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Ups and Downs

Life seems to be full of roller coaster moments, lots of ups and downs. I guess you can’t know the ups without the downs, but I much prefer the ups.

Four months ago I was in the hospital on bed rest. Three and a half months ago I had a c-section. Two and half weeks ago I was in the hospital again for surgery. The medical downs of the last four months for me have been a little on the high side. I was just coming back up from the c-section surgery when I found a breast lump. The month of August was spent treating it. Sadly, it didn’t respond to the two rounds of antibiotics, nor the needle aspiration (that was fun – NOT). After the surgery we learned why: it was so deep the doc said he had to go almost to the chest wall, nearly 5 cm deep. The cultures defined a staff infection (grateful it wasn’t a cancer or something worse), and the treatment after surgery has been drainage which means daily trips to the hospital PT clinic for wound packing/dressing changes (also NOT fun). It’s taken two and a half weeks, but the wound is finally on the fast track for healing, even had a record breaking gain of .6 cm in only two days this week bringing the depth up to 2.9 cm. Today’s gain was only to a 2.8, but I get tomorrow off as well as both Sat and Sun after Friday’s appointment. I’m hopeful that Monday the doctor will say we’re in the home stretch and can seal it up and be done. I suppose this is attributed to mastitis per breastfeeding, although I never had any signs or symptoms of any infection – just found a lump one day that wouldn’t go away and kept growing. Everyone keeps telling me how rare it is, to which I reply “yeah, ’cause I’m a stranger to rare?!” I’ve tried to joke that Jaimee just doesn’t want me to miss out on anything, but I’d do it a million times again for her.

Death has been a regular visitor this year too. In 3 months time, my dad, uncle and a couple friends have passed away. It’s a stark contrast to the blessings of new little spirits coming to the world. In the same time frame both myself and baby sister have had babies. Additionally, more than one family member and friend have received sad news about cancer conditions in varying degrees, while others have announced good news in their lives. I’m constantly in awe of the pendulum swing.

On the upside, I have to report on all good things in my little family. Jaimee is an absolute joy and we all love spoiling her. Grandparents, friends, siblings and cousins all wait for the chance to love on her. She is such a miracle and we all celebrate that every day we’re with her.

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She is such an amazing little baby! She’s so peaceful, so happy and such a good little thing. She’s been so flexible and adapts to everything effortlessly. She’s hit some big milestones recently, like sleeping longer stretches at night for which mommy and daddy are oh so grateful! Is there anything more awesome than a sleeping baby?!

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She has the most kissable little cheeks ever! She’s learning to grab things, has enjoyed sitting up in her bumbo chair, has found her fist for sucking and absolutely loves to smile at you. Daddy’s even gotten the cutest starts of a giggle from her. She loves playing and can maneuver a basic roll over almost completely on her own.

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She’s so good that yesterday we knew something was wrong. We took her to the doctor and sure enough she has her first little stomach bug, a gastro intestinal virus that had her little bowels gurgling and cramping like crazy. Yet, even with that, she only had two fits of inconsolable crying in the first half of the day and both lasted less than 10 minutes. She responded to the pedialite substitution for milk without missing a beat and has just been her happy self since yesterday afternoon. I mean, does this look like the face of a baby with a tummy bug?

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Wish I could be that happy when I’m battling a virus! This is just 12 lbs 12 oz of lovable joy. I am overwhelmed at the blessing to be her mommy.  She was so worth the 22 year wait. At my six week checkup the doctor asked us what form of birth control we were going to use. This is a question we’ve never had to answer. Does lightening strike twice? If it does is it supposed to? I don’t have any answers. I just look at this little miracle and know she’s here exactly when she’s suppose to be for her and no matter how hard the last four months for me have been physically I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Nursing through the month of August with the growing lump was difficult and painful, especially after the needle biopsy. On top of that, it was probably the cause for the infection in the first place, yet I felt an unexpected sadness to have it end with the surgery. I’m grateful for the pumping I’d done previously as we worked through her dairy sensitivity. The range of emotions and experiences has truly been full of ups and downs. I often reflect on how it’s possible to experience so many things that seem opposed yet magically connect to one another, it’s an odd phenomenon to me and I know I’m doing a terrible job trying to explain it. It’s just crazy to see how love conquers logic.

In the meantime, the kids continue to grow. Homework still has to be done. Meals still have to be cooked and dishes still have to be done.

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That’s what it’s all about, life keeps moving. At the end of the day, I’ll take those miserable downs because the ups are absolutely incredible! I truly am blessed beyond measure.

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More To Me

 

 

I’ve known for a few months now that I need to sit and write this. I need to record my thoughts about this man that was more than a man to me – he was my dad. I know I can’t do my feelings justice but I have to start somewhere.

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From the time he cradled me in his arms, to the time he gave me away in marriage, to the times he cradled my kids, he was a constant in my life. He was always there. 

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He taught us to cradle each other, especially when hearts were heavy.

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I miss him. 

As a young girl, he was a giant to me. He’d rough house and let me crawl all over him in play, he’d let me help him in the garden and around the motel. He taught me the value of hard work, and the joy in a hobby like his trains. His large hands and strong arms waited to sweep me up in a giant bear hug when he’d come home. For five years, I was the boy he wanted and thoroughly enjoyed playing the role of ‘Tom Boy’. I was his shadow, taking in every moment he allowed me to follow him around. How I loved the hours he spent with me, and how I cherish those when it was just me and my dad.

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He loved his grandkids just as much and found such joy in spending time with them. There aren’t enough pages to record the photos and memories of this chapter in his life, but it lives strong in my mind. Especially, his last moments with little Jaimee.

His last ride was epic, and oh so fitting. My heart was not prepared for the moment that old red pickup tried to turn over for that final drive. Every putter and eventual rev of the engine brought back a flood of memories for me. I let every one wash over me in waves and smiled through the tears they produced. This was how he’d have liked to go out, this was dad.

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Oh daddy, how I miss you. How grateful I am for all the memories and life lessons you’ve given me. I will always answer to your call of “my girl”, always. You will always be more than a male figure in my life. You weren’t perfect, none of us are, but you were such a powerful influence for good in my life. You were such an example to me of steadfastness, endurance, loyalty and love. 

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And so as little Letha was captured, let us say goodbye for now. 

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I look forward to the day when we embrace again. Until then, I will continue to do my best to live in a way to make you proud; I will honor your memory. Just know you were always more than a man to me. You anchored me, gave my life stability and security, and wrapped me in the arms of your love. It feels weak to simply say thank you, but it’s all I have. Thanks daddy.

 

 

Pause

I find myself sitting here listening to the rain fall softly outside. It’s a beautiful time of year – warm enough to leave the windows open day and night. The rain has a cleansing element I truly appreciate. I should be sleeping, that’s what baby is doing and she looks so peaceful. Something about her peaceful sleep and the beauty of this wet morning go hand in hand. It’s giving me a moment to pause and reflect. I need to do that more often.

Jaimee will be 8 weeks old tomorrow. I wish I could explain how those weeks feel both extremely long and short all at the same time. I can tell you at 2:00 a.m. they feel like forever, but when I look back and consider that less than two short months ago she wasn’t even here yet, I’m amazed. Time seems to fluctuate between these two places for me. We had some beautiful family photos taken this month to celebrate Jaimee’s arrival. I wanted everything to be just right and I thought I’d done pretty well, until after the shoot I walked into the bathroom and noticed I’d neglected to finish putting my makeup on. Joke’s on me. *giggle* I will forever look at these photos with the reminder that I forgot the mascara, but I don’t mind. The pictures capture everything I was hoping for.

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I wish I had both the time and skill to share the thoughts of my heart. So much has changed, and yet the newness is swallowed up in the reality that these changes are simply built on so many things already established. Life continues, it always has and I find myself wanting to hit the pause button. I want to sit in this moment for longer than time allows. I want to breathe in every good thing in my life, to truly recognize how beautiful life is and how incredibly lucky I am. In a few moments, baby will be awake and the day will be underway with several tasks and chores but right now it’s quiet and peaceful – just like my sweet angel baby. Even the older kids are feeling it as they’ve slept in this morning too. Everything is at peace, so I’m taking a snapshot of sorts to remember this moment.

 

She Just Knew

It’s been three weeks. Three weeks since our little Jaimee joined us and every day I am still pinching myself. She is so tiny, so perfect and such a good baby! This 22 year surprise has sure been an interesting mix of complete unknowns, yet at the same time framed with so many instances where I just knew, and I knew she knew things. Like her early arrival: she knew when she had to get here to meet her grandpa before he passed. If she’d waited until her due date she’d have missed it. If they’d kept me the normal time in the hospital after a cesarean, we’d have missed the window too. She knew exactly when she needed to arrive and under what circumstances.

So backtracking to her arrival, I spent two weeks in the hospital on bed rest. I’m grateful this didn’t happen until 35 weeks! I’ve heard horror stories of much longer war stories. It started with a simple leak – literally. I’d just sent Blake and the kids off for mutual activities when I sat down to eat and noticed I’d sprung some sort of leak. It wasn’t enough to say my water broke, but it was definitely too much to be normal. At about 8:30 p.m. we headed to the hospital to get things checked out. The initial fluid tests came back negative for amniotic fluid, however the doctor’s ultrasound caused concern as he said he saw very little fluid and had some concerns about the placenta. He said he’d not be able to sleep if he sent me home; that it would be best to keep me overnight for observation. He said if it was indeed a rupture, labor would follow within the next 12 hours. The next 12 hours were long but not from labor. Being hooked up to monitors and having to pee every hour made for a long night. The next morning the ultrasound technician came and his tests showed great results, the fluid was up and all other readings were great. But the protein tests came back elevated and the blood pressure followed suit. In short, my placenta was showing signs of distress and so in the hospital we stayed until we reached the 37 week mark.

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Two weeks of hospital walls can make you a little crazy. But I’m happy to report that my experience was truly made doable by the amazing staff of nurses and doctors caring for me and baby. Everyone knew our story, our Cinderella baby they called her. As a result, everyone wanted in on the action. The care was top notch, everyone was so nice and I developed many wonderful friendships as a result. Many conversations kept me in awe of how the Lord works. I relived our adoption stories, found amazing connections as a result and just kept shaking my head at how the Lord knows how to help our paths cross with others to provide help.

The first week was uneventful with the exception of Saturday night when contractions began. For 13 hours they went from 7-10 minutes apart to and hour of 2-3 minutes apart, then back to a few hours of 7-10 minutes. By morning I was exhausted but she was still so high the contractions had done nothing to prepare for birth, just worn out mom. Pain meds the next day got mom calling the doctor her friend and by afternoon all went back to a calm status. The second week brought a little stability to the numbers and they opted to induce labor Tuesday night. After another long night of no sleep we learned only half of my body had cooperated; the cervix was ready but I hadn’t dilated. So door number two was taken and Jaimee arrived via c-section at 9:36 am, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. She was 5 lbs, 15 oz and 19 inches long – and absolutely adorable.

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Cidnie and Taylor couldn’t wait to meet their new little sister!

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The first night I kept looking over to see daddy and baby sleeping soundly. Each time I couldn’t believe it was really happening, that our baby was here and sound asleep just next to my bed.

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Daddy says he feels 20 years younger! Mom says Jaimee is so cute she can’t stand it.

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Thanks to the previous two week hospital stay, the doctor took mercy on us and let us come home a day early. Friday afternoon we arrived home. We went over to mom and dad’s first so dad could see mom and baby. It turns out this was the perfect and limited window for their meeting, by Sunday he was in a medicated state where he stayed until he passed away a week later. You can’t tell me this little one didn’t know. She knew. She knew exactly when she needed to be here.

It’s now been three weeks. Our little miracle is growing strong. She dropped to 5 lbs 3 oz by her 4 day check up, and had made it up to 5 lb 7.5 oz at her two week check up. Monday she weighed in at 6 lb 1 oz. Way to go Jaimee! She’s as perfect and wonderful as can be. She’s so calm and peaceful and we all feel it when we’re around her. Here’s a quick photo wrap up of the past three weeks:

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Because everyone loves pictures…here’s some of her newborn photo shoot:

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And just for kicks and giggles. Here’s a collage of newborn photos. On the left we have dad and mom, Jaimee is on the right. I think she fits right in!!

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If there were marathons for heart growth and work outs, I’m certain I’d be on in it. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of extreme heart stretching experiences. I watched my daughter (now pushing the threshold of 17 years old), get her own car and start her own job; been on bed rest getting our newest miracle baby here, got our miracle baby here on June 4th at 9:36 a.m., been smitten by all the awe of a newborn and the first time experiencing conception, pregnancy and delivery; tried to balance life for my 11 year old son who’s been a real trooper with all the disruption and changes in the past few weeks, and come home in time to see my dad enter the final stages of his life. Yes, I believe this qualifies as a routine worthy of the title calisthenics of the heart. As my friend said yesterday, 2014 is proving to be a miracle year. I agree completely, and she should know, she’s come back from the brink of death after being hit by a car 4 months ago! Miracles do happen every day, to those who believe in them.

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Dad has held on long enough to meet little Jaimee in person. Friday, when we got home he was in good spirits and so happy to meet her:

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Saturday afternoon his brothers came for a visit. Sunday his sisters came. Saturday was good, but Sunday he turned fast. He’s been in bed on high doses of pain meds keeping him comfortable since Sunday morning. Monday’s dialysis was out of the question, and that means the end is here. He continues to be made comfortable in his bed with his family surrounding him. Deniene is flying in today and with any luck she’ll get to say goodbye before he goes. Today his lungs are filling with fluid, and we know there’s not much left. Yesterday I took little Jaimee back over for some love:

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I think she was coaching him on the process of crossing the veil. We have talked in recent days about my two week hospital stay to get her here, and we’re thinking she had such a long line of people to get through to send her off that it took those two weeks to get passed off through the line up. Now, she’s helping grandpa get ready for the same receiving line. I can’t explain the process or the spiritual feelings and emotions that have been experienced. I can just reiterate, it’s been a marathon workout for this mommy’s heart.

Next week, I’ll get some details posted about Jaimee’s arrival. She is a perfect, petite little thing. She weighed in at 5 lb 15 oz , 19″ long and bless her heart spent no time in the NICU. She’s a miracle. Life is a miracle.

 

The Short List

Or should I say, short end of the stick?

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I landed in the hospital Wednesday night thanks to a fluid leak. :/ I was hoping for an overnight monitoring, but the short list says otherwise. Here’s how it was just explained to me:

We like the baby’s tests but mom has too many factors for us to feel good about sending you home:

1) protein levels indicate early preeclampsia

2) blood pressure fluctuates too much

3) unexplained fluid leak, haven’t ruled out a possible rupture of amniotic sac

4) gestational diabetes

5) never been pregnant before

and my personal favorite:

6) “Oh, and I almost forgot, you’re over 42!”

Yeah, thanks for the reminder. ;)

So, looks like I’ll be making a weekend out if it for sure and then “we’ll see”. On the upside, baby is doing great and it sounds like they won’t go past 37 weeks anyway. That’s only a week and a half away.

So Blake gets to celebrate his birthday today at the hospital with me. Happy birthday hon!

I have to say I’m grateful to have such good doctors watching me so close. I know I’m in good hands, where I need to be and all will be well. Just gotta hang in there for a few more days! Sure can’t wait to hold this little bundle, who just may be a little Jaimee! We finally found at least one name we all like. :)

So Little One,

Everyone is so excited about you and can’t wait for you to arrive! Even the nurses are fighting about who hopes to be here when you make your entrance! You are so loved.

Keep being strong and helping mom be strong. Doctors said today they probably won’t let this go past 37 weeks, if we can get that far. So another week and a half!! We can do this! Stay safe, stay healthy and know you’ve already impacted more lives in positive ways than you’ll ever know. I love you so much.

 

32 is Groovy

Yes, age 32 was a groovy year, but this time I’m referring to being 32 weeks pregnant.

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This morning’s appointment was great. They took new measurements of the baby and all is well. She’s very active! She weighs about 3 lb 15 oz, which is right on the money for my guess as I told Blake I felt she was probably pushing 4 lbs! It’s getting close enough to almost taste it and boy are we excited! I can almost visualize what she looks like.

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The technician was super sweet and explained lots of things to me, like how they measure the artery pressure in the umbilical cord to check the placenta’s function and to watch for danger signs. Today’s readings were right where they want them so I’m happy about that. The only numbers that aren’t playing are the blood sugars, but I’ll start a pill tomorrow to help with that. All in all, things are going really well! I was a little surprised to learn that I could be at a point of two visits a week from this point on, but it all depends on how things look on Monday. They are serious about tracking things at this stage of the game and I’m grateful for that kind of support, especially with this being my first and me being 42! Everyone is so nice and so excited for us. We continue to circulate as that “cute, miracle couple who’s pregnant for the first time in 22 years!” Words can’t express how much love, support and excitement we continue to feel from everyone around us. We are so blessed.

In other groovy news and milestones, we bought a car this week for Cidnie. Can’t believe she’s already at this milestone! As I watched her drive out of the driveway this morning to go to school my heart skipped a beat. I told Blake my old ticker needs some more breathing room between all these significant “firsts”! Cidnie is thrilled and the timing is perfect. She may have a job lined up soon and will need her own transportation and after baby comes it will be a wonderful help to have another person to help at that level. I just still can’t believe she’s 17 this year. Where did the time go?

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Taylor had a great time with the Pope Annual Easter Egg hunt this month too. He’s been good with his little cousins and can’t wait to have his “own” little sister to dote on and love. He told me yesterday how he just can’t wait for her to arrive – to know he can hold her and she’s ours, that he doesn’t have to just hand a baby back. I’m so excited to see this myself.

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So, Little One, as you can clearly see your arrival is a much anticipated event! I wish you could see how loved you already are. I wish I could share the abundance of excitement you have generated. And I can’t wait to watch it all unfold when you make your entrance!

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