Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reaching the finish line!

So much has happened since my last post! Poor Jaydon - he's obviously the third child ;)

May confirmed for us that we had a heart-healthy little boy on the way. We've named him Jaydon Thomas. Jaydon means "God has heard" and Thomas means "twin." His middle name is after DH, but I realized that Jaydon and Aubree are technically "Irish twins" as their due dates are the same week, just a year apart.

The third week of May DH and I sat down with a mortgage broker to see if it would be possible to rent out our house and purchase another that would give our growing family some more room. By Memorial day we had a budget in place and a list of houses to see. The first week of June we had a pending contract on a new place and renters lined up for our old one! Everything lined up perfectly and we were able to move to a house in a very family-friendly neighborhood where DD can play outside and there are great schools just across the street.

As July progressed I began to get itchy on my hands and feet again. This happened with Aubree in the last week of my pregnancy. The doctors said it was cholestasis of pregnancy, or ICP, but they thought it was nothing to be concerned about. I've since learned it can be very dangerous to a baby if left untreated and the recurrence rate is very high. Itching all over without a rash is one big sign, so when it started up I went to the doc to request tests and treatment. So now we are doing weekly scans to check on Jaydon and will induce at 37 weeks as the chance of stillbirth afterwards goes up and its just not worth that risk.

So we have just a few weeks left until our little guy comes home with us. I've started to allow myself to believe that it will really happen. We got a crib for him tonight and his room is just about ready to go. Clothes are washed and settled in the dresser. Car seat is cleaned up and bases ready to install in the cars. We are about as ready as we can be. I just can't wait to hold him in my arms and bring him home!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A year ago today

One year ago today I went for a routine prenatal exam. DH had been coming along to all of my appointments, but for some reason he couldn't make this one. I assured him it wasn't a big deal - no ultrasounds, nothing special. Just pee in a cup, check my blood pressure, and get a quick listen to baby's heart beat.

However, at my appointment, the doctor couldn't find Aubree's heart beat. A quick ultrasound showed that something was very, very wrong. Over the next couple of days we learned that our little girl's heart was very broken and we were told she would not survive to birth. I spent the next 15 weeks researching Heterotaxy and all of Aubree's complex heart issues, consulting with doctors across the country, and praying for a miracle. But Aubree decided to write her own ending and left when she was ready. I carried her for 31 weeks and gave birth to her in a silent delivery room. We spent eight hours with her before we said goodbye and left the hospital empty handed.

-----------------------------------------------------

Today I sat in that same office for a routine prenatal exam. We found out at the beginning of February that Baby #3 was coming in mid-October - nearly the exact same due date one year later. Today's appointment went well. Baby's heart beat was hard to find, but only because the little one kept moving away from the doppler. Apparently his or her sisters have stretched things out enough that there's plenty of room to run around in there ;) We did get to hear a normal heart rate for just a few seconds in between kicks and flips. We've already had two ultrasounds and have a few more scheduled to keep a very close eye on things as baby grows. So far, everything is measuring perfectly and baby is doing great. And just like his or her big sisters, baby is a thumb-sucker :)

I wish I could say that I was excited. I am not unhappy by any means, but pregnancy after a loss is unimaginably difficult. Gone is the innocence of getting a positive pregnancy test and blissfully day dreaming about nursery colors. Through this journey I have met some wonderful mommas who have lost babies for various reasons. Now I feel like I know all too well just how terribly wrong things can go. Just because we have no indication of heart defects doesn't mean I won't have a freak placental abruption during labor, or have a cord accident at 39 weeks. Sure, the odds of that happening are very very small. But so were the odds of Aubree getting Heterotaxy. We had better chances of winning the Powerball Jackpot than of her getting Heterotaxy and all of her complex heart issues on top of it (and yes, I did buy a few lotto tickets to see if that bad luck could extend the other way - but sadly it didn't). I am extremely glad this baby is developing normally. But until I hold a screaming baby in my arms and get to take that baby home with me, I am not letting myself get too excited.

In three more weeks we will have a very detailed scan to check every part of baby's anatomy. We will hopefully also get to learn what flavor of human is currently incubating :) Although I am anxious to have a name and to start preparing for a baby, I am really torn on finding out the sex. A girl would be great because I had my heart set on a sister for DD. But a girl will never replace Aubree. A boy would be nice because we have two girls. But a boy will also mean that DD won't have a little sister (at least not right now). It's going to be such a bittersweet moment. No matter what the sex is, it's going to be a very painful reminder of who we are missing.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Joy

In spite of all her drama and whining at times, I am so in love with this little girl.
She is so smart.
She is fiercely independent.
She has a caring spirit and loves to take care of her friends.
She loves to entertain. She will sing and dance in front of 1 person or 200.
She has her own sense of style. We often have to take an extra peek into the dressup box before leaving the house so she can find that perfect "ti-wawa" or "neck-a-lice" to complement her outfit.
She is learning to stall at bedtime. Requests for snuggles, drinks, snacks, ointment for her "tapped" lips, feed the fish, find another blanket, and a million times asking us "What's that noise??!?"

I love the little person she is becoming. It is so fun to watch her grow and change, to watch her likes and preferences form. She keeps us on our toes, for sure!




Friday, January 31, 2014

Checking In

It has been 5 and a half months since we held our baby and said hello and goodbye in the same breath. Sometimes it feels like seconds ago, and other times it feels like another lifetime.

For the most part life has gone on. I have been back at work since September, Aly is growing and changing by leaps and bounds, and life at home tends to fall back into the same regular routine. We are working on potty training with Aly, which is taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. Of course. I really need to learn to stop making plans for these kinds of things ;)

But part of my heart is still so empty, still very broken. And for the last two weeks it seems like relentless hits just keep on coming. The dozen random notes to let me know people are thinking of my precious baby and still saying prayers for me bring me to my knees. I am so grateful that people still remember. But it brings things back to the surface all over again (yet still worth it to know that others know Aubree and miss her too).

And then there are the very painful triggers. This past week I was caught off-guard at work in a meeting with people I had not seen in several months, if not years. "Oh, Sarah, how's the baby?" Such an innocent question to ask. Yet, it left me sitting there completely befuddled. Baby? What baby? I don't have a baby? Oh, Aly? She's 2 now, going on 15, and full of little-girl drama. Definitely not a baby anymore!

"No, the baby. How's the baby?" And that's when it hit me. Crap. What do I say? Oh my goodness, everyone is looking at me. Seconds felt like hours...my heart was racing and my stomach felt sick. Why was everyone staring at me? How long was I sitting there with my mouth open and my eyes fixed on the wall in the background? What do I say to someone I barely know, let alone a room full of strangers? "Um, she passed away," was all I could mutter, while looking at the ground and wishing I could run away.

But the questions didn't stop there. "How did she pass?" Ok, normal question. This one I could answer. Her little heart was broken and couldn't make it. "So, are you trying again?" When I stalled on answering again the question was asked repeated. Several times. WOW. Searing pain coursed through my body as I began to panic. First of all, from co-workers I barely know, how is a question like that appropriate? Secondly, that is a really painful topic for me right now. The truth is that it's been left up to God's timing since we got the clearance from my doctor in September. And each month that passes with negative tests followed by a period brings me to tears. I feel like something is wrong with me, even though they say there isn't. I feel like God is punishing me, even though I know in my head this isn't true. Honestly I don't even remember how I managed to answer this question or the several minutes following.

And then, to top it all off, was the seemingly "funny" comment made by an acquaintance. We were talking about kiddos and how they all have very different personalities. Aly is our independent child, and I had stated that I knew Aubree would have been our clingy, needy baby. "Oh, well, guess you dodged a bullet there, huh?" WHAT THE HELL?!?! Yes, we sure did. I am so glad that we aren't being inconvenienced by a healthy, living child. You are right, a dead baby is absolutely preferable to a colicky one. I wish I could have said those things. Instead I just stared blankly for a second and tried to change the subject.

For the most part there are still way more good days than bad. And when the bad times come I am able to re-direct my thoughts and actions most of the time. But there are days when I just can't seem to function. It's always annoying to find a new trigger since I really don't know what it is going to be. The other day I was eating a grapefruit and had to throw it away because it reminded me too much of Aubree. A freaking grapefruit! *sigh*

Saturday, December 21, 2013

So not "Crunchy"

But I really want to be! I would make the worst hippie ever. I really love the idea of natural remedies and treatments. However, my skeptical and analytical side wants to see proof that things will work before I try them. With many "natural" cures there just aren't scientific studies to back them up. And some things can actually be quite harmful even though they are "natural."

However, I have taken a leap of faith over the past six months. Primarily with my personal oral care. Exciting, right?

I've been reading up on natural oral care remedies since I had to get several cavities filled a few years ago. I wasn't quite yet 30 and the dentist was already starting to talk to me about crowns if the cavities kept coming back. I was already doing the requisite twice-daily brushing plus flossing. I really tried to keep my mouth rinsed out and cleaned after eating sweets. And I tried to take my daily vitamins along with a mild effort towards eating healthier. But my teeth kept getting cavities. New ones would appear at every checkup. I was feeling defeated and just assumed that bad teeth were my reality, something I had just inherited and couldn't really do anything about.

Then I started reading up on natural remedies. Home-made toothpastes (these were appealing to my "crunchy" and "frugal" sides) and oil-pulling. But being the skeptic that I am it took me awhile to actually try these things. I first started out by adding baking soda to my toothpaste and focusing my brushing efforts on being more gentle and targeting the gum-line. Then I upped the crunchy-factor and started brushing 50% of the time with a mixture of organic sea salts and baking soda. And then I moved to all salt/soda completely.

What I found is that my mouth felt so much cleaner! I wasn't feeling a build-up of gunk by the end of the day. My teeth felt smooth! And my research (ok, excessive googling) shows that the salt helps to re-mineralize teeth and is actually less abrasive than commercial pastes. I really just liked the fact that I could mix up a month's worth of  "paste" for just a few cents using 2T of salt and 2T of soda. And when swished between my teeth at the end, it seemed to pull out any remaining gunk in my teeth. Flossing afterwards very rarely yielded any nasty bits (when that used to be the norm after brushing with commercial paste). I will say that the salt took a bit to get used to. And it does not leave my mouth with a minty-fresh feeling either. But my mouth does feel very clean and I can eat just about any food after without a weird interaction (toothpaste and orange juice, anyone??).

Yet, my teeth were still a bit sensitive so I started trying oil-pulling. Honestly, this was the one that seemed the most crazy to me in the beginning. Swishing oil in my mouth for 15-20 minutes? And not just any oil, but using coconut oil (which seems to be the flavor of the month amongst my crunchiest friends). To say I was skeptical would be a massive understatement. So I started reading to see what harm it could do. Because so many of these "natural" remedies are also potentially harmful, so I wanted to know what I was up against. Except, this one really had no dangers. The only possible downside I saw was potential yellowing of the teeth from using olive oil. Since I was going to use coconut oil that wouldn't even apply. It was truly one of those things where it wouldn't be harmful and may possibly help. So with that knowledge I started trying it.

I've been doing this now for about 6 months. I just had a dental checkup today. This is the first time in YEARS that I don't have any new cavities!! Ok, I do have a broken filling that will need a follow-up, but nothing new! They spent very little time scraping gunk off my teeth at my cleaning, my gums never hurt, and the hygienist and dentist both told me that I was doing a great job taking care of my mouth. This is the first time that I have ever had a great review at the dentist!! Honestly, the only things that have changed are basically the paste (salt/soda) and mouthwash (coconut oil) that I am using.

So for this skeptical wanna-be hippie, I would say that these two things are definitely worth trying! Your pocketbook and your mouth will thank you :) At the very least there is no harm in trying. And for those on food stamps, this is a great way to use normal "food" items for personal care. Another way to stretch those dollars just a bit further.

**But seriously. I am a mom and random blogger. Please don't take any of this as medical advice! Do your own research/googling first before trying anything. **

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Season of Advent

This year, the celebration of Advent has really hit me hard. The anticipation of Christ's birth. The promise of hope and redemption for all.

2013 started out with such hope and anticipation for me. We were consciously trying to have another baby. I was counting days and tracking signs. The last few days in January I was taking a test twice a day because I just KNEW that this was our month. And that first day of February those two pink lines answered back. The hope, the excitement, the anticipation of meeting this little person. A little pink heart was placed on the calendar on her due date. How appropriate.

As the weeks went on I would read up on fetal development. Hey, our baby has ten fingers & ten toes! Oh, look, we just grew ears today! We talked about baby names, made plans on how to fit two kids in our little house, and talked to Aly about the tiny baby in Mommy's tummy. That anticipation and hope soon turned to heartbreak and worry as we learned at the beginning of May that our little one would not be with us long.

And in August Aubree was born. Born into a silent delivery room. There were no cheers and no crying baby. Just silence, tears, and hugs as we spent a very few moments with out little girl before having to give her back. We went home empty handed and feeling broken. I feel that this is what God refers to in Genesis when he says that part of the curse of sin is that pain will be increased with childbirth. The physical pain of birth is no picnic, but most women do recover and some even go on to choose to do it again. Ha! But to have to endure that physical pain along with the death of your child is beyond imaginable. To be honest, the depiction of the birth of Christ as a silent event is a horrifying thought to me now.

It has been hard for me this year with the focus of Christmas obviously being about the birth of Jesus. The most joyous event ever. I am having a hard time seeing pregnant women or babies as my arms and my heart ache to hold my daughter. But I have been so struck by the story of Mary. I feel like I see her in a completely different light. I imagine the joy and anticipation she must have felt when she learned that she was going to have a baby. And not just any baby. She was going to be the one to give birth to the Messiah. The one who was coming to fulfill the promise of hope and redemption for everyone. And how her anticipation must have turned to heartbreak as she realized that in order for the world to be redeemed, her son was going to die.

However, it's not his birth that gives us hope. And it's not his death that gives us peace. It's the story of his resurrection. Jesus didn't come to die for the sins of the world and to stay dead. Jesus came to conquer death. Our hope is in the resurrection and the promise that this world is not all we have.

I won't lie, I am sad that Aubree is not here to sit in her bouncy seat and look at the tree all googly-eyed. Or to stare on as Aly "helps" to open presents for everyone. Or to snuggle up on the couch after a morning of busyness and nap the afternoon away. But she is getting to celebrate Jesus' birthday with the King himself! Can you imagine what the celebration must be like in Heaven?

And for Aly, I am having such a hard time reigning in the presents. She's at that age where the things that she enjoys are still so cheap! Crayons, markers, finger paints, new coloring books. They will keep her entertained for hours and only cost me a few dollars. And yet I am constantly reminded of Luke 11:13 as I shop for her, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Have Patience

Being patient, kind to others, and consciously making an effort to not be selfish seem to be my themes this year. Funny how these lessons really sink in as you try to teach them to a child. I find myself being convicted frequently by my own words.

Aly has been having a rough time traveling in the car lately. Even though she's not quite hit 25lbs yet (but she's close!!), she did hit the height limit for rear-facing in her car seat this month. I was hoping that turning her seat around would make traveling more pleasant. But I am learning that my daughter is just as impatient as I am. Red lights make her WAIL and scream until the car starts moving again. It was very difficult when she was rear-facing and couldn't see the lights, but now that she can see them with me, we've started to make a game of it.

Me: Aly, what color is the light up there?
Aly: It's  red!!
Me: And what does red mean?
Aly: It means: Be Patient. Wait your turn!
Me: That's right :) Look at all the other cars going. They waited patiently for their turn, and now they get to go. Oh look, now our light is green!! What does that mean?
Aly: It's our turn! We can go!

We have this conversation almost every time we come to a traffic light. And even when Aly is not in the car with me, I find myself repeating the same information. It's not my turn, I have to be patient. Take a minute to just relax. It will be my turn in a minute, but for now I get to sit still and be quiet.

This has also transferred over in to how I view the other drivers around me. When I am in a hurry and someone JUST WONT MOVE OUT OF MY WAY, I am immediately reminded that I need to slow down and not speed, that there are other people on the road with places to go and people to see and my personal journey is not any more important than theirs is. And that jerk that just cut me off? Maybe that person is having the worst day of their life and completely zoned out, not thinking about traffic. Lord knows I was in that same place many times over the past six months. Or maybe that person is late to work, or needs to rush home to something very urgent. I find myself thinking more about the other PEOPLE on the road, and praying for whatever circumstances may be happening in their lives right now.

It's amazing to me how our minds can be trained to think like this. At first it was such a conscious effort to stop and redirect my thoughts towards compassion and patience. But slowly over time it is becoming a habit. I hope that I can help to teach Aly to be patient and caring for those around her. And the best way to teach her is to model it myself.