Four Months.

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This month was so much fun.

No sickness/hospital worries, my anxiety and fear levels are way down, and you are really developing a personality!

You cry more now. It had been held at bay for a while with minimal complaining, then one day your brother accidently bonked your head and man did you learn how to cry. Now you have no problem doing it.

You are still more content and calm then anything else though, at least with mama. You know the hand that feeds you.

You drool and blow spit bubbles, a lot!

You have found your voice and talk, squeal, screech, sing, complain, yell, cry and coo – oh my goodness its all adorable.

You are a sensitive little thing and get startled/scared easily.

Three favorite memories of that:

  1. I had a mud mask on and you didn’t know who I was until I started talking and then you acted like everything was wrong in the world.
  2. One of daddy’s friends has a beard and brown hair like him. You were looking at him all lovingly and then you heard daddy talk and realized that the one you had been staring at wasn’t him. You lost it.
  3. You were talking to yourself one morning and I walked in the room (with a towel on my head) and startled you and you about jumped out of your skin.

You are crazy about your daddy and brother, mostly just to stare at them though. You have ga ga eyes whenever you hear their voices.

You love your mama and your whole body shrivels up when you see me and you grin from ear to ear, especially when you are hungry.

You have no schedule, just sort of a routine and I’ve learned you really well.

You still sleep in the rock n play, but I’ve moved you from beside my bed. No offense.

You still wake up about once a night to eat. Speaking of eating… an update from our feeding post this time around. I never pump anymore. Well except for days you are at Ms. Shelby’s house. A friend came over and I saw how easy it was for her to nurse even if it meant more often, and I was stressing a little about how many ounces I would pump. I just let you nurse one day for all your feedings and we’ve been doing it every since. I love it. I don’t even like pumping now. Funny how things change and you just have to learn to trust your body.

You grab onto toys and have very strong neck, leg, and torso control. You haven’t rolled over yet, but you sure do try!

Haddon really, really loves you now. He never wants us to leave you and always makes sure you are coming with us.

I have so much fun playing dress up with you and having girl talk.

I love you my sweet Verity Belle.

Three Months.

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Verity Belle,

You are the sweetest baby. Seriously, despite the medical drama, you are so so good to us.

Speaking of medical drama, this was our first month with no hospital stays since you have been born! yay!

You are a happy little girl who doesn’t fuss almost ever. Sometimes you make some noise when you are hungry or tired, that’s about it. Besides that, you mostly make a variety of sounds.

You are a big talker right now. You coo and gurgle and I don’t know if I’ve ever loved staring at something so much.

Your gummy smiles light up the whole room.

To sleep you don’t always have to be swaddled or pacified or really anything – but you do prefer to be in your rock and play and inhale your cozy blanket on the left side to fall asleep. You can also just be laying on your back staring at a fan or something as well. Did I mention you are the sweetest? Because you are.

We got in a nursing groove this month because I got sick and didn’t feel like pumping. It’s been so nice and way less stressful to worry about how many ounces or what time you need to eat. I just listen to you and its working out beautifully.

Today, I start working part-time. You are at Ms. Shelby’s house with your brother 1/4 of a mile down the road, in the same neighborhood. God is good to us baby girl. I think it will be good for all of us to have a little structure to our days and weeks.

I don’t know how much you weigh or how tall you are because we haven’t been back to the doctor for any well check ups. You are growing out of clothes, have a million rolls, and are happy so I assume you are doing just fine.

You are starting to love and recognize the men in your life and they make you light up. Daddy calls you his white chocolate chip chunk… one time you “yelled at him” for giving you too many kisses.

Your brother is starting to really love you vs being your commentator – “she pooped” “she’s awake” “why she not sleeping?” “she cant have pizza or ice cream”. He tells me on a daily basis that “he loves his baby”. One of my favorite moments was at church, I was holding another baby and he came up to me and said “whose that baby, where is my baby?”.

You two melt me into a huge puddle.

You seriously are the real life doll I always imagined, except you are more than I ever imagined.

I thank God for you every day sweet girl.

Fear.

The second time I gave birth, fear wound its way into the picture. Because this time I knew what lay ahead; I had learned that pregnancy, like marriage, is an act of courage and faith. Every second-time mother knows the intimate joy of holding in her arms a being whose life is so new, so delicate that the skin is still translucent with heaven. She knows the smell of baby breath and the warmth of a heart that is beating with all four chambers for the first time. She knows.

But she also remembers. She remembers the hard work of growing, carrying, and delivering that child into the world. She bears scares. And she needs to gird her courage around her to do it again. Death and life. Ask any pregnant mother, and you will find her thoughts equally consumed by both. Birth is hard and risky work. It is intimate and exposed at the same time. (Surprised by motherhood Lisa-Jo Baker)

Fear, anxiety, worry. They are all sins, don’t you know? They aren’t just part of our personalities. They aren’t circumstance. They aren’t just something to deal with. They are things the roaring lion tries to use against use daily.

The past couple months have been wild, between what we have gone through with Verity and things happening in friends and family’s lives… stuff I would wish on no one.

I have had this post in the back of my mind since a couple weeks after V was born. Every week seems to bring more ammo. I don’t want to forget how the Lord is comforting me despite my fear though, what He is teaching me despite my knowledge.

I am thankful that my new “fear” hasn’t debilitated me in anyway, but its there… like this stupid imaginary image in the dark that I have to convince myself isn’t there. The truth of the matter is it IS there and I am fighting it daily.

What if Micah gets in a car accident?

What if I go before my children?

What if my children go before me?

What if I spend my entire life investing in them and they aren’t saved?

The mind is a battlefield and it cannot be walked through lightly. I don’t think our hearts and minds were meant to deal with the amount of tragedy and devastation that we see daily. Sure, social media is amazing for community and connecting but it is also a breeder of “what ifs” and comparison. I think it ignites fear on the daily.

We each have a different story though, ya know?

I hope no one else’s baby ever ends up in the hospital twice in two months.

I hope no one else’s family member almost loses their hand.

I hope no one else loses a child or a mother.

I can hope all I want. God is sovereign, but He doesn’t promise these things. Read the bible Sarah, He loves healing people yes, but there are times He lets them go.

What I’ve come to realize is hard… It’s that we value this life, the here and now, way more than the forever.

The forever with Jesus. Where there is no more pain, no more suffering, and praising him who gives eternal life forever more!

Lord, teach me to number my days, not worry about my children’s or husband’s days because you numbered them before they were ever created.

He has taught me so much about His grace these last few months. So so much.

Someday, there will be people saying “death, where is your sting”?

It’s not today though, and so we battle.

We confess, and we fight.

Feeding Times.

I had some feeding issues with Haddon and I chalked it up to a supply issue and we started supplementing at the end of his second month.

You can read more about that here.

Before Verity was born I knew I would do things differently this time around.

I resolved to feed on demand, eat/drink every galactagogue possible, pump from the beginning to make my body think it needed more, give formula sooner than 2 months if I needed to, etc!

I worked super hard the first month to get my supply going. I pumped a ton even when it meant a lot less sleep (I had to pump anyway since she was in the NICU), ate the “right” foods, except probably too many lactation cookies… and realized that water and rest makes more milk than anything I think.

Well it’s been a little over 2 months and I have realized that I do not have a supply issue. In fact, I have a pretty nice freezer stash.

However, if she solely nursed I do think she would not be getting fed enough or that I would be nursing every hour.

I pump 75% of her feedings and from this I have discovered that I have a long delay in between let downs. Im talking long. It’s no wonder Haddon would fall asleep so easily and then want to eat again. Verity gets tired of trying too!

So I pump mostly and nurse her in the mornings and during the night (usually just once a night, thank you little girl). If she wants to nurse during the day too I let her. I don’t mind pumping at all. In fact, I get things done while I pump, am able to freeze some pretty often, and know exactly how much she is getting and don’t have to nurse constantly. She eats 3.5 – 4oz every three – four hours most of the time. This is so helpful for me because I am not the type to just sit on the couch and not go crazy, especially with a toddler to care for too!

Basically, I have no “rules” for us this time around and it has made me so much relaxed.

It’s amazing how different perspective can be the second time around.

She is such a happy little girl and it makes me sad that Haddon was hungry for the first two months cause I bet he would have been too. Oh well, live and learn. She doesn’t mind the bottle or nursing (although she does get tired of it if its taking to long for the next round).

So basically, things have gone surprisingly well this time around as far as feeding goes. I have a stash of milk in the freezer, formula just in case on the top of the fridge, a happy baby, and a relaxed attitude (when it comes to her eating).

I am so thankful for the difference this time around.

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Dear Haddon.

You are growing up so fast and while I love it cause I seem to love every new stage more than before its crazy how fast life goes. I have your now and I want to remember it.

I don’t want to forget some things about this precious age.

You have night time stuff.

Bunny, a story, a Jesus story, nothing but the blood sung, “rock you”, take this kiss and hold it tight, “cuddle you in bed”.

You love your sister but mostly you just like to have her around.

“She pooped” “Where’s Verity?” “Gotta get out allllll the milk” “Why she have to stay at the hospital?” “she needs her doe doe”

You are still obsessed with all things with wheels. This month it is fire trucks.

This morning you spent 30 minutes looking for “red”. What do you want to do today? “plaaaay – play with my trucks”

You like TV too much.

“Mama go pump cause I wanna watch a show”

You are mostly a grateful child. Yesterday when I got home from the grocery store you unpacked all my bags.

“Mommy, apples!!!! oh thank you mommy I love apples” “Cados!!” “COW MILK – thank you mommy”

Since I post too much on social media daddy makes fun of me for taking pictures. Now you do too.

Me: oh you look so cute!!! You: But I don’t wanna take a picture

You get pretty intense with some feelings. For example… if you hit your head on the counter:

“NO – you bonked my head! don’t do that!”

Daddy is teaching you about earning pennies. You get them for cleaning up without asking, using manners, whenever we feel like it really.

“that would cost A LOT and A LOT and A LOT of pennies”

Daddy has to beep the horn when he leaves for work.

“he didn’t beep the horn!!!!” huge scowl

“he beeped the horn!!!” big excitement

You’re pretty much obsessed with daddy these days, he is the best.

“welcome HOME dad”

Those are just a few of my faves.

You have your defiante moments but overall I think you are an absolute joy my sweet boy. I am so happy to be your mama.

RSV Saga.

We had stayed inside for six whole weeks. I knew a newborn born in the winter just should stay cozy inside.

After six weeks we went to church and then I took Haddon to the grocery store with me, by Tuesday he was coughing and whiney. Since I stay home with the kids I knew there was no way to avoid the germs completely.

I would hold Haddon with him hacking all over me and wiping his snot on my shoulder, then I would change sweaters and go get Verity.

For a couple days I thought we were safe… but then the whole family went down like dominos, including my mom and dad! We all showed the same symptoms and so I knew this nasty virus had to run its course. I took Haddon to the doctor on the Thursday after he started getting sick just to make sure I knew what we were dealing with. “Just a bad respiratory infection”

Since Verity is breastfed I thought her antibodies would be strong enough to fight this thing… they weren’t.

The Tuesday after Haddon started being sick she started coughing. On Wednesday she had a fever and I almost took her to the doctor. They were about to close and said I could take her to the ER if I wanted.

I got off the phone and started crying to Micah that I didn’t want to take my 7 week baby to the ER and that I know my kids are God’s and on loan but I didn’t want Him to remind me anymore.

I got on my knees and prayed hard for her fever to come down. It did. Instantly. I was amazed.

I held off on taking her but decided I’d call the pediatrician again in the morning.

By the next morning she didn’t want to eat and hadn’t had a wet diaper. Her fever wasn’t too bad and she had pooped but I thought maybe she was a little dehydrated so made an appointment.

Her pediatrician thought her lungs sounded pretty good but then they hooked up this oxygen thing to her toe and it wouldn’t read what it was supposed to… the doc told me if they couldn’t get it to read in the 90s we would have to go to the hospital.

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After giving her a little bit of oxygen it shot up into the 90s. We had to go to the hospital.

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They asked me if I had anyone I wanted to call because we would have to leave my car there and be taken by an ambulance. I lost it. Ambulances just make everything seem more scary don’t they?

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I called Micah and told him to meet me at the ER and take Haddon to Shelby. Apparently he dropped him off with one diaper, no shoes, and no coat. We thought we would be back that night…

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In the ER, it took 10 different people to try and get an IV in her… finally a NICU nurse was able to get it. I thought Micah might punch someone if they dug one more needle in her.

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It was at FMH that I learned about retractions. Verity was working hard to breath. Without the oxygen her levels were in the low 80s. I didn’t even know to look for “retractions” or think about oxygen levels. I thought I was taking her in that day for mild dehydration.

Once they had her settled I went home and packed a bag while Micah held her. They said we would probably be there for 48 hours.

In the middle of the night the doctor woke me up and said they had an update, I half asleep asked her what it was and she told me I needed to sit up for the update.

They told me her levels had dropped and they needed to transfer her. Children’s or Hopkins.

In my stupid sleepy state, I said “right now”? “It’s the middle of the night, can’t we wait till morning?”

When they told me they didn’t have a choice and that if it dropped any lower they might have to intubate her I lost it.

My body went into shock I think… I was shaking and cold and felt like I was going to puke. Not again.

I woke Micah up and told him to pack up our stuff we had to leave.

The transport team from Hopkins got there an hour and a half later. Onto the ambulance we went again.

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We spent five days in the PICU at John Hopkins.

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I am so thankful for that hospital. Thank the Lord Verity never needed intubation or more than a cannula and saline drip. It was almost as if we had transferred rooms and doctors. We were there just in case though.

Being there seriously put things into perspective. Our daughter was there for virus. Three codes happened in one evening for three other families.

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We were so loved and prayed for that week and I can’t thank y’all enough.

When we are weak, His strength shows through and it showed through so many of His saints.

Pastors came and prayed, people visited, took care of our son and home, sent gift cards, etc.

This life is fleeting. This world is fallen. We are a needy people. I am continually reminded of it.

Thank God for the gift of His grace, His son. We are home, healthy, and happy to be together.

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Two Months.

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Verity Belle,

You are two months old today sweet girl.

A week ago I honestly didn’t know if we would see this day, maybe that sounds irrational but mommy is struggling a little bit with fear lately. But that is for another post…

We are SO thankful to have had you in our lives for two months.

You are the sweetest little baby.

You rarely get too upset and if you do you are easily consolable.

Sometimes we lay you down after changing you or something and you just go to sleep.

We haven’t tried to “schedule” you yet, but you have a pretty easy routine of eating every 3-4 hours.

You take your best nap in the morning after breakfast and playing with us.

A couple times you have let me sleep through the night! I never count on it but it is so good to me when it happens!

The first time you smiled at me, like really smiled at me, I definitely cried. I have a feeling every “first” is going to be super special to me.

You are super strong.

You don’t love tummy time and you only lift up if you feel like it, but you are more than capable.

After feeding and I’m holding you over my shoulder you try to stand on me and pretty much climb up my stomach.

You coo and smile now, mostly at fans, windows, and black and white images, but you smile for us too and in those moments all is right in the world.

Your happiest day in life was the day you got your “nose tube” and “stickers” off and mama could cuddle you close. I dont think you have ever stopped eating to look up and smile and coo so much in your little life. It was the best.

Youre the best baby girl.

NICU Stay.

Never in my “what if” scenarios did I think we’d be in our recovery room without our baby or that we would leave the hospital without her.

Verity gave us all a surprise with her birth.

Once a baby is in the NICU its almost like feels like it isn’t your baby… of course that isn’t true, but it almost felt like it. Protocol starts and you dont have too much of a say. After they wheeled her away she stayed for five days and we left the hospital after two.

The first couple days we had to ask to hold her, ask what the tubes were for and what they were doing, what kind of treatment she was getting, etc. Her nurses were great and for that I am so thankful.

When Haddon met her for the first time he said: “she’s locked up!” He then watched the nurse check her with the stethoscope and then yell at the nurse: “she doesnt like that!”

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That week didn’t include the grand welcoming home and snuggling I imagined. A week after we were home for good even with Verity, if I had my slippers on Haddon would ask “mama go to the hospital again?” Thank God for my mom being here to take care of Haddon, feed us, help play taxi, visit with me and V so Haddon could have his dad, etc!

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My sweet husband arranged for us to have a golf cart at a Christmas tree farm during one lunch break to keep us distracted and excited. Most days I mostly lived at the hospital just without a room. I packed my lunch, snacks, things to do, and would only leave the NICU for rounds or during a shift change. I also went home for dinner/nap and after the 11 pm feeding until the 8 am feeding.

I was there so often that I learned a lot. I felt more prepared for a newborn with Verity than I ever did with Haddon. Not because I was a second time mom either. The nurses were just very informative and patient with all our questions. The doctors were great too. One in particular that would always encourage us that she was passing her tests, that she was an A+ baby, and that she was the healthiest in there. But, she would never tell us for sure when we would get to take her home. She said she wouldn’t want to disappoint us if something changed. The morning we went to the hospital expecting to take her home if she passed all her tests throughout the night I prayed “Lord please please let us, and if we don’t get to help me not turn into a basket case”. My prayers have been pretty simple and straight forward these days…

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As great as the nurses are, they are not those babies mamas. It broke my heart to see moms in and out and wonder their story (for some reason moms in there while we were there did not make eye-contact! I wanted to hug them all and find out each of their stories… but I guess there is an unspoken rule that you are all sad your babies have to be there so just keep to them).

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One good thing about her NICU stay is she goes kind of long stretches with her eating/sleeping. The nurses have to tend to all the babies so they have them on schedules from the beginning.

It was hard to hold my baby with “spaghetti” all over her and beeping happening constantly.

It was hard to say “okay” to formula for a couple feedings until my milk came in (it took 4 days…).

It was hard to know she was getting sugar water, protein, fat, antibiotics, heel pricks (her little heels still have over 20 little marks on them), etc.

It was hard to come home without her.

It was hard to know she wasn’t getting nurtured if she was upset.

But at the same time… it wasn’t hard at all. So many things in life are all about perspective.

I got to bring her home.

I get to feed her (who cares how that is done).

I can cuddle her all I want now.

She is an amazing baby. Regardless of any of those things that happened the first week and you know what she is probably better for them.

I am so glad she is home to stay.

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Verity – One Month.

DSC_1070My sweet sweet girl,

It’s your one month birthday.

This month has gone by way too fast. I don’t know if it was a mixture of you coming home after us, the holidays, the fact that time just flies faster these days or a mixture of all three but one thing is for sure – I want it to slow down!

You are a darling baby my daughter.

You should be in a text book under the definition of sleepy newborn.

You are eating pretty well and are super noisy while doing so… I pump a lot and give you bottles during the day so other people can take a turn feeding you and because its faster… you nurse a lot in the morning and at night. I like the mixture.

You hardly cry and when you do you are consolable after just a few minutes.

So far you will go to whoever wants to snuggle you but no one can put you to sleep or calm you like I can.

You sleep next to mama in a rock and play (man I love that thing). Half the time you end up in my arms from me falling asleep nursing you. Even though you sleep wherever, you sleep best on your belly. I let you sleep best during the day where I can check on you a lot…

Your brother adores you. He is very helpful in bringing me diapers, doe does, and wipes. He loves to give you kisses. He will only hold you on his terms. He thinks youre funny because of how often you poop.

Your daddy adores you. He says funny things to you and loves to give you kisses and cuddle you. He talks to you in a high pitched voice and would never admit to it.

I adore you as well, obviously.

After your birth experience I told your daddy, “sorry but I don’t know if I want anymore after this”, since having you home with us, I change my mind! If babies were guaranteed to be like you I’d take a couple more!

I love you Verity Belle! We are so glad to get to know you.

Christmas Day.

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I think most people and scholars would agree that December 25th isnt actually Christ’s real birthday. It sure is fun to celebrate life no matter when it’s done though, isnt it?

That said, I’m not ready for “Christmas” to come and be over with tomorrow. I love how focused I get on Him during this season. Sure, I shop, wrap, enjoy hot cocoa, pine smells, traditions, advent activities, etc as much as anyone but I truly do make a point to keep my eyes on Him.

This advent season more than ever I’ve really been thinking about Emmanuel – God with us.

Christ left His heavenly reign where He existed with His father before anything in this world was ever thought up. He came through childbirth and especially at this point in life I can say, whoa, what a humble thing. He didn’t come into this world in a comfy hospital bed or birthing center but to a smelly manger. The highest of high to the lowest of low.

There is so much rejoicing for my family this year. There are so many of my family and friends in sorrow. Mourning in this fallen world…

As joyful as I am with some of our earthly blessings, nothing is more of a blessing than my salvation. I tear up just thinking about it. How do I teach my children that “advent activities” and “traditions” to not be idols in their hearts but to long for His coming back more than any earthly desire?! What a huge responsibility… when I think of the temporary satisfaction I get from the world and how fleeting it is. How will I teach them to not do the same?

He is coming again.

I used to say “I want xyz to happen before He comes back”. Not anymore, we pray you would come quickly Lord.

Not only will He wipe away tears of this fallen world but there will be a final stake on sin. No more of it. Part of that sin, I am talking about is pride. Ugh – dont you hate it? Not a week after “Christ’s Birthday” we are all into how WE can be better versions of ourselves in the coming year. Not that it is necessarily bad in and of itself to want to improve but it amazes me how fast my eyes can go from Him to myself.

Praying that this year I can keep my eyes fixed on Him!

Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel…

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