Life With Nine Kids

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Penelope

A day after we were home from the hospital I saw on our dining room chalkboard wall "Bring Nellie Home" written around flowers, hearts and other pictures from the previous week. I stood and stared at it almost welling up with tears. There are those moments when you look at your child and wonder 'what if the worst happens to my child, what if this actually happens.' It can be triggered by a sad news report involving a child or something like a medical uncertainty and scare. The moment when you stop and imagine the unimaginable can also be triggered by nothing at all, just fear and imagination. It’s called having kids.
In the hospital I soaked up her blue eyes and occasional smile as I couldn’t hide from my thoughts: what I would life be if she weren’t here? When you're in the hospital and bone scans and MRI's start being mentioned you can't help but ask yourself 'what if it is something really bad... and in our future we have to watch her die?' I then thought of other parents who were in the very same hospital just floors away from me who were actually doing just that with their own kids. It's so unfair when kids are hurt. It's a fear and terror like no other I could truly imagine, and of course I have had and probably will continue to have those thoughts and moments with each and every one of my kids. Several years ago I had to stop reading a book where a child was abducted and killed because it was too disgusting and horrible for me to even read in fiction. Even worse the blue eyed child in the story reminded me so much of Penelope that I sobbed and sobbed before finally putting the book down forever without finishing it. I'm a total basket case about things like that and totally avoid it in any form real or not.

No matter how stressful things are day to day I feel we live with a lot of gratitude, I try to pass on that thankful spirit to my kids as we really strive to see the bright side. I feel like the last few months have been really trying and stressful but I'm so thankful our family works together to make the best of it all. I hope the children learn to deal with life as it comes and to keep trying and remembering that this too shall pass. Ricky and I smile and laugh through tough times, we break up a lot of kid fights and live through a lot of toddler meltdowns, we wade through work, home repairs, chores and money problems. We sigh a lot and we hold our head from the stress, we tell each other it's going to be okay... and we have each other. We all have each other. I really try not to get too caught up in the stress because as long as we all have each other things are good.  
Penelope before she turned 6
 No one ever says 'I wish I hadn't spent so much time with my kids'
There are many things that I'll never regret that are time consuming and self-sacrificing. Co-sleeping is one of those things. Beyond just typical co-sleeping though we also lay with whatever child, at whatever age, for however long, to get them to sleep. For example Penelope is six years old and I still lay with her every night to get her to sleep. Usually we let her fall asleep in our cozy bed. Sometimes this is really time consuming, sometimes I don't want to, sometimes I think it's ridiculous because I need to get something done and she needs me at bedtime. Most of the time, however, I find it calming, soothing, bonding, quiet time. Someday she won't be my little girl, she'll be big. She won't cuddle or need me as often, and one day I'll never lay with her at bedtime again.  Sometimes we are tired and heads hit pillows and eyes close quickly; more often though she winds down by telling me about some thoughts, fears or dreams. Sometimes she tells me about something that happened that day and I get to really hear her speak and I often find myself loving her excitement and voice. It's usually during bedtime that I get to find out even more about who she is and how she feels about things. I get to hear her imagination churn on about things without being distracted by daytime sounds or other kids. She tells me about interactions with her siblings, too. Once she repeatedly reminded me to talk to Layla about something that hurt her feelings. We kept forgetting during the next day to talk to Layla, but at night she'd remember and talk about it with me. She tells me sweet things too. She'll tell me she likes that I am spending more time with her during the day (I cut out internet time and deleted my Facebook two months ago). That touched me so much that she told me that! Tonight she told me that she couldn't wait until she could run again (she's on limited movement for illness). I realize as I write this it's not always what she says but how she says it. She's just so sweet. She rubs my arm sometimes while she falls asleep. I think about how safe and warm she must feel. I think about how I slow down and take the time to enjoy my kids -not just my babies- and I so enjoy our quiet bedtime routine together. Ricky and I had a chuckle the other day over her telling me during quiet bedtime talks that she doesn't like it when daddy is on a business trips but kinda does like it because she gets to sleep with me all night long. :)

Update on the illness: Penelope's health continues to improve. She still has a cough, but she is on the mend. We had a couple more days of concern, swollen neck lymph node, fevers at night that went away and a little uncertainty about if we should get a chest x-ray. She is doing great and we are very confident now she's healing. We continue to keep her close to us, hydrated and on somewhat limited activity. She was skipping around the house after three days being home from the hospital. We had to keep reminding her to rest, rest, REST!!

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! This one made me laugh and reflect. I am one of those parents who had to face the fact I would have to watch my child die. It has been a long road. Our future is still uncertain but that is ok because everyone's life is uncertain. Some of my fondest memories are things that happened in the hospital.

When Chey was 2 1/2 she had her first of two brain surgeries. She was suppose to rest. I walk into the hospital room from going to the bat room with her jumping on the bed asking if she could jump of. It had been less than 24 after surgery. Kids are resilient. It always amazes me watching the kids in the hospital. They laugh and play and act like kids. I love my life. Having a child that is "medically fragile." has been a gift.

Meghan said...

love this post. glad i am not alone in laying down with my children(age 6 & 7) every night. i too find it peaceful, and a perfect way to end our day. glad Penelope is healing!

Anonymous said...

You are in my thoughts and in my heart.

Sasha said...

I hope that Penelope's health keeps improving. I cannot imagine having a sick child...not to mention 6 others to look after AND another baby on the way! Your strength and courage are inspiring.

~Sasha

Just Kerry said...

So much love and light to you and yours... what an amazing strength you have ... what a beautiful family... God Bless.

Nomz said...

The way you write sucked me RIGHT in and made my heart just ache for your girl. Your family is in my thoughts today; you're an incredible mama!

Chris from MA said...

You're ability to be filled with gratitude despite all that life has thrown at you is truly an inspiration. All the love in the world to you and your family!

Lesa said...

Praying for your beautiful family!

Anonymous said...

You are wonderful. So much love...
Hang in! As you have said, "this too shall pass..."

Caroline said...

Hoping for a quick recovery and for renewed strength for you and your whole family!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me to enjoy what I have with my child, while I have it and not to take a single moment of it for granted! May God give you the strength and peace you need to get through this.

Patty Smith (love bomber) said...

Sending much love to you and your beautiful family. May Penelope continue to get stronger each day and may the right people be placed in your path to care for her when she's not at 100%. I too am a co-sleeping mama, my 'babies' are now 16 and 18 and I miss those days. But they DO build a strong foundation, rock on mama..... you've got this.

Akshita Siddula said...

Stay strong and positive and it will all be okay. You're doing such a fantastic job already. Just don't lose hope.

Deb Chitwood said...

I was a co-sleeping homeschooler, too! (I homeschooled my two kids through high school.) It's so true that "No one ever says 'I wish I hadn't spent so much time with my kids'" The love and care you give to your family is awesome.

I'm sending lots of prayers and love to your daughter and your whole family.

Deb from Colorado Springs

Bird said...

Shauna - stay strong! Thinking about you.

Lindsey Davis said...

You're doing such an incredible job already! Your family will be strong and healthy again so soon:)

Beth said...

I love your writing, it's beautiful and hopeful, and I can tell you are such a loving mom. I hope Penelope continues to get stronger each day and that she's able to come home soon. Much love to you and your family.

sarajschmidt said...

Shauna, we are keeping you, Penelope and the rest of your family in our thoughts and hearts! Sending lots of love and hugs your way.

Sara, TJ and Sage

~jm & km~ said...

Shauna~ Sending love and light to you and your family. You have been blessed with an abundance of children, your world must be so full! Penelope is in my thoughts and I wish her strength and wellness so she can return home to her family. I will keep you in my heart as I do my yoga practice today - sharing my peace with you.

xo

bubbleboo said...

What a beautiful family you have!

Keeping you all - especially Penelope - in my thoughts and prayers.

Blessings,

Hannah (Love Bomber and new fan of your blog)

Connie said...

You are an amazing mom and I wish you and your children the very best. Although you may be going through hardship right now, things will definitely look up for you if you just keep being yourself and loving everyone.

Anonymous said...

Sending warmest wishes that Penelope finds peace and healing and that you and your entire family are united again in good health and happiness. Be well and know that you are loved and supported from all reaches of the world

firststarontheleft@gmail.com said...

Your kiddos couldn't be luckier to be living a life full of gratitude! Just as you're so incredibly thankful for them and your time together, I know they're just as thankful to have a mom that places such a priority on celebrating all the reasons to be thankful :)

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing mom and I was so touched reading about how self-sacrificial you are in your love for your family. All the best.

Love Bomber and former home schooled kid.

Jonathan Ruth said...

much love to your and your wonderful family! here's hoping and praying for renewed strength, health, joy, and freedom from the pain!

God bless you and your entire crew!

- Jonathan

Namrita said...

You are an amazing wife and mother and your spirit just shines through.
Please stay strong - this too shall pass. It will be ok in the end, if it's not ok it's not the end.

BethinUkraine said...

Sending you hope and optimism and prayers for Penelope, as well as for the rest of your family. Be blessed.

Anonymous said...

I am an administrator at a private school and a formerly home-based private schooled child. I support what you are doing with your children's educations! However, I am sorry to hear about Penelope's health. I send love and light to her, you, and your family. May your future be bright with many beautiful yet-to-be made memories that include Penelope's gorgeous smiling face.

Blessings from San Francisco, CA

Bregje said...

The love you show for your family as well as the appreciation of all the little things is amazing. I hope Penelope gets better soon!

MamaFeelgood said...

Keeping your family, especially the little love bug, in my thoughts and prayers.

Blessings,

Jeannine

erika icon said...

Shauna, I'm chanting for you, baby #8 and Penelope (that's how we Buddhists pray). Things will get better, especially since you have hope, courage and are a wonderful person who cares so much for others. I hope that will be soon. Lots of love to you!

Rachel said...

Praying for you and your sweet family! I can tell you have such strength and optimism, and you are an inspiration to many others because of that. I'm praying that Penelope makes a quick and complete recovery, and I pray that your little one (and all the others!) are healthy and safe. Much love to you!

Anonymous said...

Things can be tough with children, and even when they grow it's not always as straightforward as you think. You sound so strong, and I am sure you are, but sometimes you must ache also over your family and I can understand the ache you must have for Penelope at the moment - the hardest part of being a parent is when you can't make them better. I send you greetings from 'across the Pond'and love to you all, and prayers for Penelope. A big smile of hope joan (love bomber)

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of you and your lovely family!

Anonymous said...

Sending thoughts and prayers your way! Love your blog.

Mary said...

I give you so much credit for having an open heart and mind to a large family. The fact that you also homeschool blows me away. My fiance and I want 6 kids and we've discussed homeschooling on several occasions but always end up deciding that our future kids will be in parochial school. Thank you, for setting a wonderful example for a beautiful and respectful family.

I hope Penelope comes through this ok. She does have beautiful blue eyes that immediately jumped out at me when I looked at her picture. My prayers will be with you and your family.

Prayers, hugs, and support from Green Bay, WI.

Joan Concilio Otto said...

I'm a fellow homeschooling mom (just one daughter!) from PA and I am just touched by your story and Penelope's, and I wanted you to know we are praying for your family, for peace, for healing, for comfort and for strength!!

Lisa said...

I am keeping you and your family (especially Penelope) in my thoughts and prayers.

life and light to you all.

Cordelia said...

I don't have kids, and don't plan on having them, but I was already beginning to well up partway through your first paragraph.

You evoke so well what it means to be a loving, caring mom, and your 7 truly ARE lucky to have you watching over them. Penelope is a beautiful little girl with a beautiful spirit (which she no doubt gets from her mom), and I can just tell that no matter what hills you might face, you will all be a strong, loving family that can get through anything.

Best wishes to all of you. You are truly inspiring.

Jessica said...

What a wonderful and loving mom you are! I pray your little one will heal quickly and be home with your family in no time.

Gail said...

Sending prayers for health and calm. Your love makes all the difference to your family...

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful family you have! I always wanted 8 kids, I thought that would be a great number! As it is I'm a home-schooling single, working mum to 2 fantastic kids. Your blog is wonderful, and your love for your children shines through. Best wishes to you, Penelope, and to the rest of your gorgeous family.

Nic said...

Sending love and positive healing vibes to your beautiful family! *HUGS*

I totally agree with your thoughts on co-sleeping, too. I share a bedroom (out of necessity, but still) with my three-year-old daughter, and my favorite time of the day is bedtime. We read a story, I cuddle her to sleep, and then I sit and read in bed next to her until I fall asleep myself, snuggled up with my baby. These years will go by too fast, and it's so important to take the time to cherish their childhoods.

-Nic (Love Bomber and new fan!)

Anonymous said...

Sending love and prayers your way xxx

Rach said...

Have so much respect for you :) Good luck, godspeed and sending prayers and well wishes your way.

Rach said...

Have so much respect for you :) Good luck, godspeed and sending prayers and well wishes your way.

Jenn said...

Prayers of healing for your little one. And the rest of your family too.

rubies3 said...

Just sent out prayers for you and your beautiful family! I hope Penelope recovers very quickly, and you give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby. :)

Emily Lombardo said...

Wow! You are superwoman to me (as a first year teacher) to have nearly half a classroom under your responsibility and loving care 24 hours a day, seven days a week! And to be supporting all of your wonderful children during a family crisis... your strength and generosity is inspiring! I'm hoping for all the best for you and your family, and for the day you can look back on this turbulence and see how it made you stronger and strengthen your bond as a family!

Kristie Nockleby said...

YOU are amazing. And so are each of you special little gems. Sending you prayers and thoughts. Keep the positive attitude and focus on good!

Marie Marie said...

What an amazing family you all are! So much love, it seeps up in your writing and spills all over the place. Sending out positive thoughts for all your concerns.

Mom of a bunch of great kids... said...

WOWWWWW. I really enjoy and appreciate this life-me-up love bomb. I am really happy to report Penelope is doing well. We are having car trouble and a slight computer issue and so I woke up frustrated. I'm reading through the comments to lift my spirits and count my blessings. Thank you so much kind internet "friends" out there.

Amanda said...

I am inspired by everything about you and your family! I thank God that Penelope's health is already improving and I am praying and believing that her health will continue to improve! Be encouraged that there are a lot of people out there thinking about and praying for you and your family, even complete strangers from all around North America!

Emma said...

I love your blog, and you are an amazing mother. I can't even IMAGINE how strong you have to be to continue on your daily life! :) I am praying for Penelope, and just remember this: It will all be okay in the end. If it's not okay it is not the end. Get well soon and keep staying strong! :)

wewon31 said...

Continued strength to you, take care.

Miss Susan said...

I am thinking positive thoughts for rapid healing.

Anonymous said...

Lots of prayers and healing white light to you and yours...remember to be kind to yourself during this struggling time...

Lola said...

Stay strong, you are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

This too shall pass, stay strong. You're an inspiration to all.

Anonymous said...

wow your family is so warm and loving i wish more parental would take that special time with their kids instead of putting the tv on and leaving the room.
my hopes and prayers go out to you and your family and i hope you get the results you hope for very soon. x
your writing is full of emotion when u describe your time it feels like we are there with u listening to your tales of the day very beautifully and heart felt.
I'll keep praying for you and yours from the isle of man UK. xxx

Anonymous said...

Sending Penelope lots of healing and positive vibes.

It is inspiring to read your lines, there is so much love showing in them, if only everyone could see their children and the time they spend with them as you do!

Lots of love to you and all your family from a UK Lovebomber

Anonymous said...

Your family is such a great gift and the love you share is more powerful then any medicine that will ever be devised by man. I hope things get better for Penelope. You and your family are loved by all of us.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that Penelope is getting better. You have such a positive attitude that you pass on to your kids, and they will pass on to others. Happiness is contagious. Best wishes and God bless.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful family! I agree with you: spending time with our family is so important and something we will never regret! I am amazed how strong and inspiring are your relation with them. Thanks for the Blog!

Anonymous said...

I think that your blog is amazing; a truly inspiring read. I do not have kids myself and I cannot imagine what you are going through but the way you write gives a real honest insight into your lives. I think its really amazing. I wish you all the best with the upcoming months of difficulty - and wishing a speedy recovery to your beautiful daughter. I think you are incredibly brave and strong and I admire that greatly. Sending you positive energy and love to you and your whole family. Best wishes x

Anonymous said...

I'm a brand new mom (seven weeks!) and I have to say that you are such an inspiration and role model to me as a mother. I love how you are parenting your kids. I can't even imagine watching my child go through something like that, but you are so gracious and intentional and present in your approach. I don't think I will ever forget your family or your story, and I will be checking in with your blog often.

Thank you for sharing and letting us learn so much from you.

Eliza