Friday, February 10, 2017

My PAL Journey: Weeks 33 to 35

These days I'm feeling very much like an elephant.  Not just because I'm as big as one and feel as though I'm carrying a baby elephant in my tummy.  But because an elephant's gestational period is 22 months. I have been pregnant for 19 of the past 21 months so far.  Yup.

To be more accurate if I peed on a stick it would be positive but some of that time was actually the process of miscarrying or having surgery to remove retained dead pregnancy tissue from the uterus - if you want the TMI details.  So the hormones were still there.

So I feel like I have been pregnant FOREVER waiting for this Little Man.

This has been a looooong process - how many days I've spent throwing up, recovering from surgery, getting poked with needles for IVs and meds and blood draws.  But I knew in my heart God had this child meant for us and we had to endure and have faith.  There has been a lot of criticism & hurt, and he's not here yet, but I'm so close I can see the other side now.  It's worth it.

33 weeks along 

Monday, January 23, 2017

My PAL Journey: Weeks 27 to 32

I don't know why I'm having such a difficult time sitting down to write this.  There is nothing bad to say at all; it's just that the entire subject is activating (as in it triggers anxiety and grief).  I know I said my anxiety had improved - and while it has in the sense that it is not all-consuming, it certainly still exists.  Like that pesky gray hair that won't go away (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything, lol).  My goal in chronicling this journey was to bring awareness to pregnancy after losses and my hope is that by being real here someone will relate and feel less lonely as a result.  So here's my truths for these past few weeks:

I'm in a stage of pregnancy where I am sorta "damned if you do, damned if you don't."  I am a planner. I LOVE planning and enjoy thinking out every detail.  Not being prepared - over-prepared to be more accurate - incites a bit of anxiety.

Know what else triggers anxiety?  Planning for Baby Xander's arrival.  Yup. You can imagine my conflict here.  I have almost no leftover baby gear/clothing/supplies because we thought Bruce was our last baby and got rid of things as he outgrew them.  I've been purchasing items as I encounter good deals but leaving the tags on or keeping them in their packaging.  I did allow myself to wash a few used/garage sale clothing items in preparation and the entire time I was folding the basket I kept thinking "ohmygosh I just killed my baby."

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.

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).

Monday, December 21, 2015

Answered Prayers & The Road So Far: My Pregnancy Journey

I am in constant awe of how God answers prayers in a specific way.  Last night, prior to today's doctor appointment, my prayer was for CLEAR, absolute, and ACCURATE information.  Yes, Lord, I desire for my child to be alive - to have them safe in my arms this summer.  But trusting in Him means trusting that He is with me even in the bad.

This summer when we lost the baby it was weeks wrought with "maybes."  Maybe my dates were wrong. Maybe the growth will be better next week.  Maybe we will find the heartbeat in a few days. Maybe the heart just started beating and the rate will improve. Maybe it will be okay, the heartbeat will increase, and the baby will live.  Maybe the bleeding is normal.

So my prayer was that whatever is the status of this pregnancy, that it is made clear at my doctor visit. I don't want a maybe.  The past couple ultrasounds have shown a heartbeat BUT the very low end of normal. The growth is a tad behind (although that has been true of every pregnancy).  So the outcome of this pregnancy is still very much up in the air.

My regular OB sent me to the perinatal clinic for high risk patients. Often they consult - determine a plan for pregnancy - and send you back to the OB.  Last time they kept me on as their own patient for the duration of the pregnancy.  This place is critical to the health and safety of baby & me. Imagine my disappointment today when I find that I'm scheduled only for a consult and not for an ultrasound.

My nurse remembered me from last time AND recognized me from the Fraser waiting room!! I do so love those type of connections. As we discussed the plan for the pregnancy - including starting on blood thinner injections daily - I asked if we can be sure this is viable before going further.  She tries to do an abdominal bedside ultrasound.  This will not measure growth or even bpm - just verify the flickering heartbeat is there.  We find the baby but NO heartbeat.

She calls an ultrasound tech in and again, no heartbeat!! And I can't help but panic - and wonder "why aren't things more CLEAR?!"  They make room for us in the schedule to do a TV ultrasound in a room with the good equipment and a tech. While I wait, pantless, feet in stirrups, for 20 minutes for the tech to come in, fear consumes me. Would this really happen again?! I NEVER felt like something was wrong (I had the physical feelings of anxiety and fear but not the motherly instincts like a sense of impending doom).  Would I EVER trust my instincts again? Christmas will be ruined?!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ways We Celebrated Christmas

{This post is full of stuff from LAST Christmas, but as time goes on this holiday season I will be adding as I go. Hope some of these are fun, new ideas for you to try with YOUR family!}

We love Christmas around here. I'm that annoying crazy lady that starts listening to carols and watching Christmas movies before Thanksgiving. I was proud of myself for holding off till after Halloween to start watching Holiday movies actually!

Here are my words of advice - do what makes YOU the best mom you can be.  As in if cooking or crafting aren't your thing and don't make you happy, don't do it.  If you just aren't feeling it this year, that's okay.  Give yourself permission to know your limits and reduce your vulnerability by staying within them.  When making 800 kinds of Christmas cookies when I'm fried will cause me to yell at the kids and cry about all the dishes then I DON'T make them! I curl up on the couch and read a book to the kids instead. They won't remember "we didn't bake cookies" or "we never went sledding" as much as they may remember "Mom was always yelling."  This may not be a concern for you but the concept still stands.