Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sweet Caroline

Here she is, our beautiful daughter, Caroline Nicole, born Oct. 24, 2014. She weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces and was 20 inches long. She is a lovely baby and growing and becoming more interested in the world around her each day. Yesterday, she started smiling real smiles at us. She is more than we ever imagined or dared to hope for.

We are so thankful for this baby and the joy she has brought to us and to her brother, who is absolutely head over heels in love with "Blue Eyes," which is what he often calls her.
And so here we are, a family of four. We went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving and some of our mail is still being forwarded to their address. My dad handed a stack of envelopes to Greg and among the junk mail and the bills was the questionnaire that follows successful fertility treatments from our doctor. It was so fitting that it arrive in our hands on Thanksgiving Day, because we count our IVF babies as our greatest blessings. It was with a lot of joy and a grateful heart that I completed the form, added a birth announcement to the envelope and sent it on its way to Louisiana. Words can't express how grateful we are to have found our beloved Dr. V and his staff. Though we fought hard not to move back to Louisiana after Greg's deployment, we know now that it was all part of a bigger plan for us. Our family is complete and we are home in North Carolina where we are surrounded by our family and lots of old friends.

Andrew and Caroline, my sweet miracle babies -- living proof that dreams do come true -- sometimes twice.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's a sister for Andrew!

It's a girl!

We saw the perinatal doctor yesterday for an advanced anatomy ultrasound (you know, because I'm as old as dirt) and it was very clear as soon as the ultrasound started that our little one is a lady! She looked perfect, healthy and growing right as we'd hoped.

I am writing this post more for posterity than any other reason. While cleaning the office/playroom today, I found the scraps of paper on which I noted the details of our most recent IVF experience. I probably failed to mention that during our IVF Andrew had surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids. After many months of constant strep infections and too many rounds of antibiotics that did not work, we decided surgery was our best option.

So, of course, it was a stressful time for all of us. In the harried phone calls from the IVF nurses, I made notes in crayon and sharpie on scraps of paper found on the kitchen counter. So much different than how our previous IVF cycles were recorded!

Out of the 12 eggs retrieved, 11 were mature and 10 fertilized. We did a five-day transfer. We transferred three embryos. We were hesitant, but trusted the advice of our doctor who said he didn't think adding the third one would increase our chances of having multiples, but could increase our chances of having a pregnancy.

Now, I can't help but wonder if that last embryo (that we came very close to saying no to) is the one that stuck around. Of course, there is no way of knowing. I took a home pregnancy test one week after our transfer and got a faint positive. Another test the morning of our beta was darker. Our first beta came back at 61. Our second was 203. Our first ultrasound showed a gestational sac, but it was a scary appointment with a strange doctor (or maybe she was a PA?) doing the initial scan and after what seemed like endless searching, decided to get our doctor. Those moments waiting for him to get out of surgery were tense and long. Greg reassured me that Dr. V is the "wand" expert and he would find the sac. But I was not so sure. Of course, Greg was right and no sooner did my beloved doctor start the scan did he announce "there's a sac right there, see?" And I did see, but my view was blurred by hot tears of relief and joy. The next scan showed a yolk sac and then a heartbeat, though the embryo was measuring a couple of days behind. More worry and then, our last visit to Dr. V at seven weeks and all was well. We "graduated" once again to our regular OB.

Since then, we've had a pretty normal pregnancy, with the exception of my Advanced Maternal Age, which led us to the perinatologist yesterday. We were nervous going in, but our sweet baby looked perfect.

And now the work of moving begins in earnest. We meet with our realtor tonight to discuss our options, uncertain of what to do with this house and not sure of where we'll end up or what kind of house (or job) we'll find waiting for us on the East Coast.

But we are certain of God's providence in our lives. He has always provided. And His timing has always been perfect. So that is what buoys us in this rising tide of uncertainty. I have no idea who my new OB will be, because so much of that is out of our hands once we move back home where a large military hospital exists. We have no idea who will deliver this precious baby and it is going to break my heart to leave my doctor, who so skillfully pulled my son from my womb and stitched me back together again three years ago. I remember his words that day when things went bad and my heart broke over the emergency caesarean... "this is not your call. You ARE leaving here with a live baby." And, thankfully, we did.

No doubt God was guiding the series of events that led us back to Louisiana after Greg's deployment, though we fought it tooth and nail for many months. He knew that this baby was waiting for us here, in the expert hands of our Dr. V, we got another miracle -- of the girl variety! And we are so excited to start this new adventure as a family of four.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Big News!

Andrew is going to be a big brother! Our baby is due this fall and we are elated! We decided to go ahead and do IVF with our doctor here in Louisiana before we move this summer. The cycle didn't go so well. Believe me, if you want to know the effects of aging on your body, try to produce some eggs! Last time, 35 retrieved. This time, only 12. But like Greg kept telling me during our cycle, "all you need is one" (sung to the tune of the Beetles "All You Need is Love," of course). After transferring three embryos, we were so happy to see two pink lines on a hpt a couple of days before our beta.

So far, the pregnancy has been easy -- some feelings of nausea in the beginning a few very tired weeks -- but I am feeling better now and little one seems to be doing well. We have our anatomy scan in two weeks and they just did my quad screen yesterday. So please keep us in  your prayers that our quad screen returns normal. I am very lucky to be able to see my OB that I had with Andrew (at least until we move in August) and I am working hard to convince him he needs to come to NC in the fall for an outer banks fishing/hunting/baby delivery vacation. :)

Andrew is so excited about the baby. He has offered several name suggestions -- Microraptor, Harvey, Richard Rabbit and has been pretty adamant about Rosie. We were thinking, wow that's a really nice name and then one day he announced that Rosie is the class guinea pig at preschool. lol

So, if you have any great name suggestions -- send them my way. Remember what a difficult time we had naming Andrew? I don't really expect anything different this time around. We will find out if this baby is a little brother or a little sister in a couple of weeks.

In other news, we are preparing to move back to NC after Greg's retirement ceremony at the end of July. We are busy preparing for the big ceremony and the party to celebrate. My mother-in-law is coming to help out before the festivities and will stay with us to help me and Andrew out on the long drive home.

I have a lot of mixed emotions about this big change in our lives. Of course, there's a lot of pride but also a good bit of worry over our future as Greg looks for work. On the other hand, it seems almost like a dream that we will finally be able to put down some roots and live close enough to my family (and my mother-in-law who made the move from New England down to NC earlier this year) to see them whenever we want.

I am trusting God to provide for our soon to be family of four. In fact, I think it's fate that Greg's official retirement date (when the regular pay checks end) is Nov. 1, which is also our baby's due date.

God is so good and we are so thankful to be a growing family.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Just like that, he's three. We had a big party here at our house on Saturday to celebrate. It was a great party with six little friends and their families here to help us celebrate. The weather couldn't have been better -- a cloudless, warm, sunny day that was made to order. The kids played barefoot in the sandbox, jumped on the trampoline and ran around the yard as if it were a spring day. The theme was construction because at the moment Andrew is pretty serious about construction trucks. So, we took him over to the John Deere heavy equipment store for some three year old pictures. He was too excited to look at me for the most part, but I like the way some of the pics turned out.

When the weekend was over, Greg asked him what his favorite part was -- the party, the gifts, the friends, going to the park on Sunday? No. His favorite part was the cake. He truly is a boy after my heart. I made his cake and it turned out great.

Today, we enrolled Andrew in two day a week preschool on base at the Child Development Center. He'll be in a brand new facility that is just amazing. We spent some time in the classroom, which Andrew later described as "awesome." I am a bit nervous about how he will do -- it is much different from the Mother's Day Out program he has been in for the past year -- but I know he will adjust and it will be good for him.
And so we keep moving forward. Each day brings new questions -- a game Greg likes to call "stump the dummy" since many times we feel ill equipped to answer. "How does it work?" "Where does it come from?" I'm sure all parents can identify with the seemingly endless questions of a preschooler.
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite books was "Where Did the Baby Go?" about a little girl looking back at photos of the baby she once was and wondering why she had never seen this baby, where did it go?
When I look at our boy, I often wonder "where did the baby go?" Those first days seemed so hard and so long and I remember thinking we might never move beyond that stage of such neediness. My emotions were so raw and I was so very tired. Now, it's "I can do it myself, Mama" which comes as bittersweet relief. I remember reading a quote that went something like "the days are long but the years are short," and I know now that is so true. Three years. Poof.
Happy birthday, sweet Andrew. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, indeed

A rare post from me. And to think I used to do this nearly everyday. Well, as you can see, my sweet boy is just that -- a real live boy. The baby is gone. Even when I call him "baby" sometimes he will correct me -- "I'm not a baby. I'm a big boy."
Yes, my love, you are.
A big boy who has changed so much in the past year and yet, yesterday when I went in to wake him from a long afternoon nap, looked very much like that sleeping baby in the picture above. It's enough to bring tears to my eyes.
He is full of questions and demands and imagination. Just today, I missed him and after looking in all his favorite places -- his train table, his reading corner, my room where he makes a "rabbit house" on the other side of the bed and hops around pretending to be Andrew Rabbit, I found him lying on a stack of pillows on the guest bed facing the window, where the sun streamed in. He held a little red coffee cup from his kitchen in one hand and his legs were crossed at the ankles.
"It's a sunny day at the beach, Mama." he said "I'm drinking chocolate milk. Mmmm mmmmm!"
I'd like to say that at this point I am never surprised at what he says, but truth be told he surprises me daily. He is so smart and so observant and sometimes so wise.
This year, we filled two Operation Christmas Child boxes and I explained that some children in the world don't have a lot of toys or crayons and books and we were going to send the boxes to them as a Christmas gift. He happily helped me choose small gifts for the boxes and weeks later, as we began to talk more and more about Santa, out of the blue he told me he had a great idea.
"Santa can take toys to all the boys and girls that don't have any!!" he said "That is a great idea!"
Yes, my love, that is a great idea.
He is turning three in a few days. I don't know how that's even possible, yet here I am planning a construction zone party for next Saturday.
He loves trucks and blocks and building things. He surprises me with how much he knows about such things, the names of the trucks and what each one is for... shapes and numbers and letters.
He gets angry sometimes because he can't read the words in his books, but he wants to so desperately that I think one day, he'll surprise me.
He is such a good boy. And I try to remember to tell him that everyday.
At night when we say prayers, it always goes like this:
Me: God bless...
Andrew: Mama. You Mama?
Me: Yes, I'm Mama.
Andrew: I love you, Mama.
Me: I love you, Andrew.
The days slip by. Weeks seem so short. Before I know it, another month has come and gone. Seasons change faster than they used to and suddenly, here we are at the beginning of a New Year.
I wonder what 2014 will bring for our family, as we transition from this Air Force life into civilian life.
I do know that wherever we end up, my life will be filled with precious moments like the ones I've mentioned here, thanks to my sweet boy. Happy New Year, indeed.

Monday, March 11, 2013

All aboard

All aboard the potty train! Chooo Choooo!

It was with much eagerness and excitement that I planned our recent "potty party" weekend, the event that officially kicked off our transition into big boy underpants. Andrew wasn't quite as excited, of course, but he gave it a shot (motivated mainly by the promise of two M&Ms for peeing in the potty, four if he pooped.) At the end of the day, Andrew had earned 12 stickers on  his potty chart, ate two dozen M&Ms and pooped in the bathtub and on the floor in our dining room, but not in his potty.
I have learned this is par for the course. Potty training is a process. Some have told me it's too early and that my son is too young and to those people I grumpily mutter under my breath -- who asked you?
I know my son. I know how smart and capable he is and I know he has excellent control in the peeing and pooping department. He has no fear of the potty, as he has been sitting on the potty at least once a day nearly everyday since he was about 11-months-old.
Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's going to take time. But I think that is true for every child. Those stories you hear about people potty training their children in one day. They are true. The parent dedicated one entire day to juicing up their kid, running them to the potty, rewarding them for trying and all that jazz. But the potty training didn't happen in one day -- oh no. The potty training happened over many days, weeks, maybe even months. As I said, it is a process.
So, we are just at the beginning of this process. I have to remind Greg of that because he wants instant results. I take pleasure in the small victories. The first day, we had success with Andrew using the big potty, something he has not wanted to do before. We've also had three consecutive days of dry naps. That is a big deal.
So, our potty train is chugging along. I'm not sure when we will be able to add the "ed" to the potty train (as in potty trainED) but that's OK. Everyday, Andrew is learning to potty and I am learning more about him.
And, I have to say, that little tushy looks darn cute in his big boy underpants.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here we are

There is no going back and recapturing the past. So, I will simply share these photos of our reunion taken by Shugar Shots Photography back in November when Greg came marching home. There were no cheering crowds, no posters, no media. It was just me and my boy, dressed in his "Best Day Ever" T-shirt and waving two little flags when Greg stepped back into our daily lives. Andrew took his father's return in stride but there were some hiccups, as we expected. At first, he wasn't sure Daddy could do anything -- change a diaper, get him a drink, give him a bath and still, there are times when only Mama will do. After 15 months of going it alone, I can assure you Mama is happy to step aside and let Dad give it a shot. Yet, Andrew is still a Mama's boy, even as we approach the four month mark of Greg's homecoming. But our world is much different than it was and there has been so much change in his life -- his entire landscape is new -- that I tend to cut him a lot of slack.
We left our little trailer house (which Andrew was certain was a train car) back in December and after a brief visit home for Christmas, we came back to Louisiana to begin the last leg of our Air Force life. Retirement looms ahead and Greg and I are both thrilled and terrified by the thought of it. For now, Andrew and I have settled into a pretty good routine here. He and I enjoy slow, cuddly mornings, long afternoon naps and a pretty happy existence. He goes to a Mother's Day Out program at a local church one day a week and I use that time to shop or run errands or have a quiet lunch with Greg. We go to the library for toddler story time on Friday mornings. We visit the parks and playgrounds and take walks around our neighborhood. We talk to Grandma and Papa on the phone. We jump on the trampoline in the backyard and we watch Thomas the Train. I've stepped out of my comfort zone in an attempt to have a social life here, joining the MOPS program at a local church and attending events for spouses in Greg's squadron. It has made life here less lonely and bearable. The heartache of leaving our family is still there, but has been eased by a visit from a good friend we hadn't seen in many years and a meet-up in Dallas with a couple of good friends for my birthday. Andrew and I will head home for Easter and that keeps me going.
I intend to begin to blog regularly again because I know the moments are slipping by and how easily I forget the little things that make parenting this boy so magical and funny and infuriating. Our decision on whether to try for another baby remains up in the air. For now, we remain focused on our Andrew and that is enough. It is more than enough.