Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beatrix Sonnet

When Faith turned one we started trying to get pregnant.  If we had been successful right away, I surely would have been overwhelmed to have kids so close in age - especially considering Faith's needs and abilities.  But, I reasoned, if we were never able to get pregnant again, I didn't want to look back at those months and wonder if we had missed our chance.  So in September of 2013, we started trying to get pregnant.

When we were coming around the bend to the one year mark, I was losing hope.  It took us 6 months to get pregnant with Lila and before Faith came into our lives, we had tried for 9 months again.  So added up together, we had spent nearly two years of our marriage trying to get pregnant.  20+ cycles of hope and disappointment.  And as each month circled around, the disappointment dissolved into despair and heartache.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

In the summer of 2014 we had sold our little house and were living with my parents for a few months while we looked for our next house.  (Related: living with your parents is not an ideal baby-making environment.)  One morning I came across a website for dresses for mommies: Sonnet James.   I remember thinking, "Sonnet.  That's a cute name.  I wonder what it means."

Of course I knew a sonnet was a lyrical poem, but I am a tad obsessed with literal translations of words and names.  So I did a quick internet search and found that sonnet is derived from the Italian word sonetto and literally means "little song."

And just as I read the words "little song," that Still Small Voice reverberated around my heart: I'm going to give you a new Little Song.

You know how sometimes you want something so bad that you start to invent "signs" or reasons to be convinced that it's the right thing for you?  I thought it was that.  I thought I was manufacturing God's voice promising me a baby.

But still, I couldn't help but hope.  I kept the page with the definition of sonnet open on my phone so that I would be reminded of what I thought I heard God say when I would begin to lose hope.  I'm going to give you a new Little Song.

And then, miraculously, a few months later I was staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test.  Our dream fulfilled.  Our Little Song.

Then, in December, the world came tumbling down.  I don't know that it will ever be appropriate to share the details of these last 10 months, but suffice it to say, we endured - are still enduring in many ways - the most difficult and darkest months of our marriage.  I was grief-stricken, heartbroken and distraught, but still, there was this little baby growing inside me.  Her life was a glimmer of joy in our sorrow and pain.  In my fear and in the darkness, I was reminded with each kick that God had spoken a beautiful promise into my heart and here she was, in the process of being fulfilled, as her cells came together in that mysterious and miraculous way of new life.  Even in my sorrow, my growing belly reminded me that God hears my prayers, knows my pain, and desires to fulfill my dreams.  God was near, he had not abandoned us, he was in the process of making things new.

Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

As we searched for names for our Little Song, we knew we wanted an older name to fit with our Lila Josephine and Faith Margaret.  When we would come across a name we liked, we would look up the meaning of the name.  There were a few we truly loved, but the meanings were so-so.  Then, one day, I came across the name Beatrix.  I have always loved the charming books by Beatrix Potter and the name was romantic and beautiful.  So I looked up it's meaning and the name suddenly became so much sweeter.

Beatrix means Bringer of Joy.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

We didn't decide right away on her name - in fact, we still hadn't totally decided when she was born!  But now I know, it has always been her name.  Her name is a sort of statement of faith for us.  Despite the adversities of the last year, we choose to turn our faces to the One who made us.  We are his, the sheep of his pasture. With her name, we lay claim to another promise from the Good Shepherd: that he would redeem our suffering - that he has already begun to do so by giving us our little Joy Bringer.

She lived up to her name in her first minutes of life.  Her existence in our family has brought us such joy.  Right now our story is still unfolding.  There are many things that still wait to be redeemed.  But the story of my life has this golden thread of hope and promise wound sparkling through it and I know that each seed of sorrow I plant will reap a harvest of joyful praise to the One who redeems all things.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

Beatrix Sonnet, our Bringer of Joy, our Little Song, is a Tree of Life for us.  She is living, breathing (pooping, spitting up) proof that God keeps his promises.  She is a piece of the harvest that we are already tasting.

I hope that through her life, people will look at us and say, "The Lord has done great things for them."

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126
A song of ascents.
1When the Lord restored the fortunes ofa Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.b
2Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4Restore our fortunes,c Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

notes on sleep deprivation and parenting a newborn

There are some hard and fast truths about mothering a newborn.  Here are my top 5:

1. The baby will, without warning, suddenly be desperately hungry the second the mother raises a forkful of lunch to her own mouth and will shriek a shrill and ear-piercing shriek until mother abandons her own nourishment and feeds demanding and precious child.  The same phenomenon occurs when mother attempts to go to the bathroom.  Silly mother.

2. The baby will, with precision, time her sleeping patterns to conflict with big sisters' sleeping patterns so that mother will not have a single minute of her day in which someone is not touching her.

3. The baby will want to eat exactly every two hours, except for when she wants to eat every 45 minutes.  Except for when she miraculously goes 6 hours between feedings at night (HALLELUJAH!).  Except for when she actually wants to eat every two hours again.  Mother's body will be completely confused and unable to predict when baby will need to eat and therefore mother will endure her body's delightful attempts to produce the appropriate amount of milk at the appropriate time.

4. The baby will not be satisfied unless the person holding her is uncomfortable.  Mother should not dare sit down.  She must hold baby in an upright, but slightly reclined position and bounce her in a gentle rhythm.  Mother should not attempt to scratch her nose.  Unacceptable.  Duh.

5.  The baby will coo and smile up at mother and mother will forgive baby for all the ways baby has ruined her life because that one smile has miraculous healing powers.


Being that I have very few active brain cells at the moment, I thought it best to write words.  Coherent, non-jibberish words.

Of course, to the sleep-deprived brain, there's really no telling whether the thoughts produced are nonsensical so, sorry about that.

Beatrix is delightful.  People keep asking me if she's a "good baby" and I think what they mean is, "Does she sleep?"  She sleeps, yes.  She sleeps like a baby.  Which is to say, a few hours at a time spread across a 24 hour period.  Which is to say, I don't sleep.  Although last night she went a miraculous 8 hours between feedings and I'm trying so very hard not to count on that sort of behavior more than one night in a row at 5 weeks old.  BUT...then again...she might just be advanced.  A genius, maybe.  She might, you guys.  A genius, I mean.  In fact, I may have completely lost my mind because I decided to home school Lila this year.  HA.  I decided that having a newborn and a non-verbal almost-three-year-old with Down syndrome wasn't enough stress and chaos.  I decided to dedicate my remaining brain cells to teaching my stubborn and wild and willful and active and beautiful and smart and naughty child how to read and write her letters and do math and learn about the world.  We started this week.  It's going...okay.

The first day she asked me if "we have to do this EVERY DAY?!"

The second day I gave her an assignment to work on while I made lunch.  I walked into the kitchen and then turned around a second later to ask her what kind of fruit she wanted and she was lying across the chair on her tummy with her head and arms dangling under the chair.  Yeah.  This was a good decision, thought I.

The third day wasn't so bad.

The fourth day she left a post-it note on my door:

But today she requested school even though we had finished all I'd planned for the week, so she must be enjoying it at least a little bit.

I do think she would have a greater appreciation for home schooling if she had some experience in an elementary classroom.  Having nothing to compare it to, she seems to think I'm an unmerciful drill sergeant, bent on keeping her from twirling all day.  But it's exactly that - her active and kinesthetic wiring - that confirms to me that we made the right choice.  She'd be getting corrected all day long - being told to sit down back in her seat - if she were in school.  And she'd be bored.  She's bored with me because I have to start at the beginning of her books so that I can learn how the different curriculum works and "I know that stuff, MOM."  Fine.  Go write, "I'm a sassy-pants" 15 times in your notebook.  (Just kidding, I didn't make her do that.  But maybe I should...)

Anyway, I'm feeling encouraged (and exhausted) after getting our first week under our belts.  I think it's the right choice for us this year.  At least that's what I'm telling myself when passive-aggressive post-its show up on my bedroom door!

Faith starts preschool next week at her awesome therapy school.  I ordered Lila a new backpack (she'll attend Kindergarten one day a week at the homeschool program where I teach) and Faith will get Lila's littler one.  They both were so excited when Lila's new one came today and they wore their backpacks around the house and played "going to school."  Faith was SO CUTE and proud to get Lila's old one.  I'm not kidding when I say that I almost cried for how cute she was.  Also, I'm hormonal.  But that's neither here nor there.  Except it might be here.

What else? OH!  Faith figured out how to unsnap her onesie know...poop on the floor again.  But her parents, despite their lack of sleep, are persistent problems solvers (who really don't like cleaning poop off the floor and crib) and came up with a solution that seems to be working.  

We bought light-weight footie pajamas, cut the feet off of them and put them on backwards.  The key is that the zipper zips up so she can't reach it to unzip them.  She was so mad the first day we put them on her that she yelled for 45 minutes before falling asleep.  Then, the next day at nap time, I watched her on the monitor give up on trying to get the jammies off and move on to trying to remove her sheets from the mattress.  Sister, Mommy doesn't care if your bed is naked so long as you are not naked.

Faith seems to have a sixth sense that I am even less able than ever to keep up with her now that I have a small human to look after and she's taking full advantage by scaling furniture...

and, you know...doing her toddlerly job of destroying any semblance of order in our house.

The biggest problem is that I can't bring myself to care that this is what their room looks like.  

Not when sweetness like this is happening a foot away:

Bea is smart to keep an eye on the Chinese one.  She's a grabber.

Beatrix will not be short on affection with this bunch.  

Speaking of the littlest girl, she's stirring and is ready to eat so I'll wrap this sleep-deprived rambling up for now.  And then I really should go to bed.  I really, really, really should.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Our littlest daughter is here!

Introducing Beatrix Sonnet Kautzi:

Fashionably late, she missed her due date by 13 minutes.  She was born July 17, 2015 at 12:13am after a crazy fast labor.  She was 19" long and 8 lbs 13 oz (a full pound heavier than her biggest sister!) and had a full head of curly (!?) hair and crooked pinkies like her mommy.  

We've had a bit of excitement in her first ten days on the outside.  Because her labor was so fast, she didn't have time to clear her lungs well enough and earned herself a trip to the NICU due to fluid on her lungs and a high respiratory rate.  She ended up spending five days in NICU - the first three days on IV fluids and antibiotics and the last two under the Bili lights when her bilirubin levels shot up on day 3.

It definitely wasn't the beginning we hoped for, but we are so grateful that she is healthy and home now.  I have a new empathy for families whose little ones spend even an hour in NICU.  Nothing is more frustrating and heartbreaking than seeing your new baby hooked up to wires and being told you can't hold her.  

The big sisters did so well - even with a few extra unexpected days at my parents' house.  Lila is over the moon and Faith wavers between genuine interest, ambivalence and wary concern about the new (loud) person who has taken over youngest child duties in her place.  

I plan on writing a post about her birth story and one explaining the meaning behind her name, but I didn't want one more day to go by without introducing her to you!

So here she is, our sweet little Beatrix:

She's absolutely dreamy and we are in love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dilemmas and Keeping Busy

Dilemma Number 1: How to help five-year-old have empathy for 9 month pregnant mama whose sense of humor must have been absorbed into her swollen feet and who does not find it funny or cute when five-year-old continues, after many requests to cease and desist, to stick her bottom up in the air at a crowded restaurant and holler, "Look!  My straw is like a tail!" whilst holding said straw precisely between her butt cheeks.

Dilemma Number 2: How to convince two-year-old that no matter how much she pats, pushes, shoves or leans, there is no rearranging the contents of my lap so that she can fit on it.  It should also be noted that growling and whining are also ineffective means of belly shrinking.

Dilemma Number 3: How to convince youngest daughter to COME OUT.

Dilemma Number 4: How to avoid going to the bathroom 7 times each night (that's not a hyperbolic exaggeration - that is an average).

Dilemma Number 5: How to keep one's sanity when the heat index is 110 degrees and the children are restless and the ankles are swollen to the point where they barely function as joints and the in utero child is making her mama gasp in pain with every movement.

I'm very pregnant.  Very. Pregnant.  My due date is in two days and I really can't believe she's still inside me considering I've had contractions since April.  Her big sister made her entrance two days early so I keep telling her today would be a good day to be born.  Every time I sneeze I have the irrational hope that I'll hear an accompanying "POP!" and feel a rush of my water breaking.  I'm getting desperate over here, people.

In an effort to distract myself from the pregnant-ness of my body, I've been keeping us pretty busy.  Here's a little recap of what we've been up to, Bullet-Point Style.

- Pregnancy Selfies
I realized I don't really have any pictures of me pregnant which, at the moment, I am totally okay with, but I think I will regret not having them down the line.  Lila loves looking at pictures of my pregnancy with her so I figured this baby would be sad to not have ANY documentation that I indeed suffered through lovingly carried her.

So one day during nap time, I attempted some pregnancy selfies.  And here's what I learned: I am inept at selfies.  I didn't know where to hold the phone.  I didn't know where to put my other hand.  I didn't know where to look.  I didn't know how to get the right angle or the right lighting.  Most of them the angle was totally weird, the picture was blurry or too dark, or I had the phone in a weird place that either blocked my head or another important part of my body.  And then there were the ones in which I was making a weird face because I was concentrating so hard on all the other factors.  In the end, this one was the only one that turned out:

 And even in that one, I am bothered by the fact that the mirror is clearly covered in tooth paste and hand-washing debris.  But there you go.  That's what I look like pregnant, Internet and future daughter.

- Fourth of July
We completely overdid it for the 4th of July this year.  We went to a parade in the morning, our friends' house in the afternoon and to another friends' house for fireworks that night.  The result was we all were completely toast the next day and grumpy as all get-out.  Faith threw herself on the floor in slow-motion tantrums and whined more minutes of the day than she didn't, and Lila flip-flopped between being completely reckless and wild (her M.O. when she's really tired) and giving Faith a run for her money in the competition for Whiniest Child.  In short, we were really fun to be around on July 5th.

But on the up-side, Lila drew this adorable picture of her and Faith at the parade.  The fat flower petal fingers! the grass and the sky! the flag and true-to-life representation of the clothes they wore! Faith's Chinese eyes!  Ugh. She's so cute.

- Adventures in Multi-Cultural Open Adoption
I got this string of text messages from First Mama the other day and I really didn't know what to make of it.

I think she was maybe trying to use a translation app and it came through in emoticons and other images.  I texted her back to see if she needed anything and sent her a few pictures of Faith and got another indecipherable text back so I'm still not totally sure what's going on.  But that woman is resourceful, so I trust she'll find a way to get in touch with me if she needs to!

November by Jvkbvbbn.

Anyone have any kind of clue what that might mean???
Me neither.

- Treasure Maps
The other day I took some cookies out of the freezer and put them on the counter.  Then a few hours later, I poured myself a glass a milk with the intention of having a few cookies.  Only I couldn't find them.  I distinctly remembered putting them on the counter.  Or did I?  My 9 month pregnant brain has been leading me astray recently, so I looked around for somewhere else I may have put them absent-mindedly.  I check the fridge, the medicine cabinet, the pantry, the kitchen island.  I even checked to see if I had put them in the sink.  Convinced I really was losing my mind, I found something else to eat and gave up.

Then, later that day, I happened to glance at Lila's little dollar section dry erase board:

Me: Lila? Did you take my cookies?
Lila: (with a sly grin on her face) You'll have to follow the treasure map to find out!
Me: Lila, I thought I was going crazy!  I was looking for those cookies!
Lila: (clearly delighted that her little plan had succeeded) I told you, follow the treasure map!
Lila: (pointing to her map) Through the gate, around the corner, into the dining room, by the shelf.

- Best $12 Ever Spent
We bought a kiddie pool at Target and it has been worth the money 100 times over.  The first time we filled it up, we were still having unseasonably cooler weather and Faith was very back-and-forth about how she felt about the cold water.  She would giggle and splash and dump water on her head and then gasp and sign "all-done" emphatically, but when we'd help her out of the pool, she'd turn around and climb right back in.  It's kind of like when you've had too much dessert and you feel sick to your stomach, but it's so delicious and you paid $8 for a slice of cheesecake so you MUST finish it.  Related: as soon as I'm in the clear from gestational diabetes, I am hitch-hiking my way to Cheesecake Factory pronto.

- My Little Reader
Lila's reading so well and it's so fun to see her explore this new independence.  For all the ways she is so unlike me, I get kind of fluttery in my stomach and teary in my eyes for this way she is just like me.  My only fear was that she wouldn't want me to read to her anymore, but thankfully, she still likes me to read to her, too otherwise I might be in mourning a bit.

- Faith's Newest Quirk (I'm not a fan)
A few weeks ago, I got Faith up from her nap and noticed that she had something on her face.  Then I noticed it was also on her clothes.  And in her fingernails.  And on her sheets.  And spread across the slats of her crib.  It was brown.  It was smelly.  It was poop.  After a bath, a good Clorox wipe-down of the crib, a change of sheets and a thorough scrubbing of my hands and hers, we were poop-free.

I hoped it was a one-time thing, but then the next day, Lila yelled from their room, "Mommy!  Faith threw her poop on the floor and I stepped on it!"  And then a few days later at dinner, Faith stuck her hand down her diaper, withdrew a few turds of poop and then purposefully plunked them down onto her dinner tray looking pleased with herself.
No amount of correcting, scolding, or hand spanks seemed to keep that girl from excavating her diaper.  A few days later, I was lamenting our latest diaper-diving incident to a friend and she looked at me with all of the wisdom a mom of four kids can offer and said simply, "Onesies."  

I went to Target that night and bought 24 month onesies and ever since then Faith's poop has remained in her diaper where it belongs.  Hallelujah, Amen and Amen.

- The Much-anticipated Royals Game
When we had finally marked off the last day of our countdown to the Royals game, Lila was beside herself with excitement.  I packed a bag of treats, picked out blue outfits for the girls and we excitedly made our way to the stadium.  When we got there and found our seats, Lila was giddy, but Faith was positively freaked out.  From the minute we emerged out of the tunnel to the section of our seats she began waving "all-done" with a terrified look on her face.  I think it was a combination of the noise, the height and all the people that was too much for her to process.  She ended up burying her head in the Husband's chest and falling asleep.  Poor over-stimulated baby.
I told Lila she could have one treat from the stadium.  She chose an ice cream cone that cost more than a half-gallon of the good stuff at the grocery store and melted all over her face and dress before much of it could get in her mouth.  But, she was one happy camper which was totally worth $6.

- Accomplishments
Lila has been working so hard on being able to do a pony tail.  She understands the concept, but her fingers are frustratingly uncooperative.   But the other day, I heard a squeal from the other room and she came bounding in yelling, "I made a pony tail!  I made a pony tail!"

 I love the look of pride on her face.  And the bows.

There's no real story behind this picture except that my friend Holly watched the girls and she put Faith's hair in the cutest little braids.  So naturally I took about 35 pictures of her that day.

- Baby's Room
We are nearly done with the baby's room.  There are still a few extra decorations I want to put up and I'll probably end up rearranging the dresser top and the shelf above the changing table, but here's the current set-up.

 I think I mentioned before that a sweet family from my school gave us the crib and changing table which was a huge gift to not have to spend money on another crib.  You wouldn't think that having our third girl we would need to buy much, but we've had to buy several big ticket things for this baby either because Faith isn't done using the one we have (crib and mattress) or because we gave away the stuff we had when we thought we may never have a newborn again (car seat, breast pump, etc) or because we needed something to meet a need in our new bigger house (the deliciously soft rug I found at HomeGoods).  But we've also been able to use a lot of what we have (the white dresser was Lila's dress-up dresser in our old house, the rocking chair is the one the Husband built for Lila, and most of the artwork is borrowed from other rooms in the house) and we've had some really generous friends lend us necessities or hunt consignment sales for us.

In the end I'm really happy with how the room has turned out.  I often go in there and just sit in the peacefulness of a room that's not being used yet and therefore isn't in a constant flux of various degrees of messiness.  It's my happy place.

- The Farm
Our dear friends moved to a farm about the same time last year that we moved into our new house.  Lila LOVES it there.  They've done a ton of work to the house and I hadn't seen it in awhile so we took a day to go visit.  Lila was in heaven with the chickens and bunnies and cats and dogs.  But mostly the bunnies.

 Faith loved the bunnies, too, but I was terrified she was going to murder them seeing as she kept trying to grab them by the brains.
 Jude showed her how to pet them gently, but the lesson was lost on her.

 This one finally wised up and made a break for it.

- Faith's Predicament
Faith has gotten very adept at taking her clothes off.  It's the pesky business of getting them back on that gets her into trouble.

- Dancing Queen #2
When I was pregnant with Lila I took a video of her moving around in my belly.  The other day, Baby Sister was doing some impressive acrobatics so I took a video of her.  I'll end this random post with that video and a plea to the little Dancing Queen to show us her dance moves on the outside!  Come on Baby!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Counting down the days

Summer has begun and that means glorious days of no agenda, no driving across the state for various school and therapy classes, no cramming things into our schedule.

But it's also the beginning of the incessant questioning from my oldest girl.  "Mommy? What are we doing today/tomorrow/the next day/the third Friday in September?"

She's an extrovert so her idea of a good time is in stark contrast to her introvert mama's desire to just stay home all day every day and read.  So, I've done my best to schedule in some social time that will keep her happy and not sap whatever meager amount of energy I have left over from chasing Faith around and growing a small human.  Also, I printed off this weekly calendar and fill it in every week so that when she asks me what we're doing I can say, "Go look at the calendar."

Lila has been dying to go to a Royals game this year.  She asks every day if we are still in first place and if we will go to the "Royals Series." (that's what she thinks the World Series is called, bless her.) So when I got an email last week from Faith's therapy school that they had been given a bunch of tickets to an upcoming game, I jumped on the chance for free tickets!  So now, the daily countdown has begun.

Every Day:
Lila: How many more days until the Royals game?
Me: 13
(ten minutes later)
Lila: Mommy, how many more days until the Royals game?
Me: I just told you ten minutes ago.
Lila: I know, but I forgot!
Me: 13
(5 minutes later)
Lila: Mommy, how many...
Me: (interrupting) Lila, in baseball, the batter gets three tries to hit the ball and if he misses it's called strike.  Once he gets three strikes he's out.  This is the third time you've asked me today, so this is your third strike.  I'll tell you this one more time today, but if you can't remember, you'll have to wait until tomorrow to ask me again, okay?
Lila: Okay.
Me: 13 more days until we go to the game.
(ten minutes later)
Lila: Mommy?
Me: Yes?
Lila: I know you said I was on my third strike...
Me: Yes.
Lila: But...
Me: Lila.
Lila: Oh I remember!  13 days!
Me: (SIGH)

After a daily repeat of this conversation, I wised up and added a countdown to her weekly What Are We Doing Today Calendar:

Lila: Mommy?  How many more days...
Me: Go look at the calendar.


We are also counting down the days until my due date.  I am daily more and more uncomfortable, and now that the heat and humidity are in full force and my feet have swollen to three times their normal size, I mostly just whine and moan all day.  Lila has started asking us if her feet look swollen (monkey see, monkey do) and Faith is really frustrated that there's no room for her on my lap anymore when she wants to read books.

I'm still holding out hope that I won't go all the way to my due date.  I'm a week away from technically being full term so it's getting to the point where I sort of welcome any signs that things might be moving toward labor.  I downloaded a contraction-timing app on my phone and the other day I got to break it in as I was having a few more painful contractions.  Well, I thought they were contractions, but it turns out my skirt was just too tight on my tummy.  The contractions were miraculously cured when I pulled my skirt up over my belly. (insert red-cheeked emoji)

They say misery loves company and I have to agree.  I have taken to texting near-daily photos of my feet to my family for some commiseration.

As I'm getting closer to meeting this little one, I've been thinking about the last 8 months and all they have brought us to and through.  I was remembering our excitement and disbelief when we first found out that we were pregnant and I realized I never posted the video of us telling Lila.  She was just starting to read so I wrote out a message for her to read out loud and her reaction is priceless.

Don't you love how her first reaction is "I have to tell my friends!"? Extrovert.

She has been so excited from the beginning.  Never once has she complained about me not being as available to her during this pregnancy.  Her biggest complaint is that it's taking too long for her sister to be here!  After we told her, she ran up to her room and wrote me this note which is now hanging on my closet door:

 Translation: Lila Mommy I am so happy that we got a new baby but I am so excited

She's the best, am I right?

Baby Girl, come out soon and meet the two best big sisters a girl could hope for.  We all are so anxious to hold you in our arms!  We are counting down the days!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Updates: Faith, Lila and Baby

I thought I'd stop in with a few updates and pictures that have been on my mind to share.

We finished up Faith's year of therapy and pre-preschool.  Looking at the goals she had this time last year, I am reminded how much she has accomplished in the last 12 months.  I'm so proud of that girl and her tenacity and spunk.  She never stops moving and never seems content with her current skill set - something I am so grateful for, but also that lends itself to much angst for the child without words to verbalize her frustrations.

Her speech continues to be the thing I'm the most concerned about.  I have another appointment for her next week with the audiologist to check her hearing since her speech does not seem to be on track with her other developmental milestones.  Her large motor and fine motor are both doing really well.  She loves coloring and I have way too many pictures in my phone that basically look the same because I think she's so cute when she's focused hard on her drawing.
Exhibit A

Exhibit B
 I mean, how cute is that??

She's taken to hugging people with enthusiasm which is perhaps the most life-giving thing you could possibly imagine happening to you.  Sometimes it's a hug in greeting, sometimes it's a hug as she's leaving, or sometimes, it's just that she spotted you across the room and was overcome with how much she likes you.  Today she hugged me twice in about 5 minutes, each time when I entered the room from the adjacent room.  "Mommy!  You're back from the kitchen! Hooray!" she seemed to say.  Her sweetness and affection are really too much for me to handle sometimes.

On the other end of the spectrum, she Houdini'd her way out of her crib today when she was supposed to be napping and ended up with a bloody lip and a goose egg on her forehead.  When I ran (and I use "ran" in the most pregnant sense of the word) up there after I heard the stomach-lurching thud and then wail, I found her looking indignant and sitting next to her crib with Lila's Ursula doll (of Little Mermaid infamy) inexplicably dangling from her hair.  I didn't notice the blood at first, but then suddenly it was everywhere and I couldn't tell from where it originated so, naturally, I panicked.  Lila kicked into Big Sister mode (what would I do without that girl?) and ran to get an ice pack and washcloth to try to stop the bleeding while I wiped the blood away from Faith's mouth and chin and tried to find the source.

In the end, as these things usually go, Mommy was much more traumatized than the kid and within a few minutes, Faith was pushing my hand and the icepack away in irritation as she tried to get down and go about her business of destroying any semblance of order in our house.

We HAD planned a surprise visit to First Mama and Baba at their restaurant as a sort of belated Mother's Day celebration, but if you think I'm going to march Faith into the restaurant with a bloody lip when First Mama can't help herself from commenting that she thinks Faith is cold every time she sees her, well, you're wrong.  We'll be postponing our unscheduled visit until Faith's lip and forehead are more normal colors.

Lila had her last day of preschool last week and I cried like the hormonal pregnant woman I am.  I was feeling a little teary as I pulled into the parking lot, but I managed to get it together as I walked up the stairs.  However, then I was greeted by this outside of her room:

And I said out loud, "Now that's just mean!" and promptly lost my composure as big fat tears dripped down my face.  How is she done with preschool already?? How is it possible that she'll be in KINDERGARTEN next year??  How? HOW?????

I told her teachers that I wouldn't be so sad if they hadn't given Lila such a fantastic year.  It's their fault, really.  If only they hadn't been so consistently amazing and loving and awesome, this would be much easier!

I'm so grateful for the year Lila has had in the Green Room.  She has learned so much academically, but more importantly, she has grown and matured as a person with their care and counsel.  I truly felt like they "got" her - which did so much for my mommy heart.

Yesterday I realized how much I LOVE five years old.  Five years old is my favorite so far.  She's SO. FUN.  She's hilarious and innocent and just exploding with creativity and energy.  She's independent, but still needs me.  She's snuggly.  She's irrational.  She's emotional.  She's loving.  She's reckless.  She's just awesome.  She asks if she can play outside in the backyard and I can say yes without hesitation and then listen to her sing her lungs out (alternating between songs about how much she loves Jesus and Katy Perry's Firework - no joke - I'm sure our neighbors can't quite figure us out!) while she pumps her legs wildly on the swings.  My heart just swells with the joy of childhood watching her fly back and forth through the air.

When you're five, the world is still magical.  Things like mastering jumping rope and cutting a "perfect" circle are worthy of celebratory squeals.  And when Daddy asks if you want to play catch with your pink ball and "mitten," it is a requirement that you run upstairs to change into your "baseball clothes" before you can commence playing.
I asked her why she stood like that before she threw the ball and she said, "I saw it on the Royals."
I bought her some of those beads you put on a pegboard and then melt together with an iron.  (I'm sure there's a name for them, but I bought them IKEA and we all know that IKEA's product names are ten kinds of ridiculous so I have no idea what to call them.)  I intended to save them until after the baby is born for a day when I was desperate to give her something to do, but she kept asking what they were and - to be honest - I wanted to play with them, too.  So we spent a good two hours playing with them today.  She probably said ten times, "I love doing activities like this with you."  (Heart = melted) She also called me "Amazing Mommy" when I rescued one of her projects that started breaking because I hadn't ironed it long enough.  I told her I'd do just about anything she wanted if she called me "Amazing Mommy" when she asked me.  I'm on high alert for when she decides to cash that one in!

She's just the best.  Brimming with talent and oozing sweetness.  She told me today that she doesn't ever want to grow up and I'm totally okay with that.

I think this baby is going to be a drama queen because she's certainly causing lots of excitement during her gestation.  What with the morning sickness lasting 30+ weeks and my little hospital visit a few weeks ago, you'd think we'd be done with the excitement.  Our little drama queen says, "Not so!"

I found out last week that I have gestational diabetes.  I cried for most of the day when the nurse called to tell me.  At the time, I was still dealing with near daily nausea and the thought that I couldn't eat a box of Wheat Thins or have a piece of toast when that's all that sounded good was just more than I could handle in the moment.  Once I met with the dietician, I felt a lot better about my life.  And really, despite the inconveniences, the adjustment hasn't been all that horrible.  There have been moments when I've felt really sorry for myself, but for the most part the discipline has been good for me and I think being more intentional about eating regularly and having snacks in between has helped my nausea.

That being said, this pregnancy has been really hard and I am ready to hold the baby that my body has worked so hard to grow and sustain.  I think we've decided on a name, but I'm not confident enough to share it here.  We have been rather fickle with her name, but Lila has taken to calling her one of the names we have been considering and the more she says it, the more it feels right so I think that's who Baby Girl will be.  Still, I feel like we may have to wait to meet her before we know for sure the name fits her.

I've been having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions and I said to the Husband tonight that some days I really doubt I'll make it to my due date.  It just seems like she might come early.  Now, watch me go past my due date in the middle of a July heatwave - that would be keeping with the theme of this pregnancy!

We've been working on the nursery (pictures to come once I get things hung on the wall) and the reality of having three children is starting to settle on me in a real way.  (Eeeek!)

For the most part, I feel like I haven't really had time to process much of what is going on in my life because of all the chaos and every day minutia that takes up most of my brain space.  (Which might explain the floodgates opening on Lila's last day of preschool!)  But here's what I know: I married a good man.  I'm pregnant - which for many years was a far-off and distant hope - and about to add a third daughter to our family.  I have great kids who keep me busy and remind me why all of the puking and finger-pricking is worth it.  And, most importantly, Jesus tends our little flock like a shepherd.  He carries my lambs in his arms.  He gently leads those that have young.

I'm once again brought to my knees in gratitude for the big and small ways he tends and carries and gently leads.  In a season of my life when I have needed heaping doses of tenderness, He has yet to fail me.  I've definitely had moments of feeling totally overwhelmed and helpless, but they've always been met with just what I need in the form of friends who bring me low-carb and delicious mini muffins and Chipotle gift cards, or simply a good night's sleep.  I have had friends sit and cry with me over the disappointments and hardships of the last 6 months and I have had friends make me laugh so hard I peed my pants (which, unfortunately, is not all that uncommon of an occurrence these days).  All of these things were small mercies heaped onto big ones - reminders that God knows my most intimate needs right along with my most trivial needs and they all matter to him.

We have battles before and behind us and big change a-comin' but we will have what we need.  I'm sure of it.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm still here.

Oh hi there.  Remember me?  My name is Kelsey and I used to write on this blog.  Then life got crazy and lots of things took a back seat to surviving.  I'm not promising I'll be back, but I thought at least I'd stop in with a bit of an update.

We found out that Baby #3 is a GIRL!  We were so shocked - we all were convinced it was a boy!  But we've all adjusted and now we are super excited to be joining the Three Girls Club in a few months.  We're talking names, but can't seem to make up our minds.  We may just have to meet this little peanut and see what name fits her best.

Here's her alien-looking ultrasound picture:

Speaking of Baby Girl #3.  After 23 weeks of puking (and still - at 28 weeks - the occasional dash to the bathroom or nearest sink/trashcan/plastic bag) she gave us some excitement earlier this week.  I had some vomiting, cramping and weird pain in my stomach for a few days. When the pain became more constant, my doctor decided I should be monitored at the hospital for signs of pre-term labor.  I foolishly assumed that I'd be there an hour and they'd politely tell me to chill out and send me home.  Thankfully, the baby's heart rate looked great and I wasn't having any contractions, but since I was still having pain, there were still a few possible causes they wanted to rule out before sending me home.

The scariest possibility was a placental abruption which is when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterus.  This is apparently a bad thing and can be fatal for mom and baby.  They also were concerned about something going on with my gall bladder or appendix so my doctor decided to have me stay overnight so they could continue to monitor me and do some tests to rule out those more dangerous scenarios.

Since I didn't think I'd be staying overnight, I didn't do a good job of preparing Lila for my absence and she was really sad that I wasn't coming home that night.  We FaceTimed from the hospital which seemed to help a little.  I tried to take a screen shot of our chat, but she was too wiggly.  These were the best I could get:

I had an ultrasound of my organs Tuesday evening and if I hadn't been blinking away tears of pain I would have wanted to punch that poor ultrasound tech every time she said, "Take a deep breath and hold it."  The pain was worst when I had to breathe deep (or yawn or sneeze or hiccup or cough), so every time she said "take a deep breath" I thought I might die.  The ultrasound didn't reveal anything abnormal so that ruled out the non-pregnancy related problem scenarios.

The next morning I had an ultrasound of the baby and my uterus to check for any signs of abruption or distress in the baby.  The perinatologist took a look and gave me the all clear - confirmed that Baby is "still a girl" and told me everything looks "lovely."

The latest theory is that I have a nasty muscle strain - no doubt from lifting a certain Chinese two-year-old.
Playing dress-up at school
Yeah, that one.

So in the end, it was much ado about a muscle strain.  Which I'll take any day over delivering a baby at 28 weeks or any of the other scarier scenarios that were tossed around.

In other not-as-dramatic news:

Easter happened.  Here's proof:
Faith wasn't so sure about the bunny ears.  "Um, Mom?  There's something on my head."
And I turned 32.  For which I have no pictures because my birthday occurred day two of the baby excitement.

Lila had another ballet recital.  And I'm just realizing I never posted a video of last Fall's cuteness.  I'll have to do that sometime.  For now, here's this round of twinkle-toed twirling.  (It was a patriotic theme which is why she danced to Neil Diamond.)  She's third from the left:

That girl is a performer.  There is no ounce of stage fright in her.
Waiting for the show to start.
I asked her if I could take a picture of her up on the stage afterwards and she struck this pose all on her own.  She's a hambone. 
Her teacher, the amazing Miss Brittany.
Also, way back in February we celebrated Chinese New Year with Faith's birth parents at their restaurant.  It was hilarious and awesome.  Faith got to FaceTime with her biological sister which, I'm not gonna lie, made me cry.  It was pretty awesome.
The food was extravagant: lobster, crab, and lots of things we could not identify.  I asked what was in a sort of soup thing and First Baba (Faith's birth father) thought for a minute, then stammered, "Uh, um, ah!" and then said with confidence: "Fish balls."  Oh.  Fish balls.  Balls of fish? Or...

When I asked what kind of fish was in one of the "fish balls" I was told, "Don't worry about it."  Being pregnant, I was worried about it and didn't think it wise to try the "fish balls" or any of the other unidentifiable or questionably translated offerings. The Husband had no such excuse, which I viewed as payback for Faith's first birthday party when he ignored my mental pleas to help me eat the endless crab legs First Mama kept shoving onto my plate.

Those ^^^ are the fish balls, in case you were wondering.
We've been working on the nursery.  The Husband painted the walls with the help of Big Sister of the Year.
A sweet family from my school gave us their crib so we wouldn't have to buy a new one.  Faith is nowhere near ready to graduate to a big girl bed, which I think I will be very grateful for when Baby comes this summer.  Two kids confined at night means two less children able to migrate into my bed when I'm sleep-deprived.

 Lila got to go play at our friends' farm last weekend.  When I told her they were on their way to pick her up, she pulled this chair in front of the window and sat there watching out the window until they got there.  She was just a little excited and her time with them did not disappoint.  Their rabbit had babies three days prior and she got to hold the tiniest bunny ever.  Plus she got to play with Stella and Sophie and future husband Jude - all of whom she idolizes and adores.

 Lila got to do some big sister practicing when our friends had their baby a month or so ago.  She was so serious and careful to hold up Mary's head.  She'll be a great help when Baby comes.  I am so grateful for these friends whose girls are the same age as my girls.  What a gift to have friends in the same life stage and with kids the same age as ours!

Faith learned to make funny faces at herself in the mirror.  A significant milestone in any child's life.

Faith is officially a walker and Lila is officially a reader.  They are both in such fun and exhausting stages.  Parenting Faith is physically demanding - she seems to get faster at the same rate I get slower - and parenting Lila is emotionally demanding.  Lila is passionate and expressive and she needs lots of verbal processing time when she gets upset.  I feel like I do it well about 70% of the time.  20% I feel like I do it okay and 10% I feel like I royally screw it up (that's also the 10% when I end up yelling at her or losing my temper some other way).  I'm getting really good at apologizing and she's pretty forgiving most of the time.  I just pray that it's the 70-90% she remembers and that the 10% would fade away in her memory.

They are really starting to be able to play together.  Faith ADORES Lila and Lila loves Faith (and I think adores that she is adored!)  She is Faith's helper, encourager, protector, teacher, cheerleader - everything I hoped she would be and knew she could be when we chose to adopt Faith.  I took this video the other day and it just illustrates their relationship perfectly.  They truly enjoy one another.

Despite how stressful these last few months have been, I am one grateful lady.  I have a good life, even when it's hard.  Tonight I was singing to Lila as she fell asleep and found myself crying through one of our old favorites, a Sara Groves song called He's Always Been Faithful.  The lyrics in the 2nd verse in particular had the tears rolling down my cheeks:
I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain.
I can't remember one single regret 
In serving God only, and trusting His hand.

All I have need of His hand will provide.
He's always been faithful to me.

In a season that has held a lot of pain - both physical and emotional - this reminder has been central to my faith.  He's always been faithful to me.  And truly, I can't remember a trial or a pain he didn't redeem or recycle.  So in my current suffering, it helps to look behind me and remember that he's always been faithful, and to look forward to seeing how he will infuse my pain with purpose and redeem my heartache for my good and his glory.