Update on Landon

Back when I was the perfect parent - you know, before I had kids - I had a lot of fabulous ideas about how this whole thing would go. And they really were fabulous. Candy would not be kept in the house. Keeping children quiet while shopping or eating out would never include bribing. I would make all my baby food from scratch. Sleep props simply wouldn't be allowed. I would be patient, calm, and handle all parenting issues with quiet grace (after all, my mama did, and wasn't I so much like her?). And when I saw special needs kids, I always knew God would only give me "normal" children. After all, He only gives those types of kids to parents who can handle them.

I am convinced that God has a sense of humor.

Not only do I keep candy (hidden) in my house, I stash M&M's in my purse - for bribes. Yup. I do not have time to make baby food. I make sure I have a fully charged cell phone before entering a restaurant with a child. Sleep props - pacifiers, sleep machines, blackout curtains - yes, please. Give me more. I've learned that I'm nothing like my mama and a whole lot like this thing called Impatience. That's a bummer. And, funny enough, God gave me a child with a bunch of special needs.

I wanted to give an update on our little Landon after my last post. We've had a lot of doctor's appointments since I blogged last, so things were a bit chaotic for a while. Side note: I am so thankful for my friend Kierra and my grandma here in Pensacola who sacrificed their time (and energy) to watch Colton while I took Landon to his appointments. Randy has been busy with flight school, and there's no way I could have done it without their help!

I wish I could fully express my thankfulness to each one of you who has reached out to us during what was a very dark time. Randy and I are so, so grateful for all your love, support, and prayer for Landon and for our little family. I read through your comments, messages, and texts, and I cried. How good God is to give us a community of believers to surround us in trials.

So, our little Lando (so dubbed by his Uncle Ricky). He's still the same happy ball of energy he always has been! Still gelling Colton's hair with Desitin, brushing his own hair with mascara, and consuming an entire tube of Elmo toothpaste in one mischievous sitting. It gets a whole lot worse than that, but I'll leave it there. Many of you have asked about Landon's specific symptoms. The range of complications with the 22q deletion/DiGeorge Syndrome is huge, and we feel extremely blessed that Landon is only mildly affected so far. What we know of at this point is that he has low muscle tone and a speech delay/articulation problems. And if you've read the list of possible symptoms - that's pretty amazing. [He did have feeding problems as a baby because of his palate/low tone, and he got a lot of upper respiratory infections as a baby, but those have resolved as he's gotten older.]

His low muscle tone is very mild - it makes him really clumsy, but he's come a long way in occupational and physical therapy, so we are thankful for that. I will forever remember (and love) his drunken little run. His speech is also affected by the low tone, but his speech pathologist also thinks it may be a bit of motor planning/lack of awareness and his high, narrow palate. At this point, there's nothing we can really do for any of those things except lots of therapy. He had his annual evaluation in speech a few weeks ago, and his therapist was blown away by how much he comprehended (they have a standardized test). So far, he is cognitively where he should be. We were so encouraged by that! I'm so grateful for Landon's therapists. They have worked so hard with him, pushed him, cared for him, loved him. I'm pretty sure I'd go nutty working with kids all day. But wait, I do. And I am nutty. Never mind.

Landon got a full cardio workup soon after we got the diagnosis, and everything was completely normal. I asked the cardiologist what the chances were for Landon to develop heart issues, and he said zero. Praise God for that! We also saw the neurosurgeon because of Landon's abnormalities that showed up on his brain MRI, but turns out they weren't so "abnormal." They are basically a normal variation, something that anyone could have - most of us just don't have brain scans. We also took Landon to the ENT to check for a submucous cleft palate and something called VPI (just google it if you're interested - I'll just confuse you more if I try to explain it). He has neither.

We met with a geneticist (via Skype - how cool is that!) from the University of Florida, and he was great. We asked him why Landon's case was so mild, and his answer: we just don't know. He said that's something they are still trying to figure out - why some people are so intensely affected, and others - you'd never really know. From what they understand, it seems that there is something protecting the genes from being completely altered and affected. But we know it's not just "something" - it was God. He could have let Landon have the full range of defects/disabilities, but He chose to preserve him. That was yet another gracious reminder of His goodness to us.

The geneticist told us some things we already knew from researching - things I almost wish I didn't know.  Most (read: 99%) of them have learning difficulties/disabilities when they begin school. Obviously, every person is going to be affected differently, but school tends to be hard and just gets harder the older they get and the more abstract the concepts. They can struggle socially. There are a lot of psychiatric issues that people affected with the 22q deletion can have - ranging from ADHD to depression and anxiety to schizophrenia. These are the things that scare me the most. I have absolutely no way of knowing how Landon will be affected, and yes, I know - that's probably better. But every day, I wonder if he will have good friends. Make it in a normal classroom. Be able to go to college. Have a job he loves. Live a normal life.

There are days I feel strong, hopeful, confident that Landon's future is bright. Those days, I believe that this little boy I love so desperately will move mountains with his sweet heart and joyful spirit. And there are days when I simply feel broken, hopeless, confused. It is those moments that I just want to be a soccer mom, caught up in mommy wars, my biggest concern what school he'll go to or if he has the right soccer uniform. I will admit I've had more of those days lately. It's hard watching Landon get older - as he gets closer to 3, the more obvious his speech issues become, and the further they set him apart from his peers.

And, in so many ways, I feel lonelier now than I've ever felt. Sure, I have a support group on Facebook for DiGeorge kids, and I can go Googling and find other moms with special needs kids, but mostly, I see these perfect children all around me, in my Facebook feed, in church nursery, running through the grocery store, saying cute, hilarious things. That is hard. Harder than I can express.

I would love to be able to believe that Landon won't struggle with school or social acceptance or psychological issues. I hope he'll be able to do something he loves, fulfill his dreams, have great friends. But that, of course, is not what truly matters. What I long for more than anything is that Landon will come to see His need for a Savior. I pray constantly that God will use our little Landon to make His name great; that his weaknesses will push him closer to God and make him love others in a big way.

Over the past several months, I have cried so many times to the Lord. "Why? Why me? Why us? Why our little Landon? Couldn't You have chosen someone else?" Of course, I know He could have. But the fact is - He didn't. And since I know He is working all things out for our good and the glory of His name, I have to believe He chose the best path for us. I read an excerpt from a sermon by Dr. Wilson Benton recently, and I would share all of it if I had the time to type it all up, but I must get sleep while my children sleep. ;)

"You are one person living at one place, at one point in time and even if God chose to explain to you how all of the pieces of his giant puzzle are fitting together in a manner consistent with his own righteous and holy and gracious nature, so that he may faithfully fulfill his promise in your life and work everything that happens to you for your good, you couldn't understand it. But you can believe that God is loving enough, and powerful enough, and wise enough, and gracious enough, and faithful enough to you to do what he says when he promises to work everything for your good.
What is the greatest tragedy this world has ever seen? What is the worst crime that has ever been committed? What is the most horrible thing that has ever happened in the history of mankind? Was it not the crucifixion of the only good, righteous, perfect man that ever lived? Of course. Did God bring anything good out of that evil event? What a foolish question for me to ask. Out of the worst thing that ever happened in the world, God brought the greatest triumph ever known in this world - your salvation and my salvation, the deliverance of all his people. Our holy, righteous God used that awful, evil, horrible, terrible thing, the crucifixion of his own Son, to bring forth the greatest good this world has ever known."
We would appreciate your prayers for our little guy in three areas:

- Progress in speech, particularly articulation.
- Increase in his attention span (apparently this is pretty common with DiGeorge kids)
- Ease of transitioning as we make several moves over the next year.

I still have no idea about this parenting thing. No, really. Randy and I laugh at ourselves all the time. "Remember that one time we said that would never happen...? Oops." I don't think that God gave me a special needs child because He knows I can handle it. I believe He gave Landon to me because He knows I can't. I am completely aware of my helplessness on so many levels. So here I am, making a miserable mess of this parenting thing, daily dependent on His sweet grace and tender mercies.

And isn't that the very best place to be?


Landon: a New Chapter

I'm sitting outside, watching my little Landon pour water into buckets and run around saying hey to the cars who drive by. I never imagined I'd be in Pensacola at this point in my life. Well, let's back up. I never imagined myself married to a man in the military, much less a pilot! I also never imagined having a surprise baby less than two years into marriage. I never imagined how much I could love something so small and frustrating and amazing. And I never imagined that one day he'd be diagnosed with a genetic disorder.

I've done a lot of thinking, processing, and filtering before writing this post. I'm not writing this to make you feel sorry for us. In fact, I want just the opposite! But I do want to share this new journey we're on because I want Jesus' name to be made great. Life is not about us. It's about Jesus and the Gospel. And that transforms how we look at... well, everything.

I guess I'll just start way back when we first got our sweet little Landon. I've mentioned before that he wouldn't latch on to nurse for several weeks after he was born. I figured I was doing something wrong, and we just worked through it until he got the hang of it a couple months later. Little did I know that was only the beginning! Landon has something called "low muscle tone" or, if you want me to get medical, hypotonia. It's still a bit confusing to me, but I found an example that explains it a whole lot better than I could.

So, when Landon was trying to figure out how to nurse, his muscles were having an incredibly hard time coordinating to latch on and suck. But since he overcame the nursing issues relatively fast, we didn't really think much of it. (He also has a high, narrow palate, which can also make nursing tricky, but no one ever noticed it.) 

Landon reached all his milestones on time except for walking - he was 15 months when he finally walked independently. His low muscle tone is extremely mild, so not a single pediatrician ever noticed it (and we've been to plenty with our military moves). A physical therapist of my mom's was actually the first one to mention it when she saw him once. At that point, though, he was still young and making progress, so I didn't think much of it.

But most noticeable of all was (and is!) Landon's speech delay. He started saying dada around 9 months, and then added a few other words by the time he was 15 months. His pediatrician thought we should wait a few more months until he needed to be evaluated by a speech therapist. 18 months rolled around, and we still weren't seeing much more than a few more word approximations. Always lots of babbling, but nothing clear. He started speech therapy for a few months, but we decided to take him out and give him some more time since there are plenty of kids with speech delays who finally catch up around 2 or 2.5. But when he turned 2, and things still weren't progressing, I decided to put him back in therapy. We saw small improvements over the last several months, particularly after getting tubes put in his ears, but nothing huge. At this point, he says about six words clearly: hey, mama, daddy, baby, bye-bye, and bomb (don't ask - we didn't teach him that one). He has over a hundred word "approximations" (um... like "dur" for drink), but no one understands them except for Randy and me, and usually that's only because of context... and the fact that we're with him 24/7. So when I read about mamas who are super excited that their baby said "love you," I want to cry - I'm just wanting Landon to say one word, any word, clearly!

Anyway, a pediatrician at church mentioned that he most likely needed to be in occupational and physical therapy for the low muscle tone, so we started those within the next few weeks. He has some mild fine and gross motor delays, but nothing that his therapists think can't be overcome. I asked his PT if she thought I should take him to the neurologist just to see if he would be able to find a cause of the low muscle tone. She said they may never be able to find a cause, but sure, why not. His pediatrician, who is great, didn't think we needed to see neuro at this point, but I went with my mommy gut and made the appointment. 

We got in to see the pediatric neurologist pretty quickly. He asked a lot of questions, did a lot of poking and prodding, then ordered a bunch of tests to rule out things. He was very positive and said Landon appeared to be developing appropriately, but he wanted to make sure nothing else was going on. Landon had an MRI a couple of days later, and when we got the results, I thought we'd finally gotten an answer! Without getting too technical, Landon has some mild developmental abnormality in his cerebellar area. Explained the low muscle tone. I read a lot about it, but knew I'd have to wait until the neurologist could explain it all to us. Randy was able to get off work to be with us for the follow-up appointment. 

I was pretty nervous going in to the appointment, just because I always get nervous before those types of things, but I figured we'd get a quick explanation and be done with it. The neurologist came in and explained his cerebellar issue and said that Landon would need to see a neurosurgeon for some extra fluid that showed up, but nothing was particularly worrisome. He then looked down at the paperwork in front of him and said, "But what's more concerning is his genetic testing." I felt sick. Somewhere, deep in my mommy gut, I'd known something wasn't right. 

The neurologist went on to explain that Landon had a deletion on his 22nd chromosome, otherwise known as DiGeorge syndrome. I'd actually read about it when I was doing research on Landon's delays, but I didn't think much of it because I figured we'd be seeing some other major problems with a chromosomal disorder. All I remembered reading about, though, was really awful and severe. The neurologist didn't really know much about it, but he referred us over to several specialists and left. Quite honestly, I don't know a lot of what he said because within a few seconds, my world had turned upside down. I was sick, scared, and completely overwhelmed. I wanted so badly for all of it to be a bad dream so I could wake up and look at my sweet, perfect little boy and say that he was normal.

Randy and I drove home quietly while Landon giggled and chattered in the back seat. When we got home, I read to him and put him down for a nap like I always do. Randy went in to kiss him before he went to sleep. I went out to the living room and cleaned up food that Landon had spilled on the carpet. And then I cried. I cried for my little boy, for our family, for the future. I cried until I didn't think I could cry any more, and then I cried some more. And then Randy came out to the living room and we cried out to Jesus together. 

I struggle so much with unknowns. I struggle with giving up control over so many things, but especially my children. I struggle with simply trusting God. 

And I don't know what the future holds for Landon. I don't know whether he will develop normally or if he will end up having severe mental deficits. I don't know if he will develop heart problems and need surgery. I don't know if he will ever speak clearly. I don't know why God kept the ultrasound techs and doctors from seeing his brain abnormalities when he was in the womb. I don't know why God allowed us to find this out in the middle of Randy's flight training. And I don't know why God chose me to be Landon's mommy.

But here is what I do know. My little Landon is fearfully and wonderfully made. When God was forming him in the womb, He shaped him just how he was supposed to be. Those missing genes? Not a mistake. He didn't form Landon and then sit back and wring His hands and wonder how it would all work out. No; He is a perfect Creator and never falters in His purposes for a second. 

I know my God is sovereign, good, kind, wise, and faithful. He is on His throne, in control of every single event and detail in our lives. We have been overwhelmed with His grace this past week. He has lovingly sustained us and given us the peace to know that He cares for Landon, even more than we do (which is hard for me to imagine!). Our trust in God's unchanging character enables us to look at this overwhelming situation and be at rest. 

I know that Jesus will never, ever leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid. I know the path ahead is a long one with many hurdles. But Jesus is with us, guiding our every step, aware of everything ahead. When our hearts are overwhelmed, we can cling to Him!

I know that this is another opportunity for me to cling to the truth of the Gospel. If God gave up His Son to redeem me from all my sin and secure an eternity in heaven with Him, how will He not, along with Him, give me all things (Romans 8:32)? All things does not mean that Landon lives a "normal" life or ends up with no medical issues; it means that a God who willingly gave up His only begotten Son will give us all things that work for our good and His glory. 

Strange as this may sound, I feel privileged that God has sent us this trial. Not because it's an easy one. But because it shows just how much our God loves us and how serious He is about our growth in grace. He doesn't send trials to push us further away from Him. He sends trials so that through them, He can weed out sin, draw us closer to Himself, and grow our faith in Him. I have told God so many times since receiving the news that I just can't do it. And I can't. I never will be able to. But Jesus is bigger and stronger than all my fears and doubts and insecurities, and He will give grace for every struggle.

The night we got the news, I held Landon tight as he slept. And I knew he was the same little boy I'd hugged good morning. He was the same crazy, sweet little boy I've been falling in love with for the last two years. He has so many strengths, and a diagnosis doesn't take them away. I love that he loves people and says hi to random strangers. I love that he has an insatiable curiosity for the world around him, even when that leads to drinking canola oil and toilet water. I love his enthusiasm for all of life. I love that he is so amazingly happy the majority of the time [to this day, he has actually never thrown a tantrum... knock on wood!]. I love his funny little drunken sailor run. I love his snuggles and hugs and kisses. I love that he still sleeps 14-15 hours a day. I love his over-the-top love for his little brother. I love that he has taught me so much about life and love and pain and joy and heartache and patience and grace. I love that God, in His inexpressible kindness, gave Landon to me.

A few weeks ago, when we just began figuring out there was more to his delays than we'd initially realized, the words to an old hymn came to my mind, and they have been there since.

Whate’er my God ordains is right,
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate’er He doth,
And follow where He guideth.
He is my God,
Though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall,
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.
Whate’er my God ordains is right,
He never will deceive me;
He leads me by the proper path,
I know He will not leave me,
And take content
What He hath sent;
His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait His day.
Whate’er my God ordains is right,
His loving thought attends me;
No poison’d draught the cup can be
That my Physician sends me,
But medicine due
For God is true,
And on that changeless truth I build,
And all my heart with hope is fill’d.
Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Though now this cup in drinking
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it all unshrinking;
Tears pass away
With dawn of day,
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.
Whate’er my God ordains is right,
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet am I not forsaken,
My Father’s care
Is round me there,
He holds me that I shall not fall,
And so to Him I leave it all.


Colton Blake's birth story

So I'm sitting here snuggling a newborn on my chest, still in disbelief that he's actually here. I wanted to type out his birth story while the details are still fresh. Although I could go with forgetting some of the intensity. Ha.

This is probably going to be long and boring, but you're reading it and I warned you. ;)

Overall, I had a great, easy birth experience with Landon - from start to finish it was about 9 hours, but only about 6 hours of contractions. However, I was induced for a thickened placenta/growth problems, and I really wanted to avoid any kind of induction this time. I found an absolutely wonderful midwife in Pensacola, Jenny Allen, and she was the first person who really inspired me to go naturally. Totally not pushy about it, but she treated everything so differently than the doctors during my first pregnancy. Now - I just said I had a great birth experience with Landon - and that was with pitocin and an epidural. So I am not anti-meds! But I knew it just wasn't for me this time. I did a lot of reading, a lot of praying, and a whole lot of talking to Randy. I wanted to go naturally for two main reasons. First, I knew it was what our bodies were created to do. Therefore - even though it seems like it - it's not impossible! Second, Landon had an extremely difficult time nursing. I knew epidurals could be a cause for that, and honestly, it was so incredibly hard dealing with that breastfeeding struggle that I knew I wanted to see if it could make a difference to go drug-free. [And I have plenty of friends who had epidurals and great nursers... I just wasn't that lucky!]

So, the story. I had been feeling some stronger contractions on and off the week I went into labor, but I just figured I was gearing up for birth... in the next couple of weeks. On Thursday, I had a few contractions I had to stop and breathe through, but they were random and short. I was pretty much convinced all during my pregnancy that they had my dates wrong (based on my calculations) and I would go into labor the following week. As my due date approached, I tried not to feel anxious - I knew a due date was only an estimate, and I knew it would be okay to be "late." But of course I started thinking of crazy different scenarios, particularly scenarios of his daddy in the airplane. ;) [God worked out so many details so perfectly in regards to Colton's birth. On Friday, the day I had Colton, Randy wasn't scheduled to fly - or even check in to base! I love that God cares about our smallest anxieties.] Anyway, on Thursday night, I went to the gym - people were on all (my) ellipticals so I decided to walk. Ha. For me, walking is actually more painful during pregnancy than the elliptical. But I walked for about 30 minutes that night and did a lot of pelvic rocking afterward on the yoga ball to relieve some of the pressure. That night, I didn't sleep too great because I was sore from all the walking - or maybe having contractions? Either way, I woke up and thought, Welp, I'm still pregnant. But I was okay with that and had a busy day planned... including a dinner and movie date with my hubby. Needless to say, we didn't make it there. He still is talking about how we missed seeing Oz... ;)

Randy decided to go pick up the movie tickets early, and I was getting ready to go out to get groceries and run some errands with Landon. I was brushing my teeth when... um? Did I seriously just pee my pants? And then... it kept coming. I called my midwife, Jenny, kinda still shocked and unsure that my water had broken on my due date, and she told me I should go over to labor and delivery for them to check it out. I called Aubrey, my wonderful babysitter for Landon, and then finally called Randy to come on home. Thankfully he hadn't bought the tickets yet! ;) [A big reason I had to get to L&D sooner rather than later was because I tested GBS positive this pregnancy, so they had to start the IV antibiotics soon after my water broke to avoid infection.] We got to L&D around 11:30, and they hooked me up to the monitors, etc. I was having some mild contractions, some of them more uncomfortable than others, but still nothing consistent. Jenny told me she wanted to see me in active labor within 6-8 hours or we would have to look at some options to progress labor. I knew she would avoid pitocin at all costs, but I also knew that baby needed to come! I prayed and prayed that my labor would start progressing. They hooked me up to the IV antibiotics soon after I got there, which took a couple of hours to administer, but even after that time, I still wasn't really having good, consistent contractions. However, I knew in order to progress, I was going to have to be active, and just with check-in, running IV's, filling out paperwork, etc, I wasn't able to. In the meantime, though, I asked my midwife if I could eat since I was feeling a bit weak from not eating for several hours, and she said that Randy could sneak something in. So he did. ;) I ate a sub and felt so much better. Jenny was getting ready to leave for a bit since nothing was really going on, which was fine by me, but she wanted to check me before she left to get a baseline. I was 4 cm and 90% effaced, but my cervix was still pretty high. I had been 3 cm and 85-90% effaced the previous Monday, so I didn't really think I had done that much. And truth be told, I don't really read a lot into cervical checks because I know way too many girls that walk around for weeks at 5 cm! Finally we were able to start walking around 2:30, and I started to feel a few more contractions. It wasn't until about 3:30 that afternoon that I started feeling crampier, more consistent contractions. I texted my mom: "Picking up and ouch. I remember." So we kept walking. It was getting to the point where I had to stop and lean on the hall railing and breathe through the contraction. Randy would apply counter-pressure on my back, which was amazing. We went back to the room around 4 so my nurse could hook me up to the wireless monitors again (she had to do it for 15 minutes every hour), and I decided to rock on the birthing ball. And that's pretty much where I stayed the rest of my labor! Randy sat behind me and every time a contraction came, he would remind me to breathe, relax, and then apply as much pressure as he could to my lower back. It's actually still a bit sore... which meant he was doing his job! ;)

I truly could not have made it through labor without my Randy. He was incredibly calm the entire time, and even when I started "losing it" during transition, he never once showed doubt or fear. When he was busy with flight school, he took the time to go through the Bradley book (see below) with me, and I appreciated that so, so much. During labor, he knew exactly what to say and do! I married a pretty amazing guy.

Back to labor. I had created a playlist on my phone with worship music that was especially meaningful to me, and I really focused on the words during each contraction. It may not sound like a lot, but that was huge in getting me through some of those more intense moments. Around 5:30, Randy mentioned he should probably eat, but didn't know if he should leave to get something in the hospital cafeteria.  I was like, "I'll be fine... I can work through a couple contractions on my own." And I was also thinking I had hours to go still. I didn't realize how much I needed his help until he was gone! And my contractions didn't go from 8 to 7 to 6 minutes apart... pretty much once active labor started, they were two and three minutes apart and a minute or longer for the duration of the time. Some of them were right on top of each other, and I remember thinking, Why am I not getting a break?! Randy came back to the room a little before 6, and we kept working through the contractions. At that point, I was doing some low moaning through each one, which was an amazing relief. My nurse, Rachael, wanted to check me around 6, but I was reluctant. I'd heard way too many stories about women who got checked and ended up super disappointed because they were only 5 cm and then they didn't want to keep going. So I put it off for a while. Rachael had to come back to put the monitors on for a bit around 6:30, and at that point, I started feeling really tired. It happened so suddenly that I was a bit unprepared for it. It wasn't that I felt I couldn't go on - it was just that my body felt so exhausted. I told her I thought I'd get in the jacuzzi tub for a bit. Rachael told me later that when I said that, she knew she needed to check me to make sure Jenny would make it in time. So I let her check me, and surprise surprise, I was 8 cm and at a +1 station! I was shocked. Randy's face was priceless when she told us that. He knew we were in the home stretch! I suddenly started feeling really intense contractions, and when I got in the tub, everything kinda went blurry. I do remember very distinctly saying, "I can't do this!" (hello, transition) and Randy calmly and sweetly reassuring me, "You ARE doing it!" I was in the tub for maybe 5 minutes, and I was like, "This baby is coming NOW!" The nurse immediately got me out of the tub and back in bed, laying me on my side. She had called Jenny when she found out I was 8 cm, and Jenny left right away because she knew I'd go fast. All I know is, once I got in that bed, I wanted to push so badly. And since Jenny wasn't there, they didn't really want me to. Of course, my body was already starting to push because it somehow knows what to do ;) Randy and the nurse kept reminding me to control my breathing, but at that point, the contractions and pressure were so intense that I was having a really hard time. I'm pretty sure I almost pulled Randy's hand off. But, praise God, my midwife finally made it, checked me and I was complete (um... pretty sure I had been after all that pressure for the last 15 minutes!) and I immediately starting pushing. By far the hardest part of the entire labor experience. It was only about five minutes from start to finish, but it felt like so much longer. Jenny was wonderful in helping me focus and telling me how to breathe, and she told me later that I had good control. I totally laughed when she told me that because control is the LAST thing I felt. But when she told me to reach down and feel his little head, I knew it was so close! Finally, his head and shoulders were out, and once the midwife got a good little cry out of him, she put him on my chest. I felt such relief. My sweet baby boy was finally here and just like that, the pain was gone. He was born at 6:57 pm, less than 3.5 hours after active labor started. I am so, so thankful! Once the cord stopped pulsing and they cleaned him up a bit, they put him on my chest so I could nurse. And wouldn't you know it... he latched on right away. I was amazed! He's still doing fabulously at nursing (other than the typical sleepy newborn issues), and it has made a world of difference. He was 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and 19 inches long... and perfect.

I had a bit too much bleeding after labor, so Jenny started some pitocin to stop it, but for some reason, it took quite a while for it to actually stop. It finally did after about an hour. But amazingly, I didn't tear at all, which has made the recovery process so, so much easier. Yet another reason I love my midwife!

So, how did I prepare?

- A lot of reading. Other than plenty of online research, the two main books I read were Childbirth the Bradley Way by McCutcheon and The Birth Book by Sears. Both were extremely helpful in understanding the entire process of childbirth and on how to manage labor pain. Randy and I practiced several of the Bradley methods for breathing and relaxation, and that was huge during labor.

- Exercise. I went to the gym 4-5 days a week my entire pregnancy (except for some of the weeks where I was really sick or out of town). I did about 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes of weights. Not only did it help significantly with my energy levels, but I believe it also enabled me to have the endurance I needed during labor.

- Supplements. I took red raspberry leaf tea capsules from about 20 weeks on, and evening primrose oil from 33 weeks. I won't explain their significance... because I'd probably just confuse you... but Google is your best friend. ;)

- Spiritual preparation. Yes, I believe in the power of a woman's body to give birth naturally, but I knew that without God's strength and grace, it would be impossible for me to get through it. The verse I claimed for labor was II Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness." In other words, Jesus' strength works best in my weakness! All the praise and glory goes to Him!

We are loving this new little guy and are so thankful for a safe delivery and wonderful experience. Am I a better person because I labored naturally? Nope. What matters is that a precious, healthy baby is here. God is so kind to His children!


38 Week Pregnancy Update

Baby size: About 6.8 pounds and over 19 inches long. Just not enough room in this tummy anymore!
How far along: 38 weeks
Weight gain: 20 pounds
Sleep: Let's be honest. Who sleeps wonderfully the last few weeks of pregnancy? I think I was up like 6 times last night.
Food cravings:  I've really wanted protein-packed stuff this week for some reason... maybe because I need it?
Upper back pain: I had this with Landon, but not as bad. It's my mid-back and it's only in one spot. I guess it's just a nerve or muscle that Colton has decided he should lie on. But basically, I can't sit down comfortably... sometimes even lie down comfortably.
Ligament pain: I should take a video of Randy imitating how I walk when I get up out of bed or off the couch. He thinks it's quite amusing. I, on the other hand, think that he should be pregnant for like... a day.
Exercise:  Still able to work out 4 days a week, and I am so thankful for God continuing to give me energy... and a hubby who babysits even when he's in flight school!
Movement: I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been kicked in the stomach all night long. Then I realized... I probably had.
What I’m looking forward to: Not being pregnant! (even though I know I'll miss all these kicks and punches)
What I miss: My clothes fitting.
It's hard to believe baby C will be here so soon. I'm not in a rush due to his daddy's busy schedule right now (and the fact that I want him to bake as long as he needs to!), but I'm hoping he doesn't make his appearance too late for several different reasons. I've had to constantly give that worry over to the Lord and trust in His sovereign timing. My midwife reminded me last week that pregnancy is not a permanent condition. I was like oh... yeah. Good point. 
This week's picture was taken at about 37.5 weeks, but I figured that was close enough to 38 ;)
L on top, C on bottom


36 Week Pregnancy Update

Baby size: Nearly 6 pounds and over 18.5 inches long. 
How far along: 36 weeks... crazy that there's only a month left... although, at this point, I still feel like that's too long!
Weight gain: 18 pounds
Sleep: Well, I have developed this super weird symptom (only at night) of aching legs. It's not RLS... just feels like my leg muscles are sore. And the only thing that makes it slightly bearable is pillows and a heating pad. My midwife doesn't really have any other explanation other than nerve compression (thanks, Colton). Anyway, that being said, it's made sleep a bit less enjoyable, but this week has been better, thank the Lord.
Food cravings:  Orange juice. :) 
Acid reflux: This has just kicked in with a vengeance. Hello, Tums.
Ligament pain: I seriously feel like an old woman when I get out of bed or off the couch. Not that I know what they feel like. But I certainly look like one.
Exercise:  Same, but cutting back on the intensity because it can make the pain worse... but at the same time, it also gets worse if I completely stop exercising. And exercise totally helps with my energy levels!
Movement: He is insane. I literally thought he was choking himself with the cord one night... it must have been the Tums. ;)
What I’m looking forward to: Breathing normally, sitting up normally, sleeping... okay. Well, we all know the sleep isn't going to improve after a newborn, but I'd rather snuggle with a little someone than be woken up by a bladder or sore legs. 
What I miss: Everything that I just stated! :)
Hard to believe I'm down to monthly visits! My midwife checked me this past week, and I'm actually starting to dilate and efface. Yes, I realize I can walk around like this for weeks, even months. Yes, I realize this does not mean I will be early or even on time. However... I AM thankful my body is doing what it's supposed to be!
I finally hit the point where I am just done being pregnant. I enjoy lots of pregnancy... but the last month?  I'm convinced God gives it to us just so we are super ready to meet our little ones. But I am not trying to get this baby to come out too early... I want him to bake as long as he needs to! Plus, his daddy needs to finish up some classes before I go into labor. 
Here's hoping I only have to take one more picture! Ha... 
(L on left, C on right)


34 Week Update

Baby size: Almost 5 pounds and 18 inches long. And I am feeling it.
How far along: 34 weeks! 6 weeks really feels like forever away, but I know March will be here before I know it.
Weight gain: 15 pounds
Sleep: I wish I could say it was wonderful. It's not. L was actually sick (again) with multiple ear infections and waking up pretty much every night screaming in pain, but praise the Lord, that seems to be a thing of the past -- as of this week. He had tubes put in, so we are hoping that those will prevent all those nasty infections. Anyway... even though he's sleeping again, this mommy is not! Yay for lots and lots of potty breaks!
Side note: We go through toilet paper at a ridiculously fast rate because of this. I was talking to Randy about it the other day, and he was like, "Becca, just use less! Less is more!" Um... in most cases I would agree... but toilet paper?!
Food cravings:  Anything, really... I've been super hungry the last couple of weeks... I was like this at the end of my last pregnancy, too.
Tiredness: I don't remember it being this way with L, but I've forgotten a lot in two years! 
Moodiness: This goes along with lack of sleep. 
Exercise:  Still getting 4-5 days in a week... but my sciatica is really flaring up when I'm on the elliptical... makes it so much harder! I've just been keeping up with doing stretches -- it's the only thing that really helps. And I know it'll get better soon!
Movement: Ouch, baby.
What I’m looking forward to: Sleeping on my back. With Landon, I always ended up on my back, and it never bothered me, but this time, I get really faint and short of breath. I guess it's my body telling me I need to switch to my side... ha.
What I miss: Not bumping into things with my tummy ;) 
As the weeks fly by, I'm realizing that it's not going to be just Landon and me anymore... and that makes me a little sad. But I also know that I'm giving him one of the best gifts in the world... a little brother. Of course, I do realize that he won't be aware of this for a while. And this fact will mean hard days, long nights, and lots of other lovely things. I had a rough post-partum time with Landon (he had a hard time nursing for the first couple months, super colicky, etc), so I'm not expecting it to be perfect with this one, either. (Um... okay, well, I don't know that anyone has ever described post-partum as "perfect.")
So... I'm asking for your help, mamas with two or more. What helped ease the transition from one to two? Anything you would have done differently? I will take all the help I can get! 
34 weeks with Landon on the left, Colton on the right.


32 week update

Oops... in the midst of all the holiday craziness, I neglected my 30-week update. So, because I'm only good at remembering recent events these days... this is 32 weeks.

Baby size: Almost 4 pounds and 17 inches long. Size of a squash (ew). I had an ultrasound last week and his head is actually measuring three (yes, THREE) weeks ahead of his body... I'm not sure I'm too happy about that since I've gotta push that out. But everything else looks good... thankful he is healthy and growing!
How far along: 32 weeks... such craziness.
Weight gain: 14 pounds [my midwife told me to gain some weight... right before Christmas break. perfect timing!! I had no problem eating my mother's fine cooking and baking. ;)]
Sleep: It's not so great. I wake up at some crazy hour, contemplate for the next 15 minutes if I should actually get up to pee, decide I probably should, go pee, and by that time I'm completely wide awake, then I get back into bed and the baby turns into middle-of-the-night gymnast and then I'm awake for another 45 minutes before I fall back asleep, only to wake again in a couple hours to pee again. Oh, pregnancy. 
Food cravings:  Let's see. I think I really wanted Mexican this week... I did not get it. 
Ligament pain: Baby, it's bad!
Shortness of breath: It's. getting. worse.
Exercise:  Same! Getting harder to work out with the same intensity, though... I'm guessing that I'm just going to keep slowing down?
Movement: My ribs and bladder are both getting pummeled. But I love feeling and seeing his little limbs (and yes, I do realize this freaks some people out).
What I’m looking forward to: meeting my little man! ;)
What I miss: My sleep.
Every week I'm pregnant, I thank the Lord for preserving little Colton and keeping him inside to bake just a while longer! And I am treasuring the time I have left with Landon... can't believe he's going to be a big brother in just 8 weeks (give or take)!
32 with L on left... and of course C on the right. 

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