Monday, December 17, 2012

Letting Go of What I Hold Most Dear...

I'll be posting about Gabriel's finalization once I have all of the pictures gathered.  It was an amazingly incredibly super special day though, for sure!  Be on the lookout for that post...

But for today, I wanted to share some thoughts with ya'll that I had this morning during my quiet time...

I attended a Family Variety Show last week that was put on by some dear friends of ours.  Their 5 year old twins recited part of Luke chapter 2 and it was seriously SO precious!  There's something about hearing sweet little voices quoting scriptures that just melts my hearts and makes me smile.  As I went to open my Bible this morning, I felt compelled to read over that familiar passage, and I'm so glad that I did!  I got to verse 19, and it just really stuck out to me:

"But Mary treasured up all of these things, pondering them in her heart."

As I looked back to see what "all of these things" was referring to, I went back to verse 11, where the angels proclaim to the shepherds that this baby who has been born is "the Saviour."  I couldn't help but wonder if maybe that's what Mary was pondering.  Perhaps she was looking at her baby boy and wondering what His future was going to entail being the "Saviour."

As I look at my own sweet baby boy, I can't help but wonder what his life will entail, too.  I wonder this about Lucy, too, of course, but with Gabriel there are some other unknowns added into the equation.  Since Gabriel was added into our family by the gift of adoption, he will experience certain questions and struggles as he grows older I am sure.  My mommy heart wants to protect him from all of these questions and possible hurts, but I know that I can't.  I wonder what his feelings and his questions will be as he begins to understand his beautiful story.  How will it effect him?  How will our relationship as a family be with his birth family as he gets older--will that become more difficult and will it be difficult for him?  What about for his birthmother--how will she be effected as he grows older?  So many questions that continue on and on in my head, but the same truth stands for them all:


As I kissed and hugged my baby girl as I dropped her off for school this morning, I had to fight the urge to focus on fearing for her life in light of the recent school tragedy.  I was reminded that she's really not mine--she's on loan to me by our Heavenly Father who has given DH and me the privilege of caring for her and guiding her through life.  No amount of worry or fear or caution will change the fact that God is ultimately in control and He is always caring for her and watching out for her and going before her.  
 My greatest defense strategy as a mom is not in worrying over my children or trying to keep them in a bubble and shield them from life.  No, my greatest defense as a mother is found in surrendered hands that are willing to let go of the most precious gifts I've been given and trusting them to my Saviour.  My greatest battles are fought (and won!) not by words or deeds but by calloused knees and worn pages in my Bible.  

I'm so thankful and humbled by the gift of being Lucy and Gabriel's mom, but I pray my focus as a mother would always be, first and foremost, on my God and Saviour!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Still on the journey, but not like before...

The house is so least for the moment anyway:)  Everyone is asleep...except me of course, but that's pretty typical:/ Tomorrow is just such a big day, and my mind won't shut down...

Since I started this blog, you've probably read many statements over the past several months that spoke of "another step in the journey" or something along those lines, and tomorrow it seems like we come to the culmination of each of those steps, because tomorrow (technically today since I'm up past midnight) we get to finalize Gabriel's adoption!  It's so crazy to look back on this past year and retrace each of those monumental steps...

So it would seem that now we are at the end of our journey, but now that we're here, it really seems like our journey has only just begun.  Perhaps this part of our adoption journey is coming to a close, but I don't think the road will ever come to a halt.  There will be new moments to experience as a family as we continue to wait for what God has in store for us...the only difference is that this time, we will be waiting as a family of FOUR, and we could not be any more thankful or blessed!

We are still on the journey
But it's not like before
For we started as three
And now we are four.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Tribute to the REAL heroes...

I’m so excited that by this time next week we will have Gabriel’s adoption finalized!  These past 5 months have FLOWN by, and while I never want to wish away time, I have to say I will be so happy once everything is official.  I was telling Lucy this morning how she was going to have to miss school one day next week.  Here’s how the conversation went...

Lucy: “Why?”
Me: “Because we have to go to court.  We are going to see the judge who is going to proclaim that Gabriel is officially a part of our family.”
(without a pause) Lucy: “But Gabriel already IS a part of our family!”

I can’t even tell you how much joy filled my heart at that very moment.  My mommy heart just overflowed to hear my daughter say those words...not because I haven’t seen the evidence that Lucy loves her baby brother and views him as her baby brother, but just to actually hear her say the words.  To her, it doesn’t matter that he didn’t grow inside of my belly, because Gabriel is HER brother that is a part of HER family.  I love that it doesn’t matter to her that is skin is darker than her or that he doesn’t look just like her.  In each of our hearts, we know that Gabriel is the baby boy GOD chose to be a part of our family, and no one else could ever fill that role in our family.

It’s interesting to me to hear people’s response to Gabriel’s adoption.  Just this week, I had someone at a restaurant asking me questions about Gabriel. “He’s such a big baby!  Was his daddy a big baby, too?”  Well, no, his daddy was a premie!  OR, “Just look at all of that hair!  Does his daddy or did you have a lot of hair like that when ya’ll were babies?”  Well, no, not at all!  I finally told the lady, “Well, no, his daddy wasn’t a big baby, and no neither of us had quite that much hair, but that’s because we actually adopted him.”  I always hesitate to tell people that Gabriel is adopted.  NOT because I’m ashamed of it--I love the fact that he is adopted!  And I love getting to talk about adoption.  But, I usually hesitate to bring it up because a passing conversation with a stranger gets a general response from them that goes something like this, “Oh my goodness that is just SO wonderful.  What an amazing thing you have done.  What a blessing for that boy that you would do that for him.”  I am SO proud of the fact that Gabriel is adopted...but NOT because that makes me into some kind of hero.  I’m proud of the fact that he is adopted because of how blessed I’ve been to see God’s hand guide our family down HIS perfect path for us.  And while yes, DH and I had to be willing to choose adoption, I don’t feel like I need to be rewarded or praised for that decision, because it’s the amazing path that God chose FOR our family, and we are so humbled by that.  I do pray that Gabriel’s life will be blessed by having us as his parents, but WE are the ones that have truly been so blessed.

Gabriel’s birthmom loved him so much that she made the most selfless decision anyone could make--SHE is the hero!
My dear friend who told me about our adoption agency--SHE is the hero!
Our kids playing together the night Kursten told me about Christian Homes
 All of the people at Christian Homes who gave of their time and talents to make our adoption happen--THEY are the heroes!

Our caseworker, Margaret and us at our last post-placement visit
All of you who purchased a CD...
My solo piano album fundraiser

 or a T-shirt...
our family wearing the fundraiseer shirts DH designed for ours and the Gruben's adoptions

or came to or purchased from the Lucy Loops open house that my precious friend threw for us to fundraise,  or gave sacrificially to help us bring our son home--YOU are the heroes!
Some of my Lucy Loops "Bows with a Twist" from the party Jennifer W had for us

And all of your who prayed right alongside us and encouraged us each step of this journey--YOU are the heroes! 

DH and I do not want to be placed on some lofty platform where we are viewed as saints--we are on the receiving end of the work done by so many others, and we are humbled, grateful, and SO so so very blessed beyond measure! 

So, as we look forward to the consummation of Gabriel’s adoption, please know even if you can’t be there in person (although know that you ARE most certainly invited!  Let me know if you want information on it!) that you will be there with us in our hearts, for God has worked through YOU to make this journey possible for US.  You have helped us become a family--a REAL family--and we are forever grateful to you! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary DH!

From 11/29/12:

Ten years ago, I was a ball full of nerves and excitement as we finished up the final touches at the church and prepared for the rehearsal dinner for our wedding. I was spending my last day as PBR, and I was so excited at the lifetime God had ahead of me. I was SOOO young, a bit naive I'm sure, but completely confident that this was God's plan for my life. People would ask me why I was getting married so young when there was so much life yet to be experienced. (I was just 20.) My response became something along these lines: "I believe God has a great plan for each of our lives, but I believe He can accomplish His will for my life more fully by placing me with this amazing man to be my spiritual leader, partner in ministry, and partner in life." I have thought of that statement many times and still cling to its truth-over and over again I have seen how God has drawn Michael and I closer together as a couple to be able to accomplish His will in a much greater sense than we ever could have done on our own. Don't get me wrong-this has nothing to do with us! It's all about what God has chosen to do through us, and we are so humbled, grateful, and blessed by his plan and His path for our family!

Five years ago, we celebrated 5 years of marriage by going out to dinner...with our newborn daughter. And now that another 5 years has passed, God has blessed us with another child! (I will be honest and say I hope He will bless us with another before the next 5 years rolls around tho;-) to celebrate our "diamond anniversary" we took a getaway to the Gaylord. Was it nice to be able to sleep undisturbed throughout the night? Yes! Was it nice to go out to dinner and it be just the two of us? Yes! Is it nice to just follow our own schedule of what we want to do? Yes! (Although during these times of being without the kids, we talk about them constantly!) But the reason these rare times are enjoyed so much is because of the blessing we have been given of being parents. DH and I have done a LOT of traveling since we were married, having lived so far away from most of our family for so long, but we've always enjoyed our times in the car together to just be able to visit and laugh and dream with one another. It's funny to see how our conversations are now, ten years into our marriage. We weren't just visiting and laughing and dreaming with one another about one another on this trip. Instead, we were talking about our kids, laughing at the silly things they say and do and the ways they make us smile, and dreaming of what God will have them be in their lives. With each thing that we see on our getaway, I find myself saying, "Wouldn't Lucy love this?" Or "I wonder what Gabriel's reaction to this would be?"

All of that being said, I'm just filled with so much thankfulness today that God has placed me on this path for my life as a traveler alongside such an amazing man I get to call my DH.

Happy "diamond" anniversary to the love of my life!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another step in the journey...

As I'm typing this, I have the sweetest baby boy sitting very contentedly in my lap.  I think back to a year ago, when my arms felt so empty as we struggled through the loss each month of realizing we weren't pregnant, and we so badly wanted to expand our family.   But now here I am, with a full lap!  When we were driving home the other day, DH and I just looked at each other, and I said, " did we get to be so blessed?"  My heart truly feels like it's overflowing when I think of it--not only has God given me the gift of being a wife to the most amazing husband, but he's also given me the gift of being a mother to these two precious children.  I am so very thankful!

Around this time last year, Gabriel's birthmother was going to her first prenatal appointment, and today, DH and I will take him to our last post-placement visit with our caseworker.  We feel so very blessed that we are already to this point in our adoption journey.  Only God could orchestrate everything so beautifully, and we are grateful, thankful, and humbled!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas Inspirations...

Black either love it, or you avoid it like the plague!  My family falls into that first category though: We LOVE Black Friday!  It's not just about the good deals and that rush of finding the PERFECT gift for someone though.  Nope.  This specific shopping day holds a pretty special tradition for my family members...

My father was a VERY hard worker.  He pretty much worked 7 days a week from very early in the morning until late in the night many nights.  He rarely took days off, but there were a few days he always took off, Thanksgiving and Black Friday being two of the few.  Getting to spend special one on one time with him was a treat, so around fifteen years ago when he asked me if I wanted to go Black Friday shopping with him, I enthusiastically agreed.  I remember it being dark outside when we huddled into our Nissan Stanza wagon and headed for K-Mart to snag an amazing deal on some diamond bracelets.  From there, we went on to Sears, where Daddy checked out all of the tool sales.  Next, we were one of the first to enter Mervyn's and JC Penney to receive their annual holiday ornament freebies.  Eventually, we ended up at Ross where my Dad picked out the most amazing nine west knee-high old-timey lace-up leather boots for me, which I still own:)  It was a full day, and an exhausting day, but it was special to spend time together.  So, thus began the start of our family tradition of Black Friday shopping.  My family had it down to a fine science: someone would go pick up several copies of the newpaper on Thanksgiving morning, and throughout the day we would all scour over the sale ad pages, marking down the finds we hoped to grab and creating a detailed list of where to be, when to be there, and what to get.  It may seem like a silly and almost worldly tradition to some, but it really was so much more than just buying presents.  To me, it was about being together as a family and joining forces to do something together.  We didn't take a yearly summer vacation together, and we didn't even eat dinner around the table together (we rarely got to eat dinner together period), but on that one day each year, we spent it together.  That time meant more to me than any amazing bargain or any gift, and I treasure it.

Lucy's first Black Friday shopping experience, 2007
My father passed away over five years ago, but we've kept up our family's tradition of Black Friday shopping.  We even took Lucy out with us in the wee hours of the morning when she was just a few weeks old (goodness knows we weren't sleeping anyway! LOL:)  I will admit, it isn't the same, but in a way, just going out on that day keeps my Daddy with me through the holiday season, because I know if he were still alive, he would most certainly be there with me.  Sometimes, the grief I have over his loss is so heavy that I feel like I can't even breathe.  I miss his jolly, contagious laugh, his thick, southern (and often exaggerated) drawl, and his silly jokes.  Mostly though, I just miss his presence with me.  Even when he was alive, it was something I didn't get as much of as I longed for...

So why do I write about all of this today?  With the cooler temps finally showing up in West Texas, the feeling of fall is in the air, and as I looked out the window at the leaves flying through the streets as I sipped on my cup of pumpkin spice coffee, my mind raced towards Thanksgiving.  I've been working on a Christmas album and having a really difficult time coming up with arrangements that I'm happy with, but this morning I felt drawn to the piano.  I remember DH telling me the other day, "If you're going to call it 'Christmas Inspirations,' then just think of what inspires you about Christmas."  I've been chewing on his statement for the past several days, and this morning, the answer finally struck me: Presence.  The one thing I longed for from my earthly father so much was his presence, and the one thing my Heavenly Father desires for me is to be ever in His presence.  I cannot experience the presence of my Daddy anymore on this earth, but I can daily experience the presence of my Heavenly Daddy.  Do I take that for granted though?  My prayer is that not just through this holiday season, but throughout every single day I will bask in the glory and wonder of my Daddy-God's presence.  The reason for this season we are coming upon is all about celebrating the most amazing gift we could ever be given: the presence of an almighty God, who loved us so much that He came to this earth to be with us.  Now THAT'S a gift you won't find in the sale ads for Black Friday, but it's one I pray I will take with me everywhere I go...
Here's a sneak peak at a "rough draft" of one of the songs on my Christmas album:)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Moments Make Memories...

My baby girl has now been 5 years old for over a week.  Sometimes I catch myself trying to say something about my "4 year old," and then I remember she's not 4 anymore.  I know everyone says it as they get older, but seriously, time really does fly by.  The older you get, the quicker the days pass by.  As we were praying with Lucy before she went to bed tonight, I found myself just wanting to bottle the moment up of my cheek being pressed against hers while Daddy prayed over her, of her sweet giggles as I showered her with kisses, and her precious smile with all of her baby teeth present.  I know there will come a day where she doesn't want her momma snuggling so close next to her and showering her face with kisses and where her baby face grin will turn into a beautiful young lady smile.  I don't necessarily want time to stand still, because there's so many wonderful things to experience with each stage of life, but I do want to always stay in check that I'm not taking any of these moments for granted.  After all, these moments are what make memories, so what kind of memories do I want to create for her?

I remember hearing someone say that we have 9 whole months of carrying our children in our bellies close to us, but a lifetime of learning to let them go, and it seems that the older our children get, the harder it is to let go.  We see these milestones pop up all over the place, and one of them made their presence known this week in the drop off lane at school.  I really enjoy taking Lucy into the school building each day.  I open the car door for her and hold her sweet little hand as we walk into the building.  When we get into the cafeteria, I give her a big hug and kiss and tell her to have a good day and to eat a carrot (a family thing we say that means, "I love you.")  I usually visit a bit with her TA who is a good friend of mine, and then I head back home and fire up the keurig.  This morning was different though.  DH had to leave the house early to make a hospital visit, and he usually stays home with GP while I take Lucy to school and then he goes to work after I get back.  But since he wasn't home this morning, I had to load Gabriel up.  Lucy asked if she could walk in "all by myself" this morning, so I decided that would be OK since it would be kind of difficult to get GP out of the car for such a short period of time.  She was so excited!  I opened the door for her, gave her a hug and a kiss and told her to eat a carrot (I'm not ready to let go over the whole drop off SOE!) and then she excitedly ran off, her cheerleader skirt swinging back and forth while her pig tails bounced up and down.  I could tell she was so excited and felt like such a big girl to be all by herself...but what she didn't know is that her mommy didn't just drop her off and drive away.  No way!  I slowly drove the car forward as she walked forward so I could get a view of her making it into the building.  As I drove off, I sighed.  My baby girl is getting so big and so desires to experience that taste of independence.  It made me think about my relationship with my Heavenly Father, too.  Sometimes, I'm just like my little four five year old daughter, wanting to taste my independence and go at things alone.  But, even when I do try to go at it alone, my Jesus is always there watching over me, waiting for me to come back and realize it's always best to let Him lead the way.  I doubt my little Lucy is going to revert back to wanting her momma to walk her into the school building every day for the next twelve years (you know this momma sure is going to try tho!) but I do hope she realizes that I'm always willing to walk by her side and be there for her...and if she doesn't, I'll just have to drive slowly behind;-)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Raise your right hand...

If you've ever watched a court scene on a movie, I'm sure you're well aware of this common statement:

"Raise your right hand.  Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

 Well, today I would like to re-write that phrase to say something like this:

"Raise your right hand...and wave it around like crazy as you jump up and down screaming with excitement!!"

OK, so I doubt this newfound phrase is going to fly in any court of law, so I better go ahead and get my jumping up and down and screaming out of my system because...

Our court date has been set for -----.  How cool is that date--?!  We are just SO over the moon excited that we are to this point in our adoption journey.  Please join us in praising God today!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012

I had a funny conversation with Lucy on the way into the school building this morning:

Me: Today is a very important day.  Do you know why?

Lucy: Why?

Me: Because today, Mommy gets to vote for who is going to be President.

Lucy: (very excitedly) I want to be President!

I couldn't help but laugh and smile and my sweet and silly little girl.  I also wouldn't be surprised if she stuck to that desire and went for it--she's certainly a go-getter!:-)  And, of course, her mama would definitely vote for her!!  After my chuckles settled down though, my mind wandered to our last election.  Campaigning was beginning around the time Lucy was born, and my FIL made this really amazing video to support Huckabee.  Just like my FIL states in the video, I am also a one-issue voter on the single matter of pro-life.  To some, this seems silly at first thought: "Why would you base EVERY decision on one little thing?"  Well, I truly believe that people's stance on this one issue effects every single other decision that they make, because every decision that is made effects our LIVES, so if we don't value life, what does that say about the decisions we make for people's lives?  It goes even deeper than that, but I'm really not trying to start a debate here.  And if you disagree with me, please don't feel like I'm personally attacking you.  This is just an issue that has personally impacted my life in so many ways, and it's really important to me, and it's how I feel.  We're all entitled to our opinions, right?:)

At any rate,, election day, as we all know, falls in the month of November, which is also National Adoption Month.  So today, as I head to the polls, I will have two very important people tagging alongside of me, and I will cast my vote for the candidate that I believe best upholds the value of the sanctity of life.  Not just for my life and my children's lives, but for the lives of the unborn.

Gabriel Paul
Lucy Shea
Every life matters, and I'm so thankful for these little lives that God has entrusted me with!  As their mother, my goal is to protect them and guide them in life, and it is my prayer that every decision I make, every action I take, and every word that I say reflects that purpose.

>>>>As a totally funny sidenote, I also want to add this video to the mix.  Even though I'm not entirely happy with the choices we have this year for the presidential campaign, I am thankful that I have been given the RIGHT to vote.  No matter what, someone is going to be president and me sitting back disgruntled about the choices isn't going to change that.  So, today, I will exercise my right to vote...and you'll probably catch me singing this particular song as I'm in line:) 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lucy's Birth Story...

Each year around Lucy's birthday, I like to revisit her birth story, so I wanted to share it with ya'll here on my blog.  This year feels different than previous years though, because not only does Lucy get to celebrate her birthday with her mommy and daddy, but she also gets to share it with her baby brother.  I often think of how thankful I am to Gabriel's birthmom for giving me the gift of being a mommy again, but today, it struck me for the first time that she also gave Lucy an incredible gift--the opportunity to be a big sister.  And oh my goodness, what an incredible big sister she is!  With each passing year, I grow more and more thankful for this amazing little girl God has chosen to be my daughter.  What a joy it is to see her grow, thrive, and develop, and I love looking back to see how it all began.  I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane with me...
Friday, November 09, 2007

Lucy's Birth Story

As I warned in the previous post, this is REALLY long, but I just didn't want to leave anything out.  It was the most amazing day in my life, and I just feel so blessed and thankful every time I look back on each moment that led up to meeting my precious baby girl, and each moment afterward.  What a gift!!
The Birth of Lucy Shea!!!
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.(Matthew 5:14-16)

I was thinking of Lucy’s name the week before her birth, and how it means “luminous,” and the above verse is what the Lord gave me for her.  Through the expectation of her birth and through her arrival, I see how she’s brought light into our lives in so many ways, and I also see how God desires for her to be a light for Him.

First of all, she’s brought light into our lives through the miracle of her conception.After TTC for many, many months, I had become so discouraged.  I kept asking God why He would place a desire in my heart and leave it unfulfilled.  He began to teach me that it wasn’t that He was going to leave it unfulfilled, but instead He was placing that desire in my heart early on as a way to prepare me for the path He had already walked ahead of me.  Towards the end of my pregnancy, people kept saying “I’m sure you are SO ready to not be pregnant anymore!” and I would just look at them and smile.  Yes, I was ready not to be pregnant anymore because that would mean my baby would be in my arms, but not because I was unhappy in my pregnancy.  Not a day passed by, even with all of the sickness and discomfort, that I did not thank God for allowing me to take such an amazing journey, and I think had I gotten pregnant easily, I would have missed out on feeling that blessing.  I’m not saying that people who get pregnant easily don’t feel the same way.I just remember several years back getting really discouraged by how negative people were about being parents, and I remember asking God to give me a thankful heart once we were parents.  I truly believe that our having to “wait for Lucy” longer than we had anticipated was God’s answer to that prayer of mine so many years ago.

Lucy’s also brought light into our lives after some very dark times.  On December 30th, 2006 I received a call that my husband was going into emergency surgery and was then diagnosed with testicular cancer.  So many dreams seemed placed on hold or completely over, and so much of life seemed uncertain.  Before his surgery, I had been struggling with contentment—wanting to be pregnant, not liking my job, etc.—and within a matter of a few hours, nothing else in life seemed to matter other than making sure my husband was going to be okay.  God was using this dark time to teach me though—to teach me that there was a purpose for me being employed where I was (benefits to cover Michael’s condition) and there was a reason we had not gotten pregnant just yet: He was, once again, asking us to wait so that He could prepare us for the perfect time—HIS perfect time.

Lucy also has lit up a very dark time for my family, which was the passing of my Daddy in July.  I have heard so many people say how God often brings about a new life once there has been a death, and Lucy certainly has breathed new life into my family.  I still grieve more than I can express over not being able to see my Daddy with her and not even being able to tell him about her.But God is teaching me His sovereignty through this situation.  I don’t understand why it had to be this way, but I know that I can ultimately trust my Jesus, and the light of Lucy’s birth reminds me that I can trust Him not only in the good times, but also in the bad.

I can also see the bigger picture of how God desires for her to be HIS light throughout her life.  I don’t know what all that entails, but I do know I must continually be willing to give this precious gift back to the One who’s placed her in my life.  I must look to Him daily to help me show Him to her through everything I do and to guide her to Him.  I cannot wait to see what God has in store for my little girl!!

…But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself now, because I know you’re all very anxious to hear how she made her way into this world in the first place!So, here goes…

I couldn’t really sleep much the nights prior to Lucy’s birth—I was so anxious and excited and scared and nervous and…well, basically every emotion you can think of!  A friend of mine (Thank you, Angie!) sent me some scriptures to look over and I just poured over them that whole week.  And even with as nervous as I was, I had this amazing peace and confidence knowing that my Jesus had gone before me—anything that was about to happen He had ordained, so I knew I could rest in Him…easier said than done sometimes, but He continually reminded me of that truth even in my “fleshly” moments;-)

I got up around 5:40 on Thursday morning and took a shower.  As I stood in the shower I started praying, and the main thing I remember coming out of my mouth was “Lord, I just want to be thankful every single day of Lucy’s life—I don’t ever want to take her for granted or forget what a miracle she is.Help me to praise you in the good AND bad days…”

After I took my shower, I got everyone else up in the house and gave Michael his present—a green hat with the words “Lucy’s Daddy” stitched on the front.
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…I was STARVING that morning!  I couldn’t eat anything past midnight, and for some reason if I get up earlier than usual I’m REALLY really hungry.  I would later be VERY happy I didn’t give in and eat or drink anything though…

Before we left the house, Michael, Mom and I prayed for the event that was about to take place, and before we left, it was as if Michael and I both just stopped and looked into the house, realizing that next time we would be standing there, it would be with our little Lucy!

I kept staring down at my belly and rubbing it on the way to the hospital—what was it going to be like when she wasn’t in there anymore?  I remember being worried that I was going to get depressed about her not being inside of me anymore.It’s something I’ve really prayed about throughout my pregnancy…

We left the house around 7AM.Traffic was CRAZY, but we arrived on time.I had no idea it would take so long to get admitted though.You have to tell them your name and why you’re there and then wait for them to call your name to get in all of the paperwork.I had sent mine in ahead of time, so I figured they’d just send me on up, but that didn’t exactly happen.I was just so excited to get everything started!Soon after we had arrived, Michael’s dad, mom, and sister came in.  Here's us anxiously waiting in the lobby!  (I don't have a picture to show you of the dirty looks I gave DH for the leftover pizza he was eating in front of me! LOL)
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DH and I went back into a little cubicle area where they got us all registered and starting the multitude of arm bands that would soon be on my right arm.  One of the forms I signed was allowing the hospital staff to medically care for the baby, and underneath I had to write in my relationship to the patient: “mother.”  What a cool feeling!!  Then, the guy registering us put me in a wheelchair and we all headed for the elevator and the maternity suites—it was finally happening!I couldn’t believe it!

They wheeled us all into my room and we all sat in there for a bit before the nursing staff came in.

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The nurses came in and I got dressed in my “lovely” gown;-
After that, they started hooking the monitors up
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They did a quick u/s to see if Lucy had flipped—nope, still in the exact same spot.But they figured out what that “little knobby thing” was I had been feeling for months—she had her fists up over her face!(and she still likes to sprawl out like that)
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But I’m getting ahead of myself again:)

…I was having several contractions (nothing incredibly consistent) and I had also been having a BUNCH the night before, so I think Lucy was planning to make her appearance soon even if the C-section had not been scheduled.

The nurses came in after a bit and said another woman had come in who was scheduled to have a C-section at a later date but her water had broken, so my surgery got bumped back a bit.  I was actually kind of relieved—I did NOT feel ready to go into surgery yet!  Around that time they had me drink this cup of antacid or something like that—I can still taste it.  It was like a liquefied version of the sour coating on a warhead candy!

The IV getting put in was not near as bad as I had anticipated.  Definitely a big prick, but bearable.  It sure was uncomfortable once they got the fluid going though—it was so cold and stung.  And then came the catheter…*cringe*  O…my…GOSH!  No one had prepared me for how bad that was going to hurt….and that started my first big meltdown of the day.  For some reason it just sent my nerves over the edge and I started getting REALLY nervous and anxious.  Michael was amazing though.I had told him the night before that the one thing that really comforts me when I’m hurting or anxious is to have my head rubbed—and there he was, rubbing my head.  He kept encouraging me and telling me what a great job I was doing.His love and support was so amazing…I love him so much!

I met with Dr. R a bit before the surgery.  (Is it just me, or is it weird when you see your doctor in normal clothes/not scrubs?  She came in with a leather coat on and it totally threw me.)  I had really prayed she would get to deliver Lucy, so that’s another reason that the scheduled C-section was a blessing.  (There are 4 doctors in the practice, and if I had gone into labor on my own and she wasn’t on call one of the other 3 would have delivered RK, and the one lady on call that day was NOT my favorite doctor by ANY stretch of the imagination!)  Michael got his scrubs on—doesn’t he look adorable??!
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and then they started wheeling me back around 11:25 to the OR.  The family followed until we reached the waiting area.  Michael had to wait there, too (which made my anxiety increase even more, but it was something I was prepared for, and I knew they would bring him back soon.)  As they were wheeling me back I started having the worst feeling--it was an overwhelming sense of total dread.  I remember thinking, “I just do NOT want to do this—I don’t want to be here right now.”  I don’t know that I’ve ever had that exact feeling—it wasn’t that I didn’t want to meet my little girl, but I just remember wishing there was some other way.  But I knew there was no turning back.I was just so nervous to go through the surgery and especially anxious about the soon-to-come spinal…

We reached the OR at 11:28 (so the C-section was an hour and a half delayed.)  I remember looking at the clock and not being able to read it myself because I was so nervous and then glancing quickly around the room—there were these huge round lights on the ceiling and it was SO bright in there.  I remember noticing the operating table, too—it looks so tiny!It was covered with like a green sheet and there was a little pillow at the top.  They wheeled my bed right up to the left side of the operating table and then I had to move over to the operating table—NOT a very easy task when you’ve been laying flat and have a big round belly in front of you!  Also, the catheter was still very uncomfortable, and I was so afraid I was going to somehow rip it out if I moved the wrong way.  The nurse helped me roll over to my right side and then we slowly but surely got me over to the operating table.I sat up on the end of the table with the nurse in front of me, and the anesthesiologist got me all prepped for the spinal—when they say they’re going to rub your back down they aren’t lying!  It felt like I had an SOS pad being ground in my back (getting my tattoo was more comfortable than that!)  Then came time for the spinal.*shudders*  The nurse was so good about telling me to breath out the pain (although a part of me was thinking “seriously?  I’m actually going to breathe out this pain??  Yea RIGHT!!” LOL!  It did help keep me somewhat calm though.) and the anesthesiologist reminded me how I needed to slouch and round my back over and that I was going to feel some pressure/stinging.  Holy COW!  It was really intense burning and it lasted a lot longer than I had anticipated.  It starting kicking in almost immediately though.  I started feeling this crazy-warm sensation from my belly down to my legs and they quickly got me laying down flat (before I lost all feeling!)  At first, it actually felt pretty good.  I was tingly all over and somewhat numb, but I still had control over my body.After he finished the spinal though and I was getting laid down I had my second big meltdown for the day.  I just remember wanting DH in there with me.  And then the spinal REALLY went into effect.  I got to wear I could feel NOTHING and it was seriously one of the worst feelings ever.  I started getting very anxious and just wanted DH in there so badly, and I just had this overwhelming sense of “I REALLY don’t want to be in here right now...I don’t know if I can do this…but I know I have to…”

They got the big blue sheet put up (I don’t know that I was expecting it to be so close to my face), and then the doctor pinched me with some tweezers—which I didn’t feel at ALL.

DH finally got to come in and he sat to my left.  He grabbed my hand (the right hand was kind of strapped and the left was laid out flat as well but it was free for DH to be able to hold) and started patting my head and telling me, once again, what a great job I was doing.

I also had the most AMAZING nurse at the top of my head—she was so sweet and comforting and I felt so blessed that she was there with me.

I remember looking over to the left corner of the room at one point and seeing everything set up for Lucy—it was so weird to think that in a matter of minutes my daughter would be over there!
Michael handed over his camera to one of the nurses who offered to take pics and he had his ihpone ready to take pics as well.  Then they got started.  I just kept thinking, “I do NOT want to do this right now…I know I have to so that I can meet my daughter but I wish there were another way…”(have I mentioned this feeling before??Hehee:)

…And then I heard the words “Michael, you’ll want to look up—she’s got her butt up in the air!”  I saw some hesitation in Michael’s eyes as he looked at me and then finally peeked his head to look over the sheet.  He later told me he was glad he didn’t watch the whole thing as there was a LOT of blood.  Then the doctors said “She’s already PEEING everywhere!” and then she was OUT!  It was 11:55 AM.  The held her up over the sheet on my left side and I think we both started crying.
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…I remember thinking I couldn’t believe how BIG and chubby she looked!Was she REALLY inside of my belly??!  I was so overcome with emotion that my daughter had made her arrival—I just couldn’t believe it!  Even as I type this my heart is racing as I think of what an amazing moment it was to see her for the first time.It made it all worth it those feelings of “I don’t want to do this.”  I can’t say that I really would like to go through a C-section again, but at the same time I would do it again in a heartbeat to have my precious daughter here.

They took her over to that left corner of the room and Michael looked at me so sweetly and asked, “Can I go over there with her??”  Michael then rushed over there to meet his daughter—it was so precious!
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The nurse behind me then stepped in and started rubbing my head and talking to me.  She even pulled the left side of the sheet back so I could see what they were doing—and then I heard them say it: “8 pounds, 1 oz”!
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I couldn’t believe it!  I knew the u/s had shown her to be close to 8 pounds, but they aren’t always accurate with their guestimates.  Her head also measured at 15 inches in diameter.  The dr made a comment that it was good we did a C-section, because if she had flipped and I went into labor, we would have ended up doing a C-section most likely.  The dr also kept saying, “Your stomach is SO flat now!  You were all baby!!”  I didn’t really believe them when they said it, as I thought they were just being nice, but it sure did make me feel good to hear that!

DH soon got to bring Lucy over to meet me—he was so proud of her and I just couldn’t get over her—I kept saying it over and over, “She’s just SO pretty!”  They soon unstrapped my arms and let me hold her, too.  That was something I was NOT expecting to get to do, and it thrilled my heart more than I can even express.
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Her eyes were opened up wide and she immediately started staring into my eyes—it was the most amazing moment, and there are just no words to explain what I was feeling.  I couldn’t believe she had been inside my belly and now she was in my arms…amazing…  And DH was just so excited as well—he couldn’t stop staring at her either!It was so awesome to see him with her—it was something I had really looked forward to throughout my pregnancy, and it totally exceeded my expectations.  He instantly went into a Daddy instinct and has been so amazing with her—he’s actually better than anyone else at changing her diaper!  See in our first family photo how he is just staring right at her—so precious!
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They had to take her back over to the left corner of the room to check some other things and DH went with her (I wanted him to!) and the nurse asked me, “Are you started to feel nauseous?” and just as the words left her mouth, this horrible feeling of nausea overtook me.  She gave me a little tray in case I started throwing up (how do you throw up laying down anyway?!) and I leaned my head over to the left and just kept praying “Please, Lord, I don’t want to throw up—please let this pass.”  It was the worst case of nausea I had ever experienced in my life—like the first 14 weeks of my pregnancy all combined into a matter of minutes.  The nurse said it was totally normal at this point and it had something to do with what they were doing to my uterus.  She gave me something to try and calm it down.  I kept dry heaving and gagging, but it passed fairly quickly without me throwing anything up.  (Thank you, Lord!)  And that was when I remembered how hungry I had been up until the surgery and was SO thankful I hadn’t had a single thing to eat or drink

They started sewing me up and were almost finished when the dr peeked her head over the top of the sheet, “I’ve got you all sewn up but now we’ve discovered that we’re missing a sponge.  It’s probably laying around somewhere but we’re going to do an X-ray just to make sure.”  (Thank goodness they count all that stuff ahead of time—I had remembered when I first came into the OR they were counting all of the operating utensils—how many pairs of scissors do they really need??!  I quickly had turned my head in another direction to try and avoid thinking of what was going to be opening up my tummy!)

They sent DH and the baby out of the room while they did the X-ray and then the tech said it would be about 10-15 minutes when they’d call with the results.  I remember thinking, “I just want this to all be over with!”  They called and stated they found a drain—which is something that definitely was NOT in my stomach!  They were going to do another u/s and Dr R called them back and they decided it was probably the angle but that something was in there and they probably needed to open me back up to get it out.  This time, I could REALLY feel the pulling and tugging.  I’m not sure if I was feeling pain or not, but I had been in there for over and hour, and the spinal only lasts about 2, so they decided it would be best to give me some med to help through this last bit.  DH was back in the room with our precious baby girl at that point.  The nurse said, “This is what we use to make you sleep during surgery but we’re going to give you just a TINY bit to get this part finished up—you’ll probably go to sleep for just a little bit.”  I think I said “OK,” but that’s all I remember!  I woke up just as they had finished.  So, technically I had two surgeries that morning, and gave birth TWICE—first to a beautiful baby girl, and second to a bloody sponge!  DH later told me Dr R was pretty upset about the whole thing.  I guess the staff in the room is supposed to keep a better count on all of that stuff and just as she was finishing sewing me up the first time, someone said, “Um, we’re missing a sponge.”  She couldn’t just leave me opened up so they went ahead and finished sewing me up while they waited for the x-ray tech.

After it was all over (PTL!) they snapped a quick shot of DH, Lucy, and Dr R:
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and placed Lucy in my arms and then wheeled us back over to my room.  We didn’t think anyone would get to see her until after I had been in recovery for awhile, but since the waiting area was on the way to my room they let us stop for just a few moments.  As we turned the corner I could see my momma just jumping up and down and all excited.  I pulled her cap off so they could see her dark, curly/kinky hair and they all snapped several quick pictures.

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They all said how beautiful she is and I was still spouting off every few minutes “She’s just SO pretty!”

We didn’t get back to my room until around 1:15 (due to the birth of the sponge!) and I was getting very uncomfortable.  The spinal had almost all worn off by the time they got me started on morphine, so the morphine just was NOT helping.  They had to up my dosage of it two more times before it finally started helping, and by then I was SO doped up that I couldn’t really see.  I tried to post an update on things that night and I literally had my face as close to the screen as possible and I still could barely make anything out.


We spent time with family that afternoon, everyone getting acquainted with the newest member of the T household, and then DH and I spent our first of many sleepless nights with our little girl!  I don’t think it would have been so bad except I literally could NOT keep my eyes opened from all of the morphine I was on, and DH was dozing off as well.  One of the nurses came in around 3AM and said, “Why don’t you just let me take her to the nursery for a few hours so ya’ll can sleep, then I’ll bring her back in when it’s time for her to eat.”  (I had made it VERY clear that she was not to have a pacifier or a bottle!  I was a little hesitant—I kept thinking of this TV movie I had seen when I was younger called “Switched at birth,” and it’s been a huge fear of mine since that I would get the wrong baby.  We both desperately needed a few hours of sleep though, so they took Lucy to the nursery and wheeled her cart back in at 6AM…I say her “cart” because Lucy wasn’t actually IN it…  They have these security bands they place on the baby, you and your DH so any time she gets taken from the room they match the numbers on the bracelet to make sure you get the your baby…  Well, the nurse calls out the number and it didn’t match.DH gets up and goes over to her cart and says, “Um, that’s not our baby!”The nurse was mortified and was like, “This has never happened before.”  She took the baby away to go “find” Lucy.  I was panicked!  I couldn’t believe that had just happened.  Thankfully though, they brought Lucy back in, safe and sound.  Apparently, they had quite a few babies in the nursery and Lucy had gotten fussy so they moved her into a swing then mixed her up with another baby.  *sigh*  Looking back on it, I have to laugh that it happened, but deep down it REALLY scared me, and DH and I decided from that moment on that Lucy would be staying within our sight at all times!

It’s kind of funny when I look back on it all—the whole sponge thing and then the baby mix-up—you would think I’d say I would never deliver at that hospital again, but I really don’t feel that way.  (to insert a thought five years later, there is definitely no way I'd want to deliver there again! LOL)  The nursing staff was amazing—so helpful (except for one lady who kept questioning every time I asked for pain medicine and she wouldn’t give it to me every 3 hours like I was supposed to have it.  Grrrr….!) and very encouraging.  And even with all of the mishaps, I just felt such a peace about everything.  I knew God had gone before every step, so I just felt this incredible peace.

The doctors said Lucy was “perfect,” and my dr said my incision looked good.  Lucy goes in for her first appointment on Monday, and then I don’t go in for my first appointment until around mid-December.

We came home from the hospital early Sunday evening, and everything has been such a whirlwind.  I was telling Mom and DH today how it feels as if life has just been turned completely upside down in a matter of moments—but in the most wonderful way!  I just can’t believe this LO is ours and that we get to keep her!!  I had been really worried that I would miss feeling her inside of my belly, and while it is odd to have a completely different body now, I just love having her out where I can hold her and look at her.  It’s been the most wonderful experience.  And even through the sleepless nights and some problems with nursing, I keep thanking God any time I start getting a little stressed—I just can’t imagine a greater blessing in the world.  She is amazing, and all I can say is God is just SO, so very good!  Thank you, Lord, for lighting up our lives through Lucy!

Lucy's 5th Birthday Party/Trunk or Treat

It's hard for me to believe that this time, 5 years ago, I was waddling around with my sweet Lucy tucked tightly inside of my belly.  I went over to visit my blog that I kept while I was pregnant with Lucy and found this post from the wee hours of the morning of October 31st, 2007:

Just a little over one day until Lucy arrives!  I don't think it feels real that tomorrow is my last day of being pregnant...kind of sad about that, but also just SO excited about meeting my little RK!  Here's a few last preggie pics...
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It's so hard to believe that Lucy was right there in my belly, and now here she is today, at her Halloween party at SCHOOL!  ...Someone remind me again how my baby girl is already in school?! (On a side note, it's kind of funny she's wearing purple today since that's the color I was wearing in those pix:)

Lucy with her pre-k teacher, Mrs. Titus
I remember the night before Lucy was born as if it were this very moment. I remember feeling her kick, feeling contractions, the anxiety, the nerves, and the excitement. I remember being so thankful that God had chosen to bless us with a child. And on this night, five years later, I watched my "grown up" baby girl prancing around the parking lot at church, dressed as My Little Pony, and happily passing out candy to all the kids who came by our trunk. And next to her was a stroller holding her sweet baby brother, yet another precious gift God chose to bless us with after another long struggle of trying to conceive. I am so overcome with thankfulness in His perfect path and plan for our family. My belly was full five years ago, and now my heart is, too!

So, to celebrate this wonderful blessing of Lucy's birth, we had a party this past Saturday, October 27th. Since her birthday falls so close to Halloween, we usually let her chosen bday theme decide what we will dress up as a family, and we also invite all of the guests to come dressed in their costumes.  This year was a bit more difficult than our past costumes (Mary poppins characters, Peter Pan characters, and Peanuts characters) because she wanted a My little Pony costume, so we had to get a little more inventive (since even though DH is crazy about his little princess, there is NO way he is going to dress up as My Little Pony!)  I love the end result though: 80's cartoon characters! Lucy was starsong from my little pony (of course!) I was rainbow brite, dh was Clark kent/superman, and GP was Pete's dragon. So, for our trunk for trunk or treat tonight, we did "cartoon network," complete with a tv playing cartoons! Lucy's birthday was totally centered around My Little Pony though. I absolutely LOVE planning her parties each year, and this year was no different-I had a blast with it!

I used pink tablecloths and packing tape and DH helped me spread them out on the floor to create two "lanes" for the horse races we were going to have. We also did a balloon game on the two "horse tracks" at the beginning of the party. (Which was more of mass chaos, but oh well:)

My mom helped me make thirty (yes, 30!) hobby horses as the party favors for said pony races. It was pretty consuming, but it was also a lot of fun, and I think the kids all loved them! (There are a lot of boys Lucy's age, so it's always tricky to come up with a party theme that is girly for my girly girl, but has some aspect to it that boys will like, too. I figured stick horses were the perfect solution!) Our living room pretty much turned into a stable last week! I'm sure the neighbors were wondering why on earth
I had 30 hand dyed tube socks hanging outside
on the front porch to air dry! LOL:)

For the tables, I used pink table cloths and placed MLP cutouts on a dowel rod and put them in a vase file with water I had dropped some food coloring into. I also placed MLP coloring and activity sheets at each place setting.

Several months ago I saw a cute idea on Pinterest where you take plastic tablecloths to create a backdrop, so I did that and took pictures of each of the kids that came. One of the MLP is rainbow dash, so we kind of went with that "rainbow" theme for several things, like the backdrop.  We also played a version of pin the tail on the donkey (stick the cutie mark on the pony) and the kids also made fruit loop necklaces.

Instead of cake, my mom made these amazing rainbow inspired cupcakes-another Pinterest idea. (Seriously, what did we do before Pinterest?!) Don't they look incredible?!  We also had fruit punch and some chex mix.

Lucy seemed to have a wonderful time, and we are so thankful for the friends and family who took the time to come celebrate with us. She is one blessed little girl, and oh how very blessed DH and I are to get to be her parents. Lucy-mommy and daddy love you more than you will ever know, and baby brother is so blessed to have you as his big sister. May you continue to "so shine your light before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your
 Father in heaven."  Happy birthday, bugaboo!