Four is a Charm

sleepy in our hospital bed as I recover from surgery.

sleepy in our hospital bed as I recover from surgery.

Scotland had her 2 week checkup today and passed with flying colors. She weighs 8 lbs, 5 oz now which means she not only met her birth weight, but exceeds it by a full pound and a couple of ounces. Even though she has a tongue tie like her brothers, she is nursing so well. When I was sitting there in the pediatrician’s office, hearing all of this good news I couldn’t help but think about all the other ways God has blessed this 4th pregnancy, the birth, and the baby.

Owen and I decided last year to get a Vasectomy because after 3 c-sections, each progressively harder on my body, we thought it would be the wise thing to do to protect my body from further damage. My recovery from the C-section after Benjamin’s birth was hard. And my wound wouldn’t heal. It kept opening up in the center so my doctor had to have me keep coming back for silver applications.

Then I learned about all of the risks that go significantly up for 4th c-sections. Scary stuff that can happen and much more likely on the 4th than any first three. Blood transfusions, uterine ruptures, bladder ruptures, intestinal damage, etc.

So I accepted that I would be a mother of three boys. And that would be it.

Crying well. Signs of a healthy newborn.

Crying well. Signs of a healthy newborn.

There was added relief as well I admit when we got the vasectomy. As much as I wanted a daughter one day, it was nice to know I wouldn’t have to suffer through the hemorrhoids from pregnancy weight and acid reflux that kept me up all night. I wouldn’t have to suffer through the weird effect of the spinal block I get when it spreads to my lungs and I feel like I can’t breathe on the operating table, squirming until the anesthesiologist puts an oxygen mask on my face to pull me out of the anxiety attack. Then of course our terrible luck with having NICU babies. Kanan was in NICU for 4 days. He had water in his lungs, a blood infection due to my water being broken for more than 24 hours, and a super high heart rate (side effect of the infection and my fever as well). Jameson never went to NICU, but because he was so big, they took him from me an extra hour to make sure he passed a glucose test. Then his high palate, severe tongue tie, and underbite made his latch so poor, even though he was in my room the entire time at the hospital, he had a real hard time nursing and lost too much weight so I had nurses pestering me and worrying me about his “thriving.” Then Benjamin didn’t cry when he was born. And he too was big so he had to take the glucose test, only to fail. So between those two things, they took him to the NICU as well. He was there for 2 days. Then with all three boys, I suffered from major postpartum anxiety. I had anxiety attacks with each one within the first couple of weeks after they were born and had a few more during the first year after they were born.

So I was thankful I wouldn’t have to experience any of that again.

First family photo of the six of us.  Benjamin, Kanan, me, Scotland, Owen, and Jameson.

First family photo of the six of us.
Benjamin, Kanan, me, Scotland, Owen, and Jameson.

And then I got pregnant. It was a 1 in 10,000 chance I heard. Owen’s sperm count 6 months post-vasectomy was actually higher than when he initially got the vasectomy. Most likely cause– the tubes actually regrew back together. The Doctor said this was very very rare.

I think this was God’s way of saying “vasectomy shmamectomy. You can’t stop my will.”

Fears of all of the above would build up in my mind after I learned of my pregnancy. But I couldn’t help but be reminded that if God could bypass a vasectomy to bring me my fourth child, he could surely get me through a 4th c-section.

Pretty little Scotland Amalia-Leme. Our gift from God.

Pretty little Scotland Amalia-Leme. Our gift from God.

And he did. He went over and beyond.

  1. First off, we learned we were having a girl at the ultrasound. Finally. Our daughter.
  2. My pregnancy was easier. No hemorrhoids. No acid reflux. Minimal weight gain (24 lbs).
  3. The surgery went smoothly. Even the anesthesia didn’t affect my breathing. I was calm the entire time. No difficulty breathing. I did lose enough blood to give me some platelet issues afterward and some anemia, but it was manageable.
  4. The baby was healthy. She is my smallest baby. A healthy 7 lbs, 2 oz. And it paid off. She didn’t need a glucose test. She passed her Apgar test. And they even brought her to me in the recovery room to nurse, something I never experienced with my boys because they were all taken from me.
  5. She stayed with me the entire time in my room. She nursed well. And while she was diagnosed with COOMS (a weird condition when the baby has a blood type that doesn’t like the mothers’ blood type, which makes them at a higher risk for Jaundice) she never developed jaundice.
  6. Finally, It has been 2 1/2 weeks since she has been born and only felt some anxiety one time while I was driving a couple of days ago. I had a fearful thought which lead my body to start going into anxiety attack mode, but I felt it developing, prayed, did some deep breathing, changed my thoughts and within a few minutes it was gone. That was it. By now with the boys, I would have had a few full fledged attacks.

God is so good. He laughed at our human attempt to stop him from blessing us with a girl. He blessed us anyway. And he protected me from all the fears that lead us to deciding on the vasectomy the first time.

Our last fear is how we will afford this 4th child. But something tells me, God will take care of that too.

Like birth stories? Check out the details of Kanan’s Birth Story, Jameson’s Birth Story, and Benjamin’s Birth Story too.

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We Choose Life

I CHOOSE LIFE!

I CHOOSE LIFE!

I proudly wear my Choose Life T-shirt today.

After accumulated medical bills for doctor’s appointments, c-section, and hospital stay, as well as necessary purchases to accommodate the baby into our life such as baby supplies and a bigger car (4 kids in a 3 seated backseat is impossible), this will baby cost us over $14,000 by the time she leaves the hospital.

My maternity leave will also cost us money. While I am allowed FMLA, this does not mean I get 100 percent of my pay. It will cost me 100 dollars a day to be able to stay 8 weeks with my baby (standard FMLA for c-section deliveries), costing us an additional $4000. And I’m blessed with a job that even offers that. I just have to pay for my substitute teacher.

Then each month thereafter until she begins Kindergarten, once added day-care costs accumulate as well as cost for diapers, formula (if breastfeeding is not successful), solid foods, clothes, etc–it will cost an additional 600-700 a month for her. This is if she is healthy and does not need to go to the doctor’s.

We do not qualify for government assistance so we have to come up with the money on our own. But just because we don’t qualify does not mean this money is just lying around. These costs require us to make sacrifices and cut out other expenses, and it involves having to work harder and smarter to increase our income. This is even after frugally piling up charitable  hand-me-down baby items, and saving up left over baby items from our previous children (although not much from that because we gave most away after our vasectomy, having no idea we’d get pregnant again). This even includes utilizing health insurance.

Add to this the added physical tole the necessary 4th C-section will be on my body and the possible consequences it may have on my health due to the risks: blood transfusions, bladder rupture, intestinal complications, infection, possible hysterectomy, etc.

By many people’s standards, this baby could be viewed as “financially inconvenient” and a “health risk.” But we STILL choose life. We choose to see the blessing and not the hardship. We choose to give this precious human being a right to live. Because her life is worth it. Because God knit her together for a reason.

We will be okay. We may not have fancy furniture. We may not have trips to Hawaii. We may have to clip coupons and eat out less. We may have a frontyard that stays unlandscaped for a few more years. Who knows.

We may also not. Who can know the future. A fire could come again and burn our house down. My children’s books may take off once we publish and I may make more money than I ever had as a teacher.

Who can know the future? But Still We Choose Life. And We trust that God will get us through anything that comes our way in the future because of that decision.

We cannot wait for October 27th when I get to meet this little Scotland Amalia-Leme. We love her so much already.

If you are pregnant and concerned about the financial risks and inconvenience of having a baby, please don’t choose abortion. Check out resources like Pregnancy Resource Center. They can offer free and discounted baby supplies, as well as free parenting classes to help you feel prepared for this change in your life. You DO have a choice– a choice for life. There are ways to take care of this baby. And any other mother who has chosen life will tell you, the baby will be a blessing and worth every sacrifice and change in your life.

My Fears about Raising a Daughter in the World Today

labeled for non-commercial reuse on Flickr.

labeled for non-commercial reuse on Flickr.

When Owen and I had the talk about pregnancy after our 3rd was born and walking, we decided to be content that we did not have a daughter. We wanted one for sure. Each baby after my first, I hoped was a girl because I wanted both and I had already had a son. But when we found out we were having boys, we were still incredibly joyful and maybe even somehow deep down, relieved…because despite the fact that we would greatly miss the tutus and tights on chubby legs, we both were not looking forward to the teenage years.

Is it just me, or does it seem that teenage girls have a lot more trials and antagonists out there in the world than boys?

But the Lord gave us our wish, anyway…5-6 months after  a vasectomy (which we chose because c-sections become increasingly dangerous as they increase in number), I missed my period and took the pregnancy test, to find out, we were pregnant. And at 17 weeks, we learned we were having a girl.

Let me be clear.

I am so excited.

I cannot wait for tutus and tights on chubby legs. For big bows and dolls and kitchen sets. I cannot wait for calm….the child who will more likely (yes, there are always be exceptions to the rule) be less crazy and running around and aggressive as my three boys. I cannot wait for smelling lotions and bonding over a chick flick and talking girl talk. I’m looking forward to see how this delicate creature softens my husband’s heart as well.  I truly believe every man needs a daughter. I think it is good for them. Makes them stronger and yet more compassionate.

But I am not looking forward to the teenage years.

I know it is not always bad.

There are a few families that I know who have beautiful, well-balanced daughters who seem to be doing just fine.

I also teach high school and see a few of them as well. Of course, as a teacher, I don’t know all the secrets. I don’t know all the unseen turmoil. I know very well, they could be giving me a false impression than what they show to their friends after school and on the weekends. But I can also certainly see in my classroom the ones who are clearly struggling with the pressures of this society. But regardless, with all of them—I know the pressures they face.

I see the fashion that they are being exposed to and expected to wear by their peers if they want to be fashionable.

I hear the music that plays on the radio and the pictures of musicians they have plastered to their binders. Women who claim independence and “girl power” but who are enslaved to a world of drugs and sex and image image image. The men who talk about them in their music like they are something to be had and thrown away.

I see the movies they watch where kissing and premarital sex and provocative clothing is the common, light-hearted, lifestyle of the female protagonist.

I hear the way boys talk about them in the halls when they are listening or not listening.

I hear the way their friends talk about boys to each other.

I hear the stories of what their friends are going through….the anorexia, the cutting, the depression, the abortions or secret pregnancies, the baggage…

I don’t want that for my daughter. I don’t want it anywhere near.

Who does?

And what parent goes into their role as a mother or father of a daughter with the expectation that their daughter will go through these? Not much. I know most parents go in with the goal to prevent these things from happening (although some are more okay with the sexuality aspect…no one is okay with the consequences that often comes from it).

 So of course, I go in saying “not my daughter.” Of course I go in saying, “We are going to raise her differently.”

But I also know parents who said the same thing and yet their daughters are still struggling.

We can do our best. But the rest is up to them. Up to God. Up to their circumstances and all the combinations in between.

I grew up in a home with parents who feared these things too. And in their attempt to protect me from them, I felt they went too far in some ways…over protecting me to some degree and over-punishing me when I messed up so there was no room or opportunity to try again or grow from my mistakes. And despite their best intentions to protect me, they did not give me the solid Christian foundation to help me build my identity so that I wouldn’t be wooed so much by the world out there that seduced me. I didn’t even read one book from the bible until my late 20’s. And so what did I do? I rebelled. And then when my mom and step dad separated, my mother went the other extreme. She let me do whatever I wanted. And I went out there with no strong sense of self, no confidence in my identity or my dreams, no value for who I was…and I threw everything good and pure and valuable about myself away—washed myself away with alcohol and drugs and premarital sex and all the emotional baggage that  came as a consequence of those choices.

Is it my parents fault? Partially. But I also chose to rebel. I also knew right from wrong and chose wrong. But I also did not have that strong identity in myself as a child of God to be able to see why I should chose right.

So Owen and I plan on all sorts of ways we plan to raise our daughter differently. We definitely plan on rules and guidelines. We definitely plan on raising her to have a personal relationship with Jesus and to be confident in who she is. We will have limitations on what kinds of music she should be listening to and movies she can watch (but not super strict and sheltered where she can’t even understand the world and what they are going through).

We plan on all of this.

And the rest we leave to prayer.

But I can be honest when I say, I don’t have some strong peace that everything is going to be great. I don’t automatically assume disaster. But I am realistic in knowing that we can do everything within our power and it still not go as planned.

To the parents out there who raised daughters and had them survive their teens without eating disorders, hyper-rebellion, cutting and suicide attempts, promiscuity, and the like…what are your tips? What insight can you bring to the moms of young baby girls? To give yourself the entire credit? Who else and what else can help?

 

The Dreaded Gestational Diabetes Test

glucose drinkEvery single time I am pregnant, I have to take that dreaded sugar test. For some reason, they don’t like my first test scores and I have to go in for the second test which is way worse–you have to fast. And then they take your blood three times over the course of three hours after giving you an orange-flavored beverage with 75 g of sugar packed into it.

 

This time, I only had to take one test. But it was a 2-hour fasting.

 

Now the good part is that I passed. I always pass. But the interesting part is that this time, I got to see my results because my doctor went all digital and I can now access all my reports online. The interesting part is that my insulin works so well it is almost too good.

 

So basically healthy sugar levels are between 70-90. At fasting I was 70. So it was on the low side of normal. Then one hour after I drank the sugar, I raised to just 72. If you have gestational diabetes, you sky rocket to a 100 or more. Then two-hours after I drank the sugar, I actually went HYPO-glycemic. My bloodsugar dropped to 68. No wonder I was feeling shaky! By the time I hit Costco afterward (I was planning on snacking as I went grocery shopping) I was breaking out in a sweat and having a hard time even thinking.

I’ve always treated myself like a hypoglycemic because I have the symptoms. I can’t eat sugary breakfast because within 3 hours I’m light-headed and seeing stars. I have to eat like every 3-hours, otherwise I get “hangry” as I like to call it.

 

So it makes sense now. I run on the low side of normal, but eating sugar can actually send my blood sugar crashing after just 2 hours. Now I understand why my mom used to give me string cheese when I’d start feeling like garbage. Protein on the other hand helps me feel great and last longer between meals.

 

When I’m pregnant, sugary breakfasts affect me even worse. As much as I crave a delicious bowl of cereal when I wake up, instead I shoot for a bean burrito or a protein shake packed with veggies and fruit. I can handle the fruit as long as it has protein in it.

 

What is your experience when eating high carb/high glucose foods? Do you feel fine 2 hours later? What’s your ideal breakfast? 

Exciting Times!

25 weeks along here carrying #4

25 weeks along here carrying #4

Alas, I blog again, having wished I have been better at blogging since I used to be and loved it. Will this be it? Will I finally get back into it? I sure am hoping so. A lot is happening and I want to share so much.

1. I am pregnant with our 4th child. Its a girl. A vasectomy baby. God is good though—he will have his way and he knows how to give good gifts to his children. This will be our only daughter and a sweet little refreshment in our testosterone-filled house. We are naming her Scotland Amalia-Leme. I’m 26 weeks as of tomorrow. She is due November 1st.

2. We bought our first house!!!! Built in 1965. Great starter home. Lots of property. Lots of fun project opportunities. 🙂 The kids love it. 🙂 Thank you Lord!

3. I started a resume writing business last year right around Thanksgiving and it has taken off. It is helping provide us a little extra cash to help pay for Owen’s teeth (lost two of them in a crazy golfing accident), a bigger car for our growing family, and house needs.

4. I was recently hired by Sound of Your Voice Memoirs to be an interviewer and writer. I have my first client and am really loving the process. Sure hoping this job can grow and eventually open the doors to allow me to work from home full-time.

5. I have taken the plunge and am writing the first drafts of a few christian children’s books! 3 I am doing on my own. 2 I am co-writing with a friend of mine. And I’ve already come up with another book I want to write, but will put that one on the backburner for the next set of books. In the mean time, I’ve got the first drafts complete, and the illustrations starting. Once those are finished, I’ll venture into learning how to use InDesign and designing the layouts. Then market market market! Marketing is half the job. Writing is the easy part. So we have a long way to go. But I am very excited about this. I’ve been praying that God really use me in these books to speak to kids about real ways they can apply Jesus to their lives. I’ll share more in a different blog.

With all this, I’d like to write more about all the transitions and emotions and thoughts as I go a long this exciting journey. I will be changing the name of this blog and planning to write in it more and work at actually building a following. So for those of you who are reading this, please follow this blog. I’m pretty sure there is an icon at the top right area where you can sign up. I promise, I can be funny, insightful, and honest. And if you have a blog, please comment with a link so I can check yours out too. I love mommy blogs and of course, love blogs that inspire! 🙂

Going to be attempting to find a blog address similar to theentrepreneurialwife.com. We shall see!

“I am a Flower Quickly Fading, Here Today and Gone Tomorrow”

“I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow”—such a powerful line from one of Casting Crown’s songs.

We all know that people die. We all know that we can die right now. But it’s funny how even though we know, we don’t live our lives like we know.

A year ago, my father died. And his death threw everything in perspective again. None of us expected him to die. It was accidental. He was too young and we had many plans with him still.

It has been a over a year since then and once again, I am reminded of this truth. Just in the last two months, people in my little bubble of existence have either died or lost precious ones who have died. One of my good friends just lost a friend. She was pregnant and healthy. She went into labor. Everyone was joyously waiting for the baby to come and to celebrate with her. But she died. She died during labor. Thank God, the baby survived. Had to be in the NICU for a little bit due to some complications. As for the mother—autopsy revealed she died from a rare condition called amniotic embolism. Somehow some of the baby’s tissues entered her own bloodstream. It killed her. Left her husband, ten year old son, and newborn baby and her extended family without her just like that. I don’t even know this woman. But my heart breaks for her family and their loss.

Then last month, an acquaintance from high school with whom I loosely stayed in contact via Facebook died in her sleep. She was 7 months pregnant. Baby didn’t make it. She was newly married. This was her first baby. She was only 32 years old.

Then just now, my husband shared the news that his friend from Utah, a woman I’ve met a couple of times on our trips up to visit and with whom I too stay loosely connected via Facebook, lost her 5 month old baby. I assume it was SIDS. Her post said it was sudden and unexpected. I can’t even imagine. She too is newly married. She had twin babies with her husband. Now they have one baby.

These stories can’t help but sober me to my own fleeting existence and those of my family. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my Kanan or my Jameson. What would Owen do if he lost me or one of our boys? What would I do if I lost my Owen? What would the boys do if they lost their daddy? It could happen.

I’m pregnant too. And in July, I will be on the operating table getting my third c-section. I got pregnant very quickly after my second c-section. Four months after the surgery to be exact. That is only one month after the uterus is technically “healed.” It is recommended that after a c-section, a mother wait a good two years before she gets pregnant again. And it is recommended that one does not exceed 3 c-sections as each one adds more scar tissue. Each surgery is higher risk to the mother’s life. So I just can’t help but feel a bit uneasy about this July. What if I die? Or what if my uterus ruptures before that day because I got pregnant so soon and the baby and I both die?

I know what you are saying right now—you can’t think like that. Worrying won’t help. You will probably be fine. Don’t stress yourself out over things out of your control. I know these things. And I know that if I died, I’d be with my Lord and Savior in heaven. Honestly, I’m not scared of dying for me. I’m scared of dying for my children and my husband. As much as I’d rather be with the Lord than all else, I want my children and my husband with me when I do. Or at the very least, I want that they had enough time with me before I left them. My children are young. They need their mommy. My husband needs me—I am his wife, his other half, the mother of his children.

Please pray for me that I can enter this next surgery without fear and instead just peace. I fear a panic attack. Before my last c-section—the nurses had us sign a “Living Will” in case I died during surgery. We laughed at the obsurdity of giving this to us when I was already hooked up to all the tubes. But I didn’t have fear. Then there was a moment during the actual surgery when I felt a great pressure on my chest and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The doctor’s gave me more oxygen and I felt better. But it was scary for a few moments there. One of my friends had her c-section a few months ago and lost a lot of blood during the surgery. She was fine in the end, but recovery was hard. It was scary for everyone too during the process.

I don’t want to go into this surgery in July without thoughts or recognition that I could die. I think that is unwise and naïve. But of course, I don’t want to go in fear or with an overwhelming anxiety about it either. That too is not good. In the end, I could die tonight in my sleep. I could die tomorrow on the freeway. My children could die today. Or we can all live until we are 120. We all have no control of this, no matter what we think. We can be safe and be healthy and that can limit our possibilities for death, but in the end, there are outside forces that we cannot control.

So we just need to live each day, loving our God, loving each other, and loving the lost and the suffering. That is all that matters. Whenever I do die—I want to hear my Lord say “Well done my good and faithful servant.” And I want those I’ve left behind to have the hope of Jesus, knowing that we will see each other again in the eternal future outside of time. And that if they are pained by my death, that they will have find hope and comfort in the hope of our Savior.

If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, please pray to our father in heaven for those people in my little circle who have recently died and left their families or who have lost their babies and their wives and mothers the last couple of months. Pray that God use all of this for good in the lives of those who love him and are called according to his purpose, as he promises. That through the suffering and pain, those that don’t know him find truth and comfort in him—and come to him.

Pregnant again….Baby #3 due tentatively, July 19th.

from babycenter.com

I didn’t even realize I was pregnant until I was about 6 weeks along and started wondering why the heck I was so darn tired! It was that intense fatigue that I only experienced with pregnancy, but I got thrown off because I was battling a cold. I kept wondering if was due to that even though it didn’t make sense. I had never been that tired from a cold. So I started to grow suspicious, yet kept it to myself. Then one weekend, I started to feel a little nauseous and noticed my lips were started to peel. Peely lips is this strange side effect of pregnancy I have had with Kanan, the baby we lost in miscarriage, and Jameson. At that point, I knew I was pregnant. So I told Owen I was going to get a pregnancy test. You should have seen his face!

The irony about it all is that we were already discussing birth control options because Jameson was starting to ween himself and I knew that breastfeeding would no longer cover me (even though it was already only a mild cover. Yes, I knew it was risky but just wasn’t good at that darn mini-pill! So yes, I knew we were taking a chance. But goodness, I had just had this baby and my cycle hadn’t even returned! Somehow, I just felt it was worth the chance.

The day I planned to go buy the pregnancy test also turned out to be the day that the pharmacy called, saying my diaphragm was ready to pick up. So I picked that up and bought a test. Needless to say that night, I put the diaphragm on the bottom shelf of my bathroom cupboard with all my dusty boxes of tampons and maxi-pads, picked up the phone and called Owen, sharing the news. He was ecstatic!

This means I got pregnant when Jameson was only 4 months old and that will make him and the new baby only 13 months and a couple of weeks apart once the baby is here. Kanan will be 5. That is three children all under 5. I drive a Toyota Camry. There is not enough space in the back seat for three car seats. We live in a small 2-bedroom apartment that is already cluttered with too much stuff because there are four of us there. To add another baby into our lives will mean selling the car, and finding a house to rent. We’ve got 5 more months until the baby arrives. At the very least, we need a new car by then. But I really would like to move out this summer before the baby comes as well.

So now for the exciting subplots. I had to take a blood test to determine how far along I was given I didn’t have a LMP to determine that. The blood test indicated that I was 6-7 weeks along at the time that I took it. However when I went in for my first doctor’s appt., I measured two weeks further along! She expressed to us so nonchalantly, “That means you are further a long than we thought or you are having twins.” At this, Owen and I jumped. I asked her if she could find a second heart beat. She said she would have to look for it and that could take time so we would just find out when I had the ultrasound. So here we are waiting on pins and needles for February 20th—the day of our ultrasound. Now, if you want to ask me what my intuition tells me, I will tell you I don’t think I am. I think I’m just further a long. I’m not as hungry as I was with Jameson and Kanan. You would think I’d be hungrier, right? Plus, my first trimester symptoms were not as strong. I was tired and nauseous yes, but I was way worse with Jameson and Kanan. With Jameson, I threw up everyday! This pregnancy, I vomited only once.

So I think I might be having a girl. 🙂

And that would be awesome!! Oh, how I want tutus and tights! I want big flowers on headbands and curly tresses!

We shall see.

Until then, I’m about 17 weeks along if my measurements are true. Or I’m 15 weeks along with twins! I’m past the nauseous and tired phase although I still can get nauseous when I brush my teeth. I love my sweets. I sigh a lot for some reason. And at 15 weeks, I had actually lost 4 pounds of my post-Jameson pregnancy weight. Haven’t weighed myself again since, but I will say this….my belly is getting bigger but my thighs and rear are looking smaller!  I’m feeling pretty darn happy and trying not to stress about how the heck we are going to do this. Theres no turning back now, so I may as well trust in the Lord and enjoy my life! God will take care of us!