The Navigator has Arrived!

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Our wonderful miracle, our little Navigator, made his arrival on April 22. He was 7 lb 8 oz and 21 inches long. Labor was fast and intense but we were thrilled when he finally arrived.

The past two weeks have been nothing less than a blur, but the little guy is fitting perfectly into our family. The Wingman absolutely adores him and he frequently calls him “Brother.” He loves to hold Brother and take care of him.

The Pilot of course is an incredible Daddy and we were able to figure out a good tag-team system for the first couple weeks. He is back at work this week and I am excited to figure out our groove and see what our new life will look like!

When I hold the Navigator close and feel his little body breathing next to mine, it still almost doesn’t feel real. I am so so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be his mom.

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Experiencing Pregnancy After Loss/es

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Today I am 38 weeks pregnant.  It still feels pretty surreal and definitely doesn’t seem real that any day now I could go into labor and we will be welcoming this little boy into our arms!

Each pregnancy after each previous loss has gotten progressively harder.  How do you balance grief and joy?  How do you hold fear and hope together?

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Especially the first 6 months or so of pregnancy, it was really hard to make small talk about our pregnancy.  People would come up enthusing about the baby and I would just smile and try to engage in the small talk.  We were excited.  So excited.  But as my husband said several times…we were cautiously optimistic.  As excited and hopeful as we were, we also were acutely aware of the fact that at any moment something could go wrong.

Pregnancy after loss looks different for different people.  Here are a few ways it has affected us….

-PAL is hearing your 4 year old say many times throughout the pregnancy, “I hope this baby doesn’t die.”

-PAL is calculating your due date and having mixed feelings of pain and joy as you realize this baby has the same due date as your second baby would have.

-PAL is smiling politely when you hear for the umpteenth time that your bad morning sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy…when you know that has no bearing on the health of your child as morning sickness accompanied your last two pregnancies as well.

-It is knowing that while most people say you are out of the danger zone at 12 weeks, there really isn’t any safe zone.  Loss can happen at any time.

-It is being afraid that your body’s health issues will once again fight against the precious child inside you.

-It is Googling baby’s weekly development, praying for his body’s development, and also Googling the percentage of babies that survive birth at your week of gestation as well as the risks associated with birth that early.

-It is having the most vivid flashbacks of death, labor, and birth, that will cause panic attacks.

-It’s being 7 months pregnant before you realize, “This might actually be happening!  We might just be bringing a live baby home…and soon!”

-It is those moments when your husband, son, and yourself, all accidentally call your baby by your last baby’s name and then that moment where you just look at each other and remember that that baby is gone.  This is a new baby.

-It is knowing that this baby can never replace the other individual lives lost.

-It is feeling nervous and brave and emotions you can’t even define when you pull out your oldest’s baby clothes to wash and put in the nursery.

-It is choosing to act in hope when your emotions try to pull you down.

-It is moving forward in faith to plan a nursery, to plan a baby shower.

-It is cherishing each day more, loving your children harder, knowing that there is never a guarantee of tomorrow.

-It is looking forward with such incredible joy to the moment that we finally get to hold this little one in our arms, alive and healthy.

-It is knowing that this sweet boy, and all our children, are loved by the Lord so much more than I could ever possibly love them.

Being pregnant again after repeat losses has affected all three of us.  The grief, joy, and trust that we have helped each other through has grown us as a family.

It has been heart breaking to see the Wingman continue to process the loss of his other brother and siblings.  He bonded right away with the Aviator and really had a hard time when he died.  It took him a much longer time to bond with this baby, but it has been the sweetest thing in the world to see him in the past few months as he is getting so excited to meet him!  (Almost every time I have a check-up, his whole face lights up and he says, “Is today the day he’s going to be born??”)

And while the Pilot and I process and deal with things so very differently, it has also been heart breaking and amazing to see him during this pregnancy.  The fear and difference in pregnancy after loss does not just affect the Mom.  It has affected our whole family.

I am beyond thankful for the people who have been praying for us and for the precious boy growing inside me.

I feel strongly in raising awareness for miscarriage and pregnancy after loss.  It is hard to be vulnerable, but the amount of women I have met in person and online who feel as if they have to suffer alone makes it worth it to share.  And I am pretty sure I will never tire of talking about all five of our children.  They are all so incredibly loved and I am so proud of each of them.

2018 – The Year of Growth

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Here we are, a month into the year, and I am finally sitting down to write this post that has been sitting in my drafts for, well, about a month.

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The past few years have been incredibly difficult.  I used to always have a word of the year.  A goal word.  Usually that word chose me.  I would just be sitting there, contemplating the year, and a single word would clearly pop into my mind.  Not these past few years.  Unless the word was just “survive.”

So I was a little surprised this year when I sat down to contemplate the year.  First of all, I purchased a Bloom daily planner and I love it.  There are spots for yearly and monthly goals.  They also included a vision board of sorts for the year.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I decided to at least give it a try.  It took a while, to be honest, of just sitting and thinking and wondering about the year.

But finally a few goals came to mind.  A few words inspired me.  I sat in those words until one word seemed to sum them all up.  Nothing super specific.  It’s actually pretty vague.  But it sums it up well.

Growth.

This year I want to grow.  I want to take steps forward.  I don’t want to just survive anymore.

I ended up creating a “vision board” in which I included all the words that were swirling in my mind.  This is my vision for 2018…

…Give grace
….Fearless
….Invest
….Flourish
….Release
….Surrender
….Patience
….Courage
….Gentle
….GROWTH

For a few more specific goals, I knew I wanted to grow in my family relationships, specifically toward my husband and kids.  I also knew I wanted to continue to work toward having a clean, peaceful, organized home.

And as I get closer to another big change coming up in our family, I know I will need to really hold on to a lot of the above words.

I am 27 weeks pregnant with our 5th baby.  While we are very excited, the trauma of what we have been through with our last three children has greatly affected my husband, living son, and me.  I knew I needed to grow this year.  Grow in grief, grow in healing, grow in release, grow in moving forward fearlessly, having courage, etc.

2018 is going to be a huge year of growth.  I am scared, apprehensive, hopeful, and ready.

 

 

Diastasis Recti

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I had heard about diastasis recti before, but I was hoping to escape it during pregnancy.  Well….I didn’t.  Somewhere in my second trimester I discovered that when I sat up, my stomach formed a peak.

Diastasis recti is when the abdominal muscles separate.  Between 35 and 62% of women have diastasis recti.  It is very important to know if you have it and to take the steps to heal it, as this abdominal separation is closely linked with the pelvic floor muscles.  If you get those muscles out of whack, you will potentially encounter other problems, such as incontinence or organ prolapse.

It is possible to close this gap, though, even if you have had it for years.

One might think that the best way to close this gap is to just work out your abdominal muscles.  I thought sit-ups should be able to quickly close gap.  It turns out, sit-ups can actually be detrimental.  The key is to close the diastasis recti working the muscles from the inside out, not the outside in (which is what sit-ups do).  If you focus on the outer abdominals, it is possible to actually make the diastasis separation worse.

Here is a great video that explains more about what diastasis recti is, how to see if you have it, and some great exercises for closing it.  This is a great post with information and accompanying photos.

One of my favorite workouts has been Lindsay Brin’s postnatal boot camp.  She also has a YouTube channel, Moms Into Fitness, with some great workout videos with some specifically tailored for those with diastasis.

-Bonnie

The Wingman’s Birth Story

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Here is the birth story of our precious son. He was born on July 21st after a 19 hour labor. I know this is a very long version…but trust me, this is the edited down version. 😉 It was absolutely an amazing experience and I am so thankful for all that God did!

Visit Beauty Through Imperfection for more birth stories!

On Saturday, July 20th, at 6:30 in the morning I became aware while half asleep of some pain. Around 7:30 I became fully awake and realized that I had been having a lot of these pains. Were they possibly contractions? I woke up my husband to explain and told him I wasn’t sure if they were really contractions.

After taking a hot shower and still having the pains, The Pilot, my Mom and I all agreed that it looked like the beginning of labor. (Praise #1 – Going into labor on the weekend while my husband was at home!)

From the get go, they were pretty much between 5 and 8 minutes apart. That timing lasted pretty much the whole day.

During early labor, my husband was able to mow the lawn (a project that he’d been trying to do for 2 weeks). By the time he was almost done though I was ready for him to be with me again. It was definitely painful and uncomfortable and I wanted him close by. I spent quite a while lying down, alternating some on my sides. We tried a couple contractions lying on my back to see how far along I was by measuring the distance between my breast bone and the top of my uterus. The contractions were more painful on my back, so we only did that twice.

At first when I had a contraction, my Mom or the Pilot would gently rub my belly or my legs and it was very soothing. But I quickly reached a point where I didn’t want to be touched during contractions. I also wanted it quiet…no talking! I tried to really be conscious of my voice and tone…I didn’t want to become snappy or rude during labor.

The whole day was just very calm. I really appreciated that. I can’t imagine having labored all that time at the hospital. It was so nice having the comfort of our own home and the ability to be on our bed, our couch, our floor, our tub, etc. Throughout the day, the contractions gradually picked up in intensity. Several times I found myself laughing (solely on the inside) that the contractions that I could breathe through “easily” were the ones I thought were painful hours earlier.

It didn’t take long until I had to start concentrating on breathing through the contractions or low groaning. I was able to stay very relaxed through them. (Praise #2….usually I respond to pain by tensing up. I was able to just keep my face, hands, legs, and whole body relax and loose all day.)

Early afternoon, I tried the birth ball. I sat on it and rocked gently back and forth. I didn’t like the contractions while sitting but I figured at that point there wouldn’t really be any position where I would “like” the contractions. I was so exhausted that several times I almost fell asleep on the ball and i would catch myself before falling off. The Pilot and my mom were right next to me though just in case. We watched an episode of America’s Got Talent and it was nice to have a distraction if i wanted something to think about during contractions….or tune out of I wanted to….or even pause it while I made it through a contraction.
I tried hands and knees. This caused my only back labor. The Pilot tried applying counter pressure but it didn’t seem to help. On some contractions I liked him rubbing the area that hurt but on others I didn’t want to be touched. We tried various positions, squatting down and supporting myself on the Pilot’s legs, standing and leaning back onto his chest (this was great for several contractions!), etc.

At a few points during the day, I had a couple times where contractions were back to back with no break. It would be strong for 30 seconds, then fade a bit for 30 seconds, then go back to strong.

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I tried getting in bed again, but they were more intense lying down. I was so tired though that I stayed. I was able to really relax in between contractions and get as close to sleeping as I could come. I didn’t know how much longer I would have to go and I was TIRED. I was so cold in between contractions, but as soon as a contraction came I got very hot and wanted the covers completely off me. Nothing touching me.

I started getting hungry but food didn’t sound good. My Mom offered to make a smoothie. I decided to try laboring in the tub again. While it didn’t soothe the contractions as well as before I really enjoyed the hot water. I drank my smoothie (which came back up later) and just sat, trying to alternate positions a little bit to find a more comfortable way to have the contractions. While in the tub I started to get discouraged. At that point I had been laboring for about 16 hours (although at the time I remember thinking that I didn’t want to count the hours because I didn’t want to know how long it had been). I didn’t know how much longer I had to keep going.

I heard Mom on the phone talking to my sister (Bradley teacher and doula). The Pilot came back in the room and filled me in on what they were thinking. It seemed like I was stalling in labor. They were discussing various options we could try to either slow it down so I could rest or speed it up. We would need to choose. When faced with the decision, for the first time I became scared. I didn’t want to choose to bring it on, because I knew it would only get more intense, but how much more I didn’t know.

Before we had time to make a decision, though, I had a big contraction. I yelled out. I knew that yelling was often a sign of transition, but I tried not to get my hopes up. Later my Mom told me that on the phone my sister said, “Is that Bonnie? I think she’s farther along than you thought!” After another 10 or 15 minutes I had had a few more of those big contractions.

The Pilot and my Mom said they thought it was time to head to the hospital. (Praise #3 – I had been praying that we would have wisdom to know when to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to get there too early or too late. The timing was perfect!) At that point I did not want to move. I didn’t want to stand up out of the tub, I didn’t want to walk. I didn’t want to go. The Pilot helped me get cleaned up and dressed so that I had to move as little as possible.

Finally we got in the car. My Mom and I both sat in the back seat. During the car ride I didn’t have any of the big, yelling out contractions. (Praise #4 – I had been worried about a really terribly uncomfortable car ride to the hospital. It really wasn’t bad.) I sat and moaned through them, some of them back to back again.

This was about 11:30 at night. Since it was after hospital hours, we pulled up at the ER. At the hospital tour they had told us that we wouldn’t get a wheelchair when we arrived so I would need to walk up there. Once again I didn’t even want to move to get out of the car. The Pilot went in and told them we were there and grabbed a wheelchair. I was able to get into it and the Pilot took me inside while Mom parked the car. There were other people there in the ER and I hoped I wouldn’t have loud contractions while there. There was a little girl standing there and I didn’t want to scare her. The Pilot went to go talk to the nurses and I heard him explaining that I was in labor. For some reason, they didn’t come to get me. I think I was in the foyer waiting for at least 10 minutes. At one point, the receptionist came over and saw me and was like, “Oh! You’re in LABOR.” I guess they hadn’t realized that the Pilot meant….right now!! She left and once again I sat.

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Suddenly my water broke right there in the lobby. (Praise #4 – I didn’t want my water to break early in labor because I didn’t want to be held to the 24 hour rule. And I did not want the doctor to break it. Once again, perfect timing!) I remember thinking I just hoped it wasn’t on the floor. When the Pilot came back I told him my water broke. He looked under the chair and said, “Yes, it did.” I wasn’t embarrassed, but I do remember wondering what all the people behind me in the waiting room were thinking. 🙂 I asked him to check and see if it was clear. It was. (Praise #6 – I had been concerned about meconium being in it. Our hospital doesn’t have a NICU if it had been bad.)

My husband was great the whole time we were there. He let the nurses know a couple of things that were on my birth plan that I had wanted/not wanted so that I didn’t have to worry about talking and taking care of that while in labor.

I quickly figured out from listening to the baby’s heartbeat when a contraction was about to come. In between contractions, they put my Hep lock in and I signed some paperwork. (Praise #5 – I really really do not like needles. I was afraid that the Hep lock would make me so nervous that it would stall labor. It really was the last thing on my mind though and labor definitely did not stall since I was so far along.)

Very quickly every contraction became a yelling contraction. I definitely became a screamer. I tried so hard to concentrate on breathing or moaning, but it always turned into a full blown scream. I hoped that I wasn’t bothering anyone else on the floor who was in labor or recovery. During the contractions, Mom would give leg support and hold my leg up.

I had only been hooked up to the monitor for a short time when the Wingman’s heart rate went low on a contraction. The nurse immediately said that they needed to start an IV. I asked why and she explained about the heart rate. I said I wanted to give it more time. His heart rate never again went that low and I didn’t need the IV at all.

Only a few contractions in and I told her that I felt like I needed to push. Thankfully I was the only person in labor that night, so the nurse was able to stay with me the whole time. She was great. (Praise #6 – in so many things that I have heard, read, and seen, hospital births tend to be chaotic and loud. This was such a calm experience. Everyone stayed calm and quiet and it was great!)

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Pushing was definitely the hardest part. The Dr still hadn’t arrived (he apparently was in the ER with a patient) and the nurses started getting concerned. One of the nurses called him a couple times to check on where he was. I wasn’t worried. I didn’t care who caught the baby. The Pilot or my Mom could even do it!

I ended up pushing for about an hour. With each contraction, I grabbed tightly onto the hospital bed railings. One time I remember wondering if I was going to break the bed.

I remember asking several times “Why won’t he come out?” Everyone kept reassuring me that he was on his way. I just didn’t know how much longer it would take! Thankfully I was still able to rest in between contractions. At this point I was holding the Pilot’s hand and I remember that during contractions I was squeezing so hard.

Finally, the doctor arrived just as the Wingman was crowning. Somewhere in there I was told he had hair. I was surprised! I think I even mentioned then that I was expecting him to be bald.

Finally I had to push so much I finally figured out how to just close my mouth and push as hard as I could. The ring of fire was not as bad as I expected at all. But it still wasn’t pleasant. He reached that point and then the contraction was over so I stopped pushing. I didn’t want to have to feel that again. But with the next contraction or two, I was able to just keep pushing. I knew that if I could just keep going it would all be over soon. It was several intense seconds to get his head out. Everyone kept telling me he was right there and he was coming…to keep going and I could do this. Finally his head was out and then the rest of his body came out.  It was 1:22 am, July 21st.

After he was born it was kind of a blur. I couldn’t really see him down there but I was just so happy. The first thing I asked was, “Is he still a boy?” The Pilot confirmed and the Dr said, “Did someone tell you it was a girl?” I asked again about his hair and they told me he had a lot of hair. I was smiling and just so happy. I could hear them suctioning him…it sounded like he had a lot of mucus in there. Then I heard him cry. I was so happy to hear him and said something about his sweet cry.

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After about 5 minutes the doctor handed the Wingman to me and then cut the cord. I couldn’t believe it. He was finally there in my arms. I looked at the Pilot and was just so in love with my family. “Can you see him? Isn’t he cute?” I just looked and looked at our little boy. “Thank You, God.” I kept saying that over and over.

After about 15 minutes, they took the Wingman over to the table to weigh and measure him, etc. The Dr asked me to push to try to get the placenta out. I was a little incredulous. “You want me to push again?” But I gave a little push and the placenta immediately came out.

We kept watching to see what his weight was going to be. Finally they weighed him and the Pilot told me he weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces. I was so surprised! (Praise # 7 – This whole pregnancy I was saying how it would be awesome if I could have a baby in the 7 pound range. I really expected him to be bigger, though. God gave me my 7 pound baby!) He also was 20 inches long and his head was 14 in.

When the nurses were done in the room, they just quietly left. They were the greatest nurses. We took turns holding the Wingman and loving him. We just were resting and talking. 2 hours later we took our first family pictures. After that we tried to rest in the room for a little longer.

Praise #8 – I am so thankful that we were able to have a natural birth in the hospital. So many people are skeptical that it can happen. I do think that you have to be more firm yet open to compromise. But it can totally be done. While it isn’t what we first would have preferred, the Pilot and I knew that this is where God wanted us so we knew that the birth would be perfect whatever happened. It sure was. God answered so many prayer requests. We are just so thankful!

All in all it was an incredible birth experience. The day didn’t seem like a 19 hour labor. The contractions were not all “that bad.” I never once reached a point where I wished I had gotten the epidural. It was just an amazing, wonderful experience.  As I said at the beginning, this is only a tiny part of the story too….there are so many other answered prayers.  I am so thankful for how everything went!

I am so thankful for the Pilot and my Mom. I don’t know how I would have done it without them there. The Pilot was so helpful and encouraging the whole time. He is an incredible husband and is already an amazing father!!!

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-Bonnie

Introducing the Wingman!!

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We are so glad to announce the arrival of our precious son!

Our Little Wingman

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He was born after 19 hours of natural, unmedicated labor.
First family photo…about 2 hours old.

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Our little cutie!

He is the most perfectly precious baby.  We are absolutely
thrilled that he is here and we are completely in love.
God blessed the labor and delivery so much.  It was
an incredible experience!

A few posts are already scheduled for our blog…but
if there is a lull you will have to excuse us as we
are spending time with our little son.  🙂

Dear Wingman,
All these months and weeks of waiting for you 

were more than worth it.  You are perfectly created in the image
of God.  We can’t wait to see you grow and become a man.
It is still so surreal to know that only a few days ago
you were still inside the womb…and now we
get to see your precious face.  We love you, sweet boy!!
-Daddy and Mommy-

Low Carb Eating – What If We’re Eating Out?

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I posted earlier regarding my low carb life and some of the awesome recipes I’ve found.

But what about those times when you are eating out?  I remember on Valentine’s Day this year when I was still new to the low carb diet, I was so discouraged looking at restaurant nutrition guides.  My husband and I wanted to go on a date but everything that sounded good had such high carbs!!  (I actually ended up getting a somewhat high carb salad at Chili’s…and frozen yogurt….then we went on a big walk afterward.  But, hey!  It was Valentine’s Day!)

If you have gestational diabetes or for some other reason are watching your carbs, you don’t have to write off eating out on date nights!!  I actually printed off several nutritional charts from various restaurants and highlighted things in my low carb range for easy reference.  Here are a few things (beyond the basic “boring” salad) that I have found for eating out.

Chili’s –

  • Several soups
    -Chicken Enchilada Soup (13 carbs)
    -Loaded Baked Potato Soup (13 carbs)
    -Southwest Chicken and Sausage soup (14 carbs)
  • Classic Sirloin steak, 10 oz or 8 oz (2 and 1 carb, respectively)
  • Grilled Salmon w/ garlic and herbs (1 carb)
  • Half Rack of Baby Back Ribs (13 carbs)
  • Margarita Grilled Chicken (10 carbs)
  • Monterey Chicken (11 carbs) – I tried this one last week.  So good!!

Applebee’s –

  • Shrimp ‘n Parmesan Sirloin (5 carbs)  – While definitely more pricey than what I usually order, this is SO yummy.
  • Soups
    -Broccoli Cheddar Soup in a bowl (20 carbs)
    -Clam Chowder in a bowl (25 carbs)
    -Chicken Tortilla Soup (25 carbs)
  • Zesty Roma Chicken and Shrimp (23 carbs)

McDonald’s –

  • Bacon Ranch Salad (grilled chicken) – 10 carbs
  • Bacon Ranch Salad (crispy chicken) – 24 carbs
  • Chicken McNuggets (4 piece) – 12 carbs
  • French Vanilla Iced Coffee (small) – 20 carbs (I order it sugar free)

Obviously, most of these things are in the “Under 25 Carb” range.  That is what generally works for me.  Obviously if you’ve been watching your blood sugar, you know the things to generally watch out for at restaurants…bread, potatoes, tortillas, salad dressing, breaded meat….etc.  These things aren’t necessarily bad…you just have to find what works for you.

Most restaurants or fast food places have nutritional information online.  Definitely check those out! 🙂

-Bonnie