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.

 

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.

 

Snuggle All My Bugs Together

imageChuck is adjusting pretty well. I would say that being 2.5, a precocious little genius and accustomed to being the constant center of attention could all prove to be pretty big hurdles to scale when it comes to adding a baby brother to the mix. But, she loves him, she “just LOVES him SOOO much!” Her words. And actions, as she tries to smother him with All.The.Love!

When Hfoe brought C to the hospital to meet her new comrade, he also brought the Calico Critters and school that I had gotten ahead of time to be the gift her baby gave her. It was a glorious plan in my mind. She would be so enamored with the baby and then he/she would give her a gift, too?! Wow, this sibling thing is pretty awesome! I also thought the little critters would be a perfect “sometimes” toy for her to play with only when I was nursing the baby, thus keeping her both occupied with the “special” toy and blissfully unaware that I was trapped on the couch, plugged in, unable to reprimand her for whatever she happened to be getting into at the moment. The best laid plans…

As they walked into our hospital room, I had baby Bug in his bassinet so the first thing C saw wasn’t HER mama holding a different kid. I squealed with delight to see her and invited her to join me on the bed. We hugged and cuddled and then she said, “Mama, what’s that?” “That’s your brother, G. Would you like to hold him?” “Sure, Mama.” So, hubs took baby boy out of his cozy bed and we cocooned Chuck in pillows as we laid him precariously in her lap. She poked him and kissed him and examined his tiny face…and then she was done. She wanted to explore the interesting hospital room. But, first, the gift! “OOOOH, cooool!” She loved it! That’s it. I was a genius and my plan was going to work perfectly.

Then, Buddy started to cry. I saddled him up to my boob to nurse (at which he was already a pro) and I didn’t think anything of it. She had her magical toys, after all. Oh the sob that broke from her sweet little gut just about broke my heart. I have actually never heard my girl make that sound before. “Nooo, don’t give him milkies! That’s my milkies, mama! Why, mama?!” It makes me tear up writing this two months later. I had no idea that it would hurt her so much to see me share her special mama time with another baby, without ever asking her if it was ok.

C only gets nursed to sleep now, so I guess I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to her. I was very wrong and it has taken a long time to make things right. After lots of explaining that he can’t eat the food she can and involving her help to get burp rags while I breastfeed, she now shares milkies with her brother without a fight. In fact, on occasions when Hfoe has to work late and baby Bug is awake when I put his sister to bed, she will ask to “do milkies all together…so I can snuggle all my bugs.” I love her terminology to describe our tandem nursing sessions. It is such a sweet, sweet time where she caresses his head and he holds her finger and I stare at them both in the dark. I know that C will likely be weaning completely soon, so I am cherishing what little time of this we have left.These two precious little beings, my snuggle bugs, all together, doing their “milkies”…I never want to forget it.

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 to 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

 

Firsts on Firsts on Firsts

The single most covetable part about being a mother, in my opinion, is the privilege granted to me to be the eyes that witness and the ears that hear all the firsts that come from this tiny little human. It seems like every week is equivocal to a moon landing in one form or another. Chuckles had a big couple of weeks this month! Between her leaps in vocabulary and great first time experiences, I am chalk-full of accounts for September.

"Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!"

“Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!”

I guess we really started the month at the end of LAST month with a trip to visit the cousins in Oregon. Chuck loved waking up every morning to the giggles of her built-in family playmates. There is just something so special about watching your kid bond with their life-long buddies. Knowing that these tiny people will grow and go their separate ways over the years, but will always be able to come back together to reminisce about breakfast around the table with “not-so-hots” and cousin craft nights that got a little TOO glitter-heavy makes my heart so happy. While we were in Oregon, we decided to take a little detour to see some friends who had recently moved from our area up that way. What a refreshing time of fellowship with some sweet friends whom we have missed! Somewhere along the way, we decided to make the stop at Wildlife Safari. Have you heard of this place or a place like it? It’s a drive through zoo where the animals roam (mostly) free. I remember going to a place like that in Arkansas called Arbuckle Wilderness when I was little and it made quite the impact on my aspiring Zoologist self. However, I don’t remember it being THAT cool! Wildlife Safari turned me into a giggly kid and turned my giggly kid into quite the chatterbox! “Hi Bear! Hey, look at me bear!!” Her mantra of the drive has now become a Crunchy house catchphrase because it made us laugh endlessly while in the park. Her favorite animal in the park was the “scary chicken” that kept coming up to the window for food…of course this was an emu, but “scary chicken” actually seems more fitting. Needless to say, Chuck’s first time at the drive-thru zoo was a roaring success!

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This is her reaction for the Frozen float in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland….You’d think she’d appreciate my rendition.

Another first for this growing kid of ours recently has been her usage of certain phrases, correctly, that send us into stitches. C has always had a great vocabulary and was able to express herself from an early age. But this level of comprehension (and wit) is new. For instance, she, of course, loves “Frozen.” Like it has for every other two-year old girl on the planet, Disney’s latest princess flick has found it’s way into our sweet girl’s heart as an instant favorite. She would listen to the soundtrack on repeat if allowed. So, it stands to reason that her papa and I know ALL the words to one notable song in particular. C has decided, though, that our sing-along sessions just don’t do the film justice and as we head into the hook with great gusto, our dear girl will shout, “Hold it!” with her hands held up and a furrow on her brow. Kills us every time. In addition to her lofty musical critiques, she has crafted quite the imaginary scenarios of which we are expected to partake….and know all the rules. One example of this is the tea party she likes to host on a daily basis. The cups must face a certain direction and we must only eat cookies (not biscuits) off the plates. If I “eat” something I’m not supposed to, I will receive a stern, “No mama, like this.” from my bossy strong girl. My favorite phrase at the moment, though, is “I no hafta (fill in the blank), mama.” The most common blank-filler is “I no hafta nap now,” but you can also fill in with “eat that” or “clean that” or “do that.” While I know at first read this seems like she is talking back and perhaps in need of some nose on the wall time,  it’s actually funny because she is such a little mini-me that her inflection and tone make her sound EXACTLY like my “persuasive” voice. When I am trying to convince Hfoe that I don’t really need to clean the bathrooms today or that I don’t really “hafta” cook dinner tonight….my tiniest ears are listening and mimicking ME! It’s both a funny and humbling reminder!

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First Fish!!

We had a proud moment first while we were all in Colorado this month for hunting season. Since Hfoe harvested his elk on his second day out in the woods (thank you, Jesus for a full freezer for the next year!), Chuckles and I got to enjoy a little more family time with him than we were expecting. On one of those days, we decided to head down to the community pond at my grandma’s cabin and try C’s luck at fishing. After a couple of slapstick moments of chasing after grasshoppers for bait, we were ready to cast the line. Papa threw out the first cast and asked me to hold tight to the pole, while Chuck, in all her mini-fisher glory, manned the reel. It was truly a group effort…and it paid off! C was so excited as that bobber disappeared under the water and I helped her snag her first little trout. She reeled it in with papa and squealed uncontrollably as it flopped and flipped at her touch! This was one of those moments that, despite her age, I really hope she remembers, at least partly, because it was kind of magical….and a little slimy!

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Kicked in the head by “Brother-Sister”

A couple of my favorite firsts from this month involve C’s “brother-sister.” She got to feel baby kick for the first time as we were laying down to nap one afternoon and then she told the baby “I love you, baby” completely unsolicited for the first time soon after. Talk about melting a mama heart! I sure hope this sweetness continues once the runt is born!

As we head into the last 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I am reminded to take every opportunity to step back and enjoy each of Chuck’s “firsts” because soon we will have another first-timer on our hands. I am most excited to see my TWO babes meet each other for the first time. Now, THAT is sure to be a monumental first for our whole family!

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Being a good big sister, feeding bear.

 

5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

Heartbreak and Healing: a Papa’s persepective on baby loss and what comes after

I have been hoping to share a guest post from Hfoe for a long time now, but between his work schedule and the crazy antics of one little Miss Chuckles, the opportunity just hadn’t presented itself…until now. Considering that today is Father’s Day, I thought it would be completely appropriate to have my sweet husband explain, from his daddy heart, just what the loss of our baby Blue was like for him. I know many men aren’t able to fully express how hard life stuff affects their insides, but Hfoe was blessed with a pretty great way with words. So, I hope for anyone, any papa, who has lost a baby and also those who are expecting another after their loss, his words can be a source of camaraderie and comfort.


“I told you it wasn’t going to take long.”  That was the first thing I told Cara when I found out we were pregnant. I’m going to tell you how she let me in on her secret because this story could use as much humor as possible. I had arrived home from work and as often happens after a long ride on the L.A. freeway system, I spread some love and cheer to my two lovelies when I walked in the door then made my way to the restroom. As I was taking care of business so-to-speak I heard the mmm mmm mmm that lets me know I have received a text message. I dug into my pocket to retrieve my phone and there was a photo of my a fore mentioned lovelies, but something was up. I got the message right away. In the photo, my littlest lovely was wearing a new t-shirt that said “World’s Best Sister”. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at all, even though we had only tried, in my opinion once (the wife says twice.) What did surprise me was the time and place that Cara chose to spill the beans. Evidently my rush to the commode had dashed her original plans, but she couldn’t wait any longer. 

   From that moment, I was over the moon with anticipation. I started talking and singing to our newest creation from the second the secret was revealed to me.  I was so sure that everything was going to be perfect that I didn’t waste any time before spreading the news to family and friends. After all we had gotten through the scares of our first gestational experience relatively unscathed. There was a crazy, beautiful little girl running around my house, reminding me every day that everything would be O.K.  There was a point in the first pregnancy when the Doctor couldn’t find little Chuck’s heart beat and yet hear she was. So what could possibly go wrong with our latest attempt to add to our family? 
   I still don’t know what exactly went wrong, but something definitely did. I honestly don’t remember how my lovely wife told me that something was wrong. I do remember that watching her heart break from the inside out nearly killed me. I do remember that the feelings I was trying to deal with while trying to be everything she needed me to be, nearly killed me. One of the toughest things to do was let myself grieve. I hadn’t been carrying this child. It wasn’t living off of my blood and breath and yet it was still mine.   
What a confusing place to be. My wife needed me and I needed her. There were times when we held each other and wept, there were times when I just had to let her be. I think those were the toughest for me. I’m a fixer, yet I couldn’t fix her, I couldn’t fix me and I most certainly couldn’t fix the baby we were losing. 

 
   Seeing her so mad, so very angry at the world for things that were out of control was heartbreaking. I knew she didn’t mean things that sometimes came out. I knew that I could never understand what was happening inside her. I prayed with everything that I had for patience and healing and love. I felt like a jerk for feeling like
“What about me? I’m losing something here too, you know?!!!” For the most part I choked those feelings down and really tried to be the husband that I knew needed to be. Even if I couldn’t fix things I could at least assist in the healing. 

 I would love to say that I am a new man and the grief is gone, but that would be a lie and a disservice to anyone who has gone through this. I know we all handle this type of thing differently, but the truth is, it just plain SUCKS. The other truth is, and I firmly believe this, the Lord has used this experience to not only strengthen my marriage, but more importantly strengthen my faith in Him. There were times when I wanted to run, when I wanted to drink, when I wanted to rip the door off of my house and throw it into the street, but I didn’t. I prayed and prayed and prayed and God gave me strength that I didn’t know I had. He gave me clarity when I was confused. He gave me patience when I was hurt and angry. He revealed to me what I was supposed to be for the woman He put in my life. I hope I did it right. I can’t be the judge of that, maybe my wife could tell you.

   Shortly after we lost our baby we were blessed with another pregnancy. Everything has gone without a hitch, at least physically speaking. I still struggle emotionally, trying to connect with the baby bump that grows every day. I know in time things will feel more normal and I’m confident that this pregnancy will be without major issues. Hopefully next time I share my perspective it will have to do with juggling a crazy, beautiful toddler and a newborn while trying to let Mama get some sleep.
 


 

With love in my heart,
HFOE

 

P.S. 
If there are any husbands who are dealing with this and would like more input, I’d love to offer any help that I can. 
  Don’t be afraid of what you are feeling, you are losing something too.

7 Things I Have Learned Through Grief

I have been keeping a running journal in my head for the last couple of months about little life lessons learned through grief. In my head it’s titled, “Laugh, cry, make inappropriate jokes.” But here, I will keep it simple.

1.       It may come in stages…all at once

When you are pregnant, people kind of expect you to be crazy, laughing one second and crying into a Kleenex in the next. But, when your baby dies, I think laughing weirds some people out. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. I found it kind of confusing that I would be sobbing in wretched pain at the thought of what was happening when a flash of anger so strong would hit me that I couldn’t stand to be around another human for fear of lashing out. Then two minutes later I would say something about my uterus being an inhospitable chamber of doom to any fetus who chose to take up residence and my poor husband would nervously chuckle, not sure if this was another one of my shock value “jokes” or if I was truly ready to launch myself off the nearest cliff. Man, grief is exhausting! But, I think we have finally made it to the final stage- acceptance, mostly intact, ailing reproductive organ humor and all.

 

2.       You are not alone

You know how before you buy a car, you look around and you think, “I’m going to get a Nissan Sentra. It’s a sensible family car and I don’t see 4,000 of them on my commute every day.” Then you buy a Nissan Sentra and you see 5,000 of them on your commute EACH WAY. Or, like me, you thoughtfully choose a traditional, yet UNcommon name for your baby girl and once she is born you meet 5 other babies in your immediate circle with that same name? Grief is like that. Before you go through something terrible, it seems like those things are so horrible and rare. You may even think, “Gosh, how in the world would I cope if that was me?” And then it IS you and all the other grieving folks come out of the woodwork and your eyes are opened to just how common this really is. It’s both sad and comforting to suffer together.

 

3.       People still say cliché things

“Everything happens for a reason, dear.” “God only gives you what you can handle.” “I’m sure God will bless you with another baby in time. He just needed this one in heaven.” Those are just a few of the gems I have heard, not including scientific reasoning and urgings to just move on. I could write a whole novel of what NOT to say to someone going through a miscarriage or, really, ANY grief. But, I won’t. For the most part, people are well-meaning and loving and just trying to help. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and just know that at one time, YOU were probably the one making trite comments. I know I have been! But, if I take one lesson away from this experience, I hope it is that the only truly sincere, helpful response to a person going through such deep, lonely waters is, “I’m so sorry you are going through this.” You can add on, “I will pray the Lord heals your heart,” as long as you truly mean it, but don’t say it and then walk away to forget. I cherished prayers from friends, because in the midst of the pain, my prayers didn’t sound very coherent. The Lord is the best healer and only HE has the correct words. So, rather than stumble around, leave it to the Master.

 

 4.       You don’t have to answer the door

Usually on Sunday mornings I am at church bright and early, but during the miscarriage and for a couple weeks following, I just couldn’t pull myself together to face our church family. So, I stayed home and learned this lesson….just because they knock doesn’t mean I have to answer. I saw them walking up the driveway because the blinds were open and I was sitting alone on the couch watching Dr. Charles Stanley. It was probably too late; I’m sure they saw, but I dashed to the bedroom anyway, frustrated with myself that I hadn’t turned the volume down on Dr. Stanley. They knocked once and my heart raced. I imagined these two suited men standing on my porch, feeling hurt that I was avoiding them because surely they knew I was home. They knocked again and I had to physically restrain my puffy-faced, snot and tear laden self from feeling the conflicted obligation to both open the door for these Mormon brothers because I was home on a Sunday and the distinct fear to, because of course I already go to church….well, not today. But usually. Oh, the snot? Yeah, sorry about that. I promise I’m not a heathen. In the end, they left and I sighed, relieved and guilty. I will have to apologize if they come around again (NOT on a Sunday, of course) but I think at the time I did the right thing.

 

5.       Coffee will SA-A-AAVE your soul

My favorite scene in any Friends episode is always when they come together in Central Perk. Some of the best one-liners are dropped over a cup of joe. I think the same is true in life. Especially in the midst of grief! Although, my hair never looks as good as Jennifer Aniston’s, I learned an entirely new appreciation for a hot mug of java as my closest friends gathered around to comfort me during my grief. Of course, we brought the coffee shop to my house, but there really was nothing better to lift my spirits than a text that said, “I’m stopping at the ‘bucks. What can I get you? I’m coming over.” In the comfort of my own poorly lit living room I could freely cry and giggle and make uncomfortable broken womb/dead baby jokes to those who know my true heart and could cry and giggle right along with me. No judgment. No pity. Just hugs and encouragement and sometimes, complete empathy. Ok, so maybe it’s not the coffee alone that will save you, but the warm trickle down your throat into your cold, dark shell will surely start the process!

 

6.       Kids give two flips about grief

Being sick while taking care of a sick kid is pretty much the absolute worst state of parenting I have personally experienced. Parenting while grieving is like that, except the kid feels fine and still wants to jump on you and run with you and be read to in high pitched, squealy voices. Hfoe, bless his heart, was the most perfect partner during everything because he took over many “mama” duties despite his own pain, so that I could recover. But, there is no substitute for “mama milk” and just when I thought all the life had left me, she would latch and suck out a little more. It reminded me of a saying I saw on a sports motivation poster once, “When you think you’ve given your all, give a little more.”  But, looking down at her sweet, quiet, suckling little face sure did fill my heart with love. Tons and tons of love. And after all, isn’t love the Neosporin to grief?

 

7.       The tears don’t last forever, but the ache might…and that’s ok.

It’s been two months since I started bleeding and I no longer cry every day. In fact, I don’t cry most days and it feels nice. The first day I didn’t feel the lump in my throat I remember clearly. Chuck and I were at the mall one beautiful Saturday morning while her Papa was at work. I just needed to return a couple of things and I decided since she was being a trooper, we would grab lunch while we were there. As we chewed our French fries, I looked over at my beautiful, growing, spunky little girl and I thought about what her sister may have looked like. I thought about how they may have been best buddies and how Chuck would have loved to “help” with the baby. I remember smiling and feeling a little pang in my chest, but no lump rose up in my throat, no tears welled in my eyes. It was nice. I realized at that moment that remembering and honoring our little blueberry didn’t mean I had to live in a state of depression over her. I could still live my beautiful life and love every second of what God has blessed us with. That wasn’t a disservice to her or a neglect of what was. It was actually the best way to honor her memory…with love and joy. And, it is the platform for moving forward. I am thankful for that day.

 

 

 Ultimately, through this grief process I have learned so much about myself and my family, life and love and our heavenly Father above. I appreciate the overwhelming comfort we have received in the way of cards, letters and books to read. People are good. So, so good. And maybe that is the purpose of grief….to remind us of that.

*Sidenote…a book that has been SO comforting to me through this is Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child. I absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for scriptural truth regarding the fate of their child in Heaven.