Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It’s on Sunday’s I remember…

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand…”

Those years past I didn’t know what He was doing. He called us out, asked us to walk in faith, our infertility and loss a mystery. And yet, even as He called us out and walked with us, He allowed our faith to stand.

And it’s on Sunday’s I remember you most often. As I stand in worship at church, thinking and heart swelling, that we are singing in unison. You and me. Though I never touched you, never smelled your newborn scent, never sang to you…it doesn’t really matter, because when I open my mouth in praise I know I join you in the heavenly chorus.

“…Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now…”

The Lord created you both with purpose and He took you both home with a purpose. That I am sure of. And I know had you come, your sisters would not have. And had you not first made me a mother, I may have never mustered up enough hope to think He could create life again. His grace abounded when He gave you to us, even just for mere days. His hand overflowed with blessing and though my feet began to slip and I feared it would never happen again, the Lord you stand before and worship never failed your mother when He took you home.

He was faithful. I look at those pregnancy tests that told me I was a mother when the lines intersected and I think of you and who you would look like and my heart overflows with thankfulness that He showed His goodness when He gave us you. To think, I am the mother of four children; two in front of me and two I can only hope to meet.

“…Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.”

When your daddy and I began trying for babies we asked the Lord for children because we knew we needed sanctifying and because we wanted to raise up children for the Lord. Little did we know that in praying and asking those things, we would walk a road neither of us could have imagined. Years of treatment and uncertainty, two babies lost too soon, and then two babies given to life here on earth. When He called us to walk the road of parenthood, He took us deeper and our faith was made ever stronger.

And though I would love to stroke your cheek and kiss your soft head and tuck you in and give you a name, I wouldn’t take back the years the Lord gave us in knowing Him more. Because I know that where you are is where you were created to be.

And it’s on Sunday’s I am with you again. As I sing out in praise I know my voice is joining yours as we worship our Savior together. You and me. He has not left me without a chance to be with you, for in worship our hearts are knit together. The only difference is that you are standing face to face with Him who has given and has taken away.

So it’s on Sunday’s I remember you.

{in remembrance of the two babies the Lord gave us for a short time in honor of October 15th…Infant Loss Awareness Day.}

**lyrics from Hillsong’s Oceans**

Monday, October 13, 2014

2.5 Weeks In

She’s 2.5 weeks old already. We weighed her yesterday on our scale at home and it said 8 pounds even. It’s already beginning…the number of times I’ll say this time is going too fast. And I feel even more it’s good to make note of the days before they pass too quickly and my sleep deprived mind forgets. I made notes in Elizabeth’s early days and they are still some of my favorite to look back on.

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A Look Back at your First Week

9/25/14 – You were born at 5:55 pm

9/26/14 – after just 36 or so hours after checking in to the hospital we brought you home.

9/27/14 – we took our very first, very short walk around the block.

9/28/14 – your first time to the park that is literally less than 1/4 mile from our house

9/29/14 – first trip to the pediatrician’s office

9/30/14 – first trip to Target as a family of 4

10/1/14 – first trip to storytime at the library

10/2/14 – first time to BSF (One week old!)

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Meghan at 2.5 weeks

Your first week home was a bit of a blur. Grandma came to help the day that we all came home from the hospital and just 24 hours after arriving she slipped on a step and broke her ankle. Mommy took her to the ER while daddy stayed home with you girls. After all that crazy she stayed for a couple more days and snuggled you up.

At 2.5 weeks old, you are just starting to wake up a bit. Up until now, you would eat and then fall right back asleep and now we are able to see your beautiful eyes a bit more often, thankfully not that often at night! You continue to be a textbook baby…Elizabeth was textbook with a bit of grumpy and we have yet to see the grumpy come out in you. Although it’s still early and I KNOW this will all change probably daily or weekly until you are older, but as of now you are a sweet and content baby. Especially with a sister who loves to cuddle you and squeeze you up. You rarely cry unless you have a gassy tummy or need help going back to sleep. At night you are sleeping longer stretches, longest was almost 5 hours. Usually you wake 3 times in the night, 3-4 hours from your last feeding so mommy is actually getting some good stretches of sleep.

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Mommy at 2.5 weeks

This time around Mommy was a bit smarter. We all learned a valuable lesson the first time around with your sister and so I have been really diligent about making sure I am not over-doing it. It may seem given the list of firsts during your first week that we did a lot but I can assure you that we did not.

After Elizabeth was born, I didn’t know how to just sit and relax. Because she slept so much and I felt pretty good, I jumped right back into life full force and as a result ended up struggling with PPD and being really frustrated towards Alex. I kept our house, went about errands, and resented the fact that he didn’t help more. Before Meghan came we talked a lot about how things would look. We enlisted my mother to come and stay for a bit (although that looked much different than expected) and we worked far more as a team. After a couple of days home it became evident that my day would go much easier if we did something that was regular and consistent for Elizabeth. She was acting up a bit and as soon as we started to go out a bit more it ended. I really think she was just bored.

This time around I should also mention that recovery was far easier. I didn’t tear and didn’t need any stitches and so my soreness was quite decreased. Nursing came easily to Meghan and I and so that didn’t take a lot of learning either. Other than our short walks or short trips out for an hour or two in the mornings, I’ve been laying low at home. And that means for the most part our house is a mess (for us). It’s a phase but we’re giving each other grace this time around and both pitching in because we know the payoff of me taking it a bit easy is worth it.

We still head out most mornings to do an activity or we just stay home and play downstairs. I shower every other day it seems so far and take naps most afternoons. Thankfully I’ve been getting some good stretches of sleep at night and rest in during the day. I’ve realized it takes a bit more planning and prep at night to get out for activities, but it seems having done this once before definitely helps. I know what to expect (for the most part), I know when to rest (for the most part) and I know when to let things go.

As far as postpartum depression goes, I’m really trying to only do what I can and let things go which is really hard for this German girl. I want to do everything myself…obviously help is appreciated! Alex has been amazing again this time around and so helpful. It has really helped that his schedule has been a bit flexible allowing for us to have man to man coverage for outings and just extra hands for cuddling and hugs. We’ve been trying very intentionally to have special time for Elizabeth…which is easier right now while the baby still sleeps quite a bit.

One day we will climb out of this mess but right now it’s a mess I’m delighted to make.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Makes my heart swell

Today, as a family of four, we ventured out to our local apple orchard for apple picking, cider donuts, and a breath of fresh air. The experience did not disappoint.



And as we made our way out to pluck our peck of apples off the tree, my husband teased me about trying to get the perfect "Midwest Living" shot. It wasn't a jest at my need to document everything with a photo, because that's not my thing. Instead it was a jest at how full my heart feels when our family is making memories.



He knows that moments like today and the everyday moments of reading stories or cuddling in bed, make my heart want to burst.



This. This family. These four people all doing life together are what my heart yearned for so many years ago. 



When we brought Meghan home, we chatted if having another baby was making us want more children. It hasn't, but my husband turned to me and said "remember when we were dating and we said we wanted two...here they are."



To be honest I don't remember that...but I'm sure it was true. This family, the traditions and memory making and all the small moments in between, are what my heart desired. 



To think The Lord heard our pleas and after so much waiting, gave just as we desired. It's just too much for me.



And so these moments, and the not so pretty ones, and the hard, trying ones, and the sit on the couch and cuddles ones...they all echo my hearts longing. For family. For our family.



And as I sat in a chair and nursed the baby and watched my husband slide down the slides with Elizabeth, tears formed. Because this life, was all my heart longed for so many years ago and it's hard for me even to believe we are living it out today.



It's not quintessential or picture perfect or perfectly coiffed. It's real life, in the trenches, holding on to every little moment, making the most of the everyday, with these three other people I can only pray I get to do life with for many, many more years to come.

It's our family. 

Our family of four.



Saturday, October 4, 2014

To Meghan…the Story of your Birth

Dear Meghan Joy,

It all started weeks before your birth. Momma went in for her 36 week appointment and of course, after being checked got really excited that your arrival would be near. Your sister came at 37w6d and I was sure you would follow in her footsteps. Except you didn’t. And I don’t ever want to expect that again. Because this wouldn’t be your story if I did.

Instead you were all snuggled up inside of me, burrowing in and had no thoughts of coming out anytime soon. And so the weeks trickled by, us always awaiting something to happen. And then at my 38 week appointment, because I was progressed enough, our doctor asked if we had any desire to meet you in your 39th week, to have momma induced.

And my first thought was of uncertainty. We hadn’t thought induction was an option and yet it sounded like a great one for our situation. Daddy had some time off of work before things were about to get crazy, mommy could have the ease of mind that your sister would have consistent and loving care while we were gone, and well, we could meet you soon, which was the best part of all.

The induction was scheduled for September 25th, 2014 the day of your Nana’s birth, a special added touch to the occasion. And on the eve of that day, your daddy and I could not sleep. Mommy woke at 4:30 am and Daddy at 5 and there we sat, early morning sun and coffee in our hands preparing our hearts to meet you later that day. There wasn’t the grand fanfare of water breaking or laboring, but there was the quiet and the silence and the simplicity of going in together, knowing your day had arrived.

And as a bonus, your sister awoke early and snuggled in momma’s arms for 30 minutes before we left. It eased my heart and helped me let go…for I knew that when I returned our lives would never be the same. In a good way. And before we left the house we let Nana and Papa in on our name for you, for Papa had guessed it the night before. We were off to meet our Meghan Joy.2014-09-24 12.07.07

And that’s how the entire event kind of played out. Daddy and I were able to take everything in. Absent were cameras (for the most part), and video, and texts and distractions, and instead we were breathing everything in. Letting the whole event etch into our minds. From check in and IV insertion to the start of Pitocin and mild cramping. Everything about it was different from your sister and just the way it was meant to be. Even though it seems we took things into our own hands, momma has no doubt that this was just the way the Lord for saw your coming before time began.

By 9:30 am my water was broken and things were just getting started. The doctor and nurses were joking with momma because I refused to put on a hospital gown opting instead for my own comfortable clothing. I made Daddy rush out and buy me breakfast whlie we were waiting because I knew once they got started they were not going to let me eat anything. Good thing the nurse didn’t yell at me;)

Daddy and I watched tv and talked and laughed and enjoyed the experience together as things progressed. From the frantic nurse who drove momma crazy trying to help throughout contractions to the intern shadowing momma’s doctor, things were quite comical which helped the time fly by.

By around 3:00, after hours of intensifying contractions I was checked and had progressed to a 6. By this time the contractions had been coming every 2 minutes and lasting a minute for almost an hour. I stood at the end of my bed and just swayed back and forth and around this time I turned to your daddy and just flat out asked “I don’t really want to do this do I?” And he looked me straight in the eye and said “No.” And out daddy walked to the nurses station and asked for an epidural. We had the nicest anesthesiologist, who chatted with Daddy about golf and within 60 minutes my epidural was in and working. Although the nurse anesthetist said I shouldn’t be completely numb, I was from the waist down. Could not move a muscle with was equally comical as well.

Then we just waited. After 60 minutes the nurse and Dr. came back in to check me again and I was already a 10. It must be a fact that I cannot calm myself enough to allow labor to progress because both times I’ve had an epidural I’ve progressed rapidly once it was in. And the doctor got ready and before I knew it, it was time to push. During the pushing your heart rate was dropping a bit and the doctor would tickle your scalp…it’s the same tip momma uses when you fall asleep nursing. From beginning of pushing to the end totaled only 20 minutes. It was crazy fast for this momma who pushed for an hour with your sister.

And the whole time it just became clearer and clearer that you were coming soon. That you would join our family and life would never be the same again…in a good way. Before I knew it the Doctor looked at me and said, “Pull her up!” And I looked down grabbed you right under your armpits and pulled your tiny body up. You were so incredibly precious and so incredibly tiny.

And I looked up at your daddy with tears in my eyes and they met his eyes, glassy with tears. We were so grateful that God gave us you and that you were healthy and here. It was incredibly surreal. And we drank the whole experience in. Daddy cut your cord and then we just both snuggled in the bed taking turns holding you and momma nursed you. The whole experience was different than your sisters, not necessarily better or worse, just different. Which seems so right to me. For you are both unique.2014-09-24 20.47.59

And after just 45 minutes we looked up when we heard a knock and there was your big sister ready to meet you. And the way she loves you is so precious…she loves to hold you and snuggle you and show you toys and teach you about Jesus. I can only pray your friendship and sisterhood will continue to grow in a positive and enriching way for you both. Siblings so close in age is something your daddy and I have never experienced and we can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

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And that my dear, is the story of your birth. So straightforward and without drama and yet so perfectly planned from before time began. For God knew just how you would come and it was incredibly joy filled and perfect.

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Praising Jesus for you Meghan Joy…our unexpected miracle.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Notes from the second time around

Now that baby Meghan is here (update to come) I'm wanting to get down as many of the thoughts running through my mind before they are forgotten.

Today is our first day home, as a family of four, and so far things are going far better than I could have imagined.

I owe much of it to my amazing husband. I can remember when we brought Elizabeth home and everything was so new for both of us. I was the more experienced one with babies and so I took much of it in stride. Alex was a bit more in the "this is all out of my comfort zone" stage.

This time around you can tell we have a two year old. We are both much more seasoned and things that seemed strange or different are now so normal. The experience that comes with the first has allowed this birth and first day home to be more of a joint effort. Seriously my heart swells with love and pride when I watch Alex with his girls. The guy that seemed so tentative the first time is incredibly confident this time around. 

And since I treat the blog as a bit of a family journal, this is more for my recollection:)
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BIRTH

Elizabeth: with her it was longer (14 hrs), I progressed differently, and her entrance into the world was met with a bit more uncertainty. I pushed for an hour and needed stitches. After her birth she was whisked away pretty quickly and did skin to skin first with Alex. I didn't nurse her until an hour and a half postpartum.

Meghan: I was induced (electively), progressed to a 6 within 6 hours, got my epidural, within 90 minutes was at a 10, pushed for 15-20 min. and didn't need any stitches. I was able to pull her up and they allowed us so much time with her, which we loved! Nursing began soon after.

Similarities: Epidurals with both which progressed my dilation rapidly. Both were incredibly positive experiences.
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PREGNANCY

Elizabeth: I gained 35-37 pounds, lost 10 by day 3 postpartum. I had a linea negra, I swelled up like a balloon, and has some darkened facial spots. 

Meghan: I gained 33 pounds and lost 11 by day 2 postpartum. I had swelling again, but not nearly as bad. No line or facial spots but instead a herniated belly button. 
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POSTPARTUM

Elizabeth: Since I had stitches things were a bit more sore but I was up and moving as soon as I switched rooms. We stayed for 3 days in the hospital because she failed her first hearing test and had some slight jaundice. First night home was a bit of a challenge. Also Elizabeth by day 4 was down 10 ounces.

Meghan: Since things were a bit less intense I was able to be discharged just 24 hours after she was born. I was also up and moving by 2 hours postpartum and we didn't need to stay any longer because jaundice and hearing tests were passed with flying colors. It is SO good to be at home...first night was similar but I did get some good chunks of sleep. Meghan at discharge on day 2 was only down an ounce from her birth weight. 
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Seriously, I can hardly believe these two miracles that are in front of our eyes. As we drove home last night for both Alex and I it was a bit of a surreal moment. Incredibly blessed. We are so happy to be home and are taking things easy...just being lazy as our new family of four. 

And Elizabeth, well she's ecstatic and loves helping and watching and holding her baby sister!





Monday, September 22, 2014

Meal PLanning for a month

I’d always read, seen, or heard about women who meal plan by the month and I’d always written that idea off. Around our house, since I like to cook, enjoy meal planning and grocery shopping, our menu is based almost entirely upon what my stomach wants. Thankfully my stomach usually craves things that are GOOD for us and not just junk.

But throughout this pregnancy I’ve gotten a bit, well, let’s just say lax. I think for the first time in all our 8 years together I’ve heard my husband really request more options for dinner. I’ve been stuck in a rut. And it hasn’t been all that great for anyone.

And so last night I broke out all my cookbooks (Ina Garten, Pioneer Woman, family recipes, and Cooks Illustrated) and I made a huge list of all the meals I knew we enjoyed. These are meals that for the most part I can make on auto-pilot because I’ve made them enough. Shockingly this list was 65 recipes long. Some are a little more involved and some are as easy as pasta and jar sauce with everything in between. I know there are even more that we really like but I need Alex to go over the list and add in what is missing.

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I should also mention that because I like to cook, enjoy meal planning, and grocery shopping that I can’t make a monthly menu that repeats every week. Again, after 8 years, we just can’t and don’t want to eat the same 5-7 meals on rotation. That works for so many but I know it will not work for us with the exception of pasta night and pizza night. Pizza and pasta in all their varieties never get old at this house. One other thing that just has never worked for us are lots of crockpot meals and make ahead meals. Neither ever get enjoyed or eaten so though we have a handful we like, it’s not a concept we are utilizing.

So when I sat down with a monthly printout ready to pencil in our meals I did so with great gusto. First off, I planned out October with the VERY realistic expectation that I will be sleep deprived and will need the easy recipes. I also knew that if I didn’t shop now I probably never would. I wanted our pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked with MOST of the ingredients we needed. I will need to go to the store weekly/bi-weekly for perishables but knowing that we have the ingredients we need for the meals I planned was freeing when I left the store today.

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I also created a bit of a system to start out with that can be tweaked. Twice a month on Tuesdays we have MOPS so easy dinners are required. Thursdays we have BSF so those nights are for leftovers/miscellaneous. Because we eat out randomly I know our menu can be tweaked as we go. Nothing is concrete. And to keep the ease going, Friday nights are pizza nights, Saturday/Sunday are soup days, Monday’s are a beef meal, and Wednesday’s are a chicken meal. Right now I’m too flexible with our meals and rely on my ability to throw something together which I know will not work with a new baby on the scene.

I’m hoping this will work for us. I set out today after filling out my grocery list with Elizabeth and we conquered our shopping in record time. I already know that those who plan in advance by the month probably do save quite a bit on groceries. I came home after a Costco/Target run and basically couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Elizabeth and I bought a LOT of food and some how the price just didn’t seem that bad at the end of the day knowing we’d use it. I was actually shocked at how low our bill seemed at Costco for the size of our cart. Knowing that I just need to fill in weekly with produce, lunch meat, and some dairy makes me feel like grocery shopping with two will be even more manageable.

I keep reminding myself of Solomon’s words “There’s nothing new under the sun…” He was right. Mothers have been doing this for centuries and in so many ways we have it so much easier. Women have been keeping house, having babies, making meals, and grocery shopping for years. And they all survived and most had more children than I ever will. So I’m basically a bit optomistic while remaining incredibly realistic.

Have you menu planned by the month or do you? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

38 weeks + 1 day

This is the longest I’ve ever been pregnant.

Some of you may want to slap me for even saying that but for me, we have entered uncharted territory. I’ve been trying to ready myself for labor again and *trying* to read anything that was remotely helpful the first go around, but to be honest I’m just exhausted.

The kind of exhausted where you get 8 hours of semi-uninterrupted sleep, an hour nap, and you still want to fall asleep before your toddler at night. It takes all my energy just to keep up with her, to be honest…it is pathetic how tired I am.

In trying to prepare for labor the second time, I found my old phone and had a reminiscent trip down memory lane. In week 37 day 6 at 11pm my water broke at home. The previous Monday my cervix was super high and tightly closed. I checked into the hospital at 12pm and I was 4cm. Two weeks ago my OB called my first delivery a special case after she asked me if I knew when to call in. The look on my face must have been enough because she began explaining things plainly.

With Elizabeth I had no contractions or braxton hicks until a hour after I arrived at the hospital. None. Somehow, unless I didn’t feel it, I went from high and closed to 4cm. And then from 1 am to 4am I went from a 4 to a 7/8. And then I sat. I was a 7/8 from 4am until 12pm. 8 hours in semi transition. It’s no wonder I got an epidural. I remember telling Alex that things were really not that bad until Pitocin hit the scene. And then everything hit the fan. Going through labor at a 7 without pitocin seemed more like a piece of cake but since I was at a 7 so long with my water broken, the show had to go on. This time I’m not going to try and be a martyr. If pitocin enters the scene I’m signing up for my epidural immediately not 4 or so hours later. I was CRAZY!

So basically at 38 weeks 1 day this time around I have no idea how labor really starts other than what I’ve read/heard. And so far I’ve had some braxton hicks, enough one night that I called my sister the RN and asked her what contractions felt like. Somehow in HIs kindness the Lord has erased any memory of what real contractions feel like.

And here I sit, 38 weeks, 2 cm, 50% effaced, –1 station, with my membranes stripped this morning. Here’s to hoping that works. I know lots of people are the just wait, they’ll come when they are ready, but we’re ready. And I don’t have any lofty aspirations for the world’s most amazing birth experience. I’m happy as a clam to go as long as I can and then sit in pure bliss chatting it up with the doctor and nurses with an epidural and clear mind as my baby enters the world.

To each their own.

But 38 weeks, 1 day.

I can’t wait to see when she’ll make her debut!

And for posterity sake, here I am at 36 weeks…I look relatively the same even now.

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