Happy New Year, ya filthy animal…

Question: How many days does it take for the disturbingly disgusting smell of rotting animal carcass to cause one’s sanity be diminished?
Answer: 5.

It’s obscene at this point, the amount of time that has been wasted on a critter of some sort rotting SOMEWHERE near the master bedroom/bath of our house. While I realize this is not a life-or-death situation for most, I have an immensely strong sense of smell (imagine first-trimester-pregnancy level all the time) and this smell has taken root in my very soul. I’ve lost sleep. Michael and I have fought. I’ve yelled at my kids. I’ve refused to shower until the animal was gone. I’ve called in professionals who don’t understand my madness over something rather trivial in their world. I’ve basically – truly – lost my mind over this filthy animal that, by the way, must be the size of a damn horse for all I can surmise based on the length of time it’s taking it to decompose. Oh, and in the meantime, the calendar rolled over and a new year started amidst all this disgusting-ness.


A time when people are celebrating new beginnings – cleaning, dieting, exercising, reading (you know, ALL THE THINGS one does at the turn of a new year in hopes of bettering themselves) while I’m over here trying not to vomit when I brush my teeth as the stench of nature taking its course wafts by. Yes. LOVELY.

But essentially, I hardly noticed the new year, basically because it’s still Christmas here. Trees are still glowing, music is still playing, and just yesterday we gathered groceries for ‘Christmas dinner’ on Sunday with Michael’s side of the family that has yet to take place due to cancellation from illness and such. I typically leave Christmas decorations in place until well after the new year anyway, so don’t mind me humming “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” in my head as I prepare for guests.

Perhaps I’ll just consider myself “on vacation” until I feel it’s a remotely appropriate time to celebrate a new year. Until then, cheers to the filthy animal!

The Great Bandito

First of all, thank you ALL so much for your kind comments, thoughts, and shared sentiments regarding my last post about Dad. He was truly one of a kind and will live in our hearts forever.

One thing I never realized about death and grief is how you gravitate toward anything and everything that reminds you of that person – something you see, hear, even smell can trigger special memories – their belongings gain a certain importance – and sometimes, they even send “gifts” if you will, that let you know (truly beyond a shadow of a doubt) that they are still with you, and just such a gift came exactly one month after Dad’s passing.

I was scrolling through Facebook late one night and came across a post from a friend from high school (and a former basketball player for dad) who was needing to rehome her dog. I had been pining for a dog, but under very specific contingencies: male, neutered, potty-trained, small-to-medium size, good with kids, good-tempered, preferably an ‘indoor’ dog…you get the point. Like that was ever going to happen.

Well, leave it to dad to make his little girl happy even from Heaven. Yet, lo and behold, this adorable 15-lb Puggle (pug/beagle mix) was posted FOR FREE with all of the other requirements met (aside from being listed as “high energy”) and on July 23, Bandit came to live with us.

As it turns out, Bandit was everything and more than I could have wanted/needed. He has proven to be an EXPERT snuggler, is definitely MY dog (but still good with the kids), and his “high energy” was a result of having to be in a crate much of the day, whereas here, he has free reign of our fenced-in backyard and we rarely see that energy when he’s inside.

Apparently today is some kind of “National Puppy/Dog Day” (I’m not even sure if that’s a real thing, and if it is, who comes up with these “days?” But it also marks 9 months since Daddy passed, so real or not, we’ll certainly celebrate this ‘dog day’ in honor of the one who undoubtedly “found” him for me.


Why I’m Silent

I wish I was filling these “pages” with fun pictures and happy tales of our new ‘normal’ with our 3 month old and almost 3 year old. There are plenty of things to laugh at, smile about, and be so grateful for. Elly and Beau are growing, healthy, and absolute joys. Spring is bending into summer and life is settling in to a beautiful, simpler rhythm. But while I want so badly to share those things, each time I can come close to bringing myself to write, I know what I’m penning is a collection of lies – the facade that all is well. And while circumstances may say that is true, my heart (and my head) say it’s not.

It’s back. The crippling, aching fog of a very unwelcome company in the form of depression.

I’ve been fighting since before I even delivered Beau. The last trimester for me was almost as trying as the first, then the days of emotional ups and downs after delivery scared and worried me that I was set to fight this battle again. So I did. I talked. I cried. I read. I PRAYED. I gave myself grace and time. Medicine was adjusted. I began getting my strength back after surgery and became more active. For a brief time, I thought I was going to beat it. I thought I was on top of it enough that I could “win” this time around.

I was wrong.

The last few weeks have been a downward spiral that mimics everything I experienced when post-partum hit after Elly. I’ve lost all motivation, sleep is my ultimate daily goal. My moods and weight are all over the place, uncontrollably. I can’t remember things and even have a hard time making a list. I have no interest in things I typically enjoy (like making lists) even if I was able to fight through the fog to try to do something for enjoyment (like keeping up with a blog) I couldn’t complete it. Self hatred and guilt are constant companions. Days are daunting, nights fitful and restless. The lead in my veins pulses fatigue and it’s as if everything I do to keep my head above water is mocking me.

I HATE admitting this. I’ve asked for prayer. I’ve talked to people about this ugly that is my life right now. I’ve pleaded with God to let this pass, to lighten my load. And finally I’ve had to resort to seeking the dreaded medicine change to try to get back to some semblance of myself.

I can’t believe I’m here again. I can’t believe I’m “losing” when I thought I was putting up a good fight. This is a painful reality though and maybe by admitting it, I can find some relief. I have to remind myself I’m not defined by this and that I’m not a bad person for having to go through it – that I don’t have to fake it. I also have to bury myself in God’s word, prayer and praise to attempt to trust that God hasn’t left me here – that somehow, hopefully soon – there will be less darkness.

I’m thankful for those who are praying and for a responsive doctor. I’m beyond grateful to my husband and family for putting up with me (again) as I wrestle this demon. And I seek hope every day in a God that is stronger and bigger than anything I will face during this time.

In the meantime? Survival mode. Again. I try to find (and record) the sweet, happy, or funny moments that do emerge out of the frustration. I don’t want to lose or take for granted what I have, but I also don’t want to live a lie. It is what it is right now and this is just part of my journey. Hopefully soon I can write about Elly’s funny anecdotes and Beau’s sweetness and even what’s happening on TV. Until then, bear with me and maybe say a prayer.

Catching Up – The Birth of Beau Maclayne

How – HOW – has it already been two months…

I’m not even sure where to begin exactly since my life has effectively become 100% different since I last posted. It’s like a real-life time warp happened. A fantastically crazy few months and it all resulted in the most beautiful, precious, sweet baby boy ever to have existed.

But before that, I must pick up where I left off.

The plagues apparently weren’t done with our house – we ALL ended up with the flu, down to and including dad (which could have been very dangerous, but thankfully he faired pretty well). So after almost two weeks of quarantine, no school for Elly, and coughs that seemed to never go away, we all finally seemed better and could re-emerge into the land of the living. Or, for me, the land of pregnant misery.

If I had had the energy to write anything during the last days of January, it would have basically been a chorus of “I’m so done being pregnant” and bellyaching over how I still had X-number of weeks/days left. I went to my prenatal appointment at 35 weeks and had an ultrasound that showed baby boy was already measuring the same weight as Elly when she was born. Granted, those estimates can be off, but that coupled with the fact that I was already dilating and having more contractions than I was comfortable with on a regular basis, my doctor said we could induce at 39 weeks (on February 25). I almost leapt off the table to hug her and couldn’t have been more thankful to finally have a determined date to look forward to and a specific number of days to count.

BUT, things change, and if anything has been the norm with this pregnancy, it’s been to expect the unexpected.

Everything seemed to be moving along fine at my 36 week appointment and I was actually doing fairly well having finally gotten over being sick, but still fairly miserable as it seemed like the baby gained at least 4 pounds daily. I was busy trying to tie up loose ends from just surviving the month of January. I had good lists made and since I knew my induction date of February 25, I had mentally spaced my tasks out evenly over the remaining time so I would have something to do basically until that date. I thought it was a genius approach, giving me something to check off my lists every day, but not overdo it. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t as good of an idea as I thought.

At my 37 week appointment on Wednesday, February 11th, I was still doing well and not much had changed.  I also was feeling good about everything being on track according to my lists. Michael was home from work early that day putting together the rest of the nursery furniture, odds and ends we needed had been ordered and were scheduled to be delivered, and I was pleased with what was accomplished and surmised that the amount of what was left to do was not overwhelming.


That same night after my appointment, I was in tremendous pain. Not labor-like pain or contractions, just a lot of pressure and almost unidentifiable pelvic pain that generally made me really uncomfortable. Since there weren’t regular contractions or anything, I didn’t even think of going to the hospital – it just seemed like more inevitable late-pregnancy pain that I was just going to have to put up with.

I slept what little I could that night, got Elly to school the next day, and even ran a few last-minute Valentine’s Day errands. When I picked up Elly from school, I was still in pain and had very little appetite, but was “making do.” I finished up Elly’s Valentine’s goodies for school and did a few other things around the house after I put her down for her nap. Then I had an…er…interesting trip to the bathroom that led me to text Michael and mom to see if they thought it warranted a call to the doctor. Michael immediately said yes, and mom was close behind. So, I reluctantly called and talked to a nurse who checked with my doctor and said it would be best for me to go to labor and delivery to get checked out.

Elly was having nothing to do with napping that afternoon, so mom picked her up and I headed off to the hospital (alone) for what I figured would just end up being a routine check while I sat half-naked in a closet of a room listening to the baby’s heartbeat, just to be sent home after finding essentially nothing to be concerned about.

Boy, I could not have been more wrong.

Everything did start off as I expected – the bleeding I had experienced at home seemed to have stopped, I hadn’t progressed beyond the 2cm dilated I was the day before, I wasn’t having regular contractions, and everything seemed to be checking out ok. Then the nurse said something that concerned me. She said the baby “looks a little sleepy on the monitor” and asked when I had eaten last (it was about 3pm at this point.) It only then dawned on me that I hadn’t eaten lunch. I didn’t really understand what she meant by that, but we both seemed to surmise that the baby wasn’t very active because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so she brought me a Coke in hopes to “wake him up a bit.”

So I sat diligently drinking my Coke, texting mom and Michael to keep them updated. I kept telling Michael not to leave work because I was certain by the time he got there, I would be sent home. My sweet mom, however, didn’t want me sitting at the hospital alone, so before I knew it, she appeared in my closet-room in OB triage. I have to admit, I was happy to have the company.

After watching baby boy on the monitor for another half hour or so, the nurse came back to let us know that she had talked with my doctor to fill her in on what was going on and as a result, she would be coming to check on me after office hours. She also started an IV to help get me hydrated. I knew then that something a little more serious might be going on. Apparently, his heart rate was sluggish and would have moments where it would drop. But the nurse kept reassuring me that it looked like the Coke was helping and that hopefully we would continue to see that trend since I was also now getting fluids.

After another half hour or so, and finally telling Michael that he probably needed to come on to the hospital, the nurse came in and said my doctor wasn’t thrilled with what she was seeing from the baby, and then said, “so, you’re not going to be leaving the hospital…with the baby in your belly.”

Bless her heart, she couldn’t have put it more gently, but I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. All of those things remaining on my lists immediately flashed through my head – most prominently that I did not have our bags packed and thus I was now stuck at the hospital WITHOUT MY STUFF. And then I realized how vain that thought was and started mentally waffling back and forth between panic over the baby being in trouble and trying to stay calm.

They ushered me to a room where my doctor came in and explained more about what was going on and let me know that she was going to break my water to get things moving and see how well the baby handled that and go from there.

There was now an air of mild seriousness about the situation, but everyone was obviously doing what they could to keep me calm, so I just went with it as best I could and prepared to settle in for labor. I made sure the anesthesiologist was nearby for the epidural first and foremost! Michael arrived and we updated him on the new ‘plan’ and I started making my list of what I knew I would need after delivery, etc. before the pain got too bad.

A flurry of nurses and bloodwork and talking with my doctor went on for the next half hour or so as my monitors were being watched closely – every time he would move or “fall off” the radar, a nurse or doctor would immediately be in my room checking everything and having me move to a better position. It didn’t take long before my doctor was looking at the monitor and explaining to us what was happening that she looked at me and, again very gently said, “I think this baby is going to be born abdominally. We need to get him out.”

Ok. So at this point I knew I had two options. Pray and breathe, or panic. I desperately did NOT want to have a c-section for many reasons, but I knew my doctor wouldn’t go this route unless it was absolutely necessary and I was so concerned for my baby boy at this point that I took a deep breath and just held on for whatever was coming next.

Mom was immediately in my face telling me that everything was going to be ok and naming the good points about having a c-section, and I actually remember laughing at her because she was clearly the one panicking at this point, bless her. She, Michael and I held hands for a quick prayer and all breathed a collective breath as we waited for the next steps.

Things picked up rather quickly and the next thing I know, I’m signing paperwork, talking with the anesthesiologist, and being prepped for surgery. It was all a blur, really. They got Michael garbed up for the operating room and before I knew it, I was being wheeled in.


The spinal was next, and wasn’t bad. I was having pretty good contractions at this point so I was looking forward to the relief from that. My blood pressure took a good hit after that and I thought I was for sure going to drown in mid-air as the spinal took effect, but the dear anesthesiologist, nurses, and my doc kept reassuring me everything would even out soon, and sure enough, I was feeling better – and VERY numb – within minutes.

They got the drape up and Michael came in to sit by my head and hold my hand and we were off and running. I remember thinking at the time that having my wisdom teeth out was so much worse than what I had experienced thus far with the c-section that I so dreaded, so I was still pretty calm and just kept silently praying for my boy to be ok.


There was a lot of tugging and pulling as they worked, but it really wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. Once they got to the baby I heard my doctor say “he’s BREECH.” (WHAT? Just the day before, the nurse practitioner had confirmed his head in my pelvis – when did this happen?!) Then just a few minutes later, he was out!

They didn’t raise him above the curtain for me to see and he didn’t cry immediately, but he did let out a brief whimper before they took him to the incubator and I knew he was at least alive. My doctor said he looked ‘ok’ but they were helping him breathe as Michael went over to be with him. Pretty soon, they showed me my swaddled boy who, to me, was the most beautiful thing I’d seen since Elly was born and the whisked him away to the nursery, Michael following.

So, here I was left to hang out with those finishing up my surgery and I was completely delirious at this point. After I drilled my doctor with questions about the condition of my boy, I’m pretty sure I uttered something along the lines of “I love you, man” because I was so happy to know that this thing I dreaded so horribly was almost over. Then, as it turns out, a guy assisting with my surgery is the husband of a girl I went to school with. Small world when you live in a small town. Ha!

Once that was all finished, my well-loved doctor left me to go check on my boy and I was taken to recovery. Mom appeared pretty quickly and showed me some pictures on her camera of my boy in the nursery, which was such a relief. We chatted about the surgery and she loved on me like mamas do. And then we laughed because about every 2 seconds, I was scratching – my neck, my face, my arms…apparently a side effect of a spinal is itching and I definitely experienced that! My blood pressure was still too low so they couldn’t give me any Benedryl to help with the itching, so I just scratched. Small price to pay, I figured!


After about an hour, I got back to my room and Michael – the proud papa at this point – came in and was bragging about how well baby Beau was doing in the nursery. They had put in an IV because he was severely dehydrated, but he was “plumping up” so nicely that they felt like any issues would likely be fixed with some fluids and so far, he was proving them right. His heart looked good, and everything else was checking out. Michael told me his stats – 7lbs 1oz, 21 in long, and we all agreed that if I had carried him to full term that he probably would have been a good 8 ½ – 9 lbs.

Before I knew it, the lactation consultant was bringing him into my room and I was able to finally have skin-to-skin time with him and nurse him. With all the meds, the adrenaline of the whole experience, and finally holding my sweet boy, I was in heaven. So thankful that everything had gone well, we all were so relieved.

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After an hour or so, they took him back to the nursery for further monitoring and Michael and I tried to get some rest. However, with everything that had gone on, and the fact that there were FOURTEEN other mamas either in OB or maternity, my meds had gotten behind and the spinal was starting to wear off.

This was when I thought I might die.

It was literally like someone had lit a fire in my stomach and it was burning it’s way out. Trying to sleep was a joke. I finally got my medicine and after about an hour of hellacious pain, I could finally rest a little.

The next couple of days were a whirlwind of visitors and getting to know our sweet boy. And realizing this was our new reality. I couldn’t believe how blessed we were to have two beautiful, healthy children. And I was SO thankful not to be pregnant anymore. 🙂

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And So It Goes


Well. First, I have PRAISE THE LORD the Elly seems to finally be on the mend. We had a good visit with her doctor on Wednesday, where she patiently entertained our questions and concerns but also gave us a good outlook and shared why she felt Elly’s situation was improving, which was very encouraging. She is eating a little more normally (not like she’s starving, like she was before) and she has been napping and sleeping SO much better which is also a sign she’s more comfortable. So…so far, so good. We still give her Zantac around the clock and are hoping it will fully heal her and we can be over this hurdle, but it’s still going to take some time, so patience is still of the essence. But we’re getting there it seems and that’s all we can ask for. I tried to return a little bit to some normal routine for her and we did some crafts on Thursday morning. She’s such a good helper.




Then? This.


Not Elly – that’s my temp yesterday.


I started with an oh so familiar cough on Wednesday, but just attributed it to the crazy weather we’d been having. Thursday morning wasn’t too bad, but by Elly’s naptime, I was achy and started promptly praying that that too was weather related. By that night I was running a low grade temp and knew something wasn’t right. I did little more than toss and turn all night, and Michael woke up with me around 5 and we started talking about what I needed to do. Luckily, the urgent clinic opens at 6, so I dragged myself there and was able to walk right in. My flu test came back negative, but the doctor let me know that that could change – that she’d seen people on Friday who tested negative and then a few days later, when they weren’t better, tested positive.
Seriously? Don’t tell me that. Can’t we just let negative be negative and move on?
Essentially that’s what she did, by giving me a hefty antibiotic and reminding me to rest. Um, ok.

So I came home and Lysoled everything I could have touched or breathed on in the last 24 hours and then holed myself up in the bedroom.
By the afternoon, I was convinced I was going to be one of those people that doesn’t test positive for flu until it’s too late because my fever kept creeping up and I felt like death spread on a cracker. I may even have prayed for the rapture a time or two. It was bad.
But, thankfully around 2 am, my fever broke and I was able to shower and feel human for about 30 minutes, giving me hope that what I was dealing with was in fact getting better. I rested on and off for the rest of the night and today started markedly better than yesterday, to say the least.

I could cry a river of thanks to my mom and Michael who have taken over while I’m trying to get well. Mom has essentially dropped everything to take care of Elly while Michael works and I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to thank her enough. The peace of mind to know your child is taken care of AND having a good time is priceless.

I’ve decided all of these unexpected “hurdles” must be God’s way of preparing me for the chaos that’s about to ensue in 5 weeks or so when baby boy makes his arrival. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to say that I’m prepared, but it’s more than apparent God’s determined for me to take one day at a time and lean into Him instead of trying to control everything. You know, just the single-most difficult thing for me to do.
But I’m learning. And hopefully God sees that too.


Warning – if you’re not in the mood for what serves as at least a partial pity-party, then stop reading now.
I’ve had enough. 

I tried the thankful route – knowing in my heart and trying to convince my mind that gratitude and a gracious attitude would keep me from falling into a pit; that keeping my mind Christ-centered and focused on his goodness would be in my best interest. And for all intents and purposes, I suppose it did – or at least delayed the pit because well, here we are.
I figure I am human, after all.

11 days. 11 days (and long nights) of wondering, pondering, trying not to worry have left me spent. Add on top of that some mystery illness that plagued Michael and I (in similar but different ways – I’ll spare you the details) over the last 3 days and I’m surprised I’m even upright at this point.
We’re STILL trying to figure out what’s wrong with our sweet Elly. After last week’s tests that virtually only ruled out common ailments, she experienced another setback Monday night when she got sick in the middle of the night, completely unexpectedly. We put her back on the anti nausea medicine so she could at least keep food down until we could talk with her doctor on Wednesday, when she ordered an abdominal xray that showed nothing. After another visit today, we’re doing another trial run with to see if she gets sick this time without the medicine or if we’re past whatever beast this is.

So more questions. More waiting. More fearing what’s next, whether it be tomorrow or next week, based on the unpredictable nature of this crap.

I don’t survive well in wait-and-seeville. In fact, it pushes my very core being into uproar because I live to know WHY. And the waiting?! Um, yeah. Forget it. And when it’s my baby we’re dealing with, well, a hormonal 8 month pregnant momma bear is not really an ideal suit for this scenario. And quite frankly I’m over it.
I’m over the zillions of questions that ruminate in my head of whether I did/have done/am doing this or that right; of whether what I had or he had or she had was a bug or this or that and who’s giving it to who, etc; of whether I can actually breathe a sigh of relief that maybe we’re past this bout of hell we’ve been dealt for the time being or whether we’re potentially facing something long-term for Elly that’s going to be a lot of trial and error with even MORE questions. All this with the constant reminder ringing in my mind that soon I’ll be dealing with all of this TIMES TWO.
There aren’t enough anxiety meds in the world.
Don’t get me wrong for even a SECOND – I KNOW things could be (or get) worse. I have cried and prayed for mommas of chronically ill children more this week than I ever have because even a mildly sick child is enough to humble any mother to her knees in thankfulness for health. I can’t imagine what they go thru only a daily basis – that all the questions and worry are commonplace and not something they’re waiting for to pass like I am lucky enough to be at this time.

But yes, I’m tired, I’m defeated, and I’m ready to find some answers – answers that seem so elusive for the moment. But mostly I’m frustrated because I don’t know what to do from minute to minute right now except wait. And again, that’s not in my repertoire of refined skills.
So please forgive me for needing to vent, for wanting to be over this and all the questions along with this. And please pray that some answers will come and this will all be in our past soon.
And that somehow, we’ll all be stronger for it.

Testing My Limits

Oh my my heavens, what a week.



This poor baby is what I’ve looked at most of the week.


It’s been rough. What started as what we thought was a bug on Monday has morphed into something that has lasted all week and honestly – even after a doctor visit – aren’t entirely convinced it’s “over.” After ruling out several causes for what could be making our baby very (albeit inconsistently) sick, the consensus at the moment is that she has a highly inflamed stomach lining and possibly the beginning of an ulcer. (Poor thing – she definitely takes afyer her momma.) But if this week has taught me anything, it’s that all of that can change, literally overnight.

Yet I’ve learned a lot more than just that this week. A lot about mothering; a lot about worry; and ultimately, a lot about myself. That sounds crazy, I guess, but for my heightened hormonal, anxiety-ridden self, even the smallest things can become BIG tests – tests that require a huge learning curve.

Watching my poor, petite little girl suffer is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve endured as a mother. I know I’m not alone in this, but I guess it just becomes so real when your child lays in front of her toys unable to even play with them because she feels so bad. And no, this isn’t the first time Elly’s been sick – I feel this way every time. I just finally have the mental clarity to put it into words I suppose.
I also learned that I can endure much more than I imagined (even while 8 months pregnant.) Yes, I may have cried (a lot, maybe), I may have worried excessively, and I may have been hit with an inevitable migraine, but we’re all still here. Making it.
And while I don’t like to admit it, I guess we’ll continue to ‘make it’ should this episode continue.

But the most shocking thing I realized throughout this week is what I could still manage to be thankful for in spite of the not-so-great parts of having a sick child. My husband is a rock, but is also a caring daddy concerned about his baby girl. My mom is still the prayer warrior and faith monger that she’s always been. Regardless of how hard these days have been, it could be so much worse. We have a WARM comfy home where we can endure all of this together. We have fantastic cleaning products that make things fresh again – like this fabric softener (thanks, Dede!!) that makes everything smell so pretty I could literally make my own perfume out of the stuff.


We have good medicines and good doctors at our disposal that make the process of dealing with everything a little easier. We have friends and family that pray…I could go on and on, and for that simple fact as well, I’m thankful.

I’m hoping and praying for a peaceful weekend, but even if more surprises pop up, I hope I can still find something to be thankful for, regardless of how small.