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.

Lessons from Sacrifice

The life we are promised…

The only thing we are promised is that we will leave this earth, just as we entered it, someday. Weathered, wiser (hopefully) and having impacted those around us long enough to be remembered for a generation or two, maybe.

And, of course, salvation, if you choose it. Sweet, sweet saving grace from a Father who knows our heart of hearts and still chooses to live with us for eternity. Does that move you? Shake you to the core?

I never fully grasped God’s desire for us until I had Chuck. After all, a parent’s love is difficult to simplify into words. But, I get it now. I get why God would want us with Him forever, despite the marker on the wall or the sleepless nights or the “I hate you-s” slung His way. I get how his perfectly infinite heart could burst at the thought of his child aching and writhing in pain. I can fathom how He would want to wrap my fragile self up in a cozy blanket of grace and set me up on the couch with a Good Book and sweet Word from Him to comfort my grieving soul, all while He works in the background to make all things work together for GOOD.

I get that parenting role because He made me for it. He gave me a mother’s soul. He gave me two precious, beautiful, living children to witness (and practice) His grace through everyday. I am so, so grateful for their role in sanctifying me.

However, He’s also given me six babies I carried, but never knew. Six devastations. Six opportunities to imagine futures and fingers and family portraits…that will never happen. ¬†Six souls to mourn and miss minute by minute. Six disappointments and six losses that have left me ever more ¬†confused about why God does, or doesn’t, do the things He does. Why does He promise in His Word that if we ask for the desires of our hearts, and ask according to His plan, that He will grant them? Why give us desires we cannot have fulfilled? Why does He say that He is always near, if, as of late, I don’t feel Him so close? And the always prevalent, why do bad things happen to good people?

I’ve had lots of months, days, minutes to contemplate my sadness, turned anger, turned bitterness, and finally, turned acceptance. I won’t have my babies in my arms until I get to heaven, but, finally I realized, God gets THAT. How much did He long for Jesus as He did His work on earth? How much did He suffer knowing He couldn’t save him from what was to come? Did He clench and pray and try to will that loss away like I did as I was losing my babies each time? Jesus didn’t desire to die on the cross. He even asked God to take that from Him if it was His will. HIS will. There’s the piece I was missing. Not mine. And desire is a matter of perspective. Jesus desired to save His people, though He didn’t desire to die an excruciating death. I desired to be a mother, but not lose my babies. My desire HAS been granted, if not in the way I wanted. And though I’ve denied Him in anger or wrestled with His will, He was always close. He was only a prayer away. A Word away. This is where the village comes in. Those who stand in the gap when you just. Can’t. Pray. Again. It’s rough. And lonely. But, they are there and He is there, listening, gently rocking and healing. When my daughter is so sad because I won’t let her keep the lizard she caught in the yard, she doesn’t want to talk to me. But, I’ll hug her anyway and console her sweet heart from a distance until she’s ready to talk again. But, I’ve never left her. God gets that.

Jesus was perfect, blameless, sinless…the best of people…yet the WORST thing happened to him. So, I guess, who am I to wonder why bad thing s happen to “good” people? Sin and Satan. That’s why. This world is broken. We are broken. Bad things will always happen, until God takes us home, because we don’t exist in the perfect vacuum of Heaven…yet. I get THAT now. And, I suppose, as I learn lessons of grace and parental love from my earthly babies, perhaps I have also learned THIS lesson of God’s sacrifice and parental pain from my heaven babies.

I can’t wait for the reunion in that perfect place some day. But, until then, I am rejoicing that my babies won’t know the pain of this world. Thank you, Lord, for granting them that sweet grace.

 

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.

 

Four times the Love

When we decided to become parents, we thought it would be easy. Not the parenting part. We knew that would be a journey of trials and errors and celebrations and triumphs. But, the getting there part. We thought that would be easy. It took seven months to conceive Chuck. I know now that’s a blink compared to some struggling to become parents. My pregnancy with her was hard. I think most pregnancies are, but the hardest part was the day the dr couldn’t find her heartbeat. I was 20 weeks along and I braced myself to become my worst nightmare. After an agonizing two days and an appointment with a specialist, our girl was declared completely fine and normal. We rejoiced at the news and went merrily along under the assumption that we had experienced our parenting hurdle. Because we only get one, right? Little did we know….

When Chuck was two, we decided she needed a sibling. Both my husband and I come from large families and we wanted our girl to know the joy of a brother or sister. This time, it was easy. But easy things don’t always last. Mora, or “Blue,” was our first baby born in heaven. Bug came along directly after- our “rainbow” baby, as babies born after loss are called. The night he was born, I held him in my arms and clearer than any human voice I heard God say to me, “he’s not your last.” This was actually really shocking to me. Here was my son, no more than 8 hours fresh, my perfect daughter was at home with Papa and we were done. The girl, the boy, the “dream,” right? But, I embraced it and went on for almost two years with the peace that God had one more baby planned for our family. I just knew it.

Before we decided to get out of God’s way in the path to baby number three, we steadied ourselves with the reminder that it had taken more than half a year the first time and a loss the second time, so surely this time would have its bumps. We had no idea what that really meant. After 6 months, I finally got the coveted two pink lines. I protected that secret for three days so I could reveal to my sweet husband the glorious news in the grand way it deserved. The day after I announced to him, I started to bleed. It was happening again. I was so heartbroken. Had I not heard God correctly? So we tried again and got pregnant the very next month. And I lost that one, too. I was so, so angry. Why? Why? A million times why? We shelved the idea of adding to our family to deal with our tattered selves and to just love on our little family more. Five months passed with no more pregnancies, but also, no more losses. For that we praised. We dragged ourselves from the gutter of bitterness and came out on the other side at peace. God does great things with broken people. Thankfully, He is there even when the healing hearts fail again because this week, we’ve needed his mercies once more. Our fourth baby was born into the arms of our Lord shortly after Valentine’s Day. What a sweet love day gift to our baby, to be born into that peace. I’m not angry this time. The bitterness has dissolved. I am so sad and I long to smell that sweet new life smell again, but I don’t know what God has in store for us. I’m being still. I’m listening. I’m staying home and hugging my earth babies because if we are meant to be a family of 8…with only four of us in this house….I will accept that. But, I love my heaven babies. All four of them. I yearn for the first time I get to see their faces and hold them close. Until then, today, we rest.