Thursday, February 16, 2012

Baby Caleb

Pregnancy is really hard on me. And being pregnant in my 30s has been even more difficult. But seeing Caleb's fat cheeks, and being able to kiss his adorable little nose, and smell that newborn head, I can say it is worth it!

I'll admit that having given birth to 35- and 37-week babies has spoiled me. My last two pregnancies were so mentally and emotionally challenging because I was thinking "any day now" for the entire last month. And Caleb decided he wasn't ready until 4 days before my due date--the longest I've ever been pregnant!

I’d been pretty discouraged that I was quickly approaching my due date and NOTHING seemed to be happening! I'd experienced some good contractions, but hadn't had those "false labor" episodes that at least signaled that the end was near. I became increasingly discouraged as my due date grew nearer.

So I spent a lot of time praying and trying to be patient. It was actually at church on Sunday, while I was reading the words to the Hymn “Master, the Tempest is Raging” during Sacrament Meeting, the words at the end of the 2nd verse struck me as profound: A plea to the Lord to “Hasten, and take control!” I’d been frustrated that I had no control over this life-changing event. I was anxious about when things would happen. I was frustrated that I couldn’t plan my life. I was anxious about how things would play out. As I started to remember more vividly the pains of childbirth, I began to question my desire to have another natural birth, and I started doubting my ability to handle it. I worried about caring for a newborn again, and how my life would change. But as I read the words to the Hymn, the thought came into my mind, “You want to be in control of this, but aren’t things always better when He is in control?” And the chorus reminds that all of the elements sweetly obey His will. And Peace, be still. And I did feel peace and trust again that He knew what was best.

Interestingly enough, it was that very night that I began labor. I’d had a few contractions in the evening, which wasn’t unusual. I went to bed for a few hours and awoke at about 2am to a hard contraction. I laid in bed for about 45 minutes until I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep through them as they became increasingly more intense. So I got up and read for a while.

This labor was very similar to Rachel's. The contractions became more and more hard, intense, and took much more concentration to get through them. But they didn't get close together. In fact, they were still quite irregular. I went to the bathroom around 4:00 and chatted with Vince about what to do. As I laid in bed again, the contractions actually stopped. After about 1/2 hour I decided this must not be the real thing, so I thought we should just go back to sleep. But then at 4:30, I got hit HARD by a very strong contraction. That was the turning point for me! I knew then that this was it.

So we made calls to the midwife and my mom and got ready to head in to the hospital. My sister, Beth, came to stay with the kids and Mom followed us to the hospital. We got there a little after 6am. I was still worried about them checking me and hooking me up and that the contractions would stop and I'd be sent home. So I was anxious to see if I'd progressed from the 3 cm I was at my last appointment. Fortunately, I was already at a 6, and they let me stay!

I was able to get in the tub around 7:00. I tried that for a while, and made some progress, but my contractions were still far apart and a bit irregular. When I was around 8 cm I decided to get out and try sitting on the birthing ball and standing to help move things more quickly.

The last hour was definitely the most difficult. That was the point in which my brain turned foggy. And although I could hear and was aware of things going on around me, I became so focused on myself and what was going on in my own body. I knew I wasn't thinking clearly. I remember people asking me questions about trying different positions or techniques, but I couldn't answer except for "I don't know."

Up to this point, my water was still intact. I had a hard time feeling the overwhelming urge to push, so I asked my midwife to break my water. (I was almost fully dilated.) The same as with Rachel, as soon as she broke my water, Caleb's head descended quickly. I definitely felt the urge then! Pushing was more difficult with Caleb than with any of my others that I can remember. But it didn't take very long. And at 9:52 am a beautiful baby boy was born into our family! It was a very emotional experience for me as they laid him on my chest. I cried a lot. I went through so much to get him here, and was so happy to finally have my baby boy.

At first I thought we would name him Adam, but when we saw him, it just didn’t fit. After much discussion that day, we decided to name him Caleb. He was 7 lbs 11 oz and 19 ½ inches long. He looks a lot like his daddy, and similar to his siblings, but with his own unique Caleb look. We are already so smitten with this new little bundle of joy!

Here he is at one month! This month has gone by so fast already! (Much faster than the month BEFORE he was born!)

We’re especially grateful that he is here! And that he is healthy. And that I am healthy. We truly have been blessed.

Catching Up--2011

I have been horrible about blogging this past year. It's been an intense year. I had a hard time coping from my miscarriage, and suffered another in April. My church calling has been quite demanding, and I didn't feel like I had much to contribute to the blogging world. So forgive me for neglecting 2011. Here are some highlights from last year to catch you up:

Evan turned 8 this Spring and decided to be Baptized! It was wonderful to have so many people come to support him on this special day.

I love this picture of Evan with Vince's Grandma: Great-Grandma Aldridge.

Evan with his Grandparents:

Our three amigos! (Or perhaps the three stooges?)

Turning 8 also means becoming a Cub Scout! Evan's first Pack Meeting was the Pinewood Derby. He won 2nd place!

Grandpa Hogge has a wonderful tradition of taking the grandkids to General Conference after they turn 8. Evan was so excited to go!

We had a great vacation at our favorite Montana lake!

One of our most exciting (and most expensive!) events of 2011 was the purchase of Vince's new toy!
We've been waiting (and saving) for this baby for a L-O-N-G time! And although we didn't get the boat until the end of the summer, it still got plenty of use before it got too cold. Here are some of my favorite pictures on the lake:

Notice Vince's awesome grin...

A few GREAT crashes!

And a few more of my favorite pictures of 2011:

Brooke & Evan's first day of school:


(Notice my lovely costume!)

And our last family pictures of the year!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Give Thanks in All Things

I've debated whether or not to post this, and how much to say. But I feel that part of the grieving process is me sorting through my thoughts and feelings and getting them written down. Skip the details if it's too much. And know that this is more for me than anything.

It's been quite the whirlwind of a week. Probably the scariest experience of my life. I miscarried on Wednesday morning. I was 14 weeks. It was my first miscarriage and has obviously been rough. I didn't have much time to prepare, even though I spotted early on in this pregnancy for several weeks. Once I stopped (it's been over a month of no signs of problems) and hearing and seeing the baby's heartbeat, and moving into the 2nd trimester, I figured I was out of danger.

I was getting ready to go to yoga on Tuesday night and discovered some brown spotting around 8pm. I was concerned, but not too worried. But as the evening went on I realized I'd been cramping that evening. Went to bed and woke up at 1am because the cramping was painful. Really worried as it seemed to come in intervals too. Didn't see any blood, in fact I'd stopped spotting. Went back to sleep until 2am when it was so painful I couldn't sleep. Still no more bleeding. But called the midwife on call and as I was talking to her, I started bleeding. Rushed to the bathroom and miscarried right away. It came so fast, I really didn't feel prepared.
After about 1/2 hour I realized it wasn't stopping. I fell on the floor close to passing out, and called to Vince to get my mom here fast. They helped me to the car and I spent the next 20 minutes with the A/C blowing on me trying not to black out.

I about passed out again in the ER. They pumped me full of fluids and I stabilized. They tried to see how much placenta was still in, did an ultrasound, and found some left. The bleeding had slowed down at that point, but then around 4:30 I started cramping a LOT. More painful than before even. Over the next hour to 90 minutes I began bleeding again. The DR suggested a D&C, but then came back upset. Because of hospital policy, I wasn't an emergency case so they had to wait for the OR staff to come in at 7 to do the procedure. But by 7:00 I was crashing again. Willed myself to not go unconscious. I think my BP was around 40/19 at this point. They again pumped me with fluids and put me on oxygen till I could stabilize. But because they'd had to wait to get me to the OR for the procedure, I lost a lot of blood. My hemocrit levels went from 36 when I came in to 18.5 when I came out of surgery. I'd lost 1/2 my blood. They ended up doing a transfusion, and I had to be admitted for several hours. Levels looked better by later in the afternoon and I went home around 3:00.

I've been trying to process the fact that I could have bled to death, and that I lost my sweet baby. Experiencing the miscarriage at home was enough of a trauma. But I spent several days not being able to sleep well because of worry. I didn't want to have that scary experience again. And part of me had fought so hard to stay conscious that it was difficult to let it go and sleep. But the trauma of it has slowed way down, though now the grieving part has hit.

But through all of this I have come to be so thankful. I am so very grateful to be alive. I am grateful for modern medicine. I know without medical and divine intervention, I would have bled to death. So many things could have gone much worse. I'm so glad Vince was here, as he was 5 hours away all the week before. And I was grateful this didn't happen in MT for Thanksgiving next week.

Another great blessing I've come to appreciate is the amazing outpouring of love. I am so overwhelmed. I have loved the sweet notes, phone calls, hugs, tears, babysitting, clean bathrooms, chocolates, cupcakes, LOTS of cookies, and SO much food that has been given to us. (We really have no more room in our fridge!) I have been so amazed at all the love and concern I have felt from so many. I have seen so many other women and families who have experienced similar or worse tragedies, and have come to mourn with me as I mourn. These are examples of true Christians--true disciples of Christ. And most of all I have felt literally strengthened by many, many prayers offered in behalf of me and my family. I know that we are an eternal family. I know that the Lord feels my sorrow and I have felt the Comforter lift and sustain me through all my grief. I have been amazed also to feel such grief and such gratitude in the same moment. I am so blessed. There is much to be Thankful for.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Six Little Pumpkins

We went to the store tonight and bought pumpkins--one for each member of the family. :0)

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goodbye 20's, HELLLLOOOOO 30's!!!

As soon as I found out the Ogden Marathon was going to be on my 30th Birthday, I just KNEW I had to run it! Ogden was my favorite race--great volunteers, well organized, beautiful course, perfect time of year! So I signed up a good 6 months in advance. Good thing too, since it filled up so quickly this year.

I started training in the winter with a pretty good running base. But it was about mid-January, when I started running further AND trying to increase my speed all at once, that I began feeling pain in my left knee. It quickly turned from a nagging ache to a sharp, stabbing pain that forced me to stop completely. It got to the point that I couldn't run more than 2 miles without stopping. It was SO extremely frustrating. I knew my weeks were limited and that I couldn't just wait it out for several months while waiting for my knee to heal. The hardest part for me was that I felt so confused. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on what would help, or who to see. Rest it. Don't rest it. Ice it. Heat it. Stretch it. I was afraid to try anything because I just wasn't sure what would help and what would hurt it more.

But I'm so blessed to have a good, loving husband who gave me some wise counsel. After complaining through tears, he gently suggested that I just do all the things I know I should be doing (staying hydrated, warming up and cooling down, stretching, icing it consistently, etc.) and, with a little rest, see if that would help.

During this time, I'd also been struggling emotionally. I felt overwhelmed with my life in general. I felt that there was just way more to get done than I had the time to do. I felt so stretched, that I was doing so many things, but not doing any of them well. Not being able to run (which is such a stress-reliever for me) didn't help. It was around this same time that I was reading an article in the Ensign magazine about being Spiritually prepared. As I read, Vince's words came back to me: "Are you staying hydrated, warming up, stretching consistently? Are you doing those things you know will keep your knee healthy?" And I thought about how I'd been doing spiritually. The words came clear into my mind: "Are you reading your scriptures, praying, attending the Temple consistently? Are you doing those things you know will keep your Spirit healthy?" It was a huge moment for me. I know there is a strong connection between my physical and spiritual well-being. And I know that even though my problems with my knee didn't matter to my eternal well-being, because it mattered so much to ME now, I knew it mattered to my Heavenly Father. I knew it was important to Him because it was important to me.

So I began stretching and drinking more water. I also began praying more fervently and consistently. I originally thought it would be ONE key event, and my knee would be "fixed." But I began to see this as a process. I realized that it probably wouldn't click and be healed, that I'd probably have to baby it and work on it all along the way, and that I would still feel it, but that it would be manageable enough that I could run.

I had lots of thoughts of giving up. Maybe this was a sign that my body wasn't ready for a marathon right now. Maybe it was too much too soon. But I wanted this SO much! After all, this was MY marathon! This was my birthday gift to myself.

I've spent most of my life looking ahead to being a young, married mom. I'd always longed for the days that I'd have babies and start to raise them. I never really looked beyond that. (Who knows, maybe no one does.) I think turning 30, even though it's just a number, forced me to see beyond that. Once I get comfortable in a situation, I'm usually content to stay there. Why change if things are good? It's hard for me to step out into the unknown. Getting old seems so unknown to me!! And I know 30 isn't old. But it's made me realize that changes are ahead. And I hate change. So I wanted so much to run this as a celebration of my 30 years! Rather than mourn the loss of my youth, I wanted to celebrate what I've done, where I've been, and how I've lived!

These were the thoughts I took with me to the starting line.

The day started bright and early. (Well, actually DARK and early. Way too early.) I met my good friend, Heidi (pictured at the end in yellow) at 4:30am and we were able to load on the buses and take the long ride up to the start together. It's so fun to be in her company. She's upbeat and has a wonderful perspective on life. I love chatting with her. We huddled as close to the fires as we dared, trying to keep our muscles semi-warm. I was lucky enough to run with her for the first couple of miles, until she bolted ahead for her big finish.

Those first miles flew by so quickly! I was trying to suck in all the beauty of every mile. It's fun to see all those runners; I wondered what each of their stories were. I wondered at the lady who had pictures of a woman and the words, "Running for Robin" on her back. I wondered at the woman who was running for Huntsman Cancer research, whose note on her back said that one year ago today she was diagnosed with cancer, and here, today, was running for her own cause. I wondered at the couple who ran (and walked) hand-in-hand for much of the race. I wondered at the couple who carried the flags all 26.2 miles. Actually, I wondered enough to ask them. This was their 10th year running with the flags! How cool is that? I loved listening to the stories of the first-timers, and I tried to give them encouragement and told of my first experience, and how much I love marathons! All these helped me remember why I do this.

I wish I could say it was all easy and enjoyable. It wasn't. Inevitably my legs got tired, then sore, then fatigued, then painful! But I love that when it got really tough, I'd see a gorgeous bird, or a sparkling lake, or get a downhill section to help kick me past the hard spots. And if there wasn't something to distract me, that's when my thoughts would turn to my parents, siblings, friends, in-laws, Vince & my kids to help me through. I knew they were cheering me on and had faith in me to see this through. It helped so much to have Vince & Rachel jog along with me at the halfway mark. It was so good to see them and help me transition to OVER halfway there!

I found it interesting that the hard sections came at different points for me this time than the last time I ran Ogden. It was the hardest from about miles 10-12. And then again from 14-17. But once I got to the dam, I felt great! I started to pick up speed again. The last 4 miles, though, were really rough, whereas last time I finished strong. But this time I was tired and ready to be done. I first thought that I'd at the very least, be able to break 5 hours. I missed it by 3 minutes. :( But I was okay with that, all things considered. Plus it gives me another goal to shoot for next time!

But this race was a real emotional one for me. I spent a lot of those hours and hours reflecting on how blessed my life is. I was so grateful that my prayers were answered, that my knee healed so well that I could run! I thought a lot about these last 30 years. I thought about my childhood, and how simple and fun life was then. I thought about my adolescence, and my childhood friends. I thought about getting married and how blessed I am to have found Vince. I thought about my kids and how wonderful they are and how much I need my family. And it hit me over and over again how incredibly lucky I am! I have been given so much! It has been a wonderful 30 years. And yet I still have so much more to look forward to.

When I finally reached that last long stretch to the finish line, feeling so grateful, I couldn't help but spill out all those emotions when I saw Vince, & my sister, & sisters-in-law & their husbands, & my dear friend, Vanasa there cheering for me! And I thought of how far I'd really come getting to this point. Not just getting to this point in the race (which was a huge relief), but in getting to this point in my life. Things aren't perfect, and never will be in this life, but they are so, so good. And I am happy.