"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Protecting your marriage in a survival season

Logan and I have definitely had our share of ups and downs in marriage, but we probably struggle the most when I'm pregnant. I'm hormonal, frustrated about what I can't do, and worried about the baby and how everything is going to end up. He worries about the baby and me, is overwhelmed with his extra responsibilities around the house, and um...struggles with anger (he reads these posts before I publish, don't worry!).

And oh yeah - we can't have sex. Really, the whole physical aspect of our relationship while I'm pregnant is tricky because a lot of things can cause contractions. But this post isn't about that. (Whew!)

At the time of this writing, I'm 16 weeks pregnant and can already say (sadly) that our marriage is struggling. We argue more than we usually do and it's very hard for both of us to feel loved by the other.

So what do we do? Assuming I carry this baby to term, we have 5 more months to go. 5 more months of worrying, frustration, lots of doctor visits, no sex (well, longer since it takes me a few weeks to recover from a C-section), and just a drastic lifestyle change from when I'm not pregnant. It's kind of depressing just thinking about it...

Maybe for you, it's not pregnancy. Maybe your spouse tends to have a busy time of year at work, or there's an illness or death in the family, or you just had a new baby. We all have different times that we consider a "survival season."

I know it's SO important to keep our marriage a priority whenever we're in a survival season. Here are a few things I'm trying to remember to do often:

Pray for your spouse. We should do this anyway, but I know Logan needs prayer more than ever right now.
Find other ways to show love. Since Logan and I can't renew our vows physically (*sob*), we need to focus on other ways to show affection. This is when it's good to know your spouse's love languages! (But if you can have sex, by all means, go for it!!)
Go on frequent dates. Again, we should do this anyway, but it's even more important during a stressful time. It's so easy to be focused on the pregnancy (or whatever situation you might be dealing with) and let our date nights slide. No excuses, though! Go catch a movie or grab a bite to eat. One-on-one time is necessary for the health of your marriage and your entire family. 
Work together. Logan has been doing the dishes for the most part since I became pregnant, and I've been handling the laundry for the most part...but there are days where we both appreciate a little help from each other. Sometimes Logan starts a load for me, and if I'm having a good day physically, I try to be more diligent about staying on top of dishes so Logan doesn't have a sink full later. We're a team! 
Go on a marriage retreat. Logan and I went on our first marriage retreat when I was pregnant with Chase, and it was so, so lovely. And I'm so excited to say we're going on another one soon! It always seems to happen at the perfect time, because God knows what we need. When life gets overwhelming, I highly recommend doing whatever you can to get away with just your spouse for a weekend. You can thank me later. 
Take advantage of the Sacraments - especially Reconciliation. Oh, this is a big one for us. I just love being Catholic because we can draw strength and grace from the Sacraments. And since Logan and I both struggle with impatience (and lots of it), making a regular confession is so, so important. It's way too easy to get stuck in a rut. Confessing our sins and receiving absolution brings so much clarity!

So, what else do you suggest during a survival season? Hit me with your suggestions (because we could use them)!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Baby, books, dimples and more (7QT)

1. What I'm not doing in 2016

I totally wrote 6 takes and then realized I could have used Kelly's idea and share what I'm NOT doing this year. So, one take will have to do....I'm not doing the following (and sorry, they're not funny like Kelly's):
  • Making excuses (about everything really...making time for prayer, achieving my goals, etc.)
  • Running a marathon...or 5K. But, all for good reason! #newbaby
  • Picking up the same toys off the ground over and over. Yep, still decluttering around here. Lifelong process, I suppose.
  • Reading books to my kids that I don't like...we get a lot for free and I'm realizing many of them suck. So, into the donation pile they go.
Man, I thought I'd have a bunch of things but my mind is blank. Oh well.


2. Baby update

I've normally seen the high-risk doctor several times by now, but we waited this time around and had our first appointment yesterday. Baby looks good, my cervix is nice and long, and we will be finding out the gender next time in 3 weeks! Logan wanted to know the tech's guess but I had to convince him not to ruin our gender reveal that my friends already planned. Ha. I'm leaning boy but...that's all I know. AND we decided on a boy name quite some time ago and I feel like we will never decide on a girl name. Seriously. Never.

3. Instagram fun

I snagged this ADORABLE bag by Happy Nest Home Goods in the last flash sale by Zelie & Co. on Instagram (go follow both! Support Catholic mamas!). It's so well made! I've been having a hard time with a diaper bag over my shoulder lately so I'm going hands-free. Plus it came with a super cute teething ring that will come in handy later this year. ;) Please excuse the pajamas and glasses (I'm so paranoid about putting in contacts after having pink eye!) and the toddler potty seat in the background. #babybump #16weeks

4. January is the month of crazy

I don't know what it is about January, but the last few years have been a little on the ridiculous side. Two years ago, we had that initial scare with Chase in utero which resulted in blood tests and all. I also found Logan passed out in the bathroom one night (everything ended up being fine, thankfully) and he had some issues at work. Last year wasn't nearly as bad but I did end up with a stomach bug which causes me to miss my twin nieces' 1st birthday party. And now THIS YEAR I have managed to get a cold,  pink eye, and viral pharyngitis (but not strep, thankfully, which I was worried about...even went to urgent care for the first time in my life). All while still dealing with morning sickness. I have been feeling better the last couple of days, praise God! But I could use a break right now when it comes to sickness.

5. What I'm reading

Y'all! I think I might actually hit my crazy goal of reading 50 books this year! I've already read 7 and am almost finished another. I probably won't keep up this pace (because recovering from a cerclage and being sick gave me an excuse to read a lot), but I still think it's possible.

  • Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry - I enjoyed this a lot. I want to go live on a farm now! (Okay, I already did...this just convinced me even more.) Berry's writing is lovely.
  • The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - I've only read one book out of this series before now (book #2, which I just reread), so I'm making my way through the rest of them. I listened to both these audio books this month and haven't decided if I'll continue listening or actually pick up some of the books.
  • Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly - I got this for free from my church and while I definitely think a lot of people could benefit from it, I don't think it's going to change my life or anything. But I'm still going to finish it because it's an easy read.
  • As Sure as the Dawn (Mark of the Lion, Book #3) by Francine Rivers - I read the first 2 books last year and totally forgot about the last one until recently. It's probably my least favorite of the series, but I'm still enjoying it. Almost done!

6. Landon Gerard (3.5 years)

Logan took the boys on a little adventure the other day so I could have some time to myself. Somebody is getting brave!

7. Chase Michael (1.5 years)

The dimples, y'all. I can't get over them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Saints on Prayer (5Faves)


When I was looking at quotes to choose one for my last post on prayer, I realized there were so many good ones by saints! (And yes, I am that nerd that has a document on my laptop solely for quotes. You know you want to be my friend.) So I'm linking up with Ashley again and sharing 5 favorite quotes on prayer. Get ready to be inspired!


1. "Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy...For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin." - St. John Chrysostom 

2. "In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer." -St.  Maria Faustina Kowalska 

3. "It is impossible for a person who prays regularly to remain in serious sin; because the two are incompatible, one or the other will have to be given up." -St.  Teresa of Avila
  
4. "Spiritual joy arises from purity of the heart and perseverance in prayer." – St. Francis of Assisi 

5. "God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give." – St. Augustine 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Honest thoughts about prayer

I'm certainly not an expert or a saint...I mainly want to get this out so future Jen can read it when she slacks off (ahem). Hopefully it will be encouraging to you!


A lot of us make excuses when it comes to prayer – I don't have time to pray, I don't get anything out of it, etc.

I know because I've been there. I still have my moments, of course, and always will...but if there's anything I've learned from the past year (where I really, really strived to improve my prayer life), it's that the only thing that was stopping me from praying was myself.

I hope I don't come across too harsh, but if you don't think you have time to pray, just think...Do you have time to watch TV? Read blogs? Go out to eat? Shop? Check Facebook/Instagram/your favorite social media channel? Then you have time to pray. I'm saying this with all of the love in the world: Stop making excuses. Just pray!

If you're currently in a period of dryness in prayer, know that it doesn't last forever and that you're probably growing in virtue even though it doesn't feel like it. Just keep praying! (Also, refer to the Catechism! Part Four on Christian Prayer has a section called "The Battle of Prayer." So good.)

Just like anything in life, it's easy to fall out of the habit of praying. You can probably relate when it comes to exercising or eating well or even staying on top of housework. If you don't do it often, it's easy to just stop and not realize the negative consequences until life is overwhelming. The same goes with prayer.

When I was pregnant with Landon and on bedrest, it was SO HARD to pray. I had all the time in the world to pray but probably prayed less than I ever have. (When you're forced to be lazy physically, it's very easy to be lazy spiritually as well.) Don't be me. Don't think that not praying won't have negative effects on your life.

Thankfully, I learned from that experience, and my stubborn self is determined to not let the same thing happen this pregnancy. So far, it's been good. Instead of thinking about all of the things I can't do while pregnant, I've been trying to focus on what I can do, like pray! (Full disclosure: I haven't been successful all the time with not thinking about the things I can't do...I've been trying to refrain from blogging about it. You're welcome. Love, crazy pregnant Jen.) (I don't know why I'm talking in 3rd person today.)

Start small! Just taking the time first thing when you wake up to pray a Morning Offering is a great start. After you get in the habit of doing that, add something else – maybe a chaplet or another favorite prayer of yours after lunch.

Last year, I was so determined to pray a lot that I definitely bit off more than I could chew. I tried to suddenly pray a daily rosary AND pray the Liturgy of the Hours AND make it to daily Mass as often as I could. Not surprisingly, I quickly became frustrated when I couldn't do it all. Don't do that. Start small and gradually add things as you feel ready. It took me several months of praying the rosary to finally make it a habit and something I thoroughly enjoy each day.

If you need some inspiration, find a saint that you admire and read their writings and ask for their prayers. There are so many awesome saints that are just waiting for us to ask for their help!

“Prayer is the most powerful weapon a Christian has. Prayer makes us effective. Prayer makes us happy. Prayer gives us all the strength that we need to fulfill God’s commands. Yes, indeed, your whole life can and should be a prayer.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Because sickness and pink eye can't get me down (5Faves)

I've had a lovely week of recovering from my cerclage, having a cold, getting pink eye (mild case, thankfully!!), and still dealing with morning sickness, and since I'm SURE you don't want me to ramble on about that....I'll be super duper optimistic instead and share some favorites of mine lately. Linking up with Ashley!

Downton Abbey

I just love this show and am a little sad it's the last season. So far the episodes have been really good and I REALLY want to talk about a certain part of Episode 2 (dealing with the doctor visit, if you've seen it) but hate to spoil it for anybody who hasn't watched yet. Oh, and I miss Tom Branson. He was my favorite. (But perhaps he'll be back at least for the finale? I hope so.)

Uneventful prenatal appointments

How is it even possible that I'm 14 weeks along and have yet to have an eventful/stressful/bad news doctor's appointment? I'm loving it. I mean, this pregnancy hasn't been exactly easy, but not having the extra drama that we had with Landon and Chase is just really, really refreshing. I had an appointment today and baby's heart rate is good and my cervix is good. I haven't seen a high-risk dr yet (my choice...because last time it just caused way more drama than it's worth), but Dr. H is sending me to one next week. I'm okay with that, though, because I still have a hard time believing I'm pregnant so seeing our little baby in an ultrasound will probably help with that. Hopefully things will stay uneventful!
 I just had to laugh at my ridiculous chart this morning because it's definitely over 3 inches thick and about 4 times the size of most other charts. Dr. H even carried it to the front for me because he didn't want me to get a hernia! Ha. #highriskpregnancyproblems

Good friends and a good momma

A good friend unexpectedly brings you dinner on Saturday night, plays with your kids, AND lets your dog outside. Which was even more awesome than usual because Logan was working and I had a hard time getting out of my comfortable recliner. (You're the best, LAL!)

My mom stayed with us for over 3 whole days last week and I really wouldn't have survived without her - she did the laundry, washed dishes, fed the boys, and then some. So, so thankful for her! (Love you, Mom!)

Blue Apron

Totally not a sponsored thing! Just have to say that Blue Apron is the reason we eat decent meals some weeks these days. Logan doesn't normally do the cooking, but since a box arrives on our doorstep with the recipes and all the necessary ingredients (except olive oil, salt, and pepper, which we always have on hand), he can easily handle it himself if I'm not feeling up to it. Every now and then we get a meal that's just "eh", but most of the time we enjoy them and a few we've really loved!
I don't even remember what this was but it was yummy. Served on a chipped plate because we're so classy.

Books

I'm on a reading streak right now and loving it! I've already read 4 (!!) books this month (my goal is 50 this year), just started another, and am almost done listening to an audiobook too. Boom. Recovering from a procedure and being sick does have its perks.

Of those 4 books, 2 of them I just have to mention again because I loved them that much. In This House of Brede definitely met my expectations based on everything I've heard about it. And Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer is such a good spiritual read - totally inspiring.

I just picked up Hannah Coulter from the library and am hoping it's also just as good as everybody says! So far I like it (I mean, as much as you can like a book 20 pages in...).

----
P.S. I finally gave in and created a Facebook page for this here blog! So click over and give it a like. :) Don't forget to go link up with Ashley and try to win a prize pack!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Maybe I'm a little ambitious (books to read in 2016)

My sister-in-law and I did a reading challenge last year and it really got me reading a lot again. So this year, we decided to make our own challenge with a few friends! And in case you want to follow along, here's the handy dandy graphic we made:
Six of us each picked a category from Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 list and then made one of our own. (MDM also posted another challenge for this year if you want to check out that one. I'll probably do some of those categories too.) Just FYI, check out this link to see all the books Rory Gilmore has read on screen. 

I highly, highly recommend enlisting a friend (or 5) to do the challenge with because 1) accountability and 2) it's fun sharing good book recommendations! My group of friends have a text message thread going with what book we're reading for each month.

And now here's where I remind you of where I also decided to try to read 50 books this year. I'm not picking all of those now, but I have picked many of them! Many of these are books and ebooks that I've been having forever (most I got for free or very cheap) and am finally going to get around to reading them. So I'll share those here...and you can tell me if I should take one off or add one. Mmkay? Okay. Oh, and I'm just dividing them by categories, not by month, because I read certain books based on my mood. (And sorry, not including links because it would take FOREVER.)


Marriage

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs - I have to admit my motivation to read this is mostly due to the fact that I finally want to declutter it off my bookshelf!

Becoming Your Spouse's Better Half by Rick Johnson


Parenting

The Temperament God Gave Your Kids by Art and Laraine Bennett - is this one worth it to buy?? Our library doesn't have it. I could borrow it from a friend though...

Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer

Teaching in Your Tiara by Rebecca Frech


Spiritual/Catholic

The Little Oratory by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler - this is my book for January, "a book you've been meaning to read." I'm liking it!

Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer by Thomas Dubay - I finished this yesterday and can honestly say it's life-changing.

The Perfect Joy of St. Francis by Felix Timmermans

A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn - I read half of this several years ago until it got misplaced so I'm motivated to read the entire thing this time!

The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Jesus

The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours by Daria Sockey

Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Gurnard

The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Monfort - trying to finish this one finally!

True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort


Fiction

In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden - okay, so technically this was supposed to be a 2015 read, and I did start it then...but I finished it in 2016 so I'm going to count it for this year. One of my favorite books ever now! And that's saying something since I'm not a big fiction person.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I read Little House on the Prairie last year (I know it's the 2nd of the series) so I'm backtracking and reading the 1st...and maybe a couple of the other ones too. They were some of my favorite books as a kid!

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Martian by Andy Weir - I loved the movie so hopefully the book won't disappoint!

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)...as well as the rest of the series. I reread (well, listened to) the first 3 last year! The audiobooks are SO good. So happy my library has them!

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (audiobook)...and perhaps the rest of the series. I have the actual books but might just continue to borrow the audiobooks from my library instead. I'm currently listening to this one!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (another reread)

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry


Non-fiction/memoir/I don't know

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - we watched the movie before I realized it was based on a book and I've heard so many good things about this!

Nobody is Cuter than You by Melanie Shankle

Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford - finished this yesterday too!

Undone by Michele Cushatt


So that's over half of the 50 and a good starting place for now. Maybe if I'm a good blogger I can post an update in the middle of the year. Ha! Wish me luck. (I've totally read 3 already and over halfway done another, so that's a good start, right?? Can't promise I'll keep up the momentum, but we we will see!)



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Well, I didn't intend to set goals... (5Faves)

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with goal setting because while I love being productive....I don't like messing up. I always try to do too much and then burn out and then have the whole "well, screw it" attitude. I sound really fun, I know.

I wasn't intending to set specific goals this year because of this pregnancy (well, at least I wasn't going to write them down), BUT Ashley had to go and put goals/resolutions as one of her 5Faves prompts AND offer an entry to a giveaway for each time you link-up. So I'm just going to blame/thank her for the motivation. :) You should go link up too!

1) Rest more.

Rest is my word of the year because I'm generally pretty bad at it. I did get better at it last year, and ironically my pregnancies always force me to rest (perhaps that's why I can't seem to rest when I'm not pregnant). I've just been convicted this past year how important it is to take care of myself so I can take care of my family - and resting is a big part of that!

2) Read more.

You can set a reading goal for the year on Goodreads, and I totally had a brain fart and chose to read 50 books this year. It wasn't until my sister-in-law pointed out that that's almost a book a week. Oops. I was thinking more like 2-3 books a month. Normally I'm good at math, but...pregnancy brain. But I'm just going to just stick with the 50 books because I'm trying to rest more! And I like to read while I rest. I have plans to have a post with some of the books I want to read if you're into that kind of thing...

3) Open an Etsy shop.

Well, this is the most nerve-wracking goal I have. I've been wanting to do this for several months now but just didn't have enough time...and then I got pregnant and didn't have enough energy. I already have items made to sell with ideas for more - I just need to do it! (Typing this makes me soooo nervous!!) But getting started is the hardest part for me and I'm also kind of waiting until I feel better (morning sickness and all). Any tips or advice before I get started would be greatly appreciated!

4) Write more.

There are 3 parts to this one:
a) Continue to blog 1-3 times a week.
b) Journal at least every 2 weeks. GOSH, why is this so hard? I used to be such an avid journaler (I think I made that word up) and absolutely love going back and reading what I wrote. But for some reason sitting down to blog is just so much easier than pulling out my journal. But there are so many things I don't put on here that I really need to get out elsewhere...
c) Finish a bigger writing project. I have several ideas for writing projects and have even started a couple of them...but then I leave them alone for months. I tend to just write when inspiration hits but I've been finding myself lately not taking advantage of inspiration moments. Ugh. (Typing this also makes me nervous! Eek.)

5) Pray more.

This is something I made progress in last year, but I know I have a long way to go. I haven't decided on specifics for this just yet, other than adding more periods of prayer to my day and reading more spiritual books. But I'm hoping to write some more posts about this!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"You need a what?" {getting a cerclage}

First off, thank you so, so much for all of the prayers for baby and me. The cerclage went well, we heard the baby's heart tones a few times throughout the day, and although it wasn't my easiest cerclage thus far...I can't complain because baby is alive and well, and we avoided major complications. And I'm totally overwhelmed by all of the prayers and messages I received! You all are awesome.

Even though I've done this whole cerclage thing THREE TIMES now, I'm still amazed at how much I don't remember. So I wanted to post a "day in the life" type post explaining exactly what it involves. Partly for my benefit (because my memory stinks) and partly for those of you who are curious. Many of my friends know I get a cerclage and that it holds my cervix together...but that's about it. And when a new friend finds out I need a cerclage every pregnancy, they're like, "You need a what?"

So here we go. Hopefully you will never find yourself in the position of needing a cerclage, but if you do - or someone you know does - I hope this post is at least somewhat helpful in knowing what to expect.

I guess I should start off with some basics...

And this is where I say I'm not a doctor, just sharing my experiences! I really didn't know what to expect for my first cerclage, and I still got nervous for this 3rd one because we're dealing with a tiny baby in utero and as with all procedures, there are risks.

After we lost Levi, my doctors suspected an incompetent cervix but couldn't verify it until my cervix started funneling with Landon at only 11 weeks. Even though my cervix seemed fine with Chase and this baby, I still get a cerclage because of my history, and in the words of Dr. H (my primary OB), "I don't want to find out what happens if we don't put one in." I totally agree!


So! Doctors typically don't place a cerclage until the end of the first trimester because they want the baby to be fully formed, as well as to make sure a natural miscarriage doesn't happen (since most happen during the first trimester). That's why I was put on strict bedrest for 2 weeks with Landon before they put in a cerclage.

The main risks with a cerclage are causing preterm labor and breaking the water bag (that one freaks me out!). My doctor, thankfully, has never broken a water bag and he's been doing this forever. You also get spinal anesthesia right before the cerclage, which has its own risks.

Okay, now for the actual day of the cerclage!

5:30am - Logan and I arrive to Labor and Delivery 2 hours before the cerclage is scheduled as instructed. I'm starving and thirsty because I had to fast overnight. I sign a few papers, a nurse brings us to a triage room (it was actually the room I was in when I unexpectedly had Chase!), and I change into a lovely (ahem) gown that is completely huge on me.

Once I'm changed, the nurse comes back in, listens to my baby's heart tones via Doppler, and attempts to start an IV. It doesn't work so she gets the charge nurse to come try. Success! They take vials of blood before hooking me up to receive 2 liters of fluid.

6:00 - The nurses leave us for a little bit, so I take out my Kindle to read. Logan is on his phone as usual.
I've never taken a picture during the whole cerclage process until now, but there's a first for everything. I'm sure I'll cherish it forever. ;)

6:20 - Nurse comes back in to take my temperature and blood pressure. Logan decides to go for a walk since he was getting sleepy. (Turns out he just wanted some food.)

6:40 - I get up to pee, dragging the IV pole behind me. I have to pee in a cup for the lab too. Not long after I get back to bed, the second nurse comes back in saying the lab needs more blood. So she has to stick me for a third time. Feeling a little like a pincushion and it's not even 7am!

7:00 - The CRNA (AKA nurse anesthetist) comes in to tell me how things are going to go down with the spinal anesthesia. He and Logan notice they have the same exact shoes. Funny. My nurse comes back in to change my IV bag, and put SCDs on my legs (but doesn't hook them up to the machine yet...they will squeeze my legs after the procedure since I won't be able to move them). Once everyone leaves I get up to pee again. Darn fluids.

7:20 - It's shift change so a new nurse comes in to take my temp and BP again, as well as to go over everything that will happen. She also asks some questions about my history. At some point, she puts Zantac into my IV (to keep my stomach acid from coming up), but I don't remember if was at this point or if she had already done it already.

7:30 - Dr. H comes into the room to see if I'm ready. He says we're just waiting on results of my bloodwork.

7:40 - Oh, fluids, how I hate thee. Off to the bathroom again.

7:45 - Finally time for the cerclage! I put on one of those fancy hair nets and walk with the nurse to the Operating Room as she holds the bag of IV fluids. Once I'm in the OR, it's a whirlwind of people asking me questions, hooking things up to me, and getting me in position to get the spinal anesthesia. I have a pulse oximeter on one of my left fingers (to measure O2 saturation) and a blood pressure cuff on my right arm. It's absolutely FREEZING, so they drape a couple of those warm blankets on me to try to get me to stop shivering. It doesn't really work.

The nurse gets me to sit on the side of the table, with my feet dangling, as she stands in front of me, holding me. I have to lean forward to curve my back and drop my shoulders down for the spinal (which is kind of similar to an epidural, by the way). The anesthesiologist is behind me, feeling my spine. Then he starts cleaning my back with a cold solution. Which is great considering I'm already shivering like crazy. Ha.

I don't remember exactly how it went down (partly because it is the worst part of the whole thing, I think, so I probably blocked it out), but I get stuck with one needle and can feel burning as the anesthesiologist injects what I think is a local anesthetic. Then I get stuck with another needle that hurts worse than the first (not sure how that happens), and I'm in that uncomfortable position for several long minutes as it seems like he's trying to find the right spot. I don't remember the spinal taking that long any other time (and I've had 2 other cerclages AND 2 C-sections), and I really don't know if he was having trouble because he didn't tell me. But it hurt like heck and I'm even dealing with a really sore back now because of it. (This is totally a first for me though, so I guess it's not common!)

Well, the dreadful spinal is finally done, and my booty starts feeling warm and my legs start getting tingly. Everyone comments, "You're so tiny!" (this seriously happens every.single.time.) as they get me into the lithotomy position. Dr. H walks in. The CRNA puts a nasal cannula (oxygen) on me and someone else covers my top half with warm blankets.

8:05 - The actual procedure begins. People are occasionally asking me if I'm doing okay, to which I say yes. I pray a rosary on my fingers to get my mind off everything. (I'm still freezing! Things are hooked to me everywhere. I can't feel from my belly down. It was kind of perfect that it's Tuesday and I had to think about the Sorrowful Mysteries...)

I get a glimpse of the proline, which is the material used to stitch the cervix (they do have other materials to use, but this is what my doctor likes to use because it's sturdy...just makes it harder to get out). It looks like blue fishing line. And according to Dr. H, it's like putting in barbed wire! Lovely though, eh? Now I know why I was in so much pain at the end of Chase's pregnancy!

8:25 - I didn't even finish a rosary and the cerclage is already done! Dr. H says it went fine and that he'll come back later to check on me. The surgical tech, nurse, and CRNA are about to slide me over into a bed to roll me back to my room when I start feeling nauseated. I warn the surgical tech next to me, who grabs some gauze (desperate times call for desperate measures) and well, I kind of throw up (spit? fluid?), if you can call it that when on an empty stomach, for about 10 minutes. This is the first time it's happened to me, out of all the things I've gotten done, and I wonder if it's because of the cold I've been having and how the snot drained into my throat (sorry, TMI maybe?) since my head was lower than my legs. The CRNA puts some Zofran into my IV. 

8:35 - I start feeling much better so they slide me from the table to the bed (once again commenting how tiny I am, thank you) and I'm rolled back to my room where the nurse takes my vitals again and checks my baby's HR again with the Doppler. I'm still freezing so she brings yet another warm blanket, and I probably had about 5-6 on me and I was still shivering like crazy.

9:35 - The nurse brings me ice! Yay! They want to make sure I tolerate liquids before eating a meal, which can be frustrating since it's been so long since I had anything to eat or drink, but at this point I just wanted to lie down. I think I doze off at some point.

10:10 - The nurse brings me a small cup of ice water, which is heavenly. Logan and I just watch TV, and I read a little bit. I'm having some cramping (which is normal).

11:20 - Even though I can't fully feel my legs yet, my bladder is feeling REALLY full and I kind of feel like I need to pee. So the nurse helps me get on a bedpan. 20 minutes later...nothing. Ugh. I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable, so the nurse gets a catheter to drain my bladder. It takes 15 minutes because of how much urine! 1100mls. Over a liter, people. I ask how much a bladder is supposed to hold, and the nurse says only 500ml. No wonder I was hurting! (The same thing happened with Chase's cerclage. Eh.) Turns out my full bladder was making the cramping much worse, so thankfully that got better for the most part.

12:00 - The lunch trays haven't arrived yet, so a nurse brings me juice and crackers. I'm not a big juice drinker (especially apple juice, bleh), but I down it because I'm starving. Dr. H pops in just then. He says the 2 stitches went in fine, and there was a little extra bleeding so he had to put in another dissolvable stitch to stop the bleeding. I am spotting a little, but that's normal and might continue for a couple days. He also said I could go as soon as I was ready - but I have to pee on my own first.

12:10 - Nurse comes in with my lunch tray and checks the baby's HR again. 
I know you're totally jealous of my lunch. (Kidding, of course. Because what the heck is that?!) But thankfully for me, anything would taste good at this point! Over 14 hours since I last ate and all...

12:30 - I feel like I need to pee, so the nurse helps me walk to the bathroom. I'm still a little tingly and unsteady so she doesn't let me go for a second! I sit for 10-15 minutes....nothing. Ugh. It's so frustrating to feel like you need to go to the bathroom and then not be able to.

1:40 - I can finally feel my legs completely at this point, so the nurse accompanies me to the bathroom again. And I pee!! Happy dance. The nurse takes out my IV and I change back into my clothes. Nurse checks the baby's heart tones one last time. She says she's working on the discharge paperwork.

2:00 - I sign a couple papers, the nurse gives me some discharge instructions, and I'm wheeled to the parking garage! Yet another cerclage is finished. 

I've been chilling in the recliner for the rest of the day, trying to only get up to use the bathroom. I'm going to try to do the same for at least another day or two to make sure my uterus stays calm. My mom is staying for a few days to help with the boys since Logan is going back to work tomorrow. (She's the best, just so you know!) I'm barely spotting now and having some occasional cramping. The worst thing I'm dealing with at this point is my back, which is still really sore, and I even have a knot from the spinal needle. It's making it hard to move much. But in the big picture, I know it could have been much worse, and for that, I am grateful. 


My next appointment is next week, so I'll be taking it pretty easy until then! Thanks again for the prayers!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Bring it on, 2016 (7QT)

1. I married a good man
I know I'm the blogger and writer in the family, but I should tell you that Logan has a way with words too! He posted this on Tuesday, the 6th anniversary of losing Levi. Just in case you aren't friends with us on Facebook or missed it, I wanted to share it here because it's so beautiful and made me cry:
"My faith has never been tested more than it has 6 years ago at this time in the morning. Our life as newlyweds went from high to low in the blink of an eye. I asked for a lot of prayers that day and had to watch my wife go through things I'd never wish on any enemy. It was the longest 24 hours of our life... 
God may not answer every prayer, but He does listen. He takes the tragic moments and lifts them up for even greater blessings...His son's death and resurrection is proof of that. Every single aspect of my life life today is correlated to December 29, 2009. It's made me stronger in every way and more passionate about callings I never knew existed. 
People often ask how many kids we have. I'm reminded, every time this question comes up, that my boy in heaven is looking down waiting for me to answer. 
I see him in Landon, I see him in Chase. I see him in Jen, and I see him in the mirror.God has a plan for every moment and challenge in our lives. If we embrace Him with love and guidance, there is nothing we can't overcome. 
Happy Birthday Levi Anthony. Your parents and little brothers love you."

2. Saint of the year
I've been picking a saint of the year the last couple of years and was looking forward to it again! And I'm so, so excited who I got for 2016...
 St. Joseph! Chase's middle name was almost Joseph, so if this baby in utero is a boy, his middle name will likely be Joseph. (Logan nixed it for a first name because he's crazy and hates every name I throw out. Post for another day...) Anyway, St. Joseph has become very near and dear to my heart ever since I was pregnant with Chase. Love him.

Go pick a saint! http://saintsnamegenerator.com


3. Word of the year
I've also been picking a word of the year for the last couple of years too, and after debating for a few days, I've finally decided on one: rest. This was inspired by Crystal at MoneySavingMom.com. The last few years I've been saying "yes" a lot - running a huge silent auction 2 years in a row, lots of volunteering at church, etc. - and I finally realized that I can take a break. My guys at home are priority. Not to mention the whole having another baby thing. So, yeah. Rest. (But I should say that I also want to finally spend more time on a couple personal endeavors that volunteer work has been replacing.)


4. Baby update
I had a doctor appointment on Tuesday AKA Levi's day. Logan was kind of freaking out about it, but I was too distracted thinking about Levi to really worry. And thankfully, baby in utero had a good heartbeat and my cervix seems to be cooperating! My cerclage (procedure to stitch my cervix closed) is scheduled for Tuesday morning so if you could say a prayer for baby and me I would be eternally grateful. I'm so nervous, even though this is my 3rd cerclage.

P.S. 13 weeks today! 2nd trimester, yay!


5. Most popular posts in 2015
Instead of dedicating an entire post to it, I figured I'd just dedicate one take to share my most popular posts published this year. Thanks to anybody who shared or linked to these!
a. What you're actually saying "yes" to
b. Let's talk about sex, baby....figures.
c. When all you want to do is run away (from your marriage)
d. Being open to life when you have rough pregnancies...this was nice to read again.
e. Some things you never forget (and our NFP status)...and this was kind of funny/ironic to read considering we got pregnant just over 2 months later. (And I totally remember conceiving this baby too. Is that weird? Is that TMI??)

Needless to say, I think my niche revolves around marriage and having babies. Imagine that.


6. Some of my favorite posts from 2015
I do love the ones that were most popular, but I also loved these in case you want to humor me and read more of my posts:
a. That time my dog ran away and I was reminded of God's mercy..this was one of those posts that just wrote itself and reading it back I'm like, Did I really write this? Inspired by the Holy Spirit, for sure.
b. Our daily "yes"...I needed to read this again.
c. Sacrifice. Maybe it's not as complicated as we think......I also needed to read this again.
d. Get your crap together
e. What I love about the rosary

Okay, so I guess my niche also includes spiritual things. 'Tis the mind of a melancholic.


7.  Tell Your Heart to Beat Again - Danny Gokey
I heard this song for the first time on Tuesday on my way home from my appt. Totally made me cry. (I attempted to embed a video so hopefully it worked. You might have to click through to the real post if you're reading with a feed reader.)

For some reason, this year on December 29 was much harder than the last couple of years - maybe because it was a Tuesday just like in 2009 AND I was at the hospital again. It felt like deja vu and I cried a lot which is totally not typical for me. But, hormones. They cray.

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT!

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