Monday, December 31, 2012

MacKenzie 37 months


It is amazing what a few months does in the personality and ability of a child. You change more and more with each day and sometimes your Dad and I will think to ourselves, "STOP! This is happening too fast...she shouldn't be able to do that, or say that, or think that."You are a funny little creature and have so many habits that we hope to be able to remember for years down the road.

You are very precise...about everything. You want certain bites of food, you want your hair done it certain ways, you want things called certain names, and God forbid you ever get dirty on someone else's terms. KiKi bought you a few different bath toys to enjoy including bath paint that is also soap...that didn't go so well considering that you screamed like Daddy was torturing you as the paint that Keegan was gleefully spreading everywhere got on you as well as the sides of the bathtub. Bath time is usually a joyful process for you and Keegan to have with Daddy in preparation for bed time, but that night it took several minutes to calm you down and convince you that you were not being hurt, that the paint was in fact, ok. Needless to say, we haven't used the bathtub paints again. You do like the tablets that turn the water different colors and the foam spray as well. I would say that your tendencies to be particular are one way to exercise control and see how much power you have over any given situation, but some things truly bother you in odd ways. KiKi also bought you a Barbie and Ken doll for the bathtub and you freaked out in response to those, we think because they are wearing swimsuits and not clothes. It isn't always drama with your particularities though, sometimes you are just trying to be exact. Lately you will ask us what something is called and if we use a new name for it you will correct us. For example, there is a lot of construction taking place near our house and you will frequently ask about the different equipment being used. If we call something a bulldozer instead of a digger you will say, "Sorry. It's a digger." You can definitely exude some know it all tendencies in your voice when you say that too.

I used to frequently write about your eating habits because when you are a baby that is one of the few things you will do or that changes over the months as you grow. Continuing to write about that will become less and less frequent, but I will note a few things. Your eating pattern is all over the place and it is hard to tell when you will or won't eat. We will make you eat a few bites of food, but we refuse to make eating a battle with you so some of the time you eat very little. You have lately asserted that rice is your favorite food, yet we have had it with some frequence lately and you have eaten it very little. You are definitely a pasta girl and will voraciously attack any plate of pasta, especially if it has tomato sauce and meatballs with it. You prefer spaghetti because you like to twirl it around on your fork. One eating habit that melts Mommy is your preference for ice cream cones. Not the ice cream, just the cone. When Mommy was your age, her Nana and Granddaddy used to take her to the ice cream store and just buy a cone for her. It wasn't because they didn't want me to have ice cream, it was because all I wanted and would eat was the cone. You can imagine the dirty looks they got (and I get) when the grown ups are indulging in delicious ice cream and all the kid gets is a dry cone!

We are surprised with how much you love Baby Johnny. You were indifferent when Keegan came into the picture so we expected as much with Johnny especially considering you don't always play with dolls or seem to be a nurturer. I would venture to say you are somewhat smitten with him because you are always asking about him or want to hold him. I love that you already seem so protective of him and of Keegan. You are a good big sister that balances torturing your younger siblings well with care for them.

You love to be active and to run around, we will sometimes play chase in the front yard before or after going on errands. You also love piggy back rides around the house and "hanging upside down like a fruit bat" in one of our arms. You have started being more silly and jumping and hopping around the house when you are playing just to use up all that extra energy you have. Frequently paired with all of this movement are usually thousands of questions about everything you observe. Sometimes we wonder where you are watching and learning stuff because you ask really good questions. Frequently you will ask us if we are "happy", particularly after you are disciplined or we have to ask you (several times) to do something. We are working on making sure you know that even when we have to get frustrated with you that we still love you and are very happy with you being in our lives.

You are still a little book worm and really love advanced books like The Magic School bus series. In fact you convinced Daddy to read three of them to you in one sitting the other day. Those are very long books for such a little girl to sit through and ask for. We are happy to satisfy your thirst for knowledge in reading these books. We are beginning to work on sounding out simple words with you and showing you that one day you too can read these books. Once that happens, you may not need Mommy and Daddy for much anymore since you can do so many things on your own.

This is only a small measure of all the things we have seen over the last bit of your life, but know that there are so many things you do that make our hearts sing.

We love you,
Mommy and Daddy


Anyone that knows us can contest that 2012 was not the year we were expecting it to be. I suppose that you could say that about any year, that we all have dreams and expectations that are just that, and that most years add up to something vastly different from what we would expect. Still, I would be hard pressed to have imagined the year we had. And it isn't that 2012 was a bad year, in fact, I think it was a really, really good year. Just different from where we thought we were going.

At the beginning of last year, our pastor at church said he wanted this year to be a year of prayer. He said that we shouldn't be afraid to pray for big things or impossible things. We certainly prayed for some pretty big things in 2012 and have been graciously provided with bigger things than we could have prayed for. God worked on our hearts and in our lives in ways that we didn't think imaginable. I have never been able to say before that I am most definitely a different person at the end of the year than I was at the beginning of the year until now. Even in big years this one is different. In 2001 I graduated from High school, started at Texas A & M, faced 9/11 with the rest of the country, and met the man I would one day marry. In 2004 I got married, faced the death of my grandfather, and dealt with my parents divorcing. In both 2009 and 2011 we had beautiful daughters that are blessings beyond our wildest dreams. But nothing matches 2012. Throughout all of those years change has been slow and steady, change has been marked in little tweaks and adjustments, and for the most part I have felt much like the same person at the end of the year, just a little older and maybe a little wiser. This year I have felt like there was an old me and a new me, the old me left behind in May and the new me moving forward after that. It was painful and there was a lot of sadness and fear, but it was definitely transformative and altered me.

One of the big changes that I am glad we were able to see come to fruition was my staying at home again. It was difficult to work with MacKenzie and Keegan and knowing a little one would be on the way. I know there are Moms who do it and I give them all the respect that they deserve. It's not that I couldn't do it any longer, it's that Matt and I didn't want me to do it any longer. I wanted to be home with the kids, I wanted to play with them, I wanted to take them places, I wanted to have long lunch dates at Chick Fil A where I could talk with friends and they could run around and play in the play place, I wanted to run errands and go to Target for no reason at all with them, and to be honest, I wanted to sleep in and take naps a lot of times too! We are glad we were able to make this work for our family. We think the girls appreciate having me here and feel like Keegan shows less angst with having a more stable schedule. One thing that we were reflecting on recently is how good it felt to make that decision and give notice of my resignation before we knew about Raptor's diagnosis. We felt that it made us more in control of a decision and that it was made independently of what we know now. Because truth be told, I couldn't have returned to work right now, he has too many needs that would make me a bad teacher (more on that in a different post).

Another great aspect of this year has been Matt's school progress. He has plowed through half of his coursework and will be done with his MBA at this time next year. It has been challenging at times for him to balance school and work, but we know that it is just a season, and he and our family will be all the better for it in the end. It has meant that he is away from myself and the kids at least twice a week for class. It has meant that he has had to pass on us doing things or social events so he could study. It has meant lots of lost sleep over projects and other school related tasks. He is excelling at it has been fun to watch him work hard for grades and to achieve them in his classes. He says he likes to feel his brain working again despite how tired that can make him!

Additionally, after much patience, prayer, interviewing, and waiting, Matt has a new job! He has an awesome job actually and it has filled two functions in our life of increasing our income (which is obviously welcome, especially with me staying at home) and of really fitting what Matt is good at and likes to do. Matt is working for a commercial insurance brokerage downtown and after he gets through some training will be meeting with potential clients and businesses to try and fit their needs for different types of insurance. Matt is really good and determining what people are looking for and making them feel like they got the best possible product for their business so I know he will enjoy his work and being directly compensated for it as well. He will definitely miss some of his clients at Chase, but many of them were glad he is moving up in the corporate world and felt like he was grossly overqualified for the position he held with them anyways.

Of course the biggest change in our lives this year was Johnny. We were looking to expand our family at the beginning of 2012 and were delighted in March to find out that Baby Raptor was on his or her way. Everything had gone textbook with MacKenzie and Keegan and we fully expected it to be that way with Raptor. It certainly didn't go that way after week 12. It's hard to say which day was more difficult in 2012, the day we found out it was a possibility, the day we found out for sure, or somewhere in between. It wasn't knowledge that we had ever seen ourselves preparing for. There is still so much in my mind that I am working through in dealing with thoughts about Johnny and how he has impacted our lives. There has been so much growth and change in our hearts in learning about Johnny that we never could have expected to receive this year. Everyone thinks that a baby turns their lives upside down, but Johnny turned our lives upside down, inside out, and threw us backwards and forwards a little bit too. I have so much more that I want to say about Johnny and where we are now, but it is easy to see that he has changed the face of 2012 to be a very different year from what we thought it would be.

I don't know what to think about 2012 being over and moving into 2013. I could say that I hope for a bit calmer of a year, but despite all the turmoil and upheaval in our lives, we are in a really good place. We are really happy with where we are. I feel like I should say something really profound to close this post out, but I don't really have anything that doesn't sound grossly cliche. So....We will just leave it at Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Johnny at 8 weeks


Yesterday you turned 8 weeks old! You have grown so much in the past 4 weeks...literally! You have gained two pounds and are now a whopping 9 and a half pounds and measure in at 21 inches long. You are finally reaching the end of being able to wear your newborn clothes and we had to give up on the last 20 or so newborn diapers because you needed more room in the legs. Mommy is sad to see some of those newborn outfits needing to be packed away. With your big sisters they never wore newborn outfits long enough for anything to become my favorite...with you, you have worn some of the outfits multiple times and I have really developed a fondness for them. Your Daddy laughed at me because I was trying to buy one of the outfits in a bigger size this week, but they only have it in newborn size. 

You are starting to get stronger and we are working hard on your developing the ability to hold your head up more and more and pushing with your legs. We really want you to meet these first few developmental milestones as close to on target as possible, so that means working with you daily. You have definite longer periods of awake time and it's fun to see what catches your attention and focus. In that way you are definitely all boy, instead of focusing on faces, you look for motion and movement in the room. It is hard to tell if you catch on to different voices, but you will strain your head to look at Mommy if she is holding you in her lap and you cannot see her.

You eat well from a bottle of pumped milk and will nurse a bit here and there. You generally eat every three hours and will take anywhere from 3 to 5 ounces in a feeding. Mommy likes that you take a lot more at night (sometimes up to 6 ounces) because for the past two weeks you have slept 6-7 hour stretches! After a nice long stretch of sleep like that, Mommy enjoys our early morning feeding around 6:30 and will doze with you in bed until your sisters wake up. When we take a nap or snuggle in the morning, Mommy likes to see that you will wiggle until you are close to Mommy and sleeping right under her arm close to her chest. I like being close to you too little guy!

We are looking forward to how much you will change over the next four weeks and we are sure to enjoy every moment of it. We love you much, much more than we ever thought we would.

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Legend of OUR Johnny Football

Many people have been asking us about Johnny's name. Many people have been assuming that we were honoring this person with our name decision...

Johnny "Football" Manziel

Now I admit (proudly and happily...especially this season) that we are pretty big Aggie fans. We have both been pretty much from birth. However, I don't think I would ever name a child after an athlete. We are proud to have Johnny Football as part of the Aggie family and think it is ironic that he has risen to fame at the same time we had our Johnny.

Our Johnny was actually named after this person...

No...not Grandma! Grandpa!!!

Matt pretty much told me whenever we got married that if we ever had a son, he would be named after his grandfather. I agreed thinking that Matt would forget at some point as I personally feel the name John is a little...blah. I find it honorable and nice that Matt wanted to pay tribute to his grandfather though. I tried to convince Matt of other names, but he dug his heels in. We were a little worried about naming Raptor this when we found out about his diagnosis, not knowing if it was "ok" to name our child after Grandpa (if it was a boy). Grandpa was thrilled and delighted that we wanted to name anybody after him. I was still resistant to the name until I looked up the meaning...John means "God is gracious". I thought it would lend itself to good testimony and a good reminder that throughout it all God shows us grace, even when we don't feel it. Coincidently, Grandpa's middle name is Madison which means "Son of Matthew"...we couldn't pass that one up. Many people have commented on how prestigious his name sounds...I is a bit too prestigious for such a little guy. Which then transformed to finding a nickname...Grandpa was called Johnny as a boy and I liked the idea of calling our potential son Johnny. And thank goodness it was a boy because we were still debating girl names while I was in labor! 

So there you are...sorry to disappoint anyone who thought we were "those" people who would name their kid after a "celebrity". Of course we aren't helping anything by calling our boy Johnny "Football"...or by taking pictures like this...

And we are definitely not helping by making onesies like this...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

4 weeks of Johnny


Today you are four weeks old. I cannot believe it and honestly, I think I am still a little shell shocked from your very fast and somewhat unexpected delivery and you already being with us. There were times when Mommy was pregnant with you that time seemed to slow down with all of the stress of worrying about you and now time is going much to quickly!

In the past four weeks we have gone to a lot of doctor appointments, spent an extra night at the hospital, learned more about ourselves as a family of five, and celebrated Thanksgiving! Your doctor appointments are going well, but it is a lot of wait and see. Wait and see if you are gaining weight. Wait and see if your holes in your heart heal. Wait and see about your hearing. Wait and see about your nursing. You are teaching Mommy and Daddy a lot about patience. Mommy thought she was organized before, but you have added a new level of organization.

You are a very, very good baby. You are very relaxed and rarely need much. You are often content to lay on the couch or in someones arms and just chill. Sometimes you will take a pacifier or your thumb, but you don't need it to relax or go to sleep. You like being swaddled, but don't have to be. You will wake up to eat and go right back to sleep without any effort. The only frustration we can site is with breastfeeding which we were fully prepared for.

You sleep most of the day and will eat 8-10 times a day. You have given Mommy several nights of 4 hour stretches of sleep for which she is very grateful for. You have a few periods of wakefulness in which you will calmly look around taking it all in. Your hair is still very dark and looks a little coarser than Mac and Keeg's hair. Your eyes seem to be getting bluer but it is way to early to tell. Everyone talks about how sweet and small you are. To Mommy, you are already getting bigger as your limbs have started stretching out even more. I agree that you are very sweet though. People also comment on how big your feet are and how scrawny your legs are.

Johnny, thank you for blessing our family. You were definitely much anticipated and well worth the anticipation, hope, and prayers. We love you and look forward to a lot more time with you.

Mommy and Daddy

 Exactly 4 weeks old!!!

Mac wore this outfit on her first fit her better! 

Johnny and Mommy on Johnny's due date

The girls love their baby brother!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Johnny is Teaching Us!

Some "lessons" that I have learned from Johnny already...or maybe better termed as analogies for his life...

First, I am so thankful for the medical team we have surrounding us and supporting us through all of this. We already had what I consider to be the top Ob/Gyn and Pediatricians in place and they continued to strengthen me by always saying the right things at the right times. I never felt that they faltered for a moment in our care. Further, they have been able to direct us to more professionals that really helped us on our journey. Dr. TamTam absolutely made the right call in his concern about our low fluid levels. I still get choked up thinking about how lucky we were that we scheduled that appointment for that day...otherwise it could have been another day or two before we knew how bad the fluid levels were dropped and it scares me to think what that might have meant for Johnny. I want to continue to work hard to surround ourselves with medical professionals that can give good insight into how to best help our children.

Second, while medical professionals are helpful, sometimes Johnny is going to shock them and do things his way. During his delivery the nurse assured me that it would be at least two more hours before he was born and that was only if they further augmented my delivery and upped my pitocin. Johnny decided to cut that time down to 15 minutes. I so hope this is an analogy for his life- That doctors and professionals are going to say that things are going to take a certain amount of time and instead, Johnny does things in his own time and on his own schedule. This does not necessarily mean that I want him to do everything faster than what science says he should...I just want him to grow and develop at his own pace whether that be faster, slower, or some mixture of both. And I want us to help him determine what that development looks like rather than only listening to the experts. The labor and delivery really put so much into perspective to me. Yes, we need to look at the data given, but we need to observe the human being as well. In labor and delivery my nurse relied greatly on the data and thus underestimated how I was doing and when Johnny was coming. In contrast, during our overnight NICU stay, the opposite was true. Several times our nurse (who was wonderful and very kind to Johnny and myself) was alerted to issues with Johnny's breathing and pulse oxygen levels. After several of these alerts, she stopped watching the monitors and began to assess Johnny the old fashioned way...through observation. She determined that Johnny was, in fact, doing better than the machines were indicating. How telling of how we should look at Johnny for his life...that testing is good and beneficial, but we cannot forget to look at him and see what is actually going on. And to be honest it is going to take me trusting myself a bit more just like in labor when I needed to trust myself and my body a bit more. That I know what he needs and I can help make sure he is getting what he needs. If I can trust myself and work with the professionals, then I have faith that he will surprise us all.

Third, Johnny excels with a little bit of extra attention. Our stay in the NICU for his jaundice was textbook perfect. He ate well, worked stuff out of his system well, and relaxed under those lights like they needed him too. He charmed the nurses there to help take care of him and his levels dropped off exactly as they hoped for. There will be many times in his life that he needs and receives extra attention...and as long as we continue to give it to him, he should do great. 

Fourth, sometimes all you can do is "wait and see". I find it highly ironic that we did the initial blood screening because we told ourselves that we would want to know. But knowing that our baby has Down syndrome tells us so little about who he is or what he needs. Would I do the testing again? In an instant. However, I would tell others, and I need to remind myself, that all you can know from the test is that your baby has an extra chromosome. We have had to wait and see with his jaundice levels, we have to wait and see with his growth as he is still not up to birth weight, we have to still wait and see with his heart, and we have to wait and see how his hearing is. Additionally, we will have to wait and see for a number of years as to how he develops physically and cognitively. There is such a large spectrum of where he could end up and there was/is no amount of preparation or knowledge given ahead of time that will tell us that. 

We love this Baby boy and we are so thankful that we have been open to his lessons in our life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Raptor's Birth Story

I cannot believe it has been two weeks since this whole process got going...

The weekend before Halloween I something wasn't right. I didn't want to do much and was having a lot more contractions, but nothing was consistent or timeable. I did a lot of sitting around and relaxing, but we also took a few family walks knowing that it would be good for me and the baby to get some fresh air and exercise. On Monday I had a big surge of energy and took the girls on a walk to the park with Crystal and her boys and spent a lot of the rest of the day straightening up the house and working on laundry. I did take some time to read and cuddle with the girls. Many friends talk about holding their youngest for the last time before having a new baby because it is the last time they look and feel "small". As Keegan sat on my lap, I stroked her hair and ran my fingers over her hands and feet wondering if I would soon feel that way about her. 

On Tuesday I had an appointment with my Maternal Fetal Specialist so I dropped the girls off at Crystal's house, fully expecting to be back to pick them up in an hour or two. At the specialist, the ultrasound tech began scanning me and immediately asked if I had been leaking fluid. I told her that I was unsure, but I knew I hadn't had a full breakage of water. She continued on with measuring the baby's anatomy and I was pleased to see that Raptor had gained a bit of weight over the weekend. I had eaten a lot of cake and treats over the weekend and knew he or she "needed" that extra layer of fat!!! The ultrasound tech began to measure the amount of fluid in the four quadrants and I was silent as I saw that the numbers were not adding up very quickly. At my appointment the previous Thursday my fluid levels had been 13...these numbers were barely measuring up to 5. I knew from prior talks with Dr. TamTam (our specialist) that they want the fluid number to be between 5 and 20. The tech measured me again to confirm the number and once again asked if I had been leaking any fluid. I told her again, no, and told her that the number she was getting didn't look so good. The techs are not supposed to give any information out so I knew she was trying to be as delicate as possible, but she did confirm that the number was surprisingly low. I wondered what our next course of action would be as I waited for Dr. TamTam to come in. I knew that this could be a possibility, I knew that at any point in time they would pull Raptor...after all wasn't this why I was doing all of these extra appointments? Wasn't this something I was thankful for? Still I was a little shocked and worried that it was developing this way. 

When Dr. TamTam came in the room he did a quick scan and confirmed that my fluid levels were indeed rather low. He also looked for maturation of the lungs and took a good look at the heart. When he was done, we talked about two options that he would discuss with Dr. Norton. He would either send me downstairs to her office to be monitored in office on the NST machine or Dr. Norton could choose to admit me to the hospital for i.v. fluids and monitoring there. He said that the baby looked good and there was no indication that the baby was in distress, but he didn't like how low those fluid levels were. He called Dr. Norton and they decided together that considering I was a day away from being at term anyways it would just be best to admit me to the hospital and we would see where things went from there.

I was shaking as I left the office to collect a few things from home. I quickly called Crystal and Jennifer to get things settled with the girls as they had both confirmed that weekend that they were there to do whatever I needed in the event that I went into labor. I grabbed lunch (Chick-Fil-A of course) and tried to calm my nerves as I grabbed a few things I knew I might need overnight. I laughed at Matt on the phone as he wanted to watch the girls overnight, not understanding that he needed to be at the hospital with me in the event that we were having a baby! I pulled into the hospital parking lot thinking very strongly that I would not be returning back home without Baby Raptor in my arms! I was excited and nervous and scared all at the same time. I checked into the hospital where they started an iv to push fluids to me and thus to the baby as well. Dr. Norton came in to check on me and see where we were. I was delighted to find out that my body was moving towards labor anyways as I was 3 cm dilated. It was encouraging to know that, in the event of an induction, my body was priming itself to move that way as it was. Dr. Norton tried to assess whether or not I was ok with having a baby on Halloween. I exclaimed that I was excited to have this baby and had thought Halloween might be a good day from the start. In fact, I had pestered a friend for a Halloween outfit we had lent her two years prior, just in case Raptor was with us for the big day. I was moved to antepartum and tried to settle in for a day and night of relaxing. I got teary wishing that I had hugged the girls a little bit closer when I dropped them off. I hadn't really thought that I may not be seeing them until the next day or later and had only made it a quick goodbye. I knew they were being well taken care of by friends and tried to push that out of my mind to refocus on Raptor. After all, I was the only one that could care for Raptor at that moment and he or she needed me to rest, relax, and get lots of fluids and food. While in antepartum they monitored me which I was thankful for to hear the strong galloping of Raptor's heart. It was frustrating to get comfortable as every time I moved, they would come in to readjust the monitors. I did not get much sleep that night, but tried to rest as much as I could. I was happy and a bit jealous of Matt's snoring coming from the other side of the hospital room. Early Halloween morning came and an ultrasound tech came to measure my fluid levels again. I had been on an i.v. for 15 hours by then and had drank a ton of water leading up to my midnight cut off of fluids and food. The tech left and shortly after the nurses came in to move me over to labor and delivery...Dr. Norton made the call that it was definitely the day to meet Raptor. The overnight i.v. had not increased my fluid level at all and it was continuing to drop. 

In labor and delivery I met my nurse who was actually the mom of two of my former students. Throughout the morning I continued being monitored as Dr. Norton had several operations that needed to be done that morning and Raptor was doing fine. Just before noon my favorite nurse, Charissa came in to check on me and assured me that she was around for the day to help out as needed. I was so glad to see her smiling face and felt at ease that she would probably be a big part of our day again. At 12:30 Dr. Norton came in to break my water (which wasn't much) and had me started on pitocin. I hate pitocin and apparently so did Raptor. They had to cut off the i.v. of pit after about half an hour because Raptor was not tolerating it very well. My body took that as a jump start though and continued to labor on. This labor was challenging though...with Keegan my mom was able to talk me through my contractions as she watched what was happening on the monitor. It was nice to have someone warn me of a "tricky" contraction that tapered off and restarted or of a longer one. While we are unsure of why, the monitors were not picking up my contractions very well and were not picking up the baby's heart rate well either. They eventually put an internal monitor on Raptor's head to try and get a better feel for what baby was doing and let me tell you...that was odd and a bit uncomfortable. We labored on while they flipped me on my side, on my other side, and at one point on all fours (covered up thank goodness) to try and get better readings on what was going on. When I wasn't contracting we were able to relax a bit, when I was I liked it very quiet except for my mom reminding me to breath and relax and Matt rubbing the small of my back with vigor! We even got a good shot of oxygen at different parts during the day and tried to avoid the smell of the tar being laid on the roof as it was making me extremely nauseous. I recall telling my sister that we did not need a picture of me laboring on all fours...she disagreed, but complied with my wishes. 

Around 3 I began to feel more and more pressure and kept calling for the nurse to check me. She kept telling me that I was only 7 cm and it was going to be awhile before we had the baby. She said that if she restarted the pitocin it was going to be at least two hours and it would probably be longer as they couldn't keep me on it for that long. I was discouraged by the thought of it taking longer than my body was feeling it would body was telling me it would be over very, very soon. They were still having troubles monitoring my contractions and I suppose that, looking at the data alone, it would appear that I was going to take awhile. I have never had a consistent contraction pattern without the help of pitocin and she wasn't able to read any of my contractions that I assured her I was having. Around 3:15 I decided I wanted to rest and asked for the anesthesiologist to come and give me an epidural. I was really happy with this decision as I expected to be in labor for awhile longer and wanted to rest and relax. In my mind, things were taking a long time and basically all hell broke loose in my body. I completely lost focus when I asked for the epidural and allowed my contractions to really get away from me. I begged my mom and Matt to get me help and to see how much longer the epidural was going to be. I tried to explain that I was feeling a lot, a lot, a lot more pressure and movement towards delivery to my nurse and she still didn't believe me. At one point I remember furrowing my brow and wanting to ask "Are you kidding me?". I sincerely thought in my head that she was still telling me it would be awhile because she was waiting for Dr. Norton to get here. I thought that she would soon arrive and they would say "Oh good, we were just joking, let's push this baby out." I knew my body was moving towards delivery and she kept assuring me that it was not. She did call Dr. Norton however to tell her I was getting an epidural and that she might want to make her way over as sometimes the epidural process causes the baby to scoot on out. Moments after the nurse left, I got pretty vocal and was demanding help. I feel bad for Matt, my mom, and my sister because I knew they believed me, but there was nothing they could do for me. I literally wanted to climb out of the bed and escape somewhere...I wasn't sure where, but I felt (and from what I understand looked) like a trapped animal who wanted to get out. I was getting very upset that the nurse wasn't believing me and lacked control as her telling me one thing went directly against what my body was experiencing. As I grappled with myself I felt all sorts of odd things occurring and realized it really was time and I wasn't crazy...the baby was literally coming out. My mom told my sister to go get Charissa and any other nurse because we needed help right away. As my sister left the room she said the nurses could hear me begging for help and came rushing in. Charissa (just like with Keegan) worked to get me back under control as I tried to explain to her that I couldn't help what was happening, my body was pushing and the baby was definitely coming. At some point in t his process, the anaesthesiologist poked her head in to announce she was there with my epidural. I remember calling out "Wrong doctor" as I was frustrated that she had finally made her appearance and that she was not the doctor I wanted to see. I really wanted to throw something at her...but was unable to find something appropriately sized. Once they realized the baby was almost out anyways, they assured me that we were good to go and Charissa and the other nurses delivered my baby with two easy little pushes. Matt announced that we had a little boy at 3:36! I began to bawl as all of the emotions of the pregnancy and the rush of the past twenty minutes left at the same time. I felt no fear, only relief that he was finally here. I thought he was simply beautiful and asked Charissa how he looked as she had been following our journey through our diagnosis. She confirmed that he had some characteristics, but I was really good with that...I just wanted to know.

We were very lucky that he was healthy. Dr. Norton rushed in a few minutes after he was born and none of the specialists she wanted there were able to make it. He hardly cried as he made his way into the world and I made sure the nurses knew to call him Johnny. They weighed the little tyke at 6 pounds 14 ounces and I was able to hold and snuggle him before they took him up to the NICU to be checked out by the neonatologist. 

The neonatoligst said he looked great and had some of the best muscle tone he had seen for a baby with T21. He nursed well, but would frequently get tired as is customary with early babies and with T21. We welcomed him with lots of friends and family coming to visit and the girls loved coming up in their scrubs to visit the hospital. 

After we brought him home we had to return to the hospital on Saturday and Sunday to check his jaundice levels. On Monday at the pediatricians office he checked out well, but his jaundice had gotten very high and we were sent to stay overnight in the NICU. Johnny and I spent the night there with him under the lights getting a nice tan. Once his levels readjusted we were sent back home where we have been ever since.

He is a really good baby and we are overjoyed to have him. I have some good lessons I have learned from him already, but that will be another post.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mac's Bday Parties

We decided to have MacKenzie's birthday party a few weeks early this year for a number of reasons. One, I was worried that I would get more and more tired as I got closer to Raptor's due date (correct). Two, October was massively busy and we didn't want to push her party back into November (good call on our part). Three, Matt had a final the weekend closest to her birthday (and he did pretty well with no extra bday stress).

She has been very into Mickey and Minnie Mouse lately so we decided to have that as our theme for the party. We ordered a dress off etsy, decorated with red, yellow, and black (because I simply don't understand this "updated" Minnie who is pink!) and made Mac's favorite meal of pancakes, eggies, and sausage. We of course indulged in cupcakes too! 

As mentioned previously, we spent time at the pumpkin patch this month too and took a picture of Mac pretty close to her being exactly three years old!

On her real birthday we tried lighting floating didn't work due to mechanical error...we will try again soon!

We also managed to get together at my Dad's with that whole side of the family for a celebration for MacKenzie and my Dad. They enjoy sharing their birthdays together and now Baby Raptor get's to share in the October birthday fun too!!!


My sister is a very talented artist who has painted my belly three times before (twice for Mac, once for Keegan). We mulled over what to paint and decided together on this picture because Baby Raptor reminds us so of a little penguin or Mumble from Happy Feet...we just need to help this little one figure out what it's heart song is. We enjoy our special sister/auntie time with the belly painting and I treasure the experiences we have with painting. I think she nailed this painting exactly and love how cute she did of a job on it.

The next two pictures are my last belly pictures...

 32 weeks

36 weeks

The last weeks of pregnancy treated me well although it got harder and harder to move around towards the end. Matt would chuckle at me rolling around while trying to get out of bed in the night to use the restroom. Most nights I would get up three or four times! I felt great overall though and enjoyed the change to cooler weather so I could go on walks with MacKenzie and Keegan that I knew would be beneficial to all of us!

Mother's Day Out

This year the girls started Mother's Day Out at our church once a week. In short, it has been a really good idea! MacKenzie beams as we go to, leave, and talk about her "church school". She is learning so much and has blossomed under her teachers. She is learning some things that I haven't been working on yet and it is fun to watch her excel even more than she was before. Keegan is having a bit of a harder time warming up to her classmates, but really enjoys coloring and music time. In fact, the music teacher enjoys Keegan a lot more than Mac because she gets enthusiastic participation out of Keegan, whereas Mac gives her looks like "what are you doing". It was nice to have a place to consistently leave the girls for all of my doctor appointments this fall and now it is nice to have one on one time with the new little one!!1

Pumpkin Patch

Last year was our first year to go to the pumpkin patch near our house for fallish pictures of the girls. We were surprised when, this year, Mac exclaimed "I took a picture in a rocking chair here". We cannot believe she remembered our previous trip here from the year before. They did not have the rocking chair out this year, but we enjoyed letting the girls run around and have a bit of a "fall" experience. In fact, we enjoyed the cheap entertainment so much, we went two days in a row. We also picked out 5 small pumpkins for each member of our family that are now happily sitting on our dining room table bringing a little fall to our home. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

MacKenzie at 3


Yesterday we celebrated your third birthday. You have now really, really left all babyhood behind and are without a doubt moving into the classification of kid-dom. How did that happen so fast? Mommy feels like it was just yesterday that we were welcoming visitors in the hospital to come see you and now you are an independent and strong little kid. At the same time, it is hard to remember a time without you. Not that we cannot remember life events before you were born, but we find ourselves looking at pictures or reflecting on different happenings and catch ourselves thinking "Where was Mac or Keegs?" and then shake our head realizing that you tikes weren't born yet! You are such an integral part of our lives and we love all the things we share with you.

Yesterday we took you to your check up at the doctor and I could not have been more proud of you. Your height was just under 40 inches and measured in at the 95th percentile. Your weight was 36 pounds and that placed you at the 90th percentile. Daddy and I were surprised at your weight percentile because you look so skinny and lean to us! You had your very first blood pressure check and you did very well sitting still while the nurse tightened it on your arm. You also had your first eye exam and did perfectly!!! The placed letter cards in front of you so you could point to which one you saw, but instead read every one off perfectly. You did all three lines with ease and have been deemed to possess 20/20 vision!!! The doctor was pleased with all of your progress and scolded Mommy for not telling her you had an ear was I to know?!? You never complained or fussed about your ears hurting. Mommy was a little concerned about your flu shot (in the arm) and your blood draw (with a finger poke), but I think you did better than Mommy does for all of those things. You didn't flinch for either one and you were absolutely riveted by the tech squeezing your blood into the vial for testing. Daddy and I always joke about you becoming a doctor one day, but maybe that really is in the cards! We tried really hard to explain what each procedure was before hand and I think it really helped you to understand the purpose and process behind each part of your visit.

As far as your birthday celebrations go we will post about that later, but rest assured that you had a wonderful time!

For your progress and milestones it is hard to pick and choose just a few to write about. You are starting to sound out small words and do great at memorizing words we see a lot. I love to watch you track letters and words with your finger to mimic what Mommy does when getting you to identify letters or sounds in a book. You are also doing great at remembering good chunks of stories and will sit and read or replicate the story to yourself or your sister. Mommy's heart melted when you and Keegan sat on the couch and you "read" the I'm a Big Sister book by Joanna Cole. It was like your own little reassurance to her about the baby coming soon. Your new favorite books are The Magic School Bus books. We picked up a few at the library and it is so funny to watch you sit and study all the pages as someone reads to you. You will sit quietly and furrow your brow to try and listen to everything that is written. It is fun to watch you go to the library and attempt to pick out as many books as possible in one fell swoop. I hope your thirst for knowledge and reading continues for many years to come.

You really enjoy playing outside more and more and we enjoy taking you on little walks around the block. You soak in everything we say and look for some of our "landmarks" as we walk. You love the houses that have out American flags and Texas flags on display in their yards. In general, you love flags! You also like to look out for water towers on our drives around town or to College Station. You have been asking us if people go swimming in the water towers and if fish live in there too. You seemed a little disappointed when we told you no, but cheered up at the sight of birds resting on top of the water towers when we drive by.

Speaking of birds and fish, your love for animals grows every day. You love all sorts of animals and will not waste an opportunity to see a live one or fake one at every chance you get. You will hold your toy animals delicately in your cupped hands and say "Awwwww, he is sooo little, he is soooo cute." You also like to see that they are all taken care of and will either find a suitable bed for them in the cushions of a couch or chair or in various boxes, purses, and other items. We thought you were anti-doll until you received a Rapunzel baby doll from a family friend for your birthday. Apparently you don't mind dolls if they have long, yellow hair just like you! You love to take care of her and play with her.

Dee and Doc took you recently and marveled at how much you talk! They said you didn't stop talking the entire way from Houston to College Station. I told them it was a good sign of how much you like them! You don't necessarily yammer on about nothing, but you like to get your point across and you like clarification. You want to know where the sun, moon, and stars are when we are outside or in the car. You like to know what people are doing or where they are driving. You ask about our family and friends and where they are at any given time. One of the things we marvel at is your killer memory. You can remember things we did up to a year ago that we haven't talked to you about ever! When we headed to the pumpkin patch this year, you remembered the rocking chair they had last year and asked where it was and if you could sit in it. I hope you can put that memory to good use.

Baby girl, I know there is much, much more I want to report on, but I have another post dedicated for later to list some of your favorites at 3. We just wanted to make sure you know today and every day how much you are loved and how much we have cherished the past three years with you in our arms. We marvel at the amazing creature you are and feel entirely blessed to be a part of your life. Thank you for making me a Mommy and Daddy a daddy!!!

Happy birthday with love,
Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


This is longish...and does mention termination...reader beware...

It took us a few months to get pregnant with Baby Raptor. Not long in the scheme of things (our hearts go out to friends and family who have had or are trying for much longer than that), but it did take a few months and it was disheartening to see negative pregnancy tests or to realize that the previous month had been unsuccessful. As we were trying in the third month, I remember really turning this over to God. It is something Matt and I have been trying to do for a year and a half now, turning things over to God and recognizing His sovereignty in our lives. So I prayed that God would work His will in our lives and that He was fully aware of what we wanted, but for His work to be done through us. How was I to know that He was working on us in such a larger way than we could have ever expected?

We were ecstatic to see the positive test. I think we cherished that secret for even longer than we did with the girls, it was so nice to know we had another little one coming our way. I love being pregnant and knowing that my body is performing an absolute miracle is amazing to me. I love being a part of something that is so much larger than I can control. In a way, I feel "chosen", chosen to be a vessel that nourishes and cares for a little life who is sacred. And my body has always worked for me before, so there were absolutely no thoughts otherwise in my mind.

I did have a very odd pregnancy dream early on that threw me off. Take dreams for what you will, but I find it interesting to think about this dream in relation to what we know now. I dreamt that I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who I could not have been prouder of that was then promptly replaced by a baby rabbit. I was mad, I was reeling from my loss, I was in practical hysterics. My nurses and doctor assured me that everything was going to be ok, that this wasn't common, but sometimes these things did happen. I angrily told everyone that I didn't WANT this, that I wanted my other baby back. The dream touched me so much that I asked my doctor to promise me that I wasn't going to give birth to a rabbit. She assured me that it wouldn't be the case. When I told Matt about it, he offhandedly suggested that maybe it meant the baby would be born with special needs. We both shook our heads at the thought...of course that isn't it...that wouldn't happen to us.

If you have read previous posts, you know what we went through from weeks 12-20 in waiting for our diagnosis. There were definite moments of "Why me" as if we were being punished. There were definite times that Matt and myself would compartmentalize and knew we couldn't fix or do anything about it so we shrugged it away. There were times when I went back to God and told Him that we were turning this over to Him even though part of me knew that, given the chance, I would jump in and hand mold this child to my liking, to my wants, and to my idea of perfection.

I cried at the research done that showed how many people, in our situation, make the choice to end the lives of their baby. Research suggests that, of the children (like our Raptor) who have been prenatally diagnosed with Trisomy 21, somewhere between 70-90% are terminated. The figures from what I can tell are actually closer to the 90%, but even 70% is outrageously high. I find it interesting that as I walked the Carenet Walk for Life this year, I knew I was pregnant. I almost made shirts for the girls that said "I am life" and one for myself that, at my belly, also said "I am life". My baby was alive! Even at 12 weeks, he or she was moving, responding, and looked like a human baby. And as devastated as we were to find out that T21 was even a possibility, we knew that this wasn't a mistake. We knew that he or she was not merely a "clump of cells". We knew that he or she could make contributions to society. We knew that he or she was not just something that needed to be taken care of. What scares Matt and I even more is the idea that this 90% could get even higher. Tests are out now that can diagnose T13, T18, T21, and a few gender related Chromosomal disorders with a simple blood draw. This means no invasive testing and it means earlier results. More and more women and men could glean the knowledge that their child has different genes at an earlier gestational age and could (and will) make decisions based on that. Furthermore, insurance companies have now started covering some of this testing under the label of "preventative testing". The only way to prevent these chromosomal disorders is to (a) not get pregnant in the first place or (b) terminate the child once the disorder is detected.

What if we just left these children alone? What a difference that might show in the makeup of our society. Imagine if these children were left to continue to grow in their mother's womb and either raised by their own parents or given to the couples that are on a waiting list to adopt children specifically with Down syndrome. If these children were given time to grow, how many would be in our elementary schools? Research has shown that at least 1,000 children prenatally diagnosed with T21 are terminated in England each year. The figures and data are more difficult to get here in the USA because of a number of reasons, but trends suggest that at least that many are terminated here as well. What astounds me even more is the fact that Down syndrome of 20 years ago is not the same Down syndrome of today. More and more kids with Down syndrome are being mainstreamed in the regular education classroom, more and more kids are learning to drive, going off to college, living on their own, and getting married (God I hope Raptor falls in love and gets married...I want to dance with my husband at each of my kid's weddings). Early intervention is showing that kids with Down syndrome aren't necessarily mentally retarded, many times it is a matter of learning delays or learning differently. Why then are these children being terminated? We did the testing so we would "know" if there were any issues that we needed to be prepared for, we have since learned that, at least with T21, there is no testing that can be done prenatally that will tell us that much about our child. Even though we know Raptor has an extra chromosome, that tells us very little about who he or she is and what he or she will be capable of. Why won't others realize this too?

Matt and I were discussing last night after watching this video about the termination "issue". We are sure that, at some point, we will be asked if we ever considered abortion. The easiest answer is "No, we never considered abortion". But the real answer is more complicated that that. When you are faced with something that seems like such a struggle, when you are faced with something that seems larger than you can handle, when you are faced with something that you did not want, you look for solutions. You look for a way to fix it. You look for a way to get around it. And, as discussed, the only "fix" is termination. And we realized that, so termination did cross our minds, but it was never, ever a consideration or possibility. It was a "fix" that we knew had such horrible repercussions that we would never give it room in our minds and in our hearts for more than a fleeting second or two. And, it was such a fleeting thought, we never had to discuss it with one another, we knew we would keep this child no matter what.

The video did bring up a lot of feelings we had though. The idea about Why us? The idea that this sort of thing wasn't supposed to happen to people like us. The idea that we were somehow better or more perfect than this diagnosis. But Matt and I have shifted our thoughts. Before we asked "Why us?" and now we are asking "For what purpose us?". We want to know why this baby has been placed with us and what we are supposed to do with him or her in an entirely new way. As the day we meet him or her rapidly approaches, we are excited and nervous for the moment. It has been a long journey and we have already grown so much in the past 22 weeks. We know that this child has so much to teach all of us and hope we can do him or her justice.

This summer

I had a blast with the girls this summer and am very happy to be continuing that time at home with them! We tried to do many things with them over the hot months, some of which worked out better than others...

Going on a little family trip to Galveston (previously posted about) was pretty good. We learned a few things about traveling as a family and overall I think the girls had a good time. 

We grew some Baby Raptor! This is what I looked like a long, long time ago. This pregnancy has been a little tougher. With all of the emotions of learning about our diagnosis, the extra hormones surging through my body, and the fact that my bones, ligaments, and joints are a little loose from having three in three have been a bit of a challenge. However, we are still very, very happy to be expecting this little one! 

We do a lot of reading and not much laundry in our house :) MacKenzie loves to read, she always has and that love has merely grown over the past few months. She has started reading more to herself and trying to remember what is on each page of her favorite books. Keegan is getting more into books, but she likes certain books only. We also go to the library somewhat regularly to check out new books, find Signing Time DVDs, and explore in a very well air conditioned environment.  

We did a lot of exploring and walking. This is at Dee and Doc's house, but we also have been exploring the Children's Museum (thanks to MiMi and PawPaw for our membership), we have walked a lot of malls trying to get Auntie Crystal to go into labor, explored some parks, and our own neighborhood a lot.

One of our favorite activities this summer was blueberry picking. We went a total of three times and really enjoyed it. The place we went was family owned, had a great price, and didn't mind how much you grazed while you picked. When we got home each time we would eat a handful or two fresh, then washed and froze the rest. I have been slowly portioning out the frozen ones so we might have blueberry muffins at least once a month until next summer when we can pick more!

In addition to these things we have gone swimming and to a couple splash pads, spent time with friends and family, and have just enjoyed ourselves in what was a fairly mild summer. I really enjoy and treasure my time at home with the girls and think they enjoy it as well!