Posted in parenting

This Mama’s Heart…

                I have been thinking about and wanting to write this blog since Mother’s Day… it was a hard day for me this past year… as I reflected back on Mother’s days past, and Mother’s days to come and what being a mother really means to me.
                I’ve wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember.  Growing up, I babysat for anyone and everyone I could.  I loved kids and looked forward to the day when I would have my own.  I told anyone who asked that I wanted twelve (like stairsteps… two years apart… haha—what was I thinking?).  When Ben and I started dating, he wanted six… and I said maybe 4… maybe 6.  My only specification was that I definitely didn’t want 3 or 5.  Maybe it was the math teacher in me, but I didn’t like odd numbers ;-)… I wanted them each to have a “friend,” someone to play with all the time.   Little did we know that we would spend three years trying to grow our family before we finally got pregnant the first time.  We had over six months of fertility treatments, disappointments, and loss before finally getting pregnant with the twins.  After their emergency birth, we asked the doctor how soon would be too soon to start trying for more… he told us there was no reason to wait that he could see so we didn’t.  We prayed that more kiddos would come without treatment, but they didn’t.  15 months after the twin’s birth, we headed to a new fertility doctor and got pregnant with baby #3. 
                I loved being pregnant.  Maybe it was the amount of time, money and prayer that it took to get that way, but I loved it!  There were uncomfortable moments (I did have twins), but I loved every minute of knowing that I was growing a sweet baby (babies) inside of me.  I looked forward to a natural delivery with Kinsey and the opportunity to carry more babies to term and deliver them naturally as well.  I didn’t get what I wanted… and for months I have struggled with the feelings that resulted from her traumatic delivery and the separation that we had following it.  She wasn’t supposed to be the last baby that I had the opportunity to carry and even at 41+ weeks pregnant, I never thought that I wouldn’t be pregnant again.  It’s something that has been hard for me to come to terms with, even 11 months later. 
                 I don’t for one minute take for granted the fact that I AM a mother!  I am the mom of three precious angels and I love that I get to spend my days with them.  God gave me these sweet babies to birth and raise from the start and I love that.  However, on Mother’s Day last year and many days since, I have felt sorry for myself.  I felt sorry for myself because of all the babies that I still wanted to carry and all the children that I thought I was going to get to have.  It’s been a long year of struggling with myself and going back and forth over the “what ifs” and trying to figure out what, if anything, I could have done different.
                After Kinsey was born, I was just so happy to be alive and to know that she was healthy and well, that the reality of things didn’t set in at first.  As I started to come to grips with my feelings and the reality of the future, many people told me that it was okay to be mad at God for taking away my dream.  Many of Ben and my family members told me that THEY were mad at God for taking away our dream.  Despite all my angry and sad moments in the last 11 months, I have not been angry at God at all.  I’ve been mad at myself, I’ve been mad at the doctors, and I have even been mad at my past dreams, but I do not blame God.  Here’s why:
1.        God gave me this dream of being a mother.  It didn’t happen in my timing, and it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to.  It took a lot of struggling, but because Ben and I had this dream, we refused to give up.  We wouldn’t have these three beautiful children if it wasn’t for how important this dream was to us!   This dream that HE gave to us!
2.       God didn’t take away my ability to have future biological children.  Circumstances did.  It may not be the way that we wanted it to happen, but one thing Ben and I have learned throughout the past few years is that God has a plan that is way bigger than what we can even imagine or believe.  
3.       And thirdly because I WILL have more children.  My family is not finished and God still has BIG plans for us.
                 Ben and I sat down in September and had a serious talk about the future.  We talked about future jobs, future homes, and our future family.  We have always planned on adopting, but in our minds this was a far off goal.  We thought it would happen after our kids were older so we could adopt from the foster care system.  However, as we talked about how we saw our family growing and when, we both agreed that God was leading us to pursing and being open to adoption sooner rather than later.  We both realized that maybe the change in our circumstances was God’s way of saying we needed to pursue this path now, not years from now. 
                We started praying in September, specifically for the children that God might be preparing to be a part of our family, whether that day is soon or much later on.  In addition, we have been researching and calling around and meeting with adoption agencies and foster care workers like crazy and have hit quite a few roadblocks at the start of the this journey.  We are continuing to pray that God will lead us down the path that he has for us to follow in order for us to grow our family.   As we make decisions about where we are going to move to next, adoption and our three sweet kiddos play a huge part in our planning.  We ask that you, our friends, pray for us as we make those decisions and pray too for our future family as God leads us to them!  We desire nothing less than to be a tool for him as we share the love we have with others.

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Posted in parenting

The journey to baby #3!!

Since we announced Baby #3 was on the way this past July (arrival expected around New Years!!!), we have been asked so many questions regarding this pregnancy and whether it was an accident, planned or if we had to use fertility treatments again… I have answered these questions for so many people, I thought maybe it would be useful to write a blog post and share what this journey has consisted of!

When Ben and I first started talking about starting our family, we both agreed we wanted a big family 4-6 kids (I know, what a blessing right??) and that spacing them out by a few years would be ideal.  After several years of trying to conceive and suffering disappointment & heartache, we were finally blessed with our amazing twins (after a year of fertility testing/treatments, etc).  At that point we decided that should God choose to bless us with more children (without medical intervention), we would happily take them whenever he chose to send them our way. 

A couple weeks before the twins first birthday, Ben found out that he was going to be leaving in April for 6 months.  We didn’t want to wait to pursue future children after his trip was over so we went ahead and scheduled an appointment to see a fertility specialist in Nashville.  I went to the first appointment alone while he was out of the country in January and was told that the earliest we could get in for treatment was the middle of April.  When he got home, we talked and prayed about it and decided that God knew what he was doing and we knew that things would align for him to still be home at the middle of April. 

Many of you know that when Ben returned home he had a series of seizures that led to us finding out he had a massive cancerous brain tumor.  Even with surgery, the doctors were not very encouraging about the future.  Ben was told he would not be allowed to take the trip in April and again we prayed about whether to move forward with the scheduled treatments.  I have been questioned several times on the fact that Ben and I chose to go ahead with the treatments despite his diagnosis, even without any follow up scans to determine whether the tumor had returned.  It boils down to the fact that we had FAITH that he was going to be fine and despite our moments of weakness, there was absolutely no way we were going to allow this to halt our plans for a bigger family!  Our God is bigger than any cancer and we both knew that we were meant to have more children together!

We started our treatment cycle at the end of March and even before our “two week wait” was up, we knew we were expecting.  I happily went into the doctor’s office for the official confirmation.  Anyone who has had trouble conceiving or who has gone through fertility treatments knows that for the first few weeks it is a numbers game.  They have you come back several times to confirm that your numbers are rising appropriately and eventually allow you to see that first heartbeat on ultrasound.  My numbers rose the first two visits, but after the third visit, they dropped dramatically.  The nurses who called told me to prepare for a miscarriage, but that they would check my numbers again in a week.  Ben and I prayed unceasingly for the following week… and I truly believe it was his FAITH that caused those numbers to continue going up. After the following appointment the nurses told me that they thought the drop in numbers was due to what could have been another multiple pregnancy, but that everything seemed to look good now and they scheduled us for our first ultrasound! 

The first ultrasound showed a strong heartbeat and so did the following several.  The specialist we saw in Nashville wanted to keep me on the hormone supplements through the first trimester in order to make sure everything was off to the best start and at 12 weeks they scheduled me to see a perinatologist for some further testing because of how the pregnancy started and our previous history (preterm labor, pre-eclampsia, etc).  It was at this appointment that the specialist told me we would be having another little girl.  I was not convinced that she could possibly be accurate at 12 weeks, so when we announced we were expecting the following week, we refrained from sharing that part of our news :-).

We were also excited to share the news of this pregnancy with both of our parents in person this time around.  We traveled through Ohio on the way to spend the 4th of July in Maine with my family and told Ben’s parents and then mine!  After contacting all our brothers and sisters (we have a lot you know)… we let our news seep out into the FB world!

Since then it has pretty much been “smooth sailing” as far as pregnancy goes.  There have been no complications to date & several subsequent ultrasounds have confirmed that we are indeed having a girl!  We are currently 33 weeks along and unlike last pregnancy I haven’t spent the last seven weeks on bedrest!  We are looking forward to meeting this sweet baby girl in about 7 weeks!

Some other questions I have been asked but haven’t answered above:
**What would you have done if it was multiples again?  We would have rejoiced!! Ben and I both prayed for a healthy pregnancy, the opportunity for a natural childbirth experience, and no need to supplement with formula this time around.  God saw fit to give us 1 child this time around; maybe we will get more next time 😉

**Do you plan to have more children?  YES, Definitely… whether by birth or adoption, we definitely plan to have more.  We both believe that God has called us to have a houseful! 

**Would you do further fertility treatments?  Yes, if necessary.  God has provided the funds for the previous treatments and while we hope and pray that further treatments won’t be necessary, we are willing to go through this process again if necessary!

God has been so FAITHFUL this year and Ben and I have been tremendously blessed by the outpouring of love, support and prayers that we have received from all of our friends and family!  Thank you so much & we look forward to introducing you to our next addition!!

Posted in parenting

11 months old already?

Josh and Savannah are only a month from their first birthday and I can hardly believe how fast they have grown.  Has it really almost been a year since they arrived?  I can’t imagine our lives without them, but at the same time it has flown by so quickly.

Joshua is starting to pull up and cruise along the furniture, and he is finally “walking” along with us when we hold his hands instead of immediately sitting down.  His separation anxiety is at it’s peak right now (I hope) and he hates to see anyone leave the room (especially mommy!). He is starting to chatter more and more and Ben and I love hearing them talk to us.  He also loves to be chased… he will take off across the room and if you don’t follow fast enough, he will turn around and come back to within a foot of you and then turn back in the other direction to crawl away while laughing!

Savannah is definitely little Miss Independent.  She will take a few steps (hands free) between Ben and I, but still doesn’t have enough courage to walk on her own.  She loves being on her feet though, and it is very hard to keep her still!  She will push her toys around the living room, and gets frustrated when walls and furniture get in her way.

They both have enjoyed having a Christmas tree in the living room, but hate that mommy and daddy have it fenced off.  Savannah spends a little bit of time everyday with her hands through the fence trying to pull off ornaments and even unwrapping presents if she can get her hands on them.

We have had to invest in real baby gates to block off the staircases and the dining room to keep the twins in “safe” play areas.  Savannah has tried climbing over these fences already and Joshua sure does love to follow her around.  The other day I was distracted in the kitchen and heard them both laughing hysterically.  I found Joshua a few steps up the stairs to our room and Savannah was a few steps from the top!  Her laughter got louder as I got closer and she took off in a hurry!

Since Ben will be off a week at Christmas time, he is going to help me make the bottle/sippy cup transition and help me attempt to put the kids on a regular meal schedule (which means mommy has to come up with three baby friendly meals a day!).  It is bound to be an interesting month!

Here are a few pictures of the kids this month!

The rocking chairs were a Hanukkah gift from daddy and the teddy bears were a gift from a sweet friend… now if only Savannah could learn that they are made for sitting in and not standing on….