Friday, February 27, 2015

Baby Shower

A couple of weekends ago our pastor's wife, Kim, her daughter Laura, and our other friend, Brooke hosted a shower for me and Jensen. They had already planned it for a week before my scheduled due date when I went into labor with Jensen. Not knowing when Jensen would be coming home I decided that I would like to go ahead and keep it scheduled so that I would have something positive to look forward to if Jensen was still in the hospital. He ended up getting to come home 2 days before, but it worked out great for Ryan to get some daddy time with him while my mom, Eva, and I went to the shower. I know lots of people do a "sip and see" these days where people can come and see the new baby but since Jensen is not supposed to be around a lot of people yet we decided to just do a normal shower. 
The decorations were so cute! Kim made a banner that looked a lot like the one I have hanging in Jensen's nursery. 
She also made some adorable and delicious cookies! 
We really didn't need a whole lot but were blessed with lots of diapers, giftcards, and cute outfits! I always love coming home and looking at all those fashionable baby clothes over and over :)
Here are just a few photos from the shower....I am kicking myself that I forgot to bring my good camera. I blame it on the lack of sleep. 
I am so grateful for these ladies and the love they showered onto my family. 
Thank you so much to everybody who came

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Days

Like everybody else in North Texas, we enjoyed the great snow and ice storms of 2015 this week. I had been wondering if we would ever get any wintry mix this winter and it finally happened. We are pretty much home bound every day for the next several weeks with Jensen, so a snow day here honestly isn't that different from any other day, with the exception of getting to see Eva bundled up for some frosty fun.
The first round of ice actually hit on the day I had originally been scheduled for my c-section. Glad I wasn't out trying to have a baby in that weather! I'm sure how our families would have even gotten to come see us or get Eva. God bless all of the hospital workers who had to continue to drive and serve others during the winter weather. 
 As cute as it would have been to get photos of Jensen outside on his first snow day I decided that his little premature lungs probably did not need to be exposed to freezing cold air. A healthy baby is better than a good photo any day. So instead he did what you are supposed to do on any cold day - sleep! This little guy is a great sleeper and we are soooooo thankful for that!

On the ice day I let Ryan do the outdoor stuff while I stayed warm with Jensen but on the snow day I actually bundled up and ventured out for some fun. Honestly by the time we made it outside it was no longer snowing and the stuff on the ground was already turning to slush but we still had a good time.

We made the world's tiniest snowman with the little bit we could scrounge up. Then we made a snow Olaf, a snow Anna, a snow Else, and a snow Hans.  
I took this photo hoping that you would be able to see the snow out the windows but it didn't quite work out. Oh, well. Jensen, here you are on a snow day. There. Now I'm a good mom. 
Big sister keeping the little one warm with all of her kisses. She LOVES to hold and kiss him. 
And finally - a block city! This has nothing to do with snow at all. I was just impressed at how long she spent building with blocks. She is not one to do anything by herself for a long time but she really just sat and built this "city" for about 30 minutes while I was nursing Jensen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Prayer Changes Us

Recently I started participating in a year long documentary our church is filming about the way prayer changes us. As I have been processing through my experience with Jensen's birth and time in the NICU I keep going back to each moment and reflecting on how prayer changed that moment. As soon as Ryan and I learned that I would be delivering Jensen 4 weeks early, we began texting friends and family and posting on social media. Within minutes we received tons of encouraging messages and the prayers kept coming all afternoon. Before our little guy had even made his big entrance, he had been prayed for by over 100 people! How amazing is that? As we prepared for surgery, prayer changed my heart by reminding me of God's sovereignty. God created Jensen. God knew that this was the day Jensen would be born. I was nervous, but the power of those praying friends and family encouraged me to trust in God's plan for that day. Then it was time for me to head into the operating room. I'll be honest...between the unknown of how healthy Jensen would be, the intimidating operating room, and the idea of being cut open, I felt like I was about to freak out. Then something inside of me thought to just start praying and praising. I started humming and quietly singing Bless The Lord, Oh My Soul to myself over and over and over again. I don't know if anyone else in that room heard me, but I know that Jesus did. Shifting my focus from fear to praise helped keep me calm until I finally heard Jensen's first cries and knew that I had done it! 
As I transitioned from delivery to recovery and we learned that Jensen would need some real time in the NICU, prayer continued to give me strength. The hardest parts was the nights. Nobody sleeps well in the hospital, but it is especially hard when you are in physical pain and separated from your tiny baby. It wasn't just his healthy problems that made it hard, it was not being able to hold or even touch him in those early days. I'm the kind of mama that gives my children a thousand hugs and kisses each day, so to not be able to hug and kiss Jensen early on was heart wrenching. That first night I woke up in the night crying. Ryan and I turned on some worship music on my iPhone and I spent those middle of the night hours quietly praying and singing along with the music, sometimes aloud, and sometimes just in my thoughts as I tried to sleep. Prayer changed me in those nights by reminding me that God was my strength and my comfort. Singing worship songs to get through the night helped me to focus on the fact that God is good. Always. That God loves me and my son. Always. The circumstance was not what I wanted it to be. The physical pain was real. But the presence of God was equally real. 
During the days that we were in the hospital, and the days when we were at home and having to go back and forth to the hospital twice a day, I was blessed to have a few close friends who would call and text me to check on me and encourage me. I love these real, genuine friends who I knew were sincerely praying for me and Jensen. I appreciated so much that it was okay for me to not "be okay" with these friends. One of my sweetest memories is sitting and crying and praying with one of my best friends who came up to the hospital to hang out and talk with me. Having close friends who love the Lord and can remind you to keep trusting and hoping is one of the best things you can have on your side during a tough time. 
I know it would be easy for somebody to read this and ask, "Yeah, but did prayer really change your circumstance?" And my answer would be a giant YES. Yes, Jensen was born with premature lung disease and yes that was hard and not what I would have chosen. Prayer gave us hope and encouragement. Prayer reminded us of who God was over and over again. Prayer connected us to the friends and family who helped us so much during that draining week - by bringing us meals, by helping with Eva, by being willing to listen when we needed it.
And the biggest, best moment of all - when we got the call to tell us that Jensen would be coming home EARLY! On the Monday I left the hospital the head NICU pediatrician had said to be prepared for Jensen to spend another week to two weeks in hospital care. I believe God healed our little boy and made him strong - and we got to bring him home only 4 days later! Ryan, Eva, and I were all in the car when we got the phone call and as soon as we told Eva she said, "Thank you God for making my baby brother get better." That's right, sweet girl, God is an amazing healer!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Growing a Baby

I wrote a few posts during my pregnancy that included week by week comparisons of my growing baby bump. I made sure to take a weekly photo and have finally put them all together in a slideshow. I think it is AMAZING to see how a woman's body grows and changes and a real human is growing inside.

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When I looked back at all these photos it honestly made me miss being pregnant. I know, my husband must be shaking his head in disbelief. Yes, my pregnancy seemed LONG and was filled with painful, uncomfortable months. I just miss the beauty of growing a child inside. I miss feeling little baby kicks. I miss the anticipation of what is to come. Don't worry, husband, I agree that we are *probably* done having babies. We are blessed with two sweet, beautiful, healthy children and I think for my heart that will be enough. I will just rejoice when friends get to experience this wonderful, hard, always worth it miracle. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jensen's Birth Story

As everybody knows, our little guy, Jensen, made an early debut on February 5th. I was only 36 weeks along so the past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. I was originally scheduled for c-section on February 23rd. That didn't quite happen....Here is the story of his birth.
Monday, January 26th
At 35 weeks along I made my first trip to Labor and Delivery for strong contractions. I was given a shot to stop labor from progressing. That week I made a couple of trips to my OB and was told to rest and take it easy. I was also put on a pill to take every 8 hours to continue to delay labor. I had really bad side effects with the pill but took it to keep that baby inside.
Tuesday, February 3rd
We got a 36 week sonogram to check out Jensen. He was already 6lbs 14 oz and everything looked safe internally. I was told I could stop the yucky pill, but to take it if regular contractions returned.
Wednesday, February 4th
Regular contractions returned. Surprise. I took the pill but this time it was not effective in stopping everything so I went back to Labor and Delivery. I wasn't dilated at all so the doctor didn't want to risk doing my c-section unnecessarily early. I was told I could either spend the night or go home with and take an Ambien to sleep through the night. I decided to go home. I did get some rest but did not sleep through the night. I was up with contractions and laboring from about 4-7AM, then I went back to sleep for a while.
Thursday, February 5th 
When I returned to my OB's office at 11AM. I had already been having contractions for 17 hours. At this point I was ready for this baby to get here, but I also knew it was still too early to try for a c-section. My doctor checked me out and this time I was dilated enough for her to decide that there was no turning back. She told me that we would be doing our c-section that day and to head back over to Labor and Delivery. Thankfully her office is located inside of the hospital so it wasn't far to go. When I got admitted they confirmed that I would in fact be having my c-section that day at 1:30PM.
It was very different to do a planned c-section than to go through labor and end up with a c-section, like I did with Eva. They got me changed, hooked up to an IV and then I actually walked into the operating room myself, with a nurse to help, wearing that awkward hospital gown and a blanket wrapped around me. And some snuggly hospital socks of course! I'm sure I was the image of fashion. I was honestly very anxious about the whole process of getting prepped for the c-section. When I had Eva, my epidural was wearing off and I ended up having to go under complete anesthesia so I wasn't sure what to expect this time around. Weirdest thing - when I walked into the FREEZING operating room they were playing some crazy tunes. My nurse, Nancy, was really comforting and just hugged me and assured me I was doing well while they gave me my spinal tap. She was so fantastic and really helped keep me calm. Then they called Ryan in to stay beside me and within a few minutes I heard those first baby cries!
Jensen Bruce Bradley was born at 1:53 PM, weighing 7 lbs, 6 oz and measuring 19 1/2 inches. Being awake during a c-section was such a surreal experience. It is strange to be awake and coherent but at the same time not feel everything. Almost like a weird trance. But I remember the moment I heard him cry and getting to see him and have him on my chest for a few minutes before he was taken away.
Since he was born at 36 weeks we were warned that it was very likely he would end up in NICU, and sure enough he was taken there right away for premature lung disease. After I was fully out of recovery I was able to be wheeled into the NICU on my recovery bed and actually got about an hour to hold him. I didn't know that would be the longest time I would get with him for a few days. I am so thankful that I got that hour to snuggle him and kiss him and just hold his brand new body against me.
Friday, February 6th - Monday, February 9th
I spent these days in my own hospital room. My days were a blur of taking pain medication, trying to sleep and recover, and eventually getting to make lots of trips back and forth to the NICU. There were some initial days when all we could do was just make short trips where I couldn't even touch him yet because his condition was too sensitive. It broke my heart to see my little baby all wrapped up and not be able to touch him. He had a feeding tube, an oxygen tube, respiratory and heart monitors and an IV going through his head, which seemed so sad but they said was actually more comfortable for him than the arm IV so that he could move his arm.  It wasn't until Saturday evening that I was actually allowed to hold him again, and even then it had to be limited. By Monday he had improved enough that I finally got to hold him and bottle feed him. We were lucky to have some really great nurses for both me and Jensen. I sure appreciate all those post-partum nurses who took care of me and all of the sweet nurses who looked over my baby in the hours when I couldn't be right there. Leaving Jensen behind when we left the hospital was so extremely hard, but I had to just keep telling myself that our baby would be home soon.
Tuesday, February 10th - Thursday, February 12th
We made twice a day trips to see Jensen in the NICU. I am very grateful for everybody who helped take care of Eva so that we could go see Jensen. Having to divide my time, energy, and emotions between the three year old who needed me at home and the tiny newborn waiting for me in the NICU was really rough. I have so much empathy for anybody who has ever had to leave a baby in the hospital, and even more so for anyone who had to keep loving and caring for other kids at home. Wow. It is more difficult than you can imagine and your heart is so torn. And we only had to do this for 3 full days - I can't imagine struggling through this for multiple weeks or even months. We were literally PRAISING GOD when we got the call on Wednesday that we could plan on Jensen coming home on Friday.
Friday, February 13th
We took our little guy home!!! It was such a sweet homecoming for Eva to FINALLY get to see her little brother. Life at home has been exhausting but I wouldn't trade it. As tired as I am in most moments, nothing is better than looking down and seeing my two children nestled in my arms together.
Jensen is now doing great! I hope to blog again soon (hopefully in the next week) but he is healthy and so far such an easy going baby. He nurses or takes a bottle about every 3 hours and mostly sleeps the rest of the day. He cries when he is hungry or when we change him, other than that he is so calm. That is what we need in our home! Really, an answered prayer. Lots of people have asked how I am feeling....while I am still quite sore from the surgery, I honestly feel 10 times better than I did for most of my pregnancy! Thank you to EVERYBODY who prayed for our family and for Jensen. I want to write another post about the power of everybody's prayer, so for now I will just say thank you.