Wednesday, July 24, 2013

3 Years

Monday was Molly's birthday. That means it has been three years since we held her. I honestly can't believe it has been three years. It was an emotional day for me. Molly's birthday happened to come just days from the point in my pregnancy where we lost Kellen. So I had both babies and the new baby on my mind all day, and tears were not far from the surface.

Luckily, it was a beautiful day. We had a simple celebration and visited the babies at the cemetery. My mom was at girls camp so she couldn't make it. I called my dad to invite him to the cemetery with us, and he said he was in Colorado Springs working at a store so he wouldn't be able to make it. I was sad that nobody in my family would be able to come. It did help that Lucas' parents and sister were all coming with us.

We stopped at the store and got a pink balloon and Lucas picked flowers for both babies. His favorite thing for Molly is pink flowers surrounded in baby's breath for Molly, and green flowers for Kellen. I love that man.

At the cemetery we arrived just before his parents and we all gathered around the babies, just to see that someone had recently visited and left some pinwheels with each Molly and Kellen. I am always so touched when I see someone has visited them, leaving something for them is a sign for me that someone out there is thinking of and remembering our angels. It warms my heart. (yesterday I learned who left the pinwheels and I am so so SO thankful!)

We all sat and talked around the babies for a second. I said, "My mom is at Girls Camp and my Dad was working in Colorado Springs and won't be able to make it..." Just then Lucas goes, "It's your dad!" and I turn around to see my dad's truck pulling in and parking. I know he must have stopped everything he was doing and packed up then driven to be with us as fast as he could. I started crying right away when I saw him pull in. I love our families.

We all wrote letters to Molly on a balloon, and with tradition, we released the balloon to heaven for her.
We all talked for a while, sat around, and then we went and got ice cream cones and talked some more. It was a lovely day.


Monday, July 15, 2013

How are you feeling?

To my facebook friends, it may seem that I dislike being asked the question "How are you feeling?!" This is my fault because I posted a status about needing to come up with more questions to ask a pregnant woman. I do think that would be good, but I never meant to imply that it bothers me when people ask me. I'm sure pregnant women everywhere get this same thing everywhere they go. Luckily for me, I think the majority of the people who ask me aren't using the question as a filler question, but they know our story and are genuinely concerned. I appreciate it every time.

The hardest part of being asked this question is knowing what my honest answer actually is in an appropriate and socially accepted amount of time. Also, how long of an answer do you want? Are you honestly wondering how I'm feeling right now or in general about this pregnancy? Are you curious about how I'm feeling physically or emotionally? I think women ask more to know the emotional side, and men ask more about the physical side but dont want details. They want to know if it hurts, and maybe if my pregnancy is in any way like their wife or girlfriends. Some people honestly dont even know they are asking it, they just wanted to walk by me and also be polite. I have been known to misread signals from the "how are you feeling" asker.

I get kind of embarrassed, say, when I get off the phone with my  mom after having talked to her for 30 minutes about my complicated emotions. I go downstairs and run into a 19 year old co-worker. He says, "Hey Amber, how are you feeling?"  and I say, "You know, I feel okay right now. I'm so anxious though! Its about the same time that everything happened and so I'm nervous. But I do like my doctors and I think I'm in good hands. Also I am bigger this time around, so thats fun and uncomfortable, especially in this heat!"  Meanwhile, 19 year old kid has walked backwards with a fake smile on saying "oh. yeah. oh." and then says, "kseeyalater"  Too much. His how are you feeling was looking for a "good, you?!" But instead I gave him a peek into the mind of a crazy person.

To make a long wordy blog too long and more wordy, I have decided to post my entire answer here. How am I feeling?

Short answer: Good. Peaceful. Ready and Anxious.

Long answer: The first two trimesters of this pregnancy flew by. I have felt overwhelming support and huge blessings that made me feel sure that this will happen for us and that we will bring our little boy home. I was not very nervous, not really panicked. I felt surprised as each week went by that I felt almost as if we had never lost a baby in the sense that I was blissful. I was excited to be pregnant. I was dreaming as if I had no reason to doubt. There were moments of course, where I would rush to listen to his heartbeat because for a second I thought our luck had run out. But his heart was always there, a constant beat.

As the weeks have gone on, though, I have become more anxious. I find that as I've become completely aware of his movements, I am also completely aware when he is still. It is harder and harder to distract myself when I start to worry. While I would say that most of the time I feel normal and confident, I have had an increasing number of moments where I think to myself "Oh no, something is wrong. He's not moving. Its going to happen again. I can't do this. He's gone." And then baby boy will kick me in the ribs and tell me he is fine and that I need to calm down.

I guess its expected about now. We lost Kellen just a day or two before 30 weeks. I am 29 weeks and 4 days. Come Friday, every day with this baby is a day longer than I got with his brother. It is a day where I am painfully aware that it could happen any moment. Between now and 36 weeks when he will join us on the outside, I can tell that I will be like a bouncy ball. One moment I will feel such peace and be very sure that he is a perfectly healthy baby, and that my body is a safe home for him. The next I will be sure he is swimming in a danger zone and that any second our dreams will be shattered, our hearts will explode one final time and we will never recover.

As dorky as it sounds, my mind is a harder place to be right now than my heart. My  heart feels sure. I feel peaceful. I can talk about having him here with people, and completely believe it will happen. My heart feels like this pregnancy is healing it even more. That this baby is a gift, a little boy who will heal us and who is protected by his brother and sister. I am sure in my heart. I am grateful for this, because it is my  heart that was hurt the most when we lost Molly and Kellen. My heart was broken, then broken again. But it also wants to be a mother so badly that being pregnant, despite the chance of breaking again, is an exciting adventure. My heart feels like I won a prize, that growing another life inside of me, and counting down the days until I bring him home is exactly what the doctor ordered to heal the fractures of loss.

My mind, on the other hand, remembers the facts. In my mind, I answer the second most common question "Is this your first?!" with the facts, "No, he's my third." And then the facts are out there. There are no children around me. No children in my home. No babysitters, no spit up stains, no milestones. My mind tallies the facts and it begins to panic. It is my mind, that based on what we have been through before, gets me all confused. The peace in my heart is quickly set aside when I notice that the baby isn't moving. I push on my belly, frantically searching for evidence. I search for a sign that he is okay. My mind has made me run to the bathroom at work countless times to hide in a stall and lean against the wall, my hands on my belly, begging the baby to kick. It is looking at the past that makes my mind see no other ending.

There are two different kind of doctors who we have dealt with. The first is the rule doctor. The good student. The textbook answer doctor. He knows a lot, he knows the facts and he uses the facts to make good, wise, decisions. I need him to help me know what we need to do. He, unfortunately, sees this pregnancy is separate from the first two. Everything looks normal. Early delivery may not be necessary, why would it be, textbook says that perfect pregnancies end with healthy babies and despite the past, he believes the tests that say all is well. This doctor is like my brain. He's all facts.

The second doctor is the compassionate one. He sees my fear in my eyes when he mentions going past 36 weeks. He sees the pain in our questions and in the retelling of our story. He reads our chart and instead of asking us medical questions, he says "I am so sorry. We will do anything we need to so you get a baby" This doctor doesn't ask us to repeat our story again and again, but reads about it himself and only asks things he needs to know. This doctor is the heart. He's all feeling.

The difference in doctors reminds me of the drastically different way I can feel from one minute to the next.

So do I feel happy? Yes. Excited? Very. Scared? Sometimes. Peaceful? Almost always.

Physically I feel good. I have had a pretty easy pregnancy so far. I got pretty sick in the beginning, but after 14 weeks that went away almost completely aside from the occasional migraine. I have some painful braxton hicks contractions every now and then, but they say it tends to hurt more after a few c-sections, so that explains that. The baby is ALWAYS on the right side of my belly, he has been head-down the entire pregnancy, and his little legs have been kicking my ribs and spreading them out awkwardly for two months now. (my right ribs are actually bruised from the kicking and spreading. They are tender to the touch and ache 24/7)
My hands and feet are always so hot you would think I have a fever, but I dont. I take cold showers and cold baths to cool them down. I have gained 22 pounds and am expected to gain 3-8 more. I can't wear my wedding ring because it's too small. My feet are swollen. I have carried this baby almost the exact same way I carried the other two. In a small tight little ball. Like a volleyball is under my shirt. I dont carry very largely, and not very far out. I have swollen everywhere from water weight.
I still sleep like a champ, and I can breathe fine most of the time. I can get comfortable enough to sleep as long as I can cool off my hands and feet. (sometimes I sleep with an ice pack over my toes to bring down the fire in my veins!)
I love every movement this little boy makes, and every kick is a lovely reminder that we have at least one more moment to be together.

Today at work he got the hiccups. I sat there with my hand over the right side of my belly and felt his back jump into my belly over and over and over. For ten minutes he had the hiccups and I fell even more in love with him.

So, friends, thank you for asking how I am doing. Sorry if you ask me just to be nice and I go off into way too many details. Also, sorry if you ask wanting details and to support and all I give you is a quick "I feel great!"
Here is my 29.5 week belly picture. (I have only taken like 3 belly pics this pregnancy- woops)


Also, I miss reading old blogs about the things that make me laugh every day.  So here is one.

Yesterday I was sitting at the table for a snack of jam and toast. Lucas was in the kitchen. Out of habit, I folded my arms and waited to say a lunch prayer. Then after a second of sitting there with my arms folded I realized that it wasn't a meal. I think because it felt weird to just dig in without a prayer, I needed to do something. For some reason, that something was to look at Moose, sitting next to me hoping for crumbs, and yell "TOAST!" Then I started eating. Lucas looked at me, surprised at my outburst, and laughed so hard he almost collapsed which made me laugh until I almost choked on my toast.

I love my life.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sleep Creep

I think sleeping and dreaming is so interesting and hilarious. I love sleep talking/walking/anything stories so much and after I hear about them I think back on them and re-laugh again and again. My family has some golden moments. We all sleep talk at least a little bit, I think. My roommate in college would write down the things I said to her. I love it.
Lucas and I both fall asleep about 3 seconds after our heads hit the pillow, so unfortunately he sleeps through all my antics so I dont hear about them very often. But this morning he told me that I was creepy and funny last night.

He woke up to my face a foot away from his with me looking at him. I reached out to his face and touched his nose and felt the tip of his nose and said, "Is this your nose?!"
he said, "uhhh yes."
I said, "Oh! I couldn't find it!" I layed down again and then told him I had a scary dream. Then I was asleep again.

Just for fun, here are a few sleep stories from the old safe:
While having a sleepover with a roommate and sharing a queen bed.
I roll over and look at my roommate Lindsay. AMBER: "Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Mashed potatoes. Want some?"
(I did not give her any. rude.)

In my apartment in college my roommate wrote down this little sleep conversation I had with her.
AMBER: Fossils!
LINDSAY: Fossils?
AMBER: Yeah, they are digging for fossils. In Idaho Falls.
LINDSAY: Oh, did they find them?
AMBER: Yes, but I'm pretty mad because they didn't even have a donut breakfast!!
(i see my point.)

I sat up in bed one night and looked over at my roommate, then opened my arms up gesturing at the clean room around me.
ROOMMATE JAMI: uh.... k.

My brothers and I used to all sleep in the basement of our parents house. Our rooms were seperated by painters canvas and sheets nailed to the ceiling. We had privacy, but we could hear everything. One night I heard my brother, Jason, fresh off the mission say in his sleep: "THAT is the question! THAT is the GOOOOLLLDDDEENN question!"

My brother steven once yelled out in his sleep: "It's as HUUUUUUGE AS A SNAKE!"

There are tons of golden nuggets, but right now I can't remember them. My sisters-in-law get to hear the crazy things my brothers say all the time, and I envy them that.
Every time Lucas starts sleep talking it wakes him up, and he gets embarrassed.
It will be like this:
LUCAS: I'm not...are yo- *wakes up* *hides face*
LUCAS: Dang it. *goes back to sleep*
One day he'll give me something amazing, I know it.

Tell me some of your awesome stories immediately.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Help From Behind The Scenes

My uncle Dan passed away Thursday, June 27th. The link to his obituary is here:

He was a wonderful, happy, and loving man and will be greatly missed.

Usually when you look back at your life you can see connections between events. You can spot the small actions or deeds that led to big life-changing ones and sit in wonder at how lucky you are. The past little while has been like that, except we have been able to see the blessings as they are happening. Our life has been blessed so greatly and every little detail seems so taken care of that we just strap on our seat belts and trust that our angel babies are helping us on our path.

First, my uncle Dan was diagnosed with Cancer 4 years ago, around the same time as my mom. Unfortunately, he recently lost his battle and returned to heaven. Before he passed away, he and my aunt made all their arrangements at Lucas' old job through him at Chapel Hill. He was able to save them a lot of money with a family discount on everything. Just as he finished their arrangements as well as those for other family members, he got his new job.

His new job came quickly and as a surprise when my sister in law mentioned a connection to a family who was big in the funeral industry in our area. Texts and phone calls and interviews were made and they offered Lucas a job, despite there not being an opening. So Lucas switched jobs to Horan and McConaty. When he told my Uncle about it, my uncle expressed that his original desire was to have his funeral services through Horan and McConaty but that they had planned to go through the other company for the savings. As soon as he could, Lucas started looking to see if he could transfer their information to the new place.

After only 2 months in his first position, Lucas was asked to interview for a promotion to be a Funeral Director. He did a great job, and they told him that would call him to let him know what they decided. That night we learned that my uncle's condition was worsening quickly and his time was going to be short on this earth, days or even hours. Lucas, despite waiting for an important call, called his managers and asked what could be done. They were able to work out the details and move his service over to the other company, and save them even more money while allowing my uncle to have what he really wanted for his service. They moved the contract over. Lucas got the promotion.

My Uncle Dan passed away later that week, surrounded by my aunt- the love of his life, all of his children, and all of his grandchildren. Because Lucas' promotion was so recent, he still had time to finish in his old position, so he was able to be there when my uncle passed away and ensure that he was well taken care of immediately after his passing. Then, because he was also recently promoted, they allowed him to be there for my family during the service, making sure that everything went smoothly and all they wanted happened just right.

Through small little blessings and perfect timing, Lucas was allowed the opportunity to help my uncle and his family from the very first step through the very end. I'm not sure anyone has ever had that before, from pre-planning, to being the one there when he passes on, to being able to serve them during the memorial.

It was so beautiful. My uncle Dan was a great man, and I love that in a small way, our family got to be there for him. It all felt so perfectly orchestrated, there is no question in my mind that there is someone greater than us at the wheel.

Another small blessing with all this timing is related to our coming bundle of joy.

When Lucas switched jobs, we lost insurance. He switched companies 90 days before our baby is supposed to be delivered, meaning that we would need to find insurance while he waited 90 days for his new insurance to begin. If I couldn't switch insurance immediately, I would have no way to pay for a specialist, for any further pre-natal care, or for the delivery. I would be taking marternity leave, but if possible I will stay home with the baby after he is born. This would depend on Lucas' new job. Luckily, after some luck, I was able to switch to my company insurance with no gap in coverage.

We learned that the coverage through my company insurance was MUCH MUCH better than anything we could have dreamed of. We would be saving ourselves probably 100K through this insurance as the extensive monitoring with this baby and then the delivery at 36 weeks is going to be very costly.

In addition to the coverage being great, we had to switch doctors with the change of insurance. We were not sure we wanted to do this, as we liked the plan our first doctor had to deliver early and the experience he had. But we were no longer covered at his practice, so we made the switch.

Days before my birthday we had our first appointment with the new doctor.
It was AMAZING. They were SO helpful, and compassionate, and thorough. They searched our history, they immediately began weekly non-stress-test testing on our baby with ultrasounds and bloodwork that for some reason, nobody else even tried. They immediately referred us to a specialist to go over our history and to help make a plan to deliver this baby.

It seemed, finally, that instead of hearing "bad luck" as the reason we lost Molly and Kellen, we were  with people who wanted to find us answers.
At our last appointment, our new doctor said, "This should not have happened to you. I cannot allow myself to believe that this was just bad luck two times so similarly. Something is happening, and I want to find out what that is. We will search everything. I will request more information from your other doctors. We will work with the specialists and make sure you get to bring a baby home."

And I suddenly realized that some doctors had told us they were carefully watching, they used the right words but didn't back it up with action, with questions, with a desire to help us. Until now. 

I have never felt so happy or lucky in my life.
This new team of doctors has eased my heart and mind so much that I have finally begun to believe that this baby is going to make it to us. I even bought him a bed and a little outfit.
About a week after we have the baby, Lucas' insurance will begin at his new job, and I will switch to coverage through his company. It is the same company as the old doctor.

If Lucas would not have switched jobs exactly when he did, we would not have had the time to have this wonderful change in doctors just in time to carefully monitor and deliver the baby. He also would not have been in the right place to help my uncle and his family through every step of his final days.

As all of these things keep happening, I have honestly just laughed out loud to myself because its the only way to express the gratitude I feel at knowing that we are being guided, taken care of, and loved. We feel like our Heavenly Father's will, though it is not what we always expect, is always the better  path. And I like to think that our little angels have helped everything to happen so perfectly.

We are so lucky.

And for your viewing pleasure, here are the most recent 3D/4D pictures of our little boy:

I cant wait to meet him!