Little Bambino

Before I start with the post I actually wrote for today, I just wanted to give a huge thank you to all of you for the outpouring of love and support after my last post.  Ya’ll brought me to tears (well you and the pregnancy hormones haha) and you have no idea how much I needed to hear every single one of those comments.  Just knowing how many people we still have praying for us after so long, and how many of you care, is motivation for me to keep pushing ahead and seeking Christ and His will in my life and in our family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You all bless me so much more than you know!

I told my husband.  I did.  I told him, “You can’t call the baby Bambino.  We don’t know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and Bambino is definitely a boy’s name.”  But sometimes I get overruled (ok a lot of times I get overruled.)  He says, “This baby is a boy, so it doesn’t matter anyway.”  He’s very confident in his prediction apparently.  He also offered that we could call the baby Bambi if we happen to have a girl, which sounded like a fine compromise at first, until I remembered that Bambi was actually a boy… and by the time we would get to see our baby girl the whole point would be moot because the pregnancy would be over anyway.  Then there was that pesky pregnancy article I was reading that referred to the baby as “your little bambino”.  I tried, but there was just no getting out of it… so Bambino is the name-o of darling baby number six.  (Until said baby is born and then we can pick a real name, thank goodness!)

I have been waiting to post this until we had our first prenatal visit, which was supposed to be on Monday, and then it got moved to yesterday and then it got moved to next week soooo I don’t really know when it’s going to be.  And in the spirit of not taking forever to post again I thought I’d just write this up now and then let you know how the visit went later, after it actually happens.

So on to the fun stuff.  I’m nine weeks pregnant now, we found out at a super early four weeks.  I didn’t even think I was pregnant when I took the test, but I had been so abnormally tired and Jake had mentioned that I take one.  I brushed him off, but ended up taking one on a whim the next day anyway.  And sure enough, there were two very solid lines staring right back at me.  I was totally stunned.  Excited, happy, but way not expecting it!

Morning sickness followed soon after that and has not let up at all since then.  It’s 24/7, and if I do get it to settle down as soon as I get up and move again the nausea comes right back.  The first few weeks were the hardest.  I called my doctor as soon as I knew, and I got in for a quick appointment.  Hashimoto’s can have fatal complications for the baby if not treated properly during pregnancy, so I was a bit anxious.  She didn’t want to do blood work until week six, and by that point I was having definite hypothyroid symptoms and thyroid flare ups.  My energy levels tanked; I was in pain; I was cold all the time, and just totally not functional.  I was so thankful when we did the blood work and she adjusted my dose; I quickly felt better after that.

I was really set on eating super well this pregnancy, but it hasn’t happened.  My food aversions/cravings have been all over the place; between that and the constant morning sickness (let’s just say my diet has been below average, even for a typical American).  My migraines have come back because I’ve been skipping so many meals, which makes the nausea even worse.  Can you say vicious cycle?

But I do feel like I’m slowly starting to turn a corner.  I can eat through the sick feeling now a bit better than I could a week or two ago.  Fruits and vegetables have become edible again and even meat sometimes.  So we’re getting there.  And I’m definitely committed to cleaning up my act on the eating as soon as possible for little Bambino.

I’m also hoping to avoid the bed rest and terrible issues I had at the end of my last pregnancy.  Me being out of commission is so hard on the family.  The kids are struggling with just my morning sickness impairments, bed rest would be (and was) unbearable.  Jake has been amazing, as always.  He has been cooking almost all the meals for the last month, because I haven’t been able to.  He works early and late so he can be more helpful during the day.  And, of course, he has to carry all of the children everywhere now and I can’t really help with that at all.  He’s done bedtime single handedly quite often.  And he’s even changes the poopy diapers because I usually can’t handle the smell!  He’s the absolute best husband ever.

So, in short, it’s been tough so far but we are muddling through as always.  God is very good.  Morning sickness is no fun for any of us, but we are thankful that baby is healthy and growing right now, and we are all beyond thrilled for a new little one in the house.  Even Kyrie seems happy when we talk about having a baby, although she does laugh at me when I tell her baby is in my tummy.  Oh well, one day she will believe me!  Oh and bonus adorable not-the-baby-anymore pic:

Not the Baby Anymore

Love you all, enjoy your weekend!

The Roller Coaster

I’m not sure exactly what it was that stopped my blog.  I was so determined not to be that adoptive mom that spent a year gushing about her babies and asking for money to bring them home, only to disappear into thin air once they arrived.  Not that I judged my fellow adoptive mamas who went through similar things.  Adoption is all-consuming – especially after the plane lands.  No one can possibly fathom what their new normal will be like, let alone if they will have time to take several hours out of their week keeping the world updated on their precious new additions.

I knew it was a struggle for a lot of people to keep up their adoption blogs, but I was different.  I blogged before the adoption.  I’ve been blogging since our first year of marriage.  Blogging wasn’t just an adoption necessity for me; it’s what I did!  So, naturally, I’d be able to keep up with it after we were home.  And maybe the real failure (as I see it) isn’t that I didn’t have time to blog.  Sure there have been periods of a few months where there literally was no time or no computer.  But it’s been three years now, and there have been plenty of times in between for blogging and updating.  So why not?  Why have I not continued?

There are so many reasons, between needing to not expend unnecessary emotional energy to just not being able to face my abandoned blog that I used to pour so much of myself into, to not knowing what to say in some of our really dark days.  But I think the reason that stands out the most to me (as I sit here not being able to remember how to even log into my blog admin account) is that our life is such a roller coaster and I didn’t know how to honestly take all of you on that roller coaster with me.

Some roller coasters were less serious, like “Hey, Hope is sleeping so well now!” To… “Oh nevermind, we aren’t getting sleep anymore.”  And some were more serious, like our constant progress and regression with Jacob’s attachment and behaviors or the myriad of diets and supplements I’ve tried in attempting to manage my Hashimoto’s.  There was a time where I have been able to fit on a single sheet of paper a list of every single food I could eat, because I had restricted my diet so severely in trying to feel perfectly well.  Other months I haven’t been attempting any basic vitamin protocols or healthy eating habits because I just can’t cope with any of it anymore.

How do I explain to my readers that yes I’m on the GAPS diet, no I’m not doing that anymore, well now I’m just going to do the Whole30 again, maybe I’ll add the AIP protocol too, and oh I found some more food sensitivities… well, no I’m not even trying anymore.  It’s frustrating enough to live that reality without actually having to broadcast it.  From some recent reading, I think I’m probably not alone in this up and down autoimmunity journey.  Healing hasn’t been straightforward or simple, and when I think I’ve found the magic formula for wellness I end up being disappointed, frustrated and exhausted from the work I’ve put into it.  And so I stop trying, but the next bad wave of sickness comes and the guilt seems to push me into trying something, anything, to fix it.

The same has been true with our children.  Things get better for a while, and then they get worse.  Homeschool goes, and then it doesn’t.  Nothing in my life is consistent or even has a noticeable upward progression.  I’m sure Jacob and Hope have made progress.  I’m sure they have.  But I can’t see it.  I am told by everyone how much potential they have, and I believe it, but there’s that nagging feeling that neither of them will ever reach that potential because I can’t seem to unlock it.  How do you explain that to people?  “Oh yes, the potential is there, but it won’t amount to anything.”  Most times honesty just isn’t an option, because people won’t understand or refuse to believe it if you told them.  And trust me, I’ve tried.

Everyone will tell you that special needs parenting is isolating.  Having a chronic illness is isolating.  Being a pastor’s wife is isolating.  If there’s one thing that I apparently can do really consistently, it’s isolate myself.  My online community used to be my foundation of support, but it was draining me more than it was helping and I had to let go.  I got rid of Facebook, and I’ve been much happier.  I stopped blogging because I couldn’t handle sharing the repeated success/failure/success/failure, up and down insanity that is our life.

When Jacob and Hope came home I stopped reading “normal” family blogs.  I could not relate to my friends anymore with typical children, their joys and struggles are just as real as mine, but they became so foreign to me.  I remember once feeling the way they describe, but I knew that I’d never live that life again.  And after a while even the adoption blogs and the special needs blogs stopped being encouraging.  Our struggles don’t seem to fit into anyone else’s box.  I try looking for help on the “moms with chronic illness” corner of the web, but they don’t understand all the other pieces of our puzzle either.

In real life it’s the same.  No one gets all of our puzzle pieces.  We are the only ones who can make our life work, and it’s hard to find anyone who can even help because they don’t know how the pieces fit together.  Our life is complicated and delicate and in a constant state of flux.

Speaking of which, we are expecting again.  Baby #6 is on the way, and as excited as I am about that, the fatigue and morning sickness, not to mention my other chronic illness symptoms are a new source of guilt and frustration.  I’m back to incapacitated most days, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.  I’m watching little successes, habits and routines I’ve spent months building just slip away again.  And there isn’t anything I can do to stop it.

I don’t want to just sit here and vent, because especially lately, I’ve been able to see just how much I have.  I’ve been doing a lot less taking for granted and a lot more of being thankful for what we can do as a family.  Maybe that’s why I was able to muster the courage to write this post.  We aren’t in the dark days of transition that we were in right after the kids came home or during Hope’s hospital stays.  Things are much better now.  I am way more functional than I was just prior to receiving my diagnosis.  We have five beautiful children and one on the way, and our marriage is rock solid.  We have all the things we need and many of the things we want.

Things are well.  But well just looks so different for us, and it is fluid.  I don’t know how to convey our family’s story in a way that doesn’t make people just shake their heads and wonder why we seem to be stuck on repeat.  Perhaps I’ll figure it out and come back to my long lost blog, and writing to you delightful people, which is something I really did used to love.

72 Hours After Facebook

Has it really been three days already?  I’ve hardly thought about Facebook at all today.  I had an eye appointment, the kids spent the afternoon playing in the pool while I did my favorite pastime (list making) and this evening was an early dinner and bedtime for the three worn out little ones.  I’m hoping to get some more cleaning and organizing done this evening since the day was so busy.

I am excited to keep blogging and fill in the details as I go.  I need to actually block some time off for this though, otherwise it will consume my mental narrative much like Facebook did, and it will be distracting.  I’ve noticed that my blog is already replacing some of that mental space I freed up in deleting Facebook, and I don’t want that to get out of hand or I’ll have to quit this too!  Moderation is key and I will be focusing quite intently on that as I start out.

I don’t want to try to do too much too fast.  But there are also so many things I’d like to say.  All in all I don’t think (at this point) I will ever return to having a personal Facebook profile.  It took much more than it gave, and in the end I don’t have room in my life for things like that.  I think it can be an amazing tool and I almost wish that I had found it later in life when I had a better idea of what I wanted out of my internet connections and resources.  But I am perfectly fine without it as it stands.

My dear husband has remarked to me several times today how happy I seem and how even when I do get grumpy I rebound much faster.  I’m not sure at this point if that’s just a correlation or really a direct result of my new-found freedom, but it’s certainly a great start to the journey!  I think I was expecting it to be much more difficult than this, but there is still plenty of time for me to hit some bumps in my post-Facebook road.  Perhaps the craving for that newsfeed will come back.  Stay tuned to find out I suppose!

Not Shooting for the Stars

Some days you just can’t get ahead.  I’ve only written six hundred words today.   Not enough, doesn’t matter.  I’m going to bed.  Too much stress today and I feel awful.  I just need to go back to bed.  I suppose, when you’re blogging every day there is going to be a day that is just not pretty.  Today is one of those days.  It wasn’t terrible, but I’m just worn out at this point and don’t feel like doing more.

So tonight I’m not shooting for the stars… I’m just going to go lay down and hope to wake up and feel better in the morning than I did this afternoon.  I would say chronic illness is to blame, and I’m sure it has something to do with it.  But in reality, doesn’t everyone just have “one of those days”?  In case you were wondering, it wasn’t rhetorical.  Give me a shout out and let me know I’m not alone here! Ha… ok… night.  :)

Writing Up a Storm

Night four (I think) of my experiment and I’m still loving it!  I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m getting any more sleep than I was before, but I certainly am being more productive.  Something just hasn’t been jiving these first few days between my brain wanting to sleep and my kids sleeping when they’re supposed to.  Regardless of our inability to coordinate, things are going fairly well.  I am certainly not getting less sleep than I was, and I think having that solid, initial block in the early evening hours really helps if the early morning hours get rocky.

Tonight I fell asleep easier than I have been, which was great.  My brain started ramping up with the laundry list of things I had forgotten (why does it always do that when I’m trying to sleep?!)  But it was super easy to flip the off switch when I could remind myself that I was getting up in three hours and would just do it then.  I was actually surprised how quickly my mind shut itself up!  It was fantastic!

So what have I been doing with my extra time?  Writing of course!  Like I said, most of the time I’m gaining from this right now is going toward Nanowrimo.  I’m writing a novel, and it’s going really well.  I’m currently on course to win the contest of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  I don’t think that will be enough words to finish my book, but it gets me off to a great start nonetheless!

I am super excited about this particular expedition into fantasy writing, my first real shot at it, and I can’t wait to share all of it with all of you!  But for now you will just have to settle for a bit of an excerpt:

What was wrong with everyone? Couldn’t they tell there was something very wrong here? This wasn’t a carnival game or a part of the ceremony. The River hadn’t “gifted” them anything, how would a river even do that anyway? Why was she the only sane person here? The men got to chest deep water and began swimming, keeping their heads above water and eyes toward the basket. Kassia held her breath. The crowd held their breath.

Minutes passed as they maneuvered toward the center of the River, getting themselves into position to catch the basket as it drifted. Half treading water, half swimming upstream, they were drawing closer and closer. Benjamin was the first one to reach out for the basket, gently pulling it in to himself so as not to overturn it, he peered inside. He found layers of blankets, a few of which he soaked tugging at them to see what lay underneath. He cursed under his breath, very unlike him.

“What is it? Ben what do you see?” Brice prodded swimming up alongside him. “Ben!” The color had drained from his face; he made eye contact but couldn’t get anything out. Few things threw Benjamin Azure off his game, but this was more than he had bargained for.”

If that whetted your appetite a bit, stay tuned for more!

Mini Thoughts

So far my sleep experiment has been a success.  I am certainly not less rested than I was before, and I seem to be feeling more energized.  Though it’s early on, so I’ll reserve judgments for now.  I am certainly being more productive than I was before!  The freedom to fall asleep at 7pm knowing I will have two or three more hours in my day to work (without kids!) is just so freeing.

And look, another blog!  Even so, don’t expect too much from me this month.  I plan on doing lots of blogging, but short and sweet blogs with one or two thoughts from the day… mini thoughts you might call them.  :)  The majority of my writing time this month will be dedicated to Nanowrimo!  I won Nano in 2010 when Evie was a baby and haven’t had a chance since then.  Right now I’ve got a great novel idea and I’m going for it.  I will post some excerpts for you soon!

I also have some great holiday recipes that I’ve been testing out and I will be sharing throughout the month.  Looking forward to having some time for my outlet again and praying that my sleep experiment continues to go well so my blogging can keep going.

Knock Knock…

Anybody home? Yes! I am! And we have lots to catch up on!  First and foremost, I wanted to announce the long overdue winner of our giveaway! Stefanie!  Congratulations!  I’ll be contacting you soon to work on getting your prize all set up!

Second, I am so sorry for not posting sooner.  The worst of the adjustment period seems to be over for us and I’m hoping that the next few months we’ll avoid surprise surgeries and unexpected setbacks and get to finally see what our new normal looks like.  We are also trying to get a more reliable internet connection at the house so I can blog more often.

It takes so long to upload a basic post that it hasn’t really been realistic for me to do much.  But now that we’re finding a groove, I’m ready to get back to it and a reasonable internet connection will allow that to happen!  It will also allow me to start uploading pictures again!  If there’s something that you’ve been dying to know about how our family’s doing please comment or send me a quick message and I’ll put it on the docket for posts.  Hope everyone has had a wonderful summer!  It’s good to be back!

Hope is out of the hospital, she’s doing wonderfully.  We are still working through some issues though.  The catheter that drains fluid from her brain became infected, and the bacteria was present in the spinal fluid of her brain.  Life threatening stuff!  But we have the amazing gift of medicine, and we give great thanksgiving to God for the miracles He accomplished through our doctors.  After spending two weeks in the ICU and going through two more surgeries, she is now healthy and thriving once again.

The unfortunate piece of this, however, is that Hope’s self-harming behaviors were the cause of the infection.  She constantly jabs and picks at her catheter.  It was never an issue before, I think, because it was an old surgery (from when she was a baby) and it was fully healed before her stimulating behaviors started.  But when she received a new shunt and catheter back in April, the tissue didn’t have time to completely heal.  We did keep her away from it for several weeks afterward, but that wasn’t enough time.

Now we are in the difficult position of preventing her from touching her catheter until it is fully healed – her neurosurgeon said six months.  The area we need to protect runs from her neck all the way down to her stomach, it’s a very large space.  There is absolutely no behavioral redirection that prevents her from picking; it is a compulsive stim and she just can’t help it.  This means that when we aren’t able to be one-on-one with her and watching very closely, we have to keep her safe some other way.

We are working so hard to find a solution that doesn’t include pediatric restraints.  It took us a month before any of her doctors or therapists would even have a serious brainstorming discussion with us.  We tried some solutions with our own creativity, but nothing has panned out yet.  Hopefully soon.

In other news… Jacob and Evangeline are starting 1st grade!  We have lots of great books to get us going and I’m super excited for both of them.  Technically Evangeline would be in Kindergarten this year, but since we are homeschooling it gives us a lot of flexibility to go at their pace, so I opted for an early 1st grade start and if we need to take more than a year to finish it no one will be stressed out!  Having them start in the same grade will also be super helpful for me, as I only have one lesson plan.  Yay!

I’m telling Stephen that he gets to “start Preschool” with them, which really just means I’ll have schoolish things for him to do when he feels like it.  Hope is definitely in school with us, but she isn’t really classified in any grade level yet.  I’m hoping that by the time Stephen is ready to start 1st grade her attentiveness will have grown enough that she can listen to the books and music and enjoy them along with him.

The children have reached lots of milestones since I last updated.  Jacob is now using crutches around the house instead of a walker!  He still uses his walker to go to church and back, but he is getting really strong and we are so proud of how hard he’s working on his walking.  He even walked up the stairs for the first time ever a few days ago!  Tomorrow is Jacob and Hope’s first baptism birthday and we will have a dinner and cake to celebrate with them.

Hope is now able to sit up on the edge of her bed and help me put her shirt on.  This is a huge accomplishment!  She does it without prompting and seems to enjoy participating in her care.  She is getting more interested in being a part of our family every day.  It’s amazing to watch her come to life.  I’m working on teaching her to tell me when she wants to be picked up and also showing her how to go from a laying to a sitting position.  She’s strong enough to do it, she just needs to learn that she can!  We started putting her in her stander for a while but we’re breaking from that.  Her braces aren’t exactly correct and she has some alignment issues, so we’re going to try and sort all that out before doing any more standing.

Evangeline has her very first loose tooth, which she is impatient to get out.  She also started her first dance class last week.  She is in a ballet and tap class and is really enjoying it so far!  It has some of the same elements as gymnastics, without the flipping on bars way off the ground, which she didn’t care for much.

Stephen, on the other hand, loves gymnastics!  His first class was also last week, and even though he was shy at first, once he got in on the fun he never stopped smiling once and he zoomed through all the skills.  I was impressed!  He is getting more interested in reading now and would be happy reading several books all in a row if I had the time for it.  He just had his third birthday and is turning into a sweet, sweet kid.

Kyrie is growing like a weed; she is already in 2T clothes and she has four teeth!  Ack!  How did that happen!?  Last week she said her first word “Dada”!  She won’t say it for us every time, I suppose it’s on her terms. We are diaper free now except when we go out in town.  I still take her potty when we’re away, but we use a diaper just in case we can’t find a potty fast enough.  She stays dry through the night for us, which is awesome, and she typically has a few accidents throughout the day, but we’re doing really well for six months and I’m enjoying not having to buy so many diapers!

 

A Bright Day

Hi everyone!  Ok so really quick.  For those of you who follow my Facebook page, I posted a prayer request a few days ago because I was trying to write a post (which I’ve been honestly trying to write for months) and it just wasn’t coming.  The words I needed to say were hard words.  Really hard.  And I didn’t know exactly how to say them.

Well… ya’ll are amazing prayer warriors apparently!!  Because the next morning I woke up and my life was changed.  It sounds sensational and crazy, I know. But I have no other way of describing it.  So, if you want to hear more there’s a video on my Facebook page you can look at here. (Because I still have no idea how to post a video on my blog! Lol!)

I will be posting again soon!  And the next post will have the winner of the giveaway from a long long time ago.  Thank you all so much for your patience these last few months as my posts have dwindled.  There are some seasons of life where we need much grace, and this last year has definitely been that for me.

Looking forward to brighter days with the best people in the world who have stuck by me through it all.  I love each and every one of you, even those of you I don’t know who are reading I pray for you and love you just the same.

God so Loved…

Today my husband is guest blogging his sermon from yesterday’s baptismal service for Kyrie.  He preached on the assigned text for the 4th Sunday in Lent, John 3:14-21.  Enjoy!

*******

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Dearly beloved, my friends, God loves you.  God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) I remember my dear mother laboring as my 3rd & 4th grade Sunday School teacher to help me memorize that verse, not to mention all the other rowdy kids she graciously and meticulously taught it to over the years as well.  She’s a saint if there ever was one!

It was in her classroom that I first heard John 3:16 called the Gospel in a nut shell, and it’s true and I’m glad she helped me understand that.  This verse captures the will of God, the Good News, that our God, Who is love, sent His only-begotten Son into the world for the life of the world.  He came, not to kill and condemn, but to restore and justify the ungodly.  Jesus dies the death of all sinners on the cross and rises again victorious over death that we might have a share of His divine life (2 Peter 1:3-4), eternal life, communion with God for all eternity.  As John says, Jesus was not sent for the purpose of condemnation but salvation! For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:17)  Jesus is the love of God in human flesh and when you believe in Him you have everlasting life.

If John 3:16 is the Gospel in a nut shell, then Holy Baptism is the Gospel in a sea shell. [The sea shell, of course, referring to what I use to pour the water on the one being baptized.]  The blessed water of Holy Baptism has given Kyrie Rose the Gospel, the gift of faith, complete and total trust and belief in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.  The gift of everlasting life, won for her on the cross, is given to her today by this means of grace that Christ our Lord has established.

Baptism is a gift, a pure gift.  One does not work for a gift, otherwise it would not be a gift.  A gift is given freely, out of love.  Baptism gives the gift of faith, not only a personal trust but the entire Christian faith. Everything we believe, everything that is necessary for salvation, the whole faith belongs to this little girl. Baptism is a mystery that one enters and grows into on our journey into the Kingdom of God.  Baptism unites us with Jesus as His name is placed upon us.

The mystery of union with God in those waters is somewhat similar to marriage, and I mean that in this way:  The day you married your husband, the day you married your wife, you did not understand fully what that would mean.  Marriage is a gift from God.  A union that is meant to bring a man and woman together for life, a union that we grow into, that changes as we age, that flourishes in different ways at different times.  It’s a gift we don’t fully understand on the day that we say “I do”, nevertheless, we receive the full gift all the same.

Baptism a gift, a work of the Spirit, not a work of man.  Baptism gives us everything we need for life in the Kingdom of God.  We get a new name as we take on the name of “Christian”, membership in God’s family, and a seat at Christ’s table where he nourishes us with His heavenly gifts.  The gift of faith is given, complete, total, and whole with the promise that God will never leave us, nor forsake us, even if we run far away from Him, even if we sprint away from Him as fast as we can at times.  Even if our faith grows weak or cold, even if we say we reject the faith we were given, nevertheless the promise remains, for God never goes back on His promise or give up on even His prodigal children even if we are unfaithful.  God is love and does not forget His children even if we forget Him.

God does not lie and He will not change His Word, He will not change the promises He made to Kyrie this day and He will not change His promises to you.  He loves you.  In His union with you He has promised to never leave you, nor forsake you.  He will provide all that you need to support this body and life.  He will feed your soul through His Word and in His Body and Blood.  He promises to forgive you all your sins and raise you from the grave.  Should you flee to the darkness and delight in your sins, still, He does not change.  His love for you compels Him to search for you, to wait for you, to long for your return home to His house.  Baptism comes with the promise that God is always for you, even when He disciplines you and allows you to feel the sting of your sins, it’s never because He hates you, but always because He loves you as a dear Father loves His dear children and desires you to repent and return to His loving embrace and to hear His assuring Word of forgiveness.

Baptism gives you everything.  The fullness of faith. A mysterious union between us and God that we cannot fully explain at the time, but only later do we learn how to describe what we have.  Our life together in the Church, our worship, our service, our teaching, our studying, our living and learning, is about unpacking the gift of Baptism, not adding something to it, learning to understand what we already possess by faith, growing into the reality of who God says we already are by His grace.  None of the things we do as Christians in Church add anything new to what we were given, rather they sustain and keep the new life in Christ growing as we ourselves grow and change.

We ought to remember and celebrate our baptisms better than we do.  What better thing is there to make a big fuss over than the gift of faith, new life, forgiveness and salvation?  I really can’t think of any.  All the other gifts we get for birthdays one day break, or rust, or we lose interest in them.  But the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation we receive never go bad!

Remember your Baptism.  Be intentional about it. You won’t regret it. In the Small Catechism Luther suggests each Christian make the sign of the cross to remember Your baptism, for when you were brought to the font you had the sign of the cross placed on your forehead and on your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.  The sign of the cross is the perfect link between the Gospel in a nut shell and the Gospel in a sea shell.  This practice teaches us to never forget that the cross and Baptism always go together.  Both are the work of God for the salvation of world, for the salvation of you.  God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.  That same love and promise are your gift in Holy Baptism.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

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38 Notes for 38 Weeks

1. I know it’s been a while but… You’d be surprised how hard it is to find time to blog on bed rest!  And yes, I’ve been off of bed rest for two weeks now, and it’s been even harder to find time to do anything on the computer.  Maybe it will be easier when the baby comes?  A girl can dream…

2. I never thought I’d see a #2 on that side of the scale (if ya know what I mean) but I am rocking the extra poundage, or so my husband says.  He’s not biased… right?

3. Baby bump picture?  Umm… dream on because of the previous note.  Maybe if I can get this swelling to go down you’ll get one before baby comes… ahem.

4. So… Boy or Girl? We don’t get routine ultrasounds so we still don’t know if Mambo is a boy or a girl. But I do tend to get a “feeling” one way or the other, and I’ve been right the last two times. I will probably jinx myself by making a prediction, but I’ll do it anyway. I think the little one is a girl! Of course, we’ll be excited either way, and we have baby clothes for both! :)

5. Jake had a dream… night before last that we are having a girl.  So double confirmation, right?!  He said she was beautiful and favored Stephen more than Evie in her features.  Which is also what I’ve sort of been thinking.  The suspense is killing me!

6. My husband is amazing. It’s a strange feeling to be constantly asked about and worried over. I feel fine. Lots of contractions that are annoying, and Baby is doing great… But Jake, this man is a rock star.  I seriously don’t know how he does everything.  I’m not on bed rest, but I’m still not at 100%.  I still sit around most of the day, because too much walking causes muscle fatigue and pain.  My body is just tired from being in and out of labor for a month… so he’s still doing so much.

7. So when did you go off of bed rest?  Two weeks ago exactly.  I was 36 weeks and we all thought the baby would be here ANY DAY.  No such luck.  I had intense contractions the first two days, and then they died down.  For about a week after that I would wake up with nothing, they would start as I did more throughout the day and be 2-5 minutes apart, and regular, by bedtime.  I would go to sleep and they’d stop… and we’d do it all over again.  It has become a frustrating version of Groundhog’s Day.

8. Where are you at now?  Same place.  No real change.  My contractions are less frequent some days and more on others.  The only constant is that they keep getting stronger, so I know we’re getting closer.  I just have no idea how close!

9. I had my midwife appointment the other day.  I learned several interesting things…

10. The best news is that Baby is doing great!  The heartbeat sounded good, position is good, I’m measuring right on target.  All awesome things.

11. The worst news is… my midwife is going out of town next week.  She never told me because she didn’t dream in a million years I would still be pregnant… And guess who her only pregnant lady left is for several weeks?  Yup.  That would be me.  It’s not the end of the world, but certainly not the greatest thing either.

12. We were thinking of trying to kick start labor last weekend.  However, when she came to check me we were shocked – absolutely shocked – to find that I was only 2cm dilated and not effaced one bit.  On bed rest I was 90% effaced… now?  Nothing.  I am actually nowhere near labor.  The baby is sitting on my pelvic bone, meaning that all those contractions?  They’re just trying to move the baby, and they are doing pretty much nada. So.  Frustrating.

13. I missed wishing my sweet oldest daughter a Happy Birthday on here!  It was so simple and lovely.  We did it my first day off of bed rest.  So since I missed it, I’ll spend a few notes gushing about her lovely self and all our birthday fun…

14. A Golden Birthday.  I was so excited to have her home for her Golden Birthday.  My midwife came over a couple days earlier and I was in tears because she didn’t want me going off of bed rest yet and we weren’t going to be able to do anything for it.

15. Side Note… a lot of people told me that week beforehand that she would “just be happy” cuddling with Mommy for her birthday or that she wouldn’t know it was her birthday that day and we could just do it another day, etc.  But, like many adoptive mamas I know, I had dreamed of giving her a beautiful birthday for the first time in her life.  No one had ever done that for her before.  The day was more than just a day, it was a milestone in her life and in ours.  The thought of missing it was heart wrenching in a way that is possibly very difficult to understand unless you’ve been there.

16. ANYWAY… My midwife told me I could go off of bed rest.  Hooray!  And my contractions stopped (go figure).  Two days later, I was up and getting a party ready!

17. Her first present was a new hairdo!  She got her first ever ponytails, which she hated putting in, but actually liked in the end.  I think she enjoys the consistent tugging of the hair.  It gives her sensory input.  She always loves it when I play with her hair :)  And she looked adorable!

18. I also got her this beautiful birthday dress…

Hope's Birthday

19. A dear friend of ours offered to make cupcakes for her.  She made the cake and gorgeous flowers and butterflies to put on top.  I made a special frosting that would be a consistency and a sweetness that Hope would like.  (She doesn’t appreciate really sweet things. And hasn’t approved of frosting before.)  So this was more of a sweet, whipped yogurt – but still delicious!

20. Presents!  Hope got some sweet presents.  Her godmother gave her a cute little bear with fun zippers and buttons and things to play with, and she got oodles of new clothes!  She wasn’t really interested in the clothes, but she did enjoy throwing all that tissue paper on the floor.

21. Happy Birthday to You!  We lit her candles and sang to her.  All the other littles were lined up beside her and she just seemed to be loving it.  Even the small party we had would have been way too much just a couple of months ago.  But now it was almost as if she knew that we were singing to her and she was soaking it all in.  It was such a beautiful moment!

22. Progress Updates.  Well I don’t have many of those.  I actually don’t have any of those.  Since I went on bed rest no therapy or stretching has been done for either Hope or Jacob.  And they had been doing so well!  I am frustrated that those things have taken a back seat and I’m dreading how much progress we’ll have lost by the time I can get them back to their routine.  But trying to not worry about it because I can not control it, and there simply isn’t a point in fretting.

23. Dealing with Regression.  Which brings me to my next note about regression.  All four kiddos have regressed since bed rest.  Their behaviors, their attachment, their felt security… everything is back sliding.  It’s so hard to watch.  It was hard to listen to Stephen cry for half an hour while his poor Daddy tried to put him to sleep, and all he wanted was me.  Evie and Jacob and Hope weren’t getting attention from me at night, and that had always been our most consistent and essential bonding time each day.

24. Is it better now?  Being off of bed rest has helped some, but we’re still far from reclaiming what we had.  There is a lot of leftover anxiety and insecurity manifesting, and we are still in survival mode, which makes it difficult to concentrate on refilling the little one’s cups with felt safety and all the attention and love they need.

25. As for bedtime… I pray that we’ll be able to go back to some sort of normalcy in routine after baby is here, but I remember how horribly difficult those first few weeks were after Stephen was born.  Whatever happens, we’ll muddle through it and eventually get to a place where things go back to a sense of normal and routine.  I. Can. Not. Wait.

26. Things are getting easier.  We really aren’t drowning in chaos anymore.  There are just several things that can’t get back to normal until after the baby arrives, and our little Jacob thrives so much on routine that he has been very out of sorts.  We are all weary at the end of this journey, and just can’t wait to have our newest little member join us on the outside so we can move forward with the rest of our year!

27. Speaking of which… Happy New Years!  I know I sort of missed the big event, but I still thought it might be nice to take a moment and look back on 2014 while looking forward to 2015.

13. 2014 was the hardest year of my life.  I know, I’m still pretty young, so this isn’t like headline news or anything… but for us it was such a stretching, trying, challenging time.  It has not just been adoption and special needs parenting, although those things are certainly near the top on my list of hardest things I’ve ever done.  But it seems that we just haven’t been able to catch a break, emotionally, spiritually, practically or otherwise.  It was rough.

14. 2015 will be better.  I’m sure of it.  We may not have seen much of any good fruit from our labor last year, but so many seeds were planted.  This year my prayer is that those good seeds will take root and bear fruit, that our family will see the joys and blessings of our sacrifice.  I pray that our children especially will benefit, all five of them, and that Jake and I will grow closer to the Lord and to one another as we wade through the deep waters of these fleeting days.

15. Did I mention that Jake is awesome?  Because he is.  I just thought I’d mention it again.  Seriously.  There’s no one else I’d rather be raising five rambunctious, out-of-control, adorable little monsters with.

16. Speaking of monsters… I’ll do a little note for each one of the kiddos.  And I say monsters as a term of the utmost endearment.  We have great children, they’re just… ya know… in need of some direction for their copious amounts of energy 😉

17. Hope.  Starting with the oldest, Hope is the same sweet little girl she’s always been.  Very, very slowly she is opening up more to eye contact and interaction and becoming less averse to learning new things.  She can go to church and do a few short trips in public without screaming from the overstimulation and anxiety.  She is needing less isolation and more loving, and it’s a fun (albiet slow) transformation to watch.

18. Jacob.  His language skills are getting better.  He actually tries to speak full sentences with me now that have more than one point.  His personality is coming out more than ever, and I can’t wait till he reaches that threshold.  He was such a jokester whenever he would talk to translators in Russian.  I’m excited for that personality to come out again.

19. Evangeline. Her reading skills are starting to stick, and she’s still interested.  I think once she gets the basics of phonics that she’ll just teach herself the rest.  She is so smart and so motivated as far as books are concerned.  We got her a xylophone for Christmas, though, and reading music is going to take a little more work I think – lol!  In other news she is continuing to grow into her big sister role, she’s always been such a nurturing little girl.  It’s absolutely true that God gives us exactly the children our family needs at exactly His perfect time.

20. Stephen.  If I had one word to describe this two year old tornado it would be “RAWR!!” It is his favorite word and also embodies everything he loves… dinosaurs and monsters.  Oh and baseball.  He’s all boy and he’s really good at it.  Channeling his constant energy is a daily challenge in energy and patience.  But he has a lot of gifts and a lot of love to give.  He brings an amazing amount of joy and laughter, and Heaven knows we need those!

21. Mambo.  And this little one is just ornery!  Moving constantly… all over the place.  Baby was head down and pretty comfy until the contractions started.  Now?  Just constant kicking and pushing and spinning all over the place.  You’d better spin back to your proper position before I go into labor kiddo!  No breech babies allowed.  Good grief.

22. Confession… so about my last note… I actually wrote that three and a half weeks ago.  Lol!  Yes… I started drafting this at 35 weeks and am just now finishing up.  That is what my life has been like lately.

23. So what is Mambo really doing?  Little one has slowed down a lot, very little movement compared to what I was having on bed rest.  Heart beat and measurements look great, I just think there’s much less room in there than at the beginning of the month!  My midwife says this is a good sized baby, not huge, but certainly healthy, which makes me happier than could be after all that drama!

24. Which brings us to our next point…. about the drama.

25. I.

26. Do.

27. Not.

28. Want.

29. To.

30. Be.

31. Pregnant.

32. Anymore.

33. Seriously.  I mean… does more than that really need to be said?  At this point we are nowhere near labor and my due date is approaching quickly.  It’s exciting and frustrating all at once!

34. Hopefully on Friday… my midwife will be back in town and we will start attempting to get the baby engaged properly.  I’m hoping that once that happens labor will be able to begin promptly.  I can get contractions going, no problem, it’s just that at this point they are all trying to position the baby (ornery again) and not doing anything constructive.  Once we get the baby in its proper place we should be able to get the ball rolling.

35. Happy birthday Uncle Brandon?  My brother’s birthday is January 31st so we are shooting for that!  Wish us luck! 😛

36. The kids are all sleeping.  Jake and Grandma are at Bible study… the house is quiet and peaceful.  Score one for me.

37.  I’m going to take advantage of the peace and quiet because… *drum roll* I have nothing left to write about for today!

38. And that is how you make it to the end of a 38 point post when you don’t actually have that many points to make 😉

 

P.S. – This is the first comment I got after publishing my post: “It might have been a bit easier to get to #38 if you hadn’t jumped back to 13 from 27…”
Yes.  Yes indeed.  Thank you pregnancy brain.  Maybe that makes up for the month of posting that I missed?   Sigh…

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