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One Month In

We are just about a month into our new home and I think I’ve finally got enough material worthy of an update :).

I know everyone says this at the beginning of a new life stage, but I honestly can’t believe it’s been a month.  2016 holds a very distinct demarcation with my life IN Indiana and my life AFTER Indiana.  But at the same time, there has been so much new, that this month has gone by without too much notice of its passing.

When people ask me how I like it here, it is easy for me to say, “I LOVE it here.”.  I really only have two complaints: the traffic (ugh the traffic), and the housing market.  The traffic is what makes my twenty minute drive to see my parents, fifty minutes at times.  And there is one stoplight by our house that I am beginning to wonder how much of my life will be spent there waiting for it to turn green.

The housing market is another animal that I am glad we are done with for now but we had quite a bit of sticker shock moving here from good ol’ Indiana and that delayed our purchasing decision (and ultimately made us miss out on a few other houses).  But,thankfully, we love our house and we can see why God kept it and us waiting for it.  One huge answer to prayer is that it is very close to N’s job so he doesn’t have to fight traffic coming or going (which seems to be a rarity down here).  So thankful we stuck to our guns when it came to location.

What do I love about living down here? the weather (I know some of you hate the heat but I am seriously GIDDY over not having another snowy/freezing/icy winter possibly ever again!), family (having my family close by has been such a blessing and they have been my home base as I try to get my bearings), the nice people (I forgot how nice you southerners are!), the culture/food (I think I could eat out at a different restaurant every meal for a year and not repeat.), and being so close to conveniences as well as having modern conveniences like oh, the INTERNET (didn’t have that at the schoolhouse), as well as food delivery services, Prime Now, Kroger Clicklist, a huge library system, Target, etc.  There is definitely something to be said about living off the land and having a pared down, simplified lifestyle. But  for now, I am enjoying what Nashville has offered me in exchange.

I remember the few times we moved when I was young, as well as the prospect of going to a college where I didn’t know anyone, and being excited about the chance to reinvent myself.  I didn’t intentionally set out to do that this time, but I am finding myself so inspired here.  I’ve revamped my hairstyle, my makeup, skincare routine, my quiet time, our budget (the Dave Ramsey vibes are STRONG here :)), and my workout. I’m also wondering if these changes are further signaling me that it is time to move on from the era I’ve been in for the last 7 years–that of being pregnant and having babies.  More than I ever thought I would be, I think I’m getting excited about moving on to the next stage and feeling more like my old self again (the 2016 version, of course!).

Along with the personal inspiration, I’m feeling the creative vibes that Nashville is reverberating with.  There are so many musicians, artists, authors, speakers, etc that live here and the buzz in the air is almost palpable.  I catch myself often daydreaming about how I will use my time when all the little girls are in fully in school.  I don’t think I, myself, will be back in the classroom, but I never had much of a vision for that time until now.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still trying to get my bearings here and I often feel very disoriented.  But I have not used my phone navigation in about a week which is PROGRESS and my weeks and daily routine are beginning to take shape.  I still don’t know what day I do my laundry on or when I buy my groceries/order my groceries online and have them PLACED IN MY CAR, but I am figuring it out, one Nashville week at a time.



I wrote these two snippets when I was in the midst of the summer of 2016, living by myself, taking care of the girls, and selling the schoolhouse.  I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it at the time, but now that it is over, it feels safe to put these feelings out into the arcing reach of the Internet.  Enjoy…

We are one month from moving and the goodbyes are already starting to roll in; some in the form of texts, others in final visits to old stomping grounds.  Many I’m putting off and I keep reassuring people that we haven’t left yet.  But I think they know what I am trying to deny: our time here is finite.

It’s been hard to process everything when I’m flying solo during the week.  Sometimes the weight of three extra bodies needing everything from you is enough to bring you to your knees.

There are nights I spend running from bedside to bedside and not seeing nearly enough of my own.

There are nights where I lay awake, over-analyzing every little sound.  No peace to be found.

There is a constant feeling that we are only one vomit, one fever, one car malfunction away from a disaster.  The only reason we are holding together is because we are being held together.  But one small upset in this delicate balance and you realize you cannot possibly sustain this lifestyle for very long.

During this time I prayed specifically against mastitis (I’ve always gotten it around the 6 week mark, which is the first week I was left on my own.  This time I have been free of it!).  I also prayed that in the absence of the girls’ earthly father, God would step in.  He’s given me control over my fear at night for safety and has provided a few interactions for the girls with other men that reminded me of the way N interacts with them.  Not a perfect substitute, of course, but enough of a break from me to give them some familiarity. Finally, I prayed that God would give me extra patience for the girls and that I wouldn’t say anything to them in frustration or anger I would regret.  It’s amazing, but prayers do work. Although I did have to apologize to them twice for losing my patience so far, i’ve felt myself very calm and serene this entire time.  Almost like I’d been drugged, I’ve been able to let so much roll over me without getting under my skin as it may normally on a given night when I am carrying the needs of the family by myself.

I feel like I am treading water.  I set up a bunch of systems in place to keep things running without me turning the crank every time.  But there’s only so much independence and reliance I can give to a five year old, three year old, and two month old.

MG is my right hand man.  She is a joyful helper; I don’t know what I would do without her.  She jumps at any chance to fill a need, mommying both Bea and Sib as well as attending to me at times too. I feel guilty letting her carry some of my burdens and I feel overwhelmed when I don’t.

I feel so vulnerable by myself with three, dependent, little ones.  We are often at the mercy of strangers, reliant on their goodwill.  An opened door, an extra day at the gym the day after our membership ran out, the retrieval of a dropped item. Nothing felt too small and these interactions were crucial to my survival.

Each week gets a little easier as we sink into a rhythm, but I still feel pretty martyr-ish by Thursday night. (N comes home on the weekends)

It’s also weird living in a house that doesn’t belong to you anymore, especially right now.

I have several friends who have made an effort to checkup on me, the neighbors who have watched over me, and one friend in particular who has gone out of her way to invite us over for dinner many times.  This community I am completely dependent on and soon I will have to walk away from it completely to start over.

Part 2

MG is gone now and it’s just me, Bea, and Sibs.  I’m afraid Bea will curl up in a ball of boredom without her best playmate here.  That’s  only happened once or twice so far.  She is learning how to play by herself now and has gotten quite good at it.  I underestimated her. In many different ways.

Sib is starting to sleep much longer stretches at night.  I don’t know what I would do if she was colicky or awoke through the night.  Literally don’t know what I would do.  God has orchestrated the timing of this and a few other little things for me and I have noticed it.

Now I am deliberately saying my goodbyes. Our final church service, lunch dates, playdates, and even drives. Goodbyes are hard.  They’re awkward and weird and filled with a lot of promises that I’m not sure will be able to be kept.  But they are necessary too.  And they also represent many good things. God has taken me on a few scenic routes lately past some of the memorable parts of this town.  I think He is helping me close the door. I know I can’t wait to bring the girls back here one day and take them on these drives along with my memory-laced narration.

I feel like I have spoken these words before but I don’t know another time when they would trump right now.  This has been one of the most stressful and difficult seasons of our lives.  There have been so many little things that have been hard compacted on top of the big things that are difficult anyway.  N and I living apart, both with our hands tied up in so many things, trying to make a living and keep a life. So many foundational things are changing all at once. It has been hard to keep our relationship intact across the miles.  But if absence makes the heart grow fonder then consider my heart’s beating the most devoted cry in the world.



Four Months

First *a quick apology* for the lack of updates as of late.  We are officially Mason-Dixon residents and have been now for almost 3 weeks.  I have not written anything, not for lack of desire nor anything to say, but I am still trying to figure out my new life here and how writing fits into all of that.  Writing our family story is important to me, so I know it’s something I will continue to work out as I try to balance school life, baby life, toddler life, new state life, and new home life <<sigh, but a happy one>>.

In the midst of all of this, Sibby turned 4 months today.


Four months still sounds “little baby”-ish to me so that makes me happy that not too much of her life has passed in what has felt like an eternal transitory time.  But it’s also old enough that is she becoming somewhat predictable yet not rigid and also not exploring yet.  Perfect timing for getting adjusted to life here before she takes off.


God was merciful to me when He gave us this thirdborn.  She really is a dream baby; only cries when she’s tired or hungry (and it’s pretty easy to figure out which).  She is pleasant when awake and can be stretched beyond her hunger or tiredness when distracted.


No new milestones this month save for a random roll-over (belly to back).  She attempted a few more times after but scared herself straight.  I’M FINE WITH SLOW MILESTONES RIGHT NOW. Wait, scratch that.  As of this morning, she rolled over belly to back and then back to belly twice!!


The lack of forward movement has meant the delicious rolls on her arms and legs have stuck around for another month.  She does have a pretty steady neck now though, and those rolls can sweat like none other, if not placed on a breathable surface (like an arm, anything polyester, or her carseat).


She still takes a paci but usually doesn’t sleep with it.  When she is hungry, she makes a coughy-gaggy sound like my other two did in between cries.  We’ve attempted to give her her FIRST bottle this month (I know, I know mommy FAIL.  Pumping has been extremely low on my priority list right now!) and she hasn’t quite taken to it (or I should say, all three, as we’ve tried three different versions).  Looks like we need more practice!  One minor thing she HAS added this month though, is her ability to bring her paci to her mouth using her grasping fingers.  Hard work for hand-eye coordination!


The one thing that I’m still trying to figure out for Miss Sib is her nap schedule.  It seems her ideal is to take one or two cat naps in the morning and then a long 3-4 hour afternoon nap, followed by perhaps another cat nap before bed.  This is great with me except her afternoon nap falls right around the time I pickup MG from school.   So frustrating to have to wake her up and then try to settle her back in again after we are literally gone from the house for 40 min, maybe.  This has vexed me so much that I’ve been running through countless solutions and one I’ve found recently is to pay a homeschooled neighbor to come sit at the house for me.  So far it seems like the best solution.


Still, it seems general consensus for the third babies is that they just have to nap on the fly and are at the mercy of their older siblings’ schedules.  Builds character, they say.  And I guess where the third children’s easy going nature gets its reputation.

Finally, perhaps her best quality is that my loving, angel third baby sleeps through the night.  And when I say sleeps through the night, I mean I lay her down at 8pm and she wakes up at 7am. I would say it’s a fluke, but she’s been doing it now for almost this entire month. (and don’t hate me, fellow moms of newborns, just remember what the rest of my life has looked like this month.  We all have our crosses to bear :))


I still often lovingly refer to her as “the baby”and I think I’m convincing myself of it…although last week I did bring up baby names for the first time in a long…(and I got two nods of approval!)  Still, I can’t say I’ve ever felt more ready to stabilize and not add any more change in for a long, long, long time.



Headed South

I’ve always felt a longing to go south again.  I lived in Indiana for 10 years, but it never truly felt like home, perhaps because I never let it. The ways of the Hoosiers (a word my St. Louis background caused me to never embrace), always seemed strange and a bit bumbling to me.  The first three years I spent here, after all, we didn’t observe daylight savings.  Yes, while the rest of the country turned their clocks backwards or forwards obediently, twice a year, we moved about our lives, pretending the tradition never existed.

I always compared their food to my own; peanut butter pie was no match for pecan and pork tenderloins were a shoddy version of a catfish sandwich.  And I always missed my pimento cheese and hush puppies (I was once righteously offended when I went to a Catholic fish fry and instead of hush puppies they offered me rice.  RICE). But, as you must understand, I came here late to the game and with my heart already married to the land below the Mason-Dixon.  And it didn’t help that Indiana’s Achilles heel is their winter.  I hate the cold.  I hate the snow.  I dread it every year.  To go to the land where snow barely exists has me more excited than I can possibly say.

So while I taught myself to drive through their so-called roundabouts and find a setting sun behind a field of corn just as beautiful as a scenic mountain, I always wondered when we would go back.

The conversation extended to my parents.  We spoke of it in sweeping dreams and whispered circles.  Someday we’ll live together.  Someday we won’t be a plane ride away.  Someday our girls will be able to walk over to your house for dessert.  Someday…

We’ve been speaking of someday for eight years.  And then in 2016, someday became reality.  In April, Dad retired.  In May, they moved to Nashville.  In June, N accepted a job there.  In July he moved.  In August we  closed on our house. It happened so fast, it left us reeling, but in reality, it had been the plan all along.  And now we are going home.

Our new house will be completely different from our schoolhouse.  It will be neighborhood-ly and suburban.  I imagine our lives there will be the same, but of course augmented by bar-be-que and accents.

But to give fair credit where it’s due, I will miss our decade in Indiana.  We loved and lived in two wonderful cities, each unique in their own right.  We had fantastic neighbors in each of these places and wonderful churches.  We made friends there; deep friendships that span 10 years or one, both invaluable to our well-being.

Noblesville was vibrant and fun, the kick-off to our life with children and suburban in the best way possible. Upland was magical and sweet; the life we had dreamed of for so long.  It will be hard to say goodbye, and we will look back with longing from time to time.

But the next chapter has already started and it’s time to move ahead.  In fact, I think my moving crew just arrived.  Rocky Top, I’m coming home



The End of Schoolhouse Dreams

We have packed up nearly all of our belongings and as of last Friday, we are officially residents of TN.  It has been bittersweet to say goodbye and now we are saying goodbye to our home for the past 2.5 years.

It’s funny to think about now, but when we moved in, we thought we may be here ten years or more.  We had so many big plans for this place and we only got to see about 60% of them through.  But I’m confident her new homeowners will be able to carry on what we’ve started.

I took a lot of pride in our ol’ schoolhouse, especially since we fixed it up so much and did a lot of the work ourselves (albeit during one of the busiest seasons of our lives).  I kind of liked living in something unconventional (thank you, HGTV, for making me feel like a Homecoming queen for once).

And I liked that everyone in town knew where we lived by description alone.

We will miss the land, space, and freedom.  We will miss it terribly.  Our backyard was dreamy, especially on a summer evening with sheets flapping on the clothesline and the crickets humming in the field, and the air thick with the smell of our overripe garden tomatoes.

I’ll miss the sounds of the neighbor’s cows and chickens, looking out my window and seeing the horses, and the many beautiful sunsets we witnessed here.  I will not miss the snow.

Bea learned to walk here.  Both of the girls spent many hours outside on the play set, imaginations as open as the field next to us.  MG grew up here.  She may even have a few lingering memories from this house.  I hope she remembers the kittens and her room and not the months she spent sick.

We brought Sib home here too.

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(drone shots courtesy of our friend, Brad J. Ward)

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On the flipside, we had some hard times here as well.  A new job AND a new baby in one year was rough (apparently we didn’t learn our lesson though!).  N started his doctoral program which took so, so much free time.  I started and ended Sweet Mama Makes.

Fixer uppers are always hard to live in when you are renovating; they’re also always more expensive than you bargain for.  I wouldn’t say I’m strong in the patience department, and sometimes it was hard to wait until the right time to start a project; which meant living with the vision burning on you until then.  (Instead of feeling happy and excited for friends who are buying fixer uppers, I feel a sense of dread for them now :-0).  We had fantastic neighbors surrounding us, who really helped us out with a lot of our new/old home ownership problems, but we also had an “anonymous” neighbor write us a nasty letter about the way we kept our house, including that it was a “mess to look at”.  Even though I tried to shrug it off, it really hurt my feelings and some of that pain still remains when I think about how much it set me back from completely investing in this community.

But we did our best with the canvas we had and I think we did a good job.  I found a lot of pride in living here and I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out.  A little blood, a lot of sweat, and many, many tears later and now it’s time to move on.

Dwell in peace, little schoolhouse, and may your 3-foot-thick brick walls stand for another 120 years.


Three Months

Ah, the three month mark and everything is golden.  We have hastily exited the fourth trimester as they call it and I have noticed a very big difference in our girl this month alone. About halfway through, she began acting a lot less newborn.  She doesn’t need to be held when awake, she occasionally puts herself to sleep if desperate enough, and she’s got herself on a pretty good wake, eat, play, sleep, schedule.

Speaking of sleep, can I get a hallelujah for another good sleeper?  She takes cat naps as if on cue, about an hour after waking up from the last one.  In the afternoon, she takes the longest nap, and I usually wake her up at the three hour mark.  Then at night, I often cluster feed her, with the last feeding around 8pm and on good nights, she’ll wake up only once to eat.  On great nights, she will sleep till about 6 or 7am (without eating again)!!! (however, two or more feedings = terrible nights)

Her neck and ab muscles have gotten a lot stronger.  She is swinging her legs over occasionally as if she is gearing up to roll over (back to belly).  Her head pretty well stays up without bobbling around and when on her belly, she can do a pretty mean cobra pose.

She loves to be talked to and will reward you with happy eyes and a gummy smile.  She tries to “talk” to us a lot with her rumbly, throaty, noises and semi-giggles.  We’ve gotten a lot of good laughs out of her this month, especially if we try when she’s recently had a full belly.  It doesn’t take much tickling to get these laughs but she will even give them to us if we make funny faces and noises at her.

A good portion of her awake time is spent on her back, making air snow angels and watching what’s going on around her.

I  feel towards her like I do my other two.  She has solidly become a part of our family over the past three months, no longer a stranger and suddenly very tangible.

Three months also means:

-wearing 6-9 month jammies (long AND big…14lbs, 23.75″!)

-really, really fluffy thighs

-rolls that have to be pried apart to clean

-more aware of noises when asleep, but still a good sleeper

-still not a burden to carry around (due to weight)

-starting to scoot on her back because her feet are finding contact with the floor

-very, very smiley

Despite this golden start, our lives have been pretty tumultuous starting with her birth and not really slowing down since.  Our lives were on pause just waiting for labor to begin…then we went from induction, to travel/interviews (both in IN and TN), Sibby’s sickness, putting the schoolhouse on the market, vacation, N starting his new job, showings, looking at houses in TN and then buying one, getting MG off to kindergarten, to packing and gearing up for a move.  Either we are crazy or we will be by the end of all of this 🙂

But my sweet Sibby, she has been my constant source of joy throughout it all.  I sometimes questioned God’s timing of bringing her into our lives when He knew how busy things were going to get, but I get it now.  Like I said in the story of her sickness, God proved himself faithful and merciful and whenever I begin to doubt, she is a very fresh and real reminder of that.

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Sweet Sib, you have been my sunshine on bright days and also when clouds are very gray.  God knew exactly what He was doing when and how He brought you into our family.  I can’t get enough of your sweet smiles and warm temperament.  God has already used your life at such a young age and I know He has more big plans in store for you. 

With all my love,



Hospital Stay, Part 2

{part 1}

I didn’t leave the hospital for five days.  I stayed in that tiny room, with monitors constantly beeping and IV drips being changed every 30-120 minutes, and I thought I was going to lose my mind.  Sibby had a sling around her arm to keep her from bending it, which could have popped out the IV.  The sling weighed her arm down and made it awkward to pick her up or cradle her comfortably.  She had cords running out of this and also an oximeter cord attached to her toe. Both of these set off alarms if pinched or crimped.  The first day I didn’t have any clothes she could wear that would work with these restrictions, so she just stayed wrapped up in a blanket.  It wasn’t until the afternoon of the second day when a kind nurse took pity on me and held her while she sent me down to the cafeteria to get some lunch.  While I was gone she pulled a sleeveless onesie out of the hospital stash and carefully dressed her


Sibby ran a fever the first 48 hours we were there.  They kept her on round the clock Tylenol and it would immediately bring her fever down, but by the end of the second hour, it would start to creep up again.  This fever, as well as the sling on her arm to keep her IV place, and her malaise, kept her irritable the entire time we were in there.  After that initial nap in her hospital jail/crib, she did not sleep anywhere but in my arms.  This meant that I only slept when N came to visit, in between taking care of things at home, and interruptions from the doctor and nurses.  On top of that, I was very worried about her and had good reason to be.

The first information we received on our first morning there said that something had shown up in the spinal tap.  Added to this, the nurses said they’d never seen something come back this quickly from the lab (normally it takes 24-48 hours for a culture to appear), so either the bacteria was growing very quickly or there was a lot of it.  They tried to reassure me that Sibby was on harsh antibiotics that should take care of whatever was growing in her, but we wouldn’t know what it was or the extent of it for another day.

I hastily googled meningitis and sepsis and stopped when I read, “the number one cause of death in infants.”

My family and friends sent Bible verses and prayers and they literally gave me a thread to hang onto.  When I looked in the mirror at the end of the first day, I was horrified at how puffy and bloodshot my eyes were, a combination of crying all day and sleeping so little.

By the end of the first day, they moved us to a corner room with its own shower and an actual hospital bed for me to sleep in, throwing in as an aside that we would probably be there a while.

As soon as the lab said they saw something, it was determined we would not be there for 48 hours as is standard protocol, but now our stay looked to be a 5-7 day minimum.  My parents, who had literally just moved to Nashville, offered to make the drive up to keep the girls and relieve N’s parents who had weekend plans and company coming in.

I woke up, or more accurately, arrived at the second day of the stay and couldn’t believe I had gone an entire day without seeing or talking to my older girls.  It made me sad to think about and scared at how quickly life can turn.  I prayed we would receive good news from the pediatrician that day.

And good news we did. As it turned out, the bacteria the lab had initially reported was not bacteria, just a stain in the slide. The way they had communicated it had been faulty, however, so the mistake wasn’t detected until this point.  More good news: nothing had shown up in any of the cultures at the 24 hour mark.  This meant that we had a 75% chance of nothing growing in there, period, but would know more at the 48 hour mark.

Thankfully N was with me when we got this news and we were able to rejoice together.  I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest.  Though Sibby was still noticeably sick and with fever, it didn’t seem as serious as what we were first told.

We were still under watch and care for another 24 hours and a no visitor order was placed as well as everyone who entered the room had to wear masks, save for N and I.   We were also told this could just be a virus but the administrations of antibiotics would continue until we could get clear labs at 48 hours.

The next day, the doctor made his rounds and began with, “well we have some bad news. Something did show up today. ”  As it turns out, it was actually three things that had shown up.  Two strains of bacteria in the urine and one in the blood.  The irony being that the spinal fluid, which had scared us initially, was perfectly clear.

Once again my heart plummeted with fear.  We still didn’t know what we were fighting but he reassured us the antibiotics she was on should be nearly all-encompassing, (as it wouldn’t be until the following day when we would have the actual name of the strands and a recommendation from the lab on which specific AB we would need to treat them).  He didn’t seem worried, just puzzled and sympathetic.  But, by getting this info, we had just bought ourselves another 3-5 days in this 16’x’16’ room.

Following this new diagnosis, they had to repeat the blood draw and catheter.  They would send these new tests to the lab and watch them for bacterial growth.  If they came back clear then that would mean the antibiotics did their job and we would also be in the clear.  However, once again, it would be another 24 hours before the first reading and 48 before we would be given an adequate reading to make a good judgement call.

I tried to stay on top of my emotions but the fear crept back in.  I also began to back peddle and piece things together.  Like when her belly seemed to bother her and I had been massaging it, trying to release the gas, when in reality, she probably had a UTI.  No wonder my touch made her scream even harder.  However, a UTI seemed fairly benign and simple enough to treat.  Although, with her having one this young, did that mean she was going to be prone to them the rest of her life?

The blood infection seemed even more scary.  They said two of the bacteria were the same so whatever had been in her urine had quickly spread to her blood.  Had we not brought her in when we did…well I couldn’t bring myself to finish the thought.

And the thought of being imprisoned with no sleep, little food, and a fussy baby, well that was the stuff torture chambers are made of.

I was also aching to see the older girls.  It had now been 48+ hours since I had seen them and I’d only been able to have a short conversation with them since being in there.  Even though I knew they were in good hands, I worried about their peace of mind with all of this transition.

So we pressed on, begging for healing and as quickly as possible.  At this point, our Florida trip also came into jeopardy as we were supposed to leave Wednesday and if we were going to be in here as long as they said, we would definitely not be able to do that.  Selfishly, it felt really unfair to think after all of this, we may not get our time to rest and recuperate on vacation.


I encountered a lot of different nursing personalities during this stay, and there was one who took mercy in the early morning hours of this day.  She propped me up in bed, padded me with pillows, and put Sibby on my chest, suggesting we could sleep together like this.  Although I had done this at home, I was nervous to try this in the hospital for fear they would shame me and put even more fears in my head.  I was able to relax that night and actually get a few hours of sleep in between the changing of IV bags and regular fever checks.

It was also on this day that we began to see her fever drop.  We were able to go much longer in between Tylenol doses and her fever stayed at a reasonable level. That was a comfort that things were turning around.

On the morning of day four, the doctor came in for his daily rounds.  He told us the new labs came back clear at 24 hours and we had names for the bacteria present in the old ones.  None of them seemed super scary and possibly could have even been contaminants (to which he said it was fairly unlucky that we would have that happen to two different samples.)  Things were starting to become more clear and our path to exiting this place was starting to open up.

On day 5, we also got word that they came back clear at 48 hours.  This was fantastic news and now we just had to finish her round of antibiotics to be released.  We didn’t know if the doctor would release us Monday or the following day, but we both prayed for Monday as it would give us one day to get ready for our trip.  Also, while in the hospital, we found out N was offered the job in Nashville.  So while we needed to pack up for our trip, we also needed to get our house ready for the market.

I could not have been more excited when, as I geared myself up for another lonely, delirious night in the hospital with no sleep, the on duty nurse came into the room and said we’d gotten the all clear to go home.  I could not get my phone out fast enough to call N.

“Come pick me up, we’re going home!”

It took about another hour of finishing the IV, packing up, taking out the IV (immediate relief from S), and wheeling everything out to the car, but we were finally free and on the road to recovery (and home).


I still don’t have many answers for this small, but very scary window of Sibby’s life.  I still don’t know what made her so sick, how it actually started (UTI? blood? or just a virus?), I don’t know how close to death she came, or what would have happened if we hadn’t gone in.  This isn’t a story I like to think about too often as it still leaves me with lingering negative emotions, both in remembering the long hours spent in the hospital, and also the fear that came over me while I was in there.  As I said at the beginning of the story, I and our friends and family, literally begged God to spare her life.  He did.  I don’t know why or how, but He did.

And now, because of this great story at the very beginning of her life, she will always bear witness to His mercy.



Hospital Stay, Part 1

In the very scary, early morning hours of June 16, 2016, I found myself in the hospital with a very sick baby, begging God to spare her life.

He did.


This is how it started.

June 15, 2016 began as an unusually nice day.  N had taken the girls down to Nashville for two days (interviews) and I was home alone with the baby. This meant I was able to get extra sleep and stay on her schedule rather than trying to fit her into mine & the older girls’.  While the rest of our family was driving home that day, Sibby and I went for a walk, took a nap, and worked a bit.  It was laid back and nice.

They arrived home around 5pm.  I had just gotten Sibs up from her nap and was feeding her when the girls came bursting upstairs to find us.  They showed me all of the new trinkets they had accumulated at Grampy and Granny’s house and were full of stories.  MG paused a moment to comment that Sibby seemed fussy.  While I didn’t want to admit it aloud, I had noticed it too; the only time she seemed happy was when she was nursing.  The rest of the time she seemed agitated and uncomfortable. I retraced my steps that day and thought maybe since I’d had some cabbage and raw vegetables for lunch, it was upsetting her stomach.  I also noticed she seemed a bit warm, but chalked it up to her just waking up from a nap.  I rocked her and shushed her, hoping it would pass and kissed her forehead every once in a while to see if the heat remained.

We moved about the rest of our evening, me tending to the baby, somewhat puzzled by her new constant neediness and also trying to help the girls reintegrate into the house.  After getting the older two down to bed, N and i stayed up to watch a show. I had gotten Sibby to sleep during it but she woke up to eat again before (what I hoped would be)  a long stretch of sleep at night.

As I sat in the green rocker upstairs, the same one I have nursed and rocked down all of my babies in, I heard the clock chime 11pm. N gave me a sheepish look.  “Wake me up when you need me.”, he said. I was already sleepy and beginning to become discouraged as Sibby was now fighting sleep and I hoped she wouldn’t keep me up too late as I was starting to hit a wall.

As the hour stretched on and the sleep did not, I decided to move downstairs to watch tv. I was nodding off in the rocker and needed something new to distract me and help me keep my eyes open.  It seemed that all of my normal tricks to soothe her and get her to sleep weren’t working.  She also seemed really uncomfortable too; her back was arched and legs drawn up and her belly felt really tight.  I’ve never experienced colic before, but suddenly I found myself wondering if this is what I was dealing with.

When she reached the point of crying that had turned into a painful cry (really high pitched and almost screaming), I pulled out my phone and began looking up symptoms of colic.  Everything seemed to be lining up; she was three weeks old (perfect timing for the beginning of it), I had eaten a lot of dairy and raw vegetables that day (cursing myself for it), and the way she was acting, it seemed like she had trapped gas or her stomach was bothering her.  Plus, she could not be soothed.  She also still felt warm, but once again that was written off as a symptom of so much crying and it being a humid summer evening.

I spent time rearranging her in my arms, trying to get her to fall asleep, and also trying to keep myself engaged and awake.  I watched the clock, and looked at literally every five minutes.  I told myself I would give N until 5am, which seemed like a somewhat decent request, before asking him to step in for a bit to relieve me.

As 2am, 3am, and 4am rounded, I grew more and more tired and also more worried.  If this is what colic was, how would I function for the next weeks and months until it resolved?  I also thought it was strange that whenever I would “bicycle her legs”, or massage her tummy to try and help relieve the pain, it seemed to throw her into even more pain. I watched the clock tick slowly by, in 5 minute increments, trying not to sink into delirium.

Finally at 4:30am, desperation won out. She had only slept maybe half an hour and had even refused the last time I tried to feed her. I woke up N, who heard us coming from a ways off.  He leapt out of bed and grabbed her from my arms, shooing me away. But I stopped him, “I’m starting to get worried about her.” I confessed, “She’s been like this all night.  I can’t soothe her….And she’s stopped nursing.”

“Just let me take a try.” he said, “you go get some rest”, sensing the exhaustion in my face, I’m sure.

Instead I pressed, “Will you go get the thermometer?  I think she may have a fever but I’m not sure.”

We both watched as he tried the thermometer, several different ways.  Sometimes it would pick up a fever, other times it wouldn’t. Still unsure what to do, but starting to grow ever more panicky, I said, “I think I’m just going to call the doctor.”

At 4:30am, if you want to reach the pediatrician, first you have to call the hospital and have them page the doctor on call.  Then you have to leave your name and number and wait for them to call you back.  They warned me it could be up to an hour at this time of night and to not miss the call because they likely won’t call you back if you do.

N encouraged me to go to bed while I waited and he would babysit my phone and the baby for me.  Reluctantly, but also very eagerly, I climbed into bed.  Not a minute later, N came in my room with the phone, the doctor waiting to speak to me.

Confession: I hate these moments.  I feel embarrassed and silly and vulnerable all at the same time.  I want them to say there is nothing wrong but I don’t want to put them to work for absolutely nothing.  I’ve never called and they’ve said, “oh don’t worry about that, it’s nothing.”  There’s always a seed of doubt planted, even if it’s minor.

I attempted to describe the symptoms, being careful to add pertinent details like her age and irritability.  He did seem worried but said there was no way we could get an accurate temperature at her age without doing it rectally.  “What if I don’t have a rectal thermometer?” I said.  “Well if you suspect she has a fever, you should bring her in.  With any baby younger than 4 weeks, we admit them to the hospital if they have a fever.  It’s pretty serious.”

I got off the phone and relayed the information to N.  All along, during the worst of the morning hours, I had already considered this scenario.  I knew what I had to do, despite it being the last thing I wanted to do.  I had to take her in.  N couldn’t do it because I was exclusively breastfeeding her.  And he couldn’t come with me because that would involve waking up the other two.  We could call a friend, but who would be available at this hour?  And the closest family was over an hour away.

So despite not sleeping all night, and only getting broken chunks the day before that, I strapped her in her car seat and prayed she wouldn’t scream the whole way.  I got in our car in the cloak of darkness and prayed for our lives that I would be able to make it without any serious consequences due to my extreme fatigue….

Considering how our night had gone, I was pleasantly surprised when Sibby seemed to calm a bit in her car seat and we rode in silence to the hospital. As I drove through the country roads, I fretted over jumping deer, and my reaction time, and her state.

As I neared the hospital, I worried about being by myself with a babe in a scary part of town at such a dark hour.  I was shaken up, scared, and off.

N had given me good directions on how to park and get in quickly and safely.  Once again, I was unsure of what we would encounter in the waiting room and hoped they wouldn’t keep us waiting hours, as some of my friends had done at this hospital before, me trying to keep her from screaming the entire time, trying not to let the lack of sleep overcome me.  But as soon as I wheeled up, they took one look at us, questioned me on her age and symptoms, and we found ourselves in triage.

Within minutes, the ER doctor on call was introducing himself and explaining that because they had gotten a temperature of 100.7, they were going to be doing four tests: a blood draw, a urine culture via catheter, a chest x-ray, and a spinal tap.  Plus, he said, there was no way around it, they would be admitting her due to the fever and her age (less than 4 weeks old).

My head began spinning and my eyes welled up.  Their immediacy made me worry even more and my heart squeezed at the thought of what these tests would put her through.

Or at least, I thought I knew.  I didn’t think about how tiny her veins were and how they would have to put a tourniquet on her arm for many minutes before they would even be able to find a vein.  They would miss this vein and have to call in a pediatric specialist to do it, as well as insert her IV.  The catheter also took several tries and more agonizing minutes of screams where I could only lean down and whisper in her ear for comfort.

Next I carried her down the hall as another nurse wheeled her IV bag and I placed her on a cold table for a chest x-ray.  It felt like abandonment to leave her on that table, all alone, as she cried pitifully, me behind the protective concrete wall.

The nurses tried to comfort me and asked a lot of questions, but I didn’t want to talk.  I was too frazzled and worried and frightened and was constantly on the verge of tears.  They kept reassuring me that I did the right thing by bringing her in, but all that made me think of was how I almost didn’t.

The spinal tap was last and performed by the doctor.  He asked me if I wanted to be in the room, reassuring me it was okay if I didn’t.  I didn’t see any reason it would be worse than what she’d already gone through and opted to definitely stay.

We all had to wear masks as he turned her on her side and, once again, stuck a needle in her baby soft skin.

Finally, it was all over and I could pick her up and hold her close again.  She ate (an encouraging sign since she had refused the last one) and then passed into a deep sleep in my arms.  I carried her, as gently as I could with the IV poking out of her arm, up to the third floor and laid her in a little crib. The kind nurse on duty encouraged me to sleep in the pull out bed beside her.  It was about 7:30am and things back at home were just now starting to stir to life.


N was making breakfast for the girls, while making a last minute game plan for the rest of the day.  He called his parents, who dropped everything and drove an hour north to relieve him.

He, in turn, was able to come to the hospital and be with me.

{to be continued…}


{part 2}

The Birth of Sibs, Part 3

{part 2}

Right before we left the room, N asked our doula, “Do I need to start timing the contractions now?”

“I think we’re beyond that point”, she smiled knowingly.

We set out again to walk the halls as the techs moved into our room to connect and fill the tub.  Walking felt good and I pushed through each contraction, willing my mind away from the pain and focusing on putting one step in front of the other.  I hung onto N’s arm and let him guide me.  Just like with the last two, when things get serious, I close my eyes or focus on the ground and triy not to make eye contact with anyone.

I still, however, had to endure the hallway comments, such as the nurses calling out, “oh she’s not smiling anymore, things are getting serious!”  And hospital visitors watching us and making remarks to each other about their own birth experiences.  I, much to my dismay, was feeling some pretty intense pain in my back and asked N to apply counter pressure during each contraction. This helped immensely, for a while.

After what felt like forever, though I think it was only an hour at most, I asked if we could go back to the room.  The tub was ready and I felt relief that I could finally experience it, another box checked.  N turned on my labor playlist and I felt myself being overcome with emotion; another labor milestone I personally look for.  I cried more with relief than pain.  Relief that we were finally here.  Relief we were at the point of no return.  Relief that after months of wait, I was going to meet my baby soon.

The songs helped me too, up until a certain point.  I let my emotions be swept away and focused on the lyrics.  I thought about my Nanow and how we would be naming this baby after her.  I wondered if they had already met in Heaven before her little soul was sent down to earth, as time is not time there.  And there is always a point where birthing begins to feel spiritual, where you feel connected to the generations before you, when you feel the most connected to yourself as a woman.

It was around 2pm and my contractions were coming very frequently and with much pain.  Every time one would begin, my lower back would begin to throb.  Then I would feel the pain radiate as the contraction wrapped around to the front.  It felt as if her head was stuck directly on my lower backbone and with each contraction, it would send fiery hot nerve pain up and down my spine in protest.  Rather than feeling the elecutionary contractions in my uterus, all I could feel were my bones being pried apart from the inside. It was completely reminiscent of MG’s birth and I began to lose my focus.  I no longer had to tell N when each contraction was beginning, he just seemed to know and would apply strong pressure in the spot I had showed him earlier.  Later I brought it up and he said he knew when they started because he could physically see the questionable bone in my back push out at the start of each one.

The counter pressure was now only mildly helping and I feared how much longer this could last.  I began getting really vocal, saying all the transitional things like, “I can’t do this anymore.”  N and Julie just winked at each other, knowing that all the signs were pointing to the end.  Julie suggested I get checked again, as I was audibly doubting how close I was to the finish line.

I got really mouthy during this labor, more so than my other two.  I am very rarely raw and unguarded in my feelings but there is something about intense pain that takes away the filter.

This labor, due only to the fiery heat of the back labor, made me doubt myself and my abilites to finish it.  I wanted everyone in the room to know how badly I was suffering and though I was vocal, I didn’t have a way of vocalizing this: I was scared this labor was going to stall and I would be stuck here, in this burning, nervy, painful place for hours more.

Fully dilated, fully effaced somewhere around 3pm.  That’s what the nurse discovered when she checked me.  This should have been an encouragement, but all I could think was, “It’s going to be three hours still until I can push her out.”   N and Julie tried to encourage me as they pointed out the warmer being moved into our room and Dr. B coming in, gloved up, ready to deliver.  As much as the signs were all there, I still truly believed we had hours left to go.  Even though I had begin pushing, just a bit, in the tub, I didn’t have a strong urge yet.  I also feared that this baby, giving me back labor like MG, was also posterior like her and would take her precious time coming out.

Still, to everyone’s prodding, I moved to the bed around 3:15pm.  Unsure of what to do, but knowing I HAD to get that baby off my tailbone, I began pushing in a few different positions.  Finally, we found one that everyone cheered on, so I used their encouragement as a sign to stay there for the duration.

Three births under my belt and I can confidently say, my body does not handle the pushing phase very efficiently.  Either I carry my babies high until the bitter end or they like to stay in unfavorable positions until they come out, or I am anatomically not built for this, or ???  This time it took about 45 minutes to finally feel that overwhelming relief of having her pulled from my body.  But those 45 minutes were agonizing.  The team around me did their best to encourage me, noting when they saw hair and what color it was.  As the home stretch approached, they would say things like, “just one more good push’, as I struggled to hold her in position in between contractions.

But 3:56pm, the magical hour of her entrance arrived, and she was out. They pressed her to my chest; the wet-limbed, warm bodied reward for all the work. The last major box was checked.  The first thing N and I said, “she looks like Bea.” Immediately followed by, “I never want to do that again.  I’m never doing that again.” The first thing the nurses said, “that’s not a 6 pound baby”.  Indeed, she came out all cheeks and wrist rolls and having swallowed some fluid on her way out, she initially struggled to catch her breath.  After her cord stopped pulsing, and they cut us apart after our 10 months of growing together, they took her away to suction her and eventually weighed her in at over nine pounds.  When they called out her birth weight, I pumped my fist in the air and cheered.  I knew all that pain was worth more than 6 pounds of gain.

Meanwhile, back at home, mom told the girls the baby had finally been born and they gave a victory yell, hopping in the car as soon as possible to come see us.  They arrived by 5:30pm and we did, indeed, get our first dinner as a family.

I don’t know if there’s a moment I’ve ever felt more content than watching my girls meet each other for the first time, answering their many questions and knowing the worst was behind me.

They asked us her name and it caught in my throat for a second.  I found I really cared about their opinion and hoped it would meet their approval.  I also knew once we told them, there was no going back.  It would make it more official than ever and after carrying a deep secret for 10 months, I desperately wanted to savor the moment

img_7838 img_7800

And just like that we became a family of 5, and all I could think was all this and Heaven too.

{the end}


The Birth of Sibs, Part 2

{Part 1}

All along, I had been holding onto a small seed of doubt that this might not happen on Monday, May 23, but this was the last confirmation I needed.  We got home, I repacked my hospital bag, set my alarm, and went to bed, desperately praying for a good night’s sleep.

The night started off to a good start, but somewhere in the middle, Bea woke up and I, too,  was up for the remainder.  Once again, MG’s birth came flashing back to me, where I spent the night before in the hospital and nary a wink of sleep.  This of course set me up for a very long day of labor, barely able to stay on top of my fatigue.  I knew this time around that it would be important to rest, even if I couldn’t sleep, whenever possible and conserve energy.

All too early our alarms went off.  I showered while N made us a simple breakfast and spent some time in prayer.  My mom got up to see us off and I felt myself bobbing around in a full spectrum of emotions, the heaviest one being fear.  I dreaded the labor and spent the entire car ride focusing on changing my mental state.

My meditation seemed to work.  By the time we arrived, I felt ready, albeit a bit apprehensive.  N was fulfilling his duty as my encouraging support.  He kept me focused on the positive, reminding me why we were doing this and that we had already crossed something scary off our list–the hour drive to the hospital. He was right, we no longer needed to worry about that one.

There is something comforting I find about hospitals that I’ve come to appreciate more deeply each time.  Unbounded by time or holidays, they’re always there for you.  There’s always someone waiting by the phone for your call, just like they don’t turn you away no matter how inconsequential your problem seems.  They will be there for you at the darkest corner of 3am or the most normal hour of 11am.  For the most sacred hours of bringing my babies into the world, I like hospitals.  They are sterile and medicinal minded, but in a way I find comforting.

We parked in the garage and calmly walked up to the fourth floor to sign the paperwork.  This was definitely not how I had spent the last nine months envisioning the start of labor, but it sure beat doing those things with contractions.

Finally, arm-banded and with our luggage trailing behind us, we were taken directly to our room (another bonus–we skipped right over triage).  In it, I saw the tub waiting for us and I felt a sense of peace in the preparation of a “planned” labor.

We met our  attending nurse.  She was young, kind, had three girls with gorgeous names, and all three by natural birth.  Fate smiled upon us.

I changed into the hospital gown, she began placing the IV, and I went through the motions of answering more questions and signing more paperwork.  In between procedures, I closed my eyes and tried to rest as much as possible.  I feared it would be, much like MG’s labor, a long day.  To keep things lighthearted, N asked everyone to place bets on what time the baby would be born.  I happened to choose the latest time of 7pm.  I couldn’t have been more thankful to ultimately be wrong!


I held onto a sense of peace but felt anxiety nibbling away at me.  When I looked in the mirror, I saw flat eyes staring back at me.  It felt strange to think this was supposed to be one of the happiest days of our lives, but in order to get there, I had to go through some of the worst pain of my life.  On top of that, this pregnancy had been consistently plagued by anxiety and fears.  I related to what a friend confided in me when she said very poignantly, “I felt a growing fear with each pregnancy.  Why would God allow me to have three healthy babies?”

After acquainting myself with so many friends’ losses this year, it felt unfair that this was my story, not theirs.  I also didn’t precede this pregnancy with a miscarriage.  In my sometimes, “give and take” relationship with God, I felt I hadn’t paid my due yet, therefore not guaranteeing a good end to this story.  I’m all too quick to categorize these things: I have bad morning sickness but an easy breastfeeding relationship; I had a hard labor with MG, but an easy one to follow; I have big babies, but easy newborns. It all boils down to a justice scales view of God I fall back on sometimes and it always comes out at the biggest intersections of my life.

Right at 9am, my doctor entered the room.  I was so relived to see her, knowing she would be the one bringing my baby into the world.  Even though we planned it this way, it was another prayer answered and another box checked.

She checked me at 3cm and was able to stretch that to 4,  But she was discouraged to find I was only 40% effaced and my cervix was still pretty high.  In fact, she said something like, “Well surely you haven’t regressed since your appointment?!  You did go walking this weekend, right?”  There they went again with the walking thing.   I knew it would be a battle to completely efface but I needed the baby to drop down and help me out.  I hoped that when Dr. B broke my water, this would be the encouragement she needed.

Just a few minutes after 9am, my water was manually broken and labor officially began. Thankfully the fluid was nice and clear but they still wanted me to stay about twenty more minutes in the bed to be monitored before I could start moving around. It was just beginning and I was already annoyed with all the questions and their belts around me and their fingers on me.  The nurse again encouraged me by saying, “since you’re handling this so well, I know you will be a good candidate for natural birth.”

I found the frequent monitoring bothersome but comforting.  I didn’t like watching the clock all morning, especially believing it would be a long day, and wondering if the passing hours would leave me with a sense of failure.  But at the same time, it was nice to know my baby was safe and was responding well to the interventions.  I’d spent the last nine months wondering when, how, IF we would make it here and now here we were.  Another (huge) box to check.

As soon as my twenty minutes were up, it was time to get moving.  My doula and I had been in communication for the past 24 hours and she told me to text her as soon as I wanted or needed her there.  Before I summoned her, I decided I wanted things to pick up first. Though it is usually not true, I often imagine others’ impatience with me and knew that if she came too soon, I would be putting too much pressure on myself to meet time limits. So donning my fashionable hospital garments, N and I set out on our final mission to truly walk that baby out.

The maternity ward was shaped like a football and mercifully bigger than the hospital hallways I’d spent doing the same for MG.  Still, I felt annoyed and somewhat conscientious that there were workers on our floor laying carpet (I’m sure the feelings were mutual) and it only took a few laps before the nurses we regularly passed began commentating our progress (another annoyance of mine, but one that, admittedly, cannot be avoided).

In the wee hours of the morning, I had told N he had two jobs for the day: support me and communicate to our families.  He excelled at both.  (not easy to do both during the final hours either).  He kept me distracted and engaged as we walked and looked for any signs of encouragement he could offer such as,  “Your belly is already looking smaller.”

After an hour of walking, we were summoned back to the room to be monitored.  This time I bounced on the medicine ball during my twenty minutes, hoping to keep her on the clock.  The blue belt didn’t pick up any contractions during this time and the nurse asked me if I had felt any.  I admitted that I was feeling a bit crampy, but didn’t have anything definitive I could give her.  She assured me this was okay, for now at least, and once again I was thankful we had chosen this hospital to have our final two births in, as my first experience with this felt entirely different, in a negative way.

It was about this time I sent a text to my doula saying, “we need you now”.  If things didn’t pick up soon, I would need some ideas and if they did, I wanted her to be here.

Up until her arrival, I had been snacking a little and drinking a lot.  Around 10:30, I remember thinking food no longer sounded good and also thinking that was a good sign.  She got there about 11:00 and I told N to go get some lunch from the cafeteria, not knowing when he would have the opportunity to do it again.

When Julie arrived, we chatted for a bit, getting caught up on the details up to that point.  I told her I had just starting bleeding a bit and hoped that was a good sign things were progressing.  I’d also felt two noticeable contractions since eleven and hoped they would pick up speed.  Secretly, N and I had one more box we wanted to check: to be able to eat dinner as a family with (all of) our girls.  I reasoned that if Sibby came by 3pm, this wish could potentially become a reality.

While N disappeared, Julie and I walked some more at a quick clip.  It was only a few football rounds before I admitted I was feeling contractions.  To my surprise, she began timing them and registered them every 3-4 minutes.  I was greatly encouraged.  When she asked me to describe them, I said unfortunately, they are mostly in my back, but remembering how Bea’s contractions started that way but moved to the front before they became painful, I hoped this labor would follow suit.

Somewhere around noon, we all reconvened in the room as I was monitored again.  They were able to catch a few contractions on the blue belt, but not to the intensity I seemed to be feeling them.  The nurse reassured me that this didn’t matter, as she would at least have something to tell the doctor, and progress is progress.

Things began to shift soon after.  I had to breathe through the contractions that were coming and began leaning on N for support.  Noticing things were picking up speed, I asked if they could start getting the tub ready so I could get in when I needed to.  They agreed but asked if they could check me first.  The sweet nurse tried really hard to frame it in a positive, “well you are four to five centimeters, BUT you are about 80% effaced.  When the doctor first checked you this morning she could barely find your cervix but now you are very soft and low.”  N visibly grimaced at this news (discouraged that I had only dilated maybe one more centimeter since 9am) and I let it go in one ear and out the other.  Things were getting serious for me, pain wise, and I was starting to tune everyone out.  My doula added in, “that’s great!  As soon as you are fully effaced, it will go really quickly from there.”

Right before we left the room, N asked our doula, “Do I need to start timing the contractions now?”

“I think we’re beyond that point”, she smiled knowingly.

To be continued…


{part 3}


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