"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

Monday, May 30, 2016

Pregnancy loss changes everything

Even though this pregnancy has gone rather smoothly (at least compared to the last two), I'm still not immune to those deep-rooted fears of losing Aaron. It doesn't matter that I'm only weeks away from delivery. I still think about the possibility of another stillbirth, or not hearing his heartbeat at my next appointment, or about something being wrong with him once he's out of the womb. I know all too well how quickly life can change - from a seemingly perfect pregnancy to one ending far too soon, with your son's lifeless body in your arms.

I wish I didn't think about those things, and I will admit the thoughts and fears slightly fade with the years...but losing a baby even just once changes everything.

It changes how you view each pregnancy. It changes how you look at each of your living children and it even changes how you'll consider adding to your family in the future.

Six and a half years later, two healthy babies later, and I still think often about that first precious baby we lost. I still worry about experiencing the whole tragic ordeal again, and it still brings me to tears when I read Levi's Story for the 30th time.

Pregnancy loss really does change everything.

Yet losing our baby boy has opened our eyes in so many ways and even though I wouldn't want to experience it again for anything - I have to say I'm thankful it all happened that way.

I'm thankful that it gave me a bigger perspective on babies, pregnancy, family size, and being open to life.

I'm thankful that I have a precious soul in Heaven waiting for me (which also serves as extra inspiration to get there!).

And mostly I'm thankful for how it showed me that life doesn't end with loss, and that God really does carry us through each and every trial - making us (hopefully) better people precisely because of those trials.

"Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly."- 1 Peter 4:12-13, NAB

Friday, May 27, 2016

Poldark, La Croix, and life lately (7QT)

No real blog post for you today. But 7 quick takes are fun, right? Linking up with Kelly!

1. This show called Poldark

It's my new fave. For reals. And I was so so so sad to realize there are only 8 episodes on Prime with the new season not coming out on real TV until later this year. But you should still watch it! Because it's so good! I'm naming our next son Ross. (Just kidding. Maybe.)

2. The disappointment called La Croix

Okay. So. I've seen so many people rave about La Croix and I finally caved and bought some hoping it'd be some magical refreshing drink to help me through these last few weeks of Louisiana heat while pregnant....and I was pretty disappointed. Should I try different flavors? Is there a way to make them less "eh"? Plain ol' water tastes so much better to me! Please enlighten me.

3. Third time is a charm

Chase FINALLY was able to have surgery to fix his blocked tear ducts yesterday. He got sick right before the first 2 times we scheduled it which was extremely frustrating considering he RARELY gets sick and um, we're about to have a baby and couldn't keep postponing it. But thankfully, he stayed healthy this week. Surgery went well, he's still recovering a little but is mostly back to his normal self. Thank you to everyone who prayed! And that is mostly why there is no real blog post this week. (Pregnancy brain forgot I'd be a little preoccupied.)

4. Big 30

Logan is turning 30 this weekend! And he still doesn't look a day over 21. I really wish I could send him on an awesome trip to celebrate his awesomeness...but pregnancy/surgery/life just really didn't ask me what I wanted. Happy birthday, babe! You're the best! I'll make it up to you, I promise!

5. 5 weeks left

It's so crazy to me how 34 weeks was our big pregnancy goal with Landon and Chase because my body was being crazy...and we're here! With no big scares. So, so thankful. And it's even crazier to me to think that I could be having a baby in less than 4 weeks if I go as early as I did with Chase. Time will tell! I'm still having contractions, some pretty strong, but I have medicine to take if they get out of hand.

6. Landon Gerard (4 next week!!)

This handsome boy is growing up so fast it seems and he's starting to ask all kinds of big kid questions like, "Am I a saint?" and "Am I going to Heaven?" and I'm just not ready. Nope nope nope. He's super excited about having another baby brother, though, and is saying he's going to rock Aaron and change diapers and everything.

 7. Chase Michael (22 months)

This little cutie is so goofy and loves food a little too much. I'm slightly worried about how he will handle a new baby, because he's totally a momma's boy...but he's starting to become a daddy's boy too so maybe we will all be okay!

And that's been life lately. Hope everyone has a fun holiday weekend!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Waddle with it

Alternatively titled: 3rd trimester rambling. You're welcome. (And yes, I've got the waddle down.)

I would just like to inform the Internet that I'm LESS THAN 6 WEEKS AWAY from having a baby. Even though all the little old ladies at church think this baby is going to come out tomorrow.

Shall I inform you of all the fun pregnancy things happening? Like how my bladder surely must be the size of a quarter and how I don't think I've ever been this tired ever?

Or maybe how I want to dive into a river of dark chocolate and have an endless supply of snowballs in my freezer?

I've really been lacking motivation when it comes to, well, anything. Other than reading way too many books and watching way too many episodes of Fixer Upper and Poldark. I keep dreaming about going on vacation with our new family of 5, sipping on a mojito/margarita while snuggling my newest little guy. Mmm. Little piece of Heaven.

That's a great way to be discontent in your current situation, by the way. Which currently consists of me doing NOTHING in order to minimize contractions while our boys wrestle each other and throw everything in our house on the ground as if they're just begging for me to trip over something and fall on my pregnant face.

I sound so fun right now, I know.

Did I mention they're boycotting nap time too? Yeah. That's nice.

Well, I suppose that's enough useless information for you for one day. But hey first! Picture!
My handsome date to a wedding yesterday. One-on-one time is very much needed right now as the boys seem utterly nuts when together these days.

Hopefully I'll get motivated this week to finish my next post (4th P, Parent...ironically enough) in my Rule of Life series. I'm hoping to finish the whole thing before Aaron arrives. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What I'm loving lately

Playing games with Landon

It's so fun having a kid old enough to play certain games. We took Christy's advice awhile ago and bought Spot It Jr! Animals, which Landon loves. And recently I found a kid version of Crazy 8's for ONE WHOLE DOLLAR at Dollar General that said ages 3+ so of course I bought it and it's been a family favorite. There's a different animal for each suit that makes it easy for kids. Even Chase can "play" by being on my team and putting down whatever card I give him.


Photobooks

I was SO good at printing out pictures and creating photo books and all of that stuff when Landon was a baby. Then Chase came along and....I wasn't so good at it anymore. But I'm determined to get back to it! So I tried out Chatbooks, which is an easy way to print out pictures from my phone. (The quality isn't the best, but it's super convenient and relatively cheap so whatev.) I also got a Shutterfly photo book printed out of all of the pictures from our photo session last month. The boys love looking at all of the books, which is a big plus!


Fixer Upper

I know, I know - I'm totally the last one on the planet to see this show. But after not watching a lot of TV for a long time, I started watching Fixer Upper last week to take a break from reading. Chip and Joanna are so cute, and I seriously love everything they do.

A conversation I had with Landon to prove my love for the show:
Landon: "I want to watch Little Einsteins!"
Jen: "Not right now."
Landon: "Maybe Fixer Upper??"
Little booger totally knows I was more likely to say yes if it was a show I actually liked!


Cute things my cousin makes

We've gotten the boys birthday shirts made by my cousin every year, and I'm hoping to one day get a quilt made out of all them. We're having another joint birthday party in a few weeks, so when she gave us the boys' shirts recently (which are seriously adorable, you'll see next month!), she surprised us with a little something for Aaron!
The sweetest and softest blanket you ever did see. I love love love it. I kind of cried when I saw it because I was having the most emotional day ever. You should totally check out my cousin's shop because she makes the most adorable things. 


Toddler cuddles

Oh, Chase. He's always been the cuddler-type, but it's picked up big time lately. As in, he doesn't just go to sleep by himself anymore - he wants me to hold/rock him for a few minutes first. It's super sweet! But slightly nerve-wracking, considering we're adding a baby to the mix soon...


Friday, May 13, 2016

When God feels distant

One of the things I love about the rosary is that there is always at least one mystery that seems to resonate more with my life at any given time. Right now, for me, it's the Ascension. How appropriate.

I cannot imagine how the disciples felt to have Jesus back from the dead, only to see Him drift away on a cloud. I couldn't help but think my response would probably be along the lines of: “Really, Jesus?? Leaving us again already? But we couldn't handle it the first time! We need you!”

But I'm guessing that the disciples likely had more faith than me, and they probably knew that Jesus would only leave them if they would be better off in the long run.

I wonder what the disciples were feeling when they were waiting for the Holy Spirit to come on Pentecost. Jesus said they would receive power from the Holy Spirit (see Acts, chapter 1) and to not do anything until they received that power (see Luke, chapter 24).

I don't know about you, but I'd be feeling pretty nervous about what that “power” was going to look like. But again, the disciples probably handled the situation better than I would have.

The past couple of weeks, I've been feeling so out of sorts. There have been so many ridiculous things happen – small things, mind you, in the big picture of life – that all together have made life feel a tad bit overwhelming. Add to that pregnancy hormones and third trimester exhaustion (are you tired of me saying that? sorryyy), and, well, you've got a big ol' mess named Jen.

The previous 3 months were pretty dang nice, too. I've never been able to say that in the middle of a pregnancy (and I'm definitely thankful for that precious time). Lent was also SO fruitful, in so many ways. It just seems like I was growing a lot, in many areas, and now I'm suddenly at a standstill. It feels like I'm being stretched in more ways than I want to be right now, and I know that's just life sometimes - but it doesn't make it any easier.

I don't really know where I was going with this...other than perhaps I'm getting a glimpse into what the disciples were feeling like in those precious days between the Ascension and Pentecost. They knew something big was coming, and they didn't exactly know what it would look like. But when it came, it was awesome.

I know God is working through this time when He feels so distant. I do. He's done it before and I know He's going to do it again.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your Love.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Confession, conviction, and hopefully less yelling

I've been in such a funk lately. And I'm not even sure why exactly – yes, I'm soooo tired, and yes, I feel like my kids are nuts most days, and yes, I'm frustrated about the fact that I just can't take said crazy kids for a walk to make less them less crazy because then I'll probably just start having a ridiculous amount of contractions.

But despite all that, I've managed to keep up with laundry AND keep the house relatively clean, and Logan has been such a huge help with dishes and co-planning meals. Life isn't terrible, by any means...I've just felt “off.” Way too much yelling at everybody and everything. Like, a lot of yelling.

Thankfully, I was given the unexpected opportunity to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (AKA confession) yesterday. A visiting priest was in the confessional, and he suggested I find the source of my anger. Why was I so frustrated and yelling so much? “Maybe there's a reason you're yelling so much. Maybe there's something you're not communicating to your husband. Maybe the problem is with you.”

Ouch. Can you feel the sting of conviction? I certainly did.

And I know it sounds really harsh but Father wasn't being mean. I know the Holy Spirit was speaking through him because I've been feeling gentle nudges in the midst of my funk this past week. 

Put down your phone and pay attention to your kids. You won't get so frustrated with them if you weren't so distracted.

Use this time you're stuck on the couch to spend time with your kids. It's a privilege.

Stop reading your own book and read a book to your kids.These days are fleeting.

And so on. I know I've let in too many distractions lately, and I know I've been blaming everybody else as the cause for my yelling. But really, there are things that I could be doing differently. There always is. 

So I suppose it's only appropriate that Logan is at work for the rest of this beautiful Mother's Day *sob*. It's the perfect opportunity to focus on my boys, spend the rest of my day with them, and remember that I am so incredibly blessed to have them. 


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Chase's birth story

Chase is almost 22 months old, so I thought it was time to finally finish his birth story! Ha. (Bonnie inspired me by writing about her 1st C-section). Better late than never?! Since my next C-section is less than 2 months away (!!!), I've been thinking a lot about it and wondering how this 3rd one will go. And somehow it ended up being really long...sorry...not sorry.

So. My c-section was scheduled for July 18, 2014, exactly a week before my due date.  The high-risk dr was worried something was wrong with Chase, so I was having biweekly nonstress tests (NST). The morning of July 8, I had a NST and saw Dr. H (my primary OB) afterwards. I knew I was having contractions, and the NST was proof...but it wasn't completely abnormal for me. The problem, however, was that I had a period of very regular contractions a couple days prior, complete with cramping and all. And ever since then, my cervix was hurting A LOT. 

I guess I should mention that I still had a cerclage in place (2 stitches in my cervix to keep it closed). So even though I was having contractions, I wasn't going to dilate with the cerclage. Normally it's removed at 37 weeks, but since I had a scheduled c-section, Dr. H wanted to just wait and remove it in the OR. (You can go read this post that I wrote that day for more details and proof of how emotional I was...) I was 37 weeks, 5 days, and there was 10 days left until my scheduled surgery. I was kind of hoping Dr. H would do it earlier since I was hurting that much, but he didn't like that idea since boys tend to have breathing issues if born too early (wimpy white boys - apparently it's a thing). He said he would talk to the high-risk dr, though, and call me later that day.

So I went home. I was still having contractions, but they weren't regular.

When Dr. H called me that afternoon, he informed me that an early c-section was not going to happen. BUT he was willing to try to take out the cerclage the following morning if I wanted (key word is try because he wasn't able to get it out when I was pregnant with Landon. Hence the c-section.). So we scheduled an appointment for that the next morning, July 9.

I'm not going to lie...when I hung up the phone, I cried. A lot. I didn't understand why I was crying as much as I did because I'm not big on the crying usually. Looking back it totally makes sense because I often cry when God is trying to tell me something and I don't want to listen. Turns out He was saying "I got this! Just watch." Because I just couldn't stop thinking about how I thought Dr. H wouldn't be able to get the cerclage out again, and I really didn't want to be in pain for another 10 days.

It was not long after hanging up with Dr. H that my contractions started to come regularly every 8-10 minutes.

I continued to have contractions for the rest of the day and I continued to be rather emotional about everything. It should have been obvious to me that I was emotional at this point because I WAS IN LABOR...but you know how it is. Hindsight is 20/20. It probably didn't help that Logan was at work for the rest of the evening. But thankfully my awesome friends decided to bring me dinner and keep my emotional self occupied. What they didn't know, though, is that I had been having regular contractions for hours. I stopped timing them while they were visiting, but I knew they were still regular and some of them were a little stronger.

I kept avoiding calling the doctor on-call because 1) I don't freak out about stuff, 2) I wasn't feeling any extra pain in my cervix during the actual contractions (but hell yeah my cervix hurt every time I stood up), and 3) I knew I was going back to see Dr. H the following morning.

My peeps left around 9pm, and Landon went with Lindsey (sister-in-law/BFF) to have a sleepover with his cousins just in case anything happened. I had planned to go straight to bed, but decided to call the on-call doctor just in case. You know, get an opinion on whether or not I should be concerned with the never-ending contractions. Because they were still coming!

So about 9:30 I was connected to the on-call doctor….Dr. H. Oh irony. [He shares call with a lot of doctors so the fact that it was him that night really is amazing.] I explained what was going on, said there was no bleeding or anything, just very regular contractions for the last 5+ hours. And to make a long story short, that conversation ended with: "Just go to Labor and Delivery." He didn't sound convinced that it was completely necessary (honestly, I wasn't convinced either), but I said okay.

And here's where I was really glad that Landon wasn't home but was a little bummed that Logan was at work. I called him while getting our stuff together so he could work on getting off earlier. I took my time, because I was kind of paranoid that I would show up to the hospital and stop having contractions completely. I wanted to make sure they were still coming regularly.

They were (and um, I don't recommend driving while having contractions...just saying). I probably got to the hospital around 10:30, and let me tell you, when a pregnant woman goes through the ER, people part the Red Sea for her (figuratively, of course). Pretty funny. It didn't take long for them to wheel me to L&D where they hooked me up to the monitor for a little bit. Logan met me there. I thought Chase was in a weird position, almost transverse, and the nurse agreed. 

After awhile, the nurse came back into the room and checked the strips. Without telling me anything else, she said she was going to call Dr. H and let him know what the monitor was reading. I thought the fact that she didn't say anything meant that I wasn't in labor after all.

But around 11:30pm, she came back and handed me a phone. It was Dr. H.

After informing me that I was having contractions every 4-7 minutes (for some reason that surprised me), he asked, “How do you feel about just having this baby?” He didn't want things to progress while I still had the cerclage in – and I didn't either, thankyouverymuch. 
So then a whirlwind began of prepping me for surgery, having the anesthesiologist come in and talk to me, and they also tried to get hold of another doctor to help with the c-section – my high-risk doctor had insisted on having a second doctor present in case anything was wrong with Chase.

Less than an hour later, around 12:20am, I was being wheeled to the OR. Logan and I couldn't believe it!

I'll spare you all the details about surgery prep, but once they cut me open (that sounds bad, I know) and tried to get Chase out, I could tell that there was a lot more tugging and pulling than there had been with Landon. Apparently, he was butt first, and both doctors had a hard time getting him out completely. I guess I was right about him being in a weird position...and maybe that's why I had been contracting so much.
Chase Michael was officially born at 12:51am on July 9, 9 whole days before he was scheduled to arrive. He didn't cry a whole lot (the complete opposite from Landon), and I tried not to worry as I heard him being suctioned a lot. His temperature was a little low, probably because of all the fluid, but he ended up being fine. And it actually turned out to be a really good thing that another doctor was there to help to get him out– Dr. H said so himself. Funny how God works things out sometimes.
I was able to do skin-to-skin in the OR while they sewed me up, which was something that wasn't allowed when I had Landon. So that was really nice. And I knew as soon as they put Chase on my chest that he was going to be the chill baby I had prayed for my entire pregnancy. He just laid there and looked at me sweetly! Sigh. It was wonderful.

Chase was still having temperature issues, so the nursery nurse took him away for entirely too long – I had to finally get my nurse to get them to bring him to me because Logan is way too nice when it comes to those things. If I had been able to walk, I most definitely would have marched over to the nursery myself. But, anesthesia and all.

The only person that was able to come to the hospital that last minute (and in the middle of the night!) was my friend, Caroline. She brought her super nice camera, took some pictures, and even helped me with nursing Chase because she's a pro. It was a good thing she was there too because all the nurses were MIA. But I suppose that's not such a bad thing. ;)
We ended up moving rooms twice within a few hours because they didn't have a postpartum bed ready for me. It was a bit of bummer to not have any visitors for several hours, because I, for one, was totally on a high from meeting my baby and wasn't able to sleep. I ended up dozing off when we had visitors the following day...
Chase was such a good baby, though, and I really enjoyed those precious days in the hospital. But I certainly missed Landon too! My mom did bring him to visit at least a couple times, so that was nice. 

Recovery was a bit rough, because of all the extra tugging during surgery, and I didn't take my pain meds as often as I should have. Totally learned my lesson for next time, though.

And now we have less than 2 months until we meet Aaron. So, so crazy. Hopefully it won't take me this long to write his birth story!

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