On March 17, we celebrated one year of life with Bethany.
Her birth story is here, for those that are interested.
What a blessing she has been. After having Katie, our fourth, I wasn't sure whether there would be more. But God definitely had another blessing for us. It's been a wonderful year and I am so glad that she has been a part of us. I am thankful for the opportunity that we have had to love her and to begin the long path of training and teaching her and helping to her to know and understand that she was created in the image of God and that He has beautiful plans for her life. She may not understand everything we say, but she understands love. She understands being wanted. She understands being delighted in rather than being seen as a burden or an inconvenience.
Often throughout this year, I have thought about the many children around the world that don't even make it to their first birthday. They die of preventable causes. Of those that do survive, many of the millions don't arrive at their first birthday with the deep understanding that they have value. They haven't had someone to love them, feed, them, rock them, sing to them, kiss them, hold them, and talk to them. To be able to celebrate one year with our beautiful healthy girl is indeed a blessing—one that I won't take for granted.
My favorite things about my sweet girl:
1. Her dimples 2. Her baby snuggles 3. The way she pats my back when she hugs me 4. The way she slyly slips food to Lucy (the dog) when she thinks we aren't looking 5. The way she adores and is adored by her older siblings 6. The game she plays crawling up the stairs, hoping that we will come chase her. When we do, she crawls faster, giggling with glee. 7. Her love for Lucy. These two are the best of friends. 8. Her fascination with books 9. The way she bounces up and down the moment her dad walks through the door 10. Her love of all things spicy. We had Indian for her birthday dinner because we knew it would make her happy.
Of course, not everything in this past year has been easy. A few of the struggles we faced:
- She didn't sleep through the night consistently until seven months (my other kids were all about seven weeks.) After realizing I was producing almost no milk, we switched her to formula and for the next two weeks she slept about 15-17 hours straight at night and then moved into a good 12 hour routine.
- Trying to homeschool with a very active baby hasn't been easy. Not one bit.
- I have felt the stretch in ages of my kids. With the first four, there was only five years between oldest and youngest. In many ways, all of their needs were the same. The five and under crowd need to be loved, fed, played with, and put to bed. With our oldest now being nine, there is a world of difference in her needs versus Bethany's needs. I have felt the pull of meeting all of the needs of my oldest, while not neglecting the needs of my youngest. It is possible. It has just meant sacrificing a lot on my part and a lot of praying for wisdom.
Some of the highlights of the past year:
- Watching Alaina, our nine-year old, be an amazing big sister. I have taken the stance that anything she wants to help with is fine, but that it is not her job to raise and care for Bethany. Do I need help once in a while? Yes, of course. That's part of being in a family. But I don't expect her to mother. But if she chooses to do it, that's another story. I have loved seeing the maternal instinct rise up in her. Some days it is strong and she wants to take care of Bethany by herself — she gets her up, changes her diaper, gets her dressed, and more. On other days, she barely sees her. That's okay. She is blossoming and it has been fun to watch.
- Seeing compassion, patience, and understanding develop in all of the kids. With a small baby in tow, these character qualities are needed in abundance! Not once have the kids ever complained about Bethany and the way she has affected their lives. Rather, they keep asking when I am going to have a baby boy!
- Getting to really enjoy Bethany. The other four kids came at intervals of 15 months, 23 months, and 23 months. Each time a new baby came along there were still lots of other babies to care for! But with Bethany being born when Katie was already three, I have truly been able to enjoy her as my only baby. What a blessing.