Friday, December 17, 2010

"What Child is this, who laid to rest, On Mary's lap is sleeping?"

I have a few moments to write a blog…a few moments that I probably should be cleaning. I can’t believe that Christmas is only a week away! It has really snuck up on me this year. Ben and I even debated whether we wanted to put up a tree this year…the pine needles that get everywhere, the glitter from the ornaments, the mess of it all. However, I decided that even though Charlotte will have no memory of this Christmas, I wanted to still make it special. Plus, I thought she would enjoy looking at a Christmas tree. I was right; she loved watching me decorate and seemed to really get a kick when it fell over…about 5 times.

But I did go much lighter on décor this year. I kept thinking to myself, “Is this worth cleaning up,” and that made the process much simpler. I also have been thinking much more about what Christmas truly means. Having a child has greatly altered my perspective of Christmas day. It is painful to admit, but many times I have been absorbed with both the receiving and giving of gifts. Yet, this Christmas I have thought much more about the nativity story which is the true reason we celebrate the season.

I think often of Mary and what she went through. She became a mother in a town where she was a stranger without her mom or dad and with a new husband. She gave birth next to farm animals without the benefits of a physician or the comfort of a bed. Mary knew that God had blessed her with this task, but I imagine she was incredibly scared as well. She then had to rush off with this new, helpless babe because He was in danger. And I can only imagine the pain which Mary went through as she learned that other babies had died in the search for her Son. How she must have wept for those innocent children just as she would one day weep for her own Son’s death.

Mary’s story is amazing but the story that has made me weep this holiday season is the story of a Father sacrificing His only son. I love Charlotte beyond reason and would do ANYTHING to protect her. I would NEVER send her into harms way. Yet God sent Christ, His son to earth as a baby; right in the middle of harms way. Christ was just as helpless and in need of His mother as Charlotte is now. It is a mystery I cannot comprehend. And our Heavenly Father new that this perfect baby was going to suffer more than any human being on earth. God watched as His son was born in the lowliest of places. He watch as Christ was chased, mocked, and betrayed. What’s more, God didn’t just watch but allowed it. And then God watched as the Prince of Peace was beaten and abused. He allowed His Son who was blameless to die for a world that despised Him; for a people that betrayed Him, for a nation that rejected Him. God gave the weight of the world’s sins to His Son. Christ died for me, a sinner through and through. A girl who much too often has thought of herself rather than others, who has held tightly to things of this world rather than eternal riches, who has placed so many other things before the One who created her, who was crucified for her. This Christmas I am grappling with the reality that many years ago a baby, a Prince, was born to die for me.

“Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through,
The Cross be borne, for me, for you:
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"He knows my name/ He knows my every thought/ He sees each tear that falls/ And He hears me when I call"

I love the age three going on four months. LOVE IT!!! In fact I love it so much I really am wondering if Charlotte can just stay this age…really. She did great at my parents with hardly any breakdowns. She is also making me a happy mommy by mostly sleeping through the night. Yippee! It is amazing how much sleep can do. Charlotte is still on the feed every three hours during the day schedule. Occasionally she will go four and sometimes in the evening only two. But I feel like we are finally in the swing of things; in sync. I feel like I can recognize and meet her needs faster now.

Of course, there are a few things I wish she would do, like take a bottle. Yes, I have a freezer FULL of pumped milk and a baby who refuses to have anything to do with it. I tried again and she actually took a big gulp (progress!) and then proceeded to spew it all over me…then she grinned huge. Oh, Charlotte! She definitely has a personality at this point. She is such a happy girl. She wakes happy and is usually pleasant unless I don’t get milk to her fast enough. She, like all babies can get grumpy from fatigue or hunger, but then so can I!! Charlotte is even doing awesome in the car seat!! Exposure therapy worked. It probably helps that now she takes more trips in the car that aren’t to the doctor. Thank you, cousin Mary for telling me to keep at it.

Yes, she is a happy little girl and I love it.

---------30 minute break---------------

Sorry, about that…she just had a melt down. Did I mention the other thing that gets her going? She does not like to wake up from a nap not on me or with me out of visual range. In fact, when I do yoga in the morning I put her bouncer facing me. She usually does great and seems to enjoy watching me, and she dozes in and out. I’m hoping to eventually establish actual nap times, but for now I’m just enjoying the flexibility.

Yep, three going on four months is flexible and fun. She’s still a mommy’s girl, but she is typically great with crowds as well. I think she might be a bit of a ham actually. I brought her by my dad’s office when we were in town, so he could show her off to all his coworkers. She proceeded to grin up a storm and then babble at him. That’s right, she has started to babble, and it might be the cutest thing ever. I LOVE to hear her. Charlotte talks a lot with her “friends”, meaning the toys that hang from her bouncer and car seat. Sometimes, Charlotte will babble at me and seem to get frustrated, like “don’t you understand what I’m saying?” It’s hilarious. She talked our ears off one night to my Dad, and it was so adorable I didn’t want to put her to bed.

I am sure before I know it she will be forming real words. This growing up stuff happens WAY TOO FAST. When I held my little niece Lia, I couldn’t help but think “was Charlotte ever really this small??” The changes have flown by. We’ve had a few long days, but it seems like infancy is just a blink. It kills me. Ben keeps on telling me that I’ve said I want her to stay this age every month and Mike, my father-in-law, keeps reassuring me that I’ll love it all. I know both these men are right, but I can’t help but think watching your children grow up is a little bittersweet. Maybe it is part of the “pain of childbirth” that God allows women. I want to hold on to this sweet, innocent stage. I can’t help but love how cuddly she is and how dependent on me. Sometimes, I think God is trying to remind me that our time on earth is much like I view her growing up. It is over in an instant.

She is not only sweet but unknowing. Right now she is the typical baby and has no awareness of issues. I am scared of the day when she comes to realize her problems, when she asks why she has to go to the doctor more than other children, why she has scars. It’s hard enough for me to cope sometimes. I had a wonderful time with my niece Lia. She is of course beautiful. If you have seen my sister-in-law Dana, you know where she gets it from. Yet, I couldn’t help but observe Lia and her movements compared to Charlotte. One day little Lia was lying on her belly on the couch and kicked her leg back. I realized that Charlotte had never made this move before. She is a baby. Most of the complications have not fully displayed themselves, but it is painful as they come to light. The other night I was changing her diaper and realized the back of her thigh had scratches and cuts on it. She will sometimes do this to her face with her nails and scream bloody murder. I called Ben in and was trying to figure out how it happened and questioned why she didn’t cry. Then I saw Ben’s understanding face, and it came to me. She probably didn’t feel it. I completely broke down.

I get use to the complications I know about; the constant diaper rash, the flexed feet. However, when a new one arises (not kicking on her belly, lack of feeling) it completely knocks me down. Reality pushes it’s way back in. I know when she is more aware I’m going to have to toughen up for her sake. Now she has no idea, and maybe that’s part of why it’s hard for me to see Charlotte grow up. As I cried about the cuts she looked at me and smiled. That sweet smile that makes my heart abound in love but also makes me once again ask, “Why not me, Lord, why not me?”

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shuttering with Excitment

For three years I have made the claim that I would do a Christmas card. For three years I have failed miserably; but things are about to change. With the birth of Charlotte I knew that I had to start the Christmas card tradition. My mom has always done a Christmas card and saved them so we could look back at the changes. I want to do the same thing because I know I’ll be amazed at how fast she grows up…and probably a little horrified at how quickly I age!! So Christmas cards are a must this year. Yet, with the birth of Charlotte I have to be more budget conscious than ever. Thus, starts the search for a cute but wallet friendly card.

If you are on the same path, look no further; Shutterfly meets all of the above requirements. They have a plethora of wonderful photo cards at great prices. I wanted to do several shots with Charlotte in different outfits (because she’s so darn cute) and they have many that work. The hard part will be actually making a decision!

I really love the following because it's modern but cute and I love birds.
The next one is a bit more traditional which I like and I love the intial.

Decisions, decisions.

The other thing I noticed while I was perusing the Christmas cards on Shutterfly was the birthday invitations. I know, we’ve got a ways to go before Charlotte’s first birthday, but I am already excited about it. Plus the options at Shutterfly are endless. I’m thinking it might be cute to have her in a tutu on the front.

Before I forget, I must mention the perfect grandparent gift. At Shutterfly you can place pictures on mugs. My parents and in-laws are big coffee drinkers and I know they would love looking at their adorable grand’s every time they take a sip.

I hope you have good luck finding your own holiday cards this year, and be sure to check out Shutterfly for their great selection. While you are at it be sure to check out their blog promotion which I am participating in!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gobble Gobble!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are still suffering the consequences of eating 3 pounds of dressing like I am. I’m not kidding. My mom made about 4 gallons of dressing, and it was gone by Friday afternoon. The turkey was superb this year. I ate the leftovers with guacamole on top. Oh, and Henry’s pecan pie was PERFECTION!!!!!!!!!! I was almost sad for Charlotte that she did not get to taste all the delicious foods but she is still preferring mother’s milk. Actually, she so prefers it that she refuses a bottle. I keep trying to tell her it’s the same thing, but she will have none of it. Weaning this child is going to be interesting.

Enough about food; I have to tell you all the best part of my trip. We arrived in Covington very late on Tuesday evening and Charlotte was a dream in the car. Ben and I couldn’t believe it. We quickly said hello to my parents and then made our way to bed. Wednesday, we finally got to meet LIA!!! I can’t tell you how great it was to see my precious niece. She is ADORABLE and she seems tiny compared to my Chunky Monkey. She has very dark hair and a cute chin dimple like Henry. What can I say??? She is an angel. She and Charlotte did very well Thanksgiving Day amidst much commotion, and they both have gotten their ears blown out during football games. Poor Lia has also been exposed to a fair amount of barking with Lilly around, but she handles it like a champ. Henry and Dana are already exceptional parents, and the all consuming love they have for her is evident. It has been a lot of fun seeing my brother becoming a father. I mean this is the same brother who used to squeeze my head, because Mom and Dad said he couldn’t hit me! But Henry is great with Lia, and she adores him as well.

Not nearly as wonderful as meeting Lia, but the other highlight of the weekend was watching the Iron Bowl. WOW! It was quite a game, and I’ll be surprised if Charlotte doesn’t have permanent ear damage after that one. It was especially great to see Charlotte decked out in her AU apparel on Will’s lap while he cheered. I would say last weekend was awesome for football. Auburn beat Alabama; Florida State whooped up on Florida; and Georgia took Georgia Tech. Now if only Auburn can win the SEC Championship and then the National Championship. Ben’s headed off to watch the SEC Championship this coming weekend, which is why I get to have another week in Covington.

It has been great being home. It’s amazing how much help I have. I don’t know how I’ll ever begin to thank my parents for all they do. They have watched Charlotte so I could run through the shower; held her so I could sit and eat; soothed her when I was worn out; walked with her, because we both needed fresh air; and so much more. They even babysat. Late Saturday afternoon they agreed to watch both Charlotte and Lia while Henry, Dana, Ben, and I went to see the new Harry Potter. The new movie was entertaining, but Dana and I both agreed that we missed our babies and movies just don’t seem quite as important now. My parent’s said both babies did great, so maybe date nights are in our future.
Really, Charlotte has done amazing this whole visit. I thought we would have much more crying bouts and hard nights but she has been so amenable to all the ruckus. She even slept through almost the entire church service before she woke and wanted a change of scenery. Last night has been her fussiest, and it was pretty mild. Unfortunately, when I went to feed her this morning her left eye was covered in goop, and I immediately thought pink eye. I checked with my mom and she said it could possibly be bacterial or viral, and we’d have to watch and see. I was upset to think that she might have a cold or a bacterial infection and immediately started praying. Well, she has had no puffiness in either eye, no runny nose, and no more goop. The only change has been she has slept nearly the entire day when she is typically very wakeful. I’m not sure if she is just sleeping through the sickness, just had an eye irritation, or what; but I’m thankful and praying she is back at it tomorrow.

Once again, I hope everyone had a joy filled Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"I believe in everything, in everything I'm a believer...and I believe/ In the voices out here/ Tellling me to hold on/ But let go of my fear"

I have a moment’s break as Charlotte sleeps. What am I thinking??? Well, I am thinking how on earth is it almost Thanksgiving?!!! I have been trying to get organized and pack for a long week in Covington, and I can’t get over that it’s already the holiday season. I have packed Charlotte’s bag and have organized my clothes, but my plan to clean the bathroom before leaving is hanging over me like a lead weight. I have walked in our bathroom several times with the intention of starting, but then I get this childish thought: “but I don’t wanna” and the bathroom remains a wreck. It has to be done, so I’ve decided that I will force myself to get scrubbing after our afternoon walk.

That’s right, the girls (Charlotte and Lilly) and I are going for a stroll to soak up the beautiful weather while it lasts. It’s glorious outside. Plus, I’m trying to stick to my exercise regime. I started Tuesday. Mostly, I do videos in the morning, because that is when Charlotte is at her best and actually seems to like watching me do yoga. I had no idea how grossly out of shape I was until I started these videos. Every muscle has been sore this week…even my toe muscles. And I’m a little sad because I see no results; all that ab work and nada. Yes, I know; it has only been a week, and these things take time; especially when all your abdominal muscles have been sliced in half. I guess I’ll have to keep crunching and hope that it all pays off in the end.

As I read my bible this morning, I kept thinking of all that I have to be thankful for this season. I look back on this year and am in awe of God’s provision in my life. He has truly blessed me beyond measure. All too often I lose sight of all my heavenly Father has done. I get caught up in the day to day grind. I get bogged down by laundry and cleaning. I complain about sleep and lack of free time. I get short tempered and my patience is thin. I am ungrateful and short sighted. I prayed this morning that God would open my eyes to all He has done. I prayed I would better treasure the earthly gifts He has placed before me and that my heart would seek things of eternal nature. Yes, I still have to clean the bathroom, but I must be grateful that I have a bathroom, running water, and a place to feel clean. I have SO, SO much.

But I also know that joy is not based on circumstances. “Giving thanks is different from being thankful…When I give thanks to God for a trial or difficult circumstance, it is not a feeling of thankfulness but a decision of my will to choose to trust God and thank Him in spite of my feelings” (Dillow). Much too often I get wrapped up in how I feel. Our society places so much importance on feelings and tells us to act out our feelings. I have done this all too often and it always gets me nowhere. When has yelling or slamming doors done any good? No, I must look past my feelings which are often sinful and my worse enemy. I must look to a God who is bigger than my circumstances. I want to be able to say, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” I want to be a woman whose heart is filled with joy in plenty and in want.

Charlotte started crying, so I had to feed her. Then we went on a walk/jog, and now I’m back to finish up my ramblings.

We head to Covington on Wednesday for the Holidays, and I am there for a week and a half! YIPEE!!! I am so excited about my extended visit because: I get to MEET LIA!!!! Hooray!! I’m sure I am going to get on Henry and Dana’s last nerves telling them how cute she is and snapping pictures of her and Charlotte together…I can’t wait for that first cousin picture! Charlotte and Lia have the same gown and I think it would be adorable to get a picture of them wearing it. I know it is going to be a wonderful time with my family fellowshipping and eating way too much dressing. Oh, how I love dressing. I’m going to try to only gorge myself on Thanksgiving day…but we’ll see if I actually live up to that statement. I’ll try to blog while I’m there to tell you all about the ruckus but my parents’ computer is slow as molasses so no promises. I pray that you all have a joyful Thanksgiving and are able to fully see the depth and breadth of God’s love for you!!!

…..did I mention the bathroom is still not clean : / …………

Monday, November 15, 2010

"I dig it when your fancy dressed up in lace/ I dig it when you've got a smile on your face"

Saturday November 13

Well, Part TWO is coming much later than I anticipated. As you can surmise, the week has gotten away from me…as usual. Last blog I filled you in on Charlotte’s current medical prognosis. But for today I’d like to forget for a moment about Charlotte’s medical issues and discuss just normal life.

I know I mentioned that I was going to Covington for awhile, it ended up being for about a week. It was wonderful to be home, to laugh with my family, to let my dad hog Charlotte, to talk babies with my sister-in-law, to have SO MUCH help from my mom, and to be surrounded by an abundance of love and fellowship. The highlights of the trip were Saturday night football, delicious meals by my mom, and a delightful photo session with my friend Meghan. Meghan is an excellent photographer, and I had asked her if she wouldn’t mind doing some photos with Charlotte and me. It was so much fun. I actually took a shower AND dried my hair AND put on make-up…amazing I know. And I think I managed to find some clothes without spit-up or poop on them….for Charlotte and for me :) We had a ball hanging out and taking pictures. The first result is posted here:\ on her blog. I love the picture but please ignore all her compliments about me.

It was hard to head home, but I was excited to get back to my husband. First we stopped in Birmingham for one last doctor’s appointment and to have an impromptu Seibels girls get together. I had SUCH a blast visiting with all my cousins. Margaret, I LOVED hearing the wedding details. You look stunning in the dress but of course you would look stunning in any dress. I just hope Barnes knows what a lucky man he is!!! I’ve counted, and we had a total of 14 girls in the house at one time. Did I mention that the Seibels can only produce girls…really great looking girls J It was so much fun. The next morning we headed to Children’s and then back to Scottsboro.

Charlotte was able to hang out with more family on Sunday. We took a day trip to Murfreesboro with Mike and Mary. First we had a delicious lunch with Mimi, Dada, and Aunt Susan. Charlotte really took a liking to Mimi, but who wouldn’t?! Next we headed to visit Freda which was great, but Becky and Carly were dearly missed. And finally we had a quick visit with KayKay, Bob, Donny and Shelia. Then we hit the road because Charlotte was getting pretty fussy. I feel extremely blessed that my sweet little girl is surrounded by a loving family.

Monday, Ben accompanied Charlotte and me to the Pediatrician for her first round of shots which she handled pretty well. Then we headed to Earth Fare. You know, things have changed when a grocery store gets you more excited than a mall! I love that store though. It makes me feel good. All the fresh, organic foods with nothing over processed or pumped with who knows what. They have so many delicious foods and options that I would NEVER find in Scottsboro. Let’s get real here; I can’t even get organic apples in Scottsboro much less quinoa or Turkish lentils. I stocked up on apples since my parents filled me in on the fact that they are one of the worst for pesticides. I also got organic eggs: say no to hormones. And I even found organic Beef and Turkey jerky which is not only delicious but a great source of the protein I dearly need. Our cart filled up rather quickly. I could have spent hours in there, but after being extremely good Charlotte began to fuss, so we decided to hit the road. I love Earth Fare till I get to the check out line and see the damage I have done to our bank account with my healthy fare. Why does healthy food have to cost an arm and a leg?!!! Here is the really crazy thing though: these days I’d rather buy organic chicken than new shoes!!!!! What is wrong with me….I guess I’m really a mom now. Anywho, it was a fun trip and I’m glad Charlotte’s first venture into a grocery store was one filled with healthy foods.

I’ve gotten all this healthy food but I know my body needs an all around healthy lifestyle, so it is my goal to start exercising again this coming Monday. I hate to begin exercising; there are so many ways to put it off. But I know if I just get off my duff and do it I will feel worlds better. Plus, my every waking (and some times sleeping) moment revolves around Charlotte. I am thinking it might be good to have 30 minutes that are spent on something else. So my plan is to feed Charlotte in the morning, hopefully around 6am or so, hand her off to Ben, and hit the treadmill and not look back until my 30-45min are done. I’ve also been thinking it might be nice to take the yoga class at Shacky’s once a week. Any encouragement or advice on working out while breastfeeding would be greatly appreciated.

Today, Ben is off to watch Auburn play Georgia and I’m here at the house with a baby who has FINALLY gone to sleep…hoping it will last longer than 30min. If she is doing OK we are going walk over to the Rhodes house to watch the game and hang out with Elizabeth, Ann, and the kids. I can’t wait. Being a mom can be very isolating and girl time seems like sheer bliss right now.

………….Geez, she just started crying again………………….

Monday November 15

Well I didn’t want to post the above without telling you the best news of the week and I haven’t had time to do it till now. My brother Henry and sister-in-law Dana gave birth to a beautiful baby girl name Amelia Estes Little. She is going to be called Lia which I think already fits her. She is absolutely beautiful and I cannot wait to meet her!! Really, I have debated driving down to Covington a few times already. Becoming an Aunt and a Mom all in one year is a pretty fabulous thing. We are headed down to Covington for Thanksgiving so I guess I’ll have to wait a bit longer before I get to meet wonderful Lia. I’m SO excited that Charlotte already has a friend. Lia is sure to be one special girl because she has two very special parents whom I love dearly. CONGRATULATIONS HENRY AND DANA!!!!!! GIVE LIA LOTS OF KISSES FROM HER FAMILY IN THE BORO!!!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Light up your face with gladness/ Hide every trace of sadness/ Although a tear may be ever so near/ That's the time you must keep on trying"

I have decided to write my next blog in two parts, because I doubt that Charlotte’s nap or my brain will last long enough to get all my thoughts into one blog.

PART ONE: more on Charlotte’s prognosis

I am not sure if I have told you all this or not…sorry if I am repeating myself. When we discovered that Charlotte had Spina Bifida, the ultra sound revealed a lesion that was thought to be 1cm by 1cm and in the sacral region. It was the most severe form of SB but in the “best” location. To repeat information that I mentioned in earlier blogs; the doctors told us that with a sacral lesion her bowel and bladder would be most affected and the feet would possibly be involved. After Charlotte’s birth, they discovered that the lesion was four times the size they had thought. It sounds a bit shocking, but we knew the ultrasounds were approximations, and many things would be unknown till she was born.

We had our first SB Clinic this past Wednesday. It was a multidisciplinary clinic, meaning we met with most all the doctors that will be involved in Charlotte’s care. Our first appointment was a hip ultrasound, because when Charlotte was discharged the orthopedic doctor saw slight dysplasia in the left hip. We met with the OP doctor who told us her hips looked great. I know I’ve mentioned earlier that she was keeping her feet flexed upward. I thought it was much like her thumbs in that she just had tight shin muscles that needed to be stretched out. This is not the case. The OP doctor explained that Charlotte’s lesion was actually lower lumbar; meaning the nerves that go to her calves are not functioning. He assured us that she would walk but that she would need braces on her shins to keep from rocking forward. He also said there seemed to be a lack of lower back muscle which means she may need canes that attach to the wrist to keep her steady. But how much back muscle she has is still hard to determine since she is so young. He wanted us to continue daily stretching out her ankles so that they do not get into a locked position. They do not like to brace the ankles until the child is starting to pull up because they feel that braces may impede with normal baby development. I want to clarify that these are life long needs. In other words, she will be wearing braces for the rest of her life because it is not that the muscles need strengthening but rather that the muscles are not functioning due to lack of nerve activity.

We also met with neurology who said she was doing very well. But they want us to keep a close watch, because shunt malfunction rate is over 50 percent in the first year. We also discovered that if the shunt malfunctions, it typically takes several replacement surgeries before a new shunt will function properly. Scary to hear but I continue to pray for strength and peace from all these fears. We meet with several other people and then last with the rehabilitation doctor. The rehab doctor agreed with the OP doctor that Charlotte should be able to walk with braces. He did warn us not to go by traditional child development. Charlotte would most likely take longer to walk than the average child (maybe around 2) and would do things at her own pace. It was a long day, and I’m glad that we get a break for 6 months till the next clinic.

Yesterday (Thursday) we went back to Children’s to meet with our Urology doctor and to test Charlotte’s hearing since she failed the first test when she was in the NICU. The Urology test was to assess bladder function and make sure she was not retaining urine, which can be detrimental to the kidneys. Basically, a catheter is inserted in both the anus and urethra. The bladder is then filled with a special liquid and x-rays are taken. The doctor told us that Charlotte can hold an appropriate amount of liquid, and she is not currently retaining. She actually leaks both urine and stool pretty constantly. With her, there is no such thing as a clean diaper but a less dirty diaper. This test is done yearly unless she starts to have urinary tract infections. I honestly thought the test would be miserable, but she handled it all great. In fact, she didn’t flinch. My dad and I have been wondering how much feeling she has at her rectal and urinary openings. Other factors and the test have made it evident that she does not have sensation in these areas, much like her feet. This means I must be vigilant about watching and assessing her because she will not be able to feel if she has issues in these areas. It is like her feet in that if her shoes are too small or she has a splinter she will not know it. After urology we had the hearing screen. It lasted almost two hours because Charlotte had to be totally still with things stuck all over her head and in her ears. She did not like it at all. It was a miserable process, but I’m happy to say that her hearing is just fine.

SB is a discovery. No doctor can tell you exactly how your child will function. We will have to wait to see, and waiting is hard and scary. When we were at the hospital, I saw a beautiful girl around five who had SB. The defect was most likely in a similar area as Charlotte’s, because she could walk but was wearing braces. It was a comfort and hard to see her all at one time. I saw some of my daughter’s possible future. I love Charlotte beyond measure and think she is perfect. I will love her no matter what. I am fully aware that she is blessed. She will walk, she currently does not have to have catheters, she has a huge support system, and she has a loving heavenly Father. But I grieve too. I can’t help but be a little sad that she won’t be able to take ballet, that at some point in her life some one ignorant will probably make fun of her braces, that she will have to work at things most children can do easily, that cartwheels will probably not be in her future. I try not to think about if she will be able to dance at her own wedding. I know that she will surprise me in so many ways. She already has. Her resilience and sweetness take my breath away. I know we will find other hobbies and she will excel in her own way. But for a moment I have to shed some tears.

I am fully aware that God works in miraculous ways. That any child is born is a miracle to me. I would be eternally grateful if God chose to fully heal Charlotte of all her issues. However, I think my role as her mother is to accept the things God has placed in my life. He has given me this wonderful, all together perfect angel baby to care for. My daily bread is Charlotte with Spina Bifida. I am asking Him for wisdom, patience and strength on raising her just as she is. The miracle that I am daily praying for is the battle that Charlotte will one day have. Charlotte probably will not notice that much is “wrong” with her for awhile. But one day she will have the knowledge that in the eyes of medicine she is not whole and perfect, in the eyes of the world she functions differently. She will have a choice to make. She can rail against this body God has given her and think He loves her less because of it. Or, she can choose to accept her body as is and realize that God created her just as He wanted her: “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It will not be an easy thing for a teenager in a world so bent on bodily perfection to do, but it is the miracle I pray for. I pray that her struggle will make her know Christ more fully, and that He will use her to advance His kingdom in mighty ways. Of course, I will be beyond ecstatic if I wake up tomorrow and Charlotte no longer has SB. But the miracle that I am seeking for my daughter is acceptance and heart that loves and seeks to glorify the King of kings.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"To the country I'm going/ Lay and laugh in the sun/ You can bring, bring your guitar along/ We'll sing some songs, we'll have some fun"

It’s that time again….time where I have a few moments to update you all on the daily goings on around here.

We had a very eventful Sunday night (Oct. 17). I’d like to preface the story by telling you all that Charlotte is doing very well. In fact, she is snoozing away on our bed. I’m hoping the nap will last long enough for me to write this blog!! Two Sunday nights ago Charlotte was unusually wakeful. Typical she is starting to snooze pretty good by 7pm, and we put her in her crib at around 8pm. Well, she was so wakeful that it was more like 9pm when Ben went to take her downstairs to bed. I remained in our upstairs bonus room as he headed for the stairs. On his way down he slipped and fell…with Charlotte. He fell back so most of the impact hit his back but it was enough of a fall to knock Charlotte out of his arms and onto the steps. By the time I got there (heart had pretty much stopped), he was getting up and she was still on a step…not crying. When a baby gets hurt or jarred I expect them to cry, in fact I want them to cry. I picked her up. Her arms were rigidly held out from her body, and her eyes were staring at the ceiling. She was nonresponsive, and it was extremely scary. I called my parents who advised me to either call an ambulance or go to the hospital immediately. Charlotte stayed in this odd state for at least five minutes and then fell asleep in the car seat.

I drove to the hospital very fast, and the only words I could utter were “please God” over and over and over. We reached the hospital at about 9:30pm. After telling the doctor and nurses the situation, Charlotte received a physical exam and had to have a CT scan. To make a long story short, at around 1:45pm we were discharged when all exams came back normal. I will say it was the longest 4 hours of my life. My mom, who had driven down very late that night, came with Charlotte and me to a follow up pediatrician appointment the next morning. Our doctor gave her a clean bill of health but told me we did the right thing by taking her to the emergency room.

I have been praying for God to teach me many things, but I did not expect Him to do it through my child. Often I ask Him why it can’t be me, but I will admit that nothing brings me to my knees faster than issues with my daughter. I am daily repeating the verse: “For Thou hast tried us, O God; Thou hast refined us as silver is refined. Thou didst bring us into the net; Thou didst lay an oppressive burden upon our loins…we went through fire and through water; Yet Thou didst bring us into a place of abundance” (Psalm 66:10-12). Unfortunately, I don’t get to choose how I reached the “place of abundance.” I must merely hold all with an open hand and allow God to refine me the way He sees fit. I question God when He involves Charlotte in this refinement, but then I must remember that He created her for this purpose. And it gladdens my heart that Charlotte, who is still so young, has already glorified God.

On a lighter note, I was able to have an incredibly wonderful weekend with my parents. They came up late Thursday night and stayed through Saturday. During this visit, we found that Charlotte has a favorite. Is it her mother who feeds her and gets up in the middle of the night with her??? NOPE. Is it her father who plays with her and helps sooth her when she cries??? NOPE It is Papa (my Dad) who we have also dubbed Baby Hog. Friday morning she smiled like she has NEVER smiled before at him. Her face lighting up with every word he said. My mom and I tried lots of baby talk, but she only had eyes for my dad. We were all pretty jealous, but if she has to like a man she picked a great one!! She has finally started to smile at me more but I still have to work at her grins unlike my father.

Saturday, we all headed up to Gorham’s Bluff for a box lunch. Charlotte was pretty unhappy the whole ride up. She does not like her car seat and will rarely take a pacifier, so road trips are a bit long and stressful at the moment. However, once we arrive I fed her and put her in the Moby where she was happy as a clam. We ate delicious fried chicken and fresh crisp apples on the back porch over looking the valley. We then headed for a little hike which made my mom neurotic when we were any where near a cliff edge. It was wonderful to get away from the house and outside into the beautiful fresh air. I was beginning to get a bit stir crazy cooped up in the house 24-7, and the trip was the perfect antidote.

My parents had to hit the road after our adventure. But I wasn’t too sad, because we are head to B’ham for a doctor visit and then I’m headed to Covington with my mom for the WEEK!!! I’m so excited. We are going to have a late celebration of my brother’s birthday, sew Christmas stockings for Charlotte and Lia, and I’m even going to get my hair cut which I haven’t done in months. Oh, and I forgot; Charlotte’s first Halloween will be in Covington. She is going to be a ballerina because I’m in love with her TuTu. We’ll be getting back into town Nov. 4. The following Monday she gets her first round of shots which mean FREEDOM. Not that we’ll be gallivanting around town all day, but it will be nice not to be quite so house bound.

I hope everyone has a fun Halloween…I’m hoping to eat ridiculous amounts of candy!

P.S. I forgot to say that my Chunky Monkey was a whopping 9 lb at her pediatrician’s appointment. This growing up stuff happens way too fast.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Give thanks with a grateful heart, Give thanks to the Holy One"

Another blog written while Charlotte sleeps on my chest. Things haven’t changed much since my last blog, except my perspective. I want to thank all of you who responded to my last post. Your words were so encouraging. To know that each of you raised your children in different ways and they are all thriving is so comforting.

I’m realizing that I’m in a new season of my life, and with each new season comes changes. I was fighting the fact that my days couldn’t follow my old schedule. Now I realize that this new season is filled with so many blessings, and I need to enjoy them. This past week I spent some great time with Charlotte, playing instead of vacuuming. I relaxed with Ben at night instead of worrying about laundry, and I spent time praising God for how much He has blessed me. I tried rejoicing instead of complaining. I also realized that there are many qualities of a Godly wife that I can do now because they do not require time but heart changes. I am praying to be more patient, seeking Godly wisdom even in the mundane tasks, trying to support and lift up my husband, striving to find joy in the small things, and asking God to reveal the areas in my life that still need to be broken.

This week I didn’t get tons done, but I tried to quit being bogged down and take comfort in the few accomplishments I did make. Those small accomplishments were mainly limited to feeding, soothing, bathing, playing, and loving on Charlotte. However, I did manage a major grocery run and a few dinners. I made the decision to buy organic chicken. I know, big step for me, especially since the meat ran at least $5 more. I decided that if I purchased the organic version, I would have to find a way to “make up” or recoup the extra spending. Well, I typically eat a sandwich everyday for lunch and buy prepackaged deli meat. This meat is not cheap and is packed with sodium. So, I cooked an organic fryer to use for sandwich meat and to make chicken salad. The carcass is still in the fridge because I plan on making bone stock. Homemade bone stock is not only cheaper but also filled with more flavor and best of all more nutrients.

My healthy cooking efforts also extended to sweet potato chili. I am sure some of you are thinking the combo sounds odd. But here was my thinking: I was looking for recipes that were relatively cheap and easy to make while being healthy and good sources of protein. It’s a lot to ask of a recipe, but I have to say the chili met the bill and tasted great to boot. Next week I’m going to do some grilled chicken and roasted cauliflower, and maybe some Brussels sprouts for diversity. If anyone has some recipes that fit my above criteria, I’d love to here them!!!

Before I go, or more correctly before Charlotte starts to demand food, I’d like to share a praise. The other day I was feeding Charlotte. Often while I do this, I stretch her feet out because she is keeping them flexed in at all times. I started tickling her leg, and there it was: MOVEMENT in her big toe on her left leg. I tickled her again to make sure there was actual movement and I wasn’t just seeing what I wanted, and YES it moved again. Near to tears, I ran upstairs to show Ben!! Some of you might think “calm down Ess; it is just a toe.” But I have never seen her toes wiggle like normal little babies do and didn’t know if I ever would. She does not respond to me touching her feet. Hopefully, this new movement will continue to get stronger. It is a very small movement, but to me it’s a huge miracle. That is one of the things I love about being Charlotte’s mom. I feel like I’m experiencing miracles daily. Every new thing she does amazes me, and I praise God for His “fearfully and wonderfully made” creation. Just the other day I was reading my bible out loud while Charlotte slept in my lap. All of the sudden I heard her giggle in her sleep. It was the best sound I have ever heard.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"We can't see what's ahead/ And we can not get free from what we've left behind"

Well, I had planned on writing this blog yesterday, but fatigue, laundry, and the demands of a baby kept me at bay. I had planned on writing this blog earlier today, but thank you notes, gathering addresses, and once again, the demands of a baby kept me from the plan. Ah, the best laid plans, right?? Charlotte is currently napping on my chest as I try to barely reach the keyboard and type. This is not the optimal situation, but every time I have moved her from napping on my body to some other area she has lasted about five minutes before wailing. Some might say let her cry. Well, I am weak and guilt motivated, and she is entirely too cute. So, I just pick her right back up and give her what she wants. Lord help me when I have to start disciplining this child, because right now I’m a total push over!

We’ve been doing well this last week. Charlotte made her first trip to Covington to see her Little grandparents. She seemed to greatly enjoy her time. She hardly slept a wink during the day for all the exciting activity. I was also able to attend a shower for my sister-in-law Dana while I was there. My first social outing was great. Many of the same women who hosted the shower for me where hosting this one, and they once again out did themselves. The food was divine and the fall décor was stunning. I left Charlotte in the care of Ben, my father, my grandfather, and my brother Henry. Four men and a baby is pretty scary, right??? But, she seemed fine when I got home, so I’ll deem them responsible babysitters J

After our wonderful weekend in Covington, Mary, Charlotte and I headed to the pediatrician for Charlotte’s one month check up. She was doing great and weighing in at a whopping 7lb 9oz. I swear she has had a growth spurt this week because for six days straight she was demanding to be fed every 2 hours!!! Now I love my little girl, but this is a lot of feeding. It flat wore me out. The little chub-O finally seemed to slow down while visiting with her Bratton grandparents and great grands in Hollywood.

Maybe I am speaking to soon. She has just started making sucking noises and is now awake and crying, and it has been exactly two hours since her last feeding!!!! Oh goodness, will my life always be limited to 30min intervals in between feedings!!!!!!!!!!!!


An hour and a half later: Well, after feeding and bathing Charlotte, feeding Ben and myself, and losing a bit of hair in the process (she has quite a death grip) I’m back to finish what I stared.

This is going to make some of you laugh. I had read Baby Wise before Charlotte was born and thought it made great sense and was determined it would be our feeding method. Hahahahaha. Surgery, days in the NICU and low birth weight seemed to ruin those plans. I flipped through it the other night to see if I was doing anything right, nope. Actually that is how I feel a lot these days, like I just can’t do it right. I don’t know; maybe all new moms feel this angst. Baby Wise confirms that my feeding methods leave much to be desired.

I have also been reading Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow. I started reading it to try to get on the right path to becoming the wife and mother that God has called me to. The book is great and very convicting, but often times after reading it I feel like a failure. I wonder why I can’t do all those things that make it into the author’s week (she has three children btw). She exhorts women to spend time with God (memorize scripture, bible reading, prayer), revere their spouse (write them letters, date nights), spend quality time with children (do crafts, play), keep an orderly house (clean and plan time wisely), maintain self (exercise ones body and mind), and devote time to others (volunteer, church programs). Now, I agree with all this but am utterly overwhelmed by trying to accomplish it. I have trouble getting out of PJs and into real clothes some days. I always feel insufficient and guilty. If I’m playing with Charlotte, I wonder if I should really be cleaning the bathroom. If I’m writing thank you notes, I wonder if I should go play with Charlotte. If I’m chilling with Ben at night, I think about how I should be ironing laundry. Also, I know full well that God does not get the time He deserves, though I am working on that. As I’m blogging, I’m wondering if I should be using my time in other ways.

I know that we can not do anything God call us to on our own. I’m praying and trying to lean on Christ but still end up feeling that hardly any of the things I wanted to get accomplished happen in a day. When you are feeding a baby every two hours you have maybe 45minutes in between, and even if it is every three hours you only have about 1hr and 15min to accomplish all the tasks at hand. The time between feedings seems to slip through my fingers and I have no clue what happens to it. Not to mention that I’m typically exhausted most of the day. I really want to start working out and getting back into shape, but how on earth do I find the energy to do that??? Am I just lazy???

I have friends with children and I read blogs of mothers who seem to be doing all this. Am I just missing the boat??? I’d love some tips from you moms out there. How do you all delight in God, submit to your husband in love, wisely raise your children, look nice, keep an orderly home, and give to others? ANY advice would be much appreciated. I think some times I just worry too much. I have an emotional battle every time I buy chicken wondering if I should spend the extra on organic or be frugal and buy the stuff pumped with hormones; either choice I make I’ll leave wondering if I acted wisely.

Don’t misunderstand. I love this new role of motherhood and wouldn’t trade it for all the designer shoes in Saks J. Charlotte is such a joy. I can’t believe she is 6 weeks old today. The time goes by way too fast. I just desperately want to raise Charlotte in a home that glorifies God and am wondering the how to apply the traits of the Godly woman in proverbs to my life.

The following song has really spoken to me lately:

HARD to GET by Rich Mullins

You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love
And who get hardened by the hurt

Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away
Well I memorized every word You said

Still I'm so scared, I'm holding my breath
While You're up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then

Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You're up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained

And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I figured this, somehow
All I really need to know

Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret

I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Be still and know that He is God/ Be still and know that He is holy/ Be still, O restless soul of mind"

Finally, Fall has arrived!!! Charlotte, Lilly, and I took a wonderful stroll this morning to bask in the crisp air. I have to say that trying to walk Lilly and push the stroller can be a bit difficult, but it was worth it. The movement puts little Char right to sleep, but I think she likes the fresh air. Ben and I ate lunch on the porch and I put her in her bouncer outside, which she seemed to enjoy greatly.

I meant to tell you all about our UAB visit before now, but the days seem to go by so fast. We went September 20th to Children’s Hospital, so that Charlotte could have a CAT scan to check the ventricle size. Ben and I packed up and headed to Birmingham on Monday morning. We stopped at my Grandparent’s house to eat lunch and let Charlotte meet more of the family. It was such a great time, and my sweet amazing grandmother had prepared things she knew I love: lady peas and a huge fruit salad. I have such awesome family. We then headed to the hospital. I, of course, was nervous as always, but God reminded me of the futility of my anxiety by providing us with a great report. The neurosurgeon informed us that the ventricles had indeed gone down and that all her incisions looked great. And she was up to 6lb 6oz already. The Great Physician has provided, and provided. Why do I worry when such a merciful and mighty God is in control? Our next visit to Children’s is Oct. 27 for an all day affair. I am going back to Birmingham before that (Oct. 8) to attend a seminar on Spina Bifida. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.

While I’m on the subject of hospitals and such, I’d like to inform everyone on Charlotte’s latex issues. Children with SB have such a high incidence of latex allergies that they are treated as if they have the allergy, whether we know or not. It’s often called latex precautions. Basically, we have to act like Charlotte is allergic even though we don’t know and keep things containing natural rubber latex (NRL) away from her. I thought latex was many in some hospital supplies but have found that it is in a lot of house hold products. Even things I would never guess, like newspaper print, gum, Band-Aids, pacifiers, and many toys. I have spent a fair amount of time researching items I have purchased or intended to purchase to make sure they do not contain latex. It can be difficult because often the packaging does not say, so I have had to call manufacturers. Like most allergies the first reaction is usually not as severe and often forms a rash. However, continuing exposure causes increasingly worse reactions. I wanted to make family and friends aware of this issue, so we can all try to keep these products away from her.

Now on to life at home…

I really can’t believe we have been home for two weeks and Charlotte is now 4 weeks old. Thursday she will be a month old!!! Well, I survived my mom leaving, though I still miss her desperately and call her all the time. Last week Charlotte and I had some rough moments, but I think we are both getting better at figuring each other out. Tuesday of last week she kept crying, and I was feeling like such a failure. It was one of those moments where she was crying, I was crying, and I was wishing she could just tell me what was the matter. But I finally got her settled down and after talking with my mom and my friend Ann I realized that those kinds of days are normal. Charlotte has bad days just like I do.

The nights have been a little longer as well. That first week with my mom, Charlotte was great. She never fussed going to bed and slept a solid four hours between feedings. I think she was still fatigued from her tough first weeks of life. Now she has bad nights of crying and sometimes only sleeps two hours between feedings. One night recently, I knew she was extremely tired, but every time I tried to put her down she would start crying. I proceeded to call my mom for her all knowing advice. My mom asked me if I had let Charlotte “cry it out”. I proceeded to say yes. She then asked me how long I had let her cry. I replied, “A little under a minute.” I know many of you moms are laughing right now at my definition of letting her cry it out! My mom told me I could let her go a bit longer than a minute and hooray, it worked. She cried and then went right to sleep. This doesn’t always work but on many occasions she just needs to cry for a minute or two before conking out.

The long nights can be pretty fatiguing. Today, I was so tempted to crawl back into bed and almost did…but then she started crying. Alas, I think that is just how it goes in motherhood. Some nights I think “how am I going to make it through?” And then I go to her crib and see my tiny little baby and think, “Well duh, I can do this, I mean look at how fabulous she is.” I’m still exhausted, but she is so cute looking at me with those massive eyes that the 2am diaper change doesn’t seem so bad. I am convinced that that is why God made babies so adorable: so their mom’s would think all those sleepless nights were worth it!!! And how can I complain? I prayed and prayed that she would be a good breast feeder and that she would start packing on the pounds…well ounces. So, if she wants to feed every two hours one night then I should be saying “thank you God” every time I hear here start to cry.

She was pretty tired Monday, because we had several visitors this past weekend. My brother Will and his girlfriend Nadia came Friday and spent the night. It was their first time to meet Charlotte. It was so much fun to have them. Charlotte even let me make it through most of dinner before demanding to be held. I knew Will would make a wonderful Uncle, and he is already so good with her. She loves faces, and I think Nadia’s was fun for her to see. Unlike her pale, blond mom, Nadia is tan with beautiful long, dark hair which seemed to fascinate Charlotte. They left way to soon Saturday morning but we are hoping they come again soon. Justin, Faith, and their daughter Sadie came by later Saturday. How great it was to visit with them, and it was wonderful to have a toddler in the house. It was funny because Sadie did not like her mom holding Charlotte. However, Faith is expecting, so she is hoping that the jealousy is not lasting. I loved seeing Sadie so active and verbal. I still can’t get over the fact that before I know it Charlotte will be there too.

Late Saturday afternoon my grandparents from Dalton came for a visit. After all the morning activities Charlotte slept like a rock in Grammie’s arms. It was wonderful to visit with them and introduce them to their first girl great-grandchild. (though they will have another one in November-Yeah Lia!) I feel so blessed to still have both sets of Grandparents and have them be a part of Charlotte’s life. With Sunday, came another round of visitors. Ben’s grandparents (MiMi and DaDa) and his Aunt Susan came to meet the newest addition to the Barber family. It was another fabulous visit. Charlotte seemed to love the company, and I definitely did. She even tried to stay awake for most of their visit. Every time Charlotte is with extended family, I realize how blessed our family is. We are surrounded by so much love and many, many, prayers. There are still some family members she has yet to meet, and I’m looking forward to more introductions.

You all have been so faithful to pray and encourage Ben and me. Thank you. I’d love your continued prayers for the three of us, but I’d also like to ask you to pray for some friends of ours. Michelle Clark passed away suddenly Sunday evening leaving behind a husband, two young sons, and much family who loved her dearly. She was a member of the Thompson family, all of whom I love dearly. I have cried often these past few days thinking about her family and the great sorrow that surrounds them now. My heart goes out to her sons and husband. I cannot begin to imagine the despair. I find myself asking “Why God?” She was so young, and she had children. I often don’t understand the path that God is leading us on, but I know He is sovereign and good in all things. I am trusting Him to provide for this family that I love. I ask that you pray for Michelle’s family to find peace when life does not make sense, to find comfort when despair is drowning them, to find hope when all seems dark, to feel God’s presence. You all have been such faithful prayer warriors for me, and I ask that you do the same for this family.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Homeward bound, Home where my thought's escaping, Home where my music's playing, Home where my love lies waiting silently for me"

Has it really been a week home with Charlotte?! I’m having a hard time believing it. As many of you know, we “roomed-in” at Children’s Hospital with Charlotte last Wednesday. It was not the best night/day of our lives. For most of Thursday morning/afternoon, we thought we were going to have to stay another night…and Ben and I weren’t taking this news well at all. But, God in His grace allowed the doctors to OK our departure. Oh the relief!! Our baby girl would be outside for the first time in her life, and then she would get to see her home. We stopped by my grandparent’s house on the way out, so I could feed her before the rest of our journey. Thank you Granny and Granddaddy! My wonderful grandparents opened up their home to us for two weeks. They gave us a comfy bed, many meals, and encouraging company. It was the hardest two weeks of my life, but I can’t imagine how it would have been had we not had their home as a resting place. God has blessed me with some amazing family!

We finally left Birmingham around 5pm. Charlotte was wonderful during the journey. The car seat seems to lull her to sleep. We arrive at our house with a wonderful greeting committee of Mike, Mary, Beth, my mom, and Lilly (our pup). Charlotte let me show her a little bit of the house before breaking down and demanding to be fed. That night, my mom convinced me to let Charlotte sleep in the crib promising that she would listen out for her. It made me a bit nervous (she looks so tiny compared to that big crib), but I knew I needed rest and that Charlotte was in great hands. The night passed with no surprises and a few sleepy feedings.

My wonderful mom agreed to stay with me for the week. How will I ever repay her?!! She says I’ll pay it forward; do this for Charlotte one day. She has been amazing, and Ben and I are pretty sad and scared that we only have one more day with her help. We always need our parents no matter how old we are. I really don’t know what I would have done without my parents through this trial. They have been such a comfort and source of strength for me. I love you more than words can ever hope to express, Mom and Dad!! My hope is that Charlotte will feel the same love, comfort, and security from Ben and me that I felt with my own parents.

Friday, my wonderful mother accompanied me to the Pediatrician’s office for Charlotte’s first check-up. Her discharge weight was 5lb 10oz and I was hoping that it was close to the same since it had only been a day. The nurse placed her on the scale and she weighed 4lb 9oz. I thought I was going to throw up!!! My mom gave me a look that said “something’s not right.” The Pediatrician checked her and then noticed the weight discrepancy. He assured me that even if I had not fed her at all she couldn’t lose a pound in a day. He then proceeded to weigh her again, she was a nice 5lb 12oz and I felt SO much better. I have worried and worried over her weight and eating habits. That is the hard thing about breastfeeding, I have no idea how much she is actually getting. We go back to the Pediatrician tomorrow to check weight gain. I’m hoping she is at least up to her birth weight of 5lb 15oz. I antagonize a good deal over it, but my mom keeps assuring me that she is looking chubbier and has plenty of dirty diapers.

Speaking of dirty diapers…Charlotte is a “good” baby. She is not super fussy, seems to sleep well, and is fairly predictable with feedings. However, she HATES having her diaper changed. She screams like mad most of the time, which usually forces a little more poop out. The other day it landed straight in my hand!! I think she did it on purpose. :) The only thing that will half way calm her is if we place her on her side. She feels the same about bath time which merely consists of a sponge bath. She is extremely unhappy till we place her on her stomach, and then it is like a switch, calm again. It’s funny how you think you will train your children but before you even realize it, they have trained you.

Another fun fact we have found out about Miss Charlotte is her ease with Lilly. Lilly does not particularly like Charlotte just yet. Really, Lilly is scared of her because of the crying, and I would say she is pretty jealous of all the attention Charlotte receives. However, Charlotte is doing fine with Lilly. Many things will startle her, but Lilly’s constant barrage of barks seems to have little or no effect on Charlotte. This is wonderful to me, because I was extremely worried about how nap time would play out with a dog in the house. I honestly think that Lilly will be a wonderful source of entertainment for Charlotte as she gets older.

I am greatly enjoying life at home. Many have asked me if the change is overwhelming. I have to say that even though life with a baby is a HUGE adjustment (selfishness kinda gets ripped out of you) it’s so much better than the weeks in the hospital. Yes, I am often exhausted from middle of the night feedings, but I’m getting so much more sleep than I did while in Birmingham that I really can’t complain. I’m sure there will be moments that make me frantic. I have no grandiose idea that the road ahead will be easy, but every time I look at her I know that every sleepless night and stressful day are worth it.

Ben said the other night that he still has a hard time believing we are parents. It’s funny; I have fully realized that I am mom to a wonderful baby girl. What I can’t wrap my mind around is that this little baby will grow into a walking toddler, a teenager, an adult. I am scared half to death of her getting older, though everyone keeps assuring me that every part of the journey is fun. I thought before I had children that I really wouldn’t enjoy the “baby phase.” I thought I’d find it boring and be longing for a time when my child was old enough to do crafts and such. I was wrong. I love having a baby. She is so innocent and dependent on Ben and me. I think this is why women have more children; because their child grows up and they miss the sweet simplicity of a baby. I’m sure there will be many moments when I’m praying for her to be old enough to sleep through the night, or tell me why she is crying. But for now, I find this sweet little baby filling my life with such joy.

We are headed back to Children’s on Monday. We will meet with our Neurologist, and Charlotte will have another CAT scan to check the ventricles in her brain. Hopefully, their size will be greatly reduced and the shunt will be performing to standard. I’ll try to keep you all posted with the news.

As always, I thank you for your encouragement, compassion, and prayers. I kept telling my mom and Ben at the hospital, “How am I ever going to thank everyone enough for all their support?” I realize that there aren’t the words to fully express our gratitude. May God bless you for all that you have done. Ben and I have truly seen the love and compassion of Christ displayed in your lives.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"I get on my knees/ There I am before the love that changes me/ see I don't know how but there's power/ when I get on my knees"

Sunday 4pm
I’m trying to type the world’s fastest blog before I am off to the hospital again. Thursday, after I was discharged we headed off to Children’s for a quick visit with Charlotte. She was doing well though still a bit groggy. At that nights visitation we found out that she might be having the shunt surgery the next morning. I knew all along that this would most likely be the case, but it still was hard. She already had a long incision down her back and bruising from multiple IVs. It just seemed too much to ask this little thing to endure another major surgery. I was a mess most of the night trying to grapple with the reality of another surgery. It is hard to hand your child over to God’s full care even though you know His love for them is infinite. I prayed and prayed for strength and courage for myself and for protection for Charlotte. I know so many of you were praying as well, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday morning we found out that the shunt would indeed take place, and we headed off to the hospital at 9am. Ben warned me that Charlotte would be upset because she had not been fed since midnight due to surgery. It was so hard to see her in such distress and be totally helpless, but I knew in my heart that she was in the care of the Great Physician. We followed her down to surgery and then began the waiting process. The surgery went faster than the first, and eventually Dr. Wellens (our wonderful surgeon) came to tell us that she had done well. When I heard the news I broke down once again in relief. I wondered and have continued to wonder how I can ever thank God enough for His mercy. It is endless. Friday night I was actually able to try to feed her (holding her on her side). It was a bit overwhelming for both of us because we were both new to the game but we had some success.

Saturday was a bit better in terms of feeding, but I was utterly exhausted by the end of the night. I know so many of you have probably wondered why I haven’t called or written a blog sooner, but the days seem to be jam packed. My day usually goes from pumping early, then to the hospital till 2pm, then lunch, then pumping, then maybe a 30min break maybe not, then back to the hospital till 10pm. I don’t want to miss a second with my girl. I still choke up every time I see her at the beginning of a visit and when I have to leave. It takes my mom and Ben holding me back not to attend the visitation from 12am till 6am. But they are right; I have to take care of myself so I can fully take care of her.

Speaking of care, I have learned a bit more about how to provide for her these last two days. She is latching on and feeding much better and I’ve figured out more about reading her stats and knowing which leads go where. I’ve also been trying to change her diaper as much as possible because this is a major process. She has to have a fair amount of care in this area because the incision is so close to her bottom. The problem we are facing right now is a bad reaction to the “mud flap” (a plastic flap used to keep stool off her incision). She is developing a bad rash which a nurse warned us can become quite irritated and even bleed. Compared to everything else she has been through I guess it doesn’t seem like much, but I feel like she has already gone through plenty. Please pray that this issue would resolve itself. The other part of her care that I have not learned yet is the In and Out Catheterization. We are hoping that she doesn’t have to have this at home, but it is a definite possibility. Good news is that Charlotte has not had to have them as frequently as of late.

We are hoping that if things continue to go well we might be able to start the rooming in process. This just means we stay at the hospital a night and they teach and train us on Charlotte’s care. Ben and I are both so excited to bring her home though of course we want her to be fully ready. We can’t wait to show her off. However, she has had a rough beginning and we ask that those of you who plan of visiting please refrain for awhile if you have any type of cold or contagious illness. We are also asking that those of you who visit please apply antibacterial lotion before touching or holding her. We will provide it as that is all we seemed to be putting on our hands these days. We are trying to take as many precautions as possible since she is still in a fragile state.

I want to thank you all for your compassion, support, prayers, friendship, and the many things you have done for Ben and me. God has truly blessed us. I don’t know how to thank you properly or enough but know that I appreciate everything from the bottom of my heart, as does Ben.

Sunday 10:45pm
Just got back from the hospital. I was able to feed her around 5pm which was great though she was fussy. Beth, my sister-in-law was able to come which was wonderful. She was able to see Charlotte in a more alert setting. Unfortunately, Beth was not able to hold her because now the only time she can be held is during a feeding. This is so that she can be on her stomach with no diaper covering her rash to allow it to heal faster.

After feeding and changing her I headed back to my Grandmother’s for a quick supper. I wanted to get back to the hospital fairly quickly because our nurse was going to let me bath her. The bath was good for me to learn to do but very miserable for Charlotte who bawled the whole time. After the bath I was able to feed her again. She seemed to eat well though she stayed fussy the entire time. And when we left she was still crying. It was absolutely miserable to leave with her still crying; it broke my heart. We think it is due to the fact that she has to be back on her stomach and the rash on her bottom is causing her pain. However, I fear that I didn’t feed her well enough, or that she is getting sick, or maybe I’m just not doing well at mothering. It is so hard to leave and not know why your baby is upset and not be able to sooth them. I am hoping that tomorrow morning she is doing better and that we get a positive report from all the doctors. As far as coping tonight, I’m going to try and trust God to take care of her like He has done so lovingly thus far. “Be anxious for nothing”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Oh where you lay your head tonight, we'll roll away alone, and close on down"

Quick updates while I have a moment. My c-section went well, though I can say it was not my favorite experience. They whisked Charlotte off to another room, but I could hear her cries through the door and how that made my heart sing; to know she was alive and breathing. During my surgery they brought her in for a moment so I could see her. She was perfection in my eyes. So cute with chubby cheeks and a head FULL of hair!!! They finished my surgery around 11:30am, and then I headed to recovery.

I couldn’t wait to get feeling back to my legs, so I could start the process of getting up to get to my girl. They got me to a postpartum room, and I finally got to see her again around 4:30 pm. It was wonderful. However, my day got much harder from there. We found out she would not have surgery till the following morning around 10am, and that she would be in the NICU at Children’s; not UAB where I was. This was quite a blow, because I had planned for her to be in the NICU here at UAB. It is not only just a floor away, but extremely nice with private rooms and 22 hour access. Ben informed me that Children’s NICU was a large room and the visitation hours were much more limited. This was extremely hard to find out the night before Charlotte was to have surgery.

After hearing the news, I started to get upset. This set off a very painful set of events. I’d been having sharp pains in my neck for awhile, but when I started to cry they continued to my right rib cage and made breathing a struggle. Much later with oxygen, several nurses, Ben, and my parents with me things began to calm down. My Father thought I probably had some blood in the area that was making it spasm and the neck pain was referred pain. My parents left so that I could try to get some rest. Sleep didn’t really come and around 3am I began to shake horribly (much like I did during my surgery). I tried to breath calmly knowing if I didn’t it would exacerbate my lung issues. My stats went a bit haywire so they took me off my liquid IV and did a chest x-ray. When they took me off IV I felt much better soon after. Things seemed to be getting under control. But at around 5am they did a CAT scan which sent me my chest back into spasm mode.

All this was very hard, because I knew I needed sleep in order to recover quickly so that my doctors would give me a pass to see Charlotte. That morning my parents came, and once I was feeling better my mom headed to Children’s with Ben while my Dad stayed with me so that I could sleep. I got some much needed rest (thank you Dad, you are the best…my hero) but the day stilled dragged on as we waited on the result of Charlotte’s surgery. Ben finally called me to tell me that all went well. I lost it. It was partly from relief, but mostly the fact that I still couldn’t see her and view with my own eyes that she was OK. It seemed that everyone else was getting to see her and hear her prognosis from the doctors but me. I had carried her for nine months with no separation, and now she seemed a million miles away. And on top of it all I couldn’t cry or my chest would spasm. Fortunately, my dad was there to let me cry however I could and pat me, tell me “no it isn’t fair”, but remind me I would get to see her in a few hours. Once again Dad, you are my hero. I don’t know what I would have done with out you during this process.

Finally I was able to make it to Children’s around 6pm. I not only got to see her but to have her in my lap. She has to stay on her stomach for quite awhile so I had the Boppy pillow around me with her laid across it. Those hours meant the world to me. It seems like these past few days have been both the hardest and best of my life. I can’t get over how beautiful she is. I know by medical standards she has complications, but in her mommy’s eyes there could be nothing more prefect. She is so sweet. She hardly fussed at all while I held her, and she much preferred her face in my hand rather than on the pillow. I wish I could better express the love in my heart for her but I guess all you parents out there know the feeling. It’s a love that you can never fully comprehend or express, but one that makes you better understand the Father’s love for His children.

“Oh my soul rejoice!”

*I wrote the above early yesterday morning but have been unable to post. I wanted to share a few more things.

Right now it is Thursday morning and I am packing up so that I can head to Children’s’ as soon as I am discharged. The visitation hours in the morning are from 9am to 2pm. Unfortunately, I will probably not be able to leave the hospital till around 12pm if I am lucky. This means I miss most of visitation which is killer to me. Every time I have gone to Children’s I’ve had to get a pass from the doctor which takes a VERY long time, so we haven’t gotten to be with her for a full visitation yet.

However, the moments I have had have been wonderful. Last night’s visitation was especially great, because Ben was able to have her in his lap (on the pillow of course). And, seeing her with her daddy meant so much to me. She was so tiny and content under his gaze. I also read her some poetry that I love. My mom swears she recognizes my voice because her eye brows move around when I talk to her. She also seems to like my touch which of course makes me insanely happy. I didn’t want to leave last night (even though I was already close to an hour over my pass limit) because as we were leaving she became so alert. This seems to happen before she eats and then sleep quickly follows after she has food in her tummy. I get so excited when we make eye contact. I know I don’t get to be with her as much as the normal mother and child, so I desperately want her to know me; to know that her father and I are the ones who love her the very most. It’s probably irrational but I worry that she’ll start to think one of the nurses is mom. I told my mom yesterday that it will be awhile before I’ll be able to let others hold her for extended periods of time because I am going to want to make up for all the time I’ve missed.

I’m feeling better now. Those first few days were very hard and I still get extremely worn out but I’m trying to take care of myself and eat solid meals. I know the most important thing I can do for Charlotte is give her milk, so I’m trying to make that happen. We are keeping our fingers crossed that I can begin feeding her Friday, but there are no definite answers yet. Thanks again for all the sweet comments and most especially all the prayers. We are still looking at another possible surgery tomorrow for the shunt, so we’d love if y’all would continue to pray for Charlotte.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I pray you'll be in my eyes/ And watch her where she goes

I pray you'll be my eyes
And watch her where she goes
And help her to be wise
Help me to let go

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

I pray she finds your light
And holds it in her heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind her where you are

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide her with your grace
Give her faith so she'll be safe

Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

Dear Charlotte,

You will be here so soon. How my arms long to hold you. How my eyes long to see your face. How my ears long to hear you cry for me. How my mouth longs to speak words of love to you. How my heart longs to know that you will be ok.

I have prayed for you before you even came to be. I am so thankful that God has granted the desires of my heart; that in just a few more days I will have you as my child. My love for you is greater than I knew existed, and I know it will only grow with each passing day.

When you skin your elbow and children say unkind things to you, your daddy and I are here. When you get sick and your tummy hurts, we will try to make things better. When school gets hard and the days seem long, Daddy and I will do our best to help. When friends are caddy and life gets you down, we will be right here to hold you and brush away your tears. We love you, and that will never change.

But as much as I want you to have an easy, carefree childhood, filled with happy days; my heart's desire for you is that your life would be one lived to glorify God. In your darkest hour it is He who can raise you out of the pit of sin and despair. Your father and I will always be here for you, but we know that only Christ can satisfy the deepest longings of your heart. I pray that you will know His love at a young age and cling to Him for strength. I want you to live a long, full life: to get married and have children and grandchildren. But regardless of when your life on earth is over, I want you to hear: "well done my good and faithful servant."

Charlotte, your father and I love you and are longing to me you. We will mess up many times; please forgive us. We are praying that God would light our path on this journey through parenthood, so that we could be what He desires you to have.

All the love in our hearts,
Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"For the times they are a-changin' "

Last Wednesday, I had a check up with my OB in Huntsville. Normally these are very quick, non-eventful visits. However, I had a bit of a scare, because I had not only lost a few pounds but my stomach measurement had dropped by a few weeks. I started to immediately panic that Charlotte had lost weight and they would make me go in for an emergency c-section. God is sovereign and good, and after an ultra sound to check out Charlotte’s progress, they told me she was now up to 5 lb 7 oz!!!! I know these are all estimates but I was proud of my little girl. I contribute her wonderful weight gain to the chocolate molten cake with s’more ice cream I devoured the night before!!! Maybe she will be up to 6 lb by the time she is born.

After the doctor’s visit I headed to Covington for a few nights. I had some errands to run in Atlanta (a few more things to purchase for my hospital stay) and thought a trip home would be nice. It was wonderful to hang out with my parents, Henry, and Dana for a few days. The real bonus was getting to see all that Dana has done for Lia’s nursery. It is wonderful!!! The wall color is so soothing, but then there are brighter colors that any child would love. And the rug is the softest thing you have ever put your feet on. Dana has also painted a fair amount of the furniture which turned out fantastic. I’m jealous of this talent because my one attempt to paint furniture turned out rather pitiful. The crib wasn’t up yet but the room still looked amazing. I absolutely cannot wait to see it with sweet Lia inside!!!! Hopefully, Henry will post some pictures on his blog when it is finished.

My other favorite part of my trip home was a delicious dinner I enjoyed with everyone on Thursday night. Poor Ben, I haven’t been much of a cook as of late and wish he could have been with me to enjoy it all. My mom made a scrumptious artichoke and chicken dish and my brother brought a beautiful strawberry roulade for dessert. He is an excellent chef, and it seems every dish he makes is perfection. That night I said goodbye to Henry and Dana for the last time before Charlotte’s arrival. It was definitely a reality check. My heart pounded out of my chest as they drove away and I realized the next time I saw them would be with a baby!!! How quickly time passes. As I lay in my bed that night so many memories flooded me. Was it really so many years ago when Will, Henry, and I were riding through rain puddles on our bikes? When the three of us were climbing the fence to get to the pound behind our house? When we were fighting over which Saturday morning cartoons to watch? It just doesn’t seem that long ago when Henry and I were playing in leaf piles and now we’re about to be parents. It is wild to think I will be experiencing so many of these events from a mother’s perspective soon. It reminds me of words from one of our favorite movies as children: “The greatest adventure is what lies ahead. Today and tomorrow are yet to be said. The chances, the changes are all yours to make. The mold of your life is in your hands to break.” Here’s to “the greatest adventure” and the many that lie ahead!!!

Ben and I had another weekend at home which was great since they have been such a rarity this summer. We had a divine dinner with the Barber’s Friday night. Thank you, thank you Ann!!! Your house was lovely (as always), the meal was delicious, the fellowship was wonderful, and I am sorry we kept y’all up so late but we had such a great time. Thank you!!! Saturday, Ben and I both had the “nesting” instinct going on and were able to clean his car, sort books, move games to a new spot, and clean the garage. I have to give Ben full credit for the garage which had gotten to the point of ridiculous (mostly my fault) and now makes us both smile when we see how organized it is. Sunday, was a wonderful end to the weekend with a very powerful sermon by Steve and I was happy to have communion before Charlotte’s arrival. We also got to go over to Beth and Graham’s house which was tons of fun. She has done more decorating and arranging since I was there last and the house looks wonderful. I’m especially in love with a group of pug pictures she has in her library/sitting room. We were also able to eat lunch at Grill 29 which is one of my favorites. It is so nice to have family in the same town!!!

This might be a bit too much info for any guys that read my blog but I’m going to share anyway!!! Monday night Ben and I went to a movie with his parents and afterward I noticed I was a bit sore. Kind of like cramps but I didn’t think much of it. Tuesday morning I had my last OB visit in Huntsville. They decided to do a test which checks the baby’s heart rate, movement, and contractions. Of course, whenever I have any testing done I get nervous about how things are going. I was hooked up to monitors and told to press a button every time I felt Charlotte move. Her movement has always been a concern to me because she can be a bit sedentary, and with a first time pregnancy it’s very hard to know what is “normal.” I was left to do this for twenty minutes. It seemed like two hours. After a little while my Doctor came in to look at the results. She would have like to have seen more variance in Charlotte heart rate but I think since my c-section is schedule so soon it is not a huge concern. The other thing she asked was if I could feel all these contractions I was having. WHAT?!!! I thought they were just some painful jabs from Charlotte. I have to say when she showed me how regular they were I began to think I might be driving down to UAB and having the baby that day. However, my cervix is still closed (relief flooded me when she told me this), and she told me to just try and rest to prevent going into labor. And of course, to call if they got bad enough I could not talk through them or if I thought my water broke. They did get very sharp by the end of the day but were still very irregular and short. I also noticed that I was guaranteed to have one when I got up after sitting for awhile. Since I cannot have Advil…I found solace in ice cream!!! I think what I am having is prodromal labor which is basically painful Braxton-Hicks. And from what I have read, can be much worse than what I am experiencing. The pain is more annoying and fatiguing than it is anything to write home about. Thankfully, it did not keep me from sleeping like it does to some women, and it has seemed mild this morning. However, it has made me jump on the ball about packing my hospital bag!!!

I cannot believe there are only five more days till Charlotte’s arrival. Sometimes I wonder if I should be more nervous, or more excited, or more ready. Yet, I think the birth of a child is just something you have to experience to truly realize the full wonder of it all. And I am sure I will not be getting much sleep Sunday night!! Thanks for all the prayers, words of encouragement, and wonderful friendship you all have provided. I’ll try to post at least once more before the birth…unless she decides to come early. Ben and I will also try to keep everyone posted during the process, just please bear with us as there are still so many unknowns, and it will be a bit chaotic for awhile.

“May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” –Ruth 2:12

Monday, August 16, 2010

A dream is wish your heart makes/ when you're fast asleep./ In dreams you will lose your heartache/ whatever you wish for you'll keep

"Have faith in your dreams and someday
A rainbow will come shinning through.
No matter how your heart is aching
If you keep on believing
A dream is a wish that will come true."

Finally, the nursery is finished!!!

My dad gave me the art work and I LOVE it!!!

A possible going home outfit

Maybe she'll have some hair so I can use the bows :)

Uh-Oh!!! She already has a closet full of clothes!
She is taking after her mother!!!

A blanket I won't stay clean for long.

I have had such fun decorating the nursery but I cannot wait until Charlotte is in her room!!! Only two more weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"To everything - turn, turn, turn/ There is a season- turn, turn, turn/ And a time for every purpose under heaven"

How the time flies…and the days just get hotter and hotter. It’s so fun being pregnant when it’s 108 degrees like it is today!!! But the journey is almost over and the best is yet to come.

Another busy few weeks has past since my last blog. July 31 I had another amazing baby shower, this time in Scottsboro. The theme was “Welcome to the Nest, Charlotte.” This is perfect because I have a bit of an obsession with birds…my mom is the same way. The club house where the shower was located was decorated beautifully with flowers, baby pictures of Ben and me, delicious foods and bird décor. I once again ate my weight in yummy treats. My favorites were precious bird cake party favors my wonderful sister-in-law made. I took about 5 home and they lasted all of a few minutes!!! There are pictures on Facebook for any who are interested. Thank you so much to all the women who made the shower possible. Everything was stunning and I had an absolute ball! Best of all was being surrounded by so many women who already love Charlotte and are praying for her welfare. It was a reminder once again of just how awesomely God provides for and loves His children. How thankful I am that He led Ben and me to Riverside. We could not ask for a more wonderful and supportive church. And we are both so happy that Charlotte will grow up surrounded by such a strong body of believers.

After the shower we had a few days break and then Thursday we headed down to Birmingham for the night. Friday morning we headed off to UAB for another appointment. This time Ben’s parents were able to come, which was great because Mary had not seen an ultrasound since I was 20weeks and Mike never had. There were a few issues that arose during this time. Charlotte dropped from 16th percentile for growth to 8th (she weighed 4lb 5oz at the time). Anything under 10 is considered abnormal, so they did a few tests to make sure everything was alright. First they took pictures of the amniotic fluid which looked fine. Then they checked her “practice” breaths. Babies get their oxygen from momma, but towards the end they start practice breathing. To pass the test they have to “breathe” for 30 seconds in 30 minutes. Well, little Miss Charlotte was breathing the whole time. I think she is making sure her lungs are quite capable of crying!!! The last test was to check for movement. This took awhile but she finally did move enough to pass. The weight made me a bit nervous but the Doctor assured me that everything looked fine.

The other issue which arose was the fact that Charlotte was and still is breached. Unfortunately, this means a c-section which has now been scheduled for Aug. 30. I am extremely happy to know the date of Charlotte’s arrival. However, I am not looking forward to a c-section. I am well aware that women go through them all the time, but it is going to be tough trying to recover while my baby is in the NICU and wanting to be with her all the time. It might sound silly but I continue to pray that if it is in God’s will she would flip, and that if it is not in His will, that I would peacefully accept the surgery. I have been doing a few yoga type moves to encourage her to flip. If only you all could see me…I look hilarious in these awkward positions with my bulging belly!!! I have also tried putting ice packs around her head because I read that sometimes they move away from the cold to warmth. Oh, the lengths mothers go to!!!

I am trying not to get too stressed and focus on the wonderful reality that in just 19 more days Charlotte will be here!!! Plus, now I not only get to use the line “but Honey I’m pregnant” to Ben but I also get the added “but I have to have surgery.” Hahaha. Lately he has been saying “You don’t understand how hard it is, I have a pregnant wife at home” and thinks it is SO funny!!! But really, Ben has been great through this whole process. He has listened as I have rambled on about pregnancy symptoms, birthing fears, baby toys, and everything else that a new mom to be is surrounded by. And best of all he has kept me laughing!!! I really can’t believe we only have a couple more weeks with just the two of us. It is scary and exciting all at once. When I get nervous about how a baby will change our relationship I think about getting married. So many people are scared to get married because they wonder about the changes, but in my book, being married is so infinitely better than dating it is hard to describe. Yes, there are tough things about it, but the good FAR out weighs the bad. And getting married was following God’s plan for my life which always reaps blessings. I remind myself that there are changes ahead and hard times, but like marriage, I know that having a child is part of God’s plan for my life; therefore His grace will be boundless through it all.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for our family throughout this process. It has meant the world to both me and Ben. We love you all and thank God for placing you in our lives. I will continue to keep you all posted as the date quickly approaches. We do not go back to UAB till the due date barring any complications, but I still have checkups in Huntsville. I’ll try to let everyone know how they go, and I will be sure to tell you if she does flip!!!