September 14, 2015

Life, love and things


Well, I haven't posted in a while, but we've been a little busy around here with our wee little one.  He isn't such a wee one anymore, at almost 4 months, I feel like he is so grown up!!!  I know the baby stage lasts a while, but compared to what this whole motherhood thing used to be like a few months ago, he's practically am adult ;)  Those first few months are HARD...sleep deprivation should be the ONLY form of torture in the world.  It's no joke!  Thankfully, Z grew out of that around week & and has been happily sleeping through the night since.  Thank you, Jesus!

Oh my goodness, he is so much fun!  Yes this whole parenting thing is hard, but we really found our groove around month two.  I thought that going back to work last week would craze things up a bit, but honestly it hasn't been too hard.  Dave has to watch him all day for 2-3 days a week during the day while I am gone now, and my parents get him for 2-3 days a week they all may have some adjusting to do!  Last week went very smoothly though, and I have complete faith in my family while they watch him.  I'm happy Dave gets that time with him now, because it's important for Z to have Dad-alone time.  My parents are totally happy to watch him too and seem to love it, so far;)  It all seems much easier than it should be, I'm waiting for the reality to set in!

For me, going to work in the morning is totally hard because I hate being away from him all day, but the work part is easy because I've been doing this job for 5 years now!  I love what I do, but being a mommy for 4 hours at night is rough, only because I wish I had more time with him.  I know that I am going to miss things, but I am mentally preparing myself for that.  And while I may miss his first something or other...there will always be the first time I see it, and it will still be special.  We will see. We are contemplating the whole stay-at-home-mom thing, but we have to work a lot out to make that feasible, and of course I LOVE my job so I'm not sure I could give it up.  But I get it, we talked about how it would be nice for me to be home with him and be the one raising him and taking care of the house and all those wonderful-sounding domesticated things.  

I also know it's very hard to be a SAHM too, so we are praying about it and seeing where God takes us this next year.

Z is such a fun baby.  I just love watching him grow and learn and interact with the world!  He has his little "diva" moments of fussing and attitude, but they are much more few and far between than a few months ago.  For the most part he is a happy baby, and I just love being a mom.  When we lost Jackson {and Lily} last year, the desire to be momma grew so big in my heart, I think in a way that devastating loss prepared me so much more than anything else could have.  Now, even when there are hard times or days, I don't sweat it that much because I know how lucky I am to even have this sweet little blessing.  It was a hard road getting here, emotionally, and I wake up every morning and look at Z's face and thank Jesus over and over for letting us have him, and keep him.  I hope His plan is for us to keep him for a very, very long time!

The direction of the blog will be ebbing and flowing from baby loss and pregnancy after loss to parenting after loss, but also to get back into being ME again.  By that I meant home decor, crafts and various projects.  I'm finding the ME in me again, after this rough year, and want to embrace it again. I am so excited to see what this new life and new year and new season of our lives brings.  There's so much love and happiness in our home again, not that there wasn't before, but the dark clouds aren't so bothersome anymore.  Of course, losing our first two babies, our twins, will always be an event that we remember and will forever be imprinted on our hearts, but I think that we have finally found our ways of living with the grief.  We aren't so crippled by it anymore, and we owe that to Jesus.  He has brought us through a really tough season of life, I honestly don't think I could have done it without Him.  Any of it...the loss, the intense grief, emotionally dealing with the pregnancy right after, the anxiety and fear of the unknown...all the way through parenting Z after it all.  He carried me, maybe even dragged me, through it at times.  I am so grateful!  I think the whole experience will help me be better, in everything I do.  Hopefully!

I understand that life can't always be butterflies and rainbows now.  I know tragedy and grief can strike at anytime.  I know that I have limited days with the people I love, even on this Earth myself.  That helps me, and shapes me, and gets me through the mundane and the hard times.  I really strive to be a better wife, mom, stepmom, daughter, etc, because of it all.  It sounds so cliche, but thats the truth.  Life is HARD, parenting is HARD, babies are HARD, but I know with my Lord, my family, and my friends I can get through anything.  No one is immune, and so life should be all about love, as much as possible!

I appreciate everyone who has walked through this year with my family and I.  I love sharing my life here, I absolutely LOVE sharing Zachary with you, and I hope you continue to enjoy sharing with me and walking on this beautiful journey called life with me!  


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July 10, 2015

Your Story: Zachary

Zachary David Bland.  05/29/15.  8 pounds, 7 ounces.  20 inches long.

If you would have told me that one short yet loooooooong year later I would be writing the birth story of my live baby, I don't know what I would have done.  I wish I could go back and tell that Tina that this would be our next chapter, our happy ending AND our bright new beginning.  I wish I could tell her that the sadness of losing her baby may never go away or fade, but that she would get stronger and able to live with it and around it.  I wish I could tell her that things would not always be so sad or look so depressing.  I wish I could tell her that in a years time, she would be holding her rainbow baby...that she would be tired and emotional, but completely head over heels in love with him.

This is the story of Zachary's birth.  It was a long time coming.  My pregnancy seemed like the blink of an eye, yet while it was happening it dragged along like one tedious and anxiety ridden ride.  Looking back, I had a really great pregnancy.  The only problem was my head - the fear and the anxious days and nights, the tears that would come when the dark thoughts would take over.  Physically, it was really ok.  I was hardly sick in the beginning, I never really felt that huge or gained that much weight, I never got too swollen or retained much water.  I had the diabetes and the high blood pressure, but honestly that was all very manageable and both of those issues have resolved themselves for now.  My docs seem to think I may always struggle with those problems, but for now I am ok.  Mostly by the end I was just tired.  I loved being pregnant when I could feel him moving and those days that I felt confident that this baby would make it, that my body would win this time.

The night before my C Section was a little rough.  We went out to dinner to Bertucci's, but I barely ate.  We tried talking about what Zachary would look like, we tried talking about other things, we tried talking through what would happen the next day...nothing really helped.  Sitting there in that restaurant, I remember thinking that I couldn't handle the stress and the emotion of it all.  I didn't want to live through another baby dying.  I knew that the chances of something bad happening were actually probably very small, but still...when you live through it once, it's hard to not think about it.  After our pizza came and I ate like a bird, we paid our check and headed home.  

I remember that night being strangely normal for us.  We talked with our families about the plan for the next day, we packed our bags, I vacuumed our room while Dave did some chores downstairs - we wanted the house to be clean and ready for us when we returned home, I think we watched some TV but I honestly can't remember what it was.  Fixer Upper, I think?  I went up to take a bath and got in bed to watch Big Bang (our nightly ritual) and Dave come up and rubbed my feet and back.  We prayed and prayed.  I was surprisingly tired, and I think I was asleep by midnight.  I slept through the night, I don't even think I woke up to pee, it was a miracle.  

The next morning, our alarms went off at 5am.  It was the day!!!  I remember the excitement running through me, taking over the stress and the fear like waves.  I was going to meet my baby!  I got in the shower and sat there for about 30 minutes, praying and listening to United and just trying to visualize me in recovery with Zachary and my family all around me. That picture, that happy vision, got me through the whole thing.  If I focused on that, everything else sort of melted away.  Dave got up and got ready, we did some last minute things around the house, then we fed and kissed Frodo and were out of the house by 6:45.  We had to be up at the birth center by 7:00.  

The day was perfect.  It was sunny and the skies were a beautiful blue.  I remember seeing the sunrise over Route 24 as we turned to go the Upper Chesapeake and thinking that it was so lovely, and I told Dave that I thought that was Jackson's sign...telling us that we were going to be ok that day.  Dave put on the song "Rest in you" by United and we prayed some more, and by the end of the song we were parked in the garage and ready to go in.  

I told Dave I didn't think I could do it.  He, once again, threatened to drag me in there, that he would if he had to.  We were having our baby that day!  We walked into the birth center and had to sit while someone else checked in.  Mom and Dad came early to sit with us, and finally we were ready to be admitted.  It felt so surreal, and I pushed out the memories of when we had to do that same process knowing we wouldn't be bringing a baby home.  Then, the lady that checked us in said we were to go into triage.  I kissed mom and dad and told them I'd see them soon, the stress on their faces was obvious too - they knew I'd be ok but the fact that I was going into surgery was hard for them.  Mom said she wanted to be right there, in that room, with me as much as she could be while I was going through it.  I told her to go home, to rest.  She had barely slept the night before, and Dave was with me, I had to convince her we'd be ok.  I told her I'd need her to be awake and alert for Zachary, because we'd both be very tired and someone would need to hold him all afternoon;)

As soon as we walked into our room, our nurse popped in.  Jesus has a very funny sense of humor, because it was the very same nurse that checked us in when we had Jackson.  The nurse we didn't like, that didn't acknowledge our baby's death and who asked us a ton of questions as I was choking on tears and trying to grasp the fact our baby was gone.  Dave looked at me as if to say, "I will go and get us a new nurse immediately."  When she left the room briefly I told him no.  I said that we had her for a reason, and I was willing to see that reason through.  I am glad I did.  This time around, she was as sweet as can be.  She was calming and peaceful, and reassured me every step of the way through the prep, the surgery and the recovery.  I'm glad we had her and have a better memory.

Dave and I in triage, prepping for surgery...

Another nurse came in to help with the prep, and she did my IV this time around (with Jackson, my nurse that needed redeeming had to stick me about 8 times to get it right!  Thank goodness someone else did it this time)  For a C Section prep there is no room for modesty!! They mad me strip right down in the gown but flipped it all the way up to shave my tummy and surrounding areas, feel the baby for position, strap me to a monitor and a bunch of other things.  That was just the beginning of me understanding that when you have a baby, everyone is really all up in your business.

Dr B came in and we reminded him, per his request the day before, to check Z's head position in an ultrasound to make sure he was still head down (since he had flipped back and forth within a week!) so it was really sweet to get to see him on the screen just about an hour before we met him in real life.  I remember Dr. B saying something like, "See ya real soon, mom!" as he was moving the wand over my belly.  

The anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself and talk me through what would happen in the OR.  He was really sweet, and had a really thick accent, maybe Russian or Ukrainian?  He totally reminded me of someone on Alias!  We asked him some questions and then he told us he would see us in the OR.  All too soon, 9:00 came around, go time.  My nurse came in and had me get up and wheel out my IV.  Dave had his own "nurse" to help him prep and guide him down to the OR.  The problem with c sections is that your husband can't go in with you at first.  I had to walk down that hallway and into that room with my nurse, without him by my side.  They all assured me that he would be in there in about 10-15 minutes, but that was a looooooong time to go without him, especially with all scared I was, on top of how jittery I get in hospitals.

I have never been in an OR before.  It was terrifying.  A small room that looks like a box, cold, no windows, with the scariest machines and tools around.  As I walked in there, guided by my nurse, I burst into tears.  All the nurses in there swarmed around me, helped me up on the table, and the one OR nurse came and put her arms around me and stroked my head and back and told me to cry it out until I relaxed.  The anesthesiologist came in and got started right away, these people don't waste anytime.  The mood of the room was happy, and relaxed, and that helped me calm down.  They all were wondering why I was so stressed out, so I told them...last year I lost my baby, he died.  They all comforted me and told me they were sorry, but that this baby was alive and well, and I'd be meeting him soon.  As the doc put my spinal in, the sweet nurse kept her arms around me.  I hardly felt a thing, just a pinch and then the slight cold sensation running up and down my body, and then my legs went numb.

Within a minute, I was laid out on the table, the blue screen was up in front of my face and my arms were laid out in a "T".  I asked if Dave could come in yet and they said not quite yet.  Dr. B came in, all in his surgery garb and flashed his badge at me so I knew it was him.  He comforted me and told me that Zachary would be out soon!  They prepped my belly, I felt some tugging, they hadn't cut in yet but I guess they were feeling for the baby and rubbing that surgery stuff on there.  I started to feel sick and the docs rushed to get more meds in me, and the nausea passed quickly.  The doc told me that was very common.

Dave in his outfit!  Waiting to come in to the OR

Finally, Dave was allowed to come in.  He was all decked out in his protective garb.  I felt the meds coursing through my body.  They started the surgery, and sort of talked us through some of it.  I didnt feel anything, thankfully.  I always had this fear I'd be the one to feel it.  I kept asking Dr. B if Zachary was ok, if he was alive.  I think I may have asked it a dozen times.  Each time, they all said he was.  Dr B even said once that he was fine, but they were trying to find the rest of him, lol!  He was so far up in my belly, they had to vacuum him out I think, which I didnt even know they could do in a c section.  In hindsight, I am glad we elected to have him this way, because he would have never come out of me even if I was induced.  It would've taken 40+ weeks for him to come down far enough to be birthed the regular way, and with all my risk factors, that may have been too late.  God was always watching out for us.  This was the right decision.

Me, scared but ready.  Let's do this...

I felt some serious tugging and pulling, and my body was moving around a lot but again, I didnt feel much else.  I became very nauseous two other times during the whole process, and they fixed that quickly.  Dave told me afterwards that one of those times was very scary, but he didn't tell me at that time.  He was watching my vitals and my BP dropped crazy low, and I lost a ton of blood.  The doc told us after that I lost twice as much as normal for this type of surgery, but that they got it under control right away.  That was the reason for me feeling so sick.  

I kept saying out loud, "I just want to hear him cry!" and finally, at 9:42, he did.  I heard a nurse yell, "Happy Birthday!!!" and I even looked over at the digital clock on the wall and saw the 9:42 as they announced it.  He came screaming into this world, just as I wanted.  Dr. B popped him over the screen and yelled, "Hi mom!  I'll be right back!!!" and my first words were, "Oh my, he is so gross!!"  Everyone laughed.  Z was covered in blood and all that normal birth stuff, but that first peek of him was the best thing I'd ever seen.  Dave kept saying how he was so cute and so small, 8 pounds and 7 ounces, and I told him to go...go over there and be with him as they cleaned him up.  

He's here!!

All cleaned up

I could hear Zachary screaming and the tears came running down my face.  That cry was the most perfect sound in the world!!!  I had a baby!!  He was alive!!  Again I asked if he was ok, if he looked healthy, and the nurses all said he was healthy and just the most beautiful thing ever.  His APGAR scores were 8 and then 9, basically the best we could ask for.  I saw Dave round the corner back to me and he was holding him.  He put Zachary right up to my face and I kissed his cheek as he screamed, it was the most beautiful and surreal moment of my entire existence.  I just met my son face to face for the first time.  It's all I have dreamed of this past year.

Daddy holding him for the first time

They had to fix me up a bit before I could hold him, so Dave sat with him by my head for a few minutes.  Then, the nurses came over and unbuttoned my gown so we could do skin to skin and they placed him on my chest for the first time.  Z was finally calm, sleepy, and it felt like the most natural thing in the entire world, having him lay there on me.

Our first pic with Zachary

Getting him out only took about 15 minutes, but stitching me back up took longer.  I think we were done all of that by 10:30, they transferred me over to my bed, and wheeled me to the recovery room.  I was surprisingly awake and aware, and all too eager to get my hands on Zachary again.  

The next few hours were a bit of a blur.  Dave went and got Ashley and she came to meet her brother.  They gave him his first bath while I took pics from my bed.  My parents came back, Dave's mom and Grammy came back, and Jonathan and Krystal.  Everyone fell in love with him immediately, who couldn't?  We told everyone to meet us back in the room in a few hours, I had to stay in recovery to be monitored.  They all went to get lunch.  The lactation consultant came in and I breastfed him for the very first time.  It was so wonderful, it breaks my heart that we couldn't keep it up like that, but at least we had that sweet memory.  He needed a lot of help latching on and staying latched, but after we got it he stayed there for about 45 minutes.  It was perfect.

Our first family pic.  Don't mind my swollen arms and face!  Surgery will do that to ya!

Ashley and Daddy giving Z a bath.

Recovery from birth with Mommy.

When it was time to move to my room, we asked which room we would be in so we could tell our family.  My nurse told us, "14".  We looked at each other.  Room 14 was the very same room I gave birth to Jackson in, I'll never forget it.  Again, Dave asked if I wanted a different room and I said no.  This was happening for a reason.  God wanted us to have a happy memory in there, and maybe even give Zachary a sweet connection with his angel brother.  Just like God wanted us to give that nurse another chance.  I'm glad we didn't argue about it, because my memories of that day are sweet and wonderful and I wouldn't want it any other way.

We got into our room and our families returned.  Everyone gathered around Zachary's bassinet and took turns passing him around.  He did great, no crying at all that day and endured the baby passing game beautifully.  As everyone was together and holding him and talking, I took that mental snap shot.  It was the picture I had visualized in my head all week, of my family and I rejoicing together, drinking in this new little being and all being euphorically happy that he was finally here.  My body did it this time around, it was healthy enough and strong enough to build this baby and get him here safely, all with the help of God and lots of prayer!  A new baby is such a joyous occasion, and a baby after a loss is somewhat of a heightened experience.  Zachary is someone we have waited a long time to meet and hold, and there he was finally, here with us and ready to take us on the most amazing adventure of our entire lives.

My world!

Proud Janou and G Pop

Aunt Krystal and Uncle Jonathan

Grandma helping with a change of diaper

We love you Zachary, and the day you were born is one of the happiest memories all of us will cherish forever.  Your birth was a miracle, you are a miracle.  All that anxiety and fear, all those sleepless nights and wondering if we would make was all worth it!  God got us all through it!

It's hard to believe that woman have healthy babies all the time, hard when you've been through what we have gone through, but this is the norm, not that.  Our docs and team were awesome, and I am so happy we stuck with them and trusted them with Zachary and my well being.  I couldn't have asked for a better experience, or a better birth story this time around.  I'll remember it and cherish it for the rest of my life. 

The next few days after his birth were a little rough, but that is another story for another time! 

Z and I, earlier this week...

Thank you, Jesus, for giving us our Rainbow baby!!!

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June 26, 2015

4 weeks in...

Play time with Dad.

Here we are.  Four weeks into life with our little Rainbow, Zachary.  Time really does fly.
So how is it, you ask?  Oh my.  I have so many answers to that question!!!  
Amazing.  This little boy is mine.  My body grew him and nourished him for 9 months plus 2.5 weeks.  Zachary is a blend of mom and dad.  He has Dave's ears and nose, my lips and eyes (I think!) and definitely my personality, as far as we can tell.  I look at him and still can't believe that a few short weeks ago, he was in my belly!  How did he fit there?  How did we both get through this, alive?  Is this baby really mine, to keep forever?!?!  I'm amazed.  Amazed at how God blessed us, and how God helped my body and mind and spirit get through this, at how beautiful this baby boy of ours is.  I am amazed.

Do you like my kicks?

Hard.  Taking care of a newborn is a full time job.  For two people.  I can't imagine how some women do this alone, whether they are single moms (God bless you all) or if their hubbies have to go back to work right away, this is a tough job and if Dave wasn't here to help me I think I'd go crazy.  Especially that first week after recovering from surgery and Zachary being was really, really tough.  He has just a few days left before returning to work and I am just now feeling like I may be able to manage life with this tiny human on my own for a few days as he works and sleeps.  Zach has turned out to be quite a fussy little thing, I'm not ready to call it "colic" just yet, but if it gets worse, that is what we may be dealing with.  He cries, a lot.  It's almost like if he isn't sleeping, he is crying, sometimes for no reason.  We check his diaper, we feed him until bursting, we cuddle, we swaddle, we play, we quite down, we sing...nothing really helps.  It's hard doing all we can and still hearing him cry, it's heartbreaking.  And it's hard not to worry, but I remind myself that he is a newborn...and they are know for their sleeping-eating-crying-pooping cycles.  Still, some days are tough!  I'm reading the Happiest Baby on the Block and the 5 s's have been saving us all.  Poor little guy, he still wants to be in mommy's tummy!  I know we post a lot of happy baby pics, and pics that make you think our world is so nice and pleasant, but I want to share reality with you!!  Life with this baby is hard!!  But I am learning that it doesn't matter, because all it takes is one sweet look, or one almost-smile, and all the hard melts away...

Rocking with "Janou" - my mom.

Fun.  Every new little look.  Every new little movement!  Some of Zach's moves I actually recognize...he will do something and I'll be like..."oh THAT is what you were doing in there!" I'd feel that same move in my belly.  He hiccups all the time, and for the last two weeks of my pregnancy he would get the hiccups every day.  It's so cute!  As the days go by, he is awake and alert more and more.  His eyes will stay open and he will make new and adorable faces.  It's so much fun to watch him grow and see new things that he can do.  He is smiling on purpose!!!  He smiles involuntarily all the time, but they other day I went to peak on him in the Rock n Play and BAM, a smile came out.  It melted my heart!

Mommy and baby, both very sleepy!

Frustrating.  By this, I mean breastfeeding.  I had this beautiful image of me nursing a sweet baby.  easy peasy.  Everyone told me that newborns can be hard, but I never really heard that breastfeeding could be such. a. struggle!!  I know it isn't hard for everyone, and I guess the women who do struggle with it may be afraid to admit it because there is such a HUGE push for breastfeeding.  Every where I go, "breast is best, please breast feed, are you breast feeding?  YOU NEED TO BREAST FEED."  It's best for him.  It's best for you.  Etc. Etc.  Well, news flash...not everyone CAN do it.  Me included.  Oh believe me, I am STILL trying.  Even though plenty of my friends and all of my family have basically said, "Give it up Tina!  You are driving yourself crazy!"  See...Z and I got off on a rough start.   He breastfed right after birth in recovery, but then...I was tired, he was nurse at the hospital that night kept telling us to do it, but never really helped us or taught me any techniques or anything.  His sugar dropped overnight, he was too tired to latch.  By the time the LC got to me the next morning, he was jaundice.  He HAD to eat.  Time to pump him with formula.  Ugh.  It was such a disaster, and we have never caught up.  We had to stick to a strict 2 hour feeding schedule, had to be formula so we knew he was getting nutrition and exactly how much, but I could breastfeed around that.  Um...except for the fact it took almost 2 hours to feed him through the syringes, and we had to nap, and eat too...and then it would be time to feed him again, but he had to be under the bili lights as much as possible... 
...long story short, now his appetite is so big that I know my body will never catch up.  I still try, and he will get a bit of my milk here and there, but he never learned how to latch onto me and I have to use one of those little medela shields.  He gets very frustrated, and I cry almost every time.  It's tough because I WANT to do it so badly, but it just doesn't seem like it is going to work the way I want it.  I've talked to LC's and our pediatrician and they all say to keep going...but it does drive me crazy, and it drives Z crazy, and I know it drives Dave crazy to see me so upset when it doesn't work the way I want.  Still...I wish it would.  We try a little in the morning now, and then again at night before bed, so at least he is still getting SOME breast milk, but not the amount I want.  Le sigh...

Time for bed!

Tiring.  Parenting a newborn feels a bit akin to swimming in the ocean and trying to keep your head out of the water.  It's exhausting!   Caring for this new little human, his whole world revolves around us and our whole world revolves around him.  Feeding, changing, consoling, cuddling, playing, and then doing it all over again.  No one can really prepare a new mom for how much work it is.  Thankfully, Zachary sleeps awesome at night.  We have to wake him up to feed him, now only every 3 hours, and usually after some rocking and cuddles, he goes right back to sleep!  I hope he keeps that up forever!!

Grandma (Dave's mom) loving on Z.

Heaven.  Honestly, having him here is Heaven on Earth.  At least for me, right now.  No matter how hard it gets, or how frustrated we are, or how many tears I cry (and cry and cry) I can't thank God enough that Zachary is here!  That he is mine!!  That I can hold him and love on him and be with him as much as I want.  After losing Jackson, my arms felt so empty which was totally foreign to me, because I never ached for a baby before him.  My arms and heart have been aching for a year now.  They still do ache a little, and that feeling will always belong to Jackson, never to be quenched because he is not here.  But, my arms are FULL.  This "Rainbow" baby of ours came screaming into this world to fill them.  I look at him and see God's promise being fulfilled.  Dave & I, and Ashley and our entire family, we have been abundantly BLESSED by Him through Zachary.  God has allowed us to bring home this beautiful bundle, and has entrusted us to love him and take care of him and raise him.  I feel so, so blessed.  I thank God for the journey he has brought me on this past year, even though my heart was so broken.  It led me here, to this moment, and this little sweet baby.  I can't even believe it.  I'm grinning ear to ear!  I know the journey isn't over, and who knows what else God has in store for us, but if I have learned anything this year, it is that He can bring us through everything.  He can turn bad into good.  He can turn sorrow into joy.  He can turn tears into big smiles.  He can use everything that happens to us to help us understand Him more.  

There's still so much to write about, but I'll save it for another day.  I'm working on Z's birth story, so hopefully I'll post that in a few days.  It takes me about 4 days to write a post now, because there is a tiny human that demands my attention quite a bit of the day;)  

Thanks to EVERYONE who helped us get through the pregnancy, the birth, the aftermath of the birth, and those of you who are still praying for us as we figure out this whole baby thing.  We couldn't have done this without you, and I really mean that.  I wish I could kiss you all.  Or throw a party for you.  Maybe we will?  How fun would that be?!  

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May 28, 2015

Thoughts & Nursery

Tomorrow is the big day!!!  At 7:00 am, we are getting up, heading to the hospital, and having a baby around 9:00.  

I'm trying not to think of the million things that could go wrong.  I'm trying not to think about the last time when we walked out of that hospital, broken, without a baby.  I'm trying to have hope and faith.  I'm trying to constantly remind myself to give this awful, extreme fear to God.  

It's very hard, you guys.  It really is!  I wish I could explain it, or describe how this feels.  But then again, I don't want you to feel it!   I want you to pray for me, and have tons of hope and faith and love for me!  

I'm leaning on my own tiny string of hope and faith, and my strong and optimistic husband, and my beautiful and faithful friends and family...but mostly God and His power and LOVE, to get me through this.  

If I think about what I have to go through tomorrow, I become incapacitated with fear.  Panic, anxiety attacks, tears, etc.  

I know that it's the devil, trying to get me down.  I know it's evil forces, trying to steal my joy in this SHOULD BE happy event.  It's a raging battle.  A crazy, scary storm.  Jesus calms it down, but then it starts to rage again.  I really want to have joy.  I really want to be over-the-moon excited.  I really do!!  But the thoughts of all that could go wrong...ugh.  The curse of pregnancy after loss.  It's going to be a long, long night...

Then, I think about the end result.  I think about the prize I have waiting for me at the end of this journey.  I think about Zachary, and the fact that at this time tomorrow,  I could actually be holding him!!  I could have a healthy, happy baby in my arms!  Surrounded by friends and family.  Oh my goodness, what a beautiful picture that is!!  I want it so badly.  I am praying so hard that I get that miracle.  That beautiful blessing.  I hope that at some point in the last year, I've done something good, somewhere, to deserve it.  I pray that this is our abundant blessing!

Today we have filled our day with last minute things.  We had our pre op visit with Dr. Bellantoni.  He was so calming and so reassuring, and that was very helpful for me.  I'm so nervous about having a C section, but I know millions of woman do this every day, and I know it's the healthiest way for Zachary to come into this world.  I trust God in that, and I trust my doctors, and my own gut feeling.

We had another non stress test at the office today, which Zachary passed just fine.  He's alive in there, and doing well.  We did some running around, and we ate lunch and dinner out of the house since we will be in the house for a long time after we bring him home.  We got some cleaning and organizing done too.  

Tonight, we will pack our bags and get things ready for our time at the hospital.  I'm cuddling with Frodo, because although Dave will be here on and off a lot over the next few days (my family and his family too) to be with him, I will not be.  He will not like that!  This cat has no idea what is about to rock his world;)

Finally, I wanted share Zachary's nursery.  It's not completely done yet, we still have to add a few things here and there, but it's as done as it's going to get for now.  I am so happy with how it turned out, it is just perfect!!  So here you go...

As I have said before, the "theme" we wanted was vintage travel/little explorer.  We chose this because Dave and I have serious wanderlust, and want to see the whole world together.  We want our little guy to have the same craving for travel.  We are going to take him everywhere!

The world decal was a pain to put up, but we love it.  I ordered it off Easy.  We are going to add some words to this wall too, we just have to pick the perfect things to say:)

The chest of drawers is from IKEA and let me tell you, it's the best thing we bought for this room.  The drawers are roomy and big, and there is tons of room for diapers and clothes and all the millions of things that babies need.  I'll share pictures of my organization of that when we get home.  The top we will use as a changing table.

The crib is a hand-me-down from my sweet friend, Janet.  I love it, and I love that we didn't have to pay for a crib!  They are expensive!!

These suitcases are from my Mother in law and Ashley.  The globe is from my mom.  The little chest on top is from a dear friend, Emily.  I love the "travel pizazz" they add to the room.  One day, they will be useful for storing things too!

The plane hanging from the ceiling is from one of my BFFs, Katie Mac.  I built the little white shelves, and filled them with sweet things that friends gave us, books, or pieces we found for the room.

Here is the changing station.  We are going to probably do mostly cloth diapering, but we received a TON of disposables at all of our showers, so we intend to use them all up too.  I hear that newborns don't fit in the cloth ones right away anyways, so it all works out!

This isn't a great pic, but here is another white shelf that I built on the other side of the window, filled with books.  Dave and I went to Goodwill yesterday and spent $6 on about 20 books for Zachary.  We have Disney stories and Bible stories and train and travel stories, we are all set!  Why buy NEW books, when you can get so many for way less than the cost of one?!?!

The photos hanging over the crib were a gift from my mom.  They are pictures of vintage planes, boats and balloons.  I bought IKEA frames and painted the mattes the same blue as our accent wall, and I love how it helps the prints pop.  Perfect!

Another shot of the crib and prints.

Accent wall with plane and shelf.

This closet gave me a ton of trouble.  It has this weird slanted floor, because of our stairwell being underneath it, so a regular closet organizer didn't work here.  I think I tried 3 or 4 organizers before I found one that worked.  This is an IKEA one, and when I found it and got it to work, I cried.  The closet is stocked and ready to go for Zachary!

Another shot of crib.  The wall looks yellow here, but it's really a cappuccino creamy vintage color.

Closet up of the crib.  The bear (which will come out when Zachary sleeps in there) is our Jackson bear.  We are giving him to Zachary as a sweet memory of his older brother in Heaven.

Sorry for the bad lighting, but here is the view from the door.  The glider is from Target.  The curtains, which were sent to me straight from Heaven, are from Home Goods.  I looked and looked and looked for these exact curtains for months.  They had to be the right color blue (deep navy to match the wall) the right length, and I didn't want to spend too much on them.  We miraculously found them at HG for $30.  Yes!!!!

So that is Zachary's sweet little nursery.  It's small, but it's perfect for him.

Thank you to all who are praying for us and sending us good and happy thoughts tonight and tomorrow.  You all are carrying me through this, I couldn't do it without you!!  We'll post updates and pictures as soon as we can!  


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May 21, 2015

37 weeks plus: Baby updates!

This week has been an emotional roller coaster!  Zachary is already keeping us entertained and on our toes, so I wonder at what his little personality will be like when he arrives.  

I guess I should start with our appointment last Thursday.  I go in twice a week for non stress tests, and fluid checks.  Last week when we were at the office, we found out that Zachary had flipped into the breech position since the week before.  This is unusual, for a baby to be head down that late in the game, and then flip himself back up.  But...nothing is normal with me, so I just went with it.  It made the decision of "how" he will come into this world a little easier, we were looking at c section.  They gave us the option of trying to turn him, but the docs say that the procedure is not always effective, is extremely uncomfortable, and usually ends up in a c section anyways.  We weren't interested.  I've been saying all along that if a c section is the way to get him out to my arms safe and healthy and happy, then let's do it.

Monday we went back for our tests, and he was still head down.  My BP was a little elevated, and my fluid level increased quite a bit since Thursday.  Neither situation was an emergency, but signals that an earlier delivery is going to be better for everyone.  My docs want 38 weeks, the high risk docs say 39 weeks, but there are all these variables that everyone has to take into account: borderline BP, the diabetes, the fluid levels, his position, the extreme anxiety of the mom...etc.  At that appointment, my doc told me it was time to stop work, and to get some R&R before baby gets here.  This was a little bit of a shock, because I really wanted to make it through this week to prepare, but oh well.  It's actually surprising how easy it's been for me to "check out" and just focus on getting ready for Zachary.  I am getting extremely tired each day too, so not working helps me get more done around here!

At that Monday appointment, they ordered some tests to be done to check to make sure all was totally good, and told me that they wanted me to come back on Tuesday for another BP check.  All the tests came back ok, all organs and systems functioning well, no protein in urine, all good signs.  Then, when we went back on Tuesday, my BP was still a little elevated and I anxiously shared with them that I hadn't felt as much movement from him that morning.  Well, that got us sent over to L&D quick!!  I think I was just overly nervous on Tuesday, both Dave and I had let him move around 5:30 am that morning, but sometimes I get in my head and worry myself to death, and the doctors don't take that lightly.  For which I am very, very glad.  They sent us down for more monitoring, and that was a blessing in disguise because we got to see Dr. Bellantoni, and he walked us through all their thoughts about our case and what to do about delivery.  I can tell he really wants to get this baby out of my asap, as soon as we are sure it is safe for Zachary and for me, and in the best way possible for both of us.  There are so many factors to take into account, and he told us that once again their team would be discussing our case at their Wednesday meeting.  He was very sweet, and always knows how to calm me down.  He told us that Zachary looked great on the monitors and my BP came down a little, so they sent us home.

I was very emotional on Tuesday.  Tears came as we left the hospital.  I felt scared and overwhelmed, and very nervous about every little thing.  I want to know that Zachary will be ok, I want to know when he will get here, and how.  I am afraid of giving birth again, I guess because last time was so sad, and so painful.  I am afraid of pain, I'm afraid of having surgery.  I am actually afraid of having a live baby, even.  I have no idea what to do with a live baby!  What if I am a terrible mom?  What if I can't bond with him, because of Jackson?  What if...what if.  I want to be brave, I want to have faith, its just so difficult for me.  I am scared.

Yesterday, I started feel better.  I prayed a lot over the past two days, and I know that whatever I can't handle, God can get me through.  I know that most moms feel scared their "first" time around.  I am convincing myself that worrying about the baby dying or something going wrong does not HELP anything, so I am not allowed to worry about it anymore.  I have to believe that this time will be different, and that we will have a happy ending.  If I keep my mind and heart on that track, I'm not so scared.  

Today we went in for our testing again, and Zachary has flipped back to head down!  Can you believe it?  This kid is all over the place!  Our regular OB nurse just laughed.  Apparently, yesterday in the meeting with docs, they decided to go ahead and schedule my C section for Tuesday!  38 weeks!  But now...that he is head down, that changes everything, again.  Zachary is keeping life interesting for all of us.  My fluid is still a little high, so he could flip back to breech.  They want us to come into L&D on Saturday for another check to see where he is, possibly do an internal check to see what my body is doing, and do the non stress and BP checks too.  I am very glad they want us to do this, because going into the holiday weekend, I am worried that a lot can change in 4 or 5 days.  I'm used to getting seen every 2 or 3, and going in on Saturday will keep that schedule up.  

Depending on what they see on Saturday, they will either schedule the C section for Tuesday, or let me keep all my regular appointments for that day.  I see the docs in the early am, followed by a non stress test, followed by a trip down to St. Joes for a growth scan.  Depending on how all of that goes, we will schedule either an induction or a c section for that week.  Possibly that day.  Possibly Wednesday.  

No matter what, it looks like we are going to have a baby by next week...

That is still sinking in!

I am going to have a baby by next week!?!?!

Oh, how our lives are about to change and turn upside down in so many ways!

I am so grateful to be here, I am so thankful that we have gotten this far.  I am so thankful for my docs and the team of people trying to figure out how to deliver this precious baby into our world as safely and as quickly as possible, and as healthy as can be.  I have been blessed by my sweet family, and all of our friends and acquaintances and all the prayer warriors out there.  What a ride it's been!  I am most grateful to God for getting us here, and keeping me as sane as possible throughout the process - when I can get out of the way enough for Him to work His love and good and peace in me.  Sometimes, if I really concentrate, I can hear Him telling me that everything is going to be ok.  That Zachary and I are healthy, and he will arrive happy and whole, and that we will be blessed.  

I am hoping that is His word in my heart, and not just my own nonsense.  I think back to when I was in labor with Jackson, at the most painful part before they talked me into the epidural, and how I heard God telling me over and over your blessings will be abundant...I remember how loud and strong that voice was, and I am praying that this, a happy and healthy baby boy, is what He meant.  

We will keep everyone updated, for sure.  I'm going to try to get everything done in the nursery so I can share that post.  It really is the sweetest room in our house, I am so happy with out it turned out!  I have to hang some shelves and pictures, and I need to buy some books for him, but it's 90% done.  I can't wait to share it!

Thanks for all the love and prayers and well wishes, we love you all! <3

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May 9, 2015

Mother's Day

To all the moms out there, whether your child is here on Earth, or waiting for you in Heaven, Happy Mother's Day!

It's a tough day for a lot of people, and I learned this week that part of the origin of Mother's Day stems from baby loss.  Isn't it a little tragic that consumerism has taken it over, for the money?  Not that moms don't deserve to be celebrated, they totally do, but loss is so taboo and no one wants to talk about's ironic that this holiday may have started because of loss.

There are a lot of things going through my mind as this day approaches tomorrow.  On the one hand, I am very excited to become a mom to a baby on Earth.  So excited.  Well, so nervous too, but mostly I can't wait to meet Zachary and be a mother to a baby that I can hold and kiss and love in person.

On the other, I can't ever forget the babies that made me a mom in the first place.  I can't shake the feeling that something...someone...two someones...are missing this year.  

It's sort of a morbid thought, because of course IF Jackson and Lily were here, than Zachary would not be.  Zachary was conceived before Jackson and Lily's due date, so obviously if the pregnancy with them went well, than this sweet baby boy bouncing around in my belly would not exist.  This thought is bringing up all sorts of weird and hard feelings this weekend.  I am so THANKFUL for Zachary, but to admit that makes me feel like I have to finally be "ok" with the fact that our twins died.  

That makes me feel guilty.  I tell myself I should be ashamed, and devastated about our loss.  I should still be mourning deeply.

Then I tell myself to shut the heck up.  There's really no way to make sense of all of this...the miscarriage of Lily, the stillbirth of Jackson, this pregnancy with Zachary...there is no sense to it.

In the excitement and preparation of Zachary's coming into the world, the grief and sadness of losing Lily and Jackson does seem to be ebbing.  It makes me feel like I am losing my connection to them as their mom, and that scares me.  I remember when I was in the depths of my grief last June after delivering Jackson, that I never wanted to feel "better" because to feel better would separate me from him.  I don't WANT to be sad, or to grieve, but I don't want to forget him either.  I hate this separation, but then if I wasn't separated from him...Zachary would not be here.

It's just hard to wrap my brain around it all.  When I try, I come to the conclusion that I am still just healing one a day at a time, and while the strangling pain and grief of baby loss is easing up on me, it's never going to be gone.  I tell myself I am just getting better at meshing it into my life now.  I am getting stronger.  I can deal with it and it may not hurt as much, BECAUSE I am stronger.  Because I am BRAVE.  Not because I am better or the loss makes any more sense, or anything like that.  

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of them.  Mostly Jackson, of course, because of how long he was with me and the fact that I delivered him and held him.  I find ways to integrate both of them into our lives all the time, and even into Zachary's life.  I have a beautiful story to tell Zachary about his big sister and brother, which I will do soon after we meet face to face.  Some special things are going into his nursery to represent them.  We've planted a rose bush in our garden in Jackson's honor, a pinkish white one, just like the hospital gave to us on the day we said goodbye to him.  In a few weeks I'll be filmed for a documentary about baby loss to help break the silence and stigma surrounding it, all in their honor.  To get their story out there to help and heal and hopefully change the world in a very small way.

I am still their mom, I love them, and their lives still matter.

I have to remind myself that our babies in Heaven are very much a part of our everyday lives.  We've just gotten used to parenting them in this way, this unconventional and unfortunate way.  I have to remind myself that I am NOT forgetting them, and not "moving on" from them, but settling into a pattern of parenting that is very unique.  I am embracing them in this out of this world connection that we have.

As Mother's Day comes around this first year after our loss, I am celebrating in two very different ways.  I'm celebrating the short and sweet lives of the babies we lost last year, and I am celebrating the fact that in just a few short weeks - our Rainbow baby will be in our arms.  Because of them all, I am a mom.  Each one of our children have taught me such different lessons, such different ways to love, and such different ways of being a parent.  I am grateful for each of them, and love them so much.  My heart, while sad and excited and scared, is so big and so full, BECAUSE of all three of them.  

It is an honor to be the mother of three: Lily, Jackson and Zachary.  Well, actually four, because Ashley definitely counts too.  It's an honor to parent all of them in unique and beautiful ways.  I learn something new every day about being a parent from each of them, and I am thankful for the extraordinary way that God has chosen me to parent and how He blessed my life through all four.   

Happy Mother's Day <3
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April 23, 2015

Showers for Zachary

This is a long one!

Zachary is one loved little boy, already!!!  In the last few weeks, we've had two beautiful showers thrown for us.  I can't even begin to express how blessed and lucky we feel that so many people want to love on us and our little baby boy.  It's overwhelming, but in a big and beautiful way.  

Something that I have struggled with in this pregnancy after loss is feeling like a fraud, like I don't really belong to the "club" of preggo moms, or the mother-to-be club.  That is a product of a loss such as ours, it feels hard trying to fit in.  But now, since the showers and the nursery, this really feels REAL.  And I love that it feels real.  I am loving the thought of being a mom to him, and I am loving LETTING myself believe that it could happen!

Our first shower was thrown for us at my school.  My Special Area team hosted it.  Dave and Ashley and my parents came for it, and it was so sweet.  We got WAY more for Zachary than we deserve, and I am so lucky that I work with such a wonderful staff.  Here are a few of the pictures we have from that day...

The beautiful cake made for us by Peggy and decorated by the talented was SO yummy!

Mom and Dad getting some food...

Dave & Ashley digging in too...

I wore the sweet scarf that Blythe and Chuck sent us last year, a tribute to Jackson and Lily as we celebrate their baby brother.  Here I am opening a gift from one of the families from our school!

My dad, being a goof as always.  This beach hat is adorable!  I can't wait to put him in it at the pool and the OBX this summer!

Dave, holding the gift from my team!  We love to eat, so this gift was perfect - his bottle set!

Me, opening gifts.  I make funny faces while I do this apparently :)

We got so many sweet little outfits!  

The pile of wonderfulness after we got home!

I wish I had more pics of the shower, but Dave & Ash only really took pics of me.  It was a very sweet shower and a lot of friends came to bless us!  Thank you, Squirrels!!!

Our next shower was this past weekend, thrown by our dearest oldest friends and hosted at Jenny's beautiful home.  We had a brunch, and lots of fun and laughter, and it was awesome!!  My family and closest friends came, and again we were blessed way beyond what we deserve!

Ashley was in charge of pics, and she did a great job of capturing all the little sweet details!  Our nursery theme is vintage travel or little explorer, and Jenny and our family friends did an awesome job of decorating in that same theme.  Below is his name on vintage map paper!  So cute!

Lots of great little touches!

Hot air balloons with his name on them hanging everywhere!

Dave's grandma "Grammy" and my sweet mother-in-law, Joyce...

Mom was in charge of games, which was hysterical because she stressed everyone out with them...she takes her jobs very seriously as Grandma!  Here are the baskets she created as gifts...

Mom and I posing for a pic - she likes to wear sunglasses like a NY diva.  I always have to remind her to take them off!

Gift time!  I can't believe how much we got!!

Clothes and activity gyms and Mamaroos and lots of fun stuff!

My dress is from Old Navy, and I love it:)

My Sister in Law (the saint who married my brother!) was awesome and helped me with the gifts.  Love you, Krystal!

Mom organizing a game...

Friends and family, stressing over said games;)

My aunt, who did know not the answer to the celebrity game, so she just wrote WHAAAAAT?  On the paper!  It was funny, she is the best!

This sweet onesie was given to us by Blythe and Chuck, and it almost sent me into a fest of crying ugly but joyful tears.  Can you read what it says?  I can't even talk about it without tearing up...

It's one of the FIRST outfits I am putting Zachary in, whether it fits or not.  It's already in the hospital bag.  Love you, Bluck and Chythe!!

Dave showed up halfway through the gift part, and I made him open one with me...

This was our awesome pack and play with newborn napper, given to us from his mom.  What a great gift!

My mom and dad got us our travel system, I don't have a pic of that but it was also an awesome gift.  Our family and friends are way too generous!

Here is our beautiful cake, and it too was DELISH!

Joyce also made her famous strawberry shortcake.

Heather, my very best BFF, was visiting from Texas last weekend.  I basically made my friends throw the shower on this day so she could be a part of it.  I couldn't have a shower without her!!!  Zachary is going to love his auntie!

Me and Katie Mac, friends for life.  She is an awesome friend, I love her, and she gave us an amazing airplane that we hung in the nursery, pics to come soon of that!

Don't forget the big sis, she can't wait!

Heather, Jaimie, me and Jenny.  All friends from childhood, middle school and high school.  We grew up together, and all have very busy lives, but they will be my sisters forever.  I love you girls!

Dave and I, overwhelmed, happy and hopeful.  We are so thankful for all of our friends, family, and co-workers that are praying for this baby boy of ours!


We had a lot of fun at all of our showers!  Zachary's nursery is full, so there is NO going back now.  He has to arrive, safe and happy and healthy!  I'll share pics of the room, maybe next week, because while we have all the furniture, storage and decor for the most part, it still all needs to be organized and decorated.  Oh and let me just say, we LOVED using BabyList as our registry.  If you are preggo, or planning on getting preggo, Babylist lets you combine all registries into one.  So you can put any item from any store on there, and it gives everyone the links to the stuff - you can choose how to buy it and where to buy the item from to get the best deal.  It even lists competitive prices.  I wish I would have thought of such a genius website, I'd be rich!

Anyways, THANK YOU to each and everyone of our friends and family that helped celebrate the coming of Zachary David.  God has truly blessed us with the best of friends and family.  Thank you for your support, and your prayers, and dealing with my neurotic ramblings over the past year.  It's been a crazy ride, but it'll be worth it when that little boy enters into the world and changes our lives forever.  I can't wait to share him with you!!!

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