Monday, September 21, 2015

Fear is Sneaky

Yesterday, fear made it's way into this house.

The big girls both have colds. Super yuck snotty noses. Razor blade slicing throats. Tired and exhausted little bodies.

We've been living like they have the worst disease. I have sanitized every surface in our home, focusing on handles (every doorknob, fridge, microwave, sink, garbage, toilet flusher, handrail, everything). I woke up with a runny nose and stiff eyes and beyond tired.

I was on high alert with the two young Spry babies. I spent most of the day washing Avin's hands and using 'hanitizer' on them almost after every move she made.

NO ONE touched Anchor except for me. I wouldn't allow it. What if he gets sick?

I spent entirely too much of the day watching his chest. Each rise up and then deflate down. I was trying to tell myself that he was labored in his breathing. It was almost as if I was looking for what was wrong rather than what was right.

In the later afternoon, I swore he looked pale as he was sitting in his swing. I quickly ran to the bedroom to grab is oximeter. Remember that thing that had abused me for too long? Yes, that little machine that told me how our days were going to be in the hospital. The one that kept me up for nights on end telling me to worry at every little move.

But this time, I was just going to grab a quick reading; just a spot check to see how he was doing. It was reading a little low.... for a while. I would watch. Anchor was sound asleep and when he should be 93+, he was sitting at 91-92.

So I did the most rational thing anyone would do.... I FREAKED OUT! My baby's sick! What are we going to do? How did this happen? Should I take him in right now?

Y'all, my baby wasn't/isn't sick. I am. I let Satan create a fear in me that I had let go of a while ago. I wasn't trusting in Jesus in that moment. I was trying to control every germ in our house. Have you ever tried to do that? Control every germ? It's exhausting... and impossible for us as humans. Only God has that power. But the devil was using my control as a way to creep in and plant fear in my heart.

After a prayer of release of control & fear,  I changed out our sweet boys oxygen cords, taped on a fresh cannula, grabbed him from his swing and cuddled him. As I was holding this little growing miracle, feeling his breath in sync with my own, I knew The Lord was telling me just to trust Him. Like we have from the beginning, we know we can't carry the burden of our breaths. Jesus has that for us. We just make sure we enjoy every moment we have while we are breathing.

That's what I was reminded yesterday. To trust. Again. Always. And then we took off the oximeter and got this sweet look. Oh my precious boy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Our Heroes (NICU Nurses)

The term hero kind of sounds cliche. But truly, I can't think of another word that would even come close to describing how brave, intelligent, comforting and loving the Neonatal Intensive Care nurses are at Community Medical Center.

From the moment Anchor Joel was born on May 4th at a teeny 1 pound 15 ounces, not once did I feel that he could have been in better hands. There were many moments when just the look of kindness or sincerity would help calm my fears. The sure hands that helped my only son to my chest for the first time and even up to the hundredth time, I knew he was in the best care.

These nurses, whom I now call friends, were his moms when I couldn't be there. They cared for him and loved him while I was still heavily drugged for the first 2 days. They were my hands and comforting voice in between my 252 trips back and forth to the NICU.

Some heard me laugh every time my son would pass gas, some saw me mad at the scale the last few days there... but all of you saw me cry. Whether tears of exhaustion or tears of joy and hope, you were there to just listen.

Most of you new our faith and shared your stories of redemption with us too. The words we read together with each new bible verse we would hang on his bed, brought comfort to all of us. Some prayed with us each time we left our son.... and before every procedure or test he had. We thank you for your faith as it helped us keep ours strong.

One of you even walked me all the way to the emergency room the night I discovered I had mastitis; just so I knew exactly where I needed to go.

A few of you even found time to touch this mamas heart through baby feet crafts. I will cherish the foot anchor and Mother's Day craft. One of you helped me climb way back behind the isolette and ventilator machine to hang up his banner just to make it feel a little more like his home there. 

There really are not enough words of gratitude I could express to say how grateful Joel and I are for your care and comfort of our precious boy. My heart belongs to the NICU now. Your love helped carry us through that scary but incredible time we had in room 2.

I will never be the same because of you.

I love you.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Solly Wrap = Love

This thing is a miracle worker! (Not really but it's pretty freakin' amazing!)
I've spent the past 7 weeks sitting and holding this little guy non stop! I love love love it... But also have an incredibly busy 2 year old to chase around, peeling her off the tops of furniture and running back and forth to the potty 389 times a day. (Which by the way is going fabulously!)

Now that we don't have our 5 ft ball and chains (oximeter) hanging off one of his feet Anchor can now snuggle right into this amazing wrap. He loves that he always gets held. I love that I can hold him and be hands free when needed. Avin loves to have a few more minutes of moms time during the day. 

Thanks Solly Wrap! I love you! 

What are some baby goodies that you love and you couldn't live without? I'm also looking for baby toy/entertainment ideas... I think my 4 month old/newborn is getting bored during the day. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bare feet.

From the very first time I laid my eyes on our precious boy, my ears also heard the sounds of his existence. But this afternoon is different.

I recall the sounds that started out as deafening in the beginning. The 'cooooosh puff' of the ventilator letting us know every breath that was pumped into his lungs. The gurgle of the water to keep the ventilator humidified for his comfort. The hum of the heat lamps. So many beeps... from his heart rate monitor and his feeding pump. Add that to the dinging of the amount of the oxygen in his blood and every grunt, fart or cry would send that monitor into a wail. Joel and I used to joke with each other about how Anchor's NICU room sounded like a casino. There was so much noise. In the beginning, every sound would send my heart racing. What does that mean? What made that alarm go off? Why isn't someone coming in to check this alarm? I would get so nervous and my fear would creep in each time I heard another alarm.

As the days went on, we started to get more comfortable with the noise each machine made and the reason why the alarms would go off. Sometimes a little too comfortable. You know when you're in Vegas, how loud the casinos are on the first day; then on day 2 on, you can hardly hear the different bings and dings. This is exactly what the NICU turned into for us. The fatigue we had was real. But still we were alert enough to know when any serious alarm was made.

We brought Anchor home on oxygen and an oximeter. The home oxygen machine is the most comforting hum. I'm not sure if it's just the sound of it or knowing that it is still giving my son 30% of the air he needs to breathe. I love that sound. It's the perfect white noise to our every day. The oximeter, on the other hand, has kept me from peace in so many ways. In the hospital, both Joel and I were a slave to knowing exactly what his blood oxygen level was at every moment. We couldn't relax. Both of us would dart our eyes to the monitor as soon as the shrill of the alarm would sound. Going home with this machine was no different. For the first few weeks we were highly sensitive to each noise that came out of that little box. Every time Anchor burped... DING DING! Every time he farted or poop... DING! Every time he would cry real hard.... DING DING DING!!! All of these reasons for a sudden drop of oxygen in your body is absolutely normal. It happens to all of us... we just don't hear or see it because we don't have monitors hooked up to our feet. Not once did he have a true reason at home for the monitor to scare us half to death.

Over time, we quit hearing the beeps. They became silent to us, though deafening at the same time.

But today... today is different. Our doctor called this afternoon with fabulous news! She talked to Anchor's pulmonary specialist and they decided we could take off the monitor!!!! With his activity levels increasing, aka kicking like a mad man during waking hours, the machine wasn't giving us the correct readings all the time anyway. With no 'spells', aka sudden stop in breathing, since we've been home, there is no need to have 24/7 watch on his blood oxygen levels. This is FANTASTIC NEWS!

Although relieved, I know I won't be sleeping much tonight. Just like any newborn mom, I'll be up, making sure my little man is breathing okay. He still has his oxygen canulla but without the constant reading, I know I'll be a nervous wreck. Thrilled but nervous. That little white box brought so much calm and crazy into our lives. It's almost bittersweet. 

Friends, we are getting closer. One less cord hanging off his little body. (We will continue to spot check his blood oxygen twice per day just to make sure it's in a healthy range.) He can finally wear footed jammies without cutting holes in the ankles or heels. No more stinky wrap to secure the monitor on his little foot.

Just two, tiny bare feet.

I melt.

Monday, September 7, 2015

I can do so much more...

There are days when I don't like the choices I make. Most days actually. 

Whether it's what time I sleep until or having one too many sweets. Or maybe it's the constant procrastination on nearly every deadline or to do. Lack of bible time or lack of physical activity. 

Ever since the whirlwind of baby Anchor, it seems no matter how hard or how much I think about something, I haven't been doing. 

I look around at some of my favorite people and crave specific things or disciplines that they have. Not that I'm discontent with my life, I love what I have going on... I'm just not living it to the fullest. 

I've made my list... that's the planner in me... of what small changes I'm going to make in my every day. Because they say 'small changes make a big difference.' 

And that's what I'm going for... A big difference. 

So now I'd like to know, what is a small something you know you should start doing in order to get that big change over time. How do you make sure you are living and loving life to the fullest?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday with the Sprys

Snuggling with Papa
Sleeping in and snoozing. 
Scripture and sermon over donuts and coffee. 

Spinning and twirling... And lots of falling down. 
A whole lot of sitting. 
Today was chilly so staying inside was our lazy option. 

Our little one slept for almost 5 hours Ina hunk lady night. When you finally get a good night of sleep, it takes all you've got just to get out of bed. So today we rested.  

My dad and step mom just headed to bed on their last night here. It was a quick trip with even less notice they were coming. But oh how it makes our hearts happy when family comes to visit. 

Forever, we've been the 'entertainers.' You come visit us and we will run you ragged taking you everywhere we love to go. But now with our new normal of staying home, every visitor we have had basically just sat in the couch with us. 

A big part of me feels bad. Family and friends driving and flying half way across the country to spend their vacation days with us and we just sit. Shouldn't we be showing them our beautiful city? Taking them for a float? A hike? Something?

But then the small part of me thinks this is just wonderful. Just being. Soaking in each other. Sharing stories, sitting quietly, cooking and cleaning up, sipping on a drink and laughing over dinner. But most of all, just snuggling and being together. 

And that makes me happy. This season is so short lived but my prayer is that we fall in love with the slow and that becomes a true part of our forever norm. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Potty & the Carousel Lesson

Avin has been working so hard the past couple of weeks to get herself out of her diapers for good. (Okay, maybe mom has been hounding her but she responds to a nag apparently.)

Two weeks ago we made her a potty chart (yep, on a dinner menu calendar but hey, you use what you've got when you think of it and have the time to sit down and get it done.) At the end of every week, she get a reward. You'll notice that last week was ice cream and this week was the carousel downtown. She can only earn this if she went all week using the potty during waking hours. Not one single accident, which tells me that she is more than ready. In November, she was almost potty trained completely.... then I got pregnant and was too exhausted to constantly be running her to the bathroom. I know, selfish. But oh how that first trimester always kicks my butt. After I finally started feeling better, we started again. And then we had Anchor. And then we quit again. So now we are finally doing it. 100% committed. Let's be honest, having a reward dangling in front of you helps too!

Today, we finally put a sticker up on the day for the carousel! Oh how she's been waiting and asking for this day for 2 full weeks. After a quick walk through downtown to catch the Saturday morning bustle, we finally found our way, through the pouring rain, to the carousel.
We waited in line for one whole ride and then it was our turn to get on. 

Missoula's carousel is one of the fastest in North America, so I was hesitant on letting Avin ride by herself on her horse. Because it's so fast, they don't allow parents to stand by the kiddo. You either ride with them or ride next to them. Avin was begging to ride alone, so I figured if I was sitting beside her, she could ride alone.... with the belt wrapped twice around her for safety. Because honestly, 2 weeks of waiting for a 2 year old is a long, long time. 
She ran around the whole ring of wooden horses looking for the perfect 'unicorn.' She found the prettiest, 'farkly' (sparkly... but there weren't any sparkles. Ha!) unicorn (except it wasn't a unicorn, just a girly horse) with an adorable little wooden puppy riding on the tail end (another nice word for butt)

I lifted her on and strapped her in before realizing the only open horse next to hers was a BUCKING BRONCO! This mom had to ride a horse that was at a 45 degree angle. Are you kidding me?!? But, she worked so hard and I could sacrifice a little bit of discomfort (or a LOT of bit) for a few spins around the carousel.

Our horses made 2 full circles and we heart the loudest clunk. Um... not good. The carousel BROKE! I was crushed for Avin. But she had absolutely no idea that this wasn't normal. She was just too happy that she got to ride the horse, up and down, all by herself! She was laughing uncontrollably and had the proudest smile for minutes after we got off.

When I looked at it as a big major disappointment and set back, she didn't see that at all. She only experienced joy. Pure joy. Even short lived. And then we got ice cream. 
Her satisfaction reminds me to be happy for the little bits and not always craving the much. For some reason, I seem to be an all or nothing person. If I get behind on my bible reading, I feel crushed and if I can't do the whole lesson in one day, I quit. But if I just took the little bits when I could that would be better than being obsessed with not getting it all done. Instead of not stopping with one piece of carrot cake and being satisfied, I feel like I need a second. 

What I think I'm saying is to enjoy the small things. This is something I'm trying to live in. Joy in the little. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Soaking up a Memory - Grandma's Ark

Growing up, when we were at our grandmas house, my sisters and I would get the privilege to play with Noah's Ark and animals in her sink. Grandma just had a perfect way of making each of us feel special and almost spoiled when she would pull out this old ark for us to play with. (As I'm sure she did with every grandchild... Right cousins?)
We would fill up the sink with warm water, pull up a folding chair and spend so much time (what felt like hours) taking each set of animal, pair by pair, up and down the bridge of the large boat (that didn't float... It was a sinker for sure)  
Two by two, we would make up stories or have grandma tell us the story of Noah's faithfulness and God's promise to His children. Being extra careful not to spill water on to the floor (it was carpeted wasn't it? Family? Aunties? Grandma?) we would lean over that sink until both of our hands were wrinkled beyond recognition and the water freezing cold. 
Last December, I remember lying in bed thinking about which toy we should get for Avin. I didn't want to just get another something that would end up in a pile or in her closet, or worse, stacked in the garage waiting for the next garage sale. I wanted something that would provide countless hours of entertainment and would create a memory for her. 

It hit me link a ton of bricks... Noah's Ark. But it couldn't be just any Noah's Ark. It had to be the one exactly like the one at grandmas house. 

One thing is sure, I can hunt down pretty much anything on the Internet, without really knowing what exactly I was looking for. I stayed up all night searching until finally in found exactly the one I had to get for her. (At this point I had to ask myself honestly; was this for her or for me? Me... Duh!)

After all my research, the coolest thing that I found out was this ark and these animals came from.... Are you ready?!.... A GAS STATION!!! 

At Arco gas stations in the early 1970s, you could purchase the Ark and then each fill up, you would get a pair of animals. How cool is that?! If I were a child then, I know that would have been a highlight to go get gas with my mom or dad. I wonder if my dad was ever the lucky kid to see what the newest addition to the set would be that week. I sure wish we had incentives like that to fill our tanks. 

After my hours of research, and then scrounging eBay for a complete set, I finally laid my eyes on a BRAND NEW, Vintage ARCO Noah's Ark. Still in original packing! 

I wish I could blame being up too late and super tired, but I know that I would have paid the embarrassing price tag any time. If you're a vintage you collector, close your ears...... Because as soon as that package arrived in the mail, I ripped open all the packages of the animals and Noah (who Avin now refers to as Grandpa Kit!) and his wife. 

I didn't purchase this incredible find just to have it sit on a shelf, in its packagin, collecting dust. No, I splurged on this 'toy' to be just that. To be used today like it was today. To give a toddler well over an hour to get lost in her own little world.. Hands wrinkled, chilly water and cupboards and floors drenched. 

There isn't another toy that we own that brings both of us nearly as much joy as this one does. After dozens of times pulling it down from the shelf, Avin still gets excited to play with the ark. 

It give me joy... And clean counters, cupboard fronts and floor after I'm finished soaking up the mess. 

Is there a toy you remember from childhood that you absolutely love and have purchased for your child or wish you could? Please share. December is coming and I need more ideas. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Relationships Built Through Scentsy

I received the sweetest text from a very special friend this morning. She opened her TimeHop app and this is what popped up 6 years ago today.

I had been a Scentsy consultant for just over a year at that time and I had met Amy through Facebook. We had one mutual friend at the time and somehow we connected. Amy makes the most adorable hand appliqu├ęd crafts and baby clothing. I instantly fell in love with her creativity. At that time of my life, I spent most of my time crafting.... scrapbooking, repurposing second hand goodies, coffee cozies, and more. Amy and I grew a friendship through Facebook over warmers & wax and crafts & creativity.

Six years later, countless phone conversations, we have grown to be incredible friends. We have grown together and worked our successful Scentsy Family businesses side by side. Without Scentsy and our incredible products, we probably wouldn't know each other today. I can't imagine not having her on this journey of life and business with me.

Today we have 225 mutual friends on Facebook. This blows me away. This simply means that the business we are in is all about relationships. It's humbling, really, to know so many people all because of our growing businesses. When I joined, one of the main reasons that I invested that $99 was to make friends. Little did I know then, that by sharing a product that I loved, I would be blessed beyond my wildest dreams with honest, authentic, lovely friends.

This community that we have built and the friendship we have will forever keep us on the phone, sharing ideas... laughing, crying, and goal setting together. We have both grown into people we didn't recognize 6 years ago. Even though we live hundreds of miles away and only see each other once or twice a year, we pick up right where we left off. I love friendships like this. I'm grateful that I have many relationships like this. Some from high school, college, church and maybe a work place or two.... but most of my friendships are with women who are building a legacy for their children with Scentsy.

I'll never forget the feeling I felt when in October 2011, Amy reached Super Star Director (our highest title in the Scentsy Family!) She hit this lofty and amazing milestone before I did and I'll always remember that I honestly didn't care about myself or my goals in that moment. There was something so special and made my heart leap for joy at the thought of my friend reaching the top of the mountain! All I could think was how absolutely proud I was of her. And then I worked like heck to follow her footsteps to the top!

This perfectly describes what our Scentsy Family is about: giving more than you take, investing in others to help them be successful, celebrating with arrows out.

I'm humbled and blessed to be able to call Amy friend.... along with so many other women that I've met along this crazy journey. As I reflected on these relationships today, I can't help but feel overjoyed. Grateful. Honored. Happy.

Thank you for sharing today Amy. I can't wait to see what the next 6 years has in store for both of us. Cheers to our friendship.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Weight of Happiness!

When I took off his wet diaper this morning, all I could do was pray and beg God for some weight gain, as I placed him on the baby scale.  Every pump, every bottle, every sleepy eye was worth what we saw today! Joel and I were completely surprised to see that our little Anchor had quadrupled his birth weight! When we saw the scale read 7 lb 15 oz we both may have squealed a little bit. Walking into our appointment, we were hoping for 7 lb 8 oz, so to have almost another half pound above your expectation was beyond thrilling!

During our stay in the NICU, our son had to be put on several different milk fortifiers (formula that they add to the breastmilk) to get him to gain any weight. Every formula we tried would just tear his little guts up. Finally, exhausted with trying and failing, Dr Stevens and I both decided that we could try only breastmilk. Now here's to preface that I have a TON of milk! A little perspective; I have almost 3,000 ounces in our freezer and have fed Anchor from the beginning plus I've provided supplemental milk for a sweet baby girl too.

When we started exclusively feeding breastmilk, he started losing weight. For 3 days he lost weight and to be honest, that was one of the worst feelings as his mom. He had gone through so much just to get to the point of just being a 'feeder and grower' (NICU term for a baby that just needs to get bigger before they can go home) that losing weight from your mama's milk just stinks.

However, on the 4th day he finally gained a few grams. The next day a few more. And ever since then, he has been growing like crazy!

It's been a little bit exhausting doing the double duty of pumping, pouring into bottles, feeding him, washing bottles and pumping supplies and doing it all over again. However, after so many tears and so much frustration over the past few months, today truly felt like a victory!

Today Anchor Joel feels like a newborn. Like a baby thriving in his environment and I couldn't feel any more relief that I do right now. His lungs will grow. They'll get bigger and stronger with time. His heart will prayerfully heal (his ASD -atrial septal defect- sometimes referred to as a hole in the heart — is a type of congenital heart defect in which there is an abnormal opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart - will prayerfully go away as he gets bigger. 

And now... we can rest easier knowing that he is growing. A lot! Chubby babies makes this mama happy. 
The result from today's appointment makes me feel like we are on the next road of our journey. Almost like we are heading down the back stretch. During today's appointment, Anchor also had to have his 4 month vaccines. He cried. And then ate. 100% breastmilk. Almost 3 ounces. So it would be safe to say he is officially over 8 pounds. 
God is good. I'm so incredibly grateful.