Throwing on our shoes for a trip to the park.
Jumping into the lake after a boat ride.
Sitting outside in the summertime.
Sledding in the snow.
Things that I didn't give a second thought to, before Brenna was born.
After Brenna was diagnosed with Harlequin Ichthyosis, temperature took on a whole new meaning. Germs were of much greater concern. Aquaphor schedules and long, difficult baths and tube feedings have threatened to overwhelm us many times throughout the past 2.5 years.
Had Brenna been an only child, our first child, it would have been so tempting to hole up in our home for most of her life - avoiding germs, dodging stares and questions, remaining in the ideal humidity and temperature that our house offered. Outings have seemed so hard sometimes, and activities like being outside in the hot summer have felt nearly impossible.
Yet, we had an older son. Another child who wanted to go to the pool, to the park, on the boat, on the sled, to the waterpark. Outside. Around people.
And Connor gave us the greatest gift by pushing us to live as "normally" as possible, purely because of his needs too. His needs for attention and activity and enjoyment outside of the house.
I know without a doubt that what we do as a family now is all in thanks to Connor, and I'm grateful that he has removed any temptation to stay in, to not try new things.
During Connor's first soccer games this fall season, temperatures neared the mid-90s, but that didn't deter us. All three of us, plus grandparents, were on the sidelines, with Brenna's cooling vest strapped around her body as we rotated turns spritzing her off with a spray fan and dabbing her head with a cooling cloth (a Frogg Togg, specifically.) It was not the same scene as the families around us, their kids running around sweating, but we did it without Brenna overheating, and we were so proud.
Connor pushes us. And what we found out is that when we are pushed, Brenna's condition is only as limiting as we make it.
Because of our son, we have all experienced more as a family these last 2.5 years, and because of her brother, Brenna has had a much more enriched life, experiencing pools, sporting events, museums and activity houses, cross-country road trips, parks all over the area, libraries, malls, and countless play dates with friends.
Bringing Brenna home was a terrifying time, and figuring out her health care while balancing the needs of two very young kids was so difficult. But God knew what he was doing when he gave us Connor first. He was showing us that Brenna can always do more than we might think she can, and he gave us Connor to prove that, to push us into doing more than we might have otherwise thought possible.