Nine years ago today, just 8 weeks after we became parents our precious baby girl had open heart surgery. She was a very sick little girl. Mommy knew best despite the many, “oh she is fine” remarks. I kept at my gut feeling that something […]
Learning to ride a bike is one of those skills in parenting that you envision to be so simple. For some kids it seems to take little effort for them to get up on the bike and just start riding it. Others seem to need a lot of encouragement! I remember hearing all kinds of ideas like have the ride a balance bike first, have them learn how to balance on a scooter before attempting a bike, put them on one and hold onto the seat until they get the hang of balancing. After 3 kids of my own and watching many others learn to ride bikes I definitely don’t think it is a one size fits all lesson to be taught! My husband loved riding bikes during childhood so this was a skill I he would love to teach our children!
A couple weeks after school began for second grade, Miss Z came home from school and insisted on getting her bike down from the rack in the garage so she could ride it. I was a bit taken aback since one of my summer goals I had made with her was to learn to ride her bike independently. Each time we went outside to practice she would lose interest within a few minutes. So we decided she will learn to ride the bike when it is important to her; not when I believed she should know how to ride her bike. Each day after school she would come home and have her snack. Those after school hunger games are the REAL deal, I tell you! Then out to the garage to do circles on her bike. I would peak around the corner in awe of the self motivation to finally conquer the bike riding skill. She was clearly determined to accomplish this skill on her own agenda. I was only alongside her supporting those goals with as much space as possible to ensure empowerment within herself was taking place!
Every year her elementary school has a fundraiser for the Teachers’ wish lists in the classrooms. Such a perfect way to enrich the environment our children are learning in. By giving the teachers more of the resources they have for their own visions in education. The kids that attend the school ride their bikes around the radius of the school separated by grade. The event lasts a few hours with each grade riding for about 20 minutes. The neighborhood streets around the school have a few decent hills for riding up and down.
When the day came closer to the event I was elated that this year she would be riding her bike on her own! I was lined up with her at the starting line, while daddy and brother were on the side line cheering her on! She was eager to get the race on. Once we started I was very impressed that she was pedaling up those hills with intense desire! Using her breaks was still not a 100% skill she had mastered. We learned the term “squeeze”for the hand breaks worked better than shouting STOP. I was running alongside her up and down the hills to insure the pace was manageable for her. She just kept pedaling. The staff were all cheering her on with amazment along the course! When we finished the first lap I felt triumphant. As if I had just rode around the radius of that school on my own for the first time ever. She was very nonchalant about it at this point. The excitement continued when she asked to go again for a second lap. Again surpassing any vision we had for her. She saw her peers and desired to keep up. To stay with the flow of the crowd riding the radius! The encouragement seemed to make her beam. The struggles with the breaks were few and far between. We made it to the finish line again and the lady with the megaphone said, “one last lap or come into the field.” Miss Z declared “one last lap” I looked at K with astonishment! Where had the strength, the stamina, the desire come from? A fire had been lit inside her and she was riding it out. When the last lap was over and we put her bike away. She went in said “bye daddy”, got her snack and sat with the other children. Like it was just another day. Except it wasn’t, she is fighting a big fight every day to do the small things we all take for granted. She does it every single day with such grace. I will never forget this day. Just like all the rest that she conquers. She is a miracle and we are the lucky ones to enjoy the ride with her.
I want to start this journey back 10 years ago. The year 2007 when my high school sweetheart and I got married on the beautiful Oregon coast 20 feet away from the rippling waves. What a beautiful and magical start to a marriage. Surrounded by just 50 members of our closest family and friends. Such joy, happiness, hope, dreams, aspirations. The feeling of new, a vision for the future. It was truly a magical experience! The beach still holds a special place in our hearts every time we visit.
We had it all planned out just like many newlyweds do. We would both have strong and fruitful careers, we would buy a home together and start that large family we so strongly desired to create. We always said we wanted many children. There was debate between the two of us as to how many was the right fit for us. Kevin always said 5 was the right number. I wanted a overzealous 6 or 7! One of our dear college friends used to call us, “Shereen and Kevin plus 11” She thought we were meant to have a large brood. We had these strong feelings that family was an important network. We both come from a family with just one sibling and had always longed to have more siblings when we were growing up. We wanted to create what we felt we had missed. We dreamed of the future when all of our kids had children and we could have large family gatherings. The chaos and love involved. It was all dreamy, truth be told. Literally more than figuratively it turned out.
Shortly after we were married we realized having children was perhaps not as easy of an adventure as we envisioned. We struggled to conceive. While I have heard stories far more drastic than ours I can attest that the desire to want children no matter the length of wait or previous children involved, it is difficult. It is down right heart wrenching. My heart goes out to all the couples that have experienced infertility in any way or length of time. It is confusing and it does not seem fair. We went to a fertility specialist, we tried acupuncture, we tried fertility drugs, we tried all the tricks we heard or read, we tried taking a break from thinking about all of it. It’s hard to be patient with a life event like this. When you have a strong desire to have a child you want it to just happen accordingly. Our last fertility appointment we had talked about scheduling an IUI. I was on my last round of fertility medicine. About to start feeling really overwhelmed with hope! Then it happened, the moment we hoped for, dreamed of and desperately wanted to happen. I was pregnant!!! With all the previous concern it didn’t feel we were out of the waters just yet. We had to stay pregnant too. However, the moment of bliss seemed to feel like the most exciting high pressure moment in our lives. Something worked! Was it fate? Did the pillow under my low back for 30 minutes after intercourse finally work? Was it the fertility drugs? Was it just meant to be? All of the above we later decided. I went to the doctor weekly for blood tests to insure all the levels were rising how they should. I had multiple ultrasounds to verify implantation. Everything was testing according to plan. We were very excited, as were everyone around us that witnessed the struggle to come to this point. It was such an exciting time in our life, and so hard to achieve there was no way I could tell anyone I had an instant gut feeling, something was just not right. Something about this baby was different. Everything tested just fine though, it must have just been nerves, I would assure myself. I would pray daily that the baby would be healthy, and I would always add to my prayer, if something has to be wrong with this baby please let it be something we can overcome, something to inspire the world with. I have no idea why else I had these thoughts other than mothers’ intuition. This would later prove to be a very important gut feeling I am thankful everyday I didn’t ignore!
The pregnancy continued on to be exactly how it started. The doctor continued to do all the tests. The tests all came back normal. It was reasonable to assume we had a healthy, typical and normal child brewing in the belly. I just kept that gut feeling to myself assuring myself it was just the journey of learning motherhood. Towards the end of my pregnancy around 32 weeks I started to have high blood pressure at my appointments. Not too high, not high enough to need to induce labor at that point, but out of my own normal range for sure. Perhaps it was just diet, or I needed to rest more. The baby continued to pass all of her tests. I laid low. I was so thankful at this point to have a career with such a supportive group of ladies around me. Always looking out for my stress levels and helping me to create a calm balance for baby and I. I still think to this day that since these ladies saw and heard every detail. I know they look at our miracle today with the same astonishment as my husband and I. Around 35 weeks my blood pressure started to be more consistently in the super high range. I was then put onto bed rest to hopefully reduce the blood pressure. We scheduled an induction for exactly 37 weeks gestation just to end all the suspicions and fears that continued. I want to add that during the pregnancy and all these tests I do believe my OB was under the same question as myself that something seemed different or off from typical. However, with all the tests coming back normal she had no to reason to change the care of the pregnancy. It was very important to me to have a vaginal delivery. Knowing we wanted a large family I did not want that to be a concern in the future. As for pain management I didn’t want to use any, but felt I would make the call in delivery. I had read so many books preparing us to this point. I felt confident we would all make it through with confidence, strength and a good flexible plan.
The next part of the journey was the arrival of our miracle. The moment in time, our lives, goals and dreams all made huge shifts. We were and still are forced to write our story all over again. For we have been gifted one of the most precious souls in the world. We remind ourselves daily how lucky we are for it to have all come to this point. For she chose us, her soul chose us to be her parents. For that we are a million times over and over again, thankful.