Thursday, December 8, 2016

My PAL Journey: Weeks 20-26

In my last post, I shared I was struggling greatly with anxiety and worry about the baby.  While there obviously is still some of that - that is natural for someone with my history - I am grateful to say the panic has decreased.

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  -Isaiah 40:31

Our Pastor has been doing a sermon series on Sundays about the search for meaning in our lives. While this was not on Mothering specifically, the general concept is that our purpose, worth, value, and meaning are not found in this world.  Not in work, accomplishment, money, relationships, or success.  Our value is in Christ alone.  My worth is as a Christian.  My purpose for being is to worship Him.

I caught myself telling God "Okay, you need to keep this baby alive because being a mom is my whole world.  My purpose for existence is being a mom.  I could not go on without my children."  I stopped mid-prayer.  Wait a minute.  Isn't my soul's purpose found in Christ?  Do not all my children belong to Him? If I wasn't a mom I would still have value.  

For sure my children are more precious to me than anything on this earth.  But God's in control, not me.  It is scary when things are outside of my control.  In that, I can put my Hope in the Lord.  My Hope goes deeper than a longing.  My Trust is in the Lord.  My Purpose is in Him.  My Rest is in the Lord.

If this is true then I am more than a mom.  I still adore motherhood.  But I always felt that was what defined me and it is not.  So much peace is found in placing my soul's value - my sole purpose - in God.  Fear's power over me is fading and losing ground.  I so dearly love this baby boy.  I want him to arrive healthy and breathing and hold him in my arms.  But the intense grip fear had on me is loosening as I find my purpose in Christ.  

I am sure I am not saying any of this eloquently and don't misinterpret this to mean I don't place high value in my work as a mom or that I don't have deep love for my kids.  Just to say my anxiety is decreasing.  I don't necessarily feel "safe" or "secure" about the pregnancy, just peace.  

It helps that Little Man is kicking and I feel movement throughout the day, which brings a lot of reassurance with it.  Look at this crazy ultrasound photo of his feet right up by his head!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My PAL Journey: Weeks 15 to 19

It's amazing how much my perspective changed once I began to feel a bit better.  My mood shifted from anger, bitterness, and misery to delight, hope, and optimistic anticipation! Well, that and fear. I've been pregnant after multiple losses many times.  I knew to expect a reasonable amount of anxiety. But if I'm being real here, which I can be to a fault, this is more than Reasonable Anxiety.  History-based Fear spiraling into actual panic attacks. I hadn't had much experience with those before.  Yeah, not fun.

A good excuse to lean on God daily! God is good all the time, in all things.  Praise is always the right response.  He is on my side and cares deeply for me.  I refuse to let fear distort truth.

"But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." -Matthew 14:27

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My PAL Journey: Weeks 9-14

In my world, no news is good news. I'm happy to say I have no real "news."  I'm still pregnant, which I'm grateful for.  I have weekly ultrasounds and Little One looks good.  No complications with Mom or Baby.  Dare I say normal?! :)  Yeah!!!

I'm so sorry I've been in my own little world and so wrapped up in myself - and really not a great friend as of late - I know this sickness from the hyperemesis is almost behind me and I will be closer to my normal self soon! Thanks for all the love and sticking with me! I'm 15 weeks tomorrow! So I'm getting there!!

We don't talk much about Little One or the pregnancy around here.  The kids know.  It is a fact that Mommy is pregnant.  I've been sick so the kids are aware there is a difference.  That's it though, no gender or name ideas or planning or room arrangement discussions, etc.  So when Bruce said to me the other night "Let's pray for your baby (folds his hands)," and "I'm your baby's big brother." my heart melted.  Yeah, he did that on his own.  How sweet - and encouraging!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Homemade Rainbow Playdough

So my homemade playdough started with pumpkin spice for fall but kinda spiraled from there.
So I made rainbow play-doh: -vanilla coconut -pumpkin pie -grape glitter -blue spearmint -green is Christmas cookie -lemon -orange tangerine -black cherry -pink lemonade.

I generally use the same recipe for all the playdough bases and then the add-ins make each batch unique.  Stir together the following dry ingredients in a saucepan then add the wet ingredients and cook on low heat.  

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 Tbsp oil
2 tbsp cream of tartar

Pumpkin Pie = Add 1 Tbsp of pumpkin pie spice & 1/2 tsp of cinnamon & a pinch of clove spice
Vanilla Coconut = I replaced the vegetable oil with coconut oil & added a tsp of vanilla extract
This one is a bit less stable than others - it works great for play but will not keep as long as the others.
Grape Glitter = I added an entire packet of grape Kool-aid, a few drops of food coloring (I already had a purple but you can mix primary colors as well - I love the "Neon" colors pack) and a Tbsp of purple glitter.
Blue Spearmint (my favorite) = I added blue food coloring & a couple drops of Spearmint Essential Oil (another option is peppermint extract if your're not into oils - color it red)
Green Christmas Cookie = I've heard amazing things about Frankincense being used for calming in kids but the smell of a few drops in the playdough was pretty bland so I added some cinnamon and it smelled just like Christmas! Several drops of green food dye created a deep green color.
Lemon = Add yellow food coloring & a few drops of lemon essential oil (or try lemonade drink mix powder if you do not have oils - replacing the water with actual lemon juice will not work as it will change the consistency too much).
Orange Tangerine = Red & Yellow food coloring to create orange & a few drops of Tangerine essential oil.  I have also used orange Kool-aid mix and a citrus-y DoTerra oil called "Cheer."
Black Cherry = the coloring and scent both come from black cherry Kool aid packet 
Pink Lemonade = Country Time pink lemonade drink mix (I used 2 Tbsp) & 2 drops lemon oil

Also, visit this post is a recipe for Gingerbread Playdough & Candy Cane Dough

If stored properly in sealed gallon zipper bags they will last for 6 months.  When the kids play with them I occasionally knead the dough and if at all sticky add a tiny bit of flour while kneading.

14 Truths About Pregnancy After Loss

Pregnancy after loss is different. High risk pregnancy with hyperemesis after MULTIPLE losses at various stages of pregnancy for several different reasons is filled with sheer terror. As much as I WANT this baby, as much as I already LOVE it, I’m barely HAPPY or excited. Anxiety & Fear are the dominant emotions and dwarf any competing thoughts.

Okay, I know what you’re asking “Is this a pregnancy announcement?” Not exactly. I AM pregnant. (I've written a little bit about that pregnancy in this post.) However, the sad thing is I never know how long any pregnancy of mine will last. So with this post, my hope is it has staying power and value beyond THIS pregnancy. That others can relate to my experiences and not feel so alone. Because, let me tell you, I FEEL alone in these emotions.

Friday, August 12, 2016

My PAL Journey: Weeks 1-9

Pregnancy After Loss is more easily referred to as PAL.  I'm hoping to document MY pregnancy after loss - or my PAL journey.

Pregnancy after loss is different. High risk pregnancy with hyperemesis after MULTIPLE losses at various stages of pregnancy for several different reasons is filled with sheer terror.  As much as I WANT this baby, as much as I already LOVE it, I’m barely HAPPY or excited.  Anxiety & Fear are the dominant emotions and dwarf any competing thoughts.

I’m only 9 weeks pregnant and have already spent over 5 weeks with life at an absolute standstill. It’s been an adventure.  It isn’t even that interventions are needed so much as caution and awareness based on past history.  As of now, things are good. Meaning if I was an “ordinary” pregnant woman I’d be going in for my first routine visit just now. But I’m not normal. So every symptom must be investigated.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

You're The Man. An Open Letter to my Husband on our 15th Anniversary

So, today we've been married 15 years.  Meaning we've been together for 16.  Meaning that I have had Dan in my life as long as I haven't.  

 As much as I don't advocate teen pregnancy or getting married in high school (simply for the reason that things can be more difficult & I'd for sure have been far more equipped to be a parent later in life), I am so grateful God gave me this man. It is only by God's grace that I am here and I have him. 

We were just kids when we met - the day after my Sophomore & his Senior year of high school.  We worked together (at Subway).  He refused to date me at first - he wanted to be my only boyfriend. What kind of madness is that?! ONE boyfriend?! But I like a good challenge. Over time I won him over. 

It hasn't always been easy; growing together rather than apart has taken deliberate, mindful attention at times but loving him is instinct. It comes naturally and effortlessly and consumes me. It's an extension of who I am, of what makes me ME. 

An open letter to my husband,

You are more than the man I fell in love with and married.  You are the man I want my daughters to marry and the man I want my sons to become.  You are the one I come to.  You are the man that makes me laugh every day and allows me to cry anytime. You are the man I built my life with and want to spend all that's left of it with. You are the man that is far more than I deserve.  You, and these children we've made together, are the very best of me.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Our Special Needs Journey: Part 28 - Healing, Health, Birthdays, and Bullies

The last couple months have been VERY long.  Here's an update on each kiddo, what we've been up to, and how we're all coping.
-------------------------- JULIA ---------------------------

Don't be put off by how discouraging Julia's update is - the rest of our updates are pretty good. I'm just getting the not-as-good news out of the way first.  Because Julia is older now I am trying to be more judicious with what I share about her (& Taylor).  Even then I will overstep the boundaries I'm sure. It is fair to say she is where most of my special needs struggle lies.

Above is a photo of her in the hospital this week.  She was the first of the kids to get sick. After several days of high fever we thought she was on the mend after her temp lowered.  While walking down the hallway she abruptly fell to the floor.  She fainted 4 times in about 3 minutes with no recollection of what was happening.  Elijah helped me pick her up when she fell and I called the Pediatrician.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Honoring Your Marriage After Pregnancy Loss

Something I feel passionate in writing about is honoring your marriage and fostering your relationship after pregnancy loss.  My caveat is this: I am not a marriage expert. Nor am I a counselor or trained professional of any kind. But we are a couple who have gone through multiple pregnancy losses together. (At various stages of pregnancy and very different types and causes of loss.) I wanted to share what has worked for Dan & me.  Not every couple is the same nor is every situation, but these are things that were important for us.

1.) Recognize that you may grieve differently.  That you may have bonded with the child at different levels or in different ways.  Don't expect him to react the same way that you are and don't accuse him of not grieving. Dan allowed me to cry, to fall to pieces, and talk and share the details very publically (not every loss, but many of them).  It is not how he would do it but he understands that that is what grief looks like for me.  Find a way to grieve together.

2.) Don't put a time limit on grieving.  Dan gives me time to grieve the loss (there is often more than one thing you have "lost" in this situation) and does not pressure me to get back to normal or "feel better" faster.  The timeline is different for each person but it definitely does not go away as fast as other think it should.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Losing Oliver: Part 3 - The In-Between {Scriptures for Miscarriage}

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” –Isaiah 43:2

These photos show me snuggling with Oliver and his bunny.  Once home my boys were fascinated by Oliver's bunny and blanket & Bruce especially has been spending a lot of time hugging them. They know it is a stuffed animal and not actually a baby but seem to understand that it is special.  Bruce says "oooh, so cute" before giving the bunny kisses.

Dear Friend who asked me how I am doing - I sincerely apologize for not having an answer.  It's a question I do not know HOW to answer because I am entering the In-Between.  I am okay or great or devastated depending on when you ask (as in it changes hour to hour).  Dear Sweet Friend - THANK YOU for asking.  It means the world to me, it really does. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Losing Oliver: Part 2 - Birth Story & Meeting My Son

Every birth story is beautiful.  Oliver's story is precious to me.  He has blessed me so much in his short life & I'll forever be grateful God has gifted me this treasure in heaven.  His story - even from conception - is so amazing & I grieve that it was so short.

I've been so sick I hadn't been taking many baby bump pictures so we snapped this last one in the hospital at 17 weeks 4 days (the day before he was actually born).

As much as I was in a hurry to meet my baby boy (as my pregnancy had not been easy & was wrought with anxiety) I was NOT prepared to meet him so soon.  We left the clinic Friday afternoon (where we found there was no longer a heartbeat) and were scheduled to return to the Mother Baby Center at the hospital at 6 that evening.

My mother & sister were waiting for us when we got there - they stayed the entire time, well past when Oliver was born.  I can say that having them there, that support, was an extreme comfort to me.  In fact, my support system in general right now is tremendous. My cup truly runneth over.

**Trigger Warning** 

Before I share the beautiful (detail-filled) story of Baby Oliver's birth I want to warn you of the graphic nature of the content.  I am including photos of his precious life at the end & if this is difficult for you to look at please be warned not to continue scrolling.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Losing Oliver: Part 1 (Denial)

I don't want to go through this again. It can't be real. It just can't. Numb. I'm numb. I keep telling Dan this isn't real, I am dreaming.  This is me asleep and any minute I will wake up and this won't be real anymore. Seriously, I can't go to the hospital - to the birth center - to deliver a dead baby. Again.

While all the women around me are having the happiest day of their lives I am having the worst. Again. I'd ask "Why?" but no answer would satisfy me.  I'm so broken.  I don't know how to live through this. I don't want to.

Yesterday was wrought with anxiety and fear.  I am 17 & a half weeks - this is the point of pregnancy I lost Bentlee and had to deliver her.  It is also almost the due date of the baby I lost this summer.  My paranoid meter was off the charts.  It has been for a week.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Pregnancy Journey: Gender Reveal & 16 Week Update

                                                                 Thumb sucker

Pregnancy, for me, physically, is miserable. I'm in so much pain and am so sick that it can be all-consuming.  It's discouraging to still not feel well - especially with newer ailments that increase as I get further along (like the back/pelvic pain).  That's why days like today are so encouraging - they remind me WHY I love being pregnant (or at least why pregnancy is WORTH it).

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Our Special Needs Journey: Part 27 - Pregnancy, Surgeries, & Discoveries

I'll open with this - because, well, precious.

 In typical Nicole style, I have allowed far too much time to pass since my last post! We've been the usual amount of busy.  The biggest thing, for me, is that I'm now 13 weeks pregnant and have been very sick.  I thought that would have given me ample opportunity to blog  however I could barely sit up or open my eyes. Sick. Really sick.

So here I am, finally getting to blogging.  Never one to be pithy the following post is long. I apologize.  In an attempt to have fewer needless details and not waste time I feel this all comes off a bit dry and void of emotion.  It could be the sickness/worn out or due to a recent conversation where I was told I over share, talk too much, and give too much detail, but at any rate I feel out of my element today.