Weekly Wrap-Up – Taking advantage of the cool temperatures

Weekly Wrap-Up – Taking advantage of the cool temperatures

We are linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Weekly Wrap-Up

 

Weekly Wrap-Up

 

After a busy weekend I was looking forward to getting back to our weekday routine. We’re a few weeks into our school year and finally getting into our groove again.

The week went by quickly, but we accomplished quite a bit of fun learning.

It was a big week for Sunshine, who began reading on the kindle.

Sunshine has a tendency to get overwhelmed by looking at a thick book, but she reads well enough to start reading chapter books. In an attempt to cut out the overwhelming factor, I decided to let her try reading on an old kindle my husband claims as his (although he never uses). We loaded Winnie-the-Pooh, I made the type a bit larger and gave her a quick lesson on how to use the kindle, then she began.

It was like night and day. She read much more fluently, and was asking to read more instead of me having to insist she keep going! Hopefully this continues even after the new wears off. It’s also now her favorite subject and she asks to do it first cause she’s so excited to read again!

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We also talked more about birds calls, songs and feathers. We even took a field trip to the zoo. Most of the public schools started classes this week, so we took advantage of the small crowds and beautiful, unseasonably cool weather (70’s in August very rarely happens in KC).

We sat in the bird area for 30 minutes, identifying the birds, listening to their songs and calls and just watching them. It was a great way to spend a bit of time with birds we can’t see in our backyard.

We met some friends later and of course we saw some other animals too.

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Because the weather was gorgeous, we spent quite a bit of time using the outdoors as our classroom.

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We worked on our math outside.

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Played spelling baseball (spell the word – get a pitch – hit – run the bases -steal a base by spelling another word). This was a fun way to review our spelling words and enjoy the great weather.

We even enjoyed reading our literature selection, The Horse and His Boy outside.

It was a simple taste of what are days will look like in the fall, since I’m sure this cool weather won’t last.

It was a big week for Sugar Plum too. She had, what we now know as, her last NICU followup appointment.

She is now 9lbs and does not need her heart monitor anymore! Great news! We celebrated with some ice-cream with the kiddos… and some wine tonight with the hubby!

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Breastfeeding Full Term and in the NICU – National Breastfeeding Week

Breastfeeding Full Term and in the NICU – National Breastfeeding Week

I’ve been blessed with three beautiful children, each a completely different delivery but all very dramatic. Sunshine was a quick full-term deliver. Mister Man was a life-flight, placental abruption 31 week preemie delivery. And Sugar Plum was a placental abruption 29 week preemie delivery.

With each delivery, came the unknown and the start of breastfeeding. As a new mom, breastfeeding was something I was excited, but nervous about starting. I knew that my body was going to provide the perfect nutrition for my newborn, but it is a daunting task to know that you’re the only source of nutrition for a little newborn.

With Sunshine, she latched after a bit of help from Brian (who remembered much more from the breastfeeding class we had taken) and of course the lactation consultant (thank God for them!). Once we figured it out it was easy and such a great bonding experience. I was so happy to have gotten those 6 months of bonding with her.

It was when she started teething and biting that I had had my fill and we started on organic formula. It was so sad to be weaning, but for me it wasn’t working anymore. I wish in retrospect, that I could have gone longer with her, but 6 months is better than nothing, right?

As for Mister Man, our breastfeeding journey started with my relationship with the good-ole awful pump. It was a love-hate relationship to say the least. I was so grateful for the pump to help me do the only thing I could do at that time to help my son grow and survive. Everything else was done by nurses or machines and during this emotional time, it was hard to not have that bonding experience with him like I had with Sunshine. The pump allowed me to provide him with God’s gift of liquid gold. It’s not much fun being attached to a pump, but it works and it is definitely better than hand expressing.

After the few weeks of exclusive pumping we got to try nursing. With a bit of practice, we were nursing all feedings and it wasn’t long before he was home. At home he did just as well and we made it 9 months nursing. And thanks to all that pumping, we had enough stored milk to make it the whole year on breastmilk!

This was the same experience I had with Sugar Plum. My love-hate relationship continued and we got quite the storage of frozen milk (1 completely full deep freeze and another 3/4 full to be exact!).

Got Breastmilk?

We are on a great journey now and I am hopeful to get the year of milk with Sugar Plum as well.

I feel so blessed to be able to provide the perfect nourishment for my children. It amazes me that God created our bodies work so perfectly.

In Your Hands – Thy Will Be Done

I still remember vividly the moment I started bleeding early in my pregnancy with Sugar Plum. I was 6 weeks along and driving from a lovely lunch with family to my parents house. I was driving through neighborhoods wasting time so the kids would nap in the car on the way there.

As I was driving I felt a gush and immediately sensed something horrible had happened. I rushed to my parents and sure enough there was a clot and a ton of blood.

After making a few phone calls I was headed toward the hospital near our house.

It was the hardest few hours sitting in the ER bed, waiting to get the ultrasound completed. I was pretty sure at that point I had lost our little one and was not looking forward to hearing the news, but I needed to know for sure. It was a tug of war in my heart and head. It was at this point, my mind continued to say “God has a plan. It’s in His hands, let it be.”

After a few hours, that seemed like days, we were wheeled back to the ultrasound room. It wasn’t long before they found a heartbeat and a large clot. The great news was our little baby was still there, the bad news was it was a threatened miscarriage and it was still possible we could lose her.

I was sent home on bed rest for the weekend with hopes that the bleeding would stop, or at least slow, and the clot would dissolve.

My amazing husband went to get dinner and I went to my prayer spot to say a rosary.

It was during the rosary that I had a moment with God I will never forget. At one point, I vividly recall seeing Jesus lift me up and walk while holding me. It was exactly like image we all know from Footprints in the Sand.

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

– by Mary Stevenson

It was as if He was telling me “I’ve got this, don’t worry. It’s in My hands. I will help you through.”

When Sugar Plum was born, I remember shaking and scared. The moment I started praying and letting God take over my emotions was the moment I became very calm. Those prayers focused me on what was happening, His will was being done. He knew what He was doing.

It’s very difficult to imagine that God would have us go through these difficult times, but it seems He is trying to teach us and help us grow. I know through all of this my faith has never been stronger.

I know God has his hands on me. He is helping me through this day. I just have to trust in Him.

BISSisterhood - Thy Will Be Done

 

Tiny World – NICU Poem – Reflections on our time in the NICU

This poem was written while sitting bedside with Sugar Plum. It’s a reflection on our time in the NICU. Enjoy.

Tiny World - NICU Poem

 

 

Tiny World

Peaceful slumber
Fighting girl
NICU baby
Tiny world

Containment holding
Kangaroo
Doing everything
For you

Pumping momma
Day and night
Freezer storage
Filled so tight

Heart rate
Sats and CO2
Monitor beeping
Something new

Watching, waiting
Hope that soon
You’ll be home
Growing bloom

Little fingers
Tiny toes
You’ll get stronger
This we know

Mini fighter
Stubborn girl
One step closer
Tiny world

Beautiful eyes
Open up
Gassy smiles
Fill us up

Incubator
Billi light
Make you stronger
Through the night

IV fluids
Blood is drawn
breathing machines
All day long

Good morning sunshine
Sleep tight, hun
One day soon
Our worlds are one

NICU Photos by Jessica Strom

NICU Photos by Jessica Strom

Most of the photos we have from our NICU stay were taken with our camera phones. With Mister Man these are the only photos we have of his first month of life. While I am grateful we have our phones to take those photos of daily moments, it’s unfortunate to lose out on the newborn photos most families dream about.

This time around, a friend told me about a wonderful photographer who takes newborn photos for parents in the NICU, Jessica Strom.

In addition to my friend’s referral, all the nurses and Sugar Plum’s roommate’s mom had been talking about Jessica’s photography. They had only great things to say about her and her work. I was so happy to get in touch with her. We got a date scheduled for her to come to take some photos of Sugar Plum the following week.

Jessica was professional, sweet and did an amazing job! She definitely lived up to all the hype.

On top of her beautiful photography skills she was overly sweet, thoughtful and just a wonderful person. She took a genuine interest in Sugar Plum and made us feel like we had known her our whole lives.

The day we scheduled her to come, was a stressful day for Sugar Plum, so we couldn’t take her out of the incubator. This meant we were very limited on the photos Jessica could get.

Somehow, she got some beautiful shots that we will treasure for years to come.

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We anticipated having more photos taken a few weeks later, but we were discharged earlier than we expected. We will be having Jessica photograph Sugar Plum again soon, now that we are home.

Emotions on Overdrive – NICU Homecoming Emotions

Emotions on Overdrive – NICU Homecoming Emotions

After 7 weeks and 2 days in the NICU we have made it back home! It’s been a long haul with many ups and downs, but we all made it through and are home as a family for the first time since Sugar Plum was born.

Home From the NICU - Emotions

I am filled with many NICU homecoming emotions as we begin our life as a family of 5.

Relief

We finally made it home.
Relief… to be at home with everyone instead of splitting my time.
Relief… knowing Sugar Plum has made it over the hurdles.
Relief… we made it through a tough time in our family’s life and we are stronger because of it.

Sibling Story Time

Excitement

We finally have our whole family together.
Excitement… we can get back to our normal routines with the addition of our littlest one.
Excitement… the kids are excited to have Sugar Plum and mommy home again.
Excitement… having our family together, finally.

Hope

There is so much hope in my heart.
Hope… there were times I thought we’d be in the NICU for months, but with a little faith and hope we made it through and back home 4 weeks before her due date.
Hope… for the future.
Hope… for all the amazing things to come for our family.

Fear

There were machines for everything that could go wrong.
Fear… we just have a simple monitor that beeps to tell us something is not quite right.
Fear… we are in charge of making sure she is breathing, sleeping, eating, pooping, etc..
Fear… it’s all up to us. Sugar Plum’s well-being was under the supervision of the doctors and nurses, now it’s all up to us, the untrained parents.

Faith

With the fear comes an overwhelming sense of faith.
Faith… there is a greater plan.
Faith… that everything is in God’s control.
Faith… that we can handle whatever comes our way because we are never given more than He knows we can handle.
Faith… that we are growing, learning and becoming better parents every step of the way.

It’s been a long journey and we have only started the next step. With hope, faith, prayers and love we will overcome. One day at a time. Soaking it all in moment by moment. We’ve got this!

Mommy Exhaustion

Mommy Exhaustion

Somehow through countless hours of lost sleep and being “on our game” we, moms, seem to find a little more energy. There’s something that comes with motherhood that lets you push through even the most tiring times.

I’m in that moment now. I’ve been at the hospital NICU for 48 hours straight. The days seem to last forever and I can hardly keep my eyes open but somehow I’ve found the strength and energy to continue pushing. 

My sweet little angel is sleeping in a crib next to me. I know in order to grow she needs me to nurse her. 

  
In order for her spitups to cease without the use of a sling, I need to hold her for at least 30min after her feedings. 

  

And of course mommy snuggles are beneficial in so many other ways as well. 

  
While its difficult sleeping in an uncomfortable recliner and being awakened by beeping alarms; I know we are getting one step closer to getting home. 

Somewhere, somehow I’ve found the strength.

Hard to Leave – NICU Mommy Guilt – Leaving Older Siblings to Spend Time at the NICU

As a mom it’s easy to feel guilty about pretty much everything.

NICU brings mommy guilt to a whole new level. While I was aware of the blaming yourself for the whole situation; never did I think that I would feel guilty for spending time with my preemie.

NICU Mom Struggles - Leaving Big Siblings to spend time at the NICU

From the moment I leave in the morning, the time I spend cuddling with my little bundle, to the drive home… the guilt is there. This is not brought on by anyone but myself, but it is definitely there.

Because we homeschool, we are all used to me being with Sunshine and Mister Man 24/7. It’s not easy for anyone, especially the kiddos, to suddenly change that schedule and only have about 5 hours of quality time with me daily.

We are lucky enough that they get to spend the day with Daddy, but it is still a sudden change.

Sunshine is enjoying her extra time with Daddy and soaking up what little time I have with them as well. Mister Man, however, has taken it the hardest. I’m positive he is a Spiritual Child, so any change is harder for him especially when it is sudden, unexpected and daily.

Each morning, he grabs my hands and begs me to stay home with him or bring him to the hospital. This is a constant until I finally get in the car and drive away, waving to him in his window. Guilt.

There are some days when I will let him tag along for the day. He loves spending time with Sugar Plum and me, but it is difficult to talk with doctors and give Sugar Plum the attention she needs as well. So I try to limit this to one time per week. Guilt.

It’s been so difficult leaving him upset in the morning. I feel like I am letting him down, but I know his baby sister needs me as well and Daddy is there to help calm him down.

It’s a struggle all around. When I am at the hospital I am wondering what the kids are doing with Daddy and if I should be there more. When I am at home, I am wondering hot Sugar Plum is doing and if I should be with her more. It’s a double edged sword and it seems no one is winning the fight. Guilt.

I am hopeful Sugar Plum will be home soon and our lives can go back to what we consider normal. It’s always crazy, I don’t expect that to change, but at least we can be a family together instead of being so spread apart. Plus I love our crazy lives, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

How about you. Did your other kids have issues with you leaving to spend time with your preemie? How did you handle the constant struggle?

Full Speed Ahead – Preemie Lung Development

Full Speed Ahead – Preemie Lung Development

It’s been a whirlwind these last few days and a testament to how quickly things can change in the NICU.

It was just a week ago I was saying the rosary at Sugar Plum’s bedside, praying for things to start looking up. It had been a hard few weeks with many ups and downs concerning her breathing and poor little preemie lung development. On top of that, I was having some emotional issues with not being able to do anything motherly to help calm her.

Then our prayers were answered. She took the highway of breathing routes. She was started on steroids to help heal her strider then after 3 doses, she was extubated and started NIPPV.

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She excelled from the get-go and after a few days was on bubble CPAP. A few days later she was on nasal cannula and it wasn’t but a few hours before she was switched to room air (she refused to leave the prongs in her nose and was still keeping her levels perfect).

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It was such a quick transition and she’s been doing great on room air now, even beginning her nursing process.

I am still in awe of how amazing these little preemies can be. They are fighters in every sense.

Balance – NICU and Other Children

Finding balance while your baby is in the NICU is very difficult. Especially when there are siblings involved. Unfortunately, it seems you are being pulled in too many directions at one time. Add this to the stress and emotions of just being in the NICU and you are in for a roller coaster of issues.

Finding Balance While in the NICU

For us, this has been quite difficult these past 5 weeks and I am sure it will continue until we are a complete family again. Sunshine and Mister Man are striving for my attention, while I am feeling like I need to spend as much time with Sugar Plum as is possible. There are just not enough hours in the day. Luckily, I know it will not be for too long, but it seems like forever when you are living through it.

When I am at home with Sunshine and Mister Man I am wondering what Sugar Plum is doing and if I should really be there. Then the opposite happens, when I am in the NICU with Sugar Plum, I am wondering what Sunshine and Mister Man are doing and if I should really be with them. It’s a constant battle and lose-lose it seems.

One of the things we have been really blessed with is Daddy’s flexibility. We work for a family business that has allowed my husband to take Sunshine and Mister Man into the office each day while I spend 8 hours with Sugar Plum. Then I leave around 2:30 and pick up the other two kiddos so we can have some time together before dinner and bedtime. Some days I will take one of the kiddos with me to the hospital so they can hang out with Sugar Plum and I. They seem to really enjoy these days, and it helps with the issues that arise with them being in small quarters together all the time. All of this is great, except it seems like this is not quite enough for them right now.

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We’ve seen quite a bit more acting out, tantrums and issues with not listening. Even though I know it’s because they went from having me with them literally all day long; to having me for a about half that amount of time. It’s so tough for them to understand what is going on to begin with, and they really can’t understand why mommy has to leave early each morning and isn’t there when they wake up.

Mister Man seems to be taking it the hardest. There have been countless mornings when he has been balling at his window waving as I left, or running into the garage crying uncontrollably. It’s so hard to leave without feeling guilty. Then as the day progresses his tantrums and other issues begin. It seems like a never-ending cycle right now.

Sunshine has been taking it more in stride, but I can tell she’s having some issues with it all, as well. She’s much quieter and reserved and has been having issues listening as well.

We are hopefully halfway done with our time in the NICU so I am hopeful our lives will go back to normal soon. I am so ready to bring our little Sugar Plum home so we can go back to our normal routine and I can spend time with all the kiddos instead of having to choose.

What about you, are you, or did you, have any issues with siblings while your littlest addition was in the NICU?