Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Haircuts by Mommy

Boys need to get their hair cut a lot!  I feel like just a few weeks after a haircut, William needs one again.  Going to Cookie Cutters once a month can get expensive, so for Christmas, I asked for a pair of hair cutting scissors.  Yesterday was my first attempt at cutting his hair.  I actually had William sit in my lap while I cut his hair, so he was very calm.  For my first attempt and cutting his hair at such an awkward angle, I think it didn't turn out too bad.  The ears are definitely the hardest park.  Luckily my client isn't too harsh of a critic.  I think I will take him back to Cookie Cutters next time to straighten things up, then do it myself again.  Maybe William will get better at sitting still and I will get better at cutting.

The good side.  Don't look at his other ear.  On the plus side, I managed not to cut his ear!

Bonus Pictures:

Selfie after David's work holiday party.

With my favorite girl
 And bonus funny story: Around 100 people attended David's work holiday party at a local restaurant near our house.  The next few days approxiamtely 50 people came down with gastroenteritis (Thank you God, none of our family).  As chief, it is David's job to make sure all services run by the residents are covered, so he has to deal with sick calls.  He said it was an absolute nightmare trying to get all of the most important services covered with so many ill calls.  After an investigation by the department of health, it was determined that doctors just aren't very good at washing their hands (ewww).  I bet the hospital regretted hosted that party.

Then here is a picture of Eliana showing off the house she and I made together with her new Lincoln Logs.  She called it the chair house, because the front porch looks like a chair. Old fashioned Christmas fun!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Past fall photos

I had a hard time posting to the blog last month, so I wanted to catch up a little.  Here are a few photos from the past month or two before we get too far into the holidays.

We went to a garden store with a pumpkin patch before Halloween.  It was a lot of fun and especially nice because it was indoors and not cold.  We met up with several of our friends and spent the morning running around the hay maze, the haunted maze (which Eliana surprisingly loved), the petting zoo, and everything in between.
There was a large bin full of dirt which kids could dig in to find buried bones.  William really like that!

The "Monster Rocker"

It was a little hard getting a "how tall this fall" picture - Eliana was trying to pull Adele into the picture while William was trying to crawl away.

All the big kids holding the little kids on the Monster Rocker.  Such good friends!

Just a picture of a handsome boy and his mama
 One weekend in October, I took the kids to visit my family farm.  Both of them like running around at the farm.  William especially likes the tractors and Eliana likes playing with the old farm toys and dolls inside the house.  Both kids like the cows.  William will run around saying "Mooo!" anytime he catches a glimpse of one.
Riding the tractor.

Walking down the lane to put up the flag at the bottom of the driveway.  Eliana is on the left with cousins Allie and Rita.

On top of a hay bale.

William and Nicolas checking out the cows.

A little boy on the farm in his overalls.  This might be the cutest thing ever.

Although this is pretty darn cute too.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A nice fall day

So life has been moving on.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about the baby I lost.  But at the same time I rejoice in seeing my other two little ones grow and learn each day.  Last night David and I stayed up past midnight just talking about how cute our kids are.  How Eliana says the craziest things.  How she is sooo tall.  How adorable it is when William turns his head to the side and smiles his endearing smile.  How he likes to play "night-night" by putting his head down on anything soft, closing his eyes pretending to sleep, and saying "Night Night!" then popping up and laughing. Are all parents as crazy about their kids as we are?  Seriously, who loses sleep at night because they just want to talk about their kids' cute antics?!

It is strange when things about the baby pop up.  I'll be doing crunches at the gym, and think how I shouldn't have to be doing those right now.  I'll pass the wine section in the grocery store, and I'll want to buy a hundred bottles, just because I can drink now.  I'll be shopping for new shoes for Eliana, and I will inevitably see shoes in newborn size and wish I had a reason to buy them.  A baby died in the NICU where I work recently, and I cried at work for almost an hour.  Every time I thought I was fine, I would just start crying again.  Death happens in the NICU, although luckily rarely, but I have never taken it this hard before.

The pangs of grief hit every day, but they have slowly become easier to deal with. 

And my two little blessings help me move forward, because they need me every day.  So here is what we did today.

Although it was a little wet and cold, the kids were really going crazy inside.  Eliana kept tackling William and would not leave him alone.  Finally I just threw their coats on and ran out the door.  I asked Eliana where she wanted to go and she voted for the river.  So to the river we went!  We walked down the hill to the river and then along the river's edge, throwing in sticks to watch them float.  Then the kids discovered this:

The pier had been pulled out of the water, which they found great to run on!

And the best part - the sun came out while we were running around outside.
 I had spent a good part of the morning thinking of where we could go to play -the library, paying to play at an indoor play place or trampoline jump place, etc.  But even in the cold fall morning in Ohio, we can still enjoy being outside.  They just loved exploring nature - checking out sticks and shells by the river and playing hide-and-seek by the pier in the parking lot.  How easy is that?

In the afternoon while William was napping, Eliana and I did a little Christmas project.  We made cinnamon ornaments, which I remember making as a kid.  We had a great time!  I couldn't believe it when William woke up and I realized that two hours had passed without even noticing it.  

 Here is how to make cinnamon ornaments:

Mix together:
  • 3/4cup applesauce
  • 1cup cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp other spices (nutmeg, allspice, cloves, more cinnamon if you prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp glue
Mold and form into a ball.  If it is too wet, add cinnamon.  If it is too dry, add applesauce.  Ours was just right following the recipe as closely as a three year old can measure.  Roll dough out flat between two pieces of parchment paper.   Use cookie cutter to cut out ornaments.  Use a straw to punch a hole at the top of each.  Bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a 200 degree oven for two hours, until dry and hard.

The only downside to this was William thought they were cookies (Eliana was also taunting him with them...) and cried because we wouldn't let him eat them.  Eliana kept saying, "William, they have GLLLUUUUUE in them!" and then laughing.  I admit though, they smelled so good I almost wanted to eat them!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Thoughts on Miscarriage

These might be a bit rambling and not in any particular order, but this is what has been on my mind the last few weeks.

I have been familiar with the following bible verse for most of my life, but it has taken on greater meaning for me since the miscarriage:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." Jeremiah 1:5

I have struggled with the fact that our baby died at such an early age that I could never see her body, I never held her, I could not bury her.  Did she really exist if she was never seen?  I find this bible verse so comforting because I know that God did create her.  He knew her before I even knew I was pregnant.  She doesn't have to have a body to be perfect in God's eyes.  She is formed and perfect in Heaven.  He consecrated her little life before He even placed her in my womb.  The length of her life doesn't matter.  What matters is that she was a child of God, known and loved by Him.  Even if she will never be known by many of the people in the world, that doesn't mean she is any less important.  She means just as much to God as my other living children, as all of His children.  And I have just as much of a right to grieve for her as I would over the death of one of my other children.

Another bible verse that has brought me comfort:

"For this child I have prayed; and the Lord has granted me my petition which I made to Him.  Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:27-28

I must continually remember that my children are not really mine.  Truly, they belong to God.  I have prayed for my children and God has heard my prayer.  He has given them to me to care for, to bless my life and for me to bless them and lead them back to Him.  But God is the author and creator of their lives.  They are HIS, and I must be willing to give them back to Him when that time comes.

David and I have both talked about the void we feel in our lives.  Everywhere I look, I feel the baby that I am missing.  I feel like my family is incomplete now, and it will never really be whole again.  David and I could have ten more children, and I will still know the loss that is there.  A few weeks ago we babysat my brother Michael's daughter Claire.  William kept running up to her and patting her, saying "Baby!"  He brought her pacifier to me when she was crying. Eliana helped me warm up her bottle and asked if she could hold Claire.  While I loved seeing them love their cousin, I couldn't help but mourn the sibling they will never have a chance to do this with. I love Claire and truly enjoyed spending time with her.  This is something that will just have to get easier with time.

As I have gone through this, I have found out how common miscarriage really is.  Even in the short time since this has happened, several people have come to me to say that they have had a miscarriage too or that someone they know has had one.  I had no idea.  For the most part, miscarriage is not something that people talk about.  You never know who around you is suffering.  When I went back to work after the miscarriage, it felt slightly surreal.  I felt like my whole life had changed, this big event had just happened in my life, but almost none of the people around me knew that anything was different.  And I started to look around at the women I was working with and wondered, how many of them have had a miscarriage too?  And beyond that, how many of them are suffering some pain or heartache that I have no idea about?  That made me think more carefully about the words I used with those around me and how I treated them and all those I come in contact with.  I want to be a more compassionate person.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Our third Baby

On September 18th, David and I found out that I was pregnant with our third baby.  On October 30th, I found out that the baby had died and that I was having a miscarriage.

I wasn't sure if I would want to or could write a blog post about this.  However, I don't know how to carry on with this blog if I don't write about our third baby.  This blog has grown from a way to share pictures of Eliana with my family to basically an online journal for me.  Most of my posts are happy, sharing the joys of our life and silly pictures.  But the thought of posting another entry that was carefree and light without saying something of the pain that we are going through was too hard to conceive.  So I promise more pictures of our adorable children are on their way (I'm no dummy, I know that's why you read my blog - the shear cuteness of Eliana and William).  But I also know that if you read my blog, you love my family, so I must share my heart with you.

Two notes before I begin.  First, this is an entry about miscarriage and is emotional and very personal.  It might be hard to read.  It was hard to write.  Second, because I lost the baby so early, we do not know his or her sex. But from early in my pregnancy I felt that this baby was a girl.  It is easier and more comforting for me to refer to the baby as a girl, even though we will not truly know if this is so until one day when we meet in heaven.

David and I were not really expecting for me to get pregnant when I did.  We tried for 5 months to get pregnant before Eliana came along, and it took 6 months for William.  So this pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise even though we were both open to whatever God had planned for our family.  When we calculated my due date to be May 30th, we both felt anxious about how close this baby would be born to when David would be starting fellowship the first of July.  We were not unhappy about the pregnancy but at least for me it took a little bit of time to grow into the joy of the new life inside of me.  I reflected on a particular bible verse at this time.  It is from the book of Genesis, the story of Jacob and Esau's reconciliation.  After being apart for many, many years, the first time Esau saw Jacob's large family, he asked "Whose children are these?" Jacob replied "The children whom God has graciously given your servant."  (Gen 33:5)  That is what I thought of our three children - God had graciously given them to me.  Maybe the timing wasn't quite as I had pictured, but this third baby was God given.

Early on in the pregnancy I was having some spotting.  David was a bit worried, but I kept saying it was fine.  Light spotting is normal in pregnancy.  We were anxiously waiting for our first ultrasound, scheduled on 11/2 at 10 weeks.  We didn't share our news with many people because I wanted to have the ultrasound first, mostly to confirm the due date.  On Wednesday 10/28, I had some cramping and lower back pain at work, but I attributed it to being on my feet all day and not drinking enough water.  David was very nervous.  I felt like something wasn't right with this pregnancy but I kept thinking, I am still having nausea so I know I am still pregnant (what a cruel joke).  I just wanted to see the baby on ultrasound the next Monday.  On Thursday David flew to Washington D.C. for his last fellowship interview.  He had asked me the night before if he should cancel it, but I told him no, I was fine.  Thursday night I had more, heavier spotting.  I laid awake all Thursday night, thinking about the baby, feeling certain I was losing the baby and completely helpless to stop it.  I tried to pray but couldn't.  Friday morning I called my mom, dropped the kids off at a friend's house, and went to my OB's office.  One of the doctors in the practice (not my OB) did an ultrasound which confirmed I had been pregnant but the baby was not visible.  She had died early on in the pregnancy and had not developed to the point that she could be seen.  I was supposed to be 9 weeks and 5 days, but she was probably gone before 6 weeks.  I called David after his interview and he flew home that night.  We were both heartbroken.

I was not prepared for what I would go through with a miscarriage.  The doctor told me it would be like a heavy period, lasting about a week.  However, I would compare it more closely to having a small labor and birth.  (A miscarriage is different for different women, and it also depends on how far along you are when the loss happens.)  Physically I felt fine at first.  Then on Monday afternoon, I had cramping so bad that I could not stand up.  I couldn't pick William up from his crib after his nap.  I texted David and told him to come home from work.  I started bleeding so much I couldn't leave the bathroom.  I called the OB again, who told me to go to the ER.  In the ER, it was confirmed that yes, I was in fact having a miscarriage (already knew that...) and that this was not unexpected for a miscarriage.  After several hours of pain and bleeding, everything slowed down and I was able to go home.  The next day I experienced a similar bout of pain and bleeding.  This time was not so scary because I knew to expect it.  The OB had given me some medicine to take to help my uterus to contract.  I felt very certain this time that I had passed most of what was left of our baby, and the pain and bleeding subsided after that.

Emotionally, I felt a lot of guilt.  I felt so guilty that I was not excited about this pregnancy at first.  That somehow I had willed this miscarriage because I did not love my baby enough.  I know this is not true, but I couldn't help but feel this way.  I also feel extreme guilt that I was throwing our baby away.  There was no visible body to save and bury.  In some ways that was a relief, but in a lot of ways I wish that there had been so that I could have buried our baby with a proper funeral.  I had no idea how hard it would be to let our baby flow out of my body with no way to do anything.  As tiny, microscopic as she was, I still wanted to honor her little body, but I couldn't.

David and I have had much sadness and heartbreak over the loss of our baby.  She only lived a few short weeks, but she existed.  She was our baby.  She was a part of our family.  And she was very much loved.  We had told Eliana about the new baby.  She had named the baby "William 2."  I was looking forward to having three children so close together.  I pictured William growing up with this sibling and being best friends (they were only going to be 23 months apart).  I thought of what a wonderful big sister Eliana was going to be and how she would be a mini-mommy, always trying to carry the baby around and feed her bottles.  I thought of how much love and excitement this baby would add to our family.   David said he pictured that month he would have after the baby was born and before fellowship started.  The special time they would spend together before the craziness of fellowship, and the memories they would make together.

A day hasn't gone by yet that we haven't cried over the loss of our baby.  We keep saying "what if" and thinking about what our life would be like.  We think of this baby and how to honor her life.  We loved this little one so much. 

I saw my OB again last week and we talked for a long time, which was very helpful.  She told me that one in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage (I had no idea!), and that it is the body's way of protecting us when something goes wrong.  There are a lot of things that have to line up correctly for a pregnancy to continue, and this is the way our bodies are designed.  That really made me realize how special my two children are and how blessed I am to have them. 

This was a tough time to go through this (not that any time would be a good time to have a miscarriage), but it was especially hard because everything happened while David was applying to, interviewing for, and deciding on his fellowship options.  Shortly after David applied for fellowship, we found out I was pregnant.  I was due at the end of May, just a month before he would start fellowship.  This really made him change how he was looking at the programs. He had already scheduled interviews with places like San Diego and Stanford.  He started to question if it would even be realistic to move there and start a new job with a brand new baby.  Then while he was interviewing with his last program, I had the miscarriage.  He missed some work, came home early most days, had to take me to the ER, and went through an emotional roller coaster with me all during the short time between when he had his last interview and when his rank list was due.  And now he could look at programs again without the extra consideration of how we could make it work with a brand new baby.  Suddenly, even though we didn't want it to be true, we could now realistically consider Stanford again.  Poor David.  How was he to make any kind of thoughtful decision with all this going on in his life?  David felt a little like he shouldn't rank programs high on his list that he won't have been able to do so with a new baby, because that was somehow dishonoring the life that we lost.  Almost like celebrating the fact that we weren't having a baby.  I felt a little like I wanted him to rank the far away programs higher, just so we could leave OSU and get away from this place next May when I would be missing the life we couldn't have.  We will find out December 2nd where he has matched.

So that's been my life the last two and a half weeks.  I have gone back to work and things are settling down at home.  I think me being "sick" for a few weeks was very hard on Eliana.  She didn't quite know what was going on, and started to act out, throwing tantrums and peeing her pants several times even though she is potty trained.  I've tried to spend extra time with her and the last few days her behavior has been better.  I told Eliana that the baby died and went to heaven.  She doesn't exactly understand what that means and asks lots of questions about heaven, like when will she go to heaven, why did God want the baby to die, and can we just visit the baby in heaven and come back.  She also tells me that she wants our next baby to come to our house and not go to heaven.  I have found it hard to know exactly what to say to her.  How do I explain what heaven is to an almost 4 year old?  How can I explain theology to her when I don't know exactly myself?  William, our sweet little guy, is his regular happy-go-lucky self.  None of this has seemed to affected him much.  He is walking now, and toddles all over the house.  As I watch him walk around, I smile to think how much he has grown.  But I am also sad because I can picture our third baby, and how she will never chase him around the house.  

Please keep our family in your prayers.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ann Arbor, MI

David is finishing up his fellowship interviews.  His last one is at the end of this week.  So from here, David will make his rank list of all the programs and submit it in early November.  We have done lots of talking about the pros and cons of each program and location. So far, we have a better idea of the bottom of the list instead of the top.  It is hard to say where we will be next year, as David has so many excellent choices in so many different places.  December 4th is Match Day, so we will find out then where David will do his fellowship!  Please keep us in your prayers that we will find the best place for our family and where God wants us to be for the next three to four years.
Earlier this month, David had an interview at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  This is where our friend Sean is doing his fellowship, so our whole family went to Ann Arbor to visit Sean, Angela, Theo, and Cora.  It was a bit of a crazy time.  Theo slept on his parents’ bedroom floor while we squeezed our whole family into Theo’s room.  Eliana had a great time torturing her brother while she was supposed to be sleeping by throwing blankets, toys, and diapers on him in his crib.  Once things finally got settled down for the night, we were able to get some sleep.  While David was at his interview and Sean was at work, Angela and I took the kids to a petting zoo not too far from their house.  We all had a great time!  The animals were definitely used to the system because they all came right up to the fence to grab some carrots as we walked around.  Cora did not like getting her hand slobbered by the goats, but the rest of the kids all enjoyed feeding carrots and petting the animals.  William’s favorite part was sitting on the tractor (which apparently he knows the word for – I didn’t even know he could say “tractor” until we got there!). He cried when I finally pulled him down, but was better once we went to visit the chickens. 
It was great to see Eliana and Theo play together again.  They were so good!  Playing mostly independently together, they came up with all sorts of silly games when we went to the playground after the petting zoo.  They collected a huge pile of twigs which they put under some playground equipment and called their “nest.” This game went on for a long time, until it was time to go.  We were sad to leave, but hopefully we will have the chance to visit again next month.  

Feeding carrots to the sheep.

William and Cora with the chickens.

Friends reunited!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apple Picking

This if from a while ago, but I thought the pictures were too sweet not to post.  Back in September? earlier October? the kids and I went apple picking along with Adele and her family, and my brother, sister-in-law, and baby Claire.  The trees were full of fruit with lots of branches low to the ground.  Both kids loved grabbing apples and throwing them in our bag.  We picked 25lbs + of apples.  I had many great plans for these apples such as apple muffins and apple pie, but the only thing I made was applesauce.  Mostly we have just been eating the apples just as they are.  William loves to eat whole apples.  He usually only eats about a third of the apple but with so many pounds of apples, I don't mind a little waste.  He likes to take a big bite out of the apple, spit out the peel and then continue to eat the inside.  I've tried peeling the apple first to see if he would eat it that way, but that just makes him mad!  So bite, spit, eat is our main way of consuming apples. 

At the apple orchard, they also had a fall festival that including a play area for little kids, a petting zoo, several bounce houses, and a barrel ride.  William was too small to do most things, but Eliana loved the bounce houses!  William desperately wanted to join in on the jumping, but he had to settle for bouncing a little on the outside of the bounce house while we looked in the window at Eliana.  Maybe next year!  I did let him try out the barrel ride.  I put the kids together in one barrel and buckled them in.  William was really excited about the stirring wheel.  I told Eliana to watch out for William, and she put a protective arm around him.  All was going well until about halfway through the ride when William slid down the seat into the bottom of the barrel.  Eliana did not have the strength to pull him back up on the seat.  He was still safe - he was sitting on the floor of the barrel with the buckle now around his upper chest instead of his waist, but boy did he not like that!  Luckily another parent was nearby when it happened and kindly pulled him back up on the seat.  (The barrel ride traveled very slowly.)  Overall, they had fun but I guess technically William was a little small for that ride too.  We had a great time, and apple picking is always a must for fall activities. 

William and Eliana with their cousin Claire.

My sweeties.  William was quite expressive this trip, knowing how to say both "apple" and "ball," which is what he called the many apples that he saw.

Eliana and Adele dancing.  They played a game in which they pretended they had a house under the branches of an apple tree.

Enjoying the barrel ride!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Some more cute pictures from the Zoo

I finally pulled a few more pictures from our many trips to the Columbus Zoo from my phone.  Here are some additions that didn't make my last post about our zoo adventures.  Our zoo has many sculptures of animals that kids can climb on, which Eliana and William love!  Sometimes those are better than the real animals, in their opinion. 

A trip early in the spring with Grandmama Bond.  Climbing on the rhino statue.

Before William could walk, he had to ride the carousal on the bench seat.  He liked it, but not nearly as much as he does now that he can ride on the horses!

This was a special trip to the zoo with just Eliana and me.  We went while David was at home with a napping William.  It was really neat to have this special mommy/daughter time.  This is a shark statue.

Another trip, this time with the whole family.  William loves the aquarium!

A more recent trip earlier this fall.  Climbing the moose statue.  William often wishes he could get up as high as his big sister.

Playing in the airplane by the lion exhibit.  It is hard to get these kids out of the plane to see other things at the zoo!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Inniswoods Gardens

While David and I both had to work the weekend before Labor Day, we actually both had Labor Day itself off.  So we took the kids to a metro garden called Inniswoods.  The gardens are beautiful, with lots of paved paths throughout the gardens and surrounding woods.  Perfect for a little stroller ride.  Eliana started out the trip mad that we were going to visit gardens instead of a playground.  She pouted the entire time we walked through the woods and meadow.  However, after our picnic lunch, we made it to the "Sisters Garden" (they have about 10 different gardens, each with its own name).  This particular garden was geared towards kids.  Inside was a maze, a big birds nest themed bridge, a treehouse, and a "secret garden."  Once we got here, Eliana didn't want to leave.  William enjoyed the trip too, especially the treehouse.  He was just disappointed that he could not climb up as high as Eliana.  Despite our rocky start, we had a great time.  I really liked looking at all of the different planters and gardens, especially the herb garden.  They labeled many plants, which was nice so I could learn their names and picture planting them in my own garden one day. 

The first part of our walk through the trees.  William wished he could walk instead of ride in the stroller.

 At the tree house.  There was a small door on the bottom, perfect for William to check out.  He couldn't quite make it up to the top like Eliana to be in the big house.

David and William in the secret garden.

Several fountains were located within the garden.  It was really beautiful.

With my children.  Eliana was so funny - since it was a secret garden, she insisted on hiding any time someone else came to the garden.  We spent lots of time ducking behind brick walls so that no one could find us.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Columbus Zoo

For Christmas, my parents gave us a membership to the Columbus Zoo.  We have been making great use of the membership and going frequently all summer long.  In fact, Eliana went to ZooKids day camp in June, where she got to learn about "how animals get around" (they had a theme each week - hopping, flying, swimming, etc), have special animal visitors, and explore the zoo with leaders.  I need to scan in her camp photo.  It is quite funny.  The leaders said it was one of the worst they had ever taken, haha.  We go on a fairly regular basis to the zoo.  With a membership, it is nice because we can go for just a couple of hours and not worry about seeing everything.  Eliana's favorite animal is the elephant, so we usually start out there.  William really likes the aquarium and will scoot all along the window watching the fish swim by.  The way we usually end the trip is with a favorite of all - a ride on the historic carousel.  Here are some pictures from a recent trip with friends.

Checking out the manatees.  Columbus zoo is actually a rescue center for manatees.  They are given injured or sick manatees, rehabilitate them, and then hopefully release them back into the wild.

Checking out the gorilla exhibit.

The gorillas came right up to the window!  With Adele and her mom Holly.

On the carousel.  William loves it!

No trip is complete without a ride on those horses.