Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thyroid health and Hotze Health and Wellness Center.

When I think about the last few years of my life; I think of how blessed I have been, how much favor God has shown me and my family, the busy-ness of having 1, and 2, then 3, now 4 daughters. I also think of how tired I have been. I think about poor Tyler and how he has dealt with my moodiness with such grace (and patience. Ok, lets just say he REALLY LOVES me). I think about how I tell my mom all the time that once I turned 30 everything began falling apart with me health wise. We joked about it, but as of recent, the joke turned serious and I realized there were some things I didnt need to continue to ignore.

Totally normal to be exhausted when you have littles running around, right? Of course. Totally normal to be irritable and happy and sad all within the same 7 minutes of time when your body has really and truly been pregnant for 5 years in a row, right? Absolutely. Totally normal to loose your hair, deal with random bouts of adult acne, have dry patches of skin, your fingers and ankles swelling, a metabolism that is basically non-existent, and not sleep at night just because you turn 30, right? Well maybe, but I got fed up with it. I was tired of being tired and not being able to sleep at night. I was frustrated that I would work out 3-5 days a week watch my diet to only GAIN weight instead of loose it. I hated that I could no longer even fit into "fat pants" anymore. It killed me when I try to style my hair for the day only to feel it thinning excessively and falling out - not to mention be incredibly brittle. I thought it was so odd that when I exercised and exerted myself physically - I didnt sweat like I used too. I ended up on depression medicine again because, of course the moodiness got to me - but I also could not look at myself in the mirror. I hated how I look, and worse - I hated how I felt. I was ready to get help and I wasn't going to stop until I found someone who could help me take control over all of these symptoms.

Rewind back to about 3 years ago. It was 9 am, and in the background of my changing diapers, tending to screaming babes, and probably trying to get someone to nap - Good Morning Texas on WFAA Dallas was playing. A segment came on, with a Doctor who had come up with an innovative and progressive way to treat women in their early thirties dealing with thyroid issues. He had two of his patients on with him who gave testimonials of success. They looked and felt great. I remember nothing else of that show that day - but I remembered that segment and I am so glad I did. I was not experiencing any of they symptoms, but it was like I filed those womens stories in the back part of my brain as if I knew I could have their future in my own near future. I remembered the segment - but for the life of me, I could not remember the name of the Doctor, I just knew he was based somewhere out of Houston.

In September of this year, I had it with myself. I was sick of depression medication - and wanted to venture into the part of my closet that involuntarily off limits to me. I put in a call to my family doctor, who graciously saw me at the end of October. She ran some labs, and most everything came back "in the normal range". What she saw was elevated liver enzymes, so she helped me get set up with an ultrasound to look a little deeper into it. Turns out I have "non alcoholic fatty liver". Its quite common, and can easily be reversed - but I am so thankful she helped me learn that about my body. Even though I knew my thyroid was tested and came back normal - there was more digging to do. I know my body and I know that its not functioning the way it should be. So I started doing facebook searches for hypothryoid groups and low and behold. I saw another video clip of that doctor from the GMT segment. I watched his video that discussed thyroid function and hormone imbalance, and got his name. Instantly, feeling full of hope, googled his name and found his institution's website. You can click on that here. I think I read the entire website twice. I called my mom and Tyler both sobbing saying that I found the institute that could help me. The website talked about how 90-95% of the general population will have labs that come back "in normal range"  and that blood is just a comparison to everyone elses bloodwork that has been tested and was not a valuable form of finding a problem with the thyroid. It talked about how the treated the patient, not their lab work. They listened to the symptoms. It talked about how lab work can be in normal range, but if its not where you uniquely need it to be - a problem still exists. A problem that has a real solution, a treatable answer.

The website gave a phone number and welcomed anyone who was interested in their services to call. It was Saturday, but I called anyway. Monday morning, December 1st, at 8:30 am they called back. They lady on the phone said, "You do not have to silently suffer any more." She set me up to have a phone consultation with a nurse that afternoon. The nurse went over all my issues and symptoms, asked me what my goals for health would be and if I could come to the office for a 1 time visit. She said I was a poster child for who the institute helps and finds success through their program. I was elated. I called my mom and asked her if she would go with me to Houston if I could get an appointment. Sandy (the nurse I spoke with via the telephone) said if I could come in this month I could get a $1,000.00 discount because they are celebrating their 25th anniversary, and offering that discount until the end of the year. I said yes. Knowing that my parents have a trip planned to Cabo this month and Tyler has a trip to the Border (again, I know.) planned for this month. Knowing that Anslee has 3 school parties and Christmas program and Christmas vacation this month. Kensington has a Christmas party and program this month. I didn't care, I was going to figure it all out and make it happen. I was ready to be treated and clearly wanted to take advantage of the discount being offered. She scheduled me for Thursday, December 4th. I couldnt believe it. in 3 days! My mom wasn't gone on vacation yet. Tyler had the day off to keep the girls, and no parties or programs on this day. It was perfect timing. 7:30 - 11:30 am was my scheduled appointment. Yes. They spent 4 hours with me.4 hours. It was clear they wanted to spend a lot of time with me so they could treat me from all angles and have every bit of information they needed to be able to do so.

Wednesday the 3rd my mom and loaded up and headed to Katy, Texas. It was about 4.5 hour drive - that ended up taking us over 5 hours due to getting turned around and confused and driving the wrong way down a one way street. But that is neither here nor there so we will move on (Love you, mama :)

We got to the hotel and basically went to bed. We woke up and headed over to the institute. This is what we drove up too.

We were greeted by the kindest staff. They were trained to be service oriented and it showed - from the lady that welcomed us, to the nurses (who wear suits and heels. no scrubs allowed!), to the Doctor, the pharmacist, and the vitamin specialist. I felt like I was being treated like royalty. Everyone asked us what they could get for us, if we wanted more coffee, or a bathroom break. It was more spa like than clinic like. Color me thrilled.

We got signed in, and filled out some additional paper work, and were walked straight back to the scale and restroom by the nurse. She took my vitals and weight and then took us back to our exam room. Then they took our "snack order". What? We would get a snack as soon as I was done getting my blood drawn. They took 8 viles of blood for testing to have a baseline. They assured me, though, that was just standard procedure but my treatment would not at all be a reflection of the lab results.

Then, Mom and I feasted on this.

Hummus. Cucumbers. Carrots. Boiled eggs, Bell pepper, INCREDIBLE coffee, and almonds and cashews. It was all so delicious. Especially the bell pepper and hummus. Oh my yum.

After we snacked, the nurse took me to another exam room to do my EKG. They wanted to make sure my heart was healthy enough for any type of treatment they potentially could have me on. Then I did a lung function test to test lung capacity. All looked well with both.

Then, we were taken back to my room and the doctor came in. He spent well over 1.5 hours listening to me. Talking to me. Explaining things in detail to me. Doctor Ellsworth is brilliant and knows his craft inside and out. He did a test on me - He put a liquid form of bioidentical cortisol and progesterone under my tongue. He asked me how I felt immediately after I swallowed. I had some congestion, and after the drops it was gone and I told my mom I felt like I could run a couple of miles. It was an instant mood lifter. Mommy crack much? Don't worry, we bought a few viles of that stuff and I am high on my own hormones. Good stuff.

After listening me list off all my sympotoms, from fat fingers (and everything else for that matter) to not sweating, to moodiness and depressive like thoughts and feelings, to cold hands, low body temperature, to not being able to loose weight (my biggest concern, because apparently I am vain). He was confident in his diagnosing me with low thyroid fucntion. He explained that my body was clearly making enough of the hormone (why my labs came back normal) but that when the hormones were delivered to my cells - they werent functioning correctly at the cellular level.

He explained that I needed to be on a yeast free diet. He says if we have been on an antibiotic of any kind for any amount of time the good bacteria, along with the bad which creates an abundance of yeast (candida) in our gut - and its hard to get healthy in any way if your gut is not working at its optimum. 5 days into this diet I will begin a nystatin regimen to kill off any other candida still in my system.

He asked me what goals for my health were. I told him, and said ok we can help you reach those goals. I told him I wanted to wear my precious wedding ring again. I wanted to loose this pesky weight. I want to sleep at night and feel energized during the day. I want my hair to grow back. I want my nails to not be brittle, thin and rigid like they are. Also, the doctor looked at my tongue and said it was retaining fluid as well - I said that even though that didnt bother me on a daily basis - I would prefer my tongue not retain fluid any longer. :)

Next, they served us lunch. I forgot to get a picture of that, but it was a grilled chicken, brocoli, and raspberry salad. It was so good. The raspberry vinaigrette dressing was so delicious I made them give me the recipe - to which they said, "my pleasure" and did so.

Here is what I left my appointment with

Approximately 23 natural vitamins and supplements. These will help gut health, tiredness, and helping my body replenish itself with everything it is deficient in. I also came home with Armour thyroid, nystatin, and progesterone. Thyroid and Progesterone to level our hormone imbalance. Ive started out taking 1 thyroid each day. In two weeks, I will add another. Two weeks after that I will be taking 3 daily. Then I will bump up two weeks later to taking 4 each day. I take 2 progesterone capsules, on days 8-28 of my cycle. Nystatin I will begin in 3 days (after 5 days of being yeast free in my diet).

As mentioned before, I got the viles of mommy crack. These are taken as needed for relief of moodiness and tiredness. They are two for the price of one on your first visit, so yes, two bottles of sanity for the price of one - please and thank you. All of the hormones I am taking are bioidentical, and not synthetic. My body will not be able to tell the difference between what my body is actually making and what I am supplementing it with.

Throughout the day, as our visit went on, notes were taken, suggestions were made, and every bit of information was complied for me in a personalized treatment binder. I also have 24/7 access to someone on the nursing team via phone or email should I have any questions.

They also gave him his book, that I am sure I will learn so much more from. I am excited to begin reading. Along with this one.

This book will go into more detail about the important of balancing out all of our hormones, not just the thyroid. I think this talks about how bioidentical hormones are much safer and effective than synthetic ones that are made in a lab. 

As a reminder of how important it is to drink water, they gifted me with this super nice water bottle. Bottoms up, friends.

The yeast free diet is explained in this optimal eating guide they sent me with. 

There are suggestions in here on what to eat with certain foods - spice recommendations, and several tips and "cheat like" foods to eat. So many recipes in here, as well. It will be a great go to guide for cooking and meal planning for my family. Its actually VERY close (just a little more restrictive) to the TRIM HEALTHY MAMA diet I have been doing for a couple of months - so the transition to this way of eating will not be such a shock to the system. 

I feel like I learned so much about overall health, my own personal health, and that I can trust myself and my sympotms more than just blood work. We are so much more than what our blood says, and its important to trust yourself when you think something is off with your health. I am so excited about the results that should come hopefully within the next 3 to 6 months. I hope to report back on this soon. I am currently on day 3 of treatment and the yeast free diet so I am just a pup at this. I can't wait to see how my daily living quality will be changed. 

Thanks to my mom, who spared no expense to help me get started on this. It speaks volumes to me that she would take two full days of life and dedicate them to my health. I owe her more than I could ever repay. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life with 4.

When you add a baby to your household, you can always expect to enter into a phase of adjustment. Going from 0 to 1 child was like a reality kick to the pants. You are trying to learn as you go, (something that the first child will endure from their parents their entire life.) You are also learning your spouse as they take on the role of being a parent. Also, you unnecessarily worry about every.single.thing. Adding a 2nd was so so so hard for us. We had a difficult infant (who has turned into the most precious pre-schooler that ever was) who needed quite a bit of attention and a toddler who still needed us just as much as well. When Tyler was gone it was 2 on 1, and I found that to be more difficult that I had expected it to be. It took every day of 6 months for to me to be comfortable with our predictable routine. During that time, everyday looked different and that drove me crazy. Adding #3 was smooth. natural. Our life did not seem to be disrupted much when Laynee joined us. It was just another ball in the air to juggle. So, when we found out we were pregnant with baby girl #4, I thought it would be a similar adjustment to when we brought home #3.

Wrong. So very wrong. Adding #4 has stretched me so thin. I literally feel like I physically meet all the demands I have on me. I am, after all, just 1 person with 2 arms - with 4 kids. There really isn't a time when all the girls at home that no one is crying. Oh there is always someone crying. All of a sudden, things have become less manageable and I feel like we live in a small state of chaos all day. Here is what our schedule is like:

5:30 am - I get up and get ready *try* to spend time with Jesus.
6:30 am - big girls up and getting ready and eat breakfast
7:15 am - Wynn up and feeding
7:35 am - take Anslee to school
8:15 am - Wynn down for nap (sometimes this nap has to happen in the carseat. ugh)
9:00 am - (on Mondays and Wednesdays) Middle sisters to pre-school
10:15 am - Wynn up and feeding
11:15 am - lunch for middle sisters on non school days
11:20 am - Wynn down for nap #2
12:30 pm - Middle sisters down for nap
1:15 pm - Wynn up from nap and feeding
2:30 pm - pick up middle sisters from pre-school on Mondays and Wednesdays
*Wynn also needs a nap here, so its either in the carseat or I have a GREAT friend who helps me pick up the kids so I can stay home to get Wynn's nap in
2:50 pm - pick up Anslee from school
3:30 pm Wynn up and feeding
4:30 pm Anslee and Kens have gymnastics on Tuesdays, other days - they play together here.
4:45 pm Wynn down for a cat nap
5:00 pm dinner
5:30 pm Wynn up
6:00 pm  bath for middle sisters, Anslee showers
6:30 pm bath for Wynn
7:00 pm all girls in bed
10:00 pm dreamfeed Wynn

This is what we shoot for everyday, and some days obviously look different. Its so tricky trying get all of Wynn's much needed naps in during the day while trying to make sure that the big sisters are getting to and from all their activities that they so enjoy doing. Carseat naps are less than favorable - as most of the time they do not even happen when I try.

I will say that this time around we figured out how to make them all be in bed for the night at 7 much earlier than we did with Laynee. Tyler and I are so grateful to have that time to spend with just each other. It is a crazy, crazy, crazy season in our life - but we would not trade this time for anything in the world. I know that we have just had 4 kids for a little over 3 months now, and I am trying to give myself grace when Wynn misses her nap or when I can't the light turned on for Laynee as quickly as she would like for me too. Some nights, we may skip reading books - and that is ok for now. I know that we will soon figure out our new normal. Each day is getting more predictable and I feel like we are on the verge of the very sought after ebb and flow of the day.

The main thing that saves me: having their drinks made and in the fridge before I go to bed at night for them to be able to get for themselves at breakfast, and making breakfast on Sunday evening that just has to be warmed up in the craziness of the morning rush for the rest of the week.

I just keep reminding myself that I can only do so much at one time - but in everything I am doing the best that I possibly can. I hope this is made clear to them - for what they can understand at their tender ages. Those sweet girls. If I could give them each the world, I would in a heartbeat.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wynn's story!

May 28, 2014 at 6:51 pm was when I first laid eyes on my precious Wynn Elisabeth. That day began as usual, but then turned into quite the journey! I thought I would share her coming into the world story.

I had a Doctor's appointment that morning. We were 99.9% certain a delivery would happen that afternoon, but we wanted to do a quick sonogram to check how low the fluid levels were since that is a re-occurring chronic problem I have with pregnancy. Sure enough, there was one small pocket of fluid - and it just seemed to be time. Since we were pretty certain that would be the case, we had packed and arranged child care for the 3 girls ahead of time. We left the doctors office, ran a few errands, and headed up to the hospital around 10:45 am - expecting surgery would take place "around lunch time."

I got my IV, filled out paperwork, answered about 4989879234 questions, and began being pumped full of fluids. (I really hate that, because it causes me to swell up like crazy after delivery). We sat around and waited for the anesthesiologist to come in and go over everything with me. When he finally did, he informed me that my doctor was downstairs doing a quick surgery on someone else, and that the other OB in town was doing a c-section in the OR I was assigned too.  It was going to be just a little bit longer.

Also, because I had been low on iron during my entire pregnancy, they needed to do a hemoglobin count - so they drew my blood. The LOW end of normal for hemoglobin is 12 - in a pregnant woman, its common to see it go to a 10. Mine was at a 7. Much too low. They began me on a blood transfusion prior to surgery. Waiting went on a bit longer. It takes 2-3 hours for the bag of blood to go all the way through. I finished an entire bag before surgery. A nurse then came in and told me that there had been a gallbladder surgery that had just taken place, and the recovery nurse on duty was with that person while they recovered. Of course, that person gets very ill during recovery and keeps the nurse tied up a bit longer. We would not be able to begin surgery until she was free from that person, and able to come up to assist in my recovery. Finally, at 6:35 pm, after being at the hospital since 10:45 am - (and not having been able to eat anything since dinner the night before!) They took me back for surgery. They gave me my spinal, laid me down, sent for Tyler to come in - and got right to work.

I was super aware this time of what was going on. Every other time I have done this - I have let my anxiety take over and kind of gone into "flight mode". This time, not so much. I was beginning my 2nd bag of blood during surgery, and I don't know if that had some sort impact on my being more aware or what - but I was. I was calm, thanks to Tyler being there with me talking me through it all. They held her up over my curtain, and I immediately recognized her - looked so much like her sisters did as newborns. Her cry was so so so soft. After she was born, and I got to lay my eyes on her for a second, Tyler and her were off to get weighed and measured. At this point, I began feeling a lot of discomfort - not pain - just super super uncomfortable so they gave me some sort of medicine - and sent me off to recovery.

Tyler brought Wynn into my recovery room, and I attempted nursing her - but it did not go well at all. She was breathing much to rapidly to be able to eat comfortably. This is when we realized she was grunting loudly with each breath she took - and the nurse decided to take her to run some quick tests on her. Then they moved us to our room we would be in the remainder of our stay - where I would receive a 3rd and 4th bag of blood. Meanwhile, they monitored her breathing, and found that she was taking around 90 breaths a minute - and normal newborns take about 50. All of this lead them to checking her blood sugar levels - which they also found to be much too low. We had her with us for about an hour before they told us that she needed to be on an IV, and that the reason her cry was so soft and that she was breathing so quickly was because there was still fluid left in her lungs. The breathing leveled out after some time, thankfully, and she did not need to be placed on oxygen - but that was the next step. In order to correct the blood sugar levels, she needed to be on the IV that would pump the meds through to get her levels to a healthy place. I was not able to feed her nearly all of Thursday, and I was devastated. So I pumped colostrum as much as I could for her during those hours. By that evening, though, they let me go to nurse her, but I had to go to the nursery, she could not leave as she was still on the monitor for breathing and hooked up to her IV. On Friday, they took her off the IV, but told me that supplementing with formula was necessary to keep her sugar levels stable without the IV because my milk was not in yet. Her levels dropped off again after we tried going without the formula, so we conceded, and gave small amounts of formula after each time I nursed. As long as she was supplemented, her levels got to consistent, healthy level and she was finally able to come to our room. After she was in our room for a while, her levels dropped AGAIN (they were checking her every 3 hours, prior to being fed - her poor heel has been pricked more times than I can count) and we were told we would be there another 24 hours - at minimum - if her levels stayed stable for those 24 hours.

This was my low point. I spent most of Friday and Saturday bawling my eyes out. I had never had a baby with any kind of complications. I had never had any kind of complications myself - and I was dealing with both of those scenarios this time around. I also gravely missed my other girls. Its so strange, being in the hospital having a new baby, when there is a baby at home. Or 2 or 3 of them at home, in my case.Its hard, because your brain can not fully be with the new baby. You have other babies you are thinking about, and wanting to make sure are being cared for properly. Its just how it goes. I had been discharged at this point, though I was going to be rooming in with Wynn, and using her "room" as like a hotel room until SHE was to be discharged. We took this opportunity to sneak away from the drab walls of the hospital and go see the other girls between feeding times. I of course saw them, and Anslee immediately started crying - wanting us to take her home. I was beyond heartbroken - after about an hour visit, it was time for us to head back to Wynn, and the 3 big girls just cried as we left. We could clearly see how 4 days away from home was starting to get to them, they were as homesick as we were.

We were finally able to leave the hospital on Sunday afternoon around 2 pm, and then our big girls came home around 4:30 that afternoon. We were so happy to be back in our home, and able to sleep in our bed, and so glad to have the girls back under our wing. We missed them so much.

Nursing Wynn was such a challenge, obviously, since we were having to give bottles and she was getting instant gratification from that - but since we have been home, each day has gotten better - and now she is really getting used to it and getting really good at it. I have struggled with nursing my babies in the past so this always makes me anxious. Kens was really the only one who did it well - but now Wynn is joining her club, after a few bumps in the road - and I am so thankful!

Wynn is the sweetest, sleepiest, most precious angel girl that could ever be. She loves to snuggle and be close, very much loves a good swaddle, doesnt care for dirty diapers much, and sleeps so well. In fact, I have to wake up at night to feed her - because I know at this age she needs to eat, but she rarely will wake up on her own to do so. She doesn't really have any awake time yet, during the day, either. I will basically get her up to feed her, change her, and swaddle her and let her go back to sleep. She has fought that maybe 1 or 2 times a day since we got home, but she really enjoys to sleep - and she sleeps very soundly. I hope I am not putting a jinx on myself by saying this!

With the complications that came along this time, the fact that 4 c-sections is just about all my body can handle, and that we have 4 beautiful, healthy, and happy little girls - we decided that this would most certainly be our last baby. Before finishing up the operation, we had the doctor do a tubal ligation to prevent any further pregnancies. We feel like our family is perfectly complete now, and after much prayerful consideration this was in the best interest of our family. After almost 5 straight years of pregnancy, its strange to think that chapter of my life is closed. I am thrilled to now move forward in raising little women without the distraction and exhaustion that pregnancy (while always a miracle, which is why a part of me will always miss it) can bring on. I hope these 4 sisters always see each other as built in best friends - as that will make the busy-ness of their early years so very worth the effort. 

Since being home, my 3 big girls have had battled pink eye, our washing machine went out on us, as did our air conditioner, and I have strep throat and a 102 fever. This is the life! Besides all of that, we are learning to be a family of 6, and we feel so very blessed!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Avoiding PPD.

It is amazing what happens to a woman's body during pregnancy, birth, and then even post partum. Physically and emotionally - you are never quite the same.

After I delivered Anslee, I remember looking at her for the first time and melting. She could not be in my arms fast enough. Instant, unconditional, overwhelming love rushed through me. It was just as I had hoped. I was surprised that when we brought her home, I was quite "weepy". I was nervous that I was not properly equipped to keep her healthy and thriving. It lasted about 6 weeks, and then I felt like myself again. I still had hard days - but for the most part, I felt pretty emotionally stable.

Fast forward 2 short years later. I deliver my most precious Kens. The anxiety began with her 2 hours before she was born. I was in the hospital, getting IV'd up, and laying there waiting on the doctor to prepare for the repeat C-section. Strange feelings were coming over me. I was the most nervous I had ever been in my life. I literally was uncomfortable in my own skin and kept telling Tyler that I just wanted to pack up and go home. In that moment, I would have rather stayed pregnant. I was scared, and I really wanted to be home with Anslee. (Not to mention, it was getting close to her bedtime and I was really concerned she would not go to bed for anyone else but me or naturally, as I am about to have major surgery, I am worrying about my toddlers sleep.) I wanted to run away from the hospital as fast as I could. I was ready to meet Kensington, but I was so scared of so much - and I was confused about why I was feeling this way. Then she came! I remember seeing her for the first time and LOVING her with all that was in me - but I didn't feel an instant connection to her. I was so preoccupied with her health stats and the incessant itching that was overtaking me from the medication they had given me before the surgery that I could not seem to focus on finding a connection. She nursed liked a champ, and then screamed. And then screamed some more. Then screamed louder. I was so concerned something was wrong with her and I was so sad that my holding her didn't seem to comfort her. My 2 years of mom experience meant nothing - and I was back at square 1. My head was spinning.

My head was spinning for the next VERY challenging 3.5 months. We had a hard time adjusting to being a family of 4, and it sent me into a dangerous downward spiral of sadness. The first time I felt a strong emotional to Kensington was when I saw her smile for the first time at 5 weeks old. She continued to cry a LOT and I continued to not be able to comfort her despite my constant efforts to do so, and so I lost all confidence in myself as a mother - and at the time, that meant my world came crashing down all around me.

I knew I was suffering from post partum depression after Kensington turned 7-8 weeks old. Colic was peaking. One day during this week of her life she was awake for 7 hours in a row. For a newborn, this age - the longest they are awake including the time it takes them to feed is between 60-65 minutes. You can imagine my going crazy.

I didn't want to hurt her, but I also didn't want to hold her. When I became totally aware of this feeling - I immediately called the doctor. It could not be healthy if I didn't want to hold my new baby, who I loved so much. You have to understand, its hard to have a deep desire to hold your child when holding them won't comfort them. It only reminded me that I was unable to comfort her, and that I was failing at the most important job of my life. Oh sweet defeat.

I talked with my doctor and started on some medication. It was helpful! It wasn't the cure all, but it was the small boost I needed. Colic ended at about 3.5 months - and I was off all medication by the time she was 7 months old. Life became somewhat predictable, I was fully connected to my girl and I felt good.

When Kensington was just under 11 months old - in the second week of December of 2011 - it became evident that I needed to take a pregnancy test. Surprise! Laynee was on the way. Wait. Didn't life just return back to "normal"?  That day I saw the word "pregnant" come up on the test was the day I began praying for our family to not take the adventure back into dark again. We just could not handle that. I could not do that to Tyler again. I could not pull my family back through the fire again. They didn't deserve it, and neither did I.

July 31st 2012 rolls around, and Laynee joins our family. Thankfully, when God promises us something, he honors his word. He promised to hear me when I cried out to him, and he answered me. I didn't want to run away from the hospital this time. I was thrilled to meet her. When I saw her for the first time over the curtain, she took my breath away, and I needed to hold her. She didn't scare me. I relaxed. When I tried to nurse her for the first time, and it went terribly, I didn't stress. I knew I would get to try again. Then, when it was difficult every single time in the hospital that I attempted feeding her, I stayed relaxed. It was ok. I was happy!

Now, as I adjusted to life with 3 kids all 3 years old and under, I had some moments that were difficult and yes, tears were shed. I had low moments from time to time - but never anything like before. Thank goodness.

Laynee turned 14 months old, and we were trucking through day to day life comfortably. It was early October and I had been needing to go ahead and take a pregnancy test for about week based on my cycle, but I refused. I thought "no way." There is just no way. Oh way. There is always a way. I finally went and bought the cheapest test I could find - but I didn't need the test to show the results for me to know. I already knew. Hello, Wynn!

Starting in late February, anxiety started to over take me. I laid in bed one night and almost lost my breath because I was so scared. I began letting Satan speak to me. I was certain that I was doomed to PPD again. That feeling of wanting to run away? It came back - but I was at home! I wasn't even at the hospital yet!

So. Here I am now, about 8-9 weeks away from delivery again. I don't know what the hospital experience will be like this time. I don't know if I will want to crawl out of skin or if I will be cool, calm, and collected. What I do know, is that I can use this time I have between today and the day of her birth to prepare as best as I can to beat the possibility of falling into the fire again. Here is what I am doing

1. Talking to Jesus. All the time.
I am asking Jesus to take the burden. I am letting him go before me, and asking him to equip me for whatever is to come. I am asking him to speak to me, too. He is. His word is good and soothes my soul.

1 Peter 5:7
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Psalm 119: 143
" Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight."

Psalm 94:19
"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."

Phillipians 4:6-7
"Do NOT be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition , with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

The more I have reached out for God's wisdom on anxiety and depression I have found that it can all be born from worry over things that are 1.) meaningless 2.) totally out of our own control and that when we do hand over worry to Christ, we find joy on the other side. Again, Christ gives us hope when we are uncertain!

2. Talking with Tyler.
Since that night in February, when I was almost paralyzed by my fear and anxiousness - I have been in continual conversation with Tyler. He knows what I am thinking and feeling. He is my prayer partner and has lifted me up time and time again since we first began this conversation. He is my support when I start to let it take over me again. He is my home base, bringing me back to where I need to be, resting in God's promise to bring me joy when anxiety is great within. He reminds me what we have studied and what God has said about how to handle my worries. Tyler is present, and aware, and everything I need him to be.

3. Talking with the Doctor.
I just want my doctor to have a heads up (so to speak) about my history (which he knows) and my fears this time around as well. I think being proactive "just in case" can never really be a negative thing. It puts my mind at ease to know that Jesus, Tyler, and Dr. Neel can all know where I stand. I feel my support team could not be more beefed up!

4. Thinking Realistically.
I want to have perspective. I want to be fully aware that yes, post partum depression is real and can happen to me. It can be a demon that I actually have to wrestle with. Having an instant connection isn't always a promise. It may take some time, and thats ok. If that happens to me and Wynn, thats ok. Its not ideal, but its a real possibility. Nursing may be difficult. I just want to let go and try again if that happens. I want to not be in denial about anything. I want to be shocked about nothing. I want to know the possibilities. Wynn could be a tough baby. Or she could be an angel baby. Who knows. God gives me what he gives me, and I thank him for that - no matter how he packages her. I want to approach her early days with a clear mind and a heart that is at ease. I think perspective can play a big role in how I respond to what happens, therefore, what mental state I will find myself in.

5. Hospital Care.
I am going to take full advantage of being taken care of in the hospital. I am going to rest and a hold and feed a baby. Thats it. I am going to fall asleep when I can and when I want. I am going to eat whatever I want too. I am going to enjoy visitors. I am going to not change a single diaper. I am also going to the hospital with certain items that I think will be calming and relaxing to me. My own pillow, new pajamas, and I am looking into bringing some essential oils to diffuse in my room with me - if that is allowed. Basically, I am going to use those two days to get to know Wynn, and let my body begin healing.

There are several things I plan on doing after bringing Wynn home to help myself in avoiding depression as well. I guess I just feel like if I can have a plan before the time comes, I am that much ahead of the game. It can't hurt, right?

After we are at home I plan too:

1.Talk to Jesus.
I just know that I have to have total dependence on him. I can't mother 4 children effectively without him. I can't mother 1 child effectively without him. There is nothing in me that can raise little lives, but thankfully he can. He can use me, and he has chosen me to parent these 4 baby girls - but I know that without his guidance, strength, and spirit I would fail and would fail each one of them. Talking to Jesus and meeting with him will be so very important, and I have to make that relationship the strongest priority or everything will crumble before my feet.

2. Be self aware.
I will need to pay close attention to my feelings and emotions. I will need to be able to recognize the difference between being a little "weepy" and falling fast into a place I don't want to go. I will ask Tyler to also keep a close on me and help me in acknowledging what I am really dealing with. Hormones will certainly contribute to my handling our "everyday" - but if it becomes more than something hormones can really explain I need to be clear headed enough to notice. I know that this is a possibility - so being prepared just in case will be beneficial.

3. Focus on the Blessings, less on the struggles.
There are sure to be struggles. There are sure to be hard days. It is promised that this life is less than perfect, and its easy to become fixated on the things that make it an imperfect experience. Its easy to begin to worry about missed naps and get worked up over a pre-schooler that isn't following through with my plan for her "first time obedience". These things can quickly shadow the moments that should be so bright in our day - like when the almost kinder kid makes her and her sisters beds without being asked, or when they thank me over and over for a meal they have had a million times. These are things I need to work on now - with no regard to being pregnant and having a baby!

4. Find our routine.
Our human nature needs normalcy. I mean - do we not eat 3 times a day (ha! or 6, but who is counting?) Do we not sleep at night and be productive during the day? Do these things usually take place at the same time each day? Yes. Order. We need it. I plan to work hard to ease this baby into our sweet routine that is already in place. It may take her a while to catch on, but even babies thrive off of knowing what is coming next and take so much comfort in that. I will provide that for her - but for us, as well. In doing so, I will find security in knowing what needs to be done or taken care of next. A plan of action that I know makes sense sounds good to me.

5. Give myself some GRACE.
Jesus gives me grace, so if the son of God can look at me and have mercy on me - I can have mercy on myself. I will forgive myself when I mess up. I will not hold myself to such a standard of excellence that I can't realistically meet. I have only been a mama for a little over 5 years - I mean in the school of mommy, I haven't even began MY kinder year. I am a work in progress and will strive to do good, but pick myself up when I fall.

I have so struggled with being too prideful to accept help in the past. I am going to really allow people who are willing, help me. Its ok for me to not be good at doing this 4 kid thing alone during the day. I don't have to have a perfect ebb and flow to my day from the day I get home from the hospital. I will need help and support and I will be ok with taking it this time. (Mom, if you are reading this - gear up. Sometimes you are 30 years old and still need your own mama to take care of you.) This will be harder for me than I am thinking right now, I think - but I am going to do my best to remember that having it all together without any reinforcements isn't something I can find self worth in!

I am hoping to hear from anyone who is still reading what avoiding PPD tips you may have. I really am 100% committed to being fully prepared to fight the monster - should it so attack - and am open to any kind of advice from others!

Monday, February 24, 2014

25 Weeks

When I was pregnant with Anslee 9 months was eternity.
It liked to have never happened. 
I really thought the pregnancy part would never end.
It was torment waiting to meet her.

Now that we are on round 4 - I can't stay pregnant long enough.
Not that I don't want to meet precious Wynn,
but I really want to meet her when things are done - 
and say....
She has a place to live. Call me crazy.
This pregnancy is FLYING by. I mean we are non-stop,
and it seems like there will never be enough time to prepare.

So I am 25 weeks along, and overall - this pregnancy has been
like the other 3. Pretty textbook - for me.
She measures small, just like the others.
I never had first trimester morning sickness.
My back aches. I am a pregnant insomniac.
Heartburn every now and again.
No swelling (yet) hoping for none at all.
A little anemic. Nothing to take super great concern too.
All the usual.

One difference: I had a random bout of "morning sickness"
between 20-21 weeks. Yuck. That was horrible to experience.
Very inconvenient to have 3 kids - need to puke at little to no notice - 
and never want to eat anything ever. 
Oh - and I basically started showing before I knew I was even pregnant this time.
If that counts as a difference.

I started to feel flutters probably around 18 weeks.
Now, I feel more substantial movement, though she is not super active.
Just active enough to remind me that there is real life inside me.

I have NOT been able to work out as much as I would like too.
I can't go for runs in the jogging stroller because I have 3 kids and double stroller - 
I CAN go to the gym just twice a week while the big girls are in school and I just have L.
Then, a lot of times once I finally get the opportunity to - I am beat tired.
I do go to a step class twice a week, and try to walk on our treadmill 
as often as I can wake up at 5:30 am to do so.

 I am blessed with a healthy baby girl and a body that is still able.

And because everyone needs a bump selfie - 
here you go. 25 weeks with my Wynn!

Monday, February 10, 2014


My sweet Anslee turned 5 years old on January 22nd. 5! That is so far past baby. You know how I know this? has sent me weekly updates on this sweet girl since she was born. On her fifth birthday, instead of referring to her "Your Pre-Schooler this week" they sent me an email with the subject line saying "Your BIG KID this week." I would be lying if that little change didn't slap me in the face when I read it!

Who is she? Character Development:

Anslee really does astound me everyday by showing me aspects of her personality that I think will carry on through her lifetime. I really believe I am seeing parts of her that will remain with her be the foundation to the person she is to become one day. Anslee is natural rule follower. I am pretty sure it has never crossed her mind to get up out of bed on her own, though she has the physical ability to do so. She was told when she moved into a big girl bed to stay put until given permission to get up, and that is what she does. Anslee will be wide awake every morning when I get her out of bed - but will not so much as put her feet on the floor until she is told she allowed. For nap time, she rarely sleeps now - but stays in my bed for 2 hours and rests until she is told she can get up and come out. I really believe that she will do this willingly because I feel like this is her time to be alone, and she has a strong need for alone time. I am learning that re-fuels herself by taking this time to simply be by herself.  She craves order and structure and thrives when she is within her boundaries. She gets confused when I take a back road home, and tells me I must be going the wrong way. Learning is fun for her. Understanding how things work is like a game for her. I have had to explain to her how pipes work, how a refrigerator stays cold, how our bones grow, etc. She is really curious to know how the world around her works. Anslee is a comforter. She is sensitive to others feelings and emotions! She quiets her sisters with a big hug and "its ok!" when they are upset. When Kensington gets really excited (which is often!) Ans really celebrates with her and shares in the excitement. She even one time asked if she could get a spank so Kens didn't have too! Many times, she has seen me cry, and has comforted me - and nothing is more humbling than having your child tell you things are going to be ok. Really. Anslee is a little bit of a perfectionist. She practices a skill over and over until she is satisfied. Ask her to show you a cartwheel. If the first one is not to her liking - she will make you watch again. Then again, if needed. Along with this - she is easily frustrated when something does not come easily and quickly to her. Patience is something we may struggle with as she grows. She is still a bit shy and timid, but really loves to be in social/school/church group settings. Since she has always been exposed to these outlets - she is comfortable there, though she may not be the most outspoken in the group.

Spiritual development: My sweet girl fully understands right from wrong. She understands why she needs to be sorry when she chooses wrong. We talk about Jesus and we talk to Jesus quite a bit with Anslee, and I am starting to see him draw her close. She understands that Jesus died on the cross so we can be with him one day forever. She has worked very hard on scripture memory this past semester, and knows most of the 3rd chapter of Proverbs (which is 35 verses). Now, with her pre-school, she is learning Matthew 7. I hope that by memorizing these - her heart be forever penetrated by his word. She will come to claim Jesus as her savior one day. Even now, I know she is not mine - but I am giddy thinking about the day where she realizes who she truly belongs too. I can't wait to let her know that he loves her more than I do - and more than I will ever be able.

What she knows. Her smarts:
Anslee is a bright kiddo! Like I mentioned before, she is curious and LOVES learning. At 5, she knows all her letters and their respective phonics, can tell the difference between capitol and lower case letters, reads several sight words, and works really hard to sound out what she doesn't immediately recognize. Some kids are much further along at this age, but I am super proud of where she is at. I think I am just most relieved that learning keeps her attention - and that the desire to know more and more is there and strong. She can do simple addition and simple subtraction - and really understands the concepts of adding to something and taking away. Patterns are her favorite thing right now. She turns everything into a "AABB pattern mama! Look at your shirt mama! Its an AABB!" Puzzles and problem solving are very much her thing. (This is not my cup of tea, so it has been interesting for me to know about her!) I let her help me in the kitchen a lot, measuring things out. She really gets into that - and so I feel like she is very math/science driven. Ha! I won't be able to really help her much from here on out. Daddy to the rescue there, since that is the way his mind is geared as well! I think there are 5 year old kiddos who are probably further along in their "academic" abilities than her, and probably a lot who are not nearly up to the speed she is - so we feel like she will perfectly prepared to go from the pre-school years to the school years. We are mostly just thankful that the desire to understand things is there and she takes a genuine interest in learning new things.

Anslee is a tiny little girl version of her daddy. They relate on so many levels, and I think its so neat to see how naturally she comes by being so much like him. She thinks and reasons like he does, she is quiet and cooperative like he is, she is reserved but comfortable with people she doesn't know that well - while silly and talkative and inquisitive with the people she knows best. She serves others by helping even when is not asked too, and when she is asked to help - she jumps up happily to pitch in. Just like her daddy. Just skating by to get something done would not satisfy her. It has to be done all the way, and the right way to be to her standards. I love her determination.

All in all, we could not be more proud of how the last 5 years have grown on her. So many days I wonder what I did to deserve the gift of being her mother. Then I remember that my being her (and her sisters) mother is God's story of grace in my life. God looked on me with grace and gave me her. God looks on me with grace as I make mistake after mistake while raising her. She is gracious to me - still loving me when I fail her - and immediately offering forgiveness to me in those moments. I did nothing to deserve her -its all because God loves me and granted me the long time desire of my heart in giving her to me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Girl Mom FOUR life! (and a name!)

Last Wednesday we had a super important 
Doctor appointment for baby.
The anticipation for this appointment DOES NOT LESSEN
with the number of pregnancies you have.
Anatomy Scan.
Put simply:
Boy or Girl
Pink or Blue
(well, this is true if you are the finding out type - if you are not,
I envy your patience. I absolutely must know, lest I drive myself and anyone 
around me into crazy.)

I had the first appointment of the day. I love this for 2 reasons:
1. You weigh less in the morning. Always.
(not that I let them tell me my weight anyway - yes, I turn backwards on the scale
and threaten the nurse so she is sure not to tell me.)
2. You get in quicker, and for this appointment - waiting was not going to do anyone any good.

Here I am. Waiting super impatiently for Dr. Neel to get there. I am a few days shy of 20 weeks,
so it was time to find out!! EEEK!

 The Doctor came in, and did the ultrasound (he does his own, he doesn't use a tech,
which I suppose is pretty uncommon.)
He said everything looked really good, and I was measuring a few days small - 
which is consistent with how I do pregnancy. Every.time. 
Heartbeat was a perfect 148, and again - no matter how many times you are pregnant - 
that sound is always reassuring, and beautiful.

We had instructed Dr. Neel to NOT tell us as the ultrasound was taking place
what the gender was. We asked if would please write it down and seal it in an
Dr. Neel thinks he is super funny - and this is how he sealed it for us:

It was taped twice on the back. It was stapled 9 times across the top.
We took the chastity envelope home,
immediately walked to the couch,
and spent approximately the next 22 minutes trying to open it.

We open it to find a piece of paper that was folded 17 times (and taped at each fold)
We opened it -
and if we were thinking we would have taken a picture of that paper - 
but we didnt.

Needless to say, 
it said:

We were so thrilled!
We should have known, but we were still shocked!
Raising girls is such a gift, and a challenge
and we feel like the Lord has called us to something larger 
than ourselves by granting us the privilege of raising
daughters of his Kingdom!
Tyler is so excited. He feels equipped and ready for battle.
He has assured me (by who he is) that 
I will have 4 girls that will grow up without daddy issues.
I can think of no better gift he could give me in this lifetime.
These 4 will grow up knowing they are first the Lord's. Then,
they will understand that they are of true value to their parents.
They will never questions if they are good enough, or if they measure up.
They will always know they are enough.
They will never search for something emotionally they can't get at home.
I am so blessed. So blessed.
A house full of dolls.

Guess what? Sweet girl #4 is even being called by name now!

Our precious Wynn,
We pray for your growing body inside of me,
and we pray desperately for the soul already growing inside of you.
You are loved and wanted and treasured.
We can't wait to meet you - 
to know who God is creating you to be!

Oh happy day! Our God is so good. 
Praise and Glory to his name!