• Posted on May 10, 2017 12:49 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    4

    Last night, I posted a picture of my children enjoying ice cream sandwiches following dinner with a caption that said: "Years ago, I would spend nearly an hour in the grocery store's ice cream section. Opening and closing every glass door, pulling every carton out and quickly putting it back in. My mind raced as I carefully analyzed every black and white nutrition label. Too many calories in this one, too much sugar in that one. I would ultimately walk out with the lowest fat/cal/sugar ice cream-ish substance I could find. I would also leave in the throws of a massive panic attack. Because of my eating disorder, a task as simple as grocery shopping left me crippled by anxiety. When the ice cream made it to my freezer, it haunted me. I wanted throw it away. I wanted to eat it all and purge it. But all I really wanted was to stop the monster in my brain. I wanted ice cream to be just that - ice cream. I wanted freedom from my eating disorder. [Seven years later] Today, I quickly push my cart up and down each aisle, tossing in items on my list: avocados, black beans, chips, crackers, milk. I strolled down the freezer section and caught a glimpse of ice cream sandwiches. "That sounds good!" I thought and tossed them in. I kept my quick pace to the check out so I would make it home to unload the groceries before it was time to pick up the kids. I often hear from parents they limit sweets or do not keep them in the house at all. It is SO important that we offer our children a variety of foods and do not label food good or bad. Food is food - no moral value. All foods fit! When we deny our children certain foods, it creates a hierarchy of food and can possibly shame them from eating it in the future, associating the food with feelings of guilt. Above all else, it is so important for our children to see us enjoying a variety of foods. This evening, my kids and I enjoyed the delicious ice cream sandwiches. I never take a single moment of recovery for granted and the ability to share it with my children. I am so thankful for my recovery and the freedom that comes with - both in and out of the freezer aisle! "💜💜🍦 The post was shared widely across social media with many 'YES!' comments and women in recovery posting about their own journey with ice cream.  However, I knew it was a matter of time before someone questioned my 'All Foods Fit' approach to food. ⇒"I disagree in one respect. Junk food is junk. Chemical filled and not healthy. Once in a while a Twinkie or something junky is fine. But children should learn about healthy foods." ⇒ "Moderation is so key. As long as my dd eats a balanced meal that covers most of the food groups, I don't mind sharing my ice cream with her. She's such a fruit & veggie eater, she'd rather have fresh picked strawberries most days over processed sugars. The biggest thing I want her to take away from childhood & food, is that she try new things when they are offered (she nearly always has a different meal than me & hubby) and she get a little protein in. (Like I said, she's a fruit & veggies kid, but getting her to eat a little chicken or pork is tough some days.)" I began to respond, but soon decided my response warranted a longer reply than a simple social media comment. So... Thank you all for your comments. I understand your thought around moderation and labeling food as 'junk' because that is certainly what society and many 'experts' tell us. "Don't eat junk. Childhood obesity is at an all time high! Limit processed sugars. Moderation is KEY!" I get the 'Moderation is key' a lot. And to that, I completely agree 100%. Is it healthy to eat ice cream and pizza all day long every day? No way. And on the other side of the coin, is it healthy to eat kale and apples all day long? Nope. So yes, moderation IS key. I cringe when I see people talk about 'chemical-filled' food. This has little to do with my eating disorder history and more to do with my daughter's cancer. Two years ago, when my daughter was in the hospital fighting neuroblastoma, I posted a picture of her with cupcakes sent by my sweet sorority sisters. I was shocked when I received an anonymous email warning me to keep ALL sugar away from my daughter. First of all, my daughter was 8-months and had just spent a week in the PICU, she wasn't even close to starting solid food yet. Secondly, sugar does not cause cancer. I realize I might be opening Pandora's box here, but my daughter was diagnosed at 7-months old. All she ever had in her body was breast milk. Cancer just happens sometimes. Sure, smoking causing cancer, but there is very little to connect sugar/processed foods to cancer. Trust me, I have tackled every doctor and nurse on our oncology floor and beyond, asking them what caused Marjorie's cancer. I asked them what I can feed my children to prevent it from coming back or to keep my son from developing cancer. Unfortunately, there is very little I can do. Cancer just happens sometimes. My dear friend/earth angel and beloved oncology nurse 'Two Knock', once told me, "McCall, I have had two kids on the unit before, both with the exact same cancer. One of the patients came from a family that was vegetarian and ate everything organic. The other child was of a lower socioeconomic level, with two working parents. His diet consisted of a lot of fast food. Extremely different diets and home life - exact same cancer. You can't keep Marjorie or Manning from getting cancer based on what they eat." Again, is it good for us to eat processed foods and lots of sugar all day, no. MODERATION. Kale and cupcakes. Hell, kale and chemicals if that is what you label cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches. And to be completely honest, I do buy organic meats, dairy, etc. That is just my personal preference. You will also find non-organic bananas and oreos in my pantry too. At the end of the day, we can't deny our children and ourselves what our bodies want. You can't tell me that at the end of a hot summer day, an ice cream sandwich didn't sound amazing! I don't think I've met anyone who craved frozen kale after a hot day on the beach. Food is food. Sure, some foods pack more nutrient punch than others, but it is SO critical not to create a hierarchy. When we limit or deny our children (or ourselves) certain food or food groups, that is all we will crave. When we can truly listen to our bodies, it will tell us what we need. Our bodies might signal us to want leafy greens or they might crave a burger because our iron is low. My children are small, but they understand that food is food. My son sometimes turns down cake for bananas and sometimes it is vice versa. The bottom line is we are born with an amazing hunger/fullness system that gets distorted with every diet or food denial. Often times we unknowingly pass that guilt on to our children. We love our children and want to see them healthy and happy, so we limit sweets or fast food. I can't tell you how many young people I meet who feel like they have to sneak McDonald's because they feel so ashamed about it. What if we drove through McDonald's with them? No, seriously. I recently gave a parent presentation with Oliver-Pyatt's amazing director of nutrition, Mary Dye. A mom challenged the All Foods Fit theory, saying that if she allowed her daughter to eat whatever she wanted, her daughter would go through McDonald's every day. "Let her," I said. "She will kill herself with it," the mother responded. "No she won't. I promise," I said. "She will get tired of it. It will lose it's novelty. She won't eat it forever and it will not kill her." Mary then elaborated with a story that gave me chills: "I once had a patient who struggled with Binge Eating Disorder," Mary said. "Her father was a cardiologist and she grew up in a house that shamed and labeled food bad, especially fast food. My work with her was to normalize food and to eliminate the shame factor. In fact, as a therapeutic exercise, we drove to McDonald's. Fast food was something she would binge in secret and shame, alone in her car. I wanted to normalize the fast food experience for her. So we drove through, ordered, parked and mindfully enjoyed our meal. The more we deny, the more we want." I have told that story countless times. And what I would give to one day meet the brave patient who did the hard work of recovery, changing not only her life, but maybe her family's as well. I know the thought of keeping a variety of foods in the house or even you yourself driving through McDonald's is outlandish, but try it. You might even surprise yourself. I never thought I could have ice cream in my house. Today, I have ice cream, candy, cookies, bananas, kale, crackers, chips, cheese, apples...you name it. And guess what? I don't think about what I have in my pantry or freezer - unless, of course, I'm heading to the grocery store and need a list! My motivation to recover was to not only be a mom, but be a mom who led by example. I wanted to be a mom who could eat ice cream and kale and everything in between. I am proud to say that I AM that mom today. There is also no doubt I am screwing up motherhood in a thousand other ways, but I make a conscious effort every day to do my best to live and lead by example. My hope and prayer is not to raise healthy kids, but kind kids who love and live life, kids who forget there are cookies in the house unless their bellies tell them they want one. I want my kids to listen to the amazing bodies God gave them. Moving their bodies when they have bursts of energy or when the sun is shining just right, eating when they are hungry, stopping when they are full and if they eat too much, well, then they know next time to stop.Food is not the focus of our lives - it is important, but our day does not revolve around it. Our daily focus is on loving and living - playing outside, building towers, chasing lizards and avoiding shoes flying through the air when Marjorie throws them in her daily tantrum! Raising healthy kids isn't as important to me as raising kids who love themselves. At the end of the day, if we love ourselves, like truly love ourselves, we will honor our body. We will nourish, move and rest it as it desires and needs. When we love our bodies, we take the time to take care of it in all aspects: mind, body and spirit. So ahead, eat the McDonald's, the kale shakes, the daffodil sprouts and yes, even the 'chemicals'. Because in the wise words of our Ole Miss SMASH Ambassador: "Life is too short to count calories...enjoy the cupcake!" For parents wanting more information on childhood nutrition, download my list of resources: Body Awesome Parent Resources. (Highly recommend Ellyn Satter and Katja Rowell!)

    Eating Disorder, Family, Food
  • Posted on January 14, 2017 7:48 am
    McCall Dempsey
    1

    It was adding up to be a perfect night: the hubs was out of town, the kids were bathed and starting to rub their eyes and this momma had her eye on a nice cup of tea and a new book. Okay, why lie, all I wanted was a glass of wine, my jammies and Bravo. Marjorie went down sweet and cuddly as usual. And then, 30-minutes later, I heard it. That cry that only a mother knows. That cry that says: something is wrong. I ran to her room, opened the door and knew smelled the problem. EVERYWHERE. Her dinner (I'll save you the graphics) was E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. The walls, her bedding, her blankets, the carpet, her face, her hair. I sat there staring at her in shock. Where do I start? What do I do? Why isn't Jordan here? I want my mom! Marjorie stared back at me as if saying, "Mom, get your shit together and get me out of this crib." I jolted out of my vomit trance and sprung into action. Bath, yes, put her in the path. I put Marjorie in the tub and started to clean...and clean...and clean. I ran between throwing all blankets in the laundry to rinsing her in the tub. Sadly, we lost her beloved Minnie Mouse jammies in the Norovirus Battle of 2017. They fought a hard fight, but in the end did not make it and were sacrificed to the trash. Thirty minutes later, everyone was clean and the house smelled like a FeBreeze factory. Marjorie was happy as a bug as we waited for her beloved and sacred blanket to finish washing. 'Okay,' I thought, 'just an upset tummy. We are all good. Deep breath.' WRONG. Oh I was so wrong. All. Night. Long. My heart broke for my baby girl. Her energy quickly depleted and she rested in my arms all night. I sat watching over her and memories of cancer days floated in and out of my mind. Even though I was so tired, I was so thankful this was just a tummy bug. Perspective is everything. The next morning she seemed okay, so I left her with our sweet nanny as I ran some last minute errands for my upcoming trip. I was finally going to hear and meet my idol, BrenĂ© Brown. The trip was days away and I was already giddy with butterflies with the chance to meet her and thank her for her incredible work. And then I woke up early Sunday morning with a text from our nanny... 'SHIIIIT! It's contagious. It wasn't an upset tummy from too much cheese. (Marjorie takes after her momma - cheese is LIFE). 'Okay, deep breath.' I thought, 'That doesn't mean you are going to get it, McCall. Wait, do I feel queasy. Nope. Not at all.' I rolled out of bed with positive thoughts flowing like lava through my brain, willing myself to be well. 'I am fine. I am a mom. We don't get sick. I won't get sick. I am NOT missing BrenĂ©.' Sunday dragged along. It was freezing outside and Marjorie was still on the mend so we were sequestered  indoors - every mother's dream nightmare. My queasiness rose in parallel to the kids' cabin fever and by 4pm, I knew I was going down. I called my sweet mother-in-law for back up, but it would be over two hours before she appeared at my door. Those three hours were a defining moment in my motherhood journey. As the cold sweats kicked in, I limped quickly into my bathroom with two tiny humans trailing behind me. One crying to be held and the other with his costume box asking, "Momma, which costume should we put on first?" 'Come on, McCall, you can do this. You've got this. Single mothers across the country have to do this. You. Can. Do. This.' And thus began the Battle of Norovirus 2017. My sister, who is an infectious disease doctor at the NIH (National Institute of Health), told me this was a classic norovirus case. Then she proceeded to explain that it was a highly contagious passed along by microscopic fecal matter on our hands. I stopped her there, thanked her for her consulting and headed into battle. "Mom, can you tie my cape on? Be sure not to get it backwards. You need the shield to be out." Manning, clearly not phased by what was going on, waited behind me with the patience of a four-year-old for me to help with his costume. I turned around, dizzy and weak, tied on his cape (the proper way) while holding his baby sister. I'm not sure what happened the next few hours or even day, but now that I'm on the other side I've had time to reflect on the many lessons and, yes, blessings of the Norovirus Battle of 2017. Moms can do (and survive) ANYTHING. And I mean ANYTHING. Moms can multitask like a BOSS. Who else can be sick while holding a toddler and tie a Superman cape...the right way? Moms are THE smartest people on the planet. When I posted my Norovirus Day 5 Diary pic, I got more tips and tricks on how to clean the hell out of toys (READ: throw everything in the bathtub with bleach)    Moms are the FUNNIEST people on the planet. Sharing my misery with fellow mommas, not only made the situation better, it made it HILARIOUS. Life is going to throw us curve balls, rather than bitch and moan - call a girlfriend who will provide some 'Me Too' empathy and will make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts.    Life somehow seems to workout when moms are involved. Needless to say, I was devastated when I had to cancel my trip to meet BrenĂ© Brown. However, I knew taking care of myself comes first and I also did not want to expose Baton Rouge to the plague. Despite her fun/tough exterior, my mom gets nervous and she knew how much this meant to me. Little did I know, she spent the day rehearsing what to say to BrenĂ©. She knew her time would be limited and wanted to tell BrenĂ© everything about me. My mom did great, even though she said I speak on 'body imaging' instead of 'body image'. So I'm pretty sure BrenĂ© thinks I'm a x-ray tech now. I didn't care. My mom's effort to still make the evening special from a distance had me bawling. It is not every day you get a video of your parents with BrenĂ© giving you a personal get well message. Cue. The. TEARS.   So, yes, I did not get to meet BrenĂ©. Yes, my entire house now reeks of bleach and so do I (Pretty sure I've lost sensation in my finger tips). Yes, I continue to go around with a bleach sponge, wiping everything down. But after it is all said and done, a little norovirus can't get my spirits down. There is something hilarious about dunking 3,987 legos, hot wheels and train tracks in bleach. Above all else, there is something beautiful in the gift of perspective. The day I felt human again, I received a letter in the mail. It was a card from Zoe McGowan's mother. I opened the small envelope and tears filled my eyes as I saw sweet Zoe's picture. It was the prayer card from her funeral. (Read more about Zoe) Tears rolling down my cheeks, I looked up as Manning and Marjorie gleefully played in the bath tub. Rather than spend my days asking God, "Why?" I embrace the perspective that comes my way daily from my own experiences and from my fellow eating disorder warriors and cancer moms. Life moves so fast and it is totally okay to bitch and grumble when life throws us curve balls. If there is one thing my recovery and BrenĂ© has taught me, it is that life can be both. We can be both flustered, annoyed AND grateful. We can have perspective AND still wish away the  laundry and lego piles (especially when you step on one barefoot, ouch). Let your heart feel both. Find perspective and humor. Reach out for empathy. Let yourself cry. And remind yourself, you will survive. Thanks for the lessons Norovirus, until next time...

    Brene Brown, Family, Motherhood
  • Posted on December 28, 2016 2:03 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    4

    When I was in middle school my sister and I fought like cats and dogs. Actually, that's not true. We were worse. Way worse. We fought like two bridezillas at a Vera Wang sample sale. We were vicious. One afternoon my sister and I were verbally abusing each other as we climbed into my mother's suburban, likely headed to piano, volleyball or another extracurricular activity my mom constantly chauffeured us to. There's no doubt in my mind we had probably been fighting for hours on end. Suddenly, our mom had enough and said, "Sometimes I wonder why I even had children!" My sister and I stopped dead in our tracks, our claws retracted and our jaws dropped. Did our mother just say that? Wasn't she supposed to love us unconditionally? How could she say something like that? A few minutes later my mom profusely apologized to us, telling us over and over how much she loved us. She explained how tired she was of hearing us yell and fight. The guilt of her snap statement was written all over her face. Nearly 23-years later I look back at this memory with a much different viewpoint. Now being a mother of two myself, I would've high-fived my frazzled mother, poured her a glass of wine and said, "ME TOO!" Because good LAWD, mothering is hard y'all. I have that same thought daily during holiday/summer breaks. Yesterday I found myself sitting in the middle of Marjorie's room in tears. The house was a wreck (despite my scrubbing it yesterday), my phone kept binging with emails, the kids were loud and I had just received my fifth knee to the face that day. Why do children think their moms are automatic jungle gyms when we sit on the floor? And where can I teach my giant son about spatial reasoning? He is like a great dane that thinks he is a yorkie, always wanting in your lap or on your back. It was one of those parenting days where I threw my kids in the car and went to the car wash even though it was raining. Yes, I looked crazy to the car wash people, but little did they know this is my favorite parenting hack. The car wash guarantees me with at least 20-minutes of personal space and partial silence (thank you to ear phones). I wanted to push the opt out button of motherhood yesterday and knowing we still had a week of Christmas break left made my chest spill over with anxiety. This inevitably caused my Bad Mom Gremlins to creep into my brain and belittle me: You aren't cut out to be a mom. You should be crafting or baking cookies with the kids. You should be enjoying these precious moments they go by so fast. How do those moms do it? They craft and take their kids to cute activities in town while looking blissful all the while. Hell, I always find out about community activities the day after and every outing with my wild spirited two and four year old inevitably result in some type of meltdown (parental meltdown included). Take them to the park, you say? Nope. No matter how long we stay or how long we swing, Marjorie insists it isn't long enough. She screams and arches her back while I attempt to buckle her in her carseat. I can feel the stares from onlookers' judging eyes, knowing it's a matter of time before someone calls CPS based on Marjorie's guttural tantrum cry. I once heard my best friend say, "I love my children...but I don't like them every day." A-freaking-men. Can I get a HELL YES. Part of me feels guilty for admitting out loud that some days I don't like my kids. I can't stand the constant whine or ninja moves that inevitably result in a foot to my face or the dog's face, poor Lilly. Then guilt comes over me as I think about mothers who would give anything to hold their babies again. Or I remember those friends who would give anything to just have a baby and the chaos that follows. I think about how this was the normalcy I prayed for during times of heartache. And then I remember that this is motherhood and life. I can feel empathy for others while also feeling frustrated (and exhausted) at the chaos of my own life - it doesn't have to be either/or. Motherhood isn't always blissful or filled with gratitude for my tiny humans. It's messy, annoying and a constant juggling act. Most days I'm terrible at the juggling act. My mind spilling over with work and emails that I forget the nuggets are in the oven (side note: it is literally impossible to burn frozen nuggets and for that I give a massive shout out to the powers that be at the nugget factory.) Yesterday I found myself fighting tears and saying, "I wasn't meant to do this. I don't have what it takes to be a mom." Then I remembered something I once said in defense of another mom: "The only requirement to be a good mom is to love your children. Fiercely." Parenting is a crazy thing. One minute you want to freeze time so your babies never grow and the next minute you are praying for the day they can regulate their emotions and intellectually understand that chicken is chicken, no matter if it is in the shape of a dinosaur, circle or God forbid an actual chicken breast. You find yourself checking out from whining and bickering only to glance over minutes later and see your babies cuddled up watching a movie. In those moments, life suddenly makes sense again. On those days when my nerves are gone and all I want to do is cry, I pour my glass of wine and call on my tribe. Where would I be without my tribe of imperfect moms? They remind me every day that I don't have to have color coordinated kid cubbies and daily activity charts to be a good mom. And if you are the Pinterest wielding-cubby mom then I bow down to you. And if you are a stay-at-home mom, you are like a unicorn to me and I totally bow down. Thankfully, my own mother is one of my go to tribe members. She laughs and empathizes with my messy tales of motherhood, never judging and rarely giving advice because that's not what I need. She gives me a good, "Yep. Been there. Survived that...and so will you." And above all else she reminds me that I am doing a great job and that I AM a good mom - actually a great mom. Being able to give myself a little extra grace on the not-so-graceful days is my best tool. Calling my tribe to say, "Motherhood is hard" and reminding myself that I'm not alone helps ease the mom-anxiety. The fact that my two munchkins are so irresistibly damn cute helps too. So yes, it is true. I do not like my kids every day, but, oh my goodness, I love them so much it hurts. No matter how tough the days are I will never stop loving them. My love for my munchkins is bigger than they will ever know. And no matter how many ninja kicks I take to the face or how many boogers end up on my shirt, I would throw myself in front of a hundred buses for them. Every. Damn. Day. Because isn't that motherhood? Messy, loud and unconditional love. So to my fellow imperfect mommas out there, who are counting the seconds until schools reopen (and possibly considering dropping the kids at school tomorrow and pretending like you thought school had started), take a minute and read this parenting manifesto written by BrenĂ© Brown, my best friend (okay, so we actually haven't met yet, but know we'd be besties). It is a perfect reminder of what parenting really is all about: loving unconditionally, worthiness and truly, deeply seeing our precious, snotty, lovable tiny humans. Deep breaths mommas, take care of yourselves...we are in this together.  

    Family, Imperfection, Motherhood
  • Posted on December 24, 2016 11:47 am
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    I had my first holiday break down this week. The shopping, the cards, work piling up, kids home from school...it all got to me. I resorted to wrapping presents until early morning hours to calm my frazzled nerves. I thought wrapping the mountain of gifts would make the stress go away. Nope. I woke up yesterday with a knot in my stomach. What is it with this time of year? What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I just be present with my kids and spread joy and cheer? I did everything I know to do to calm my anxiety: yoga, shopping, quiet time, a long (really, really long) shower, food, distraction, friends. Nothing helped. The chaos of the season and my to do list were getting to me, until I saw it: .PERSPECTIVE. And not just any perspective...a perspective that hits really close to home and is probably a big culprit of my holiday angst. "My newsfeed is blowing up with everyone so excited and grateful that the elf shenanigans are over tonight.... and all I can think about is how much Ari loves Jewel... and how this might be our last night with Jewel.... and it makes me so overwhelmed with sadness... #Perspective  #LoveYourElves  #StupidCancer" Meet Ariana Farragut's elf, Jewel. Santa and Jewel are praying for Ariana because she is fighting a rare brain cancer (Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor: AT/RT). Last week, Ariana went in for what they were praying would be clear scans, but received devastating news instead. The cancer had spread and the new tumors are inoperable. Heart. Shattered. Ariana's sweet mother, Jenna, posted this picture of Jewel sitting with a bible. Have you ever thought to pose your child's elf next to a bible? Maybe you have. I usually throw the elf in the tree as I am running to beat my kids to the living room every morning. I'm not the most creative elf mover. But it isn't about creativity - it is about the joy that we have right in front of us. Right now and in the present. There's one thing I always say to others (and often to myself): We are all doing the best we can with what we know. Rather than beat ourselves up for complaining about the elf after seeing Jenna's elf picture and post, we should be aware. Aware of our thoughts and mindfulness this holiday season, reminding ourselves what is really important. No matter if you are the most creative elf mover or a tree thrower like me, let's work together to be present with ourselves and our loved ones. Life moves and changes so fast. It can be shattered in the blink of an eye. Trust me. Last night, I rocked Marjorie a little longer than usual, even dozing off with her heavy on my chest. My precious baby girl, healthy and thriving - something we hold so precious. We almost didn't have her home with us on that first Christmas. She was discharged from the NICU in the nick of time and I sat up all night staring at the most beautiful Christmas present I had ever received. I remember a Christmas when I was in treatment and only had six hours with my husband. Then just two short years later, I was in full recovery watching my precious baby boy crawl to see the magic of Christmas. This Christmas I experienced my first bout of holiday anxiety. I am so thankful to brave mommas like Jenna, who share their heartache and perspective with us. I have shared my fair share of perspective and I am thankful to now be on the receiving end of it. But no matter how many years pass by, the memories of being in treatment during Christmas and the fear of cancer still lurks. My heart still aches with my fellow cancer mommas. My soul is dented with them. My spirit sinks thinking of those in treatment and it aches knowing so many families who will spend their first Christmas without their child. Maybe we can all take a lesson in perspective from Jenna and Ariana. We can work to be present with our loved ones rather than expend energy on stressing to create a perfectly decorated Christmas table. There is no shame or guilt in getting caught up in Christmas chaos, as long as we can take a step back and remind ourselves about what is really important: faith, family, love and kindness. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Holidays. Sending you all love, peace and light, McCall For those interested in praying, supporting and staying up to date on Ariana, check out her website: Ariana's Fight Against Brain Cancer

    Cancer, Eating Disorder, Faith
  • Posted on October 8, 2016 9:52 pm
    McCall Dempsey
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    To my dearest daughter on your second birthday, I wish I could look back on this day with loving memories and joy. But I can’t. Your birth date was one of the most difficult days of my life. I will never forget the sounds and sterile surroundings of the OR room. Your daddy sat behind my head, resting his face next to mine and holding my hands that stretched out on the cold steel table. When Dr. Glas finally pulled you out, the nurse came around the curtain and held you up. “She’s beautiful, mom and dad.” She said as she held you up for us to see your precious face. You looked back at us with wide eyes, as if to tell us, “I’ve got this mom and dad.” Tears streamed down my face – and your daddy’s too. Those precious few seconds would be my only glimpse of you on your birth date. My body had been through too much and I was unable to see you until the following day. I could not get to you fast enough the next day. Waiting for the doctor to make rounds and free me from the catheter and IVs, was agony. Unable to walk, your Aunt Anne and daddy wheeled me down. Daddy already had the NICU drill down – sign in, scrub in. I followed his lead, trying my best to clean my hands with IVs hanging from my arm. He pushed my wheelchair into your tiny room, where your NICU Momma Lisa was already there loving on you. She lowered your bed so I could get my first glimpse at you. I slowly reached my hand through the tiny porthole of your Plexiglas home and touched your tiny fingers. Tears welled and streamed down my face. You were so beautiful – and so tiny. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. But there you were. You clearly had a different agenda. Your birth set the tone for the spirit you carry with you today: small, but MIGHTY. Tough, but loving. Wild and free. Full of LIFE and ready for life’s next adventure – even if your mom and dad aren’t ready. You clearly have your own timeline and march to your own drum. Your contagious laughter and independence are going to carry you so far in life, my sweet girl – I just hope daddy and I can keep up with you! I don’t know why you have had to endure so much in your short two years, but I do know that there is NOTHING you can’t overcome. You have captured the heart of so many – and you have so many angels flying on your shoulders, watching over you, protecting you when we can’t. I often think about how I will tell you about your birth and tumultuous first year of life. I still don’t have the answer, but I don’t think I have to. You will let me know when you are ready. You will lead the way in your own life – just as you always have. Marjorie Mims, you are a shining example of what life is about. Perseverance, discovery, love, hope and faith. May this year be filled with tons of laughter, Minnie Mouse, wagon rides, black beans & cheese (lots of cheese), dancing, singing, sparkly & squeaky shoes, hair bows, big brother tackles, friends and HEALTH. You are my hero. You and your big brother are my heart and my light. I prayed long and hard for you. I dreamed about you before you even kicked your way into this world. I thank God every day for not only blessing me with a baby girl, but a feisty one who is going to be a world changer. You’ve already changed my world for the better. I know this isn't the birthday we planned on. Hurricane Matthew drove us out of our home, but we are together - and that is all that matters. You continue to teach us that no matter what curveball life throws us, we will march on - and we will do it with laughter and love. The world is your oyster baby girl and I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for you! Happy happy birthday my precious angel. Here is to the best year yet and prayers that your daddy and me can keep up with you! We love you, peanut!

    Faith, Family, Health