Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Catch-Up

September was a crazy month. It flew by so quickly that I barely had a chance to take pictures of anything (not to mention that we didn't have time to do anything besides the basics of housework and schoolwork).

 Katie had twice weekly doctor appointments most weeks, on top of her twice weekly therapy appointments. And she was sick for half the month, with daily vomiting due to car sickness and gagging on her food. Trying to get a child to gain weight, who routinely rejects meals, can be incredibly frustrating.

Trying on maternity clothes at Target... check out at the baby bump! (Don't mind the weird look on my face... I was taking this pic to ask Mark about the shirt. ;-)

Homemade donuts for breakfast.  The kids have my pregnancy cravings to thank for a lot of yummy food coming through the kitchen! 

On an afternoon family walk at our local bike trail, we saw hundreds of goats eating up the weeds. It was amazing how many goats there were. 

August Surprise

In early August, I got a crazy surprise. I found out that I am pregnant. What?! 

The past seven years have brought us: 
1 late term miscarriage 
6 years of infertility 
1 adoption, and just about to finalize another adoption

So how could I possibly be pregnant now? After all this time?

I didn't believe the first pregnancy test. It was about three years outdated and I figured it was just bad. So I bought two new tests. Both those were positive. I still didn't believe it! I talked my (reluctant) OB into ordering me a blood test. When that came back positive, I sort of believed it. I still thought I might just be having some kind of weird hormone issues (even though several, and very patient, nurse practitioners explained that if the blood test said I was pregnant, then I'm pregnant!) Two weeks later, we got an ultrasound and heard the heartbeat. Only then did I finally truly believe that I was pregnant. 

Now that I am 12 weeks, and past the high risk of miscarriage, I am finally starting to enjoy my pregnancy. It has finally sunk in that I am pregnant. But sometimes I still wake up in disbelief at my growing tummy. I'll look in the mirror to make sure it's not all in my head. That I am pregnant now after going through so much is incredible to me. 

Here's our story in a nutshell...
We had two boys 15 months apart and got unexpectedly pregnant with #3 when the youngest was just 9 months old. Three kids in 2 years was enough for us (we thought). so husband got a V. We lost the baby at 18 weeks. We were devastated. But still we were okay with two. 

Then God changed our hearts to desire a larger family, so husband got a reversal. Two years later, nothing. Turns out there was a problem with *me*. How ironic. So we turned to adoption. 

Our plan was to wait for a clean, low-risk adoption to come up. God's plan was for us to spend that time fostering babies. He changed my heart yet again to be happy caring for sweet babies I knew I would never keep. We cared for 10 babies and then got our Lucy. Then 4 more babies before our Katie came along. 

And now I'm pregnant. After 6 years of infertility. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." I am thankful that the Lord makes my plans and has written my story. His story is so much better than anything I could have imagined.

Here's our little Poppy at 11 weeks.  There's not much to see in the photo, but in person we heard a strong heartbeat and saw him wiggling all around. It is still so incredible to me!

August Catch-Up

We eased back into school back in July. I started all of our read alouds, but the boys didn't start written schoolwork until this month. Ben is in 2nd grade and Tommy is in 3rd/4th (he's between grades). It was providential that we started school so early in the year-- you'll find out why in the next post. 

 First day of school breakfast. Each kid got a back to school gift, which was a new book and some school supplies.

The boys and Lucy set up a restaurant on the deck on day. They played at this for hours. 

 We visited the Santa Cruz Natural History museum with friends. It was a very small museum, but there was lots of things to see. 

 More beach fun, in Monterey. :)

 What? More beach?? Yes. Only this time, Mark was with us (the only time he was able to go with us to the beach all year!) 

We got the unexpected gift of a time share at Lake Tahoe, given to us by a friend who wasn't able to use it for their week. I had never been there before, so it was really fun to be able to go.
 This is how a lot of time was spent, especially while the girls napped back in our room (with Mark staying with them, of course!)

The lake itself was so beautiful. Crystal clear water and mountains all around. Much different from the ocean beaches we're used to!

July Catch-Up

Lucy turned three in July! She had a party with friends and family, and afterwards there was lots of outside play with a giant slip 'n slide. She specifically requested an orange cake, so she got it!

 Yes, Natural Bridges again. This beach trip was memorable because when I got the point of needing to leave the beach by a certain time, and I really didn't want to, I just didn't. We stayed as long as we possibly could. When we finally did pack up and drive away, the sun was just starting to set. And since it was mid-summer, that meant it was 8:00pm before we left. 

 The boys camped out in the backyard one night. One came in around 2am to slip into his warm bed, while the other one stayed the whole night. 

 Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove. This was the most beautiful beach I've ever been to. I don't know if it's always this gorgeous or if God blessed our day, but it was amazingly gorgeous (did I say that already?) I didn't want to leave this beach either, but we eventually had to simply because they don't have any bathrooms! (If they did, I'd probably live there in a little tent). 

 Exploring tide pools with friends at Asilomar.

 I made moon dough one day for Katie to play with. It's just flour and oil mixed up until it's fluffy. Funnily enough, she didn't like it much, but the big kids couldn't get enough of the stuff! They played with it non-stop for days.

 At the Aquatic Center in our town. Ben decided to take the deep end test so he could swim in the deep pool and go off the diving board. He went off the highest board several times and had a blast. I was so proud that he decided to do something crazy like that all on his own. 

 More beach, this time in Monterey.

 More jumping off of high things into the water. 

 In the last week of July, the boys were at VBS at our church all week. Lucy really missed her brothers, so we drew pictures for them and she told me what to draw and write. It was so cute! The boys were so touched when they got home and saw the sweet pictures their sisters had made. 

June Catch-Up

Ah, June. We so reveled in getting back to normal life. Having everyone home under one roof, and being able to do normal things together seemed like such a crazy privilege. Even now, months later, I still don't take for granted our health and ability to do normal things together. 

 Of course, the very first place we went together was to the beach. 

And then we went to the beach again. Two weeks after Katie came home from the hospital, Mark got an unexpected week off from work, so we took a quick family trip to Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo. 

And after we came home from a week at the beach, we went back to the beach. Because I was simply in need of a lot of peace and sunshine!

The boys went a week at Redwood Camp in Santa Cruz, their very first sleep-away camp. We were a bit nervous about them being away for so long. But when we picked them up it was clear they had an amazing time, and they can't wait to go back next year. 

Not beach-related, we made the girls a bunk bed. The room that they share was getting way too cramped with a crib and a toddler bed, so this seemed like the perfect solution. It's been four months and it's been working out great.

May Catch-Up

May was an absolute blight on our year. In the last week of April, our littlest, baby Katie, got terribly sick when she contracted E. Coli. She was hospitalized for a month at Stanford Children's Hospital, three weeks of which was in the PICU. Not only did she have E. Coli infection, but that turned into a severe complication called HUS, which produces a toxin that shreds the blood vessels and organs of the body. Her organs started failing and then shut down one by one. She needed dialysis for two weeks of her hospitalization because her kidneys stopped working. 

It was the worst thing that we've gone through as a family. There were several times we literally didn't think our little one would make it. I learned the meaning of the word "faith": having complete trust in God, even when circumstances look grim.  Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We lived by nothing but prayer and faith for the month Katie was in the hospital fighting for her life. It was a hard lesson, learning to trust that God would answer our prayers even when the situation looked hopeless.

Mark stayed with Katie in the hospital most of the time. He lived there. He came home every few days for a few hours to get fresh clothes and a long shower, and then head back out again.  His employer allowed him to take a bit of time off, and then afterwards work from the hospital. 

Every few days, the kids and I would make the trek up to Stanford in Palo Alto and visit with Katie, and then Mark would sneak away for a few hours so we could spend some time together as a family. In fact, my Mother's Day was spent in Palo Alto: a few hours holding baby Katie, and then sneaking away for a quick lunch and ice cream with the kids.  

Besides Katie being hospitalized, our other children also contracted E. Coli. Lucy escaped with barely any symptoms (even though she was tested and we knew was a carrier), but Ben and Tommy got very sick. For a week, they did nothing but throw up and have diarrhea. We didn't go anywhere except to the doctor's office every other day for blood draws and urine tests to monitor the development of E. Coli. Tommy developed HUS, but thankfully his pediatrician caught it early and he got treatment before it developed very much. Did I mention this time was truly, truly awful?

 At Stanford, waiting to visit with Katie. 

 Mother's Day at Stanford. Not how I expected Mother's Day to go, but still thankful to have my family together.

Katie was finally released from the hospital in late May. This photo is from the afternoon when we brought her home (we can't show her face on this blog until she is officially free for adoption). Even though Katie was much improved by the time she came home, her health issues weren't completely solved. She developed diabetes because of the damage her pancreas sustained from HUS. She also came home with an NG tube (you can see the little tube in this pic of you look closely) that she got her feedings from. 

I don't think it is an accident that Katie's middle birth name is "Faith". It will remain her middle name after we adopt her.