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.

 

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.

 

Princess Chuck turns 3!

I was given free product in exchange for this post. As always, opinions are solely my own.
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When I received the email notification we had been chosen again this year to host a Disney @Home Celebration party, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was sitting at the kitchen table contemplating baby Bug’s hospital stay the night before. He was still wheezing in the other room and my girly, Chuck, was squirming in my lap for the attention she so desperately needed after a night away from mama. Little did I know we would be headed back to the hospital the next day as Bug’s oxygen saturation dropped dramatically and he became dehydrated. But, amid all the nerves and chaos that happens when your newborn gets really sick, we got this exciting announcement! What a mood lifter!

 

Once the roller coaster ride of our 8 day stay in the pediatric unit had ended, it was time to start planning little Miss Fancy Pants’ birthday party! First, since I knew the theme would be “Sofia the first,” I had to figure out a way to make it coed appropriate. C has lots of little dudes as buddies and I didn’t want them to feel left out if we did a princess only tea party or something. So, I asked the most dapper of guys in our life, Papa bear! He suggested a  “ball.” Knights, pirates and princes would be welcomed to join all the princesses for a fun royal ball! It was perfect! We found a cute template on evite.com and set the date…wheels were in motion!

 

Now, for decorations, food and activities! I had planned so many fun things to do…outside. Our royal ball would be held in our backyard with a projector movie of Sofia the first playing for the duration of the party. There would be strand lights and Chinese lanterns and magical, mystical accents to make our setting perfect. Weeeeellll, the best laid plans, right?! Instead, it rained.

 

We moved as much as we could indoors (including all 60 guests in our 1000 sq. ft. home!) and scrapped the rest. In place of twinkly lights, I hung streamers from the ceiling.

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Where we would have had outdoor garden games like croquet (I really had planned to teach three year olds to play with mallets. For real.) we instead had a dance contest under our covered patio as the warm Southern California rain poured down. We played “freeze dance” and all the kids giggled as if it was the best activity ever!

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With the crayons and coloring book we received in our box, I set up a “decorate the castle” station where everyone could color a Sofia picture of their choice.

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We ate cupcakes from Sam’s club and homemade turkey wraps. I made “princess pops” with marshmallows on sticks with cupcake liners to look like ball gowns. They looked more artistic on Pinterest, but that didn’t seem to affect how quickly they disappeared! The Sofia table decorations got plenty of compliments!

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My favorite detail of the whole shindig was the photo booth I set up! I found three old shutters listed for free on one of my local garage sale pages on facebook. Then I strung together scrap fabric and tulle to make a streamer for the backdrop and placed purple pillows around an ottoman to make a “throne.” The kids all loved having their royal headshots taken!

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When the royal processional was ready to retreat, we sent them each home with a little something special. The princesses left with everything necessary for a pretty manicure and the princes left with either a knightly shield or a pirate band tambourine. I think they were all graciously received.

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Although things didn’t go as we had originally planned, Princess Chuckles enjoyed her special day and has woken up every morning since asking if it was time for her birthday again! Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us and thank you Disney for the opportunity!

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I received free product in order to write this post. As always, opinions are my own.