Category Archives: Our Family

Fall Fun

Earlier this fall we visited a pumpkin patch with our friends Ally and Rylee. The kids were too little this year to enjoy most of it, but they loved looking at the animals and we loved taking their pictures! We got to go on a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to pick our own pumpkin that we later carved (Joey slept through that whole part, so I picked the pumpkin for him ;)).

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We also spent a day out at the apple orchard as a family! We went on a hayride and picked our own apples, had some cider and roasted some s’mores… and Joey’s favorite part was the leaves. Lol.

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Time to dig in to the pumpkin! Joey enjoyed feeling the outside and squishing some of the insides when we got him a bit, but didn’t really want to stick his arm in on his own. He did enjoy showing the puppies what he was doing. 🙂

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We enjoyed some time with Joey’s great-grandparents when they stopped by on their way to Arizona!

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And of course we’re gearing up for our little monkey’s first Halloween! Happy Fall!

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Why We Wear #IBW2013

Happy International Babywearing Week!

As this week celebrating babywearing comes to a close, I just wanted to share what babywearing has done for us and why we choose to do it!

Making up for lost time They often say the first 3 months after birth are the “fourth trimester”. Babies need lots of touch and skin to skin time as they adjust to the outside world after 9 warm months on the inside. Well, on top of that, Joey spent 3/4 of his third trimester on the outside… in a plastic box with minimal touch no less! I think this definitely contributed to his “high-needs”ness. He has a high need for touch. Way more so than any other baby I’ve cared for. Babywearing allows him to be close to my heart – right where he wants to be. It also allows daddy those moments with him too!

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To share the world This one will continue to be a big one for me as he grows, but even now I love to share the world with him from his safe place. He’s not at knee-level, being forced at a crowd. He’s snuggled in my chest, and can look, explore, and observe at his own pace. He’s right near my face and I love chatting with him about the things we see and hear, even though he doesn’t say much back quite yet :).

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No germies I can’t tell you how many times when we first brought Joey home and I took him out in his car seat (like, to the doctor), people thought it was ok to reach in and touch my itty bitty preemie. I love that having him right up against my body, in our own private place, gives us a little barrier and some personal space. While I’m not all about keeping him completely in a bubble, we’d like to come through this first flu/RSV season with no sickness, and I’ll do what I can to protect him from that!

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Naps Oh, naps. Is there anything sweeter than a sleeping baby curled up on your chest or in that little space between your shoulder blades?

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More comfortable than holding Joey is a mover. It seems like he’s constantly kicking, flailing, bending, waving some part of his body. It can be hard to counterbalance all this movement. But when I wear him I think he feels less need to move, and it’s less taxing on my body when he does! Using ergonomic carriers distributes his weight well across my body and puts him in an optimal seat making it comfortable for both of us.

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Way easier to get around His car seat doesn’t take up the entire cart while I grocery shop (and I don’t have to lug that beast anywhere!). We don’t have to navigate narrow aisles or bumpy terrain. We can take on airports, downtown Chicago, stadiums and the apple orchard with ease.

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We like it Babywearing may not be for all babies or for all mamas (and daddies!), but it works for us. (And you might find the same if you give it a try!)

*pictured are a Moby Wrap, Ergobaby Options Carrier, Sakura Bloom ring sling, and standard canvas Tula*

The Gift of Now

Last night as I was rocking Joey in his nursery I looked up at his NICU pictures hanging on the wall. I can hardly remember those days, that baby. It feels like an eternity ago.

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I decided to figure out how long we’ve even been home… 39 days. The same amount of days we were in the NICU. Just as he changed so dramatically from day 1 to day 39 in the NICU, he’s changed drastically from day 1 to day 39 at home. He hit 9lb tonight which puts him 3lb 2oz up from when he left the NICU, and 5lb 3oz up from birth. Look how he’s grown!

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I’m truly enjoying each day for what it is. Not every day is easy (I sat in the rocking chair all… day… long… today with a stiff neck), but its today. I don’t find myself missing the past, or wishing for the future, I’m just soaking up the gift of today. Each day is a new adventure, and it will always be. My heart is just so full of love for this boy, I hope he never doubts that for a second. Our connection fills my soul, a hole that’s been waiting for this connection for a long, long time. His precious life is such a gift and I’m thankful every day.

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In the last couple days he has really started actual social smiles. If you get his attention, he will lock eyes with you and just light up. He smiles with his whole face and it just makes my heart melt. His favorite place for this is his changing table! I haven’t gotten a good picture yet, I grabbed my phone and snapped this one as quick as I could. It’s a terrible picture, but you get the idea.

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He got a Wubbanub tonight (a stuffed animal attached to a pacifier). He has always loved holding his paci, so I thought he might like something bigger to hold on to, and I was right! He loves his little dino buddy. 🙂

Mother’s Day

There is so much in my head and in my heart on this very important day. Mothers are amazing people, and I’m honored to have joined their ranks. In some ways my journey has just begun, and yet every piece of life has been leading to this time. There are so many who have touched and shaped my life in ways that impact the mom I am to my son. So on this Mother’s Day…

To my mama: it all starts with you. Without you, there would be no me, and there would be no Joey. Your patience, guidance, and love have modeled for me the mom I want to be for my son. “Thanks mom for life!”

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To Andy’s mama: thank you for raising the man I had the privilege of marrying. I pray someday Joey’s future wife will be as blessed by the way he was raised as I am by the way you raised your son. He’s an amazing guy and I know so much of that credit goes straight to you.

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To my godmother: thank you for always loving and supporting me in a way like none other. You have so perfectly embodied the role of godmother – leading my life toward Christ, and loving me like a mom.

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To my grandmas, great-grandmas, aunts, and cousins: thank you for being wonderful examples of women and mothers in my life. Our family tree is rich with love and devotion and I am who I am because of your influence.

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To the moms I used to come over and help out with your kids while I was growing up: you may have thought I was helping you, but really you were helping me. While I was learning to love by investing in your kiddos, I was also watching you and learning from you. Those experiences are still with me today and have molded me into the mom I am and will be.

To the moms I nannied and did daycare for: wow. As a mom myself now, I can see just what it took to entrust your kiddos with me every day. I had so much love to give, but no babies of my own, so thank you for sharing yours every day. My experiences with your kids taught me a ton, and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with them. They’re all amazing kids and were (are!) a blessing in my life.

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To all my mom friends: thank you for walking this road before me and opening your lives to me to ask any questions I need to, and for your constant encouragement and support. Joey thanks you for keeping his mama grounded.

To my photographers, Jessica and Alyisa: no words can describe the gift you’ve given me as a mom. The moments you’ve captured I will hold in my heart forever, and I’ve got a photo to remember it. Thank you for loving on me as a new mom, and for taking the time and care to capture perfect moments with my boy.

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To my husband: you’re not a mom, but without you I wouldn’t be the mom I am today. Your unwavering faith, your patience and love, your strength and devotion, your encouragement and support are all things I am learning from and that are vital to my relationship with Joey. I’m thankful to have had you by my side for this whole crazy ride.

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To my RE, midwives, OB, and labor and delivery nurses: thank you for the role you played in this big story. If you had not been there and stepped in when and how you did, I may not be celebrating today with a baby in my arms. I am incredibly grateful for your education, wisdom, love, and care. Keep doing what you’re doing, because its an amazing thing.

To my NICU nurses: thank you. From the bottom of my heart. You were mamas to my baby when I couldn’t be there, and you loved on me as a mama in a way no one else could or did. Your experience and knowledge as fellow moms and as nurses is something I’ll carry with me as I raise this boy. Thank you for loving him.

To all the mamas-to-be still waiting and hurting: I feel you. Having a baby doesn’t take all the pain away. I still hurt remembering the many years this day has passed as a painful day. Being a mom now doesn’t erase the past, but it does let me see it in a different light. Every pain, every tear, every failed cycle, every lost baby led us to here. It all brought me my boy. And I’d do it all again to be here with him. Trust that your take-home baby is coming, and every step right now is just a tiny piece of the big story unfolding in your life. I’m praying for peace and strength for you today.

To my godson, Luke: you made me a godmama for the first time this year too! I am so honored to play this role in your life. You are an amazing boy already and I can’t wait to watch you and your BFF Joey (aka Han Solo) grow up together. I’m praying for you daily, and praying for strength and wisdom to be an example in your life and love you in a unique way as your godmother. Love you, Lukey!

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To my furbabies, my first kids: thank you for giving me a place to share my love. I don’t always do it right, but I absolutely love being your mama too. You are naughty and crazy, but you love so unconditionally and have taught me patience and love on a whole new level. Never stop giving an abundance of kisses and wagging your tails when I walk in the room. You’ve taken up a big part of my heart and no one could replace that.

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To my two babies in heaven: I miss you. I can’t wait to rock you someday, to scoop you up in my arms and give you the kisses I never got to. I can’t wait for you to meet your little brother – your short lives were a big part of our story and paved the way for him to come into our lives. Thank you for giving me my first taste of the love I’d have to give my babies as a mom.

To Josiah, my son: you’ve added a richness and depth to my life that’s like no other. Your little life has changed mine in a big way. I am so incredibly blessed to have you here today. I pray I never for a second lose sight of the miracle of your life. I can’t wait to watch you grow up into the man you were created to be. Your life has got a big, big purpose and I’m excited to be a part of that. Thanks for making me a mama.

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HOME!

We are HOME. As a family of 5. (Yes, the puppies still count :))

Our first 6 days home have been amazing, challenging, busy, relaxing, tiring, wonderful, hard and fun.

Our first night home was hugely stressful. I hadn’t slept much the night before and all of a sudden was responsible for every little thing for this tiny human. We all had to adjust and figure out our new normal here at home and for Joey that meant not eating much which worried me. I think I even said “if he doesn’t eat we’re going to have to bring him back”, and to be honest I kind of wanted to. As HARD as NICU life was, it was also EASY. There was a trained medical professional literally right there if something wasn’t right. If he didn’t eat in the NICU he wouldn’t starve to death, someone would get him a new NG tube. I know now he really wouldn’t have starved to death from missing one feeding (and they would have let him skip one in the NICU too before getting him a new tube), but in my sleep-deprived-trying-to-do-everything-perfect mind at that moment I thought for sure he would. But he decided to eat late that night, and we’re all good on that front now. He spent a lot of that first night crying too… Only wanting to sleep while Andy rocked him in the rocking chair for hours. But he’s gotten over that and were all good on the front now too.

When we first started in the NICU, I hated having to spend every day with people. The nurses were nice and all, but I was so used to being home alone all day, just me and the puppies, that I couldn’t stand being with people that much of every day! Now after 5.5 weeks of being there, I am missing those wonderful nurses like crazy!! I am missing their wisdom and experience, but more importantly their friendship and conversation. We had some nurses who really went the extra mile to get to know us, love on us, and take amazing care of our boy. I am so incredibly grateful for all of them! And I miss them dearly.

Joey had his first pediatrician appointment on Wednesday. He is now 6lb 2oz! That’s 3oz gained in 3 days which is great. He’s a growing boy! I wasn’t too fond of the doctor, though. After having nurses and doctors available 24/7 in the NICU for any question or concern I might have had, I had compiled a list of questions for the doctor in the 3 days we’d been on our own. Apparently he didn’t have time for that, though, as I only got to ask one before he said “he looks great! See you in a month!” and bolted out the door. He never introduced himself when he came in the room (I actually had to look on their website where they have a picture and their names to find out who he was!) and I actually sat in there for about 5 minutes after he left dumbfounded and wondering if maybe that wasn’t even the doctor. I didn’t know if I should get Joey dressed or keep waiting or what, but finally decided we needed to just leave. So now I’m on the hunt for a new pediatrician again. Boo. 😦

Thursday he had his eye appointment. It wasn’t with a regular eye doctor like to check if he could see, it was with a retina specialist to check for something called Retinopathy of Prematurity. They needed to check the blood vessels in his eyes to make sure they looked as they should and weren’t indicating ROP. The doctor said everything is where it should be and looks great! We don’t have go back to see the retina specialist, but will see a pediatric optometrist when he is about 6 months old to check if he needs glasses.

We had to tell our first people “no you can’t hold him” the other day. It was hard and I did feel bad, but his immune system is working in overdrive right now and we can’t put it under any more stress than it needs. I was just reading something the other day that during the third trimester the mothers body starts transferring immunoglobulin to the baby’s body to boost their immune system for the first part of their life. He didn’t get to spend the third trimester on the inside so (this is my uneducated non-medical guess) his immune system is not even what it would have been had he been full term. He will eventually get there, but for now we need to be very careful to not expose him to much.

The puppies are doing great with Joey home. The first couple days they were very sad. Torq was downright depressed. He even came in the shower with me one day (this is a dog who HATES baths!) just to be by me. Poor thing. 😦 But that has changed a lot over the last couple days! They love him. When they hear him making noise they will look for him and try to peek at him to see what’s up. They are being so good about not licking him, which any of you who know them know this takes a crazy amount of self control for them! They can’t wait til Joey is bigger and can play with them. I can’t wait to watch the 3 of them grow up together 🙂

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I’m going to keep blogging as Joey grows up, is that ok with you all? Will you stick with me? 🙂 Because he was born 2 months early, for a while (I think the first 2 years) his age will be stated as actual and adjusted. He is not expected to meet milestones until his adjusted age (the age he’d be if he was born on his due date) is there. Today he is 37 weeks 6 days gestation, so… still supposed to be on the inside. However, I think this boy is going to do things on his own schedule anyways. But that’s why its so amazing all the things he’s doing now, since he shouldn’t be doing ANY breathing, eating, pooping, nothing – just chillin’ in his warm bath. This boy is a rockstar. I still would have only been 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow. That thought is so weird! I can’t even imagine being huge and pregnant right now. This picture was taken at about 28 weeks, and its one of the last pictures I have of me pregnant (I have a couple from my baby shower the weekend before he was born too). I can’t imagine how big I would be right now! Haha!

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Speaking of doing things on his own time schedule, (I’m fully aware this is going to make me sound like a terrible mom) yesterday I laid Joey in his crib so I could go to the bathroom quick. I laid him on his back on that burp cloth and when I came back just a couple minutes later he had ROLLED OVER! I couldn’t believe it! I promptly took all the extra junk out of his crib. I wish I had been watching on the monitor to see him do it!

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I’m still in awe that this boy is mine. Forever. His parents aren’t coming to pick him up at the end of the day. He is going to grow into a toddler, a boy, a teenager, and an adult, and he’ll still be my son. God is so good.

And now the part I know you’ve all been waiting for – some pictures from our first week home:

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{NICU: Day 39}

I’m not sure if I should even call this NICU day 39, since we’re not technically in the NICU anymore. I stayed here at the hospital with Joey in my room hooked to nothing last night. It was awesome!

We are just waiting on discharge paperwork, and then we’re bustin outta here!!

Joey is 5lb 14oz and 19.25 inches – 2 pounds and 2 inches bigger than when he was born!

The staff here have been amazing. I can’t say enough about the nurses who have taken extra time to get to know us and our story, to love on our boy, and help us through this transition. The doctors and nurse practitioners have taken such great care of him and have set us up with a great plan for his future care. And they recognize the love we have for this special boy and have told us what wonderful parents we already are. This has not been an easy journey, but its been worth it. Every drive, every day, every dollar… This moment almost 6 weeks in the making is so worth it.

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We didn’t know if this baby would be a boy or a girl. But ya know what I know now? Boys are pretty awesome. 🙂

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A Day in the Life

In case you were wondering just what a day in the life of a couple of NICU parents who live 30 minutes from their baby looks like – here’s a little snapshot.

Sam:
8am – set up pump, pump, clean pump parts
9am – shower and get ready, get bag ready to go
10am – set up pump, pump, clean pump parts
10:40am – make and eat breakfast
10:50am – drive to hospital
11:20am – arrive at hospital, scrub in, say hi to Joey, change his diaper and take his temperature
11:30am – nurse starts his feed through his tube and I attempt to nurse until he falls asleep, then I snuggle and stare at him
1:00pm – put Joey back in bed, go pump
1:40pm – go eat lunch in the cafeteria or car
2:15pm – back with Joey, change his diaper and take his temperature
2:30pm – snuggle him while he gets his feed
4:00pm – put Joey back in bed, go pump
4:45pm – drive home, get stuck in traffic
5:30pm – get home, get the mail and pay the bills, sanitize pump parts, pack bag for the evening, organize and freeze bottles
6pm – eat dinner
6:30pm – set up pump, pump, clean pump parts
7:15pm – leave for hospital
7:45pm – arrive, scrub in, Andy snuggles Joey
8:20pm – change Joey’s diaper, take his temperature, weigh him
8:30pm – nurse starts his feed, skin to skin try to nurse again until he falls asleep, then snuggles
9:30pm – change his clothes, wrap him back up, go pump
10:15pm – head home
11pm – get home, pack lunch for tomorrow, pack bag for tomorrow, get stuff ready for middle of the night pumps
12am – set up pump, pump, clean pump parts
1am – try to get some sleep
4am – set up pump, pump, clean pump parts
5am – try to get some sleep

…..and repeat.

Andy:
8am – leave for work
Work a long day!
6:15pm – arrive home to Sam just finishing eating, eat dinner, do dishes
7:15pm – drive to the hospital
7:45pm – scrub in, snuggle Joey
8:30pm – work on some work while Sam feeds Joey
9:30pm – snuggle Joey some more
10:15pm – drive home
11pm – arrive home, pack lunch, pack stuff for work tomorrow
12am – try to get some sleep
4am – wake Sam up because her alarms been going off forever
7am – get up and get ready

…..and repeat.

Catching up on our favorite tv shows? Ha! Running errands, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning? Not happening. Thank you cards? They’re coming, folks… Someday.

And tonight were adding the puppies back in to the mix. They’re in for a rude awakening of what life is like these days. They’re going to be wishing for their baby brother to come home ASAP too 🙂

April 4

April 4, 2012 I sat in the office of a Reproductive Endocrinologist for the very first time. The day was a scary one, but also one filled with hope. After our second incredibly painful miscarriage that past January, and nearly a year and a half of trying to get pregnant, I had been sent to an RE.

The next few months were filled with countless meds, diet changes, tests, pokes (I’m a champ at getting blood drawn now!), shots, more meds, appointments… And the list goes on. And none of it worked. I felt so defeated. As those months went on I thought we’d cross the year mark with still no baby in our arms.

And then we had to take a month break from it all, that was the soonest we could get back in to the RE for a consultation and to make a new plan with new meds, procedures, etc. And in that month? Sweet Josiah found his home in my womb.

And little did I know at the time he’d be making his appearance exactly two weeks before April 4, making my c-section follow up land on that same date just one year later.

So today I’ll be sitting back in that same doctors office, not to see the RE, but to see my amazing OB. And I’ll be reflecting on the fact that, as our pastor said to us about Josiah on Sunday, “he was right on time.”

That’s been the biggest lesson for me to learn over the last two years filled with miscarriages, infertility, and now preemie parenting – none of it is on my time, but it all happens right on time, in His perfect time.

For those of you today still in that dark, lonely, scary, empty valley – be it infertility or something else entirely – trust in the truth that His timing is always right.

{NICU: Day 13}

Today’s big news:

NO MORE PICC LINE!!

Josiah has had a PICC line since day 3. This is a type of IV that goes in his arm and all the way up into his chest to where his veins are a little bigger. He was receiving TPN through his PICC line which is a form of intravenous nutrition. He was receiving fats, proteins, and sugars as well as vitamins and minerals through this IV. When Joey was born, because my placenta and his cord had separated, he was not receiving oxygen and other support from me just before he was born. When this happens the baby’s body goes into super survival mode and routes all blood and oxygen to vital organs like the brain and heart. This means things like his stomach and whole gastrointestinal system basically are completely shut down. He was not ready to have any sort of food, so he had to get his nutrition intravenously. As he has been starting to eat milk, they have been weaning him off the TPN. Yesterday they took him off the lipids (fats) and today the PICC line is gone! This means his system is woken back up and he’s processing the milk well. He is almost up to his full feed – was at 32ml tonight and will go up to the full 33ml tomorrow morning. They are adding a fortifier to his milk now, but at least he’s getting all his nutrition from the milk! And he is so much more comfortable without the board strapped to his arm!

He is also up to 4lb 2oz (1860 grams).

His nasal cannula has been turned down to just a .5 liter flow (he started at 2 liter). He’s starting to pull it out all the time and that’s what he did with the ventilator tube and cpap just before he came off those, so I’m hopeful he’s close to being done with the cannula too!

We got to watch him get a little sponge bath tonight! He was SO mad.

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His chest x-ray yesterday showed his lungs are continuing to improve. This is a good thing! They still saw some “bright spots” on his brain during his head ultrasound, but still aren’t too concerned. They’re going to follow up with another scan next Monday. She told us tonight it may be one of those things that only time will tell if there’s been any damage. His doesn’t appear crazy far out of normal where they’d make a diagnosis at this point, but they want to watch it and keep an eye on him as he continues to develop.

He’s close to being ready to come out of his isolette! He’s not requiring much warmth, and doesn’t need the humidity anymore. They told us to bring in some clothes for him – fun!

I think that’s all that’s new for now. I want to thank you all again for the amazing support and prayers and everything else. It’s times like this you just sit back and take it all in… We’ve got amazing people in our lives. Thank you all.

He is Risen, Indeed

(So I did start writing this on Easter, and just had the time to finish. Life of a mom, I guess!)

When we first moved to Kansas City, a huge concern for us was finding a church home. We were SO connected at Eagle Brook Church back in Minnesota, and that was a very hard piece of life to leave. We tried many different churches, but nothing fit us. Then a guy from Andy’s work invited us to Heartland Community Church. It’s about 45 minutes from our house, but since our first visit in January 2012, we haven’t looked back. We walked in and knew it was home. And there have been so many confirmations of that “home” feeling over the last year that we couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Sure, we are not as connected as we’d like to be because distance makes that tricky, but we know our Heartland story is just beginning.

Last summer, we arrived pretty early for service one weekend and were sitting in the nearly empty worship center. Pastor Dan Deeble was in there too, and came over to say hi to us. We got to share with him a small snippet of our story coming from MN to Kansas City and how we came to Heartland. The fact that he took time right before he had to get up and speak to come and get to know us meant more than he’ll ever know. Over the next few months we saw him other times, and every single time he remembered us. He’d say “hey, you guys are the ones who drive from up by Worlds of Fun!” 🙂 He’s remembered every piece of our story we’ve shared with him all along the way. Just a couple months ago we shared with him that Andy had been offered a new job and we were trying to figure out what to do with all that, and two weeks later he stopped us in the hall just before service to ask what we had decided about the job. Once again, a time when he had a million other things on his mind, he stopped to remember us. This is home.

I was as good as dead. That was the title of today’s Easter message. This struck quite the cord with me since just 11 days ago I was quite literally as good as dead. What a staggering and humbling thought.

The empty grave matters. The power that comes from an empty grave matters in my life, and I got to see it firsthand this last week. The same God that raised His son to life after three days has the power to save me and my son when we shouldn’t have been saved. The same God that died on that cross to save me spiritually chooses to continue saving me. And that matters.

I’m humbled today to be here, with a (all things considered) healthy son. The doctors working on us both on the night of his birth are no doubt amazing people, and science and technology are amazing things, but none of that saved me. The One who has saved is saving me still.