Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

I compare my kids to each other all the time. I don’t compare them to one another in a judgmental fashion, holding one’s strength up to another’s weakness, rather in a nostalgic kind of way, just remembering. I remember big round eyes in each little boy- the eyes that gave everyone the false impression that the baby looked like me. I always tell them “just wait,” and those Trevor features will start taking over their little faces. It amazes me that they all look different, but they all look like their dad. If I hadn’t carried them all, I’d be certain Trevor just spit them each out himself.

Knox and Ford look the most alike, of the three. So much so, in fact, that sometimes Ford’s expression or pose will conjure up an nearly photographic memory of Knox in the same position or making the same face. I often have to scroll through hundreds of pictures to locate just the one Ford make me think of- a moment in time with Knox that I can barely remember.

Knox, Brody and Ford 3 months

It’s such a shame that these baby years fade from my memory so quickly. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation or the stress, I’m not sure which. I do know that I can’t seem to hold onto those squishy, sweet-smelling baby faces in my mind. I remember bits and pieces of Knox as a baby- certain moments stand out more than others. Our time in the NICU is emblazoned in my head, the beeps and the wires and the desperate prayers. I remember worrying over him endlessly, even before I was pregnant with him, as bizarre as that sounds, all the way to now. He’s always the one my worries fall heaviest upon. I barely remember Brody as an infant, at all. I KNOW that one is due to lack of sleep and postpartum depression, both of which made my mind and memories hazy and tired. I do remember him crying. All the time. And his precious soft curls, long gone, but easily recounted. I used to tell his baby self that it was lucky he was so cute, because he certainly wasn’t easy!

I purpose to remember these days with Ford. I soak them up and live on them. A fuel for my long days of mothering and working and for my worn-out spirit. Even when I’m too tired to do anything else, I hold onto him, smelling his sweet head, willing myself not to forget a single thing. The way his right ear points a little more than his left. The way his lips move, remembering feeding time even when he’s asleep. The way his weight feels against me as I sway back and forth, calming him into rest. The way he settles the second I pick him up. These sweet days where they love their mommy most of all- I know they’ll be gone before I can blink.

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These three boys and their father are my greatest treasure here on earth. I thank God for each and every day with them, even if I say some curse words under my breath when they make me crazy. The praise always rises above the pain- every time. I just hope I remember exactly how much I love them today. Even though I’ll love them more tomorrow.

Under the Knife

Three weeks ago, Brody had surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. We went to the ENT back in January when I was hugely pregnant, and he told us that Brody almost certainly had sleep apnea due to the size of his adenoids. He suggested removing them and his tonsils to improve Brody’s quality of sleep.

His attitude had been ABYSMAL for many a month, driving us absolutely insane. Every little disagreement or something not going his way turned into a full-blown meltdown, nuclear tantrum or screaming fit. Beyond the typical threenager attitude issues- we knew this was something out of the ordinary. We were to the end of our rope with him, when I talked to a friend (thanks, Jocelyn!), and she suggested it may be sleep apnea causing his attitude problems. Eureka, I think we stumbled upon something here! We’ve noticed for quite a while that Brody was not sleeping well. He snored like a full-grown man and woke up multiple times a night, even at four years-old. So we took him to the pediatrician, who referred us to an ENT, who then confirmed our suspicions.

Even though we knew it would help, we were dreading the surgery. Who wants to hand their child over to get put under and cut on?? Not me! So, we waited until after we were fairly settled after Ford’s birth, then we bit the bullet and made the appointment. Brody didn’t know a whole lot, aside from the fact he was going to a “special doctor appointment” and would breath into a mask that sounds like Darth Vader, take a nap, wake up and eat lots of ice cream. “That sounds like so much fun!,” Brody told me. Yeah. Sorry, buddy, but I don’t think so!! He did awesome on the morning of the surgery without a single tear. It wasn’t until he got wheeled down the hall without us that he turned around and cried out for us, “Mommy, Daddy!!” And then the tears came… but not from him! Man, that’s heart-wrenching to hand your baby over!

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After about 30 minutes, the surgeon called us back, He said Brody’s surgery went very well, and that he had some “big ole’ adenoids.” He said that we’d see a huge difference in his sleep within the next week. Then the fun began. Brody didn’t exactly react well to the anesthesia and was in absolute hysterics coming out of it. They warned us he’d likely be inconsolable, but he even exceeded their expectations! He was livid. “PUT ME DOWN RIGHT NOW!!!” He wanted nothing more than to rub his eyes (which he wasn’t allowed to do) and run away (also, not exactly allowed). He screamed. And screamed. And screamed. <— Ouch considering the procedure he just had done. So, they ended up having to give him some morphine. Still, didn’t calm down a whole lot, but enough to drink a bit of water and get discharged with a promise from the nurses that he’d surely pass out the second we got into the car. On the way out, Brody was pretty insistent on us taking his Darth Vader mask (oxygen mask), AND that he needed a black Darth Vader mask, too. So his sweet grandpa (Poopa, as Brody calls him… they’re BFFs) went out and bought him one and delivered it to our house. Brody talked to me about Darth Vader the whole way home, even though he was still pretty mad at the world.

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We got home, Brody put his new mask on, demanded Goldfish and started playing with his light saber. Um, morphine? Do your work, please. Or not. Brody didn’t sleep until he went to bed that night. We were shocked!

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The first two days, he did amazingly well. I had to call the surgeon’s office and make sure he could go ahead and start on the soft food diet because that kid was over mushy food in about five seconds. He had one scoop of ice cream and one chocolate pudding before he decided he needed chicken and some real food. They said he could have it if he was tolerating it with no pain. All was good.

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Until day 3 when the vomiting started. Six times this poor child threw up. Can you imagine vomiting when your throat has open wounds on it?? I felt so badly for him!! He couldn’t keep pain meds down at all. He could barely sip water, and keeping your throat moist is a big part of the healing process and pain management. I called the doctor’s office and based on Brody’s symptoms, how far out from surgery he was, etc. the doctor diagnosed Brody with an ill-timed stomach virus, on top of everything else. That’s when life pretty much started to suck for the next week.

Brody was in agony the next day. After almost a full day of no pain meds, a raw throat from throwing up and general starvation from not eating, he was pretty ticked off at everyone he came across. That was, hands-down, the worst day of parenting in our six-year career. We were having to tag-team dealing with him because he’d wear you down in a hurry. He’d scream in our faces with his dead-dog-baking-in-the-heat breath (side effect of tonsil removal… the struggle is real), and we’d want to throw up from the stink and scream back in frustration, but luckily, we made it past that wretched day. We had many a discussion about why he couldn’t have “Donald’s” french fries or chips in the days to come. He had to settle for soggy microwave fries, which he just loved. Can’t you tell?

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It was slow going after that, but thankfully, after about ten days, he started to really feel better.

He’s back to regular food and normal life now, and we’re trying to fatten him up again since all of his pants are falling off from losing so much weight while he recovered. He is sleeping so much better, now. No snoring, if he wakes up, he goes right back to sleep, and I can tell he’s so much more rested now. His attitude is better, but we still have plenty of “fun” moments. I think it’s going to take a while to correct some of the in-the-trenches parenting we were doing with him (for example, after listening to screaming for five hours, sometimes you give in just to make it stop), but it’s much easier to talk to him now than previously. We’re hoping for good things to come! Thanks for all of you that prayed for him and sent encouraging messages on social media, it meant a lot to us. We’re looking forward to having our sweet, well-rested Brody back!

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Hope Remains

One of my best friends lost her five year-old this week. After almost two years of seizures, comas, hospitals and specialists, Walker is finally resting in the arms of Jesus. I keep thinking back to when all of this started. Trevor called me that morning and told me about the medical call they ran the night before. The call where his captain turned their firetruck into our friends’ neighborhood. Then onto their street. Then pulled up at their house. Each step of the way, Trevor said he kept thinking “Please don’t let this be their house.” Only it was. Karie, my dear friend, called me from the hospital and told me about the first seizures. They came out of nowhere and suddenly their vivacious, smart, talkative three year-old was having an MRI while we all prayed and wondered how to make sense of it all. Many months later, we still can’t make it make sense. Babies shouldn’t suffer and die. Parents shouldn’t have to beg for their children’s lives. These things shouldn’t happen.

Everyone is so amazed they kept going. Not just that Andy and Karie carried on, but that they did so with immense faith and never failed to point out that God was in control. They had something bigger than their fear: they had hope. Here’s the funny thing about hope- it won’t let you give up. It’s more than just a feeling or an idea; it’s a bridge that carries you from a place that doesn’t make sense into one that does. To a place where details like autoimmunity and encephalitis don’t matter, but one piece of truth reigns over everything: that Jesus Christ is Lord. He suffered and died so that when our loved ones suffer and die, it isn’t the end. His kingship rules even over death, forcing it into submission to a mighty God that loves us recklessly and without condition. A God that fights for us even beyond death. He wants more than life for us: He wants eternity.

Walker may be gone from his earthly body, now, but his short life was not without impact. More people heard the name of Jesus through Walker’s story than I could begin to count. He mattered. He still matters. He will always matter. His life has led people to surrender theirs to Christ, to trust in God’s goodness even amidst tragedy. His strength and his parents’ strength have made us stronger.

Living in this sin-wrecked world has its perils; death is one of them. When the world has gone to pieces, we can’t expect things to make sense all the time. But. Even amidst all of the uncertainty, the fear, the all-too-human questioning, one thing stands out: love. The love of a God that made the ultimate sacrifice- his own son dying on a cross so that we, along with our own sons and daughters, can live together forever in paradise.

His love gives us hope. The world is broken, but our God is unshaken. For that, we can all rejoice, knowing that He can do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine. He is holy. He is sovereign. He is alive. He is good. He is our hope.

Back to Reality

I went back to work on Monday. I’m pretty sure those were the shortest 12 weeks in the history of time. I originally intended to blog SO MUCH during maternity leave, but you know what? I really just focused on spending time with my family, and that didn’t seem to include much time on the computer…. and that is just fine. I was super intentional during these weeks to soak up the sweet new baby-ness of Ford, and that’s exactly what happened. You guys, I am so in love with that baby boy. I think because it had been four years since we had a baby, I was so ready to do it all again. I know some people are the total opposite, that once they get out of the baby game, they don’t want to go back. Something about it seemed so refreshing and new, and Ford feels so much like a missing piece that’s finally put into place.

Trevor has made similar comments, as well, just how different this time felt. I think with Knox, we were the typical first-time parents, overthinking everything and stressed out way too much. With Brody, we felt like we were drowning, chasing a toddler and then dealing with this tiny screaming person that never slept. Ford seemed to come at just the right moment to catch us in a comfortable season- we know what we’re doing, but we’re far removed enough from the baby/toddler years that it all seems fun again. It’s been such a joy.

Everyone asks us “how is life with three?” or “has it been a lot harder adding a third?” Truthfully, three is pretty darn amazing. Ford is a sweet, squishy little guy, and I could kiss his little fat cheeks all day long. He’s pretty happy (unless he’s hungry or deems it necessary to nurse… which is often!), and he is easy to please most of the time. The transition back to work was hard. I cried for a few days prior and leaving him about killed me. Luckily, I was passing him off to Trevor and/or my mom, so that made things way easier than they could have been if he had to go to daycare. Basically, Trevor keeps Ford (and the big boys) on his off days (two out of three days), and my mom keeps them when Trevor’s on-shift. Knox is in kindergarten from about 7:30 to 2:30, and Brody is in preschool from 8:30 to 11:30. I pick Brody up from preschool (at the church where I work), and I take him home on my lunch break. So, I am able to see and nurse Ford at lunch, which is SO nice. That has honestly saved me when it comes to having to leave him. Knowing I only have to go a few hours instead of eight is a big deal. I am pumping twice a day at work, which isn’t nearly as annoying as I thought it would be. I think a lot of that is because I have oversupply and overactive letdown, so it takes me literally five minutes to pump 12 ounces. So, that’s pretty nice.

Now, onto Ford himself. This kid is huge. I think he’s probably 16-ish pounds. He was 14 at his two month visit, and he’s days away from being three months old. He’s wearing size six to nine month clothes and filling them out WELL. His sweet little chubby legs are still too short for those sizes, though, so all of his pants get cuffed. He eats about every two hours (or more if he wants to, I nurse on demand). He’s in a size two diaper. He has cheeks for days. He takes a few really good naps a day- his big morning nap varies from two to four hours, and his late afternoon nap is about two to three, depending. He cat naps throughout the day, and he’s not on a schedule yet. He wakes up a couple times at night to nurse, down to about two or three, which to me, is very doable since we co-sleep.

He loves to look at lights and ceiling fans, and he LOVES his brothers. Knox and Brody both make him smile just by looking at him. For some reason, the sound of blowing raspberries with our lips makes him shake his head back and forth. I have no idea why, but it’s so funny! He prefers to be glued to me, and he likes the car much more than he did in the beginning!! He’s becoming a much easier traveler when we go to stores, etc. and tends to snooze as long as we go during his napping times. I think that’s enough information to inundate you with for now, and here’s about one billion pictures since it’s been so long since I blogged!

This was an afternoon trip to the zoo- Ford’s first visit (he slept through the whole thing)

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“Oh Baby Ford, he’s super cute” is Brody’s new refrain. We hear it at LEAST 20 times a day. No really.

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This face.

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My mom (Gigi) and Ford with his squishy sleep mouth

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This is my great-aunt, and she’s the one Ford is named for (Bradford is her last name). I adore her, and I hope I’m as spry as she is at 92!

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Easter egg decorating with Knox and Brody

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I love this smile on Knox’s face. He LOVED his Easter outfit, which cracked me up.

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Easter Sunday with my boys

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Ford’s fan club on Easter evening

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This is Brody’s favorite shirt right now. His “chicken shirt.” Brody has intense feelings on his shirts.

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Superheroes and football players. They hang out and play catch.

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Typical Ford posture: chubby hands together, cheeks everywhere.

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He was thrilled to suck on Sophie’s ear.

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Not so thrilled when he realized nothing came out of it.

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How I Became a Minivan Mom (aka the end of all things as we know it)

So, life with three kids is pretty amazing. The biggest difference was our travel situation. We had finagled three car seats into the backseat of my Ford Edge (two Radians and a Chicco KeyFit 30). They fit, but man alive it was TIGHT. I didn’t love how snug things were back there, in terms of the seat installation, and let’s not even talk about how annoying it is to buckle in kids when you’re having to lean over one to reach another. We’d been talking about a new car for a while, but we were pretty (read: extremely) upside-down in my car and would have to make a humongous down payment. We wanted to wait a while to see if it was really something we wanted to do before forking over that much money.

Well.

I’ve never been more thrilled to give someone all of my money. Except maybe when I got an epidural. After a few weeks of three in a row (more power to those of you that make that set-up work for your families!), I had enough. So, we sucked it up and laid down some moo-lah and became the proud owners of this:

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Y’all, never say never. I swore up and down that I would NEVER EVER EVER drive a minivan. Funny thing happens when you add a third kid to the mix, you guys. Just combine amazing safety ratings, tons of space and a billion amenities for a family and you get a brand-new appreciation for all things uncool and mommy-like. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it is. Like, I am obsessed with this minivan. I  went to the car dealership and was all “power doors, GET IN MY LIFE.” The convenience so far outweighs the cool factor, I can’t even. The children have room. There is no poking of one another or choruses of “he’s took my toy!” They can’t touch each other if they want to, which, thank you so much, Toyota. Knox sits in the way-back and can now buckle himself in and out of his car seat (life-changing, I tell you). Brody and Ford sit in the bucket seats in middle. I sit in the drivers seat and sing the praises of Japanese auto makers. I have Bluetooth. I can talk on the phone as if by magic without touching anything. I can stream music without plugging anything in. There are two glove boxes. There are air vents everywhere. Our floor mats are all-weather, which means you can hose them off if someone vomits or poops on them – there is even room to change a diaper on the floor without having to put your baby under the drivers seat. And don’t even get me started on the back-up camera. I can park correctly for the first time in my life.  It’s like a whole new world.

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The moral of this story? Give in to the magic. Minivans are awesome. All the cool people think so.

P.S. Here is an obligatory cute baby picture of my TWO MONTH OLD. How the heck did that happen in five minutes?!

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Okay, one more. IMG_2242

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