Monday, December 31, 2012

Twelve... Thirteen...

And, once again, it's New Year's Eve.

Like the past few years in a row, I have nothing special planned. We don't have tv channels, so we won't be watching the ball drop. No fireworks.

I'm hoping Jake will be home from work before midnight and the two of us can calmly and quietly ring in the New Year, sitting in the living room, wishing Collin to sleep. Maybe we will have a glass of wine or two.

I remember years past being so excited about the change of the calendar year. Now, I am not so sure why. The numbers are so arbitrary and mean nothing to me really other than for record keeping.

I don't have New Year's resolutions. I find it silly to wait until the first day of a new year to make changes in one's life. I understand why some do it, but I don't really feel the urge to operate that way.

But, over the past months and weeks, I have come up with some changes I would like to and have been working on for myself. I want to pray more. Worry less. Sleep more. Organize more.

Create more.

That is my favorite change in lifestyle. I have been working for a best friend cutting fabric for her. She has her own business. It's been an honor and a pleasure. She also loaned me her old sewing machine. I used it to create Christmas stockings for the four if us. That is what inspired my urge to create more. Creation for me will not be confined to sewing (though I will be starting on a quilt for my sister shortly), but include other forms such as poetry, prose, handwritten journal letters to my friend Desi, drawings, crafts, photography, graphics, food...

I love to create.

The past year was wonderful, having Collin join the family, and moving out of our former wretched duplex rental to a single family home rental, with quite a large hardship in the middle bringing us closer together as a family. Ups and downs, like every year in the past and I am sure every year to come. I look forward to the next calendar year and what is has in store of course, but as I said, time is fluid, continuing always, and the change in number doesn't mean much as far as my life experiences go (except for things like taxes, haha).

Regardless of how big a deal it is to you, or even how little it may mean, Happy New Year, everyone.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The first week

Last week, quite randomly, it seems, Jake was hired somewhere.  I'm a cruddy wife, honestly, as I have NO idea what the place is called that hired him.  Or his boss's name. Or entirely what he does.

But, he was hired.  I hope it's a permanent thing.  He's been working for a week now.  It's quite a relief.  Mostly.

It's tough, though. I went from having him home and helping with the boys the majority of the time to having him gone the majority of the time overnight.  Really.  He found out about the job and that they would hire him and started the next day.

The job is long hours.  He leaves before the boys get up and generally isn't home until way past supper.  Six days a week. The first few days were quite an adjustment.  The boys both started to get pretty sensitive and cranky around supper time, I assume missing daddy.   We plowed through, and by the end of this week, we have mostly adjusted, I think.

He came home early tonight, and I got to get out of the house.  I'm on "vacation!"  The past few days have been rough.  Spencer has been a bit whiny, and Collin hasn't really wanted to nap.  I feel like I haven't gotten a dang thing done at home, even though I know that's not true.

I've done 8 loads of laundry.  Countless loads of dishes.  I roasted a turkey. I made homemade soup.

And, I've cleaned the house multiple times.  Though, heaven knows you couldn't tell. Spencer is quite a tornado.  I feel defeated at the end of the day if the house looks like a toy-closet explosion, but, generally, it does, and I'm trying to not be too hard on myself.  

Somehow, today, both boys and I were playing in the basement, which is currently a toy den, and I got it mostly cleaned WHILE he was playing in it.  I call that a triumph!  I'm super-mom!  Of course, I'm sure by the time I get home again, it'll look like it did pre-cleaning, but that'll be how it is, I guess.

I don't have much more to say about this all, but I wanted to provide an update, because the past few blog entries have been a bit heavier and written with a less hopeful heart.  While we're still struggling, I think we're finally struggling upward instead of downward.   I'll take it as it is and pray that it continues to improve.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Livin' on a Prayer.

Prayer.  It's an interesting concept.  You sit and you talk to someone who "isn't there."  He's not there visually, of course.  If you're a Christian, the concept isn't so crazy.  If you're not, you might think of a Christian as a crazy person, talking to a hallucination.   As a Christian, I have known prayer... for a long, long time.  I'm not sure when I learned to pray, but I remember saying my bedtime  prayers as a little girl.  I still begin my bedtime prayer the same every night:

Now I lay me, down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  Keep me Jesus, through the night, and wake me with the morning light.
"Make a Wish" ©Nicole Worthley

I used to do the more elaborate version, in which the second sentence was, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take; if I should live another day, I pray the Lord to guide my ways...  but I went through a period after my cousin, who was 2, drown, in which I was terrified of dying because I didn't want to leave my family, and I cut that part out because it would torment me and keep me from falling asleep.   Now, I occasionally switch it up, but the shorter version comes so natural.

It used to end with with, God bless Mommy, Daddy, and everyone, Amen.  

Now, it ends with, God bless my husband, my children, my family... and then it ensues with a longer list of prayers, musings, thoughts, questions, etc.

I admit, I don't pray as much as I should probably pray.   I am guilty of usually only praying at night, and if something goes "wrong," or when I'm at certain family homes and we're eating meals, or at church.

But, lately, especially, I've taken on a lot of prayer.  Still, mostly at night, but now it's starting to infiltrate into other parts of the day.  I know it's mostly because of our current hardship.  But, I also feel like it's just an evolving sense of faith.  I've gone through prayerful periods before.

What's new, now, I noticed today, is that for the past few weeks, if I am driving and in the vehicle alone, I pray.  And, sometime its out loud.  Yeah.  Woah.  I haven't prayed an impromptu prayer aloud since my camp counselor years when it was a common occurance to lead a prayer aloud.     Then, I always felt a bit of stage fright, though, knowing it was in front of tons of people.

I have, apparently, without really thinking about it or planning it, started praying, aloud, driving.  I noticed the other day when I was driving across town in traffic that I was praying, and that's when I looked back, thinking of the last few weeks and how that happens.  Yesterday, I decided, after it came to my attention what I was doing, that I would spend my entire commute talking with, or to, God.  No excuses.

It was a great drive, I must say.

I can't say that I'll be up for praying aloud, publicly, any time soon, but it feels really good to do it privately.

Now, after noticing that, I feel like I should really incorporate more prayer into my life and our home.  I feel like we should introduce bedtime prayers to Spencer.  He's two, so he won't "get it" necessarily, even if we do explain.  I'm not sure how to explain really.  I've never "done" God stuff with a toddler before.  I feel like we should pray before meals when we eat together, and even if we don't, I can still pray.  I feel like, maybe, Jake and I should really make the effort to pray together.

So, the title... it immediately came to mind when I decided to write another blog tonight.  I didn't realize, immediately, that it's a song.  A few seconds later, of course, I did.

Side note: Bon Jovi was one of my childhood crushes.  Yeah.  I said it.

Turns out, the chorus fits, though.  Yup, I do love this song.

She says we've got to hold on to what we've got 
Cause it doesn't make a difference 
If we make it or not 
We've got each other and that's a lot 
For love - well give it a shot 

We get along... better.

Last night... I think it was last night, it might have been this afternoon, but I'm pretty certain it was last night... It was!  It was after Jake was gone a few hours using wi-fi to job hunt...

Wow.  Talk about a lack of real introduction.  Hi. I'm blogging.   I decided to just jump right into babbling without a "typical" Nik-esque introduction.

Okay.  Last night, after Jake was job hunting, he came home, and said something to the effect of, "You know, one good thing about this unemployment problem is that we get along a lot better now."

I looked at him quizzically.  He said, "Don't you agree?"

I continued to look at him in a questioning manner. I really had no idea what he was talking about!  I mean, yeah, we have had our share of disagreements and not getting along in the past, but it's not like we've been at each other's throats, on the verge of divorce, or anything that I considered to be a big deal. I definitely didn't feel like we haven't been getting along.

So, I asked him to clarify.  I forget his exact words, but basically, he didn't quite mean getting along as in not fighting.  He meant, in a roundabout way, that he thinks we enjoy our time together as a family more now.

To that, I must say, I did agree.

When he began his unemployment right after Collin was born, it was rough.  I admit I have been stressed and worried about rent and bills every single day since then, but I do try not to let it eat me alive.  I try to focus more on the good things that are going on around us.  Yeah, I still cry and worry, but I am not letting it make me bitter.  And, he isn't either.  Somehow, we're still hopeful.  We're praying and holding on and getting through.

But, with all the focus I've been putting on freaking out (silently or not so silently at times), I haven't focused on the wonderful as much as I could and should have.  

Did I say that already? Probably?  I am not scrolling up to read.

We had to cancel our cell phone service a while back when they started to overcharge us due to a plan upgrade on Jake's that they were carrying and insanely trying to charge me for, which was unfounded and we couldn't argue out of it with them... so we switched to pay-per-month type phones (with the help of friends the first month).   Mine's off for now until we have funds to spare, but we're keeping his up and running for job purposes.  With that, we lost internet (because our phones were our internet), and without internet on our phones, games weren't as fun, we weren't surfing the net, YouTube-ing, what have you, nearly as much.    We were more involved in the world outside our phones.  Not that we were neglecting our children when we had our smartphones or anything like that, but they of course took more focus away from the kids.

Now, we don't have those distractions.  We have some still, a nook, limited internet, movies, books... but they're not as "easy" to access or get sucked into.  So, we spend more time playing with the boys, talking to each other, etc.   We're more present in our little family unit.

We listen better, I think, now too.  For example, for years I have HATED when there would be random bits of clothes left around.  We had this problem for nearly seven years.  And now, after we really talked about it and why it bugs me so much, it's very rare I find socks or shoes or whatever it may be lying around on the floor.

I won't bore you with many more examples.

Summary: Jake is right.  We do "get along better" now.   Granted, he will (hopefully REALLY soon) have a job again and be gone more, and we won't be together nearly as much, but I think this stretch of spending SO much time together has really done us good, and I think things will carry on in a positive manner.  I think this financial brokenness has built us up in our relationships.  A blessing in "disguise."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Box of Love

November is the month of Thanksgiving, officially.  On Facebook, I'm participating, as are many others, in the 30 days of Thankfulness movement where you state something once a day, in a status, that you are thankful for.    I've so far, covered the basics, my sons, my husband, and my family and friends

But, today, I received a surprise.  Well, sort of. I was forewarned by my friend Ang that I would be getting a package in the mail.  I didn't think much of it, or tried not to, and just be surprised when it arrived.  Well, surprise number one was that it was a day late.  No big deal.

I feel like this post is going to be a bit... of  jumbled mess.  I'm going to back track first.

Way back when... years ago... I forget how many years ago, but a long time ago, in high school, I joined an online blogging site: Kiwibox.    There, I really entered into online journaling and in the process, made quite a few friends that I still am friends with this day.   So, over ten years ago, I met a great group of girls, now women.  After Kiwibox was starting to go... downhill, or really, we got old enough to think it was getting lame, we moved onto message board communities.  One of my friends and I decided to purchase a domain and run our own.  I forget, right offhand, how long we ran Bijouxmb, but it was quite a while.   Another message board, a sister site, almost, was born as well, Quarantine, run by a few of our friends.  For quite a long time, friendships formed, lives were shared, and we became close.   Now, I will admit, when we decided to let Bijouxmb die, and I was pregnant with Spencer, I stopped frequenting the boards.  Facebook was bigger and easier and it just sort of replaced it for me.  But, these women have since and always will had/have a place in my heart.

That said, confession time:  After Collin's birth, we realized that Jake's new job, the one he took at the beginning of the summer to better our financial future as well as provide more family time, wasn't going... as hoped.  It really wasn't working out for us.  We have an old suburban as our vehicle after our van went kaput and it would cost nearly as much to fix as it did to buy it.  The suburban is a gas hog, and was eating away his income, really, from this new job.   As of October, as sad as I feel admitting this, we've been really struggling, as Jake has been unemployed.  It has been quite a struggle.  We've been pretty stressed about finances and everything related to it.  We've dabbled between who should get the full time job.  Currently, we're trying to find Jake one.  When we only have one vehicle, it makes it a challenge.   And if we both work and were to work same shifts then we'd have to put the boys in daycare, which we just don't want.  We're praying about it, and hope others can do the same.

In the meantime, we're doing what we can to get by. We've disconnected our internet, since it barely worked anyway being a cheap wireless type thing.  We no longer have our smartphones and are doing a month-to-month pre-paid service on cheap flip phones.   We don't go out, we can't really.  We've been very blessed to have family and friends helping to look out for us, as embarrassed as I feel admitting that.  Our church, too.  I go through days where I am very upset and pessimistic about it all, an other days where I feel very hopeful.  Jake has had a few interviews, and the most recent ones went very well, he believes, so we're waiting to hear.  I know things will change, and I know we will be okay.  But, it's not easy to feel that way always.

I made the 'gutsy' move to tell a few friends about the situation in October.  I didn't want to, but I was tired of being silently stressed and not knowing where to turn to cry and express my fears.  I felt better knowing there were others out there praying and thinking of us and keeping my head above water emotionally.

Well, I didn't know that one of these friends was a blabbermouth.  Haha.  I mean this in a good way.   One of these friends, Ang, let my "secret" out to Q, the aforementioned message board (that I didn't own and run).  I really had no idea, until today.  

Today, this big, heavy box appeared on my doorstep.  "For the love of Q!"

Right away, I was... well, I was nervous to open it, honestly, because Ang wanted Jake to take a video... and I was afraid I wouldn't have a "proper" reaction to whatever was inside.

If the reaction she was looking for was to cry, well, then I had the proper one. Haha.

Inside was various items, mostly clothes for Spencer.  Warm clothes that are the right size for him this winter.  TONS of them.  There were pacifiers for Collin, and a chew toy for him too.  Haha, that makes him sound like a puppy.  There were a few gift cards.  One, I will donate for gas for Jake to go to job interviews.   One was for Starbucks, which gave me a "reason" to get out of the house, which I truthfully, really needed after a few emotional breakdowns this week, where I am now, blogging, using my cousin's laptop and the free wi-fi.  There were a few nail polishes for me, which made me very excited, because lately, I've been really into painting them.  It keeps me not only from chewing them due to stress and nerves, but also keeps them from breaking and hides my ugly nail that I crushed in a garage door this summer.  There was a candy bar and some gum.  There were a few notes.

The part that started my tears, of course, was the letter Ang included.  In summary, she wrote that there is a belief out there that way you do, or contribute in life, multiplies three-fold and comes back to you.   So, if you're nasty, three times worse might head your way.   In her opinion, and apparently that of a few of my other friends from afar, is that I've been "good."  I've been caring, despite circumstances right now, and I guess I have been that way for a while.  I guess, they think I have a big heart.

It's funny to me to think that I had organized care packages for others during hard times in their lives, all in the same fashion, via our message board communities.  Truthfully, I don't remember how many I orchestrated or helped orchestrate.  Two at least, maybe more.  It just... didn't stick with me, I guess.   I just did it and lived on without thinking twice.  I never in a million years expected something to come my way like this.  Not once.  I don't feel like I deserve it.   Of course, I am grateful beyond adequate verbal expression, thinking about how much my son benefits from their generosity and hearts of gold, as he grows out of the clothes we have for him.

I think what shocked me most about receiving it, though, is the fact that I haven't really been an active part of that message board in over two years.  I am  not a daily part of their lives anymore, and somehow, they still care.  I guess that shows something negative about me, really, because I know that even though I don't interact often, I still think of them often and wish them all well.  I guess, I really shouldn't have expected anything less from them.  I apologize that I somehow did.  I am truly, truly sorry if I doubt anyone.  Truly.

It's true, sometimes, I feel like I'm a good friend.  More often than not, I am more critical of myself, though.  I feel like I can't give enough or do enough for others, especially now.  I guess, really, it doesn't always matter if I can give monetarily or concrete items.   I know I pray, and I send regards, love, warm thoughts, when I can, regardless.  It took their box of love to remind me that those things count too.

My mind is scattered all over again, so I think I'll (finally, I suppose) stop this post.

Thank you, to anyone and everyone for any small or large thing you've done for me and my family, recently, or in the past.  I can assure you, it does not go unnoticed, and I hope that, as the belief I mentioned earlier goes, it comes back to you, threefold, or more.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our second miracle has finally arrived.

When Baby Bo's due date was decided to be August 19, 2012, I can honestly say I never gave credence to the idea of being pregnant the entire month of August. We "evicted" Spencer the day before his due date, and I just assumed Bo would come around that time as well.

I was wrong.

August 19 came and passed. As it did, we made an appointment with a nurse midwife, who later that week, said she would be willing to wait up to two more weeks, possibly even up until September 9 to induce. I felt pretty frustrated and discouraged. I was only dilated 1 cm and barely thinned out. Realistically, I knew that the end of the pregnancy was coming soon, but with all of the pain sitting, walking, standing, sleeping, doing stairs... basically ANYTHING that I had been enduring the previous couple of weeks, and nearly a month's worth of seemingly pointless contractions, it felt like we would never meet this baby!

I decided to continue on trying "home remedies" to prepare the body for and/or induce labor... evening primrose oil capsules, spicy food, walking, stairs, pressure points, baths, etc. Heck, I even let Jake bounce me around on a teeter totter, and I did 120 jumping jacks one night!

On August 31, we had a third appointment with the midwife. They wanted to do an AFI ultrasound (amniotic fluid index) and a non-stress test before the long holiday weekend. The appointment was set for ten in the morning, but they didn't call us back until 10:57. I was annoyed. The ultrasound took about four minutes, and the doctor came in saying everything looked fine, and making some stupid jokes about how I wanted to hold out until labor day. Ugh.

They sent us upstairs to my midwife, and Jake left to run a few quick errands while I did the NST. Everything seemed to be going well by my analysis, and it was obvious that I was having a few "light" contractions from time to time. The NST took quite a while. The midwife was waiting on the report from the doctor from the AFI and he was not getting it to her. She came to check on me a few times, once saying something like, "since you are do far overdue (almost two weeks past the 19th), we want to be very careful in things, or just get the baby out..." as she walked out the door. Confused and a little alarmed by the wording, I sent Jake a message telling him her words and how I wasn't sure what they meant exactly. A while later, the nurse finally came in and said the ultrasound showed baby was healthy, buty fluid was lower than they liked, and that meant they were going to induce me. She then said the midwife was going to call the hospital and schedule it, but they didn't know when precisely yet.

Oh, I forgot to mention that earlier that week, at our second appointment, they scheduled an induction for 6am on Wednesday, September 5, and I was then 2.5cm and starting to thin (yay for the teeter totter! Haha).

She then left and I text Jake, who showed up minutes later. He seemed a bit anxious, whereas I was just confused and tired of being in the NST room.

Finally, we were told that at 3pm that afternoon, we should arrive at the hospital for check-in, and that a different nurse-midwife would be delivering the baby.

We left in a state of shock. I didn't expect to be induced that day at all. After always waiting... and waiting... and waiting... I was certain that I would be pregnant until the following Wednesday. I had hoped to have the baby way before so that my sister, who spent the summer living with us, could be one of the first to meet him/her, and she also was planning to watch Spencer the first night we were in the hospital. Fortunately, she wasn't moving home until the next day.

We told our parents and siblings, packed our bags, and ate lunch, then the hospital called asking us to come in an hour earlier to get things started. So, off we went.

As luck would have it, though, they promptly checked me in, hade get ony gown, hookede up to the monitors again, and then... I waited for three hours while they figured out what was going on. It seemed to take forever. I laid/sat on the bed for almost two hours staring at this creepy freaking pigeon across from my window who sat there, statuesquely staring in my window, not moving. He actually recruited a friend to help creep me out, and they were both there until dark. I was relieved when my friend Sam showed up to keep me company and we walked a mile.

Finally, at 5:20pm, I met the nurse-midwife who would deliver the baby, Teri (who I loved!), and got the pitocin started. I felt like things were finally, officially, underway.

They were slow moving for a while yet, though. Jesse, make's twin, Sam's boyfriend, came, and then they brought us supper. Creepy birds kept staring. Jillian ce to visit. Jake tan home to put Spencer to bed and get his guitar around 10.

I sent him a text around 10:30 or so saying things were starting to get more painful. He got back to the hospital around 11. By this pint, my times are more approximate, but pretty accurate yet.  I was in some deal of pain now, but getting through it on my own. Within the next half hour, my water started leaking and the pain intensified greatly. I was checked and at 7cm. I told them I was thinking about pain relief but unsure yet.

Then, it felt like my hips were going to shatter. I wasn't having back labor like I did with Spencer, bit it was in my hips and lower abdomen. After talking with Jake, initially I decided that the next some sometime came to check on me, I would request an epidural. My plan had been that I would try to do without, but also that I didn't want to torture myself. Plus, it was late, and I was already exhausted.

The contractions then were steady and painful to the point I had tears. I "agreed" to let Jake get the nurse early and ask for the epidural. This was probably my saving grace and I am thankful he suggested that he would do that for me.

The epidural was administered at 12:25am. It wasn't a fun process. The contractions were every minute lasting minute and a half and having to sit up and hold still as the stuck things in my spine... yeah.  After all was done, the anaesthiologist said it would take around twenty minutes to reach full effect but each contraction would gradually be more bearable.

And... it was, for a little while. But then, around 1am, the pain returned... for transferred, to my back area. Each contraction brought on more pain and pressure. I felt like my insides were going to explode. I had incredible shakes and tears that I could not, for the life of me, fight back. I have never trembled so ferociously in my life. It really scared me, and I told Jake that.

He went and found a nurse who came in and checked me out. Said I was almost ready and that the shakes were a normal side effect. Wretched. As she left, I swore I could probably just have the baby then and there and kept telling Jake that it just needed to be over with NOW.

I felt like pushing, but held back because I was told I wasn't ready, and also, there were no doctors in the room.

Finally, at about 1:45 I was told I was ready to push. So, they helped me roll over and got everything ready, and the next 21 minutes were nothing short of the most painfully, horrific, torture-filled minutes of my life, pretty sure. I believe I told everyone a few times how it "hurt so much" and that I wasn't sure I could do it. Teri told me I could, of course, and was basically on the verge of being done. I had an excruciating leg cramp right before I delivered, and I screamed like I do not recall ever screaming before. I think it freaked Jake out a bit. And then...

Jake proudly announced "IT'S A BOY!"

Collin Liam was born at 2:11am, Saturday, September 1, 2012.

Teri handed him to me immediately and I snuggled him as they cleaned him off. He did not cry, not really. He made a little whimper that lasted maybe 5 seconds after delivery. He just stared at me peacefully. It was surreal, as Spencer screamed for around 40 minute when he entered the world. Truth be told, Collin did not cry for more than 8 collective minutes in the course of his first 24 hours after being born.

Teri, shortly after the birth, said something to the effect of "oh my gosh! I have NEVER seen this before!" It freaked me out, for sure, because she hadn't handed him to me so I couldn't see what was going on. She told us, "this little guy has some angels out there. He has a double knot in his cord."

Woah. Somehow, in utero, Collin had flipped around so much that he tied not one, but two knots in his umbilical cord, one right atop the other, and they were tight. She showed us. It was a bit terrifying, as she explained that could be fatal.she kept saying two knots is just crazy. Guess Collin really was a dancer, like his nickname, Bojangles.

After he was clean, I passed him off to Jake, who cuddled him a while longer. I just stared in awe, thinking how wonderful it is to have two sons. Two of Jake's boys. Two little buddies. I couldn't take my eyes off them as Teri stitched me up.

Collin weighed in at 8 pounds, 13 ounces, and measuring 20.5 inches tall.

Spencer calls Collin "baby." It's adorable. He looks for him in the basinette if he hasn't seen him in a while. He has tried to help feed him once, and he laughs hysterically if Collin has the hiccups.

We love having two little boys. It's going to be quite an adventure.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I remember, shortly before Spencer was born, getting a little anxious and nervous. As a first time mom, I didn't know what to expect.  I tried not to worry and dwell on it too much, seeing as how it wouldn't make a difference, and I think, overall, I kept myself pretty calm about the upcoming labor and delivery of our first born child.

On Sunday, I will be 37 weeks pregnant.  Spencer was born the day before his due date (as a result of induction).  If Bo follows suit, I have about three weeks left.  Of course, there's no real way to count on that, so I am trying to keep myself mentally prepared to become a mother again at any time now.

It's nerve-wracking.  Again.  Still.  It's the same, but it's different.  I think I might be more nervous this time, actually.  It doesn't make a ton of sense to me, but at the same time, here I am, day in and day out, thinking about what's coming up really soon.

Why am I nervous?  Well, I know that each and every birth is different, just like every pregnancy.  While I was induced with Spencer because he was assumed to be "large" at full term, he was 8 pounds 2 ounces at birth.  That's not... that large.  I haven't been great about taking photos this pregnancy, because Spencer keeps me pretty occupied, more than anything, but I managed to take a snap a photo last week at the mall.  Below, we have Spencer v. Bo.  It looks as if Bo is even bigger than Spencer.    I haven't gained much as far as poundage goes (I really didn't with Spencer either, both times, I lost, then started to gain it back, and was only a few pounds over pre-pregnancy weight with Spencer, right where I am now with Bo).  

Seeing that I appear larger this time makes me nervous.  Will it be harder this time?  Will Bo be bigger, really?  Or is it all just an illusion.  I don't want a cesarean if I can help it, which is why they induced last time.  Will I end up with one this time?

I know I shouldn't worry about it, because worrying really makes no difference, but I wonder anyway.

I had an epidural last time.  I am hoping to avoid one this time, for no reason other than the thought of injection in the spinal column is creepy.  I dealt with it last time, because once I was about 5cm dialated or so, I was having intense back labor.  Well, my placenta this time is right near my spine.  Does that mean I'll have intense back labor again?  If so, I'll probably give in and get an epidural. I know it's nothing to be ashamed of, but they still make me nervous, even if I had one last time.

And then there's the worry I had last time: Will Jake make it in time?  He works on the road again with this job.  Last time, we were lucky in that we scheduled to induce so he was there.  But, had I gone early, would he have been last time?  Will he be this time?  I am terrified to think that second labors often go more quickly, and if I didn't realize I was in labor right away, would it give him enough time to get to the hospital?  I can't imagine him missing the birth of our child.

Then, of course, there's post birth nerves: Will Spencer adjust?  Will he love or hate the new addition?  Will I be a good mom to two?  Sometimes I feel like a cruddy mom to just one!

I know in the end, it will all work out according to God's plan and I shouldn't worry as much as I do.  But, it sure does come naturally.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


The past few nights, Spencer has been fighting sleep pretty badly.  Even for Jake the other night, he cried and screamed a few times before finally giving in to sleep.  My sister, Samantha, and I discussed it briefly tonight, as I was mentioning how it stresses me out, though I try not to let it.

After talking for a few minutes, we both concluded that it's probably a reaction to all of the transitions that have been going on the past few months, as well as those that he may be able to "sense" that are coming up over the next few months.

Now, I know I've mentioned some of these transitions and changes in blogs prior (though I truthfully haven't been keeping up with blogging as much as I would normally do, partially because Spencer's taking more and more of my attention and focus, and also I've been spending time with people when they're around and available), but tonight, I was thinking about them all over again.

I realized I'm more stressed out about things than I let myself show.  I guess that's okay, because I'm probably more pleasant to be around that way, but internally, it might be wearing me down a bit.  So, here I am, blogging again, finally.

As I've said, Jake has started a new job with Washington National. He loves it, and he's doing well, which is a huge blessing, because it's meaning I'm still able to stay home with Spencer and grow baby Bo.  But, of course, the three nights away/four days away in a row (most weeks) takes a toll on all of us.  We're still adjusting, I think.  It's hard sometimes to be the soul parent in the house for that many days, only to have everything thrown for a loop when Jake finally comes home.  Schedules differ, though I try to keep things consistent, and Spencer doesn't understand really, though he seems to be doing pretty well being flexible.

Jake and I have been trying to adjust, still, too, the two of us, and our marriage, to the new stresses and changes of his job.  Sometimes, it seems a lot harder and more stressful than I imagined, but other times, it seems like nothing's changed really.  But, it's hard, and I've been really emotional about it.  And he's been really busy, so it's not always worked out the easiest to sit down and talk things through or have one-on-one time.

Then, we've been a one-vehicle family for about two months now while our other vehicle has issues.  We haven't put the money into fixing it yet, because we've been saving up to move.

Yup, we're moving.  More on that shortly.

Two weeks ago, or so, my sisters both came to stay.  Allison, who is 13 now, stayed for two full weeks, and then on Sunday, left with my dad and brothers who came to visit.  Spencer loved having her here, and was really actually distraught when they all left us on Sunday.  He threw quite a little tantrum as soon as they walked out the door, actually.  Fortunately for him (and for me) Samantha, who is 17, is still here and is staying the duration of the summer (give or take a few days or weeks).  She's been an amazing help, I must say, in not only caring for Spencer (especially during these 100°F or hotter days when I still try to get him outside for at least a short period here and there), but also keeping me, miss hormonal-eight-month-pregnant-stressed-out-mommy in a somewhat stable emotional state.  Gosh, I'm so lucky to have her.  Seriously.

Allison is coming back in a few weeks, with my dad, who is going to help us move.  Yes, back to moving.  When Spencer and I went to visit my family in my hometown in June, we all came home to new neighbors.  Now, friends of mine on Facebook especially can vouch that I complain about our neighbors pretty consistently, and have since we moved in, basically.  I think we've gone through five different neighbors or sets of neighbors since we moved in, and only one of them (borderline two) were what I call "good" neighbors, who didn't party, stomp, slam doors, yell, etc. at various hours of the day and night.  The new neighbors are just as loud, if not louder, than ones in the past, and when we got home and found them (heard them) living above us in the middle of the night, Jake declared we were going to move.

So, I spent the better part of two or three weeks trying to track down a rental place (because we're still not in a position to really buy a home) that would have enough space, in our current budget (with Jake still acclimating to his job), and allow our dog.

Sadly, as we drew closer to our "deadline" for securing a place so we could move within our time-frame, we realized we weren't going to be able to keep Wendell with us this time.

We're blessed again, in that my dad (and siblings who live with him) offered to keep Wendell for the duration of our lease, until we can/will move again and can have him back.  Now, I will admit, our dog has the knack for driving me completely up a wall, but I love him very much.   We've had him since we were first married (minus a month and a half), and as I joked with Jake "I've spend more time with him than my actual husband" (because Wendell is always home with me, or at least 99% of the time).   Not only do I love him, but Spencer does.  Wendell is his puppy, his dog, his pal.  He talks about him and gets excited and calls all dogs "Wen-doh!" now, even though he knows that they're dogs/puppies and can say and identify them as such.

To picture the next six to twelve months without Wendell by Spencer's side makes me cry.  I'm not even kidding.  I've cried many times since realizing we couldn't have him this next move.  But, knowing that my dad will have him, and we can still see Wendell, and can and will have him back again helps.  Thank goodness!

We finally did sign a lease for a 3 bedroom, single family home.  It's a pretty nice, older place. It's got its perks and it's downfalls, but it will work for us.  We were really feeling stressed and rushed to find a place and move before our next child is born... sometime in the next 5-9 weeks, most likely.  It's less than 7 weeks until my official due date!  We knew it'd be easier on us all to move and get settled into the "new" place before we brought home a new baby, so finding one, signing the lease, and getting over there has become a main focus of our days.

Well, now it's to the packing part.  We signed to move in on July 14.  We did this last Friday, giving us approximately two weeks to go through and pack all of our stuff again. Fortunately, we're moving about a mile (maybe two?) from where we live now, so it's not a huge move, but it's still stressful.  I find it especially stressful, because, much like last time we moved, I'm nearly full-term in a pregnancy, and I'm not allowed to do what I would normally do while moving, lifting and hauling stuff.  Yes, I can fill a box, but after that, chances are I'm not supposed to be carrying it around.  And this time, we have a "helpful" toddler around who is making it pretty challenging to get much of anything done on a daily basis.

Then, we'll be moved... and transitioning to a new home.  Do we transition Spencer to his toddler bed before we move?  Right when we move?  A while after?  Originally, my reasoning for wanting him in the toddler bed was that it was physically straining me to lean over his crib railing to pat him to sleep over and over every night.  But then, we did the sleep training thing and for the most part, he is fine on his own (except the past few aforementioned nights).  So, is the necessity still there? I don't know. I don't know what would be easier on him and easier on us.  I know when we stayed at my mom's for four nights, he was trying to sleep in a new room, in a different bed (his pack and play) and he did NOT do well.  So, part of me is afraid to switch him to a toddler bed at the same time that we move, and wait it out, or do it now.  I just don't know.

And then... we'll have our second child.   We won't have our dog.  My sister may or may not be here for a bit after the new baby is born, I don't know, she hasn't really decided (either way is fine, I don't want to pressure her).  Jake will be home for two weeks or so to help me and Spencer (and himself) adjust, but then he'll be gone.. and it will be me, and Spencer, and baby Bo.  Will Spencer like having Bo around?  Will he hate it?  Will he act out?  Will I be able to handle it?  Will I be able to find help if I can't?  Will I ever sleep again?  Will we... will I... be okay?!

There's just SO MUCH going on!


Okay, that was long.  I commend you, and thank you graciously, if you managed to read the entire thing, and have any input, advice, commiseration, or... anything... to say afterward.

Bless you.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Some Worries

I am currently almost 29 weeks pregnant.  While I'm getting really excited (last night, I was sitting on the couch, late, all alone, giddy out of my mind almost thinking about how I can't wait to find out if Bo is a boy or a girl and what his/her name really is) about it all, suddenly, I'm also filled with worries again.

Now, I've been worried slightly about random little things the entire time.  Where, in this two bedroom place, will we keep Bo's clothing?  I decided in a small dresser in Jake's closet (Spencer and I already share his).

We'll let Bo sleep in a bassinette in our room until we find a new place.  So, I'm not worried about that as much.

You get the hint. Just little things, mostly dealing with space issues.  But, I've resigned to knowing we'll figure it out and we won't be here forever anyway.

But, last night, as I was getting really excited about the arrival, who will tell me "It's a boy/girl!" when Bo arrives (I hope Jake, actually gets to announce it), and what we will then call the baby (we do have names chosen already, and if you'd like to know them, feel free to ask), I was thinking about how we have been trying to get Spencer to say either of the names.

He almost always replies "no way."  I laugh, of course, because I think it's pretty funny.  I thought maybe that'd be a nice interesting nickname for his little brother/sister.

But then, I began thinking about Spencer, and how he will handle it all.

Tomorrow, he turns nineteen months old.

We haven't really done anything to prepare him for the arrival of the new baby.  I haven't really known how or what to do, so I have just done... nothing.  Other than try to get him to say the names we've chosen, I guess.  And occasionally tell him it hurts when he jumps, bounces off, leans into, sits on, etc... my belly.

I've never said why.  Never "that will hurt the baby."  I figured that wouldn't make any sense to him at all.  I figured telling him that I had a baby in my tummy wouldn't make any sense at all, let alone that when he hurts me it would (probably not, but you never know) hurt the baby.  He doesn't understand that it's uncomfortable or painful to me anyway (even if I pretend to cry, or groan, grunt, or actually cry), and it hasn't changed a thing, other than to keep me from sitting in the living room when he's really rambunctious.

He will be about 21.5 months old when his brother or sister arrives.  While I think he's a pretty smart little guy, I just... figured he wouldn't understand me trying to prepare him or explain to him anyway, so I haven't.

Now, clearly, I'm worried about it.

I'm worried about how he will react.  Not necessarily that he'll jump on the baby or hurt the baby in any way, but that he just won't know what to do anymore.  He's been home alone with me (the majority of the time) since February, after being in daycare the majority of his short life.  He plays at parks and at friend's houses, and he's definitely been around other babies at those places, as well as the church nursery, but I know that's not the same as having a new baby in his house ALL THE TIME.

That's very, very different.

I worry about whether he will feel neglected.  I don't believe I will neglect him.  I honestly, still, can't imagine loving the next child as much as I love him.

Yes, that sounds bad.  Hopefully you can understand what I mean, though, and not think that I won't love my next child as much, because I have been assured that I will, despite the fact that I can't imagine it.

Heck, I didn't imagine I would love Spencer as much as I do. I mean, I knew I would love him more than I could imagine, but to keep falling more deeply in love with him, after some really random things sometimes (like watching him stand completely still for 15 minutes or so as he watches hot air balloons launch), it overwhelms me.

I worry that he will feel like he's been replaced.  Or not good enough.  Will he question that later in life?

Neither Jake nor I feel that we are.  We never want him to think that.  In fact, we love him so much that is why we wanted another child.  For us AND for him.  To have a friend.  A companion, a live in playmate, a brother or sister to love, protect, and enjoy with us.

It makes sense to me.

But, I don't know how a toddler mind works.

I feel like I've digressed.

Basically, all I mean to say is that I'm a little worried about how Spencer will react to the big change coming up, and how, if there is any way, to really prepare him for that.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

back behind the lens

A couple of weeks ago, much to my despair, our ol' faithful Canon 30D DSLR camera went beserk.  Possessed, if you will, by... old age, possibly.  We'd had it for almost six years.  While taking photos of Jake and Spencer blowing bubbles at the park, it put itself in "continuous shooting mode" and the shutter acquired a mind of it's own, taking "picture" after "picture," even with the lens off, the battery out, the card out, and off, from time to time.  (I say "picture" because it wasn't really recording any of the snaps it took.)  So strange.

I had resigned to the fact that I'd be a sad little cell-phone photographer indefinitely, hoping for at least a cheap point-and-shoot camera by the time baby Bo arrives in August.

Well, let me tell you what, my amazing, fantastic, super-sweet, thoughtful husband made my sadness disappear when last last week/early this week (I think on Saturday evening), he used his performance points from his (now former) job and ordered us a brand new Canon T2i DSLR camera and 32GB memory card to go with it.

This camera, though a "Rebel" model (so not "professional" like the D series is, sort of) is amazing. It's capable of an excessive 18 megapixel photo and video.  I tuned the settings down to a much more 'reasonable' medium-size image, which is still the same size as the large image from our old camera.  I haven't tried video yet.

Well, anyway, it arrived on Wednesday, surprise!  It was supposed to come on Thursday. The memory card didn't arrive until Thursday, but, fortunately, I found an old SDHC card we had (I have no idea what for), cleared that off, and was able to sneak in a photo or two on Wednesday night, just to see how it worked, before SJ went to bed.  The photo of his legs and diaper is the first one that I took and shared.  I was impressed.  The only light source was our not-so-fantastic floor lamp, and at a 3200  ISO speed, it wasn't overly grainy or full of noise.  Yay!

The next day, as I mentioned, the memory card arrived, and so I got to go on a little date with our new family friend.

It'd been a really long time since I went on a little photographic rendezvous to just take pictures for the fun of it.  I haven't been taking much more than photos of Spencer for about 18 months now, to be honest.  Not that I haven't wanted to, but because it's hard to do that with a newborn/infant/toddler around.  Especially if I want to haul around the backpack full of equipment as I usually do, and a tripod (which I never seem to remember the mount for anyway so it's always basically pointless, just like this time).  But, needing to get acquainted with the Rebel was a good reason to get out and about.  The only places I could think to go were my two favorite parks, of course.

The purpose in my little trip was mainly to learn the updated/new interface of the Canon DSLR, and I think I have it down pretty well, using manual settings and all.  I took my time figuring that out, and then attempted some HDR shots, without a functional tripod, as I mentioned.  Let me tell you what, that's hard!  To hold completely still for three separate frames is hard enough, but adding the breeze into nature shots... makes it a challenge.  I feel like I did pretty well for doing it for the first time since SJ was born though.  The flower above is one of the macro HDR shots I did.

When I came home, SJ was still napping (to my surprise, it'd been almost three hours), so I took out the macro lens adapter again, and I took a few snapshots of items around the house, to see how it did in midday lighting.  I was impressed again.  The "car lot" photo is one of the macro shots I did there.  I took photos of a garland and more toy cars, too, just for fun. Perhaps I'll someday use them to decorate in Spencer's room or something.  You just never know.

When he finally woke up, I attempted the macro lens on a wiggly little toddler in low-lighting, and it did quite well, I think.  The photo of Spencer'e eye here is one from that attempt.  My favorite part about this photo, to be quite honest, is not his adorable nature (though that's a huge plus), but the fact that you can very clearly see what the preview on his "Blue's Clues" movie was for by way of pupil reflection.  Candid awesomness!

I had a ton of fun getting out and about, and in and around the house, playing with the camera.  Ever since I can remember, I have loved to take photos.  I had my first 110 film camera in elementary school, and even then, I would try macro photos (though I had no idea what that was at the time, terminologically speaking), and would be very sad when they'd turn out blurry (because I had no idea you needed different lenses for that).   Then, I was given a Kodak Advantix for a birthday somewhere around 1998, and took a million photos of my youngest sister growing up.  During camp, one summer, I think 2005, I rewarded myself for hard work by buying a Canon SLR Film camera (I forget which kind), and really started to get into a photography hobby.  Then, came mine and my husband's Canon A20 point-and-shoot, which had a macro setting on it, and I explored further.  We acquired the Canon 30D in 2006, and I went crazy developing my "view" and sense of style, so to speak.  And since then, I've loved photography.

Sadly, of course, when SJ was born, it took a back-seat to being mommy, and my photos were basically all of my precious child.  While photography will still be a hobby that comes after being a mom and a wife, as I told Jake, I think I need(ed) to get back into it.  I need something besides being a SAHM and wife to add interest to my day.  I have many hobbies, mostly creative ones, but this one, for now, will be the best one for me to get back into whole heartedly, because it takes up much less space than say, book binding, in our small apartment with two small children (come August).  It'll be compatible with our lives for now.  Hopefully, someday, I can get into others again as well.

So, in summary, we got a new camera, because my husband is awesome and it made me very happy, relieved, and not sad about losing the old one.  I have learned to use it, pretty well for starters anyway. And, I'm diving back into my artistic photography hobby, not just photos of my family and friends, again.  It feels amazing.

If you'd like to check out my photography works (old and new, mostly older, but I still love them), feel free to "like" my new page on Facebook, specifically to showcase those works.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

a big change

I have been putting off writing this blog entry for... two months now.

This year, it seems, has been one that's brought on quite a few big changes in the lives of my little nuclear family. 

To begin with, Spencer is one now, and busy as can be, getting busier and more mischievous every day.

At the beginning of the year (January), Jake and I decided that at the beginning of February, I would change jobs.  I went from doing daycare at a friend's house, to being a stay-at-home-mom. It was quite an adjustment.  It still is, actually.  I mean, I think I'm getting the hang of it, have a routine, what-not, and then Spencer goes and changes things and throws me for a loop all over again.  I will admit, sometimes I go stir crazy, am super exhausted, or feel like I'm at wit's end, but generally, I love the change, and I wouldn't trade my time with Spencer for a job, unless I had to, of course.

In the middle of February, another big change came up.  That change dealt with Jake's job.

Jake's been working with Schwan's since a few months before we were married, making him a Schwan's man for six years now.  It's been a long, hard haul, for both of us.  He's enjoyed the job and his customers, but it's taken a lot of long, long days and much time away from home.  He has worked four to five, 12-16 hour days every week.  When we moved to Sioux Falls, he generally had Wednesdays off, every other Saturday, and Sunday, unless they needed him to fill in or do a fundraiser.  It has made it hard to plan for vacations, time with friends and family, let alone time to relax together.  It has always felt like his time off was rushed, trying to get things done in a really short amount of time.

As I said, in February, something new came along.  The opportunity to travel, still, which is something he enjoys about his job (I can't imagine him being in an office all the time), to meet new people (which he also loves), to potentially make more money, and have a bigger "block" of time off.  

He signed on to sell insurance with a company called PMA, toward the end of February.  The past few months have been leading up to the job switch, which occurs over this coming weekend.  That's right, as of Friday (tomorrow), my 5.5 year marriage to a Schwan's man ends.

Now, while this is exciting news, it makes me very nervous, as well.  Yes, there's potential for greater income, which would make it even more realistic (not that it isn't realistic now) to be a SAHM until Spencer (and Bo, possibly) go to school.  That's an amazing thing that we're really looking forward to.

But, with this new job, comes big changes and some sacrifices.

While Jake has always (since we were dating, really) been away from me (and Spencer) a lot during the week, he's been home 6 nights out of 7 the majority of the time.  Because he'll be traveling further distances with his "team," he will be away from home, sleeping in a hotel, 3 out of 7 nights a week.  That's a BIG change.  Granted, ever since Spencer was born, I'm usually asleep (or close to it) when Jake comes through the door after 11pm, but there's something to be said about rolling over in the middle of the night and feeling your husband next to you, or to see him through sleepy eyes a few minutes in the morning (because sometimes he sneaks quietly out if Spencer's asleep so I can get a few more more minutes rest (bless his heart)) that makes the idea of him being gone for two extra nights a week very overwhelming.  I've cried  my eyes out more than a few times in anticipation of the loneliness I'm expecting to feel come next week.

Not only that, but he's been an AMAZING partner in parenthood, and since I became pregnant in December, he has been the one to get up with Spencer (if he wakes) the majority of the time in the night.  So, that'll be a change.

I shouldn't complain, of course, there are many who always are the only ones to get up with their children, or sleep alone, but, as I said, it's going to be a big change for me.

Then there's the fact that he's been home, fairly consistently, on Wednesday every week.  So, he's worked two really long days, been home (not always the whole day, but still, home) for a day, before going back out.  I always have looked forward to the Wednesdays as a "saving grace" for my sanity, especially on harder weeks.  Well, that'll be gone, and we'll be apart for four days straight.  

Not only will I have to adjust to that, but Spencer as well.  Spencer's been known to get "crabbier" as the week goes on, especially if he doesn't see Jake a few minutes in the morning.  I'm very nervous to have him have to go without his daddy for four days, three nights, in a row.    In preparation, we're going to make videos of Jake reading books or playing guitar, so that will helpfully aid in the transition and stabilize Spencer's mood a little when he misses his daddy.

The thing I am looking forward to most, I must admit, is knowing that we'll have three days together, in a row, weekly.  It's going to be amazing.  I know that once the transition period is over, that will really be something spectacular, and I'm holding onto that hope to get through the hard weeks ahead.  It will be great to be able to go on a weekend trip more than an hour or two away, and not feel totally blitzed by traveling.

Also, there will be more opportunity and flexibility for holidays and vacations, or time off when our child is born.

And then.. there's.. Baby Bo, coming in August (God willing).  That's going to be a huge change.  I feel like going from zero children to one wasn't a shock to our family, but I feel like going from one child to two with my husband being gone so much IS going to be a shock.

I'm scared.  I don't know if I'll be able to handle everything on my own.  To have a toddler as busy as Spencer and then a newborn who is very needy is going to be tough.  I'm not looking forward (in fact, I'm downright dreading and scared) to being without my husband three nights a week, as I fight (if things continue with Spencer not wanting to go to bed for me) SJ to sleep, and then getting up every two to three hours with a newborn.  With Spencer's daily nap duration dwindling as well, I'm terrified to think of how exhausted I'm going to be.  I'm afraid I'll be entirely overwhelmed and an emotional, mental, and physical wreck.  Trust me, I've cried over these fears many a time already, too.

I am fortunate, I believe, that our children are so young (well, Bo will be) that the transition will most likely be easier on them, than say, if they were in elementary or preschool.  I think that they'll grow up just feeling that "this is how it's always been," and they will be okay with it.  I hope. I fear it won't be, but I hope that it will.

So, there's that.  Next week, the second big change in our lives this year is going to occur. 

 I will admit, I am very much looking forward (as in, I can't describe it) to having my sister, Samantha, here with me this summer.  I remember being exhausted and such when pregnant with Spencer in the summer, but I wasn't a full-time mommy then, and I wasn't full-term.  So, she's going to be such a huge blessing.  Not that I intend for her to be a maid or live-in-nanny or anything like that.  I can't wait to have fun with her, and to have her company, especially getting used to Jake's absence.  I hope she enjoys being here as much as I'm enjoying the idea of her coming.

Of course, at the end of August, she'll have gone back home, Jake will be back on the road... and then... I'll be here with Spencer and Bo, alone.  Yup, I'm back to that.  I'm terrified.  But, I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.  That will be big life change of 2012 number three.

I'd appreciate your prayers for our family during this transition and change.  I know that Spencer (though he can't express it) and Jake will too.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

a sense of hope

This week, April 22-28, 2012 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

As my friends, family, and long-time blog readers know, infertility is a battle that my husband and I have been a part of, since before our marriage.   I've known for years (since puberty) that something was 'wrong' with me.  I shared these fears and worries with Jake before we ever discussed getting married someday, and from the beginning, he's stuck by me.

We were married for over three years, hoping, praying, and trying to begin a family.    We were married on August 5, 2006.  After the urging and prompting of a dear friend, we finally sought the help of a reproductive endocrinologist in November of 2009.  It was there I was "diagnosed" with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).   (I use the term "diagnosed" loosely, because it's not something they necessarily tested for and labeled me as in a chart, but rather, they ruled out other issues via blood work and ultrasound, and based the PCOS diagnosis on my presenting symptoms.  I have quite a few PCOS symptoms.  Click here for more PCOS information.)  We sought the RE's guidance, and with the help of oral medications to induce ovulation, as well as an hCG trigger shot, we went on our marry way, trying to conceive.

On February 22, 2010, I tested positive, on a PREGNANCY test.  I couldn't believe it!  We were absolutely overjoyed.   After a fairly wonderful, healthy pregnancy, Spencer was born on November 1, 2010.

On August 7, 2011, after a few more months of seeking the help of our RE, following the regime that helped us conceive Spencer, I tested positive on another pregnancy test.  Though, as life would have it, we lost Baby "Sprout," at 8 weeks gestation.  (You can read about that pregnancy, loss, and journey healing here.)

Though devastated, we never gave up.  After two months of being on birth control to help my system "heal" after a D&C, we tried again.  And on December 12, 2011, we learned that I was pregnant for a third time.  The pregnancy with Baby "Bojangles," or "Bo" for short, has been going well, though I've always been a little edgy about it going rapidly downhill like my last one.

In a nutshell, that's my infertility journey.  You can read more about it through these posts, if you'd like.

Once you've begun to struggle with infertility, you never forget the grasp it holds on your heart.  A Facebook status I read, and shared yesterday, hits the nail right on the head.  It reads:  Infertility is a heart-wrenching, faith-questioning, relationship-testing, life-altering experience. April is Infertility Awareness Month. Whether a friend, a family member, a colleague or yourself has fought through this difficult fate that MILLIONS of women and men are fighting day in and day out. Post this as your status if you or someone you know has walked to hell and back for the chance to be a MOM or DAD.

I remember, when we first started trying, it felt so hopeless, so very often.  I had a few other friends that were also struggling with the infertility demon alongside of me, which made it more bearable, but not always more hopeful.   I could read, and did read, many testimonies of people who struggled and eventually held a miracle in their arms.  I knew you could become a mother through adoption.  I knew I was never without all hope.  But it didn't always feel that way.

It honestly wasn't until a friend, and then another, the same ones I struggled alongside, got pregnant, that I really felt there was true hope for me.   I had prayed to God throughout the journey, but it seemed, to me, at least, I needed reassurance, close-by and interacting with me on a regular basis, that it REALLY could happen for Jake and I.

And, it did.

When I blog about infertility struggles, or the struggle of healing after a miscarriage, or the joys of being a parent post-battles, I do it for me, of course, to document and share my thoughts, with myself and my friends and family.  But, I also do it for people I don't know.  It may sound strange, but I do anyway.

And, occasionally, I receive messages from friends, acquaintances, and even people I do not know, sharing with me what I shared with my two supports.   That my story gives them hope.

I feel beyond blessed to read messages like that.  Do I deserve to have them sent my way?  No, not really. I don't feel like I've done anything spectacular for others that warrants me to be a beacon of light or hope in along the darkest path known to a woman who wants to be a mother.  But, I am blessed to be, and to know that I have been.

It always hits my heart like a dagger when a friend tells me that they've been trying so hard for so long, that they suffer with infertility, too.  Especially if it's been going on a while before I knew.  I don't feel like I need to know, by any means, but when I do know, I can instantly relate to them.   And, knowing how ashamed one can feel when they feel broken, insufficient, or inept, I feel honored that they trust me enough to share that secret with me.  Not everyone who suffers through this battle is public about it.  That's okay.   But, sometimes, I must admit, it does help to reach out to someone.  Whether you know them or not.  Just to let someone out there know.  Have someone to cry to if you need to, or to vent to, whatever.  

There is hope out there.

I feel like I've been babbling for quite a while, so I'm going to go.  But, I'm going to leave you with a video that another friend of mine shared yesterday.  It is... powerful, for lack of a better word.  I can relate to it.  So can my husband.  So can some of my friends.  So can millions of others that I do not know.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dear Sprout,

Dear Sprout,

Today was the day that your father, your brother, and I were "due" to meet you, see your face, hold you in our arms. April 18, 2012 was the predicted date that you'd enter this world.

I can barely wrap my mind around the fact that it's been 32 weeks since your heart stopped beating. It's been 31 weeks since we found out you were gone. It sounds so recent, and somehow, it seems like forever ago. I sit here, tears falling softly down my face, as I remember how beautiful my life was with you in it, and how devastated I was when you left.

Somehow, though, I feel strong. I wonder how long that strength will last.

My goal for today, while I celebrate your Auntie Allie's 13th birthday, while also observing the life you barely began to live is simply to smile. I hope to fight back tears and carry on with the day. I want to embrace the joy you brought us, as I embrace your father and also your brother. We have gotten through the loss so far, and I know that we can continue onward.

While I am sad that your'e gone, I know you're in a better place. I know that you never suffered the cruelty that this world can bring upon a person. You lived, so briefly, in a serene, calm place, and then ever so quietly went to meet our Maker.

I know that He has held you in his arms, even though I was unable to hold you in my own.

I know that there's a purpose in all of this- in your short life inside of me and the eternal life you began living, what I deem to be "too soon," and while I often sit and wonder what it is, I have decided to let it go. Someday, I will know. Until then, I will just embrace the fact that you happened to me- to us, and that it was a perfect and beautiful gift.

In a way, I suppose I should thank you, too, for giving your father and I the chance to become parents once more- for giving Spencer the opportunity to be a big brother to your little brother or sister, who we currently call Bo. It breaks my heart that there is no way that the two of you could exist in this household, on this earth, living this life together, but again, I know that someday, we all will be reunited as a family. I know I will live my earthly life imagining, from time to time, the day that the reunion comes true.

Baby, sweet baby, I miss you. I love you. I thank you for giving us the opportunity to know you exist and to love you forever. I carry you with me always.

Someday, Sprout, I will hold you.

Love, Your Mommy

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Simple Pleasures

I get stressed. A. Lot. Lately. I hate to admit it, but it's true. Thankfully, it's not chronic-raise-your-blood-pressure-have-anxiety-eat-my-stress-away type stress, but it's stress, nonetheless, over random little things, or some bigger things.

I get stressed when the dog won't stop whining, because he wants to be outside, but then when I put him outside, he gets mad and barks and barks until he's inside, almost immediately after I turn my back.

I get stressed when Spencer freaks out, runs away from me, or fights me as I put a jacket on him.

I get stressed when I think about Jake being gone overnight.

I get stressed when the neighbor and her boyfriend can't seem to be quiet for more than 10 minutes at a time when it's dark outside and my toddler is sleeping... or at 4 in the morning when I'd like to be sleeping and she is still... loud.

I get stressed when Spencer won't eat, which is a new phase he's going through, I guess.

I get stressed thinking about travelling alone, running errands, feeding, bathing, diapering, and putting two children to sleep in a few months.

Among other things.

But, fortunately, I've been, as of late, finding stress relief in the little things. Simple pleasures that my son has shown me... taught me... or reminded me of.

  • Bubbies! That's how Spencer says bubbles. He LOVES bubbles, which makes me love bubbles- even if I get a little lightheaded blowing them for him.
  • Sharing a pop-tart in the morning, in our pajamas, on the couch, as we watch an episode of Blue's Clues.
  • Anything that glows in the dark.
  • Big bubbles, with bubble wands, in the backyard when it's windy.
  • Writing with chalk... on his wall (where we now have a chalkboard decal).
  • Bubbles in the bathtub, during bath time, when they stick to his wet body, and the tub, and float on top of the water.
  • Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, saltines, and yogurt! Yum!
  • A lackadaisical walk around the neighborhood on a nice day (assuming he doesn't dart for the street, which he's getting better about).
  • Watching fish swim!
  • Sticking stickers on bare skin.
  • Giggling with your friends again after you've been apart.
  • Sitting by the window and watching the cars whiz by in the rain.
  • A handful of M&Ms, Skittles, or Gummi Bears, every now and then.
  • Coloring with crayons... outside the lines.
  • Throwing balloons as high as you can and watching them fall down and hit you in the face.
  • Cats and kittens!
  • The satisfaction of making a basket playing ball, especially since my aim is not very great!
  • Cuddling on the couch while watching the first... half... hour of a Disney movie.
Among other things. Those are some of the big, simple pleasures that are frequented in our daily lives.

Perhaps, though, my favorite is... when he's not even awake. Yes! I LOVE spending time with him, playing, exploring, and creating while he's awake. But, let's face it...

I love listening to his deep, slow breathing, watching his eyes flutter beneath their closed lids, as his face relaxes while he's curled up right next to me. Sometimes, I nap with him. Sometimes, I just lay there, with him lying on my arm, and watch him sleep for an hour. It's true.

Monday, April 16, 2012

a memorable hug

Nearly a year ago, my "little" brother left Minnesota on a deployment tour to Kuwait. The deployment ceremony was in May of 2011, and since that time, I believe we had seen him for two other days in the past nearly a year. That's more than many military families can say, I know and for that I'm grateful.

But, let's just be honest, 11 months of "touring" is a long time. Surely, it is for the soldiers, and also their families. I know it's nothing I've knowingly experienced before. And while it was my brother who was off on a mission and not a spouse or a child, it was still a big difference, and a big deal to me. I mean, I see my family every month or so, at least, despite the fact that they live over 2 hours away. We're close. I try to see them as much as a I can. So, when I would visit, or they would visit, multiple times over the last 11 months, and Bryan wasn't around (except for our family gathering and then again for my son's 1st birthday party), it just felt... different.

I have known for a while now, a couple months, anyway, that sometime in April, he would be coming home. He's told me many times, as have my sisters, other brother, and parents. But, I was never certain of the date, because a specific date was never given to us.

So, when my dad called me a week ago, roughly, to tell me that the weekend coming up (this past one, now), Bryan would probably be flying into Minnesota, I was really excited! I didn't think I'd be seeing him right away, but just knowing he'd be on home soil was amazing. And then on Saturday, I saw my mom had said that she's be picking him up on Sunday sometime.

Sunday, as in YESTERDAY. She had figured sometime in the afternoon.

Yesterday morning, she sent me a text saying she was on her way to get him.

And... it just so happens, that was PERFECT.

I had forgotten Spencer's diaper bag, which also housed my wallet, at my aunt's house for Easter the weekend before. Despite a whirlwind busy weekend, chalk full of things to do, Jake told me the other night that we would go get it on Sunday. My sister got it from my aunt's house, so we were going to stop by my dad's and pick it up before heading back to Sioux Falls for the Trans Siberian Orchestra concert.

Seeing as that my mother was getting Bryan in the morning instead of afternoon... that meant we would see him!

So, yesterday, around 3pm, I received one of the most memorable, best hugs I've ever received. And it was from my "little" brother, who is 7.5 years younger than me and towers over me by inches.

I walked up to my dad's house, and he, along with my siblings and parents, walked out. And, still dressed in his uniform, he came up and gave me the tightest hug I've gotten in ages. Ah! I am smiling now just thinking about it.

It was surreal to see him again, being that I hadn't really expected it!

Of course, my father, being the photographer that he likes to be, had to get a picture of us together... so we got to hug again... which became kind of awkward when my dad realized his camera was frozen, and we were standing in the front yard hugging like goons and smiling at my dad... who was not actually taking pictures yet, but telling us "just a minute, hold on." Haha. Bryan started dancing with me, "to the Elton John song in his head," and when I busted a gut laughing and tried to get away, he told me "no, wait, it's only the first chorus!"

So, not only did I get a great first hug, a long, awkward, hilarious second hug, and dance, but another couple when my dad finally enlisted my help in "thawing" (haha) his camera so he took pictures, and you know, when we left again, too. Yup, it was pretty great.

Bryan, for the record, has an excellent sense of humor. One of my biggest fears, aside from losing him while he was overseas, was that he'd come back super serious, or completely changed, and it would feel like we didn't know him at all.

Fortunately, that is not the case. Gosh. When you get all 4 of my siblings and I (ah! I'm so glad this happened) together, sitting at a table, talking and joking around, I laugh harder than I do most anywhere else. With Bryan there, it was just absolutely... perfect.

Though we had to leave after an hour and a half to get back in time for the concert, it was well worth the extra 2.5 hours of travel time, just to see him, talk with him, and hug him a few times. And, we left knowing that it won't be months before we see him again.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Almost Due.

It's almost April 18, 2012.

That wonderful Wednesday, my youngest sister will turn 13. Man, that makes me feel old!

That same Wednesday, last August and September, was slated to be our due date with Baby Sprout.

I can so clearly recall how "perfect" we thought that pregnancy worked out to be. I mean, really, being due on my sister's special birthday!? It was AWESOME. I for one, had prayed about it constantly since I calculated what that date would be, just asking God to allow it to happen. When I tested positive early morning on Sunday, August 7, I was shocked with disbelief, but through the roof with excitement. We told my sisters about the baby that morning already, we were so overjoyed!

And, as life would turn out, we lost Baby Sprout in the middle of September. Grieving and healing from the loss of the baby was a huge process to me. It was overwhelming for days before I finally could make it hours without crying. And over the weeks, and months as my body healed from my D&C, my mind started to heal as well, with the prospect of trying again for that second birth.

A sidenote: Sometimes, I get confused as to what to call Baby Bo. Is Bo my third child? Or is Bo my second child? I opt to say second child because it's less confusing for everyone else. Second child, third pregnancy, perhaps?

Anyway... On December 12, 2011, I tested positive again, and was cautiously optimistic and excited with the "perfection" of this pregnancy as well. As I had calculated that due to be August 26, 2012, which was just days after Jake's twin and his girlfriend, one of my best friends, were to be home for a wedding from Alaska. It seemed another pregnancy too "perfect" to be true, and for weeks I was scared of the same fate. Jake and I relish every movement (even if they wake me, or if Bo seems to be trampolining off my bladder during a 2.5 hour car ride) that we feel, knowing that Bo is alive and growing and gearing up to meet his/her family.

Now, I'm 21 weeks along, with an adjusted due date of August 19, 2012. We, again, are beyond overjoyed at the idea of bringing a sibling into this world for our wonderful son.

When I got my memorial tattoo for Sprout in November, it really helped me to find peace in the situation. Never once was I really mad at God (as I shared in a group not long ago at Operation Prom Dress), but I was frustrated, sad, and disappointed that it all happened. But then, it was like a release. Letting go of the sorrow as much as I could, I guess, and moving on to what lies ahead.

And I don't think I've cried over the loss since.

Until last night. Out of nowhere, it seems. I guess I was thinking about what the date would be next Sunday, when Jake and I have plans, and how my sister's birthday is only a few days after. And then I realized.. that was our due date. If that pregnancy had gone well, I would be due any day now. Or maybe, just maybe, we'd have already met Sprout. Maybe we'd know if Sprout was a boy or a girl. Maybe... And I got to wondering if Sprout was our son, or our daughter. I feel like the baby was a boy, though of course, there was no way for us to know.

I started sobbing. I told Jake that in over a week and a half, Sprout would have been due to be born. It was so overwhelming.

But, of course, I realize I am already over halfway through this pregnancy with Baby Bo. God gave us this gift, too. And this time, God willing, we've been able to progress smoothly, and God willing, will be able to meet our son or daughter in 19 or so weeks.

While it doesn't take away the loss, it helps to cope, some, I guess. But I'm torn. It's hard to be sad about the child we lost while we are getting ready for another child, now. But, Bo will never replace Sprout. Bo is just the given we were given after Sprout left us. And it's okay to be sad, I think. It's okay.

I'm not going to let it bog me down. I'm not going to dwell on it and take away from my sister's birthday. I decided if I wrote out how I feel, maybe, once again, like it did right after the loss, it will help me cope and move on. So, here's to that prayer.