What’s Next? 

I am convinced if you could magically go back to the day I was born and read my baby mind the first thought I had must have been:

What’s next?

It’s always been my nature. The goal posts are always moving. I am never done. My thoughts are often months or years ahead of where I currently am in life. I am a planner and I am always thinking about what comes next. 

In big ways and in little ways. In planning for children as soon as we were engaged or in focusing on the afternoon plans during my morning coffee. 

My focus isn’t just on the future, I’ve got binoculars and a notepad. 


This is often viewed as a good quality in our go-go-go culture. I’m always planning, always preparing for the next 12 steps, and I never ever stop. 

I also thought it was one of my better qualities. It’s not. 

I am missing out. I am missing out on so much. By constantly planning my next move and never stopping I am missing the moment. Worse yet, our kids are missing the moment too. 

When we got all the kids’ diagnoses my “What’s Next?” went wild. I am constantly researching and adding new therapies or tactics or treatments to try and help them as much as possible. All of those things are great and they are helping the kids so much. However, we are all missing the moment. 


They are missing out on just being kids. It takes executive level planning for them to have a play date or for us to go to the zoo or even to the park. We spend every day of the week at therapy appointments, working on therapy at home, and doing homeschool. Our littles work harder than many adults, they are almost never not working. 

They need time and space to be kids. To chase a butterfly, build a fort, make a friend, and explore this magnificent world we live in. Their challenges and obstacles in life don’t prevent them from needing this time. 

As a family we need time to just be together. Time to be in the moment before it leaves us behind. They will be little for such a short time and I do not want to miss a second of it chasing what is next. I do not want to sacrifice their childhood at the alter of busyness. 

But, how can I balance getting them all the therapies they need so they have an arsenal of tools at their disposal with giving them space to just be? 

I have wrestled with this for months. Here is what we are going to try: we are going to take regularly scheduled therapy breaks. Currently the kids have over 20 therapies a week and we are about to add at least two more. That’s a lot but it is all needed and all helping. 

We are going to have a new therapy schedule. We are going to have four weeks of therapy followed by one week with no appointments. Then wash and repeat. 

One week a month to just be in the moment. 

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Five Reasons Churches Should Include Special Needs Families

“An Invasion”

“Too Much”

“Crazy”

“A Lot to Handle”

“Overwhelming”

This is just some of the phrases used to describe how people feel about my family coming to events or people’s homes or even businesses.  Mind you, these are just the things said to my face, I am sure there are more colorful words used when I am not around. 


It used to hurt my feelings. It used to make me mad. In some cases it flat broke my heart. But, to be fair, I totally get it. We are a lot to take. If our entire family shows up that’s three adults and five children under the age of six with special needs. It is a lot. I get it. 


This is why finding a space where us showing up is not greeted with the above phrases or even looks of exhaustion or disbelief- those spaces are invaluable to us as a family. 

It has been a challenge to find a church that can handle us all. Where we currently go has an entire ministry devoted to Special Needs kiddos and this has been a miracle in our lives. 

There are a whole two people here in Michigan that can and do regularly watch our kiddos and those times are super helpful. Having an hour a week where I can take the kids to church and leave them with other adults to love on them and show them that God loves them too while I go and fill my own cup up with the grace of the Lord- that hour makes all the difference in our entire week. 


Here are five reason churches should be going out of their way to include Special Needs Families:

  1.  Parents of Special Needs Children NEED community. Yes, all people need community but for many special needs parents the church is one of the only places they can turn to for it because they are not working and they spend most of their time with doctors and therapist. 
  2. Special Needs Children need to know they are loved in this world. Let us be real, we live in a world that is often ugly and cruel. These kiddos may not be treated nicely throughout the week- let’s gather together and love on them on Sunday. 
  3. Walk into a place offering a Special Needs Ministry and I promise you will feel the love of Christ in ways you never have before 
  4. Special Needs kiddos will bring amazing love, strength, and out of the box thinking to any environment. 
  5. Prayer can offer unending amounts of peace to kiddos struggling with pain, trauma, challenges, etc. 

Happy Birthday From The Hospital 

Caleb brought his fourth birthday in with a bang, a cough, a wheeze, some retraction, and a lot of fear. 

Maybe he was thinking back to how life was when he was born. For those of you who don’t know our Caleb was born at 29 weeks 5 Days gestation and spent the first seven weeks of his life fighting to survive. Caleb was 2 pounds at his lowest, had multiple holes in his heart, what we now know was brain injuries, and struggled the most with breathing. Caleb has had biological siblings born in the same traumatic way that caused his premature birth that did not survive it. Caleb fights hard and always has. 


Yesterday, in the span of two and half hours Caleb went from “Oh Bubby, that cough doesn’t sound good” to “ We need to go to the Children’s Hospital right now”! 

Thankfully, we live less than ten minutes from the third best Children’s Hospital in the country. I couldn’t tell you much about our drive there other than that I was praying the entire time and I think I obeyed all the traffic laws. 

The hospital has valet parking and when I explained why we were there the nurses took us quickly back to a room. Then it was time to give a room full of nurses a crash course in Caleb. 

Caleb has Autism an exam is going to be a challenge and will take a few of us to restrain him. Caleb has Asthma. Caleb also has Chronic Lung Disease from being a preemie. Caleb also has type 1A of Charcot Marie Tooth and that also can impact his lungs. Oh yeah, no, he cannot tell you if something hurts- he is nonverbal. 

After an adventure in Triage the staff ushered back to a room and they brought in this awesome device called an interactive hurricane machine that helped soothe Caleb as much as he could be in that setting, while struggling to breathe. Mama also brought his tablet so we had everything going for us that we could. 


Listening to Caleb’s lungs took three to four of us and he screamed the entire time. So most of his exam involved him walking around shirtless so we could count his breaths and watch his retractions with each breath. 

As always happens at the ER, I had to reiterate the story of Caleb to everyone who came in the room. The PA sighed and said “Man, the poor guy has a lot working against him when it comes to breathing”. And I started sobbing. Only for a few moments because I needed to have it together and help our boy but yes, yes the cards are stacked against our boy when it comes to most things. 

After we wrestled, and fought, and restrained Caleb enough to get him to take eight puffs on his inhaler, and hide steroids in his sippy cup the doctor came back in the room. He said that because Caleb has all those cards stacked against him when it comes to breathing what should have been a mild asthma flare from a cold became dangerous for him. They called in more steroids, told me to watch him close but to take him home so he could try to settle. 

On the way home something hit me like a truck. I still really struggle with not having a village or a tribe here in Grand Rapids, but this is why we left our tribe to move here. This was relatively small potatoes compared to what it could be for Caleb and I was able to have him in front of world class Doctors in roughly 15 minutes from his retractions at home. When/if it’s more than a “small” flare that short distance could make a life changing difference. For the millionth time I cried. 

I got our boy home and he was done with me because I helped restrain him so he was ready for Daddy to take him to bed. He eventually settled and slept, while I paced the house and listened for wheezing. 

Today Caleb woke up a four year old. Every time I look at him today I am blown away by the fight of this boy. He never stops fighting to survive and fighting to live a wonderful life. He is such a superhero, and he amazes me with each breath. 

Happy Birthday Baby. 

It Turns Out, I am Not Fine

I had a plan, for those who know me well this is not surprising. I like plans, and lists, and knowing what I am going to do next.

So, I made a plan and I worked that plan.

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Last year it became clear that I needed to have a hysterectomy. I have PCOS, I had developed endometriosis, and adenomyosis. Basically, everything even remotely related to the female reproductive system was jacked up in my body and it was causing me chronic pain.

After realizing it needed to happen I knew I was going to need some help getting through it. We had been trying to have a baby for almost seven years. We had done four years of focused fertility treatments, had six miscarriages, and a lot of dashed hopes. Due to all of this, the first part of my plan was to get a counselor to help me work through it all.

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The second part of my plan was to give myself four months after my hysterectomy to deal with my emotions, face all the pain and then move on-having finally closed this painful chapter of my life. Four Months. Face it. Go through the storm. Then be done.

This is where the glitch in my plan came into play.

During all of this craziness my anxiety got to the point that I was no longer able to manage it on my own and I was taking a decent amount of prescription anxiety medication. What I did not realize until I transitioned to an all natural way of managing my anxiety was this- the medication was stopping me from feeling a lot of my emotions.

I have always been emotional. I am basically a walking and talking tear duct. Any emotions-happy, mad, sad, empathy, confusion, you name it and I cry. I am the girl that cries at commercials. I am the girl who cannot handle watching anything with an animal in the story because I will be crying for hours after. The girl who has woken her husband up crying loudly over a novel on more than one occasion.

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At least, I used to be.

Slowly, as my anxiety meds were increased and increased again my emotions got less intense. To be honest I did not notice. It was also during this time that we went from zero kids to five kids in a little over a year so I was a tad preoccupied. When I noticed I was not crying as often I thought maybe I just stopped being the cry baby of the family. When big things happened and I was not able to cry about them, I assumed I was just processing things differently. Nope. None of those were correct. The medication was preventing me from feeling the full weight of my emotions.

I realized this about a month ago when I stopped the prescription medication and began managing my anxiety using only natural methods. I slowly started to notice my emotions return and that I was once again a big ol’ cry baby.

I was not even thinking about my plan for my Hysterectomy- mainly because it was eight months ago so my time limit was up and with six kids I simply had too many other things going on.

Then Sunday came and a bomb went off in my heart.

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I was sitting with Tyler in church minding my own business, when suddenly I felt the floor taken out from underneath me. Nothing major had happened for anyone else in the room. In the middle of an analogy to get his message across the Pastor said the word

“miscarriage”

I did not know I was not okay until then. I fought back tears, kept it together, and said nothing about it. I figured it was a one time flare up and I put it out of my mind.

Later that night, after feeding the kids dinner and tucking them in bed I decided I needed a little mindless unwind time and I turned on”How I Met Your Mother”. In the episode I watched Marshall figures out that his wife, Lily, is pregnant with their second child. As he confronted her to find out if this was true their eyes lit up with love and joy and that special magic only a new baby can bring. As they cried tears of joy, I started sobbing. Not getting teary eyed and not just crying. I mean body shaking, can’t catch your breath, sobbing.

While I laid on the couch overwhelmed by emotions I realized it- I am not okay.

I am not just fine.

I am not done with it.

I do not think I ever fully processed it the first time.

This realization left me wondering how I was not aware that I was not okay. Then it hit me- I never have a moment when I am not worrying about, planning for, or thinking about the kids. Normal mom stuff? Sure. Is that all it is? No. Our kids have special needs, they have higher level needs than kids who have not been through the hell they have. I am so laser focused on keeping all of this afloat that I had not noticed what was going on inside of me.

I started the counseling because I did not want to be a bitter or sad 50 year old woman who had not processed her grief. I realize now I am still not processing it. I do not know how to. I don’t know how to walk into what feels like an endless pit of sadness. Logically, I know it is not endless. I know the only way to not have emotional bombs going off due to single words is by going through it all. It just seems too immense. It is too big a loss. I really do not know where to begin.

All Cabrielles Lead Me Here

Life has been crazy, not that this is news in our household. In the middle of the crazy, one day this last week, I got to take one of our kids to a Naturopath at a local farm, the other young kids were playing Ghostbusters, and our oldest was snapchatting with me and making me laugh. I felt a tidal wave of awe and gratitude. How in the world did I end up here? How is this reality?

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Over this last week I have gotten some reminders of different stages of my life that have just rocked me and amazed me. I would never have guessed this is where the roads, I was walking down, would lead. If someone had asked me twelve, seven- heck even four years ago if I would be living in GR with my hubby and be the mother to SIX heroic and amazing kids I would have been sure they were crazy.

Let me walk you through the reminders of past versions of Cabrielle that have shown up over the last week:

Let us start twelve years ago, when I was nineteen years old. I was working as an Assistant Manager of a Waldenbooks in the Martinsburg Mall. I had also just gone through a big break up and at nineteen was sure I would never find someone to spend my life with, let alone ever have kids. I was wallowing in my post-break-up-blues when I needed to pull myself together and work a Book Signing Event we had planned at the Mall for local authors. I met an amazing man, Carol E. King, a local poet who had served in WWII. Carol and I spent three days together at the Book Signing and we talk a lot about life, poetry, and love. He was the sweetest man, and he assured me the best days were coming. When I asked him to sign one of his books for me he was sure to be goofy and made me laugh for the first time in my sadness. The nineteen year old Cabrielle could not fathom 2017 Cabrielle but I know her adventures shaped the path that lead me here.

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Flash forward to a twenty-four year old version of Cabrielle and I had realized that nineteen year old Cabrielle was so confused on what love really was, I had finally found true and out of this world love with Tyler and we were days away from getting married. We were also in the middle of a hurricane known as fertility treatments. I know we would not have made the choices about adoption without our fertility treatments but I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that the trauma and pain of treatments was not the answer. I was planning a wedding in two weeks time- yeah we got married two weeks after our engagements. Again, I would not change it but I would love to ease the stress of this time. I was giving myself shots around the clock and obsessing over every aspect of fertility. I was going to daily appointments at the fertility clinic to monitor my progress and I was going to school full time. It was non-stop insanity. I worried that the wedding would not go well. I was worried we would never be parents. I was worried I would never find my path in life after school. In reality- yes the wedding had some sanfus but we got married and that is what matters, we were meant to be parents just not the way we envisioned, I found where I needed to be after I became a Mom.

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Four years ago we had moved to Pennsylvania and we were getting our ducks in a row to be officially a licensed foster home, praying our kids (that I felt were out there somewhere) would find their way home to us. Getting licensed was a lot more complicated than I envisioned. I thought things were all but done but on October 7th, moments before Caleb was being born, we got a huge wrench thrown into the process when there was some miscoding on our background checks. It felt like a lot of hurry up and wait and I was so anxious to get things going. I was told by our great caseworker, Regina, that this time was my labor and labor is hard. She said she had gone through the labor of giving birth and the labor of adopting and the adoption labor was much harder. She kept encouraging me to hold on and that things were on their way to lead us where we needed to go.

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I just cannot believe all these versions of me, all these paths, all the joys and sorrows, all the uncertainty- it was all leading to this. It was leading to this amazing family I have now. It was leading me to a husband who would understand me in deep and profound ways and who was strong enough to take this journey with me. It was leading me to six children who would challenge me, amaze me, complete me, and bring an unending amount of joy and love to my life.

You never know where your path is leading you. What is that oft quoted expression? “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. I could never have planned this but I am eternally grateful that someone higher than you or I knew what he was doing all along.

Why We May Decline Your Invitations

This weekend two of my sweet friends were married to their amazing guys and we were not there. I am so sad to have missed it. There seems to be a spat of us missing things lately.

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We love getting the invitations in the mail, especially when it is to events where our children are welcome. Then reality kicks in.

Do we have any appointments that day? We do most days unfortunately.

Can the kids handle whatever the event is?

If the kids lose it will they ruin the event?

Is there going to be a crowd or will it be spread out?

Are any of the kids sick?

Is it on a day Tyler can come with me? If not can we afford the extra Nanny day? Or will it be somewhere I can fly solo?

Why the barrage of questions you may wonder. It is just a wedding, just a birthday party, just a housewarming.

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Unfortunately, almost no decision in our family is ever easy. We have about 539482 factors to consider. I’ll take it situation by situation. If the event will be crowded with a lot of people (especially people our kids are not super familiar with) then all of them will have extreme anxiety which creates a lot of “interesting” behaviors in each of the kiddos. Additionally, crowds are a big sensory trigger for the three kiddos with Sensory Processing Disorders. In both of these scenarios the kids need the ability to have an escape, a place to calm down and recalibrate so they do not have an extreme meltdown. When the event is outside, this is usually easy to accomplish- when it is at someone’s home or really any enclosed space it gets tricky.

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If it is an event where the kids are not invited it is a whole new adventure. There are not a ton of people available to watch the kids. There are not a lot of people willing to tackle watching all five of them, and ever fewer that Caleb is ok with being left alone with. This is why Tyler and I average less than one date out together a year and why it took us months to find a Nanny both times we had to look. This is also why Crystal is never allowed to quit.

We have the same problem when we plan the kids’ birthday parties, we have to plan them where the kids are comfortable, where the kids have an escape and that is also fun. Even our weekly family dinners can be too much. The kid’s can get overly anxious and act out. Caleb needs to leave for a while every time  to calm down and regulate himself.

If we turn down an invitation please know we love you, we are excited for you and all the new things going on in your lives. Sometimes it is just too hard for us to be there physically and sometimes we are just worried our presence may end up ruining your event if the kids lose it. Thanks for understanding.

9/11 A Day of Love

Still True!! Love is the answer!

Rudisill Family Journey

We all have those stories, the stories that tell where we were the moment we learned our country was under attack. Some of us were at work far from our families and worried for them, some of us were home with our children as we held them a little tighter, some of us were in uniforms across the country and the world and were ready and willing to stand up to the dangers, some of us were children in a classroom suddenly silent. Too many of us were unwittingly in the path of hatred, madness and destruction. All of us were stopped in our tracks and unalterably changed by the losses we suffered.  As a country we gathered around our televisions, held each other tight and watched the world as we knew it change.

Despite how you feel about current or former political situations in our Country, we all must…

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