Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Baby #2: It's A....

Hello again! Sorry for my delay in blogging, but not a whole lot has been happening in our world besides chasing a toddler and a slightly growing belly. But now, we have something to talk about!!

So a lot of you have already found out what we're having because we did an early ultrasound at 15/16 weeks and were 90% sure it was another BOY!!! A brother for Titus!

 But I wanted to wait to announce it to the world until our "official" ultrasound at 20 weeks (technically I'm 21). Anyway, boy am I glad I did because it turns out we're actually having a GIRL!!!!!!!! A SISTER for Titus!!!

Aaslksamvoawekmflsdkmcalkdsnkadsnfa;wejfn;adlsckzmsa,dkafna;skdzclmvaksjmfoweskdnfakv;ajwehf;kANSfoiq3uwfo'iklNASKD;fjvNAS:KzniweufnCL"AKjfniweskjnfsldakjfaopwieurjpiowejf;lwiejro23[iqjROiqjflksdn kjsfn; owiHR2398IWJR[O2I3URP9IQwjro[i23ujro[SDKJ FASDJFASLJFS;IJFSKJDFHKSDHFSJDFSDLJFAALS;KJAFAOWIEJFO;WJ9238UCMQR0IOWCJRMQ3WURCOIAWJR;whr~!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that is what's going on inside my head right now. We told all our close friends and family (and cell kids- girls are you surprised or what?!), so this has been an exciting announcement to say the least. We have been debating boy names for months and just couldn't settle on one, and now we know why, it's not a boy! (We are pretty sure we are set on the name we will be giving little girl Autry, but we're going to let all this news sink in before we make a final decision on the name.)

Everyone keeps asking if I'm excited or disappointed, and honestly, I'm just happy. I LOVE surprises, and this is the ultimate shocker! I was very excited about two brothers wrestling, and doing sports together, and looking alike; plus, since I'm already having to do a big boy room for Titus I was actually relieved to be able to leave the "boy" nursery mostly as is. Not to mention we already have all the clothes we need for a April baby boy! So my head is spinning a little thinking of girly nursery decor, and a whole new wardrobe, and replacing other things we have only in blue (blankets, pacifiers, shoes, etc). But overall, we could not be happier :) 

Cheers to bows, tutus, headbands, jeggings, and leopard tights!!!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

18 Months Old

Dear Titus,
At 18 months you...
  • You weigh 26 pounds.
  • You wear size 4 diapers and 12-18 month clothes (definitely still need shorter pants).
  • You sleep from about 8:30 to 7:15am. You switched to one nap at 17 months which is usually around 1pm and lasts 1.5-2 hours.
  • You got 6 teeth in 2 months (15-17months), which is exactly what you did in your first round of teething.
  • You have starting high fiving and know how to find your nose, mouth, etc.
  • When you are done eating you ignore my commands to say or sign" all done" and just start tossing food off your high chair.
  • You are obsessed with the dogs. They are definitely one of your favorite things!
  • You love to say "yummmmm" when you eat something you like.
  • You love blowing kisses.
  • Your favorite outside game is putting dog food in a cup and moving it between the two dog bowls.
  • Your favorite show is Sesame Street (you stand completely still when the music parts come on).
  • Like a typical boy, you could spend the whole day throwing and "catching" a ball.
  • You like to crawl in our closet and play hide and seek. Not only do you think you're really good at it but you think it's really funny, too.
  • You love picking things up and tediously putting them where they belong (like spilled dog food or water toys after bath time).
  • You get very frustrated and impassioned when you are doing a task and it doesn't work out in the first 10 seconds (like if a big toy truck has fallen on its side and you can't figure out immediately how to right it, you just quit trying and throw a big fit). You probably get this from your daddy, ask him about his DIY projects when you grow up :)
  • You talk all day long. Unfortunately for us, you're not saying anything we can understand. I so desperately long for you to talk! We've definitely entered the stage of mutual frustration because you can't tell me what you want and I can't interpret it.
  • You do say dog, bosco, bye, baba, no (repeatedly during a fit), mama, dada, square ("squh") and you "count to three" (more a cadence than words). You also try to repeat letter names (you love pointing out letters on people's shirts).
  • You have gotten really good at playing independently for medium amounts of time.
  • You are happiest when you're outside and end up really cranky by the end of the day if we haven't gone out any.
  • You love playing with your friend Brooks who is 4 days older than you. You actually interact and play together and it's pretty adorable.
  • You are obsessed with looking for airplanes anytime we are outside.
  • You have just started having some separation anxiety from mommy, and while it's so sweet to see you want me, it still hurts my heart that you think I'm leaving you forever. Never ever, baby boy!

We found out a couple of months ago you are going to be a big brother! I can't wait to see you in that role. I foresee some mommy jealousy and a problem when the new baby will be big enough to play with your toys. But I also know how sweet and gentle you are with littler babies now, and I look forward to seeing you as the protective big brother. As for you personality, it only gets bigger and bigger. You really are "full of it," walking around and chatting all day and of course laughing that token chuckle that you do so well! I am incredibly happy to see that part of your babydom hasn't faded away, I hope you keep it forever! Such a clear sign of the joy God has given you in your heart (you get that from your daddy too). I pray that laughing will always come easy to you, and that one day you would also learn to laugh at yourself instead of getting frustrated. We love you to the moon and back, BIG boy!


Friday, July 19, 2013

15 Months Old

Dear Titus,
At 15 months you...
  • You took your first steps at 13 months and started walking at 14 months.
  • You say mama, dada, dog, and bye regularly. You also say bird and cracker occasionally, and you "call the hogs" with mommy and daddy! Other words you say in your own language are bottle ("dah doh") and Bosco ("dog-doh").
  • You are 28 inches tall and weigh 22 pounds. You are in the 5th percentile for height, 25th for weight, and 75th for head. You still only have 6 teeth but seem to constantly be drooling from some unforeseen teething! You have curly blonde hair and blue eyes like Uncle Jared but your face is a perfect mix of daddy and me.
  • You take two naps about an hour each, one around 10:30 and one around 2:30. You go to bed between 7:30-8:30 and for the past couple of months have been getting up between 6-6:30! Not good for mommy. Luckily you have moved back to 7:00 this week so I'm hoping you are back to normal!
  • Your favorite activities are playing basketball with daddy, stacking blocks, climbing stairs, and playing with the hose.
  • You love the bath tub but you don't like pools (even baby pools with just a little water).
  • You love most foods, especially fruit. Your favorite foods are waffles with peanut butter, spaghetti, green beans, veggie straws, pickles, and graham crackers.
  • You still take a while to warm up to large groups of people. You usually prefer to play independently for a while and then you eventually join in the action. Grandmother says that daddy was just like this as a baby!
  • You like to "count to three" like mommy does when she pushes you on the swing (even though you just make the noises, not the words).
  • You hate sitting still. Even in the stroller or wagon you only want to ride for about 20 minutes before getting out.
  • We have officially reached the fit stage; I think it's possible that we could have arrived at the "terrible twos" early. You scream bloody murder if I turn off the hose or tell you not to throw food off your high chair. And heaven forbid a door opens and you don't get to go outside... You throw yourself on the ground and bang your head on the floor! You have also perfected your "NONONONONONO" scream while simultaneously going into full body spasms. Oy.
  • But when you are happy (which really is most of the time) you have the best laugh and smile! You like to laugh when you hear someone else laughing just to join in the fun (you also do this with sneezing). You are great at playing independently and will talk to your toys without me needing to play with you.
You are turning into such a funny little boy! You love playing chase and watching daddy dribble the basketball. We love going outside and just watching you chase the dogs around while giggling. You think they are so funny! We are loving watching how your personality comes out as you get older (even your feisty and stubborn side!). As you continue to grow sometimes I look at you and it seems like my baby has completely grown up, but at nighttime when you cuddle on my chest I know you are still there. We love you sweet boy, forever and always, to the moon and back.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Truth about Postpartum Depression

One year ago today I was in the darkest place I could imagine.

I had given birth to Titus two months earlier and Garland had to work a summer camp in Colorado all week. The morning Garland left I held it together for about 2 hours before putting Titus to sleep in his nursery and collapsing on my bed, unable to do anything but cry. Cry isn't the right word, this was more like body-shaking-can't-catch-my-breath-wailing-like-a-feral-animal absolute sobbing. I didn't know what to do. I alternated between rocking back and forth like a lunatic and feeling unable to move,  as though I weighed 900 pounds. I kept pressing my hands to my face, like maybe if I pushed against my eyes hard enough it would force the tears back inside. Or maybe it would even pop my head like you would pop a bubble floating by, at least then I wouldn't be able to cry anymore. I was praying that Titus wouldn't wake up because I was afraid I would just pull the cover over my head even tighter and ignore the little baby in the next room. I sent a text to my friend Katelyn that said simply, "I need you." She immediately responded with, "coming right now." I laid back down, completely exhausted, and just stared at the ceiling fan as the numbness settled over me like ancient dust once again.

This, my friend, is what Postpartum Depression looks like. 

Luckily for me, we recognized the signs and symptoms quick enough that I was feeling completely back to normal within 5 months of delivery. While I had a relatively short bout with depression, I make no bones about the fact that it was by far the most difficult thing I've ever gone through in my whole life. I can tell you that one of the things that helped me immensely when this all started was hearing stories from other women who struggled with the same thing. The idea that I was not going crazy or alone in this struggle made me feel like it was possible to overcome. So because of that, I've chosen to use my blog to answer some of the most common questions I get asked about my battle with Postpartum Depression (PPD). My hope is that maybe another new mom would happen across this link and realize that there is hope and life after PPD.

When did you know something was wrong?
Nothing was wrong for the first few days. Then I started to not be able to sleep in the same room as Titus because every little noise he made gave me an adrenaline rush and a million questions rushed through my head (is he waking up? is he hungry? is he cold? is he stil breathing?). During the day when he was napping I would try to lay down in a different room and nap, but as each minute ticked by all I could think was, "I'm one minute closer to him needing me," and just could not fall asleep. After a few days of this cycle my ravenous appetite that I had gained from breast feeding dropped off drastically. I started throwing up and having diarrhea all day and could not keep any food down, I could barely even drink Gatorade. I just assumed I had a bug, but this continued for over 10 days. I would have times where I had to practically throw Titus to someone else while I was breast feeding so I could run to the bathroom and throw up. I had tons of tests done, a trip to the ER for fluids, a false guess by a doctor that it could be mastitis which resulted in a horrible pumping regiment (which only caused engorgement and leaking from too much milk), but still no solution. After all my medical tests came back negative, my trusted OB gently suggested that we should look into the possibility of PPD, which seemed absolutely absurd to me. I didn't FEEL depressed, my main problems were physical (I would even run a low-grade fever some days). How could this possibly be related to a hormone-induced depression? Not to mention it took us over a year to get pregnant, so I felt like having PPD meant that I was not grateful for the gift we had waited so long to receive. But in the end, he was absolutely right.

How did you know it was PPD and not Baby Blues?
This was the same question I kept asking myself over and over and over for the first few weeks after delivery. Baby Blues are usually classified as general emotional highs and lows that a new mom experiences within the first couple of weeks after delivery. This is a natural reaction to your body's hormones trying to adjust to no longer growing a human being inside of you! Before my PPD kicked in I had the Baby Blues, which manifested for me by having an emotional meltdown every night at 8pm. No joke, every night at 8:00 I would cry for absolutely no reason, I wasn't even sad! I talked to a lot of other moms who said they experienced the same thing at different times during the day.

I knew I had something greater than Baby Blues when I was having trouble getting "mushy gushy" over Titus. I had this desperate need to take care of and protect him, but I didn't really have that, "Oh my gosh, my heart could burst from love!" feeling that so many moms described. I tried to casually mention this to other moms without giving myself away completely, but it seemed like no one quite understood what I was trying to describe, so I stopped telling anyone how I really felt. This coupled with the physical symptoms made me realize that something extraordinary was happening to me.

What's the difference between Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) and PPD? Did you have both?

I would say that I mostly had Postpartum Anxiety with some PPD, but they generally go hand in hand. Since I was so anxious about Titus eating enough, and breastfeeding not going well, I wasn't sleeping hardly at all. The thing about sleep is that you need it not just to keep from being exhausted, but to give your body time to regenerate the things it has used up during wake times. One of these things is Serotonin, which is the chemical that creates the calming and happy feeling in your brain and is made while you sleep. If you don't sleep, you don't make Serotonin, and you can't feel at ease and happy. When the PPA would kick in, my heart would race without explanation throughout the day. No matter how exhausted I was, I would lay down and try to nap and feel like I had drank 6 cups of coffee. The best way to describe it is to say it was like I had no "off switch," I could not figure out how to make my brain power down and relax. The less I slept -> the less Serotonin I made -> the less relaxed I was -> the less I was able to sleep... and so the cycle continued. Eventually that lack of Serotonin also caused the crash in my emotional state, resulting in the depression on top of the anxiety.

Does PPD look the same for everyone?
No, it does not. For me, it was mostly numbness. I couldn't make myself feel anything toward Titus to the degree that I longed for. I just wanted to curl up in bed and not exist. I never had suicidal thoughts, I just didn't want to be where I was. The funny thing was, I also didn't want to be anywhere else. Thinking about leaving the house made my anxiety just as bad as thinking about staying in it. I was stuck. I just didn't want to BE anymore.
I have talked to women who did feel suicidal though, and others have even had thoughts of harming their baby. One friend of mine told me she would stare at a painting of bubbles in her bedroom and wish she could just disappear into it. Another mentioned she never consciously wanted to hurt herself but when she would go to sleep she would dream of ways to commit suicide and wake up panicking because she didn't want to do that. Yet another friend told me she would have horrible panic attacks whenever her husband left the house. She thought she might be having a heart attack and had to go to the ER because she would black out.
These things are all out of your control, it's a hormone-based brain response that is happening whether you want it to or not. However, if you are experiencing ANY thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby (even subconsciously you need to see your doctor right away.

When did it start getting better?

Once I accepted and acknowledged that I had PPD it was much easier to work on getting better. 

  • My mom came down from Missouri whenever she could and I had her read the bible to me, or write down and post scripture in different places. A lot of people don't understand that if you are depressed and feel unable to connect with God, it's not necessarily from lack of trying. As much as I wanted to feel connected to Christ, I was numb in that area too. But when I would hear God's words spoken aloud I just cried, it was the only thing that could create a true emotional reaction in me.
  • I started forcing myself to only think one hour at a time instead of focusing on the overwhelmingness of making it through a whole day or week. I would tell myself, "just make it through this nap time" or "Garland gets home in an hour, you can make it til then."
  • I made myself get out of the house even if it was just going on a walk or to the mall. Even though I got extremely anxious about things going wrong when I left the house, it was a good reminder that the world had not ended and one day I would be a part of "normal life" again.
  • Garland made me run to Sonic or get a pedicure or just go read at the park 3-4 times a week. The time away from Titus was stressful but also helped me to realize he would be fine if I wasn't there every second of the day.
  • I tried to have someone with me at all times. Even though I was capable of taking care of Titus myself, I felt a huge burden lifted when someone was there. Katelyn Graves was my lifeline. She stopped whatever she was doing as soon as she got my call and would bring her laptop over and work from my house for entire days. She didn't even have to do anything, she just sat there beside me while I held a sleeping baby and watched tv and I had this overwhelmingly joyous urge to yell, I AM NOT ALONE. I will never in my whole life be able to explain to her the amount of gratefulness I have for how selfless she was during that time.
  • Lastly, I talked with my doctor and decided to start taking the lowest dose possible of an anxiety medicine. This is a personal choice and I would never tell anyone to start medicine if they don't feel comfortable with it, but I know that for me it helped immensely. It took about 4 weeks to fully kick in, but I could notice things changes in about 2 weeks (read about that moment here). I stayed on it for 3 months and then just forgot to take the pill for a few days and that was that.
Are you worried about having it with your next baby?
Sometimes I do wonder about what will happen with our next child. Women who have suffered from PPD have a 50% chance of having it again (the average woman has only a 15-20% chance). I pray about it anytime we discuss having another child. It is definitely not a situation that I am in a hurry to revisit, but I know that I can't let the fear of a possibility rule my world. My God is bigger than any darkness and prepared a way out of the pit for me once, so I have no reason to think he could not do that again. I praise Him for the doctors, friends, and family that he sent me as individual ropes to tie around my waist and lift me when I was too weak to climb out myself.

So if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please remember that it is a real thing but it doesn't have to be EVERYthing.

I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things He did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in Him. 

Psalms 40:1-3


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Twelve Months (One YEAR!)

Dear Titus,
At 12 months you...
  • You weigh 22 pounds.
  • You wear size 4 diapers and 9-12 month clothes (definitely still need shorter pants).
  • You sleep from about 8pm to 7am. You take two naps around 10:30 and 2:30.
  • You have had 5 ear infections in 4 months, its been really awful. Right now we are on our 5th antibiotic plus Zyrtec in the morning and Benadryl at night to cut down on the drainage that is causing the infections. If this doesn't work you will have to get tubes, so we're hoping this will be the combo to get you healthy!
  • You LOVE waving. You love waving so much that when I tried to teach you to clap you just waved at me some more.
  • You still dislike your car seat but the iPad helps a lot. We'll probably turn you around soon because you are so unhappy.
  • You don't really care much about eating and still like baby food a lot (you don't reject it in favor of table food like a lot of babies your age). I can never really tell if you're full or if you want more food because you just want out of your high chair.
  • You don't like sitting in the shopping cart or stroller very much. In general, you hate anything that keeps your from crawling/trying to walk. And straps are like your worst nightmare! Most of the time you stand up in the shopping cart.
  • You love bath time so much you will crawl into the bathroom throughout the day and stand at the side of the tub and giggle.
  • You still love ceiling fans.
  • You like to play in the yard, you could grab sticks and grass and hold them in the air to observe them for like an hour straight. You are so curious and detail oriented, you check everything out with great concern!
  • You have started putting sounds together and say a lot of words like "glargle glargle" or "blurb" or "drawler." You have even said your first real word, "dog." You stand at the screen door and watch Bosco and Lucy and say dog (which kind of sounds like "dock").
  • You love Yo Gabba Gabba.
  • You like watching and chasing the vacuum! 
  • For whatever reason you love when I watch you play in your crib, or the "big bed" (mommy and daddy's bed) for that matter.
  • You chase the dogs around the house and laugh/scream hysterically because you get so excited. They run away trying not to get caught which only makes you want to chase them more.
  • You think it's fun to get your temperature taken with the forehead thermometer and you try to do it yourself.
  • You love to dance and it has become my favorite thing that you do!

Oh sweet boy, what a year it has been. Things are so much easier and more entertaining at 12 months! You are such a loving snuggler and you give away smiles and giggles so easily. Everyone always comments on how much they love your laugh- I hope your joy continues to be infectious in years to come. Everyone says to cherish these baby moments because they go by so fast, and I can attest to the fact that time has, indeed, gone by very quickly. We are so lucky to call you our son and could not be more grateful for every minute, day, month, and year that the Lord allows us to shepherd you and fall even more in love with our short, wobbly, adorable, little boy. I can't wait to see what year two will hold and the many adventures we will have as we learn more about each other in the days to come. We love you to the moon and back, precious Titus.

First Birthday Party!