Saturday, December 19, 2015

I have 4 children

How many children do you have?  This seemingly innocent, easy question still causes me to cringe.  I'm not quite sure how to answer.  If I answer truthfully, 4, the follow up is usually how old are they? As I've taken Hannah out and about while the boys are home or at the park, I tend to get asked "Is she your first."  Maybe something about me screams first time mom?  I get some looks of shock when I reply, no, she's my 4th.  And then that question...how old are they?  Sometimes it's easier to say 3 and twins who are 2.  Sometimes I'll say our oldest would be 3 and I have twins who are 2.  But sometimes I take the easy way out, particularly when I'm out with all 3 of these crazy kiddos, and I just say the 3 of them.  And then I'm hit with this wave of doubt, of guilt.  Reagan made me a mommy.  She made me feel this attachment and protectiveness I'd never felt before.  She made me into the woman I am today, the mom I am today.  And yet, I feel this pressure to pretend like she doesn't exist.  I hate that.

Since Hannah's birth, we've been able to bond.  Despite sleepless nights and stressful days, I love that little girl immeasurably.  She brings me great joy.  And yet, I feel a longing for Reagan even more.  Maybe it's simply that she's a girl.  That I think of my own sisters and the relationships we had and I know Hannah will never experience that with Reagan.  Maybe it's the sense of normalcy that was completely lacking after the boys were born, when I didn't have much time to just process through the emotions of having our rainbow babies.

Christmas season is especially hard.  Well, really, the entire holiday season, from Halloween (for obvious reasons) to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It's all a reminder of this empty spot in our lives.  Another seat that should be around the table, eating turkey and pie.  A missing stocking hanging from the mantle.  Only 5 instead of 6.  One whole member of our family is just erased from our holiday pictures.  I want her to be included, I want her to be remembered.  She was born, I felt her kick in my belly for months, watched her heart flutter on ultrasounds, planned my life with her, and then held her still body in my arms.  The fact that she didn't get to take a breath outside me doesn't erase her life or her significance, doesn't mean she isn't just as much a part of my family as our other kids.

This is our 4th Christmas without Reagan.  How can that be? It seems like just yesterday I was holding her close.  Regardless, as the years go by, that empty spot does not.  The grief, the raw and gripping pain, the immeasurable sense of loss, are all still just as present this year as years past.  Our home is full of laughter and tiny feet, but one set is always missing.  One blonde girl dressed in purple is dancing in heaven instead of with her mommy.  Nothing changes that.

I have 4 children.  I have 2 girls and 2 boys.  I did not "finally get a girl," I already have one.  She's being cared for by her heavenly Father instead of her earthly parents.  But she is still very much our daughter.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hannah's first weeks

Once I survived the hospital recovery, the unexpected pain and extra required day, we settled quickly into a routine.  Having Hannah home has been such a blessing.  She is the sweetest.

Here are a few things I've learned about our little Hannah.  She sleeps like her daddy, solid.  Nothing wakes this child up - not temper tantrums, not whining, not an evening out at a fancy gala.  Nope, she will just continue to sleep.  We're not quite to her due date yet, so this could all change (and probably will tomorrow since I just started bragging on her).  But minus a couple fussy evenings, she's been a trouper!  She loves to eat.  This is such a huge change for me, as our boys sure did not.  Every feeding was a struggle, a fight to get them to take in anything.  We had scales and weight checks and all this extra calorie stuff to give the boys.  And Hannah?  She's taking in far more than she needs for her current weight.  Thus, she's gaining weight well enough that I don't have to wake her up at night.  What does this mean??  It means that last night she went 4 hours between feedings, giving me 3 consecutive hours of sleep.  That makes for one happy mama!  Of course, I still didn't pull it together enough today to get my shower in :)  There's always tomorrow.

My favorite thing about baby Hannah is how she loves to cuddle.  She is never happier than when she's asleep on our chests.  And she makes this little soft cooing noise, sighing contently as she feels safe and secure, tucked away with her parents.  It's amazing how she knows her mother's touch already, at only 2 weeks old.  She knows me and she trusts me so completely.  There's such an innocence in that, and I love it.  It's drastically different than what I experienced with our other kiddos.  I love being able to bond with her, to soak it all in, to try to take in these little moments, even when it's the middle of the night.  I don't want to ever wish away this time, even though we feel like we are living in a crazy zoo.

Warren and Dean are adjusting well and settling into their role as big brothers.  They are very concerned in Hannah cries.  They are always wanting to help Mommy with Hannah, to kiss baby Hannah, to feed baby Hannah, or to share with baby Hannah.  Sometimes it is a little upsetting when baby Hannah doesn't share back, but for the most part they are taking things in stride.  The sharing of time is going to be our biggest struggle.  It's masked right now with Andrew home, as he is able to play with them as I care for and feed Hannah.  But, these days with Daddy home are limited.  And I'm feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the thought of Andrew heading back to work.  I know it's possible, I know mom's do it all the time, but how do you balance?  How do I give my boys enough attention to continue to help them catch up on their milestones and delays and to let them know they still matter, that mommy still loves them?  How do I wake them up and put them down while nursing (and nursing and nursing) their hungry sister?  How do you choose who gets to cry and who gets Mommy?  We'll figure it out to be sure, but we'd love some prayers for patience and a bit of grace as we navigate the transition.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hannah's Birth Story - God's grace

There is a lot of pressure, or the illusion of pressure anyway, to do things naturally when it comes to parenting.  So, for me, there was some sense of guilt associated with our entire pregnancy and planned birth.  From the very beginning, from conception on, we relied heavily on medical intervention.  I know without a doubt that the doctors would not have been successful, that we could have had no embryo, failed transfers, miscarriage, etc if it was not God's plan.  But still, we did nothing "naturally."  My body was made ready by daily shots and hormone patches, Hannah was transferred in a sterile medical facility, the contractions were controlled with weekly injections, and we had countless ultrasounds and tests.

I had a strong desire to deliver Hannah naturally.  Or at least to have a vaginal delivery, even if I did end up getting an epidural, which I was going to extend myself the grace to do if so needed.  But after an emergency cesarean with the boys, my options were limited.  And with a history of stillbirth, going past my due date was not an option.  So, we scheduled our c-section for 39.5 weeks, fully expecting my body would go into labor long before then.  But by 30 weeks, my anxiety was picking up.  I was dropping weight and it all felt very much like Reagan.  I began having twice weekly monitoring visits which helped easy my anxiety and fears for short time windows, but ultimately I was waiting for my body to fail.  I was waiting for my body to cause hardship and pain in the life of my family again.  It's a terrible way to live.  Our OB has been with us for all 3 pregnancies and knows us fairly well after all these visits.  He had suggested long ago to consider doing an amnio at 37 weeks so we could deliver earlier.  I flat out refused, partly because of the risks of the amnio and partly because I was so sure I would deliver early without it.  But as time drew near, we prayed about it and both felt at peace with the earlier birth plan.  So, we changed things, and Hannah's delivery was moved up 2 weeks.

As I prepared for the amnio, I had so many doubts.  Was this right?  Were we rushing things?  Was I not showing faith in God's ability or His goodness?  I walked into the doctor's office that day stressed and worried that this test could cause damage to our sweet daughter and still reveal that her lungs were not mature, pushing her deliver date back again.  After the initial ultrasound, the doctor did some more scans and informed me that the fluid was too low for any tests.  Hannah would be delivered the following day.  I was so thankful for God's answer to prayer, for His sovereignty and how He carried us through something so simple yet so stressful for me.  No large needle AND I was going to get to see my daughter face to face the following day!

After the surgery, as I'm lying in recovery, our doctor comes out and finds us to talk.  And he shared with us even more about God's provisions.  See, my uterus was weakened from the surgery with the boys and considerably thinned.  Had I gone into labor, my risks of uterine rupture were high.  We prayed and prayed that God would allow me to deliver, that I wouldn't need a painful surgery and the recovery while home with 3 kids who all need their mommy, but God could see the bigger picture and answered our prayers with a "no" that could have saved my life.  Second, Hannah's cord was tied in a knot.  How scary is that??  It wasn't pulled tight yet, but could have easily tightened if we had waited 2 more weeks or tried a vaginal delivery.  It's so scary to think that something so simple could have sent our world crashing down again.

I write all this because sometimes God's plan is not the natural one, because sometimes we don't need to feel guilt that we plan things out, because one birth plan is not better than another.  God showed us such incredible grace and love, directing us toward this early delivery and major surgery.  God prevented my contractions from causing dilation and allowing me to deliver as I wished, and saved the life of our child.  My heart longed for something seemingly better, but something that would have ultimately been detrimental.  It's amazing to see God's hand in every aspect of this "normal" pregnancy.  A pregnancy without any major complications, with all normal development and milestones, and yet so fragile.   Just like our boys, Hannah's life is a miracle.  And, despite the sleepless night and endless feedings, this little girl is a precious child of God and a beautiful gift entrusted to us.  I am grateful.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hannah's Birth Story - delivery

The past 2 times I have given birth it was a time filled with uncertainty, anxiety, grief, and pain.  Even with the boys, there was so much about it that was not how I planned.  I wanted my body to do more, to do better, to carry them longer.  I was rushed into surgery and couldn't even make it through the whole process without having to be sedated (though I will blame the magnesium drip on some of that craziness).  Regardless, these were my experiences: vaginal delivery into a silent room and emergency cesarean with micro preemies.  Neither ideal.

On November 3, we calmly woke up at 7 (who am I kidding, we were both up and restless long before then!) and played with the boys.  We (they) ate breakfast, played with blocks, had a great time.  My parents arrived at 9:30 and we left for the hospital at 10.  Along the way, we stopped by the NICU to drop off some more supplies for Reagan's Garden and then chatted with some of our favorite nurses from 6 weeks on Special Maternity wing.  It seemed like any other morning, relatively carefree.

There is something surreal about walking into labor and delivery to say "we're here to have a baby" without needing a wheelchair or having strong contractions.  We got all checked in, were loved on by some of the nurse managers we've met through Reagan's Garden, and lead to our room.  Room 860.  As we round the hall, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I see the room, and I break down in the hallway.  This is the exact room where I delivered my precious Reagan.  This is the room where I became a mother for the first time, where I held my child in my arms for the only time, where I said goodbye.  Reagan's entire existence outside me what lived in that room.  I couldn't do it.  This day needed to be about Hannah, about joy and life.  I knew Hannah wouldn't be born in that room, but it was too much for my emotional heart to take, I couldn't even walk in the door.  We were quickly moved to another room.  And the entire nursing staff was so sweet and kind to us in the process.

Once we were settled in our room, I was able to finish reading through the Bible...we had the tail end of Revelation left for that day.  I love that Warren, Dean, and Hannah have all heard the entire Bible while in the womb.  My contractions began to pick up and were actually consistently every 4-5 minutes.  And getting stronger.  Hannah would be coming very soon with or without the scheduled c-section.

I walked into the OR to see an entire table set up with scary looking silver things - probes and scalpels and who knows what, all lined up.  Deep breath.  Okay, another deep breath.  The anesthesiologist was incredible and gave me my spinal with almost no pain whatsoever - what a drastic difference from my cerclage placement!  I had a minor freak out that I wasn't actually numb yet before I was assured that if, in fact, I was not numb, I would not be lying still on the table.  Oh, I guess things had started.  It seemed like forever, with lots of tugging and pulling, before Andrew was able to stand up to watch Hannah come out.  It took a few seconds before I heard it, but there it was: crying.  Such a sweet sound.  She was crying.  The NICU staff showed me her sweet little face before setting her on the warming table to examine her lungs (we had some low fluid levels and no amnio to confirm lung development, though we fully expected things to be good at 37.5 weeks).  She had the biggest cheeks ever!  She looked absolutely huge to me, I was a little in shock.  How could she be so big already??  She weighed in at 6 lb 11 oz, but looked so much bigger to me.  Andrew was able to hold her and go back with the staff for first bath and footprints while they continued to work on me.  I was sedated with the boys after they came out, so I don't have any memory of the closing process, but it was way longer than I thought it would be.  About 45 minutes later I was taken to recovery and able to hold my sweet Hannah for the first time.  She was beautiful, just perfect.  She has these tiny petite features, despite the big cheeks.  She has her mommy's eyes and her daddy's chin.  And then this happened...she quit crying.  She needed her mommy.  There was something so special in that, something I haven't been able to give any of my other children at birth.  The calming of a mommy's touch.  She was able to nurse right away, and I was able to cuddle with her for over an hour, working on getting my toes to move.

Hannah Grace Savant was born at 2:45pm, November 3, 2015.  She weighed 6 lb 11oz and was 20 1/4 inches long.  She is perfectly knit together in my womb, a gift from God.  We are incredibly blessed to bring home a healthy baby girl.






Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday!

Happy 3rd birthday sweet girl!  Some days it seems like just days ago you were dancing away in my tummy, loving life and content.  Sometimes though it seems like forever ago, so long since I was able to see your beautiful face.  I never know quite how to feel on your birthday.  There is so much sorrow, such heartbreak, as I long so desperately to hold you again, to hear you laugh, to see you smile and dance and play.  There is so much I am missing out on by not knowing you now.  And as the years move forward, I am continually reminded of all the milestones I miss.  I hate that.  And yet, today, we get to celebrate you.  We don't grieve without a purpose, for we know Jesus is holding you close right now. 

I will never forgot those precious hours together in the hospital.  The moment I became a mother, as my heart leapt with joy as the nurse gently laid you in my arms.  I remember what it felt like to just breathe you in, to love you so completely, to fall so hard in a matter of seconds.  You were already gone, but there was something just so special, so wonderful, about the first time I was able to hold you.  You were so tiny, so incredibly tiny.  But everything was perfectly formed, knit together in my womb.  My heart, though shattered and broken, was incredibly full.  I still feel that as I remember our special time together.

I can picture you then, looking so very much like your mommy, so peaceful.  I still find myself clinging to your pink blanket when I miss you, closing my eyes and picturing exactly how you looked in that moment.  And I can picture you as you must look now, so happy and full of life, dancing in heaven with Jesus, with your other siblings and family members.  You are such a blessed little girl to never endure this broken world, to go straight to the arms of your Savior.  I cannot wait until the day when I can see you again, when I can dance right along side of you, when I can embrace you with you hugging me back.  Oh, the joy.

It is hard to celebrate a birthday when the birthday princess is missing.  But we are doing our best.  Today, we weren't able to go up to the mountains as we would have loved, as your baby sister should be joining us any day.  But we did enjoy this brisk fall morning and took your crazy brothers up to the park.  We had a picnic by the water, with the leaves changing color all around us.  It was beautiful.  And we sent you some balloons - this time we got 2 lighter purple ones that W&D picked out.  I made you a strawberry cake (it's really good) that we'll get to enjoy after dinner.  And we'll do your birthday cards tonight and add them to your memory box.  Dean asked that his be purple and specifically requested to have stickers he could put on them.  Let's see if we can find some that are not Halloween related :)  I hate that you are not here to celebrate with us, but I trust you are having quite a celebration in Heaven.  And I pray that you are able to see a glimpse of what we are doing here, and that you always know you are cherished and loved on earth as well.

With immeasurable love,

Mommy


Friday, October 30, 2015

3 years later

Three years ago, nearly to the minute, I got the news that rocked my world.  My daughter had passed away.  As I stared at her profile on the ultrasound, she still looked just perfect.  Perfect upturned nose, little chin.  But she was still.  Her chest was empty; no flicker where we had just seen one the week before.  That image, forever burned into my mind.  The doctor glanced away and murmured "I'm so sorry" before stepping out to let me call Andrew.  How do you even begin to say the words, to communicate to my unsuspecting husband that the appointment we thought nothing of would change our lives forever?  To wait for him to rush down so we can hold each other.  As I am sitting here, I feel my heart being ripped out all over again.  Surely there must be some mistake.  I still just want there to be some mistake.  To go back in time and fix it all so my baby girl can be here playing right alongside her brothers.  I want them to know her, to know her laugh and her little blonde curls and her smile.  To not just know of her.  As the years are moving on, it doesn't get any easier.  The grief is still there, breaking me.  I sometimes feel like I'm a shell of who I used to be, a piece of me is always missing and it's so hard to live life like that. 

I am so thankful she was not born on the same day, that we have a separate day when we can celebrate her birth, her brief life, and all she means to us.  I'm glad for these quiet moments, when my children are sleeping and I can just sit here and allow myself to feel again, to let myself go back to that moment, to let the tears come and not hide from them, to not have to be strong for anybody and just let myself miss my daughter with my whole being.  It does nothing to bring her back, but it helps me to celebrate her with more joy tomorrow.  Today is my sad day, tomorrow we're having a birthday party with the boys for their big sister. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 15

My heart is heavy today.  The whole month of October is a challenge for me, a reminder of last moments and saying goodbye.  For the entire month, I am reminded of Reagan as I anticipate her upcoming birthday.  Today, well, today the whole country seems to remember.  Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  Today, candles are lit and balloons are released in memory of all our babies gone too soon.  It's a beautiful picture as we grieve together, to know we are not alone in this journey.  And ultimately, that's what it is.  A journey.  Not a moment, not an event, but something we continue to still walk through on a daily basis.  Nothing is forgotten, the pain is not erased as time moves forward.  And the struggle of feeling like the rest of the world has moved on while I am stuck here is very real.  I find myself throughout this month having to remind myself of truth over and over: Reagan is loved, she is cared for now, she is not longing for anything, and I will see her again.  And while all of that is true, and it helps to know, it does not change the fact that she is no longer here with me.  And that continues to cut me right to the core.  I miss my first baby girl so so much.  Always.  And most of the time, I feel this need to hide that, to be strong for my boys, to not be swallowed by the emotions of it all.  But today?  Today I get to remember her.  I get to remember Reagan and celebrate her life.  And, more than that, I get to remember her twin, who I never met.  I get to think about him and how he's playing with his sister.  I get to smile as I picture them running hand in hand.  And I get to do all that with thousands of other families who KNOW.  We all get to celebrate our babies together today.

One in Four.  Those statistics are bleak, so let me say it again: 1 in 4.  I know there are so many others who are hurting today, who are longing for their babies.  There are so many who saw those 2 lines and fell in love, only to say goodbye a few days to weeks later.  There are those who saw the heart beating, got their due date, made a plan...only to have that plan change so suddenly.  There are so many we've met along our own journey and through Reagan's Garden who have passed into the "safety zone," halfway there, found out gender, started decorating the nursery, bought all the things, and prepared for baby's arrival...only to deliver into a silent room, to know the face of their child but not the sound of her cry.   And 1 in 4 of us have been one of these.  It's so hard.  And I have no answers, no magic words.  Know that my heart is with you today as we all remember together.

Friday, September 11, 2015

30 weeks

30 weeks.  It sounds so old to me.  Now, when I hear of babies born at 30 weeks, I shrug my shoulders.  I'm not sure what is different about that first digit being a 3 versus a 2, but it seems to make all the difference in the world.  I'm officially 3/4 of the way through a NORMAL pregnancy, less than 2 months from full term.  Craziness.  I'm feeling very excited to be at this point.

Hannah's room is coming along.  We've got the walls painted now, which is huge!  Her crib is all set up with the hand made 3 tier ruffled bed skirt (tutorial here) and butterfly mobile.  It's nice to be physically able to make things for the room this time around.  And to feel like I can put more of myself into her room than I was able to with Warren and Dean.  I'll be posting pictures once we get a mattress because, well, cribs look funny without them...they're kind of important.  So, assuming we can figure out exactly which one we want, the pictures should be coming very soon :)

Approaching the 30 week mark for me also meant a spike in evening contractions.  I'm not at the point of calling the doctor yet since they are better throughout the day, but there is definitely a change in intensity with the evening hours.  I know some of that is related to being more active and getting Hannah's nursery ready vs lying on the couch in a constant state of miserable nausea. (So thankful that nausea is COMPLETELY gone)  But it's enough to cause me an initial fear of preterm labor being an issue.  Of course, I already established just having a 3- at the beginning of my gestation makes me feel so much more comfortable, but how wonderful would it be to have no NICU time and be able to take Hannah home with me right away?  I'm not even sure I know the answer to that question as it's so foreign to me.  But I'm clinging to that and the hope that we'll make it at least 5 more weeks to give us the best chance of coming home together.  That thought brings a smile to my face

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

All in a name

Our first three children's names were relatively easy, all names we talked about while dating or in the early stages of our marriage.  We knew Reagan would be our first daughter.  And we liked Warren and Dean equally, so it worked out extremely well that they were twins so we didn't have to choose.  But that was as far as we got in our planning process before reality set in, things got difficult, and we never knew if we would have any children, much less more than 3.  So, we never really discussed it again.

While silently facing infertility, our pastor did a sermon series on 1 Samuel.  I so wish I had downloaded it so I could go back and listen.  Anyway, 1 Samuel opens with the story of Hannah.  Hannah, suffering for many many years with infertility, watching her husband's other wife conceive and deliver child after child, tormenting her and rubbing it in her face.  I felt tormented, I felt like people were rubbing their fertility in my face as I got yet another baby shower invitation or saw another pregnancy/birth announcement come my way.  But the truth of the matter is, no one was doing that.  No one was actually making me feel like less of a woman.  No one, that is, except for myself.  But not the case with Hannah.  She faced this sense of failure in a very real way each and every day, being provoked constantly until she was weeping and unable to eat.  She wept to the Lord, cried out to Him.  And she pledged to give Him her son if she could only conceive.  I know a little of how that feels, though I didn't give my daughter by choice.  And I certainly wouldn't have if I had the option.  Regardless, it was the first time I listened to a sermon specifically on infertility, the first time I really felt like my struggles, the heartache involved in not being able to conceive, was addressed by anyone.  The first time I realized how much God cares for me and this struggle that no one else would talk about.  I remembered Hannah and how she continually took her petition to the Lord, how she trusted Him with her son Samuel, the faith required in that act.

Fast forward several years, 3 pregnancies and 4 kids later, and the scar and pain of infertility is still there.  There's still a part of me that struggles to wrap my head around the why.  And I know I haven't handled it with the grace and faith Hannah did.  But I find her and her story worthy of naming my second daughter after, and I can only pray my daughter will have the same faith, with trust in the Lord wholeheartedly as well.  And so we've decided on the name of this little one I am carrying..

Hannah Grace Savant

Warren and Dean have learned her name and seem to understand as much as possible that she is their little sister, just as Reagan is their big sister.  Both girls are included when they sing Jesus Loves Me, or when they talk about who loves them or who they love.  It melts my heart to see them stepping into their new role as big brothers.  I'm excited to meet little Hannah, hopefully not until November, but we'll take her any time she comes.  I'm ready to see if she looks like me, if she looks like her brothers or her daddy, or if she looks like her big sister.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

3rd trimester

It's official.  I've surpassed all previous pregnancy milestones and duration.  I'm in the 3rd trimester.  Honestly, I thought it would feel more different than it does.  It's feels remarkably similar to the end of the 2nd trimester.  Maybe that is simply because once we got to the half way point, all indication was we would reach this point.  It's not a big surprise, though my heart still had it's doubts.  But medically, things were stable enough that it was fully expected that I would not deliver until the 3rd trimester.

It's exciting to have something normal.  (well, normal-ish given the frequency of my contractions)  To be doing things like scheduling my cesarean for mid November, to be applying lotion to my ever stretching itchy skin, to see new numbers on the scale never seen before.  And yet, it makes me realize how much I missed out on.  Funny how that works, how my mind can take such a blessing and make it about something else.  To take what God has given me and continue to compare it to what everyone else has.  Something is wrong with that.  It's not all the time, or even most of the time, but I hate that I couldn't reach this point with Reagan, Warren and Dean.  That my body seemed to fail time and time again as I couldn't provide them the best environment they needed to grow.  Though I know in my head that God watched over them, that He protected them, that His plan is good, it doesn't make it easy to know in my heart that I didn't fail my children.  All 3 of them.

But, things are moving forward.  We're cleaning out and painting another nursery, we've assembled another crib, and we're working really hard to teach toddler boys the meaning of the word "gentle."  I'll take some advice/expertise on that if anyone has some :).  Overall we are excited and ready to become a family of 6 as we wait for November to come!

Friday, August 14, 2015

26 weeks

I am now 26 weeks pregnant.  AND upright.  Wow.  Now, that is big.  I remember taking our maternity pictures at this point with the boys, standing briefly between contractions around the hospital, trying to keep a glowing smile on my face while wanting to cry out in pain.  I remember getting back to my room and being so exhausted from my wheelchair ride and time spent standing, getting an extra shot of terb that night and wondering if we had just made a huge mistake.  I love each and every picture we have, and I'm so grateful that our photographer was able to capture those moments and help create a background that looked nothing like the outside of a hospital I wasn't allowed to leave, creating some semblance of normalcy.  We were reassured several times that those few minutes would not have impacted the timing of our labor, so I have to trust in that.  Regardless, this time around, at 26 weeks, I'm sitting upright on my couch at home.  I'm taking my boys to the pool and swimming with them.  I'm getting things all ready in the nursery, making a mobile and bedskirt, helping put together a crib, deciding on the wall color.  I get more than my allotted 30 minutes of sitting time.  It's really quite wonderful to have something so "normal," something so many women take for granted.  God has been so gracious to us with this pregnancy, with this sweet little girl growing inside of me.  And, minus the whole morning sickness for the first 20 weeks part, I'm starting to see how people might actually enjoy being pregnant, being in awe and wonder at what is happening instead of living in constant fear.  I am trying to get over to that side, trying and struggling and failing, but God is working.

We are now 6 days away from when the boys were born, 6 days away from the moment our OB said very calmly that I had done everything I could, and he was going to take them "tonight."  So much terror in that moment as my mind flooded with all the things I should have done or things we should have tried or ways I had, once again, failed my children.  As I approach what will be the last of these milestones, the last moment to remind me of what went wrong in previous pregnancies, the last trigger for flashbacks and nightmares, I am thankful for these little reassuring kicks and understanding doctors and the prayers of our friends/family who are lifting us all up.  And I'm so ready for the moment when all I have ahead of me is something new!  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

24 weeks and contractions

We have now hit 24 weeks.  This was a HUGE milestone with the boys.  The nurses celebrated with us, the doctors celebrated with us.  It felt like a little party was going on all day.  Viability.  Of course this little bubble was burst when our neonatologist came in and gave us the scary statistics on quality of life and disabilities if survival even happened.  Nevertheless, we had officially made it to our first goal.  With this child, even though there hasn't been months of complications, even though we were never once told she wouldn't make it, there's a little piece of me that just celebrates getting to the 24 week mark.  And it's a milestone that didn't have all the usual anxiety surrounding it.

So, I excitedly anticipated this 24 week point in pregnancy without the baggage that surrounds most of my other milestone points in pregnancy.  That made me all the more thrown when I started having more contractions.  I knew to expect them at 21 weeks with the stress of that moment and what it meant for my previous pregnancies.  But at 24?  No stress contractions should have occurred.  Yet I found myself downloading a contraction counter again and, sure enough, every 8 minutes.  Hmm...  I called the doctor.  When I finally got a return call, it was with instructions to rest and drink some water.  Awesome.  Very feasible with two two-year-olds at home.  Sure kids, get some dinner, put on your bibs, and play quietly while Mommy rests.  I was told to call in 2 hours with an update.  Two hours later I was still rocking Warren who, for some reason this week, has decided to start hysterical screaming after being in his crib for 5 minutes.  I didn't even bother to call.  What would I report...I haven't done anything you asked me to and I don't have a clue how frequently my contractions are coming?  That seems useless.  When I called before, it was during the end of naptime after I had been doing exactly what you prescribed and when I was able to monitor things.  Sigh...

As the night when on, contractions got closer together but not more intense, so I considered that to be a good sign and decided to forgo the trip to labor and delivery.  With Warren and Dean, I started getting contractions like this weeks before my first trip to the hospital.  Irritable uterus, they said.  I think that started around 17 weeks with them, so 24 this time around seems about right.  Regardless, a whole night resting, drinking lots of water, and peeing seemed to do the trick and I'm back down to my usual amount of contractions this morning.  Plus Andrew took the boys to the park after being gone for a few days so I can stay and rest.  Such a quiet morning.  I forgot how peaceful it is to drink my morning coffee while sitting down without little boy temper tantrums.  Add to it, Baby Girl seems to be enjoying the moment of calm and is kicking away.  I have to say, there is nothing better than little baby kicks as a gentle reminder that God is sustaining her (and me) in a way that I know is far bigger than me or my doctors.

Less than 3 weeks and I'll officially be the most pregnant I've ever been :)

Friday, July 17, 2015

22 weeks

There is something really special about hitting the 22 week mark.  A moment I never experienced with Reagan, a first for a little girl in our family.  And she's still healthy, another first for this moment.  I'm not lying in a hospital bed, I'm not hooked up to monitors, I'm not heavily medicated for strong, unrelenting contractions.  At this point with Reagan, we were saying goodbye and coming home empty handed.  At this point with Warren and Dean, we were praying I'd hang on for another 2 weeks so they'd have a chance of survival.  And the 3rd pregnancy?  Nothing.  Everything looks great.  At our check up on Tuesday, the specialist was confident that even if my contractions got worse, there was no way I'd deliver before 28 weeks.  Know what that means??  The 3rd trimester!  I've never experienced the third trimester.  I've delivered 3 babies in only 4 total trimesters.  Hmmm...  We are prayerfully optimistic that baby girl will make her appearance at some point much closer to term.

So...bring on the stretch marks, heartburn, and back aches that come with growing uncomfortably huge!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

21.5 weeks

Today is the day.  The day that marks the point in pregnancy when we learned Reagan was gone.  The point in the pregnancy when I was given the news that my cervix was shortened and they couldn't guarantee labor could be stopped so I should prepare for the worst with Warren and Dean.  In one instance, God proved bigger than what the doctors could see and He saved my precious boys.  In the other, He took our daughter home too early.  In both, we were stripped of all our comforts and forced to rely on Him completely.

I'm at that point again.  And I'm terrified.  This child doesn't like to move much at all, she's calm.  Later in life, that will be an immeasurable blessing.  But right now?  It's terrifying.  I haven't felt her in the last 24 hours.  Nothing.  And I dropped weight while on vacation, which doesn't seem normal at all.  It's feeling all too familiar.  And I'm feeling like I'm on the verge of breaking down and retreating into my little hole.  Except for these two boys...and for reading them books, singing songs together, and watching them cook in their new little kitchen.  I've got some music playing softly in the background, and every minute or two one of them will start dancing.  I love seeing their innocence, the complete blissful ignorance toward the heart wrenching pain their mommy is feeling this morning.  I will hate the day when the world takes that from them.

We're heading out to an appointment in another hour, waiting to see our second little girl on the ultrasound screen.  And praying that all is well, that it's simply the stress of the day causing my symptoms (or lack of them).  Trying to trust in the Lord's plan for our life and in His goodness when it is just so hard and when our life looks nothing like what we pictured or planned.  It's all a bit overwhelming.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Half way

So, we've passed the half-way point.  Given that I'm, hopefully, going to have a cesarean around the 38-39 week mark, I actually would have passed that point over a week ago.  Regardless, I have mixed emotions about it.  This moment marks the last post I wrote while pregnant with Reagan, the first post I wrote while in labor with my boys.  And this time around?  Healthy.  No signs of any complications, no swelling, no bleeding, and all indication that the cerclage is doing it's job.  Maybe, once I'm past the next month, I can begin to relax.  Maybe.

In the mean time, we've started to plan out the nursery.  I was able to finish the baby blanket, crocheted in pink, grey, and yellow, to hang over the rocking chair.  I'm ordering fabric samples for the ruffled bed skirt.  We're planning how to rearrange furniture.  And, in the next few weeks, we'll order a crib.  I hesitate to get this far into the process, unsure of the future, doubting my body's ability and God's goodness.  But I am trying to walk in faith, trusting God to provide, to keep Baby Savant safe through delivery.  To allow us the sense of normalcy we so long for after 3 children born far too early.

A sneak peak of the start of an attempt to be crafty...




Friday, July 3, 2015

Missing

There is something just so difficult about family trips.  It's been there with weddings, with Christmases, and with reunions.  Someone is missing.  Our daughter.  Reagan isn't here to play with her brothers in the stream, to enjoy the taste of ice cream after playing in the park, to dance to the music in the house.  It feels so wrong.  A piece of me is always missing.

We're at the point in our lives now where things are busy, hectic, and distracted.  Though I have moments throughout the week where my heart aches at thinking of how much Reagan would enjoy doing whatever it is we're doing together as a family, it's not quite so in your face.  It's more of a subtle ache, the hole I've grown used to.  I'm not quite sure how to handle this new wave of emotion and loss I seem to be feeling this week.

We're 20 weeks pregnant.  The next 2 weeks will be so hard.  Waiting to see if these constant contractions are going to send me into labor, if I'll wind up in the hospital again.  Ultimately waiting for our appointment at 21+4 to see if our second daughter is still thriving.  If everything still checks out.  The waiting is awful.  The nightmares are awful.  The flashbacks are awful.  I'm not really sure how else to describe it, another word to put in there.  I'm terrified.  And waiting for the bad news to hit.  And not sure how to trust God with any of this when I still can't wrap my head around what's happened over these past several years.  So, please pray for us as we wait and try to trust.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday!!

It seems that, overnight, my babies have become big boys.  They are two.  I have two-year-olds.  No longer at all babies and officially toddlers.  I'm not entirely sure how to feel about that.

I tiptoed into their room last night to rock each of them in their final minutes of only being one.  Not sure why, but two sounds so much bigger.  Maybe because when they turned one, it was only going from 11 months to one and then on to 13 months.  Still very gradual when talking about their age.  Now, they are two.  And next?  What, two-and-a-half??  Really?  I want to slow the clock down, soak up each and every second of these little men.  And yet my days are still flying by, time keeps going.

This second year of life has brought so many changes.  Last year, though they were turning one, they were still super tiny in their 0-3 month clothes.  They, developmentally when we adjusted for prematurity, were really the equivalent of less than 9 months old.  But, there is something magical about this 2-year mark, when their birth history no longer matters to the medical world, when they aged over 3 months in a matter of seconds.  This moment when, in their weekly therapy reports, they went from 20.75 months on week to 2 years the next.

This second year brought more changes than the first - first words, first steps, and first kisses.  And yet, it was less dramatic than the first.  I got to spend all my nights with you, instead of missing out on the first 3 months.  There were so many fewer doctors visits, fewer things to worry about, no monitors or wires or weight checks.  There were no midnight feedings as you finally learned to sleep through the night. One year ago seems like not that long ago, and yet, you have become little people instead of babies, taking on your own personalities and things that you love.

Warren.  You are not so little anymore, weighing in at 25 pounds!  You love building blocks, trying to figure out exactly how to get them evenly surrounding the entire outside of the table.  You love throwing balls...and trucks, and books, and puzzles and all sorts of things you should no be throwing.  You love to eat - crackers, cheese, tomatoes, grapes, and chicken top your list.  I love watching you enjoy food.  I love watching you entertain a crowd, seeing your face light up when someone claps for you, seeing that little grin when you know you have done something well.  I love listening to you talk, watching you learn new words and phrases so quickly as you work so hard to catch up.  Most of all I love hearing your giggle, laughing as you play peek-a-boo or jump so high.

Warren, 4 days old

Warren, 1st birthday


Dean.  You doubled in weight this year.  It's just amazing to see how much bigger you are than last year.  You love to play in the kitchen, stiring pom poms with your spoon, feeding bear or giraffe in their chairs.  You love puzzles and put them together so quickly.  And you love the park, digging in the dirt.  You also love to eat, waking each morning asking for these things, in this order: crackers, cheese, chicken, dip, peanut butter.  What an interesting breakfast that would make!  I love watching you explore, watching you run through the house, making animal noises.  I love how you remember so much, how your little mind associates things together.  I love reading with you as you can say the next word in the story that you've heard so many times.  I am so excited to see what this next year brings for us!

Dean, 2 days old

Dean, 1st birthday


So...to each of my boys, Mommy loves you immeasurably.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fear

We're having another little girl.  I've had a few days to let that sink in.  We suspected girl from the very beginning.  Everything about this pregnancy felt exactly like Reagan's: unrelenting morning sickness, fatigue, the way I was carrying.  I had a few doubts simply because when I gave birth to boys, there were 2 of them, and I had complications from the beginning.  So maybe that was why that pregnancy felt vastly different.

Anyway, I had fears and dreams before our big reveal that I was going to have another boy.  Not that I wouldn't love another little boy, I would.  And I would cherish every second I got to spend being his mother.  But because my heart still longs so much to do little girl things.  All the things we dreamed of doing with Reagan.  All the hair bows and dresses, tea parties and dolls, pink and purple.  I long to have a child wear Reagan's little things, use her blankets.  Though I know the first time I pull each of those items out it will reopen a wound, cause me to grieve all over again, I hate seeing them hang unused in the closet.  All that to say, I knew I would have another moment of grieving if I was carrying a boy...not because of disappointment over having a boy but because of continued hurt over not having our daughter.  I mentally prepared for blue balloons to come flying out of my box.  I mentally prepared for pink balloons to come flying out of my sister's box.

There was such joy and peace when I first saw my fate: pink.  We celebrated this baby girl and all she means to us.  I'm in a much different place than when I was pregnant with the boys.  Goodness knows I've aged at least 15 years since then!  I know God was incredibly wise to give me boys so close to Reagan's death, knew that I couldn't have handled a girl then.  But I really am excited to have this precious little one home with us, to add some pink into our lives, to teach the boys how to play gentle and how to care for their baby sister.  I am genuinely excited for our daughter and what that will look like for our family.  It doesn't take away the pain, not even a little bit, and will probably bring forth more feelings I've buried deep, but I am okay with that.

So...why fear?  Where does this fear come to play?  Well, it's with being pregnant with another girl.  Not having her, not caring for her, but that my body will fail again.  I'm at 18 weeks.  I have a lot of scary milestones coming up in the next 2 months.  I was just going along, not too nervous (probably because I was still so sick all day) until after we learned I was carrying a girl.  Nothing changed biologically, there was no increased risk at that point over the day before, but I suddenly find myself interpreting everything.  I want to go into the doctor all the time.  I find myself coming up with reasons in my head why things might not be okay.  I went swimming today, maybe now there's an infection.  Warren stepped on me, maybe he squashed her.  Dean kicked me, maybe I'll start bleeding.  Add to that, contractions have started in this past week.  Ugh, the contractions.  I recognize these are not contractions that are causing any sort of labor, Braxton Hicks or irritable uterus or whatever you want to call it.  But it's there, and it's scary.  Carrying a girl, trusting that God will provide, it's scary.  In the back of my mind there's this terrible thought: I can't do it.  My body isn't compatible with girls.  We never really learned what happened with Reagan...what if it happens again.  I feel like I'm holding my breath, waiting to get past 21 weeks and 4 days.  The last day I ever saw Reagan.  The day I went into labor with the boys and doctors didn't think we'd make it through the night.

And yet, I know this is a different pregnancy.  I know God is bigger than this.  I know His plan is good.  I know now, as I sit and write this while being kicked inside, that God has performed miracles before, and He will again.  Trusting in that in my heart is the hard part.  But we're getting there, one day at a time.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's a girl!!

This weekend we had the joy of doing a gender reveal with my sister.  How often do sisters get to find out what they're having at the exact same time?  Despite some confusing counting, we both flipped the lids off the box to reveal what we're carrying at the same time.

I learned that Katy and I both hate crafting.  We're not that bad at it, but it doesn't come naturally and causes much frustration.  I love pinning little crafty things, love the idea of handmade tissue paper balls and making the boxes my own, but in actuality...I'd much rather someone else do them.  I have no patience for all things crafty.  That being said, we did a pretty good job I think of getting it all put together, if I do say so myself.  Here's some shots of the party:


Our ultrasound pictures, signed in blue/pink by our dear family based on their guesses

Katy and I.  You'd never know she was 4 weeks ahead of me!  Sigh to baby bumps the 3rd time around.  But totally worth all the changes!

Blue/Pink punch, popcorn, and dip.  Props to Katy for making the streamers

These tissue paper pom poms: harder than they look.


Beautiful flowers

The expectant parents!

Pre balloon release.  These things are huge.  Nearly 45 feet of wrapping paper.  But cutting out letters is a great activity for surgery recovery, just FYI.

It was so special to have ALL of our family there, on all sides.  How often can that happen?  We really appreciate everyone making the trip so we could reveal together.  A little more fun than the text we sent out after our ultrasound with the boys.  So, after Warren and Dean woke up, we headed outside for the results.  I think everyone will have already seen these, but here are some pictures capturing the moment.



And there you have it. Our exciting party, exciting news as we plan to welcome a little girl this fall and my sis prepares for her new baby boy. 




Saturday, June 6, 2015

Cerclage

There's been an ongoing struggle for me through this pregnancy: cerclage or no cerclage.  We discussed with our great docs to possibility before the transfer even happened and had it in our head that would be our plan.  But our specialist said we could also follow the cervix length regularly and wait to see.  Maybe everything went bad last pregnancy simply because it was twins (and at times, triplets with that clot hanging out in there) and my body wasn't ready for all the stretching.  Maybe.  Did we want to chance it?  The cerclage itself wasn't without risk, so which direction should we go?  Ultimately, we were given a 40% chance of needing an emergency cerclage placed later in pregnancy.  That seemed high to me, especially given the success rate of "emergent cerclages" at less than 50%.  Eek.  So, in the end, we opted to go for it.

There is something utterly terrifying about being wide awake in the OR, particularly if you are the one on the table.  Last time I was wide awake in the OR too, but was having 2 babies pulled out of me so somehow that was different, more tolerable.  This time I was nervous, incredibly so, as I was sitting on the OR table waiting for my spinal.  The numbing injection burned, then came the epidural.  Ouch.  I don't remember it hurting that much last time.  Oh wait, says anesthesiologist, that's not going into your spine, I seem to be hitting bone. Eek.  Take 2.  More numbing injections, another epidural, and searing pain shooting down my leg into my toes.  My left leg is all tingly and burning.  Here's the problem, my right leg is fine.  I can move it, I can lift it.  My pelvis, also fine.  Hmm...  Anesthesiologist says Oh wait one more time.  It's not working.  Seriously??  By this point I have tears streaming down my face, for 2 totally different reasons.  First, those spinals HURT.  To have it pierced twice was just too much for me.  Second, I'm not terrified for baby.  We were told the spinal was a better option because there was no risk to baby.  Now, I'm facing general anesthesia, which causes crazy reactions in my body, which I don't metabolize well at all, and which is delivered to baby.  Suddenly the risk seems like too much.  And just as I'm thinking that, I drift off to sleep.

I wake up 2 hours later in recover, convulsing and shaking, oxygen monitors signaling loudly that I'm not breathing.  It takes a team I'm only vaguely familiar of to calm things down.  I hate anesthesia.  But, because I can wiggle my toes so quickly (as the spinal never completely worked) I am quickly taken to a private room to wait it out.  It's nearly 4 hours later before left leg starts working and I can head home.  I now have a raging spinal headache.  Of course.

Fast forward 2 days, and that whole ordeal is worth it.  We get to have another ultrasound of baby, get to watch him/her kicking and scratching and moving all around.  The cerclage is in a great place, the cervix is closed, the baby is healthy.  That is ultimately the goal, and it's accomplished.  All medical efforts have been done to ensure this baby makes it to the 3rd trimester.  But here's the thing, ultimately, it doesn't matter what we do.  (of course it does to some extent, God gives us brains to think with and has enabled for these medical advances.  Such an excuse to just sit by and do nothing...).  Anyway, it doesn't matter what the odds, for or against, because our God is in control.  I know full well how frail my body it, how weak.  Yet, God is strong enough for all of us, and He can carry this child.  Such a comfort.

And, more exciting news, we get to find out TOMORROW what we are having.  Yay!  Pictures and official announcement to come very soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

From another mother

I post something every year for Mother's Day.  Often it's simply an emotional outpouring of a very difficult day.  A day that, despite having living children now, is still filled with pain.  (don't worry...that post will still be coming at some point this weekend!)  I've started following a beautiful blog and I've learned that some are just way more talented at writing and communicating grace, peace, and love.  

Barren to Beautiful offers so many wonderful posts on the pain of infertility and trusting God through it all.  Though I am no "infertile," though I have children running through my house, the pain and sting of those years isn't gone by any means.  Anyway, all that to say, she has a wonderful post entitled "When the Barren Sing."  It's just beautiful, a great reminder that I wish I would have been able to read all those times I was crying out to God, feeling like something was wrong with and that I was failing as a woman.  Here is the link, and below are the words.  I couldn't write any summary that wouldn't take away from it, so you'll find the entire post below.  But please check out the whole blog and Rebecca's story.

I was looking for a parking space in a very crowded lot, when suddenly, near the front, a car pulled out in front of me. I quickly turned on my turn signal, eager to pull in, and whispered a prayer of thanks. But as I began to pull in, I read the sign nailed in front of that space: “Parking For Expectant Mothers ONLY.”
I hit the breaks. And just sat there for a moment, before shifting into reverse.
For Expectant Mothers ONLY.
Who knew a parking lot could be so cruel?
It was like I just got rejected from the Mommy Club. “No barren women allowed.”
The sign could have said: For women whose bodies work right. For women who have had their prayers answered. For women who have something to look forward to.
For women with something to expect.
I still remember it so well. That longing. That wanting to “expect” something. Or someone.
I used to walk through Barnes & Noble and see that giant “Parenting” section near the Children’s Books Department. And the rows and rows of “What To Expect” books.
And I remember the feeling that I had nothing to expect. 
“Because, I expected to be pregnant by now. I expected a lot of things. By now.”
But if you are barren today, I want you to know you have something to expect.
You have Someone to expect.
And He is Almighty God. And He’s coming for you.
My prayer for you today is that you would know His love, and know His nearness, and know His mercy. Because He just wants to pour it out on you like never before.
I know Mother’s Day is just around the corner. And the sting of infertility can become sharper than ever. But God has a message for you this Mother’s Day. He says:
“Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.” Isaiah 54:4
“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.” Isaiah 54:13
“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10
“O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11
First He tells you to sing. And then, He gives you the reasons to sing.
And they are:
1. Because you will not be ashamed.
2. You will not be disgraced.
3. You will forget the shame of your youth.
4. My kindness will not depart from you.
5. My covenant of peace will not be removed from you.
6. I’m going to comfort you and lay a foundation for you. In precious stones.
He’s saying everything you have grieved, all your sorrow, all your disappointment, all your despair—I’m going to remove it. And I’m going to redeem you. I’m going to redeem your life. I’m going to be a Husband to you. I’m going to pour out my mercy on you, and show you everlasting kindness.
Now that is something to expect.
See, God knows better than anyone, exactly how you feel in this moment. Can you hear His tender love here? “O you afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11
He’s saying: I am with you! I am for you! And as long as you put your trust in Me, you will NEVER be disappointed!
So, sing barren one! Break forth into singing and cry aloud!
You were not meant to be silent. You were not called to pine away in despair. You were made to sing, lift up your voice, because of God. And because of His mercy and everlasting kindness He pours out on you.
I hope that there is this sound across the land, the song of the barren women, lifting up their voices. Shouting for joy. And singing louder than anyone in their churches this Mother’s Day. And when they think of Him, when they think of His love, tears fill their eyes. Because He is closer now than ever before.
Because when the barren sing, something powerful happens. When the barren sing, the darkness trembles. When barren sing, Satan shudders. When the barren sing, the silence is broken. Despair and heaviness leave. Emptiness becomes full. Dead places become alive. Hardened hearts turn to flesh. Clenched fists, open wide in surrender with joy, joy, joy.
Laughter is restored. Like the sun warming your skin. And hope. And peace. And rest in the Holy Spirit.
When the barren sing, heaven breaks through.
So sing. 
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5
And He’s coming to take all your shame, and fear, and sadness, and sighing, and make it flee away. Forever.

Friday, April 24, 2015

US #2

4/17

Ok, so I had my first unscheduled emergency ultrasound yesterday.  Sigh.  I'm being haunted by symptoms of pregnancies past - spotting, cramping, pain.  The nurse has reassured me that these are all extremely common with IVF because of all the medications.  But for me, it brings me back to my previous pregnancies, to the trauma and terror I associate with those.  I may be "one of those women" but I don't have a healthy or normal pregnancy to compare this to.

All that to say, Baby Savant looked great.  Heart beat was strong, you could start to make out more than just blob on the ultrasound.  And my sweet doc is bringing me in one more time before releasing me to my OB and MFM specialist.



Otherwise, nausea is being somewhat controlled by my new meds.  But I've quit praying that I would be healed of this horrific nausea because I just cannot handle not having it.  Weird?  Absolutely.  But I had a 24 hour period with essentially no nausea (which corresponded with my new pain symptoms) after over 48 hour of unrelenting, can't get out of bed nausea.  I freaked.  That scared me just as much as the cramping pain I was having.  I didn't realize until then how much comfort the nausea brought.  Though I'd rather have LESS nausea, NO nausea was not good for my heart.  And revealed all the more how much I doubt.  I don't trust that God will answer my prayers, I'm surprised when He does.  And I still don't trust God with my child, at least not yet.  I pray I will get there, but I just feel let down in the past.  Which is ridiculous as I watch my 2 little miracles shovel pasta and peas in their mouths with their hands, passing their water cup back and forth.  It's a disgusting yet beautiful process to watch them eat.  God did that.  Doctors didn't, doctors didn't think they would make it,  Yet here they are, and in-my-face, everyday reminder of God's goodness.

1st US

4/7/15

Woo hoo!!  These are the only words I can think of to describe the relief that there is only 1 baby growing in my belly.  We've always known the risk of identical twins is much higher in IVF than in the regular population and with as sick as I've been, that was definitely a fear.  Praise the Lord there is one baby with a nice, strong heart beat.  AND...no blood clot!  YES!  That's right, for the first time ever I've had a 1st trimester ultrasound without a scary clot.  Reagan's disappeared quickly, the boys' haunted me throughout the pregnancy, and this little guy has nothing.  Such a relief, a HUGE blessing and answer to prayer.  We are so excited.

So, what does that mean?  It means, right now, I have to wait 2 full weeks before another ultrasound.  Really?  TWO weeks?  I've never waited that long.  And yet, I am filled with comfort in knowing, beyond doubt, that I am in fact very pregnant.  The bulging belly, heartburn, and fatigue are nice gentle reminders.  The overwhelming and horrific nausea is the in-my-face reminder.  I have never felt so horrible in my life.  And yet, I know that God is using that to reassure my fleeting heart and doubting mind that this child is growing strong.

So...here's a pic of the little guy/girl/blob.


6 weeks, 4 days

I have now officially made it the longest in a pregnancy without requiring an emergency ultrasound due to bleeding.  First when we lost Reagan's twin, and with the boys because of severe pain and spotting.  We have passed the first of our many hurdles.  And I'm feeling good.  Okay, that's a complete lie.  I feel like crap.  All I want to do is lie on the bathroom floor with a cold rag.  Ugh.., nausea and "morning" aka all day sickness has hit with full force.  Interesting how I don't remember much of the nausea with the boys.  I remember it for sure with Reagan, but maybe the stress of everything else with the boys made me forget all about the nausea.  How does one care for the kiddos while wanting to die all day?  Hmm...haven't mastered that one just yet.  And yet, in these days as we wait for the 8 week ultrasound, it's a huge blessing to feel so awful.  There is no doubt in my mind that I am definitely pregnant.  A little less intense nausea would be nice, but I'm sure if that was the case I would be struggling with doubts and freaking out that I wasn't feeling sick enough.  So, I'm just going to be grateful for the horribleness that is "morning" sickness, grateful we've made it this far without any complications, and grateful I serve a God who doesn't give me what this doubting heart deserves.

Positive :)

3/15/15

We found out on Andrew's birthday that we are, in fact, expect again.  YAY!  Another positive test, another little life.  We are in a state of shock, as all odds told us this one would have to fail.  We hoped, we prayed, but there was always this little nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me that it just wasn't likely.  And yet, God proved once again that He is bigger than all our stats and all the medical odds.  Honestly I just shouldn't look at them anymore.

We had some moments of excitement, we celebrated with a dinner out and the purchasing of an adorable gender-neutral newborn sleeper, and then the fears started taking over.  What if I miscarry?  What if my body fails again?  What if I start hemorrhaging while I'm out with the boys?  What if I have to go on bed rest?  Who will care for our children?  What if this one dies too?  What if he/she is born too early again?  And on and on AND ON my mind raced.  I feel like we have these weeks to count down to...if we can just get past 6 weeks, past 8 weeks, past 11 weeks...then I can relax.  Except there seems to be another milestone always right around the corner.  Maybe once I get to 27 weeks?  Then I can relax?  Though I'm sure I'll have something else to worry about then.  It's really sad.  And it shows me several things.  First, this could potentially be a long and miserable pregnancy even if there are really no problems.  I can create that all by myself.  And second, I really do not trust God with my babies.  If I did, I would rest in His glory and peace.  But I don't.  I feel like I can't.  Which is ridiculous.

All that to say, we are super excited, super nervous, and absolutely terrified about these coming months.  Which one wins depends on the day.  Please pray for us as we wait.

Happy Birthday Andrew!  Here was his last present of the day.  Subtle, but the best way I could include all our kiddos.



Transfer #3

Written 3/5/15

I'm sitting here with Dean on my lap watching Warren pushing chairs around the kitchen.  In the last 5 minutes there have been no less than 4 temper tantrums.  We sometimes average slightly less than 1 a minute.  Sigh.  But I love it.  Love the craziness of these boys.  Love how Dean puts 100% into everything he does.  Love how Warren follows him around and gives me a little smirk before he does something wrong.  (Ok, confession...as I am writing that sentence about Warren, Dean walks up and bites me.  We have time-out.  Warren poops.  I change his diaper.  See...craziness!)

Today, we are taking a step toward increasing the chaos of our lives.  I am simultaneous terrified and excited beyond words.  I am ready for another baby in our lives, ready for the sleepless nights and crying.  (or as ready as anyone can really be)  What causes the terror is the idea of pregnancy.  Let's face it, my track record is poor to say the least.  Pregnancy has never been easy, from getting pregnant to staying pregnant.  After saying goodbye to Reagan, we said we wanted to give all our children a chance.  (eek...that was 12 embryo at that time).  After the boys, watching them in the NICU, I wasn't so sure.  We're taking steps to prevent as many complications as possible, but honestly it's completely out of our hands.  And maybe that scares me the most...knowing that I don't have control.  It was a wonderful, freeing thought with Warren and Dean.  To know that the doctors didn't have to be right, to know that God was bigger than them and all the statistics.  And today, we're faced with slim statistics again (with regards to the transfer being successful at all) and my instinct is to take back complete control, to try to figure out what I can say or do to make it work on our end.  I diminish God and His power when I have thoughts that maybe if I pray more or study scripture more or say/think the right things then He will bless me with this child.  Because, then it's not really at all about God and all about me thinking I might, what, trick Him?  It's ridiculous, to write it all out.  But as I was not sleeping last night, these were the thoughts going through my head.

In just a few hours, I'll take my dose of Valium and, in a slightly dazed state, I will see my 5th child for the first time.  I'll meet the child who maybe shared a spot next to Dean.  (Wow, this is all so weird).  And I'll have to trust,wholeheartedly and with everything I have, that God is in control of this child's life, that He has a plan, and that His plan is better than mine.

Not sure if I'll ever post this, as we have kept our news of transfer quiet this time.  But I wanted to document my thoughts in the moments I am having them.  We are praying for a successful transfer and for peace as we wait.  If you're reading this, then we already know one way or another.  If you're not seeing posts announcing pregnancy with a cute picture of some sort, well, then you know.  Reagan will be playing with another sibling in heaven.  Oh, trusting is so incredibly hard...

Monday, April 13, 2015

End of Isolation

Our second season of isolation is officially coming to a close.  No longer will I have to be confined to my house with my children.  I can run errands like a regular person.  I can go to the grocery store to pick up that one ingredient I am missing rather than begging off neighbors or waiting for Andrew to come home.  And, here's the kicker, my kiddos can play with other children.  Gasp.  As a mom of micro preemies, all I think of when I see another kid is the germs.  Their little noses are constantly running, and even now someone always has a cold.  I know Warren and Dean will eventually face their first cold, it is inevitable, but I shudder to think about their little lungs.  I have flashbacks to their time in the NICU, watching them fight and struggle to breathe.  I cannot fathom the fear of hearing the rattles in their lungs, watching them struggle and fight for breath all over again, hearing them cry out in pain.  Or worse yet, not hearing them crying out as they are too fatigued from fighting.  Here's the thing...I don't know if any of that will be true.  They might be strong enough to fight off a cold like any other kid, their lungs and the scarring may have healed enough to handle it just fine...no extra meds, no trips to the ER, no hospitalizations.  We just don't know.  I just don't want to know.  But I do know this, I am going to have to let go.  Just a little bit initially, but eventually completely as they head off to preschool.  Eventually.

Until then, I am going to slowly start entering society again.  Maybe schedule their very first play date.  Maybe not sanitize them immediately if they touch something some other kid may have touched at some point in history.  We'll take it one step at a time.  Starting with a trip to the park and dinner out with these adorable boys, our first dinner out as a family, and their new found love of french fries with ranch dressing.

Swinging with Daddy.  Dean hated this activity...

Slide!

Mommy and Warren

Daddy and Dean