Together We Make a Family

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God sets the lonely in families. – Psalm 68:5a 

My every prayer for the last two years have been leading up to this day. My every fear was that this day would never come. Or that it would come, but it would be the wrong timing, or things handled the wrong way, or it would get put off again and again. But today the judge called it heartwarming, and approved the plan that makes us a family. The family that the Ultimate Judge in heaven has created us to be since we first heard of this little person, long before we knew he would ever come to live with us.

There have been struggles along the way, and I sure this is not the end of struggle as to struggle is to grow and live, but it is end of an season, of a chapter, in the story that I am glad to move forward from and on to the next; but for now, I will praise God for his goodness and impeccable timing, and celebrate that this child is home to stay.

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1 Timothy 6:20

I have often found that the letters to Timothy have a way of feeling like they are written right to me. This passage is no exception. 

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My New years goals this year are to do less…to de clutter.  Not only my space but my mind…to compare less and to focus on what’s important for me and my family…even if it means letting go of my own ideals of what I want family life to be…even if it means saying no to things…even if other people don’t get it.

http://bible.com/111/1ti.6.20.NIV

Merry Christmas from us to you

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For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  – Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV.

As we approach the holidays it is time to write a bit of an update. This year has been very full. Full of joy and full of stress, full of family, full of learning, full of new friends and new directions, and full of God stretching us in every area possible! These verses represent both what we have seen in the past year and what we pray for the coming year. So with no further ado, a glimpse at 2015!

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4.5 Years

Super D: This kid keeps us on our toes! He still loves SuperHeros, especially Batman this year! Batman costumes, Batman Lego, Batman pictures is the name of the game! Recently his interest has also turned to Lego, building and destroying is an activity he enjoys to do and it seems to be almost calming for him. He also likes to be creative with coloring and crafts and proudly shows his latest artwork to hang up in the kitchen! He is very curious and interested in “why” lately…why are things the way they are? how are things made? Why did they make them that way? Why do we have separate garbage cans for the organic garbage and recycles and trash? We are definitely in a why stage these days!

He also loves hanging out with the kids on our street, there is a boy a few houses up who he has really connected with a few months older who he likes to play with on a regular basis, they ride bikes and like to color together and of course make up superhero or hide and seek games. He is never shy to try and make a new friend.  He is turning into a great big brother! He adores his little sister and always has to stick up for her if he feels she isn’t being cared for to his standards. Of course not without the expected “sibling revelry” that also comes with the territory!
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Batman and a neighborhood buddy

We have had some fairly significant challenges with him this year that have required extra work and a lot of prayer and energy to try and help him feel secure in our family, and that is going to be an ongoing challenge for some time, however we have seen encouraging signs over the last six months  that gives us hope. We do not yet know what life looks like long term regarding some of these behaviors and diagnoses, but we do believe that God is and will continue to work in his life and in our family.
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1.5 years

Baby R: R has changed so much in the last year! Of course going from a 9 month old baby last January to a 20 month old toddler is crazy amount of changing and growing in just a year! She is a little person now! With opinions and a stubborn streak!
She still is not very 2015 12 11_3966_edited-1verbal and only has a handful of words that she uses regularly, but communicates very well. (Apparently I stole this line right out of my own babybook…). She points and nods and shakes her head, knows some signs and learns the important words like what an owl says “Hoo hoo” and what you need to go outside…”boots”. She loves to go outside, to go see her friends at church, coloring (not always on the paper), LOVES OWLS and points them out on everything she can find. Has a new favorite food every day, but don’t you dare give her leftovers! Those will go on the floor, even if they were her favorite the day before!
She is quite sensitive and is the one you often find crying BEFORE the other kid touched her or BEFORE brother took a toy away,  but also with that she LOVES hugs and cuddles and on a bad day the Lenny Lamb (baby carrier) is still the easiest way to help her calm down.
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First Birthday Cake Smash

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Mom and Dad (Alternately known as Paul and Katie)
As stated above, we have been stretched a lot this year, I (Katie) have had health issues show up that have had a big impact on the way I live and how much I am able to take on. It is further compounded by stress, which has been difficult to avoid this year. On top of being new parents (to 2 kids!) and also new to being parents to a child with some extra needs; We have lost an income as I gave up my position at work and stayed on as causal after my maternity leave ended.It was a hard decision to make but my health was suffering and I really felt that one of us needed to be home with the kids due to their individual needs right now. Luckily Paul’s work has been more steady this year then any years previously, and it is a job that he continues to enjoy.
But as God stretches he also provides. Paul volunteered to take the Santa Pictures for our church’s breakfast with Santa event last Christmas (By the way, awesome event….if you didn’t get tickets this year, ask me about it for next year!) and from Saturday to Sunday we went from feeling like we didn’t really know anyone to having people knowing us by name the next day! We were invited to join a homegroup shortly after and found real encouragement and love and learning and real community in this group. It has helped that it is full of couples with children close to our children’s age as well as some with teenagers and grown children – to give us a glimpse of whats ahead!
Paul is also on the setup team and I am back in the nursery loving the babies. Another mom and I also started up a play group at the new church community Hub, that I am looking forward to see how God continues to use that to bless us and the community.
 Prayers for a peace filled holiday and 2016 for your family and ours. We couldn’t have made it without our family and friends support!
  – Katie and Paul.
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Hypothyroidism – My Journey thus far

3858108794b9892f451936c680e4c824With the promise of a future. I am finally able to talk about it… I have alluded to it, wondered about it, cried over it, not understood it, questioned God, questioned myself, questioned our medical system…and finally, feel like yes, it sucks, but no, it doesn’t have to be what defines me from here on out. Doesn’t have to be my stealer of joy and hope (although some days it still has a pretty hard push). I have learned so much over the past 8 months, about my illness, treatment and about how God still works.

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A little background
1990’s – Sometime before the year 2000 I was diagnosed hypothyroid as a child. Took a pill every day, never thought anything of it.

2000’s – I knew I was a moody teenage, but I was a teenager, I was suppose to be moody… As a young adult I started being able to recognize the lack of energy or the connection to depression or weight gain and sure enough every time I felt like something was off, my bloodwork would show a need for a dose increase. It was pretty easy to manage and I would hear here and there about how its a chronic illness and kind of thought, “hey its really not that bad, just take a pill and your fine, I don’t know what the big deal is about…people just want an excuse maybe”.

2013-2015 – Pregnancy was hard on my body. I had 0 energy, was sick for almost the whole time and my thyroid med doses kept going up and up, but I was assured this was normal and they would go back down after pregnancy. After the birth of my daughter, nothing seemed off, I was tired, but I was also not getting any sleep…and could excuse it. I was surprised when my post-partum bloodwork showed I needed another increase, but didn’t think too much of it. We began to care for another child, with some emotional needs that greatly effect daily life. I was exhausted, but had so much to deal with that I didn’t give it much attention.

It wasn’t until the baby was 12 months old that I began to think, “oh I feel like I need a dose increase” – was feeling extremely tired even though the kids were sleeping better at night and I was no longer nursing, I couldn’t blame those on how I was feeling. Depression was setting in, extreme moodswings, LESS energy then when my kids were not sleeping, and my hair was falling out. (TMI ALERT: My period had also returned and was terrible…unpredictable and extremely heavy).

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I at one point in the spring could count over 50!!! I stopped counting there because it was very depressing and the last thing I needed was to fuel that fire.

I went to get my bloodwork, and was SHOCKED when it came back normal. I had recently started setting intentional time aside to spend in prayer and bible reading, had gotten back involved in church, was trying to eat better…doing everything I could to take care of my spiritual and physically life and was feeling like I was barely existing, definitely not living! I felt like Job. I was having daily conversation with God about how hard it was to trust him when I feel like everything I care about is being affected. I couldn’t be the wife or mom I wanted to be, or even the person I knew God was calling me to be, but I knew that my only option was to seek out God, to seek prayer. I couldn’t get through whatever was going on by myself. And if its not my thyroid, then what? Was my new normal going to be merely laying on a couch forever? What kind of childhood would that leave my children with? would I ever be able to work again? What if it was something far more serious?

Coincidence or prayer. I have no doubt that the next steps had God’s hand all over them. When I went into the Dr to tell her that despite the results, despite another dose increase, I was feeling much worse then I had ever felt in my life, she suggested to test for everything else that might make a person feel like I did. Iron, Glucose and 20 other markers….and unknown to me she had included a full thyroid panel. Everything came back “in range”. The days between getting the results and seeing the Dr to formally go over them were some of the hardest most depressing days I can remember.

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But God had a plan. He had me at a Dr who, unlike many dr’s who do not look beyond TSH, would have, still suspected a thyroid problem. She told me that looking at the test results even though they were both in range my T4 (thyroid storage hormone) was at the high end of the range…thanks to my synthetic medication, but my T3 (the thyroid hormone that actually gets to your cells) was at the very bottom of the range…which would explain everything! If my body wasn’t able to actually use the medication then I was falling more and more hypothyroid. Switching meds seemed to be the next step…I will post about it in an upcoming post!

Essential Oils and the Bible

I started using essential oils this past year because my daughter was getting yeast rashes that medications both prescribed and over the counter were not helping at all. Shortly after starting to really  look into them my 4 year old started to get strep…..every couple weeks, was determined that he is more “likely to get it” then other kids, and react badly to it with scarlet fever symptoms. It scared me to have that much continuous antibiotics in his little body…so I looked into not just what could aid (I wasn’t going to take chances or skip the antibiotics) but more what could help prevent.

At the same time I have been convicted over the last number of months about my lack of prayer. I have no doubt God can provide for our needs, no doubt that he loves me and my family, so why was prayer not commonplace in my life. I had a million excuses – not getting enough sleep, 2 small children, too busy….all excuses. I have since set aside the first half hour of my daughters nap time to prayer and bible. It’s not a lot of time, and I think that in itself was part of my excuses – that I didn’t have a lot of time to set aside, but making ANY time allows God to work and he has been giving me more of a hunger for that time, and for further prayer and reading and fellowship. 30 minutes isn’t taking “too much time”, but its the beginning of renewing my commitment to what I believe is important, and acknowledging that my relationship with God needs to be given some room.

Since incorporating oils AND prayer regularly into my life and parenting, I became more and more curious about how my faith and perspectives on medication and science and oils and “natural remedies” interact. Because I don’t have a ton of time, rather then type out all my findings, I am going to point you to an article that I found really insightful. It make sense that a God that loves us and wants to heal us, has already created things that will interact with our genetic makeup as humans in a helpful way. And after 3 rounds of antibiotics basically back to back, the preschooler has not tested positive for strep even with symptoms present since despite spending time with friends who tested positive within days of seeing us! And the baby, well I can’t remember the last time she had a bad yeast rash! I can’t say its 100% the oils, but I can say that paired with prayer and trusting God to strengthen my children, both my children have benefitted significantly since we started to look into ways to live a more natural and God centered life!
http://simplelifeabundantlife.com/2013/09/26/biblical-look-use-essential-oils-can-apply-lives/

Easter 2015

Easter was split up into a full weekend event this year! The boys were invited to a Egghunt at a local daycare, Then one set of grandparents came over and brought Easter treats over, then on Saturday we headed over to the other grandparents to have an egghunt and dinner and finally on Easter Sunday we all got dressed up for church and to celebrate what Easter is really about…Jesus fulfilling God’s plan and making it possible for us to be in relationship with the creator….followed by an easter egg hunt!

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36Weeks Today

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Sorry Don’t have a 36 week photo yet…so this one will have to suffice!

It’s been a busy few weeks, with still working, trying to get baby stuff ready just in case (I was 5 weeks early after all!) and my dear friend being induced on Tuesday…and still at the hospital still waiting for her little boy to make an appearance now being Thursday morning. Paul asking me if every “ow” or look of discomfort is a contraction…with a month to go I am feeling every minute of it. At my appointment yesterday I was told that her head is REALLY low and that my “Pelvis has spread nicely” so baby should fit just fine….Just hoping that the hypothesizing is right and she decides to come early or on time and not to make me wait another 6 weeks from now!

Symptoms: Starting to really be able to tell when I have “overdone” it. Lots of back pain, heartburn, indigestion, only 2 pairs of shoes fit at this point and can’t get comfortable…sleeping or waking. Very few of my clothes feel comfortable anymore. Baby girl is now headbutting my bladder constantly and she is clearly running out of room as just about every movement is painful to mom.

ALL About Baby

She’s in the 17.2- to 18.7-inch and 4.2- to 5.8-pound range and continues to beef up.

  • She’s getting closer and closer to being able to breathe on her own.
  • Her skin is getting smooth and soft and her gums are rigid.
  • Her liver and kidneys are in working order.
  • Circulation and immune systems are basically good to go, too.

About RCH (Royal Columbian Hospital) Maternity.

There are several factors that lead us to choose to deliver at RCH…a big one being my comfort levels knowing they are one of the top Maternity and Neonatal Hospitals in the province, having been there for friends children’s births, having a friend who I trust who works in the NICU and it being close to my parents.

Here is just a bit of what we are anticipating:

32 Weeks

 

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Symptoms: Momma can’t sleep! Between heartburn, leg cramps, drinking water to try and minimize the leg cramps and then having to pee, and baby playing ninja all night (and any attempt at a nap) sleep has officially become rare. Also baby is getting STRONG and is determined to get out through my ribs or side!

Clothes: Most of the time comfort wins these days. A lot of maternity clothes are too tight but with only 8 weeks left I am trying to just make do. Bras are uncomfortable as baby likes to push on my ribs.

Gear: We got a BOB Revolution SE stroller off craigslist for a great price! It is hardly used and in fabulous condition!

Tonight also marked the last of our pre-natal classes. I highly recommend any new parents take them. Although a lot of the actual information was not new to me, it was a lot that was new to Paul and it also gave a chance to ask questions and get feedback on some preconceived ideas. Also it was great having an instructor who is also been to births as a doula in both the local hospitals so she was able to offer us some tips and experiences she has had with the local health system and labour and maternity wards.

All About Baby

Your baby’s the size of a squash!
Still growing, your baby weighs in at about 2.5 to 3.8 pounds and measures about 15.2 to 16.7 inches.

28 week update.

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Two weeks ago I was in a car accident. It was a terrible rainy night and someone cut me off and left me no option but to hit them or break, so I tried to slow down but because of the rain/puddles my car slide around and was hit by the car behind me on the passenger side. Both cars are written off, and the guy who cut me off…well he didn’t even check his rear-view mirror I am sure as he first pulled out into my lane when I was there and then didn’t stop.

RIP Corolla.

I was quite sore and had bruising from the seatbelt, sore and stiff but than that thank God everyone walked away uninjured. I went to the hospital as a pre-caution to make sure baby was not harmed and they hooked me up to a fetal monitor that would monitor her heartbeat/movements and also monitor if I was having any contractions. They told me what they are mainly looking for is if the impact was going to trigger pre-term labour or if it had caused damage to the placenta, in which case they would have to get baby out of there. But after 4 hours of monitoring they were convinced that both baby and I were fine, the only trouble they had with baby was that she was TOO squirmy and kicking all night and they had to keep moving the monitor to find her.

Other Pregnancy Updates: My Nurse Practitioner sent me for another Ultrasound as she said my fundal height is still measuring small, and especially with the accident a few days before, she wanted to make sure that baby was still growing appropriately. At the  ultrasound they said baby looks fine, and still looks like a girl and is currently head down with her legs up by her head like a V….but again…she likes an audience and was kicking away and making it hard for them to get the shots and the Heartbeat there as well. Fun Fact: Baby was weighing about 3lbs 4oz at the ultrasound appointment. We also started our Pre-natal classes last week. I am excited to get to know other new parents in our area, since having lived here 2 years we still don’t know a lot of people!

Baby Girl 28 Weeks

I was also asked by my Nurse Practitioner to start doing “kick counts”, to make sure she kicks at least 6 times in a 2 hour period…so far its more like 6 times in 5 minutes……This baby is a mover!

Mommy symptoms: Have been sick all weekend. Its so much harder to get better when you are constantly tired and sore anyways! Also the maternity clothes I bought back in week 9 hoping they would grow with me…nope. Nothing fits.  I finally got new clothes this week, new maternity jeans from H&M, and a few dresses, shirts and skirts online from PinkBlush Maternity. I am excited to have stuff that fits again, even if its just a few pieces! Ironically I feel like my belly looks smaller with clothes that fit properly…

One of 4 pieces I ordered.

I also got some more cloth diapers off Craigslist for a great deal! I am pretty much done my pocket/one size stash now! Just need a couple more hybrids and maybe some newborn sizes…

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Top Drawer of Diaper Station

I also got a sleep sack of Zulily that I love….and we picked up our carseat! with only 12 weeks left, we wanted to make sure we have most of the big stuff that we will need right away ready!

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Britax B-Safe

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Halo Sleep Sack

20Week Appointment

20Week Appointment (-2 Days)

Normally I don’t post about appointments, but this one was significant. I Was needing to change where I was getting my prenatal care for a few reasons, mainly because I want to deliver at a hospital that is out of the clinic where I was at’s “area” and because I was tired of a maternity clinic sending me to the hospital for every little thing…even the hospital asked me last time “why did they send you here? They could have checked you out”.

So after some panicking about what I was going to do when I told them I wanted to switch and they handed me my files and said “see ya”… I had a conversation about care with the Nurse Practitioner who works out of my workplace. God must have brought it together because it turns out almost all of her previous experience was in maternity and she was even instrumental at setting up a new maternity care project in a neighboring city before coming to work here. She offered to do my prenatal care in the meantime and that she would work on referrals for me to go to Dr or Midwife closer to the hospital at 28-30 weeks.

Yesterday I had my appointment with her and while the basis of the appointment was the same. (Pee in a cup, take blood pressure, weight, listen to baby etc), she was much more wanting me to be involved in the process, and listening to my needs and wants is going to look into a number of things for me in terms of pre-natal classes, mid-wife groups, she said that she will be willing to help with my follow-up care  to help with breastfeeding or new mom questions (which is something I will lose by not going to a Mid-wife or Douala in my area). She also said that my blood pressure is still on the lower side, but no longer low enough to be considered low, which is really good news for me. She answered some of my questions about some of my test results and was overall very reassuring. It was just an amazing difference…even though I liked the Dr. at the clinic, this felt much more personalized and like she was invested in not only how I am today, but how I am as a new mom/first pregnancy and how we can best ensure that the best care plan is in place for me as me….

Feeling like a huge weight has been lifted off.

 

 

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