Halfway

Sarah

I am 20 weeks and I can’t believe I am halfway done! Already with this pregnancy, I have been so much more relaxed and I have done nothing to prepare! I am feeling a little behind now. I am feeling the baby move more each day. I received my spinal bifida test and it was normal. Thank God! I am so relieved things are staying healthy at this point. Next week, I get an anatomy scan done and, yes, I am running behind on that, too. Basically my doctor and midwife friends have all left so I have been interviewing people to take their place. It has been a struggle to find a perfect fit. I am working through my birth-plan and trying to decide how to proceed with all of that. I feel buying anything for the baby has been the last priority. I have been more concerned about having the birth I really want in the end. I live in a smaller city with fewer options and providers for health care.

I did schedule my newborn photos and am trying to decide if I want to do the 3-D ultrasound pictures of the baby. I didn’t do them with my daughter as I was unsure of the exposure risks. However, while I know there are people who feel this may be an unsafe exposure on the baby, I am still looking into this and working out my feelings on getting these done (as this will be my last pregnancy). There seems to be so many more tests and interventions than ever before related to pregnancy. I do feel women have to really educate themselves on all tests and stand strong for what they don’t want or is not necessary.

My husband and I are currently talking over all the newborn interventions at birth. As a pediatrician, it has been emotionally challenging for him to stop and evaluate policy over my wishes and feelings. As a mom, I have challenged him to give me information on what is necessary and defend himself over policy and what he believes is good for our baby. This was definitely the monster in the closet I was waiting to bring out way before the birth of this baby. I have looked back at the birth of my daughter with questions of why we did some of the interventions that were policy at the hospital and am not feeling so comfortable with all of that! I will be blogging more about those interventions after our discussion.

People tell me I am so lucky to live with a baby doctor!! My response is- not always- as it can be educationally and emotionally challenging in debating heart issues verses policy and medical interventions. In the end, my husband has a lot of respect for mommies and their babies, especially me!

Graem’s 6 Month Check-Up

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Graem is now “officially” 6 months old. Yet, with his prematurity, the doctor still considers him more like 5 months.

A silver lining to having a premature baby is that I really do feel like I’ve gotten to experience the “baby” phase perhaps longer than others.

That said, I find myself vacillating between wanting him to start scooting around, and relishing in his immobility. I find myself thankful that he seems to be slowly weaning off nursing, and yet grimacing that these precious days are at their sunset.

I will him to be a “normal” 6-month-old baby, and yet scared to death for him to be so because I know physically he is not ready.

His 6-month-appointment was typical. He’s 75th percentile for height (over 27 inches) and 25th percentile for weight (16.8 lbs). He can roll over from his tummy to his back, although not consistently. He has not rolled from his back to his tummy. His only real method of moving around is that he “shimmies” on his back, to and fro, using his heels as traction to propel his little body backwards and sideways.

He loves food, any kind of food. He has yet to turn his nose at any fruit or vegetable I’ve given him. For that reason, he is easily distracted when nursing, and really doesn’t care for a bottle. But he starts panting the moment he sees the food come his way.

Apparently, the doctor says this is a good thing.

His eyes have remained a dark blue. Since neither Tygh nor I have blue eyes (each green), this must be the recessive genes coming through (both our moms have blue eyes). The doctor says it is unlikely the color will change at this point, but I’m less optimistic. Brae had blue eyes still at 6 months, and now they are hazel. Sienna also had dark blue eyes at this time, and strangely, hers lightened to a sky blue/grey.

He remains the easiest, most chill baby ever. We are constantly getting comments like, “Is he always like this?”

Yes. Since he was about 2-3 months old, he’s been like this. He takes after his dad.

In fact, the only evidence that he belongs to my gene pool is his ears. They are small.

That’s about it. Everything else is all his daddy.

He and Brae have a very special, unique bond. Brae is the only person that, to this day, can get him to really belly laugh.

He and Sienna also share a remarkable relationship, but I’d say it is more like pet and owner than brother and sister. Sienna notices him occasionally, pets his head, and moves on, as he gazes longingly after her.

I went back to work last week and Graem also did superb. In fact, I stopped calling the daycare after the second day because I kept getting the same report. “El es muy tranquilo. No llora. Muy facil.” (He’s very calm. Doesn’t cry. Very easy.).

Yup, that’s just Graem.

We’ve come along way since the NICU.

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Graem and Sienna at his check-up. Sienna helped console him after his shots.

Birthday Blessings

Sarah

Our sweet Vivienne turned two this weekend! What a celebration of life it has been in remembering our journey with our miracle baby who was born January 9th, 2013. Her birth was an awesome event that has changed our lives. Words can’t describe the anticipation and pining that I had for this sweet baby! As most Mom’s on here can know so well, there was a lot of pain before her life was connected with ours. These memories have impended my heart and I continue to pray and advocate for all the frozen embryos that need those moms with open hearts to receive these miracles.

My pregnancy with Vivienne was not easy, nor the birth and recovery after my C-section, but every time I look at her face it melts my heart to feel chosen to be her Mom. I could have never imagined that I could feel so connected to her. Even in adoption the bond can be just as strong as a biological child. This was not something I thought was possible before I went through my transfer. I thought that this baby not looking like our family or having a connection to us, it would feel strange and something I would have to work on, but that was not the case. It was an immediate loving connection. Her life is truly a celebration each day. Attached are pictures at birth and on her second birthday.

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Johnny 5

Does anyone remember the 1980’s movie called Short Circuit? The main character was a robot named “Johnny 5” and he craved input. On some days, Grant is our Johnny 5. For the last year I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading and research on sensory integration issues. I’ve long wondered if Grant might be a bit of a “sensory kid” and, when it took us forever to potty train in part because he liked how “comfy” his diapers were, I became more convinced. Between his need to be swaddled until he was almost a year old, his army crawling, and need to touch everything, it is apparent that he craves a certain type of sensory input that includes deep pressure and some “rough and tumble” play. I discussed with our pediatrician and he agreed that Grant likely has some mild issues as it’s not uncommon for preemies, but he was reluctant to refer us for a formal assessment. He didn’t want to label Grant and, while I don’t disagree, I also want to be able to provide tools to help him be as successful as possible as we go to school in the fall.

With the help of one of my best friends who is an occupational therapist, we’re working on strategies to help his brain function best. When he’s having a “sensory day” he’s incredibly difficult. He’s moody, obstinate and a general pain in the butt. One strategy I implemented recently was building an obstacle course in the living room. This included jumping, tumbling, hand stands, crawling and even some weight lifting. After only a few minutes of play, Johnny 5 left and Grant returned. I now had a settled and more agreeable child.

His sensory needs definitely played a role in our school decision and how we structure our time. This benefits not only him, but Maria as well. Routine is important, as well as properly preparing for transitions. The timer is a great tool for us; I let them know they timer is set and, when the timer goes off, they generally are agreeable to switching gears. We also don’t overly schedule our days as that can be overwhelming and cause a sensory meltdown, which is not pretty. We had one in Costco recently and nothing causes a mom to sweat like hauling your screaming kid out over your shoulder.

Are we labeling Grant? I hope not. Everyone of us has different sensory needs….some are just more pronounced than others. I think it’s imperative for parents to research as much as possible and pursue all avenues to help our children be able to function at their best in this world. Sometimes it means quiet time in the rocking chair snuggling and sometimes it means flipping a kid upside down to get the neurons to reconnect. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last almost 5 years of parenting, it is that there is not a one-size fits all approach and we must do what works.

It’s a Boy!

Sarah

I am still in shock over the news of the gender of this baby. What a wonderful surprise! In my past blogs, I have stated how much this pregnancy was so much like my daughter’s and even more hormonal. When I carried my daughter, my symptoms were very similar – but the nausea has been so much worse. I really believed I was carrying a girl and would have bet money on it! I still haven’t seen the ultrasound but my blood test came back that I am carrying a boy. God is full of surprises! I will be getting my anatomy scan on the baby and will post pictures soon.

We have begun preparing my daughter for the baby a little more each month. We talk about the baby everyday and I show her pictures. It is amazing how quick toddlers pick up on these things. It is very exciting to see her think about it and take it all in. These last few days we have started potty training. The thought of trying to accomplish this task either right before giving birth or after does not seem workable. She is very excited about the attention she is getting and it is going very well. Vivienne really has blossomed into a toddler. Here birthday is this week and she will be 2. She is doing and saying so much more everyday. I am excited to keep working on the big transition of her going from baby to big sister!

Finally, I am trying to get creative on how I can use some of the pink baby items we have and convert them for a boy. It was so hard not to buy pink with my girl so I was not thinking – if I had another, it would be a boy! We are not planning on having any more babies; it seems wasteful to buy all new baby stuff for a boy because it’s pink. It will be nice to have a change of color to blue and the see how each child will compliment the other.

Afraid of 2015

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As dawn breaks on the start of a new year, the fear of the unknown can be very sobering.

I remember like it was yesterday being in the throes of infertility, and the bittersweet taste of what a new year could bring.

There was hope, sure. But there was also the fear that all hope was lost.

There was anticipation, definitely. But there was also the pit in my stomach that grew with the thought that I was only to be anticipating more disappointment.

And there was excitement, of course. But there was also an overwhelming shroud of anxiety that my excitement would give way to agony.

As we step into this new year, I have two dear friends, unknown to each other, but linked by infertility. One just discovered she is pregnant with twins. The other is still, well, just still waiting for that other dark line to appear.

Although I’d like to say that infertility is behind me, it has left some very real and tangible scars in its wake. The blessing of those scars is that the experience of infertility has given me a platform. I can talk with others who are going through it without just pretending or speculating. I’ve been there, and I can relate to every single emotion they are feeling. And, because the worst of it is over for me, I can also share with others the hope that can come when this season is over.

For some, the season will turn with the birth of a child. For others, the season will turn with the adoption of a child. For others, the season will turn when they are consumed by contentment with their present circumstances, whatever they may be.

I am grateful for the three little blessings God has given my family. And yet, there is still mourning over how those blessings came about. But, that mourning does not last for long. Because, those blessings could only come about in the way that they did.

When I start to dwell on the fantasy children that I could have had, I stop almost immediately. Because those fantasy children were never going to come. God had planned, since the beginning of time, for these three children to be mine. There are no others, at least not here on earth. And, in His amazing providence, these three children were destined to come about in the way that they did.

So, as dawn breaks on the start of this new year, I remember being afraid of so many other new years, and what untold secrets they held. And, right now, as I hear the first bird of a new year greet the morning with singing outside my doors , I close my eyes in gratitude that those fears are behind me, and look up to heaven in awe of the blessings bestowed.

Britney

White Christmas

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We rarely get a white Christmas in Portland, Oregon.

This year was no exception .

So, the following day, we took our tribe up to meet our extended tribe at a cabin in the mountains. Although no snow greeted us upon arrival, we awoke the following morning to a blanket of shimmery white.

It made the whole trip worthwhile.

Brae, Sienna, and Graem enjoyed a fun-filled weekend with their cousin siblings, and it warmed my heart to see them play (and yes, even fight) together. They are making memories that will last the lifetime, and for that, I’m truly grateful.

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