Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Here and Now

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with all of the things I love the most: family, food, shopping, games, and football. It really was just what I needed. For a few days...everything seemed better and easier and okay. I wish Thanksgiving could last forever.

We're home now and yesterday was really tough. I am really struggling to find the fighter within me. When we first heard that Eli and Landon might face a lot of struggles and might not even make it, I cried. I sobbed really hard for about one day and then I was ready to do whatever it took to take care of them the best I could. It's just different this time. I cry...and then I cry some more...and then I keep crying...and then I can't stop crying. I am just really, really sad.

I'm sad for this little girl. I'm sad for what she is going to have to go through the first days, weeks, and years of her life. I'm sad for what she could possibly face on down the road.

I'm sad for Eli and Landon. Their world is going to be turned upside down and there are going to be days and weeks and possibly months that I won't get to kiss them every single day and make sure they have the happy, carefree life that they deserve.

I'm sad for Dustin who has to deal with everything that I'm dealing with, still go to work every day, and come home to a crazy emotional wife who can't seem to keep it together for any amount of time at all. He is such a good man. He's strong and quiet and tender-hearted and there is nothing he loves more than his children. This is just as heart-breaking for him as it is me.

I'm sad for our parents. They are not only just as worried as we are about the uncertain days ahead with their precious grandchild, but they are also watching their children as we hurt so very deeply. I can say from my limited experience that there is no pain like watching your child struggle.

And I would be lying if I said that I wasn't sad for myself as well. I'm disappointed. I'm broken-hearted. I'm swinging on this crazy pendulum between hope and despair. I'm throwing myself a really big pity-party and I'm only slightly embarrassed about it. I'm sad because this is happening to our little girl and there's nothing we can do about it...except pray.

And we've certainly been doing a lot of that. We pray and we ask others to pray because God cares and prayer works. I can't imagine how lost I would be without that knowledge...it brings me such peace in my saddest moments.

We go back to the doctor on Thursday. We visit my OB/GYN first, then we meet with a pediatric cardiologist, and then we go to Dr. Atkinson (the high risk doctor). We should know a lot more after these visits. We've been writing down our questions for the last week. I'm anxious to get answers, but I'm also a little scared of the answers we'll get. I'm hoping that starting our plan of action on Thursday will be just what I need for a little push in the right direction. Hopefully it will give me something positive to focus on and I'll be able to move on from the way I feel now.


"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." -Psalm 55:22

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
-Isaiah 40:28-31

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

I am just overwhelmed by the way our friends, family, acquaintances, and complete strangers have surrounded us with love and support. Your words of encouragement, phone calls, visits, dropping everything and immediately driving five hours to my house to be with me, showing up at my door with hot chocolate, coming over and playing with my children, emails, texts, offers to help, gifts of homegrown tomatoes, hugs, tears, and most importantly prayers...they are overwhelming. People are so, so good. Even though it seems so inadequate...we sincerely thank you.

 We are loved. We are blessed. And we are going to be able to do this with help.

We are headed to Dallas today to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. I want to just lose myself in family and laughter and games and my sweet babies and football and delicious food. I'm sure that I'll continue to find myself sneaking away for moments by myself to just cry and pray, but that is part of the new "normal" that I am adjusting to.

In the midst of this turmoil, there is a peace within me that keeps me going.  The peace in knowing that God is near. The peace in knowing that God is in control. The peace in knowing that I am most certainly not alone. The peace in knowing that God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God. (Romans 8:28)

 "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalms 34:18)

This Thanksgiving, I'm counting my abundant blessings. I have the most supportive family that I can even imagine existing. As my sweet cousin and friend put it, "if you need extra love...this is certainly the family to be born into." She's right. There is no shortage of love around here. Dustin and I are blessed to be a part of the most loving, selfless, and generous body of God's people that I have ever known. I have two perfect little boys that are compassionate and loving and fun. Their smiles and their laughs have a unique healing power that makes my heart glad. I have a precious little life growing inside of me and while her physical body might not be perfect, her soul is and I ache for the day when I can hold her in my arms.

And I worship a God who is merciful and mighty.  This is our greatest blessing.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. May you have a blessed week.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Day That Changed Everything

My head is hurting.  My eyes are bloodshot and hurting.  But more than anything else, my heart is heavy and hurting and we are asking once again that you keep our family in your prayers.

We got some pretty bad news at the doctor yesterday. At a routine sonogram, it was discovered that our sweet little girl has a congenital heart defect. It's hard to write those words and I'm still trying to process exactly what this means for us.

The most devastating part for me is not how it directly effects me right now or in the near future. The hardest part for both Dustin and myself is how we will certainly watch our sweet baby suffer and struggle for her life. I just can't stand the thought.

The exact condition she has is called Hypoplastic Right Ventricle (or Hypoplastic Right Heart). It means that the lower right chamber of the heart is very underdeveloped...almost not even there in her case. Our doctor said that normally, when you see an underdeveloped part of the heart, it is usually on the left side. I believe the statistics on that are just 1 in 5,000 babies. For the right side to be underdeveloped is even more rare.

The very best case scenario is this:
* We monitor the baby's heart very closely. The more information they can gather before she is born, the more prepared they will be to take care of her when she arrives. Lord willing, everything else in the pregnancy goes well and we deliver under very controlled circumstances with every doctor and specialist we need in place, waiting to take very good care of our little girl.

* The baby will immediately be put on medicine to keep a part of her heart open that naturally closes after birth. As long as this is working, we can allow the baby to stabilize and get just a little bigger and stronger.

* Within the first week of her life (from what I understand), she will have the first of three open heart surgeries to help correct this problem. The second will take place between 3-6 months and the third is done several years later.

* Our sweet girl lives a normal, healthy life (normal only to the extent that her parents aren't completely crazy and overprotective).

There are so many other scenarios that are much, much worse than this, but we aren't going to focus on that unless the time comes when have to.

What this immediately means for us is that I am once again considered a very high-risk pregnancy. I'll be monitored every week and they will watch the baby's heart very closely. We will prepare for an earlier than ideal birth with steroid shots.We will also be making some very difficult decisions and we pray for wisdom as we face these things.

The very best place for this baby to have these surgeries is at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston...nine hours away from here. Because of the risks involved in transporting the baby after birth, it has been recommended that if we decide to go with pediatric cardiologists down there, that I go ahead and deliver there as well. This will mean a lot of time away from Dustin and my sweet boys.

To be completely honest...I'm not handling it all very well. I'm really just crushed. My dreams of a normal and healthy pregnancy are crushed. The picture in my head of delivering my baby and getting to hold her in my arms right away is crushed. The hope of never having to walk into a NICU again is gone. All my visions of Eli and Landon showering their new "sister baby" with love and kisses just can't be. I feel defeated and scared.

But I know that God's love is all around me. I know there are friends and family who are going to help us through this. I know I have a husband who is ready to fight this battle right by my side. It's just going to be a really long road and I pray for strength as we start down it and adjust to our new "normal."

Thank you for your interest in our family. We received so much love and support when we were facing tough times with Eli and Landon. You all have been such a blessing to us. Eli and Landon's health is a constant reminder of the power of prayer. The way God worked in our lives that year was so evident, it was almost tangible. I have faith that God has big plans for this sweet girl inside of me. We'll do the best we can to take care of her and just pray that His will be done. He will certainly see us through this.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Doctor Visit: Eli and Landon Edition

So we finally made it in for our two year well-check last week. The boys and I loaded up, headed to Lubbock, ate and played at Chick-fil-a (and if we didn't have a communicable disease when we got there...we certainly did by the time we left), and headed to the doctor's office. I know I've sung our pediatrician's praises before, but I really do love him and the care he gives my boys. He's just the right balance of laid back and concerned. He's down to business, but not to busy to listen to any and all my concerns. And he has a really great personality. He's been doing this forever and he's been voted the best pediatrician in Lubbock for years in a row now. He's pretty awesome.

As I sat there in the waiting room watching the boys play, I couldn't help but think back to the many visits we made right after we got home from the hospital. We went every two weeks for a while to make sure they were still growing like they should. It's funny how being someplace, like a waiting room, will bring back such vivid memories and feelings. I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to have two very healthy, active boys.

The boys and I practiced all morning saying, "hi, Doctor" and I really played this whole thing up. They were really excited until the doctor and two interns/student nurses came in the room then they lost it. They don't usually scream and cry around strangers, but I'm pretty sure they knew something bad was in store for them. I tried to console two crying babies, hold one down for an exam, listen to the doctor, and try not to forget my list of questions all at the same time. I always leave there sweating.

Eli and Landon had to get two shots each and we all three cried together over the whole ordeal. That's a different cry from any other and it's certainly heartbreaking.

The good news is: Eli and Landon are both healthy boys. They are each growing along their own growth curve. Eli weighs 26 pounds exactly and is 35 inches tall. Landon weighs 28 pounds and 8 ounces and is 35.5 inches tall. Their doctor says that while their weight may always be different, their height should even out by the age of four. I guess it makes sense for identical twins to be the same height.

By the time we got loaded back up in the car, we were all exhausted. Eli and Landon were asleep before I hit the city limits and I enjoyed a very quiet car ride home listening to John Mayer and sipping on sweet tea. We aren't scheduled to go back for a whole year, but something tells me we'll be back before then. Well...there or the emergency room. They are two year old boys after all.

Landon


Eli 


Eli 


Landon 


Landon 


Eli 


Eli 


Landon 


Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Wedding

Have you ever known a couple that go together in a way that you never dreamed possible…like you look at them and think to yourself, “How in the world did they find the one person in this world that was so perfect for them?” Laura and Kerry have been dating since about the time of mine and Dustin’s wedding. There’s pretty much no question that they were made for each other. They are weird and quirky in their own perfectly compatible and totally loveable way. They are quite a pair…in such a good way. They got married the last weekend in October and it was quite a lovely evening, if I do say so myself.

Warning: Complete picture overload. And in the course of uploading all of these pictures I noticed that there are quite a few of me. I wouldn’t post them all in fear of appearing vain, but I’m throwing caution to the wind and plastering myself all over this blog. Because it’s mine. And that’s my prerogative. And I’m about to be a lot heavier and I may never look the same again…you never can tell about things like this. As it turns out…if you want pictures of yourself, just don’t bring a camera anywhere and then jump in front of every single camera you see…and then request copies to be emailed to you. Thank you Elizabeth and Grandpa Lindy for sharing your pictures with me! Okay, moving on…

I got into McKinney late Tuesday night and started on wedding stuff Wednesday morning. My dear friends Eva and Elizabeth both came in to help put this wedding on. Eva got in Wednesday night and Elizabeth flew in Thursday morning. They were a tremendous help, but more than that, we had the most fun any three people could possibly have together. These girls are such a blessing to me and it was an absolute treat to get to spend four whole days together!

Dustin and the boys came in Thursday evening and we all spent the evening with Dad. We went to a great Mexican food place (does anyone notice how my stories always revolve around eating?) and then went back to the hotel that dad had gotten for us to relax for the rest of the night. The five of us (Kristin, me, Laura, Andrew, and Katelyn) are very rarely all together, so it was really great to get to spend so much time with all of my siblings that week.















Friday night we had the rehearsal and a dinner following, hosted by Kerry’s family at Maggiano’s. It was SUCH a nice evening. The meal was so delicious and it was served family style. Dustin actually thought that the appetizer course was the entire meal. When he figured out that it was, in fact, just the first course, I believe his exact words were, “I am SO happy right now.” Dustin and I sat at a table with my dad, his parents, Kristin and Brian, Eva, Elizabeth, and Andrew. I accidentally said something inappropriate that haunted me for the rest of the night and all through the weekend. Sometimes it’s an embarrassing thing to be a na├»ve, stay at home mom. The whole table laughed for quite some time and there might have been some tears and trouble breathing on my part. It’s been a really long time since I’ve laughed that hard.











Saturday was a whirlwind of last minute preparations and tasks as well as getting to the venue, setting up, more prep work, and getting ready at the last possible minute. Eva and Elizabeth quite literally walked into the ladies’ dressing room five minutes before the ceremony started and changed clothes. They were real troopers and I’m pretty sure the reception wouldn’t have happened without them!



The ceremony was really nice. Laura and Kerry wrote their own vows and they were quite touching. It’s a powerful thing to watch two people make those kind of promises to each other before all of their friends, family, and most importantly, God. Laura looked beautiful and the whole thing was just lovely.

I certainly can't talk about this wedding and not mention how my mom's talent never ceases to amaze me. In the midst of her busiest time at work, she managed to not only pull this wedding together in a few months, but make it absolutely beautiful at the same time. There wasn't a small detail that was overlooked by her. She did the food, the cake, the decorating, the coordinating, and the overall making everything perfect. I wish I had pictures of the reception to share, but I don't...  She did all this on very little sleep for an extended period of time. She was still fun to be around and most impressive to me...she still looked stunning! She really does amaze me!
The whole week was a really great time that made me appreciate my family a whole lot. There wasn’t a single instance of drama or stressfulness relating to people…everyone just worked together towards a common goal…to make this as special of a time as possible for Laura and Kerry…and it was certainly that.

























Friday, November 12, 2010

Sister Baby

It just occurred to me that I haven't yet written about the most exciting news that our family has to share. Dustin and I are expecting baby #3 in April and we are so very excited! Our news, in the order that it was discovered is as follows:

1) August...we're expecting!!
2)September...It's a singleton!!!
3)November...It's a girl!!!!

And our reactions were as follows:
1)August...Shocked!!
2)September...Totally relieved!!!
3)November...Elated!!!!

Side note: I feel the need to expand on my relief/feelings about a single pregnancy. Eli and Landon have been the biggest blessings to our lives to this point. I would hate for anyone to think that I don't love/appreciate/adore my twin boys. In fact, it has even crossed my mind that another set of twins would be really neat. I LOVE being a mom to twins. BUT...it's not always easy and I just can't imagine adding another set of twins to the mix around here. One set of twins = the coolest thing that has ever happened to me. Two sets of twins might = one very overwhelmed mama.

So anyway...I am very excited about enjoying this very normal, very uncomplicated, very easy pregnancy. Lord willing, it will continue on like this for the duration.

For whatever reason (genetics, luck, divine intervention)...I have a very easy time being pregnant. I feel great. I haven't been sick even one time, nor was I ever with the boys. I may be a tad bit more tired and lazy, but that could very well be in my head...I mean, if you can get away with it...why not at least try, right? I am very thankful that I am blessed in this way!

I must say that things are a lot different this time around. The combination of this being my second pregnancy and only one baby instead of two makes it a lot less consuming for us and for all of our family. We are already 18 weeks into this and it feels like the time is really flying by because life is so full for us already.

One thing is for certain...this little one is already very loved. Eli and Landon have named her "Sister Baby" and I'm convinced they will be the best big brothers that any girl could dream of. They pray for her every single night and pat my belly at random times throughout the day. If she can survive Eli and Landon...she will certainly be one tough girl :) Dustin and I are no less excited. It has been our experience that love is not divided with the addition of children, but it seems to multiply exponentially with each one. Eli and Landon bring us such joy and I have no doubt that a little girl will add a whole new dimension and indescribable blessings to our family.

So here we go...we're about to join the "3 under 3" club. I have a feeling it's going to get a little crazy around here for a while....in the best way possible.

Travels

We're not exactly world travelers (maybe one day though), but we sure have made our way around Texas these past few weeks. It's been chaotic and refreshing and exhausting and loads of fun. It's also been a lot of work packing, unpacking, washing, and repacking. Of all those things, it's mostly been loads of fun.

Dustin and I celebrated our five year anniversary about three weeks ago. He came home at lunch on Friday and asked if I wanted to get away for the weekend. I needed no time to think about it. I absolutely wanted to go anywhere Dustin wanted to take me! We met Neva and dropped the boys off and headed to San Angelo for the night. We didn't do anything particularly special. We ate really good food and just went back to the hotel and watched the Rangers win the Championship Series. We ate more good food the next day and went antique shopping and just enjoyed being together. I love Dustin. I really, really love him. It's very seldom that I get his undivided attention, but there's nothing in the world that compares when I do.

The next weekend was my sister's wedding. Dustin took most of the week off so that I could go to Dallas and help mom get ready for the big event. I left Tuesday evening and spent the rest of the week working on the wedding and visiting with family and friends. Dustin and the boys came up Thursday, but I didn't get to spend much time with them because there was much to be done. The wedding definitely deserves it's own post, so more on this later.

Because Laura's wedding was on Saturday, October 30th, Eli and Landon weren't able to go trick-or-treating. I was (and still am) particularly disappointed in this because I LOVE halloween. The only thing we could have passed for on Sunday night was a bunch of zombies. We were all utterly exhausted. We went out to eat on the way home Sunday night and I'm pretty sure Eli and Landon didn't say a word the whole meal. They were completely zoned out. I'm pretty sure it was the quietest and calmest meal we have ever enjoyed as a family :)

Which brings us up to this past weekend. We were invited by some of Dustin's family to go to the A&M/OU game in College Station. Once again, Neva graciously kept the boys for us and we traveled down to College Station for the weekend. We had SO much fun. Not only was it the best football game I think I've ever been to, we were with friends and family that I LOVE. Dustin's family is really a lot of fun and I always find myself laughing a lot when I'm with them. We were able to stay with Calvin and Ginger and visit with them a little over the course of the weekend and we were able to worship with the congregation that we attended all through college that we love dearly. It just so happened that a lot of our college friends were also in town for the weekend, so it was kind of a reunion of sorts on Sunday.

So that's what we've been up to lately and that is why I've been so absent around here. Our camera has pretty much bit the dust, so we are really short on pictures from the last few months. I really need to just buy another one, but instead I just keep entering Pioneer Woman's giveaways and hoping and praying for a win :)

I'm SO excited for the holidays this year. We are spending Thanksgiving with my family in McKinney and Christmas with Dustin's family in Iraan. I think Santa could go really go crazy with gifts for Eli and Landon! It's going to be hard to control myself.

I hope this holiday season finds you all happy, healthy, and blessed. I know I sure am!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A New Addition

For Eli and Landon's birthday, ALL of the grandparents (grandpa-my dad, grammy-my mom, grampy-mike, nemo-Dustin's mom, and papa-Dustin's dad) went in together to get the boys a swingset. I may have mentioned before their love of the outdoors. We spend a LOT of time in our backyard, so this was just the perfect gift for us.

It was delivered to the wal-mart here and Dustin went and picked up all 300 pounds of it. He got it home and we immediately went to work assembling it. It took us about 4 seconds to realize that we would not be making progress with Eli and Landon around. So Dustin got as much done as he could and then we really hit it hard after the boys were asleep. As in...Dustin kept me out there until almost 1:00 in the morning, at which point in time I gave up and went to bed.

Dustin finished it the next morning and we immedately had our first picnic outside. We have been enjoying it ever since!

Thank you so much to all of our parents who did this for us!






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