Saturday, December 08, 2012


I haven't posted in months. I know. Because it wasn't important anymore. Since Emelia joined our lives, well, they have changed drastically. Not because of her, but in spite of her really. I don't have the energy for a long, long post tonight, but finally, I must write, no matter how long it takes.

This has been the hardest 6 months of my life. Adjusting to Emelia was fine, good, great even. She was a dream baby. Full-term, slept through the night by 6 weeks, smiling, very content, so happy. She was just wonderful. (Still is actually.) But about the time she was 6 weeks old, our lives were flipped upside down, and they just kept flipping. Andrew learned on June 26th that the station he worked for was closing. Like that day. Talk about no warning. He was offered 2 more months of work (with a bonus as incentive to stay those 2 months) as well as severance, insurance, and more for quite a while. And while we were thankful he had those two months when others only had the 1 day, we suddenly knew life WAS going to change. We had no choice in the matter.

Then, the end of July, just after my birthday, we were going camping for the weekend with Andrew's sister and her husband, and we were running late, as usual when we're going someplace for a few days, and I had to run to the grocery store for syrup because I had spaced that out before. I pulled onto the street, 4 lanes, 5 really, 2 going both ways with a turn lane in between. I moved into the middle lane and realized the car in the other lane had stopped for someone in the crosswalk, so I stopped too. And looked in my rearview mirror, just in time to see a car switch lanes and be behind me, and they weren't stopping. I was rear-ended. The jolt of the impact sent me forward way past the intersection. Thankfully the pedestrians were not in front of my car. Praise God. But I freaked. I pulled into a parking lot and desperately tried to find my phone as I got out of the car crying. Because Emelia was in the back seat. I was so scared. She was crying, because she was scared I assume, but she was fine. I was fine. There was a cop driving by that the other driver (a very elderly WWII vet) flagged down. I got ahold of Andrew and he came with Levi. Praise God Levi wasn't with me. He would have freaked too I'm sure.
Long story short? Our car was totaled, we spent several weeks with a tiny rental, trying desperately to find a new vehicle we could afford while dealing with the insurance and estimates and checks and new carseats and ugh. It was a nightmare to me. It could have been HUGELY worse. The other party's insurance covered everything, including x-rays and carseat and a new/used van, even giving us more than we had originally paid for our car. But it was stressful, and physically painful. And in the process our house was being reroofed by volunteers from the church. Off and on for weeks, almost months. My kids were being woken from naps by pounding and shaking. Men were outside my windows every day.
Oh, and Emelia started teething at 3 months old. By her 3month birthday she had 2 bottom teeth. CRAZY. She was so good, but fairly fussy and we didn't know why.
And then, Levi got sick. I mean like puking sick. Off and on so randomly. Then he was better. But it was by then the end of August and Andrew was done working. And he didn't have a new job. Now, he was getting severance, but we were both stressed. So we decided to go camping. Family time you know? Except Levi kept puking, and pooping, and feeling generally horrible. The day at the campsite was NOT fun. We finally packed up after one day and night and drove home at 10pm. Not good. Dr.'s visits and ER visits and he'd be fine for a week and then randomly puke again. It was awful. No answers other than a bad bug that just wasn't working it's way out fast enough. No tests showed anything wrong.
By this time it's September, and I was losing it. I mean really losing it. Like can hardly make dinner and get my children alive through the day. It was awful. I didn't recognize the depression at the time. Looking back it just seems like "huh, that wasn't fun" but at the time, it felt like our entire world was falling apart. And our marriage? Oh man, not good. This is where you don't get details, except to say it wasn't good.
So not good that I was at my wit's end. I didn't know what else to do, other than leave, but I knew that wasn't the answer. But it hurt so much to keep living my daily reality. I honestly was just tossing up which would hurt worse.
We had our home group from church one Thursday night, and some things happened that day and that evening that made me so upset with my husband. So much so that we came home and got our kids to bed and had it out. I mean OUT. I've never seen either one of us like that. But it was needed. Sort of a "Wow we both realizes this sucks and we're hurt and we're angry so what's going to happen?". Your move Bobby. (chess reference from my youth, don't ask me why) And I was honest, with myself, with my husband. And he called our pastor, and set up an appointment for the next day. I was so angry and sad still I could barely sleep or deal the next day. But we went, and got help. And are continueing to get help. God is picking us out of the miry clay.

Oh, and ironically, Andrew's truck died this fall too. The same week we ALL got the stomach flu, BAD. So new car again. Praise God for that bonus paycheck. New/Used vehicle shopping was getting old, but once again God guided us.

A friend asked me once this fall if sometimes I just felt like screaming. And the answer was "Yes, but what good would it do?" It almost felt like God was using a huge REDO card on us. Just wiping everything clean to start over. And frankly, maybe we needed it. I did sort of wonder if our house was going to burn down at some point though.

For the first time in a long time, I have hope for the future. Yes, I talked to my pastor and then saw my Dr. about my post-partum depression. I never thought that would be me, but between being post-partum and everything falling to pieces in our lives, I needed help. And it did help. It helped me sleep, something I don't think I had done well in months, and help me be excited about the day, about life. About living it.
But above all my hope is in God. He alone can bring us forth from the darkness.

And so we're here, December 8th, almost 9th actually. And I'm crying tears of overwhelming sadness. Because it hit me today. I missed it. The date in November, when I lost my baby. And I frankly don't even remember what the actual date is without looking. In some ways, this means I've healed. That I am and have moved past it. I don't think you ever "get over" it, but you can move past it. To where sorrow doesn't consume you.

But I'm crying, because I didn't mourn on that day. I forgot. And I'm angry I forgot. I never want to forget my babies. My 3 children who are with Jesus. Where there is no pain, no sorrow, and where there is no night.

And it's December, and this time of year always makes me cry. Ever since Levi was born. I remember those days, those days of waiting for his birth, and those incredibly lonely days after his birth. Of sitting in the NICU and just not wanting it to be real. To not want to be the Momma of a preemie, but to just pretend he would go home and we'd be fine. To hope against what would be the reality of several years of carefullness because he was so fragile, his lungs just not up to par. Even now when he coughs I cringe, waiting. The lonliness of that time can overwhelm me if I let it. The pure sleep-deprived willing myself to carry on emotions that threatened to overtake me. The memory of sobbing my eyes out in my car with my Dad because I didn't have the energy to drive myself back to the hospital by myself. It all comes rushing back and blindsides me when I'm not looking.

And so I sit here tonight crying. Remembering, and mourning again. Not wallowing, but letting myself return to those moments. With my newborn tiny son in the NICU. To that Saturday night after passing my baby, making my husband be the one to...To those days around Levi's 1st Birthday, loving and celebrating him, and mourning the baby we lost. Even to that June day when we lost 2 more babies. It all aches in me. And the ache spreads to the hurts in our marriage. The repair that is still being processed. The years of hurt and sorrow, and the years ahead of sheer work.

And then there was this song, "stumbled upon" as I started to write this post.

And God overwhelmed me. In a huge way. In these past 6 months, I have felt lost. From my God and my Savior. I've never questioned His sovereignty, I've even seen His blessings in my husband's life and changes and attitude. In the amazing way my sweet baby girl is so "Easy". In a new friend, a dear kindred spirit of a best friend who I never expected, but who has walked along with me as we go through our own valleys. And carried each other along the way at times. In providing us with the resources for 2 new/used vehicles. In so many things. In our son finally going several weeks without puking. But even while acknowledging God's blessings and sovereignty, I was still going "THIS HURTS GOD!!!" Screaming it, obviously. But He's still God, patiently waiting for me to realize my finite mind will never comprehend. Because if it could, if I could plan it, His Son would never have been sent to Earth. There had to be a better way right? But "oh, the glory of it all".

So I'm humbled, and this Christmas season I'm making progress. I'm ready to celebrate more than just a 3-year old's birthday, to celebrate more than just presents and a fun time with family and friends. I'm ready to let go. To let God heal my heart. To let God handle the whole picture. Because I just don't. And I'm sure I don't really want to.

Christmas isn't just the beginning of the story. It IS the story. Because as this song says
"Oh, the glory of it all
Is He came here
For the rescue of us all
That we may live
For the glory of it all"

There's the purpose in Christmas. The Babe who was Jesus was born, For the glory of it all. It would lead to the cross, and our redemption, but it was about Christmas too. The hope of the redemption to come.

So my heart needs to heal. I need to give forgiveness, and to beg for it. I need to mourn and remember, but to be thankful. Because there are lyrics in that song that get it so right:

"All is lost
Find Him there
Find Him there
After night
Dawn is there
Dawn is there
And after all
Falls apart
He repairs
He repairs"

I've been through so much night, but He was there. It's all fallen apart, many times over, but He repairs. And I'm so glad.

"Oh, everything will change
Things will never be the same
(We will never be the same)"

We will never be the same. Praise God. For the Glory of it all.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Emelia Grace

I should have written this post in May, I thought about it a lot, but just couldn't bring my thoughts together enough to do it.

Emelia Grace arrived safely on May 14th at 7:14pm. Apparently she likes 14's. Before any further story, here is our beautiful girl shortly after arrival.
She weighed an amazing 8 pounds 7 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long. Our BIG girl! As they were laying her on my chest the Dr. literally said "That's a big baby!" And yes, I got to hold her right away. We had a successful VBAC. I'm still crying as I write this 3 1/2 months later. God was SO gracious through the whole delivery, and I'm still somewhat in awe of having my precious baby here so safely. Her birth was everything and nothing like I imagined.
I want to share her birth story because already some of the details are getting fuzzy in my mind. I hesitated to do so because there are several parts that could be judged by others and I could be made to feel guilty about. But I don't. Andrew and I both made the decisions and we are so glad we did. God took care of us in big ways.

We had been seeing my OB every week since like 30 weeks or so due to it being a high-risk pregnancy. As the weeks went by we all would laugh at every appointment that I was still pregnant. As the weeks went by I got REALLY uncomfortable too. Now I understand those last few weeks of pregnancy, I had never experienced them with Levi. Now I get why everyone is usually SO ready for their baby to make an appearance. I'm still so thankful for them, especially as I look at my big healthy baby. She needed those weeks.

At our 38 week checkup my Dr. did an ultrasound as was normal and this time measured baby to see where she was at. Now, I know these are always just estimates, but she was measuring at 8 pounds. Andrew was over 9 pounds at birth and I was close to 8 pounds, so we knew a big baby was a possibility. My Dr. asked us how long we wanted to let me stay pregnant. She was concerned if Baby got much bigger I could have a hard time delivering her due to the complications with my uterus that I have. Andrew and I had already been talking and praying and we had decided the week after her due date we were okay with inducing. My Dr. suggested the Monday before my due date, at 39 weeks 2 days. I just sat there and looked at her and then at Andrew and I literally said "You two need to make this decision, I can't. I'm not impartial, I'm too uncomfortable to be impartial." So for basic safety reasons and the unknown of what my uterus would do, they decided May 14th was the day. I was excited to know the end was in sight, but didn't really want to share that we were going to be induced, many people have WAY too strong of opinions and I wasn't emotionally able to handle that.

So we told our parents and a few close friends and spent the week preparing for baby and enjoying Andrew. I was hopeful that I'd go into labor on my own, and while I had some contractions, nothing worth writing home about.

We dropped Levi off on Monday morning with our dear friends and pastor and headed to the hospital. My parents would be coming down around lunchtime to pick Levi up and watch him while we were in the hospital and take care of the dog too. :)
We checked into the hospital around 7am and by 8am I was in a bed with an IV starting a pitocin drip and the Dr. had arrived. I was actually having several contractions already so they were encouraged by that. Makes it easier I guess. The Dr. checked me but I wasn't any more dialated than the week before so it made it difficult for her but she was able to break my water. Weirdest sensation ever...Dr. Shawn jokingly asked me what time I wanted to have baby. I told her Levi had been born at 2:06pm so lets shoot for that. Ha...I wish.
By 9 or so Andrew and I started walking the halls. I wanted to help this baby out as much as possible. We did this several times and it was always my goal to make one "lap" for each contraction. But they started coming slightly faster so I didn't make a full lap. :) We would also come back to let baby get monitored for a while and Andrew would watch "American Pickers" This is my big memory of that. I also ate orange jello at some point. I was starving again but my nurse suggested not eating a ton just in case I had an epidural or c-section. Fine, I'll be hungry.
I think by noon I was done walking pretty much. Baby was doing a little bit of decelling when I would have contractions, but they were always during the contraction which is acceptable and somewhat normal I guess. (We learned after she arrived that she had a fairly long cord which would explain this, as she would probably press on it a little during the contractions.)
I do remember Andrew eating his lunch that he had packed, and my nurse teasing him about being thrifty. My nurse by the way, Michelle, loved her to pieces. She was exactly who I needed to have that day. God knew.
Right after lunch things started getting pretty intense. I kind of lost track of time at that point. I do know I spent some time on the birthing chair and the ball. At which point it became harder and harder to keep track of Baby's heartrate so the nurse did put an internal monitor in on her head. So bizarre that the nurse touched my baby many hours before she was born. I think it's kind of cool actually. This monitor on her head allowed me to be able to switch positions without worrying about keeping her heartrate on the monitor. Very nice. The monitor was necessary due to us attempting the VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). A necessity that I was willing to have to be able to try. I do know that at some point the nurse went and got a CD player and Andrew put on my new Casting Crowns CD and some Shane & Shane during the really rough parts. I know this helped calm me but it was getting pretty hairy. I was losing the ability to control my breathing and my anxiety. I would literally almost pass out/fall asleep between the contractions and then wake up for the incredible intense pain and just try to breath. I remember thinking it would have been a joke to have timed when they started at home because although they were over a minute long from start to finish I was only aware of the crazy intense part.
By 2:30 I was in agony, I couldn't labor in the tub due to it being a VBAC and Baby needing constant monitoring. I was literally sobbing when I said to Andrew "I think I need the epidural" I was heartbroken, which is SO ridiculous to me now. Michelle had checked me and I was only at a 6, so it could be a while still.
I was so discouraged. The anesthesiologist had already been in that morning basically trying to convince me to go ahead with the epidural right away. His reasoning being that because I was attempting a VBAC if something happened and I needed a c-section RIGHT away, it would save time and I would avoid being put under general anesthesia if necessary. I wanted to wait...I was annoyed at him actually. Bad attitude on my part.
Anyway, you have to have a certain amount of fluids before you have the epidural so even though I made the decision sometime close to 3, I would have to wait a half hour or so. Ugh. I remember just trying to get through every contraction and not die in my opinion.
The anesthesiologist arrived sooner than I expected and did the epidural. It wasn't immediate relief, and I know I felt like punching him when he was taping the tube to my back and patting it on, or what actually felt like was beating my back. I was in such pain and just wanted to crab at him.

To explain a little bit of the thinking at this point, we knew it could be a while since I was only at a 6, and frankly, I knew I was losing control. I wanted to be alert and aware for our baby's birth and knew I wouldn't be at this point the way things were going. I didn't want to just "make it through", I wanted to be there totally as much as I could. Maybe this was due to not having any choice in Levi's c-section, I'm not sure. I was also getting really impatient and short with my husband due to the pain and I didn't want to be acting like that. With all of this in consideration, we decided the epidural was the best way to go. Andrew was SO amazing and supportive. Even when I was crying in sadness, he was supporting me and encouraging me. I also had several amazing friends who I texted afterwards, who were so encouraging. God totally supported me through them.

After the epidural went into affect, I was definitely not in as much pain. But here is where it gets interesting. While I wasn't in intense pain, I still was feeling everything. Which is the goal I guess, but the contractions were still very intense. Not as painful, but I definitely still felt them and couldn't really even sleep and they did still hurt some. From what I've gathered this isn't quite the norm, which I'm thankful for now. I've always processed anesthesia fairly quickly, when at the dentist they have to give me novacaine in abundance, and when I had Levi my spinal wore off pretty quickly. The nurses were very amazed by how quickly I could move my legs.
So while I'm thankful I got the epidural, it wasn't totally effective for me either. Once I had the epidural though, I remember just being excited to meet this girl.

We had a nursing change at 3:30 and frankly, my new nurse, didn't like her much at all. She was a little older, and just annoyed the heck out of me. It's all a bit of a blur now, but I remember her checking me and everything and I just didn't like the way she did things. I do remember that I was getting there. I was getting the "transitional shakes" that I didn't know what they were at the time, but I was definitely shaking. :) Also, the pain was getting worse. My left hip especially for whatever reason was just killing me. I remember thinking "So epidural?" Because I wasn't sure why I was feeling so gross. Finally around 6 or so, I basically told the nurse "I NEED TO PUSH!" Because I was so frustrated it didn't feel like she was listening to me. She checked me again and said something like "well you still have a rim left so let's wait" and I wanted to literally punch her. PRAISE THE LORD my awesome OB, Shawn, walked in at that moment and said "If she wants to push, let her push". I also remember she brought her knitting basket in with her, no idea how much knitting she actually did.

They set me up and I started pushing. It was agony. I couldn't get my left leg comfortable. Somewhere in this time frame Shawn decided baby must be pushing on my sciatic nerve or something, but everytime I would have a contraction or push, it felt like a sword piercing all down my leg. Not fun. I did learn the pushing pretty quickly, wasn't too complicated. Not quite what I had pictured, but it made sense in the moment how to do it. Andrew had a hold of the leg that wasn't hurting, and the nurse the painful one. At one point I tried to get them to switch because he was being so gentle and it didn't feel like she was. I just wanted it to end. I wanted to be strong and push this baby girl out. NOW. I think somewhere near 7 I asked Shawn how much longer I was going to be pushing. She guessed about a half hour or so. I was losing all control. I couldn't make myself breath right, I was still pushing amazing I guess, but I couldn't get my mind to stay where it needed to due to the awful and severe pain in my leg. I looked at Andrew and Shawn and just said "You gotta get her out" Shawn said she could use forceps but there were risks. I asked her to state them and she did, but she also told me she was very good with forceps and was very careful. The nurse, a new one, Praise the Lord! There had been a shift change at 7 and I recognized this nurse from our childbirth classes with Levi, and my bed rest at this hospital before being transferred. And I liked her! Anyway, she backed up what Shawn was saying and said "Yes, she's very good". I asked Andrew and he said it was my call. So I looked at Shawn and told her let's get her out. She set up fast and explained that I still needed to be the power, she was just going to guide her head a little bit. So I pushed like a mad woman, because I was. :) I knew the whole time that I had been pushing great, they told me I was, and not just as a compliment either. But man did I push. And Shawn guided her head and pulled a bit I'm sure. And wow, did it hurt. I just know I had my eyes closed, I was screaming like crazy, and I thought I was literally being ripped in two. I've never known that kind of pain. Thankfully, you do forget it. Thankfully. I also remember my husband's reaction. He was SO excited and really was freaking out. I just remember him saying "Oh man, here she comes." A LOT. And loudly. It was honestly the best moment because he was so excited and we hadn't had that intense craziness with Levi's birth. So, I was being ripped in two, Andrew was freaking out, and I thought I was going to die, or at least need a bajillion stitches. And then,

She was there. She was crying. And they plopped her right down on my chest. I was in awe. I thought I should cry but I just couldn't. I couldn't believe she was there. I heard Shawn instructing Andrew how to cut the cord and I did cry then. Because we got to do all the things we didn't get to do with Levi. I pushed baby girl out, and got to hold her right away, not hours later. Andrew got to cut her cord. Just awesome.

I'm a little fuzzy on delivering her placenta, but I think they helped a little with that? Not sure.
Shawn started doing something that hurt and I was like "What the heck?!" and she explained I hadn't torn externally at all, just a little internally. I was shocked, I thought for sure I was ripped like crazy for the way it hurt and she said "nope, just a few stitches internally. You did really good." Wow, amazing. It still hurt though. She did remark that my epidural wasn't such a big help. Well that's good to know that wasn't normal pain for an epidural.

At some point Shawn said good-bye and I was just in shock that it was done. The nurse came over after a long while and asked if I wanted her to go clean baby up or if I wanted to keep holding her. She ASKED. Didn't pull baby girl away or anything. Awesome. I said "sure, you can take her." because I knew she'd be right over there in the room and I'd get to see her. I was so joyful. This deep seated peace stole over my heart. Andrew took pictures like crazy, he's good at that.

The moment they laid Baby Girl on my chest I said "Hi baby". I had to restrain myself from using a name because I almost immediately felt a name for her. But there's Daddy to consider. :) We had gone through a name list while I was in labor, but like with Levi, I felt like this should be her name when I saw her. Guess what? He agreed. :) We're a good team like that.
Emelia. I thought for sure her middle name would be Jean, after my mom, his dad, and lots of other family heritage there. But when I suggested, Jean, Grace, or Ruth (My dear Grandma's middle name) he really thought it should be Grace. I am so thankful he decided. I love it, and I love that he chose her middle name so fittingly. She is our Grace Child.

There's lots of other fun stuff like how I tried to pass out the first time they got me up, how I got to eat right away (So much better than a c-section!) and all sorts of stuff, but the important thing, was that she was there.

Emelia Grace. My redemption baby. Most women call a baby they have after they lose a baby or more their rainbow baby. Like the promise after the storm. Which is fitting, but I prefer a term I learned from another blog Momma who called that baby her "Redemption Baby" Because God DOES redeem our tears and our pain. After Levi's crazy traumatic preemie c-section birth, after losing 3 babies in 2 miscarriages in between, Emelia Grace is most definitely my redemption baby.

No, everything wasn't "all-natural" and perfect. But she was there. Alive and full-term. That's so much to be thankful for. Actually, it's everything. I wouldn't have it any other way. And besides, this was my first "true" labor. It's all a learning process right? :) I know there will be those who scorn me for being induced, but the fact is, I don't answer to you. But to answer the thought, Emelia WAS a bigger baby, and we honestly didn't know what my uterus could handle. God had already done HUGE unthinkable miracles just getting her to full-term. No Dr. could explain it. They didn't need to, God is bigger. So we made the decisions we made, knowing that my bi-cornate/septate uterus needed all the help we could give it. My ultimate goal was to avoid a c-section. We did that. With whatever it took. So to God goes the glory. Will we do things different next time? Maybe, maybe not. Any baby God gives will be a blessing, however they enter this world.

Welcome to the world Emelia Grace! You are our precious Blessing!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

And Baby makes 4

This is a month overdue but better late than never. :)

Emelia Grace joined our family on May 14, 2012 at 7:14pm. She weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long. (My big baby!) She had a little bit of dark hair but thank goodness for headbands for baby girls. :) No confusing her with a boy now.
Here she is just minutes old.

We were able to have a successful VBAC by the grace of God and I will definitely NEVER forget my husband's reactions as she was making her appearance. When they laid her on my chest I remember being shocked that I got to hold her. Oh that's right, when your baby isn't 6 weeks early you get to hold her right away. :) I just remember the Dr. saying "She's a big baby" and then instructing Andrew how to cut her cord (another shocker!) and then I got to have her. I held her for so long and then the nurse ASKED if she could take her and clean her up and stuff. Again, shocking.

It was not an easy birth or a total walk in the park, but we had so much to be thankful for. God led us in the decisions for her birth that we had to make and the result was a healthy thriving baby.
It was so neat to be able to have her with us whenever we wanted in the hospital. She did develop jaundice so we had to stay an extra day with her under the lights, which was hard for me. It was a little to "NICU" feeling but it was only for a day, then we got to bring her home. No carseat test, no monitor attatched to make sure she was breathing, etc...All ours.
Here she is all ready to go home with Mommy & Daddy.

It was the greatest feeling to bring home my 3 day old baby.
Levi remarkably loves her and has done SO well with her. He gave us an idea for a nickname too, "Mia". We'll see if it sticks or not. Grandma & Grandpa Otto came down and spent the days with Levi while we were in the hospital and it was such a blessing. Levi had a hard time visiting the hospital and not understanding why Mommy & Daddy didn't come home with him. But once we were home, he didn't show any agression or dislike of Emelia. There were a few days of wanting in Mommy's lap at times he couldn't be, but overall, he loves his baby sister to pieces. He says "Melia a nice baby!" That's how he says her name often "Melia" or "Mia".
I am so blessed to have 2 beautiful children on this earth to love.
My two beautiful kiddos! Levi looks so happy to be holding his sister Emelia.

The adjustment from 1 to 2 I have to say is far better than from no kiddos to 1. There were some rough nights, still are, but overall we're making it. We had lots of company from family and then Christi and her girls were here for several days and Valerie and Kiernan came as well. It was nice having distractions for Levi in the beginning. And my husband, well he is pretty wonderful and the best Daddy ever. He's been priceless these past 5 weeks.

Which is where we are, Emelia Grace is now 5 weeks old. It's amazing how much faster time goes AFTER the baby makes their arrival. We've had some puking and gas issues and she's being treated by the chiro and Dr. for those. We still flinch when she burps to see how much is going to come up, but she's gaining LOTS of weight and very healthy otherwise. So we just pray and cry and know that this too will pass. Mostly my body just needs to regulate my milk supply better and her system needs to mature. The reflux isn't fun but the medicine seems to be helping that some.
Emelia weighed 11 pounds 13 ounces and was almost 23 inches long at a weight check today at 5 weeks old. That puts her in the 95th and 98th percentile for height and weight. SO different than Levi. She's our "Chunky Monkey" as I like to call her. She's already almost ready for size 2 diapers and she's in 0-3 month clothes. It's amazing how great it is having a thriving baby who doesn't need to be coddled as much. I definitely like having a baby in the spring/summer better than the winter. So many less germs to worry about and it's just so much easier to run to the store or something. Not that shopping with 2 is a piece of cake, but at least we're not all bundled in jackets and hats and mittens. :)
This is her 1 month photo, she's growing so fast!

There are still lots of adjustments to be made, but I can't imagine life now without Emelia Grace. She's the answer to so many prayers, and we are just SO thankful for God's grace in bringing her to us. We love you Emelia Grace!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Give a Little

I found a blog several months back, and I immediately fell in love. I found it about a day before it went viral online due to an amazing post about NOT having to love every moment of motherhood every single day. I laughed and cried at her posts and thought I'd found pure gold. And then, the bombshell. She posted something that I could not in any form agree with, especially under the heading of "Christian". So I stopped plugging it to friends and stopped reading dailly. But I still catch up now and then, because one of her whole premises is that we as Mommies need to stick together, even when we disagree. No judging each other, because we're all in this together. And while I do think God calls us to be discerning and not to accept everything or every action that we come across, I think she has a good basic point.

We as Momma's have it hard enough. We struggle daily with our children and a culture and maybe a workplace and a community that doesn't always or ever support our roles as Mom's. So why do we fight each other? I may not agree with the way you "train" or don't your children to sleep, or letting them suck their thumb, or what they can or cannot eat. But guess what? They are YOUR children! Just as mine are mine.

So while I may still roll my eyes at times or cringe at some judgements some parents make, I'm trying to train my heart to be more prayerful and less judgemental of other parents efforts. We're hopefully all trying here, and I know I for one am trying to do my best to raise my son and future children the best I can.

I will be 37 weeks pregnant tomorrow. And I'm super lonely lately. ~Physically it's gotten harder to be active and about with Levi. And sleep is broken and fitfull. There's so much more I coudl say physically but whining is what gets me lonely. ~Emotionally I'm anxious (don't preach, I know the verse) about when and how this baby is coming. I'm worn out from my independant strong-willed 2 year-old who is pushing every boundary and I don't always push back like I should. ~Spiritually I'm dry and thirsty. I'm wanting to seek God but feel like I'm just struggling in the dark due to my own sin and attitudes. ~Maritally I miss focusing on my husband. This pregnancy has consumed some of me at this point and I'm not a very good friend to a man whose love language is time spent doing things he enjoys. But he's gracious, incredibly so. I don't deserve him. And I miss spending time alone with him. Baby-sitters seem to be in short supply these days. ~Mentally I'm exhausted by the concern about this baby. It is totally a miracle of God that I'm still pregnant, but even miracles make us worried. My body is not perfect, there have been issues with any pregnancy I've had, half of which have ended so far in the death of our babies. While I don't take blame that isn't there for those, there's still the concern my body could fail this baby and it all go haywire in seconds.
And it's hard to describe any of this to anyone. So I'm lonely. I keep hoping when this baby comes I'll "get back out there" and be a better friend. But then I wonder who I'm kidding. I'm not sure I've been that great of one to start with. I guess I just wish my best friend lived next door. :)

So the point being, with all the struggles we face as Mom's, let's give each other a little grace shall we? And maybe ourselves too while we're at it. And let's all strive to make this journey a little less lonely for each other.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Maternity Photo Bomb :)

It's April 4th. I'm still pregnant. If we make it to Saturday it will be 34 weeks. I've never been pregnant that long. And it's definitely looking like I will be this time. If not longer. That's just crazy. I was reading the post I wrote back on January 31st. I was 24 weeks pregnant. I was praying and hoping for at least 10 more weeks without bedrest, and here we are. And not just hanging on by our fingernails. We're cruising. Nothing has happened to make us (Me, Andrew, Our AMAZING Doctor) think that I won't go 36+ weeks. This baby is proving to be tough stuff and making all our concerns seem silly. Ha, actually it's God and His amazing power and a few people I know who are praying I get huge and uncomfortable and go really long. Yeah, I've reached the first 2 of those. :) Seriously, I could really complain if I wanted to, but I won't, because I'm trying to toughen up.

One amazing gift in this pregnancy? We were actually able to do some family/maternity/Levi's 2 year photos. I just got the CD with all of them today and I'm so thrilled and overwhelmed. (Here's the facebook link to the dear friend who did them for us, she's great!)

This actually takes a bit of courage for me to post a few of these photos. I can't say that I love my pregnant body. Because I do look at the extra inches and pounds that maybe didn't have to be there and then start to critique myself. But here's the thing, even if I never lose the weight, if I'm always a little bit "fluffier" than I want to be, it's worth it.
This baby is a prayed for miracle, and no matter what, I will be thankful. And with the struggle that eating and not eating and being full and not being hungry and starving and blood sugar has been this pregnancy, who the heck really cares?
Okay enough words, now for some good stuff, like the amazing cuteness of my son.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Random Happenings

I'm a little disgusted with myself for how little I've been posting. I've been thinking about it almost constantly for a month or so, but obviously that hasn't helped the actual doing of it.

The truth? I don't have many thoughts worth sharing. I do keep thinking of stuff to post but then when it comes down to actually doing it, I can't seem to organize my thoughts into anything I would deem interesting to read.
I've been thinking of posting about Levi, and trying to keep tabs on this age. He seems to mature and grow everyday almost. In scary fast ways.
I've been thinking of posting about baby, but there's not too much new to say. Other than we're hanging in there. :)
I've been thinking of posting about my husband, and the interesting battle that is trying to keep our friendship and relationship front and center amidst all this. But that's a lot of thinking.
I've been thinking of posting, well anything, but I'm soooo tired.

So rather than a ton of words that may lead nowhere, here's some pictures to fill in some gaps:
These 3 photos are my boy at a local semi-pro hockey game with his Daddy a few weeks ago. I was SO bummed to have a cold and just be way too sick to get to go but they had lots of fun. Levi's been talking about hockey ever since. :) Andrew said he really enjoyed it. (Note, my responsible husband did not stay for the whole thing, he brought his son home to bed. I was very proud.)

This boy is looking more and more like his Daddy everyday. I didn't know he could get more like him. I love this adorable face.

This is Levi and I after it had snowed 12 inches in less then 18 hours last week. Levi wasn't too keen on walking in it, or Momma dumping him out of his sled when I tried to. :) It was funny though...

And a side note, last spring or the one before, I forget, I had bought some snowpants on MAJOR clearance at a Columbia outlet. But then discovered they were a tad bigger than I thought. No biggie, $10 and I'll wear them when I'm pregnant I thought. Which I did earlier this winter when it snowed. Guess what? I couldn't get them zipped this time...I still wore them, but my pregnant belly is sort of overwhelming me right now. Perhaps when I get brave I'll actually let Andrew take a picture just to amaze and stun you...

And this? This is the beginning photo of the transformation of one of "Levi's" walls into a pink one. We're starting to try to say "the kids' room" instead of "Levi's". The pink helps a little. :) And yes, I my pregnant self painted, because Andrew hates too. No worries, he helped tape and everything else, just not the actual painting. It's better that way. We're both less crabby.

I so debated about posting this pic, because I was hard pressed to find "painting pants" so these old Jammie pants do NOT do me any favors. But Andrew took the photo so I'll post it. :)

Please ignoring the round bottom to go with the round belly. Which I realize was hard to see with the oversized sweatshirt Andrew dug out for me. Trust me, it's VERY round and there. I'll prove it someday.

So yes, we're getting ready for baby. :) It was sort of fun painting and putting the crib back together into a crib. Andrew put together the actual toddler bed for Levi, and we got a used crib mattress from a friend for it. So now bed is ready for baby and Levi's moved into a "big boy" bed. Which he hated at first. Don't ask me, same thing as the crib when it was a toddler bed, minus a few extra side bars I guess. Oh well, he's used to it now. But the first night? "Me no big boy." Well he is and got over it quickly.
So we got to do this time what we didn't for Levi, paint and put the crib together. Pati is going to help me add some stencils on the wall in a few weeks. Ladybugs, butterflies, that sort of thing. :) And I've been given baby clothes and filling in the gaps from some swap & sell sites on facebook. So all the preemie and newborn clothes are washed and in the dresser. The changing pad is on top, granted with the blue cover. Not spending money for a new pink one. Sorry baby, you'll have to deal with some blue. The gal we got the crib mattress from blew me away and gave us a complete bedding set so now the bed is made with bumper and all.
Blankets are washed and waiting. Which is what I feel like. Waiting.

I still have lots I want to accomplish in the house in general before baby comes, but overall, I think that's my word. Waiting. It's sobering to think 2 weeks more of this pregnancy was when I started my hospital stint with Levi. Waiting. I'm hoping for at least 4 1/2 more weeks with this one. But either way, I still have stuff to get done. :) But yet, the biggger she gets and the more she grows, the more I can't wait to meet this little baby. I think having Levi makes it all the more real about the real person I'm carrying. And I want to know her, to know who's nose she has and who's eyes and who's hairline. :) And maybe, just maybe, she'll have brown eyes.
That's a story for another day though...

In the meantime, all your prayers for health and patience and sanity would be much appreciated. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fear Has No Place Here

I know, it's been a while. I find when I'm pregnant I'm not the most social and/or interactive person. Add to that an intentional effort to focus more on my husband and our friendship (yes, friendship, that is the building block for marriage I believe, believe it or not yourself) and I just haven't had that much to say.

But some events of the past few weeks and then specifically Monday have brought out some words.

Fear has reared it's ugly head in my heart/life once again. Fear that although I've carried this baby 27 weeks, that she isn't meant for this earth and won't grow up with us. I've been struggling and fighting this, and then today, I'm reminded that it doesn't necessarily "matter". Because God IS sovereign no matter what. Even if she's perfectly healthy and is born to us alive and well, that doesn't mean she'll grow old on this earth.

We received 3+ inches of snow on Monday. Wet, heavy, sticky snow. Long story short it led to several car crashes and 6 deaths in the immediate area. One of those deaths was a 13-year old girl driving with her mom. So heartbreaking. I couldn't help but cry for her mom. To be driving and live and your daughter, flesh of your flesh, not live. I pray for her today.

We have no guarantee of tomorrow. James 4 makes that pretty clear:
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Just because I make it to 34 weeks pregnant, or even 36, doesn't mean this baby will be healthy. And if she is born healthy it doesn't mean she'll live to be 5, or 10, or 20. Only God knows the number of her days. Which is where I find peace. God knows. And has planned them. And they are perfect.

One of the other fatalities on Monday was that of a 26-year-old Newspaper gal in a town just less than 30 minutes south of us. I'm 26 years old. She was due with her and her husband's baby one week after my due date in May. She spun on the ice and her car was hit and she was killed. My heart aches to breaking for her husband.
I can only look at my husband and imagine if it was him. I sobbed this morning for this man named Paul. Will you please join me in praying for him? He's lost SO MUCH. His wife, His hope of a baby, just almost everything. Please pray if he doesn't know Jesus that this will send him running to our Savior. That's the only place he'll find true healing.

And so today, I don't know the future. I don't know if I'll wake up tomorrow to feel this baby kick, or if she'll live to be delivered. Or if either of us will live past any day in the future.

But I know this promise:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 ESV

The context of this chapter points us even more to God.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

There is NO fear in loving God whole-heartedly. Only in Him is perfect love without fear. I can give myself and my family fully to Him knowing that NO MATTER WHAT, it is safe. Even if we all die, we are safe. God's love drives out the fear of the unknown. Because He knows, and it is perfect.

Let's all pray today for those who don't know or trust God's love and sovereignty perfectly. Because there, fear can exist. And fear is a horrible thing.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Soul Recharged

I'm sitting in Starbucks savoring the last few sips of my white mocha and also my weekend. I know, it's Monday. But to us, that's weekend. Andrew works Saturday mornings so our "days off" are Sunday and Monday. This "weekend"? We dropped Levi off with some dear friends and the dog also was displaced with some church friends and then we headed West. Literally. To another state. Well, like 2 miles into it. But hey, over 100 miles from home definitely counts. We had booked our stay at the best hotel available. Our friends' home. Seriously. MUCH BETTER than paying $70+ a night and WAY more relaxing. I was overwhelmed by their hospitality. Seriously. A drawer in the bathroom labeled "if you forgot" (Ha, I think I stole your 2 bobby pins Nicole, my bangs thank you.) Cookies and snacks and water bottles in our room, and not cooking all weekend? Yep, delightful. I definitely wouldn't have been so relaxed nor laughed as much at a "real" hotel.

This weekend was our thrifty getaway plan for some time away as a couple before this baby comes or bedrest or whatever may happen. We've been feeling the strain lately of just being busy and frankly, lonely for each other. I get so focused on being Mommy so many days that my poor husband loses a wife. Or loses a patient, loving, serving wife. It's so good to take a break and remind ourselves that we are still best friends and still LOVE spending time with each other. And to spend some time with dear friends and just laugh together. And eat yummy food, and cuddle. Lots of cuddles. To remember we're US. Not just you and me. And to set some goals for the future and some plans for daily life to make reconnecting a daily or weekly thing.

Life will probably only get a little more chaotic as we get closer to and do have this baby. So we're determined to set some plans and goals in place and to make some choices to allow us to keep the intimacy between us alive. Not just the "Honey can you get the diaper?" Kind of stuff.

And I was so reminded and convicted of my heart toward my husband. I can't imagine life without him, ever, but sometimes I sure live like he's here to make my life easier. My helpmeet role needed some refreshing.

My soul needed some recharging as well. God's been beckoning me to be refreshed in Him alone, and as usual, I've been pushing that calling aside for all the busy stuff of life and daily needs of my family.

Short term goal? Get Levi to bed at the right time so that I go to bed at least a half hour earlier and therefore get up a little bit before him to start my day with the LORD. I need that. I crave that. More than my sleep. Choices. Other short term goal? Read 1 book a week. I used to read MULTIPLE books a week. So it made a book a week seem silly. But since my current path is not reading AT ALL, I needed a small goal. I'm on day 8, still have a few chapters left in this current book. But I'm conscious of the goal. And working towards it. Progress.

It's time to hit the road to pick up the dog and toddler. I'm ready. My soul is refreshed and ready to face the days ahead. With a daily conversation with the Lord and my husband in mind. ;)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To My Baby Girl...

Dear Baby Girl,
You're making your presence more and more known everyday. Your flips and kicks have been there for a while, but lately I'm realizing just how big you're getting. My ribs have become your newest entertainment. Your Daddy has laughed when you literally make my stomache jump with your movements. Your actions seem much more distinct than your big brother's were. He just moved a lot. You move a lot and are very accurate with your kicks/punches. :) It hurts sometimes, but I wouldn't trade them for the world. I love knowing you're there.
Mommy's been feeling a bit anxious lately. You see, you've been in my belly for 24 weeks now, and to the medical world, that means you now have a 50% chance at viability if you were born today. It scares me. I want you to stay warm and cozy and growing for at least another 10 weeks. 12 would be amazing. But more than anything, I want you here safely no matter what. So if something were to go wrong at say 30 weeks, well, I'd rather you come at 28. Daddy & Mommy have been talking about what it means to trust God fully for your life. That He knows exactly the number of your days, both in my womb and out of it.
Psalm 139 says:
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Jesus knows exactly what you look like kicking around in there. He knows the number of days you'll stay there, and Lord willing, the number of days you'll have on this earth learning and growing. But Mommy still gets scared.

Yesterday was the due date for your twins siblings that have already been given-over to Jesus. Mommy didn't know how to feel about it. I miss them like crazy. The pain of their loss still hurts at times. But yet, I have you. God knew about you when He took them home to Him. He knew that you would fill my belly and my heart.
Some people say to be thankful Jesus took them because if He hadn't, I wouldn't have you. But I think you and I both know it doesn't work that way. Jesus' plan is perfect no matter if I have you or not. I'm thankful Jesus took them because He's sovereign, I'm not. He knew the perfect plan. Isn't it amazing Baby Girl, that your siblings work on earth was done so quickly? Jesus knows all our days, and theirs were so few, but so complete. God had a great work for them, that continues to be at work, in my heart if no where else, but they were done.

But you Baby Girl, I pray daily that your work may take a little longer. :) That you are meant for this earth. For me to snuggle and love and teach and yes, discipline. I pray that the fighter spirit you've already shown will one day be used in a mighty way for Jesus. That the Holy Spirit would be in total control of your life and you would grow to be a mighty instrument for Him.

I pray that you are in fact, My Redemption Baby. Some people would call you a rainbow. I choose Redemption. I pray God will use you to redeem the tears and grief we've shed.

I love you Baby Girl. So much already. I'm so excited to meet you. Your life is so precious to me.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Something New

So right now I'm sitting in the recliner pretending that even the small movement of using my fingers to type doesn't hurt. But it does.

I come from a genetic background of bad hips. I'm okay with this. Except when my love of bicycling hurts. And being pregnant hurts. The irony? Even having a c-section with Levi, your hips still start to spread way early. Your body just does SOME things right and naturally I guess. Even when other stuff gets screwed up. But I digress.

This pregnancy? I swear my hips started loosening the moment those two little pink lines showed up. And with our goal of no bedrest, I've been trying to not overdo on everything. So when going to the gym leaves me aching for days, I needed a new solution. Enter My Husband. He knows how to swim. Not just to keep himself alive either. Like he can swim to the other end of the pool and back and back and back. Without stopping. For air. That thing I love. So between him and my chiropractor who also swims and is now teeny-tiny, I was receiving some let's say persistent suggestions to take up swimming. So off we went to find me some goggles that would NOT leak, otherwise, I quit right now. Thankfully we have a newer sports store in town that carries some nicer stuff. So with those and a nose-plug (Call me a dork, but I seem to not have been born with the capability to plug off my own nose internally. Which is not very helpful when you're trying not to drown.) I was set.

Monday we hit the pool. I am slow. I could use a 1-piece suit so my belly doesn't show. No worries, it's a tankini, more modest than most 1-pieces, but it does ride up a bit underwater since it's not a maternity suit. Ah well. Andrew was very patient and gave me some basic pointers on stuff like breathing every so many strokes, and other stuff I don't remember. I did pretty well. Okay, I looked like a elephant trying to paddle, but I didn't drown and I left feeling like I'd worked out. A little weird since you're not all sweaty and your muscles take a while to make you realize you've done some work, but it's a workout nonetheless.

So today I go by myself to swim some laps. Now on Monday I managed to mostly make it the length of the pool without pausing for air. Granted by this point I was GASPING for breath, but at least I wasn't blocking traffic or anything. I'm not sure if I was trying to go faster today, or going slower, or just not breathing right, or baby had just taken up residence in my diaphram, but it was not pretty. I'd make it about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way down the pool, at which point I suddenly realized I was dieing for air and better hussle. At which point I start looking even less graceful and basically drag myself to the end of the pool where I then gasp for air for the next 2 minutes at least. It was not pretty. At all.

This blog was so not going to be about me swimming. But it suddenly is. Because today I either 1. pushed it a little too much 2. Definitely don't have proper form, or 3. Worked muscles hard that usually don't get it. Any one of these would explain the very nice ache I now have in my back, shoulders, neck, arms. But hey, my hips feel pretty good. :)

Friday, January 06, 2012

7 1/2 years, 300 posts

So my track record for posting at least once a week isn't great over a 7 1/2 year period, but if you subract the 2 years of almost relative silence, then it's a little better. :) The average hits 52 posts a year then, perfect. Almost. Anyway.

This post has been staring at me for about 4 days now. 300 just seems so significant. Like I should have something monumental to say. Like this is it. Like Someday I'll look back at post 300 and wonder why I didn't use it to say something more significant. But really, it's just a number. What if I hadn't paid attention to the post #? What if I had just posted about everyday life as I usually do?

I was reading back over some posts from the years, specifically the first year I started blogging. And I was cringing, and laughing, and nodding my head. I was so young, (I know, I still am), but really, I was so young. In mind, heart, and life. But when I read those words not only do I remember some of the mistakes and heartaches my young self made, I also read the words of a girl who wanted to trust and serve God with her whole heart no matter what. I can spend time thinking about how far I had to go, or I can look back and see how far I've come. I had so much to learn, I had so much to learn about God, who He was, and especially about His grace. And that's the thing I'm so thankful for in 7 1/2 years and 300 posts, God's Grace.

And my husband. :) There's a comment back in there, about some of my college days, by this guy named Andrew, and little did I know in 2 years I'd be married to the guy. I never could have dreamed. And I'm glad I didn't know. I've made a lot of mistakes in 7 1/2 years. But marrying that Andrew was never one of them. God's grace is so evident in our relationship, and I'm so thankful for His and Andrew's grace and patience with me over the years. Not just in winning my heart, but in living life with me.

We've come a long way since this blog started. Ironically the blog address "lifeandbeth" was suggested by a guy who I was friend's with, and almost broke my heart in many ways. But even in that God used him to show me Andrew, and what I could have there someday.

I heard this song on the radio this evening, as I was preparing supper for my husband of 5 1/2 years and my 2-year old son, with my pregant belly carrying our baby girl getting messy in the process. A life that's known sorrow and grief and the loss of babies. And this song just seems to fit.

Faith isn't something you have and then watch God move. Faith is something you have and do AS God moves and breaths in your life. This isn't foolproof doctrine. It's just a realization I'm making in my journey towards understanding faith. The biggest lesson? It's a lifetime process.

So I can only hope and pray for another 300 posts to this blog. Full of evidence of God's grace in my life. And that I let Him work. That's my prayer. To look back and see a life submitted to God and following hard after Him. No matter how many posts come and go.

A life of Faith. No matter what.