Monday, June 10, 2019

Letters To My Baby - First Trimester

Last pregnancy I made a little scrapbook, week by week to keep track of all the memories. This time I thought it might be fun to write a tiny little letter to the baby week by week.

Week 3:
Hello little baby in there! I can't even believe our dream has come true and you are on your way! We have wanted you for so very long and the only emotion we can feel is joy in knowing that you are in there and starting to grow! I can't even tell you how head over heels in love we are with you from the very first moment we knew you existed! Because of the circumstances of last year, I keep testing to make sure that line keeps getting darker, but it certainly seems you are doing your best to stick around in there and we are hopeful! We can't wait to meet you and know you! Stay strong and keep growing little one!

Week 4:
Hello in there Baby Smalls!  Your Daddy and I have been trying to come up with a nickname for you. We almost named you Butterball because we expect you to arrive right around Thanksgiving, but I was so tired one day this week and kept yawning and as I struggled to stay awake I said "You're killin me Smalls."  And thus your nickname was born! The last several days have passed so very slowly as we bask in the excitement of knowing you exist. It is still very much a secret to the world but your Dad and I are thrilled beyond belief! Your siblings talk about another baby all the time and while we are going to wait a bit longer before telling them, we can't wait to let them know that you'll be joining our big crazy family! You are already growing and changing so much as your body and organs begin to form, it is such a fascinating process and a miracle in the making! This week you have made me a bit more tired than normal and queasy here and there but so far we are trucking through this pretty well together! This week I called to schedule my first appointment and our doctor actually answered the phone and was excited and shocked to find we would be traveling this journey all together again! It is getting more real every day that passes!

Week 5:
Another week down, they sure seem to be moving slow right now! So far things with you seem to be moving at about the same pace symptom wise as they did with your brother and sister. I am queasy in the evening hours (which is kind of new), tired almost every moment of the day, and well, sore in other places that is it common to be sore in during early pregnancy.  Every single moment of all these early yucky symptoms is so worth it to know you are growing big and strong in there. My app tells me that you are the size of an apple seed right now, definitely growing pretty fast in there if you ask me! I also read that you already have a beating heart which I think is pretty darn amazing!  Keep up the good work in there!

Week 6:
Hello in there baby! This week was a special week because we got to see perfect little you! I went to the doctor for initial bloodwork to make sure my body is doing everything it can to keep you healthy. I mentioned some sharp cramping I was having on my right side, assuming that I would be told that is normal as things grow and change, but my doctor is amazing and wanted to make sure we were both safe so she had me to some more bloodwork to make sure my hormones were increasing as they should and also wanted me to do an ultrasound as soon as possible. So early the next morning your Daddy and I were off to the hospital to see if you were okay. I was of course nervous because the first ultrasound is where we truly know whether things are okay. At first the tech couldn't find you and said I was very early, all we could see was the gestational sac and yolk sac. But later on after checking ovaries, there you were! You are so sooo tiny but seeing you and that tiny little new heart beating away melted me! How something so very tiny has such a strong hearbeat already is just incredible! I am so glad you are okay and as far as the pain goes, I apparently have a decent size cyst left over in my right ovary from when you were released! Seeing that glimpse of you makes all my grievances - the fatigue and the really bad nausea so worth it! The nausea has kicked in to high gear these last 3 days - yuck! I think God gives us women an amazing lack of memory because while I remember being sick and knew it was not fun, I just didn't remember quite how miserable it really was, but it's all worth it! Right now pretty much everything is a food aversion except for fruits, so I am eating what I can when it sounds good.  You are the size of a sweet pea this week and your ears, eyes, and mouth have began to form! Pretty cool!

Week 7:
Fortunately this week I feel like the nausea has let up a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I still feel sick but I can at least find some relief this week. It leads me to believe that maybe my hunch of you being a boy might just be correct because this is more similar to how I felt with your big brother! The highlight of this week is that we got our dating ultrasound so I got another sweet glimpse of you! I'd stare at you all day if I could! You've grown so much in 9 days - good job! This week it didn't take more than a second to see your tiny little body pop up on the ultrasound screen and a very clear heartbeat booming away! The tech said it was in the 140's so yet another confirmation that you might be a boy! And just for fun, I have a silly theory about where baby sits in the gestational sac. You see, your big brother in his ultrasound debut was way over on the lower right hand side of his sac, and your big sister was way up high in the left hand side of hers. You, my dear are sitting down on the right hand side! So needless to say, I have my hunches about what I think you are, but nothing is for sure and maybe you'll surprise me!  It was such a relief to see you again and know little blueberry size you is doing so well in there! Another highlight is that over the Easter weekend we told the kids that you are on the way! I don't think there could be more excited big siblings in the entire world! They love to talk about you and try to name you and guess if you are a brother or sister. They cannot wait to meet you and hold you!  We are all so excited that you are part of our family!


Week 8:
Hi baby! This week you took your very first of many trips to Disneyland in your lifetime.  It was a bit of a rough trip for mom as I couldn't do any of the "fun" rides with your big siblings and I spent a lot of time just sitting around and feeling pretty gross. But we made it through. The last couple days of the trip were really hard. I have been impressed thus far at how I haven't felt as exhausted as I remember the other pregnancies being, but the exhaustion has definitely caught up with me now and I am so tired. I also think when I get tired, the nausea gets worse! In exciting news for you this week, you are getting bones and are about an inch long! Keep growing in there baby smalls!


Week 9:
Whew, you got me waving the white flag this week! Mama has not felt good AT ALL!  I was hoping that things would be improving by now but I am having to take it day by day and I admit, it has gotten rough! Your big siblings keep me moving and I've had to call in for lots of extra help this week because I've barely been able to scrape myself off the couch or out of bed.  I am so tired and so sick! I know you will be worth every single sick moment and I just have to keep my eyes on the prize! Another exciting moment for me this week is that I found your little heartbeat at home on a doppler! I won't use it all the time but it is reassuring to get to hear it once or twice a week and know you seem to be well in there! It was in the 170's so I guess between the sickness and the higher heart rate I'm having my first week of thinking you might be a girl. So what is happening in your little world? From what I read you are looking like a real baby this week with arms legs fingers toes - go smalls!


Week 10:
Congrats little one on your graduation from "embryo" to "fetus"!  You really look baby like now. It is amazing to think that so many of your organs are in place and functioning already in just 10 short weeks since you were nothing but a developing egg. God is so amazing in what he can do so quickly in there!  We are so blessed to have you in our lives! The start of week 10 has been rough but as the week went on I started feeling more and more human! Yay, I can see the end of trimster 1 coming! This week you are getting finger nails - say what?  Finger nails already!!!

Week 11:
Another week down. I was hoping the symptoms would start decreasing this week but so far I am still sick and very tired. It can get you down after awhile for sure.  The best part of this week was going to the doctor and hearing your heartbeat! The doctor said you are a very good baby :)  She asked if I had a guess on if you were a boy or girl, I said boy. I then asked her what she thought because she guessed correctly what your sister was at my 12 week appointment just by listening to the heartbeat.  She wouldn't say for sure that she was thinking girl, but she did mention that your heartrate was still pretty high up in the 170s!  The only downer is that my blood pressure was a bit high so I need to keep an eye on that and rest up. I am hoping once I am feeling better that the blood pressure will become more cooperative!  What is happening with you?  Your liver, spleen and kidneys are working and you are over 2" long!  Grow baby grow!

Week 12:
The last week of our first trimester together! Look at us go (and grow!)  This is a secret that your Daddy says we can no longer keep.  The bump apparently grows much faster this 3rd time around! This is the week we started letting the rest of the world find out about little ole you and everyone is excited! You are a true blessing! As we wrap up this trimester, I really REALLY hope that I begin to feel better soon. I felt better last pregnancy by this point so I am getting a bit defeated that I still am not feeling well. Its gotta end eventually right?  My app says that this week you are gaining coordination in your arms and fingers and may even be sucking your thumb! You have grown and changed so much these first 12 weeks of your existence and I am just amazed at this whole process. You are amazing baby Smalls and so so very loved already!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A Dream Fulfilled

I don't even know how to start a post like this, so I guess it is best to just head back 3 years in time. It was my 30th birthday, we had 4 young kiddo's at home and Peter swept me away to amazing Whistler Canada for a long weekend to celebrate. We had such an amazing time together and it was an incredible trip that I will never forget. I liken a conversation we had on this trip to a conversation we had while sitting on the beach in Gold Beach on our first anniversary getaway. Discussions about life and where we saw things heading. At one year of marriage we had a lot of decisions in general about our future to dream about and at the age of 30 it felt similar as we contemplated the next decade of life.

LB was on her way to 2 years old by this time and we had very few conversations about more children in those early months with her. With all the kids before her, we knew we wanted more but after bringing her home, we really weren't sure what we wanted to do. We were content with our big beautiful family the way it was. But we also left the option open to grow again down the road, but there was no rush. We were busy! We have always been open to pursuing any option of growth for our family if we felt the time was right whether that be international adoption, domestic adoption, pregnancy, or even opening our home as a temporary family to kids in foster care.  For me, the closer I got to 30 the more I wanted to experience pregnancy just one more time.  In the few discussions Peter and I had about this, he definitely did not feel the same strong desire. I never pushed him to make a decision or to see things the same way I did. I had been blessed to experience pregnancy twice and I felt okay accepting that it might never happen again. So imagine my complete surprise when we are sitting in Whistler and Peter announces that he's really okay with and ready to try for another baby! Needless to say, it was an exciting time of dreaming!

Now let's do some fast forwarding - through marital issues that had to be resolved, a trip to Jamaica that we didn't even consider put us at risk of Zika (forcing us to wait out a 6 month period) to a phone call at the tail end of the Zika waiting period telling me that I was a match for someone looking for a stem cell transplant (forcing me to wait another 6 months because you can't donate when pregnant) we  had quickly found ourselves a year and a half later finally in a place with the green light to actually pursue this dream of having another baby!  I am not naturally a very patient person but I did okay through all that waiting, maybe our adoptions had taught me a bit of patience!

Looking back, I was so dang naive!  Peter and I truly thought it was going to happen quickly.  We didn't really know the state of our fertility because after a year of trying, we pursued adoption and then had Eli as a bit of a surprise and then Sabrina was soon to follow as another surprise. We both kind of thought that our days of infertility were behind us.  3 months pass, okay it has to happen soon. And it did!  In March of 2018 I saw a line on a couple of tests. But within days it was over.  The medical world has a nice term of trying to make you feel better calling it a "chemical pregnancy" but as anyone who has seen a line on a test knows the amount of dreaming your heart can do in a matter of days.  I was pretty heartbroken but because the test was only positive for such a short amount of time I kept the sadness and grief to myself.

Okay so we had gotten a positive, it was bound to happen again right?  6 months pass and this is where I finally allowed myself to wonder if something was wrong. But I tried to keep up the faith.  We approach 1 year and it finally had brought us down.  It was a bit different than it was the first time we struggled because now I had a house filled with kids to distract me and keep me very busy and I understood how blessed I had been to be a mom 4 times over already. But it was still really hard to have a longing for something that just wouldn't happen. As I know so many women struggling to get pregnant with even their first, inside I felt selfish for my desire to have another. But it still hurt because when your heart is longing for something or someone who you feel is missing, it is still hard!

At a year we really started exploring our options.  Before I go on, I must explain that I think fertility treatment is amazing and I am so glad that doctors can help women in this way. I have nothing at all against seeking fertility treatment and it was an option I spent a TON of time thinking about and really wanted to pursue.  But there was a nagging inside of me that I just knew we needed to wait on God.  I wanted soooo badly to find a way to take control of this situation when I knew full and well that there was no way for me to control this situation.  We could go as far as to seek advanced medical help and still end up with no baby in our arms. Oh, I still struggled with control - I ordered fertility testing with no definitive of why it wasn't working, I ordered herbs and vitamins that I eventually stopped taking because I realized it was just me trying to take control. I almost picked up the phone so many different times to call my doctor but I just knew I was meant to wait. We felt helpless and the answer to just wait on God was not exactly my favorite answer!

In January of this year Peter and I felt compelled to Daniel Fast over many different areas of our lives.  It wasn't all related to having a baby, but having a baby was part of it. I prayed so much, I read so much in my Bible, it was an amazing time of seeking God that we continued after the fast was over. I started reading a new book "God, Where Are You?"  because just in general, God felt distant even though I had been pursuing a closer relationship with him for quite some time. It took me a LONG time to digest and get through this book but I truly felt a perspective change as I went through this book.  As I finished the book I knew what I had to do and it wasn't going to be without pain.  I had to surrender.  I talked it over with Peter, we were both just so dang tired of this longing for a baby. I was in an unhealthy place with it emotionally and I told him that I had to surrender and let this dream go.  If God wanted us to have a baby, he could make it happen but I couldn't let getting pregnant be such a huge focus on my life anymore.  I had to move on.......

This isn't an easy place to get to and it isn't easy to let go of a dream that I had carried with me for 3 years.  This wasn't a situation in which I was trying to surrender this to God to manipulate or try to get what I want.  This was true, genuine surrender of something that broke my heart to let go of. It was painful! We began to pray and dream about what God might have for our family if it wasn't a 5th child. We started the process of moving on.

Now, I hate when people try to say things like "just relax" and it will happen. Let me just say, that's not how any of this works and it's just a dumb statement. I still sit in awe and don't understand the why. I never, ever expected that the very month that I surrendered and even let go of this dream, that it would happen. I couldn't even believe my eyes when 2 days after my 33rd birthday, 3 long years after this story began, I saw two pink lines on a pregnancy test! I still can't put that moment into words.  I don't understand why we had to wait so long, I don't understand why God fulfilled this dream now, I don't know why we get this blessing while other women must still wait, but I am so sooo grateful for this little baby and am not taking this miracle for granted. We have been so abundantly blessed to get to be parents again!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Our School Year

School looked very different for us this year as we made some adjustments and changes last year. We switched all the kids to video teaching and sent LB to preschool for the year. I am happy to say at the end of the year that this year was awesome and I am so happy with the changes we made! I feel like each kid did such a good job this year and learned so much! I was able to bounce back and forth easily to help kids where they needed it instead of feeling like I was responsible to make sure all 3 kids in all 3 grades learned everything they needed to know! 

We actually finished our school year very early this year at the beginning of April and we have been enjoying a nice long break. We are still doing some science this summer and I have started another year of preschool with LB.  I am so proud of how hard each of our kids worked and how far they have come! We did it! Another year of homeschool accomplished!

Malachi completed 3rd grade this year. He has always been a great student and this year was no different. 3rd grade was a huge increase in work load for this kid this year and he handled it all so good! I am most proud of how far he came in math, he has struggled a bit with that subject but this year as math really picked up speed he was able to keep pace and actually did a really great job! Malachi is a sponge, so much of what he learns he retains so well. He memorized a whole chapter of the Bible this year, and already remembers more random facts in history than I ever remembered! He is a great student!  I cannot even believe I will have a 4th grader next year!

Nicknames: Mal
How old are you? 9
What is your favorite color? yellow
What is your favorite animal? lion 
What is your favorite book? Diary of a Whimpy Kid
What is your favorite TV show?  Ninjago
What is your favorite movie? Diary of a Whimpy Kid
What is your favorite song? Uptown Funk
What is your favorite food? Spaghetti 
What is your favorite drink? Orange High C 
What is your favorite breakfast food? waffles 
What is your favorite snack? granola bars 
What is your favorite outfit? Polos 
What is your favorite game? Disney Infinity
What is your favorite toy? Legos
Who is your best friend? Eli
What is your favorite thing to do? Play Outside
What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Jump on the trampoline 
What is your favorite holiday? Christmas 
What do you like to take to bed with you? Elmo
Where is your favorite place to go? Bowling
What is your favorite restaurant?  In N Out
Where do you want to go on vacation? Disneyland 
What do you want to be when you grow up? A Fireman
What is your favorite part of school? Language
What is your least favorite part of school? Math

This year was awesome for Eli! He is still the child who would rather do anything but school, but he came so far this year, especially with a brand new 2nd grade curriculum that actually kept pace with 3rd grade work in a lot of ways.  I am so proud of his perseverance.  He came so far in his writing and spelling skills which have been a weak spot for him (and lets be honest, who enjoys those subjects). He is so fast and good with his math skills and did awesome in reading this year.  I know next year as he conquers a brand new 3rd grade curriculum he will do well too! 

Nicknames: Eli
How old are you? 8
What is your favorite color? red 
What is your favorite animal? monkeys 
What is your favorite book? I like all the books I read
What is your favorite TV show? Minecraft Storymode
What is your favorite movie? Lion King
What is your favorite song? I don't have one
What is your favorite food? bananas
What is your favorite drink? strawberry high c
What is your favorite breakfast food? bacon and eggs
What is your favorite snack? cheese sticks 
What is your favorite outfit? spiderman shirts
What is your favorite game? Minecraft
What is your favorite toy? Legos
Who is your best friend? Malachi
What is your favorite thing to do? Play
What is your favorite thing to do outside? swing 
What is your favorite holiday? Christmas 
What do you like to take to bed with you? Lion and Groot
Where is your favorite place to go? Pietro's
What is your favorite restaurant?  Pietro's
Where do you want to go on vacation? DisneyWorld 
What do you want to be when you grow up? Construction Worker
What is your favorite part of school? Math
What is your least favorite part of school? Writing

Sabrina had an amazing 1st grade year! She is the one child who I can pretty much set up with her videos and walk away and know that she will do every last thing her teachers ask of her. She loves school and has the most beautiful cursive handwriting already! I am most proud of how far she came in her reading and spelling skills, reading was something that came really slow for her over her preschool and kindergarten years but you could never tell now because she is such a good reader! It really is true that every kid hits that milestone at a different place but once it clicks, it clicks! She is a smart cookie and I know is going to do great in 2nd grade! 

Nicknames: Bina
How old are you? 7
What is your favorite color? Pink and Purple 
What is your favorite animal? Poodles 
What is your favorite book? I don't know
What is your favorite TV show?  Lego Friends 
What is your favorite movie? The New Aladdin
What is your favorite song?  The Songs from Aladdin
What is your favorite food? Chili
What is your favorite drink?  Coke or Sprite 
What is your favorite breakfast food? Lucky Charms 
What is your favorite snack? Granola Bars
What is your favorite outfit? I don't know 
What is your favorite game? Disney Infinity
What is your favorite toy? Fingerlings or Calico Critters
Who is your best friend? Natalee
What is your favorite thing to do? Play Games
What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Play on the swing set 
What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
What do you like to take to bed with you? Poodle
Where is your favorite place to go? McDonalds
What is your favorite restaurant?  McDonalds
Where do you want to go on vacation? Disneyland 
What do you want to be when you grow up? A Dog Rescuer
What is your favorite part of school?  Phonics
What is your least favorite part of school? Math

And last and not least we have LB! Sending her to a wonderful preschool was so very good for her and I am so happy with the decision we made for her! Those preschool socialization skills were such a big deal for her! She also started on a great preschool foundation with all those basic skills needed for kindergarten readiness. We knew it was likely with her summer birthday that she would need another year of preschool after this and that is what we plan on doing but I do have to say as I have started another year of preschool at home with her that there are a lot of things that she already knows from her time at school so I do feel that this second year of preschool will be a breeze and really just solidify those concepts in her brain! 

Nicknames: LB
How old are you? 4 1/2
What is your favorite color? orange 
What is your favorite animal? tigers and shep 
What is your favorite book? Daniel Tiger
What is your favorite TV show?  Goldie and Bear 
What is your favorite movie? Aladdin
What is your favorite song? The Hot Dog Song
What is your favorite food? meatballs and noodles
What is your favorite drink? lemonaid 
What is your favorite breakfast food? eggs 
What is your favorite snack? oreos
What is your favorite outfit? a dress 
What is your favorite game? Minecraft
What is your favorite toy? Goldie and Bear
Who is your best friend? Maddox
What is your favorite thing to do? Birthday Parties
What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Play on the swing set 
What is your favorite holiday? Halloween
What do you like to take to bed with you? Sleep Cap and pink blanket
Where is your favorite place to go? Wendy's and McDonalds
What is your favorite restaurant?  Panda Express
Where do you want to go on vacation? See a Mountain 
What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor
What is your favorite part of school? Snack Time
What is your least favorite part of school? Praying Time

I am so thrilled to be done with another year of school! It really does feel like such an accomplishment for our whole family when we are done. Not much will look different for us when we start back up. Malachi will be in 4th grade and I've heard that it is a very challenging year but I know he will do great, Eli will be in 3rd with a brand new edition of 3rd grade, Sabrina will face 2nd grade, all continuing with video lessons. I will be working with LB this next year at home on preschool. Since we started early (her choice) we may start some kindergarten if she finishes up preschool early.  I am really happy with the path we have chosen this year and feel great clarity that we are on the right path for our family.  We would typically start the next school year in July but a lot of Eli's new curriculum is on back order until the end of July but we will get started just as soon as it all arrives! 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Disneyland - Part 2

A few more memories of our trip before we move along :)  

I promise LB wasn't really scared, she had done this ride so many times but her silly face was epic! 

14 years later in the place where Peter proposed!

It was a great trip with more memories made! I love that our kids love the Disney magic as much as we do! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Disneyland - Part 1

Disneyland isn't exactly a new trip for our family but it is pretty cool that our kids have been bit by the same Disney bugs that their parents have always had! With that being said, we decided to take advantage of a discount on tickets this spring and squeeze in a trip. This will probably be our last trip to the mouse house for a few years as we prioritize other vacation options (and Peter says with the crowds we aren't going back until the next recession). 

So with that being said, here are a few of the pictures we took while on this trip. The kids had a blast!