With tags still attached

I’m in a club. In this club, families either have all boys, or all girls, but not both. It’s a bit of an unexpected club. And if you’re in it, you get it. We do not grieve what we’ve been gifted, nope. Not. At All. It’s a crazy lucky club to be in, and I really mean that. But I think it’s okay to grieve what we don’t have. And for me that’s a son, and all the experiences that come with having a son. Seven years ago, when discovering the gender of our first child, Joe and I bought two outfits: one girl, one boy. One daughter after another, I’d see this unworn baby boy outfit in the box of newborn clothes, smile, and think: one day. Finally after our fourth and final beauty was born, seeing this outfit didn’t make me smile anymore, it made me uncomfortable, it made me cry. I knew it was time to let go of it, tags still attached to that dream. God met me in my story. He gave me a friend named Brooke who is in this club too. She has two boys. And when I got pregnant with my fourth girl, she got pregnant with her third boy. We got each other. We understood. But her pregnancy took a very scary turn, she gave birth to her baby boy at 23 weeks. Little Cru Samuel was born 1lb 12oz. For 128 days, Brooke’s heart and hope laid tethered to machines and tubes in a NICU. And this week, finally, at 7lbs 7oz, Brooke took her heart and hope home. God nudged me in her story. I took time to wrap it up pretty with cloth and twine. And at her shower, she held up the outfit. She knew. With big tears … “Seven years ago, I bought that outfit for your Cru Samuel, I just didn’t know it yet.” God knew I needed a friend to understand. God knew I needed a special little boy to have this. Cru Samuel is that boy.

Eleanor Jo (One month): Oh baby girl! You are such a good baby. You eat and sleep so easily. You are a dream. You add so much joy, laughter and fighting. 🙂 That’s right, your sisters can not get enough of you that they are constantly fighting to hold you, stand closest to you, kiss you first. *You have curls in your hair Eleanor! Before you were born mommy had a hunch you’d have dark features, with curls. *At six weeks, you started smiling! *You went on your first adventure! You and mommy traveled up to San Francisco to cheer on Daddy at his State Department interview. No one would have even known there was a baby on the plane, you slept the entire time. *And for your first trip to Disneyland, you slept the day away, even stayed asleep through the fireworks! Nicknames: Ele, Ele Bell, Eles Bells, Elesie Belsie, Ellie, Ella, Ella Jo, and a four syllable El-le-a-nor.

Juliet Mae (2 years): Do you see how cute you are? So. Dang. Cute. I love your little smile, your personality. You are fun. You are independent. You play great by yourself. You have a great imagination. You love playing with the little characters and their castle. You create a fabulous little world. *Everyone asks how you’ve been doing since baby sister’s been here… you’ve been great Juliet. You’ve reverted by sleeping more, you take naps. You sleep everywhere, and you snore so loud! You love your little sister. Took you about a month, but you came around. You get so excited to hold her, you wait your turn, and then when she’s in your hands, your interest lasts for about 20 seconds. *We had a little turkey episode this month. Your lunch found its way up your nose. You put turkey deli meat up your nose. Nothing would get it out. Then at bedtime you sneezed. All better.

Aria Ellen (FIVE years!): You are FIVE!!!! This blows my mind. How time is flying by sweet Aria. I have a new descriptor for you. You are magical. The depth you feel things, sense things, express yourself. You are magical. And celebrating your fifth birthday was magical. This birthday you were all about face painting, PJ Masks, bacon, the color blue, pinatas, pointed toes, beanie boos, climbing things, and a scooter that shoots fire. *A few times each month, you still come over to our bed during the night..”Mommy, until I’m a mommy can I sleep here?” *Do you see yourself sitting on those boxes? Mommy made you wait to open them… for three days you sat there, waiting for your birthday. *Aria. You are so strong. You always have been. With your strong arms, you climbed up our rope swing! The only thing that stopped you is you got scared of heights! *After you got your face painted at Disneyland, you were so happy. The way you walked back to meet your sisters, it was like you were walking on a cloud of happiness and rainbows. My heart exploded as I saw your joy spill over.

Naomi Mariam (6 years): Out of the blue, “Daddy, Mommy, you are the best Mommy and Daddy I’ve ever had. God made you perfect. I love you so much.” Then you ran over and gave me a huge hug. Then with your arms, you squared me off to gaze deep into my eyes, just to let me know that you meant it (I adore you). *Do you see that picture at Disneyland at night. Before the parade started, you gave everyone your own show. Confidence comes naturally to you Naomi. *Juliet was crying because she couldn’t get out of her car seat. You jumped in, “You’re not left out sweetie, you’re a part of the party.” Never not including. I love your big heart Naomi.

Maertz Family Memories: *Joe flew to SF early to get settled for Orals. Backup came in the form of GG and GrampBill, Uncle Jim and Auntie Melissa. On Monday, GG and GrampBill held down Purdum Palace with the three big girls. Eleanor and Mommy set off for the San Francisco skies. San Francisco gave us another hold your breath moment. Daddy went after the dream to become a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department. A big moment met with big disappointment. Which only confirms the desire. And so, we wait… and continue dreaming. Highlights of SF: staying at a fancy downtown hotel, good food and great times with Daddy’s college roommate Jon Pan. *Family trip to Disneyland! To think that there was a time Daddy and I were terrified to take two kids here. As we’re pulling away from Anaheim with our 6, 4, 2 and 2 month old, fireworks exploding in the 10pm sky, I lean over to Daddy “We are nuts. We are totally and completely nuts. Can’t wait to do it again.” *Family BBQ with Levi, Rachael, Wyatt and Ace! *Maertzs host a Maneevone Mother’s Day. Daddy gets mommy a N A J E necklace for Mother’s Day. *Katie Eaton comes for a morning, with dinner. *Mother’s day breakfast at Naomi’s class– muffins, a song, manicure and makeup! *First family dinner out and about at Phil’s BBQ. *Children’s museum with Paschalls. *Playdate with Carter. *Sweet Amanda, Mayburys, Ramlis brought dinner. *Growth Group at Nok Thai. *Birthday Party for our big five year old, complete with Piñata and donut cake. *Malina flies into town for one night, Samuel’s birthday. In Maneevone style we storm his soccer game with big big cheers for the birthday boy. *Maneevone sisters stay up until the very early hours of the morning, doing what sisters do best. Love. *Memorial Day weekend we host a band family gathering. This evening brings all the feels, as this season (just shy of twenty years) is coming to a close. *Naomi and Aria sing for Mother’s Day at EFCC. You two are very comfortable on stage.