Cole is 3!

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Cole turned THREE on July 15th. I can not believe it! He is so full of energy, and so smart it blows my mind sometimes. He seriously could be ready for kindergarten right now, he learns so quickly and LOVES to learn too! :) All other kids he calls his “friends”. He is so sweet with his baby brother, and very athletic- ALWAYS jumping! He brings so much joy to our lives, I feel as if it was MY life started 3 years ago.

Cole brought cupcakes for his class at “school”, then we celebrated by taking him to a trampoline park which he loved of course. The guy that worked there kept having to get him from climbing up the sides. He was impressed that Cole was so strong and fearless! Then we came home and opened presents and ate pizza and Cookie Monster cookie cake, a 3 year old’s dream! His favorite present was the Clifford The Big Red Dog books his Gigi and Pop-pop sent him! And his least favorite present was the big boy underwear I got him! Haha, I thought he would like them because they were Elmo and Cookie Monster, but he did not care about them one bit! :)

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our valentine baby.

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Caden’s birth story starts over a year before he was born. He doesn’t know it yet, but his birth and life healed pain, answered questions, and provided reassurance that God hears me and sees far beyond what I could ever dream of for my life.

I used writing as therapy when recovering from a loss of a pregnancy. [See the 2 previous posts] I held on to my faith knowing that one day the pain, confusion, and hopelessness would be replaced with purpose and joy.

After a molar pregnancy, I was healed through writing, prayer, and time. After recovering from the D&C, I turned my focus to my health and the weekly blood work that I now had to do. Once the Hcg levels in my blood were down to zero, I only had to get my blood drawn monthly to ensure they did not rise again indicating a cancerous mass growing as the molar mass did. I was strictly instructed by my doctor to not get pregnant during the next year;  if that had happened we could no longer look at the Hcg levels to detect a mass.  Even more frightening, a mass can grow regardless of a pregnancy and overtake the baby again.

Another focus of mine was applying to graduate school. Before finding out I was pregnant I had been debating and praying. My prayer was “God what’s the next step in my life. Should I have another baby right now, or…. go back to school?” I took the pregnancy as an obvious answer- baby time! Then after that pregnancy was lost, it only made sense to me that now the answer from God was- school time! So I went through the vigorous application process for a Nurse Practitioner program here in Jacksonville.

In the summer of 2013, about 6 months into the blood work monitoring, I got a phone call from the Nurse Practitioner from my Drs office asking me to come in right away- my serum Hcg level showed a rapid elevation. “Ok”, I said feeling nervous about her stern request, “the only problem is that I am out of state”. (I was back home in Texas working a summer travel job for the first half of my husband’s deployment.)
I found a local Dr and made an appointment, then called my Florida Dr and requested to have my records sent so the Texas Dr could take over my treatment and investigate the elevated levels. As I told her the Texas Dr’s information, she stopped me. “Wait, who is the Dr you’ve made an appointment with!?” She made me repeat the Dr’s name. “Oh my gosh, Lindsey! She is my friend! We went through medical school together at the University of Florida! In fact, my husband and I were just at her house last month!” My jaw dropped. A peace washed over me giving me goosebumps. Of all the Drs I could have made an appointment with… Of all the Drs in the area… Not just an acquaintance, but a good friend of my Florida Dr! Not just in Texas, or just in the DFW area, but in my hometown located FIVE minutes away from me. There are no coincidences. God knew. He set this up long before I even got to Texas. “I’ll just call her real quick and get everything worked out. I’ll tell her all about you for a seamless handover of care, dont worry about a thing!”. After we hung up I felt comforted and its like I could hear God whispering to me, “I’ve got this. I do not exist just in the present, I have already been. I already know. I have you where you’re supposed to be.”

That afternoon I got a letter in the mail, I had been accepted into the Nurse Practitioner graduate program! My excitement was short lived as anxiety creeped in leading up to the appointment the next day. I really had high hopes, I didnt feel like there was anything bad going on with me, but it was still nerve wrecking knowing what the possibilities were. Finally, I had a huge relief when the Dr did the ultrasound and saw a sac, not a mass! Keeping a close eye on it for the next 10 weeks with ultrasounds, it was evident that a mass was not forming, but an embryo was! I didn’t have cancer, I had a baby! A sweet baby with a strong heartbeat!

By the time I got back to Florida to start school I was 16 weeks and the horrible pregnancy symptoms I experienced were subsiding. The morning sickness, or more like “all day sickness,”  had been so horrible I could barley function, thank God I was in Texas during that time and my mom, step-mom, and sister watched my son as I had no other option but to sleep, puke, repeat. My living situation that summer was another blessing God had foreknown.  It had gotten so bad I even debated going back to Florida for school. But my dad, who is one of my biggest supporters, told me, (an adult woman) I HAD to go. He said I had to try or I’d always wonder if I could have done it. He packed my little Honda Civic full and drove me, my son, my cat, and plenty of vomit bags halfway across the country to get me here the day before orientation for school. My dad believed in me more than I did.
My husband was still on deployment and that first semester of school was tough, to say the least.  Alone, pregnant, and with a toddler; God gave me the strength to push through. I did it! My husband finally got home from his deployment when I was 7 months along.

The rest of the pregnancy went smooth, until the last month when the baby was not growing and I had a relentless cough. I had another ultrasound done to make sure a molar was not growing and invading his ‘home’ the placenta which would indicate emergency c-section. The ultrasound showed no molar mass forming, whew! However, the baby was small and not growing anymore. My Dr didnt know why, but since I was so far along and his heartbeat was good they said it was up to me if I wanted to induce or not. I went back and forth on that idea because I did not want to be induced.
A week before the due date I had some contractions and signs of labor. I knew this was it and was so relieved I didn’t have to be induced. I am so so thankful I my mom was visiting that week to help me get ready. I went into labor in the middle of the night, if she had not been there, we would have had no one to stay with our 2 year old. And the last thing I wanted was to wake him up and have him afraid and in the middle of all the commotion at the hospital with us. My husband got me to the hospital very quickly. Its no joke that second babies are super quick, he was ready to be here before we even got to the delivery room! The labor was so intense, way worse than I remember with my first. Or maybe it was just as bad, but you kind of forget how bad it was so you’ll have another. I dont know, but that pain would take over my whole body and I felt as if I had no rest in between contractions this time. My Dr who had delivered my first son and got me through the miscarriage, was on that night. Another God send! On the morning of Valentine’s day 2014, our beautiful son Caden was born. Words can’t express how amazing he is.

 

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During the labor my blood pressure was at a concerning high level and did not return to normal for about a week after the delivery. The Dr determined I had undiagnosed pre-ecplamsea. My blood pressure was always good in the office, and it just got missed. Having high blood pressure when pregnant is dangerous to the baby because the placenta can not give the baby nutrients due to not being perfused by the mama’s cardiovascular system. No wonder he was born so small! Poor baby looked like a premie with skin too big for his little body, because he had stopped growing at 34 weeks so it was like he was born at 34 weeks even though it was actually 39 weeks. Since he was low birth weight, his glucose levels had to be checked every 2 hours for the first day and a half of his life. It broke my heart for him to have his little heal stuck every two hours. I tried to remain calm and focus on mothering him as best as I could. I would breastfeed him, pump, supplement him with my pumped colostrum and formula, then breastfeed him again, then he’d get his glucose checked. That cycle repeated over and over with no time for sleep or rest. I was exhausted, but after 36 hours, all of that work got his glucose levels high enough for me to just feed him then rest, allowing us to bond and finally have some peace.
All the anxiety I felt from the molar pregnancy, the blood work, the second molar scare, the morning sickness, the semester of school alone and pregnant with a 2 year old, the deployment, the pre-eclampsea, the painful labor, the 2 hour glucose checks… all faded away and I felt like I could finally breathe. Such a long road, every day of it worth it for this sweet, blue-eyed baby boy I now held in my arms. I never could have imagined such a perfect sweet baby for our family. He just fit right in, like he was always meant to be ours.

My prayers about either having a baby or going back to school had been answered. I just never in a million years would have thought the answer was to do BOTH! I wouldn’t be that crazy to even consider that as an option. If I had not experienced the miscarriage I would not have applied to school making my chances of being accepted 0%. I would not have the lessons I learned, or gained the strength I had during my husband’s deployment. And most of all, I wouldn’t have my sweet son, Caden.

Summing it up, it all works out. No matter what pain, loss, and trials we go through, there is a reason. There is hope in God’s plan. He knows beyond what we could even think our options are. He has set my path straight ahead of me without me having to anxiously worry.

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
~Isaiah 55:8-9

our second pregnancy :: part 2.

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:: Written 11/18/2012 ::

“This isnt looking like a normal pregnancy”, my doctor explained to us as she continued the ultrasound. “This is so rare and unexpected but this is looking like a molar pregnancy”. My husband started to ask questions about what this meant as he had never heard of anything called a molar pregnancy. But I kept silent. I knew exactly what a molar pregnancy was. It was something that I had not given a seconds thought about since I answered a question on a test about it in nursing school. In my 4 years of nursing I had never seen it since learning about it. Until now. With me. In me.
A molar pregnancy, or hydatidiform mole,  is when there is a placenta-like mass that grows instead of a baby. Your body cant tell a difference so acts as if you are pregnant. Sometimes there is a small fetal pole that can be seen where an embryo started to develop before the mass took over. Sympotms include bleeding and extreme nausea along with pregnancy symptoms. It is very rare and the cause is unknown.
First the disappointment and sadness of losing a pregnancy struck me. My body had been lying to me for 8 weeks, I had to wrap my head around the idea that I never was pregnant with a viable baby. There was no life being formed. None of the plans I had made were worth anything now.
“This is not a pregnancy that can be saved, and we need to perform a D & C as soon as possible to get the contents of the mass out before it grows any larger. Then it will be studied in the pathology lab to rule out any type of cancer. Once we are positive it is all out, and your body is not showing the pregnancy hormone, Hcg, we will initiate monthly tests to make sure it does not return due to the increasing risk of cancer. During the 12 months you will be going through these tests, you can not get pregnant.” was the doctors agenda. We went out to eat after leaving the doctor’s, but not in celebration. Disbelief and incomprehension sat at the table with us. The question of ‘how’ was quickly interrupted with the more pressing ‘why’. Why such a random blow to our hearts?

Getting over the emotions of losing the pregnancy would only be healed by God and time. The 4 days leading up to the D & C procedure would be the most challenging for me physically. The bleeding and nausea only got worse, I cant imagine how bad it would have got if I had had to go one more day like that. By the day of the surgery all I could do was lay in bed, sobbing in pain while listening to the worship band “All Sons & Daughters”. I couldn’t eat or sleep, let alone take care of my 1 year old. Thank God my husband is in an awesome squadron that let him have the day of my surgery off. The few days before that were really rough as well. I called my son’s babysitter to come watch him one of the days even though I called in sick to work to rest. The other days I was on the couch and my son would bring me books to read to him. None of my family was able to get out here that week. I do have friend/aquintences here, that I could call in an emergency. But none that I felt close enough with to open up in that vulnerability to. I love taking care of others, but when its me its just so hard to ask for help. Its even hard for me to ask my family to come help, let alone people I rarely see or talk to. So all in all, it was lonely and it was tough to keep it together.
My son’s babysitter was able to watch him during the surgery and my husband was able to be with me. Some good friends of ours from Texas ordered us food for that night and the next day, it was so amazingly sweet and thoughtful. It made it seem like we were not so far away. The procedure went well. I did not end up needing a blood transfusion like the doctor had anticipated. Soreness and restlessness followed. My husband is so good with our son, he watched him all weekend and finished all of my half done chores.

I love my husband. His words always shed light to my questions, we both think in such different ways. His words to me that night as my mind raced keeping rest far away; “I dont know why this has happened right now. But I do know that on the day our second child is born, we will look into his or her eyes and realize why.”

I agree with him. God’s timing is right and only He knows what the future holds. He knows who are children are. Right now was not the time intended for a baby. It was for something else- to make our family even stronger, to emphasize the miracle of conception and life, to instill thankfulness for the little life we have already been blessed with, and to force our eyes upon the Lord. One day I will meet my second child and know, that only that baby could be mine and could only have been created at that time. Not in the fall of 2012. This place in time had a different purpose.

One day this will make since to me. One day I will write part 3.

 

our second pregnancy :: part 1.

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:: Written 11/18/2012 ::

Often times role reversal is necessary. I work in the health care industry. I am a caregiver to the sick and hurting, sometimes to the bored and hungry- but a caregiver none the less. But when it comes to being the patient myself, I am out of my comfort zone.

The past week has been one of the hardest of my life physically and emotionally. Although I’m often emotional, I rarely get sick. All that exposure working in the ER has boosted my immunity! Unfortunately, sometimes things are completely out of our control and a strong immune system can not protect you.
In mid October, my husband and I found out we were expecting our second child. We were happy with the news and we knew it was a wonderful gift. “Well, here we go again!” we said as we realized we would have a 2 year old and a newborn in our home… and the due date would be right in the middle of my husband’s deployment. If you know me at all, you know that I plan. Maybe, like in this case, its a coping mechanism. To feel like I have any sort of control, I have to plan things out. And so I did. In only a few days I mentally geared up. Ok I thought, plenty of military wives before me have delivered babies while they’re husbands were gone fighting for our contry. Of course I can do it too. Its my duty in the silent ranks to sacrifice so that American civilian wives do not have to. Ok, so that’s that. I’ll just have to ask family to come visit to be with my son when this baby is born, and then maybe my mom, mother in law, and step mom can rotate out visits to come help me at the very beginning..? (In a perfect world!) Yeah I’m sure they’ll totally be down for that. I mean, I make cute kids, they cant resist. :) Then I’ll go back to work after a few months, and Ryan will come home from deployment and life will re-adjust. Bam, there was plan A. I was totally confident in it. Meanwhile.. I was having some slight cramping. I noticed this was different than with my first pregnancy, but I pushed it out of my mind knowing that plenty of pregnancies have cramping and even bleeding that go on to be perfectly healthy babies. I’ve read “What to Expect” cover to cover, can you tell? Its a book about planning, ha! Also, I wasnt worried because I was POSITIVE that I was pregnant. Two pee sticks in a row said so! And if that wasnt enough, the morning sickness was on the brink, I was developing a sense of smell like a bloodhound, my tatas were growing (woo!). Plus the exhaustion had hit me like the school bus hits McAdams in Mean Girls. But we still decided to keep this new baby news on the down low- 1: because my new niece was due soon and I wanted her special time to be hers, and 2: I wanted to have my first OB doctor visit and get the 100% confirmation from the ultrasound before blabbing the news. Oops, too late, my best friend already knew- only because I told her I felt pregnant and she was the one who told me to take the test! You know everything about each other when you talk pretty much everyday. <3 Oh and then of course my husband cant keep a secret for long so a few of his work buddies heard; which I didnt care about because I knew he wasnt going to get any sort of enthusiasm from single enlisted dudes.. “cool man” was as far as the conversation went I’m sure. The leaking of the news continued when I went home to Texas for a short visit. My “I’m on a no carb-cycle diet” excuse for not drinking wine with my step-mom on Halloween (its our family tradition) was blown after I was shoving BBQ and rolls down my throat- “cause i’m.. on a carb.. cycle.. I mean, just liquid carbs.. uhh”. My dad and step mom looked at each other and said “I KNEW IT! Why else wouldn’t she be drinking while trick-or-treating?!” Thanks guys. Thank goodness my trip was short or I know my mom and step-dad would have been asking the same questions (I swear i’m not always drinking yall!).  My niece was born early and was a joyous topic of discussion or all the in-laws would have been in the loop as well. Thanks Evy ;) I was planning on telling my sis-in-law alone first anyway, since her and I agreed that she should be the next one pregnant and I was sort of interrupting that idea. The time just wasnt right yet. Whew, time to get back to Florida before I yell it to all my Texans!
Layover from Dallas in Atlanta- I start bleeding. Slightly though, just a tiny bit. My immediate thoughts in the bathroom stall in terminal B of ATL were: “What to Expect” says the majority of cramping and spotting leads to perfectly healthy pregnancies. Ok whew. A little discouraged, I got myself and son successfully on the next flight. Happy to be back in the slower pace of Florida I was greeted by my husband, dog and cat. Its good to let them miss me for a few days every now and then ;)
As the days progressed, so did the bleeding. It was enough to make me anxious for my first doctors appointment, but not enough for me to call the doctor to move my appointment up. I knew it was in a week and nothing would change before then. I saw that my pregnancy symptoms were rapidly taking over, so I knew I was still pregnant. Actually, the tiredness and nausea was way worse than I remembered from baby number 1. I attributed the constant nausea and tiredness to getting off caffeine again for the pregnancy, as well as chasing a monster of a 1 year old boy around. Oh and flip flopping working 12 hour night shifts and day shifts couldnt be helping my energy level. I truly believed all of this was the cause of my unnerving symptoms associated with this pregnancy, and as the days grew closer to our 8 week ultrasound I got more and more excited. Searching Pintrest on creative ways to tell our families, going over baby names that we’d never agree on, planning to get our son a baby doll to teach him how to be gentile and love the new baby, re-arraging furniture and budgets in our minds to allow room for another.. these were all topics in our home. Planning, planning, and re-planning.

The day of our first doctors appointment arrived, it was Veteran’s day 2012. We asked the babysitter stay late so we could go have a dinner alone to celebrate after the appointment. The doctor’s office was running behind, but I knew that would be the case since we were the last appointment of the day. I scheduled it that way to make sure my husband would have a better chance of being off work. The same doctor that delivered my son only 16 months earlier stood in the room with us and listened to me explain the differences between this pregnancy and the last. She agreed with me that these were things to be of note, but not stand alone as major concerns. “Alright lets take a look in there” she said as she started to perform the ultrasound. Finally I would get to have all my anxieties put at ease! I knew in just a few more seconds she would tell me- “there is the baby and everything looks great!”. I listened for a perfect heart rate of 155 bpm. Instead there was silence. I studied my doctor’s face as she studied the ultrasound screen. My heart sank as I saw the lines in between her eyebrows grow deeper and more stern as she squinted to understand what she was seeing on the ultrasound screen.
My husband grabbed my hand.

 

among the silent ranks.

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We are a rare breed. Military spouses and families silently serve their country so that others can enjoy the freedoms we have in America. We go months without contact, thousands of miles separate our family, holidays and celebrations are shadowed by the absence of our husband. Its not easy, but its not without purpose either. We do it because we have to, because we are able, and so our friends and families can have their husbands home. It is a sacrifice that often goes un-noticed, but without missing a beat military wives graciously serve their country every day.
Deployment is hard on everyone. I can not wait for the day when my family will be all together again! But what I have learned so far during this journey is that keeping strong through a deployment is possible. Every wife and every family is different, but I have made a little ‘game plan’ for myself to stay military wife strong! Hopefully, more good can come out of it and others, military and civilian, will be inspired! Stand strong among the silent ranks! Here is my pep talk to myself and anyone else that needs it:

  • Know who you are. Hold tight to what you know you are capable of. Think back to all of the difficult times in your life that you have gotten through. This deployment will be no different. One day it will be a past challenge that you have conquered.
  • Focus on the family. Keep in mind that your husband is the one deployed. Show respect and support him. Sending care packages and encouraging messages are his life line. Keep encouraging and loving him. He needs it more than we know. If you have kids, keeping your focus on helping them transition during this time is a great way to keep your mind off missing your husband. I have placed Daddy pictures everywhere for my son to see, we talk about Daddy every day, and we read his audio book every night. All mamas know how to be strong for their children. My son is also getting spoiled by his grandparents all summer!
  • Fill your days. Staying busy is key for me. When I stop, I start to look at this huge mountain in front of me and self-pity takes over. Taking each day and making the most of it helps me to look down at my feet climbing the mountain one step at a time. Go to the beach/lake, movies, zoo, museum, concerts, baseball games, take friends and family on a trip, finish a project you’ve been meaning to for years! Paint the kitchen, make a photo album, take a class, blog!
  • Allow yourself to be sad. Let’s face it, deployment sucks. There will be tears. So let yourself be sad, just in limited amounts. I have ‘allowed’ myself 7 days to use during this deployment as I need to. I can be depressed and eat chocolate and hide away and cry, but I only get 7 days total. This helps me get my female emotional crisis out of my system while preventing me from getting trapped there. Im happy to say I’ve only used 1 day so far! It could have carried onto 2 days, but I knew that I may need another one later and its too early in the game to use them all up, haha! So the next morning I woke up and forced myself to have a positive attitude and had a great day. Its ok to be sad, allow yourself how ever many days you need, but set the number and then thats it. Make the best of all other days! Maybe you will still have some “cry days” left over at the end! ;)
  • Stay healthy. Women handle stress differently. Some eat a lot, some have no appitite. Some want to lay in bed all day, some would give anything to fall asleep for more than an hour. Your body needs sleep and nutrition to run. I alternate coffee and melatonin to wake up and sleep when my body needs it. Eating well is just as important. Now would be a great time to try some new healthy recipes! Even if I am not hungry, I try to make myself eat and I always feel better after if it was something healthy. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a yummy buttery, fried, succulent meal every now and then- guilt free! I plan on celebrating ice cream later today!
  • Tango. The “Tango app” has been a wonderful way for me and my husband to communicate. When he has wifi access we can text, send videos, send pictures, send voice notes, and we’ve even been able to video call a few times! I keep my husband updated with videos of our son and some mornings we wake up to a video message from him! Remember to keep the time you talk positive. Communication is limited so it shouldn’t be used for arguing. Encourage each other.
  • Lower expectations. This is a hard one, but will save you from hurt. Don’t expect others to really understand what you are going through, especially if they do not have military background. Before my husband joined the military I had no idea what families went through, so I should not expect others to understand now. Don’t be upset when you feel like no one has checked up on you. Everyone is dealing with their own lives, and it doesn’t mean they don’t recognize or care for you. Appreciate those that do show you support and love, and save the venting for other military wives who are going through the same thing as you.
  • Serve others. Another way to stay busy and combat sadness is to serve other people. Volunteering your time with the homeless or poor is a great way to put things into perspective. I am so blessed to live the life I do. Nursing homes, Goodwill, hospitals and churches are always looking for volunteers. Also serve those you know! Celebrate with your friends and family with their accomplishments! Help friends move, take someone out to dinner for their birthday, pray with your friends and family on their struggles.
  • Expect the unexpected. We are all  familiar with “Murphy’s Law”; if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. So just expect it. Be ready. Have documents needed for the house and car, bills organized, phone numbers ready, people in mind who could help you.. so when (not if) the dishwasher breaks, you get a flat tire, and your baby has a fever all in one day, you’re at least prepared. Then be thankful that nothing tragic has happened while your partner is overseas. Pray against it, but if something devastating does happen, know how to get in touch with the American Red Cross who will find and contact your husband, its usually through your ombudsmen. I have both of my ombudsmen’s cards in my purse and have access to them via email and Facebook. Another good person to know how to get in touch with is your husband’s Commanding Officer’s wife. Cling to friends and family for support. Don’t wait for them to call you, call them and tell them what you need.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize. A good thing to meditate on is the homecoming. Think of how amazing it will be! I have the picture I took of my husband and I, after he graduated bootcamp on my dresser next to my bed. I look at it every day and I remember that feeling of running up to him after those long 9 weeks of separation with only letters to communicate. That was one of the greatest moments of my life.The anticipation will have built up much longer than only 9 weeks this time. I am so thankful to get the opportunity again to feel the way it feels to run into his arms in that moment! It’s still far away, but I’m already so excited! And yes, I have already thought about what I’m going to wear and what the sign will say that our son will hold up. Focus on how happy that moment will be! The day will come!
  • Surround yourself with love. This might be one of the most important things to me. I have written out bible verses that encourage me and have them up all over my room, bathroom, closet, and car for easy access when I’m having a bad day. Bad days will happen, so be prepared! Find a good military wife book to inspire you. Right now I am reading “Safe Landings: Memoirs of an Aviator’s Wife” by Fran McGraw and working through the Bible study “Tour of Duty” by Sara Horn. Leaning on God is what hard times are for. Draw near to Him. It wont make the trials go away, but you will never have to go through anything alone.

Some of the LOVE I have posted around my room right now:

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
-Isaiah 42:16

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“For He has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you, So we can confidently say: They Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
-Hebrews 13:6

“Trust in Him at all time, O people; Pour our your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. “
-Psalm 62:8

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
-John 16:33

Embrace the journey! xo

Count Your Blessings.

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Ok so lets think positive! Here are a few benefits of my husband being on deployment:
The remote control is MINE! I get to pick what TV show to watch with no hassle, I’m looking at you, NASHVILLE!
I can eat cereal every night if I want.
We have a huge opportunity to save money during this deployment.
I get to spend the summer in my hometown around all my family and friends! So grateful for this!
I dont have to worry about keeping up with birth control pills!
I can focus on growing and learning within myself.
Trails always bring us closer to our heavenly Father, He will sustain us!
I get the opportunity to miss my husband again, which can make the heart grow fonder and helps me appreciate what he does for us.

In any stressful/difficult time, I have found that I do so much better when I am able to count my blessings and help others. If I can focus on how blessed I really am, it makes hard days seem trivial. My husband and I both have access to wifi so communication, although limited, is possible during this deployment. We have a loving family unit, distance will not separate our bond. Our marriage is healthy and based on mutual respect. We have a beautiful, happy, and healthy baby boy.
Really, isnt this all that matters?

So in the case of last night- When I was putting my son to bed he was screaming and crying for his “Dada”, it broke my heart. I had to push back the tears and stay strong. I had to ignore the thought “this isnt fair”. The only way to not let myself slip into emotional darkness and drown in self-pity is to remind myself (actually say these things out loud to myself) MY FAMILY IS HEALTHY. WE HAVE A LOVING MARRIAGE. I HAVE FAMILY AROUND ME. WE HAVE JESUS ON OUR SIDE. THIS WONT LAST FOREVER.
Then I can get a few tears out, brush it off, and move on making a conscious decision to have a positive attitude. The truth is that God has not overlooked me or forgotten me. I can rest confidently in that through the stormy weather I see coming up ahead. I have prepared as much as I possibly can. I have pictures of my husband out, Bible verses posted around me, I’m working through a military wife/deployment Bible study, and my son even has a “Daddy Doll” to hug on! I am thankful for having to go through this trial because it is already teaching me to be better about controlling my thoughts. Positive thinking does not come naturally to me, but I am learning that if I can harness this, it can be life changing.
Focus on the beauty in the world.
Count your blessings every day through it all.

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Video-Chatting with Daddy!

Deployment & walking on water.

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“I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will guide them on paths they have not known. I will turn darkness to light in front of them and rough places into level ground… I will not forsake them.” 
~Isaiah 42:16

Imagine your life. Your spouse, kids, job, pets, home, family, friends, favorite restaurants, all things familiar- then move to a totally different place you’ve never even been. You know no one, have to learn the roads, find new friends, activities, jobs, church (some of these go unfound). Just when you start to feel comfortable in your new state, your spouse and companion has to leave you. How would your daily routine change? You’re left alone with no family near you, no husband to share duties with.. for 6 months minimum.
I am so blessed with such a hands on husband. He does all the yard work, trash, bills, more than his share of laundry, and can take care of our son 100%. Anything that I do with the baby (diapers, bath, food, play) my husband does as well. He is my extra set of hands and many times my sanity. When I’m cooking he’s cleaning, when I’m working he’s taking care of our son. So for him to be out of the country will leave me 2 hands to do the work of 4.  What if the car breaks down? The AC stops working or something awful like a pet dying? These 2 hands will have to figure it out. Add that in with the emotional toil that separation with the love of your life brings… Any family that has gone through deployment knows exactly what I am talking about. As the ‘D-date’ dwindles from being months away to only weeks away my anxiety increases. I could be totally wrong, since we’ve never been through an actual deployment, but I feel like the anticipation and planning phase might be the hardest. I just want to get it started to get it over with! The anticipation is killing me! (Ask me in month 4, and I may be saying how much harder it is, haha!)
The military life is known for its unreliability of time frames and dates- because there is so much up in the air. Your life has to be lived in the “hurry up and wait” mentality. Hurry up and get everything prepared you need for your husband to be gone, then wait until we say he has to go. Yes we have a date that he leaves, but its like a baby’s due date.. only 10% of the time will it actually be on that date. We were told in fact that it could be any time with only a week’s notice. If that doesnt make you cherish each day together, I dont know what will!

Our first year of marriage, my husband was away at bootcamp and then training. It taught me a lot about myself but I was so thankful when we finally got to start our life together, together! This time it will be different because he wont be close enough for me to visit every few months, and now we have a child. I can’t imagine having to say goodbye to my son for 6 months. What a sacrifice my husband is making. For men though, they want to go out and fight for something. It is in their nature to protect and provide. Fathers have said goodbye to their families to go off to war since the beginning of war. Women have a longing to nurture and care for, which is why my heart goes out to all the mothers who deploy leaving children behind. Its a heart wrenching reality. Nevertheless, I know there will be tears on the day my husband hugs and kisses his son goodbye. Neither one of them will be the same the next time they see each other.

I know that we need difficult times like this; it’s what makes us stronger. I have to look at this as an opportunity to grow as a wife, mother, and Christ follower. When I think about it that way, I almost feel excited! (almost I said!) There are lessons to be learned and character to be chiseled.
I have been preparing physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have faith, even if its as small as a seed on some days, that this road we are about to travel may be dark and unknown, but we will not be alone.
Deployment is the Sea of Galilee, and I am Peter. And Jesus is Jesus! :)  As I step out of the boat onto the rolling waves of the unknown, the unbelievable becomes reality. And when (not if) my faith slips due to fear, I will not be abandoned to sink, His HAND will be extended towards me to grab hold.

“About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said.“Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.”
~Matthew 14 : 25-33

the day my son played in his poop.

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I knew one day the time would come that my sweet innocent child would do something so gross it would go down in our family history books.
As he is learning more about himself and the world around him, he is getting himself into some funny (and stinky) situations. Oh the joys of growing and learning :)

 

I am happy he is realizing what going to the bathroom is.. that means we are getting closer to being out of diapers! But why does he have to explore when his Dad isn’t home to help me clean it all up! The toddler years are incredible if you can find your since of humor and enjoy the ride!

 

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Brick wall.

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Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
~Isaiah 40:30

Last week I hit my brick wall.
 I have always viewed myself as a strong person, able to wear many hats and do most things well. I am a woman, so naturally I am good at multitasking! I am also a military wife and a working mother. I try my best to be a good daughter and sister as well, and a loyal and loving friend. Like so many other women, I pride myself in being able to work long hours while making time to cook for my family and keep the house tidy. Most of the time I even keep my mascara and hair looking good while doing it! (That’s the Texan woman coming out in me)
Last weekend I worked in the ER like I do every weekend, and followed it up with an early Monday morning shift like I often do as well. I’ve actually worked more hours working all night before staying up with the baby all day; and have surprised myself on how much I can get done running on no sleep. That’s why I was so surprised on what happened to me last week. Monday morning I was working in pre-op getting patients ready for eye surgery. I was going over a consent and procedure with a patient and lost my focal vision. I thought it was weird that I couldn’t see what I was trying to focus on. Wherever I tried to look I just saw bright white. I rubbed my eyes and continued signing my name on the orders but I couldn’t see my signature. Weird. I really didn’t think anything of it- ‘My eyes must be tired’. I did notice that I could see the paper around where I was trying to look, so I used only my peripheral vision to start this patient’s IV. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have stuck a needle in someone’s vein if I couldn’t see.. but surgery schedules run tight and I didn’t want to slow the surgeon down! I must say, I am really good at starting IVs, and this time was no exception. It’s mostly done by feel anyway! After I was done prepping that patient for surgery, I went and took some sips of water and was still seeing that bright light, but it was not really bothering me as much. ‘I’m gonna get some more coffee after this next patient’, I thought. I took a name label for the next patient and went out to the waiting room to call her back (I’ll change her name to “Lindsey” for privacy laws). I opened my mouth to loudly call “Lindsey”, and all that came out was the first syllable. I startled myself, and tried again but still just a foreign sound came out of my mouth. I knew that I knew what the name was, and that I had said it before. I knew exactly what I was trying to say, but I wasn’t saying it. There was no connection between my mouth and the recognition of how to say the name in my brain. At this point I was too shocked in myself to be worried. I was also embarrassed and got flushed and hot. Here I am, standing in a doorway with a crowded waiting room full of anxious people about to have surgery, and I’m making un-recognizable sounds! ‘Um.. are we sure we want to have surgery here today?’ I struggled with the simple name a few more times, then finally I must have said something that resembled the name enough for the patient to understand I meant her. She slowly stood up and walked towards me. I asked her to tell me her birthday (I was afraid to try to read it) so that I could compare it with her name lable. Yes, right person. Whew, that was weird.. ‘Right this way.’ I acted like I was fine, but the look on her face made me think I was still stumbling on my words. ‘Have a seat on the chair- I mean, stretcher. First I’m going to take your blood sugar- I mean, blood pressure..’ I was not saying what my brain was telling me to say! I was saying related words, still medical terms.. but not the words I was meaning to say. Then the headache started. It was just a dull, on the forehead ache; nothing I wouldn’t normally just take a Tylenol for and go about my day. But I knew something wasn’t right and I was NOT gonna start this lady’s IV if I couldn’t see OR talk. At that point I told the lady to get changed and I would be right back. I asked my manager if I could take a Tylenol from our medication room because my head was starting to hurt. At least that is what I was trying to say. Next thing I knew I was on a stretcher and our Medical Director Anesthesiologist was looking in my eyes with a light. I felt a blood pressure cuff inflating on my arm and it was reading 159/90 (I have never been above normal, 120/70). I told him that my head was hurting, now only on my left side and down my neck. I felt so nauseous as I explained to him that I wasn’t able to say the patient’s name earlier, although now I could. He wrote out orders for me to go to the ER. ‘Seriously?? But I just worked there all weekend, I’m gonna be embarrassed! It’s just a headache. I’m only 26, no medical history.. I’m just tired, don’t you think its just that I’m tired and dehydrated?!’ He replied, ‘Lindsey. No I do not. Go to the ER now.’ (He later told me, he was worried I was having an aneurism.)
 Its good when the doctors you work with like you, but I didnt like him at that moment. I reluctantly agreed. My son’s babysitter went to the house last minute; thank God my husband was off for President’s Day. My husband drove me to the ER and that is when my head really did start to hurt. I saw the Medical Director in the ER and my friends were my nurses. I always said I would NEVER go to my own ER for anything because I would feel like I was wasting their time, but that was before I ever needed them. They seriously took such good care of me. All the initial tests for stroke were done right away and came back negative! The doctor explained to me the only way to be sure it was not an aneurysm was to do MRI and MRA scans. A doctor that I have worked with many times before admitted me to the neurology floor for consults and tests. It was such a crazy day. The results showed a brain that has had frequent migraines. The funny thing is, I have never had a migraine in my life! The neurologist explained to me that there are typical migraines (the ouch this really hurts kind) and atypical migraines that can present in different ways. He said some could cause you to loose feeling and strength on one side just like a stroke! He explained it to me as just like a clot or bleed in the brain’s vessels that cut off blood flow in a stroke, blood flow is inhibited by a nerve spasm in the brain during an atypical migraine. That is what happened to me that morning. Atypical migraines can definitely be treated with medication, but now that I know I’m not dying I’d really rather not be on something. I am hoping to battle this with proper rest and nutrition, and I am praying that it will never happen again. 
The neurologist agreed that this was probably brought on by exhaustion. He said I have to eat a good breakfast everyday, no more counting every little calorie, and I am definitely not allowed to work a day shift and a night shift in the same 24 hour period anymore.
Not only did I learn lessons of limitation, but this experience also made me a better nurse. I always say, that every time a nurse or doctor is a patient it makes them a better caregiver. Seriously, that MRI is no joke! It was so scary. I was so upset with myself when I thought it was so difficult. I kept thinking ‘YOU ARE AN RN, you know there is nothing to be afraid of, its just a super small hole that you go in with a mask on your face then you listen to loud noises for an hour! Quit being a wuss! You still can breathe in there!’ Then I realized that maybe what I was saying to myself is what I had thought towards my patients who said they were claustrophobic in the MRI machine… But that was before I had to have one! The tech was really nice, assured me that I wasnt being annoying and that he understood I was there alone (my husband was at home with the baby- all close friends and family are far away when you’re a military family), he gave me a cool rag and called my nurse who gave me Ativan before we tried again. Now, all my patients are getting as much Ativan as they want before their MRI! Seriously, Ativan all around! Even if you’re not ‘claustrophobic’, you’re getting drugged. Trust me, its so much better. You never know how you’ll react during things like that until you are in the situation yourself. Medical tests can break the strongest man/woman.
The week after my crazy night in the hospital I had a dull headache and my left eye felt heavy and did the twitchy thing it does when I’m tired. But thanks to my wonderful husband and parents who flew in from Dallas to help, I am all rested up and ready to get back to normal. Well the new normal of going slower and making time to eat and sleep. My dad flew in the night I was in the hospital and helped the next day, and it was perfect timing that my mom and step dad were already planning a trip to visit us that weekend. They love getting the baby up in the mornings and I love sleeping in! One of my best friends, Amanda, who is going through her own health trials right now was only a text away the whole time, talking me through the MRI drama because she had been there before as well. My ER night shifters were calling my hospital room and checking up on me. Its easy for me to forget sometimes, but its so good to know that I have people to taking care of me when scary stuff happens.
And of course, there was my amazing husband who is always my rock. The calm to my chaos. He did all the housework to let me rest while being such a great Daddy to our baby son. I seriously dont know how I’d get through my crazy life without that man.

The biggest lesson: our bodies can only do so much. Too all the supermoms out there, we HAVE to make rest and nutrition a top priority. What kind of example have I been? I have been taking on too much and I forced God to have to force me to stop. Listen to your bodies and minds.