Carseat Shopping with Preschoolers- Britax Endeavours

As you know, I’ve been confined, a prisoner, if you will, on bed rest for the last month. For someone who LOVES baby things and happens to be pregnant…and in need of baby things…this was torture. So, one of my first stops on my first day of freedom was Buy Buy Baby to check out all that has changed since Bug was cooking in my belly. And, woah! It’s a LOT! One of my favorite things we checked out was the new Britax Endeavours infant carseat. This seat goes from 4-35lbs, which for a mama with a high risk of birthing a premie, this is great news!

 

Obviously, Bug exceeds the max weight limit! But he approves the comfort level!

With the steel anti-rebound bar, there is 30% less rebound in a front or rear crash.

Even Chuck could maneuver its user-friendly design.

“Baby” the cabbage patch doll appreciates the safety measures present both with or without a base. With latch or auto seatbelts, Baby is riding with exceedingly high safety standards.

Chuck really enjoyed learning about how she can help take care of her new baby sibling in this #1 safety-rated seat. Bug, on the other hand, enjoyed torturing his sister. What can I say, they were stoked to get out of the house, too! I dare you to watch to the end without laughing!

Carseat Shopping With Preschoolers- Video

 

*I was compensated to check out this rad seat. All children and their wackado behaviors are my own.

30 Days

Thirty days of confinement, rest, restrictions and caution. Thirty days of figuring out a new normal and a new sense of purpose. Thirty days to dwell in my thoughts and fears and hopes for this baby and our family.

I haven’t done them well. I don’t know how one does. Two young children who need every piece of me that I can’t physically give and one deep-rooted character of pride sitting in my heart; these have been my companions. I didn’t realize how dependent I am on being INdependent until this last month. Ladies from bible study asked 10 times before they finally TOLD me they were coming to clean my kitchen. A meal train that ended up being a literal lifeline for my family was set up without me signing off…and I am so, so glad. Several friends grocery shopped, played mom-taxi and entertained my minions…all just by DOING. Because, you see, if there is one thing us moms are great at, it’s LOOKING as if we have it all under control….even if that’s not logistically possible. So, I dedicate the last thirty days to those who just DO. Thank you.

Now, the next thirty days? Who knows?! I was tentatively released from strict bed rest! It turns out the complete placenta previa that was aggravated by a pretty large subchorionic hematoma just…moved. I mean, last week it was bad. Really, really “you’re gonna have a c-section if you don’t go into preterm labor before,” bad. And this week, God said, “move!” and it did! Even my high risk doctor was surprised at the level of progress. The hematoma is still there and relatively large, but without the concern of the previa, it’s not as big of an issue right now. I am still on “light duty,” but I am able to leave the house. I can take Chuck to our Classical Conversations community day without reprimand and I can resume our normal dance/Awana/mops routine. Most exciting to me….TARGET! I know, so basic, right? But really, Chip and Joanna have been waiting for me. I must go!

I am 18.5 weeks at this point and while spending so much time with my own thoughts, I began to count down to different milestones. The most pivotal of these to me is 24 weeks. Twenty four weeks…the point of viability. The placemarker in gestation where I will never hear the words “there’s nothing we can (will) do. Just go home and manage your expectations.” Those words still burn in my ears after our traumatic night in the ER in Vegas. So, 24 weeks comes, get this, on Dec. 24! My little minnow will be statistically “viable,” a saveable miracle on Christmas Eve. How’s that for divine?!

This Sunday, Bug turns three and I can’t help but remember these milestones with him. His pregnancy was easy, for the most part, until the end. When I was 18 weeks with him, we were camping out in the mountains near Kern river, roasting marshmallows, blissfully unaware of just how much could go wrong. And here we are with this one, thanking God for each day closer to viability. It’s that way with life in general, right? We go along whistling until someone bumps us…and then someone bigger, then maybe a car or truck and then the whole dad-gum train runs us flat over and we are like, “good grief! I get it now! Life isn’t promised. Each day is a complete and utter gift. I get it.”

So, on Sunday, we will celebrate another gift of a day with our baby (middle) boy and we will once again get on our knees to thank our Heavenly Father for all the days we’ve had, and hope to have, to bring glory to Him, raising our tribe, sewing seeds of grace and mercy and working so very hard on clipping those ties to pride. Grateful for days and the ways, He shows us gently (or sometimes not SO gently) the reflection of the parts of ourselves we need to give to Him. I do get it now.

 

The Bed Rest Project

We’ve been given a diagnosis.

We drove four hours from Vegas, on pins and needles, because I had started to bleed again Monday morning. It is agonizing, that visualization that your baby is dying inside you and there’s nothing you can do about it. But, we slid into a parking space just in time for my OB to fit me in at the end of his day. We fidgeted in our seats and tried to entertain two car-weary kids in the waiting room in anticipation of what that ultrasound screen would show.

And then, there it was…the blip, blip, blip. We still had a heartbeat! And a subchorionic hemorage. After a visit with the high risk perinatalogist, the SCH was confirmed, as well as partial placenta previa. So, I’ve been prescribed complete bed rest for the foreseeable future. There is always the hope that the placenta moves and the hemorage heals itself, but until then, I will do whatever I’m told to keep this little one growing!

I’m almost 16 weeks and that’s the farthest we’ve made it since Bug. I’m counting everyday I get to feel flutters and hear that heartbeat as a giant blessing. I find myself still in disbelief that we might actually get to meet this one. We might actually get to smell that new baby smell and cradle a tiny little head again. It’s a strange space in which to live, straddling grief and joy. Guardedness and celebration.

The kids are excited. Chuck is sure I am growing a “Crystal Snowflake.” I haven’t the heart to tell her that, I am absolutely not going to be presenting her with either an exotic dancer or a recreational drug. Bug is sure it’s a boy and since the only sweet baby boy he knows is his auntie’s, he calls our baby by the same name. At least they will both be equally disappointed with our name choices!

They’ve been troopers with the bed rest thing. I keep reading blogs from women about how to stay sane on bed rest. They encourage things like, “finishing a good book,” or “catching up on episodes of Game of Thrones.” My favorite, though is “learn a new hobby like crocheting!” These people obviously have no preschoolers to entertain. I’m going to start a series on realistic activities to do from bed when you have kids. It will include things like, “learn to take the fewest steps possible to the bathroom to see what the two year old flushed. Again.” And, “try not to stress as you hear the entire contents of the top pantry shelf crash to the ground.” And my personal pick, “learn a new skill: interpret whether the silence is a blessing or worth investigating.” In the mean time, I’ve decided to document our daily bed rest diaries on Instagram under the hashtag #theBedrestProject. Check it out. Seriously riveting stuff, y’all!

Thank you for the prayers. I know I’ve asked for the reserves over the last year and a half. I’m reminded by those around me that this season (or decade) of life won’t last forever and soon enough, my prayers will be lavishly bestowed on others as theirs have been to us. I’m still waiting for the lesson in all this. Maybe there isn’t one, or at least one that we will know until that Glory day. But, I am thankful for today. So, so thankful for this life growing inside me.

Happy birthday to me

Today I turn 35. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that it’s been a great joy of my life to claim the whole month of October as my birthday month. However, over the last couple of years, this month has become bittersweet. Oct 14, 2014 was the day our sweet baby Mora, also known as “Blue”, was due. Ironically, October 15, my birthday, has been recognized as the international day of pregnancy and infant loss awareness. In July 2016 we lost our second angel, Dillon. Over the last year and a half we have gone on to lose 4 more babies; Anais, Cleo, Deene and Asha. Six. Six babies waiting to meet me in heaven someday. All had tiny beating hearts. All have names. All are loved and missed every day.

I struggled with how I should write this. I signed off facebook last year with no intention to return. We have grappled with devastating hurdles as a family over the last 18 month, in addition to losing our babies. Between deaths and health issues, a destroyed home and legal issues, I have been brought to a low I never even knew existed. I couldn’t bare my own burdens and the burdens of our broken world, together, daily. I’ve become very private. I don’t seek entertainment or affirmation, consolation or companionship like I used to. Brent and I have learned to cling to God far deeper than before. We’ve become entangled. I literally find myself wrestling with the God I love, because I know Him and I know He sees me, all of me. The ugly, snotty, hateful me. The ripped open, dying inside, barely hanging on me. And, on the good days, the grateful, still faithful, if only by a mustard seed me.

But, I’m here today, asking for a favor. We received the news this summer that we were, once again, expecting. We have been holding our breath since the first of August because, well, by now, we know how this goes. We wait. We enjoy the days, no matter how few we get to have with our baby. But, this time was different. This baby made it through each milestone and the tiny flicker was still there on the ultrasound. So, we settled into the idea that maybe, just maybe, this was our “complete.”

Friday night, the 13, we arrived in Las Vegas with plans to celebrate my 35th birthday for the weekend. That night, as I was getting ready for bed, I started to bleed. Panicked at the familiar visual, we called our sweet friends who came with us to watch the kids so we could race to the hospital. For 8.5 hours we sat in hard chairs in loud rooms, terrified, as I bled heavily. It was the most excruciating 8.5 hours of my life. Then, the light. One sympathetic soul of a doctor took my case and ordered an ultrasound. Thank you Jesus for this man. Because of him, we saw the flicker. Our baby still has a heartbeat! We can cling to that. We don’t know why I’m bleeding. But we know we have a live, bouncing baby in there.

So, today, on my birthday, as I lie in a hotel room on bed rest before tackling the four hour drive home tomorrow, I ask you for prayers. Prayers to heal whatever is causing the bleeding. Prayers for this baby to be able to meet us, face to face, here on earth, when the time is right. Prayers for our six other babies whom we miss everyday. Prayers for my husband’s gentle heart that has grieved more than anyone should have to. Prayers for our friends and my aunt and uncle who have taken our kiddos under their wings while I rest. Prayers for our kids who, wise beyond their years, are handling our painful season of life with grace. And most of all, prayers of thanks for that strong little heartbeat on the ultrasound screen. I don’t know what comes next, or how long I will get to feel gentle kicks from our ninth child, but I do know that the time is only better with more prayer. So, thank you for being here, even if I wasn’t for awhile. And thank you for the birthday wishes and prayers.

Secondary Infertility and losses

Last summer, I decided to take a break from facebook. We had just experienced the heartbreak of our second miscarriage. The ridiculousness of political rants and petty complaints became a very unwelcomed distraction from processing our pain. Leaving was good for me. I learned to cling tighter to my Savior, instead of drowning my mind in constantly refreshing my feed. Brent and I worked through our raw hurt together, again, this second time, and came out on the other side stronger than ever.

Then, it happened again. And again. And again. And again. During this year hiatus, we have grasped to a tiny life, five different times, only to be shattered as it slipped away. That’s six in total. Six babies in heaven. I’m still jaw-dropped at those words. Our most recent beloved went to be with Jesus this month, almost a year to the day of his sibling.

I’ve been reminded over and over again that God put us on this earth to live in community, to glorify Him. His love is only reflected by ours. So, this village, the people who’ve brought coffee or embraced snot-drenched sobs on their shoulders…these are the Hands and Feet. These are the ones who, without always the right words, show with action, the cross. Thank you.

There’ve been other tragedies and joys and endless hours of news, both personal and public, through the last year. It’s documented in my heart, instead of my page. Our actions, and inactions, haven’t always been understood or appreciated by those around us, and that’s ok. Healing and grieving and growing are processes, undertaken in intimacy with Jesus. Everyone does it differently. But, all you who’ve suffered, too, know, I know. And I love, too.

My babies all have names. They’ve all been loved for every second of their existence. Every bit of their being was felt and cherished. They will be remembered at due dates and loss dates…even if I have to reference my “list,” because there are so many. What mother doesn’t remember her baby’s birthday? I’m trying.

So, I suppose the point of this is…well, I’m not really sure. Maybe to try to express courage? Or insight for those who’ve wondered? Or just to document some late night, wine-induced rambling from an aching mama-heart.

Chuck and Bug are our world. They perfectly stretch our parent wings and if they complete our family, we are joy- filled. But, we stand in utter confusion at God’s plans for our family. It’s a sense of paralysis. So, I humbly ask, for those who’ve walked through the fire of secondary infertility or recurrent losses, please reach out. I need some anecdotal hope, one way or the other.

And to my husband, thank you for being mine. Thank you for holding my hand so tightly when I’m crashing to the ground. Thank you for carrying the weight this year. You have. All of it. This life hurts, but it’s also full of sweet, sweet joys and I’m so glad you’re the one by my side for them.

 

Baby Bug’s Birth Story

Baby Bug's Birth Story

Photo By Vicki Putnam Photography


As I sit here nursing the newest little love of my life, I realize I haven’t blogged in over three months! I have written dozens of editorials in my mind over that time ranging in topics from bad drivers to vaccines. But, since my hormonal mommy self is likely to incite some outrageous commentaries with those topics (and that same hormonal mommy self can’t handle criticism atm!), I thought I would just talk about the most exciting thing that has happened to me in a long time….I became mama to the most perfect little boy. Here is Baby Bug’s birth story!

I guess I should start this story in October. My body decided to be an over achiever and jumpstart pre-term labor on October 19. I was 34 weeks along and definitely nowhere ready to have a premie in my life. It was a Sunday and Hfoe happened to be working. I took the nugget to church and after service we headed to the farmer’s market. I started cramping, but didn’t really think much of it since I had been having prodromal labor for a couple of weeks and just thought maybe this is how my second term pregnancy was going to go. After the farmer’s market we went to the grocery store for a few things and that’s when the contractions picked up the pace. I decided we needed to leave quickly and go home to lay down to try to stop them. That’s exactly what we did and after an hour long nap, I was woken up by severe contractions. I called Chuck’s babysitter to come watch Chuck because I knew I needed to go in. Her mama drove me┬áto the hospital and I was admitted. They monitored me for several hours and watched as the contractions got stronger and closer together. We called the hubster and he headed uptown toward L&D. Breathing through each contraction, I just kept praying that the contractions would stop and that bug would cook a little longer. Once it had been a little bit of FOREVER, they finally decided to give me a shot to mature baby’s lungs and another shot to slow the contractions. It worked almost immediately and within the hour I was no longer contracting. Hooray! No early baby today! Take that uterus!

I went home on orders to stay in bed or at least on the couch as much as possible. Really? With a two year old? There is only so much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse we can endure! But, I did my best and at 36 weeks, I was set free! I realize some mamas are on bed rest for months and I have no earthly clue how they due it. Mad props to you, ladies! Once I was off bed rest, I rushed around trying to prepare things for the imminent arrival of our newest addition. Because of course he/she was coming any day now since he/she had tried to break out early, right? Wrong. One week passed. Then another. All the while my blood pressure was starting to creep up and then it sky rocketed like it did when I was pregnant with C….a sure sign of Pre-eclampsia. An induction date was set for Friday, November 21 and my whole soul cried. I so, so, soooo didn’t want to go the induction route again this go round. It seemed so unnatural with Chuck and it took FOREVER because my body was completely closed and NOT ready to have a baby. This time, however, my doctor assured me it wouldn’t be so bad. When I went in for my 38 week appointment on November 17 I was already at a 1.5 and about 30% effaced. He stripped my membranes and said to walk, and walk, and walk if I didn’t want to be induced via pitocin on Friday. So, I did just that. I walked the neighborhood, the grocery store, the park. Charlie was DONE with walks! Monday ended and the contractions weren’t progressing. Tuesday came along and nothing was happening. I took C to dance class where one of the other moms professed the benefits of castor oil. I said no. Gross. That stuff is the devil.

But, desperation makes a crazy person do crazy things. So, I downed it in a glass of orange juice, willed myself not to puke and bounced on my birth ball. Chuck was napping so I wasn’t a completely psychotic, negligent parent! But, alas, NOTHING. The clary sage was diffusing in my house. The black cohosh had been consumed (which is grosser than castor oil, btw!) And I had done more walking in 48 hours than I had the rest of my pregnancy! Still, the contractions were painless and sporadic.

At Chuckles’ bedtime we cozied up in her chair for milkies just like always. I rocked and nursed her having no clue that this would be our last solo nurse-in. Because as I sat there rocking my sweet girl, those contractions finally started getting their act together! I laid her down about 8 pm, the same time I received a text from Hfoe saying he was on his way home from work. I called him and said he better get a bag ready when he got home because I thought we were going in! I called our besties who live next door to make sure Mama Jess could come stay with C. I got my things together, walked, took care of the dogs, walked, ate something, walked. By the time hubs got home, there really wasn’t much of a question. We were going to labor and delivery! When we got there, I was checked in and the nurse said I was about a 2 and my contractions were about 3-5 mins apart. I could walk the halls to see if things would progress naturally, I could go home or we could wait and see if the doctor would want to use medicine to progress things. I was not too excited about the idea of pitocin, especially since this time I had gotten to actually start labor on my own, but I definitely wasn’t going home without a baby just to come back in two days to get pitocin anyway! So, we walked….Have I mentioned I walked A LOT?! We walked the halls for an hour. Incidentally, one of my friends had just given birth to her sweet baby girl and was staying just a few rooms down, so we went to visit her. She is the quintessential “oils lady” and gave me some concoction to rub on my wrists and belly to speed things along. I think it worked! When we went to check back in with the nurse, I was at a 3. By this time it was 1 in the morning. I told Hubs it would probably take several more hours so he should go home and get a little sleep. He had been working all the previous day after all, and C would probably freak out if neither of us was home when she woke up. SO, he did.

I slept a little here and there and around 5:30 the nurse came in to check me again. I was only at a 3.5, but my water broke right before she examined me. I called Hfoe and told him he should probably come back to the hospital. He did. My labor coach was back just in time for the real business to start! He rubbed my back and held the sprayer on my belly as I moaned in the hot shower. It felt really nice, but it was getting my hair all wet and that annoyed me. Type A all the way, baby! Ha! So, my idea of the perfect labor in the shower wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. Back to plan B. My birth ball was my favorite tool during Chucks labor so I bounced and rolled and breathed on it again. It was just what I remembered, but the pain got pretty intense once I hit 5 cm. I looked at Hfoe, kind of asking for “permission” to get the epidural. He said the same thing he said the first time around, “You have already proven how strong you are. Don’t NOT get it to prove something.” So, I got it. It was 9 am when the juices started flowing (I was a 5), 9:20 when it finally kicked in (still a 5) and at 9:40 I told the nurse I felt pressure. She LAUGHED at me and said “yeah, ok. I will check you in a sec.” I said, “No, now!” She did. She wasn’t laughing anymore. “Don’t push! I have to get the doctor here!” Now, my hospital is 20 minutes from my doctor’s office. He RACED to get there. He ran into the room at 9:55, gloved up, surveyed the situation and said, “there’s a baby! Push!” I did…four times! Just like with C, Dr. N told me to put my hands down and pull out my baby. And at 9:59am on November 19, exactly a month after our pre-term labor incident and exactly nine months to the day after we lost Baby Blue, I got to help deliver my third child and lay him on my own chest like I did his sister. Seriously, AH-MAZ-ING! Because we didn’t know ahead of time whether we were having a boy or girl, Dr. N ask Hfoe if he wanted to tell me what it was. Just as he announced, “We have a SON!” I reached down to feel a completely different anatomy than what I was accustomed to! What a beautiful surprise. He scooted himself down my chest to nurse right away and his latch was perfect enough to leave any 3 month old envious.

It was seriously the easiest most enjoyable labor and delivery ever. I told Hfoe that we could have 15 kids if I could be assured their deliveries would all go like this one! He’s still processing that.

Thank you all for your prayers and blessings during an oftentimes, difficult pregnancy. The outcome is perfectly divine!

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3image

 

Mother’s Day and a message from Dr. Chuck

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that carries mixed emotions for many folks. While some are over the moon to celebrate their first of many special days as a mom themselves, others are grieving the losses of their own mothers, grandmothers, children who MADE them mothers or the babies who they never got to hold in their arms. Still others are praying for the 7 millionth time that THIS will be the year they get to be called mama. That was the case for my cousin, who, for as long as I can remember, always, always, always wanted a baby of her own. For 20 plus years she and her hubby struggled with infertility and baby loss and the horrible, wrenching pain that comes with knowing you have the heart of parents, but not the baby to fulfill the role.

Until this year! This year, in January, God picked THEM. They received the call that a birth mother wanted them to parent the sweet baby girl she would soon be bringing into the world. Can I just tell you what immense joy has surrounded my family at the arrival of baby Smiley. I can’t even describe the divine hand that was so apparent throughout the process, but I can tell you, that THIS was the most memorable of mother’s days for her. So, as my cousin was one of those children mourning the loss of her own mother on the day, this year the sting was accompanied by sheer happiness as she spent the day with her sweet baby girl.

Hers is a story of hope and as I held my own mixed emotions on Mother’s Day, I saw in my cousin’s story a huge motivation to choose joy. On Sunday, Hfoe took Chuckles and me to the beach after church. We decided on arrival it may have been just a little too windy and cool for bathing suits, but we did dip our toes in the water and chase a screaming Chuck as she darted away from waves. After our beach shenanigans, we decided to head to the marina, where, on a whim, I said I wanted to rent a paddle boat to putter along around the big boats and to see the sea lions up close. It was perfect. As we peddled peacefully around million dollar yachts, Hubs did the bulk of the work, C steered and I took a quiet moment to think about Blue. I know our baby blueberry made us parents of two nuggets and in my mind I celebrated that as we watched sea lions bark at lurkers nearby. I may never have gotten to hold her or hear her call me “mama.” She will never give me a scribbled Mother’s Day card from the nursery at church, but in my heart I know I will see her again and celebrate with her in Heaven. So, for my first Mother’s Day as both a mother to my most favorite runtly and a mother to one gone too soon, I smiled. I laughed with my honey and giggled at my sweet girl as she was so excited to steer the boat and “do it myself!”

After our paddle boat ride, we were famished! All I really cared about was getting some nourishment, but we took a walk to the end of the marina and chose an upstairs restaurant with a killer view and a 30 minute wait. At first, the wait time was a little daunting with our squirmy toddler, but when our “first available” seating preference yielded a prime spot on the patio overlooking the water…we knew we had scored! The kid was behaved, the fish and chips were delish and the scenery was perfect. All in all, the day was made really great by my handsome hunter-fisher-outdoorsman-extraordinaire. HE was, by far, the catch of the day! Ha! I had to throw out the cheesy obvious line! Oh, and I forgot to mention the AMAZING surprise of the morning! He had worked in cahoots with our photographer who had taken an impromptu photo of Chuck and me at her 2 year photo shoot. It wasn’t a shot I had purchased because it wasn’t in the budget, but I loved it. Well, he bought it! And on canvas, none-the-less. AND, he did it all without me having a clue WEEKS ago! Isn’t forethought the BEST gift ever! Sorry girls, he’s taken!

So, as we drove back home we talked about what this next year has in store for us. We have lots of big things coming up and we decided that maybe we should go ahead and let y’all know the biggest of things…right here. Well, we will let Chuck tell you.

She has a budding fascination with doctoring. I blame it on her talking Doc McStuffins stethoscope. There’s not much cuter than a two year old with a lisp asking to listen to your heart. Or in this case…

 

Dr. Chuckles confirms: Baby Brother or Sister to arrive on Turkey day.

That’s right folks! It has happened again and boy was that fast! I am already 12 weeks along and we have seen the heartbeat twice. We are feeling confident in this little bean and we are secure in the knowledge that only God knows His plans for our family. Soooo, prayers for stickiness are appreciated and cherished!

P.S. I wanted to take a second to say thank you to all of you for your support and prayers through what has been the hardest life event for our family. As we anticipate the arrival of this next gift, we celebrate the love that has surrounded us from even places and people we would never have thought to search. And, now, we choose JOY!