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Wonderfully Made is dedicated to encouraging women and their families along their journeys of faith, motherhood, marriage, and special needs. We believe wholeheartedly that you, your precious children, and your own unique journeys are wonderfully made by God and look forward to walking the journey with you. "You formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise You, because I am wonderfully made." {Psalm 139}

Four Score and Two Aprils Ago {The Beginning of our #Ausome Journey}

Hi, friend! So happy you are here :) April is Autism Awareness month; and, in honor of our ausome™ Jack, I will be sharing stories, information, and resources that are pertinent to ASD.

Does someone you love have autism? Please grab an Ausome™ button from the right sidebar to share with friends and family!

 

Two Aprils ago, Autism wasn't even on my radar. Today, I look back at a poignant moment that paved the way for the journey that was unfolding before us...

Our special needs journey began about 3 years ago. We were living in Atlanta, my husband was working a part-time job due to downsizing, I was on bed rest with Kristen, and Jack was 2 years old.

I remember being in the car that April trying to figure out how we were going to pay our bills, while a radio spotlight on Autism awareness played in the background. I’ll never forget one of the moms who was interviewed speaking about her son who has ASD. She spoke so eloquently about the disorder and provided examples of some of the behaviors her son exhibited. I was touched by her love, compassion, and passion for building awareness of the disorder. As I totaled up the cost of groceries for the week and thought about which bills to pay and which to juggle for another month, I thought, in true southern form, ‘Bless her heart. Better her than me!’

Nine months later, I sat on the floor of a pediatric neurologist’s office holding Jack in a vise grip as he screamed and thrashed in sheer panic of the world around him. For months, I had been trying to figure out his intense behaviors which presented shortly after that radio broadcast and increased in severity day by day until he could no longer function. He screamed all day. Rocked and banged his head incessantly. Recited books and scripts meticulously. He never slept. We were mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.

After an hour of assessment, the neurologist asked me what I believed was going on with my son. I remembered the woman on the radio and the shared behaviors that now made my son and hers brothers on a journey we did not plan.

I knew it was autism. And the doctor confirmed my belief.

Two months later, my husband got a job in Massachusetts and we moved up north, where we knew no one but knew the services would change our son’s life. And they truly have.

In September of 2013, I started this blog to share our family’s journey with a child on the spectrum.

Jack has tried us and blessed us, exhausted us and filled our hearts with joy beyond measure. He has made my life richer, my friendships deeper, and my appreciation for the little things greater. When I think back now on that day in the car, I realize there was a plan beyond my understanding unfolding. Three years later, I now have friends who lead before me and who walk beside me on a road that is riddled with the unknown but is infinitely blessed. I’m so glad to be walking this journey with you, friend!

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks | wonderfully-made.net #Juno #Linus #Marcus #Neptune

Hi, friends! Whew, it’s been a while since I last posted. I apologize! The past six weeks have been full of surprises, storms, and snow – lots and lots of snow – and most days have felt like a dead sprint trying to keep up with three little ones and daily life in the midst of four historic winter storms, but I am determined to get back in the swing of things. So, without further ado, here are the past six weeks in review!

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks | wonderfully-made.net #Juno #Linus #Marcus #Neptune

Connor was born on a mild, 50 degree January night (who knew record low temperatures and storms were just around the corner!) We came home from the hospital and dove in to parenting three little ones. Connor joined the fold beautifully, and Jack and Kristen were completely enamored with him from day one.

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks | wonderfully-made.net #Juno #Linus #Marcus #Neptune

Then, Juno hit. After receiving a hand delivered notice from first responders advising us to stay elsewhere, we packed everyone up and made our way to an extended stay hotel as the snow began to fall. We were grateful we did because the peninsula we live on turned into an island during the storm and we would not have been able to leave – not a good situation with two littles and a newborn.

We had to get very creative with activities to keep the kids active and entertained while the blizzard blew for three days. We did scavenger hunts and walked with the kids around the hotel to find elevators, stairs, the laundry room, the ice machine, etc. We also did number hunts, using room numbers as treasure to find, which Jack loved!

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks | wonderfully-made.net #Juno #Linus #Marcus #Neptune

When the storm eventually settled, Jeff dug our car out of the snow and we headed back home. But Juno was only the beginning, as three more storms hit one after the other, each one powerful and dangerous in its own way. We watched our yard fill with 7+ feet of snow, the ocean freeze (yes, the storms actually caused the ocean to freeze! See photo below), the MBTA fall apart and then surrender, and plow after plow try to clear the streets, creating 5-foot-high (or more) snowbanks lining every road and snow mountains at the end of every block, as pictured below.

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks | wonderfully-made.net #Juno #Linus #Marcus #Neptune

(Frozen ocean and a snow mountain as seen outside our front porch window.)

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks | wonderfully-made.net #Juno #Linus #Marcus #Neptune

(My husband shoveling snow from our porch which is on the second story of our house. He had shoveled this exact spot two days before.)

Then, as gusts of wind blew from Neptune yesterday, Jack and Connor both came down with stomach viruses. Jack’s worsened as the night wore on and the on call doctor told us if he threw up one more time we would have to take him to the emergency room. Fortunately, he held his own and his tummy settled enough for him to get some rest. (He’s pictured below enjoying some toast this morning with his best buddy Kristen.) We were so grateful as the winds reached 50mph and the temperature dropped to 27 degrees below zero with the wind chill last night.

Scenes from the Past 6 Weeks | wonderfully-made.net #Juno #Linus #Marcus #Neptune

We are tired, ready for the storms to be over and for spring to…well…spring. We are very grateful, though, to be safe, to have kept power, to have friends who have helped us shovel and plow, and to be warm inside with a roof over our heads.

Thank you for your patience, prayers, and support as we ride out this wicked winter!

To see more photos, updates, and info, be sure to join us on Facebook!

Welcome Baby Connor!

Two Sundays ago, I walked into our family room and told Jeff I was feeling nauseous. I grabbed a ginger ale from the fridge, sat on the couch, and began sipping slowly while Jeff and Jack played and Kristen snoozed peacefully in her room.

A few minutes later, I went back to our bedroom, laid down, turned on Netflix, and my water broke! Though this was my third baby, both Jack and Kristen were emergency c-sections delivered well before their due dates, so I had never gone into labor or had the experience of my water breaking and was totally surprised! In truth, I had prayed to have that experience. I really wanted to know what it was like, so it was really neat that it actually happened :)

When I realized it was the real deal and our baby boy would be arriving soon, I called my doctor, told Jeff what had happened and then ran to the shower where I hung out while he got us packed for the hospital and we waited for a friend to arrive to watch the kids. The whole thing really was hilarious, every time I would try to leave the shower to help Jeff pack, I’d have another contraction, which brought another wave of fluid along – sorry for the fellas reading this. Ladies, you’ll understand ;) So, when our friend arrived, we grabbed a stack of towels and off to the hospital we went!

We arrived around 8:30pm and at 10:32pm, our baby boy was born! The whole procedure went so well. In fact, the entire surgery lasted only 30 minutes from front to back. It was amazing! The atmosphere was calm and controlled, and I felt so safe. There were so many special moments I felt I was able to fully enjoy with Connor’s birth because while my water breaking made it more urgent to get to the hospital, it wasn’t an emergency. So everything was much calmer than my previous deliveries.

I will never forget his booming cry when he was brought into the world and the soft silence that followed when he was brought to me right away so I could hold and kiss him. I’ll never forget how Jeff was given the experience of cutting the cord for the first time or when we were all brought to a calm space right after surgery where Connor and I were able to lay skin-to-skin and nurse for the first time.

The whole experience was so special. And the next day, Connor slept, which meant I got to watch the rise and fall of his little chest, listen to the soft, sweet sounds that only a newborn can make, and to rest too, which was such a gift.

And he has surprised me and filled me up in such a profound way. For much of my pregnancy, I was sick, juggling dozens of monthly appointments for our family and, if I’m being honest, worried about how a new baby would affect our family balance. But he has changed everything for the better. He has awed me by his gentle, calm, and peaceful nature; his ability to sleep through anything – and I mean anything; and he has made me fall in love with my family and being a mom again. Because I had been in a dry spell. I felt sort of lost as a mom, wondering about my purpose, trying to figure out where I really fit in the world of motherhood.

Connor rekindled my passion for motherhood. He has made me see that sometimes we have to be brave and trust that all will be well. That God hears all the longings of our hearts and bears each in mind as He brings us down a new path. He’s made me see the tremendous progress Jack has made. Because, friends, I don’t yet have words to describe just how incredible he’s been. When I find the words, I will dedicate a post to the subject because he’s made me so proud. He also has made me see that Kristen, while very mature for her age, is a two-year-old and needs to be given the space and grace to be two. To throw a tantrum every now and then and to process what it means to become a big sister, while also being applauded for being such a loving one. He has made me see anew just how much my husband loves our family and how he always goes the extra mile to support both my and our children’s needs.

Connor really is the piece that was missing in our family puzzle. He has deepened our love, made us see things in one another we might not otherwise have seen, and brought us even closer together than we were before.

He is a true gift and our family is so blessed by him. Welcome, Connor. You are so loved!

Connor Birth Announcement 2

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