Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A bit sad...

I started this blog way back in 2007 as a way to document our lives and as virtual baby books once we were blessed with those children.

I started learning photography in 2012 in order to have a better visual representation of our lives.

But somehow, along the way, life has gotten in the way of that.  And I seem to have completely abandoned that idea and moved to the idea of one-liner status updates on Facebook.  As I went back the other day to find some historical information on one of my kids, and couldn't find it on here, I was disappointed.  In myself.  For completely, seemingly going dark.

For all the moments and thoughts that I missed with Avery's pregnancy.  All those moments I missed documenting.  I have no real excuse, just the simple fact that I am overwhelmed with life and a lot of my creativity is sucked out in work projects.  I can't even blame photography any more, as once I got to a certain point in the pregnancy with Avery, I simply didn't have the energy or brain power to do that.

I miss capturing our life in words and images.  I don't know how to add that back into my life on a regular basis.  I only have so many hours in a day.  So, I guess, here's a little quick and dirty update.

E:

6 years old and in her first year of kindergarten.  Yes.  6.  And in kindergarten.


There were so many days over the years that I feared what this time would hold.  Would prematurity rear it's head again?  It was a bit of a rough beginning as she adjusted to the new schedule.  We had quite the attitude once she got home from school, but we think a large part of that was the unexpected drama surrounding her sister's birth and the fact that mommy wasn't home for 10 days.  But so far she has excelled, especially in math and science to her father's excitement.  Those who know me well, know math is not my strong suit.  :-D



And much to her father's and I surprise and pride, she has even won a "classy cat" award for kindness for being the first one to offer help, support, caring and concern for her classmates.  The surprise only comes from the fact we wish she showed this spirit at home...with her brother...

Her recent checkup had her at 36lbs and 3 feet 6 inches tall.  She continues on her curve for her height, but is dropping (again) on her weight.  For the 2nd year in a row she has dropped further down.  From her top of 11%, down to 9% at 5 years and now down to 4%.  Somehow, we have to get this kid to eat more.  In addition, speech has AGAIN become a concern.  She has consistently tested behind, but not significantly, since her release from early intervention.  She was recently re-tested by the school and from what it sounds, she will be starting speech services again.  The 1-2 punch for the preemie mom guilt...but I'm choosing to simply stick my tongue back at it and say "nah-nah."

Mature.  I know.


And then...

We have this one.



A:

From the day he was born, he has confounded us.  From colic, to climbing.  Now jumping and outright defiance.  And serious doses of independence.  After years of struggling to get the boy to potty train, he decided the best place to do so was at the very start of his first airplane ride.  Yes.  The boy potty trained on a plane.  Whatever works?  He has recently taken to dressing himself and we love it...just often find ourselves amused as he insists on putting his clothes on backwards and the wrong feet in the wrong shoe.  But hey.  At least he dressed himself. :-D



Luckily, mommy and baby sister returned home from the NICU the DAY before he went for his first day of preschool.  It seems to have been a non-issue in terms of adjustment for him and he is loving it.  His teachers have told us many times just how smart he is and how he is telling them of things they have not taught yet.  If only we could get the jumping under control....I don't know how the kid hasn't ended up in the hospital yet.

He is 3, almost 4 and outweighs his sister.  Not entirely surprising...  He loves "power engine turtles" (translation: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Optimus Prime and most recently...Power Rangers.  Sigh.  Side note...did anyone else notice Jennifer Garner was one of the Power Rangers?!



Last...but not least...the littlest A



Though her entrance to this world was far less than what was dreamed, she has been a dream baby.  Like her older sister, she has slept through the night from early on.  But also like her older sister, she is a peanut and on the slow side of the weight gain.  She's persevered through her own NICU stay, tongue and lip ties and corrections.  She's almost 3 months old and weighs 10lb 13oz.  Seems she is going to be a tall peanut.  She's finally started giving us full fledged smiles and even shown a mischievous side.  But most of her awake time is spent looking around and acting unimpressed by the shenanigans of her older siblings.


The older two absolutely adore her and E has decided being a big sister is a cool thing, instead of a drag.  She begs to help out sometimes and I feel so bad that I have to tell her no a lot.  Since she mostly wants to help feed her.  And, well, I can't let her do that or it's to my detriment haha.



Life is insanely busy - but overall satisfying.  I truly hope to be able to go back to capturing those little moments, especially as we are walking down the path of our absolute last baby.  These are the things we want to remember when we are old.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

PTSD

What is PTSD?





PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It's not always about war and the trauma that puts on our service men and women, which is what it is most commonly known for.  And while I am in no way saying their struggle is not important and shouldn't be getting the awareness that it does (because it deserves every bit of awareness and more) but there is more than one type of PTSD.




Sometimes PTSD reflects itself in more subtle ways.  The cacophony of beeps, cries and burps.  The sites of tubes down noses, wires, thermometers.  The measuring of bottles, diapers, weight.  The sights, the sounds, the smells.  Oh so familiar, in some ways comforting and in other ways gut wrenching.

PTSD is watching your youngest daughter walk the same path as your oldest, albeit to a much smaller degree.

PTSD is walking down those same, yet very different halls.  Knowing what you will find, you've been there before.  Hiding your tears and holding your head high.  And yet afraid of being sucked in again.






Sucked in by a need to know quantity in such a way that it consumes you.  Did she eat enough?  Is she warm enough?  Is she gaining weight? 

Eat, eat, eat.  Gain, gain, gain.

Can we not just go home?




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hanging by a Thread

Yesterday, I posted an article on my Facebook page about kindergarten applications requiring certain information upon registering their child for school.  One of which was a question about whether the child was vaginal or a c-section birth.  But others pertained to whether or not the child was premature, if the pregnancy was complicated (HA!  They need more than three lines of space for me), how premature, if the baby came home with you, etc.



http://www.kctv5.com/story/29435236/mom-concerned-about-question-on-west-hartford-school-forms

This post resulted in a lot of very HEALTHY conversations regarding this and my desire to not put in any of my daughters public records the circumstances of her birth.  (And please know, that those of you who will read this and participated in that conversation, you in NO WAY offended, hurt, disrespected me, etc and I appreciated each and every ones participation as it did give alternate points of view.)

But I realized this morning why it triggered such a negative response in me.  Because of the filter I viewed it through.

Which filter was that?  The one of mommy guilt.  The one that by having to mark that box yes screams to the world the scarlet letter on MY back that I failed her.  I failed her in so many ways. That there are problems that may still arise from my inability to keep her in.

And I just find myself asking WHEN.  When will we be past all of these potential pitfalls that may come her way?  When will I be able to stop worrying that I damaged her?  When can I lay down this scarlet letter?

Granted, I will never stop sharing her story as she is truly a miracle to me.  Such a happy, healthy, vibrant, intelligent miracle.  Who has shown me more strength in one tiny body than I thought was possible.  I am so proud of her and how well she has done.

But when can I stop looking ahead to try to stay on top of any potential problems as a result of circumstances she certainly didn't cause?

When can I just enjoy her for her and the miracle that she is?

When can I stop feeling like I need to defend myself from having to explain to the world why my body decided to prematurely eject the child from my womb despite every effort to keep her in?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The power in a day

Ask any preemie mom and they will tell you that just one day can make a huge difference.  The difference between life or death.  The difference between the medical community fighting for your child or not.  The difference in the length of a NICU stay.  The difference in the long term outcome of that child.

We wear those days on our shirts like a badge of honor.  Even subsequent pregnancies is not just a birth day - but a gestational age. 


Elisa was 29 weeks 1 day when she was born.  Aidan was 37 weeks.

That 1 day is important.  Because it was one day longer I held on and kept her in.  It's almost for me a sign of just how much more I tried to kick prematurity (and pre term labors) butt.


I shot this yesterday at 29+1.  To celebrate this victory.  I don't need artists renditions of what this one looks like at this point in her development.

I watched it in person.






But every day now is a victory.  A victory against prematurity.  A victory that I've made it this far.  I can't say it's the longest I've ever been pregnant.  But it's the longest I've gone without symptoms of pre-term labor (we won't count Wednesday's episode of contractions every 2-3 min since I was already in the hospital for a headache ;) - but even then, at 28+5, that was the longest I'd made it in either before having to go to L&D).

I watched her grow from this point on until now.  Showing prematurity that it's just a word, not a definition.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Curse you, triggers.

That come out of left field.  With no known rational trigger.


I'm 27 weeks and 2 days with this baby girl.  It's not even a big "milestone" day.  By this point with Elisa, I was "stable" and just cruising towards my first goal of 28 weeks.  We were settled into what was going to be our "permanent" home until I delivered at 37 weeks, and had settled into our pattern of regular contraction monitoring and NSTs.

So I have no idea why, in the first few songs of church this morning, I was suddenly confronted with image after image of that room.  And confronted so strongly with an unrelenting slideshow that so overtook my eyes I could no longer see the room around me.

This is my Father's world
Oh let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet
This is my Father's world
Why should my heart be sad
Read more: Gungor - My Father's World Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

It wasn't until these words cut through the haze of images that I was able to take a deep breath and begin to return myself to the reality of where I am NOW, not where I once was.

Sometimes, I think of how much of a miracle it is that I am actually here.  After losing two pregnancies before finally getting pregnant with Elisa, and then her sudden, dramatic (yes, and traumatic) entrance into this world, I find it a miracle that I ever found it in me to try again.  Once.  

Much less twice.

Photo courtesy of Wolfinger Photography

And yet, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  These two, soon to be three, are my world. And though they take my sanity, my energy, my lifeblood, they are worth every second.

I don't know that I will ever truly be able to put into words the mixture of emotions I go through with every pregnancy.   Especially in those moments when I'm there...but not really there and in those moments in the past.  It seems like every moment in my pregnancy is a reminder of something.  And as much as I try to live in today and for today, those moments seem to forever define my pregnancies.


And so I take each day as it comes.  And be thankful for each and every day that passes by and she's still in there.  The misery, the pain, the exhaustion.  Every moment will be worth it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hope

Maybe it's a part of healing.  Maybe it's hormones.  Who the heck knows.  But this.  This song spoke to me.

There's a light I still see it
There's a hand still holding me
Even when I don't believe it
I might be down but I'm not dead
There's better days still up ahead

Even after all I've seen.  There is hope in front of me.

Hope.  The one thing I clung to all these years.  The one thing that has never gone away.

There's a hand still holding me.  Even when I don't believe it.


Life has knocked me down many times in my 34 years.  But it hasn't killed me yet.  And as long as that is the case, I will keep getting up.  And I will keep moving forward.

There's a hope in front of me.  There's a light and I still see it.  Even after all I've seen, there is still hope in front of me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Anthem

I put this video together over a year now and was reminded of it as I drove to my 25 week appointment and the song I used came on the radio.

This song, from the moment I heard it, was Elisa's anthem.  And no matter where I stand with my faith in God, still is my anthem.  God moved mountains with her.  God showed me that impossible IS just a word, through her.

I don't know why I've never shared it before.  I put it together for the preemie support group Elisa's NICU invited me to talk in when we went back.  It just seemed fitting that I share it now.  As Elisa starts her first days of pre-kindergarten.  And I am just a week away from the moment my life changed forever - 26 weeks, 3 days will always be a milestone in my pregnancies.


video



Song credits: Kutlass - That's What Faith Can Do
Poem: author is unknown - I found it in one of my preemie groups.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Broken

****Seriously, what is up with these hormones.  3 posts in a week?  So much of my creative juices have been wrapped up in life, I guess they are starting to ooze out again.****


"Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete 
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I'll bring mine 
Could healing still be spoken and save us 
The only way we will last forever is broken together." - Casting Crowns






Yesterday, I heard this song on the radio.  Now, I've heard it before, but never had I had the opportunity to really *listen* to it.  Yesterday was a rare occurrence where I was in the car completely alone.  Seriously, never happens.

Anyway, I was listening to the lyrics and was struck.  Not about how the song was actually talking about marriage.  Which I did realize that.  But it struck me more about my relationship with God right now.

And it got me asking, why do we spend so much time pretending we are NOT broken.  Broken in all of our relationships in some way.  No one and no relationship is perfect.

Not even those with a strong faith and relationship with God.

We are ALL broken together.

So I'll start.  How am I broken?  Well, the current thought that prompted me to look into this song and this blog was my current "broken" relationship with God.  Not necessarily broken in the terms of turned around and walked away as I am still trying to walk that path and do the work necessary to repair it.  As I know the brokenness is on my end, not His.  But broken in the sense of I am no longer able to trust God to have everything under control.

There.  I said it.

Ever since I started on this journey of prematurity, 5.5 years ago.  Truthfully, a lot of good came out of that experience and I recognize that.  However, I will have to admit that I am not OK with that.  I don't know that I will ever be OK with that.  The ONLY ending to this current pregnancy that I will be OK with is one that ends full term and with a healthy baby and mom.  I can't be OK with God's "under control."

Do good things come out of these things?  Certainly.  Can God speak and be heard through these things?  Absolutely.

But is sitting by your child's bedside and watching them struggle and suffer a justifiable means to those ends?   Watching a loved one with tubes and wires coming from all sorts of unmentionable areas, struggling for breath or to beat an illness?  Burying your child before they even had a chance to live?  Really, burying your child at all.  Are any of these a justifiable means to an end?

No.  I honestly can not say I will ever say that it is.

Not that I expect life to always be roses and rainbows.  Not that I don't recognize that He walks through it with me and puts the people in my life to help me through the valley's.  I do.  I just can't say that I can walk through life, currently, believing that I can trust Him to bring about MY ok.

Maybe it's an unrealistic expectation of mine.  I don't know.  But that's my broken.  And maybe that's ok.  And maybe we are just meant to be "broken together."

What's yours?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

She never ceases...

To amaze me.



Yesterday, as I was preparing my p17 shot, (suck it, prematurity.  You will not get this one too) Elisa begins asking me all about it.  And what it's for.  The conversation goes something like this?

E: "What's that, mommy?"
Me: "It's a shot of some medicine mommy needs to take."
E: "Why do you need that, mommy?"
Me: "Well, it's to help the baby stay in mommy's tummy longer."
E thinks about that for a second: "Mom, you forgot to take that when I was in your tummy, didn't you?"

Can we say ouch?!  Preemie mom guilt 101 and my own preemie child is now laying it on me lol.

I tried to explain to her how we just didn't know I needed it when she was in my tummy.  That not every mom needs it, sometimes babies stay in their mommy's tummy until it's time to come out.  But she persisted.  "Why didn't you make the doctors give it to you?  Did you tell them you needed it?"

Can we say stubborn?


Maybe it's just maternal pride, but I can't believe how she made that connection and just this young age of 5.  But, then again, she always was a bit more "mature" than her age.  Even in the NICU.  They couldn't seem to believe how she was doing the things she was doing at her gestational age.  No vent at 29 weeks, breathing on her own.  Asking for bottles at 33 weeks gestation.  Not supposed to do that until 34.  Released at less than 36 gestation, not supposed to do that until 40.  Or more, usually.

Tenacious.

So maybe I shouldn't really be surprised that she could make that connection.  She knows her story.  I hope she wants to share her story when she's older.  Because her story is as amazing as she is.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Anxiety

"A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, 
typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome."





Today, as I sat in church, I found myself suddenly overwhelmed with images.  Images of babies of a much earlier gestation than Elisa.  Images of sudden, unexpected deliveries coming out of left field.

I have no idea why.  There was no trigger in anything that was being discussed.  The subject matter was far removed from anything even related.  But all I know is I wanted to just curl up and cry my eyes out and beg and plead as I can NOT do another NICU stay.

I've spent most of this pregnancy pretty much removed, emotionally.  I was surprised when the test came up positive, testing on a whim because I was one day late.  Which, for me, means nothing.  And then, at what I thought was almost 8 weeks pregnant, an ultrasound showed a baby only around 5.5 weeks, almost 2 weeks behind what dates should have been.  On top of that, progesterone was waaaaay to low.  At that point, I resigned myself to the inevitable and waited for the end to start.

Only, it didn't.  2 weeks later, ultrasound showed appropriate growth and progesterone quadrupled to almost 24.

And then...I had to tell.  And in all honesty, I was terrified.  What would people think?  I beat the odds once.  Could I really do it again?  Was I insane to think I could possibly do it again?  Just because Aidan made it to 37 weeks, doesn't mean this one will.  The last pregnancy is more telling of the outcome than the previous, but my risk is no less.  

Truth be told, most of those fears came because it was what I was thinking, not really what I thought anyone else was thinking.

So here I am, 19 weeks and 2 days pregnant and beginning to enter the other most terrifying time for me in a pregnancy.  That time where there will be no attempt to stop labor should it come on.  That time where I cross my fingers, toes, legs, arms that my body will behave.

And pray, beg, plead, whatever it takes to at least make 29 if things go wrong.  Where at least I know what to expect. 

I sure hope whoever is reading this knows, that I want nothing less than 37.  I am counting on nothing less.  But I also know, realistically, that may not happen and in no way am I setting myself up for that.  I am putting my head up high, my shoulders back, believing I will make that 37.  But preparing myself for a curve ball.  I can't bury my head in the sand.

But, the irony of this morning is when we got home.  After the baby was extremely quiet and still all day yesterday, it decided to have a party at quiet time.  I couldn't help but smile and think, this one, and God, was telling me it will all be ok.

I just hope God's "ok" and my "ok" line up this time.




 


Monday, March 30, 2015

Life with him





Is never dull.  He was born a firecracker, and I swear he should be a redhead with that temper of his.  I'm always at a loss how to handle the full blown tantrums that can last for hours and no amount of redirection will help.  It seems like after all this time of still not getting what he wants, he'd have figured out the tantrums just aren't working and move on.




But, I digress.  For even though he can be hard to handle, he is something else.  His personality is vibrant, like his sister, but in an entirely different way.  His is more quiet and more apparent in his expressions than in his actions.




As much as it annoys me, I love how he is so enamored with the tape measure, and always insists on holding it.  He walks around the room declaring things "oh just so big!"  or "so tall!"  He measures the table, his truck, himself, the room.




Today, he took his Handy Manny tools and attempted to "fix" the lamp.

Thankfully, no harm came to the lamp....or to him.

Is it because he's a boy?  Or because of DNA?  I don't know.  All I know is I've learned I can not trust him.  If he is quiet, most likely it's not because he's sitting quietly in his room.  Reading a book.  Or watching a movie.  Or playing with his toys.




No.  It's likely because he's gotten into something he shouldn't.  And is enjoying himself before he gets caught.  I have no pictures of his antics, because even my hobby does not come above ensuring his safety and I don't want him to come up with the idea that he will get some attention from me by doing these things.  Like climbing on the counter to get the scissors.  Or into the shower to get the shower cleaner.  Or onto the bookshelf to get to his pictures.  Or the toy that was recently taken away.

But when he insists on wearing his shoes to bed, since all reindeers wear shoes on their hands.




Or run around in a batman cape.




In your diaper.  Because for some reason he's decided that big boys don't use potty's.  But prefer the convenience (and stink) of sitting in his diaper.  To the point of epic tantrum if you try to change him or even suggest that he use the potty.

Or flash those silly faces.

Life with you, baby boy.  Is never dull.




 And oh so full of joy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - March 25, 2015

It's Wednesday.  And somethings just require no words.

September 18, 2015


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Here! Here!






Today, we decided to attend the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.



So, we didn't entirely dress up in theme, but hey.  We went.  The entire purpose in going was as a reward for two little kiddos who have put up with their home in disarray (again) as we yet (again) renovated a room.  This time, it was their bathroom.



 We got there pretty much on time so it was a challenge finding a spot near the front where we thought for sure they would have gobs of candy lobbed at them.


 Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed in that.  The kids spent most of their time with their hands waving or out crying "Here! Here!" and doing their best to get the float participants attention all while remaining behind the line on the road we told them they couldn't pass.


But the first 10-15 floats had absolutely NO candy at all on them and instead a bunch of colorfully dressed people waving.  Once floats started appearing with candy, they either tossed out 1-2 pieces for each side of the road.  Each of which held 20-30 screaming kids clutching their plastic sacks in anticipation of all the candy they would gather.


Finally, floats started arriving that were tossing out handfuls in all directions.  But each and every time, they ran out of candy in their boxes/bags/totes/whatever at the very moment they passed us by.

If the floats decided to personally hand out the candy, the kids to the right and to the left of us got the candy while mine were woefully ignored.

Needless to say it was a frustrating experience.  At one point, after complaining to one of the volunteers, he made it a point to pick up the stray candy that was too far in the road for the kids to gather and personally handed it to us.  Through some pretty strange antics of ours, we managed to gain enough attention to get a few beads and other goodies.

Still, we managed to leave with a decent pocketful of candy, a bunch of sunshine, fresh air and a long walk.  It wasn't all a loss.