Clark’s story: Part II

Help from above that I don’t deserve

*Shelby was my nurse that night. She came in and introduced herself and told me that her plan for me was to remove my catheter somewhere around 10:00pm, which was roughly 12 hours after my surgery. At that point they would get me into a wheelchair, and I could go to the NICU to see Clark. I would keep the pain pump overnight. The cardiologist had completed an echo on Clark and said that everything looked pretty normal. Mild variation and they would follow it. My mom, sister, dad, and Ben were in the room with me when the neonatologist that was present at Clark’s birth came into the room. She said that they had done some preliminary testing per MFM suggestions and that genetic testing had been sent off and that x-rays of his head, neck and abdomen had been done. The x-ray of his head showed a cyst in his brain. The x-ray of his spine showed flattened, deformed vertebrae and the x-ray of his chest showed significant rib abnormalities on the right side of his chest with flattening of the rib bones.

There was no moment of shock for me–I cried immediately. My nurse walked in, saw what was happening and left. The doctor asked if I was okay. I just nodded. No, I wasn’t, but that should be obvious. I was distraught. I managed to ask her what we needed to do next. She said they would be doing an MRI of brain and spine the following day. That was it–news having been delivered, she left.  My sister and parents left, too. They were going to stop at the NICU to see and probably pray over Clark. I think they were too upset to say much. In walks Shelby with a wheelchair and a nursing assistant. “You just had major surgery, so you can’t stay for too long– you’ll hurt yourself, but you’re going to see your baby, now. Hold on, let me grab your medicines real quick.” While she was gone, I gingerly swung my legs over the side of the bed, stood up (ouch), and hobbled into the wheelchair. At that point, I think I would have crawled to the NICU if I’d had to. She walked back in, looked at me, and laughed and said “Well, let’s go.” She didn’t have to do this, and she was taking me about 3 hours early. So, off we went to the NICU, and I cried as they wheeled me in.

He was in this tiny isolet, naked save a diaper, and he was beautiful. They told me he was only on 1L of 02 and was doing really well. They figured because he’d been in so much fluid, and was delivered via c-section that he was unable to breathe well right after birth. It was quickly resolving though. He had a rib deformity–pectus excavatum. You can google pictures of this. It’s basically a sunken-in chest. Not all that rare or abnormal and rarely causes any other issues. They did not think it was causing his initial respiratory issues. Again, I asked if I could nurse him—no. They then took me through their orientation, and I hit the dilaudid button on my PCA pump like 83,492 times because they were explaining what a pulse ox was when all I wanted to do was touch my baby, cry, and tell them to shut up. Ben tried to explain that I had been an ICU nurse for over 2 years, so she nodded and tried to explain his heart rate monitor to me 🙄. Honestly, I know it’s their job, but I really wanted them to shut up and go away because I had just received bad news and wanted to process it without their explanation on germ theory and the importance of washing your hands. Under Shelby’s orders, I left a few minutes later.

That night was spent sleeping and waking up again fuzzy-headed and confused. It was a long night. I was pumping every 2 hours or so and drinking liters worth of water because I was so thirsty. Ben and Shelby poured up colostrum and half-carried me to the bathroom on a regular basis. I was so sore and my heart was hurting and I just prayed a lot. I couldn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing. Should I give up? Should I pray that God brings us through this? Should I just accept that Clark is very compromised and will likely suffer a lot?  I didn’t really know, so I just prayed for peace and comfort and healing for Clark. “Please give peace and comfort and healing for Clark.” I said this over and over and over again when I would wake up because it was the only prayer I had left.

The next morning I begged Shelby to come back that following night while she unhooked my IV dilaudid and loaded me with Percocet. I got up and took a shower. It hurt like hell, but I didn’t want to stay in the bed any longer, and I felt like I needed to get ready to deal with whatever the day was going to bring. I ate breakfast and got into the wheelchair to go to the NICU. When we got there they told us he was off oxygen and had been all night, and that he was doing well. I asked if he was peeing/pooping and she said, “Oh, yeah.” All very good news, and I was so happy. I asked if I could hold him and she said yes. It was a precious moment. Then a physical therapist walked in to assess his foot.  She said it was absolutely not clubfoot. His foot was positional and would need to be massaged, but was not going to require clubfoot therapy. Our OB and neonatologist told us they didn’t think it was a clubfoot, but after all the bad news it was really hard to believe that something could be okay. Hearing a third person confirm this and explain why it wasn’t a clubfoot was helpful and made it more real and believable to us. The nurse said I could try nursing him, but that he may not latch. She got a lactation counselor from the NICU to help me and observe for any issues. I snuggled him up and he latched immediately. Ate for 25-30 minutes. Another answered prayer. Because he did so well and I was a STM with breastfeeding the doctor agreed to remove the IV fluids. He was now off O2, off IV fluids, peeing/pooping, and eating. He looked so beautiful and I was just ready to get his MRI over with. We left to go eat lunch in my room,  and when we came back they let Ben hold him and bathe him. Then they took him to MRI which was supposed to take “an hour.” It took two and a half. So I got back down to the NICU and nursed him quickly. I told Ben he was getting out of the NICU now. They had no reason to keep him. The nurse tried to argue saying that he needed to be “observed,” and I shut that shit down quickly. “He’s eating, and off 02. What are y’all doing for him here besides letting me accumulate a huge bill?” She left and got the NICU doctor who was a new face. He said the results of the MRI were back and they were normal. NORMAL.

Let that sink in.

The MRI of his brain was normal. No brain cyst. No skull abnormality. No hydrocephalus. No evidence of craniosynostosis. There was some fluid around the brain, but very minimal and considered normal for c-section baby. The MRI of his spine was normal. No compression, or misshapen vertebrae. The MRI was not of his ribs so they still look “off,” but are causing no distress. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I asked, “But what about the xray? Could it have been so wrong.” The neonatologist had no answers, but said that the MRI was conclusive and the brain and spine looked fine.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

 I then told the neonatologist we would like him back in our room now. After much discussion he finally had to agree there was not anything wrong with him, so he reluctantly agreed to let Clark leave the NICU with us. The very same neonatologist visited us the following morning and wanted us to follow up with neurology on Friday for “completeness.” Whatever, man.

I still don’t have the words to say what’s in my head. It’s not even a discussion that I hate MFM. They have used ultrasound imaging every month since August and told us that Clark will have major issues forever. They have said that I was unable to have this baby in any other way than a c-section. They said he had a definite clubfoot. They said he had ventriculomegaly significant for shunt consideration (at my final appointment) and most likely craniosynostosis. And none of it has been proven true. Are they really that incompetent? Are they complete idiots?

I cried in my room to my mom on Thursday. It was a day after his dismissal from the NICU and I was so upset about how everything had gone and the constant stress for months and months. I said out loud, ”Actually, maybe they did see all of that. I think God just decided to heal my baby.” Immediately, I felt sudden peace. The god-given kind. Giving voice to those words confirmed them. I know now without a shadow of a doubt that God DID heal my baby. I don’t know why. I know I certainly don’t deserve it, but I want you to know that He did it anyway.

I’ve been vocal about my disbelief that Clark would be healed. I just haven’t been able to drum up much faith about it. But over the last week especially I have just prayed that God would heal my baby–God please heal my baby.

Matthew 21:21-22 “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Now, we’re not completely out of the woods yet. Clark has pectus excavatum which ironically is the birth defect he DOES have that MFM didn’t find. Weird. And it can be sign of chromosomal abnormality. And the genetics tests aren’t back yet. And he has been referred to neurology because he has hypotonia (meaning he’s pretty floppy). So we aren’t out of the woods completely, but I have been made aware again–God is ever-present and he listens to our cries for help. He hears us. He cares. For every person who has raised a prayer on Clark’s behalf–thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Please keep praying because God is listening.

“’If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’” Mark 9:23

So please. Keep praying with me. Believe with me. Love to all ❤️

Clark’s story: Part I Getting Clark here

The lead-up and birth of baby Clark

First of all, bear with me. The past two weeks have been so full of ups and downs and misinformation and miscommunication and miracles and curveballs.  I will attempt to give a shortened version that still allows for complete understanding. You could also totally decide not to read my blog, so there’s that option as well. Exercise your rights, people. Anyway…

I cannot believe it has been almost 2 weeks ago when I met with my OB for my 36 week check up. At that check-up she mentioned that we could validate inducing me the following week at 37 weeks due to my fluid levels if they continued to be very elevated. I asked her what was considered “very elevated,” and she said usually an amniotic fluid index of at least 28cm. The previous week, my levels had only been 24cm, which meant that although I was more comfortable and not having as much difficulty breathing, it also meant that I could not qualify for early induction. And I was done with this pregnancy:  so much stress, so little relief. If we induced at 37 weeks, my OB didn’t see the need for a c-section.

At the MFM appointment that afternoon my levels were 29cm. I felt relieved. This baby would be here the following week. The MFM doctor measured the head circumference and said it was too large to “reasonably” consider a vaginal delivery. He said that he would talk to my OB about this in his report. He said that he couldn’t find much information on possible syndromes because Clark didn’t meet enough criteria to clearly fall in line with any particular syndrome. He reiterated that his head shape was very odd and large and that the mild ventriculomegaly may require a shunt shortly after birth. You know, all the warm fuzzy stuff that has endeared MFM to me so much. 🙄

The following morning a physician from the MFM clinic called and said that he needed to connect me to a social worker to tour the NICU. I asked why and he said that with Clark’s medical needs “he will never qualify for the ‘regular nursery, and we offer the tour to make the NICU seem less scary.” He said that I would be able to see Clark probably 12 hours after my c-section delivery, but that I would only see him for short time immediately following birth, and that I wouldn’t be permitted to hold him due to the cold temps in the OR. I lost it. We had not decided for sure on a c-section, none of Clark’s imaging indicated a direct admit to NICU, and being told I couldn’t hold my baby for almost a whole day devastated me. After frantically calling my OB and my husband and playing phone tag all day, it was decided I would have a scheduled c-section the following week, and that Clark would only go to the NICU if he was unstable and not “just for monitoring.”

The following Tuesday, December 5th, we were admitted for the c-section. My nurse told me that the NICU staff would be present because he was probably getting admitted. I asked why and she gave me stupid MFM’s line of “with his diagnosis blah blah blah,” and “for observation.” Done. I decided right then and there that if I wanted to control anything with this birth and Clark’s care that I was going to have to be a bitch. I told them under no circumstances would he be admitted unless he was compromised, and that if they thought they could admit him for “observation,” I would make their jobs extremely difficult for them. The nurse left in a hurry, and I called my OB’s office. She happened to drop by 3 minutes later, and we discussed it again. Again she said he would not go unless there were issues.

Right before my c-section, they bolused me with fluid to combat low blood pressures from the epidural. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, the epidural hit too high, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, had a panic attack, and almost lost consciousness. My lungs felt as if they were squished to nothing, I could not oxygenate, and I was losing it. I told them I needed to sit up right now, and they said I couldn’t– that I was too numb and the epidural had hit a little too high. SO, I grabbed the edges of the table and sat halfway up before they freaked out , held me down, and rapidly began bolusing me with more fluid. “You can’t sit up! Your pressure is really low, that’s why you feel short of breath. You’re actually breathing ok, your sats are fine, Beka.” “How low?! I cannot breathe, it feels like an elephant is sitting on my lungs. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!” “It’s not reading, yet. We’re fixing it.” Cold rags were put all over my face and slowly the pressure on my lungs eased. “Wait, we have a pressure, finally. It’s about 70/30. It’s coming up.” I apologized for freaking out like a basic bitch, and they said I actually turned green so they knew it was a legit pressure issue. They also said they had never seen someone actually able to fight epidural-induced paralysis and sit up. Fight or flight, people. I was fighting AND flighting. Crisis was averted, screen went up, and Ben came into the room. I told him I almost died, and we laughed like idiots because life is weird. About 3 minutes later, Clark was born and I heard my doctor say, “She totally could have had this baby vaginally…his foot doesn’t look too bad.” I heard nothing. No crying–nothing. I asked why he wasn’t crying and my doctor kept saying everything was fine. He began to cry and was taken into the next door assessment room. My doc said he was in a ton of fluid. I told them they better measure all my fluid and be very impressed with it because it had been so terrible to deal with throughout this pregnancy. Final total was about 2800ml of free fluid not to count the lap pads and towels used as well. Normal levels are between 800-1000mls. I’m an overachiever. As soon as they closed me up, they took me to that next door room to see baby. The NICU doctor said his APGAR was 7 and 7 and he required a little oxygen, so he needed to go the NICU. Damnit. Oh well. What was I going to do? Anyway she also said she didn’t think his head looked weird at all, and didn’t think he had a clubfoot either. More on that later.

I was able to hold him for a few minutes, and then they took me to recovery where I was given 50mcg Fentanyl to hold me over until my Dilaudid pump was hooked up. Here’s where the real shit happened. There were issues “with pharmacy” and “with finding a pump.” It took over an hour for my pump to be set up. My spinal had been reversed (I had full use and strength of my legs), and I had no pain meds during this time. It was agony. I could feel my the full range of my incision burning, and it was excruciating. It took about 2-3 hours to catch up to my pain before I felt more normal again. If I hadn’t been in such pain, I would have killed everyone in my immediate vicinity. Count yourselves lucky, bitches.

Finally get moved to mother/baby unit and I send Ben to be with Clark. I was told I would be able to see him late that evening, but that he would have to stay overnight. I asked if he was able to eat anything. “No. We’re giving him fluids though.” Probably protocol, but I went back to my room and demanded a breast pump. I had previously asked for one about 3 times and everyone kept forgetting to bring it, or were “looking into it.” I’m telling you, at this point I was back in bitch-mode. I told them if they unhooked my IV, I would just walk home to get my pump since it would probably be faster. Son of gun, I had one delivered to my room 5 minutes later. Go figure. And then, because it was shift-change, God granted me the sweetest nurse. Because he knew I was going to need her.

Nesting, Eye-gouging, and getting ready for Clark

Today is my official first day of maternity leave, and I do not hate it even a little bit. With Darcy, I was put on modified bed rest at 33 weeks because I had issues with pre-term labor. She’s always been very patient, you see 🙄. This pregnancy, despite the drama, constant contractions, and general inability to breathe, I was able to work right up until Clark gets here! My last day was Friday, and the precious teachers and staff at my little school threw me the sweetest baby shower. It was perfect and brought some of the cutest dump-truck onesies into my life. I have been so blessed by this job y’all. School nursing is the very best ever, and I love it with all of my heart.

I am absolutely not kidding when I say that this whole nesting thing has been insanity for me. I don’t remember getting it with Darcy that much, but that may have been because my activity was so restricted. This go-round I have been in full-blown psycho-pregnant-lady mode. God bless Ben, because he cannot seem to understand the urgency of the past month and a half-ish. I NEED the kitchen cabinets cleaned out now. The utility closet organized NOW. I need that crap to be put in the attic as. we. speak. He fusses at me saying, “I’ll help you in a minute.” In a minute? WE DON’T HAVE MINUTES! I NEEDED IT DONE FIVE YEARS AGO! I CAN ONLY COMPROMISE IF IT IS DONE AS I AM FREAKING OUT THIS VERY INSTANT! I am not even exaggerating. Every weekend I have been completing projects all day long. As a result, the house is organized-ish, hospital bags have been packed and repacked, the house is decorated, Christmas presents are bought and wrapped, postpartum stuff is ready, baby Clark stuff is ready, freezer meals are prepared, groceries have been bought, the house is stocked on householdy things for the foreseeable future, laundry is done, and everyone is sleeping on clean sheets. And I’ve only been off work since Friday. So, there. I am #goals because of that nesting hormone. I am so sad to see it go because I’ve honestly never been so productive in my entire life.

This weekend was our last weekend as a family of 3 (4 if you include Libby), and we soaked it up! Darcy is at such a fun and exhausting age. She wakes up singing in her room, and she is SO excited to see mama and dada and read books and watch baby bums and pet Libby and turn on the Christmas tree and eat waffles and everything else all within 10 seconds of us coming to get her from her room. She has added about 50 words to her vocabulary over the last month. I swear she remembers everything and I have to be careful dropping those *special* four-letter words that are so appropriate for 80% of my misfortunes. Darcy loves to pull up my shirt and poke my belly button because she thinks it’s hilarious. She calls it a “buh-buh,” and laughs like it’s the most hysterical thing on the planet. She now pets my belly and says “baybay,” but she also pets my boobs and says “baybay,” so I’m not ready to call her a genius quite yet. She gives the best hugs and kisses, but she will also look you in the eye after a kiss, slap the hell out of you and laugh. Kids are inherently evil, people. Not going to lie, I’m a little worried about poor baby Clark. Darcy loves to point out body parts, and Ben and I both consider ourselves lucky that we still have our vision from Darcy enthusiastically gouging ahem, pointing out our eyes. We may need baby safety goggles for little brother.

Certain injuries aside, I am so excited to watch them grow up together. Anyone who knows me, knows about my big brother. I love him to death and he’s one of my favorite people on the planet. Doesn’t mean that he didn’t send me to pediatric plastic surgeon at age 5 after a particular plastic sword incident 😒, or that I didn’t hate him and plan his death at least 15 hours out of the day while we were growing up. But, thankfully, he is still here (alive), and he is my biggest fan and probably the only person who is my equal in hilariousness. Fact: I nearly wet my pants from laughing anytime we are together. Cabub, I love you so big. I hope that Darcy and Clark share the same bond minus the plastic surgery incident.

Oh Clark-man, we get to meet you this week. I am as nervous as a long-tailed cat in room full of rocking chairs. I’m scared of meeting you at the same time that I’m really excited to meet you. You are so loved already and your mama has been nuts over getting things ready for you. You are getting here a little earlier than anticipated, but that’s wonderful too. You’ll be here in time for all the Chrismukkah festivities, and we are happy we get to hold you sooner. I pray that you’ll be healthy and avoid the NICU. I pray that you will be strong for whatever days lay ahead. I pray that you’ll be forgiving of the eye-poking big sister you are blessed with. And mostly, I pray for grace as Ben and I enter this new phase of having child(ren) in our lives. We will update once baby Clark gets here. Love to all.

The last 4 years: Thoughts on my life with my Jew(ish) husband

*Let me just preface this one by telling you that I am not up for a religious debate. You can go do that rant somewhere private, like your facebook status or your own crappy blog*

So many people want to tell you the exact criteria required for the * perfect* marriage partner. “Educated, handsome, hardworking, but ‘most of all, Christian.’” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard slight variations of that list, but no self-respecting, “good,” Southern girl would ever deviate from choosing a Christian partner. Now, did he need to truly love Christ and live a life reflective of one serving the Lord? Not particularly. He just needed to belong to a church, pray once in awhile, and agree to get married in a church. Now, I realize this is not everybody…I’m truly not that cynical 😉 . I know some people truly sought out real-deal Christian spouses and take great offense to my generalization.

I, however,  am a Christian who did NOT marry a Christian, and I can honestly tell you that I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard what a crap marriage we would have. That our children would be doomed because, “How would they know truth” when we believe differently. That I must not be a Christian if I would even consider marrying a “non-believer.” Oh and let’s not forget the out of context 2 Corinthians 6:14 verse, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…” which is actually referring to business partnerships by the way. People ask all kinds of intrusive questions that are none of their business, and have even made really gross Anti-Semitic comments. I most often get asked, “So what are you raising your children as?” It’s a question I’ve gotten since before we even got engaged. First off, are we close friends? No? Then back up, you don’t belong in that conversation. The more bold have made statements like, “How does it feel to know he isn’t saved?” among other meant-to-sound-caring-but-are-actually-mean comments. I could totally point out that their father’s multiple affairs, or their own shady business practices aren’t Jesus-friendly, but I don’t. I just wish that they would remember that my husband and his family happen to be Jewish and I love them so very much, so the generalized comments made about “Jews” are being directed toward some of the most precious people in my life. Most topics I’m pretty game to discuss, but my husband’s perceived salvation and plans for our family are off limits to the vast majority.

My husband’s being Jewish is not why I married him, anyway. The quality my husband possesses that has made the difference in my life, our marriage, our child (soon to be children), and my overall happiness: his kindness.
To any and all unmarrieds–marry someone kind. Bottomline. If he’s not kind, then he’s not for you. Kind people are not selfish. They are thoughtful, sensitive, and precious. They don’t hate children or animals. Kind people are not abusive, violent, and will not  make you question their intentions. If you don’t like my explanation, look at the Merriam-Webster definition of kindness. It says, “Showing tenderness or goodness; disposed to do good and confer happiness; averse to hurting or paining; benevolent; benignant; gracious.”

Does that sound appealing? Then stop wasting time with the guy who only texts you at 10pm or later to “hang out.” The one who ignores his mother, kicks dogs (or cats), and acts like an ass to waiters in restaurants. It really is that simple. Kick the jerk out of your life, and make way for something exponentially better.

Kindness in action is when your husband brings your coffee to you in the mornings just the way you like it. It’s planning the perfect first anniversary date complete with Wicked tickets. It’s unexpected flowers and offers to do the dishes when you don’t have a dishwasher and haven’t done them in a week. It’s when he holds you after you lose your baby at 12 weeks, and then carries your drugged, wounded body out of the hospital to the pre-warmed car in -18° weather after your D&C. It’s when he cuts a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” sign out of construction paper and hand makes cards complete with stick-figure illustrations. It’s when he tells your crazy-one-week-postpartum-self that it’s okay that you don’t like your newborn daughter because all she does is scream, anyway 😂  Kindness is when he lets his arms fall asleep so hard that they might actually fall off because he does not want to risk waking and hurting your baby daughter after her neurosurgery. It’s when he races home in between classes to make sure Libby gets an outside break, even if he only has 10 minutes. It’s when he helps you to the bathroom for that ghastly first postpartum trip. And lately, it’s when we both lay VERY still in the bed, pretending to not hear when Darcy wakes up crying. It’s like a game of uncle and we are actively–with our mind powers–WILLING the other person to break and get up. Ben always gets up with her and lets me sleep. I never said this kindness post was about me ha! He’s a gem, I tell you.

On November 23, Ben and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary together. We’ve packed a lot of living into those years. Ben isn’t the same guy I married. He’s made new career choices, taken up new hobbies, learned stupid nursery rhymes, and has a little patch of gray hairs growing on his chin (he attributes that to engineering school). But one thing has remained, and that’s his gentle spirit. And I’m telling you that throughout the ups and downs, moves, career changes, job changes, major surgery, complicated pregnancies, and *just* life in general–his tender heart has loved me well. May you all choose well and be as fortunate. Love to all.❤️


My awesome mom, my dead fridge, and Darcy’s book pillow

My mom is better than yours. She just is, and she drove 5 hours to save the day last weekend because her name is Mavis and that is how she works. You see, Ben left the country because he’s not pregnant and still maintains a fun lifestyle. I, however, am something akin to a beached whale, who has contractions if I sneeze, lift a pillow, or roll over in bed. Lifting and chasing after Darcy full-time could seriously send me into pre-term labor (again), so my mom drove 5 hours and stayed with me to help. She cleaned my house, did my laundry, cooked, shopped, and took care of Darcy all while I planted my fat ass on the couch and watched new episodes of “Call the Midwife.” It was glorious, and if you haven’t watched that show, you are totally missing out. I hope I’m half the woman my mother is one day. Seriously that short, little woman can accomplish anything in small timeframes AND do it better than anyone else could. Also, while Ben was gone (side-eye to Ben), Darcy decided to cut 4 teeth at once, and our refrigerator died. Like dead, died. Luckily my in-laws quickly got us a new fridge. In the meantime, Ben’s twin brought us his mini-fridge, and Ben’s younger brother brought us food. So, even though Ben was all la-ti-da “I’m going cliff-diving and climbing volcanoes,” while the world fell apart (exaggeration, but have you HEARD my daughter whine while teething?!), his family stepped in with greatly appreciated replacement fridges and Newk’s pizzas. That Mavis, though? She’s the real MVP for life. Darcy agrees and is in love with her. She’s known as Mattie by all of her grandchildren, except Darcy. Darcy calls her Mammy and cried whenever “Mammy” left the room. Last night she saw one of my mother’s diet cokes in the fridge, snatched it, and ran for the front door screaming for “Mammy!” It was cute, but Darcy was pretty disappointed when the Diet coke didn’t work like a genie lamp and produce her doting Mammy.

Anyway, Ben returned from his Central American adventures, my mom went home 😢, and this past weekend we transitioned Darcy to her big-girl IKEA bed (see previous post) and moved the crib into baby Clark’s new room. Darcy is doing fairly well-ish with going to sleep, but has been waking up at around 5:30am on the nose, screaming. It’s not very cool, but at least she’s sleeping through the night in her bed. Sunday morning, Ben crawled into her little bed with her when she freaked out, and we all got another 1.5 hours of sleep. Success! So, it’s not perfect, but we’re working on it. For instance, tonight she decided to act crazy and keep climbing out of bed while screaming hysterically. So, we let her scream (I’m a member of the cry-it-out-within-reason camp. Not sorry) for about 5 minutes and wander around in her dark bedroom. After 5 minutes, silence. We go and check on her and she’s fallen asleep face-first on her books on the floor. It was hilarious and kind of tragic at the same time. But, because we are not stupid, we let her continue sleep on her books for another 15 minutes, so she would be in a deeper sleep for the transfer back to her bed. It worked like a charm, so judge away if you so feel inclined.

Andddd, we had another depressing doctor’s appointment today. I’m not even going to share details on it right now because I’m already sad enough, and I don’t feel up to rehashing the particulars. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt better about Clark’s situation. I feel hopeful that he’s going to be okay and that the “potential issues” could be nothing and that everything will be fine and he will be healed. I want to chalk it up to having faith, but in all actuality, it’s probably just a heaping dose of denial. After I recover from an appointment, I blissfully live in my growing faith-bubble (denial) for a couple of weeks. Then, I have another appointment and the hope I had been growing is dashed and destroyed in about a 2-hour time span. I cannot possibly convey to you how absolutely wretched these appointments are, I can only tell you that I would not wish the “gift” of this pregnancy’s anxiety to the person I hate most in this world. I’ll be 32 weeks tomorrow, and I’m thankful that this pregnancy is drawing to a close. I genuinely hope this baby comes early. Not *too* early, but early. So that this part will be over, and we can move on.

School continues to be unimportant. I ignore it as much as possible because I have very healthy coping mechanisms called: 1) avoidance and 2) eating all the things.

I’m sorry if you’ve called me, sent a text, or left a FB message, and I haven’t responded. I fully intend on responding to each one, and your reaching out is so appreciated. I’m just buried in my feelings, and I’m feeling fragile lately. You see, I used to think I was kind of badass and could handle heavy and uncomfortable things, but I was stupid. I am not very strong unless you count waiting until I get into my car to fall apart when leaving my hellish appointments. My faith is shaken, and I’m struggling to find the good in things right now. I don’t want to be anyone’s rain cloud, so I’m retreating to my safety bubble (the couch–lets be real), and I’m waiting for Clark to get here, so that I can come up for air. Love to all of you beautiful people.





When the Rayner family does Ikea

For the last couple of months, Ben and I have been discussing what to do concerning nurseries. Darcy and Clark will at most be about 21 months apart, and she’s still in her crib. Now we have an extra dresser, nightstand, etc. But we need another bed and another bookshelf and possibly a glider. What KIND of bed has been a topic of discussion and research. See, another crib seems like a kind of good idea. It keeps Darcy nice and trapped in her bed (she’s made no effort thus far to scale the sides to freedom). Then again, spending money on another crib seems kind of stupid when we’d likely be transitioning her out of it in the next few months anyway. Decisions, decisions, and of course everyone has an opinion:
“Do NOT transition that baby out of her crib until she’s three. You won’t sleep once she realizes she’s mobile.” “Oh we transitioned our baby at 18 months! It was no big deal.” “Do it before Clark gets here. That way she can get used to her new bed.” “Wait as long as possible. Put her in the big girl bed a couple of months after Clark gets here.”

Blah. Blah. Blah. Not that we aren’t appreciative of other’s opinions, it’s mostly that conflicting opinions are often unhelpful. With no clear-cut answer, we decided that Darcy will move to a big girl bed before baby Clark gets here, and Clark will get the crib. Now…what kind of bed to buy for Darcy? A toddler bed or a twin bed? Ben thinks Darcy is too small for a true “big girl bed,” and I kinda agree. I mean she’s not even 25 pounds at 18 months old. She’s still my baby! So, I looked at toddler beds, and I thought most of them kinda sucked. Until, I was FB stalking a girl I went to college with and somehow ended up on her sister-in-law’s profile and saw that her daughter had the perfect bed. I know, I know, that sounds super weird and creepy, so I took it a step further and I actually messaged sister-in-law and asked her where she got her daughter’s bed. Yes, my old sorority sister’s sister-in-law that I’ve never met. Funny enough, she actually responded and informed me that it was an IKEA bed. I then spent the next 20 minutes finding it on the IKEA website. It was called the Minnen, and it was beautiful. The price was really good–like $80, and it is a pretty, white, iron bed. It’s also a toddler bed, sort of. It’s the width of twin, with an adjustable length. So it can be short like a toddler bed, extended a little longer than toddler-bed length, or a full twin length. “I’ll just order this sucker online!,” I thought. Shipping alone was $100. Um, no, thank you. I will not order this sucker online. So, when we went home the following weekend for my 10-year reunion (holla Magnolia class of ‘07), we took the trip to the new Memphis Ikea. Ay yi yi.

IKEA. Land of Scandinavian inventions and efficient, cheap furnishings. Land of unknown. Land of insane layout. Okay, if you have ever been to an Ikea, then you get it. If you haven’t, allow the following paragraphs to enlighten you and to also prepare you.

I had heard that Ikea was an experience, but I had also semi-prepared. I knew what we were going for: the bed and the mattress required for the funky lengths of the bed. No window shopping here. My research was done, son. So we get up on Saturday morning, and head out sometime around 10:00, getting out to Ikea around 11:00. It’s huge, man. This Ikea building thing is massive with a big ole parking lot, too. It’s not that crowded and we walk in. Immediately Ben is all, “What is this? Where do we start?” You see, when you walk in, there’s kind of a lobby area with a big sign numbered 1-29ish. Under each number it says something like “lighting” or “living room” or “kids furniture.” Bingo. Section 9: Kid’s furniture. Now where did we find section 9? Well, apparently, you can’t just walk to aisle 9. You have to “ENTER THE SHOWROOM” and traverse through sections 1-8 to get to section 9 in a strange labyrinthy-type of manner. Luckily we brought our stroller and Darcy was successfully contained as we whipped around “kitchen,” “living room,” and whatever else occupied sections 1-8. As we approached “kids furniture,” I saw it. The Minnen (cue angel-music). Darcy’s eyes also lit up as we approached. I looked at her to try to see which toy she was looking at. She wasn’t looking a toy or at any of the other 6 beds on display. She too was reaching for and enthralled by the Minnen! “Let her out, Ben. Let’s see what she does.” He unstrapped Darcy, and she immediately crawled into the bed and gave us her cheesiest smile. Silently congratulating myself, I was thinking, “She loves it! Ha! Ha! My job is so easy. Great minds think alike, little one.” She rolled all over the bed, sooo excited.


Now Ben asked, “So where is it? The bed? Where do we grab one.” Well, I knew that we picked it up somewhere else, but I wasn’t sure where exactly. I grabbed an Ikea person and asked, and he told us to write down the aisle number and bin number on the display Minnens’s tag. So we did, and then he told us to follow the signs to the warehouse. Yeah. The signs to the warehouse pointed us to walk all the way through the cafeteria and sections 10-29. What. The. Crap. Is there not a quicker route? No, actually. There isn’t.  You go to Ikea, you gon see ALL of Ikea. I knew this was going to be bad because Darcy LOVED this bed. Leaving this bed was going to cause a tantrum as we walked through the remainder of Scandinavia’s ultimate warehouse. I looked at Ben. He looked at me. We nodded in agreement, and he grabbed up the small human. The small human thrashed, screamed, and attempted bites as we took her away from her newly favored playground. Held like a football, Darcy was walked through the crowds in the cafeteria (it was now lunch–of freaking course it was), and through sections 10-25 where she finally calmed down(ish). Everyone was made aware–Darcy was here, betches!  Ben was SO understanding and accepting of Ikea’s ways *snort* and proceeded to complain at every section we breached. “What the hell kind of design is this? Why are we still walking?” Insert eyeroll emoji. Get over it, Ben. We are getting a bed and mattress and duvet and duvet cover for under $200. Shut it, boo.

We get to the warehouse where Darcy wants to run amok and act like the heathen we pretend she isn’t. I leave Ben to deal (don’t worry, karma is a swift hag), and just go to the aisle and bin I’m supposed to, find what we want and flag Ben over to come grab it. He does, we buy it and we go home, tra la la. HA! Not exactly. Because while Ben checks out, I take Darcy to the car to get her in her car seat, settled, and out of the way for loading. We get to the car, and she goes into full savage mode at the sight of the car seat. In her defense, we had driven from Baton Rouge the night before (5 hour trip), and gotten in the car this morning for the drive to Memphis (1 hour trip), and she was hungry. AND basically because of who she is as a person, she just could not deal. So, there I am in the Ikea parking lot, pregnant as hell, sweating to death because it’s Fall in the South, and actively manhandling my surprisingly strong, extraordinarily pissed-off toddler. It was AWESOME (see my earlier karma statement). Finally, I muscled her into her carseat about the time Ben arrives with our stuff. It was then that we discovered that the box for the bed was too large to fit in my car. Like not going to happen in this lifetime. So we had to open the box, get all the pieces of the bed out, WITH the instructions (see, I was on my A-game), and rearrange everything, so that the pieces wouldn’t bang together on the way home. It took about 15-20 minutes in the heat and everyone was in an *incredible* mood by the time we left.

All things considered, I count the trip as a roaring success–I mean my bar of expectations is set pretty low, behavior-wise. We got Darcy a whole new bed set that is really, really pretty and girly for under $200, and we didn’t have to pay shipping. And we had the experience of Ikea which Ben would like to repeat never. Although, he did find this particular gem particularly amusing: cinnamon1

Shall we take a closer look?cinnamon

Like “Good call, Ikea. Without that disclaimer I was totally going to sue you for the misrepresentation of cinnamon roll size. I would like to pay $1 to eat cinnamon roll forevah, please.”

Personally, I found Ikea strange, yet oddly likeable. Not unlike the first time I ate sushi. To all parents who are parenting tyrannical toddlers, I salute you. It really is fun and funny and we’re gonna have awesome stories from it. Plus, Darcy really is a sweetheart. She loves to play and run and just be a crazy person more than anything. Right now we just have fits when the fun has to end. The days are long, but the years are short, and I am so thankful to spend them with my sweet Ben and my precious Darcy. Love to all.

Pregnancy woes, nursery wins, and a tiny savage witnessing it all

So, last week we had our regular OB appointment on Tuesday followed by the fetal echo on Wednesday. The OB appointment went well, the fetal echo was kinda crappy. First off, I just hate ultrasounds at this point. They are uncomfortable, frustrating, and generally open more questions than provide answers. Wednesday’s appointment was no different. They looked over the heart and determined that the pulmonary artery WAS in fact bifurcated and that the rest of the heart structures looked “normal,” BUT that the pulmonary artery was slightly dilated before the bifurcation, there was mild to moderate leakage from the artery, and the ductus arteriosus “appeared torturous.”

So what does this mean?

“We will follow up to see if it resolves.” “Yeah, but what if it doesn’t?” “We will follow up after birth.” “And then? Are we looking at surgery?” “Unlikely.” “Sooo, what will we be doing, then?” “Continuing to monitor. It may be idiopathic and fine.” “But if it isn’t?” “We will monitor for signs of any issues.” Okay at this point I nearly punched the woman. Answer the question and quit being vague. If you’re a big enough physician to say ‘There’s a potential problem,’ then you damn well better be ready to explain. Finally, I said, “WHAT WOULD CAUSE THIS THAT HAS YOU SO WORRIED?” “It is probably idiopathic and will resolve on it’s own.” At this point I give her a death glare and use my scary voice, “What. Could. Be. Causing. This??” “Um. It could be a sign of a connective tissue disorder. But that’s rare. See you in 4 weeks.” Yeah, I pretty much loathed that cardiologist because she ignored me the entire scan, then provided a craptastic explanation of what she saw and what it meant. Basically, she provided zero concrete information, yet she flooded us with new worries. I will not be following up with her in four weeks. Or ever because I hate the air she breathes.

To say I hate appointments and pregnancy is like the understatement of my life. It is miserable. I have been officially diagnosed with polyhydramnios. My fluid levels are now straddling the line between mild and moderate poly. I cannot breathe even a little bit unless I sit straight up. I no longer sleep and eating or drinking anything makes it even more difficult to breathe. Imagine cutting the amount of lung space you generally have in half. Now, for funsies, half it again.  That’s what I’m dealing with, and it totally blows. It also causes a lot of pain. Not normal late pregnancy pain. Like major ascites kind of visceral pain. I ended up in the hospital this past weekend because I could not breathe and could not walk. I literally hobbled out of work on Thursday because I was contracting so badly. This too is due to the excess fluid. My body is all “WTF man, I can’t handle this fluid.” I got admitted to L&D, and got the full pre-term workup: hydration, pain meds, magnesium drip (satan’s infusion), and labs. Now I’m fine, Clark’s fine, but I won’t say that it’s been such an awesome ride, because it’s actually been total shit.

Moving on to lighter and brighter!

I do not have gestational diabetes! Woo! That is one positive thing. Another is that Clark’s nursery has taken off as of late and is looking more and more perfect.  I despise themes, and his nursery is basically a smorgasbord of boy like Darcy’s was a smorgasbord of girl. The walls are a really light blue yet still neutral-ish. His crib skirt is navy/cream mattress ticking, and there’s a big cowhide rug on the floor. I also really like mammoths and moose, so he has big stuffed versions of both on his bookshelf.

We moved all of the nursery furniture out of Darcy’s nursery and into Clark’s with the exception of the crib. We are going to transition her in the next couple of weeks to her big girl bed! It’s pretty precious and is already in her room. She thinks it’s a trampoline and will likely knock her teeth out jumping on it. She’s unconcerned and unreasonable though, so I’m not wasting too much worry over it.  She has had this recent language explosion. Her most recent additions to her vocabulary include, “It my!” (It’s mine), “Buh-bay” (baby), “Peese” (Please), “Heyyyy” (self-explanatory), and “Key” so that she can set off the panic alarms on our cars from the kitchen while playing with said key. She also becomes a total savage when we “force” her to leave any activity she wants to continue. A real-life screaming, hitting, BITING, savage. Since I can’t really pick her up much right now (seriously, it’s sad), Ben has been on the receiving end and it’s comical. We obviously don’t laugh about it in front of her, and out in the public it’s pretty embarrassing, but come on. She’s 18 months old, and is basically still an animal with animal instincts. She’ll outgrow it. I just hope she does before I’m the one manhandling her.

Ben and I are trucking along. School is hard for both of us, and I am less motivated than most at this juncture. Just trying to stick it out for another month and a half. Ben is getting ready to go to out of the country this weekend, so I’m a little concerned about dealing with Darcy by myself: just the general lifting and chasing because of contractions and inability to breathe and all that. We’ll manage fine though, that little tyrant and I. She’s my girl and gives me many kisses–and tells her daddy “No!” almost every time he asks haha! She’s a funny one, that girl. I haven’t ordered a Halloween costume for the Darce-bird either. I don’t know that I will. It seems like too much effort, and I need to focus my energies on breathing, so I don’t die to death while attempting to sleep.

Anywho, I hope this look into my life hasn’t seemed too dismal. I’m 30 weeks pregnant, so not much longer until I meet my sweet little Clark. That is the good stuff. Pregnancy may totally suck, but my new baby will be worth it all. I cannot wait to meet him and kiss his little face. Maybe Darcy will be more forthcoming with kisses for Clark than she is for kisses with daddy. Then again, Clark probably won’t be sporting the facial hair her daddy does. I’m rambling. Carry on good people. God is good in all circumstances. Love to all.