Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beautiful

I don't buy new clothes for myself very often. I don't like to do it. I used to. Before I had children. But carrying six children at one time does a number on one's body. I am no longer Forever 21, but forever the woman with a belly pooch. I'm ok with that. Really. I even {kinda} like my stretch marks. They're like battle scars reminding me of how hard I fought for my children.

Still, a woman likes to feel beautiful, and I desperately needed something new to wear for Easter. I don't own many dress clothes (weird for a pastor's wife, right?), and what I do have is worn almost every single Sunday. So, yesterday, Ryan graciously offered to watch the kids so I could steal away for hours to accomplish my goal. Let me tell you, the first 3 hours were rough. I bought nothing. Zilch. Nada. I tried on so many things, but nothing was working. Defeated and near tears, I got into the car and called Ryan.

And man, oh man, was he sweet to me. Right now, along with being a husband and a dad, Ryan is working full-time, has a double class load for school and is a part of our church's Easter production (which includes 3 dress rehearsals and 6 performances). He's really busy, and when I called him after hours of being gone, he could have been frustrated and impatient. But no. This is what he said, "Oh, Baby. You're so beautiful. You need me to be with you to tell you how beautiful you look. Stop at a few more stores and when you try things on, try to see yourself the way I see you. If you think I might like it, buy it and come home and show me."

In that moment, the love I felt for my husband was indescribable and I was near tears again, but this time of the happy sort. And I thought about God's command that husbands are to love their wives the way Christ loves the church {Ephesians 5:25}. Ryan does that. So, so well.

I stopped at two more stores and found something at each one. Ryan loved both and told me how beautiful I am, among other things that are unmentionable on my blog.

I felt beautiful. And it felt good.

Do you feel beautiful? You know how Ryan said to me, "Try to see yourself the way I see you." That's what God is saying to you. Right now. He's speaking it to your heart. He knows you. He loves you. He made you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. If you need to feel beautiful, go read Psalm 139. That's the way God sees you, you beautiful thang.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How Ya Doin' Babes?

Ok. So this sibling thing can be so maddening. I mean really, Sylas, did you want that baby doll before Ivy picked it up? And how many play spoons and forks can you hold in your hands? Wouldn't it be nice to share one with your sister?

I feel like I'm breaking up fights ALL.DAY.LONG, and they are only one and two years old. It makes me crazy, and I wonder if I'm doing anything right and if my children are going to be decent human beings as adults.

Then, out of nowhere, like the sun shining when it rains, the sweet comes. Like today, when Sy went over to Ivy and said...

Hi Babes.
How ya doin' Babes?
Doin' good Babes?

And my heart melts and I know we're ok and I feel happy that they have each other. The sweet makes all the chaos so beautifully worth it.




And no. They are not twins, but we're getting that more and more.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Sickies

We're all sick. The Daddy, the Mama, the Bug and the Sis. It's a first for all four of us to be sick at the same time. It's not just a little bit sick. It's a knock your feet out from under you kind of sick, and it's no fun.
But a phone call from Auntie Court did make us feel a little better.



And also, we wore green, so that helped.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Moments

Sy is trying to fall asleep, but it's not going so well. He's coughing and coughing and then coughing some more. As far as the sickies go, they make me less and less nervous as Sylas grows. His teeny tiny damaged lungs are growing all of this beautifully healthy new tissue and with each x-ray, the damaged portions look smaller and smaller in comparison to the healthy lung.

Still, when I hear that old man cough echoing on the bare walls of Sy's new room, I feel a little bit sad.

There are moments almost every day when my heart breaks for my son. Moments of utter sadness, wishing I could have done better for him. Oh, I know everyone says I did the best I could with how long I kept the babies safe in their tiny cocoon. Yet...

I don't know. I don't know what I'm trying to say.

I just feel sad when I see Ivy running by her brother, and knowing he wants to join her. I see the longing in his eyes. And I feel sad when Sy is in the church nursery. He has one sweet little friend {she's a preemie herself, so maybe she knows}, but the rest of the kids his age don't play with him. I think it's because he's still mostly crawling, and it's hard for them to interact with him. And then I wonder how much harder it's going to get. When he goes to school, will he be left out? Will kids make fun?

I don't want him to get lost in the shuffle.


He's so wonderful and he teaches me so much. Everyone who knows him {and countless others who don't} love him, yet there are moments. Moments when I feel panicky and wish that I could make it all a little bit easier for him.

But really, life isn't easy for anyone is it? We all have our struggles, and that's why I know I need to keep teaching him to find beauty and delight in the small things. He's watching me and I want him to see me handle difficult situations with grace. But I mess up. A lot.

Sigh.

I want to be a good mom. I really, really do.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Love

We're settling. Slowly. This change has been difficult for Sylas. He's missing his
Nonna and Papa.


But we're finding our groove. We're like glue, me and him.



And Ivy? She takes everything in stride. Marching around with all her sass, acting like she
owns the place.
In the midst of all the craziness, I neglected to mention that little miss Pearl officially walks. Well, more like runs. And it's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.


Someday all of our boxes will be unpacked. Or maybe not. Either way, we're living. We're enjoying. And most of all we're loving.

Goat's Milk Soap Winners

Thanks to everyone who played along in my Goat's Milk Soap Giveaway.

The two winners [chosen by random.org] are Marianne and KSDAllas. If you ladies would send me an email, I'll get you in contact with Deb.

If you didn't win, but are still in need of the luxuriousness of goat's milk, Deb is offering 10% off of your first order from Springvale Soap until March 20. Just mention in the comments that you came from Little Green Pastures and your 10% will be refunded after the transaction. Also, I know a few of you already purchased from Deb, via my blog. If you convo her, she said she'd be glad to give you a 10% refund {on your already purchased items} as well. She's so great like that.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Our Story

PART 1

Ryan and I met in the Fall of 2000. I was a freshman at Bethany College of Missions in Minnesota and Ryan's parents lived and taught at the school, so naturally I would see him from time to time. It wasn't until almost 4 years later, in the Summer of 2004, that we started dating. He'll gladly tell anyone, that I fell in love with him the moment I laid eyes on him, but sorry my Love, we both know that isn't true.
After a short time of dating and an even shorter engagement, we were married in May of 2005. Oh, we were so in love. Sometimes I miss the bliss and simplicity of being newly married.
We had planned on waiting a couple of years to start having kids, but who was I kidding? I'd been waiting my whole life to have kids. I remember being about seven years old, kneeling in the backseat of our Chevy Corsica, begging God to let me get pregnant. Obviously at that point I wasn't privy to the...ahem...birds and the bees. All I knew is that I wanted a baby, and now that I was married and not seven, what was I waiting for?



We started trying to conceive in October of 2005. I remember that first month expectantly waiting for a sign that I was pregnant. I remember the next month, and the next month and the next, until a year had passed and we still weren't pregnant. The emotional roller coaster of infertility is so painful. The disappointment of seeing negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test is more than one can bear. Every mother pushing a stroller made me jealous. Every father swinging his son up on his shoulders made me weep. Baby showers made me bitter.



In October of 2006, Ry and I decided to go through some testing to try and find the cause of our infertility. After a series of tests, it was determined that our infertility was unexplained. Perfect. Just what we wanted to hear. It's difficult to treat a condition that's unexplained. That month, I started on a very mild fertility drug and continued on it for three months, but to no avail. At the end of December, I transferred to a fertility clinic and in January of 2007, I started on an ovulation stimulation drug. I was beyond excited. Two of my friends had gotten pregnant (each with one child) while on this drug, so I had so much hope. After months of waiting, this could actually be the month.
After I was artificially inseminated...ok...pause for a second. I have to tell you that I was scared half to death of having the wrong sperm put in me. There was an Indian woman in the next room over also being inseminated and throughout my entire pregnancy I had dreams of giving birth to Indian babies. Alright, back to the story. After I was artificially inseminated, I was told to wait 12 days to take a pregnancy test. I don't think I'll ever forget that date. January 25. The night before, I had the hardest time falling asleep, and awoke at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom. Hmmm...they didn't tell me what time it had to be on the 12th day, so in the stillness of the early morning I took a pregnancy test. From what I remember, it can take up to a minute to see the results, but I had to wait all of 3 seconds. It was positive immediately. I was pregnant!!!
That first week and a half was pure bliss. We talked about names, did a little maternity clothes shopping, and reveled in our secret. Then I entered week 5 and was pummeled with morning sickness. I couldn't eat ANYTHING. A few days into being sick, I was sure I was having triplets, or at least twins. There was no way I would be so sick so early in the pregnancy if I was only having one baby.

When I was six weeks along, I went back to the fertility clinic to have my first ultrasound. At this point, I'd already lost about 5 pounds and had tried every herbal and over the counter remedy with no relief. I was desperate. As soon as the nurse practitioner saw me, she knew I was miserable and I was promised a prescription for zofran, the supposed miracle drug.

Finally, I climbed up on the table. It was the moment we had been waiting for. Was I having twins or even scarier, triplets? All of the sudden, there on that ultrasound screen was an image that is permanently etched in my mind. At first I was confused. I had never been pregnant so I wasn't sure what to look for. The NP was extremely quiet as she looked intently at the screen. To break the somewhat uncomfortable silence, I finally asked what all the little circles were. With the softest voice, she answered, "babies."
To my untrained eye, it looked like four babies, but no sooner had I counted when the NP said that there were five. I immediately started trembling and poor Ryan must have been in complete shock, because he was so calm. He later told me that he had been expecting twins and when the NP said five babies, he heard two. By this point, I was terrified and crying uncontrollably and just when I thought I was going to lose it, she took one more look and said, "I'm sorry, it's not five babies, but six."
With trembling legs, Ryan and I walked across the hall to the doctor's office. I remember feeling almost numb, but as soon as the doctor walked in and started recommending selective reduction, the numbness immediately started to fall away. How is it that only six weeks along, sick as a dog and scared out of my mind, I could feel such an overwhelming sense of love and devotion to my children? I'm so thankful that amidst our fear and shock, the Lord gave us the presence of mind to refuse this procedure right from the start. The doctor continued to push for us to reduce, stating all of the risks to the babies and really emphasizing the risk to my body, but even though we were afraid, we refused.
That day, I walked away from the clinic with Ryan holding one hand, a prescription and a stack of ultrasound pictures in the other, and six beautiful babies growing peacefully within.
 
PART 2
 
We arrived home from the clinic in shock. I'm not entirely sure how we made it home. Ryan's parents were there within the hour. Praying for us. Comforting us. My parents would be coming in a couple of days. A few close friends were called. We were loved and supported. And we were in shock.

I took the zofran hoping for even the slightest relief of my never ending nausea. It didn't come. Instead of relief, a whopper of a headache was added to my discomfort.

For days, Ryan and I were in a haze. Not really believing it was true. That my body was trying to sustain six lives. We questioned so much. Why was this happening? All we wanted was one baby. We didn't ask for this. We didn't want this.

And the nausea continued. Worsening by the day. Every morning, Ryan would blend one frozen gatorade ice cube before he left for work, telling me I had to eat it by the time he got home. It was a struggle. Some days I couldn't finish it. I was losing weight. By the time I was 8 weeks pregnant, I looked like this.

But I had lost 11 pounds.
That week I was admitted to the hospital for hyperemesis. Because I wasn't able to eat anything, the doctors inserted a PICC line, and for the next month, 2,000-3,000 calories in the from of TPN were pumped into my body. I was released from the hospital after 5 days, still unable to eat.

The next two weeks were some of the darkest I've ever experienced. Even sleep could not offer relief from the nausea I felt. Over and over again, I begged Ryan to let me end it all. To selectively reduce. Surely if there were fewer babies inside of me I wouldn't be as sick. I was out of my mind, spending my days in a state of delirium. By this time, I couldn't even put a toothbrush soaked in water in my mouth without vomiting. Being on the phone made me vomit. Light made me vomit. Touch made me vomit. I felt as though I was dying.

Ryan was terrified for me, so at 10 weeks gestation, he called a doctor in Arizona. This doctor is known as the "quad god," due to his experience taking care of women pregnant with multiples. Ryan explained our situation, and the doc recommended that I take a steroid known as prednisone. Ry called my perinatologist and that day, he wrote a prescription for the steroid.

That first day, I was to take six pills. Are you kidding me? If I couldn't even stick a toothbrush in my mouth, how was I going to swallow six pills? I will never forget the love of my husband during this time. He got the pills, a small glass of water and a saltine ready. I took the first pill and a tiny sip of water, then laid as still as possible. My Love sat next to me and sang. In his beautiful voice, he sang songs of hope to me. A half an hour later, I took another pill and Ryan sang. Another 30 minutes later, another pill and more singing. Three pills in 90 minutes. It was all I could do. I was trembling with exhaustion from tying to not throw up. But I did it. 3 pills. And it was enough for now.

The next morning, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came to our apartment. Cleaning, folding laundry, being family. Soon after they arrived, I walked out of my room feeling different. I still felt slightly sick, but I wanted to eat. I was starving. I ate an entire blueberry muffin.

I even opened the shades. I wanted sunlight.

The next 7 weeks were the easiest part of my pregnancy. I was still sick, but if I snacked ALL.DAY.LONG, it wasn't so bad. I was slowly weaned off the TPN. I had a bit more energy. And the most beautiful part of this time was falling in love with my babies. Each of them carved out a place in my heart that is theirs alone.

{13 weeks}

And soon, my babies started kicking. First tiny flutters all over the place, then like a 24 hour wrestling match. I adored them. I couldn't wait to meet them. I started dreaming of what it would be like to care for 6 children. It was terrifying and exhilarating. I couldn't wait.

I was being seen by my perinatolgiests every 2 weeks, and at my 15 week appointment, everything looked superb. Nice long cervix and weighing five pounds more than when I got pregnant.
{15 weeks}
I walked into my 17 week appointment feeling on top of the world. The nurses commented on how great I looked. I laid down on the table ready for an ultrasound, but when I looked at the screen, my world stopped. I asked the technician where my cervix was. It had shortened and I was already dilated to 2 centimeters.

Ryan drove me straight from the clinic to the hospital where I was put on strict bed rest. A cerclage was scheduled for the next morning. I wasn't allowed to eat for the typical 12 hours before a surgery, so when I went into the operating room, I was terribly sick. I was strapped to a table and put in the trandelimburg position. Basically I was upside down. Not a good position when you need to vomit. It was awful. For almost the entire 30 minute procedure, I vomited.

But it was worth it. The procedure was a success. My cervix was closed. The babies were staying in for awhile longer. And I would be on bed rest in the hospital until they arrived.
{All photos in Part 2 are by Noemi Photography}.

*Part 3 is coming. As God continues to heal my heart, I am able to write more of our story. Thank you for your patience and stay tuned!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Goat's Milk Soap {A Giveaway}

A few weeks ago, one of my readers emailed me, letting me know she just started her own etsy shop. Her name is Deb. And she is wonderful. She makes and sells her own goats milk soap. Isn't that AH-MAZING? Her lovely shop makes me so excited to start a shop of my own {it's in the works}.

Deb offered to send me a couple of bars of her luxurious soap, and I can't even tell you how excited this made me. I had written goat's milk soap on my {very extensive} Christmas list, and it was one of the few items I didn't receive. So thank you, Deb, for extending my Christmas into February.



After looking at all of her yummy scents, I went with the oatmeal, milk & honey and the lavender. And they are divine. I've been using the lavender in the shower and I love how it fills the bathroom with such a calming aroma. The goats milk is so moisturizing and of course I love that Deb's soap is made with natural ingredients. The oatmeal, milk & honey has been perfect for all over exfoliation, which I'm sure we could all use during these winter months.

Deb has generously offered to give two of you a goat's milk soap bar of your choice. All you have to do is head over to her shop and let me know which scent you would choose. I'll pick the winners sometime Tuesday evening.

By the way, since choosing my soaps, Deb has added some entirely edible {not really, but I want to eat them}, scents. I think I may have to try chocolate or orange coffee next.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Surrounded

I am surrounded by hum. The hum of the washing machine. The hum of the dryer. The hum of the dishwasher.

It's comforting. It means that even though there's so much to be done, things are getting done.

The unpacking is slow going, as the children has been completely thrown off kilter, making them very needy. I love all of our snuggling and holding and reading and playing, it just means that by the end of the day, when I need to put our home in order, I'm spent.

I wish there was some magical way all of our boxes could be unpacked. With a twitch of the nose or a twist of an Oreo. One afternoon, as a young girl, I stood in the middle of my extremely messy walk in closet and tried to unlock the magic with a twist of the Oreo. For real. It didn't work. And I don't think it will work this time.

It will all get done. I know it will. And in the meantime, I'm enjoying my late into the night talks with Ryan about how we want our home to feel. So many of you have been asking me to post photos of our new place as soon as we're unpacked.

You better believe I will.

Perhaps it will feel like you're all coming over. Now that would be fun.