Friday, October 28, 2011

Thirty Weeks

Well, we just keep plugging away and already two weeks has gone by since our last Dr.'s appointment.  As soon as my mom heard our last news, she headed up here to stay for a week and boy did she keep busy in that week.  She knows how I am - likes a clean house, always has projects to be done, etc. - probably because I'm so much like her.  She did my windows, my base-boards, helped me better organize my garage, clean out my stove and above all the kitchen cabinets, cook meals to put in the freezer, play with/take care of the kids...I mean she's just amazing...and that's not even all of it!  I hope she knows what a blessing it is to have her in my life.  I'm so grateful for her help, her support, her undconditional love, her sacrifices for me - I don't know what I'd do without her. 

And if that's not enough, she then took my kids home with her.  After a lot of thought, Ty and I decided it would be best for our baby girl, if the kids went to spend some time with Grandmas and Grandpas to try to help prevent me from doing too much and to allow me to be on the bestrest that I need.  We are so grateful my parents and Ty's were willing to go along with this plan and offer their help.  The kids will actually be gone until Thanksgiving - spending one week with my parents, one week with Ty's parents, and back and forth for four weeks.  Wow - what a long time!  I've never been apart from them much - we're used to spending all day everyday together.  It's been very emotional for me to have my kids gone.  The day they left, I just sat in their bedroom staring out the window, for I don't know how long, at the place I last saw them pull out of the driveway with my mom and sobbed.  It's still hard to talk about them being gone without breaking down and it's hard to hang up the phone each night after talking with them.  What is especially hard is to hear the sadness in their voices in our phone conversations, as they occasionally struggle with a bit of homesickness and missing us.  Oh how we miss them too - the time seems to pass so slowly and quietly by with them gone.  I have to remember that this time will seem short one day, when we look back on all of this but for now it is hard. 

Ty and the kids were able to go pick out pumpkins and we got some pumpkin carving in before the kids left.  We won't have them for Halloween and wanted to share in this at least with them.  We love hearing of their excitement for the holiday and can't wait to see pictures of them in their costumes!

Cash loves to do creepy ones so his is the scary/mean faced one.  Vanna loves kitties so that's what she got.  After gutting the pumpkins out and while Ty was working on Vanna's, he looked over at Cash who was "helping" and he was putting all the seeds back into his pumpkin. :)  Ahh, kids.  And Cash had to keep several pumpkin seeds cuz he hopes to plant them in our garden.  He's fascinated with seeds right now.  The other day we ate plums with our lunch adn he collected everyone's seeds and then ran out to the backyard.  He returned a minute later to report that he'd planted the plum seeds and can't wait until we see a plum tree growing. :)

Although it's been difficult, I am glad to report good news and that is that our baby girl seems to be doing very well.  She is healthy and growing wonderfully and we are just taking as many steps and precautions we can to help continue doing just that. 

We had another ultrasound which showed my cervix had not thinned any further and the doctor is hopeful that with continued bedrest (the less gravity on my cervix, the better) we can prevent too much thinning too early and keep our baby girl in the best incubater possible - me :).  The ultrasound did show I was low on amniotic fluid (not a critical low that can cause stress on the baby, but a low we need to keep an eye on and make changes for) most likely caused by some medication I was on to help prevent contractions and reduce pain/pressure - a possible side effect was that it could cause a decrease in fluid levels BUT fluids usually go right back up once you're taken off the medication, so I was taken off it, put on other medication (that is more for just helping with the contractions) and another ultrasound was ordered two weeks out where we'll hopefully find fluid levels back up and normal.   I will continue my weekly shots for hydroxyprogesterone in an effort to help with my cervix and today I got my first steroid shot (which helps with aiding the development of the baby's lungs should she come early).   Whew!  

My mom with the kids just before they left.  They each wanted to take their bears (and a lot of other toys too but we talked them into taking one thing and reminded them that their Grandmas and Grandpas have toys of their own they can play with :)

Our little heart-throb!  Cash is SUCH a sweet boy and we miss his energy and vigor for life/play in our home.  His smile brightens every day and we can't wait to have him home again soon.

What a sweetheart!  When we call her sweetheart, or princess, pumpkin or any of her other nicknames, Vanna will respond, "I not a sweetheart, I Vanna".  She is going to be a princess (a pumpkin princess in fact - perfect!) for Halloween so we'll have to remind her that she is indeed our little pumpkin and our little princess!

We continue to try and be prepared as best we can for whatever the future holds but we feel very blessed to have made it this far and really feel that things will work out and be fine.  We are praying and so appreciate all your encouraging words, thoughts and prayers on our behalf as well!

Side Note:  I just have to record this funny experience as well - When I went in for this last ultrasound, the woman performing it walked in and said, "So what's the deal with your kidney stones?"  I responded, "I wasn't aware I had any."  She just laughed and said, "There must be some mistake on my forms, cuz you'd know if you had them."  It turns out that on the Dr.'s ultrasound request form, he had circled 'incompetent cervix' as the reason for the request but the receptionist setting up the appointment misread it and thought he's circled 'kindey stones' (which was right next to 'incompetent cervix').  Anyway, I was thinking, "Oh no, not something else!"  I was glad to find out I don't have kidney stones too! :)  Kind of funny I thought.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pregnancy Update

Well, I am now nearly 29 weeks along and due to some requests, I thought I'd post a couple belly pictures and record a little pregnancy update for my own records.

Pictures are courtesy of Cash.  He did pretty good really - he cut my head off on the one below but what you really want to see is that big belly anyway right? :).  I'm 27 weeks here.

We have had an interesting pregnancy so far...again. Early on (end of July/beginning of August) I began feeling pelvic/cervical pain and pressure and was told to try to take things easy (which isn't so easy to do with little ones around right?) as we kept a close eye on things throughout the pregnancy. At that time, I also started receiving weekly hydroxyprgesterone shots in hopes of helping reduce the likelyhood of pre-term cervical shortening and pre-term labor (we dealt with these issues in my pregnancy with Vanna).

As time continued, so did the pain and pressure but I was consistently surprised to find that ultrasounds showed no cervical shortening. However, come about the 25th week mark, I began to just feel different and really started looking forward to my next ultrasound where I was sure we'd find things had changed (but hoping we wouldn't).

Well, I had another ultrasound on Thursday and found that my intuition, in this regard, was dead on. I had thinned and my cervix measured half the size it's supposed to at this point in a normal pregnancy (at this point anything below 3 cm is too short and I measure at a 1.5 cm - with Vanna's pregnancy, we discovered problems when I was 30 weeks along and I measured in at 1.8).

From the beginning, we knew I was at a higher risk of this type of thing happening again, obviously for the simple reason that it had happened before but we kept hoping somehow that we might be able to avoid these problems.  Now that is happening again, we are certain the diagnosis of an "incompetent cervix" is accurate. Up to this point, we just kept hoping we could prevent the same thing from happening and that perhaps our experience with Vanna was a one-time thing darn it.

 I'm 28 weeks here.  My mother-in-law gave me this fun shirt and I love it.  Each time I put it on though, the kids always make a comment about my wearing a turtle shirt.  I'm sure I'll look more and more like a turtle in it as my "shell" continus to grow. :)

Anyway, we are now on bedrest and trying to figure out what we are going to do over the next two months to help keep the kids happy and entertained, allow Ty to keep working the way he needs to, and keep me down with my feet up the way I need to.  Even though we have no family around we are blessed with their willingness to come up here to help and to take the kids to stay with them for different time intervals.  We are also blessed with amazing friends here who are always so willing to help as well.  We are truly so grateful for such blessings!

So...we are hoping to make it at least to 37 weeks (eight weeks away from now) to give our little girl a healthy start and hope to be able to avoid additional problems or a stay in the NICU (again, like we did with Vanna, although it would be much more difficult to figure out here, as the closest NICU is in Boise where I'd want to stay with the baby but hate to be away from my family, especially so close to the holidays).  I lay awake at night thinking and thinking about what may or may not happen, how to be best prepared, etc.  but it's just a waiting and hoping game.  We continue to hope and pray for the best and know that things will work out, we simply need to be faithful and accepting of the Lord's plan. 

Wish us and our little girl luck in the coming weeks!

Monday, October 3, 2011

General Conference Fall 2011

This past weekend, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (of which I am a member) held its regular semi-annual General Conference where we are taught and receive instruction (via television)  from the leaders of our faith and ultimately from Jesus Christ himself, as these leaders serve as special witnesses of Him.  As one can imagine, I want to be sure I hear as much of their instruction as possible, however, this can be a little trying with little ones in the home.  So I prepared plenty in advance to keep my kids listening (while entertained) so that we might all be uplifted from the messages prepared and shared at this special event. 

I came across this idea for General Conference and thought I'd share it with you, if you care to use the idea too, because it was such a success for us.

It included simply printing off a picture and a get-to-know-you description of each of the First Presidency and each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (which I already had saved from a previous General Conference packet).  I then stapled a picture/description to a bag containing either a treat or a quiet craft of some kind that the kids could do while sitting at their little table in the middle of the Living Room in front of the T.V.  With each new speaker, the kids would look through our basket to find the coordinating picture of the speaker, and then they got to either snack on or put together the craft contained in that bag.   I made several extra bags for times when other General Auxiliary leaders might speak as well.

I tried to do as much of the prep work as possible so that I wasn't disturbed or interrupted quite so much during Conference, perhaps selfishly hoping to glean some of the things taught in General Conference too. Most things I included were very simple, such as:  pre-cut string and macaroni in one bag for macaroni necklaces; a toy magazine, paper, glue and scissors in another bag for them to cut pictures out of and make a picture Christmas wish-list; lots of stickers to make cards with; coloring; etc.  I think the kids' favorite craft was making the below pictured masks.

It was so fun to take the kids to the craft store to pick out things and because I had the basket put together in advance and just sitting on my dresser, the kids would eye it and ask over and over, "How many more days 'til General Conference?  I'm so excited!"  Success right?!! 

Of course, we also played Conference Bingo all the while too, which the kids enjoy doing and which I think is a great idea as the kids have to listen carefully for key words from speaker's messages in order to put an M&M on a square to earn a Bingo.

My goal was to keep my kids quiet enough (through a bit of entertainment) that words and even entire messages might reach their little ears and enter their hearts as they hear our leaders speak of the things we need to be taught today - and I believe it worked wonderfully.  Let me share my example of why I believe so:

During President Thomas S. Monson's talk in the Sunday morning session of Conference, he talked a bit about prayer.  He shared a story of a time as a young boy that he had put a hard-earned five dollar bill in the pocket of his jeans and forgotten to take it out before the jeans were sent out to be washed.  He was certain his jeans would return without the five dollars but even as a young boy, he knew he could offer a prayer to our Father in Heaven asking for help, in this case for his jeans to return with his money.  He was relieved to have his jeans returned in a couple days WITH the wet five dollars still in his pocket and offered yet another prayer to Heavenly Father in thanks.  He then bore testimony of how important it is to pray everyday and develop a personal relationship with our Father in Heaven.

This story caught Cash's attention right away, as he is VERY obsessed/worried about/fascinated with money right now.  He and Vanna both receive a quarter each day they've done ALL their chores.  And of course, at their age, money simply burns a hole in their pocket (hopefully we'll get the idea of saving in their heads soon :) They collect their chore money and buy small treats and toys at the store as a reward for all their work around the house.   Anyway, Cash is especially fascinated with money and of late, we'll often find that when we've gone to bed, Cash will lay in his bed with a flashlight counting his money over and over.  We often go to sleep to the sound of his clanking money and hope that he'll tire soon and go to sleep himself.   

SO - President Monson's story regarding his money intrigued Cash.  After this portion of the Prophet's talk (for he continued on with his talk), Cash asked me if he could go into his room for a minute.  I told him, "No, when the Prophet is done speaking, Conference will be ending and you can go into your room then - I want you to stay in the Living Room until Conference is over."  He then asked if he could sit on another chair in our Living Room and I said, "Yes."   He promptly went to that chair, sat down, folded his arms, bowed his head, closed his eyes and offered a sweet prayer.  I immediately thought of the primary song Follow The Prophet (which is Cash's favorite primary song btw) and promised myself I'd remember Cash's example to so quickly, faithfully and obediently follow our prophet's teachings - in this instance - to pray as our Prophet counseled. 

By this and other examples, I know my kids DID hear much of what was taught in Conference and I hope that as we continue to try our best to make Conference something to look forward to with anticipation and as we continue to make Conference a priority, the messages we are taught each Conference will enter into my kids' hearts and touch them - that they might remember and heed the words of our dear Prophet and all our church leaders. 

I hope your Conference experience was a great one as well and hope you'll share any success stories or activity ideas in comments so that I might try them too. Anything and everything helps right!?  And they really DO help, I feel like I learned so much from the messages prepared.  I was truly touched and taught.  How greatful I am for Conference, for a living Prophet and for the Gospel in it's entirety!!!