Saturday, July 26, 2014

Elijah's 1st Birthday

The day before Elijah's birthday when he was at daycare {6/19}, we put him in his 1-year outfit and they celebrated with him wearing a prince hat for a day {though it lasted only a few minutes before he took it off - he hates hats!}, and they also shared mini cupcakes with his friends. So fun!

As June 20th came around, I spent a great deal of time reflecting, praying over, crying over, and rejoicing over June 20th one year ago. It was healing and therapeutic for me. But the actual day... that I wanted to relax and enjoy so I tried to spend a little less time focusing on that and more time just looking at his baby books and snuggling my big little boy!

When his birthday hit, he was a teething, somewhat fussy baby. We all snuggled in bed together after Elijah woke up and we played around with him for a little bit. Then we received a text that my best friend from college and her husband were on their way from Indiana, and it helped remind us we needed to get up and going!

We got dressed and headed out to a nearby donut shop that is as much out in the country as you can get around here, so it's a quick, beautiful drive. Their donuts are fresh, airy, and delicious - they make them on-site and you can watch them as they make them! It's a cute retro place and we love it! Elijah LOVED his donut and made a fun little mess. It was priceless and the perfect way to start his day... sugar-crazed kid aside. ;)

Watching the guy through the window making the donuts!

We went back home to get more things, let Elijah nap, ran by a garage sale to get a few more age-appropriate toys for him, and headed back out to meet Mark & Cori for lunch. Elijah took right to Cori, which was very special to her and to me! Cori is the one who posted here about her years and years of struggle with infertility, and our close friendship. The quick connection with Elijah really meant a lot to us, it's like he knew it was important!! She is fantastic with kids and I trust her with Elijah completely... her bonkers personality aside! ;)

We ate lunch at Chili's, and scrambled to get out of there when Elijah started making too much noise. We went to Cabela's and walked around, looked at animals and fish, and had lots of laughs over some yummy fudge!

One big fish got too close to Elijah and he started crying and reaching quickly for Cori! It was really cute and funny. I was really glad he didn't reach for me - it was so sweet that he just clung to her!!

I don't have any pics from Saturday, but it was a great day! I spent some time out and about with Mark & Cori while Tim helped some our friends Kevin & Bekah move.

They joined me in going to Party City for his 1st birthday party supplies, and it was so nice to have other people's opinions and people to cart around Eli while I had to think about what to get.

Very spontaneously I asked if they could watch Elijah while I ran in to the Hair Cuttery next door. They sat with him for 20 minutes while I got my face waxed and finally felt like a new woman again! {Oy vey, pregnancy messed with my facial hair bad! Ohhhh I hate it. But it was worth it. :)} It was so nice to be in there without corralling Elijah and it was the best gift they could have given me!!

Mark later sat with Elijah while Cori and I did some shopping and talking - and it was so precious. What a wonderful day! That night we had pizza from Papa John's and a cookie pizza - Elijah loved his little piece and having us sing happy birthday to him! Lots of little prayers over and celebrations with this little guy on his special day!

Thank you, Mark & Cori, for driving the several hours over from Indiana to visit us, finally meet Elijah, and for all that you did! We had a great time with you!! Still sad you had to leave Sunday morning without being able to say goodbye due to a family emergency, but we are glad that everything is okay and that you were able to be here. Love you guys so much, come back anytime!!

We truly enjoyed Elijah's 1st birthday, but the party was one week later. More to come on that soon!

Monday, July 14, 2014

You Don't Have to Try

Love, love, love this.

We can all learn a little something from this -- not trying so hard. Others not looking or judging so hard. Seeing the beauty beneath it all.

With all my own self-esteem issues, I can relate to this on so many levels. Such a great video!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Because I'm Out of Words

Exhausted. Sick. Happy. Tired of thinking. Wanted to post. No real words to say. Just a cute kid. ;)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On Being 36

Last Thursday I turned 36. It was a bit surreal, as we were so focused on Elijah's birthday party and two days of 7 guests in our home, that we didn't have time to really do much or enjoy it.

It was also a very different kind of celebration, because last year I spent the day waking up with a massive panic attack at the hospital. Dreading visiting my son yet one more day in the NICU. I couldn't handle it. Not holding him and snuggling. I was just a mess.

The best birthday gift ever was to find out his tubes had been taken out and I got to hold him completely for the first time that morning since he'd been taken to the NICU.

Oh wow, it was such a joy. Though he still had wires, my heart was full.

When I had walked up to his 'room', the nurse had made a sweet "Happy Birthday Mommy, Love Elijah" sign. It was so sweet. She also gave me a large cupcake. The nurses signed a huge poster and also gave me cake & ice cream that night and sang to me. So they made it super special.

But being at work and at home with people I love, that was even more precious to me this year. Savoring my sweet gifts. Waking up next to Elijah nestled in my arms {we rarely let him sleep with us, but he had his 1 year shots the night before and was awake and screaming long enough that night that we just had to bring him to bed with us out of desperation!}. My work department sharing treats and singing to me.

My best friend and her kiddos singing to me... twice... a Portillo's lunch and homemade cupcakes. A poster from two of my favorite kids and their mama. A sweet story from Parker about me {he thinks I'm 12 and have blue eyes, LOL, so sweet!}. A beautiful card from my bestie with the sweetest words. Hugs, smiles, and my heart full bursting.

Hubster picking up Eli so I could have a break. Restful time at Panera sipping a Pepsi and just people-watching. With empty arms but a very full and complete heart.

An enjoyable dinner with hubster and baby at home with food I love. Then after Eli was in bed, we hit the cleaning full-force in preparation for our house guests. Gratefully we'd both taken Friday off to finalize party plans and hang out with our arriving guests, so we were able to stay up late and get a lot accomplished in our home. It felt good to do those things, knowing why everyone was coming to town... to celebrate Elijah's first year of life.

Besides, Tim and I will really celebrate on our date next Saturday to see a Christian comedian I love {sooo excited about this!!}. God bless your good timing for a tour, Tim Hawkins. :)

I remember back when I was turning 30 and how miserable and sad I felt about not having kids. Not knowing if I ever would. Wondering about God's plans for us. Fearing life ahead without kids. Turning 30 child-less. I hated it. So much.

And now I couldn't care less. I am right where God wants me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm happy. I'm content. And I'm several days in to being free of a year of anti-depressants too - yippee!!! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One Year Old

We are in shock and awe that we have a one year old. 

Despite doing all that we can to soak it in and savor the moments, it still goes by unbelievably fast. Because no matter who you are, there are the super hard days you just try to survive. There are weeks that go by at a snail's pace when all is chaotic and seems to be falling apart. The good weeks zoom past in a flurry of fun activity. And before you know it, there goes another month and then a year.

The saying really is true... the days and the weeks are slow, but the years fly by.

So let me tell you about our unbelievable 1-year old.

He's fun and funny. He's so smart, a problem solver already, loves to give high-fives, and is trying to walk but isn't sure of himself enough to let go much yet. If he's on his own, it's never been more than 5 seconds {until today and it's been more like 10-15 seconds!}. He has yet to go from sitting to standing without holding onto anything, but he's getting closer!

He babbles a lot, and while it sounds more and more like words, there aren't any words quite yet except mama and dada. We've wondered if we've heard hi, all done, more, Lijah, and uh oh. But it's only slight and probably our imaginations hoping he's starting to say words. It's amazing how on-the-edge-of-your-seat you become about how your child is or isn't developing at a certain rate! The statistics out there and comparisons with others do not help. We are learning to relax and take it all in stride. :)

When Elijah turned 1, someone flipped a switch and he went crazy. He's growing some molars. Like maybe all of them. And is acting crazy. He's throwing massive fits that are totally unlike him. Or... unlike him as a baby. We don't know what we're in for, but it's been interesting in our home the past week and a half.

He's usually a lot of fun, but the past week and a half he's also had quite a bit of seriousness. He rarely smiled or giggled at his party, though we know he was enjoying it {until about two hours in, he hit that point of must. nap. now... and he still wasn't able to nap for another 1.5 hrs!}.

  • balls, spoons, anything he can make a loud noises with or chew on {he puts everything in his mouth, promptly}
  • his "lambie" {a soft, snuggly lamb that plays Jesus Loves Me}
  • standing
  • walking with us leading him or by pushing a box or bin or chair
  • reading {aka, me reading, him chewing the book}
  • eating paper or plastic whenever he can get his hands on it
  • playing peek-a-boo
  • he loves being the one to hold something up in front of him and then have us ask "Where'd Elijah go?!" and then he pulls it down and squeals as we shout "there he is!"
  • eating Puffs, Cheerios, Yogurt Melts, bread/bagels/tortillas, pancakes/waffles, crackers, yogurt, beef, chicken nuggets {not plain chicken}, sweet potato fries, french fries, & anything that doesn't have a weird texture or isn't slimy 
  • when daddy comes home
  • fish faces or snorting faces
  • baths
  • friends, people
  • turning his head away to things he doesn't like
  • clapping or swinging his arms around when excited
  • giving high-fives
  • signing "more" or "please"
  • moving, moving, moving, playing, playing, playing
  • snuggles when the moment is right ;) 
  • daycare & church nursery
  • any water play
  • outdoors 
  • being startled
  • things being taken away from him or him being taken from things
  • diaper changes 
  • eating anything slimy or that has a weird texture, so no peaches, pears, watermelon, mandarin oranges, chicken, beans, etc. {though we certainly keep trying!!}
  • being taken out of the bath
  • learning that "no" has consequences when ignored
We are trying to switch him to milk but he's not a fan yet. He enjoyed it the first time and that was it. We'll get there eventually. He's practiced and done well with sippy cups and water, so it's just cold whole milk that we need to get him used to. We're slowly mixing it with his formula one ounce at a time.

Feeding him has become a big challenge for me. I'm sure we'll figure it out soon! I hope. ;)

Happy one year, bubba! Mama and dada love you more than words can say!!! We are so proud of you and enjoyed so much giving you a party & honoring you with those we love!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reflections on One Year Ago with a NICU baby and Battling Regrets

Written on Saturday 6/21/14, but struggled to post this until now:

Reflecting again on this day a year ago - it was filled with many tears and fears as we found out via X-Ray (after ridding the fluid from his lungs), that Elijah had air around his lungs, making it harder for him to breathe.

Meanwhile his oxygen levels had dipped down, and they put him on oxygen. Docs removed the air on the outside with syringes. Somewhere in there he had another X-Ray and it was determined he had two partially collapsed lungs due to holes in his lungs.

He would need to have surgery and have chest tubes inserted to help him breathe and to drain out the excess air. Then he'd quit breathing once during that process after he was given morphine for the pain, so they stopped giving him morphine and were doing other things to keep him comfortable.

I'm pretty sure my body gave way when I heard "he stopped breathing momentarily".... That was so hard to hear. It was absolutely awful to think of all that his little body was going through, but we were of course so grateful for good medical care! Not being by his side every moment was torture, and relief at the same time. It was so surreal.

A lot of this time, we were just going through the motions and trying to remember to breathe ourselves. I felt like a dark cloud was hovering over me for days.

Walking the halls of that hospital wing and hearing happy moms taking care of their babies the way it was meant to be, I would be overwhelmed by jealousy and anger. Then I'd walk into the NICU and it was like we were in an entirely different world of subdued cries, shared looks of fear & concern between parents, and looks at other babies... silently grateful that wasn't our child while we prayed that baby would be okay.

I remember asking God why he'd let me finally have a baby just to potentially lose him. I really feared for Elijah's life - even when the doctor's said it happens and he'll be okay, though they couldn't guarantee it.

My sinful heart went right to imagining the worst.

Despite hoping that if I ever went through something deeply traumatic I'd be strong and stand firm in my faith... I have to confess that I am not that strong. My strength is purely in Jesus, and during these days I didn't even know how to pray, how to lean on him, or even how to really process what was happening.

Thankfully, he is faithful even when we are not, and he cares about our needs even when we can't see straight enough to know how to lift our cares to him!! So grateful for his abundant grace and mercy!

I was so grateful my parents and Tim's mom were there. My mom was a rock - praying over us and Elijah at every turn. I needed that. I needed to lean on her faith during that time, more than ever before. I just could not handle what was happening around me. Sure I trust God, but I've never been through something THAT hard and that devastating before.

I wasn't sure which way was up through the thick fog. Tim was also solid {most of the time, though I believe he had one moment where he cracked toward the end} - reminding me it was going to be okay and that we were so grateful for Elijah, no matter what. He reminded me we'd prayed over Elijah my entire pregnancy that no matter how long we had Elijah that his life would be all for God's glory!

That day, I changed. I did not react the way I should have. I got extremely stressed out and shaken to the core of my faith. I hit rock bottom. And not just on that day, but for the next 6-7 months I went on a roller-coaster of regret, anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety, worry, and overwhelming sadness. {Yes, I was on a postpartum anti-depressant by day 3.} 

While I'm not proud of the way I handled it, looking back I can say that I am all the better for it. That I'm not who I was then. I trust God in a new way and rely on him more than ever before.

I'm not perfect and I still have some days of frustration and lack of joy, sadness over our hard start, or concern over the future. But I'm human and we all need grace.

I know that God is good all the time and that my character grew, I was changed deeply, and that this was all for his glory!!

Today we have such a huge blessing of a boy - Elijah is so incredibly sweet, funny, and he changes every day. We love him deeply and couldn't be more grateful to God for his goodness to us in the midst of everything.

We are truly humbled.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our 14th Wedding Anniversary

Happy 14th anniversary today to the love of my life!! So grateful to do life together with you over these many years! What a whirlwind it's been, especially this past year! 

Here are just a small handful of pictures I was able to quickly find of the two of us over the years (some of them are coming out all pixelated and I have no idea why, sorry!):

Love you bunches Tim! Looking forward to many, many more years together!!