Tag Archives: family

A Forever Changing Family

First, two became one. And that was the day Milkman and I were married. We were going to wait a year before trying for a baby.

2 months into our marriage we decided to “leave it up to God and see what happens.” We were pregnant the next month. Just two weeks before our first wedding anniversary, we became a family of 3 when Captain was born.

We thought we would wait a year before trying again. And then when Captain was 8 months old, we got another positive pregnancy test. Our sweet Mamitas was born 41 weeks later, and we became a family of 4.

When Mamitas was 11 months old, we had another positive pregnancy test. We were so excited to be a family of 5! We cherished each moment we had, but at my 17 week appointment, our little baby love was no longer. I delivered Ezra’s sleeping body 4 days later, and we remained a family of 4.

4 months later, another positive test! Our rainbow baby was the greatest joy of our lives. Peachy was born that Fall, and then we were 5. We knew after such a difficult pregnancy and traumatic labor and delivery that biological babies would not be in our near future, but we had already completed our foster parenting requirements, so we trusted that our family would grow in time.

9 months later, we received a call for two sisters from our foster agency. Within 24 hours of getting a call, we were a family of 7. Three months later, they reunified, and for two weeks, we became a family of 5 yet again.

It was too quiet, so imagine our joy when we received a call for an “adoptable” 5 day old newborn baby boy. Sweet Warrior. He left us just under 3 months later to a non-family relative home. We were devastated.

And the calls stopped. We were just 5 again. For 6 months we sat by the phone, and no more children came. But then, a call. And we were 6, when little Chatito came to live with us. And 6 we have happily been, and 6 we shall remain for a little while longer. Then 5 again when he reuinifies, but not much longer after that…

And we will be a family of 6 yet again. Because the Lord has blessed us with the gift of pregnancy!

We are grateful to God for giving us another baby to love. Our hands are full, but our hearts are bursting. What a joy to have 4 children at my feet to love on while a 5th steadily grows in my womb! Join us in praying for a healthy pregnancy and a sweet, full of life baby in Summer 2018!

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Visitation Day Blues: Kid Edition

As we all piled for our morning cuddle on the couch the kids asked what the plan was for the day. I told them, “Don’t forget, you guys need to pack your backpacks with quiet activities, today is visitation.”

Captain, my oldest asked, “Is it the one where we go to the coffee shop?”

“No, that’s the other visit. Today is the one where you need to sit quietly in the car in the parking lot so your baby sister can sleep while the baby is visiting with his mom.”

Both my preschooler and kindergartener groaned. This is the least favorite day of the week. We eat an early lunch, every one goes potty, and we load up into the van and head to the other side of the county for our fosterling to visit his mother for an hour. Because of when it’s scheduled, my little ones end up stuck in the car for two and a half hours. I don’t like it either. Trying to keep my older kids quiet and occupied so that my youngest can get some sleep is stressful. On good days, she gets half of her normal length in nap. On bad days, it’s a 5 minute nap and a whole afternoon of meltdowns. It’s not easy on our foster baby either. Some how it always works out that he gets awoken to go to the visit or awoken once we get to the visit. Lots of interrupted sleep usually equals a very long day with lots of crying, nap fighting, and fussiness for him.

“Mom, we don’t like this visitation day! It’s boring!” I sighed as the day had just started and the complaining was already starting. Milkman looked at me sleepily from the corner of the couch where he spent the early morning after a very early wake up call from our foster baby. We trade off nights, so I actually got sleep last night, but I couldn’t say the same for my sweet husband.

As much as I wanted to reply, “Stop complaining, too bad!” I realized this was a teaching moment. “You know what guys? I don’t necessarily like this visitation day either. It’s stressful for me trying to ensure every one is quiet in the car. But… Well. Do you know why we do this? God says that we need to care for orphans and widows. Do you know what a widow is? It’s someone who has lost their spouse and has no one to care for them. Do you know what an orphan is?”

They looked at me blankly.

“An orphan is someone who either doesn’t have living parents, or their parents cannot currently safely care for them. The foster children we’ve had in and out of our home are considered orphans. So we actually have a really important job, because we are obeying God when we care for foster children. We don’t just do this because babies are cute— even though they are! We do this because we love them, and have a duty to obey God, and this is how our family has been called to obey. And one of the jobs of foster families is to make sure foster children get to see their parents.”

They nodded slowly. Well, the older kids did. My youngest, Peachy, was dancing around like a wild maniac to Celtic Christmas music. Never a dull moment.

Milkman chimed in, “Can you imagine if you only got to see mama and papa two hours a week?? You would miss us so much and we would miss you so much, right? The baby’s mommy wants to see her baby.”

I continued, “Exactly! And that’s one way we can serve his mommy, too. She loves her baby. So I know that visitation day is kinda lousy and boring for us. But it’s a sacrifice we make together as a family to obey God and to serve the baby and his mommy. Can you understand that?”

“Yes, mama.” They replied. I’m sure they didn’t feel super happy to go on with the plan for the day, but at least they now knew there was a valid reason behind their boring day ahead.

Sometimes teaching moments are hard to come by, and sometimes they fall perfectly in your lap, like it did for us today. My kiddos do sacrifice a lot for our family to continue fostering. While it’s not as much as Milkman and I have to, it’s a decent amount for very young children.

I hope they know, for as long or short as we have to foster, it’s not just something we do for the heck of it. It’s something that takes self sacrifice. It’s something that is hard to do. It’s something that takes giving up our schedules, preferences, and desires. It’s certainly not something we do for praise from others or accolades. But, most importantly it’s something that we do in love and obedience— together. As a family.

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To the Average Foster Parent

Thank you…

For getting up 7 times in the night with a screaming baby who doesn’t share your DNA.

For googling ways to comfort a baby born addicted to meth, when you feel at a loss.

For crying over biological parents’ loss— even if they don’t seem to feel that loss so very much.

For singing lullabies to the stranger who moved into your home today and assuring her that she is safe.

For quietly patching holes in walls after uncontrollable tantrums.

For advocating on his behalf to school teachers, coaches, and friends.

For the moments when you stand under the shower shaking with righteous anger on behalf of a child who has had their innocence robbed far too young.

For driving miles and miles and miles each week to appointments, visitation, and therapy.

For getting the cold shoulder or worse from biological family members and responding in love.

For building a relationship with her mother, and seeking to mentor and model what a healthy family looks like.

For trying every possible way to help a child with RAD, when everyone else has given up.

For supporting reunification when you know your heart will snap.

For being willing to become a forever family when her family has disappeared.

For taking the punches and responding with “I love you.”

For being willing to risk.

In case no one else has said it, I will. Thank you.

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Why I’ll Never Be a Successful Blogger 

We went camping a few weeks ago with some friends (total blast, don’t be afraid to go tent camping with a bunch of very young children!), and they had other friends camping with us as well who I hadn’t met before.

It came up that I have a blog, and as we talked I told them that though I had a post that went viral totally unexpectedly, I would never be a successful blogger. Why is that? Because I can’t write for the sake of keeping an audience.

See, in order to be a successful blogger, you have to put out content consistently. When you stop writing, people stop reading, and when people stop reading, Facebook and search engine algorithms make you less visible to the internet world.

With just one week of us being on vacation, I chose to stay off of social media as much as possible. When I came back and began posting, Facebook had made it so that my posts were viewed far fewer times than the week before when I was posting consistently.

But my problem with trying to write simply for the sake of keeping an audience is this: I can’t– in good conscience– fling crappy content at you just because the algorithms tell me I should.

When I started this blog in January 2012, I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby, and had just left my job as a nanny to get ready for stay at home motherhood. I never expected anyone to read it, and if a tiny piece of me hoped someone would, I certainly never expected thousands and thousands of people to read it, and yet here I am, 5.5 years later with a pretty strong readership. 

I’ve never been able to write for the sake of writing. In fact, I have gone long periods without blogging at all, because I didn’t feel I had anything worthwhile to share. When I write– it’s because I want to. And I usually want to when I am stressed, exhausted, drained, and/or passionate about a topic. 

Blogging is not my job. I can’t promise new content every Monday and Thursday, or once a week, or even twice a month. My job is being Milkman’s wife. My job is being mother and homeschool teacher to Captain, Mamitas, and Peachy. My job is being a foster mother to whichever little one(s) are in my home. My job is keeping our household running smoothly, making meals, and scrubbing toilets. As much as I love writing, it can’t be my first priority.

When you read something here on my humble and homely little blog, it’s because it mattered enough for me to take the time to say it. No filler, no fluff. No pandering to the masses or clickbait. Just the musings of a tired mama, tapping away on her phone screen while rocking a child or hanging out on the bathroom floor while kiddds brush their teeth. 
So for those of you who stick around for my occasional content, THANK YOU. I’m so glad there is someone to read what I have to say. And in turn, I promise not to fill your newsfeed with “Ten Ways to Turn Your Houseplants into Dragons”, “16 Steps to a More Organized Kitchen”, and “Why My Children are Way Better than Yours.” 😉
PS I just posted this blog without a featured photo. This is practically blogocide. 

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Transitioning 

visitation days 

You look like you

You cry like you

You smile like you

But you don’t smell like you

You smell like them

And soon you’ll be part of them

And not part of us

And a little part of my heart will break off in your hand

And you’ll take a little of me

And a little of them

And you’ll be all of you

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GIVEAWAY! Our Fun Day at Simi Valley Saplings!

Summer is in FULL swing.  I put out the word locally and asked if there were any mom-owned businesses that catered to families.  One of the first invitations to visit her business was Leah of Saplings in Simi Valley.  I hadn’t heard of Saplings, but after a quick perusal of her website, I knew I had to come visit.

 

Simi Saplings is an indoor play area unlike anything we have in Ventura county.  Most of us think of an indoor play place as being focused on gross motor skill play, and while those places are awesome, Saplings is on a different scale.  

 

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From the moment you walk in (entrance is on the side of the building!), you are transported into a calm and cool (hello! Escape the Summer heat!) atmosphere.  The theme of Saplings is woodsy and outdoorsy!  Leah told me that her family loves to be outdoors, to hike, and go camping.  Since she knew she would be spending a considerable amount of time indoors at Saplings, she brought the outdoors inside.  Calming sky blue walls with painted trees (and a SUPER cool tree Leah constructed!) give the place a sweet and charming woodland vibe.

 

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There are LOADS of imaginative play stations around the room. Your little one can be a Doctor, Vet, Store Keeper, or Hair Stylist.  For the little performer there is a band and music area (complete with a drum set, which Captain LOVED) and a Puppet Show stage.  Your child can race their cars with a friend, have a camp out next to the felt campfire and roast pretend marshmallows while they sit on a cushiony tree stump.  If your little one wants to climb and slide, there is a playground right in the center of the room.  It’s just the right size for your preschooler!  There is a reading corner, complete with a soft rug, fluffy pillows, and kid-sized lounge furniture next to a window with lots of natural light pouring in, which Mamitas liked especially since there was a book with her hero (Minnie Mouse!) to be read! 

 

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The Seedling Meadow is a safe and cozy play area for little ones from 0-2.  It has a half-wall protecting it from the rest of the main play areas and from older playmates who may not see little ones underfoot.  Peach had such a blast crawling, playing, and sitting on the little riding toys in the enclosed area.

 

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Have a budding artist?  The art area is INSANE.  Fully stocked with various artistic mediums, easels, tables, and a chalk wall.  In fact, Leah goes the extra mile and on Tuesdays and Fridays, at no extra cost but your general admission, there is a special craft lined up for your child to do, and bring their craft home with them!  Saplings also occasionally teams up with Color Me Vino for the kid and alcohol-free version of a wine painting party for a Paint N Play party!  Your little one can come in, and for $25 they can create a work of art taught by an instructor on a canvas, and then play all day!

 

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Which brings me to my next favorite feature: ALL DAY PLAY.  It really means all day.  That means ins and outs for the whole day once you pay your admission!  You can come first thing, play with your little one, eat your packed lunch in the food area, go home for naps, and come right back after naps until closing without paying any extra.  That is SUCH a plus if you have littles who need to get their midday siesta in!

 

Another great thing is you only pay for your kiddos to play.  So while parents are encouraged to play with their little ones (and the space is made to facilitate just that!), adults do not pay admission costs.  For those of us with multiple children, Saplings offers a sibling discount!  Leah has 3 little ones herself and appreciates that it costs families with multiple children more to do fun things.

 

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They also offer two different party packages for birthday parties.  One is semi-private and the other is offered on Sunday’s and it totally private.  You can either do all the decorating yourself, or talk to Leah about having her plan your fuss-free party with the various add-on items.  Just show up with your party after booking and she’ll do all the shopping and decorating for you.

 

While I loved how much my 3 kiddos enjoyed playing at Saplings, I also really enjoyed getting to talk with Leah and hear about her life and her passion for bringing parents and children together to play.  Her husband has been a huge support to her as she has seen her dream realized since she hung up her teacher hat and went into mom and business owner mode.  She made a place where she could bring her children to work with her, and invites you to come and play with yours there, too!

 

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Head over to my Facebook page for a chance to win a day of play!

 

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GIVEAWAY! Cheeky Tummy Diaper Bag!

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I love me a good bag.  Once I had kids, I had to give up my giant purses that I loved so much, because carrying a diaper bag AND a big ol’ purse is just not practical.  I had seen some designer diaper bags here and there, but I couldn’t believe the price tags on them.  I really hate spending loads of money on something that is going to be hit with serious wear and tear and  possibly WILL end up with some sort of bodily fluids on it.

 

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When Captain was a baby and my only child, other moms would see me lugging my huge diaper bag around and say, “Oh, just wait til he’s older, you’ll go back to a purse and just carry one lone diaper and a few wipes in a baggy in it.”  Four years later, and I’m still carrying a huge diaper bag with my entire world in it.  Clearly these mothers didn’t know me before kids, when I would carry a purse large enough to cart multiple crochet projects, one-eighth of the historical fiction section of the library, a Costco-sized tub of Advil, and many tubes of red lipstick. I plan for disaster at all times.  I ALWAYS carry an extra change of clothes for each of my 3 children, enough diapers to last us a couple of days, snacks, activities, and wipes galore.  (You can never have too many wipes on hand!)

 

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What’s In My Bag: iPad mini, journal, Amazon Wipes, 8 diapers, muslin blanket, nursing cover, Cheeky Tummy changing mat, toy, sun screen, Era Organics Honeybuns balm and powder, diaper cream, Contigo water cup, snacks, pacifier wipes, sunglasses, change of clothing for Peach, Mamitas, and Captain, and Captain and Mamitas’ note pads and pens! Whew!*

 

I came across this bright, playful bag from Cheeky Tummy and I thought, “It’s been too long since I had a cute bag.  It’s time to carry something cute again!” and I am SO glad I did.  This bag is not only adorable, it is HUGE inside.  It holds everything I need to have with me without being stuffed to the zipper.  Oh! And it comes with a matching changing mat!  I feel so fancy whipping our my pretty little mat (its cushion-y, too you guys) to change a booty and folding it and fastening it to go back into its spot in my bag.

 

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Another feature I love is that it is incredibly versatile.  Prefer handle straps?  It comes with those.  Like a shoulder strap instead?  Oh, yeah, comes with that, too.  What about a bag that attaches to your stroller?  Um, yeah! Also included. (PSA: never put an overloaded bag onto the back of your stroller handle without a firm grip on your stroller, we don’t want any babies tipping backwards!)  I threw this on the back of my Uppababy Vista, and it looked super purdy.  I’m telling you, I feel fancy.

 

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Here’s the deal, it is a great bag all around while still being affordable.  After talking with Diana at Cheeky Tummy, I was able to really see the heart behind her company.  As a new mom she felt overwhelmed by the amount of bags and price points on the market, and out of that frustration Cheeky Tummy was born.  I liked her bag so well, that I asked Diana if we could give one of these gorgeous orange and white chevron bags to one of my lucky readers and she agreed!  So, head over to She Rocks the Cradle on Facebook, and enter the giveaway!

 

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Want one of your own right now?  Head to Cheeky Tummy’s store and grab a bag for yourself. If you use the code CRADLE10, you get 10% off your first order!

 

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See you on Facebook at the Giveaway!  Its over on July 3rd, so hurry to enter!

 

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Happy Birthday, Poochie!

To My First (and only!) Nephew on His First Birthday:

 

Sweet little man, with the big, brown, round eyes and little smirk, you are one today!

 

I was there when you were born!  Witnessing your birth was one of the most special things I will ever experience.  It was such a privilege to be there.

 

Your mama labored a long time, and when I got to the hospital, she was ready to push. I have often referred to your mama as my “little sister” though she is older than me.  I have always thought of her as fragile and in need of my protection. But as I cooled her head off with towels, and held her hand while she roared your little body earthside, I saw a mighty warrior.  Though I had delivered 3 babies before you were born, I was in awe of her strength to go through her labor unmedicated!

 

You were placed in your mama’s arms and you smelled like the earth.  You screamed and fussed your little head off while your mama and papa admired you, and while your little cousin in my tummy kicked away at the early hour of the morning.  You were too fussy to latch to nurse, but your mama kept you warm and safe against her skin,

 

You were so tiny.  I have never held a baby as small as you, and I remember thinking you had the cutest little rump, and you had your mama’s nose.  Your papa snapped away pictures proudly, and after a while I made my exit, and got into my car.  

 

It was very late and dark, there were few cars on the road, and I turned on Pandora to keep me awake on the drive home and blasted Kaskade with the windows down and wept.  You were so precious.  Your papa was so proud.  And your mama?  She was fierce.

 

A year later, I’m watching you grow.  Loving the rare but flirty smiles you flash my way from time to time.  Watching you and your baby cousin Peach play together.  Wearing you close to me when your mama is getting things done.  Seeing so much of my own first, sweet, shy boy in your personality.  You are such a joy to your parents and such a wonderful addition to our growing family.

 

I love you so much Poochie.  Happy birthday.

 

Love,

Taunty Paych

 

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The Short Life of Ezra Eugene

End of June, I was feeling sick. I couldn’t seem to keep food down for very long and not many foods sounded that good. So, 5 days before my period was supposed to start, in the afternoon,’I took a pregnancy test. I left the test on the ledge of the bathtub while it processed and went to go check on the kiddos. I came back to a positive. I was shocked! And so excited!

Because of how I had broken the news to Milkman the last two times, I decided to make it a happy reveal this time. So when Milkman came home from work I didn’t say anything and acted normal. The next morning I couldn’t hold it in any longer so I had Captain repeat after me: “mama is gonna have another baby!” I got it on film. Milkman was so excited and surprised. He hugged me and kissed me and shared in my excitement. We were both convinced that I was carrying another baby boy.

I got healthy right away, working out often and cutting out sugar, determined to have a healthier pregnancy than the last two times. Even through the awful all-day nausea that accompanied my pregnancy, I ate as healthy as I could. On days where I wasn’t throwing up or doubled over in pain in the evenings, I would force myself over to the gym.

We had our appointments with the OBGYN and then with my midwife. Saw our little one bouncing around on the ultrasound machine a couple times. Heard the baby’s little rushing heartbeat. All was normal and well. (Well as one could be with lots of nausea, food aversions and extreme
Fatigue while chasing two toddlers. ;))

We decided not to share the news of our pregnancy at all, and then once I hit my second trimester, we chose to tell our immediate families. When I got pregnant with Captain just 3 months after our wedding, some people were shocked but mostly polite. When I got pregnant with Mamitas 7 months after Captain was born, people were less than discreet about their opinions on having children so close together. So when we found out we were expecting another blessing, I felt like I wanted to protect this baby from judgement, and just enjoy the secret with my husband for as long as possible.

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A few weeks ago, right after moving. the kids and I went on a work trip with milkman to a nice hotel and while there I began contracting… It got up to 5 times an hour. I put the kids to bed and got in the bathtub and was chugging water. I called the OB office the next day and was told not to come in since I wasn’t bleeding. I said that I was concerned because 5 times an hour seemed a bit much this early in the pregnancy. The nurse suggested that I was dehydrated. I informed her I was taking in my usual 100+ ozs a day and she said if it got worse to call again.

Within two days all my nausea disappeared, and though I was excited for a little more normalcy, I felt something was wrong. I began sleeping extreme amounts. I was going to bed at 8:30pm, napping with the kids during the day and falling asleep on my feet. I couldn’t get enough sleep. I began counting down the days to my next appointment, so I could hear that heartbeat. People were beginning to notice my belly growing and my friends were slowly finding out and giving me their love and congratulations. I pulled out all my maternity clothing to start washing it as I knew I would soon be unable to hide my condition in regular clothing.

Finally the day of my appointment was nigh. I dropped the kids off with my mom and on the drive I prayed, “Lord, something hasn’t felt right… I pray this baby has a heartbeat and if this baby doesn’t, give me strength.”

I got to my appointment and the midwife talked and talked and all I could think about was her turning on that Doppler. And then she did… And there was nothing. No rushing of the placenta, no train like heartbeat from the baby, no static from the baby moving. Just… White noise. Empty.

She said she was going to bring in the ultrasound machine. I already knew. I texted Milkman and told him there was no heartbeat.

When she got the ultrasound machine hooked up and started to scan me, I saw a completely, perfectly still baby on the screen. I didn’t even need to see the absence of a heartbeat to know the baby was no longer alive. I knew by the stillness. We’ve never gotten any good ultrasound pictures of our babies, because they move too much in the womb. All three have. A few tears slid down my cheeks. She began taking measurements and broke the silence. “I assume you understand what’s going on right now?” I nodded through my tears. “Are you okay, sweetie?” She asked.

I couldn’t talk right away. I just silently let my tears flow for my little lifeless baby. She sat me up and I cleaned the cold sono gel off of my full belly. “God is good… All the time. He is good, and I’ll trust Him. He is good, but oh my sweet baby!” I sobbed a bit more. “He is good even when I don’t understand Him. But I know he’s good and He’ll continue to be good.”

The midwife was very kind. She kissed each of my cheeks and held me. I called Milkman after she left the room to make arrangements for me at the main hospital to confirm our loss, and he wept. And I wept. I called my mama, who was with my babies and she cried. And later when I told my papa, he cried and held me and I felt like a little girl. Lost and yet safe in my papa’s arms.

The rest of the day is a blur. I just remember everyone being very kind to me. Receptionists, ultrasound techs, nurses, all so sweet.

We waited for the doctor for well over an hour after the ultrasound. When he saw us he was pleasant (not normally a doctor I care for, due to his brash personality). Really he was the kindest he’s ever been to me. He said that the ultrasound confirmed what the midwife had discovered that morning and that I had a few options. He didn’t want me to miscarry the baby at home due to the baby’s size. So he have me a couple options:

1. Have a laminaria inserted and then a D&E 24 hours later
2. Be induced with cytotec and deliver the baby vaginally at the hospital.

He strongly suggested I go with option 1. He said it was easiest and safest and the best option. I asked for details on the D&E and I don’t think I heard much after suction and “extracting the tissue piece by piece”. I told him I would need time to consider both and I would get back to him by Thursday.

Over the next few days I asked Milkman what he felt most comfortable with. He asked me what I wanted but I needed him to answer before he heard what I wanted. He felt that the D&E would be safer and easier and quicker. He didn’t want to see me in pain and possibly have to deal with 24 hours of labor.

I shared my heart with him. I wanted my baby to have the chance to be born whole. I felt like I owed my child that privilege. I told him I would never, ever judge a mom if she chose to do it differently. I can understand both sides really, but I just felt like I needed my baby to be born whole and with dignity. I could see that this made Milkman a little uneasy but he respected my decision.

I began to feel very uneasy with my little one being tossed aside as medical waste after delivery, and began praying for peace, since we couldn’t afford the cremation. Within 24 hours my friends from Mamitas’ online birth group had raised all the funds needed for the cremation. I didn’t then, and I still don’t have words to describe the level of gratitude I have for each person who donated. Some strangers, some online friends, family, church members… I was dumbfounded. My little one would be born with dignity and would be taken from the hospital with dignity.

The waiting was strange. The feeling of still being pregnant, but your baby being lifeless is a very odd sensation of being both full and very empty simultaneously. The worst were the phantom kicks. I’d swear that little body was moving and be excited for a split second, only to remember that the baby was not moving, because the baby was not alive.

I sang many hymns. Read many Psalms. I kissed Mamitas cheeks extra and soaked in every smile from Captain. I ate so much chocolate. I read novels to escape my current situation. I cried often. I took long, hot showers. I felt so encouraged by scripture and by the floods of encouragement pouring in, but I felt a sadness that I can’t describe. I honestly don’t know how I would have survived this without my faith in Jesus Christ. I never felt despair, and it was because of leaning on The Lord.

It felt like a long time, but it wasn’t really…

We were booked for labor and delivery at 7pm on a Thursday night. My mama took the kids and I asked milkman to stop at Michael’s on the way to pick up yarn. We picked out a lovely, soft green yarn for a blanket. I had no clue what state our little one would be born at, if I would even be able to see the baby, or the baby’s gender, but I thought if nothing else, having something to crochet might be therapeutic.

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We arrived at the hospital. Took the elevator to the 3rd floor and walked to labor and delivery, where we had delivered both Captain and Mamitas. I went to the nurses station and began crying when I was being checked in. Our very compassionate nurse took us back to a room far away from all the over rooms and was so sweet to us. I undressed and put on a hospital gown while milkman cried on the other side of the accordion door in our room. Our hospital plays a lullaby over the loud speaker every time a baby is born… And just as I sat down on the bed, it played. I lost it. Milkman lost it. We held each other on the hospital bed and cried and cried, knowing our baby would soon be born, but we would never hear a cry or a heartbeat. We sang hymns and praise songs, read scripture and prayed.

The doc came in shortly after and explained the process again, while I crocheted the little green blanket. she offered me every drug under the sun and though I am a natural birth junkie, I was ready to take anything and everything they could throw at me. We did one last ultrasound and saw our still baby. So very still… A while– and many tears– later, the doc came in and inserted the cytotec. That was it. The beginning of the end. More tears.

They offered me sleeping pills, which as an insomniac I gladly accepted, only to find another drug to add to my list of medications that don’t affect Rachel! But The Lord is good and granted a little sleep. At 3am more cytotec was inserted.

By 4, Milkman was still sleeping away in the fold out chair next to me. I began contracting. I kept telling myself I was going to ask for medication and as each contraction and cramp intensified, I would say to myself, “next one, I’ll hit the call button for morphine… Next one… I got this one…” I breathed. I read Psalms. I sang hymns quietly. One song in particular was a reoccurring theme the whole week since we had found out about the baby’s death and had sung in the hospital several times, was “10,000 Reasons.” I sang it quietly in the dark and then I felt a detaching. My membranes ruptured. And blood began pouring out of me. I cried. Oh, I cried so hard I shook. I woke Milkman who called our sweet nurse. She helped clean me up and asked if I wanted meds and I said “not yet” through the tears. It was the most awful feeling I have ever felt to feel my baby detaching from my body. I have had nightmares about it since. I bled more and contracted more. I felt a burning and knew the baby was on their way, and I pushed. It was still and dark in our room. Just me and Milkman, I saw this tiny little body come out of me at 6:05am, and Milkman and I began crying. He called for the nurse, who came in and panicked and asked for a doctor immediately, only to hear another nurse inform her that both docs were in surgery. I told her I was okay and delivered the placenta in two pieces. She began saying “oh your sweet baby, oh my God so tiny! Oh sweet baby, oh my goodness!” She tenderly wrapped him in a towel and handed him to me.

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I marveled at him. Oh, you just couldn’t believe it unless you saw it. He had the most perfect little feet. His toes looked like tiny little bubbles. I counted each one. His hands! Beautiful fingers, starting to form nail beds. He had the beginnings of nostrils and the tiniest mouth. My favorite part were his earlobes. Paper thin and just beginning to form. The sweetest little things you’ve ever seen. He was bigger than the docs had measured him at. He was fearfully and wonderfully made. I can’t even type this out without crying and smiling simultaneously. Milkman and I cried and pointed out each tiny feature.

Milkman and I had picked out names for the baby. If a girl, we would name her Mary Jo after MM’s grandma and if a boy, Ezra Eugene. Ezra was a name we had both really liked and I wanted Eugene after MM’s grandpa whom I adore and am beyond intrigued by. Milkman held his little body and kept saying, “oh, my little Ezra!” His name fit him so well.

After other medical issues, I finally did accept that morphine and I wrapped Ezra in the blanket I had made him. We met our day nurse, who was an angel, she was so tender with us. And I drifted in and out of sleep for an hour while holding Ezra.

Our nurse came in and took pictures of our sweet, forever sleeping baby. She touched him tenderly, took his footprints in ink and in clay… She was so respectful of his little body. He was so precious.

We filled out paperwork for his body to be released to the funeral home for cremation, and Milkman went to the pharmacy to fill my scrip for Methergine and Norco. I was alone with my little Ezra. I sang to him and talked to him. His mouth had opened a bit, and in a moment of emotion I expressed some of my breast milk onto my fingertip and gently placed a drop in his mouth. I wept.

Milkman came back, we said our goodbyes and placed Ezra’s tiny little wrapped body in a white basket the Nurse brought in to carry his body to the mortuary at the hospital, where Ezra would be kept until the mortuary came to retrieve his body.

When it was time for us to leave, the charge nurse came in and wrapped Ezra up and closed the lid to the basket and took his little body away. I felt so empty. Not spiritually, but physically. So deep was the void that he had left, I felt like my core was gone completely.

We went to lunch, surprisingly hungry. I ate and we left for home. My mama brought Mamitas and Captain home and I napped with Captain for hours. People brought food and flowers. I couldn’t make it out of bed for some time. The bleeding, the cramping, the awful emotional pain and headache from crying…

We went the next day to the mortuary and signed papers for Ezra’s cremation. Signing my name wasn’t hard, but writing “mother” next to all the lines reading “relation to the deceased,” proved to be extremely difficult. One word. Mother. A powerful word that invokes thoughts of comfort, love, and protection, and nothing I could have done could have kept him from his death. I felt helpless writing that word. We were told he would be cremated the following Wednesday evening.

I kept busy the next few days. Chasing the babies, washing dishes, cleaning floors, doing laundry. Nights were the hardest for both Milkman and I. The quiet reminded us of Ezra’s absence.

On Wednesday we went to our favorite beach with Mamitas and Captain. We got three, green balloons– one for each of our children. Captain jumped up and down with glee when we parked at the beach, “mama!!! Beach! Water, mama!” And then we tied his balloon to his belt loop and he was in heaven. Mamitas got into Milkman’s back in the Ergo and we tied her balloon to the Ergo strap. We walked along the beach and read a Psalm. Milkman prayed. We talked to the babies about Ezra, and explained what happened. Then we let go of the third balloon and sent it up to the sky. Judah thought it was an “uh-oh” but watched it go up and I watched til the balloon became a dot in the sky and then ’til it disappeared. And I cried. Mamitas ate sand, as 13 month olds are want to do. Captain cried to go in the water and we explained it was too cold. He cried. Life has to go on when you have toddlers. They wait for no one.

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We went to dinner at the same restaurant where Milkman and I and my family ate after we were engaged 4 years ago. We laughed and talked. We marveled at our kiddos– all 3 of them and thanked The Lord for each of our children.

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The days since Ezra’s passing and birth have been a blur. Recovering from any birth is messy and painful. This was no exception.

I’ve grown closer to The Lord and appreciated my children more. I’ve learned to accept love that people give, whether it’s in the form of donations, meals, notes, flowers, gifts, prayers, scripture, and words of encouragement. That has been a difficult thing for me as I dislike taking anything from anyone, but The Lord is working on me. I’ve had days where I’ve barely cried at all, and days where I’ve done nothing but cry. My milk came in much stronger than it has been for many months, and I like to think it was a gift from Ezra for Mamitas, who still very happily nurses, and nurses even more happily since the extra milk has come in. Her closeness has been comforting, as she is normally not a cuddly baby unless she’s nursing, and that’s all she’s wanted to do with the extra supply in. God is good.

Ezra was so little when he died. It seemed senseless for such a young life to be taken so quickly. I don’t know why The Lord took him from us, but I do know it hasn’t been for naught. I’ve had people tell me that through sharing Ezra’s story it’s drawn their marriages together. People tell me it helped them heal from previous emotional scars from their miscarriages. Some have shared that it’s made them cling closer to God. So in a way, Ezra’s short, little life has been full of purpose. His tiny little hands have touched many a heart. But none have felt that so much as I have.

I pray The Lord blesses Milkman and I with many more children. I pray He does soon as Ezra’s absence is so strongly felt. But I know that whatever His plans are for our family, God is good. All of the time.

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