Elijah--Three Months!

Oh, baby. You are so sweet. You're cute, but you're absolutely enough to make me squeal when you're dressed for SNOW! Yep, snow in middle Georgia. You didn't do much in it but look around from your daddy's arms, but, hey, it's a memory for us. :)

You are totally belly laughing these days. That's the biggest development of this past month, and it's so great that we want to make you laugh every chance we get. But we don't. Because it gives you the hiccups. Every.Single.Time. Just like Anna Hazel! Ha! Love it.

Baby laughter is a gift from a good God. It makes everyone smile no matter what they're going through or how badly they're currently feeling. We thank God for you, our laughing, smiling boy!


Elijah--Two Months!

Elijah, I love this picture! Alec is completely enthralled with you, and he spends all of your waking hours pretty much in your face. It's pretty cute, though I'm also pretty sure that you don't always appreciate his love--and who can blame you? We call Alec the Baby Whisperer--he loves you to bits.

You do reward him with coos and smiles, though. And the rest of us can get in on it, too, if we but take the trouble to simply glance your way. Yep, you're free with the happiness, and you're about the most chilled out baby I have ever seen.

You're growing like a weed, and you're so deliciously plump and nursing like a pro. I love your sweet widow's peak--so much like Levi's. And your blue eyes--so much like your other siblings. Your hair is darker than your brothers', but maybe like Anna Hazel's was.

I spend a lot of time just looking at you and wanting to bite you. That sounds bad, but it actually means I think you're beautiful, and cute, and wondrous. You're a charmer, you are!

You got to meet Marmie and HatDaddy for the first time (they came for Christmas), and you put your lovely spell on them as well. Nannie loves you, and so do your aunts, uncles, and cousins. You're surrounded by so many people who think you're just beautiful and wonderful, but our Heavenly Father loves you most of all, little boy. ♥


Elijah--One Month!

I can't believe it's already been an entire month! I suppose because we spent so much of the beginning of this month away from home, that it has sped by more quickly than ever. You spent your first ten days charming NICU nurses and fighting a serious infection while you were at it. Now that's impressive! After a few days on antibiotic treatment, you really started to do well, and were able to spend much of your time nursing, sleeping, and cuddling up with me, Daddy, or a lovely and caring nurse.

Now that you're a month old, you're home where you should be (and, oh, we are so grateful!). Your brothers and sister were SO excited to greet you at home, and dote on you daily. Alec especially adores you. That doesn't surprise us, since he is such a baby lover! You have an army of people to care for you when you fuss, and we've quite spoiled you with attention.

We just celebrated Thanksgiving...and, oh Elijah. We have so much to be thankful for, sweet boy. We are so, so, so thankful that you are here, that you are healthy, that you are so happy. You bless us every single day.


A Birth Story--or a Grace Story

I usually record a birth story for my sweet babes. They are usually recorded in the sweet babymoon days in the peace of my home, with a cup of tea at hand, and a baby asleep on my knees. But Elijah's birth was so different. His birth happened amidst a swirl of fear and worry--a torrent that didn't let up for several days. As a result, his "birth story" was actually recorded in a Facebook update--the only way this very exhausted and frightened mama could communicate with so many people all at once. This is from November 2, 2013--when baby Elijah was only four days old:


We had been planning a homebirth just like our others had been. I had had some prelabor symptoms and had been paying close attention to his kick counts. The night before he was born, he took just a little bit longer to get his kicks in (maybe 15 or 20 minutes versus the 10 I'd been measuring), and they were a little weaker. I just chalked it up to imminent labor. The morning he was born when I got up I noticed I was leaking fluid and that it was stained with meconium. After quickly consulting with our midwife, Keith made the decision to head to the hospital when I realized I couldn't feel Elijah moving.

Huge relief washed over me when we heard his precious heartbeat on the monitor at the hospital. But even I could hear the decelerations in his heartones. I knew things weren't looking good when I heard that, and then when I was given some oxygen. My backup OB, Dr. Chism quickly arrived, and gently informed me that our baby was in serious distress and a c-section was needed ASAP. I cried, we talked for a few minutes, and moved forward. As soon as we said our "yes", it was an overwhelming flurry of activity to get me prepped for surgery. I have had so many people tell me that I am "brave" for delivering babies without pain medication--but, no. C-sections--especially those unexpected--are for the brave.

It was long till he was delivered, we could hear a cry, and doctors confirmed that he had been in thick meconium. They took a good bit out of his stomach and lungs. I got to kiss him--he was breathing funny--and they whisked him away to be cared for in the nursery.

At first, it just seemed that he was going to need a wee bit more time to recover because of the meconium. As more time passed, it became evident that he was not getting better, that perhaps something else was wrong. He couldn't tolerate any stimulation at all, so I couldn't feed him or nurse him. He couldn't eat at all, actually, because he was working so hard to breathe that eating wasn't an option.

We had incredible doctors and nurses who kept us informed and were gentle and compassionate. We are so grateful for their care, wisdom, and initiative.

One of our pediatric doctors came and informed us the day after he was born that he was "really, really sick" and definitely needed to be transferred to the NICU in Macon. That was so scary and troubling. He was transferred quickly, more tests were run, and within another little while, we learned that he did indeed have a septic infection. So scary! We didn't know what the source of it was, but our doctors had been on top of things and he had been on antibiotics since shortly after his birth. We now had to wait to hear what we were dealing with.

We learned yesterday that Elijah was infected with something called Haemophilus Influenzae or Hib. Apparently, this is a very common bacterium, but it is very, very uncommon for a neonate to contract it in the womb. It's also incredibly dangerous for one so young to contract it. It can often be fatal for a baby so small, or lead to pneumonia, septic infection, or spinal meningitis. Serious yikes for this mama's heart. The concern was that it does easily pass into the spinal column, and if that were the case, we learned that it was going to need a 21 day long treatment of antibiotics.

After consulting with pediatric infectious diseases specialists at the CDC in Atlanta, our neonatologist pursued a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to draw fluid to evaluate it. She was looking for some kind of clinical clues to let her know (I think) if the spinal fluid had ever been contaminated and how agressively they would need to treat Elijah. We received the most wonderful news today, that they believe a ten day course of antibiotics will be sufficient to completely eradicate this bacterium and keep it from growing back. I *think* that means that they felt the signs showed it had not reached the spinal column, though I'm not sure.

The nurses have been very kind, but very straightforward in telling us that NICU babies are notorious for shocking and surprising you (in both good and bad ways), and that there are never any guarantees. But they assure us that right now Elijah is doing beautifully, he is eating well, his jaundice is slowly going away, and he is happy and calm and alert.

We are so grateful. We believe that God is good even in the difficulties and the darkness, and that even if he did not allow us to keep Elijah he would still be the God of love and grace who carries us. But we are so grateful that he has mercifully placed his hand on him, rescued him, and is keeping him well right now.

Thank you so much for your prayers and concerns! Please keep praying for our family.


Alec is FOUR!

Oh, Alec. My sweet, sweet boy. So full of life and fun and gladness. You have one of the most amazing smiles I have ever seen. I love that tiny chip in your front tooth that bespeaks your adventurous heart. It's summer time, and I love to look at your golden hair and golden skin and blue eyes shining so brightly out of your joyful face.

You love to make us laugh. You love to be made to laugh. "Remember this?", you'll say as you quote the funniest line you remember from your favorite movie of late. Or, "Mama, watch this!" as you make the funniest face you can muster.

You are the most wonderful big brother to your Sissy. She thinks you are her best buddy, and if you're ever gone, she wanders about looking for her "Ayec". You and Anna Hazel will likely take this newest little fellow under your wings quickly and care for him well. You both love babies so!

You have a tender heart, and if I have been too rash with my words or raised my voice, it's not unusual to hear your sobbing voice say, "Mama, you breaked my heart!" Oh, dear boy, I certainly never want to break that sweet heart God has given to you.

You are my biggest helper in the kitchen. I can always hear that chair dragging across the floor when I get out the pots and pans to cook. You love to dump, and pour, and stir. Oh, and lick the bowl if it's anything sweet. That might actually be the biggest reason you want to join me--the hope that there is something delicious to put into your mouth along the way.

You fill our home with so much laughter--we are so glad that you are part of our family! Happy 4th Birthday, little man!


Building to Biltmore

These are the thoughts that have made the biggest impression on my mind and heart since the weekend.

The verse that I so poorly "quoted" was Psalm 127:1a: "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain."

Why I Definitely Think the Mom Heart Conference Rocks More Than Ever

Emailing, telephoning, Facebooking, chatting in person--I used every mode of communication available to me to connect with nearly every mother I knew and attempt to drag her to the Mom Heart conference with me this year. The fact was, it made a life changing difference for me just one year ago, and I wanted everyone I knew to have that same refreshing and encouraging new perspective. I got a few takers. (Takers who became even sweeter friends, and who blessed me beyond belief by loving me and sharing life with me this weekend.) There were many more who weren't able to join me for various reasons. I'm going to go ahead and warn you all that after my experience this past weekend, I will now prove relentlessly annoying in my efforts to persuade you of the necessity of your attendance in 2014! My methods may involve force and kidnapping. Don't say you didn't expect it.

Listen, folks: the Mom Heart peeps? They pray. They humbly pray that God will do His work at their conferences. And, ohmystars, I think He really likes people who humbly pray for Him to work, because hetotallyshowsup.

Not only did I see God care for the hearts of the moms I knew personally at this conference, I saw a room of 400 women touched, inspired, and given courage to be mamas who make a difference. I saw moms arrive with very specific needs and hear very specific messages to meet their very specific needs. I saw God connect moms with other moms who were traveling a very similar road with very similar circumstances. Friendships were born, needs were met, courage was found, healing began...

The Mom Heart conference is special. It's special because it gives you new eyes to see your child. It's special because it not only helps you see your need for traveling companions along the motherhood road, but gives you connections and tools to help you create those connections. It's special because it reminds you that life is all about discipleship--the discipleship of your own heart as you follow Jesus and those who are following Him, too; the hearts of your friends as you walk the road together; and the heart of your child, as he follows the example of Jesus you place before him. It's special because they hand you chocolate the minute you register. Maybe I should have said that first?

There were some beautiful messages this weekend, though I would say that it was the message behind the messages as a whole that is stirring inside me. I often feel that I am very slow to synthesize new information. It takes me a long time of working with new thoughts to actually be able to explain them, and then to go live them! Sometimes it seems like I can mull over a concept for a good long while before some switch flips and it all becomes clear. Some of Sally's words this weekend were like that. I had heard many of the things she had said before (most of them from her own mouth--or her pen), but they weren't really getting into my brain in a way that I understood what she meant. I felt like something inside me switched on in a new way. One of the best ways for me to process things it to sit down and write them out. Over the next few days, I'll be doing just that--recording some of my thoughts on the things I heard and hoping that they continue to work into my fiber and become part of who I am.

While you're waiting (with bated breath) for my next posts, you can do the following:

  1. Decide to attend Mom Heart 2014.
  2. Put it into your budget and set aside a little each month to make it possible.
  3. Read Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe or The Mission of Motherhood.
  4. Call at least one friend and get together at least once a month to pray for one another, laugh, eat chocolate, and encourage each other along the way.
  5. Be prepared to be dragged bodily to Mom Heart 2014 if you do not heed #1.