Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Days are Long & the Years are Short

I don't think that there is anything that makes you feel more helpless as a parent than being unable to help/comfort/soothe your child.  We went through so many months and doctors visits with Hayden for his ears (which lead to his first set of tubes at seven months with a second set of tubes & removal of his adenoid and tonsils at 21 months).  Unfortunately, Dawson is built very much like his brother. 

You forget how hard it is until you have a baby who is screaming in pain for hours on end and NOTHING you do helps.  Walking, bouncing, bottle, food, gas drops, lullabies, pacis, a swaddle, wearing him, rocking, standing ,Tylenol, gripe water... nothing helps and he just suddenly collapses on your chest doing that hiccup from crying in a little heap.  It's heartbreaking and frustrating.  Two months ago we went through three different antibiotics and finally ended up with three antibiotic shots (all during the week that Chip was out of town, our A/C went out, and I was swamped at work - because OF COURSE).  Dawson went to the doctor AGAIN when Chip was out of town and got a really strong antibiotic that helped his last ear infection from a few weeks ago.  No bueno.  We took him back on Friday (after he cried for 4 & 5 hours Wednesday and Thursday night - apparently, I'm still figuring out this parenting gig) and he got a shot.  He is still in so much pain (although it's better) and we go back for the twins well visits tomorrow (with a side visit for Hayden to get his flu vaccine).  The twins six month hearing check is on Tuesday at the ENT and I have a feeling that tubes will follow very shortly thereafter.

Our poor buddy - he scratches his face, ears and head because he's in so much agony.  Baths are torture because if the tiniest drop gets in his ear - it's over.  He loves to kick in the bath, but it's hard to explain  to a six month old not to kick so hard they get water on their face and possibly ear.  For some reason, he doesn't get it.  :)  He has an eczema patch on his cheek that flares red when he doesn't feel well.   It just breaks my heart! 

Right now, we have his pain under control with Tylenol and some garlic ear drops our pediatrician recommended.  My heart just breaks and I feel guilty that I can't give Ansley and Hayden as much attention because Dawson doesn't feel well.  A mother's guilt never ends, right?  I do know that I would walk across fire to take away my children's pain - I wish I could make it all better.  Since I can't, I do the best I can and am an advocate for my children.  I may have no backbone when it comes to standing up for myself, but I do for my kids.  They make me a better person, even when (or especially when) they're sick...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


"Mommy, I like math and I'm really good at it!"

"I can hit the ball WWAAAYYYY over the fence!  Wanna see me?"

"I"m super fast!"

"See my super strong muscles?"

"I'm going to grow as big as my Daddy!  I won't stop growing!"

"I can play football with those big kids!  They will like it!"

To have the complete self confidence of a three and a half year old.  I wish I had just a quarter of his energy and self esteem.  The funny things he says, with such complete certainty, warm my heart.  I want him (and Dawson & Ansley, too) to always be this confident.  I want him to know that he can truly do anything he wants because he can. 

When I look at Hayden and see that he has some of the same qualities and characteristics as me, it makes me proud.  I like myself more when I see myself reflected in him.  It gives me confidence.  Hayden has my smile, my eye shape, my sensitivity, love of books and temper.  He has Chip's athletic ability, love of shoes, easy going nature and sense of humor. 

It is our job as parents to instill confidence and to be that "soft place to land" for our kids.  Hayden can try new things, test boundaries, be his complete silly self and let it all go with us.  In turn, he sharpens me.  He teaches me to slow down, to have more patience, to let the housework and laundry go.  Seeing the world through his eyes is so much fun!  The yumminess that is a waffle sandwich, the fun in splashing water everywhere, the joy of helping, of laying on the ground with the babies, the cool factor of a bug and the payoff when you finally (carefully) catch it - all of these things I have learned from him.  Sure, I can teach him how to do certain things, but he is teaching me so much more - including being confident in who I am.

Monday, September 23, 2013

There Are No Sick Days

When my Mom was here at the beginning of the month she made me go to the doctor, as I had had a yucky cough for about a week.  I went and the diagnosis was bronchitis.  I was told to take some mucinex and rest.  HA!  I have three kids ages three and under - my definition of rest is a five minute shower. 

Over the course of the next two weeks, my cough got worse and I started having trouble breathing.  Enough trouble that I stopped running so I wouldn't end up passed out on the sidewalk.  Of course, I didn't go to the doctor. I  figured it was allergies and ignored it.  Chip made me go to the doctor again before he left for a work trip.  They sent me for an x-ray and.... pneumonia.  Evidently, if you don't rest enough and take care of yourself, your lungs say forget this and you end up with pneumonia.  Two antibiotics and an inhaler, as well as orders for rest, with a follow up in a week.  OF COURSE, this happened when Chip was going out of town.  However, his sweet parents were coming down from Iowa to help with the kids. 

Since Dawson and Ansley weren't feeling very well either, I took them to the doctor and we found out that Dawson had yet ANOTHER ear infection (right ear this time) and Ansley a bad cold.  With all the sickness, we decided that Hayden would visit my parents in Texas for a weekend full of playing with cousins and way too much ice cream.  He loved every second of it and I'm not quite sure he wanted to come back to boring old mom.  :) 

I'm extremely thankful that my in-laws were here to help with the twins and I've learned that I (surprise!) am not the best at resting.  Judy had to literally tell me to go lie down.  Why is it that we as moms so rarely take time for ourselves?  When we do take a minute, it often rejuvenates us and makes us better.  Are you like me and the entire time you're taking time for yourself, you hear that little mom guilt voice making you worry about if everyone is okay?  Do you feel so much guilt about resting that you can't even take a nap?  We need to stop that!  Chip doesn't feel guilt about being away from the kids while he's at work or gone on a trip.  Why do I feel guilty I'm working at 10 at night and I ask him to keep an eye on the twins?  I shouldn't feel guilty that he takes the night shift while I get my first full night of sleep in six months, yet I do.

I need to get over this guilt.  I'm doing the best I can!  The enemy knows my weakness and attacks my vulnerability.  He can go sit on a tack (to paraphrase a church camp song).  God commands us to rest. 

"There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience."  Hebrews 4:9-11

I am praying now for God to calm my soul and to help me learn to rest.  I need it to be the best mom I can be, physically and emotionally.  No more guilt and anxiousness at the thought of resting and "letting" someone else take the reins for awhile.  So what if the laundry piles up,  So what if the dishes are not done?  So what if the house is messy?  As long as there are smiles on my three precious kids faces and I have a happy husband, the rest can be let go...  I'm off to go get some rest and make this stupid pneumonia go away!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

He's a Fighter

Oh Dawson - you, buddy, were a fighter when you were still in the womb!  Your sister was ALL stretched out and you had to fight for every inch of space in the bottom corner.  Every ultrasound showed a little bundle of energy!  You never wanted to show us your face; it was a rarity if we got to see more of you than your back and bum. 

You came out almost a full pound and a half less and an inch shorter than your sister.  You may have been small, but you were mighty and full of life!  Typically, white males who are born early have more obstacles to overcome in the NICU.  They call it "wimpy, white boy syndrome."  You proved them wrong!  Just about every nurse and doctor said that you didn't get the memo that you were a preemie!  You were the first off of CPAP, the first to take a bottle, the first to nurse, the first to get out of the isolette and the first to go home.  Even at the tender age of two weeks old, you were paving the way to greatness!

Since then, you have proven your strength in both big and small ways.  You have an incredible pain tolerance - which is evidenced by the three ear infections and one sinus infection you have had in the last three months.  Your second ear infection was SO bad that it required four different antibiotics and three shots to clear it up.  You will go see the ENT on October 1st and are pretty much set to get tubes shortly thereafter.  I'm glad for this because then you'll be able to hear better and you will feel & sleep MUCH better!  I think you will have a massive growth spurt after the tubes.  Even through the pain of ear infections, you still smile and laugh!

Your smile - it lights up my heart!  You have this HUGE open mouthed smile and have had it since birth.  Your DD was the first to get you to giggle and now I can too!  To get you to laugh, you like it when we swing you REALLY big and sing "Rock a Bye Baby."  You love when we dorp you down really fast!  Hayden can get you to smile just with the sound of his voice.

You are going to be an early crawler, I think!  You can already roll all the way over and will scoot or roll yourself to wherever you want to go.  We need to start baby proofing!! 

Dawson - you already love football!  You are mesmerized whenever there is a game on.  This makes your Daddy VERY happy!! 

Your other loves include: the exersaucer, the primary colored plastic key ring, burp clothes, the blue or PINK bear pacifier (the pink is your absolute favorite one), your feet (which are ALWAYS so cold), the bath (you love to kick and make a HUGE mess), sleeping on your belly or with a fliptop head (the sign of needing tubes and maybe removal of tonsils and adenoids later on), your blue polka dot blanket from Kappy, Anger Steve, Uncle Jake and our housekeeper. 

When you don't feel good or are mad, you scratch your face, so we have to keep your nails really short.  You also have an eczema spot that flares up when you're really sad.  Your cry is loud and clear.  There is no mistaking when you're mad.  You wake up either babbling and happy or hungry and mad.  There is no in between!  You have to eat Nutramigen formula, as anything else upsets your belly.  You LOVE eating food!  I can't get it in you fast enough.  So far, apples are your favorite, but you'll really eat anything.  We have to watch out for the more acidic fruits, as they flare up your eczema.  We also found a spoon that works for your tongue thrust. You also had some cradle cap, but we got that under control with some special lotion.  You have your Mommy's sensitive skin, I'm afraid.  However, you've also got my smile and I love that!

Dawson - you have taught us so much in the past five and half months (and even before then).  You are so strong and I know that you are a natural born leader.  You want what you want, when you want it.  I see you standing up for what is right and I see you being a protector of your sister and for those who are unable to stand up for themselves.  I don't see you ever backing down.  You are so bright, so smart and so determined already!  We love you more than words can say!  You are the best big and little brother ever and you make our family complete!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Embracing the Pink

When I went in for my ultrasound with Hayden and it was obvious we were having a boy, I was relieved.  Sports, trucks, dirt, skinned knees - I could handle that.  The thought of having a girl utterly terrified me.  I absolutely adore my goddaughters and love being the Aunt Shusha who takes them to get manicures and little girl makeovers.  Raising my own?  Absolutely terrifying!

I did not have an easy time of it from middle school until about halfway through college.  In elementary, I was the smart kid who had a mom who picked out perfectly coordinated outfits (until fifth grade, which you can tell my picture with Santa in a print shirt and striped overalls rockin' a side pony).  I loved being the "teacher's pet" and didn't realize how that probably made me not the most popular kid. 

Middle school was filled with awkwardness, knobby knees and, despite WANTING  to be athletic, not having the coordination to actually be an athlete.  I wore thick, round glasses, had unruly hair and wanted desperately to be liked by the popular group.  My brother was one of the popular kids,  but I was not and never would be.  It was actually kind of sad how much I tried to be liked by the "in crowd" and I am VERY lucky that my friends did not leave me in the dust.  They were and are amazing women who recognized my faults and how much I just wanted everyone to like me (it's something I still struggle with).  Can you see I struggled with self-acceptance and self-esteem (like so many young girls do)? 

High school was pretty much two straight years of bad decisions due to rock bottom self-esteem, followed by two years of trying to undo the damage of the previous two years.  I was a hot mess and, looking back, I just want to shake myself and also give myself a big hug.  The young girl that I was - she wanted so badly to be loved and liked that she lost track of what really mattered and made choices that made it pretty hard for others to care about her (with the exception of a handful of ever faithful friends who stood by me and understood the reason I was all messed up inside and out).  Side note: I'm pretty open and honest but I will not talk about the reason I was all messed up inside and out.  Suffice it to say that it was something that required therapy until I was a junior in college and is something I have only shared with my very best friends.

College - well, it was exactly how college was supposed to be.  I went to Midwestern State University on a scholarship with dreams of becoming an Athletic Trainer.  My high school boyfriend/fiance and I went there together.  He didn't have an easy time with the coursework and didn't return for our sophomore year.  We broke up and I needed a fresh start somewhere I chose all by myself.  I got an academic transfer scholarship to the University of Texas at Arlington.  I went through recruitment and became a Tri Delta.  It was one of the very best decisions I have ever made.  I found myself and was able to be myself.  Through it all, I had my faithful friends to support me and I graduated with honors - with a degree in Business. One of my sorority sisters and I became roommates after I graduated and she is the one who introduced me to Chip. Thanks, Kristina!

So why was I so terrified of having a girl?  I have awesome girlfriends, an amazing husband and a healthy marriage, a strong faith, a great family and three miracles.  Well... middle and high school left quite a mark on me.  I didn't feel equipped to raise a daughter.  I would not wish what I went through on anyone.  I went through a very dark period at a pretty young age and didn't reach out for help.  I suffered from a depression that left me feeling worthless and lonely for the majority of my high school years.  I hid it all with a smile and no one had any idea of the turmoil and hurt that was on the inside.  I was VERY good at putting on a brave face and acting like everything was just fine.  I made good grades and tried to be the perfect daughter.  I was truly saved from myself by the grace of God and by admitting in youth group one night that I had once (unsuccessfully) tried to take my own life with pills due to my own self-loathing.  One of the youth group members wrote me a letter that I still have to this day that told me that I was worthy of God's grace and that God loved me WITH all of my mistakes, bumps and bruises (thanks, Bruce, you'll never know how much that note meant to me; well, I guess now you do if you ever read this).

It's amazing how God can change you and make you stronger than you ever thought possible.  After Hayden was born, I prayed pretty fervently for God to make me stronger and softer.  I prayed for Him to give me the confidence and wisdom to know what to do if I ever had a daughter.  I love my Mom and our relationship and I wanted the same one day, if it was God's plan.  I saw so many of my friends become Moms to daughters and I watched them.  I felt a peace in my heart that God would show me how to raise a strong, capable daughter who wouldn't have to go through any of the junk that I did.  I am sure that Ansley will have different struggles and hurdles that she will have to go through.  However, God blessed her with two older brothers to protect her.  Chip and I will instill in them (and her) how women are to be treated at all times.  We call her our princess and she is.  She is everything that is good and wonderful and right in this world.  She is a delight and is clothed in dignity.  She is our precious treasure that we will do everything in our power to protect and keep her pure and innocent.

Every night I pray for her (and Hayden and Dawson too, of course).  I pray that the word of God will be her most mighty tool.  I pray that the relationship she has with her Daddy will show how her she should be treated.  Chip is setting the bar pretty high for anyone who wants to court his daughter.  We will teach her to stand up for herself and to be strong and kind.  We will teach her how to shoot a gun and to defend herself should she ever need to.  She will know that we are her parents and we will discipline her out of love.  I want her to know that she can come to me with anything and I will always have her best interests at heart.  She may not always like me and I'm okay with that.  Every decision we make is to help her and is because we love her.  As much as I want to, I cannot keep her in a bubble.  What I can do is equip and empower her.  I can build a foundation and help her to know and love Jesus.  One of our friends has a song called "1,000 Faces" and it is the song I envision her dancing to with Chip at her wedding one day.  I look forward to the day that she has children of her own and I can be there for her like my own mom has been (and is there) for me.  With God, nothing is impossible.  He is helping to make me stronger and teaching me to be softer on myself with the addition of our sweet princess so I embrace the pink - wholeheartedly.

Ansley Jean - you are our treasure and we love you more than words can express.  Your first name is your Grandma Judy's middle name (Ann) and my middle name (Leigh) put together.  Your middle name is my Grandma Water's middle name and the first name of one of your Daddy's amazing aunts.  We wanted to give you a name that was strong and filled with history.  These women that you are named after - they are all kind and love Jesus.  That is my wish for you.         

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Staying on the Sunny Side of Life

Is your glass half empty or half full?  Do you see the world through rose colored glasses?  Are you smiling on the outside but crying inside?

I recently received several comments (all of them very sweet and kind) about my sunny disposition and positive outlook.  I felt compelled to share why I am this way - part of it is intentional, but the majority of it is spiritual.  I like to call it an attitude of gratitude. 

My life (as is the case with everyone, I feel) has not been all sunbeams and rainbows.  There has been stuff.  Lots of yucky, black, dark stuff.  I've dealt with low self-esteem, abuse, stupid mistakes, harsh words, job loss, loneliness, depression, infertility, death of loved ones, surgeries, bad bosses, mean  coworkers, judgemental jerks - stuff that I think a lot of people have gone through.  I've been incredibly blessed with friends and family who have helped me through it.  More than that though, my faith has got me through.  Jesus has carried me through it.  I have flat out laid on the floor cried and prayed.  I have yelled and screamed.  I am a sinner and only God has saved me. 

On one incredibly desperate night, I prayed for God to use me.  I wanted to be His servant and to emulate Him.  I don't have the crafting ability of some of my friends.  I am not a dynamic public speaker.  What gifts did I have?  I have a smile and I have been through infertility struggles.  I have a passion for helping other women - in whatever way God wants me to do so.  So, I started small.  I smiled and I looked for  the blessings in everyday life.  Every single day I thanked God for five things.  Some days were harder than others.  Slowly, but surely, it came natural. 

Everyone has stuff they have to deal with.  It's HOW you deal with it that can make or break you. 

When your baby has been up every hour for the past two nights and you're feeling like a zombie, remember, this phase is temporary.  God made you that baby's Momma for a reason.  You are uniquely equipped to raise that precious angel.  I bet in the darkness, you can see that baby smiling in his sleep as you sing to him.

The day you forget to pay the water bill and the city people show up on your doorstep, remember, at least you have the money to cover it and the reason you forgot to pay it is sitting in a swing in your living room.

Your car a/c goes out two days before you're supposed to take your babies home from the NICU.   It's crazy expensive.  Remember, you are blessed to have a car and the nice mechanic can fix it for you that day.  You have an emergency credit card and this would be the time to use it.  A few months later, you hear a story of a poor little one who became an angel after riding in a car with no a/c for hours when he was only a couple of weeks old.  You pray for that family and how hurt and broken their hearts must be. 

You get laid off at six and half months pregnant on a Friday.  You stress about money.  You get on your knees and pray to God for a solution.  You get a call the next Tuesday with an offer of more money and more hours, less stress and an amazing boss. 

I told you - my life is not all sunbeams and rainbows.  All of the above things have happened to me.  I could go on about the negative, however, how would that help?  How would that honor God?  They are first world problems, really.  I chose to look at the ways that God has blessed me and continues to do so on a daily basis.  I try to find the joy in the small things. 

The out of the blue card from a friend thanking me for texting her when she is going  through fertility treatments.

The sweet laughter of my children.

The surprise massage my husband scheduled for me.

My friends who are training for a 5K with me and our silly texts to keep each accountable.

After all, with all of these blessings in my life, how can I really be a sourpuss about the small things?  We're called as Christians to trust God and that is what I try to do.  I encourage you to start writing down the things you're grateful for daily if you want to start having an attitude of gratitude.  Write it down on the calendar or keep a journal.  Heck, text yourself.  I promise you that you will start to see a difference in the way you respond to the yucky stuff.  Look at the sunny side of every situation you find yourself in. I am NOT perfect and I struggle with being and staying sunny. For me, the easiest "cure" is to pray and to text or call a friend. Or I hug a baby. Or I look back and remember how God carried me through the hardest and darkest days of my life. I sing silly songs. I read sweet comments made by you all. I find those rose colored glasses and I slip them on. Will you join me?


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You're Doing Wonderful!

Dear First Time Mom,

I know you are BEYOND exhausted and totally understand why sleep deprivation is an effective means of torture.  Just hang with me and read this... I promise it will give you some mental energy. 

I bet you didn't know that you could love someone so much, did you?  Maybe you had that instant connection or maybe it took you longer.  Either way, you're doing great and are an incredible Mom!

How is feeding going?  Maybe nursing comes easily for you or maybe it's a struggle.  Maybe you decided that formula is what's best for you because your milk didn't come in, the baby wouldn't latch, you just don't feel any desire to nurse, or whatever reason.  Either way, you're doing great and are an incredible Mom! 

Did you have a c-section?  I had to with both pregnancies.  Hayden's was after 12+ hours of labor (with pitocin and an epidural).  Did you have a natural birth?  Pain meds?  A water birth?  Either way, you're doing great and are an incredible Mom!

Are you already a pro at swaddling or does baby just not like it?  Do you believe in co-sleeping?  Sleeping with one hand on the baby's chest all night and your wrist (and hand) goes numb but you do it because that's the only way baby will sleep?  Maybe your baby sleeps all night or maybe only in one hour increments.  Either way, you're doing great and are an incredible Mom!

Do you have to go back to work?  Do you WANT to go back to work?  Do you feel guilt when you drop off your baby at daycare?  Here's a tissue and my shoulder - I've been there!  Do you feel guilt because you WANT and NEED to go back to work for your own mental health?  Either way, you're doing great and are an incredible Mom!

Are you able to stay home?  Is it everything  you wanted?  Is it a million times harder than you ever thought?  Do you feel lonely and isolated?  Are you having to stay home but want to work?  Either way, you're doing great and are an incredible Mom!

I want you to know - this is just the beginning of an amazing journey.  I've heard it said that the days are long, but the years are short.  It's true!  Everything about becoming a mom turns your world upside down.  For some, being a mom comes completely naturally.  For others, not so much.  Either way, you're doing great and are an incredible Mom!

There are "mommy wars" about everything... or at least it seems that way.  Not here.  You do what's best for you and your family!  Bottle or breast, co sleep or not, work or stay home, c-section or all natural... you know your baby best, you know your family best.  You've got this and you're doing a wonderful job!  Trust your gut.  Don't beat yourself up.  No Mom is perfect, but every Mom is the perfect Mommy for their child(ren).  I wish I had believed this when I was a first time Mom!  My son loves me and I love him.  I hated going back to work. I nursed him until 15 months and didn't get one full night's sleep during that time.  I felt I had to do everything.  I felt guilty about working.  I felt guilty every time he was sick.  I felt guilty if I went to get a pedicure or for a walk by myself. 

I'm doing things different this time around.  I ask for help.  I accept help. I work from home, but my kids still get sick - and that's okay.  I nursed for five months and am dang proud of it.  It's also awesome to see my husband (or mom, neighbor, friend) give the babies bottles and bond with them.  I go shopping without kids.  I run several times a week.  I play with my kids.  I know I'm showing them you have to work hard for a living.  I use disposables.  I tend to be overanxious about sickness and want to wrap my kids in a bubble with Germ X.  You know what?  It's okay that I'm that way.  I embrace my crazy!  More than that though, I pray over them every night.  I trust God and I know He's using them to sharpen me and soften me. 

You've got this!  Here's some virtual coffee and cinnamon rolls.  I'm here - I won't judge you.  I will support you.  That's what Moms do.  I'm blessed enough to be surrounded by awesome Moms - we all do things differently and we all support each other.  Trust me - you're doing wonderful! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Being on Bed Rest

I knew when I got pregnant with the twins that bed rest might become a reality.  I preferred to stick my hand in the sand and pretend I could be uber-tough like my friend, Kathy, and not need to be on bed rest.  This didn't happen because my cervix thinned out and we needed those babies to stay in and cook! 

I felt incredibly guilty that I wasn't able to play with Hayden as much as he or I wanted.  I had to learn to work laying down and a shower became a five minute mini vacation.  It was NOT easy on Hayden, Chip or me.  I did learn one very valuable lesson through it all though... I learned to be on the receiving end of help. 

I am the first one to want to help others and find that it blesses me tenfold to do so.  Being on the receiving end?  NOT so easy!  I had to rely on our neighbors, who are Hayden's adopted uncles, to help take Hayden to school and back when Chip had meetings.  They brought food, company and sanity.  These two guys, Steve & Rob, well, they deserve a post all their own.  We adore them and could never thank them enough!  Rob's family has invited us into their home, brought us food, celebrated with us, prayed for us and has been a true Godsend.

I had several friends who came and brought me lunch, magazines, Sonic drinks and kept me sane.  Mary Ann, Chasity and Adrianne are so sweet.  When you're stuck looking at the walls in your living room and you can't cook, clean, nest, have watched every show on your DVR and read until yours eyes are sore - it's a welcome sight to have someone bring you your favorite sandwich or drink!  If you know someone on bed rest, just giving  them 15 minutes of your time and spending a dollar on their favorite drink will bring them much needed sanity and joy!  TRUST ME ON THIS!!

As any pregnant woman can attest, you have the urge to NEST and being on bed rest does not allow for this.  Praise the Lord for the aforementioned Kathy!  This girl drove all the way from Houston, dropped her own sweet twins off at her parents in DFW, stopped by Costco for a trunk full of frozen dinners to stock our freezer with and came to save the day!  She stayed for several days and helped make the twins room a bright & cheery place.  Hayden is IN LOVE with her, so he was super excited to have "his Kappy" all to himself for a few days.  We go to catch  up, hang out and I felt so much more normal just by having her around to make me laugh and give me much needed twin advice.

Besides super friends, our family just plain rocks (and yes, I know just how lucky I am)!  My in-laws and my parents, as well as Nicole (our super sweet cousin who lives too far away in Stillwater), helped too!  They assisted in putting furniture together, spending quality time with Hayden, helping me organize (okay, doing  the organizing while I watched) and were just above and beyond awesome!!

I just want to put it all out there that bed rest can make you feel like your going batty.  If you are on bed rest, I want to give you hope!  My friend, Ryan, sent me a how to crochet set (that I'm still working on figuring out how to do, maybe when the twins are 10 - ha) out of the blue.  I had people Facebook me and message me words of encouragement.  Just know that the end result is so worth it!  Every day those babies are IN your belly is three less days of NICU time.  Knowing that fact helped me "power through."  Ask for friends to come to you.  Most people want to help, they just don't know how!  Allow them to bless you!!

If you know someone on bed rest, bring them magazines, a drink, talk with them about YOUR life.  Give them a call or a quick text to tell them they're awesome.  Stop by and do a quick load of laundry or bring them some food or groceries.  If they have a child, take them for an hour or two to the park or play ball in the backyard.  Every little thing helps and is appreciated more than you'll know.

To all of our sweet friends and family - you helped Dawson and Ansley grow and helped Hayden feel extra special.  Thank you will never be enough... I hope the sincerity and gratitude I'm trying to convey  through this post shines through!   

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I'd Do It All Again

"For this boy (these children) I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. 28"So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there."  1 Samuel 1:27-28

These two verses sum up so much in 44 words... Years of trying to conceive the old fashioned way, fertility drugs, doctor visits, cross-country flights, tears, laughter, heartbreak, happiness and, through it all, SO MUCH prayer.  Chip and I have been blessed with three amazing miracles.  I have hopes and dreams for them, like any parent.  However, there are two things that are important above all else - I want my children to love Jesus and I want them to be kind.  Everything else they accomplish (and I know God has great plans for them) is a bonus.  I want them to sign the Lord's praises and to be a testament to His glory.  I want them to seek out the shy child, to stand up for what is right (even when it's not the "cool thing" to do). 

I have to be honest with you.  Getting (and staying) pregnant and birthing my children was NOT easy.  With Hayden, I was so, so sick every morning until I was over halfway through the pregnancy.  He tried to arrive early several times.  I ended up having an induction and, after 12+ hours of labor, an emergency c-section.  I only dilated to an eight and he was transverse and stuck on my hipbone.  If I had had him back before c-sections, neither one of us would have made it.  Every struggle I went through from conception to delivery melted away the instant I heard his cry and saw him!  At three and a half, he still has a way of surprising me on a daily basis.  His love for all sports is undeniable.  He has the best sense of humor and such a kind and helpful heart.  Don't tell anyone, but he's my favorite.

With Dawson and Ansley, I expected to be sick, but not THAT sick.  I was sick morning, noon and night with them until I was 25 weeks pregnant.  I had to get outpatient IV therapy two times a week and wear a special band (along with taking medication) to keep from throwing up constantly.  I was laid off from my job at six and a half months pregnant (the day after I received a glowing review).  I was put on bed rest at 29 weeks and received two steroid shots to help grow the babies lungs.  The babies just kept trying to come early.  I ended up in the hospital to stop labor with the use of a magnesium drip at 32 weeks.  I left after a few days and then went BACK, this time for preeclampsia, three days after I left.  Even with medication, my blood pressure kept going up and I ended up having them at 33 weeks and 5 days gestation.  The doctor moved the c-section up by two hours and Chip almost missed it.  I was in the OR and they were starting my spinal tap when Chip came in.  It was that close.  My sweet friend, Chasity, almost had to stand in for him. 

After their birth, the babies were immediately sent to the NICU where they stayed for two weeks.  At the time, it felt like an eternity.  Having an older child at home and two babies in NICU, while trying to pump, work and not lose your sanity is something I only accomplished by the grace of God, my sweet husband and in-laws, along with some very amazing friends.  The work served as a distraction.  I have never felt pulled in so many different directions.  I wanted to spend every second with Dawson and Ansley, but Hayden needed us too and I wanted to spend every second with him.  Luckily, our NICU allowed siblings and is one of the very best in the state.  While they were in the NICU, I learned about CPAPs, PICC lines, baby IVs, bilirubin lights, touch times, rooming in, scary phone calls and having to make split second decisions, pumping, syringes of food, how to feed a preemie, tiny diapers, monitors, adjusted age and how to "brown nose" a nurse (sweets) and the thrill of passing a car seat test.  I had never been so excited to change a diaper, to feed my own baby, to nurse for the first time (in the NICU, babies do feeding tube, bottle and then boob), to take my child's temperature, to give them a sponge bath, to put clothes on them, to learn to hold them with wires coming out of everywhere,  to holding them with no wires.  I have had my heart drop when learning our daughter's stats had dropped to a dangerous level and, come to find out, she had reflux and only needed to be elevated to make everything okay.  I received a phone call in the middle of the night letting me know that she had to go back on CPAP.  I learned no one ever told our son that he was a preemie and that he and his sister were both fighters from the beginning.  I discovered I was stronger than I ever thought possible and I learned how to survive on very minimal sleep.  I learned who our true friends are - I learned about the kindness of strangers and how amazing Facebook can be.  People who I didn't really know that well reached out to us and surrounded our babies in prayer.  Those prayers saved their lives.  Dawson has such a sweet smile and infectious giggle. He is a determined little guy. Ansley has the calmest disposition, loves her thumb and has a heart-melting dimple. Don't tell anyone, but they're my favorites.

I now have two precious, feisty, amazing five month olds and a three and half year old who loves them SO much!  My heart grew three times bigger.  My job now is to raise them to love the Lord and to cover them in prayer.  That I can do and I do it constantly.  Our children are miracles and no, the pregnancies, births and after was not easy.  God gave me an attitude of gratitude and carried us through.  And you know what?  I'd do it all over again...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Creating a Family

There are SO many ways to create a family - from "the old fashioned way," to adoption, blended families or, as is the case with us, through fertility treatments such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) or FET (frozen embryo transfer).  There is no right or wrong way.  Everyone's story is different and, I believe, the plan that God had for them.  Given our long road with struggles and, ultimately, three amazing blessings, I want God to use me and our story to encourage and offer hope to others.  To do that, I have to be open and honest...

With Hayden, they transferred two embryos and he "stuck."  I believe his sibling is in Heaven being rocked by my Grandma Water, along with the other babies that I miscarried.  We had four frozen embryos left to use to complete our family.  When we decided that it was time to expand our family, I thought that the lab would end up having to thaw all four to get two embryos that were viable for transfer.  We were VERY lucky in that the first two they thawed were viable.  They transferred them both and the result was Dawson (our precious boy) and Ansley (our sweet girl).  We were absolutely thrilled!  This left us with two frozen embryos.

Our yearly decision time with the embryos is April.  We decided to postpone our decision until after the twins were born.  After an eventful pregnancy and two miracles who came six weeks and two days early, but were (and are) healthy and home (that's another post), we received the notice from the doctor.  We had four options: store the embryos for later use by us, destroy them, donate them to research (for new lab doctors to "practice" on - they wouldn't let them grow or anything like that), or donate them to an anonymous couple so that they could create/complete their family.  We prayed and prayed about it.  It was either option one (us) or option four (another couple).  We knew our family was complete, however, I had a hard, hard time with option four.  I felt they were biologically our children (I believe life begins at conception) and all the lab would tell us is, after a year, if the donated embryos resulted in a successful pregnancy and a successful birth(s).  I looked at our miracles and how beautiful they are, how lucky we are.  Was this the right decision?  Was my crazy pregnancy and tough delivery, followed by a two week NICU stay, keeping me from making the "right" decision?  I prayed some more.  I asked God for clarity and peace.

When the twins were about three weeks old (home one week from the NICU), I was texting a friend and she was talking about their fertility struggles.  They were about to embark on IVF.  I thought about their journey with secondary infertility and another close friend who would have to use donor eggs (or donated embryos) due to her eggs not being viable from the chemo and radiation she received when battling (and beating) breast cancer.  I have prayed for these friends everyday.  I know how desperately they want to complete their families.  I know firsthand the struggle of infertility and the roller coaster ride it is.  Then, my "ah ha" moment.  I would do ANYTHING for these two friends. I would do ANYTHING for any of my friends.  They have so much love to give and want nothing more than a child to give that love to.  All at once, I felt overwhelming peace.  There was a couple out there who needed our embryos.  Yes, they were biologically ours, however, they were also growing in the heart of someone else.  I had to trust God.  He wanted us to donate them. 

The next morning, I called  the lab and told  them our plans.  The doctor told me that they were seven day freezes (that means that they fertilized and were frozen as seven day old embryos).  They don't even do seven day freezes any longer.  The doctor told me that they were the best quality for seven day that she'd ever seen.  She also told me that the list was long of people who needed embryos to complete their family and it would be an enormous blessing to them.  This lab, these doctors and nurses, they had been (and are) a blessing to US.  Their expertise and dedication allowed us our family.  I couldn't deny someone else the chance to have their own miracle. 

Chip and I filled out stacks and stacks of paperwork.  We had to get forms notarized, do special blood work and provide our medical history, along with that of our children, siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  And now... we wait.  Everything has been signed, sealed and delivered.  It's in God's hands now.  We can call in a year and find out if it was a successful pregnancy and how many babies were delivered.  Honestly though, I think I already know what the answer will be...