Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weightless Moments

So I'm putting all three boys to bed tonight so Shaun could have a break. That means laying in the middle of their double bed with Drew on my left, Isaiah on my right, Jaden nursing in my arms.

We had a little conversation before they fell asleep. I asked Drew if there was any way I could be a better mommy to him. He said no he liked how I am. Then he said, "Oh wait, I have an idea! You could clean up my toys for me!" I explained to him that sometimes I'd love to do that for him, but that my job as his mommy is to teach him things, and that cleaning up his toys teaches him to take care of what he has, be responsible, be organized, and complete tasks. He actually seemed to really understand that. Then I asked Isaiah. He said he liked me too. It was a really sweet little moment laying in the dark in their bedroom and having this serious conversation. When we were done talking I gave them both a kiss and told them to go to sleep.

Once they were sleeping peacefully I laid there listening to the sound of their breathing. One sighing in his sleep. One  breathing deep and slow. And one making the little squeaking newborn sounds in between his tiny puffs of air. And My heart experienced that squeezing, breaking, aching because it's so full sensation that happens so often in motherhood. I wanted to bottle it up, freeze it, just stop time for a minute and soak in this ordinary (but so not ordinary) moment snuggling with my three sleeping babies and being so close to them while they're still so little. But I couldn't do it. No matter how hard I tried those weightless moments just kept right on slipping through my hands. With all my might I was trying to stop them. Hold onto them. But it's impossible. There might have been a few tears with that certain and undeniable realization that time just keeps on moving. You know how sometimes things just hit you with more reality than normal?

But as I thought about it I realized the irony. These weightless, fleeting moments that pass by like a breath are actually the most weighty and substantial thing in my life. These sweet moments of loving bigger than you ever imagined yourself capable of are deep and real and heavy and heart breaking and wondrous all at the same time. They are not really weightless at all.

While I can't hold them in my hands or stop them from passing, they are filling up my heart to the top with this indescribable feeling of fullness.

Sometimes the things you can't see or touch or feel are the most real things of all.

Friday, January 17, 2014

This past week

This week has been one of the most crazy experiences I've ever had. I've been awake more hours in one week than i can ever remember, and while I could still be sleeping right now my mind is whirling and I just need to write. You might not want to read all these details, but if I don't write them down I'll forget. And I want to remember. It's about 7:00 a.m. on Friday morning.

Monday morning Shaun left for a business trip to Las Vegas with my dad, brother and brother-in-law. I had been dreading him going just because I didn't want to be away from him all week. I had planned some fun activities and projects for while he was gone and we were going to just try to distract ourselves and plus through. Monday was a really good day. It was about 8:30, I had just gotten all my little boys in their jammies and ready for bed and was cleaning out the tub after Isaiah's "shark poop" incident and Drew and Saiah were jumping on their bed when Drew came running to tell my that they couldn't sleep in their bed because Isaiah had thrown up in it. I thought maybe he was just jumping too much after eating case he was still acting normal so I stripped their bed andre-made it, changed him, and then we all climbed into their bed and read and sang songs. I had just shut off the light and everyone was almost asleep when Saiah threw up again, all over the bed round 2. So I moved Drew to my bed, made Saiah a bed on the bathroom floor, called my mom for help, and Saiah threw up all over the bathroom floor bed. My mom came and stayed with Isaiah so I could nurse Jaden to sleep, then she went back home and the rest of Monday night I spent holding Isaiah's head over the potty to throw up about every half hour. I laid on the bathroom floor with him, tried to sleep in the hallway some, and nursed Jaden whenever he woke up (Sometimes while holding Isaiah while he threw up). And somehow in that time I did laundry too, because we eventually ran out of blankets for Isaiah to lay on or cover up with in the bathroom. Isaiah finally stopped throwing up about 5:30 in the morning and slept til 7:30, then him and Drew were up and ready to start the day, and I was so tired and not realizing that it had actually been one of the easier nights of the week.

Tuesday was actually pretty normal, other than my tiredness, Isaiah was acting like himself and it seemed like it had just been a 12 hour thing. Tuesday night my mom brought dinner over and my sister and sister in law came for a girls night. We had fondue in the living room and then my sister in law spent the night since her husband was away too.

Wednesday morning I was feeling good and rested, and thinking everything was behind us. My mother in law came over and I did some things around the house, one of which was switching out Jaden's drawers and getting all his 3-6 month sleepers put away. I took my boys to my mom's house for the evening and got back around 9:00. My sister in law spent the night again and at midnight we were still up talking when I heard Drew coughing in his sleep. I didn't think anything of it actually. Then I heard Isaiah crying. When I went in to check on them I found Drew still sound asleep laying in his own throw up (which was not just confined to the bed but had gotten on the walls and carpet too.) I did the same as I had Monday night, stripped the bed, started laundry, moved Isaiah to my bed, put Drew on the bathroom floor and began the merry go round again. So thankful Steph was here, because Drew was throwing up even more than Isaiah had and I was hardly getting any chance to feed Jaden.

By 8:30 Thursday morning things were finally seeming to calm down and I climbed into my bed to feed Jaden again. When I finished feeding him and was about to go to sleep he projectile vomited all over my bed. I was praying it was just bad spit up. But it wasn't. Every time I fed him all morning he would throw it all right back up and soak us both. His last wet diaper was at 10 a.m. I was on the phone with the dr.'s office off and on all day trying to figure out what to do for him. I called Shaun at 11 to tell him what was happening ang he told me to get clothes ready for myself in case I needed to run out to take Jaden to the dr, so I laid some things out on the chest at the foot of my bed. In between him throwing up and changing our clothes I was trying to start more laundry, get Drew to eat something, give Isaiah some attention, couldn't set sweet Jaden boy down or he'd scream, and I hadn't even begun to clean the carpet from midnight the night before or start getting everything off my bed. My mom came around noon and it was my saving grace. She got there right as I had gotten off the phone with the dr. office about Jaden and Drew had just thrown up again down the steps and I was about to melt away into a puddle from exhaustion and a head ache and nausea from lack of sleep.

She took charge of laundry and cleaning and I was able to put a movie on for the boys and sit down to nurse Jaden. The rest of the afternoon I would feed Jaden, try to hold him still and pray he would digest some milk before throwing up, then he'd throw up on us both, I'd change our clothes and start over. And somewhere in there I realized there were men out front digging up the ground by our mailbox, and I didn't know why, but I thought what the heck, you could dig up my whole front yard right now and I couldn't care less.

About 1:30 Drew started looking flushed. At a little before three I took his temperature and it was 102. I gave him some tylenol, put another movie on and part way into the movie he fell asleep on the sofa. I was glad he was getting to rest. Meanwhile my mom ran out to get some pedialyte and more children's medicine because Jaden still hadn't had a wet diaper and I was worried I might have to take him to the er. Poor baby was even throwing up bile. By about 4:00 my mom headed home to let her dogs out, so I was alone again, the movie ended, and I saw Drew open his eyes on the sofa. I went over and sat next to him to ask him if he had a good nap, and thus began the scariest ten minutes of my entire life.

When I sat down next to him I thought he was stretching because his arms were over his head and he was staring at the ceiling. As I tried to talk to him he wouldn't look at me or respond in any way, and I realized that he was subtly jerking. I tried to get my finger in his mouth but his jaw was clenched tight and his tongue was rolled back. I started screaming his name and praying and trying to get him to answer me. I don't think I can ever forget the feeling of looking into his big beautiful brown eyes opened wide but looking scared and vacant at the same time. I was terrified out of my mind, just praying Jesus, Jesus over and over and I picked Drew up in my arms and ran to the kitchen and laid him on the floor next to me while I called 911. I was down on my knees next to him talking on the phone and giving my address and telling them what happened and thinking I needed this man to stop telling me to calm down so that I could call someone else and get someone to come to stay with Isaiah so I could go in the ambulance with Drew. I finally hung up with 911 and called my mom, but for whatever reason she wasn't answering her cell phone. I finally got ahold of her, screamed that Drew was having a seizure and I'd called 911 and for her to come back right away, then I started calling Shaun. It took four tries to get a hold of him and I can't imagine how he was feeling on the other side of the country hearing what was happening. I heard him praying and I hung up and just then our neighbor came in my front door. He said he'd heard the call go out on his radio and came right over. All this time I had been trying to get Drew to respond to me but when I'd ask him who I was he'd say daddy, he couldn't say his own name or his brother's names or seem to remember anything. Then my mom came in and I told her to go get my clothes from the foot of my bed because at that point I was wearing boxers and a bathrobe. I think I changed right there in the kitchen in front of the emt's,  I can't really remember. But the ambulance came and they started checking Drew out and I put Jaden in his car seat because I had to take him with me because he wasn't keeping anything down and needed to have a wet diaper soon or I'd need to get him checked out too, but that suddenly seemed like a small worry. Bethany came running in the door and I was so happy to see her, she said Shaun had called her and she followed the ambulance to the hospital with my diaper bag and more pedialyte for Jaden. I got into the ambulance with Drew and Jaden and they strapped Drew into the bed and started checking him out. By this point he was sitting up but still not talking much. But his eyes looked like my Drew bug again and I just kept kissing his hand and trying not to cry and thanking God that he was starting to look more like himself. He sat straight up and was really serious and quiet the whole ambulance ride (except for when they put his i.v. in.... it was pretty traumatic.) When we got to the hospital he let the emt carry him in and he was just totally relaxed and resting his head on his shoulder, which he would normally never do with someone he didn't know but he was so wiped out. He still had a fever and was flushed and lethargic. My friend Ashleigh was working in the er and came to check on us, Bethany stayed with me until Steph came, and I felt so loved and supported. When they finally got his fever down at the hospital then he started really looking more like himself and wanted food. He had apple juice, graham crackers and applesauce and was asking to go home. He didn't like the IV and was asking me what the red stuff on his arm was and wanted his blood pressure cuff off. I tried to feed Jaden again and he threw up in the er room, but he had his first wet diaper. (Mini victory!) The Doctor came in and explained febrile seizures to me, told me what to look for etc. and then they sent us home. Shaun's parents brought our van up to get us, and we got back about 9:30 last night. While my mom and Shaun's parents were still here I came upstairs and got ready for bed and finished re-making our bed, gave Drew more tylenol, Jaden more pedialyte, they all got changed into jammies and we all climbed into my bed. Steph spent the night again and just before we were ready to go to sleep Isaiah asked for a glass of water and then proceeded to spill it in the bed. Just a little icing on the cake for a good laugh. Hey, I'd rather have water spilled in my bed than throw up any day. We just laid a towel over it and went to sleep. I woke up at about 11 p.m. when Jaden threw up all over me. I moved Isaiah to his bed, changed my shirt, and cleaned Jaden up and thankfully he stayed asleep when I put him in his bassinet. That 11:00 p.m. throw up seemed to be the last one for him though. This morning he feels like he has a little fever but I gave him some medicine and I'm praying that this will all be over soon. Shaun is home now, and Drew and Isaiah are asking for breakfast. And life is beautiful and I don't care about a dirty house or the fact that I haven't showered in days, I am just thankful for my boys and their sweet, spunky, beautiful selves.

 Above: Drew waving to the camera to show daddy he was ok. 

 Trying to get some food into Drew, and pedialyte into Jaden... 
About to head home. 

Monday, January 13, 2014


Controversial Issue. Lots of people have lots of opinions.

But we co-sleep. We're not hippies, we're not trying to go against the grid and rebel, we don't think our way is best. It just works for us.

With Drew, my first baby, I didn't know what to expect at all. I tried to do things the way they told us to at the hospital, I got frustrated, I can't do the "cry-it-out" method, and I felt like I was failing. I did finally get him to sleep in a bassinet, on his back, through the night, and that worked up until he started teething. Then he started waking up again. I had moved him to a crib in his own room, and I was a working mom, and I really need my sleep or I start not even being able to put a coherent sentence together. Getting up in the middle of the night multiple times and trying to stay awake and nurse him and make him go back to sleep in his crib was draining me. So when he was probably around 6 or 7 months when he'd wake up at night I'd just go get him and bring him to bed with me and I'd fall back to sleep as he nursed. It was great, and I felt so much better sleep wise. I also wasn't too worried since he could roll around and sit up and hold up his head, so felt safer to sleep with him then. When he turned one we moved to a new house, and I got pregnant with Isaiah. Once I couldn't nurse Drew to sleep anymore I rocked him instead. He never fell asleep without being in someone's arms. Sometimes I even climbed into his crib with him til he fell asleep. (Sadly we don't have any pictures of this, haha) We would rock Drew to sleep at night and then lay him down and he would sleep in his own room in his own bed. (I would also like to say that we tried the cry it out method once with Drew when we "decided" that he should be going to sleep by himself. We tried it for two weeks. It did not work for us.) Enter Isaiah into the world. Our first night home from the hospital with Isaiah in a bassinet in our room, and I remember Shaun saying he just couldn't leave Drew down the hall in his own bedroom by himself. So he went and got him and brought him to our room. And for the next year and nine months both of our boys slept in our room, eventually both in our bed. (Thankfully, we at least have a king size bed.) People thought we were crazy, but it seemed totally normal to us. I also still rocked both of them to sleep at nap time. Yes, it took up a big chunk of the day to always be the one helping them to get to sleep, but it was such precious time with them both. Holding them in my arms as their breathing slowed and their little fingers relaxed and their eye lashes rested so sweetly.... Oh my goodness I'll never ever regret it. My only concern: Would they ever be able to go to sleep on their own? And how?

When Drew was a little over three and a half we went to the beach for a week with Shaun's family. He skipped quite a few naps that week and would fall asleep SUPER fast at night then. When we came home from the beach it was hard to get him back into the regular napping routine, plus I was pregnant with Jaden and my growing belly was making rocking him to sleep uncomfortable for both of us. So I stopped making him nap. Amazing thing happened: he would be ready for bed earlier, and he would fall asleep on his own as soon as we got him in jammies and laid him in bed. Also, because of my pregnancy it was getting too crowded for us all to be in our bed, so we put a double bed into the boys room and moved them in there to sleep. They were already used to sleeping side by side in our room, and we often find them all snuggled together. So cute. We read to them and then sometimes one of us will stay in until Isaiah falls asleep. (Also, whenever Drew gets to the point that he really needs a nap he'll just go lay on the sofa, or my bed and take a nap. That's only maybe twice a month though.) Oh my goodness! Our four year old, who was always nursed or rocked to sleep and who co-slept for a good two years at least of his life can go to sleep on his own. Doing things this way doesn't mean I'll have a high school age child who still can't go to sleep on his own and wants to sleep in our room! Woo Hoo!!

Enter baby number three... I can't possibly parent my extremely energetic boys all day if I'm not getting sleep at night. SO. Jaden has co-slept from the beginning. We discovered early on that he would sleep between every feeding through the night as long as he was being held. (However, he would be awake between every feeding if we tried to lay him down by himself.) We are now at the point where after my last feeding of the day I can lay him in his bassinet and he will sleep for about 3-4 hours or so before he wakes up wanting to nurse again. Then the rest of the night he sleeps in bed with me. People ask how he's doing at night and when I tell them he still nurses 3 or 4 times a night they look shocked and ask how I'm getting any sleep, but the truth is I feel great! I'm really not tired at all, because I don't have to turn on the light, or walk down the hall, or sit up in a chair and forced myself to stay awake the whole time he nurses. I am a really light sleeper, and I sleep with my arm around him with his head up on my shoulder next to my face. I love sleeping on my back anyway, so it works perfectly for us.

All this to say... if you co-sleep with your baby and are worried they'll never outgrow it, don't be. They will. (Most likely getting rid of nap time will assist with this.) And also to say that if you co-sleep and feel embarrassed or don't want to admit it, don't be. Our country is one of the only cultures in the entire world that says that you should put your newborn baby, who is used to being inside you, and is living only on milk, into another room by themselves and then expect them to sleep through the night without being fed as early as possible. There are actually studies that show that co-sleeping helps babies learn healthy breathing patterns, increases their feelings of security, promotes growth and provides more nutrients as their nursing time is not limited only to day time hours, and may actually reduce sids. (Basically, sids can occur whether you co-sleep or not. I am, however, extremely cautious of blankets, pillows, the position he's sleeping in, etc. and try to let Jaden sleep with me as safely as possible.)

However, if you don't co-sleep, don't start doing it because of this blog. If you've found methods and things that work for you, or if you can do the "cry-it-out" method and not have it last hours and not feel your blood pressure going through the roof, or if you need the time by yourself or your husband isn't supportive of co-sleeping, don't do it.

I read this essay online the other day on a new mom's take on "expert" sleeping advice for babies, and it is hilarious. (Thank you Rachel Ashbrook for posting that!) Basically, my conclusion is that YOU are the expert on YOUR baby, and you will discover what works for them and your family, and you should not feel guilty just because the way you do things doesn't look like the way someone else does them.

One more disclaimer: I think everyone's first question that they don't want to ask about co-sleeping with your babies is the same. So, instead of making you ask the question you don't want to ask, but want to know the answer to, I'll just answer it discreetly. No, our marriage did not suffer because of letting our babies sleep in our bed. If it had, we would have found another way to get everyone to sleep at night. I mean, just think outside the box. Your bed is not the only place you can strengthen your marriage... And that is all I will say on that topic. :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Judge Not...

The past week or so I've really been thinking a lot about the subject of judgment...

I have three little boys four and under. And it's really hard sometimes. (But also really awesome and it's changing me from the inside out.) But I feel like I have a hard time admitting that it's hard because, hey, there are a lot of people out there who have 5, or 10 kids, or who are single parents, or whose babies are even closer together in age than mine, or who have even more rambunctious personalities than mine... etc. etc. And I feel like I have no right to struggle. Ever. Because whatever I'm going through can't possibly be the hardest. (I judge myself pretty harshly....)

Or I think the opposite. I hear someone complaining about their situation or how tough their one child is to parent and I think "You have no idea... Seriously? You think that's hard??"

But this is what I'm learning in reference to judging myself: Just because what I'm going through isn't "the hardest thing ever" doesn't mean it's not "hard for me."

And this is what I'm learning in reference to judging others: We judge each other based on our own life experiences, from our own lens of perspective, from our own strengths and weaknesses. What's hard for me might be easy for you, and what's hard for you might be easy for me. But it doesn't negate the struggle it takes for either of us to persevere through our own hardships. And what's more, our lives have been personalized to help refine us in areas of weakness from the start. (Praise Jesus!) Example: I am not your most patient person. And having three little boys with needs and attitudes and wants and, and, and, is teaching me to be PATIENT! (I didn't say I'm good at it yet...)

But there's more. There are struggles, hardships, and difficulties in my life that you will never know about. Please don't assume that because I choose to lift up and focus on the good aspects of life that there simply aren't any hard ones. There are. Oh my goodness, there are. But I need to do the same for others. Just because things look good for them from the outside does not mean that they aren't being completely wrecked in some private and very personal place in their life. Have you ever heard the quote "Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."? So true. We are all human, not one of us gets to live some pain free, perfect life. Or how about the quote, "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes"? I think sometimes I put myself hypothetically into someone else's situation and then think I have a right to tell them what they should do or how they should feel. But the quote doesn't say "don't judge a man until you've walked a hypothetical mile in his shoes..." And since we can never walk an actual mile in someone else's life, basically, we never have a right to judge another human being as though we are better than them. Ever.

But, besides those quotes from the mouths of men, here's what God has to say about passing judgement:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2. 

And that pretty much sums it up. Makes me want to try really hard to understand others out of a heart of grace and love. Really hard. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And a Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!! It's getting to be a tradition on this blog that I post our family photos at the first of the year :)
We took our family pictures for 2013 less than two weeks after Jaden was born, right at the beginning of November. I wasn't sure how it was going to go exactly with a brand new baby, but he slept through the whole thing. As usual, I asked my mom to take the photos where all five of us are in the picture. I chose the settings and did the posing and editing, and she worked her magic with the compositions and angles. I am so thankful for an artistic mama who passed on her love for the creative to us. We had a beautiful morning and a great location (I' going to offer fall mini sessions here next year!) and the whole thing took between 20 and 30 minutes and was actually really fun :) My sister came along too to chase runaways and make funny faces and help hold babies and things of that nature :) 
I love the memories that were made and the pictures of us all together that we were able to capture. 

And then, because I just can't resist having a camera in my hand, I went ahead and took the pictures of the boys and Shaun with each one of them. My mom took the individuals of me with each of them. 

(It was a seriously beautiful fall day!)

Three precious boys.Drew, Isaiah and Jaden. I am so overwhelmed by the blessing they are. 

I am so, so thankful for life. For health. For joy and for the ability to find beauty in the chaos of life with little ones. I am thankful for an amazing husband who is so very loving and such a reliable anchor for our family. I am thankful for these three little miracles, three souls that God has entrusted to us and made a part of our family. But especially for my Savior, the one who has rescued me from myself and fills me with strength that is not my own. I am nothing without Him. 

Wishing you the happiest of New Years, praying that 2014 finds you well and flourishing wherever it is that you've been planted, and that most of all you will walk in deeper revelations of the Father's love for you. Oh how He loves us.