Friday, July 22, 2016

A day in the life

Because why wouldn't you wake up bright and early, go find the hot sauce and empty over half of it into a glass of sparkling water and on your little brother? I mean why not? It's like this every day, every hour that I'm with my dear second born. I think he is the reason I feel stretched to my limit every single day. And sometimes it just all gets to me. Yesterday was that day. I have to have one of those every once in awhile I guess. I'm sitting here with my second cup of coffee and despite the laundry and dishes piling up, I feel the need to write. My blog has become a place for Abel updates when I used to talk about our latest adventures all over the country. I know it's not exciting but it keeps my sanity and provides a record when my brain is foggy and I feel like he isn't progressing at all. Thank you to those of you who still check in with us despite my lack of exciting updates.
I tried to be in a good mood yesterday. I woke up and read my bible and the promises of to whom I belong. I was feeling humbled and good. I went to get dressed and ended up spending an embarrassingly long time trying to get ready, all with four children vying for my attention. It took so long because I was feeling really down about my postpartum body. My old clothes don't fit and my pregnancy ones don't either. With everything going on around me, I just wanted to feel confident in my appearance but everything I put on whispered that I was just another mom who has let herself go. One who hardly gets to shower because she's so focused on her little ones. One who doesn't know what an acceptable price is for mascara because who has time to buy/apply it anyway? One who doesn't have a life outside of her 24/7 job of raising kids. One who isn't so good at raising kids anyway. I mean, why is it so difficult to potty train a three (nearing four) year old? Why is it that the same child thought it was okay to bite his friend at school over a toy the day before? He's three. He should not be biting...or pooping himself...or struggling with speaking phrases. He should be speaking in sentences.
Obviously, my thoughts aren't entirely sensible right now but they carry much truth, too. I'm exhausted by his disability. I feel really alone. I don't know anyone who is in my position- caring for a bunch of small children, one of which has a cochlear implant and is still significantly behind his peers in language, communication, behavior, and motor skills. In a few months, we'll be celebrating his two year hearing birthday and while he has definitely made progress, his cochlear implant peers are leaps and bounds ahead of him. I see it twice weekly. When he goes to group therapy, there's a room beside his with a window and speaker that I can watch the session from. As I walk him in, I greet his peers with a "Hi! How are you today?" and you know what? They respond. "I'm good." They don't have to be told to say it. They know what I'm asking. Abel still stares blankly when he is asked questions by most people. It makes me want to cry because I'm doing everything I can do for him and I just feel tapped out.
I'm not writing for pity. I certainly don't need that. I have a beautiful, healthy, spunky boy who is very loving to his mama. He is the first one to require a hug, stroke my hair and pull my cheek to his lips for a kiss. I'm his person and I love him more than I could ever say...but caring for him day in and day out is physical and mentally draining me. I want to be better for him, but I feel like my hands are tied.
Yesterday as I was battling these thoughts, I was also on my way to therapy. I got in the car to find my gas light on and my tire pressure light lit up. I drove to the nearest gas station despite having no time built into my schedule to do that. I pulled up to fill the tank and my card was declined twice so I picked another card and made a mental note to find out why. As I was getting gas, I found a dollar for the air machine (Score!) but I knew I needed quarters. I began asking the folks around me for change but no one had enough quarters. They said I could just have the ones they did have but I didn't want to do that so I began unloading the kids so I could go inside the gas station to get the change I needed. Finally, with fifteen minutes before I had to be at his first appointment in Knoxville, I pulled up to the air machine and guess what? They had changed it from $1.00 to $1.50 because of course they did. I drove to OT with a deflating tire and a deflating positive outlook.
By the way, the reason my card was declined was because someone stole my info and bought $720 worth of school supplies. Which is so poetic, right? Someone with 85 kids apparently is sending them  all away on my dime. The stay-at-home mom who can't wait to usher her brood of kids into the hands of more capable teachers than herself. Ha! What a freakin' day.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Birth Story #4

I have practiced great restraint in not flooding all my social media accounts with pictures of the last forty eight hours. It has been a challenge because I just want to shout from the roof tops about Mama's little girl. She is so perfect, y'all! My heart is bursting with love for my growing family and I'm so SO happy to not be pregnant anymore. I guess all I needed to do was write to all of you that I was going to be pregnant forever because about an hour after I selected "publish" on the last blog post, I was in active labor.
I started timing my contractions around 8:40pm that evening. I didn't think much of it because I have literally been doing that for at least a month. Typically these contractions would last for hours, were long, and super close together. The ones that began on Thursday evening were much shorter, but they weren't easing up if I got into labor positions, went about with chores, or when I got in the bath. They didn't feel much different, but something in my brain told me this time was the real deal. We were worried about this because of how close we came to delivering Merit in the car so before an hour was even up, I was texting my sister to ask her if she might take me to the hospital to get checked out. I didn't want Jordan to have to leave the kids who were already in bed because a false alarm would mean I had roused four different people to help. I continued to pack my bag and began to wonder if I didn't have Jordan come, too that he might miss the birth of our daughter.
I typically have what is called precipitous labor. That means that from the onset of contractions, I have the baby in my arms in three hours or less. I know that sounds amazing to many of you who labor long and hard (and I am NOT complaining!) but it isn't without drawbacks. For starters, the contractions come on so quickly that my body doesn't have a chance to build up to the pain. I'm uncomfortable with contractions for a short time and then BAM, worst pain of my life. The pain never eases, either. It just keeps coming, wave upon wave, with no time to recover in between. Thursday night was no different.
My sister and I arrived at the hospital around 10:45pm. I was feeling pretty good as I was able to walk in without too much trouble and get situated in triage to be checked out. Relief was flooding through me as I was pretty sure I was actually in labor and I was so happy to have made it in plenty of time to have a baby in a fairly controlled environment. I told the intake nurse of my previous experiences with precipitous labor and she checked me and saw that I was dilated 3cm. She told me she didn't feel comfortable sending me home with my history and that was good because I wasn't going anywhere but the parking lot to wait it out if they kicked me out! I knew my body this time.
I was only in triage a few minutes before they were ushering me to a new room of my own. I walked down the hallway and told them I didn't want an epidural while I was still in my right mind to say so. I got changed and hooked up to the fetal monitor and she checked me again. I was at 4cm. At this point, I was still able to talk a bit in between the strongest parts of the contractions, but that was quickly changing. Thankfully, Jordan decided to ask his parents to come over to watch our other children shortly after I left the house so he was right behind us. He came in smiling and ready to welcome our fourth child and I again felt encouraged that everything was working out nicely and timely! My water broke around this time, too. It was nothing like it had been with the others, but it was enough to demonstrate to the new nurse taking over my care that this was going to happen quickly. I remember someone asking her how many babies she had caught (she said 8) and then I remember her trying to make sure the doctor on call was on her way to the hospital. My mom arrived shortly after this and I was at 6cm and VERY much in pain. I began to do that thing I hate: question myself. Why didn't I get an epidural? Can I even do this? What was I thinking? I can't do this. So it was nice to see three familiar faces cheering me on. Jordan reminded me that I am a rockstar. Mom reminded me when I needed to breathe. And Paige was thinking of keeping me cool with ice chips and wet rags. EVERYone told me that I was doing great and it was something I needed to hear. A couple minutes later, I'm telling everyone I feel pressure and that I was going to have to push soon so she checked me again and I was at 8cm. That was encouraging! I knew she would be here soon and I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. I asked Jordan to pray over me and that gave me the final strength I would need to get through. I don't really recall if anyone ever told me I was fully dialated or effaced, but obviously my body knew as it involuntarily started to push shortly after. The "ring of fire" was full force and I couldn't get anyone to tell me "Yes, I'll catch your baby!" The bed wasn't even broken down and I'm saying, "Where is the doctor?!" (because I knew the nurses weren't supposed to encourage a woman to push when a doctor isn't present) There were at least four nurses in the room and all of them avoided my questions until finally my mom spoke up and one of them said, "We are prepared for whatever you have to do at this time." How political of them! ;)
That's all I needed. I pushed a few times through the worst pain I've ever felt and suddenly every single night I tossed and turned, largely pregnant with our daughter didn't matter. Because I felt amazing. At 12:06am on July 8th, I brought my fourth child into the world! There's no greater feeling.
As they placed her on my chest, one of them said with a bit of alarm, " Look, there's a "true knot." I looked down to find that the umbilical cord was tied in a knot--a tight one. I didn't think much of it because of the high I was experiencing, but later I found out the dangers of having one. It turns out that she likely tangled it up by flipping around inside me and most babies who do this die in utero. I didn't tell many people, but on July 4th I came home from a parade and mourned for two hours because I just had an awful feeling that she was gone. I couldn't get her to move after trying everything and I just laid there clutching my stomach and praying. She finally moved and I tried not to worry any more after that, but when I saw that knot my sweet girl made it through I was so relieved and thankful to God for allowing me to have her with me. "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). She's here, y'all and this mama is as happy as can be.

We are home and all back together and doing great. Thanks to each of you for your kind words of congrats on IG and Facebook!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I was told there'd be glowing....

There's no glowing. There's only me...busting out of raincoats, sweating rather grotesquely from the heat and hormones, and still learning important lessons like don't wear baggy shirts when you have a baby the size of a watermelon up them. It's not pretty. Nothing is pretty right now, in fact. 
I am miserable.
I know, I know. It's almost over. I'm being a baby. There are worse things in the world. All of these things I know. None of them help my situation. Every night, pain radiates from my back to my belly and lasts a minute or so and happens every two to three minutes. It tricks my hopeful little brain into thinking that I might have a sweet girl in my arms soon instead of pressing on every major organ inside me. This has been going on for weeks and weeks. It certainly feels as if I'll be pregnant forever.
I went to the doctor today and she tells me as she has for three weeks in a row that I'm dilated NOT EVEN TWO cm and there's no change. It's pretty discouraging because my braxton hicks contractions can take my breath away. It feels like it's all for nothing at this point. Still, I hesitate to accept her offer of additional measures because I truly want her to come when she's ready. I've never been this pregnant and soon my due date will come and go. Meanwhile, my back is killing me and it feels like a bowling ball is about to fall out of me. Additionally, I can hardly find a comfortable position sitting or laying but my body is screaming at me to relax. I can't even, y'all.
I can't even.

Rant over.

But yes, I'm still pregnant in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

37 Weeks

It looks like I'm going to be pregnant for awhile longer. I recently left my thirty seven week appointment and I am halfway effaced and not even two centimeters. Sorry, I know this talk grosses some people out so there's your cue to not read on. It is discouraging, for sure. I've not been feeling stellar lately, but on Sunday during church I started feeling like I might pass out and was having lots of contractions. Most of them were just taking my breath away, but they didn't hurt. They were about five minutes apart. I started feeling less of them as the afternoon wore on and by nightfall, I wasn't having any. Then Monday and Tuesday night, they were back with a vengeance. In fact, last night I was ready to go to the hospital, laying out contacts and clothes that weren't pajamas so that I could slip them on when I woke up in the middle of the night in pain. That didn't happen, though. Each night, I find it hard to breathe, get comfortable or sleep. I have back pain and contractions that seem to be getting stronger, but not strong enough yet. The contractions last for hours and are 2-3 minutes apart ranging from 30-60 seconds long. I keep track of them because this is how labor came on with Merit. I got so used to doing this same scenario for weeks that I wasn't sure when I was actually in labor! The contractions, pain, and pressure are confusing. It's a bit unnerving for me because of the last two close calls we've had with getting to the hospital. But I know she'll come when she's supposed to so I will keep soldiering on as best I can. I just wanted to update each of you who have asked. I'm still pregnant and I'm getting quite miserable, but apparently it's not quite time yet. 
As if our lives aren't up in the air enough waiting on baby, we've been making some major changes in our house this week. New floors for our kitchen were becoming a necessity after discovering a leak we caught too late. When we got those done, we thought "Well, the appliances are already out. Perhaps we should go ahead and replace those. While we're at it, some new paint and hardware for these cabinets would look nice. Also, let's finally sheetrock the stairwell to the basement and slap some paint on that, too." So, there you have it. You knew we were crazy already, but now it's confirmed. We're on the cusp of welcoming baby number four in less than five years and our house is a construction zone of dust, paint, and disconnected appliances.
I'm tired, y'all.

37 Week Questions:

Baby is the size of a: tackle box or a winter melon
Weight: 151 (up thirty one pounds)
Cravings: I don't care about food anymore. I just need to eat it, but I don't always want to. My belly is so huge and tight, I don't want to put anything into it because it just causes more discomfort.
Stretch Marks: Nothing new
Exercise: I've been to workout a couple of times. Sometimes just walking, sometimes taking short jogs and incorporating weights, too. If I'm feeling good enough to exercise, it's a good day.
New Things: Pressure. Baby feels so low.
What's going on with her? Baby's lungs are likely mature now!
What I miss: rolling over in bed without wincing in pain
What I'm looking forward to: Postpartum exercise

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What if she's deaf? Thoughts on Baby #4

I'm five weeks or less from meeting my newest little gift from above and I haven't even considered my thoughts on if she'll be deaf or not. That is definitely uncharacteristic of me, but I think it probably has everything to do with the power of God inside me. He hasn't let me worry about that. I've had so much going on, so many other thoughts to attend to.

I'm thinking about it now, though-- and it sort of seems like it's just another pondering. Will she have curly hair? Will she even have hair? What will her nose look like? Will she be hearing or deaf? Five weeks out and I think I'm okay. I haven't worried about it. It's incredible. Of course, this could change between now and then. I know I'll be so nervous during the hearing test. And truly, I don't want her to have hearing loss because I believe life is easier without having that hurdle, but I hope if I hear those words again, "Your baby is deaf" that I will be at ease, happy even because I finally have a little girl in my arms that God created perfectly.

When I had Merit, we were two weeks away from having Abel implanted with bi-lateral cochlear implants. The weight of the world was on my shoulders and all the hearing tests, surgeries, ear infections, hearing aids, and therapies were fresh on my mind. When the lady took him away to do the hearing test, I had told her about Abel and she could likely feel my anxiety. When she brought my sweet boy back to me she did so with a smile and an encouraging word that he probably only failed because he had so much fluid still in his little head from coming so quickly into this world. My heart ached for him as I stared at his perfect, tiny little newborn head and thought about them cutting into it. Other hearing tests were set up and I tried to push it from my mind. I began to notice him startling at sounds and my hope was restored a bit as we geared up for a very long surgery for my (less than) two year old. As you probably know, it turned out that Merit could hear. The point is that there was a tinge of doubt and fear. With baby #4, I have much more peace. Still there are thoughts surfacing. Even now as I type I'm hoping this blog post isn't some foreshadowing of what's to come in our lives. But what I feel right now is comfort in God's plan for her. I'm excited to meet her and find out more about her and who she'll become.

This weekend as I've watched my deaf child seem more and more like a happy, "normal" child and multiple friends have commented this week that they can see a marked difference in his progress, I've been able to see past the struggles we've had over the last three years. Abel is waking up and conversing with his older brother, playing, and laughing like he gets to grow up with his best friend. Can I tell you how incredible it makes this mama feel? I used to worry so much about his relationship to his brothers. I didn't want him to lack communication in any way, but instead I think he's teaching us so much more than we are teaching him.

It is well with my soul.

Kinley Jordan- 2011

Abel Elias- 2012

Merit Kimsey- 2014

"For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
1 Timothy 1:7

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hope Over Worry

I have such an ambivalent relationship with the Internet. I love it and I hate it, too. Don't you? Disguised under the guise of connectivity, more often than not it pulls us all apart.  It pits us against each other. Against ideas. Ideas that really just don't matter. Period. It's why I have to step away from social media a lot- it's because I don't care where people go to the bathroom....or HOW a child got in a zoo enclosure (just that he did and now he's safe and you people have NO IDEA how quickly children can get into trouble despite the most attentive caregivers)...I don't care if you vaccinate or formula feed or leave your child rear facing in their carseats until they are six years old. I do not care. Leave me out of it.

I'm tired of freaking out reading signs at Walmart reminding me to turn around and go get my baby out of a hot car. My baby is not in the car, but thanks for the brief heart attack.

I'm tired of rubbing sun screen all over my kids to protect them from the harmful sun only to come home and read an article about how all the sprays and lotions cause cancer.

We're coming upon swimming season and although I swallowed gallons of water growing up around pools and at the lake every summer, I will freak out for twenty four hours after any of my kids are around water because of the massive amounts of dry drowning posts I will see. Already, I'm worried. Just yesterday, Abel took off his puddle jumper near the pool. I stood up to sit nearer to him in case he got any crazy ideas and before I knew it, he had jumped in the pool, something he won't usually even do with floaties on. Thankfully, I got to him very quickly but he is very tired today and feels warm and where does my head go? It goes to the extremely rare thing that might happen that I saw on the Internet last summer and the summer before that.

I'm just so exhausted by the list of what good parents do. It's on Pinterest. It's on Facebook. It's on the news. It's in your hearts and minds. More than ever, I will keep the tendency to trust that parents are, for the most part, doing what is best for the kids they've been entrusted with. There's no parent shaming here because I know. Every day, I sacrifice myself to do what I think is best for my children in the moment. 24/7, that's what I'm doing. It's because of this that I know you're not a crappy mom because you sent your kid to school with a lunchable for the third time in a week.

It's a Catch 22 everywhere I turn. Hey, my kids are fed and happy and safe. Do you think 5 popsicles in a weekends time is going to permanently damage them? Me either. If you're one of those parents that their kids only eat the freshest of organic vegetables then that is great! I applaud you. I just also happen to think those other parents who don't follow that strict of a diet or lifestyle are good parents, too.

There's so much out there online that you might lose sleep much that can get you fired up. And for what?

Accidents happen all the time, y'all. It's a consequence of living in a fallen world. I'm just so glad I have a HOPE that is greater than anything this world could provide.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

33 Weeks: (another) Bumpdate

This past week was a rough one for the books. The kids have been sick and I've been sick. I'm not entirely sure what is going on with me because I haven't had a chance to go to the doctor until today and, go figure, offices aren't open on Saturday or they don't open until ten. So, here I sit, hoping that I'm on the mend. I do feel a little better today. I wonder if that's because my in-laws took all the kids for us last night and I went straight to bed by 8:30. It was amazing to get to sleep and not have to wake up and take care of three small children. SUCH an enormous blessing. {THANK YOU!}
33 Weeks Bumpdate
Bed head and clothes. Sorry, I don't really get dressed these days.

Baby is the size of a: honeydew

Cravings: Nothing really. Anything I can swallow without wincing in pain because of my sore throat. 
Stretch Marks: Well, yeah but nothing new.
Exercise: It was going well until I caught whatever it is that I caught. I haven't been able to go to the gym much because one of the kids always seems to be sick, but this past week I haven't wanted to move from the couch. I even took my fitbit off and am sporting a wrist watch tan line now instead of watching how few steps I have made each day. I've been miserable, y'all.
New Things: I find it strange that my braxton hicks contractions have stopped. For months now, I've had them quite a bit but over the last few weeks I haven't had any. Other new things worth mentioning are:
1. I started painting/restoring a piece of furniture for her room. I should probably be working on that right now instead of blogging.
2. Tomorrow my mom and sister are throwing me a shower.
What's going on with her? She is gaining half a pound a week and might grow up to a whole inch this week! Her bones are fully developed and she's now working on making them harder and more stable. Now, her goal is to start packing on the fat.
What I miss: feeling good, clothes that fit
What I'm looking forward to: holding her and soaking her in knowing this is my last baby and getting back to working out and feeling comfortable in my skin again

I hope each of you enjoy your weekend!
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