Author Archives: iMother

How I Just Got Christmas for FREE!

I’m not even kidding y’all. I just got Christmas gifts for all FOUR of my children for free! I’m on a high and I wanted to share with you how I did this, because the main Target deal expires today! With that being the case, I’m typing this quickly and apologize for any errors.

So today only, Target has a mobile coupon for 30% off toys and games. You can get this coupon by texting “PLAY” to 827438. In addition to this coupon, you can download the Target Wishlist App for your kids which includes a 10% off coupon. You add items to your kids wishlist (we let our kids add things themselves) and then you can use the 10% off coupon on whatever you buy off of their wishlist. You can stack these two coupons, which means 40% off whatever toy your heart desires. If you purchase with your REDcard, then you get another 5% off, bring the total to 45% off. In addition to this, Cartwheel has some good deals too! All throughout the holiday season, they have a featured toy every day that’s 50% off! If you wanted today’s featured toy, you could get it at 95% off with all of these stacks!!!

If you don’t have Cartwheel, you are seriously missing out. It’s a free app…what are you waiting on?

Here’s what I scored today:

-PieFace Showdown: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-Candy Land: 65% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, REDcard + 20% Cartwheel)
-Wet Head Game: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-Hungry Hungry Hippos: 65% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, REDcard + 20% Cartwheel)
-Connect 4: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-Little Live Pets Lil’ Mouse: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-Disney Frozen Elsa My Size Doll: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-LeapFrog Shapes Basket: 65% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, REDcard + 20% Cartwheel)
-LeapFrog Count & Crawl Kitty: 70% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, REDcard + 25% Cartwheel)
-VTech Bizzy the Mix & Move Bot: 65% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, REDcard + 20% Cartwheel)
-Spy Gear Voice Changer (x 2) : 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-Spy Gear Video WalkieTalkies: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-LEGO Classic Set: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)
-Fisher Price Piano: 45% off (Mobile coupon, Wishlist Coupon, & REDcard)

My final price for all of this was $206.65 and I saved 185.02!!! Without these coupon stacks, I would have paid nearly $400! Sheeeeeesh.

fullsizerender-7

But wait…I said it was free, didn’t I? Well, it was for me and that’s because of Ibotta! I started using Ibotta back in March and decided to make it a savings account for Christmas. If you’re not familiar with Ibotta, it’s an app you use when grocery shopping that mimics couponing. You can scan items and find rebates on a ton of stuff! I usually check it before I go to the store and plan my list accordingly. It’s like using a coupon, only it sets the cash aside for you, instead of deducting it from your grocery store total. Hopefully that makes sense! Anyways…from March until today, I accumulated $243.50 by using Ibotta.

fullsizerender-8

I cashed out this morning, and that’s what I went shopping with…and you’ll notice I had a little left over. I’m so excited and plan on doing this every year! Christmas with four kids ain’t cheap, y’all!

Shameless plug: Another cool thing about Ibotta is that if you sign up using my referral code, you get $10 automatically (and I get $5). Here’s my link, if you’re interested:

https://ibotta.com/r/vymssyq

So that’s that. Christmas shopping is mostly done for the kids. Now I just need to stock up on candy and stocking stuffers!

Super pumped.

 

 

 

Allergy Update

img_3642

Keeping up with my blog was hard when I had three kids. Now it’s nearly impossible. Sigh. But I love to write. I especially enjoy going back and rereading about our lives at certain stages. It amazes me just how faulty my memory is and how much I forget with the passage of time. There are so many things I’ve been wanting to write about lately. Harper turned six. Mae turned one. Emrist will soon be four. I want to update about where they all are right now so that I don’t forget little details later on. I also need to post an update about my thyroid (I’m having surgery in a few days). I just haven’t had time for any of that though.

This morning I have a little window of time to write. Both babies are sleeping (Hello, sweet miracle from Heaven), so I have a few minutes to myself. I had to decide what to blog about, and that was a tough decision. I ultimately decided on Em’s allergies. That might seem weird, but out of every post I’ve written, the allergy posts are the ones I visit the most. When I feel crazy or depressed about her allergies, I revisit those posts to remind myself of how far we’ve come. Hopefully this will become another post that I’ll revisit in the future for encouragement.

For anyone who needs to catch up, here are some of my previous allergy updates:

Update I
Update II
Update III

I don’t think I’ve updated since her second skin test last January. That was kind of overshadowed by me getting knocked up again. Oops. In a nutshell, I didn’t really love her allergist, so I switched to a new one and had a new skin test performed.

Her old allergist just wasn’t a good fit for us. He never wanted to get to the root of the issue. He preferred to just treat the symptoms as they appeared (which was chronically for Emrist). I, on the other hand, wanted to get rid of the symptoms altogether. He was her doctor, yet I was the one seeking and finding  all of the answers as to why her skin was flaring up. It was frustrating to say the least.

He declined testing her for food allergies at her first appointment, saying she was too young to have developed any. I didn’t know a thing about allergies at the time, so I followed his advice without question. At the time, I only suspected an allergy to dogs and possibly cats, so I pressed for that testing. He reluctantly agreed, telling me it was unlikely she had an allergy to them (again because she was “too young” to have developed them). He was very surprised when the results came out as high as they did. Hmm…maybe the mother might know something about her own child after all? I wish I could go back in time and connect the dots to see that if he was wrong about the dog/cat allergy, perhaps he was wrong about food allergies as well. It didn’t even occur to me back then. You live, you learn I guess.

Over the next year, we saw him every couple of months. Though we had gotten rid of our cat, and limited her exposure to animals, her skin continued to break out. He continued to prescribe steroids and antihistamine for her. It was frustrating, and I didn’t feel good about it. I suspected food allergies, so I eventually just went around him and requested testing through her pediatrician. The results were insane. She had reactions to everything that was tested. At that point, I ditched her allergist completely and just removed the allergens from her diet myself. Within six weeks, her skin was clear. It was incredible.

That was last summer. For about six months, we had her on a diet with no corn, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, tomatoes, etc. We joke that she’s allergic to everything. It really feels like it sometimes. Wheat is easy enough to avoid, but corn and soy? Ha. Those are literally in everything! Even something as simple as powdered sugar has corn starch in it. It’s everywhere! As you can imagine, her diet was extremely limited for those six months. She was basically eating nothing but fruits and veggies – she doesn’t really like meat.

When Halloween, Christmas, and her birthday rolled around, I wanted her to be able to feel like a normal kid and enjoy cake and candy. I spent a fortune on special candies from Whole Foods and Amazon that she could have. I was also able to find a recipe for a birthday cake that she could eat (cake without eggs is hard to pull off, y’all!). I was heartbroken when she requested a pink princess cake. I couldn’t pull that one off because she couldn’t have the icing. It was at this point that I decided to switch to a new allergist to have her retested.

Em was such a good sport about her diet, but it made me sad that she couldn’t partake in normal kid things because it was so restrictive. I was hopeful that some of the results from the blood test were false positives. Since her skin had cleared up, I felt comfortable having another skin test and planned on reintroducing some things based on the results.

We met with her new allergist in January and LOVED him. He didn’t push steroids on us, which I thought was great. He second skin test revealed that she wasn’t allergic to corn, wheat, or dairy. Everything else stayed the same, and in addition to that we learned that she was highly allergic to cashews. Her allergist was stunned at her response to cashews and kept asking if we had a family history of nut allergy because it was so high. He prescribed her an EpiPen for the cashew allergy specifically.

I was also stunned with the cashew result because Em had been eating them pretty regularly with no reaction that we could see. As I stated above, she doesn’t like meat. With an egg allergy and a dislike of meat, her main source of protein came from almonds, cashews, and quinoa. I didn’t really believe the cashew result and thought maybe it was a false positive (false readings are common with allergy testing, especially under the age of five). I still decided to pull them from her diet for a while though, just to be on the safe side. Being prescribed an EpiPen freaked me out! We decided to allow wheat, dairy, and corn back in and she was thrilled! This meant she could eat more normally. We could go out for pizza sometimes, and eat out at restaurants without having to bring a separate meal for her. It was wonderful….for a while.

Over the summer, she began to have periods where her legs would flare up again. It was back and forth quite a bit and we couldn’t determine the source of it. She had also tested high for an allergy to grass, so her allergist thought perhaps she was coming into contact with grass on the back of her legs and that was causing it. We started making her wear long pants and socks anytime she was outside. That didn’t seem to help much and we continued to struggle with a now almost constant flare up.

A few days after Theo was born we had an allergic reaction that sent her to the ER. In my sleep deprived state, I had given her a LÄRABAR for snack one afternoon. I thought she had eaten this particular kind before, and I was also under the impression that they were only made with dates, so I didn’t check the ingredients before giving it to her. Big mistake.

I gave her the bar around 4pm. We had dinner later on, and then it was bedtime. Benji and I both noticed that she was scratching more than usual. We had been playing outside though, so we assumed maybe it was the grass. At around 10pm, Em came out into the livingroom and told me her ears were hurting. As she got closer, I realized that she was covered in hives and had actually scratched so much that she was bleeding. Her face was beet red and her eyes and ears were swollen. I panicked.

I had no idea what she was reacting to and my initial thought was that maybe a bug had bitten her. Benji and I racked our brains trying to determine the cause. We retraced our steps and went over what all she had eaten that day. It was then that I realized that the LÄRABAR was the only thing she had eaten that wasn’t a part of her regular diet. I raced to the pantry, grabbed the box, and saw that cashews were the first ingredient.

At this point, the only thing I felt safe doing was taking her to the ER. We had a million EpiPens around the house, but she was breathing okay and I wasn’t sure if I needed to use it or not. I had never prepared to use it on her and was scared of it.

We headed to the ER and I made her talk to me the whole way there because I’m dramatic like that. Once we got there and checked ourselves in, I took some pictures to show her allergist at her next appointment. Here are the ones I can post:

img_0991

img_0999

img_0992

I wish I could show you all the pictures I have, without exposing her. It was this…all over her entire body. Red and swollen, everywhere. It was horrifying. She continued to scratch while we were there. Her legs were bleeding all over the place, and I remember fearing that she might get an infection just from sitting on the hospital bed. I picked her up and sat her in my lap. It was very late, and I wanted her to go to sleep. I also wanted to be out of her view because I was on the verge of falling apart.

I eventually started to cry uncontrollably because I knew I was the source of her pain and suffering. Naturally, the nurse came in as soon as I started crying. I had been holding it back for so long that I didn’t even care about the audience. I continued to cry. She looked at Em and mentioned that I was more upset then she was, and then she informed me that she recognized me from a local mom’s group that I’m in. She was SO nice, but I was absolutely mortified by this. Why does someone have to recognize you the moment you let go and ugly cry all over the place? WHY?! Haha.

They gave her an antihistamine and some steroids, and monitored her vital signs for a while. After that, we were sent home with a prescription steroid to take for the next five days, in addition to the antihistamine (if you’ve kept up with my past allergy updates, you’ll know that these meds turn her into a freaking monster!). Her skin has been a constant mess ever since that night. Sigh.

We’ve waited for it to clear up, and it just hasn’t…so we’ve decided to put her back on the strict diet again. We started on November 1st, but I didn’t think to take pictures until the 6th. We’re halfway through the month and it’s just now starting to clear. I’m having to remind myself that it took six weeks last time. file-nov-17-8-15-33-amShe has been such a sweetheart about it and is always wanting us to look at the back of her legs to see how they’re doing. We’re excited that they’re improving and she’s itching less and less each day.

At this point, we’re not sure what we’ll do once they clear completely. Since she was struggling so much over the summer, I feel certain that she’s allergic to something she previously tested negative to…either corn, wheat, or dairy. I’m most suspicious of dairy as we seemed to struggle with it in the early days. For now, she’s not having any of these things. If we do reintroduce them into her diet, I think we will do one at a time, and wait for a full month in between reintroductions. I will say though that I’m tempted to just leave her on this diet for forever since we know it works to keep her skin clear. It’s just hard on my mama heart to have her so restricted from certain foods, if she doesn’t truly need to be.

Perhaps the next time I look back on this post, I’ll have even more answers. That seems to be the pattern at least. Here’s to hoping! 🙂 Thanks for hanging in there and reading my allergy novel!

The Impossible Birth

Hey! Wasn’t I just writing one of these last year? Haha. As usual, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I want to remember every single detail…not only the things that happened during Theo’s birth, but all of the thoughts, doubts, and fears I had leading up to it.

I remember so vividly the night I found out I was pregnant again. I sobbed…and it wasn’t a good kind of sob either. I was straight up ugly crying in Target, and Benji had to lead me out of store. For those of you that know me, you know I do not cry in front of people…ever. Well…unless I’m watching Lion King or Land Before Time, and sometimes Full House. Crying like that in Target was a big deal…that’s how out of control my feelings were.

I sobbed again when I visited my OB and it was confirmed that I was indeed somehow pregnant. It’s not that I didn’t want another baby. I definitely did. I’ve always wanted four children. But after having three births where something weird happened, I was just scared. I didn’t realize how much fear I was holding onto until there was another baby growing inside, and I knew he or she would have to get out somehow. I panicked.

I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was going to go through birth again, and made friends with my fear. I didn’t try to get rid of it…I just let it be. I didn’t really like any of my birthing options. With my history (you can read about it here), the most logical option seemed to be attempting a natural birth, but I really didn’t want to do that. At one point, I even considered asking for a scheduled c-section. I hated that option the most, but the recovery from that was at least predictable, though WAY more painful. I longed for another birth like Mae’s…to feel that joy again. To dance and smile as my baby was born! It was amazing and so very healing. But I was afraid of being reinjured.

The worst part of Mae’s birth wasn’t even that I was injured. Overall, the injury itself wasn’t *that* bad. It wasn’t painful, and didn’t interfere with me holding and caring for my baby, like my c-sections had. The worst part was just the unknown. No one seemed to have any answers for me and I had no clue when I would get better. It felt like I was flying blind, and that was scary for me.

I eventually decided that I would attempt a natural birth this time. The days and weeks passed quickly, and before I knew it, summer was over and September was upon us. I began having mini panic attacks whenever I’d think about giving birth without an epidural. I liked how happy I was when Mae came into the world, and I didn’t think that same happiness would be possible if I was focusing on making it through the pain. That made me sad.  I did nothing to help my body progress, as the thought of laboring without meds scared me. I wanted to put it off as long as possible. I morphed into a hermit and dodged anyone who wasn’t in my immediate Village. At night, I would cry and pray in the bathtub. God revealed to me that I didn’t trust him, and I told him that he was right…I didn’t. I didn’t really know how to with this birth. I wrote angry prayers in my bible, and I begged God to show me how trust him.

He brought this verse to mind:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭6‬ MSG)

And so that’s what I began to do. I wrote down a specific request for every fear I had regarding this birth. I saved the list to my iPhone. Any time I would feel afraid, I would open it up and just meditate on it…and I would pray my specific requests:

– No complications whatsoever. Healthy baby. Healthy mama. No NICU. No paralysis. No Foley catheter needed.
-FAST. I want this birth to be fast.
-No stalling.
-Lots of energy.
-Peace. I have a tendency to freak out mid labor and fear transition. I start to feel like a caged wild animal at that point. I don’t want to feel like that this time. I want to be peaceful, calm, and trusting.
-No knots in the cord.
-Theo to have a normal head size and weight (anything under 10 lbs).

Right around 39 weeks, I was 2.5 cm dilated and my OB asked if I’d like her to strip my membranes. I was certain it would work. That’s what had worked with Mae. So naturally…I was afraid to have it done because in my mind, it would bring on labor. Was I ready? I still felt afraid. I ended up telling her to make the call…LOL. She did it, and I left the appointment…anxious.

Then nothing happened.

Benji kept wanting to go walk and I would tell him I didn’t want to because I was afraid labor would start. He would tease me and tell me it’s going to happen eventually, so why not just get it over with. I eventually gave in and decided to go walk on a Wednesday. The membrane strip hadn’t brought any contractions on, so I didn’t anticipate that walking would do anything either.

While we were walking around the circle, I talked to Benji a bit about my fears regarding this birth. By the end of the conversation, I had decided to get an epidural this time. It was a pretty huge decision, as I had never actually gone into a birth planning to get one. It had always just happened once the pain/fear/fatigue became too great for me to handle. I told him that I didn’t want to labor without one, and that I wanted to feel happy and relaxed during my birth. I told him that I was going to get the epidural and just trust God that no complications would arise from it. I felt peace immediately. I had my first set of regular contractions later that night.

I’ll spare you the deets on Wednesday through Saturday. In a nutshell, I had contractions on and off that kept me awake every night, and would fizzle out by morning. I was woken up at 1AM on Saturday with contractions. I tried to sleep through them, but they were coming every 4-10 minutes, and I was feeling jittery. I hopped in the bathtub then eventually decided to clean the house since I couldn’t sleep. I thought these would be the ones that would lead to Theo’s birth, but just like the others, they too fizzled out at sunrise. I was exhausted and beyond pissed. I was moody all day and I cried a few times. I was scheduled to work from 12a-6p and I just didn’t know how I would make it through my shift being so tired. I was starting to wonder if perhaps Theo was posterior and that’s why my contractions were being weird.

My contractions returned about halfway through my shift. They were irregular and not too close together, so I decided to work through them. When my shift was over, I decided to do a round of Miles Circuit  to see if I could get my contractions to regulate. They didn’t, but they did start to hurt more. I started to feel shaky and like I needed to at least get checked. I felt certain that I was not really in labor because my contractions weren’t coming at regular intervals and were still far apart, but something in me needed to go. I texted my mom to see if she’d come stay with the kids:

img_0970

She and my sister came and arrived close to 10pm. I felt really bad because I thought it would be a pointless trip for them. I kept making jokes that we’d be home soon, and my mom told me she doubted it. She thought I would be further along than I thought I was and that they would keep me.

Benji and I left and headed to the hospital. On the way, we joked about how we had stopped by Redbox when I was in labor with Emrist. Everything felt so surreal. I was having flashbacks to the year prior, when I had been laboring with Mae. My contractions had slowed with Mae, so we went for a walk at Naomi’s house to bring them back on. My contractions were stopping this time too. I had maybe two on the way to the hospital, and I considered stopping for a walk to bring them back on again. We got off of our exit, and I told Benji to forget the walking. I was grateful for the break, and I really just wanted to know how dilated I was. If I wasn’t far enough along, I’d just go back home and hopefully get a good night’s sleep!

We arrived and went straight through triage. There were hardly any cars in the parking lot. I would later find out that I was one of only two people in labor that night – AWESOME! By this point, I was having no contractions at all. I started to feel a little embarrassed for insisting on coming to the hospital. The nurse checked me once we got settled in our room and informed me that I was 5 cm dilated. WHAT? Mom was right! I was in shock. I asked the nurse if she was sure and I told her “no freaking way!” when she said yes.  Joy filled me, and for the first time in probably nine months, the fear completely left my body.

The nurse asked if I was planning to get an epidural. I wasn’t contracting or in any pain, so it felt a little weird to say yes, but I did. In the past, I’ve always been panicky before getting the epidural. I would get to a point where the pain and just moving forward was scary for me. I would freak out and insist on getting an epidural at that point. And then I’d have to wait. That wait was always horrendous for me. Knowing that more contractions were coming. Dreading them, curling my toes and fighting against them. Ugh…I honestly hate those moments from my other births. But this time was so different. I never had that panicky/fearful/painful moment. I got the epidural before I was in pain. I wondered at the time if it was too soon, but I just decided to move forward in total confidence that God would work everything out perfectly.

The epidural was placed around 02:00 AM and Benji and I went to sleep.

img_0395
He will probably kill me for posting that!

Not much happened between 02:00 AM and 07:30 AM. I slept off and on. I was so excited that it was hard for me at times. At one point, a nurse came in and laughed at Benji being out cold. She said God knew that men would be the ones fighting wars and sleeping in ditches, so he designed them to be able to sleep anywhere and through anything. We had a good laugh over that.

My wonderful, beautiful, amazing OB came by around 07:30 AM. My contractions had returned…somewhat. They were still pretty weak and irregular, so I assumed I’d still be camped out around 5 cm. To my amazement,  I was 7 cm. JLo broke my water and said Theo would be here by noon. I looked at the clock and was so grateful to only have maybe five hours left before I met my impossible baby. JLo said they would put me on the peanut ball (you can read more about the peanut ball in Mae’s birth story) and she would come back by in a bit to check on me.

HUGE SIDENOT/SHOUTOUT:  I had a birth photographer for this birth. I almost didn’t have one. Back in the spring, I had decided to hire Aubrie with Hello Baby to take pictures. I’ve always put Benji in charge of capturing our births, but this time, I wanted him to just be able to be present. Unfortunately, we had a TON of things happen over the summer including, but not limited to, car wrecks, car breakdowns, sicknesses, and hospital stays, that made hiring a birth photographer not a responsible decision once August rolled around. I wrote Aubrie and told her we wouldn’t be able to move forward with using her because of our finances. I had made a non-refundable deposit to her back in the spring and I anticipated losing that. She is friends with me on Facebook and had seen all that we had been through. She was so very gracious to me and returned it in full. I was shocked and so touched. It was a huge blessing for us. Around the same time, I talked to a friend of mine whose sister had had a VBA2C over the summer. She had photographed her birth and was interested in getting into birth photography. Her name is Morgan, and she runs Photos By Moe. She graciously agreed to step in and take photos for me for practically nothing and a little LuLaRoe on the side 😛 It was just incredible how God worked it all out, and I’m so so thankful because I have some truly amazing photos that I’ll cherish forever from this birth.

Okay, back to the story.

 The hospital staff had told me to text my photographer around 7 cm. I texted Morgan at 07:31 AM. She arrived at 08:07 AM. Not long after that, the nurse put me on the peanut ball. She told me that if I started to feel any pressure, to let her know, and she would check me. Otherwise, she would check me every two hours. I don’t know how long I was on that ball, but it wasn’t long before I started to feel weird in my nether regions. I had the epidural, so I wasn’t sure of what I was feeling. I just knew it felt different. I sheepishly requested that the nurse come back in to check me. I always stall at 6-7 cm, so I really thought I was wasting this poor nurse’s time having her recheck me just minutes after my last check. But no…her fingers bumped into Theo’s head. I felt it. She told me I was complete and ready to push. Holy. Hell. YOU ARE JOKING! Again…complete and utter shock.

Morgan caught the moment:

14317540_1199160226808382_4590189865657810345_n

The nurse is busy telling me that Theo’s head is right there and I’m busy laughing because there’s just no way that’s true. I mean…that was my face for the entire birth! Everything just seemed too crazy to be true. IMPOSSIBLE.

Everyone came back into the room and started to get ready. I just kept laughing and saying no way and SHUT UP. Morgan told me later that as everyone was getting dressed and ready, she could see Theo’s head already starting to emerge. Insanity.

My contractions were still irregular and not close together, but it seemed like my body was doing it’s thing regardless. Everyone got into position. The overhead lamp was turned on, and I remember that it felt very warm and comforting. We talked about turning my dance mix on that I had playing during Mae’s birth, and laughed that there hadn’t been enough time for it this birth. My feet were placed in the stirrups. I wiggled my toes around every second that I got to insure that I could still move them. Everything felt so fast…and fun. There were so many smiles in the room, and I think mine was probably the biggest one of them all. I was getting the fast birth that I had prayed for! We started to push, and it seemed that as quickly as we started, we were finished. I pushed three times before I felt a pop…which I think must have been her head coming out. She was here. 08:36 AM. Twenty-nine minutes after Morgan arrived. One hour after being told I was at 7 cm. It was amazing. And so beautiful. I was in total and complete shock! Morgan captured that moment too, and it’s one of my favorite pictures of all time:

img_0405

JOY.

14322438_1200065980051140_4380738465776396930_n

When they placed her on me, it was just incredible. She had the thickest, darkest hair…and it was slicked down with vernix. She was gorgeous!

14333557_1201661666558238_2463041317516243209_n

I feel like the whole theme of this birth was just shock and surprise.

14333089_1202379109819827_6638048951509721435_n

I mean…I laughed the entire time because THIS COULD NOT BE HAPPENING. Even the pregnancy itself. Everything was impossible, from the moment of conception, to the moment of her birth! She was 7 lbs 13 oz…yet another impossible thing, considering that I usually have 9 lbers AND I carried Theo longer than any of the other three. God is just so so good. He went above and beyond to scream “I love you” to me through this whole thing…even while I was doubting Thomas.

Theo. My goodness…we love you so. I’m so glad you’re here. You were worth every bit of fear I had to fight to meet you. I can’t wait to see what you are going to do with your impossible life, baby girl! ❤

Theodora Paxton

FullSizeRender (5)

Yesterday we found out that we are having another girl! THREE daughters, y’all. Harper had told me the day before that he would be happy if it was another girl, but that he’d still complain because that would mean “the girls win!” As you can see from the picture, he didn’t complain one bit. I love the look of delight on his face. Such a sweetheart!

Theodora Paxton. We picked the name out weeks ago. We actually even had the same name for boy (Theodore). This was probably the easiest time we’ve had picking out a baby name. I remember driving one day and I heard the name Theodore. I decided to look it up when I got home and found that it meant “divine gift”. Well…if that’s not appropriate for this impossible baby, then I don’t know what is! I talked to Benji about it, and surprisingly he was on board. I say “surprisingly” because we usually disagree on all the namez. Haha!

He was reading a book he liked at the time, and told me he wanted to use the main character’s name for the middle name. Paxton. I thought it was cute and so it was decided: Theodore or Theodora Paxton. I didn’t even look up the meaning of Paxton until a few days later. It was then that I discovered we had unintentionally named our baby “divine gift of peace”. I believe with every fiber of my being that this child will indeed be a divine gift of peace. I cannot wait to meet her!

All of our kids have nicknames, and this little jewel will be no different. We are going to call her Theo, after my great grandmother.

IMG_9929

She was a strong, but gentle woman. Sweet, caring, and kind. She loved children. She loved everybody, really. She was an amazing quilt maker and cook. My favorite thing about her was her ability to stop and take the time to teach you something. She never viewed you as an annoyance. If you wanted to learn something from her, she would teach you, and she would do so with patience. She taught me how to cook and sew. She was such a strong presence in my childhood. She and my great grandfather, Frank, were the rock of our family. Their marriage was decades-long, and so solid. They were lifelong partners and had four children together. They were in love until the day they died. And I mean that. They were IN LOVE. They served each other, spoke to each other with kindness, and smooched  ❤

1918083_187992371771_2082361_n

38798_456937255476_6183264_n

40491_461091530476_3285202_n

#RelationshipGoalz

Mamaw Theo had so many qualities that I want my children to possess. Harper, our first, shares her birthday. And I love that our last will share her name. I hope this means she’ll inherit those quilt-making skills and make me some beauties to keep me warm in about 20 years 🙂

Thyroid Cancerish

Hola. People ask me on a regular basis about my thyroid removal surgery, and I figured this would be the easiest way to update everyone.

A little background for anyone who may be checking in for the first time. I have a multinodular goiter. Translation…my thyroid is full of nodules and enlarged. Thyroid nodules are actually quite common and are usually no big deal. Unfortunately, I have one that is humongo. Since it’s so big, it has the potential to be or become cancerous. With that being the case, I’ve been having yearly biopsies on this one nodule since 2014 to keep things in check. Removal of my thyroid has been an option for me all along, but I’ve had some very strong feelings about the potential complications (5% chance of voice box paralysis + the potential to mess with my parathyroid, which would lead to an additional lifelong medication to take). Since my thyroid was still functioning, I just didn’t want to remove it and be on lifelong medication, unless it was absolutely necessary. There are a few reasons why, but mainly…I don’t want my hormone levels to be in someone else’s hands, I don’t want to actually take medication everyday (I’m lazy), and for women in particular, taking daily Synthroid for years, can lead to things like osteoporosis, etc. So that’s why I signed up for tracking the nodule instead of completely removing my gland.

My first biopsy came back benign, and NONE of the nodules have grown since we’ve been tracking them. This is a good sign, and I assumed it meant my biopsy for this year would be coming back clean too…however, that didn’t happen. In early January, I unexpectedly found out I was having ANOTHER baby (#irishtwins). It was so beyond unplanned…you can read about that here. Two days after that shock, I got another shock…my biopsy had come back as “suspicious”. They could neither confirm, nor deny cancer. I’ve since learned that when the nodule came back uncertain, they tested my genes. My genes are what came back positive for thyroid cancer, which is why they labeled my biopsy as “suspicious”. Since I have the genetic trait for thyroid cancer, and my nodule is “suspicious”, my endocrinologist recommended complete removal of the gland ASAP.

When I met with him, it was a haze. I was upset and reeling from the phone call, so I didn’t ask many questions. I just remember him really pushing for the surgery while pregnant, and telling me that it would be no big deal for the baby as long as I waited until the second trimester. I also remember him getting snippy with me because I couldn’t process the plan of action he wanted me to take. He went ahead and prescribed my daily lifelong meds, sent me for an ultrasound of my lymph nodes, and referred me to a surgeon (Dr. B).

A few weeks later, I met with the surgeon. I liked him from the start…especially when he told me that I was a busy lady after finding out I was pregnant again (I mean..y’all know how my sense of humor is LOL). His plans seemed to line up with my endocrinologist’s plans. We would remove my thyroid once I was in my second trimester. He wanted to speak with my OB first though. He instructed me to give her an envelope from him, and after they spoke, his surgery coordinator would call me and we would schedule the surgery.

There was a bit of phone tag that ended up happening between them, so a few weeks passed before they were actually able to speak. After they finally got in touch with one another, my OB messaged me on Facebook to let me know that Dr. B was going to do some more research and speak with my endo again, and then he would get in touch with me. When I read her message, my heart leapt because to me…it sounded like Dr. B might be changing his mind on the surgery.

When his coordinator finally contacted me, she said they wanted me to come back into the office to meet with Dr. B. This confirmed what I was feeling, and I started earnestly praying for it.

I should make a sidenote here and tell you all that in my heart, I do not feel like I have cancer. I can’t explain it other than to say it’s just a gut feeling I have. However, I’m trying to be wise because I know I’m human and my gut feelings aren’t always right (they are most of the time…but obviously not 100% accurate). My plan of action thus far was to be at peace and to just follow the recommendations of my doctors. I decided to trust that God would change things, if they needed to change. And that’s why I just wanted ONE expert to advise me to wait 🙂

My appointment with Dr. B was yesterday. Benji arranged to be off of work, so that we could process any new information together, and my mom watched the kids, so that we could be 100% focused.

My prayers were answered when we finally spoke to him. He informed me that he had done quite a bit more research, and had spoken to his mentor at UAB, who performs the most thyroid surgeries of anyone in the state. He explained the biopsy results to us a bit more and said that my “suspicious” result with my genetic traits only translates into a 40% chance of me actually having thyroid cancer. With that being the case, and since pregnancy hormones don’t generally affect the thyroid, he recommended waiting until after I deliver the baby to have it removed. But it didn’t end there! He also informed me that he would only want to take out the side that contains the nodule. What this means is that if they take that side out, and it’s not cancer, I get to keep the other half, which *should* be able to function and produce enough hormone to prevent me from being on lifelong meds. Of course, that also means that if the nodule is cancerous, I’ll have to have a second surgery, but like I said above…I feel in my gut that I don’t have cancer, so this is just an AMAZING option for me!

I am just so over the moon excited. I mean…God removed ALL of my concerns in one appointment! I hadn’t even prayed about one of those concerns (being on lifelong meds) because I didn’t think I had any other option. I thought it was just one of those things that just is what it is. I’m so relieved for this new route I get to take!

So for now, the plan of action is to have my thyroid removed in October sometime. We will be having a thyroid ultrasound sometime in the next week or two just to be sure the nodule is stable in size and pregnancy isn’t making anything grow. If it hasn’t grown, we can be reassured that waiting is the right decision 🙂

Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers over the past couple of years! This has been an interesting journey to say the least!

And because I feel the need to have a picture with every post, here’s a comparison shot so you can see how big I am with Theo in comparison to Mae…

FullSizeRender (4)

Whoa buddy. And I’m actually 16 weeks now. HUGE. #4thbabyprobs

Epilogue

IMG_9473

This showed up in my Facebook feed yesterday. I doubled over laughing when I saw it because it’s exactly what my life looks like right now.

Most of our close friends and family already know this, but Benji had a vasectomy back in December. We had been considering it the whole time I was pregnant with Mae, but after the leg/bladder fiasco following her birth, we knew for sure it was the route we wanted to take. I love having children…we both do, but I HATE being pregnant…with a passion.

After Mae was born, we talked extensively about the fact that we may still want more children later on, but at the moment we were maxed out, both financially, and on attention we could give to each child. We decided that since we were currently maxed out, and since I’m fertile myrtle, but never wanted to be pregnant again, Benji would go ahead and get a vasectomy. Since we weren’t sure if we were technically “done” with children, we talked about fostering later on, perhaps when the kids were all in school. It seemed like a win/win situation and it felt like the right thing to do.

Even though it was likely years down the road, I was excited about the thought of fostering. I went through all of our baby clothes three weeks ago (to get rid of them!) and absentmindedly started pulling pieces to save just in case we ever had another baby in our home. That’s when I realized just how badly I wanted to eventually foster.  The thought of it warmed my heart, and honestly….kept me from crying while getting rid of the clothes that Mae had outgrown!

Then last Tuesday, my friend April sent me this text:

IMG_9452

When I got it, I just smiled…hoping again that our family would look like that one day. Little did I know that while I was hoping our family would eventually look like this through fostering, God had something entirely different in store for us.

This past Saturday, after days of feeling extremely tired and sick and thinking maybe I had diabetes or cancer, I found out that I was actually pregnant.

Pick yourself up off the floor and continue reading.

Phew. Yes. I am pregnant. And I’m just going to be honest here…I’ve been feeling the need to defend myself to everyone because I have a four month old and in the world’s eyes this is irresponsible. And truthfully, it’s a little embarrassing too. But Benji and I literally did everything right to not get pregnant. We used condoms every time. Every time! I’m breastfeeding. My cycle never returned. HE HAD A FREAKING VASECTOMY. The only thing we can conclude is that God must really want this baby to be here.

I saw my OB on Monday. It just so happened that I had my yearly exam scheduled for that day. She was able to do a physical exam and determined that I am already 8-9 weeks along. Good Lord. I will have a dating ultrasound this Friday and will know more then. My hCG levels looked great, but my progesterone was low, so I’m having to take progesterone pills until I hit 12 weeks. I just can’t even believe I’m talking like this again.

The fact that this baby is impossible has actually brought me a great measure of peace over the past few days. I’ve always wanted four children. ALWAYS. However, Benji and I aren’t loaded, so if we had done or planned this ourselves, I would be so immensely worried about how we would make it work. Right now, that’s not even on my radar. I don’t have to figure all of that out. God made this happen, and I believe he will cause everything else to fall into place. He’s good like that.

I’m reminded of Harper’s story. You can read that here: Harp’s story. God is good, y’all. He is. He loves us so much!

I am excited…and thrilled…and still in absolute shock. This is an amazing miracle!

I’ve been watching this over and over again because it’s exactly how Benji and I reacted and it makes me laugh:

Poor Benji didn’t even want me to test because he said I was being paranoid and it was impossible. Hahahaha!

I’ve been getting some pretty great responses to the news…and because I love my friends, and want to remember their responses, I’m going to share a few here. Sorry, guys.

IMG_9476

IMG_9478

I love you, Rodney. Thanks for making me laugh and for always saying what everyone else is thinking! ❤

And then there’s my BFF’s reaction

IMG_9509

I had to cross my response out because my language was a bit…over the top. I was still in the shock phase and the eff word was flying. But Stacey’s response was too good not to share. So…there.

I love my friends.

So yeah. There’s that. I’m pregnant. And since Mae missed the school cut off by one day, she and this two baby will be in the same grade once school starts! HA.

But wait…I have some more news to share!

My endocrinologist called me two days ago and asked me to come into his office. My biopsy results came back and were “suspicious”. They could neither confirm nor deny cancer, so they are recommending complete removal of my thyroid ASAP. Since I am pregnant, I will have to wait until the second trimester to have the surgery. The doctor said the baby would be fine, but naturally…I’m still a little nervous.

They won’t know whether or not it’s cancer until after they take it out and test it. If it IS cancer, thyroid cancer isn’t super aggressive, so I can wait to do radiation and all that jazz until after the birth. Phew.

So…basically this blog is just me dropping huge bombshells on everyone and asking for prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

Please know that I’m okay. That’s the question I’ve been asked the most over the past few days…are you okay? I am SO okay. I really am. Yes…it’s a lot to process. And I’m definitely still in shock that I’m here…but I’m also finding great humor in it. God knows that I love a good joke and surprise. I feel so loved by Him and I have peace that this will all work out. With the thyroid stuff, I feel that they’ll remove it and it won’t even be cancer. That’s just what I feel in my gut. So I haven’t even been worried about the stuff that will follow. My main hibby jibby right now is having surgery on my neck. I have neck phobia…and surgery phobia. Not to mention I’m pregnant. It’s just such a weird situation to be in! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

So, besides prayer, any positive stories you can share with me would be greatly appreciated. I’ve already heard a few encouraging stories of pregnant woman having this done, and it just helps to hear those things! The more I hear, the better!

Thanks, and sorry for the shock! Ha.

 

The Pensieve, 2015 Edition

2016-01-01 19.10.56

As usual, I’m posting our favorite memories from our memory jar to my blog. Also as usual, I’m pretty tired (New Years + kids…am I right?), so I won’t be saying too much. This is really just for me so that I can go back each year and have quick visual of our favorite memories. This is our fourth year with the memory jar, and I really love it. I’m thankful for Pinterest giving me the idea! With each passing year, the kids become more involved and it’s such a wonderful tradition to share with them as we start out a brand new year.

If you’d like to look at our memories from years past, you can view them here:

2014
2013
2012

And here are the favorites from this year, in order by date:

  • We drove to Tuscaloosa to work on the house. We spent our drive
    picking out baby names. It took a while, but we settled on two that we like: Mabel Ivy or Moses Silas 🙂 01/02/2015
  • Me, Grace, and Sarah told the family we were pregnant. Paw Paw Joe made us laugh because he said he’d have to write all the dates down to remember. Granny Gayle was SO excited and so loud! ❤ 01/10/2015
  • I got to hold Harper while he was sleeping. 02/24/2015
  • Harper told me that when he grows up, he wants to be a flower for me. 03/06/2015
  • Harper went on his first hike with daddy. Emrist was scared and asked if we would hold her on the mountain, so we took her later. 03/25/2015
  • Emrist told me that when Mae comes out of my belly she wants to give her her blue blankie. 05/13/2015
  • Harper felt Mae kick for the first time. She was active so I told him to sit and watch her move. She stopped, of course! He asked if he could feel her. When he put his hand there, she kicked. His eyes got wide and he said “was that Mae?!” It was so sweet! He read her a book after that – Knuffle Bunny. 05/30/2015
  • I gave Harper a broken music box to play with. He brought it back to me fixed. 07/14/2015
  • 12:41 PM. Mabel Ivy Martin was born. She was calm and warm when she entered the world. Very alert. We got to spend our first hour along. It was so lovely. 09/02/2015
  • Mae burped and Harper said “Look! She’s learning to burp like us!” 10/12/2015
  • (Harper’s memory): Mommy got me to help a lady at Target. She was locked out of her car. I climbed through her trunk and unlocked her door. She called me her hero. 12/06/2015

 

The end.

An update for the ages

So I’ve been kind of slacking on the kid updates lately. We had Mae’s one month check up, and I had planned on writing about where she was and what she was doing, but I never got around to it. Now we’ve passed her two month checkup, and still…no blogging from me. Poor, poor baby #3. But you know what…not really. Because guess who else hit a big number that I didn’t write about. Harp! He turned five and I said nothing. I’m just dropping the ball left and right, y’all.

Today, I’m biting the bullet and writing about all my kids. That’s right. ALL THREE. Em has a birthday in less than a month, so I figured why not knock all three out in one post? Let’s just be honest…you know I’m not going to blog again for another 2-3 months anyways. So yeah. All. Three.

THE OLDEST BABY:

12031455_10153618974456772_2406736322911526727_o

Sigh. He’s so big. I still can’t believe he’s five. That went by way too fast. I keep thinking…two more of those, and he’ll be driving. What? It makes me a little sad. I often wonder how I’ll even get to the point where I can let go enough to let him drive. JESUS. Guess I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

My little man is an absolute sweetheart. He always has been. I joke that he must be Benji as a child, because he certainly doesn’t take after me. He’s just way too sweet…and WAY too easy! Haha. He’s so generous. He loves giving gifts. If you’re close to us, chances are you’ve received one of his gifts. He’s always giving his stuff away to his friends AND my friends. I just love it! Sweet. Heart.

He’s still very mechanical minded. He loves taking things apart and seeing how they work. We actually had to hide Benji’s screwdriver recently because we walked into a room to find him unscrewing Mae’s carseat with it. Umm…yes. For real. His obsession with windmills, fans, motors, rotors, and turbines continues. I think we’re going on four years of that now. He actually asked me for a turbine for his birthday this year. His brain fascinates me. I can’t wait to see the things he will do when he grows older.

Some of his favorite foods at the moment are tacos, apples, pretzels, carrots, and cheese. He still, to this day, has not touched a condiment. He will NOT touch sauces, and it’s quite hilarious. He eats all day every day – I call him a garbage disposal – but somehow never gains any weight. It’s like magic. He’s been 40 lbs for about two years now and I can’t keep any pants on him because his waist is so small. I’ve been contemplating buying suspenders here recently because his butt is always out and about saying hi to folks. Harp likes to tell people he’s got “no gut, no butt” thanks to my Uncle David (it’s actually supposed to be “all gut, no butt” but we adapted it for Harp)! LOL.

THE MIDDLE BABY:

12191371_10153624136546772_6688581316552949089_o

Now this little girl DOES take after me. If we ever thought Harper’s easy going and compliant nature was due to our awesome parenting skills, Emrist proved us wrong. LOL. She is super strong willed and stubborn. “Fierce” would actually be a good way of describing her, which is funny because that’s exactly what I prayed she’d be when she was in the womb. Well…I got what I asked for, and I love it! Yeah…parenting her isn’t always easy, but I think her passion and strong will are going to serve her well in the years to come and I’m excited about that. The biggest thing with her will be teaching her all the right and wrong places to direct that natural born stubbornness! 🙂

She is hilarious, and loves to make people laugh. She will be the class clown once she starts school…I can already tell. She feeds off of laughter. She is kind, compassionate, and very affectionate. When she addresses any of her family members, it is normally preceded by the word “my”. “My daddy, can you get me a cup?” Just like that. Even Harper, is “my Harper” to her. It’s adorable. She loves so deeply and is easy to love.

She’s a snuggler. She makes frequent requests throughout the day to sit on the couch and snuggle. At nap time, she wants to sleep with you, preferably holding your hand as she drifts away to sleepy land.

She’s very creative and has an active imagination. And once she is in character, she stays there…for a while! This has honestly been my favorite part of raising her. She loves to drape blankets across her shoulders, while pretending to be different superheros.

She is very adventurous with her eating. She’s adventurous  in everything really, but especially in eating. She’ll try anything, which is really strange for a toddler! Her favorite foods are green pea straws (she calls them pea fries), apples, bananas, yogurt, and sheep cheese. Her allergies are mostly under control at the moment – thank heavens!

She’s still very short for her age. The last time we measured her, she was in the 7th percentile for height. We know several children who are a good deal younger than her, that are taller than her. This trait could be coming from my mom’s side of the family, but I’m planning to have her thyroid levels checked next month just to be sure nothing is going on with that, since it runs in my family.

THE LAST BABY:

11700957_10153609102361772_7081622503674789925_o

God-willing, she’s our last. Not that I wouldn’t love another baby. I definitely would. But I never want to be pregnant, ever again! Just sayin’!

Okay. Enough about me. Let’s talk about this little doll. She was 9 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches at birth. At her two month check up, she was 12.12 lbs and 23.75 inches long. 90th percentile across the board, and her head size was actually in the 99th percentile. LOL. She’s following in Harp’s & Em’s footsteps, for sure! #waldropjug

So far, she has been an easy baby. She wakes up once at night and usually only cries if she is hungry or tired. She started sucking her thumb last week, and since that time, life with her has gotten even easier. During the day, she usually stays awake for 40-60 minutes at a time, and then naps for 2 hours afterwards. She puts herself to sleep, which is awesome. She’s taking about 3-4 ounces at each feeding. Harp and Em were super chunky by this age, but since Mae is so long, she doesn’t have very many rolls. She may be my first nonchunky baby. I’m going to have to feed her grease or something to change this 😉

She’s very smiley and talkative. I think she’ll be an early talker, just like her big sister. She’s already trying to copy and mimic the noises we make when we talk to her – that’s something Em started doing at about two months of age as well. She likes her playmat and has figured out how to roll over onto her side. She has also made the connection that if she kicks the poles on the mat, the toys will move around in the air, so there’s lots of kicking and flailing about from her when she’s on it.

She’s is an absolute joy. I can’t wait to see what kind of personality she will have. So far, she looks a lot like Em, but she acts just like Harp did at this age. I guess only time will tell us who she really is ❤

Vaginal Birth vs. Cesarean – Which One Was Better?

I have been asked this question several times since Mae’s birth. I decided pretty early on that I wanted to blog my thoughts on it, but it has taken a few weeks. Honestly, while I want to talk about it, I’m a little afraid to do so. I don’t want people to get the impression that I think one type of birth is superior to the other. Or that someone should get more awesome-sauce points for bringing a baby into the world a certain way. Or that birth is, in any way, shape, or form, a competition.

So this is my disclaimer. And it’s kind of long:

I am a supporter of any type of birth that insures the health of both the baby AND the mother. The physical health of our babies is very important…DUH. But the emotional and physical health of mothers is important too!

Unfortunately, the emotional well-being of mothers is often overlooked when it comes to bringing babies into the world. And it seems that when moms do suffer birth trauma and try to talk about it, more times than not, they’re met with “a healthy baby is all that matters” or some other similar line.

I’ve actually experienced this several times myself via comments made in person and on my blog posts expressing disappointments in my births.

Regarding that sentiment, I’m just going to leave this here 🙂

“Many women, on telling stories of how they felt abused or traumatized during birth — or some other negative feeling, like having failed as a woman after having a C-section, or something — have their feelings dismissed with, ‘at least you have a healthy baby.’ While there is certainly a place for looking for the ‘silver lining’ in the midst of any cloud, no matter how dark, there is also a place for just putting your arm around somebody’s shoulders and ‘weep with those that weep, and mourn with those that mourn.’ Dismissing a woman’s feelings does not help her — if anything, it only makes her feel worse, because then she has the added guilt of not being able to ‘just be happy’ that her baby is healthy. Certainly she is happy that her baby is healthy… but can she not also be sad that it came at the cost of severe bodily trauma? — Especially if she is fairly certain that the C-section or whatever else that she endured during birth, was in fact not necessary for her baby to have been born healthy and well.”

healthy-baby-apple

(Photo and Quote Source)

I am not a fan of that line, so please don’t use it on me, or any other person expressing sadness over their birth experience. Please, and thank you.

So…I am a supporter of whatever kind of birth a mom wants: C-section. Medicated vaginal birth. Unmedicated vaginal birth. Homebirth. Whatevs, man. Do whatcha gotta do to be healthy and whole.

For me, that was attempting a natural vaginal birth, which turned into a medicated vaginal birth, after two (very) traumatic c-sections that left me feeling sad, among other things.

The pros and cons that I’ll be listing in this post are strictly my own. They aren’t meant to speak for anyone else’s birth experience 🙂

So without further ado, here they are:

C-section Pros: 
  • It was quick.
C-section Cons: 
  • I was left alone after the birth.
  • The room was cold, lonely, and sterile during the birth. I was afraid.
  • I was strapped to the table.
  • I had to be put to sleep because I could feel the cutting.
  • I have no memory of meeting my Em.
  • With my Harp, I experienced a long wait time between the birth and actually getting to hold and breastfeed him.
  • I was never given the opportunity to have skin to skin immediately following the births.
  • My husband wasn’t allowed to cut the cord.
  • I had no involvement in the birth process.
  • I had a long recovery time and didn’t even begin to feel normal until 4-6 weeks postpartum.
  • The recovery was extremely painful and scary. I constantly felt like my incision would come apart.
  • I was unable to lift or pickup my newborn baby. When Em was born,this limitation was a nightmare because it meant I couldn’t pick up my baby OR my toddler.
  • Delayed cord clamping wasn’t allowed. Both babies experienced jaundice.
  • I experienced depression/anxiety for months following the births.
  • Both Em & Harp missed out on exposure to normal bacteria, which increases risk of allergies, etc.
Vaginal Birth Pros: 
  • I got to have immediate skin to skin.
  • I was able to breastfeed immediately following the birth.
  • The room was joyful and bright during the birth. I felt excited and happy.
  • I was given uninterrupted time with my baby afterwards – medical examinations, etc. were delayed until after the first hour had passed.
  • I was never left alone.
  • We got to do delayed cord clamping – Mae was my first baby not to be jaundiced.
  • I was able to take an active role in Mae’s birth and I delivered her with my own two hands.
  • My husband got to cut the cord.
  • Mae was exposed to normal bacteria, which is good for the gut.
  • I had a much shorter recovery time. Minus my leg complication, I felt normal at two weeks postpartum.
  • I had very little pain. The pain of my vaginal birth was like a skinned knee in comparison to my c-section pain. No competition.
  • I experienced a birth high, and was much more emotionally stable after birth.
  • So far, I have experienced no feelings of depression or anxiety. Admittedly, this could still come, although I’m hoping not.
Vaginal Birth Cons: 
  • Labor pain. Some people love it (or so I’ve heard). I am not one of those people.
  • Tearing. I had a 2nd degree tear, and while it wasn’t THAT bad…I’d still consider it a con haha.
  • I had to have a Foley catheter in for a week due to not being able to urinate (Mae “stunned” my bladder). This isn’t a “normal” complication, but according to my OB does happen occasionally.

So there are my pros and cons. I could probably come up with more if I sat and really thought about it, but this post is already long enough…so we will just leave it at this!

Which birth was better?

For me, the vaginal birth was WAY better. Even with my leg complication, it has still been so much easier than the recovery of both of my c-sections. Yes, I have been limping around for the past month, but I did that with both of my c-sections too. At least this time, I can pick up my babies and adequately care for them. And I can laugh without being in pain. Laughing is a big part of my life and you can’t laugh after a c-section. Seriously! I can also drive (I use my left foot) and ride in the car without fearing speed bumps (ouch!) – both things I couldn’t do for a long time after my c-sections.

BUT…while an easier physical recovery has definitely been a perk, the absolute best part of this whole experience has been that I just feel better emotionally. I feel like ME. I’m happy and energetic and just…my normal self. I feel amazing, and this is the first birth I’ve ever been able to say that about!

So for me, the vaginal birth was definitely the better one! HANDS DOWN.

The NICU

IMG_2253

The NICU. I never in a million years thought that I would experience it. My kids are all born huge, healthy, and pink. I always (subconsciously) had a false sense of security that because my babies are born big, they’d be safe from the NICU. I never even realized that this was my thought process until Mae ended up in the NICU.

She was born at 12:41 pm on a Wednesday. 9 lbs 3 oz, 20.5 inches long. BIG baby girl! ❤ She didn’t say much when she entered the world, but she “pinked up” just fine. She was quiet and observant. Benji and I actually didn’t even know what she sounded like for about 24 hours after her birth.

Her first night with us was interesting. She didn’t wake me up by crying. Instead, she would wake me up in 30-90 minute intervals by choking. I would quickly pick her up and then she would gag and subsequently projectile vomit (I guess you would call it vomiting?) clear fluid.  I had never experienced this with H or E, but I didn’t panic. I just figured she had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid in the womb and it was working its way out of her.

The day after her birth, we finally heard her cry for the first time. She was really fussy, unlike the day before. I thought maybe she was waking up and this was going to be her normal disposition. I kept her at the breast as much as I could, but she still fussed. Sometime around mid day, I noticed she was breathing rapidly. Her nurse came in for one of her checkups, and I shared my concerns with her, but she told me she thought it was just because Mae had recently been crying.

Later that afternoon, the nurse came in again for another checkup. This time, she noticed the rapid breathing for herself and told us that she needed to take Mae to Well Baby so that the pediatrician could examine her. Still in the “my babies don’t go to the NICU” mindset, I let her leave the room without much pomp and circumstance. I assumed that all would be well and they would return Mae within an hour.

Well…that didn’t happen. We were told a little while later that Mae was being sent to NICU for tachypnea (a fancy word for rapid breathing) and she would be getting a chest x-ray. They didn’t really tell us much beyond that, saying the doctor would fill us in later. At this point, I internally freaked out a bit. I actually type the neonatal chest x-rays for this particular hospital, and I knew that Mae would be getting crap-ton of x-rays if she were to stay in the NICU. Hello, radiation.

The doctor didn’t officially come to speak with me until about 11 PM. Once again, he didn’t give me any specific diagnosis…it was just a “she might have this, but we’re not sure so we’re monitoring her” kind of thing. He did tell me that they had taken blood cultures and had started antibiotics to go ahead and start fighting off any infection that might be there. He said her breathing was already headed in the right direction.

Having never had a NICU baby before, I kept waiting for them to call me to say I could come see her. By 8AM the next morning, I realized that obviously wasn’t going to happen. It had been about 14 hours since I had seen her so I started making calls myself <– apparently this is how the NICU works. You tell them when you want to go see the baby, not the other way around. No one ever communicated this to me, so I was clueless. I was pretty upset when I realized that I could have been in to see her all throughout the night.

The NICU told me I could come see her in about 30 minutes. I was still unable to walk at this point, and Benji had to work on this particular morning (you can read about that Here), so I had to call a nurse to wheel me down. That was real fun.

When I finally arrived, Mae was screaming. She hadn’t had anything to eat since the afternoon before. They had her on IV fluids, and at one point had had a feeding tube in her, but she had gotten mad and ripped it out. Though she was getting fluids, she was still hungry. A nurse was at her incubator with both arms inside trying to pat her down and calm her. Mae was on her belly, with her head to the side and she was violently kicking and flailing around. She was very hangry and was letting everyone know about it. She had a million wires coming out of her and she had a cannula in as well. As soon as I saw her, I fell apart and started sobbing. Every fiber of my being wanted to grab her up and hold her, but there was a giant plastic box and a nurse standing between us. Though I was staring right at her, it felt like she was a million miles away. It was a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling.

The nurse eventually put some sugar water on a pacifier and calmed her that way.  She told me I could put my hands through the arm holes of the incubator and touch her that way if I wanted. She left after that, and I just sat and cried. Every time I’d try to pull myself together, I’d start back up again. At some point, another nurse came over and just hugged me. She didn’t say a thing…she just hugged me while I cried. She eventually brought me a baby blanket to wipe my face with – she said they don’t even bother with Kleenex for the NICU parents. It made me laugh. It was such a kind gesture…and I feel horrible because I don’t even remember what she looked like, but I’ll still remember her forever.

One big blessing that came out of my “injury” was that they allowed me to stay in the hospital for one day longer. While I was in the hospital, I visited Mae as often as I could. By Friday, mid day, they had started allowing us to hold and bottle feed her. She was improving and they had removed her cannula. It left a horrible mark though:

IMG_2458

Being able to finally hold her was amazing!

IMG_2265

I was discharged on Saturday. The doctor who discharged me said that the room was mine until midnight, so I could stay as long as I needed to even though I had been discharged. I decided to stay until 5pm, so that I could feed her one last time before going home.

That last feeding was pretty terrible. I cried and cried and cried. Leaving her at the hospital just felt so wrong, and I felt very guilty. It may have helped if we had known when she’d be coming home with us, but the NICU was absolutely horrible about communicating with us. We still didn’t even have a diagnosis for her at this point and when we’d ask when she might come home, they’d basically just repeat their standards and procedures to us. The only time we got close to having an answer was when one nurse told us “Maybe by Wednesday” but even that wasn’t encouraging with the “maybe” in front of it.

The next two nights were difficult and lonely, to say the least. There should have been a sweet little baby right next to me at night, but instead, her bed was empty. I would sit and pat my flattened belly, while looking over to where she should have been, and I would play back all the times I had ever complained about being pregnant, my heart heavy with regret. I may have been uncomfortable, but at least she had been safe then. Now she wasn’t with us at all, and it just sucked.

Thanks to some amazing friends of ours who watched H & E for us practically all day on Sunday, we were able to spend a good portion of our day with her the next day. It was the best medicine! I got to breastfeed her for the first time since Thursday afternoon. She took right to it, like we had never been apart. I was relieved. There was a part of me that believed she wouldn’t know me anymore after all of this was over.

When we came back on Monday, they informed us that we could “room in” with Mae that night. This was music to my ears. Though they still hadn’t told us when she would be discharged, this was the step right before they discharge a baby from the NICU so we had a pretty good feeling it would be the next day!

I had originally planned on just doing the room in alone, but some of the nurses were treating me like an invalid since I had a catheter in and had to use a walker to get around. One had even hinted at Mae not being able to go home until I got well. This statement didn’t sit well with me. Not wanting anything to interfere with her coming home, I asked my friend Bekah if the kids could stay with her overnight so that Benji could come with me. I just wanted the nurses to see with their own eyes that we are a two person team, and Mae would be well cared for, in spite of my injury. So H & E had their first ever slumber party! Thanks Bekah!! ❤

The NICU “room in” closet (I won’t even call it a room) was apparently designed to only have one parent stay with the baby – why??? Who knows.

IMG_2312

It had one twin size bed, and then a crappy fold out chair across from it that was totally nonfunctional. Poor Benji got the worst night of sleep ever that night, I believe. He was a good sport about it, giving me the bed, and not letting me trade out with him, even though I offered to. He’s so sweet.

Mae did splendidly that night! She woke up at her feeding times, ate well, and went back to sleep. The last time that we had spent time with her alone (on Thursday), she had been extremely fussy so I assumed she would scream this night as well, but she didn’t.

The next morning, we were officially told that she could go home. We were so happy! Our family was finally going to be together. The doctor came by to discharge her around 11am. He informed us that she had really been kept “too long.” Yes…he admitted that. After three chest x-rays, one abdominal x-ray, and a round of antibiotics, it turned out that she never had an infection in the first place. All of her x-rays were clear. All of her blood work was negative. “Sometimes babies just do this” he told us. Nice. So my baby just went through hell – being poked and prodded constantly, exposed to radiation, not to mention being separated from her parents – all for nothing? Awesome. Thank you, Doctor. Given my stance on modern medicine, the overuse of antibiotics, and the horrible damage they can do to your body, etc. this honestly just pissed me off, but I decided not to focus on it. I decided to instead focus on the fact that we were finally going home and it was OVER.

IMG_2270

My friend Alexa made this for me to go with one of my birth affirmation cards ❤ RTR, y’all.

So we made it home. I told Benji when we left the hospital that I officially felt like Mae was ours. It just didn’t seem like she was while in the hospital. Anytime we tried to do “normal parenting” stuff, we had a nurse or doctor hovering over us…watching. It always felt like we were being judged on whether or not we were fit parents. Super weird experience.

And just because I have to document EVERYTHING. This is what Mae looked like when she got home:

IMG_2453

Seven sticks in her right foot

IMG_2457

Seven sticks in her left foot

IMG_2456

2015-09-07 20.07.54

One stick in each hand

So many boo-boos 😦 And she had another heel stick at the doctor last week, and SCREAMED…so now I can only imagine that she did the same for each of these 16 sticks. Breaks my heart.

But she’s home now…thank God. THANK GOD. And given her start to life, I’m finding it very hard not to spoil her. She’s going to get everything she wants from here on out. Mark my words 😉