mouth, every giggle, every smile, every joke, every song. All of them. We have so many friends on this journey who haven't yet heard their little one's voices, so I am always mindful that Sammie B's voice and every single one of her "cans" is not to be taken for granted. But sometimes, like today, I also just have to give myself permission to let my heart hurt that other things don't come easily to her. That she has to work so hard to sit in a chair and have a little lunch. To sit and notice her wobbling and have my heart just ache because I can't make it easier for her. And I want to . . . so so badly.

Our now twice-weekly trips to a Children's Hospital are sure to keep bringing the lessons in perspective. As I sit there, I'm fully aware, looking around . . . that none of us want to be there. We all wish our children didn't have a reason to make trips to that place. We're all, truthfully, a little jealous of other friends who've never had to step foot in a Children's Hospital, or never had to seek out specialists and therapists. And today, I have to give myself permission to just admit that I wish my Sammie B didn't have to be there. That instead of spending our Wednesday at a therapy appointment, we'd been at the park or the zoo or the pool, or just sitting at home. Of course, I wouldn't trade my Sammie B for a million afternoons at the zoo (or anything else) but I would give a limb or an organ to make things easier for her. Still though . . .

I'm grateful we are there at this amazing Children's Hospital to get help. To meet with a fabulous therapist who does everything she can to make therapy fun, and then we go home. We are there to work toward progress. And to make more of Sammie B's "can'ts" into "cans" that we can celebrate. Perspective.

The challenge in all this is to not let the moments of that "I wish I could change this for her" and the achy heart that goes along with that get in the way of enjoying the moment. Stop me from enjoying my little picnic with my girl. Because she is oh-so-enjoyable.

There's something about this journey, and the other mothers. It doesn't matter how different our children's journeys are, somehow we support each other, we all "get it." I've mentioned before that I'm on a support board for moms of children with delays. On the days like these . . . the days I have to just admit "this sucks, and I wish I could change it for her," I can go there, post how I feel and have 10 messages within two hours that truly do lift my spirits. I've also now been lucky enough to meet some of those women in person -- a few that live locally, and I've even had meals and drinks with moms in DC and Baltimore :o). And, there are a few others (HOUSTON! NYC! NOR-CAL!) that I'm just determined to hug in person someday. We've shared spios and theratogs and walking wings with kiddos in Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, and Iowa. I've sat outside assessments and sent texts like, "Just about to walk into the evaluation, and I think I might puke," to these mamas (and got great texts back like "ugh, makes me want to puke to just think about it."). These women get it, and I'm so so lucky to know them.

One of the moms from my board recently posted this on her facebook page. I happened to open the link while sitting at a (long) stoplight, and I had to pull over to read when the light turned green. Tears streamed down my face. Because although the author's daughter's issues are more severe and quite different than Sam's, there's that common thread . . . we wish we weren't sitting in Children's Hospitals. We wish we could make it all easier for our children. We start out feeling lost on this journey, and over time, we thrive. Thrive. I forwarded this on to B (which I rarely do) and he loved it. He sat and read with tears in his eyes, and then he forwarded it on.

I've been BOTH of the mothers in that post. I've been the new, lost mother, not believing that I was seeking out a neurologist to take my 7 month-old to see. And, now, I'm the mom that (I think) is coming out on the other side, and thriving, right along with my little family and our "new normal." Thriving doesn't mean that there won't be moments of heartache and "this sucks that I can't make this easier for her," but I guess (?) that I own those moments and those feelings, and move on. And, that's just what I tried to do today, though it did take some support from other mothers to get me there. . . and for their support, I'm oh-so-grateful.

I've been the mom offering support to a newby mom on this journey, and I've been the mom getting it. It is a "club" we never thought we'd be a part of, but one full of amazing people.

Recently, I walked into the restroom at a restaurant (ironically after we'd just come from an appointment with the physiatrist where we'd talked about gait trainers and equipment), and happened to walk in behind a young girl (again, guessing but probably 12 or 13) pushing her walker, with her mom walking closely behind. I looked at her, and my heart thought "oh please let my Sammie B learn to use a walker if that's what she needs," and I noticed that the mom had noticed me watching. I didn't want her to think I was staring to be rude, so I said, "my little girl is almost three, and we are struggling so hard to get her walking, seeing her with that walker just gives me such hope and makes my heart feel so happy." And then, the tears came. And they did for the other mom too. She touched my shoulder, and said, "Oh bless you, I understand. It's been a long road, and I remember the day my daughter got her first wheelchair, and I sat in my car and sobbed. But that wasn't the end of the story. She's worked so hard, and now she's using a walker."

Her wheelchair wasn't the end of the story. No piece of equipment is the end of the story. The image of that girl, with her walker, is etched in my mind. I wonder if that mom realizes what she and her daughter did for me that day. What they gave me in those few quick moments in the restroom. Hope. Optimism. Perspective. NOTHING that happens at three-years-old is the "end" of this story. The sky is the limit, and Sammie B has a lifetime ahead of her to turn "can'ts" into "cans" and to reveal to US what her potential truly is. We are just here to enable her to reach it.

I'm so so blessed to have my magical little girl, who enjoys a picnic and who makes me giggle. I'm so so blessed by every single one of her "cans," and for all the limitless possibility ahead.

I'm also so so blessed to be on this journey with such amazing mothers to support me, to teach me, to be my friends, and to give me some healthy perspective on the days I need it most.

Sammie B - I am so grateful for your every "can," and as your mama, I'd give anything to make the "can'ts" come more easily to you. To make your little body cooperate with your brain. Although I can't magically do it, I promise you this . . . mama will be right beside you, cheering you on through life, doing everything I CAN do to enable you. To help YOU accomplish all you are meant to do in this world. I love you my sweet girl. With all that I am. You make me feel so very happy and proud. Every single day.