Polymicrogyria

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    Community Voices

    The PMG Awareness Organization and our Rare Community!

    Just a quick hello to our Polymicrogyria and our Rare Disease Communities! I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Cody Stevens and I am the PMG Awareness Organization President/CEO. I look forward to a bright future, not just with our organization, but with new friends and connections within our Rare Disease community!

    Hopefully in the near future, you will hear plenty more from us regarding ways that we can all connect and relate to each other and how in so many ways, our multiple rare conditions that make up our community can work and grow together! I can't wait to connect with all of you on a much deeper level! Wishing all of you and everyone on The Mighty a safe, strong, and bright future!

    Sincerely,

    Cody Stevens
    PMG Awareness Organization President/CEO

    #pmg #pmgawareness #RareDisease #RareDisorder

    Community Voices

    Holding on to HOPE with PMG & Cerebral Palsy #pmgawareness

    I recall the day/moment when my beautiful daughter Jaime received the shocking diagnosis of PMG (Polymicrogyria), Pachygyria, Dystonia and Cerebral Palsy for her 2 year old son Wyatt.

    He had multiple developmental delays but it wasn't until VCU Children's hospital finally came on board, that we received a clear diagnosis of what was causing his symptoms.

    We were all blindsided, and as Matriarch of our Family Strong Tribe, I immediately got into my car and drove 5 hours from Philadelphia PA to Fredericksburg VA to be with my daughter. This is not our first experience with a Rare Disease Diagnosis, so the one thing we already knew to do was to rally together in support and PRAY for Miracles.

    Please know we pray daily for all families with Special Needs Angels...

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    Community Voices

    My Child With a Disability Is Going to Kindergarten

    From the moment of my son’s very early and very unexpected birth, “Avery will do what he will do,” was the mantra my husband, Arick, and I lived by. We didn’t know if Avery would be able to grow up and do things. As he’s grown, it has become increasingly clear that not only will he do what he will do, but he will do it in his own time and in a way completely unique to him. Avery was born at 25 weeks weighing 1-pound, 3-ounces and struggled to stay with us for his entire first month. From a patent ductus arteriosus defect in his heart that led to surgery at around 2 weeks old, to an inability to process feedings, to not gaining weight, it was the hardest month of our lives. He very slowly started to improve and at 32 weeks gestation when he was a little over 2-pounds, he was given his first bottle. I remember them telling us that this could be a turning point. Either he took the bottle and did well or he wouldn’t and feeding would continue to be a challenge. He needed a little support but our tiny son took that bottle like he’d been doing it all along! And they were right. It was a turning point. He started to gain weight consistently for the first time. In another eight weeks after a total of 111 days in the NICU, he came home. For every scare he gave us, he did something amazing that renewed our hope and allowed us a moment of reprieve. When he turned a year old, he couldn’t sit up. He didn’t babble or play with toys. He was about 11-pounds and essentially a newborn. He was also starting to show signs of cerebral palsy, which we knew from the NICU to watch out for. He kept his left hand clenched and his entire left side was tight. I got him evaluated and he started physical therapy (PT). A month later he was formally diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Four months after that, with polymicrogyria. Those were some dark months, too. In our minds and hearts, it was back to square one. We’d watched our son fight for his very survival and now we had to accept that he’d be fighting for everything. Forever. But still we told each other, he’d do what he’d do. And we’d love him through it. With lots of PT, Avery took his very first, very unsteady steps just before his 3rd birthday. He did it! He walked! The first thing I thought he’d never do, he did. In Avery time. Although he couldn’t speak in phrases, he had a few words. We started twice a week speech and within six months he could say “more milk please” or “go play now.” At his three and a half year visit with his neurologist, the doctor looked at me completely awestruck and said. “Knowing what his brain looks like, I can’t believe he is talking like this.” Victory number two! On his third birthday, Avery started attending the preschool program for children with disabilities (PPCD) — it was a scary thing. An all day program through the local school district. I was overwhelmed thinking about him being away from me for eight hours a day. He cried every day I dropped him off until I finally decided I needed to give it one more week and if it didn’t improve, I’d withdraw him. It was no longer beneficial for either of us. That week he stopped crying and I realized he knew the colors red, blue and yellow. We were driving one day and he saw a stop sign. “S-T-O-P” he said. So I kept on bringing him because I saw the benefit. We were warned at birth that Avery would most likely have severe developmental and intellectual deficits. And here he was at not even 4 knowing his colors and letters. Kids age out of PPCD around kindergarten age and either go into general education or life skills classes. My goal for Avery from day one was to give him as typical a life as any other kid, and I’d have accepted either for him. He was impressing his teachers and school therapists (and everyone who met him). At the middle of this past school year I pulled his teacher aside and asked her if she thought he would be ready for kindergarten. Her answer? A resounding yes! He was potty trained, able to move around the school freely — at his own pace — and had become increasingly self-sufficient. I went to my car and cried for a good 10 minutes. I cried tears of joy and tears of relief. And if I’m being honest, a few tears of fear. By early May it was confirmed. Academically Avery was doing better than most kids already in kindergarten. He was obviously ready. Avery will be going to general education kindergarten in August! With his peers! So many tears I cried over these last five years that wouldn’t have changed anything. Would I love him if he didn’t walk or talk? Absolutely. Nothing he’s ever done or not done could change that. But seeing the things he has done — those are the things that have changed not only him, but Arick and I. That have made us more understanding. That have made us look at other parents and not for one second judge them or their situation. We’re all just doing the best we can. Sometimes we fall short but sometimes we excel in ways we never thought possible. Avery is this idea personified to his dad and me. I want his kindergarten teacher to know what this journey has been like. Chances are when I meet her, I’ll pull her aside and give her the abbreviated, cliff notes version of Avery. I’ll tell her to watch out for him because he isn’t the best walker. To listen closely because sometimes he gets excited and his sentences become one long, convoluted word. I’ll tell her to make sure that he’s included in things and allowed to do things in a way he can. Because things are hard for him. But if you give him a little bit of time, a little bit of support and a whole lot of love, he’ll do it. He’ll do it the Avery way.

    The Powerful Community You Connect With When Your Kid Has a Disability

    It feels like two opposing forces are at play when your child is diagnosed: 1. So much is taken away. 2. So much is gained. One minute I was a mum of a healthy 3-year-old, teaching yoga and enjoying family life. The next minute I was a mum of two beautiful girls, one healthy and one with a serious brain injury. Life’s circumstances suddenly placed me into a “different” category; the kind where the room falls silent when a pregnant mama says, “Oh I don’t mind if I have a boy or a girl, just as long as they are born healthy.” Where conversations would flow awkwardly from then on, like the elephant in the room, where I would try and act as normal as possible as if unaffected by the silent divide of women in the room. I was that mother. In the early days, my mind cycled on repeat through all the losses. It felt as though not only was my daughter’s health taken away, the way in which I was now perceived in society shifted. I felt the pity from strangers as they stopped and enquired why my newborn had a plaster cast, or why as a toddler she couldn’t hold her head up at times. I was that mother who had to have those bizarre kind of conversations that do not come so naturally with parenting. Instead of talking about a new milestone, a first word, or the first roll, or the first step, my conversations were vastly different. They were of long medical words that I would break down simply to try and explain the brain-injury to a friend, family member or someone in community. This phase of a newly diagnosed family can be exhausting, quite simply because everyone within the immediate family unit is grieving on some level. Yet so much of their energy is taken up in trying to fit back into society, with a new label that is been stamped upon them: a “special needs family.” It feels like everyone is trying to re-integrate, when the training wheels have been taken away, it’s wobbly, unsteady and so unstable. Then something starts to shift, the universe has a beautiful way about trying to rebalance and gain equilibrium. You start to connect with other families in similar circumstances. It’s both comforting and a little terrifying when you see a flash forward of what your child may look like in the future in a sea of adaptive and medical equipment. Your mind feels a little hazy when they tell you that your child will amaze you, that you will see miracles, that you will find so much joy, that it will change your life… and for the better. They will post photos of their children with encouraging words. You will see feeding tubes, wheelchairs, communication devices and more. It will feel confusing, as you are certain the only way you will ever find peace, is if a cure is created for your child’s condition. Here’s the mysterious thing, when the times comes, when really understand, no actually I should say when you believe what they tell you, real joy starts to unfold within your family. There is some point along the journey where you realize you have grown into your new and unique family life, and you find yourself encouraging those who have recently been diagnosed, too. You assure them that all will be OK, that their child will achieve so much, and most of all, that their life will change and for the better. The community of parents raising children with additional needs is a powerfully close one; we all share and follow in each other’s journey’s. We set up social media pages, blogs and not-for-profits. Together we advocate, create awareness and become like an extended global family. I don’t say family lightly, I mean it. We become like family. So much so, that we feel great despair at the loss of a child, as if they were our own. Our child’s diagnosis may initially connect us as strangers, but quickly bind us to be so much more. There’s a magical gift that occurs between families. Like a filter is taken away and we connect straight at the heart. What a powerful resource it is, that we can lean on one another, learn, educate and advocate together. That we can celebrate in all the micro-milestones and wins and create a circle of support when challenging times kick in. It expands our world to connect us with people that we would otherwise never have met. These people are your people. The children who through their sheer will and determination make us see what is possible, their siblings who teach us to embrace diversity effortlessly and to their parents, whose heart broke into a billion pieces and slowly came back together because of people like you.This community who found one another through a perceived loss, but in reality was actually a monumental life gain.

    Love Over Fear: Caring for My Child in the Middle of the Night

    We’ve had some rough nights with Chiara, walking the hallway as we take turns to try and soothe her little body. Running baths at midnight to help her feel comfort when she can’t find calm. I mix medicine’s under soft lights and watch the clock tick over from 12 a.m. 2 a.m. 3 a.m. and more. I carry her body as she drapes over my arms, so delicate, fragile and full of mystery. I reposition her limbs and try to help her find that space of comfort where she can rest and heal, beyond the labels of her medical conditions. So thankful my husband is with me through these twilight testing hours. Through this haze of broken sleep, exhaustion and ongoing physical care, we keep choosing to love over fear. These tiny micro-milestones of choice in the long run turn out to create some of the biggest shifts of our life, one small midnight moment at a time. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

    Parenting Kids With Disabilities Is Not Always About Mindset

    You might have heard this before: “Change your thoughts and you can change your world.” Mindset is a powerful tool in our personal journey through life’s up and downs. Personally, I have challenged my own experiences to find a new perspective. However, there are some moments that no matter how much you fight for the light, the positive re-frames, the “it all happened for a reason” vibe…. nothing can shift your mindset from the experience at hand. Try telling a mum who is holding her child through their 40th life-threatening seizure, or comforting their child through a harrowing round of chemotherapy or administering CPR on their 2-year-old. The reality is, when your child has a serious health condition, it can be terrifying. The level of intensity peaks through the aforementioned examples. When it is as black and white as life or death for your beautiful child, mindset can take a back seat, at least for a moment. I want to shed light on the darker side, the uncomfortable side, the side that hurts so many mum’s and dad’s all over the world. Why? Because I always come back to one thing: that no matter race or religion, through history humans have always shared a similar innate wish when brining new life into the world — collectively we all just want our children to be born healthy. So when health is taken away from our most beautiful creations, our children, it challenges us to our core. Whilst I am all for new perspectives, new paradigms, new shifts; I will always honor the adjustment every parent needs to go through as they take on this new role of parent to carer, and in some cases full-time carer for the rest of their child’s life. I want us to hold space for these families in a way that allows them to be seen, heard and supported. In sharing my experience of having a beautiful child who also happens to have a life-threatening condition, I know what it’s like to grieve, to worry and to hurt. I also know what it’s like to transform and heal and make the most of this incredible unique motherhood experience. Yet let me share with you something that made me check-in again. I attended a local doctor’s appointment to get some medical letters for my child for equipment funding. After talking about my daughter and her current health issues, the doctor paused, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “How are you Natalie?”Guess what I replied? “I’m fine, yes I’m sleeping better. Yes, thank you I am fine, I’m OK.” But here’s the truth, in that moment I was actually holding back a flood of tears, maybe oceans, I am not too sure. I was surprised by my internal backflips, the knots that started to create in my stomach and the pinch in my heart. It reminded me that just under the surface of so many mama’s who are juggling serious health issues with their children, we rarely stop to take care of ourselves. Even with all the tools I have as a yoga and meditation teacher, a coach, a speaker and writer, at times I forget to really check in and ensure that I am OK. I took the doctor’s compassionate question as a little nudge from the universe to really stop and reflect. How am I? For so many of us we are doing great, seriously, we’ve got this parenting kids with disabilities or chronic health issues gig nailed. Yet just under the surface the tears, the worry, the grief — it can creep up when we least expect it. So what do we do with these sudden emotions that surface? How can we find solace in our child’s suffering? Because in some cases, our beautiful children do experience suffering enduring major health complications. For me, mindset is the light I keep reaching for when it gets dark, I believe our situations stretch us beyond what we think possible as we expand into this new role. Yet, for a an exhausted mama who has spent her nights in hospitals with a very sick child, positive mindset may be difficult to authentically take on. So while mindset is a powerful tool and one I know most parents raising children with additional needs naturally evolve into, I wanted to acknowledge that sometimes we need to honor the hard stuff. That just because we can’t find the silver lining on certain days, we are not failing, we are not playing the victim card. No, far from it. We are just experiencing the reality and fullness of our situation. We are responding in a human way to a situation that is indeed very challenging, yet holds the capacity for deep profound growth. So please, allow me to ask you mama, “How are you?” And if you are going through a rough patch, let this be a gentle but firm reminder to reach out and ask for help. Remember, you are living through a situation that humans since the time immemorial have wanted to protect their child from. So reach out, seek support and shine. A version of this post originally appeared on Miracle Mama. You can follow Natalie on Instagram here or Facebook here. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock image by vicvic13

    How Inclusion Also Benefits Children Without Disabilities

    “He’s not going to need to be in a special needs preschool.” That’s what I was thinking about five years ago when someone told me when my son Hudson turns 3, he’ll transition into a special needs preschool. I remember it vividly. It was early on in our journey with his disabilities — he has polymicrogyria, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other complications as a result of a virus I contracted during pregnancy called cytomegalovirus (CMV.) By the time he turned 3 I fully embraced special needs preschool, but it was a journey. This year Hudson started kindergarten. When I tell someone he’s in general education, it usually goes like this. “It’s not a special kindergarten?” “No.” Then they look at him with a surprised expression, almost as if they are seeing him for the first time, and say “Wow!” To be honest, part of me revels in their surprise, because they clearly underestimated him. But I get it, too. If you don’t spend enough time with Hudson, or have the patience or understanding to really “see” him, you might not think he can do much. Thankfully the teachers and staff at his school do “see” him, and it was their suggestion he be placed in general education. At the time I wasn’t sure where he needed to be -– I was hoping for general, of course, but had they suggested special education, I wasn’t prepared to go to war over it. A few weeks into the school year, I knew he was in the right place for him. There’s the educational benefits, of course — he’s pretty smart and receiving the same education as typical kids his age. But lately I’ve been most thankful for something else. When his classmates are exposed to a child like him — he’s nonverbal, uses a wheelchair, has seizures, and is tube fed — it lays the foundation for acceptance and respect for humanity in general. At lunch one day, a little girl was asking all kinds of questions about Hudson, one after the other. Finally another little girl in Hudson’s class jumped into the middle of the conversation and simply said, “You know, everyone’s different. I have brown hair and he has yellow.” And that was that. But that is it, isn’t it? That’s the reason inclusion is important. His school is filled with impressionable little minds — children who will grow up and lead the world. Children who may be in situations where they can take advantage of the “little guys” of the world. Statistically, Hudson is three to four times more likely to experience violence as a disabled person. According to the World Health Organization, “Factors which place people with disabilities at higher risk of violence include stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, as well as a lack of social support for those who care for them.” In addition to kindergarten, Hudson was invited to be on a flag football team with first and second graders. Our neighbor is a coach, and he knows how much Hudson loves football. Maybe that’s why he invited him to sit with the players during games and got him a #9 jersey. In a world with people like Brock Turner’s dad, we also have dads who are teaching their kids respect, and that competition isn’t the most important thing. Now this coach may have only done this because he knows how much my son loves football. But I like to think he also saw an opportunity to teach his children that some things are more important than competition. I’d like to think he’s changing the world just a little bit. I’d like to think the chance Hudson will be the victim of violence just went down. But I wouldn’t even stop there. I’d like to think this lesson translates into something more. How will this impact his children as they grow up? Hopefully they’ll think about disability differently. But in a world which lately is seemingly full of misunderstandings and fear which have led to violence, rioting, and division, I’d like to think these children will know how to approach life’s challenges with acceptance and respect. I believe inclusion is changing the world. It’s teaching children how to deal with differences, how to navigate people who are different than you. How to listen when they can’t speak for themselves. It teaches them how to troubleshoot playing with someone who can’t play like everybody else. It teaches them to search for common ground and see the similarities rather than the differences. It’s a world I dream about existing one day. And inclusion is a key step in that direction — whether it be on the field, in the classroom or elsewhere in the community. Follow this journey on Hudson’s Challenge. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .  

    Looking Back a Year After My Son's Brain Malformation Diagnosis

    A year ago this week, we were waiting on MRI results for our 14-month-old son. In the throes of spring break, our days had grown busier and longer than the typical weekdays that were ruled by the routines of homework, bath, and bedtime. I had all but forgotten about the MRI when my phone began to ring, a caller that in a glance I recognized as Texas Children’s Hospital. I can remember so many of the small, acute details about that day, because for a brief moment of it, time stood still. Even now my mind returns to that ratty t-shirt I was wearing with the stain on the shoulder and the Spongebob theme song on the TV. It was the soundtrack to which I found out my son had a brain malformation. On that day a year ago, I feared most that Avery would not progress. That he might not go on to do the things his father and I dreamed of from the moment we knew he was coming. If I am being completely transparent, I even feared he would never be perceived as “normal.” I, in all my rationality and acceptance, was worried about “normal.” When I was told that my child’s brain formed abnormally in the womb, it was crushing. In our case, a routine MRI to check on a brain bleed he had suffered during his premature birth led to the unexpected diagnosis. Somehow missed during his 16 weeks in the NICU, Avery was born with excessive folds in the perisylvian region on the right side of his brain. I had never heard the term polymicrogyria before that afternoon when time stood still. Even now, medical professionals will often turn their heads to the side and request, “Can you spell that?” when I rattle it off in his list of diagnoses. In the beginning, the fear was worse because the term itself was so foreign to me. How can you be brave in the face of something you know nothing about? Arick, Avery’s father, and I did not talk much that afternoon. There was no small talk, no conversation about our days. The gravity of Avery’s diagnosis hung between us like a wall. We sat in relative silence together, making the calls to loved ones to let them know the news. We knew enough to explain polymicrogyria but beyond that, we knew nothing. So we Googled. And we cried. As we turned out the lights, I promised Arick I would stop Googling. Our fear that night was palpable. Sometimes, it still is. Avery recently while hospitalized for RSV. It is only with the clarity of time, of a year fast-forwarded, that I can recognize how wrong I was. In my moment of weakness, I let myself doubt my son. My son who fought for his very life when he weighed just 1 pound 3 ounces at birth, my son who’s survived things I would say I cannot imagine, but I can because I was there. I feared he wouldn’t progress. I thought he would never understand me or be able to communicate effectively. Last week, I asked him if he was ready to go to bed. He looked at me, shook his head emphatically and said, “ No night-night!” So, naturally, we stayed up. Our dreams for him are still very much alive. The truth is, our dreams for him changed the moment he was born. “I hope he’s healthy” became “I hope he lives through the night.” We were forced to instantly reevaluate our child’s future, and make changes accordingly. If there’s one thing we know about Avery, it is that he will accomplish great things. At 17 months he sat up and I cried heavy, burdened tears because I thought he never would. Within weeks, he could army crawl like he was made for it. The first time he looked at me and said “mama”, a piece of my heart that was broken by fear mended. At 28 months old now, he is trying to walk. He is bright, beautiful and loving. He has polymicrogyria, cerebral palsy and so many other diagnoses. But those diagnoses do not make him. They are simply small fractions of who he is. What has changed the most since his diagnosis? Me. I am happier because I get to spend each day watching my son grow and learn. I get to teach him and see his eyes light up when he gets it. I am here to see him fall, and face challenges with a left hand that simply will not work. I am grateful for even those sad moments, because I recognize how different our lives could be. I know how debilitating that fear was. I know that we will always fear the future for Avery. We may often question if, when and how he will be able to do certain things. Each day will be a new beginning though; each day a blank canvas for Avery to paint. He will paint it like only he can. He will paint it with progress. He will paint it with each feat he accomplishes. My son’s life will be a masterpiece. He may not be “normal” to another family, but he’s our normal. He was meant for us, and we are so blessed to have him. Polymicrogyria, cerebral palsy, fear and all. Follow this journey on 25 Weeks to Perfection. The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing you thought on the day of your or a loved one’s diagnosis that you later completely changed your mind about? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

    Lyndse Ballew

    Why I Think It’s OK to Get Pregnant After Having a Child With Special Needs

    Those double lines came at one of the hardest times in our marriage. We were sinking financially. We were still trying to find out if our daughter, Adelaide, was terminally ill. If her condition was deteriorating. If we were carriers of some disease. I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes for a Saturday wedding. So I jokingly took a Friday night pregnancy test. And it was positive. We were shocked. And when I should’ve been thrilled, I immediately started thinking of all the things people would say. We had already heard from loved ones and strangers alike who said we had the perfect little family. One boy. One girl. A girl who needed so much. In seemingly nice ways, and horribly insensitive ways, we heard the opinions about our family being complete. No more room for anymore Ballews. As I stood in that kitchen smiling and laughing and crying with my husband, I already felt my joy being stifled. I was fearful of the looks and comments that I knew were coming. I’ve never understood the “one of each” mentality, but I’m not judging people who stop having children after a son and a daughter. I don’t think it’s wrong to decide to stop conceiving or adopting. I don’t think it’s wrong to have an only child. Or to have no children at all. When Adelaide turned 1, we were still waiting for our second opinion on her MRI. We were still a couple months away from meeting with a pediatric neurologist, the one we hoped would have some answers. While we waited on the doctor’s opinion about our baby’s brain, opinions about my uterus were still pouring in: “You’re done having kids after that one, right?” and “You already have one healthy kid. Don’t test your luck.” The opinions crossed over from the cultural obsession with one boy/one girl to this unhealthy obsession with never giving kids with disabilities younger siblings. So many people think they have the answers for me and other moms in the special needs community. And it’s almost worse when you’re in the undiagnosed club. Too many variables. They forget that any child at anytime has the potential for glitches in the DNA. And that perfect babies don’t exist. And this lie that a woman can’t have another child after one is born with issues causes us to put some of our joy on the back burner. I think it’s wrong to tell a woman who is raising a child with special needs that she no longer has the option of more children and that a child with disabilities can’t be a big sister. But I wasn’t brave enough to say these things when I was pregnant with my third. I made the mistake of letting everyone into my head. When I should’ve been rejoicing, I was worrying. I stressed about how people would judge me. How he was thinking we should’ve been more careful. How she was thinking we should’ve waited for more genetic tests. How they were thinking we couldn’t afford another little one with all of Adelaide’s medical bills. How everyone was thinking I couldn’t handle three kids so close together. When we announced our pregnancy, my imagined fears became reality. I rarely heard a “Congratulations!” without a comment like “Are you worried it will have disabilities, too?” or “Well, you know this one’s your last, right?” or “What are the chances it won’t be healthy?” I always had witty responses, but I never the courage to say them. I also lacked the courage to tell our new neurologist that I was already pregnant with a baby we hadn’t planned on. At all. “You may decide to have more children someday after doing all the genetic tests,” he told me. I just kept my mouth shut. He didn’t see my baby bump because I was hiding it. I wasn’t emotionally ready to be judged by one more person. As I sobbed on the way home about Adelaide’s appointment, our news about polymicrogyria and the realization that there was no cure ever for our sweet daughter, I just held my small baby bump. Dave looked over and said, “Every single baby comes from a messy gene pool. It’s a crapshoot. But we’re in this together.” He thought I was fearful for Baby Ballew’s future but I wasn’t. No, I was fearful for mine. I was doubting my ability to parent this surprise. I was so sick from growing a human and breastfeeding another. And it seemed like more proof that the lies I kept hearing were true. I was in over my head. I could barely mother two, but now I would have more kids than hands. I gave into all the comments from man when I believe I should’ve been listening to the Holy Spirit. Bess was unexpected. She wasn’t planned by us at all. But she was dearly loved by us from that first pregnancy test. And I believe she was loved by God before we even knew about her. How I wish I could go back and silence my inner chatter and all the naysayers. Now I often hear, “Three? You’re done, right?” or “You’ve got your hands so full you would never even think of a fourth, right?” or “Guess you’re done! Where would you put another one and push a wheelchair?” I just smile and walk away if the person seems sweet and nosy, and I give my “teacher look” if the person is rude and needs to quickly walk away for everyone’s safety. I don’t know if we’ll have a fourth. We aren’t planning anything. We gave away our baby items to make room for homeschool containers. When my son, Graham, asks when he’s getting another sibling, I just say that we don’t know if we’ll have anymore babies. But if we do, I won’t make the mistake I made with Bess. I won’t listen to all the people who share their opinions, well-meaning or nasty. I would proudly show off my baby bump, shout from the rooftops that another blessing is on the way and ignore the comments about making Adelaide a big sister to another sibling who will eventually pass her up. It’s hard slaying the idols of pleasing others and being accepted. But I won’t stop trying. I owe it to my kids to celebrate them to the fullest. Follow this journey on Little House in the City.