Monday, July 27, 2015

Elam's Birth Story

The birth of our fourth child proved to be very similar to the birth of #2 & #3.  It was late at night, very quick, and right near a "church day" (i.e. Sunday or Wednesday).  There was one defining factor that none of the previous births had, though.  Elam was born at a birth center.  We were home about 3 hours after he was born, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Malachi was born 4 days late.  Ezekiel was born 2 days early.  Moriah was born 5 days early... so, I figured Elam would be about a week early.  I figured absolutely right!  I knew that he would most likely come early.  

The day before he was born, I got my hair cut.  The day he was born, some friends came over and decorated our house for Christmas.  I was so sad that it was less than 2 weeks before Christmas Day before our house was decorated, but it worked out with a toddler pulling off all the ornaments.  ALL THE TIME.

All day on the 13th I was having strong contractions.  Sometimes they were 5 minutes apart.  Sometimes they were farther apart.  I knew from experience that I could have a baby any time.  I began to prep the boys for what was coming as the evening wore on.  Daniel's brother lived with us at the time, so we were able to leave the boys and Moriah at home to sleep with Uncle Nathan.  It was around 10:30pm when we arrived at the birth center.  The midwives at the center knew about my quick labors and deliveries and were ready to answer the call.  It was a Saturday night, so Daniel had gone over to the church to prepare for Sunday morning in case we weren't back in time.  We, of course, found out later that we were home with plenty of time for him to make it to church on Sunday morning. ;)  The date was 12.13.14.  The midwife, assistant, Daniel, and I "joked" that he wouldn't make it for this cool, easy-to-remember day.  Again, we were wrong.  I think that this labor was the most difficult.  I don't know why, the pain just seemed so much more intense.  Of my 3 natural deliveries, this was by far the most painful.  Elam Levi was born at 11:36pm still wrapped in all his membranes.  My water didn't break until a push or two before his arrival.  I did have minimal tearing and minimal pain afterwards, but the delivery was brutal!  In his first 2 hours of life, I think he peed 5 times and pooped 3!  Never has a brand new baby every excreted so much.  LOL!  After he did all his peeing and pooping, they weighed him.  He was 7 lb., 15 oz., but we still round up to 8 lb. even due to all the lost waste.

It was so nice to be able to rest at home after Elam's birth!  We were home by 3:30am on Sunday morning.  Daniel and I slept on the couch.  Elam slept in his carrier.  We were exhausted from a full day.  Why can't my kids decide to come in the morning or afternoon when I've had some sleep relatively recently?!?  I don't know, but it's all a distant memory now.  Ha ha!  Daniel and one of the big boys went to church, while I had a big helper to handle myself, a toddler, and a new baby.  Changing 2 sets of diapers, again, was interesting and eventful.  I'm used to it now, but it was definitely an adjustment.  Malachi and Ezekiel were quite surprised to see their little brother had "appeared" while they were sleeping.  We are so blessed to have 4 wonderful children (2 of which are really awesome big brothers and helpers)!  It was rough the first 4 months of his life, and he cried A LOT, but Elam is such a blessing and joy to have in our family!  He makes Team Honeycutt into 6!

This is his first picture (getting ready to leave the birth center).

December 14 - Malachi, Ezekiel, and Moriah meeting their little brother for the first time, at home, still in their pjs <3 nbsp="" p="">

December 25 - 12 days old - Elam's first Christmas

December 25 - Christmas with 4 kiddos

This cutie around 3 weeks old

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ezekiel's "Condition"

For those of you who haven't known us for the past 4 years or haven't heard Z's story.  Here it is.  Facebook just doesn't have enough space for me to reflect and get it all straight.

Around a year and a half he started having "asthma" issues.  They didn't diagnose him with asthma at the time, but he did breathing treatments and have attacks along with lots of ear infections.  He had his first set of ear tubes when he was 2.  It helped a little.  We moved to Zephyrhills, FL in July of 2009.  His asthma would flare on many occasions, and he just wasn't a healthy kid.  On August 31, 2010, Z had his first severe asthma attack.  His oxygen levels dropped.  I didn't know.  He turned pale.  Z and I took an ambulance ride from the doctor's office to the hospital.  He was discharged that afternoon, but his oxygen levels did not stay up overnight.  Daniel took him to the doctor first thing in the morning.  He, then, drove Z to the Pediatric ICU at the hospital where he was hooked up to a continuous nebulizer treatment, hoses, cords, etc.  He was at the hospital for 5 days before his oxygen levels stabilized.  The day after we returned home, Z was walking around the house and suddenly had pain in his knees.  He crawled around the house for the next two weeks.  Yes, I said, crawled.  Our very active, very athletic 3 year old was crawling, not walking because it hurt.  It was believed that he had a virus called transient synovitis.  This virus coupled with a sinus infection had caused the severe asthma attack.

In October of the same year, Z had another severe asthma attack.  This time, he did not have to be put in the ICU.  He was hooked up to a nebulizer and oxygen for 5 days.  He had begun to "walk funny" after he started walking again from his virus.  He began walking on his heel and not using his toes on his left leg, only.  It caused atrophy in his left leg.  He hyperextended his knee and kicked it out to the side.  He had 2 different MRIs, but we could never get a doctor/specialist to look at the results and give us an answer to what was "wrong" with Z.  In February 2011, we had to cancel the boys' insurance.  They were uninsured until September of 2011.  We controlled Z's asthma through children's zyrtec, and God was so faithful to us.  Through all that time, he was healthy and did not have to have many breathing treatments at all.

Z's left leg continued to deteriorate as he continued to walk in his own special way.  Z is a very flexible, adaptable child.  This is great, most of the time.  It is, also, a weakness in this instance.  He formulated his own way of walking so it wouldn't hurt, again.  In September of 2011, when insurance kicked in, again, we started him in physical therapy.  He saw a neurologist, orthopaedist, and a pediatric physical therapist.  The neurologist and orthopedic doctors found nothing wrong.  His PT was awesome!  He made such great progress!  He had a brace for awhile, but he broke it twice.

July 2012 we moved to PA.  We had a hard time finding a pediatric PT and settled with a non-pediatric one.  He didn't make as much progress as we would have liked.  It just wasn't Ms. Julie Ann.  In January 2014, we moved to Clearwater, FL.  I had such a difficult time navigating the "insurance" world.  We kept getting sent back and forth from the FL kids insurance plan and Medicaid.  In July (this month), we finally were able to figure out the insurance and get Z going to a doctor.  So, now, he has a neurologist, orthopedic, and pediatric physical therapy referral.  He will be going in the next few weeks for a full brain/spine MRI scan.  I don't think there is anything wrong.  He doesn't seem to have any developmental delays.  He was a little behind when we moved schools, but he caught up by the end and is on level.  He keeps up with all the other kids.  You don't notice that he has an issue unless you pay close attention.

So, that's it in a nutshell...sort of.  His left foot, now, seems to be about a whole inch shorter, and that is concerning.  BUT, I know that our God is so much greater than anything that Z may be facing :)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Our Precious Cupcake's Arrival

It had been a "normal" day for us.  Wednesday, June 19th was a day spent with my boys.  Instead of working, I had decided to take the day off to hang out with my guys.  The weather was great, so we walked downtown to "shop" and have lunch.  I had no clue that we would have a baby in just a few hours :)  The boys and I walked into a couple of consignment shops to try to find Z a "swim shirt."  We found one and purchased it.  We, then, walked over to the toy store and played with the bubbles blowing outside the shop.  We went in a played on the train table and looked at the toys.  The boys picked out a couple of "smalls."  They got Mario "legos" and a "Mystical tree" that grew stuff on a paper tree from a solution.  It was well worth the 85 cents.  Daniel joined us for lunch at our favorite pizza joint and took us home before heading back to work.  I tried to nap while the boys played the wii but was unsuccessful.

Dinner was leftovers with the family and then to church for our usual Wednesday night.  As we were leaving church, I felt a few very small "gushes."  Daniel was doing his usual talk to everyone in the parking lot after church, and I tried to get his attention without getting everyone all excited.  I could tell that labor was beginning.  We drove our 1 mile home and began packing bags.  The boys were very helpful with getting themselves all packed and ready to go.

Cindy came by around 9:30pm to pick up the boys and take them to her house.  We got everything else ready to go, put the bags in the car, and headed to the hospital (about a mile and a half away).  As we pulled into the ER parking lot, I started to get out and heard and felt a pop.  My "water" most definitely broke.  Thankfully, I didn't leave much in Daniel's car.  However, I did leave puddles and a trail through the little parking lot.  I wasn't sure if I should wait on Daniel to get all the bags and come in with me or go ahead into the ER.  He was telling me to head in, but I decided to stand in the mulch for a little while and wait for him to come in.   I was soaked.  The nurses and midwives joked with me later that I was "watering" the flowers.  The ER attendant made me get in a wheelchair, and I'm sure I left a wet trail all through the hospital.  I know they were really excited to clean up after me ;)  The whole situation was quite comical.  I'm thankful that the nurses and midwife were able to laugh about it with me.  I guess I don't mind having laughs at my expense, when I can't control it.  We checked in around 10pm or a little later, but it took me awhile to get into the bed for the initial monitoring.  Contractions weren't that bad at the beginning, so I didn't mind being monitored and having baby monitored for about 30 minutes.  After that time, I didn't have to get back in the bed at all.  The nurse used the doppler monitor about every hour just to make sure Moriah was doing well through it all.  As the contractions got progressively stronger, I moved to the tub.  I spent about an hour in the tub, but the contractions were getting stronger, and I wasn't progressing.  I was beginning to get really tired.

I hopped in the bed on my side to try to rest for a little bit.  That definitely didn't help my pain/contractions.  I sent Daniel to see if I could get some pain meds to take the edge off and help me rest up a little.  I was on the brink of "giving up."  I was getting to the point of exhaustion.  The midwife came in and offered to try to help me without meds.  I consented, but the nurse went ahead and prepped me for an IV for meds, in case I decided that I wanted them.  Since my water broke 2-3 hours earlier, I had not progressed at all and was holding at 3cm.  Thankfully, the midwife suggested that we "lift" my belly.  Because I carry my babies so large and out in front, it was believed that I wasn't progressing because she couldn't get in position.  While the sling and lifting of my belly made the contractions even worse, it made the necessary adjustments to make me progress quickly.  Sabrina, the midwife, helped me through about 6-7 contractions with the sling.  She checked me, and I was at 7cm.  I was left to "dance" with Daniel through the rough contractions.  After about 4-5 more contractions, it was time to push.  I wasn't sure how to proceed from standing and pushing, but I somehow got in bed.  It was about 3 more contractions, and she entered our world.  While it was way more painful than I remembered from Ezekiel's birth, it was a very successful birth.  I am more of a "screamer" than I would like to admit to, but, at the end of the day, I guess it doesn't matter as long as she is here and healthy.  Because Moriah pooped or had myconium in the fluid, she was whisked away to be cleaned up, so she wouldn't swallow the junk.

I remember being terrified when Z was born because he wasn't breathing, and no one would tell me what was going on.  This time was much better.  I still wanted to hold her, but I had to wait.  She was just fine and doing well.  I was doing really well, also.  I didn't really tear at all and didn't need any stitches.  I felt very blessed and happy to have her, finally, here with us... 5 days early.  She weighed in at 7 lbs., 5 oz., and was 19 inches long.   I can't rave enough about the nurse and midwife who helped me through the longest few hours of my life :)  They were fabulous!

Daniel never left my side and did an awesome job encouraging me (not that I heard most of it over my screaming :).  He got to cut the cord and took the picture you see above.  As they were still cleaning her up, they asked if he wanted to cut the cord, again, but he refused.  He wanted me to hold her first and wouldn't leave me, even to go to the other side of the room.  He was holding back the tears during her birth, and even though I didn't notice his face as much as I would have liked, I could see all the love and tenderness for his (now) 2 girls.  Love him!
Because labor and delivery was so busy the night Moriah was born, our poor nurse ended up working an extremely long shift.  She was the one who helped me move from delivery room to regular baby room.  I kept apologizing for her long night, and she just kept telling me that it was a joy to be a part of the birth and that it was beautiful.  She even said if we had another one, she hoped she would be able to attend it, again.  Her words were, "beautiful birth."  The midwife also echoed those same words later on.  They really made the difficult part so worth while.

Daniel & I were able to rest and sleep a little around 3am.  I slept for awhile, but then, after about 2 hours I couldn't sleep because I was curious as to how she was doing in the nursery.  She was sleeping very well, of course, but I couldn't sleep.  The next day in the hospital went well.  Cindy brought the boys to visit and brought us breakfast.  It was so nice to have McDonald's as opposed to hospital food!  Cindy brought the boys back in the evening along with Melanie & Tori.  Then, our "special meal" was brought for Daniel & I.  We sent Moriah to the nursery for a little while to enjoy our hospital date meal together :)

Thankfully, we were able to be discharged a little after lunch on Friday.  I was starting to go stir-crazy in that little room.  Both Moriah and I were doing beautifully.  I was able to manage my pain with just a little bit of Motrin or ibuprofen.  The boys had been dropped off about 11, and we headed home after a stop at CVS & stop for the boys' lunch at Burger King.

Friday night was a rough night and our first night at home, as my milk hadn't come in yet, and Moriah was hungry.  Mom & Dad had made it in around 11pm that night and bunked down on the couches.  I was exhausted, and Mom was kind enough to comfort Moriah, so I could get some sleep.  Dad took Daniel and the boys out to breakfast Saturday morning.  Thankfully, my milk came in later on Saturday, and we were all able to get some sleep Saturday into Sunday morning.  Mom was staying for the week, and Dad flew out Sunday night.  He would fly back in on Friday evening to drive home with Mom on the following Sunday.  I'm so thankful to have my mom to go get groceries, take Z to therapy, and hold Moriah so I could get some rest.

The whole birth and first few days were pretty "enjoyable," and we were all able to get into a little bit of the "new rhythm."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Z's lost tooth and a pregnancy dream

Z's first lost tooth

Z lost his first tooth on Friday evening, right before bed.  He kept trying to avoid it and cover his mouth, but it was just hanging on by a thread.  So, Daniel started tickling and "wrestling" with him.  Once his mouth was wide open, he wrangled him still and yanked it out.  Z admitted that it didn't hurt that bad, but he was mad at his Dad for about 15 minutes.  Previously, he would just cry and cry and cry when we talked about pulling it out for him.  We sent him to bed upset, but I put his tooth in a baggie and put his name on it.  As Daniel and I were relaxing downstairs, watching tv, Z came down and went right to his Dad and gave him a hug and let him take his picture.  He had a few minutes to think and realized that his Daddy wasn't so "mean" after all :)

In comparison, Malachi lost his middle bottom teeth first, 2 weeks before his 7th birthday.  Z lost his first tooth from up top and was about 6 years, 4 months.  Malachi all ready stated how it wasn't "fair."  I guess it's just something he's going to have to get over.  His little brother may pass him at a few other things later on in life.  Being only 19 months apart his its advantages and disadvantages ;)

Interesting pregnancy dream

We finally found a home for a sweet, Kiev.  There's just not room in our home for her with all the baby furniture, and I think the small space was actually starting to drive her literally crazy.  She's been living with her new family for about a week and a half, now.  We miss her a lot, but we know that this is in the best place possible for her and a better home.  With all that said,  last night, I had a dream...

Every night she used to clomp up the stairs to the middle room and plop down near our door (bc we didn't allow her to lay in our bedroom).  So, in my dream, I woke up to hear Kiev's footsteps coming up the steps.  I remember hearing her plop down on the floor.  (In my dream) I thought it was weird that she was somehow back in our house (it seemed very real), and I got up to go to the bathroom.  She was laying on the floor where she had been in the previous months.  I finished using the bathroom (in my dream) and went back to bed, passing Kiev.  I remember laying back down and thinking how strange it was that she was in our house, but I was comforted to see her, again.  Now, of course it was all a dream, but I really, really thought it happened last night.  It was quite strange.  I miss my pup, but I know that this is the best situation for us all.

On a lighter note, I now have to make the sweeping/cleaning under the kitchen table a job.  There's no dog to eat the crumbs :(  The boys have a new chore.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Car Games"

The boys have created 2 games to play in the car.  The first was created today, while I ran into the post office to drop off some letters before heading to work.  The second was created with a little help from their Dad on the way back from our visit to NC.

Ultimate Rock, Paper, Scissors

So, this came out of their minds this morning.  Too funny!  I hop back in the car from my 60 second walk into the post office and back to hear, "Rock, paper, scissors...water/dynamite!"  Now, I've heard the dynamite before.  It's a southern thing.  Then, the question comes out, "Mommy, does dynamite beat water?"  Good question.  This momma isn't so sure.  As we continue our journey down the road and the game continues, I hear (granted I can't SEE the hand gestures to go with these), "Rock, paper, scissors, angel!"  Arguing ensues over what beats what.  So, I remind them it is called "rock, paper, scissors" for a reason.  They are only supposed to use those 3.  To which I am told, "This is Ultimate Rock, Paper, Scissors!  We can use whatever we want!"  The next one, came out of the mouth of the almost 8 yo, "Rock, paper, scissors, Jesus!"  Well, don't you think he beat his little brother with that one?!?  I started laughing, and Z started to argue about it.  I had to give in, and say, "Well, technically, Jesus beats everything."  Z consented, but there had to be a rule made by the boys that you couldn't use Jesus as an item in Ultimate Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Before too long, there were birds, gators, sharks, etc.  Don't you love imagination?

The Number Game

As we were traveling on our 9 hour journey from the Charlotte, NC area back to our home in Lancaster County, PA, we start having a family conversation/guessing game about 1 of MJ's favorite topics...NASCAR.  We end up going through all the numbers, 1-99, and naming all the Sprint Cup drivers, some of the Nationwide & truck series drivers.  Then, the game turns to numbers (in any order) of any sports player (NFL, NBA, MLB).  I think this entertained us for about 2 hours.  While, Z couldn't participate a whole lot (or me, either) because he's just not as obsessed as his big brother, it did give Daniel, the driver, and the whole car a time of enjoyed interaction without electronics or interruptions.  There were tons of giggles and lots of "Good job!  You should have known that one!  Way to go!"  Love time with my boys :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

We're Still Alive and Exist

I know that blogging isn't as "fashionable" as other social media, like Facebook, but I do like keeping the blog up, like a memory book.

Tomorrow, I will be 38 weeks pregnant.  We almost had a baby 2 weeks ago, but after 8 hours of labor, it fizzled out.  She tricked us all.  The midwife even apologized that she admitted us because she was sure that we were going to have a baby soon.  I guess little Moriah Joy decided that she didn't want to make her appearance yet.  Last week, I woke up a little after midnight and endured 3 hours of labor before it fizzled out, again.  Not only does it "trick" me into getting excited, but I am so exhausted for at least 24 hours afterwards.  It is not fun.  As much as I am ready to hold her, I have 3 boys who are equally excited if not more to meet their baby daughter/sister.  Daniel has even been looking online for natural ways to induce labor.  I know, I know.  This pregnancy has been ROUGH, to say the least.  I'm soooo ready to be done.  All these contractions have been coming for months now.  My legs, ankles, and feet are swollen and have been for awhile.  Apparently, I've been looking 9 months pregnant since I was about 6 months...or so I'm told by many Chick-fil-A customers.

Malachi has completed 2nd grade with flying colors.  His school doesn't given As & Bs.  They give I (improvement needed), M (making progress), & C (Consistently).  Malachi had several Ms in the 1st-3rd quarters.  That's not horrible, but it's not "perfect" either.  I'm so happy to say that he ended the year with all Cs (which means, he basically got All As).  We are so thankful for a great school and a great year for MJ.  He had a stellar teacher and got excellent reading help this year.  He's definitely ready to be a 3rd grader!  He was missing his front teeth pretty much all school year, but they are finally coming in :)  He's growing so big and strong and smart, and we are so blessed to have him as the oldest child!

Ezekiel finished half-day kindergarten.  He's reading really well and his math skills are getting pretty good, too.  I'm still not a huge fan of the "half-day" thing, but Z did learn and had a great year.  I just know how great Malachi's kindergarten year was and how much he learned by being there all day.  Z has been to two different physical therapy places, but the most recent seems to be working best to help strengthen his leg.  His muscles are deficient from the hip all the way down, but he is starting to make progress to straighten out his walk and build muscle.  He is very excited to be a big brother.  He was quite bummed at first that he was going to have a little sister, but now he is just excited to have a baby to hold and help with.  He'll be an excellent helper, too!

I am loving working at CFA!  I started as a team member, spent a few months in the "service" team as a Team Leader.  A few weeks ago, I was promoted to Talent Director (HR).  All the employees are so great to work with, and they have been so wonderful about working with me and all my preggo problems.  It has been a pure pleasure to serve others in that capacity.  The job is much less stressful than teaching and quite a welcomed break.  Who knows what God has in store for my future, but I am fully content to be in the place that I am right now :)

I'll try to update a little bit more often once Moriah arrives.  Be blessed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's a Girl!

I decided to be wise and not post the pictures "showing" that she is definitely a girl.  I posted Z's "jewels" back 6 years ago, and I realized that was probably not the best choice ;)

So, our precious third child will be a girl!  When we first found out we were pregnant, I was annoyed by the question from doctors, nurses, strangers..."so, are you trying for a girl?"  NO, we were trying for a baby.  We truly had little preference of the gender.  We think that 4 kids are a good number for us, and since life has "calmed down" a little, we decided it was ok to start adding to the family :)

Both Daniel and I were kind of wanting another boy, anyways.  Malachi & Ezekiel are two of the most awesome kids.  I love them to death and enjoy getting to spend time with them.  Why not have another awesome boy, like them?!?  God has given us so much love to share with our little guys.  He has given us wisdom to raise them, and He has blessed us with boys that will become awesome men of God.

Now, the first few weeks of pregnancy, Daniel didn't truly believe that I was pregnant.  He kept telling me I was crazy.  I kept telling him that if I wasn't pregnant, then there was something seriously wrong with me, and I needed to go to the doctor :)  Of course, I was right.  He he he!  However, he was right when it came to our little girl (and Donna and many others out there).  I have been waaaaaaay more sick with this pregnancy.  I have had heartburn waaaaaay more than I did with either of my boys.  We were hoping to keep this baby a secret until Christmas, so we could tell the family in person, but I felt awful 90% of the time, and we had to spill the beans on Thanksgiving Day.  I didn't know if, maybe, I was becoming a wimp in my "old age."  It has been almost 6 years since Z was born.  In the end, Daniel was right that we had a girl.  I just figured we would keep with our track record and have another boy.

Don't get me wrong.  I am stoked to have a little girl on the way!  About a month ago, I began to think of the relationship that I have with my mom and how neat it would be to have a little girl around the house.  2 days after we discovered that "Cupcake" was a girl, I went to the local consignment shop and brought home a big bag of pink & flowers.  I feel liberated to know that I don't have to just buy blue & trucks from now on.  I'm sure that she may wear a couple of items that I have left from the boys, like sleepers, pjs, and such.  I'm just thankful to buy a tiny little dress and bring it home to stay :)

Final thoughts:  as we talked with the ultrasound technician about what we thought she might be, we discussed how much we loved our boys and joked about how we got the cheap end when it came to paying for weddings.  When the technician was ready to show us whether Cupcake was a girl or a boy, she said, "Well, I guess you have a big wedding expense in the future."  :)  We were thrilled!  The boys aren't as excited as they once were, but they are truly still happy to be big brothers.