Sunday, June 4, 2017

Shattered

I should be writing my 16 week pregnancy update right now, but I am truly at a loss for the right words in this moment as my heart is overwhelmed. We learned this week that our precious gift - our unborn baby we love so much - has passed away just shy of 16 weeks gestation. We are all devastated, and there are many things about this that we just can't understand. 

However, we do know that we have a good, faithful Father who loves us the same as He did yesterday and as He will tomorrow. We know He will carry us as we attempt to navigate the waters of loss and grief. We know that without Him, this would be impossible. We praise Him as the giver of life and healing and peace.



Thank you for your prayers and respect at this time as we process, grieve, and attempt to put one foot in front of the other. 




Monday, May 29, 2017

Pregnancy Update - 15 Weeks!

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! Three years ago, we had an IUI on Memorial Day that resulted in our precious twinbies. It's so neat to think that I am now 15 weeks pregnant with Seven!

Here is what the belly looks like at 15 weeks:

I still can't tell much of a difference in the size of my belly, but based upon my appetite this week, I expect to see some major growth soon! The clothes I'm wearing in the photo above are not maternity (although the top is super flowy), but I did wear maternity jeans a few times this past week. I'm in that weird stage where my regular jeans still fit, but they aren't comfortable (especially in the evening). However, my maternity jeans wouldn't stay up. Of course, I have to remember that all of my maternity clothes are really stretched out thanks to a twin pregnancy :-).

This week has brought with it a surge in my energy levels, finally! My energy had definitely been improving for the last few weeks, but it wasn't until this week that I could tell a BIG difference. I am so thankful! Trying to care for four littles - including twin toddlers - with no energy was so difficult. Chris even commented on how much more like myself I was this week.

I didn't weigh this week, so we'll have to wait until next week to see how much I gained. In my previous pregnancies, I've really worried about my weight gain. With Bren, I was always worried that I was gaining too much. With the twins, I remember being concerned that I wasn't gaining because I was so sick. This time, I'm trying to be reasonable with what I eat and just not worry about the weight gain as much. It's going to come whether I worry about it or not, so I'm letting that go. I typically lose the pregnancy weight in a reasonable amount of time while I'm nursing, so why worry so much? I don't have time for that mess, lol.

As I mentioned above, my appetite has been strong this week. I have craved chocolate milk, potatoes, and tomato soup. Random, yes? We generally eat Mexican food about once a week - and it's typically something I crave with pregnancy - but this time it seems that the baby doesn't like Mexican food too much. It rarely sounds good to me, and it always upsets my tummy when I eat it. This doesn't really work for us, so this kiddo is just going to have to learn to like it!

My emotions have been all over the place this week. I've noticed that I'm definitely not as short tempered as I have been, but I have been crying at the drop of a hat. It's really ridiculous how easily I cry! Brianna had a little end of the year program this past week, and I was a MESS. I think I would normally tear up a bit, but I had full-on tears streaming down my face. It was a little embarrassing!

One final thing I want to mention is in regards to my headaches. I thought I was doing better with them, but I had a terrible headache on Saturday and Sunday that laid me out for a while. I had a minor headache last Tuesday that was getting worse, so I went to my chiropractor and got adjusted. He and I visited for a while about the headaches, but we didn't come up with anything groundbreaking. My head felt better that evening, but I was still experiencing some pain. It continued all day Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, I felt great! Saturday morning, though, I woke up with a headache that grew worse and just wouldn't quit. I was so frustrated! I'm feeling good today, so I'm hoping to have a break for a few days.

I hope everyone has a great week!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Pregnancy Update - 14 Weeks!

As of yesterday, I am now 14 weeks pregnant with Seven. I am celebrating another good week of pregnancy, as well as finally being in real time with these pregnancy updates! 

Here is how I look at 14 weeks pregnant:

I don't feel like the belly looks too different than it has for the last several weeks. I'm still wearing regular clothes, and I don't feel like I'm showing quite yet. Chris snapped this pic of me from the front when he was taking my weekly belly pic for me. You can see that the belly is less obvious from this angle!

Many of my pregnancy symptoms have really eased up this past week. I've only had a few gagging episodes all week, so I'm thankful for that, for sure! My appetite is certainly getting better and so is my energy. It has been wonderful to feel like I have some energy again!!! At the beginning of the week, we were in Tennessee for my nephew's high school graduation. We drove back from Tennessee on Tuesday, on Wednesday I went on a field trip with Brianna, and on Thursday and Friday I caught up on unpacking, laundry, and housework. I was tired by the end of the day each day, but I was still functioning okay. I can't tell you how good it felt to be productive and actually do things like mop my floors without feeling like I was about to collapse! 

I had a really severe headache on Tuesday when we were coming home from Tennessee. I pretty much went to bed as soon as we got home because it was hurting so badly. I'm used to having headaches during the first half of pregnancy, but these have been so much worse this time. We also had some severe weather this week, so I wonder if the weather is enhancing my headaches? I've never been pregnant in the springtime before, so that may be why they are so much worse this time. In a moment of desperation, I took to Facebook and asked for recommendations on how to deal with the headaches. I got a lot of conflicting information, but nothing I tried seemed to bring relief. Thankfully, I haven't had a severe headache since Tuesday, although I have had several less painful ones. 

Food cravings have been in full swing this week, and the top thing on the list has been baked or mashed potatoes! I feel like potatoes are the only thing I want to eat, which is interesting because that's not something I've ever craved during pregnancy before. I've also been craving and really enjoying Dr. Pepper. This is strange because I don't generally care for Dr. Pepper at all (I'm a Coke girl when it comes to pop), but it has tasted soooooo yummy recently. I know that Dr. Pepper and potatoes certainly aren't the healthiest thing to be feeding my body, so I'm definitely trying to exercise self control with the cravings. 

As far as weight gain goes, I gained one pound this week, putting my total weight gain at two pounds. I've never been one to gain weight during my first trimester (although I will pack it on later), so this pregnancy is following that same pattern, for sure. 

And finally, we celebrated Mother's Day yesterday since we were out of town for the actual day. My kiddos and hubby got me some really great gifts, including a Snoogle! I am so excited about this! If you don't know what a Snoogle is, it's this really amazing, ridiculously large pregnancy pillow that supports your whole body. 

(This is just a photo I found online . . . it's not me :-)

I got one of these pillows when I was pregnant with B3, and used it all throughout my pregnancy with the twins, as well. It was wonderful! Unfortunately, one of the kids puked on it, and I was never able to get the smell out. It had also gotten kind of flat with all the use, so I ended up getting rid of it. Honestly, had I kept it, I likely would have donated it when we moved anyway. I wasn't planning on buying another one, but the hubs thought I needed it. I'm glad he did! 

This pregnancy feels like it's flying by, and we are so grateful for another good week. We praise God every day for the blessing of this baby!




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 13 Weeks!

*I'm still playing catch-up, but my 14 week update should be in real time! This post was written on May 16th.*

I can't believe I'm already 13 weeks pregnant! This first trimester has flown by, but I guess that tends to happen when you miss the first half because you don't realize you're pregnant, haha!

Here is my 13 week belly pic. This photo was taken on Mother's Day while we were in Tennessee for my nephew's high school graduation. I've never been pregnant on Mother's Day before, so that was special for me! I'm definitely getting a serious bump already, but I think it's less obvious when I'm not framing it with my hands.

The weeks leading up to thirteen weeks when I was pregnant with the twins was really difficult for me. We lost B3 when I was 13 weeks along, and the anxiety caused by that loss was pretty major. This time, however, has been much easier. I feel more peaceful about everything in general. I actually expected that this past week would be hard in that way, so maybe that's why it's been a little easier? I still think about that loss often - and there's certainly a part of me that worries about reliving that experience - but I spend a lot of time in prayer about it. Also, you may have noticed that I'm labeling my pregnancy update posts with "Seven", and if you follow me on IG then you know that I'm also using #seven on any posts regarding this baby. There are two reasons for this - One is that this is baby number 7 counting our two miscarriages. The second reason is that we are now a family of seven counting this new baby, so it works out kind of perfectly. I may refer to this baby as "Seven" some on the blog, as well.

This has been a busy week! As I mentioned above, we traveled to Tennessee for my nephew's high school graduation, so much of the week was spent preparing for that trip. It's about 8 hours driving time one way, so that's not a small undertaking for our family! Thankfully, I had more energy this week than I've had lately, although I am still more tired than normal. It was nice to be able to feel like I could at least somewhat function, though!

I mentioned in last week's post that I've been having some terrible headaches. This isn't uncommon for me during the first trimester, but the ones I've had recently have been inferring with my ability to function. I've tried several different things to ease the pain, but nothing has worked for long. I finally went to my chiropractor on Tuesday and got adjusted. My neck was super tight and the adjustment hurt! That is rare for me, but it helped a TON. My neck was sore and my head still hurt that evening, but I haven't had a headache since then. So thankful!

This week has also brought with it fewer gagging episodes than I had been having. Again, so thankful! Typically, my pregnancy symptoms really ease up around 13 to 15 weeks, so I had been hoping that would be the case this time. It seems to be holding true!

My appetite has returned, and I've been having a much easier time eating this week. There are certainly still things that don't sound good at all (like fried food . . . blech), but overall things are so much better in that area. I haven't talked about my weight too much yet, so I'll go ahead and do that now. I did mention in a previous post that I was in the process of losing weight when I found out I was pregnant. When I began losing weight, I was about 20 pounds heavier than my normal (blech . . . I hate writing that!). I had just lost six pounds when I found out I was pregnant, but obviously still had a ways to go. As of this week, I have gained one pound. I'm about the same weight as I was when I got pregnant with Bren, but about 15 pounds heavier than I was at this stage with all the girls.

My regular clothes still fit for now, although I did go ahead and unpack and wash my maternity clothes this week. I actually don't have many maternity clothes because I only kept things that were in great condition. Pretty much all of my long-sleeved or winter things were worn out since all of my other pregnancies have been mostly winter pregnancies. That means that most of what I kept is short-sleeved, and that works out great for me this time! I only have about ten tops, two pairs of shorts, and two pairs of jeans, but I'm hoping to make that work and not have to buy much of anything. We'll see!

As always, I'm extremely grateful for another week of pregnancy!


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pregnancy Update: 12 Weeks!

May I just say how excited I am to be writing pregnancy updates again?!? Because y'all . . . I am excited! This pregnancy was unexpected and surprising, for sure, but it's still a beautiful, wonderful blessing. 

I'm playing catch-up a bit with my pregnancy updates. This post was originally written on Monday, May 8th when I was 12 weeks along. Technically, my "turn day" is Sunday, but my goal throughout this pregnancy is to write and publish my updates on Monday. I figure it's close enough, especially since we don't know exact dates of everything this time (which feels so strange compared to my other pregnancies!)

This is my first "belly shot" this time around!

As you can see, I definitely have a bump already! I tend to carry extra weight in my middle, and I've been about 15-20 pounds heavier than my normal for close to a year. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was actually in the process of losing weight when I discovered I was pregnant. While my belly is a little bit bigger than it has been, it's not too much more prominent. It is, however, quite a bit firmer, and I can tell a difference when I lay on my back, for sure!

With my previous pregnancies, I took all of my belly pics in the same spot in our house. We've since moved, so I've had to figure out a new place to take the belly pics. The spot I've chosen can be a little shadowy, so please excuse that in my pictures! However, I like that the natural light brightens my face, so we're sticking with this spot for now.

My appetite has been better this week than it has been in three or four weeks. It's a relief to not have to force myself to eat, and food has been settling a whole lot better with me for the most part. I'm still battling mucus issues, so I'm still struggling with gagging some. I do think it might be getting better, thankfully. The fatigue has been less severe this week, and I'll be THRILLED to see that go away for a while! I'm so ready to have a bit more energy and just feel a little more like myself. The fatigue has been NO JOKE this time around! 

I typically struggle with severe headaches during my first trimester. They hadn't been bad this time around (I had only had about two), but this week I had several that have knocked me off my feet. Of course, being pregnant means I'm really limited as far as medications I can take for pain relief, and Tylenol doesn't help me out much. Other things that I use to help with the headaches include icing my neck, having Chris massage my neck and shoulders, drinking water, drinking caffeine, and trying to sleep them off. The ones I had this past week were severe to the point that my head throbbed anytime I moved, light hurt my eyes, and I was super sensitive to sound. Scrolling on my phone or looking at any type of electronics was out of the question. My kiddos have been great to bear with me when I'm suffering with a headache, but we are all ready for me to not be dealing with them anymore. 

Another interesting thing that happened this week was that I had to take my wedding rings off. Yes, already, haha! I noticed last Thursday that my finger was hurting right where my rings sit, so I took them off only to discover that my skin was blistered in that spot. This same thing happened when I was pregnant with Brenson, and I had to stop wearing any kind of rings due to my skin blistering wherever metal touched me. This included gold, white gold, silver, and platinum! For now, I'm still able to wear necklaces and earrings, but when I was pregnant with Brenson those things eventually began to bother me as well. Since this only happened with my pregnancy with Bren and not during the girls' pregnancies, maybe that means we're having a boy this time? We definitely don't know, but it's always fun for us to play the guessing game!

I had my first appointment with Dr. N (my OB that delivered all my other kiddos) today at 12 weeks and 1 day along. I had called his office to make an appointment almost two weeks ago and was told that he was booked solid until the week of May 15th. I was actually just going to wait, but his receptionist decided that they needed to see me earlier than that and "squeezed me in" for today. My appointment was at 11:00am - which isn't generally a great time for his office - so I went alone because I was anticipating a wait. However, I was actually called back to a room after only 25 minutes and saw Dr. N about 20 minutes after that.

It was fun to see his nurse, Tiffany, who was in the delivery room during the twins' birth. We chatted for a bit while she took my weight and blood pressure (which was 116 over 62), and a few minutes after that Dr. N came in with his usual "Nellieeeee!" greeting. He asked me how I was feeling and what I was doing there again (ha!), then began the ultrasound.

Dr. N is always a bit of a whirlwind, but I never feel like just another patient to him. He's loud and fast, but he's also personable and pays attention to details. However, this time I felt like he was really in a rush and kind of scattered. He does an ultrasound at every appointment, but it was super quick this time. The baby looked great though, measuring 11 weeks and 5 days along, with a heart rate of 184 beats per minute. Of course, this made me wonder if we're having a girl?!?

Hi, baby!

I never tire of hearing the sweet sound of my baby's heartbeat. 

Since I'm 36 years old, I anticipated that Dr. N may talk to me about extra testing or seeing a specialist. He did briefly discuss some testing with me, gave me a pamphlet on it, and said to let him know what I decide. Then, he was out the door. I said, "Wait! I have questions!" He told me to get dressed (it was a bottoms-off appointment), and he'd be back to talk with me.

A few minutes later, he came back in and we briefly discussed my blood-thinning injections and the other medications I'm on. I knew he'd keep me on them, but I wanted to bring it to his attention because he didn't mention anything about it during the ultrasound. He actually put me on a prescription folic acid called Folbic, so I was glad that we discussed it. Then, he sent me off to have my routine blood work done.

After blood work and a urine sample, I walked back through his area of the office on my way to check out. He was standing at the desk, stopped me, and said, "Hey Nellie, did I do measurements today?" I said, "Yes, the baby measured 11 weeks and 5 days." He said, "And that's about where you are, right? I didn't realize this was your first appointment." I said, "I'm 12 weeks and 1 day, so close enough," and he responded with, "Okay, good. See you in four weeks!" I know he sees hundreds of patients and is a busy, busy man, but it's really unlike him (in my experience) to not be right on top of things. He just really seemed to be in a rush, but maybe that's what happens when you are "squeezed in" on a Monday!

Since we had a great appointment, we are going public on social media with the news this afternoon! It's a little scary, but so exciting at the same time!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pregnancy Update: Weeks 8-11!

*I'm playing catch-up with my pregnancy updates. This post was originally written on April 30.*

The evening after our first ultrasound where we were able to hear the baby's heartbeat, we told the kiddos about their new sibling. They were just elated, and couldn't wait to tell the world! We let them call and tell a few close family members that evening, but we weren't quite ready to shout it from the rooftops just yet. We had plans to see Chris's parents and grandma that weekend, so we waited just a few days and let the kids tell them in person. After we told them, we went ahead and shared the news with a few close friends, as well.

Brianna was so excited about the baby that she could hardly contain herself! After telling the kids the news on Thursday evening, we told them to keep quiet about it for a little while. Friday morning, Brianna said that she wanted to tell her teacher and friends at school. I told her that we weren't ready for that quite yet. When she got home on Friday afternoon, she confessed that she did tell one friend during Rise and Shine because "she just couldn't hold it in any longer!" This made me laugh . . . Rise and Shine is their morning program, so she didn't even make it past 7:45am before she spilled the beans, haha!

During our first ultrasound, the baby measured 6 days behind what it should have according to my cycle dates. This made setting a due date or knowing exactly how far along I was a little bit difficult. If we went by my cycle dates, my due date would be November 19th, but if we went by how the baby measured, my due date would be November 25th. Of course, the first question we got from pretty much everyone was, "When are you due?" Since we didn't know exactly, we just went with "the middle of November". We were hoping to nail down a due date a little better at our 2nd ultrasound. 

Our 2nd ultrasound was scheduled for April 17th at 11:15am. Chris met me at our doctor's office and took the three younger kids to lunch during my appointment. I had been experiencing quite a few symptoms, so I was much less nervous at this ultrasound, although my blood pressure was still higher than normal for me. 

As soon as Dr. P began the ultrasound, he said, "There's chicken little!" and I could see the baby moving all around on the screen. This time, the baby measured 8 weeks and 4 days (so 5 days "behind"). Because my cycles are so crazy, it's definitely possible that I ovulated late, and I wasn't quite as far along as what my cycle date would indicate. 

That beautiful heart beat was going strong at 166 beats per minute. This was significantly faster than the first ultrasound . . . does that mean girl?!?

Dr. P took his time with the ultrasound and even put it in contrast mode where we can actually see the blood pumping through the baby's body. I love it when he does this!

After the ultrasound was over, Dr. P came back into the room and said, "Everything looks great and healthy. I don't think I need to see you back." I was surprised as I generally see him for three ultrasounds before he releases me to my regular OB. However, I was so incredibly grateful for a healthy baby and strong heart beat! He did go ahead and set my due date at November 19th, based off of my cycle date. This is really different for us, as all of our other kiddos have February birthdays. However, this is special in its own way because my birthday is November 17th, and I share it with my dad. We love the idea of having three generations born on the same day! Even if that doesn't work out, though, this baby should be born right close to my birthday, which is only two weeks away from Chris's birthday. We'll just have two birthday seasons in our house!

Dr. P is always so sweet to me when graduating me to my OB. He patted my back, reminded me to keep him posted and come see him no later than 8 weeks postpartum to manage my PCOS. I joked with him that Chris and I felt like we should write him a $10,000 check just for the fun of it. He got a kick out of that! It's always bittersweet walking out of his office when I graduate.

Of course, I am still taking the Lovenox injections and will continue to do so until 6 week postpartum. These are nothing new to me as I took them the entire time I was pregnant with the twins, as well. They can be painful - and certainly cause some bruising in my midsection - but they really aren't too bad. I certainly don't enjoy them, but I'm thankful for modern medicine and its benefits for me and my baby! The Bigs (especially Brianna) remembered well when I had to do the injections before, but the little girls are just fascinated by the whole process. Brecklyn gives me so much sympathy when I have to have my shot and is very sweet and loving toward me. Brooke likes to "help", so I generally have her throw away the trash from my alcohol wipe. 

It made me laugh one day when we were playing outside and I saw Brecklyn giving herself shots with a syringe from our toy doctor kit! 

A few days later, Brooke was doing it, too (and right in the belly button, haha)!

At around 8 weeks, I started experiencing some symptoms beyond feeling extreme fatigue all the time. That is certainly still going on, but I'm also having some serious food aversions. Nothing sounds good to eat, and it seems like just about everything upsets my tummy. I do feel hungry sometimes, but finding food that sounds appetizing is a problem, for sure! A few things that sound good sometimes are chicken, steak, beans, and cheese. Apparently, I need protein! This is very similar to how I was when I was pregnant with Brenson. I'm also shorter tempered than normal (also like my pregnancy with Bren), and have episodes almost daily where I gag and gag on mucous but rarely throw up (like when I was pregnant with the twins). Mostly though, I just feel overwhelmingly exhausted all the time! I told Chris that I could sleep for days and probably still be tired. I'm very thankful that my kids are on a schedule because I can count on nap time every day, and you had better believe I take full advantage of it! There have been two times where I've been so exhausted that I've taken the kids upstairs, put on a movie, and actually dozed off on the couch while they watched it. I'm generally pretty spent by the end of the day anyway trying to keep up with four littles, but add a pregnancy in there and it's made for some rough days!

As tough as it can be some days, I actually appreciate having symptoms because it helps ease my anxiety. Pregnancy after miscarriage can be difficult, even when we've had a successful pregnancy since our losses. I work diligently at not allowing my anxiety to grow or get out of control, but it's definitely something I have to stay on top of. No matter what happens at this point, we are humbled and grateful to have this child, and we thank and praise God for its life.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hearing the Heartbeat

If you missed the first part of this story, you can find it here.

After I took a home pregnancy test and immediately got a positive result, my brain was all over the place. I wasn't even sure what to do! I told Chris first, and he reminded me that I would need to call the doctor. As soon as he said that, I felt a wave of anxiety. After we lost B3 in 2013, I had some testing done that revealed I have the MTHFR gene mutation as well as a blood clotting disorder. These - combined with PCOS - put me at a high risk for miscarriage. One of the ways we treated these issues with my pregnancy with the twins was with blood-thinning injections (Lovenox) and a prescription folic acid. I knew that I needed to get on both of those medications as soon as possible. 

I wasn't sure if I should call my RE's office or my OB's office first. Typically, my RE is easier and faster to get an appointment with, and I knew that he would immediately put me on the Lovenox as soon as a blood test showed I was pregnant. Also, I had been seeing him 3 to 4 times a year to manage my PCOS, so I was a current patient at his office. For these reasons, I called Dr. P (my RE) to confirm the pregnancy.

Dr. P's nurse, Belinda, told me I would need to come in the next day (Friday, March 31st) for a blood test. I went in first thing in the morning, had my blood drawn, then waited not-so-patiently for Belinda to call me with the results. 

When Belinda called a few hours later, she said, "Well, you're definitely pregnant! Your HCG is almost 12,000!" I was blown away! However, we determined that based on the date of my last period, I was already 6 weeks and 5 days along. An HCG that high makes sense for someone that far along. She called in a script for Lovenox and scheduled an ultrasound for the following Thursday (April 6). 

The days between the blood test and the ultrasound were pretty nerve-wracking. I did have lots of thoughts wondering if the baby was okay or if we'd hear a heartbeat or if I had started the injections too late, but I tried really hard to just pray about it every time I started to think those things. I was still feeling crazy fatigue, and Chris and I talked a few times about the possibility of a second set of twins (eeeek!). 

Ultrasound day finally came, and thankfully Chris was able to go with me (our friend Tia sat in the parking lot with the three younger kids). I was nervous. This baby was unexpected and definitely a surprise, but was already loved so much! My blood pressure was 130 over 88, so that shows how anxious I was! When Dr. P came in the room, he was just grinning. I said, "You look amused," to which he replied, "Oh, I am!" Hahaha. He started the ultrasound immediately, and the first thing he said was, "There's just one!" Chris and I breathed a sigh of relief, for sure. We love our twinbies, but one set is enough! Dr. P said, "I'll tell you, when I saw you on the schedule and then saw your HCG, I though, 'Oh no . . . that's high.' I was nervous {about multiples} for you!" I was 7 weeks and 4 days along according to my cycle date, but the baby only measured 6 weeks and 5 days. I was concerned about that, but Dr. P wasn't at all. 

I could see the heartbeat fluttering on the screen, but it was still a relief to hear it, too! The baby's heart rate was 122 bpm. Our kids have all followed the "high heart rate means girl" and "low heart rate means boy" rule, so we immediately thought that this one is another boy!

Dr. P congratulated us, said everything looked great, and asked to see us back in 10 days.

We left his office just elated and so incredibly thankful. We felt overwhelmed (in a good) way with God's love and blessings, and said over and over how grateful we were to hear the baby's heart beating. We were truly on cloud 9! That evening, we told the kiddos about their new sibling, and they (Brianna and Brenson, especially) were just thrilled. Their initial reactions were so cute (we have it all on video), and then we let them call and tell just a few close family members. Brianna had actually said a few days before this that I was acting strange because I had been laying on the couch during the day. We knew we wouldn't be able to keep it from her long, but we also didn't want to. We were excited to share the news and celebrate as a family!


Friday, May 12, 2017

Finding Out About Our Newest Blessing

I know you all are just dying to hear the details of our big pregnancy news, so I'm not going to keep you waiting *grin*! I'm kidding, of course, but I do want the details documented for myself and my family. I'm not as good as I once was about keeping up with my blog, but I know I'd be mad at myself if I didn't write about this pregnancy like I have with all of my other ones. I'm going to do my best!

As you all know, I have PCOS and have suffered with hormone issues and infertility for years. Chris and I have been married for over 15 years, and have NEVER conceived on our own in all that time. We've always wanted a big family, but growing it has proven to be anything but easy! 

After the twins were born, we had a serious conversation with my OB about birth control. Chris and I had discussed this already, and had decided that we did not want to do anything to prevent pregnancy. I DID NOT want to take any form of birth control or put any kind of hormone into my body. I have enough problems without adding other junk into the mix! Like I said, we've never been able to conceive on our own, so we felt like the "risk" of pregnancy was low. 

When the twins were tiny babies, I think the thought of another baby was scary to us. We had four littles and were just physically and mentally exhausted all the time! However, as time went on, we found ourselves throwing around the idea of "one more baby". While we both loved the idea of having another baby, we weren't willing to go through treatments again. They are just so hard on us emotionally and financially, and they are difficult for me physically. We loved our family and were certainly happy with our four babies, so we were also prepared to say good-bye to the idea of more children. 

When we moved last fall, we realized just how much baby stuff we had in the attic. We were still using some stuff (the twins were 19 months old at the time), but we agreed to donate anything we weren't using to someone else who could use it. We sometimes found ourselves saying things like, "If we could, we'd have another . . . " but we just couldn't hang on to all that stuff when we thought the chances of a pregnancy happening were so slim. 

I think it wasn't until the end of 2016 that I realized how much I was really still hanging onto the idea of another baby. I had a super long cycle and some other wonky hormonal things going on, and the thought popped into my head that I could be pregnant. I talked to Chris about it, and he thought I should take a test. We bought a two pack of tests, I took one, and it was negative. We were sadder than we anticipated we would be, and I really struggled to get the idea of another baby out of my head. I felt silly in so many ways . . . here I have four children and I was still yearning for another! I began praying often that God would remove the desire for more children from me. We firmly believe that children are a blessing, but we are SO BLESSED to have the four we have. I didn't want to always have the idea of another in the back of my mind or on my heart.

Regarding my PCOS, it has always caused me lots of issues. My cycles have always been super wonky . . . anywhere from 20 days to 90 days in length! I also deal with constant hormone fluctuations and weird side effect of those unstable hormones. After Brenson was born, my RE and I tried a few different things to help keep my PCOS suppressed. With each subsequent pregnancy after Brenson (remember we had two miscarriages between Bren and the twins, so this is my fourth pregnancy since Brenson), we saw small improvements with my PCOS symptoms. After I weaned the twins in February 2016, we did really well with managing my PCOS and its symptoms . . . things in that area have been better than ever before in my life! My cycles have even been more regular than ever, ranging anywhere from 38 to 48 days. That may not sound great, but for me it was a huge victory!

I had a cycle around the middle of February, then unknowingly got pregnant at the end of February. March brought with it the incident with Brooke getting stitches followed immediately by a week of the stomach bug and the flu for everyone in our house. That all happened during Spring Break which was the week of March 12th - 18th. That was a rough period of time, and the week following that, I was feeling extremely fatigued. One evening, Chris wanted to go on a walk with the kids, and I told him I was just too tired to go. I ended up dozing off on the couch for 20 minutes while he was out with the kids! That is SO strange for me! When Chris got back, I told him that something was wrong with me because I was just tired beyond what is normal. He reminded me that we had just had days of sickness and no sleep and that I hadn't had a chance to recover yet. It made total sense, so pregnancy never entered my mind. 

For almost a year, I have been carrying about 15 to 20 pounds of extra weight, and I had finally had enough of it. Around this same time, I began weight watchers and trying to get more exercise. I had cut sugar completely from my diet, so I also thought that maybe I was feeling a bit "off" because of that. I was losing weight, but definitely still adjusting to eating better, being more active, and the effects of that on my body.

There were a few other things that happened during these weeks, as well. One was that I had hot flashes a few times. Hot flashes aren't too out the ordinary for me since I've always had crazy hormones, but I hadn't experienced them since I was pregnant with the twins. Also, I went and got a pedicure at the end of Spring Break. Typically, I'm not bothered by my feet being touched or my legs being massaged, but when I'm pregnant my skin is super sensitive to touch and pedicures are almost miserable. I told Chris after my pedicure that my feet were super ticklish and sensitive for some reason, but I never made the connection that it was because I was pregnant! One other thing was that when I was pregnant with the twins, I would often get this strange pain in my foot. It would bother me for a few days then go away. The week after Spring Break, I had that same foot pain! I told Chris that I could tell my hormones were out of sorts, but neither of us ever thought it was due to pregnancy. 

Days passed and I was still feeling ridiculously tired ALL the time. I complained to Chris again, and he reminded me that I was probably getting ready to start my period. I thought, "Oh, he's right!" About five more days went by, and I still didn't start. On Thursday, March 30th, I was at home trying to get some housework done. It was about 10:00am, and the twins and I were in Brianna's room picking up a mess they had made in there. I felt so fatigued that I just laid down on Brianna's bed. I thought, "This is the strangest thing. This is like pregnant tired or something." And it FINALLY clicked! Of course, I immediately dismissed the thought that I could actually be pregnant. In over 15 years, we've never conceived on our own! And, there have been many, many times in the past when I've felt like I was pregnant . . . when I've had pregnancy-like symptoms . . . when my cycle has been super long . . . when I've felt tired for no apparent reason . . . yet, the answer has always been no. I thought, "What a ridiculous thought . . . " and tried to go on about my morning. 

BUT, I couldn't get it out of my head that maybe I was pregnant, and I remembered that I had a pregnancy test thrown in the back of a cabinet. I decided to just go test really quickly so I could just perish the thought. Otherwise, I knew I'd think about it all day or for several days until I finally started my period. I went in the bathroom right then and took a test. Before I could even get the cap on the test and set it down, I saw this: 

I seriously couldn't believe my eyes! HOW could this be right? Was I seeing things? My heart was beating out of my chest, and I was truly just frozen with shock. The results came up so clear and so quickly . . . there was no guessing or questioning what the test said. After standing in my bathroom for probably two minutes, I thought, "I have to tell Chris RIGHT NOW." I sent him a text and asked him to FaceTime me ASAP. Just about a minute later, he Facetimed me. I was shaking all over and trying hard to steady my voice. I said, "I have something to show you," and held up the test for him to see. He was speechless, which was okay because I was, too! We were both just in shock and completely stunned.

Chris told me later that he thought I had asked him to call so I could show him something the kids had done or destroyed or broken. Pregnancy never even crossed his mind! I told him that had I actually thought the test would be positive, I would have waited for him to get home to take the test!

On his way home from work that afternoon, I asked him to stop and buy more tests. I mean, I wanted to see more confirmation because I still wasn't sure I believed it! That evening - after all the kids were in bed - I took the other tests.

We were overcome with so many emotions at this point, but we were truly, truly beyond excited, happy, and incredibly thankful!



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

SURPRISE!


Details are coming, of course!!!



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Brianna's 7th Birthday

Brianna's birthday is the last in line of our kids' birthdays, but comes only 15 days after Brooke and Brecklyn's birthday and only 8 days after Brenson's birthday. One question we've gotten a lot in the past few years is why her birthday comes last when she is the oldest child. This is a hard concept for her, no matter how much we try to explain it! I know it's hard for her to wait patiently for her turn to have a birthday, but she was great about it this year!

In the past, we have planned a joint birthday party for our kids later in the month, a week or two after their actual birthdays. This year, however, it worked out best for us to have the big, joint party on Saturday, February 18th, which was Brianna's actual birthday, as well. At first, she said she wouldn't mind the big party being on her birthday, but later was kind of sad to only get one special day when the other kids were getting two. Brianna had a four day weekend that weekend, with both Friday and Monday as days she didn't have school. This worked out perfectly because we were able to celebrate her birthday as a family on Friday, February 17th, then have our big party on Saturday!

We did something a little different for Brianna's door decoration this year. This was an idea I saw on Pinterest - so not my original - but SO cute. Brianna loved reading it when she woke up (she added the curly ribbon later)!

Chris also took this day off from work to spend as a family day, and Brianna was elated to not have school! She had pretty much figured out that she was getting a new bike for her birthday, but that didn't mean she was any less excited about it!


Such a big, sweet girl!


I realized a few weeks before Brianna's birthday that this was a super special one for her. Seven seems to be a significant number in Brianna's life and story. We waited, prayed, hoped, and dreamed of having her for almost seven years. She was born seven days before her due date, and she weighed seven pounds and seven ounces at birth. She was also the seventh grandchild on my side of the family! It was crazy to me to think that we were celebrating her seventh birthday!




Unlike her brother, Brianna did not want to wait until the end of the day to open gifts. She was ready to jump right into them right then!

This was one of my favorite games when I was Brianna's age. She loves it, too!

Brianna's Precious Moments Birthday Train is getting so long. Sigh.

I had purchased this fun Lego set for a steal of a deal right after Christmas and stashed it away for Bri's birthday. She was impressed :-).

She definitely at the age where she enjoys getting accessories . . .

. . . and clothes! A sure sign of growing up!

The girls were so cute while Brianna was opening her gifts. They didn't try to take the gifts or open them, but they wanted to be right there while Brianna was opening!

She got another little Lego set in the mail.

Brianna knew I had the camera out snapping pics of her opening things, so of course she had to ham it up a bit. This girl!

Bren was so cute watching Brianna open. He was very polite and respectful the entire time!

As soon as the birthday girl was finished opening gifts, we loaded everyone up and headed to the zoo for the morning. In the past, we've tried to take a family outing on each child's birthday, but that didn't work out this year. They all agreed that they wanted to go to the zoo this day, so we were happy to take them!

Brianna watching the world turn

It's been a while since we'd been to the zoo, and Brooke and Brecklyn were so fun to watch. It was all fascinating and so new to them! 

Brooke and Brecklyn watching snakes


Brenson, Brianna

Momma, Brianna, Brecklyn, Brenson

The little girls were just fascinated with the snakes!
Brenson, Brooke

In this picture, Brecklyn was kissing the glass! She seriously loves animals and isn't afraid of them at all!

This cat has always been Brianna's favorite animal at the zoo!

The kids were afraid to crawl through this tunnel/slide (because it was dark), so Chris decided to show them how it's done and almost got stuck! We got a good laugh out of that!

I just loved watching them discover and observe all the things. 
Brenson, Brecklyn, Brianna, and Brooke

The petting zoo is probably my least favorite part of the zoo, but the kids love it. We were letting them decide what to do this day, so the petting zoo it was! Yes, Brooke is laying on the sheep!

Brianna

Brianna

Brooke

Brooke, Brecklyn, and Brianna

Bren finally got brave enough to touch an animal (touching animals is not his favorite thing)!

I take pics of my crew in this spot almost every zoo trip we make. WHY are they so big in this one?!?

Brooke Ellie and Momma


We knew Russ, Lisa, and Chloe Jo planned to visit the zoo this day, too, and we happened to run into them after we'd been at the zoo for a couple hours. After this, we spent the rest of the time touring the zoo as a group. I really wanted a picture of all five kids in the wagon, but Brecklyn was not having it. 

We finally got Brecks to turn around and cooperate, and Bri and Brooke have their eyes closed. Oh well.

Bren, Brecklyn, Brooke, Brianna, and Chloe Jo watching the jaguars. 

For some reason, kids seem to love this random climbing rock at the zoo. It's always busy with kids! Bren climbed all the way to the top by himself, then got scared and didn't want to come down, but with a little persuasion from Daddy, he finally did.

We had packed a lunch for all of us, so we found a pavilion and enjoyed the outdoors while we ate.

Family zoo trips are the best!

Bren and Momma

Brecklyn and Momma watching the rhinos

Brooke and Daddy watching the rhinos

I'd never heard or read much about rhinos, but we happened to walk up when a zookeeper was feeding them. He told us a ton of information about them, and it was quite fascinating! 

Bren watching the rhinos

Brianna and the rhinos

This one is just a statue!

Brecklyn loves to ride on Daddy's shoulders :-).

Our zoo buddies for the day: Russ, Lisa, and Chloe Jo

We had gone through the Wild Life Trek almost first thing when we got to the zoo that morning. However, as we were passing back by it to leave the zoo, the kids wanted a photo. I'm not going to say no to that!

Brooke, Bren, Brecklyn,  and Brianna

We got home from the zoo just in time for everyone to take a short nap! Brianna had picked out cookies instead of cake for her birthday dessert and requested Subway for dinner. I just had to laugh. One child asks for Taco Bell for his birthday dinner, and another child asks for Subway! My mom came into to town (for the kids' birthday party the next day) that evening, and got to our house just in time to eat with us. Russ, Lisa, and Chloe Jo also came over for the evening. 

Singing Happy Birthday to my girl!

Blow out the candle and make a wish!

That evening, we had an incredible sunset, complete with a full, double rainbow. It was spectacular, and there's no way this photo does it justice. The rainbow was to the east, so the colors in the photo are actually a reflection of the magnificent sunset in the other direction. While standing on my back patio looking at this amazing beauty, I had a bit of a moment. As a Christian, rainbows represent God's amazing promises to me. They represent His faithfulness and His love. Life is busy and chaotic and difficult at times with our four littles, but I can never forget how we longed for these babies. We can not forget how we prayed for these babies. We will not forget how we waited and waited for our empty arms to be full. Through it all, God was so faithful to our hopes, our desires, and our dreams. He is a loving, good Father, and He remembered us. So, on the eve of the day we would spend celebrating the lives of our four precious children, it just seemed so fitting to me to see these incredible reminders of God's sovereignty.