Friday, December 27, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love Christmas. I mean, I absolutely positively love it. I love everything about it- Christmas music, Christmas decorations, giving gifts to loved ones, the charitable spirit that seems to take over communities. It really is just a magical time of the year.
As I look back at the holidays of my married life, I am overwhelmed with joy. Even through the years we were not lucky enough to have little ones of our own, we were still blessed to always be surrounded by family. We are blessed to have memories of being a part of Christmas with our nieces and nephews before having kids of our own. There is something so special about the holiday season for little ones who still believe in all the magic. (now I feel a "Why-we-do-Santa" post coming on....) I'm so glad my siblings allowed us to be a part of those memories for their little families. Even though we get together nearly every single Sunday for dinner, Christmas is just special. I can't explain it, it just IS.
Despite how wonderful our Christmas memories are, each year, at the end of the day, Jon and I get in our car and drive home. Each year we've hoped that it's our last to be spent as a childless couple, as we desperately hoped to grow our little family. There was a certain level of emptiness met with yet another holiday season without a little one to dote on and create memories for. A season that for us is all about family also served as a reminder of our struggles in creating our own.
This year was different.
This year, the joy of the season was paired with the joy of the homecoming of Chase- something that will forever change this time of year for us. This year, we got to play Santa, staying up until 2am on Christmas eve to make the perfect Christmas display, even though he wont remember a darn thing. (many of his gifts were actually re wrapped from his shower. Don't judge.Or other essential items that I bought but hadn't opened yet so they were gifts. I mean, Chase TOTALLY wanted a wipes warmer for Christmas, right?)
 Christmas morning was spent in our home. We woke up without an alarm, we lounged around in bed, enjoying the quiet stillness of morning. Chase began to stir shortly after I woke, and I scooped him up and snuggled him while he ate breakfast. My heart was so full of gratitude and joy. I am so thankful my Heavenly Father trusted me with this perfect little human.
As I laid there in bed, Chase snuggled on my chest, Jon fast asleep, Annie curled up at my feet, I could not help but be overcome with a sense of absolute joy. I am so blessed. We live such a blessed life. We may not have super fancy things. Chase might not have a lot of "stuff." He may never have the latest and greatest toys, he may be getting necessities rather than wants every Christmas for the rest of his life, but you know what? I'm really just thankful that we CAN supply the necessities- especially in this economy!
And of course, the dogs were not forgotten this season, either. Miss Annie is always front and center, and the Danes got plenty of toys for both inside and outside throughout the year that I put in a box and wrapped under the tree.
I got up and made breakfast, and My mom and Tanya swung by after. Carson was happy to help baby Chase open his gifts! After, we went to my mom's and spent the day with family. I wish Shelly & Nathan's family would just move here already- it would really make these kinds of things that much more special to have EVERYONE together.
At the end of the day, we returned home- this year as a party of three rather than two. There was no feeling of sadness as we have experienced in the past. There was no void, no hole that needed filled. Nothing was missing. No, this Christmas left nothing to be desired. We are so blessed. So fulfilled. So lucky. We organized and put away some stuff, and then ended the day in the same way we started it- the three of us (OK, four, Annie totally counts) snuggled up in bed, counting our many blessings, overwhelmed by just how amazing life is right now.
I know many argue that Christmas is just another day, that we should be charitable and grateful year round... and I do agree with the latter. But Christmas is not just another day. It's a special day. I look forward to instilling the holiday spirit in my children, and creating special memories that will last a lifetime. I hope they find this time of year to be as special as I do. I hope Jon and I are able to make it special. It's not about the commercial aspect of the holiday. It's not about gifts. It's about family. It's about Christ. It's about giving. It's about counting our blessings. It's about magic.
And in our house, it's about Chase. <3 This tiny little human that entered our lives and changed everything. I am amazed every single day at how amazing he is- how perfect he is. He challenges me and makes me a better person just for knowing him. This holiday season I am thankful not just for our blessings with are too many to count, but also for our trials this year- for the opportunities for personal growth. Most of all, though, I'm thankful for family. For Jon's family. For my family. For Chase.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What's in a Name?

Chase Albert Lanman
D&C 20:70
Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.

December 15, 2013 was a special day for our family and for Chase. Our families gathered together for Chase's blessing. This is an LDS tradition in which new babies are given their name that will be on record with the church, as well as a priesthood blessing for their spiritual and physical well-being.  It was so special to have so many people from both sides of the family present to support Chase, we are so thankful for those who could be here.
As I looked around the room, my heart was touched. I can't believe the immense amount of support we have around us. Jon's family made the 6 hour drive to be here for the special day, and it really meant the world to us.
I'm thankful that Chase has SO MANY amazing men to look up to. It makes me so happy that he will grow up watching these men and knowing that their wonderful examples will help shape him into a great husband, father, and friend. He couldn't be luckier, he has the best father, grandpas, and uncles anyone could ask for. And the women in his life aren't too shabby, either.
The name we gave him, as most already know is Chase Albert Lanman. Jon and I have talked baby names for three years, and we had a couple picked out we liked, but when I was about 13 weeks pregnant, we felt very strongly that though there were several names we really liked- THIS baby was Chase. That would be his name. We flip flopped on middle names a little bit. I believe a father kind of has a right to name his first born son, and Jon had the absolute final say on middle names. Having no family tradition of middle names, I did suggest that if he wasn't opposed to it, or set on anything else, that there was one name- one person- that I really wanted to honor with a namesake at some point. It didn't have to be the first born son, it didn't have to be this baby, but eventually, at some point I wanted to use the name Albert after my grandfather. We immediately loved the name Chase Albert, and just knew it was his name. It has been his name since before he was born, and unlike so many people who name babies before birth we didn't even consider changing it after he was born.
There was no meaning behind the name Chase. Honestly, I just always liked the name since hearing it on House though it wasn't until I was pregnant we ever considered naming a baby that. Though when Chuck told Jon it was a former nickname of his it completely solidified the decision!
My father made the decision to not be a part of my life. He made that choice. Luckily for me, I was still left with one of the finest examples anyone could possibly have for what it took to be a father, grandfather, and all around respectable being.
I could never list the ways that my Grandpa Albert has positively influenced my life. Through my childhood most of my very best memories include time with my grandparents. He is a leader by example and I've never questioned his testimony or faith in the Lord as I've observed how he lives his life. Even at my worst- even as an arrogant, ignorant, unruly teenager, I've never questioned that my grandpa Albert was there for me- that he loves me and wants me to be happy. Growing up, I really thought Albert had the answers to everything. How things work. How to fix things. How to solve problems. How to live life. And he always has! Now as an adult, I don't just think he has this whole life thing figured out- I know it. He is the wisest, smartest person I've been blessed enough to meet. I honestly believe that his influence has made me a better person, and the same can be said for anyone lucky enough to know him. The year I spent living with my grandparents was probably the single most life-changing year of my life. As I observed my grandparents, things just started to make sense. The way they lived made sense. I could clearly see the way their morals, values, lifestyle, and practices brought them genuine happiness. It changed me. (No, really it did. I even make my bed now. Thanks, Grandma Billie!)
SO, when it came to giving our son a name, we thought about what we wanted it to mean. We knew we want to give our babies family names for middle names. We have several we intend to use eventually. When I think of the kind of person I hope for him to be, the qualities I hope to instill in him- patience, kindness, charity, spiritual strength, a testimony of his Savior, etc. I can't think of anyone who better embodies these traits than my grandfather. It means so much to me that Chase has grandpa Albert's name. I'm so thankful that he has such a wonderful father to look up to- something I never had- because I realize that Chase won't have the example and memories of Grandpa Albert that I cherish so much. It means the world to me that he has his name.
 So that's the story behind his name. Chase Albert Lanman.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Annoying Moms on Facebook

Every now and then I stumble across things that I just have to say something about. Today is one of those days. As I was sitting here waiting for my mom to finish her shower (because in case you haven't heard, Jon and I are living with her for the time being. It's nice. There's laundry service.) browsing Facebook, someone had posted a link to a blog of annoying things new moms do on Facebook. Said link was accompanied by a comment about how this person was so upset about what the blogger wrote. I know new moms on FB are annoying. It's comical really. I try not to flood the feed with pictures but dangit I grew a human being- a really damn cute one- and I just can't help it.
I thought to myself, "Gee, it's a shame so many people are so easily offended. Who cares what some blogger things. New moms on Facebook DO post some pretty stupid things, we're annoying.... myself included. Heck, I posted about a chin fat roll this morning, and six weeks ago posted a picture of 2mL of breast milk. So, I clicked the link. You can read the link here. (Tanya.... see how "here" is a different color? That's the link. You can click it.)

So, I'm reading along. Ten annoying things new moms post on Facebook.
Oh, haha, ultrasound pictures, YUP, I was totally guilty of that.
Oh hey, pee sticks. Nope. Didn't post pictures of those other than the actual results window. So half guilty.
Hmm, bodily functions... I don't think I mentioned the bajillion times I did in fact pee my pants, might have mentioned heartburn thought, so maybe I'm a little guilty there. Darn. I am, however, innocent in regards to posting things about HIS bodily functions, but if you must know.... he has had suppositories and enemas, with massive success. Though he did have a fairly impressive man fart last night. Go Chase!
I haven't posted about sick kids.
Though I did my biweekly belly shot for the blog (well, OK, I really kind of failed at actually DOING them...) I certainly never posted bare selfies all the time. Innocent there!

So I'm just laughing along, knowing full well I'm guilty of many of these, and not really caring what most people think because it's my Facebook and I'm just not really one to worry about if people like my stuff or not. I couldn't figure out why someone would be offended by this post.

Then I got to number six. The number six most annoying thing new moms post on Facebook.

6. Babies with tubes hooked up to them.Am I the only one that thinks this is upsetting? Moms, we know you can’t wait to show the world your sweet infant, but for the love of God and humanity, can you not wait until he/she is healthy? Your friends and family hope you have a healthy child and are praying for you, but it doesn’t make anyone feel joy to see that innocent little thing hooked up to a bunch of tubes. It makes us feel sad. For the baby. And for you.
And for the record, sharing personal matters is what email, texts, and phone calls are designed for.

And I actually felt angry. I am NOT one to choose to be offended by how other people think/ feel. (Yes, I believe taking offense is a choice.) But this mentality makes me angry. Really angry.
The first week of his life, my baby had nine different tubes/ wires connected to his little 2 1/2 lb body as he literally fought for his life.  Did he not deserve to be shared with friends and family? Is his life not every bit as important as those fat, beautiful, healthy full- term babies on the 4th floor of the hospital? And it boggles my mind that someone ELSE would be offended by the fact MY baby isn't healthy. Life isn't butterflies and rainbows all the time. Old people fall. Babies get sick. Life
isn't fair, and you know what... NO. NO I can't wait until he is healthy because here, in reality, some babies never DO get healthy. Some babies don't ever go home. What an incredibly selfish person.

I hope Chase's photos haven't offended anyone, but if they have- I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry if someone has made the conscious decision to be upset with me for sharing his struggles and progress. I'm OK with being an annoying mom on Facebook. I use it to share with friends and family how we are doing, and I make no apologies. Do you have any idea what it's liked to feel robbed of a normal newborn experience? I didn't get to hold my baby when he was born. I didn't even get to SEE him for half a day, or HOLD him for nearly a week. Do you know what it's like to go home without your newborn? To have to ask permission to touch or hold him? To have him taken away from your arms because he's not breathing, and his heart rate is dropping? NICU moms are robbed of so many firsts and experiences with their sick babies. I don't want pity- we are one of the lucky ones. My baby will come home. Some aren't that fortunate. It makes me sick to think some folks think those babies don't deserve to be celebrated and shared with the world.
So if this little face offends you, I really very strongly suggest you remove yourself from my friends list, because I have absolutely every intention of posting every milestone and update. It's one of the easiest ways to share with actual family and friends (people who DO care about him) how he's doing. I will not worry myself about if each picture has "too many" tubes and wires. I'm proud of him. I'm proud of his strength and how much progress he's made. I'm proud of him for kicking his cannula to the curb, and I'm proud of him even if he needs it again someday. I'm proud of him for beating his infection, and if he needs an IV for antibiotics again guess what!? Still proud of him. So I will sit down here, in a rocking chair, snuggling my perfect son, snapping all kinds of pictures, and posting as many as I damn well please.

Am I worried about being an annoying mom on Facebook? Not so much.

Stay tuned for the breastfeeding selfies. We're still learning.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thirty Days of Thanks

Halloween is over. That means my enthusiasm for the Christmas season is slightly less frowned upon now... and you bet I'm already excited. I can't wait for the house to be put together so I can deck the halls with all kinds of holly jolly goodness. Jon is working so hard, and it's getting so close... it's just such a time consuming process.
I'm going to do a whole update on Chase here soon... he's a whole month old today. A MONTH! Can you believe that?! But that's not what this post is. This post is my November crap-I'm-thankful-for post. I know most people do it daily on Facebook, but life is so hectic I don't always get around to that.

So, for every day of November:

1. I'm thankful for my husband, Jon. Because he is my rock, my sanity, my eternal companion, and one of the most respectable people I've ever met. I'm so lucky to have such a hard working man in my corner. I'm so proud of all that he's accomplished this year, and there's absolutely no one else I'd rather be on this journey through life and beyond with. I simply don't tell how amazing he is enough. He challenges me, he drives me nuts, but at the end of the day I know he'd do absolutely anything for our family and I am SO blessed to have someone like that in my life.

2. I'm thankful for my son, Chase. I never imagined I could love someone this unconditionally. The things
he's taught me about life, myself, and love in the last month surpass everything I thought I knew my entire 24 years of life. Without trying, he inspires me to be a better person- to be a better wife to my husband, to be a better friend, to be the best mom I possibly can be... because he deserves that. He deserves the best, and because of that I'm inspired to always better myself. I'm so incredibly proud of the progress he's made, I'm amazed how strong and determined he is. But mostly.... mostly I just love him. Wholly, completely, and unconditionally. I'm thankful God trusted me with this perfect little person. (not to be confused with an actual "little person." He's not a midget. Just a tiny human being.)

3. I'm thankful for my family. All of them. I remember my mom used to tell me (when I was a bratty teenager) that someday I would realize that my family loves me. Boy was she right. How did I not see this back then? I have been blessed with an incredible family, full of wonderful examples and so much love. My mom, grandparents, and siblings truly are my favorite people in the world and there's no one else I'd rather spend my time with. I love our family vacations, I love Sunday dinner, and I love our little traditions.... and not just because I totally dig boating, free food, and Christmas pajamas... but because I love my family.

4.  I'm thankful for my home. It's not new, and it's not fancy. The basement floods from time to time and the windows need replacing. But, it's home. It holds 2.5 years of memories, and is the place we will grow our family. It's where Chase will learn to crawl, and walk. It's where Jon and I will learn how to be parents.  I'm thankful we have a place to call home at a time that many people do not. Even with all its imperfections, I'm thankful for my home.

5. I am thankful for my dogs. I know no one else really gets what they mean to me, and I'm so lucky that Jon loves them too. They bring so much love and joy into our home. They have been our little family for the last 4 years, and I wouldn't change it for anything. I don't think I've been a very good "dog mom" this year, as we tried to move (which was mostly to better accommodate them!) and then tore our house apart, they've spent way too much time boarding. They're such troopers though. I adore them. They're simply a part of me. Especially Annie, whom I'm not even sure how I made it 20 years without.

6. I'm thankful for my staff at Ruff House. What incredible people. I'm not sure how they manage to put up with such an incompetent "boss" but when I count my blessings, I count my staff twice. They are the heart of Ruff House- they make it the great place it is, and I owe them so much. I don't think I could ever adequately express my appreciation for how hard they work, and how much heart and soul they put into it. It does not go unnoticed!

7. I'm thankful for Ruff House, and Jon's job at Intermountain. I know a lot of people are out of work right now and it makes me feel even more blessed that Jon has stable full-time work. Not only that, but we are fortunate enough to own a business that despite the fact neither of us are business-savvy by ANY stretch of the imagination continues to thrive. We aren't rich by any means- probably never will be, but that's OK. We are blessed, and I'm so thankful.

8. I'm thankful for Facebook. As silly as it sounds... I am! It makes it so much easier to keep in touch with people that matter- especially since Chase was born. I love reading updates from friends and family, especially from my sister in Texas. This year I've gotten to know a few great people better through Facebook, too! Yay new friends!

9. I'm thankful for my midwife, Sheri. Not only was she a wealth of information through my pregnancy, but the emotional support and security I found in her care can be passed by none. She's amazing. I did not ultimately have the birth experience I had hoped for, but even at the hospital and after, she's been right there for me. I'm AWFUL at keeping her updated and keeping in touch, but it's my hope that she knows how much I mean it when I say I'm so thankful for all she's done for me, which is more than she'll ever know.

10.  I'm thankful for medicine and technology. How lucky are we to live in a time with so many advancements in technology and medicine?! Anyone who knows me knows I try to avoid medicine, doctors, and hospitals at all costs but boy am I thankful it's there when it's TRULY needed. Thanks to medicine and technology my son will live.

11. I'm thankful for people. Yes, people. I must say, having a positive attitude and outlook isn't something that just comes naturally to me. I can not tell you how many times I've been overwhelmingly touched by the genuine care, concern, and support shown by SO many people since Chase was born. People I haven't spoken to in years- friends of my siblings and mom- complete strangers, they all crept out of the woodwork with nothing but prayers, positive vibes, and well wishes for our family. My faith in humanity is honestly restored. People are GOOD. Please know how much it has meant to Jon and I. Chase's positive progress is no doubt in part thanks to his cheerleaders out there keeping him in mind.

12. I am thankful for access to clean water and food. So many people don't have these very basic things.

13. I'm thankful for my friends. New and old. The few that are like family and the ones I am just getting to know. I'm so lucky to have such awesome people in my life.

14.  I'm thankful for country music. It's true. I love the stories it tells, the memories it holds, and the fact that it has the ability to just make me feel happy just because. <3

15. I'm thankful for Ellen DeGeneres. No, for real... because sometimes you just need to flippin laugh, and she does the trick every single time.

16. I'm thankful for military families- not just the men and women fighting for our freedoms, but their families who are also sacrificing so much every time their loved one goes away with no promises of returning.

17. I am thankful for my testimony of eternal families. I can not tell you how much this has comforted me this month. I love knowing that my family, Chase included, have the opportunity to be together forever. I love my family so much, my only fear is that forever isn't long enough. How wonderful it is to know that there never has to be a goodbye, not really. Even moreso, I'm thankful that my mom and Danny loved our family enough to live life in a way that gave us the opportunity to be sealed. I will NEVER forget how strongly I felt that day, and it's my hope they won't either. I'm glad I have such a great priesthood-holding husband and that Chase was able to be born into an eternal family.

18. I am thankful for the gospel. I wasn't going to get all religious and sappy, but really I just can't make a list of the things I'm thankful for and NOT mention these things. I'm not perfect, goodness knows I stray, but at the end of the day peace, comfort, and joy are to be found in the gospel.

19. I'm thankful for NICU nurses. Even the ones that annoy me. I'm glad there are people who can emotionally handle that job because I never could. Without his nurses, Chase wouldn't stand a chance, and I am so appreciative of their patience with me as I try to navigate this journey and learn about all the things that come with having a very premature baby.

20. I am thankful to be American, and the freedoms and rights that come along with that. It makes me so sad to see our current president threaten our rights and freedoms with his screwed up agenda, but that doesn't change the fact I'm darn proud to be an American! SO many people live without the right to vote, or freedom of religion.

21. I am thankful for my knowledge in nutrition. Though I continue to learn, I am thankful for the things I do know about nutrition. I am thankful that Chase will be able to have a better start because I know what I do. I'm thankful that I know the healing power of real foods, and that I know how to use them to heal my body naturally. It makes me sad how little the general public knows about food... and how in turn very little of what they eat is actually food!

22. I am thankful to live where I do. As much as Utah culture annoys me sometimes, I can't help but feel blessed to live in such a great place. I love our distinct beautiful seasons, (though Fall and Spring are entirely too short!) I love the safety and security of a low violent crime rate- perhaps because so many Utards are too drugged out on RX pain killers watching porn? (Utah has the highest rate of RX drug abuse and porn addiction. How funny.) I love the real sense of community even though I'm not the best at being neighborly. Are there other places I like to think I'd rather live? Well yes. (Looking at you, Northern Idaho!) But when it comes down to it, the proximity to family and all this place has to offer just can't be beat for me.

23. I am thankful for my sense of humor. I'm not sure how I could get through life if it weren't for being able to stop and laugh at myself every now and then. :-) I love making my family laugh... though to be fair they're a pretty easy crowd, but I'll take it!

24. I'm thankful for the examples of motherhood in my life. I'm trying to learn this new foreign role to me. It's a difficult task to navigate with the completely unnatural setting of NICU with rules and hovering nurses, but I'm trying. I'm so thankful for the AMAZING women in my life who are such shining examples of the kind of mom I aspire to be.

25. I'm thankful for books and the ability to read. Despite the fact my nieces and nephews were convinced I didn't know how to read for the longest time, I can. I love reading! I love relaxing with a good novel, and I love picking up a book and learning something new. I can't imagine a life without books!

26. I'm thankful for my past. I really am. Yes I did a lot of stupid things and made some terrible choices (Portland, anyone?)  Through many less-than-ideal experiences I feel like I've gained an irreplaceable perspective on so many things, and I wouldn't trade that for the world. It's made me who I am, and quite frankly, I LIKE who I am. It's hard not to since I'm so awesome and all.

27. I am thankful for doTerra oils and the quick relief they bring my body time and time again!

28. I'm thankful for all the support SO MANY people have shown our family. There's no doubt in my mind that much of Chase's speedy progress is due to all the people praying and rooting for him. I didn't realize how many people cared, I didn't realize that people are just that good. It has been a blessing in so many ways to our family.

29. I'm thankful for all the help family and friends have given as we've put our house back together. We never imagined our renovations would take so long or be so difficult. I feel as if our decision to stay put amounted to a whole lot of work for a whole lot of people. I feel so bad for that, but I'm SO SO thankful for the countless hours people pitched in and helped us with plumbing, electrical, moving stuff around, and so much more. We really never could have pulled these projects together without everyone's help and though we are officially two and a half months past our original goal deadline, it would have NEVER gotten completed if so many hadn't been so willing to help when I know for a fact there were a million other important things on their plates.

30. I'm thankful for cows. Because I like to drink their milk and eat their flesh. Nom nom nom.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How I'm REALLY doing

I try really hard to keep a completely positive attitude on this NICU journey with Chase. I try to be strong for him, and have a positive outlook. I hesitate to share bad news, and try to hang onto enthusiasm over the baby steps in the right direction for as long as possible because sometimes I don't know when the next little bit of progress will come along to rekindle that fire.
Last night, in the car on the way home after some pretty bad news my mom told me it's OK to be real. I said I was afraid if I allow myself to be negative then more negative things would happen. I'm not trying to be negative, but for just one moment... one blog post... I need to be real.

Sometimes I hate it when people ask how I'm doing. I know everyone means well, and really I'm touched by how much support and genuine care people have shown our family through everything. But...I went through three years of infertility, planned a perfect home birth I was excited about, was excitedly counting down the days until my baby would be born at home, spent YEARS making every little decision, only to have all of that go down the drain. Now I sit by an incubator and watch a monitor full of numbers pleading with God  that this tiny miracle might remember to breathe a little better tonight than he did last night, pleading that none of the flashing numbers dip down again that hour, knowing that if they do my skin-to-skin time will be cut short as they assess him and determine if his care regimen needs to change. I wake up every hour through the night, hoping that he's OK, knowing that a bad news phone call could come in at any given time. My phone ringing is all it takes to make MY heart stop beating, my body to break into a nervous sweat, and my mind starts racing. How the Hell do you THINK I'm doing? I'm a new mother separated from my newborn. My baby is in NICU. I'm not OK, and I won't be until he's strong, healthy, and home.

Sometimes, I'm angry. I'm angry that my baby has to get poked and prodded every day. I'm angry that he has to go through tests, blood transfusions and exams every day. I'm angry that his little body looks battered and bruised from all the needle pokes. I'm angry that he is so bothered by all the things taped to his body all the time. I'm angry that he's not home in mama's arms, which is the ONLY place new babies belong. I'm angry that I have to ask permission to hold my own baby. I'm angry that I don't always understand exactly what's going on and what is best for him. I'm angry that I didn't get to spend those first few minutes of his life with him, as I was knocked out and he was rushed off to NICU. I'm angry that we can't be together all the time. I'm angry that he gets a revolving door of nurses rather than a team that gets to know him. I'm angry at my body for not cooperating, for letting this happen, for failing him. I'm angry my c-section isn't healing properly. I'm angry that the pain involved makes it unsafe for me to drive, and that I'm so reliant on rides and other people.

Sometimes I'm sad. My heart breaks for him every time he has to go through yet another traumatic experience. He's only three weeks old and he's been through way too much already. I'm sad that I can't protect him from all this. I'm sad that I am missing out on so much because I can't be at the hospital 24/7. I'm sad that he's in pain.

Sometimes I'm afraid. I'm afraid of infections. I'm afraid of him getting sick. I'm afraid of feeding issues. I'm afraid of apnea. I'm afraid of brady spells. I'm afraid of all the things that keep babies reliant on machines for longer, which in turn keeps them in the hospital longer. I'm afraid of RSV, I'm afraid of the flu. I'm afraid of making wrong decisions and him suffering for it. I'm afraid of letting him down and I'm afraid of not being good enough.

So, when you ask me how I'm doing, and I tell you I'm fine... know that it's a lie. It's a big fat lie. I'm going to continue saying it, in hopes that it eventually becomes the truth. I'm going to keep trying to be positive, and I'm going to continue to have faith it will all eventually turn out OK. I'm going to continue believing that Chase will come home strong and healthy someday, and I'm going to keep dreaming of the day I can hold my son and not stare at the flashing numbers on the screen to know when he needs help breathing. I won't allow the anger, sadness, and fear completely take over... but they are always there, sometimes in the back of my mind, and sometimes front and center.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Our NICU Journey: Week 1

If baby Chase had stayed put, today would have marked 31 weeks. Instead, he is ten days old.
Ten days. I can't believe how much life has changed. Less than two weeks ago my daily agenda revolved around little projects around the house, getting things ready for Chase, and counting down the days to mid-December. Now it's revolved around getting back and forth between NICU to visit him, and pumping milk every two hours.  
Nothing can prepare you for something like this. Through our TTC journey and then through this pregnancy, we just didn't think about "what if he comes super early?" I don't think anyone does, because it's one of those things that you just don't expect to happen to you. But it did. 
Sometimes I don't know how I'm supposed to feel. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that he is here safe, and that we will be able to bring him home- even if it's not as quickly as I would have liked. I love him so much. But sometimes, generally in the middle of the night, I just feel angry. I feel angry that he's not here with me, angry that he's having to go through all this, angry at the situation. I don't understand how it's decided who gets healthy babies and who doesn't. I try to push those feelings out and be thankful for what we DO have, thankful for how many things ARE going great with him... but it's not easy. Being separated from him feels very unnatural. 
The first time I got to hold him I have to admit- I was a little scared. Certainly not scared enough to not jump on the chance when it was offered to me, but I was nervous. He's so tiny. His little arms and legs... there's just nothing to them. I mean, all of him weighs less than 3lbs. 3lbs is tinier than I pictured it. I was afraid that he wouldn't be happy, that he would just want to be put back- and afraid that I'd do something wrong and hurt him. All of those things went through my mind but at the end of the day, I wanted to be close to him and knew these fears were something I
needed to just get rid of. I have a son now, and he's going to need me to be there for him- there's no room for fear in that. (as someone I greatly admire told me this week: there is not room for fear in parenting.) 
Holding him for the first time, which happened on October 12th, was the best feeling in the world. He just melted and snuggled in, and for an hour- life was perfect. It was natural, he was exactly where he belongs. We get to do that every night, and if he starts to gain weight better will add in mornings too. 
I'm amazed at the progress that can be made one baby step at a time. In a week, he moved off the ventilator onto a CPAP, and then gradually weaned him off of that onto a regular nasal cannula. That didn't go super smoothly so they put him back on CPAP, and then a high flow cannula. As of today, he's back to a regular nasal cannula. He had so many tubes and wires going on the first couple of days and several of them have since come out. His PICC line will come out in the next day or two as long as he continues to tolerate his feedings well. I know we still have a long road ahead, and these things are often two steps forward, one step back (as we learned with his oxygen...) but the idea of him needing LESS machines makes me really happy. As much as I can accept the PICC line, cannula, and feeding tube as things that are helping him that he needs, I know they can't be the most comfortable, and if he's strong enough- I'd rather he not have them. He's such a trooper. 
Seven weeks or so- best case scenario. He has at least seven weeks left in NICU. I hope every week goes by as quickly and overall smoothly as this one has. 

Where we're at now: Chase is having acid reflux after his feedings, which he may or may not grow out of, but we aren't overly concerned about it at this point. His biggest hurdle is that his brain isn't reliably telling his body to breathe- so he tends to stop breathing, which in turn makes his heart rate nosedive, and he has to be moved/ roughed up to stimulate him and then he comes back around. His lungs in and of themselves are just fine- he just forgets to use them. His weight dropped down to 2lbs 10.5oz, but is picking back up. He's at 2lbs 14oz now, which is just an ounce below his birth weight. The more weight he gains, the more we get to hold and touch him so that's a really big deal. 

As for me and Jon... we are hanging in there. It gets overwhelming and we have our moments of pity parties, for sure. Jon is working hard (as always! He's such an amazing husband and father) on getting things prepared at the house for all of us to come home. Since everything is so torn apart and I've been a little out of commission lately, we've been staying at my mom's. I'm anxious to get the house put back together and settle into whatever our new normal is going to be. Plus it's a shorter drive to the hospital and I'm pretty sure we're spending a fortune on gas alone. I'm mostly focusing on eating, drinking, and pumping like crazy. Soon, I will be staying at the hospital during the days and being as present as possible for absolutely everything. A couple things have gotten in the way of that this week- recovering from my c-section, inability to drive, lack of cooperation from my body, etc. but Chase needs me, and I need him. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When Things Don't Go According to Plan: The Birth Story of Chase Albert

Generally, today, I’d be telling you all about weeks 28-30 of pregnancy. I'd tell you my bellybutton is still an innie, that I'm not wearing maternity clothes- but perhaps I'm cheating because I officially live in sweats. I might comment that I’m nauseous, or tell you how crazy I’ve been nesting lately. I might mention that our house is coming right along and that I started putting all of Chase’s cloth diapers on the shelf this week. I’d tell you all about how I sent Jon to the grocery store at midnight to satisfy the most intense grilled cheese craving of all time, and about how I still adore egg and cheese burritos, as long as they are smothered in hot sauce. I’d surely mention how far away December is and that I was so looking forward to meeting my son, whom was growing rapidly in my body.
But, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes, no amount of preparation, learning, or striving towards a particular goal is enough to make it happen. Sometimes God writes a different plan, one that catches us completely off guard, one that we may not understand at the time, (or ever!) and we must learn to be flexible. You can imagine my surprise, after nearly three and a half years of planning a beautiful natural home birth, and nearly 30 weeks into a healthy, fairly textbook pregnancy, when I went into labor at just 29 weeks, 4 days.

Chase Albert Lanman was born at 12:48AM on October 7, 2013 via emergency c-section. He was 15.5” long, and weighed 2lbs 15oz. His gestational age at the time of his birth was 29 weeks, 5 days, and this is his birth story.

Anyone that knows Jon and I knows that we were very passionate about the beautiful natural home birth we had been planning for the entirety of our 3+ year TTC journey. Birth has become a real interest of mine during that time as I’ve been fascinated learning about all things pregnancy, birth, and baby. It really is an incredibly interesting topic! I’m a firm believer that medicine and routine intervention really have no place in normal childbirth and tend to cause more problems than they solve. I am, however, thankful for the technology and options available for those FEW times that for whatever reason, birth doesn’t go quite so “normal,” when it really IS necessary to intervene. I am thankful for the knowledge I have acquired. I am thankful that I took the time to learn what I did, so I can look at my birth experience and know that what we did was necessary, that this was one of those not-too-common cases where medicine was necessary, where it was valid, where it was right. I am at peace with the decisions that were made. I cannot deny being disappointed that we did not get the beautiful birth we had planned and hoped for, but we did get a growing and learning experience that has brought our family closer together. 

My labor with Chase was easy. Mostly because I had absolutely no idea I was really in labor until I was pretty well into transition and my body wanted to push him out. I had what I thought were Braxton hicks contractions all day and went to my midwife’s to get checked out- certain everything was OK and just wanting peace of mind. After checking me, we all just suspected that I was maybe getting a bladder infection which was causing the contractions, (the pressure and discomfort I was feeling was very consistent with this- and because I didn’t even suspect I was in labor- and only 29 weeks along it wasn’t the first thought to cross anyone’s minds, it made sense.) We decided to go down to the hospital and just get some things checked out, just for peace of mind- urinalysis, probably get some antibiotics, and maybe a non-stress test for Chase. We left pretty convinced we’d all be home and in bed at a decent hour. In fact, at this point we didn’t even think to contact family or anything, figuring there was nothing to report. “Hey, everyone, just letting you know I maybe have a bladder infection!” No. No one does that.
At the hospital, I gave a urine sample, and they strapped the monitors to my belly to make sure Chase was doing well while we waited to hear back on that. He was. Several contractions came and went during this time. I was able to breathe through them, allowing the waves to come in, peak, and wash away one at a time. Sherri supported me through each one. Her presence brought me so much peace and comfort, I was able to relax completely even in uncertainty. The hospital nurse gave me a pelvic exam which was immensely uncomfortable to no fault of hers. Contractions came and went, and I noticed they started to come more and more quickly. At some point it occurred to Sherri that maybe this had nothing to do with a bladder infection, and maybe I wasn’t even in early labor- maybe I was actually in late labor. At seemingly that exact moment I suddenly felt like I needed to use the bathroom. When I voiced this, I think what was happening “clicked” throughout the room because it was like everything stopped for a moment. A moment after, I started getting shivers, though I wasn’t cold. I wasn’t really in pain, but I felt very pushed to my limit in a very physical sense. Each contraction that came would push me right until I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, and then it would roll back and I’d catch my breath. At this point, a doctor came in. I have no recollection of him even being there, as I was so tuned into myself and what was happening I didn’t even know he was in the room… until things started to unravel….
Once we confirmed (by complete chance…) that I was in real labor, and there was no going back or stopping it, and there was talk of c sections, and ambulances, my fear set in, and so did the pain. I was managing OK, right up until the EMT said no one could go in the ambulance with me- not even Jon- and then I just could not cope with the fear. I have a lot of anxiety around hospitals, and I recognize that, so to take my main support system away, and add in all the uncertainty going on, the idea of having to go alone was just terrifying. How would I make it through the contractions without Sherri’s support? How would I know everything was OK without Jon’s calming presence? No, this wasn't what birth was to me. It wasn't OK. I was scared. I felt myself slip into a panic as I struggled to regain focus on my breathing and relaxation. Unfortunately the overwhelming fear translated into overwhelming pain and I found myself being “that woman” in labor begging for “help.” Vocally I was asking for pain medication, but that wasn't what I needed. I needed to get out of my own head- to get rid of the fear. I knew it was the fear getting in my way, but I also didn't know how to cope with that. My whole coping mechanisms depend on the fact that I trust birth- and I do- but I trust natural birth. This was out of my comfort zone, and in that moment I didn't know how to adapt to it. I didn't know how to let go of that fear. At some point, in the ambulance, I was able to get myself refocused to some extent. I accepted that this was not the plan, but it was happening, and I knew that my son needed me to work with him and to do that, I HAD to set my fear aside. I laid there, allowing the contractions to roll over me as I fell into them, humming and ahhhhing deeply through them. They were doubling over each other at this point- lasting longer than the breaks in between them were. I knew from everything I read that Chase’s appearance wasn't far off. I wasn't ready for him to come but in that moment, listening to the sirens of the ambulance, I accepted that this was happening. We arrived at the hospital and they wheeled me into labor and delivery. I felt a bit silly as I vocalized through my contractions. I looked up at the EMT and told him baby was not going to wait any longer. He just said “They’ll check you when we get you upstairs and see if you can have an epidural.” I don’t think he understood what I was saying. I felt movement low in my body- very low. I knew his feet were presenting. An animalistic roar escaped my mouth, and everyone looked at me. Suddenly I’m being yelled at to stop pushing. I didn't know I was pushing! It was completely involuntary and uncontrollable. The room turned to chaos again as a few nurses grabbed my bed and rushed me down the hall to the operating room. I went into myself, humming and ahhhhing through the waves, trying to close out the chaos around me. The doctor was harsh and short with me, telling me to be quiet and listen to him. He was trying to explain what they were doing- but I didn't care. I didn’t care what he had to say. I knew I was having a c-section. I knew it was happening now. I knew I would not get to hold my baby immediately, and I knew that the best thing I could do for Chase was stay in my little bubble of peace and hummm and ahhh through it. So I tuned him out.  He was also yelling at the anesthesiologist to hurry up, as a nurse prepped my abdomen for surgery. The last thing I remember once I felt the medicine in my vein, was telling Chase not to be scared, and that we could do this- together. And we did.

If I could remove the moments of panic, I would say my birth experience was wonderful. The pain did not rear its ugly head until the fear and panic did. It was confirmation to me that birth absolutely can be everything I thought it could be. Contractions don’t have to be immensely painful. Labor doesn’t have to be miserable. There does not need to be chaos and panic. When those things don’t happen, and I was able to just fold into myself and let things happen, it was nothing short of amazing. In fact, those final moments, right before I went under the anesthesia, when I had accepted everything going on, I can honestly say it was a powerful and spiritual experience. I believe birth is beautiful. I believe that even though circumstances prevented it this time, Jon and I absolutely will experience a wonderful home birth next time around. And the time after that. And the time after that. I know enough to feel confident in saying that though I didn’t have the experience I was preparing and hoping for- I know that I can someday.
Chase’s birth wasn’t normal. That’s OK! That’s why we are so thankful that medicine and doctors exist- so we can call upon them when it’s necessary! I have no regrets on ANY decisions Jon and I made as a couple for this pregnancy and birth. Words cannot express how thankful I am we found Sherri, nor the value of the comfort and peace of mind she brought to me through my pregnancy and as she supported me every step of the way at the hospital. What an incredible woman. I am a better person just for knowing her. I can only hope she is available my next pregnancy so we can totally ROCK a VBAC at home. I can so do this whole birth thing, don’t let my gnarly c-section scar fool you.
Chase has a long road ahead before he’s strong enough to come home with us. Jon and I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of love, support, and kindness that have come pouring in the last couple of days. PLEASE know that while it’s been difficult to individually return every message, they do not go unread, they do not go ignored. Your thoughts and prayers are so very appreciated- and keep them coming, they are working!! I’m a believer in positive energy and creating your own reality starting with thoughts, and I have no doubt that we can thank all of you out there rooting for us for Chase’s progress so far.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Our IKEA Kitchen- Part II: The Demolition

The first step in getting our new kitchen in, was of course taking the old one out. This sounds like a lot more fun that it is. I was kind of looking forward to beating the crap out of the old ugly kitchen- but all the surprises we ran into kind of rained on the parade.
The thing is, my house was built in 1954, and I'm pretty sure every single owner of it since then (I'm not sure how many there have been, but the wall colors sure have changed a million times, I know that much.) has thought they were really good at DIY projects. Except, they thought wrong because every single professional we've had in here- be it plumbers, electricians, general contractors, etc. has been totally left scratching their heads at what the heck whoever last worked on [insert whatever they're here to fix] last was thinking. Good times.
Several things came up that we really had no way of anticipating until we were well past the point of no return. It was super stressful. Anyone who has ever done a home renovation project knows that "surprise" is synonymous with "unexpected and likely large expense." In our case, we've been lucky enough to- for the most part- have at least one family member proficient in just about every area of construction and home renovation and have been able to remedy most things without totally busting the budget. Our timeline, however, has completely gone out the window. That's been frustrating but I've accepted that it is what it is.
Jon started ripping out the floor first. It was just a blond laminate that was pretty ugly. We found this lovely linoleum straight out of the 70's underneath it. Nest he took off the counter tops, and pulled the lower cabinets away from the wall.
Jon's dad and sister came to our rescue for a weekend to help with this part- and oh man was that appreciated or what! The person who built this kitchen seriously LOVED nails. I mean, he loved nails so much that he probably used approximately eleventy billion more nails than what was actually necessary to mount these cabinets. Getting the upper ones off the walls was tricky. Not to mention the fact that being solid wood they're unreasonably heavy as well.
We discovered all kinds of fun stuff.... like the fact that behind pretty much my ENTIRE lower cabinets, there was no wall. There was a giant flippin hole that they covered by...drumroll please... taping a garbage bag over it! Not kidding. Plus, zero sealing of any kind around the duct work for the vent under the cabinets, no insulation whatsoever. I'm talking hollow shell of a wall, made out of trash bag.
We also had a galvanized pipe that was literally about to corrode through any second, so I'm glad we discovered it BEFORE it sprung a leak. I don't think my basement needs to flood any more times. In fact, I *know* it doesn't, because I might lose my dang mind if it ever does again. We've replaced all the main lines since moving in, and have replaced some of the other plumbing along the way, but this pipe was hidden until everything had come off the wall so we had no way of knowing it needed to be replaced.
We also discovered that a lot of the subflooring was in pretty rough shape- another thing we probably should have anticipated with having an older home, but being newbies to all this, we just didn't.
In addition, the walls behind the existing laminate backsplash were in HORRIBLE condition. Literally, crumbling apart. (probably because the lower half of the wall is missing?) We peeled it off and the wall just kind of started falling apart. It was one of those "uhhh... wasn't expecting THAT." moments.
I reached the point I had to just walk away before I lost my mind. I was having one of those days that everything under the sun made me want to cry (pregnancy is stupid like that) and I was feeling 1. super overwhelmed, and 2. super embarrassed to be so emotional and stupid in front of Jon's family. They probably think I'm a super unstable nutcase.
Once we got it all torn out, my kitchen looked.... well... it looked like a total disaster, because that's EXACTLY what it was. It was dirty, and had holes all over, and smelled funky. I had no idea when we started this project how much work it would really be, or how many surprises would come up- or just how rough of shape it was really in to begin with. This renovation was so much more necessary than I ever realized. I'm glad we discovered these issues before they started really causing problems, though. That's a blessing in disguise- even if I did feel totally overwhelmed the entire time.
But, that was it. Everything was out. There was no going back now. We had surprises, but no choice but to deal with it and carry on. It helped knowing that no matter what I was getting a new kitchen. Staying the way it was wasn't an option, period. At the end of all of it, things were going to get put back together... though I can't even begin to tell you how many times along the way I stood in that room, looking at the chaos and destruction, and wondered if I'd ever be able to make dinner again. Who was gonna clean up this mess, anyway?!

Our IKEA Kitchen- Part I: The Professional Planner

Our IKEA Kitchen- Part III: The Install (Coming Soon....)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part IV: Customer Service [or lack thereof] (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part V: The Finishing Touches (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part VI: In Summary & Review [A look in retrospect] (Coming Soon...)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

28 weeks. Oh Hello, Third Trimester!

How far along? 28 weeks, third trimester at last!

How big is baby? bigger than last week, that's for dang sure

Total weight gain/loss: -15.

Maternity clothes? Nope. I can still wear all of my longer shirts just fine, and all of my pants fit fine if I just wear them below my belly.

Sleep: Insomnia has crept in full force. I mean I toss, turn, and try to sleep until Jon's alarm goes off at 7am. Then I sleep for about 4 hours. Then I'm tired all day.

Best moment the last two weeks: Hmm. Being in the third trimester is a neat thought- the home stretch! We also started our hypnobabies classes and I'm excited for that, too.

Movement: All the time.

Food cravings: Haven't really been having any the last two weeks. Food is mostly unappealing, and since I have been limited to a microwave for cooking (which, btw, I generally never ever use) while the kitchen is torn apart, things have been kept pretty simple.

Food Aversions: Anything leafy, again.

Gender: Boy. <3

Pregnancy Symptoms: Does being antisocial count? I mean, I'm really not the most social person to begin with but I'm ready to just get rid of my phone altogether so I don't have to keep explaining that I just don't even keep it on me, because I have nothing to say and no one I want to talk to. I'm still battling nausea pretty much every single second of every day, too. I can feel my energy level declining again, but I really think that will improve when I have a kitchen and am preparing more nutritious food again. I'm really repulsed by the amount of fast food we've had to fall back on lately, and I can feel the difference in my body, it's repulsed too.

Belly Button in or out? In

What I miss: Nothing.

What I am looking forward to: December!

Upcoming appointments/events: Next appointment is October 7th.

Milestones: So far: made it through first trimester, had first (and second) ultrasound, and discovered gender, and felt movement, Jon has felt movement from outside, belly popped finally, anatomy scan (went well), being able to see movement, point of viability passed, started birthing classes, started third trimester

Bump Picture: maybe later.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our IKEA Kitchen- Part I: The Professional Planner

So, in deciding to keep our 1954 rambler for 8-undecided more years, Jon and I agreed that certain renovations just needed to happen. We made a list, gathered our price quotes, prioritized, and got to work. Our modest budget has meant quite a bit of DIY work and getting a little creative with certain things, but all in all I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming together.
A large part of our inside renovation budget went to the kitchen. To make a total gutting of the kitchen even remotely affordable for us at a time that we really should focus on saving, we read all we could about our options. We determined for our budget, wants, needs, and things that were important/ unimportant to us it made sense to go the IKEA route on the cabinets. My former kitchen was simply not functional. I do NOT have a lot of kitchen stuff- at all. In fact, I'm kind of a minimalist when it comes to kitchen gadgets, and even I struggled with the serious lack of storage space. Further, the cabinets just had this weird "old house smell" in them no matter how much I scrubbed them out with everything under the sun. Even Activated charcoal- which will get rotten meat stench out of a storage room (we learned when a freezer full of meat came unplugged...) won't get the weird smell out of the cabinets. Add to it the funky flour storage bins that consumed nearly all of the lower storage space rendering them useless to me, the lack of any kind of pantry, and the oven that worked but had a bad temper and a vendetta against me, and this renovation was simply needed. I needed a functional kitchen. Not necessarily fancy, but functional. It was ugly before, but not so ugly it wasn't tolerable. The lack of function wasn't going to work for me anymore, though.
So, off we embarked on our next project! Let me tell you a little about this experience.
We'd seen good pictures, read good things, and felt confident that this would give our awful 50's kitchen the much-needed face lift we were going for, while not breaking the bank. I'm not one to care about keeping up with the Jones' and was excited to have a new kitchen to prepare meals for my family in- even if nothing was custom or designer. -shrug- It would be an upgrade anyway!
I spent countless hours browsing their catalog, walking their showroom, and making lists of things I liked, didn't like, etc. The project quickly became overwhelming to me. (disclaimer: I'm pretty easily overwhelmed when I'm out of my comfort zone, in all fairness) So many options, and I was having a hard time making sure that my measurements were accurate in the online planner program.
Jon and I decided we would go ahead and hire an IKEA kitchen planner to come out, do measurements, and help us design the layout. It's not that we weren't capable of measuring, but I was worried about messing it up. To me, the security that came from putting the measurements in the hands of the pros, and having a "designer" help with the layout to where we literally just had to push a button to make it spit out our shopping list was going to be completely worth the money spent. Then we'd have the plans to go by, and planned to self-install. Not that Jon and I are super handy- we're not- but we can follow instructions pretty well and though a little nervous, were ready to tackle the project.
This is where it started going wrong.
Our "designer" showed up a few minutes late, which is fine. Things happen. I showed him the kitchen, told him a little bit about what I was thinking as far as layout, etc. I had already filled out the requested worksheet provided, indicating things like my choice of cabinet color, hardware, sink, fixtures, appliances, etc. so he could plug all that into the program.
Before- 1950's Dysfunction
I gave him some space to get the measurements, showed him which appliances were staying and going, and he said he'd set up the bare bones of the room in the program and then we'd lay it all out. I sat in the living room and waited. And waited. An waited. During this time he took several phone calls from other clients which bothered me, because when I pay for someone's time (at over $100/hour, mind you) and am on their schedule, I do expect them to respect the fact they are on MY clock. Mine. My time. That I'm paying for. He also was texting on his phone a ton, and when I walked by a few times noticed he had an instant messaging program open on his laptop and was actively chatting away. At the time I wasn't super angry- as long as he also got the kitchen mapped out it was mission accomplished as far as I was concerned.
When he called me over, I was surprised to see that he already had all the cabinets, drawers, etc. entered- I was also surprised that he didn't really implement a single change I had said I wanted to make. He had pretty much plugged in a new version of the exact same kitchen I had before.
Not only that, but he literally put every single upgrade in every single drawer and cabinet. He had included every fancy storage and organization solution you can imagine- which, neat as they are, I just have no need for all that. Regular shelves and drawers were plenty for me. I don't have a ton of stuff to begin with, so I wasn't concerned with all that. Not to mention the insane cost it added.
Before- 1950's Dysfunction
I requested that we move a few things around and he'd tell me why it wouldn't work that way. Me being the clueless novice, and he being the all-knowing "professional" I accepted his reasoning even though it made little to no sense because I was in way over my head here already. If I have a professional telling me something about a subject I know NOTHING about, and no time to learn, I am really left with no choice but to accept. The layout didn't really disappoint me, I still liked it, I'm not picky, so it was easy to quickly let go of my previous thoughts of what I had wanted. In retrospect, I think he just didn't want to edit/ redo his design. I think he was lazy. I've had a contractor, a few family members (whose opinions I really respect/ trust) tell me that his reasoning was completely bogus and had no base on literally every account. I could have had the layout I wanted. Live and learn.
As we were going through the final plans, just a few moments away from that click that spits out our shopping list, I made a few more requests. I really actually LIKE the side of my fridge exposed. The front isn't magnet and Jon and I use it as a message board of sorts. That's where our family calendar goes, coupons, shopping list, etc. I don't care if the built-in look is higher end or more desirable, I like what is functional for me. Plus, those panels were $170/piece and we'd need two. No need to increase cost where it's not necessary to me. I'm more budget conscious than that even if I DO have the money at hand. I also didn't care to pay the price for all the cabinets and drawers to have the "soft closure" add on. Regular opening and closing is just fine for me. Plus, soft closures would totally kill the dramatic effect that angrily slamming the cabinet gives. :-p (kidding. Kinda) Anyway, never had soft closure cabinets, never wished I had them, never thought about them, so at several bucks per drawer/ door.... I requested those go, too. Also, he had slide-out shelves throughout the pantry. Neat as that is, I just don't need all that and it was a lot of added expense. (think $600 in the case of regular pantry shelves vs. ones that pull out. He had also upgraded my corner cabinets from regular lazy susans to some fancy schmancy contraption that was supposed to "maximize my storage space." I explained to him approximately 8,921,284,248,129,001 times that this new design was already giving me literally four times the storage space I had and that I wasn't overly concerned with storage space, nor did I need all the expensive fancy gadgets designed to make every last square inch usable. I also didn't like the Ikea hardware options, and (as I indicated on that worksheet they so desperately stressed the importance of having done before the appointment) said I planned to get them at another time because I was undecided on style/ color at that point.
Before- Laundry in the kitchen?!
He agreed to take it all off and change it to basics. I left him to do so for the last half hour or so of his time.

It was the end of the 20% off sale. We literally had to order the stuff first thing in the morning to get that deal, and in turn save a very large amount on the materials. So, when he was finished, we went over the changes I had requested, which he lead me to believe had been done, and we submitted the order.
We opted to have IKEA deliver all the parts, because they're about 30 minutes away and it would take multiple trips in the truck- not to mention Jon's already slammed weekday schedule. The fee was reasonable enough to make it worth it. Our kitchen would come in early the next week! Yes! The planning part was done, and though we had a few little hiccups and disappointments, I was still really excited! I wasn't even going to have a washer and dryer in my kitchen anymore- it will be a REAL kitchen! I'm going to have a real laundry room! Oh happy day.
I also had no idea what I was in for. be continued...

Our IKEA Kitchen-Part II: The Demolition (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part III: The Install (Coming Soon....)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part IV: Customer Service [or lack thereof] (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part V: The Finishing Touches (Coming Soon...)
Our IKEA Kitchen- Part VI: In Summary & Review [A look in retrospect] (Coming Soon...)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

26 weeks!

How far along? 26 weeks

How big is baby? According to Babycenter, he's an eggplant.

Total weight gain/loss: -12. (146)

Maternity clothes? Nope. I can still wear all of my longer shirts just fine, and all of my pants fit fine if I just wear them below my belly.

Sleep: I haven't been sleeping super well, mostly because I have SO much on my mind with all the things going on with our house/ property. I'm confident I can get this back on track after some of these projects are done. Chase gets SUPER busy at 4am every morning, like clockwork and if I'm not awake already, it wakes me up. Unfortunately I've been having night terrors and wake up in a complete panic on a regular basis. Again, probably moreso house stress than anything pregnancy related. :-/

Best moment the last two weeks: Hmm. Honestly? The last two weeks haven't been very good, and with no milestones to report, I'm stumped.

Movement: All the time.

Food cravings: Egg and cheese burritos, with lots of hot sauce.

Food Aversions: Haven't really had any as of late, which is good because I can eat leafy greens again, which I could not for several months.

Gender: Boy. <3

Pregnancy Symptoms: Mostly I just feel really emotionally whacko lately. I'm finding that I'm getting really overwhelmed really easily, which is something I struggle with anyway but moreso now. I'm crying over really stupid things and it's just frustrating. And then I cry because I'm frustrated. Though, I guess in all fairness there is A LOT going on right now, and I think most normal  people would even be a bit frenzied with all the things going terribly wrong.

Belly Button in or out? In

What I miss: Nothing.

What I am looking forward to: Third trimester, which starts next week.

Upcoming appointments/events: Next appointment is September 19, if I remember correctly. I need to double check! We start our Hypnobabies class on the 20th, and we have a forum group coming up this Saturday. I can't believe after my next appointment they move to every other week.

Milestones: So far: made it through first trimester, had first (and second) ultrasound, and discovered gender, and felt movement, Jon has felt movement from outside, belly popped finally, anatomy scan (went well), being able to see movement, point of viability passed.

Bump Picture: 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

When it Rains, it Pours

What a weekend.
Let me admit a few things about myself. Some of which are things I've just accepted are part of what make me me, and some of which are things I am making a conscious effort to work on and improve on a daily basis.
-I'm emotional, and I overwhelm easily. I don't like having a lot of obligations with set times on my agenda, and I don't like to have a lot of things going on at once. I like a slow paced day to day life, with plenty to do, but no harsh deadlines.
-I run hot. I tend to be quick to get frustrated/angry/annoyed at situations (seriously working on this...)
-I have a very difficult time with clutter and chaos. Clutter in my house clutters my brain, it makes it difficult for me to be productive or even think straight. It's a huge stress trigger, I've been known to just shut down and not even know where to start if my surroundings are too cluttered or plain chaotic. (I don't even know HOW to work on this)
-I'm super impatient. (working on it...)
-I really like things to be organized and planned. I can accept changes to the plan, but there always has to BE a plan.
-I too often worry about the acceptance of other people. It really upsets me when people are mad at me, especially people I care about. I also tend to take it too personally. (working on it...)
- I always feel like a huge inconvenience if I need help with anything, and don't like to take up other people's time.
-I'm not comfortable with most people. In fact, I really like to be left alone. Unless you're immediate family. It's not you, it's me. I'm socially inept.
-I'm pregnant, and for some reason, that means that ALL of the above seem to be completely magnified. ALL of them.

Now, knowing all that... let me tell you about my weekend.
 I'm having a really, really hard time with the fact that my dogs are boarding right now, I want them home so badly, but there's just nowhere for them to BE until some of these projects are completed. I feel like a bad breeder, a bad dog owner, a bad everything. I know my employees think I'm terrible for boarding them long-term, and I know they're a pain in the butt because they aren't "kennel dogs"... that's not their lifestyle. They are indoor, family dogs. That's what they're used to. I just feel such a sense of urgency to get them out of there, and so much guilt they are boarding in the first place. Plus, a TON of judgement.
It's really hard with me unable to do a ton of heavy lifting, and Jon working until 7pm most nights to make quick progress. I feel like we are just inching along at a snail's pace.  So, we had to suck it up and hire someone to get our fence done, or it was going to take us a seriously long time. It was supposed to be done this weekend, and ended up getting pushed until Tuesday for... I'm not even sure why. That was disappointing, though.
For the record, when my kitchen looks like this... it really makes me panic inside. 
Jon also took a half day at work Friday to have a few extra hours to work on the kitchen. Seriously, somehow tearing a kitchen apart has a way of putting an entire house into chaos. Jon's dad was awesome enough to come all the way up from Vegas for a day to help us get our teeth into the project. We got
everything ripped out, and ready for installing. Unfortunately, every step of the way things went haywire and we acquired a million little side projects we really had no way of planning on until we had everything taken out. I will do a whole post dedicated to the kitchen when it's done. It won't be done for a while...
So that really set off my stress level. I tried really hard to hold it together but I pretty much felt like I was on the verge of a total breakdown the entire time, every time some new surprise came up... I just wanted to cry. How are we going to deal with all this? I did have to hide in the bathroom and just sob a few times. I told Jon I was making an honest attempt to "hide my crazy" because I didn't want his family to think I'm a total whack job and all unstable and emotional.
After we got our to-do list settled for the next couple of days, and got Chuck and Rachel back on the road, Jon and I sat down to eat some lunch before getting back to work on the kitchen cabinets. We were talking about how much there is to do, and trying to budget our time. My stress level was high, I had done more lifting than I probably should, and having some pretty uncomfortable cramps and light bleeding, and we agreed that I could still help with everything, but I better not lift much anymore. It was nice to take a breather for a minute.
I glanced out the window and noticed some crazy fast moving clouds. I'd never seen anything like it before. Then in a matter of moments it got night-time dark (in the middle of the day) Before we knew it there was a crazy intense storm going on! Out of nowhere! Lightening, thunder, CRAZY wind, total downpour. Our lights were flickering, we were pretty sure they were going to go out. Thunder rolled... and rolled... and rolled... continually. And 30 minutes later it was over.
I didn't realize at the time just how bad it was. CostCo's parking lot was waist-deep in water, people's garages completely flooded several feet, my neighbors bringing buckets of water out of their homes, trees  fallen everywhere, trash, branches, patio furniture in the middle of the streets. I mean, obviously there's been way worse storms other places but for Utah County... it was pretty intense!
I went outside to get our trash cans, which had blown into the middle of the road (thank goodness trash day was yesterday and all the cans on our street were empty!) and that's when I noticed my favorite tree had been a victim of the storm. I was SUPER disappointed. This tree was so pretty- bright purple all summer, huge pink blossoms in the springtime, and just really pretty all year round. Plus, in the perfect spot that provided what little privacy we had to the backyard. It did some shingle and gutter damage to the roof, but nothing major, so we got lucky. It came pretty close. After a few minutes of being super upset over it, I accepted that it just was what it was and we'd deal with it. After all- there were a lot of people in the area in much worse shape. Disappointing, yes. Annoying, yes. Time consuming, yes. But we were all safe.
I looked at Jon, who is completely exhausted, and we accepted that this was another project to add to the list. -sigh- Another surprise. Another disappointment to add to the weekend. Another expense. Another stress. Why was this happening? Didn't God know I really was already at my breaking point for the weekend?!
My mom called to ask if she could borrow something for her California trip, and let me know she was in the area and could just swing by in a few moments to pick it up. I ran to the basement to grab it- and that's when I realized where my basement used to be, was now a swimming pool. Seriously?! Great. Now how in the Hell are we going to deal with THIS too.
Now let me tell you about this basement of mine.
Right after we moved in, the entire living room flooded. It was annoying, but the damage (other than the floor) was minimal, we fixed the problem, installed a while drain system my grandpa designed on that side yard, and it's never been a problem since.
Shortly after, we had a leaky pipe in the bathroom upstairs that made the entire bathroom and hallway downstairs flood. Again, carpet damaged, but we got lucky. Fixed that problem, no issues since.
Last year we had another pipe issue in the kitchen, and that flooded the cold storage room downstairs, all the way through another storage closet, down the hall. A little more damage this time, but nothing beyond repair. We dealt with it, no problems since.
This time it was coming in at the front bedroom. Pretty much the only room that HADN'T flooded before! And it was bad. There was so much water, the shop vac was no match, the carpet was done for. Mitch and Jon pulled it out, and by this time my mom had shown up and came with me to Ruff House to gather as many fans as we possibly could.
At the end of the night, Mitch and Jared, who both have busy lives of their own, families of their own, obligations of their own, were at my house until almost midnight dealing with the fallen tree and getting it cut up and taken out of the yard.
I couldn't be of much help to them, so I just left the house. I needed to just get away from the clutter, chaos, and destruction for a little bit and pretend my world wasn't falling apart. I talked to my sister, possibly had a crying meltdown when she asked me if I was OK. Somehow we got on the topic of peach  shakes from Taco Amigo and I decided I needed one. So I picked up two and headed to her house. I spent some time at Tanya's, and some time with my mom, and at the end of it all, I decided there simply has to be a bigger picture that I can't see right now. There has to be some kind of plan.
One thing is for sure: I'm glad I had no dogs in the yard when that tree went down. With as fast and hard as that storm rolled in, if my yard had been done on time like it was supposed to be, there's a good chance they'd have been out there for the beginning bit of it- which was the harshest part of the wind. I haven't found the possible blessing-in-disguise for the basement flooding, but I have to believe that there is one otherwise I feel too bitter and angry over it.
I'm really not sure how we will manage to deal with all the damages. Our budget is pretty strapped wish all the kitchen surprises, but I have to just trust it will work out, somehow. It just has to.
No matter what, though, I am so thankful for family. Without Chuck's help this weekend, we'd be so lost and confused on this kitchen project. Our lack of know-how would be slowing us down SO much it would never be done. And if Mitch and Jared hadn't selflessly come to help- even at a most inconvenient hour on a Saturday night when they BOTH had a million other things they could be doing for themselves- I'm not sure how long that tree would be sitting on my lawn. If Tanya and my mom hadn't been there for me I'd probably be checking into a crazy house right about now.
It makes me sad for the people who don't have that. What do you do without family? Who can you count on? Who comes to your house at midnight to cut up a tree just because it needs to be done? Who spends the afternoon helping rip out waterlogged, soggy carpet because it it more than a one-man job? Who drives six hours just to help renovate a kitchen without monetary compensation? Who lets you come over at midnight when you're leaving town in a few hours, just because you need to vent, and cry, and maybe hopefully laugh a little? Family. That's who.
Sometimes I look at the amazing people I'm blessed enough to call family and I'm not sure what I could have possibly done to deserve them. I feel often that I have so little to offer in return. They do so much more for Jon and I than we could ever do in return- we just don't have the skill/ know-how.

My point is: despite the overwhelming amount of things that went wrong this weekend, and despite the fact I really quite frankly have NO idea how we are doing to manage to remedy them all... it's OK. Because at the end of the day, even when it pours, we've got an amazing family to dance in the rain with. What more could we want?