Friday, December 27, 2013

a better day, a real hope

sunday, i delivered our third son via c-section. that sounds like i performed the operation on myself. though quite good at multitasking, i did not do that. i'm not sure how to phrase it other than that, though, so there you have it.

we came home on christmas eve, tuesday, in the afternoon, with our two-day-old baby. our older sons are almost 2 1/2 and 15 months old. if this gives you anxiety, you're a normal person.

there was lots of unpacking to do, laundry, general day-to-day things, feeding now three kids (the older two have meals that rival three-ring circuses some days, but the baby is quite easy, thankfully), baths, teeth-brushing, diaper changing (oh yes, all three - the oldest says he is *never* going to go on the potty, and i'm starting to believe him), laundry, taking out trash, laundry, and so on.

unfortunately the bulk (pretty much all) of this is on my husband's shoulders right now. a c-section is a major surgery that just happens to result in a baby. it can be rough. my recovery so far has been painful but steady, though i'm not far into it. i take the medicine they prescribe for pain because it helps a great deal and is a gift from God for moms who have to deliver like i do. i'm mostly ok with it, but for periods of time, it also makes me sleepy, dizzy, and generally out of it (sometimes in a funny way and sometimes it's like i have the IQ of a jello mold). at certain times after a dose, i get about 30 minutes where the medicine and my body can handle light housework. i'm still pretty efficient, so i can help quite a bit in those times, especially doing a few a day. still, five days out from the surgery, justin has it rough right now, and is pretty much handling everything a family of five needs completely by himself.

and let me tell you, this week has been hard. each day has ended, and i've said or thought (or both) how tough it was. just tough. hurting and knowing i can't help more, knowing that justin is doing so much work, both of us wondering how. on. earth. we are going to learn to be parents of three little (really little) boys, and laundry. always the laundry.

today i had my post-baby appointment and the doctor said i was healing well (and advised me not to lift toddlers...which i may have done yesterday and may have not been the best choice). i took medicine regularly today, but only napped a little, which is a big step forward. i was able to help more, and we caught up a lot of housework and justin put away a few christmas decorations and organized some things. (tell him the dining room looks nice - it does, even though you don't know that without me telling you.) things were looking up! we would maybe even get to sit together during the kids' nap and watch tv or dual facebook on our respective tablets or something exciting like that.

and then levi decided to pull my coffee off of the end table and drink it. except he is one, and he just sat in the puddle he made, holding my coffee cup, saying, "nummy! nummy!" justin scrubbed the love seat, carpet, end table, and levi for 30 minutes. and darn it, it was really good coffee, too. and there went the day, the chance at tv time, sitting down together.

while justin cleaned, i cleared out the dishwasher and reloaded it. as i rinsed out the coffee cup that levi had just spilled, a song came into my head.

my hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
i dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

our tough week, though still tough, came into perspective. if i have three boys two and under, and my hope lies in easy days and catching up on laundry, i. am. in. trouble. big trouble.

but, if my hope is in Jesus, i can do these tough first days of triple motherhood. i can be a hurting, post-c-section wife relying on her husband for so much help. i can have laundry until the day i die - which is good, because i will.

and so, we continued with our day. we had dinner at the table as a family and talked and laughed and put the boys to bed and commented to each other that it had been a good day. after several agreed-upon tough days, a good day.

because our hope doesn't lie in having good days, we can have good days. because our hope is in Jesus, we can have good days.

may your hope lie in Jesus and not the sinking sand of a clean kitchen or coordinated naptimes, moms and dads.

josiah's birth day

Justin had to work Saturday, the day before my c-section. Well, he worked Friday night, starting at 11pm, until 7am, and then again at 11:45am Saturday, until about 5:15pm. This kind of thing happens whenever there's a ball game or other event that he has to work. I found out around 2pm Saturday that we would be going in for the c-section the next morning, so it was a whirlwind. Thankfully we prepared as much as we could early, though we were left behind on laundry. Lots of laundry.

Sunday morning, we traded cars with my parents because they were keeping the boys during our hospital stay, and then headed off to the hospital. We got checked in, and I got paperwork filled out and blood drawn and an iv hooked up and monitors stuck onto my belly, the usual for that kind of thing.

It was time to go back, alone so they could do the spinal block. Relax, they tell you, and then you know they're sticking something into your spine, so it's hard to really relax, but anyway. The first person tried three times, maybe four, and couldn't get it in right. The way you know that is when you feel crazy pains or pressure shooting down one leg or the other. It's freaky and unnerving, and, after several times, a little scary. Meanwhile, you're supposed to be relaxing. "If it doesn't take," you replay them telling you, "we'll do general anesthesia." So this is when I started worrying about that.

Finally the actual anesthesiologist stepped up, said confidently that he would get it, and he did. Boom. Done.

Spinal blocks make your blood pressure drop, so my blood pressure took a dive, then my heart rate went down, then they gave me two different medicines to raise my heart rate (all of this happened without me even knowing, probably just a surgery/keep me alive and conscious thing). I said I was going to puke and they shot zofran into my iv. It worked, thankfully. I felt dizzy from the bp drop and finally they brought Justin in.

I mouthed the words, "pray for me," because I was scared and I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out. Then I started to feel better, and then my heart felt like thunder. I commented on this and they filled me in on my blood pressure and heart rate issues and the medicine they gave me. Oh. OK. That did explain it. I hadn't had those issues with my other two c-sections, so I wasn't anticipating that, but I was alright.

Then they began the surgery. It's gross and weird because you can't feel it but you *can* feel it. You feel movement that you know is cutting and pulling. It's true. After a while I felt the familiar pushing of everyone's hands and elbows - it just feels like a lot of pressure on the top of your stomach. I told Justin, "get ready, he's coming. They're getting him out right now." I think I got overwhelmed and worried again, because the next thing I really remember is Justin making me focus, saying, "listen for the cry, listen, he's going to cry."

And he did. And I smiled and cried. A new life! A baby boy! And then he peed all over me and everyone on that side of the blue curtain. True story.

They wiped him off and weighed him and wrapped him up and to my delight let us keep him with us, which I had begged for with the first two but their policy didn't allow at the time. Justin held him while I got put back together again. They transferred me to a big, comfy, rolling bed and took us all to recovery, where they monitored me for various things and asked me every so often if I could move my legs yet.

I have a sinus arrhythmia they found when i was in surgery. What's that? I have no idea because I was on morphine when they told me about it. I'll probably go Google it. Because of it, they pumped potassium into my iv and it burned so bad i was sobbing. They stopped. They set it up to run with my regular fluids and it didn't hurt anymore.

During the time in recovery I held Josiah. I was too weak to really hold him well and Justin had to help me a lot but it was so nice to have him with us. They seemed worried about me while I was there so that's kind of an anxiety-inducing thing, but I was OK. I think physically it was the hardest time I had had in a c-section and I'm thankful it was the last instead of the first.

Then we went back to our room. It was a temporary room because they were so full of moms and babies that weekend (they cited a full moon and the weather for this) that we had to wait a few hours on a regular room. It wasn't bad at all; we still had a private room and it was still nice. When we went to our regular room, Justin got to press the button to play our lullaby. It plays through the whole hospital and each baby gets one played for him or her.

We stayed two nights in the hospital and left on Christmas Eve. I was very glad to go home, though it's been a very busy two weeks! I am recovering well but still recovering so I have certain things I still can't do. I've been lifting toddlers the whole time except for the first few days, out of necessity, but I don't carry them far or take the laundry up and down stairs, things like that.

Josiah is doing great. He has already had a little cold and a clogged tear duct and both are better! He is a good eater and sleeps a lot. Today I've noticed more times when he is awake. He is extremely content and great to snuggle with. We just adore him. Sam and Levi both pat his soft hair and say awwwww. Sam calls him oh-si-duh and Levi calls him si si (long i sound on those si parts).

So that's the story of Josiah's birth. :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

the Lord God is my strength

today seemed like a hard day. well, it was a hard day. i'm 35 weeks pregnant, and i have a 14 month old and a 28 month old, so some might think all days are hard days. in some ways, they are. just because things are blessings does not mean that they are also easy.

i've been a lot more achy this pregnancy, and i don't know if i've ever had as much insomnia with it. i'm on a schedule. i can't go to sleep until late, i wake for an hour and a half to two hours each night for no reason, and then levi is up by 6:30, so i don't get much rest.

breakfast didn't go incredibly smoothly. some days it does. today it did not. eventually i found things both boys would eat and they ate. sometimes pregnant with 2 under 2 means you don't give your kids organic, home made, free-range, grass-fed, spinach pop tarts for breakfast - instead, they just eat regular strawberry pop tarts you buy at the store. (it can't possibly stunt their growth any more than genetics already will.)

the boys were up earlier than they should have been, so they needed naps by 10:30 and 11. there were various cues, including eye rubbing and shrieking. (i wasn't the one shrieking.) unfortunately, there was only a 30-minute nap overlap, and when you have to eat and clean up lunch mess from two little boys (SO many crumbs, and what is that goo?), that leaves no time to rest. granted, they sometimes give me beautiful two-hour overlaps where i can nap, rest, make a grocery list, clean, cook, and even do a craft (pick two, not all). not today.

levi was very tired from his one-hour nap and grumpy from his final first-year molar coming in. he required approximately 40 minutes total of baby wrestling (he was very angry and crying for most of this) interspersed with more attempts at getting him to nap. these were unsuccessful. he eventually calmed down and played with the ipad. i'll take it.

then sam got up after a lovely two-hour nap (jealous). then there were still, *still* somehow more than two hours until justin got up. he is a day sleeper and a night worker. thankfully he can sleep through shrieking.

about an hour of this time was spent deciding on and eating snacks. they are young, indecisive, and they eat slowly, and they sometimes eat a lot (which they did). i used the time they were confined to high chairs to clean and get laundry going.

by the time justin got up, there was still much to do, including feeding ourselves, folding laundry, general everyday stuff, etc.

both boys had dirty diapers at the same time (sam refuses, absolutely refuses, to potty train), and thankfully justin changed them.

by that time i was really tired, feeling hormonal and emotionally raw, and just overwhelmed (the night was nowhere near over). i had tears in my eyes, my head in my hands, and my belly on my lap (it's big). i had the urge to get on my knees and pray, but i wasn't sure i could get up from there without a crane.

leave it to levi to sit on his coloring book and then NEED it, desperately, and try to pull it out from under himself on the floor. so as you can imagine, i ended up in the floor anyway, helped him with the book, and laid my head in the seat of the rocking chair.

i cried and prayed. it wasn't so much a prayer of words but an outpouring of emotion - my exhaustion, my desire to be a good and patient mom, the training of and demands of the boys, an argument (or two) justin and i had, and this long, giant, achy pregnancy.

before i could finish, there was poop somewhere it shouldn't have been and i needed to deal with that, but you get the point.

and i know, God got the point too. of course. i realized that i wasn't worried about the wording of my prayer, about using the right words, the right structure, the right vocabulary. there are some moments of some days where you just can't.

i can't imagine having one of my babies come to me, hurting from a tough day, and sending them away to dry their tears and come up with a more poetic way of expressing what was wrong. no, no, a flawed, sinful mama like myself would still take that little head on her shoulder and hold and comfort that upset baby, even if he was blubbering incoherently.

God heard His child, me, and comforted, strengthened me to finish the day.

and my day, it didn't really get better. it was tough to the end, and i still can't sleep. God never promises to bring me an easy evening after a hard day. sometimes He does anyway, but we get the graces that we need, and we also get the refinement that we need. even the refinements themselves are graces, though they don't usually feel like it.

i know God gave me this day to help me remember not to parent or generally live life in my own strength. i tend to try. a lot. and fail. today was a reminder that God is where our strength comes from - thankfully, too, because if all i have is a waddling, tired, third-trimester-pregnant mother of two toddlers to rely on, i don't have much to rely on at all. (unless i wanted crazy. i have a whole lot of crazy on days like today.)

"the Lord God is my strength" - habbakuk 3:19

"cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." - 1 peter 5:7

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

catching up

my last post was april 14 of this year. i have missed blogging dearly but haven't felt i had much to talk about, or rather that i had much to talk about but it was mostly diapering and dishes and daily normal stuff that probably no one wants to read a blog about. or maybe they do. anyway.

on april 6, justin left for the police academy. less than one month out from resigning my position at work and taking leave to keep the house together and children alive while he worked at his new job, i was basically alone. we had weekends, and phone calls, but i changed all the diapers and fed the kids and took the trash to the curb. and so on.

on april 17, i took a pregnancy test and saw the faintest of lines. i didn't have any more tests, so i asked justin to pick up a few (i'm kind of an addict so i asked for three) on his way home (a three+ hour drive) from the academy that friday. he wasn't home for five minutes before we had our answer. we were having another baby! (the other two tests were also positive, in case you wondered...)

because of my miscarriage two months before, i was able to get a six-week ultrasound to check on baby, and all was well.

and there i was, nauseated, tired, by myself, taking care of sam, who would be two in july, and levi, who would be one in september. this is in part because we are crazy, and really because God smiled on our crazy childbearing wishes and gave us another. (the back story is, i have endometriosis and it took 18 months to conceive sam, through limited-fertilization ivf, and we thought he would be our only child. pregnancy apparently shrinks my endometriosis, making it easier for me to get pregnant soon after a pregnancy.)

levi stopped sleeping at night for about two months around this time, so i didn't even feel human until the academy was winding down in june. it was harder than i can even begin to describe and i am glad it is a distant memory. [he stopped bottle feeding in favor of eating table food around the time he started sleeping better, and we still don't give him dairy. i will never wait that long to try an alternative again - it just seemed like he didn't fit the bill for an allergy, but now i really think it's an intolerance. we have puke and sleepless nights as evidence for this (after yogurt and ice cream) and that's enough for me!]

justin got home at the end of june and started his regular police work. sam turned two in july, and we learned that our baby was another boy! i turned 29 in august. levi turned one in september. it's really been quite a blur. justin's job mandates overtime for every home football and mens basketball game, so it gets hectic, especially when he couldn't take a day off until november to "make up" for any extra time worked. but we made it here, and he took a day off just this week. it was fabulous.

i'm due december 29 but as i have had two c-sections (the second after an attempted vbac), we will be doing another c-section, so we are scheduling it either december 22 or 26, depending on when we can get in with both the doctor and anesthesiologist.

we put our christmas tree up today (it's still sans ornaments, because as i said, we have a one and two year old and it's busy). we want to be sure to enjoy the season even though we have a lot to prepare for with the baby, josiah, coming in just over a month, so we got an early start (though, thanksgiving is LATE this year compared to the usual, i will point out).

our life has changed a lot since i last posted. we are busy and sometimes slightly (or mostly) insane, but we are right where we are supposed to be. we have so many blessings, so much to be thankful for. and in mid-november, that's a good place to end a blog.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

how to download and install new fonts

finding fonts online is one of my favorite things. that might be pretty nerdy, but it keeps things much more original and personal when you need to make something with words on your computer.

i am currently working on a couple of graphic bible verses to hang in our house, and i downloaded all of the fonts i'm using in them for free from websites like and there are lots more. do a search to find exactly what you need.

when you find a font you like, how do you get it onto your computer and into a place where your computer recognizes it as a font? it isn't enough just to download the font from the page. hopefully, these steps will help you download and install your favorite fonts and keep you far, far away from some of those more cliche fonts.

follow these step by step and it should work for you. i do this often enough that it goes pretty quickly, and i'm not any kind of computer pro.

1. getting the font on your computer:
first, find a font that you like. i chose "my turtle" by billy argel. find the download button and click it. (and make sure you are clicking the actual download button for the font and not one in a strategic and tricky advertisement.)

choose the save option in the dialog box and click ok.

it will ask you where to save it. you choose. i usually start with mine on the desktop so they are easy to find.

minimize or close your web browser. you don't need the internet for the rest of this.

2. making the font usable:
find the folder of the font you just downloaded. it will have a zipper on it, because most font files come as zipped files. zipped files are basically compacted files for easy downloading, and they have to be "unzipped" in order to use them.

right click on your folder and click "extract all." (apple users, maybe control click. i haven't dealt with this on a mac.)

it will ask you a couple of questions about where to put the extracted files. figure out where you want them to go and click ok. i usually just go with the default options. you can always move the folder later on as long as you know where to find it.

3. opening your new downloaded font folder:
NOW there will be a matching font folder without a zipper on it. this is your unzipped font. open the folder. it will look something like this:

4. opening your computer fonts folder:
leaving the downloaded font folder where it is, open your control panel (it should be on your start menu). in the search box at the top right, type "fonts." this will appear, or something like it.

click "view installed fonts." it will look like this.

5. copying and pasting your new font into your computer fonts folder:

click your downloaded font folder, in my case, "my turtle," and find the font file. it is a true type font file, the last one listed here (placement will likely be different in your downloaded font folder - that's ok, as long as you find the font file). right click the font file. in the right click drop-down menu, choose "copy."

click your computer font folder. right click somewhere within the folder, but not directly on a font that is already installed (you may need to scroll to the bottom for this). choose "paste."

let it install. check to make sure your new font is in your computer font folder. see "my turtle?"

i hope this helps if you've ever wanted to download a font but weren't sure how to do it. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

sam at 21 months, levi at 6.5 months

sam is talking SO MUCH. like, constantly.

we have a lot of fun, and we also have some challenges with fit throwing, though a lot of it stems from trying to communicate. i think that will disappear soon and then we will just have the battle of wills type fits. excited about that. haha.

he is not interested in potty training, and i'm giving myself a break on that for a couple more months, though i do ask about and encourage it.

his favorite tv show is super why. if you ask him if he is a super reader, he will nod his head emphatically. (no, he can't read yet lol.)

he loves all things transportation - trucks, cars, trains, airplanes (he says, "airMAIN!"). he can even say "helicopter."

some of the fun words sam is now saying:
alriiiight! (excitedly)
yeeaaah! (also excitedly, i say these things to him when he is doing what he should)
yes (he enunciates this one so well it makes me laugh)
dinosaur...i can't really spell this one how he says it, but it's something i can understand
paci (another well-enunciated one)
nooooooo (whiny...not my favorite word)
he can say all of his letters and numbers 1-10 after i say them, just repeating me. he does have some numbers memorized.
rrwwwwice! (rice)
he can say any color we ask and recognizes some of them.
muck (milk, chocolate milk is his favorite)
moooof (move)
outsiiii (outside)
weevi (levi)
a bee! a bee! (we talked about bees on easter and ever since he says this and then says, "bzzzzzz")
wok (walk)
shoes (usually repeated because he wants to wear them always)
i on't knoooow (i don't know)
how 'bout this? - a very consistent sentence that he uses appropriately
daw (draw)
a-mote (remote)
fowfur (flower)
uh oh!
oh no!
oh gosh!
tactey (tractor)
hooome (home)
...he will say just about anything he wants to say. he can be super stubborn (like i've said, that's all from his dad, because i'm definitely not stubborn...ahem) and usually that's what keeps him from saying things.

he can work the ipad on his own - turn it on, slide the lock screen, find his apps, and play them. it is totally crazy since we didn't even have personal (slow, expensive, large, desktop) computers on a broad scale until i was much older than he is now. he plays games with letters, numbers, colors, and animals, and i think they really make a difference.

he loves to run around, dance, climb things (his head has two bruises and several scratches on it), "hop" (stand on his tip toes), bounce/jump (he can't really jump up off the floor yet but he says he is jumping), and snap together and take apart his mega blocks.

he loves books and reading. he knows his bible from the rest and says "bible," though we are still working on the patience to sit through an entire "story" most nights.

he is starting to pretend. he "feeds" us pretend food and yesterday he got his toy keys and looked at me and said, "bye bye!"

levi says a whole lot of dadadada, and he will mimic the sound of "hi" when you say it to him.

he already has two teeth, both middle bottom ones.

he "sings" himself to sleep (a jabbery growly song) and he loves to yell. just yell.

he is excited about life. he smiles easily and laughs a lot.

he is also fussy a lot (the extremes). he doesn't want to be alone in a room even for a minute for me to go pee, and he will sob over it if he is in the wrong mood. even if you're in the same room, he probably wants to be held about 80% of the time, which is even tougher when you have two under two. sometimes he will sit and play by himself with toys or books, and i think as he gets more independent he likes it more.

he does love to sit and play with sam, and sam loves to play with him but doesn't like to share, so we are working on that.

he eats a lot and he loves peanut butter and animal crackers and hates baby food. he is a big boy.

he loves reading books and watching sesame street.

he LOVES his daddy.

he rolls and scoots and spins to get where he wants to, and sometimes to get where he doesn't want to be. i don't think crawling is far off for him.

he CAN sleep through the night, but he will wake at 4am for a bottle if he deems it necessary.

he loves stuffed animals. he chews on them (like he does with everything) and cuddles with them.

he can sit but he falls over if he isn't supported. a lot of times he will "fall" over on purpose to roll somewhere or get something.

he gives kisses (very slobbery), and will reach out and sweetly touch the face of whoever is holding him.

so that's what the boys are up to, and more. i'm tired so i probably forgot something, but you get the idea: they are awesome.

Monday, March 11, 2013

our number three

two weeks ago, i was pregnant.

it was our first try for our number three kid, and the test was positive saturday morning, february 23.

sam and levi both "showed up" early on the pregnancy tests, but this one didn't. things didn't feel the same physically either, though i was tired and nauseous. i had the worst headache i'd ever had by noon on monday.

by lunchtime tuesday, i had started spotting. i was terrified. dr. jones had me stop by for blood work that afternoon.

my hcg was only at 4, when it should have been at around 10,000. the next day, the spotting got worse. my blood test thursday showed no hcg. when i got my blood drawn, i cried, and the girl drawing blood gave me a hug and said it happened to her once, too.

hcg, no matter how little, no matter how early, means a pregnancy. no hcg after having hcg means a miscarriage. dr. jones said it was random, and that it happened in 10% of pregnancies. he said our next pregnancy would probably be fine. he said, "so i guess this pregnancy was good - you wanted to be pregnant?" i told him yes, and he was sympathetic.

it was, and is, sad. i never knew you could miss someone you never even met, but you can. i never knew someone who never got bigger than a poppy seed would leave a void, but he or she sure has.

my nausea and exhaustion, along with headaches, stuck around for a week, making it harder, being symptoms that reminded me of what i no longer had.

it has made me thankful for our two healthy boys, and made me realize how much of a miracle they truly are (as if i wasn't convinced already). the girl who hugged me at the hospital asked me about other kids, and i told her about levi and about sam and how he was the only one from ivf. her eyes got huge and she said, "THAT doesn't happen." oh i know. i know.

it has also made me want another one that much more. many times i have said to justin, "i want our baby back." he agrees. but it can't happen.

and we are ok, but very sad. we would love to be announcing soon that i'm seven weeks pregnant, but we can't. we know God has a plan, and it is greater than our plan. that helps, though it doesn't take the pain away.

i miss my baby, but i believe that when i die and go to heaven, i'll have a little one rush into my arms who i have never met, but knows his or her mama has been waiting on that moment since february of 2013.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

holding sam

life is fast and fleeting, right now more than ever it seems, as we are so busy and the boys are growing so quickly. levi is already five months old, and sam is so big, he never falls asleep on his mama anymore.

but today, he managed to skip his afternoon nap. he seemed tired around 5:30, so i asked him to come snuggle with me while we watched veggie tales.

i felt his head roll to the side periodically, heavy and exhausted. finally, justin told me he had fallen asleep.

it was good.

feeling the weight of his little sleeping body on my chest and stomach was welcome after a long spell without it. his hair glinted a very light golden blonde in the dim light of the living room. his long, dark eyelashes rested on his cheeks.

his breathing was steady and deep - the breathing of a tired little boy who has spent the day playing, coloring, dancing, and throwing the occasional fit.

and i just held him in my arms, rested my cheek on his soft, short, little boy hair, and soaked it in.

i'm writing this not to share so much as to remember it, and to have this for him when he is older and maybe has kids of his own, so that he can understand that i love him more than words can say.