Monday, December 31, 2012

16 Weeks

A little pregnancy update...

I am 16 weeks today! Hooray! It's going by slowly and quickly at the same time. I think I have gained about 5 pounds or so. I'm still wearing my regular clothes but have to unbutton my pants sometimes :) I go in next week for another ultrasound to check my cervix and meet with the doctor. We are hoping maybe they can sneak a little peak at whether baby is a boy or a girl. Don't forget to vote on the sidebar, so far everyone seems to be leaning towards girl....we'll see!

 My brain seems to be split into two as far as my feelings and emotions. There is a part of me that says this is not the same pregnancy, it's going to be different.

And then every couple weeks for a day or two I panic. There's the other part of me that says yeah, but...what if? What if it happens again? What if I have to relive my greatest nightmare?

Honestly, the NICU part doesn't scare me as much. We've been through that and while we surely don't want to do it again if we can avoid it, that isn't my greatest fear. My greatest fear is another tiny casket and another grave and a lifetime without my child.

In my head I know that the chances of us having a healthy, long pregnancy are good. I try to focus on that. I repeat to myself that this time it's going to be different.

But then I feel a funny twinge, or think I feel a contraction. And it all comes back. Danny and I were talking the other night and I was telling him that I don't know how to not be worried. Now, I'm not worried every second of every day, I have many moments of calm and peace. I actually think that I have been doing pretty well so far. However, we are getting close to the "bad time" (19/20 weeks) with the boys' pregnancy. Thankfully, the good moments have outweighed the worried, anxious moments and I am grateful for that and I hope it can continue that way.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

Hope you all enjoyed your Christmases. We have a good time over here, we even got a white Christmas!!

Danny's parents came up on Christmas Eve and we were able to spend a little time with them. We went out to dinner and then came home for brownies.

 It started snowing early in the day and Danny didn't actually believe me that it was snowing because the snowfall was a little sparse. But I knew it was there. It kept snowing for most of the day and finally quit in the afternoon.

{Good morning cute boy!}

We had a nice quiet breakfast at home with our traditional "coyote" breakfast. I don't know how it got that name, but it's just fried dough covered in powdered sugar or jam. Yum, yum. There really weren't any presents to open, other than one that Cohen got. I had opened my gift, a dustbuster, the night before. You know you're getting old when you ask for and are extremely excited about getting cleaning tools. It had to charge for a full 24 hour so I was pretty bummed I couldn't use it right away.


Cohen got some hot wheels cars in his stocking that he loved. I have never seen him sit still for so long and actually play with something. If I would have known how much he was going to like them I would have gotten them a long time ago!

{Monster truck meets medical kit}

After Cohen's nap, we headed over to my parents house. We played some games and had appetizers and visited. After dinner, we opened presents, always fun with all the kids running around! The adults draw names for presents and we all usually get the kids something.



{The men, minus one brother} 

{The ladies}

{The fam}

This Christmas just felt so easy stress wise. We kept everything super simple and we had a great time. Hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating as well! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Life with an 18(ish) Month Old

I feel way more tired this pregnancy, and I'm thinking it might have something to do with this...Yes, almost all the pictures are blurry, because he truly does not stop moving very often.

 {Pulling down kiddie gates, climbing the couch, and typing on the computer)

{Saying hi to mom, more typing} 

{This is probably the most accurate picture, cruising around the house with his trucks at top speed} 

 {Just threw Mr. Stinkers off of his car, and more driving}

{And *sometimes* every so often, he stops for a snuggle with Stinkers}

He is definitely a busy boy with a LOT of things to do, but we wouldn't trade him for anything....although a nap would be nice! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simply Christmas

We have enjoying a nice simple Christmas around here and it has been so nice. We put up our little Christmas tree and stockings and really about all we did for decorations. And I'm okay with it.

Every day Cohen undecorates the tree and I re-decorate it when he goes to bed. I'm okay with that too. We opted to not fight the "don't touch the tree battle" and just decorate the bottom half of the tree with things that were okay for Cohen to play with. And he loves it. There are two little stuffed bear ornaments that are always the first ones he pulls off. He carries them around the house, drives them around in his dump truck and he snuggles them. It's pretty much the cutest thing ever. He puts one on each ear and then lays his head down and cuddles them. We also don't have any presents under the tree so that's one less battle to fight too.

 {Cohen socializing with the relatives}

Danny and I went together and then split up to get things for each other's stockings. One night of shopping and we were done! So nice.


We've even gotten to go to a few Christmas parties along the way. Last weekend we had a Christmas party with my mom's side of the family (all the pictures posted are from that party). We've missed the party the last few years and it was fun to get to see everyone again. Cohen had a great time schmoozing his great aunties and a few of my cousins. This week we got to go to the Christmas party for our Sunday School class which was also nice. We have another Christmas party this weekend with our friends that we are looking forward to. It's nice to be able to enjoy things like these parties a little more because we aren't so worried and stressed out about everything else.

 {Oh yeah, we were there too}

We listen to our Christmas music, drink our hot chocolate, and look at the lights with Cohen. It's not the biggest or the fanciest Christmas we'll ever have, but for right now, it's perfect.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


In case you need something a little light-hearted today... a friend was giving a few examples of funny things that people had searched and come across their blog. So I went to look and this is what I found, these are things that people have typed in google or a search engine and gotten to our blog:

- mom's first tattoo
- "he blew out his diaper"
- "long toes"
- can baby boys put on stockings
- diaper slave story (????)
- gingerbread house kit falling apart
- "put my cold feet on him"
- hiccups after wisdom teeth out
- I ripped a huge hole in my pajama pants can they be fixed?
- reindeer hand sanitizer
- "incredibly ticklish"
- homemade pizza Christmas trees
- will a hospital bed fit down my hallway
- is it normal for a baby to have big hands and feet
- Jimmy Kimmel's first wife
- video of the day we went to get our christmas tree
- I think tiny flies have come from my Christmas tree

Some of these I know exactly what post they would have gotten to from their search, some of them I have NO idea. But they were good for a laugh! And if you got here through one of those searches, welcome :) 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Like so many other people, I was heartbroken over the latest violence and lost lives in the news. It was hard for me to hear about and hard to read about. I am devastated for those parents who will now be burying their children this holiday season instead of celebrating with them. They won't get to see their kids run down the stairs Christmas morning. The presents will go unopened. And it will go beyond Christmastime too. When the rest of the world gets over the shock and moves on, they will still be grieving. These parents will never get another hug from their baby, they will never get to tuck their kids into bed again, no more giggles or kisses. Their birthdays will be remembered at a grave site, their balloons sent to heaven. 

 It brought back a lot of emotions for me as I thought of all those families whose lives were changed in an instant. I'm not even going to pretend I know what it's like to lose a child so tragically, but I do know about all those broken hopes and dreams. I know about the things you never think will happen to you, and then you find yourself experiencing the unthinkable.

I found myself holding Cohen even closer. And thinking about what is in store for his little life. All those minutes, hours, and days we spent praying he would make it just one more day. All the battles he fought and won. He has overcome so much and yet, there are no guarantees of how many days or years we will get to spend with him.

I know this is totally cliche, but each moment really is a gift. As I cleaned up Cohen's lunch off the floor again, and watched him take all of the Christmas decorations off the tree again, and empty all of the desk drawers again, I thought about how these were the moments we had waited for. These were the moments we would give anything to have with Carter. And moments like these are the ones that so many parents never get to experience.

The thing is, those kids, they aren't hurting anymore. They aren't in pain. I know there is a special place in heaven for children. It's the ones left behind, they are the ones who have an incredibly long road to walk. Some days, the only thing that brings me peace is knowing that heaven exists and that my Carter is with Jesus, what better place to be!? Sometimes we work so hard to keep God out of our lives, and then when something like this happens, we blame him. We often wonder where God is in things like this, and I saw one person respond that Jesus is there, welcoming those little children into heaven. This poem and picture have been floating around the internet, and I think they fit so well. We have a picture similar to this in Cohen's room. It was given to me by a good friend and I just love it. Our picture is of a baby being held in the arms of Jesus, my only comfort.

twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38

when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the ai
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Oh yes we did. Isn't he the cutest little Santa ever?? And he even brought some snow to town with him!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Picture Fix

Can someone please tell me when my little tiny baby turned into not so tiny little boy!? (All of these pictures are from Cohen's Auntie Karen)

I have told a few of you about this, so here's your picture to go with it. Cohen gets really excited about things and yells "OH!" and makes this ridiculous(ly cute) face.

He also likes to talk on cell phones. The phone must be held at the back of his head to work properly. This is apparently a very serious conversation.
{"Naughty!? What do you mean, Santa? Who told you that?}

{"He called me naughty, can you believe it, Auntie Karen!?"}

Missing Carter

The holidays are upon us and I can feel it. I'm sure the extra hormones don't help either.

Christmas is coming and he's not here. The holidays are hard because it is supposed to be this magical time of year. The lights and the presents and everyone feeling festive. What should be the happiest time of year is a painful reminder of what isn't. This isn't to say that we don't remember the true meaning of Christmas and what all the celebration is really about, it's just that in this time of wonderful memories we are reminded of the memories we will never have. This pain is one that never leaves. It does get to a point where there are fewer heart wrenching days, but they are always still there.

Sometimes I sit and think about how different my life would have been if we were raising both our boys. I would probably actually want to put up my Christmas tree and decorate. I hate shopping, so I don't think that would change even if I did have two little boys to shop for. His stocking wouldn't be empty. There would be two sets of Christmas jammies instead of one. I would get to get two little smiling faces out of their cribs in the morning. We wouldn't have to go to the cemetery to be with our son on Christmas day.

Carter, your mom misses you so much. I know heaven is probably pretty cool at Christmastime, but I wish you were here. I just want to hold you again, to feel your weight in my arms, and see your sweet little face. I want to see you walk and I want to hear you say "mama". I love you with all of my heart and I can't wait to see you again little buddy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

2nd Trimester

Hello second trimester! I may have spoken a little too soon about all my nausea being gone, its improved, but still present.

All week I have been thinking about how at this point in my last pregnancy, I was halfway done being pregnant. Crazy right? We knew the boys were going to come early, but we didn't expect them to come that early. Somewhere deep down we must have known because we stayed busy early on getting things ready, painting their room and we even had the cribs set up. Or maybe we were just really excited. Either way, it's hard for me not to feel like I should be getting things ready for this next baby like now. Of course this time we aren't starting from scratch so there really isn't that much to get ready. I just have this feeling like I need to get all my ducks in a row in case I have to go on bedrest or something (which I already told my doctor wasn't really going to work for me).

One thing that I struggle with is that I just don't really know what it's like to be a normal pregnant person. 40 weeks seems like a LONG time considering our pregnancy lasted barely over 6 months. Plus we were so busy with all the medical stuff and bedrest and I'm not entirely sure there was anything normal about any of that. I hardly wore maternity clothes, I only have a handful of maternity clothes.

And so, here I am at 13 weeks. I keep trying to remind myself that so many things are different this time around. There is only one baby, I'm not working full time, and hopefully I won't be the size of 40 weeks at 25 weeks. Or carrying around 3 1/2 pounds of baby by then or 2 1/2 extra liters of fluid in my belly either.

I'm much less anxious this week, so thank you to those of you who have been praying, I just feel like I should be doing something to get ready! But, hopefully we have a long, long pregnancy ahead of us. When I am 40 weeks and giant and uncomfortable, you have my permission to remind me how much I really wanted to hit that mark.

In case you missed our post about the NICU Care Package delivery, don't forget to check it out! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

NICU Care Package Delivery

The care packages have been dropped off!! Danny and I made the trek down to Seattle for the day to drop off the care packages to the NICU. We borrowed my mom's car and loaded it up with all the boxes of packages, blankets, hats, and trays of cookies for the staff. We had planned to take Cohen with us, but my mom offered to keep him and we figured that would probably be best all around. That way he didn't have to make the long car trip and we didn't have to try and occupy him while we were transporting and delivering the care packages. The car was so full that Danny couldn't move the seat back to fit in the car so me and my short legs got to drive.

We got to UW and went up to the NICU for reinforcements. We had two volunteers to help us and a few wagons. I have tried to warn the staff both last year and this year about just how much stuff there was. Nobody ever believes us. After the volunteers got to the car and saw that I was serious about the mass amount of boxes, they went back in to the hospital and got a few more helpers. We filled up 3 wagons and several wheelchairs with boxes. The wagon train of boxes going into the hospital was cracking me up and we made quite the scene going through the lobby.

 There was another parent who had arranged a pizza party for the NICU parents so it worked out well. We dropped the box of hats and blankets off for parents who were out visiting/eating. When we set the boxes down the parents were so excited to dig through and find the perfect hat and blanket for their babies. A tiny hat was the first thing we ever got to put on Cohen. It helped us feel more like he was our baby just by picking a little hat for him and putting it on him. We still have his little hats and booties in each size and it's so fun to look back and see how little his hats were and how much he has grown. So many of my memories of him in the NICU are associated with the tiny outfit or hat he was wearing. For a NICU parent, something as simple as a hat really is so much more than just a hat.
We also got to take a tour of the brand new NICU. They were building the NICU while we were in the hospital so we heard a lot about it so it was fun to actually get to see it. We missed the day before it opened that they were offering tours to the general public and I didn't think we would ever get to see it so it was a nice surprise to be offered a little tour. And let me say, it was amazing. While Cohen was in the NICU, we were in big open rooms with up to 6 other babies. Partway through our stay, Cohen earned us one of two private rooms with his mysterious skin infection and we got to stay there until he left. So we were actually some of the lucky ones. Our private room was nothing compared to these new rooms that every parent gets to have. 

{This was our "private" room}

Each parent has their own room, with their own recliner chair and even a bed if parents want to stay the night or rest in the same room as their baby. Each room is spacious and has it's own little blanket warmer and breast pump (awesome!!) and a door that closes. I hope that we never have to go back to the NICU, but I am excited that the parents will hopefully be a little more comfortable in the new setting. Here is the promotional video UW put out at the opening of the new NICU.

It was a wonderful day getting to see the parents excited to receive their little presents, to see the new NICU, and to get to see one of our best nurses on the tour. I can't thank you all enough for helping us out with this project. It was a little stressful, but it is all so worth it to help bring a little joy to parents walking the NICU journey. The staff was amazed when I told them that everything was donated. They kept asking me if I made all the blankets and hats and I kept telling them that I had LOTS of help and that really all I did was put the packages together. I have been completely overwhelmed both last year and this year by people's willingness to help out. This would not be possible without all of you!!

In the end we donated over 50 care packages, many, many blankets and hats, around 20 sets of hand crocheted booties, tops, and hats, 3 bags for moms on bedrest, and 6 bags of baby basics (diapers, wipes, clothes, lotion, books, and small toys) for families in need. My wonderful mom also made two huge trays of cookies for the staff, which they loved! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updates: Pregnancy, Care Packages, & Diapers

A few quick updates on the going ons (goings on?) around here...

We went in yesterday for our 12 week appointment and it went much better than the first. They checked my cervix to make sure it was behaving and all looks good. We got to see our little baby bouncing around. Danny was teasing me because I said he/she looks like Cohen. I know all babies look pretty much the same on ultrasound, but the baby looks like it has the same little nose as the boys. I feel like now that we have made it to 12 weeks I can breathe a little sigh of relief. I think it also helped to have a doctor who was more understanding and didn't make me feel crazy. He actually told me he thought I was doing well. The doctor we saw this week was the one who sent us down to UW to be admitted and he remembered us, so I think that helps with him being a little more supportive of our situation.

{Sweet little profile}

We have shipped off over 700 diapers in the last few weeks. The diapers are on their way to 3 hospitals in Alaska, one in Tacoma, some to New York, a big batch to California, and I have a few more to send to Colorado. We have also had the privilege of sending out diapers in memory of Carter's angel friends Parker, Keaton, Winter, & Gabriel.

{Diapers to NY for Carter's angel friend, Parker}

{380 diapers to Long Beach, CA}

NICU Care Packages:
The bags are packed! Last week we took all the supplies to my ladies night at my church and we got all of the packages packed in a short amount of time. We are taking the packages down on Saturday to be delivered by the NICU staff. We have over 50 care packages, including a few for parents on bedrest. We were also able to make 6 bags of baby basics (clothes, diapers, wipes, and small toys & books) for parents in need. And of course, the 50 blankets and many, many hats to take down for the babies. We are thrilled to be able to take all of these things down. We couldn't have done it without all of you and we are very thankful for everyone who has been a part of this.

We took Cohen to the lighted Christmas parade. He got to sit with his friend Isaiah. He liked to look at all the big tractors and lights. Also, our decorations are up! We didn't go all out this year and I'm okay with it. We have a small tree up that Cohen loves to undecorate and carry the ornaments around the house. Every night I go around and pick them up and put them back on the tree. I'm still working on getting a good picture of Cohen in front of the tree. We are trying to do simple this year. Cohen has 2 presents. Danny has tickets to a Seahawks game and I got family pictures. We will do stockings Christmas morning, because that's my favorite part. Easy and low stress!

And then, I finally made this purse for my sister's birthday. I have been promising her a new one for several years and this year I actually got it made.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How did you Decide?

There are a lot of questions that we get asked a lot or that I can see that people want to ask but don't. One of these being: How did you decide to have another baby?

This is our answer, it by no means represents all preemie parents or baby loss parents. For us, we knew we wanted more than one baby. When we got pregnant with the twins, we thought how perfect it was that we could get it done in one pregnancy. Obviously that didn't work out as we had planned. We knew that we wanted a brother or sister that Cohen gets to grow up with. This is by no means an effort to replace Carter. We know that no one will ever replace him, or would we ever want to try and replace him.

We thought long and hard about our decision and we knew that we wanted to have another baby. We didn't want to let the fear of losing another child or having another preemie stop us. It wasn't an easy decision...there were all of the what ifs that came back up. What if we have another preemie? What if I have to go on bedrest? What if people get tired of helping us out? Is it irresponsible to try again? What if we lose another baby?

I have never been only a preemie parent or only a baby loss parent, our experiences are intertwined and we really can't separate them out. This is only my opinion based on our experiences. It seems like having a preemie scares you just enough to never want to go through that again. You have caught a glimpse of what could have been and been through horrible things fighting for the life of your baby. It's really, really hard. Maybe just hard enough that you never want to do it again. When you have been told that your baby is dying, held his lifeless body, carried a tiny casket to a graveside, and buried your child, that's the bottom. There is nowhere farther down to go.

There is a common thread among baby loss parents that they just need to try again. I can't say what the reason is for sure, to fulfill the dream of a child, to restore faith in your body, to trust yourself again. Like I mentioned before, it's not to replace a child. I think there is probably a huge amount of healing that comes with being able to carry a baby and bring that baby home, alive.

Of course we are nervous and scared of losing another baby. And maybe none of this makes sense, but it was just something that we needed to do. To be perfectly honest, I've had a few pretty anxious days where I wonder why on earth we thought this was a good idea. I can't bear the thought of burying another baby. I'm thankful for my friends and family who are willing to talk me down off the ledge. Just please don't tell me everything is going to be fine, I hate that more than anything. I do hope everything will be fine, but we know all to well that there are no guarantees. When I was pregnant with the twins, someone told reminded me that God already knew the outcome of what was going to happen. Sometimes this is unsettling because it doesn't mean that his plans are my plans, but it also brings comfort that all I can do is the best I can, the rest is out of my control. None of the events of my life are a surprise to God, he has had them all planned out since before I was even born. I try to remind myself that worrying does nothing. It doesn't accomplish anything, it doesn't fix anything, and it doesn't make anything better. All I can do is hope and pray that this baby gets to come home with us, and trust that God is in control, the rest is out of my hands.

I truly appreciate all of you who have shared in our joy and have been praying for us during this time. If you encounter me in my highly hormonal, slightly panicked state...I'm sorry. We have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of support and encouragement we have been met with. I'm not sure what I expected, maybe criticism or questioning, but we really do have an incredible support system around us and I think that is going to help immensely during the next (hopefully) 6 months. So thank you to all of you for loving, supporting and encouraging our family.

Monday, December 3, 2012

12 Weeks and 18 Months

We made it to 12 weeks! It has been fairly uneventful so far, just how we like it. I think I overdid it last week and I spent some time resting this weekend. I go in this week for my 12 week appointment, this one with a different doctor. I'm hoping I will leave this one feeling a little better with a better idea of what's in store. Please continue to pray that I won't get too anxious. I knew I would be nervous, but it has kind of surprised me how nervous I've been. I think my appointment on Wed will be reassuring though.

Cohen is 18 months old! I just can't even believe it. He is growing up so fast. I'm embarrassed to admit that he had his 18 month well check and I don't remember his height or weight. But, I do know that he is so close to being on the chart for his height/weight! He is following the growth curve nicely, just right underneath.

At 18 months (14 adjusted):

He gives kisses
Claps his hands
Does the "touchdown" sign
Likes to put his toys in and back out
Is eating all table food (we know this is HUGE in preemie land)
Will take a few steps on his own
Taking one nap during the day and sleeping 12 hours at night
LOVES to be outside
Wears 18 month shirts/jammies and 12 month pants

Cohen says:
- yucky
- "ba" - he says this whenever he throws something. We were trying to teach him "ball" and then we - would throw the ball, so I think "ba"= throw
- "daggie" - we don't have a dog, so we think this is actually "daddy"
- "yay"
- signs "milk" and "more"