Saturday, December 31, 2016

An Interview with the Girl - 2 1/2

Ella is a few days past turning 2 1/2, and I thought I should attempt her interview.
Attempt is the right word.
I feel like she's either very bright and likes to play games, or she's incredibly ditzy.
Also, she and Jack have been very into pretend words lately, so there's that.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day 2016

Christmas morning arrived early here. Oliver was up a lot of the night, and The Husband spent the evening into the early morning hours putting together the activity table his dad built and the train we got for the kids.
 
 
This is the first Christmas that Jack really understood what was going on, and the delight in his eyes was precious when their daddy walked them into the room. 

He went straight for the flashlights (he loves those things), but once he realized the train was for him (and her), he was all about the train. He spent all morning playing with it. 

We do the 4 gifts "rule" for each kiddo. We weren't quite prepared for Olli, haha, so he only got something to read and a pair of gloves to grow into. 
Something they want. 
Something they need. 
Something they wear. 
Something they read. 
 
 
The train is obviously not a true "need," but I figure there's not much a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old need. So this year, they "needed" a train, and their Pop-pop made a table to go with it :)
 
For breakfast, I warmed up some pumpkin bread a friend of my mom's sent over. It was so yummy! A few apples and some cream cheese added to our plates hit the spot. 
 
 
They played with their new toys all morning, and then while I fixed lunch, they got to see what Nana and Grandpa had given them. There was much excitement, and they played on it for almost an hour. I foresee many, many afternoons of backyard entertainment ahead of us. 
 
 
My parents and my sister and her family came over this afternoon, and we all had time together remembering Ryan and what he meant to us. 
 
We played outside and opened gifts and ate a yummy dinner prepared mostly by my mom. Thanks, Mom!! 
 



 

 
 
We struggled with emotions and loved on this guy. 

 
We took the requisite kiddo pictures. 
 
 
 
We took family photos. I won't say it wasn't difficult watching my sister's family take theirs. It was.  But they are still a family. And, Ryan will always be their son. 
 
This Christmas was not the wondrous event we all hoped it would be. But there was still joy to be had. Watching my children discover Christmas this morning brought a smile to my face that hasn't made an appearance at all this week. I'm grateful for that. 

We took our family photo, and I smiled. It wasn't my brightest or my biggest, but it was genuine. I smiled because I knew Ryan would want me to. I smiled because he would have hated posing for those photos. I smiled because he was a super kid with a heart of gold who hated social gatherings and who would cringe at all this attention directed towards him. He was one of a kind, and he was ours 💙

May God grant each of us a night of peaceful sleep, sweet dreams, and the hope of a new morning. 

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours. 
May 2017 be filled with much hope and much joy. 
 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

About A Boy

Ryan.

You were a spitfire from birth. 

You had us all holding our breath when you'd whirling-dervish your way into a room. 

You had a smile and a head-full of angelic curls that could light up any gloomy day. 
 
You were the first new baby in our family.  The first grandson. My first nephew. A very wanted child. 
 
You and I. We spent many a day together over the first five years of your life. We had park dates and adventures. We played and danced to Bon Jovi. 

And, you grew, both in maturity and stature. You gained a self-control that amazed me. You were a friend to your sister and a helper to your family. You were kind and thoughtful and quiet and unassuming. 

We had you in our lives for 18 years. 
Such a short time for such a loved young man. 
I can't wrap my mind around the truth of it. The truth that you aren't here with us anymore. The truth that I won't hear that "hello" when I call or see you sitting on the couch with that shy grin when I visit. The truth that your newest cousin won't get to meet you this side of heaven. 

Ryan. 

The heartache is raw, and I can't wrap my mind around any of this.  It can't be real, but it is. My heart hurts desperately for your family and for the loss they feel so deeply. May God grant us all such a perfect peace as we grieve, trusting that you are waiting patiently and contentedly until the day we are reunited. That is the hope I cling to as I hold my baby tightly and nurse him back to sleep. 
 
You were and will continue to be loved. 

I miss you, Nephew.  

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Four Days Old

Oliver is 4 days old today.

Yesterday, on his third day in the NICU, we were told right before his 11am feeding that he would get to room in with us. I had already been released the day before and was allowed to "room in" since I'm breastfeeding him around the clock. It's a nice thing they offer. And we were elated he was coming. 
 
When he arrived in our room, he was bundled up in a lit blue blanket to help lower his jaundice levels since they were still elevated. I was disappointed because I knew that meant we'd have to deal with the lights and the blanket instead of getting to do skin-to-skin and love on him in our space. I was finally given the go-ahead to take him out of it when I fed him because he refused to nurse in it. But then he had to go right back under the lights.  It was a long night. I woke and sat bolt upright, and in the process nearly killed my incision when I saw he had ripped off his blinders. That happened twice. 
 
They rechecked his levels at 5:30am, and we heard back around 9 that he would be released. His level is still not ideal (it's an 8), and it could still go back up since he's premature, so we have to monitor him closely. 

I was so happy to be able to put actual clothes on him and take him out from under the lights. 
 
We were just about to leave when they realized they hadn't done a car seat check to make sure his vitals stayed stable. This was an almost 2 hour test. Thankfully, aside from being VERY angry initially, he passed. 

We took this shot before leaving the room that had been home since Wednesday morning. 
 
The Husband loaded up the car and got Olli all situated in his car seat, and we headed home to our other kiddos and our new normal. 

They were both super excited to see us and have been very sweet with him. 
 
They both mimic me nursing him, which is hilarious and adorable. 

Ella has had a very hard time with me being gone, and now that I'm home, she wants to be wherever I am and doesn't understand why I can't lift her up and snuggle her.  Please pray for her heart and for mine as I learn to let others help in the areas I'm not able to. 

My parents have been with the kids since day 1, and they have been a HUGE blessing to us. My brother-in-law came and helped for a few days (thanks sooo much, Nathan!), and now my sister-in-law is here with us for a while (you know we think you rock, Faith!). 

I know my parents need a break lol, so I'm glad The Husband has a few more days off from work. I'm not looking forward to figuring out life on my own with three kids when I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than Oliver. It will certainly be interesting. 

I'm so thankful for this gift God has given us. 
I'm so thankful that my 35-weeker spent less than a week in the NICU, had no need for oxygen, and is home with us.
I'm so thankful for family and friends who have stepped up and who have gone above and beyond to help us and love on us. 
I'm so thankful for this first night home with him and all the nights to come. 

I'm going to put this sleeping boy in bed, and I'm going to rest my weary eyes. 
 
Thank you for praying for us as we embark on this life as a family of 5. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

This Love and Some Chocolate

It's 4am. I'm beyond tired. Beyond emotional. Beyond being able to function aside from the pumping I'm doing. I do not have the energy to walk down to the nicu one more time. But my milk came in with the last feeding at 11, so I have to pump to keep my supply up. He has plenty of pumped milk with him down there, and they will feed him by syringe when I don't make it to the 5am feed.  I'm pumping and trying to stay awake as I listen to The Husband snore on the couch by the window.  I was looking through pictures I've taken over the last couple of days, and I realized something:  I have few words when it comes to watching The Husband with our newest babe.

Every time I see him hold Oliver, my heart swells because he ADORES that boy. Every time I see him gently rub their noses together or cuddle him close or speak softly to him telling him how much he loves him, I swoon. 

He's kind of over-the-moon for our Olli, and I'm kind of over-the-moon for them both. 😍
 

Also, he got me the best early Christmas present you could give a hungry, hormonal, nursing-constantly momma: the most delicious chocolate from the neatest place out there. ❤🍫 
 
So, I could be a puddle because of that, too.  It's possible. I'm going to finish this pumping business and go eat some before trying to rest more. I can't wait to see Oliver at 8am, but I also can't wait to see the back of my eyelids.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Oliver's Birth Story

I went to bed Tuesday night thinking it would be a typical night. I'd be up 3, 4, 5 times using the restroom. Ella might wake a couple of times. Jack might have a bad dream.
I did have a couple of potty runs, and Ella might have woken once and gone right back to sleep, but I was definitely not prepared for what happened next. 
Around 4:30, I woke to fluid rushing out of me. I jumped out of bed, and the fluid continued gushing as I stood there in disbelief. I've never had my water break on its own. Such a surreal moment. I grabbed my phone and took many deep breaths as I tried to reach The Husband. After several attempts and a text or two, I gave up and called my parents and asked them to come stay with the kids. I called The Husband's work and asked them to let him know as soon as possible. 
I finished packing the bags that I had packed the day before (I was in total nesting mode and had no idea that I had done those things just in time), and I changed into clothes that would keep me warm in a cold hospital waiting room. The Husband arrived while I was putting on the only piece of makeup I had time for: waterproof mascara 😂 (good choice, by the way). 
As soon as my parents arrived (our neighbor came over, too), we hopped in the car and headed out needing to stop by his work quickly to get his stuff he'd left there. 
Up to this point, I had not had any contractions. I thought that was strange. I may have had some while I slept, but I hadn't had any since my water broke. 
As we neared the hospital, I started feeling them, and they were completely different than the uterine tightening I had had throughout my pregnancy. I swear every bump and every railroad track we hit, I felt deeply, haha! 
We arrived and filled out paperwork and were taken upstairs to be checked out. More contractions, every 4 or 5 minutes apart, came. It was now close to 6am. I spent my time emailing my mom the kids' daily routine and posting on Facebook. 
 
I was nervous because I knew that I was going to have to have a csection and wanted to keep my mind off of it. I may have cried a few times. The Husband was my strength and prayed for us.
 
He looks like he's put on 50 lbs lol! But he had his very bulky uniform and all of his gear on underneath the scrubs 😂
We met with the anesthesiologist (who told us he'd prayed for me before arriving) and my doctor who happened to be on call and who was well-rested and chipper. 
It was now 7:15ish, and it was time to head in. 
 
I was so cold in that sterile and stark (and, frankly, frightening) operating room. A sweet nurse came over and covered my legs up and held me and prayed over me as I sat in an awkward position for the anesthesiologist to get the spinal tap in. 
And then things happened quickly but seemed to go in slow motion. The Husband came in and held my hand. I felt lots of tugging and jostling and heard my doctor say, "come on our little guy!" He was so tucked in there, they had to practically dig him out! All I kept praying for was to hear that first cry because we knew that if he didn't cry, his lungs weren't ready. At 35 weeks, that was a VERY distinct possibility. 
But at 8:03am, we heard the most glorious sound: the hearty cries of our second son. I wept with sheer happiness.  I listened as they checked him over. 
 
And, the waiting seemed to take a long time. He looked great, and the best news was that he was over 5 lbs and was breathing well on his own. 
The Husband brought him over, and I got to see his squishy face. Love. 

A nurse took a picture of The Husband holding him, and when I looked at it, I was immediately reminded of a similar picture he took when holding Ella. 
 
They took him to the holding/recovery room to wait for me to be sewn up, which took awhile. 
I got to do skin-to-skin with him once I met them in there, and and I was able to nurse him on both sides. 
 
And, then, I started feeling very lightheaded and nauseous and knew I shouldn't hold him when I might pass out. 
We moved to our private room, and as I was holding him again, a nurse needed to do a blood sugar level check on him. She didn't get a good number, and she wanted to check it again, so she took him from me. And, then things went downhill. I started vomiting and his blood sugar level plummeted. They rushed him to the nicu, and I was left with a pan to hold. 
I lost track of how many times I threw up that day. All I know is that throwing up after having a csection is horrible and painful and disheartening. And, I was so very sad that my baby was not doing well, and I couldn't be with him. 
Yesterday was a hard day. It feels so long ago now. 

But today? Today has been much better. I've gotten to nurse him three times so far and hold him and love on him and stare at his sleeping face. 
 
I'm sure I've forgotten details, but the end is what matters: we have a healthy baby boy who is strong and breathing well. As long as he continues to maintain a good body temp and stable blood sugar levels, he shouldn't have to be in the nicu much longer. 
 
Welcome to the family, Oliver Flynn. 
We love you beyond words. 💙
 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Our Second Son

We'd like to introduce the newest member of our family.
I will write up a full birth story for him in the coming days, but this is all I'm up to right now.

Weighing in at 5 pounds 4 ounces and measuring 17 3/4 inches long with a wonderfully strong set of vocal chords,
 
Is our boy -- 
Oliver Flynn 💙
Olli, to the four of us who have gotten to know and already love him well. 
 

Monday, December 12, 2016

An Interview with the Boy - 3 1/2

I asked Jack these questions last year, and it's crazy what a difference a year has made in his speech/communication. 
I tried to do this yesterday when he actually turned 3 1/2, but life happened and an iPad screen got cracked and a momma nearly cried. 
So. 
We did it today before his nap. 
I videoed this time, and at just under 4 minutes, I think you can see a glimpse of the character of a boy we have on our hands and in our hearts. 

Enjoy 💚

35 Weeks - Pregnancy #4

Each Monday, I'd like to do a highlights post, including a picture, summarizing the differences in my pregnancy from week to week.  I totally "grabbed" this idea from Kelly.  I've done this with my three previous pregnancies (you can go to the search box and type in "pregnancy," or "week #" if you're interested in how my previous pregnancies progressed), as well, and I still think it is a great way to jot down the things that I don't want to forget later on.  

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along:  35 weeks

Size of baby:  This little one is over 18 inches long (head to toe) and weighs a little more than 5 lbs (about the size of a honeydew melon) 🍈 

Total weight gain/loss:  I'm up 27 pounds total as of my appointment today. Sheesh. It would be unrealistic to hope this baby is 10lbs, right?!

Maternity clothes:  anything that still fits or The Husband's clothes when I'm desperate :/

Gender:  boy :) 💙

Movement:  big, jerky movements, shoving his butt out of my right side or into my belly button

Sleep:  Same as the last two weeks:  Sleep has been awful with my kids, my uterus tightening, and my many trips to the bathroom. 

What I miss:  putting on socks and shoes and shaving with ease

Cravings:  chocolate; salty foods

Symptoms:   Braxton Hicks contractions and uterine tightness for long periods of time, and heartburn heartburn heartburn

Exercise:  just stretching this week and some arm workouts with my stretchy band

Best moment this week:  Hmmm. Well I'm super pumped that I made it to 35 weeks!!

35 Weeks - taken this morning before church
 
 

Monday, December 5, 2016

34 Weeks - Pregnancy #4

Each Monday, I'd like to do a highlights post, including a picture, summarizing the differences in my pregnancy from week to week.  I totally "grabbed" this idea from Kelly.  I've done this with my three previous pregnancies (you can go to the search box and type in "pregnancy," or "week #" if you're interested in how my previous pregnancies progressed), as well, and I still think it is a great way to jot down the things that I don't want to forget later on.  

Pregnancy Highlights:

How far along:  34 weeks

Size of baby:  This little one is almost 18
inches long (head to toe) and weighs a little less than 5 lbs. 

Total weight gain/loss:  I'm up 26 pounds total as of my appointment today. Holy. Cow. 

Maternity clothes:  anything that still fits or The Husband's clothes when I'm desperate :/

Gender:  boy :) 💙

Movement:  big, jerky movements, shoving his butt out of my right side

Sleep:  Same as last week:  Sleep has been awful with my kids, my uterus tightening, and my trips to the bathroom. 

What I miss:  putting on socks and shaving with ease

Cravings:  chocolate; salty foods

Symptoms:  sciatic nerve (yoga helps a lot) pain; Braxton Hicks contractions and uterine tightness for long periods of time 

Exercise:  just stretching this week and some arm workouts with my stretchy band

Best moment this week:  to be honest, this week has kind of sucked.  I'm tired and grumpy and in need of sleep, but no one seems to want me to have it.

34 Weeks - taken this morning before my appointment