So I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. You boys keep me busy! I barely have a chance to breathe!

The good news, though, is that you, Baby D, are sleeping through the night. VERY well, in fact – from about 9pm until 8 the next morning. So I am getting rest. Thank you!

You’re also sitting up well (although the bobble-head is still in action), and you’re smiling and talking up a storm. I love your smile… it takes over the lower half of your face, and it’s crooked, too. It’s absolutely adorable!

It seems like we’ve finally gotten your allergies under control, too (thanks a lot, Daddy).You may be allergic to both milk and soy, just like your big brother. When we were feeding you milk and soy formulas, giving you a bottle was like wrestling a mad bull. I’m serious! But we have you on a hypoallergenic formula that costs an arm and a leg, but it seems to really work. It’s amazing how easy giving you a bottle is now! You also need to take Zantac, for your acid reflux. Poor guy, you spit up and it seems so painful. The medicine really does seem to help with that.

We’re kind of in a routine now. We’re staying at home most days and hanging out here. This gives Baby D a chance to nap in his crib, and it gives the Big Boy a chance to drive me crazy at home. I’m sorry, Big Boy. You do need to be out and running around more, and we’re hoping to fix that soon with… get this… a SWINGSET! It will be like going to the park everyday! I’m so excited – and you have no clue what fun you are going to have through the years. UncaDo and I had one while we were growing up, and I have sooo many memories of playing outside on it!

Big Boy, you are a sassy cranky-pants. Not all the time. But wooo! There is no telling what is going to come out of your mouth most days. You are talking in complete sentences all the time, and you are figuring things out on your own. I love to watch your little mind at work.

We pray continuously that the Lord will show us how to help you through your “terrible 2s” – with you alive and us with all of our hair intact. You have a very strong will, and if you don’t get your way, a fit is bound to happen. At the same time, you have a very sweet and generous spirit. You are always wanting to share things with Baby D, and you love to “hold” him and give him kisses before he goes for naps. You are also generous with your hugs and kisses for Daddy and me, and I love snuggling with you. You frequently tell me you love me. Thank you. I need to hear that.

Right now, you’re going through a stuffed animal phase. You’ll love on one stuffed animal for a couple days, and then it’s on to another one. Your little animals are the most loved anywhere, I think. You also declare your love for any food you like… say, blueberries. “Oh, I LOVE blueberries!” “I LOVE asparagus!” “I LOVE chicken!” And I’m so glad you’re a good eater.

OK guys, this has been a long one. And it’s naptime now, so I need to get a bit of rest today, too. I love you both, more than you could ever imagine.

Momma

We took the Big Boy to an allergist last week, and the results are much what we expected… He’s highly allergic to eggs, nuts, peaches, and green peas (possibly beef, too, but the Doctor’s not too sure about that one, because he’s has never had a reaction before, and with as high as he tested for it, he should’ve had some type of reaction). He’s moderately allergic to milk, soy, carrots, sweet potatoes, dust, and dust mites, and mildly allergic to chicken, pork, corn, oats, broccoli, tomato and white potato. They didn’t even test him for dog and cat allergies, because we know he has reactions to both of them, and they had to test so much food that they didn’t want to put him through that.

So, we’re doing an “elimination” diet for 10 days to see if that clears up the mild eczema that he’s had forever. If the diet works, then no more of those foods that he’s even mildly and moderately allergic to. If not, we can reintroduce them into his diet, though carefully and not in combination. This is proving to be really hard, especially since he’s allergic to both milk and soy. I’m running out of ways to serve beans, rice, and bread….

The Big Boy did really well with the test. He struggled while they were doing the skin pricks, and it actually took me and 2 others to hold him (he sat on my lap facing me, and I held his head and his body, while a nurse on each side held an arm and a leg). He did great during the prep and the waiting, though… he only tried to itch a little, but a Popsicle and Veggie Tales kept him pretty well occupied! The nurse said it’s a rare 2 year old that acts so well!

We are learning to live with these allergies. We have been avoiding the main allergens already, but there were some big surprises for us (milk! chicken! carrots! oats!).

The sadness hits me when I think of his little body having to deal with all of this nasty stuff. And then I start thinking about all the joys I associate with food, and the things he could miss out on because of these allergies. A big bowl of ice cream… scrambled eggs on Saturday morning… peanuts at a baseball game… chicken casserole… a fresh peach straight from a farm…

We will have to decide in a couple of days if it is worth it for the Big Boy to have some eczema in order to eat some of the mild and moderate allergens. It’s my feeling already that it is worth it. The eczema does not bother him right now, other than being slightly itchy at times. He is literally only eating rice and beans right now, with bread, fruit (pretty much anything but peaches), and green beans thrown in (they are the only veggies we know he’s not allergic to). He’s been such a good eater prior to all of this, and I don’t think he’s getting the nutrition he needs with this limited diet. If he was only allergic to either milk or soy, that would be a different thing, I think… but being allergic to both cuts out some huge sources of protein….

Man, this is hard. I’m so glad that he doesn’t know all of what is happening right now…

Here he is with his “pirate finders” on his arms… he then tells me he’s a robot.

Here’s his super-advanced “karate robot” move. Hi-ya!

I love you, Big Boy.

You smiled at me today. Twice. It made all the sleepless nights worthwhile.

God knows what He’s doing when He makes babies so cute.

Daddy asked me if I got a picture of your smile… not yet. Not yet, my little man. I will, though. Soon.
That’s what you tell people when you are asked how old you will be…. “2 old…”

Well, today’s the big day, Big Boy. Happy 2nd Birthday!

What a wonderful 2 years it has been – what a ride! I never imagined that my life would be so full and rich… I’ve never laughed or cried so hard – ever!

We’ve come so far… And it seems like it was just yesterday I was holding you in my arms for the first time.

Today, you’re a Big Boy, sleeping in a big boy bed, no longer standing in pots (but I miss this so much!).

See how big you look?

I’m so excited to watch you grow up – you are already a kind and compassionate little man.

I’m so glad I’m your Mommy.

You are a wonderful gift from God, and I thank Him for you everyday.

Little man, I want to be able to chronicle this amazing time for you…. so here’s the story of your birth…

The events surrounding your birth actually started the day before, on Thursday, December 20. We took your big brother to your Gam and Poppy’s house, where he was to spend the night and the next several days while we were at the hospital with you. We dropped him off early in the evening, just before dinner. We were going to go home and grab something to eat ourselves, and then start getting the house ready for your arrival (do a couple more loads of laundry, set up your cradle, etc.). At least, that was my plan. Your Daddy, on the other hand…

We stopped for gas to fill up the car and got a phone call from Poppy letting us know we had left our camera in the Big Boy’s diaper bag. Doh! We were about 5 minutes from Gam and Poppy’s house and about 20 minutes from our house – but when I told your Daddy that I left the camera and we needed to go back for it, he said he would come back out later and get it. What? That made no sense to me… Why drive back out 30 minutes both ways when we could just run back over and get it now?

He then proceeds to tell me that he will go get it later, because he wanted to give me my Christmas present now. OK! I’m in!

So Daddy tells me to open up the glove compartment and pull out an envelope that was in there… inside the envelope was a bandanna and a set of earplugs. Ummm, I’ve been blindfolded a couple times before (I’ll tell you stories later!), so I knew what the bandanna was for, but the earplugs kind of scared me! Where in the world was he going to take me? He blindfolded me right away but told me that I could wait to put in the earplugs…

And off we drove! I soon lost track of where we were going…. we just kept driving and driving and driving…. I thought he might be taking me to our favorite restaurant, the Melting Pot… that would’ve been wonderful, except you had pressed my stomach up so high I could only eat about a 1/2 cup worth of food at a time without experiencing incredible heartburn. So I wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy the amazing spread there – you definitely have to eat more than a 1/2 cup worth of food there!!!
Finally, the car stops, and Daddy gets out for a minute, then comes back to park the car and get me out. That’s when he told me to put on the earplugs. I asked him if I looked ridiculous, and he said, “No, you look like someone who’s about to get a surprise.” Good answer, good answer.

We step inside a building, and then into an elevator… where Daddy removes my blindfold and earplugs. When the doors open, we walk into…. the Red Door Spa at Short Pump Towne Center! Ahhhhhhhh! Daddy had booked an hour long pregnancy massage for me, to help me get ready for the big day! And you don’t know how hard that is for him to do…. a (non-practicing) certified massage therapist paying for someone else to massage his wife?!? He hadn’t felt comfortable giving me massages during the pregnancy, because he had never been trained in pregnancy massage and he didn’t want to do something he shouldn’t do (in case labor was triggered through the massage – it happens!)….

So for an hour, I laid (propped up) and was pampered and rubbed and moisturized… all the while you kicked around in me to let me know you were still there!

When I emerged, I was floating – though while the girl who massaged me was very good, your Daddy gives much better massages! We then ate a quick bite and headed back to pick up our camera (finally!).

Back at home, we packed up a few last things, and I took a shower. We did no laundry, and the cradle did not get set up. Oh well….

We had to be at the hospital at 6:00 am (we had a 8:00 am appointment for the scheduled c-section). 5:00 am, I am up and getting ready. Daddy’s up, too… while he showered, I straightened my hair – I know, I know… vanity, vanity! But heck, I knew a lot of pictures would be taken, and why look like a mess if I didn’t have to? We hopped in the car and at 6:05 am, we are unloading our bags in our labor and delivery room at St. Mary’s Hospital. Rather, our recovery room – the labor and delivery rooms were full! So we were in a no-frills room – the bed wasn’t a hospital bed – it was a stretcher (granted, a nice stretcher). But it was nice and big, and it had a TV. See?

Here’s my obligatory belly shot. I don’t have any other pictures of my bare belly – it’s not a pretty sight.

I got hooked up to monitors to hear your heartbeat, and we waited until the anaesthesiologist comes to give me an epidural. Bluh… that was bad enough. No pain, but the sensations I was feeling in my back no one should feel. bluh

Then we had to wait until the medicine kicked in. Here’s a picture of our doctor as we all waited…

We waited and waited, and at 8:00 am pretty much on the nose, I get wheeled into the OR. Daddy couldn’t come in with me… he had to get all duded up in his really cool white paper outfit (see pictures below) and then he had to scrub in, so it would be a couple minutes before he was able to join me. And those couple of minutes were the longest in my life. Because I could still feel things. Where I wasn’t supposed to feel things. I was panicking, and the nice anaesthesiologist and his assistant (or his nurse, or something – he was a very nice man, too) pumped up the medication. Kept pumping it up until they maxed out the amount the could put into me through the epidural. And I still felt things. No pain, but I could tell them when they were touching me when they did the prick tests with a pin. And there was a specific area right below my belly button that I could feel all sorts of things – them scrubbing my belly and prepping me for the surgery. I felt no pain yet, but I was so afraid I would… Also, while last time I was completely numb from my armpits down, this time I was numb only from the top of my belly button down. All I could think was, “WHERE IS MY HUSBAND?!?”

While I was trying not to freak out, they explained to me that if I felt any pain at all, tell them and they would put me under general anaesthesia or something else (I honestly don’t remember what it was, but it sounded big). My doctor explained to me that they would prefer it if I were fully conscious during the surgery (honestly, so would I!!!) and that’s why they were waiting to make sure the epidural worked completely. By this time, Hubby came in (whoops, I mean your Daddy!), and the doctor told him to talk to me and distract me. Poor man – he had no idea why, and he old me later that he was freaked out, too, because all he knew was that I was freaked out (and I’m not a big freaker-outer). But he put on his calm face and soothing voice and talked to me about where we would go on vacation…. something about a beach, but I told him that I would prefer the mountains… so it worked. I was distracted, but still anticipating any pain… I felt none thankfully! Apparently, the anaesthesiologist’s assistant was anticipating it, too, because I heard him tell someone he had already opened the bottle of the other medication to give to me. Jackie, our nurse in Labor and Delivery, told me I was fortunate not to have to get the other medication, because it was really strong and you hate what it does to you. I have no idea what that means, but I praise the Lord that I was able to make it without it!

At 8:23 am, you were born. We heard you cry, and your Daddy was able to watch you get cleaned off and get tested – your first ever tests! You passed with flying colors – your Apgar test scores were 8 at birth and 9 at 5 minutes (I’ll explain these to you later on!). Daddy was then able to hold you for a minute, and we took some pictures…

Then you were taken to the nursery, and I was rolled back into the recovery room. We then waited until we could hold you in our arms… the hospital had recently under gone some rule changes – you were not able to be in our room immediately after your birth as your big brother was. So we waited anxiously. Your Daddy was able to go into the nursery and see you there, and family got some good pictures through the window.

After sometime (I have no concept of how long it really was – it might’ve been just about an hour or so…), the neonatologist came by to let us know you were being taken to the NICU, as you were have trouble breathing. It could’ve been extra fluid in your lungs (that was not pushed out through a regular delivery since you were born by c-section) combined with some immaturity in your lungs since you were 2 weeks early. What a scary conversation! Your Gam and I started crying, because we weren’t sure what that meant at all. We prayed, and thankfully, our nurse Jackie was able to assure us that this is not unusual in little boys who were born early. The staff at the hospital were excellent, and they all expected you to pull through without any problem.

Daddy was able to visit you in the NICU while I stayed in the recovery room. I couldn’t walk yet, and we were waiting for a bed to open up in the Mother and Child unit, where you and I would be taken care of for the next couple of days. So he was able to hold you while I recovered, slowly getting feeling back in my legs and body – and itching all the while! Apparently, morphine makes you itch like a fiend when it starts to wear off!!!

About 3 hours after the surgery, I was able to be moved to a room close to the NICU. As I was moved there on the stretcher bed, we stopped into the NICU, and I was able to hold you for the first time. Here are some pictures…

Look at all the little tubes in you – and you had several IVs in you as well. However, you were by far the biggest baby in the NICU, and I think the healthiest. There were several other babies there, and we prayed for them as well… many had been there for a couple of weeks or more, and I could not imagine the strain that their parents must have felt. The nurses in the NICU were amazing, and so loving and caring. Your nurse, Julie, was a God-send. She was so loving and caring, and we knew you were in good hands. The little bassinets were all decorated for Christmas, and you even had a stocking and a candy cane keeping you company!

I was rolled back to our new room, and we got settled in. And the waiting continued. I would not be able to see you until I could get up on my own – then I would be able to go and see you in a wheelchair until I could handle the walk. It took me most of the rest of the day to be able to stand up – about 6:00 pm I was able to stand up and walk to the bathroom. It was hard, but I did it! As soon as I did, I plopped down into a wheelchair and had Daddy push me back into the NICU to see you. Once again, I got to hold you…. and we waited to hear more from the neonatologist. We weren’t sure how long you would need to stay in the NICU – they were going to run some tests and if you had any bacterial infections that needed to be treated with antibiotics, you would need to stay in the NICU for at least a week.

Prayers were going up all over the US for you, my little love. Emails were sent to saints who lifted our family up in prayer – and the Friday night meetings all prayed for us as well.

It all ends well…. don’t worry! But this post is so long and has taken me so long to write! I’ll finish up our hospital stay soon!
Love, Your Momma
Welcome, Baby D!
You’ve only been in our lives for 6 days, but you have made our family complete.
Born 12/21/07, 8:23am. 7 lbs 2oz, 19.5 inches. Absolutely beautiful.

Baby D, tomorrow at this time, I will be in the hospital, anxiously awaiting your arrival. Almost everything is set – I have a couple more things to through into my bag for the hospital, and just a couple more things to tweak in your nursery.

The past couple of weeks have been hard – all the waiting, all the fatigue, the pain. But they’ve been good, too… I’m “nesting” and getting tons done around the house… Big Boy has been exceptionally patient with me, and his kindness and loving ways are showing forth even now. We are having a lot of great family time together as Daddy is helping get ready for you to come, too.

So, my little one, I may not write here soon – but as soon as I can I will post pictures and stories about your birth. I love you and I can’t wait to meet you!

I love Christmas trees. Specifically, I love our Christmas tree. It’s a mish-mash of ornaments that have made it our way through the years, along with some white lights and berry garland, which I think ties the whole thing together.

oh amanda is asking about our favorite ornaments now…. and like her, I can’t pick just one! Heck, I had a hard enough time just picking these 3! But they are all in their own category, so I couldn’t really separate just one out….

This first picture is of my favorite “ornament” ornament. It has a lot of special meaning to me…. I got it my senior year in high school, when I was singing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. It was an amazing year for me, and we were in the middle of the Robert Shaw Christmas concert performances – I think there were at least 4 or 5 performances for the Christmas season, and they were all sold out. It was a beautiful concert, with the Morehouse College Glee Club and a children’s choir singing with us, too. They each did some songs by themselves, and the ASO Chorus did a lot of songs by ourselves, and then we added all 3 choruses together for several songs, too. Imagine over 300 voices raised in song, with a symphony as well. wow….

I was in the lobby of the Symphony Hall, I imagine taking in the crowd and the atmosphere, maybe waiting for Mom. I know I was waiting for her that day, as she is the one who actually purchased the ornament for me (each time I drove into Atlanta, I had to have someone with me, as I was only 17 and Mom and Dad did not want me driving through the city by myself at that time. A lot of my friends joined me in the car for those Monday night rehearsals, and one person came to a concert at a time so I could sing at each one). I fell in love with this little angel ornament at the gift area in the lobby. It’s hard to see in this photo, but she’s holding a french horn. I thought she would perfectly symbolize this time in my life for me, and at the tender age of 17, I saw how I could cherish this ornament for years to come. I was so right… I love finding this ornament in my boxes and adding it to the tree (normally towards the top).

The next is my favorite “non-ornament” ornament. It has not hung on a tree until recently… until I moved to Richmond in 2000 and started having my own Christmas trees. Prior to that (and prior to my college days), this little girl used to hang on my bedroom door during the Christmas season. She’s a little framed cross-stitched girl – no larger than 3 inches in diameter, total. She is hanging an ornament on her tree… My brother has one like it, with a little boy doing something Christmas-y (I have no idea what his is – I haven’t seen his in years).

I loved it when Mom would hang this on the little nail that was on my bedroom door – when I was smaller, I thought that this would let Santa know which room I was sleeping in, so if he needed or wanted to come and see me while he was delivering gifts, he’d know which door to come in. And I remember just sitting and looking at it for long stretches of time… I’m not sure why exactly, but it fascinated me. Now, the memories fascinate me. It always makes me smile when I put this on the tree. I’ll have to ask my mom who made this for me, as I have no memory of that.

Finally, a recent addition… a “children’s” ornament, for my Big Boy. Until yesterday, I thought this was one that I purchased for my brother, UncaDo. I had no recollection of when else I would’ve gotten it, as the only one I remember buying was for him several years ago, and he has given Big Boy several of his own things (robots, stuffed animals, etc.) that he thinks the Big Boy would enjoy. But I found out yesterday at my sister-in-law’s house that my mother-in-law, Emmi, got this for the Big Boy last year. I saw one just like it on my niece’s tree, and my SIL mentioned something about how much she loved it, too. Emmi was there, as well, and she didn’t even remember buying it for the kids, but apparently she did, at Cracker Barrel last year.

So now we won’t forget who got these for the kids. It’s in writing! And who doesn’t love them some Christmas sock monkey? Big Boy already likes to come up to it and point out the monkey to me. I hope you treasure it as the years wear on, kiddo.

Thanks, Amanda, as always, for giving me wonderful things to think about and to share with my family.

Big Boy’s first broken ornament. Sigh… I knew it would happen eventually – just not so soon!

We had a friend come over and take some family pictures for Christmas (I’ll post some pictures as soon as I get them!). We were sitting in front of the tree, and Big Boy, you wanted to hold your “Bas-eh-ball” ornament! So we let you hold it in several pictures. Next thing we know, you’re running off into the den, holding the glass ornament. Then we heard, “CRUNCH!” Nice… I’m thankful you didn’t cut yourself, Big Boy!

We bought this ornament in a set of sports balls for you last year – they are officially your first ornaments. I’m glad we have a football, soccer ball, golf ball, basketball, and a tennis ball left. And we have pictures of the bas-eh-ball for the memories.

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