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Times are Changing

In just a few months, Liam will start kindergarten. He’s gone from the wiggly baby inside of me, pressing so hard against my ribs I couldn’t breathe, to this adorable, silly, kindhearted little boy. Looking back over the last 5 years, it’s easy to see all of the incremental changes that have led to this time. The changes were unnoticeable as they happened, but are very apparent when viewed in retrospect.

This next change feels different. It has knocked me off my feet, and left the world spinning around me.

I am stuck in this place of transition. I’m not ready to let go of the baby years. While I hold on with every fiber of my being, time continues to drag me forward, not caring if I’m kicking and screaming against it. One thing I’ve learned in this tug of war between time and me is that time always wins. Time will win this time, too.

Yet, time is no villain. Time may push me forward when I don’t feel ready, but its very nature allows me to have the experiences I do, which then turn to memories. Time may take me away from some amazing moments, but my memories are mine. Not only is time unable to take them from me, time is the thing that gave them to me.

I can feel everything changing around me, in these last months before this next phase. I’m transitioning from “mom to 3 babies” to “mom of a school-aged kid”. From a “young adult” to an “adult”. It feels foreign, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it.  Yet, regardless of my readiness, it’s here.

I know I will continue in this fight I cannot win over the next several months, until the moment it can no longer be avoided arrives. I’m sure I will shed tears, and quite a lot of them. Though alongside my resistance is excitement to see what lies ahead. So many memories are waiting to be made, and stories are waiting to be told.

No, I don’t want to let go. But I can’t wait for the next adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye 2015; Hello 2016

2015 was a really crummy year. Some good things happened, too. But overall, the year left a bad taste in my mouth.

It started off by Elena, who had just turned 2, breaking her foot. She had to wear a boot for 4 weeks, which she took surprisingly well!

A few weeks later, I totaled our van when someone slammed into me, pushing me into another car. A van which we had only owned a few months. This happened on my way to work one morning, to a job I had only started about a couple weeks earlier, right after Elena broke her foot. Thankfully, insurance took care of everything and we ended up replacing our van with another one without having to take on an automobile loan, which was nice. The van wasn’t quite as nice as the one we’d had, but no payment seemed to be a fair enough tradeoff.

Two months after the accident, I went to Chicago for a work trip. Right before I left for that trip, Quentin got sick. In fact, he had sick for a while off and on. The doctors had suspected RSV. He seemed to be mostly recovering from it, just not completely. After a brief period of “mostly better”, he took a turn for the worst. He had all the usual cold-type symptoms, but he also seemed to be so much more lethargic than made me comfortable.

I left for my trip feeling uneasy, but Nathan took him to the pediatrician the day before, and it seemed we were doing all we could do. When I arrived in Chicago, I was so worried, I called the pediatrician again and really stressed how poorly he was feeling and how not himself he was. They said we could take him to the ER at Children’s, but after talking to Nathan and a few other people, we decided to play it by ear, we had already taken him in, and so there probably wasn’t more they or we could do at that point.

When I got home a few days later, his fever had dropped, but he was still quite lethargic, so I took him to the pediatrician again. After checking his pulse/oxygen, something that had been doing many time before on my children without excitement, the doctor came back in and calmly told me he had called an ambulance, and Quentin would need to go to the hospital. I was surprised, but also not surprised in a way. I was angry at myself for not following my instincts earlier in the week, but sometimes it is hard do differentiate anxiety from my instincts.

We spent some time in the ER with him on oxygen, but weren’t sure how long he would need to stay. A blood draw while there revealed he had human metapneumovirus, which is quite similar to RSV. To complicate matters, while we sat there in the ER, we saw his heart rate drop to a very scary level. It came back up, but while he was in the hospital, we noticed a pattern of his heart rate dropping in that way.

Between the virus and his heart rate drops, it was decided that the PICU would be the best place for him. He stayed there for 5 days. Several EKGs and an echocardiogram later, we learned he had no structural issues with his heart, and his heart was behaving in that way as a result of the virus. However, it was while he was in the hospital that we also learned about other issues he was facing.

It was a week or two earlier that Quentin had his 6-month checkup. His pediatrician noticed muscular weaknesses – he was not lifting his head as well as he should have been by then. We had discussed plans to have him assessed, but since he was in the hospital with nowhere to go, he was seen by neurology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and developmental therapy (in addition to the cardiologists). It was a very eventful stay.

Quentin was diagnosed with muscular hypotonia, which is a muscular weakness disorder. We still do not know what caused it. We may never know. We don’t know how it will affect him long-term. He’s had an MRI, a spinal x-ray, and more blood tests than I can count. So far, nothing has come back showing anything significant. For now, he is being followed by neurology and will see a geneticist this year. He is occupational, physical, and developmental therapy. He’s a busy little guy! He’s made so much progress since all of this came to light in May. But at 14 (almost 15) months, he is still only army crawling, does not stand independently, and still struggles a bit with eating solids, though he’s doing much better at that, too. I’m thankful he is doing better, but of course, I worry about him, too.

July-August were also very trying months for us. I cannot share those details yet, but I will one of these days.

We had planned to take a vacation to Mexico, when our a/c went out in our house. So that ate up our vacation fund. We made it to Eureka Springs for a short getaway instead, but it was not quite the tropical paradise we had wanted with our plans to go to Mexico. I’m thankful we were able to get away at all, as many are not. But it was still a disappointment that came in 2015.

Our Prius gave us nothing but trouble. We had to replace the hybrid battery. Then the transmission went out. And the replacement transmission went out. And after 2 more replacement transmissions, it finally seems to be ok. Thankfully none of this cost us money due to warranties, but it did cause us frustration.

I went to Brazil for work in November, and while I was there, my grandpa died.  And then just days before Christmas, Nathan’s 23-year-old cousin was killed in a car accident.

The St. Louis area (including close to where we live in IL) had major flooding, resulting in many roads, including major interstates, being closed do to water covering them. I have acquaintances who had to leave their homes.

So no. 2015 was not a good year. Though I am thankful for my new job as well as how well my photography business is doing. I did 84 sessions somehow – I probably should not try to do that again in 2016! It took me away from home more than I liked.

I’m hoping 2016 is better, but so far, it has been disappointing. I hope it gets better. Elena has strep throat. I had a horrible first day back to work. Getting there was impossible, and everything that could go wrong did. I went back home to work from home, and am stuck outside working in my car, as I do not have a key. Nathan is bringing Elena back home and also letting me in the house. But still, I’ve sat out here over an our now, and will continue sitting here for a bit longer. Minor things in the big picture of life, but frustrations nonetheless.

Or maybe years get falsely blamed for luck, good and bad. Perhaps there are no good years and bad years, but simply good times in life and bad. Sometimes it’s even raining and sunny at the same time – wonderful things can happen concurrently with some very challenging things. It’s the nature of life. I know this. But I do hope we get a break from those challenges soon. We need it!

 

Time to blog again?

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here. Between work, my photography business, and being a mom to 3 busy kiddos, it is sometimes hard to find time to do anything else. I thought I was done here. However, lately I’ve felt an urgency to document. Time is flying. My babies are turning into children who will continue to move through the various phases of life at lightning speed.

Most days, something happens I hope I will remember, but know that isn’t realistic. So I’ve decided to start writing here again to record as much as I can, for myself and for my children.

I’m sure I have a lot of catching up to do but for now…

Quentin got his first tooth today! He’s 11 months, which I believe is how old Liam was when his first tooth popped through as well. Elena was our early teether.

Liam and Elena stayed with Nathan’s parents a couple nights this week, and his mom told me the first day she tried to get her to take a nap, she squinted her eyes open to see if Elena was asleep, and when she thought she was, she tried to sneak off. Apparently Elena saw her doing this, because on Day 2, Elena did this exact same thing – she tried to sneak off when she thought her Mamaw was good and asleep!

These are the types of things I’ll be recording. Most of the time, it’ll probably be quick, and not exactly these great pieces of writing. But that’s ok – all that matters to me at this point in my life is that it *is* documented!

I know I don’t write much (or really, at all) here anymore.  However, the overall story told on this blog would not be complete without including the details of Quentin’s birth.  So I am returning to this space to tell one more birth story.

On Friday, October 3, I went to my OB for my 39 week checkup.  In my prior checkup, I was barely 1 cm dilated and 60% effaced, but I’d been contracting off an on throughout the week, so I was hopeful the contractions had been productive.  To my dismay, I made only slight progress.  I had gone from “barely 1 cm” to a “loose” cm, and I was the same amount effaced.  However, there was 1 big improvement, and that was that I had dropped extremely low, which my OB said was a very good sign.  He stripped my membranes, telling me it would likely put me into labor or get me close to it.  I had hoped for labor, which I didn’t get.  However, I did get the “close to it”.

I went back to work that day, waiting for the contractions that many who’d had their membranes stripped told me to expect.  Nothing happened until around 7 that evening, at which point the regular contractions started and continued throughout the night, allowing me little sleep.  I was very hopeful something was going to happen the next day.  In fact, my husband woke up early to pack his hospital bag, and we even made arrangements for Liam and Elena’s overnight care.   Then, as if out of nowhere, the contractions all but stopped.

I was frustrated and disappointed by the stopped contractions.  My goal for this pregnancy was to avoid another c-section, and in order to have a successful VBAC, I knew my body would need to at least act like it was headed into labor on its own.  My OB was willing to let me go a week past my due date, but that concerned me too, knowing that Liam and Elena had both been nearly 8.5 lbs at 39 weeks.  I was afraid if I went to 41 weeks, I would be birthing a 9.5 lb baby, and I doubted my ability to do that.  The last thing I wanted was to go through labor and have a c-section at the end.

My OB checkup for the following week had been scheduled for  Wednesday, October 8, but when Monday arrived, I was too impatient.  I had to know if all that contracting had at least done something.  Fortunately, there was an opening at 10:45 a.m., and so I changed my appointment time.  My thought was also that if my OB stripped my membranes again only a few days after doing it the first time, it would perhaps send an even stronger message to my body to get things going.  He also told me that if it didn’t put me into labor this time, he was confident it would cause enough change as to make my body favorable for induction, so we scheduled that for October 10, just in case.

I arrived at my appointment, and learned that I was still only dilated 1 cm, but I had moved from 60% effaced to 80% effaced.  I had hoped for more, but was satisfied with that progress since it had only been 3 days since my prior check.  My OB stripped my membranes again, and this time I immediately started feeling contractions.  I went back to work, even though the contractions made it very difficult to concentrate at times.  They continued in regularity through the night, resulting in another night of little sleeping for me.

The next morning, I was afraid to get out of bed, worried that getting up and moving around would cause my contractions to stop.  I got up and started to get ready for work and the kids ready for daycare, but the contractions kept up in regularity and intensity.  They were about 5-8 minutes apart, so not quite active labor, but still very regular.  After some deliberation, I decided I should stay home from work, because some of the contractions were painful enough to not trust myself behind the wheel of a car.  I told my boss that I would come in later if things subsided as they had the previous Friday.

I sat down at the desk and finished editing a photo session I owed a friend, and by the time I finished it was after 11, and things were getting quite painful; however, the contractions weren’t getting any closer together.  I called my OB’s office and asked if I should come in for another check, and they recommended I go to the hospital.  I called Nathan, and he left work to come get me.  We arrived at the hospital around 2 p.m.  He headed back to work, and I told him I’d call him as soon as I knew whether they would be keeping me.

Once I got checked in, the first thing they did was do a cervix exam.  I was still around 80% effaced, but was 2 cm dilated.  They told me the only way to know if I was in active labor was to keep me for a little while and do another check a few hours later.  If I continued to make progress, they’d keep me.  Otherwise, they said they would likely let me go home, but they expected I would be back by the next day if that happened.

They hooked me up to the monitors, which confirmed my regular contractions.  They also wanted to get a good reading of the baby’s heartbeat.  If everything looked ok, they would have me take a walk for an hour or so, come back and get checked again, then decide whether to officially admit me.

After a little bit of waiting, the resident doctor came in to talk to me about the baby’s heart rate.  He was having some minor decels when I had contractions, which raised a bit of a red flag.  He called my OB’s office, and they said to go ahead and admit me, because they wanted to keep an eye on things.  Of course, this caused me more than a small amount of panic.

I got checked into my room around 4:30, and at 5:30 they decided to go ahead and start Pitocin on the lowest possible dosage (level 1) to help bring my contractions closer together.  They checked me an hour later, and I had progressed to a 3 by this point, so we knew I was definitely in active labor.

The nurse kept recommending an epidural, because our baby continued to have decels.  They weren’t worried, because he kept recovering from them.  But, if that were to change, and the need for an emergency c-section should arrive, if I didn’t have an epidural in place, then I would need full anesthesia.  I hated the thought of getting the epidural so soon, because I was managing the pain just fine.  However, I also wanted to make things easier the need for a c-section did arise.  So I went ahead and requested the epidural.  My request was timely, because shortly after, the labor pains became very close together and much more intense.  My water also broke around this time, so I knew things would only become more painful until his arrival.

They checked me again shortly after 9 p.m.  This time, I was 4 cm dilated.  Based on Liam’s labor, I figured I still had several more hours.  I tried to sleep, but couldn’t due to the stress of the decels.  I knew the doctors and nurses were watching me closely, so I’m not sure what I thought my vigilance was meant to add to all that, but my worry was great, and so sleep was out of the question.

Shortly after 11 p.m., his heart rate dropped down to 85 bpm, which is extremely low for a baby.  Not only did it drop down, but it wasn’t coming back up.  The nurse ran in, and the next thing I knew they were putting an oxygen mask on me and a team of doctors and nurses rushed into the room.  Thankfully, his heart did eventually recover, but it kept dropping down very low, so I knew something was going to have to happen fast.  I expected them to tell me I was headed to the operating room.  However, instead, they checked my cervix again.  To my surprise, I was fully dilated and our baby’s head was engaged!  They asked if I had felt the urge to push, and I said no, but then the epidural was probably shielding that.  I concentrated hard, and I told them I actually did feel like I could push.  My doctors gathered around me, and I started the pushing process around 11:23 p.m.  After 3 contractions and just over 10 minutes of pushing, Quentin Oliver was born at 11:35 p.m.

On his way out, it was determined that the cord was wrapped tightly around his neck.  I actually had to stop pushing during one of the contractions so they could cut it for his safety.  They don’t normally cut the cord that quickly, but they had no choice.  This is why he kept having decels.  Once he was out, they laid him on my belly, and he lifted up his head and looked at me, but he did not cry, which of course made my heart race with panic.  I could tell from the look one everyone’s faces that they were not worried.  They simply took him over to a baby bed and gave him oxygen until we heard that comforting little angry scream telling us that everything was going to be ok.

They weighed him, and we learned he was 7 lbs 7 oz, which was quite a shock to me, given that I expected him to be closer to 9 lbs!  They didn’t measure his length immediately, instead they brought him back to me for some skin to skin snuggle time.  However, we later learned that he was 20.5″ long.

While the decels were more than a little scary for me, especially accompanied by the fact that I was laboring after a c-section, which also has risks, overall, it was the easiest birth I’ve had.  I’m so glad he is now in our arms, safe, and he is doing wonderfully!  I can’t wait to watch him grow into the person he is meant to become.  But, for now, I’m happy to keep him little as long as possible.

 

Update

I knew a day would come when this blog was no longer a place I felt the need to maintain frequently.  It seems as though that day has come.  A big part of this can be attributed to how busy we are these days.  Writing, for me, is not about sitting down for 5 minutes and doing an update, though my most recent posts are definitely that.  What makes writing enjoyable for me is the emotional force behind it, glazing each word with depth and realism that cannot be conveyed in an everyday state of mind.  This type of writing requires going deeper within oneself, meditating on life, clearing the head, and letting one’s soul do the talking.  Getting into this frame of mind requires a commitment, both of time and emotion.   It’s a freeing place to be, and I do hope to work writing into my life again in the future.  But, for now, there are other things pulling at me, and I must choose.

I have an energetic 3 year old boy who wants to play baseball, sing songs, and color.  I have a 15 month old girl who wants to read books, snuggle (which also involves throwing anything in sight on the floor during this time), and play.   I have yet to announce this here, but we have another baby boy due October 9, 2014, just a day after Madelyn’s due date nearly 5 years ago now.  Oh, and we just got our final test result from genetics today – everything looks perfect and normal so far!  I’m still working a full-time job, which keeps me away from home more than I’d like.  And a year ago I finally decided to pursue a long-time photography passion, and have launched my first business.  My website is http://www.heathermohrphotography.com.  I invite you to check it out!   And, last but far from least, I’ve been working with Sufficient Grace Ministries to build a work here in the St. Louis area.   It’s been a slow process, slower than I’d like with so many other things happening in my life and only so much time available in a day, but I’m not giving up on that.  I did accomplish obtaining my doula certification through Still Birthday and have gotten on the call list for one hospital.  But I do need volunteers in this area, especially now that I’m expecting another child.  If you know anyone who is interested in this area, please do send them my way.

And so through all of this, writing has taken a back seat.  It makes me sad in a way, because, writing is what gave me the most peace while in my most intense stages of grief.   But, I am finding peace in many other areas of my life right now.   I’ll be the first to admit my life is far from serene.  But it makes me happy.  And I know writing will always be there for me as an outlet when I need it, as it always has been.

 

 

Quick Elena Update

As I was listening to Elena’s contented babbles this morning, I realized I desperately need to do an update on her.  She has changed so much this past month –  it’s blowing my mind!  Below is a snapshot of some of the things she’s learned to do lately.

  • She rolls both directions very easily  now.  She’s been rolling to her tummy since since she was 4 months old, but she started rolling the other way closer to 5 months old.
  • She is sitting.  She started sitting without support a day or two after she turned 6 months old, and she is able to do it for longer periods of time each day.
  •  She is in the snatchy stage – if I am holding something, she takes it out of my hand and usually waves it around in the air.  Often, but not always, it goes to her mouth.
  • She has started banging things around – if she is holding a rattle, she will bang it on the table.  She’ll also bang on things with her hands.  I think she may have gotten that idea from big brother, who bangs on everything with a surface.
  • She is babbling.  It started a couple weeks ago with the “yiyiyiyiyi” sound.  Now she is making the traditional “babababababa” sound and has even said “mama”!
  • She concentrates so hard on things – she will furrow her brow and study something, and then she’ll get excited and start waving her arms and jerking her body around. I need to get that on video, because it’s hard to describe.  Of course, as with most babies, when I try to take a video, the action comes to an abrupt halt.
  • We had her 6 month checkup last week.  She weighs 14 lbs 12 oz (20-25th %tile) and is 27.75″ (>98th %tile).  Her head is in the 50th %tile.

I think that’s everything for now!

 

The Missing Details

This week-end, I had the opportunity to share Madelyn’s story multiple times.  As I was doing so, I realized that while I have shared the details on this blog, so much is missing.  I’ve decided I want to go back and rewrite each of my children’s stories.  Some of this will be recap for those who have followed my blog since the beginning.  However, I’ve always known at some point I would pull all the pieces together into one cohesive story.   I’ll be starting with Madelyn in the next post, though it may take me days or even weeks to finish it, as I can’t always blog for long stretches of time these days.