Sunday, January 31, 2016

January: Project52

After I posted my 365Project post, a dear friend showed me a different perspective.  In this one, the author did a photo each week of each of her four children.  It's harder for me to get Sparkle since she's in school and activities almost every weeknight.  I didn't get any of her the first week, but I did for the weeks after that!

Week 1:

Week one was full of first ballet classes, playing dress up, Sweetness turning three months old and discovery.

Lovely's first ballet class was met with mixed feelings.   She cried through out most of it.  We ended up leaving early and I may have bribed her with hot chocolate if she stayed in class the next week all by herself.
 Shine loves to play dress up.  One week she may be Ariel.  The next she might be a sketelon.  This week's choice was Bat Girl.
 While in Estes Park in August I bought the girls these nifty magnetic rocks.  I lost them until this week because I never unpacked the bag from my maternity photos in the mountains.....don't judge me.  Shine loved them.

 Sweetness turned three months old in December so I took her Watch Me Grow photos this week.

Week 2:

This is a normal look in our house.  All my girls love Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
 Sweetness discovered that she could find her feet.  She was staring at them in complete awe.

 Lovely got to speak to her Nana on the phone for her birthday. 
 Sweetness loves this pelican that her grandma got her for Christmas.
 Shine loves the hammock I bought for Sweetness.  Sweetness doesn't like it, so we handed it down to Shine.  We hung it from Sparkle's bed frame and it's constantly in use.
 Sparkle's favorite place in her room is under her bed.  She hides under there for hours.  She's currently making some perler bead ponies for Lovely's birthday.
 Apparently this is how a man feeds his baby.  While watching football....
Again with the hammock and turtles....

Week 3:
My oldest loves to read.  We have her read to pay for things she wants/needs.  This book will pay for food for her pet rat. 

 THAT BEDHEAD YO??  Seriously, this kid's hair cracks me up every morning.  It's gotten worse since she sleeps in the hammock now. 

 These girls make me so happy.  They fight like crazy but they also love like crazy too. 

 Sparkle loves to hold her baby sister.
 Sweetness just turned four months old and is rocking the coordination thing.  Gone are the days of newborn boxing.  Which is bittersweet. 
 She can reach and hold objects and gibbers to them the whole time.  Almost like she's encouraging them to stay put so she can grab them.
 Sparkle loves the doll house her Bumpa made for her a few years ago.  She plays with it almost every single day.

Week 4:

My kids don't get tv very often because this is what their faces look like....they completely zone out.
 All my girls LOVE stickers.  They share them with everyone around them.

 See....she likes to share.

 This is my newest addiction.  Lula Roe leggings.  They rock.  Butter soft and fit great!  And I've always loved pedicures.  Because who doesn't?!
 This is Teacher Appreciation Night at Sparkle's school.  This is her teacher who is one of those amazing souls that you can't help but absolutely adore.
This was a field trip to a bowling alley.  The girls all loved it.  Me....not so much.  I hate bowling.  But I go to cheer on those who do.  And pictures.....
Sweetness is progressing along very nicely.  Here she's balancing sitting up all by herself.  She did this for several seconds lots of times.  *sniffle*

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Birth Story

When I got pregnant last January, it was the last thing I wanted at the moment.  I was supposed to be planning a vow renewal wedding, since I have never had a wedding.  But instead, I was having anxiety attacks about losing another baby.  I was due on the day I was supposed to be shooting a client's wedding in the same venue mine was supposed to be.  I felt everything was falling apart in all the wrong ways.  I have dreamed of my wedding since I was a little girl.  And here I was without one again when things were so close.  I was deeply saddened.  I attempted to plan having a baby and a wedding in the same two weeks.  I was going to push it and make it happen.  My last three pregnancies were super easy.  My deliveries were a piece of cake, why would this one be any different?  How wrong I was.

I started out refusing to take all the medications I was supposed to be on and substituted them for all natural alternatives, all except my Lovnox.  And it worked amazingly well.  The baby was the healthiest one I've ever conceived.  My doctor was shocked.  And then every pregnancy symptom hit me that possibly could.  My first three months, I spent having horrible morning sickness, horrible anxiety attacks, horrible headaches, tears and frustration.  When we got the news that everything was okay, I was thrilled.  We could finally announce our pregnancy to the world.

(Photos by Kimberly & Scott Photography.)

We celebrated by having a gender reveal party.  I was convinced that we were having a boy because my pregnancy was so different.  But our reveal showed us that we were having another girl.  I was so excited!  My husband thought that I would be disappointed because of the verdict of another girl, but that couldn't have been more from the truth.  I desperately wanted a mama's boy, but I wanted a live baby even more than that.  And another sweet baby girl to love and hold?!?!?  HOW AMAZING!!!  I knew this would be our last baby ever because my husband was done having kids two babies ago... The last two were to please his darling wife.... So I planned on doing every single thing that I have ever wanted to do during my pregnancy and birth.

When we lost our baby the July before, I chose the theme mountains for the baby's room.  And we chose to continue that for this baby.  We love the mountains.  As I type this, my husband is running around packing his gear to do a 14er hike with a friend of's January people.....14,000 feet in January..... Too cold for this mama, but still.....the mountains.... We decided to do shades of pink and gold for the nursery.  And it turned out absolutely gorgeous.  I couldn't be more in love with her nursery.

Moving on to the second trimester and the morning sickness has mostly disappeared but now these raging migraines have come.  They were so bad that I had to go to the emergency room and get some Dilaudin.  They were awful.  I'd be throwing up from them because they were so horrific.  I would get one every single day.  I swear I spent most of my days on the couch or hovering over the sink.

My baby shower was in June.  It was absolutely wonderful.  I had family come from Florida and Michigan to attend and we had a grand time!!  Of course, the theme was rainbows!  My friend who hosted this party for me knows my heart.  I REALLY wanted a photographer at my baby shower so that I would have photos from it. But I had never said anything to her about it.  Well, she surprised me by having a mutual friend photographer there for it!!  I was so excited!!!  (Photos by Darren Strubhar Photography)

Moving on to my third trimester....things started to get harder.  Not only was I measuring two weeks too big, now I had eight times the normal amount of amniotic fluid.  My daughter was chilling her last three months in a swimming pool.  And I started swelling....and my heart was blood pressure was skyrocketing....I went to the emergency room for pre-eclampic symptoms.  I got the full work up in July and they found nothing but high blood pressure.  Now I was on bed rest.  I wasn't due until October.  My heart sank.  I continued to swell and grow huge.

One of my biggest dreams was a babymoon before baby was born.  My photographers I chose for maternity photos were amazing.  I really wanted my maternity photos done in the mountains to keep her theme going.  They met us in Rocky Mountain National Park on a gorgeous afternoon in August.  We snuck away to a cabin in the mountains for a weekend and it was glorious.  Everything I dreamed a mini escape would be.  We grilled out, walked (shhhhh...) for coffee, my husband took the girls hiking one day so I had the entire day to myself, hot tub on the front porch, maternity photos in the mountains, and dinner with friends.  (Photos by Kimberly & Scott Photography)

I also chose to do henna on my belly.  I did henna with Lovely too and it's one of my favorite things to do while pregnant.  (Photos by Carolyn Spranger Photography)

And as I marched on down the final stretch of my last pregnancy, things started to get even worse.  There were times when everything felt hopeless.  I was absolutely miserable and huge.  I had weekly NST tests and I was so huge, with so much fluid and so much swelling that the nurses had a very hard time getting Sweetness on the monitors at all.  I had contractions my last two months every five minutes.  I felt like I was growing twins in there.  From the photos above, I gained another 20 pounds my last month.  I started out growing even my husband's clothes.  It was absolutely humiliating going anywhere and having all the swollen skin hanging down over my thighs.  There was nothing I could do about it.  I couldn't unswell myself, no matter how much I kept my feet up, used essential oils and soaked in epsom salt.  My hips were incredibly painful.

Something else started brewing in my heart.


I know what God promises.  But I couldn't convince my heart of those things.

I was called by a sweet friend and she read lots of bible verses to me about not being afraid.  I had never told her, or anyone else for that matter, how afraid I was.

I already had one c-section and then two medication free, VBACs.  All of which were easy for me.  I loved being in labor. I loved every second of it.  Why was I suddenly afraid now?  I had a sinking feeling in my heart that something was going to go wrong.  I felt like I was so physically spent and I hadn't even started labor yet.  I doubted my ability to do it.  I searched Pinterest for memes and scripture about empowering myself in labor.  I still felt flat inside.  I was fighting the thought.  I felt like I was at war inside myself.

I am a crunchy mama.  I don't want a medicated birth.  I don't want the horrible recovery from another c-section.  Oh God, I am so afraid.  God, I can't do this.  What will all my friends say??  They know I advocate medication free births for myself.  God created me to do this and I've done it twice before despite being on blood thinners.  I could die in 20 seconds flat.

I felt God whispering to me...."Do a c-section...." NO!!!  I would literally scream out loud when I was alone.  But still He persisted...

I tried to mention my fear to my husband but he didn't really respond so I let it go.  Maybe I was being silly?

One of my last doctor visits, I had drank over 96 ounces of water BEFORE even going in for my appointment.  My urine was as dark as ice tea.  It was the weirdest thing.  No one mentioned anything to me, so I didn't press the issue.

A few weeks later the same thing happened.  This time, every one flipped.  Apparently the swelling was happening because my kidneys were shutting down.  I was diagnosed severely preeclamptic.  My blood pressure was extremely high and my doctor looked at me with very worried eyes.  He told me, "You need to go downstairs and be admitted to labor and delivery.  You need to have this baby now.  They will start you on Pitocin."  I was scheduled to be induced the very next day.  Which was even earlier than what I was scheduled for in the first place.  I wasn't due until October 3rd. It was September 14th.

I called my husband and told him everything through my tears.  I drove home and packed the rest of my bags and left my dad in care of his grandchildren.  This would be the last time that I was home for a week.  They started the pitocin drip and my amazing nurse stayed by my side the entire time.  I asked questions.

"What about cord prolapse?"

"What about placenta abruption?

"I'm huge with an enormous amount of amniotic fluid.  These things could be huge factors."

She was truly amazing and tried to calm me.  At about midnight, 6 hours of being on pitocin, I called my friend.  I poured my heart out to her about my fear and what was happening in my heart.  When she asked if I had spoken to my husband about this before I called her, I had to answer, "No."  He was just dragged along, desperately trying to help his wife and she had no idea what to do.  I told my friend that I needed to hear from someone who loved God as much as my husband but that wouldn't let her fear get in the way from telling me to listen to Him.  My first c-section was terrifying for my husband.  He had no idea if I had lived or died or if Sparkle was alive.  I would never want that again.  My fear was stretched between not wanting a terrifying c-section experience like the first time and having to have another one.  I kept telling my friend, "I just don't want it to be scary for him.  If I have to have one, I want it to be peaceful and a decision we both make."  My husband was in the room with me during this phone call and got so upset that he walked out of the room. 

I called my birth photographer and told her that I wanted her to come up because I was requesting a c-section.  She was shocked.  She's a dear friend to me too and knows just how much I dreaded this result.  My friend showed up the same time as my birth photographer.  My husband cornered them down the hall from my room and told them not to encourage me to have a c-section.  I had every detail of my delivery planned.  Right down to the nurse I had requested and how I wanted to labor.

Nothing was going according to plans.


He wanted to make sure I got those things, even if it was through a c-section.  They came into my room and I had no clue what my husband had done.  When my nurse came into my room, I told her I wanted a c-section.  She was just as shocked and asked what had happened.  I explained my fears again.  Every time I had to explain it, a weight would lift.

My photographer and my friend encouraged me to wait until the morning when my doctor would be in.  I finally agreed.  Everyone went home in preparation for the morning.  When they had all left my husband broke down.  We had to talk about a lot of things and he wasn't in agreement with my choice.  Which broke me even more.  How can God be pushing me for something when my husband and I are at odds?  My job and high calling is to submit to him.  How can I do that when I feel that he is being swayed by his own fear and not trusting me that I was listening to God's quiet whisper?

More war inside my heart.  This labor was taking everything out of me.

Finally the sun came up through my windows and I could breathe.  This was soon going to be over.  The weight that had grown even more over the long night was feeling like an elephant on my chest.  My husband come to my side, took my hand and looked me in my eyes.  Something that had not happened in a long time.  He told me that he did not agree with my choice, but after I explained it to him and he had the entire night to think about it, he was in agreement with me.

Another HUGE weight off my chest.

My photographer showed back up, along with several friends.  The nurse I had requested was now here.  We prayed together and then they wheeled me down the hall and I grabbed my nurse's hand, "Please don't make this scary for him.  Please."

(Photos by Carolyn Spranger Photography)

She gave me a squeeze and we headed into the operating room.  She was also the same nurse I had for two of my other births as well.  Once I was all prepped, I kept looking behind me to find the door cracked open.  My photographer and my husband were standing there.  She gave me the thumbs up and I started crying.  I needed them in here.  My spinal block and blood pressure medication started kicking in and I was instantly nauseous.  I heard my nurse, the one I had requested, say "Baby's heart rate is dropping.  Where is the doctor?"

My anethesiaologist, "We are losing numb time.  We need him in here now."

I started throwing up.  I was terrified once again.  Did I make the wrong choice?!?!?  Where was my husband??  Then I felt his hands on my face and whispering in my ear.

"I'm here.  It's okay.  Throw up in here."

How that meant more to me than his words of "I do," I will never know.  I felt his strength.  I felt his heart.  And that's all I needed.

They started working.

I hear my doctor say a medical term that I have no idea what it meant, so I asked.  It meant the cord was wrapped around my baby's neck twice.  Twice people.  On top of any other issue that could have happened if I went for a VBAC, I would have had to deal with this too.  Terrifying.

And I felt an enormous weight being lifted out of me.  But no baby crying.  My husband was whispering to me, "She's out.  She's not moving, but they said that could happen.  She's crying now, do you hear her?"

And I couldn't hear her.  Tears flooded down my face.  My baby isn't crying.  And then sweeter than any sound I've ever heard, a teeny, kitten like cry.  I started sobbing.  There she is.

 They had to suction out her lungs but she was fine.  And she was chubby and perfect.

 Everything started to blur after I heard her itty bitty cry.  I vaguely remember my darling nurse giving our birth bracelets to us.  But I will remember seeing her face for the very first time.  When my first child was born it was terrifying.  And I remember telling my husband, I want the first thing she hears to be her name.  We never got to tell the babies we lost their names.  I want her to hear her name first.  We've carried this on with all of our children.  They've all heard their names first.  And this one was no different.

I held her in the most awkward position, choked back my sobs and whispered her name to her.  Sweet and gentle in her ear.  I touched her darling little nose.  It was the same nose her sisters all shared.  How blessed was I?

My birth was far from what I wanted.  I call it my Perfectly Unperfect Birth Story.  I was able to have the doctor I chose, the nurse I requested, the birth photographer I dreamed about, and my husband by my side.  I was going to have my oldest daughter in the room when I delivered, but that wasn't an option with a c-section.  I was pretty blessed to have my photographer there.