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Posted on Jun 20, 2017 in Devotional, Fertility, Health, Parenting, Spiritual Life | 7 comments



Although there are many things I don’t recall, fear is one thing I remember well from the first few days of Redmond’s life.

Unplanned c-section because the baby was in distress. Baby taken from me without so much as a glance. Phrases like “very sick”, “breathing problems”, “Down Syndrome”, and “NICU” scatter through my mind.

Day two of his life, words like pulmonary hypertension and oxygen levels suddenly became things I needed to understand. Lungs and heart that weren’t working right. Ventilators, nitrate, blood sugar, monitors, and nurses and doctors and help. Lots and lots of help.

“Sickest baby in the NICU.”

I was so numb and confused, in shock, the words barely phased me. But they got the attention of the nurses and doctors who cared for me after my c-section. Suddenly, less than 24 hours after surgery, I was showered, dressed, given a fist full of prescriptions, and driven to the NICU an hour away to sit with my baby, hold his hand. The baby’s doctor stared at me in shock. “Why are you here. In JEANS?” I wasn’t sure where else I was supposed to be or what I should’ve been wearing. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. He gave me a lecture about how I needed to take care of myself if I was going to take care of my baby. I was to eat regular meals, sleep as much as I could, and not push myself too hard. I was to remember that I’d just had major surgery and take it easy.

I heard the doctor and followed his orders. Through blind tears, I allowed myself to be wheeled around in a wheelchair, driven back and forth from the hospital to the Ronald McDonald House, and told when to take the medications I needed for pain. I tried to sleep, but had to wake up to pump every few hours.  Then I’d wake up in a panic every morning, wondering what was happening with my baby and how I could just leave him in the hands of strangers.

The numb confusion started to lift when the phone rang early on the morning of his third day of life. We’d been told the night before that he’d made it for the first 36 hours, so he was not likely to need to be transferred for the one kind of care our hospital could not offer. But when the phone rang, we learned he was to be transported to a bigger hospital, about 40 miles away, to have the chance to go on a heart and lung bypass machine. He might not need it, but they didn’t want to wait any longer to chance it.

Redmond was very sick. He needed more help than what he could get at the hospital he was in. Suddenly, I was very aware that this was serious. My baby might actually die. I jerked into action, signing papers and asking questions and trying to focus on what each person said to me.

Emotions flooded over me. Guilt. So much guilt. I was 41 years old and the likelihood of Down Syndrome increases exponentially with the age of the mother. I had gestational diabetes that wasn’t well-controlled, in spite of my efforts. He had complications from that. If I had been in better shape. If I had tried harder. If I had listened to my gut and ignored the strange rules from the doctors and nutritionists to eat carbohydrates, he wouldn’t be so sick. Shame. I was so ashamed. Memories of studies I’d read stating that the age of the father is now known to affect the baby’s health as well flooded over me. My husband was 52.

Illogical, panicked thoughts woke me up with a jerk every time I fell asleep. I was like King David of the Bible. God took the son of King David and Bathsheba. David fasted and prayed for the child’s life, but when the baby died, he got up, washed, and ate. In my muddled state, I forgot that David was punished by God for serious sin – including murder and adultery. My son was not the result of any sin, but I had irrational thoughts that he would die and I’d have to get up, wash my face, and get on with life. (I discovered that one of the medications I was taking for pain sometimes caused people to have terrible dreams and jerk awake in a state of panic.)

I flew down to the baby’s room at the crack of dawn, walking rather than taking the prescribed wheelchair (because my husband wasn’t moving fast enough for my panicked mind), nearly hyperventilating with fear. I couldn’t breathe. I just knew I’d arrive in his room to find him gone, hospital workers waiting to tell me in person, rather than call and disturb the last peace we’d ever know.

But there he was, laying quietly, an enormous machine run by four people beeping and humming, keeping him alive. ALIVE.

I dissolved into tears, breathing for what felt like the first time in minutes, barely able to stand with the relief that flooded me. As they stared at me, I tried to explain. But the words wouldn’t come. Instead, I stumbled to his bedside, took his limp and swollen hand, and poured out the words that God placed in my heart in that moment. God had felt so far away from me, but in that moment His presence rushed in and I spoke truth.

“Redmond Samuel Wyse, you are a gift from God. Every moment of your precious life is a gift. And whether I have you for six days, six months, six years, or a lifetime, I will be grateful for every single moment. You are an answer to my prayers, and I cherish every moment I’ve had with you – every moment of that horrible pregnancy, and every fear-filled, terrible moment since you were born. You are a gift and I’m grateful for you.”

And with those words that I hadn’t felt just moments before, things changed. Love rushed in, replacing numbness and thoughts that maybe it would be better if he didn’t make it. Love replaced efforts I’d been unwittingly making to protect my heart from the pain of losing him. Love reminded me that in Christ, every life is precious and worthwhile, even the lives of babies with Down Syndrome, congenital heart defects, and pulmonary hypertension. Love rushed in, reminding me that God is greater than any fear, any doubt, and any lie from Satan.

That was very early on a Sunday morning. It would be six very long days before he’d be taken off the heart and lung bypass machine. It would be six scary days of praying that he wouldn’t have a bleeding event. It would be six days of feeling helpless, eating hospital food that was brought to me, pumping to provide milk for him when he was able to eat, sitting on bright orange chairs in front of large windows that overlooked a massive cemetery, riding in a wheelchair back and forth to the Ronald McDonald House, jumping every time the phone rang. But on the sixth day, he was taken off the machine and his heart and lungs functioned well enough to stay off it.

The next day, when he was ten days old, I was able to hold him for the first time. I cried the ugly cry, tears and sobs and gratitude all mixed into a snotty mess. He was covered in tubes, wires, cords, and contraptions. It took three people to pick him up to place him in my lap. His ventilator was pinned to my shirt. I couldn’t get close enough to kiss him until they put him back, at which time the nurse held his little head close to mine for a quick kiss. But I was holding him. I sang him songs and marveled at his tiny body, then fell asleep in a blissfully rare moment of relaxation and joy.

For a week after that, I was able to hold him once a day. One time, Rick held him, although he grumbled quite a bit about it, worried he would pull on one of the tubes going in and out of him, worried he might break the fragile boy.

When he was four days old, the day they put him on the bypass machine, I called my in-laws and asked them to bring the older kids up to meet their baby brother. I was seized with fear that he would die before they got to meet him. It suddenly became a terrible fear. How could I explain to them that the baby died if they never got to see him alive?

And so they came, arriving just moments after Redmond’s surgery to have giant tubes inserted into his neck. The tubes allowed blood to be pumped out of his heart, artificially oxygenated by the machine, then pumped back into his heart. It was a terrible time for a visit, straining the nerves of the nurses and specialists, but still very important to me.

The kids were held up by their daddy, allowed to touch the baby’s hand, and then taken out quickly. We went to a play area in the hospital where the kids could get out some energy. I sat in my wheelchair and cried, the numbness worn off, so very sad that my baby was fighting for his life in another part of the hospital. Sad that I couldn’t run and play with my older kids while I had them with me. Sad that I had ruined our perfect, lovely life, free from hardship and pain.

A few days after the bypass machines rolled out of his room, the fear in my heart began to let loose a bit. When they took him off the ventilator, the fear let go some more. Every step along the way, fear has had to go, little by little.

Today, at home with weeks having passed without any need for hospitalization, fear only pops up from time to time. It’s still hanging around, but it isn’t hovering, dark and sinister, taking up all the space in my mind.

“God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear.” It’s the truth. Fear isn’t from God. But it’s very real when a baby’s life hangs by a thread. God gave me ways to manage fear and get through it, but it was very real and present.

Those early days in the hospital, I kept looking around for someone to come and offer me a temporary fix for the fear and sadness. Where’s the wine? Where’s the Xanax? Where’s the massage therapist to work the stress out of my muscles? Where’s the counselor to help me with these crazy thoughts?

The people that kept showing up, over and over again, were my church’s pastors. They prayed. They sat and listened. My sister and mom helped me remember that in the worst of times, we laugh to get through it. We find the funny, even through our tears. The nurses and doctors didn’t offer me a temporary fix. I didn’t take one nerve pill, didn’t drink one drop of alcohol. I slept. I ate. I leaned hard on my husband. I sang praise songs. A few days before we left the hospital, I got a massage. A social worker showed up one day and helped me work through some of my guilt and shame. Then I never saw her again.

I don’t know how to wrap up this post. I could write and write and write. I’m not sure I’d ever run out of words. In fact, I have written and written. Thousands of words. I try to edit them down and just write more. In the coming months, I’ll try to post them. I’ll try to share a bit of what this has been like. And you’ll have to forgive the repeats and the stumbles and the grammatical errors. Or point them out to me so I can fix them later.

All I know to say in closing is that God has not given me a spirit of fear, but fear snuck in anyway. What God did was help me through my fear. What God continues to do today is help me through the fear. Gratitude is slowly taking over as I cuddle and nurture the sweet, sweet baby boy He placed in my arms. My heart is at peace.

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Posted on Mar 25, 2017 in Fertility, Health, Parenting | 4 comments

It’s Another Boy!

It’s Another Boy!

I’m so pleased to introduce you to our second son, Redmond Samuel Wyse. He has had us on quite a roller coaster ride for these last 23 days, some of which you may already know from my public Facebook posts. He was born on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017, at 4:21 p.m. in our local hospital. He weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces, and was 20 1/2″ long. He was born just before 38 weeks, via an unplanned c-section.

At around 37 weeks into my pregnancy, Redmond shifted from a very active baby to not moving much at all. The midwife and OB had been supervising my pregnancy closely because of gestational diabetes. We had some warnings that his heart might not be exactly as it should be, but repeated ultrasounds showed no reason for concern.  Redmond moved less and less that week, which I attributed to his growing size and getting squished in there. But Wednesday morning he stopped moving all together. I tried everything to get him to move, then decided we needed to get to the hospital right away. I began to panic, afraid I had waited too long.

As soon as we arrived at the hospital, the nurse pulled out the doppler and we heard his heart beating. I was so relieved. Although his heart was beating, they soon realized he was in distress and a c-section needed to happen right away. I was able to remain calm until he was out, but then I knew something was very wrong. They didn’t let me see him and suddenly my world turned upside down. The very wise anesthesiologist gave me something for anxiety. I sent Rick to be with Redmond while they worked on him and I slept in the recovery room.

That night, Redmond was taken to a larger hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He’d been put on a ventilator and I was only able to see him inside of a closed travel crib for a few moments. Too medicated to fully grasp what was happening, I went back to sleep. I was aware that there was a problem, but felt completely numb. It’s strange to write those words, but I believe that was actually the very thing I needed at that time. How could I have handled the weight of what was happening to my son, totally unable to be with him or do anything to help?

The next day we were told that Redmond was the sickest baby in the NICU and they were not sure what to do with him. I was released from the hospital less than 24 hours after my c-section, driven home by a wonderful friend who is also a nurse at the hospital, and was soon on my way to see my baby about an hour away. My sister dropped everything that day, got on a plane from the Carolinas, and actually beat me to the NICU. I am so grateful for her and all she did over the next several days to keep me calm and focused, asking intelligent questions when I could think of nothing, and buying a large quantity of snacks (and supplies)!

A few days later, Redmond was transferred to a larger hospital about 80 miles from our home. The hospital he’d been in was excellent, but had done everything they could do for him. They felt like a treatment called ECMO (for more info, watch a video about it here: was what he might need. Redmond had several heart issues and his lungs weren’t working like they were supposed to work. ECMO, a heart/lung bypass, would allow them to rest and have some time to start working. The photo below is what his room looked like with the ECMO machine, ventilator, and other equipment he needed.

When he was just 3 days old, he was put on ECMO. We had our older children, Eliana and Charlie, come up to the hospital with their grandparents to meet him. We weren’t sure if it was a good idea to let them see him with so many things attached to him, but decided they needed to see their brother alive. It was a terrible thing to have to decide, but they handled it very well. We allowed them to briefly see and touch him, then we took them into a play area in the hospital. While they ran and played, I sat in a wheelchair and cried. I cried because this short period of time was all I had with them and I couldn’t even play with them (c-section recovery). I cried because my baby was in another room fighting for his life. I cried because I was hormonal and exhausted.

Redmond was on ECMO for six days. They were terrible days, full of ups and downs, alarms going off constantly, no fewer than 2 people in his room watching him at all times. He had two large tubes in his neck and was medically paralyzed. His chest didn’t rise and fall, he was puffy and discolored, and he looked like a lifeless doll. Often there were 4 people watching him – 2 nurses and 2 ECMO specialists. There was barely space in his room for us. We often walked out of the room to sit on nearby chairs and get a break from the sound of the alarms.

On March 7, when he was just 6 days old, we were startled by an early morning phone call from the nurse practitioner. Overnight, Redmond had developed a tension pneumothorax, or an air pocket outside of his lung. It was causing his heart and other organs to be pushed off to the side, which interfered with ECMO. The standard treatment is a simple chest tube, but that was extremely risky for him because he was on blood thinners. A chest tube brought with it the risk of internal and external bleeding. Without the chest tube, ECMO couldn’t continue successfully. That kind of uncontrollable bleeding didn’t bode well for him either.

As the medical team discussed how to handle it, I prayed with all my might. “Please God, give them wisdom, creativity, and knowledge. Help them to find a way where there seems to be no way.” God chose to speak through a pediatric surgeon. He said, “When we don’t know what to do, sometimes it’s best just to wait.” They all agreed to give Redmond 6 hours, repeat the chest x-ray, then do the chest tube if necessary. They made a plan for the chest tube and continued on their way. I called on everyone I knew to pray for that 2:00 p.m. deadline. Please, God, give us a miracle.

At 2:00 p.m., the chest x-ray was repeated. Our pastors had come up to be with us while we waited for the news. As I sat on the edge of a bright orange chair outside his room, the nurse practitioner walked up and told me the news. “The pneumothorax is gone. His heart and everything else have lined back up correctly. No chest tube is needed.”

I almost fell off that chair with gratitude. Sobs of relief came rushing out of me. God had answered our prayers with a miracle. The nurse practitioner, who has never mentioned God to me, agreed that it was a miracle. She had never seen anything like it in 21 years of working in the NICU. That day Redmond turned a corner. Before that day, ECMO specialists, nurses, and doctors were constantly confounded about him. He was difficult and touchy. Anytime they needed to move him for any reason, alarms went off. After that day, the reports changed. He was improving. He was improving more. He was improving faster than they expected. Blood cultures, labs, and other tests looking for other problems were coming back negative.

When he was 9 days old, he was able to come off ECMO and tolerated it well. I held him for the first time when he was 10 days old. He had so many things attached to him that it took 2 nurses and a respiratory therapist to put him in my lap. When he was 15 days old, he was able to get the ventilator out. When he was 16 days old, I heard the amazing sound of his cry for the first time. When he was 22 days old, he was completely weaned off IV medicines and his PICC line came out, he got his Foley catheter out, and I was able to pick him up by myself to hold him. When he was 23 days old, he was switched from a c-pap breathing ram (forced air) to nasal cannulas (supplemental oxygen), which is one step away from breathing on his own.

We are looking forward to how he reaches the next milestones – coming completely off of oxygen and learning to drink from a bottle.

We have seen so many miracles along the way. I’ve made my Facebook posts about him all public, so I won’t rehash every one of them here. But we stand in awe of God and the way He has answered our prayers.

Rick and I have been mostly separated from Eliana and Charlie since the day Redmond was born. We’ve been home a few times, very briefly, and are extremely grateful for the ability we have to stay with our baby. Rick’s parents and our amazing babysitter have provided so much love, support, and care for them that sometimes we wonder if they even miss us. They’ve been able to keep to their regular schedule and come up to visit us several times. We hate to be away from them and miss them terribly, but are so thankful for the excellent support we have at home.

We’ve been staying at The Ronald McDonald House, which has been a tremendous blessing. We will be lifelong supporters of their charity because of way they’ve helped us. Not only do they provide housing for families whose children are in the hospital far from home, but there’s typically a meal provided every day, as well as countless other grace-filled gestures.

Redmond has some things that will continue to challenge us as he grows. We’ve been told he has a ventricular septal defect (VSD), or a hole between the lower chambers of his heart. It’s possible that it could close on it’s own, be something he’s able to live with, or need to be repaired surgically in the future. We are praying earnestly for God to close that hole without the need for surgery. The hole is a complication of Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21. This diagnosis came as a surprise to us, as none of the tests we had done before he was born suggested it. It took a while for the chromosome test to be completed, but we were told it was a possibility within an hour of his birth.

Redmond (wise protector) Samuel (God has heard) Wyse will not be defined by this diagnosis. Named in honor of his paternal grandfather, Samuel Wenger, his name means “God has heard and blessed us with a wise protector.” We chose this name before we knew anything about him and believe God has a purpose and a mission for his life. He will be a mighty man of God, given every opportunity to succeed, and supported through every possible path he may take. We have prayed for him since before he was born, asking God to give us another child, and have believed that he  would bring “life and health, joy and peace.” He is our great blessing and we praise God for answering our prayers. He has already exceeded the expectations of our doctors, and we look forward to seeing all the ways he exceeds the expectations of the rest of the world.

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Posted on Aug 25, 2016 in Fertility, Health, Love, Marriage | 11 comments

Baby Wyse #3

Baby Wyse #3

Rick and I are so happy to let you know that Baby Wyse #3 is on the way! The baby is due to be born on March 16, 2017. We are soon to be out-numbered!

After Charlie was born, I decided there would be no more pregnancies for me. Pregnancy and I didn’t get along very well, and I had my son and daughter. My hands were incredibly full with a 15-month old and a newborn, so the idea of another baby made me feel like suffocating.

But the kids are now 3 1/2 and 2, much more self-sufficient and getting along great. I considered returning to work, but the options in our rural area are limited. After exploring those options without success, Rick and I decided that another baby might be a good thing. I was still terrified of pregnancy from my two previous experiences, so I began exploring alternative health options to see if I could have a different experience in the future.

I found a wonderful chiropractor who helped with the energy deficiency I couldn’t seem to shake. She introduced me to a local naturopath who ran some tests and provided hope that I could get some deep-seated health issues resolved and have a better experience. I had excruciating pain in my knees, in spite of having lost 20 pounds and following a diabetic diet to keep my blood sugar healthy. My primary care physician, chiropractor, naturopath, and the massage therapist I’ve been working with for several years all told me the same things: 1) This is a reaction to stress. Go on vacation and get your mind off your recent disappointments. 2) You need an anti-inflammatory diet. Meat, vegetables, fruit. No more bread and sugar.

I heeded their advice. I began taking the remedy the naturopath gave me (one bottle, not hundreds of dollars in various supplements). Our family rented a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Gatlinburg, and we brought our babysitter along. For the first time in about four years, Rick and I slept through the night without interruption for 8 nights in a row. I cannot minimize how much that helped me. A lack of sleep for that many years had really affected me. During that vacation, I took a complete break from social media and things came back into perspective. I have been so blessed with a wonderful family, and I simply enjoyed them.

Following that vacation, I started The Whole30, which I’ve written about before. I used that eating plan to help find a good balance for my body, and while I’m not where I want to be yet, I am confident that I’m headed in the right direction. As my diet changed, anxiety fell off me. My knee pain all but disappeared. I lost more weight. I began exercising again, and as summer came around, I began enjoying gardening and the warm, fresh air.

Strange things began happening, like instead of falling asleep after over-eating, my body screamed at me to MOVE. I started jogging a little, doing jumping jacks, and even (shock…) craving vegetables! I began to have healthy, normal responses to hunger and satisfaction. My hormones balanced out and the naturopath could find NO vitamin/nutrient deficiencies when she tested me.

Baby Wyse 3As I worked on my health, Rick and I decided to let nature take it’s course to see if we might conceive, but nothing happened. We thought it was possible that we had reached the end of our biological clocks and were okay with that. We are so content and blessed with our precious children. But I’m not very good at “going with the flow”, so after almost a year of seeing what might happen, I got serious. I began tracking and testing and was very pleasantly surprised to find that IT WORKED! The first month! Whoa.

Within an hour of getting that positive pregnancy test, I went to work. I made a list with the title, “Preparation for Armageddon”. I listed all the things I needed to do in the next one to two weeks to prepare for the sickness I’d had with the other two. I cooked up a storm and filled our freezer to the brim. I organized and planned and prepared. I had boundless energy and I used it!

When week five hit (the first time I threw up with Eliana), I still felt great. Relieved, I scurried around more, doing fun things with the kids while I could, making lists, and working in the yard and garden. I was intent on meeting my “step goals” on my fitness tracker and did so every single day that week.

When week six hit (when I really got sick with both kids), low-level nausea made it’s appearance. It was no big deal. I didn’t throw up, I wasn’t couch-bound, I even felt a little better if I went for a walk! So I walked and gardened and kept on cooking. One day we had a family fun event and I was pretty tired of feeling nauseated, so I took some anti-nausea medication. The rest of the day was great and I had no issues at all.

The days since then have been a combination of feeling pretty good (except for very, very tired) and feeling yucky/nauseated. I haven’t thrown up. On the days when I’m extra-tired, I take a nap with the kids. My energy comes back within a few days and I make up for the days before. I’ve been spending more time indoors and not getting many steps in, but I’m giving myself grace for that.

So far, this pregnancy is pretty normal. I remind myself that nausea isn’t that big of a deal and repeat out loud how grateful I am that I’m not throwing up. I can go for walks (with Eliana, extreme motion sickness made walking impossible), work in the garden, pick peaches with my husband, and cook meals. My meals aren’t spectacular right now, but they’re often hot and nutritious.

We’ve decided to wait until the baby is born to find out the gender. Once the baby gets here and is big enough to sleep in a crib in his or her own room, we’ll evaluate where the older two are with their maturity level and decide how to arrange the kids’ bedrooms. We have lots of ideas, but no solutions right now, and are hoping it becomes obvious to us when we need to decide.

I’d like to have a different birthing experience this time. The epidurals didn’t fully take either time before, and last time led to a horrific spinal headache that negatively impacted Charlie’s birth and my health for a while afterward. I’m planning to fully educate myself on non-epidural pain-relief methods, utilize a local midwife, and plan for a midwife-attended hospital birth. I take medicine for a headache, so I see no reason to go through labor and delivery completely un-medicated. However, the epidural is off the table. Thankfully, with the last two, the birthing process was actually the “easy” part. Not really, but so much easier than the pregnancies themselves.

We’ve told Eliana and Charlie and they’re thrilled. They have all kinds of fun and interesting questions. I have an app on my phone that shows an illustration of the size of the baby each week. Eliana LOVES to look at it and asks me almost every day to show her how big the baby is right now. Some questions I’ve had so far include:

“When the baby gets big enough to come out, will your belly just POP?” (A basic anatomy lesson followed that question and seemed to satisfy her concerns.)

“Do I have a baby in MY belly?”
“No, sweetheart. You’re too little to have a baby in your belly. That won’t happen until you’re more grown up.”
“Like Kristina?” (our 18-year old babysitter)
“Well, yes. You have to be at least as grown up as Kristina to have a baby in your belly.”

One day when I was particularly nauseated and tired and laid on the couch most of the day…
“Is the baby in your belly still sick?”
“No, Charlie, the baby isn’t sick. But because the baby is in Mommy’s belly, Mommy’s belly is a little upset today.”
“Oh, okay. Can you walk?” (Well, shoot. I guess I’ve been particularly lazy today. After that, I got up, took a Zofran, and got some things done.)

“If you throw up, Mommy, will you throw up the baby?”


I’ve always wanted a large family. Maybe we’ll stop after three and call that “large enough.” Maybe we’ll test nature a little more and see if four is possible. Rick looks at me like I’m crazy when I say that, but these kids will keep us young! 🙂 Our babysitter’s mom told me she had four more after she was my age, so it’s possible that if I keep myself healthy, I have plenty of time left…

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Posted on May 10, 2014 in Fertility, Parenting | 2 comments

It’s a Boy!

It’s a Boy!


I’d like to introduce you to Charlie Dean Wyse!

Charlie 2

He was born on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014, at 6:26 p.m.  He weighed 8 lbs., 9 oz., and was 22″ long.

Rick and I are amazed and so blessed by this perfect little boy who has joined our family.  In answer to our many prayers, Eliana has embraced him with total love and fascination.  She gets so excited when she sees him, covering him with kisses, giggling, and clapping in her baby way.  It’s been such a joyful time.

We chose the name Charlie because we like it.  We like what it means.

Galatians 5:1 (NKJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Charlie is one of the friendliest names on the planet.  It derives from the classic name Charles which, in turn, comes from a German word meaning “free man.”   One who is manly and strong/a free man.

A dean can be a member of the clergy or, in universities and similar, someone with control over a certain academic department. Also a name signifying a church official or the head of a school. The name also means “law” in Hebrew.  The presiding official of a cathedral, collegiate church, university, or group.  Rick’s father’s middle name is Dean and Rick’s middle initial is “D” in honor of him.

Charlie Dean – a friendly, manly, free man, who is also a responsible leader.  

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I was four days overdue with Charlie when labor was induced.  I’d been having false labor for about eight weeks and it was getting worse and worse, but still nothing happened.  I was exhausted with the waiting, miserably uncomfortable, and concerned that gestational diabetes might lead to an enormous baby.   I’d really wanted to go into labor all on my own, but it felt like the baby would NEVER come out on his own.  I was ready to get him out.


Four hours after the induction began, my labor intensified and things moved quickly.  I remembered that I was supposed to focus on something that comforted and calmed me.  The only thing I could think of was how sweet Eliana had been at one point in my pregnancy when I was alone at home with her and in such excruciating pain that I had to crawl to the couch.  I couldn’t get up on it and ended up kneeling in front of the ottoman, crying and trying desperately not to let her see how bad it was.  She came over and hugged my head.  It was such a kind and tender gesture that I could think of nothing else.  So I imagined that if she were there she would sit up near my head, hug it, and pat me – and it made me cry.  So during the worst of the labor I couldn’t stop the tears from leaking from my eyes.  I hate to cry and felt so annoyed at myself, but it didn’t matter.  Crying it was, so I just went with it.

I begged for the epidural as soon as possible.  I just wanted some relief!  Unfortunately, the anesthetist had a hard time getting the epidural in.  He tried several times, once putting the needle in too far.  He finally got the epidural in, but along with the relief from contractions came a debilitating headache, severe shaking, sweating, and vomiting.

My nurse determined that my only physical issue was a severe drop in blood pressure, so I was given medication to bring up my blood pressure.  When the extreme shaking, nausea, and sweating continued, she found a tactful way to ask me if I’d ever had a problem with anxiety.  I admitted I had, although it had been a long time since anxiety had been a problem.  She suggested that might be what was going on because all my vitals looked normal and good.  I knew that the many attempts at the epidural had me totally freaked out (some guy was repeatedly sticking a needle in my spine and couldn’t get it to work and the only thing worse than that was the contractions…), so it wasn’t hard to believe that was probably what was going on.  Once I recognized the anxiety for what it was, the sweating and nausea/vomiting stopped.  I didn’t stop shaking until long after the baby was born though.

Through half-closed eyes, due to the intense headache, I made it through the rest of labor and delivery.  My doctor broke my water when I dilated to 4 cm, then told me he’d see me in about 5 hours.  I told him there was no way it’d take that long, but he went home to eat dinner.  Thirty minutes later I called for the nurse, sure that the baby was about to fall out on his own.  The pain was serious and I knew exactly when the contractions were coming.  That threw me because I thought the epidural would deaden the pain completely, leaving me with only a feeling of pressure.  That was NOT the case.  The nurse rushed in and checked me, confirming that I felt that way because I had reached 10 cm and was ready to push.  But there was no doctor…

She called the doctor to come back, then called all hands on deck to help her in case I couldn’t wait for the doctor.  For twenty minutes I was told not to push and waited in terrible pain, telling the nurses it didn’t matter if I didn’t push because the baby was coming out on his own.  I also kept asking her why it hurt so much when I had an epidural and the only thing she could figure was that it was because I was progressing so quickly.  She kept assuring me that the baby wouldn’t come out on his own and I would make it until the doctor arrived.  (I didn’t believe her because a few years ago Rick’s cousin had her baby in the elevator on the way up to the maternity ward.)  When the doctor got back, he calmly joked with the nurses and took his time getting into his scrubs.  I was not laughing with him.  According to my husband, my nurse wasn’t laughing either.  I had my eyes mostly closed and just tried to relax.  (By the way, that’s a joke.  Crazy people who tell you to relax…)

FINALLY, I was allowed to push.  I felt like I was surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (extra nurses, the anesthetist, and a respiratory guy because the doctor was concerned that Charlie had ingested miconium), making me feel a little self-conscious, but I tuned them out and focused in on Rick’s voice.  It hurt so much that I kept begging for more epidural medication and telling him I couldn’t do it.  Rick calmly encouraged me that I could do it, I was doing good, and it would be over soon.  He was right and he was my rock.  It took 3 contractions, a whole 6 minutes of pushing to get him out.  When they laid him on my chest, all I felt was RELIEF.  I could barely open my eyes from the headache pain, but the relief from pain and pressure was so great I stopped crying and finally relaxed.  Ahhh…

IMG_20140409_184405_124Although I could barely see him from the headache, Charlie was perfect, crying like a little champ.  The respiratory guy and extra nurses left.  Rick cut the cord and we admired him together.  No cone head or anything.  Within a few minutes my mother was there to greet him.  That meant a lot to me since she couldn’t be there for Eliana’s birth.  I was so happy to hand him to her.

IMG_20140409_190301_338As the room cleared and things calmed down, my nurse and I began to talk more about the headache.  If I laid totally flat I had some relief, so the nurse explained to me that I had a spinal headache brought on by the epidural difficulties.  She said it could get really bad if I didn’t get something called a “blood patch” to fix it.  She said sometimes moms came back to the hospital weeks later, having suffered from the headache since the birth, begging for relief.  She didn’t want me to suffer that long, so she tried to get the anesthetist to come back and fix it right away.  He was hesitant to do the blood patch, so it was hours later before I got relief.

It got so bad that laying flat no longer helped, every sound made me feel like my head would explode, and God forbid anyone bumped my bed!  The baby in the room next door started crying, Charlie was crying, and I just wanted to scream for everyone to be quiet!  Then I was crying because I couldn’t take care of my baby.  Rick was desperately trying to figure out what to do to help me when my nurse finally got the anesthetist back in the room.  I was scared to death to let him do another procedure on me, but the pain was so bad that I just started praying (a little loudly)  for God to help him.

Around 12:30 a.m., I was wheeled into the operating room, put on a table, and given what seemed like another epidural.  This time they took 30 ml of blood out of my arm and put that into my back (instead of numbing medicine).  I was again terrified and my awesome nurse held my hand and reassured me the entire time.  When he put the blood in my back, he said I’d feel it in my back and sides.  However, I felt it shoot up my spine and explode in my head!  I thought I was having an anurism and I’m sure my blood pressure went through the roof.  The anesthetist kept asking me what was happening and I couldn’t respond.  I was too scared to speak.  A crazy Muppets song was going through my head (“We ain’t got no room for boring, for boring we ain’t got no room…) and that made me relax and laugh a little.  Leave it to my brain to provide a soundtrack to the crazy events that were happening!  I finally croaked out a response to let him know what I was feeling.  Apparently that’s normal, so Lord only knows why he failed to prepare me for it.

As they wheeled me back to my room, I realized that the headache was significantly better.  It wasn’t totally gone though,and my back started aching strangely, so I remained afraid that something had gone wrong and soon I’d die.  I learned the back ache is a side effect of having multiple needle sticks and blood pumped into your back…  My hep-lock was still in and I was hooked up to a saline solution, told that the extra fluid would help the headache as well.  But suddenly my hand was on fire and I told the nurse I was afraid the vein had blown.  Sure enough, the solution was going into my hand rather than my vein, so she had to put in a new IV in my other hand.  More pain…

Of course, then Charlie got hungry and I was supposed to nurse him.  He latched right on, but the severe cramps that accompany nursing in the first few days kicked in.  (Nursing causes the uterus to contract, which is necessary but also painful and I found out gets worse with each baby.)  Then the shaking, nausea, and sweating returned and again my nurse had to figure out what was wrong with me.

Soon we were having another discussion about anxiety.  Oh!  Anxiety again?  The realization that I was just freaking out and wouldn’t actually die gave me immediate relief.  The nurse recognized that I had reached my limit, was thoroughly exhausted, and took Charlie to the nursery, commanding me to sleep.  As soon as she took the baby, I fell fast asleep.

My back continued to ache painfully for a couple days, so I kept ice on it and made sure not to miss a dose of the Tylenol/Advil combo.  Thankfully, that was the worst of the whole experience.  Charlie has been an amazingly well-adjusted baby.  So far he only cries if he’s hungry or needs his diaper changed (and occasionally when he just wants to be cuddled).  He sleeps wonderfully, doesn’t have reflux, and is sweet.  We feel so blessed and thankful!

10257112_10203686633107136_6413307573074847904_nEliana loves him dearly.  She’s having a bit of a hard time with all the changes to our lives, especially right now when Rick is out from early until late farming, but we’re making it through.  We found an older teenage girl to come help through the worst of it and although it’s hard for me to let anyone else help me, she’s been wonderful to have around.  Friends have brought meals, my in-laws have helped out tremendously, and I’m grateful.

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow I will celebrate my second Mother’s Day as a mother and have TWO babies to enjoy!  What a blessing.

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Posted on Nov 8, 2013 in Fertility | 2 comments

Pac Man

Pac Man

I have so much to do right now.  God has blessed me with speaking opportunities, so I have messages to prepare.  God has blessed me with opportunities to write, so I have a list of things that need to be written.  But all I can think about is Pac Man.  Seriously.  Pac Man.

And napping.  I think I could take a nap at least twice a day every day for the next four months – and STILL go to bed at 9 p.m.

A pile of clean and folded laundry is waiting to be put away – laundry that my husband did and folded.  I should make some lunch.  I need to dust the house.  But only the most pressing things are done.

Am I depressed?  No.  The problem, the one that drives me to play Pac Man and take multiple naps, is this tiny little alien growing inside me, causing my body to rebel.

While the first trimester of this pregnancy was fairly easy, this second trimester – when it’s supposed to get better – has gone downhill fast.  At 18 1/2 weeks pregnant (nearly five months), I find myself vomiting daily, among other pregnancy-related frustrations you probably don’t want to know about.

So what does that have to do with Pac Man?

So glad you asked!  Pac Man is my mindless little game, accompanied by fond childhood memories, that allows me to sit still (giving me relief from the severe motion sickness I sometimes get when I walk around) and relax.  It keeps my mind occupied so I don’t GET depressed thinking about how yucky I feel, and yet it doesn’t require me to think too much.

I’ve finally succumbed to the sad reality that I need to go back on the anti-nausea drug, Zofran, around the clock.  This means setting alarms every eight hours to remind me to take it.  When I did that during my last pregnancy, most of the nausea and vomiting stopped.  If I missed a pill by 30 minutes, it returned with a vengeance.  I was so hopeful not to need it this time around, but at least it’s available.  I cannot imagine what women with this kind of hyperemesis gravidarum did pre-Zofran.  I can only imagine that they died from malnutrition and dehydration, or wished to die.  Not that my current symptoms are making me overly-dramatic or anything…

I was really afraid of what Zofran would do to my daughter, but as I look at her healthy, happy, perfect little face, my fears are alleviated.  She’s never had any of the problems I feared.  I pray God will protect this new baby just as He did her.

My dear husband has again become the dishwasher, laundry-manager, and so forth.  This time he has the added responsibility of official messy diaper-changer, among other responsibilities related to our 10 1/2 month old daughter.  I’m pretty sure he’s tired of hearing the Pac Man music in the background and ready to have his wife back.

Only 21 1/2 more weeks to go, sweetheart.  We’re almost halfway there!

It’s all worth it, of course.  From the moment they laid my sweet daughter in my arms, following delivery with an epidural that I didn’t get in time to do much good, all I could think of was, “Let’s do it again!”  Every moment of misery was worth the joy of seeing her sweet face, of experiencing her growth, and celebrating her life.  Nine months of misery for a lifetime with this precious life is a small price to pay.  God has answered my prayers and I am grateful.

Grateful, and yawning…  Is it time for another nap?

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Posted on Jun 22, 2013 in Fertility, Parenting | 10 comments

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

DSC_0019 CROPPregnancy.  Ugh.  I’ve decided that the women who say they feel great and actually like being pregnant are lying.

Okay, so maybe they aren’t exactly lying, but they aren’t actually telling the truth.  Could they be?  Nah.  Pregnancy, as beautiful as the outcome may be, is not what I would ever call “fun.”

No, I’m not trying to announce that I’m pregnant. I just had a little trip down memory lane and thought that in my non-preggo, non-sicko state, I’d make a list to help you out when you encounter other women with that glow. And for the record, “morning sickness” is the most under-descriptive name for the all-encompassing, 24-hour, flu-like state of many pregnancies.

1. You should try ________ (fill in the blank – saltines, ginger, peppermint, etc.).
Do you want to know how bad those things taste coming back up?
Get me a trash can!

2. You just need a little fresh air. Go for a walk!
I puke when I walk to the bathroom and you expect me to make it outside and down the road?
Get me a trash can!

3. Everyone gets it. Suck it up.
Oh, that makes it so much better…
Get me a trash can!

4. I can’t believe you’re sleeping again.
I just grew a pinky finger in my womb. What did you do today?
Get me a trash can!

5. You think you’re sick now, just wait until labor and delivery! (Snort.) Let me tell you my horror story…
Thanks. Now I’m not just sick, I’m terrified.
Get me a trash can!

6. If you were busy enough, you wouldn’t have time to be sick.
Are you freaking kidding me?
Get me a trash can!

7. Do you want to have sex tonight?
Do you want to clean puke up off your face?
Get me a trash can!

8. I don’t smell anything. You’re imagining it.
How can you not smell that? It’s awful.
Oops! The trash can wasn’t close by enough. Sorry about the floor.

9. Why do you need a trash can? Just puke in the toilet.
Yes, because in my extremely nauseous, motion-sick, hyper-sensitive to smell state, I want to stick my face in the pot where we poo.

10. I don’t feel like going out to get the food you’re craving right now. You’ll just puke it up anyway.
If I can’t have [pickled bananas] right now, I’m going to claw your eyes out.
And yes, after eating the crazy food I requested, get me a trash can, please…

And now, for some encouragement on what you could say to a pregnant woman with “morning sickness” to help her through it.

• Tell me about what you’re looking forward to most when your baby is born. (Then remind her of that when she’s feeling the sickest.)

• Is there anything I can do for you? Clean? Cook? Get your groceries? Get you a cool cloth? Turn the heat/AC up or down?

• Your shoulders are probably aching from the constant strain of vomiting. Can I rub them for you?

• I see that it must be difficult to reach your feet these days. Would you like me to paint your toenails?

• How do you feel about epidurals? Isn’t it nice to think that after all this sickness, you won’t have to feel a thing when you deliver this baby?

• Here are some boxes of baking soda to absorb odors. Where all should I put them in your house?

To all of you who are going through this difficulty right now, my heart goes out to you.  Remember, there will come a day when you have a sweet reward.  What got me through some of the worst of it was imagining little baby toes, little baby fingers, a little baby nose, and the joy of it all sometimes helped me to smile through the nausea and exhaustion and discomfort.  It won’t last forever.  One day soon(ish), you’ll be rewarded with big smiles, adoring eyes, and chubby little arms wrapped around you tight.  Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder how quickly you can do it all again.

What dumb things did people say to you when you were pregnant?  And what brilliant things did they do to help?

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