Friday, April 3, 2020

Squish's Big Day!

Here in the midst of coronapocalypse, I thought it would be nice to share some fun news to take my mind off everything going on in the world right now.

So last Saturday, our sweet little Squish had a big day! He {finally} transitioned from a crib to a toddler bed! This sweet boy will be 3 in about 10 weeks, and while he was fine in the crib for the most part, there had been a few instances where he found his way OUT of the crib. Most recently, about a week ago, we heard a loud T-H-U-D during afternoon rest time, followed by Squish casually walking out of his room and heading downstairs. We thought it was hilarious, and while we were super grateful he must have stuck the landing, we figured it was about time to get him transitioned to a toddler bed.

My mommy heart was dreading it just a little bit. Squish has been our littlest baby for so long! But alas, with his little brother's pending arrival in less than 12 weeks (!!!), I begrudgingly decided it was time to start referring to him as my "big boy" instead of my baby. *cue tears*

When I went upstairs last Saturday to get him up following nap time, I was armed with a set of 1,382 different sizes of allen/hex wrenches, prepared to remove the four screws that held the front panel of his crib. He sat in his bed and was all kinds of curious as to what I was up to. I managed to successfully remove the screws, and then we counted to three! Check out the video below. Please note the insanely adorable sound he makes when the front panel is first removed. LOVE.

((Please disregard the missing section of wall paper on the wall behind his bed and the fact that his crib was in the center of his room. He pulled off little sections of the paper when his crib was against the wall, so hubs cut out a large rectangular section to replace it. That will be done... eventually.))

Squish was super excited about the new bed situation! He loved the freedom to get up and down as many zillion times as he wanted. I did put up a white mesh panel that covers 3/4 of the side so he wouldn't fall out of bed at night. Here he was the first night at bedtime. He couldn't be more proud of his big boy bed!

And get this, y'all: he didn't make One. Single. Attempt. to come out of his room after we put him down for the night. Not one. He played in his bed, and I'm not even sure he got out of it at all that first night. And apparently it was a great situation for him because he slept very well. In fact, he was still out cold at 9:21 AM the next morning!

The rest of the week has been just as awesome! In fact, after rest time, he will wait for hubs or I to talk to him through the monitor to give him the a-okay to open the door and leave his room. How courteous, amiright? And most mornings he just chills in his bed until we either come up to get him, or tell him to come downstairs through the monitor. This kid is winning, y'all!

I just love this crazy sweet boy of mine, and I'm so proud of how well he's been doing with his new bed! He loves to play with his cars (and shoes in the closet) during his afternoon rest times, so he pretty much no longer takes any sort of nap in the afternoons. He might be a little bit more grouchy than usual by bedtime (aren't we all?), but it doesn't matter to me! He goes down each night so well and sleeps so soundly!

I'm glad we were able to make this happen now so he has a good three months to settle into this routine. Once Cinco arrives, things will change up again as we add a crib to their bedroom and start (eventually) making preparations to welcome our newest and final family member!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

27 Weeks

Yesterday, I had to venture out of the comfort and safety of my home quarantine to go to an appointment with my high-risk perinatologist. I really didn't want to go, but I knew I had to. It was necessary for myself and for Cinco. I was scheduled to have a growth ultrasound, a consultation with my diabetic nurse, and a visit with my favorite maternal-fetal medicine specialist, Dr. G.

I want to take a moment to note that this is my fourth pregnancy that has included visits to the MFM office. It all started with Chase's heart defect diagnosis back in 2009, and we continued to be followed with each subsequent pregnancy with E, Squish, and now Cinco, as high-risk pregnancies seem to be my jam. However, this was the FIRST TIME I wasn't able to have my husband by my side. That's a pretty big deal, y'all! For starters, we didn't want to risk having anyone in our home to keep the kids while we were at the appointment, but even if we did, the doctor's office was not permitting ANY visitors with patients. Our hands were tied. It was disappointing and very different for sure, but I understand and appreciate the logic. And to be honest, my heart was breaking at the thought of not having my spouse there with me had this been my very first appointment and I was about to find out the details of a possible defect in my unborn child. I can imagine there are mothers-to-be in this exact position right now, and it breaks my heart just thinking of them experiencing that life-altering news all alone. My prayers are with these precious mamas and the journey ahead.

I was quite anxious to leave the house, and even more so to head to a medical office. The MFM office had me call them when I arrived, and wait in my car. I appreciated this so much! They came out to my car and took my temperature with a contactless device, handed me a check-in questionnaire to fill out, and asked me to call them when I was finished. Then they came out to my car to take me directly into my exam room. I should add that on Monday, my aunt was super awesome to drop an N95 mask in my mailbox that my mom gave to her, which apparently came from my brother-in-law (thanks, y'all!). I put it on in the car when I arrived for my appointment, and left on for the duration of my 2.5 hour visit. It was terribly uncomfortable, and quite unfashionable, but it provided me with added peace of mind for which I was quite grateful! I was cautious not to touch any part of my face, not to touch anything in the office unnecessarily, to sanitize my hands at every opportunity, and just make smart, healthy overall decisions as much as possible. I felt terrible that the nurses were jealous of my N95 masks as they all were wearing the typical disposable paper masks, which really don't provide them with much protection, especially when they're around so many different patients each day.

The diabetic nurse met with me first, and overall she was very pleased with my numbers. Not unlike previous pregnancies, I find myself checking my blood sugar with finger sticks 4+ times per day, and dosing two different insulin medications anywhere from 2 to 5 times per day in my stomach. That's a lot of poking, folks! But it seems to be keeping my levels where they need to be, which keeps both Cinco and I safe, so I'm happy about that!

After the nurse left, the ultrasound tech came to take me back for the u/s. Cinco cooperated quite nicely! We got a few precious pics of his adorable profile -- check out that sweet little button nose!

His growth measurements literally came in at 26w6d, which was exactly how far along I was yesterday! One of the biggest concerns with gestational diabetes is that the baby will grow too big, but for now, he's sitting at a perfect 2ish pounds (I forgot to write down the exact number -- hubs usually handles all.things.numbers. πŸ˜”). In addition to the growth measurements, Dr. G wanted to check the position of the placenta. At my previous ultrasound, they noticed the placenta was located right next to the cervix. Obviously placenta over the cervix would result in a C-section delivery, which I would very much like to avoid. Based on the ultrasound yesterday, the placenta was moving away from the cervix as the baby has grown, which was exactly what I had been praying for! Praise the Lord! I'm so grateful He hears our prayers in the midst of all that is going on in the world today. He is so good!

After the ultrasound, they took me back to my exam room to meet with the doctor. He was pleased with everything, and said he wished all of his high-risk patients were like me! LOL! While I have several reasons that cause me to fall into the high-risk category (old lady age, gestational diabetes, overweight, autoimmune disease), I am managing to maintain all of the risks well... at least so far! Dr. G was especially awesome because he wanted to eliminate the extra visits between his office and my OB's office, and we basically made the decision for me to continue to be seen exclusively at his office, eliminating the additional appointments with my OB. I will see him again in 3 weeks around 30 weeks, and then again around 33 weeks. Once I'm at 34 weeks, I'll likely start weekly appointments for growth ultrasounds and NSTs.

As for baby preparations at home, I haven't even started, y'all. 😳 Hubs and I had originally thought about closing in our upstairs loft and turning it into a 5th bedroom. This would allow us to put Chase in that room, move Squish into E's room, and leave the nursery for Cinco. However, we recently switched up our plans and are now planning to keep Chase and E in their room, keep the upstairs loft open, and put baby Cinco in the same room as Squish. I'm a little nervous about this because we've NEVER put a baby in a shared room. If you've successfully done this at some point with your kids, PLEASE send me some encouragement that it's going to work and it's going to be okay! All tips and suggestions are welcome! That said, I have no clue what I'm going to do with this combined room. Squish is in a toddler bed now (as of earlier this week!), and Cinco will obviously be in a crib. They will share a dresser and the closet. I have no idea how to decorate the room, what bedding to make/buy/use for Cinco, etc. I don't think I've ever felt this behind with preparing for a baby's arrival! There are only about 12 weeks left, so I'd better start figuring things out soon! Send virtual help and hugs my way, y'all!

Thanks for reading along with me on our journey! I'm grateful to the family and friends who have remembered us in prayer as I am dealing with pregnancy and a pending delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is scary territory that I've never found myself in before now. I'm praying for the health and safety of my sweet baby during this scary time, and would covet your prayers as well.

Hugs, all!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The One Where I Vent

Last summer, I shared a lengthy, detailed, and honest post concerning our family's last-minute, unexpected, unplanned decision NOT to return to Classical Conversations (CC) for the 2019-2020 school year. You can check out that post using the link provided for a refresher if need be. There were a LOT of reasons but TL;DR: a lot of it came down to finances compounded with my availability to teach my own children at home vs. spending tons of time prepping to tutor other people's children.

Let me say this was 110% the RIGHT DECISION for our family and I couldn't be more grateful that the Lord has placed us on the path He currently has us on.

But let me take a moment to retrace my steps back to 2016 -- the year my oldest child began the Essentials program with CC.

According to CC's website, "the Essentials of the English Language program is a complete language arts program that takes students beyond the worksheet. Essentials teaches students how to analyze sentence construction thoughtfully. The result is strong language construction and usage skills, both written and oral."

On another CC website, under Essentials FAQs, the question is posed, "Do I need to supplement with an additional language arts program?"

The response from CC states, "The Essentials program offers a complete language arts program. The Essentials of the English Language Guide provides a comprehensive grammar program complete with English grammar, spelling, and punctuation rules. Our writing curriculum teaches the skills needed to write strong paragraphs and essays. There should be no need to have an additional Language Arts program."

This program was marketed to 4th through 6th grade students, and I was ecstatic that LO was going to learn so much! Here's an infographic from CC's website touting all that Essentials students would be learning:
Doesn't that sound simply incredible??

It did to me. And I enrolled LO in Essentials back in 2016 without any real research and without analyzing the program in any way, other than the information that CC provided to me. TBH, I wasn't even able to get my hands on the materials I would be teaching my daughter until a few weeks before the class began, and I had already paid enrollment fees and tuition earlier in the year that were all non-refundable. [Side note: This is something I still have such a hard time understanding. What homeschooling parent would purchase curriculum for their child WITHOUT first laying eyes on the materials?? This same issue would present itself year after year had we decided to continue with CC's Challenge program through middle and high school. You're told to just "trust the system" -- but I have a hard time trusting a system that isn't open and forthcoming with the information it decided you will be teaching your child!]

Back to 2016... LO did amazing her first year! I was so proud and impressed by all that she was digesting and memorizing and learning! The program is designed to be repeated for all three grades (4th - 6th), so it wasn't expected that they "get everything" the first year... they would have two more years to soak it all up.

In 2017, we continued with the Essentials program, but LO and I did it together one-on-one at home instead of with our community since we had the joy of welcoming Squish the summer before the school year began, and I just didn't want too much on my plate at that time. LO thrived with Essentials at home! She continued to master chart after chart and regurgitate all of the information I requested from her. I was so pleased with all she was learning, and was 100% confident she was being exposed to ALL of the English grammar and writing skills necessary for 5th grade students.

In 2018, for LO's third and final tour, I actually tutored one of the Essentials classes at our community. I jumped in with both feet and was so excited to see how LO would be challenged in her final year!

Y'all, she with her incredible knowledge, memory, and skills! She could diagram a sentence like it was her job! There were several times during tutor prep at home that I would have to ask her to help me prepare my lesson for the class! She really got it, y'all. ALL of it. And then some!

In fact, it was both hilarious and (mostly) frustrating when I would ask questions during my class, only to have a handful of students raise their hands to answer my question all with the same response: "LO knows the answer!" They all thought it was SO funny because honestly, she pretty much DID know the answer every single time! And while this seemed fantastic, on the inside I was beginning to feel very concerned.

This program was designed to take three years. What happens if a student masters it in just two years? As a tutor, my job was to teach ALL of my students, but those first year 4th graders mostly stared at me like deer in headlights, while most of my third year 6th graders were BORED. My LO was absolutely BORED OUT OF HER MIND. Y'all, I paid money to enroll her in the class, purchased the necessary materials, and even spent hours preparing to tutor each week, and my daughter was BORED OUT OF HER MIND the entire time. Looking back now, I see that her last year of Essentials was a total waste of both time and money.

But it gets worse.

As I prepared to homeschool this year, 100% on our own with the complete πŸŽ‰freedomπŸŽ‰ to review and select curricula that is best suited to each of my children, I ended up putting LO in a 9th grade English course. This was based off her performance in Essentials, coupled with my review of the curriculum, and how much of it LO already covered in the previous three years during Essentials.

This year started off great for LO! She was excelling in her 9th grade English course, as well as in all of her other courses. We were running full steam ahead in English through the first several chapters.

Then things started breaking down...

I started realizing she didn't have the grasp of the knowledge I expected her to have.

She was struggling with very basic English grammar concepts.

I was shocked to discover how much she was lacking as we worked together one-on-one with her English curriculum.

I used every tool available to me from the curriculum company.

Review pages.

Concept reinforcements.


Teaching helps.

Nothing I used seemed to make the information click for LO. It was a struggle, and I was heartbroken that my daughter (and I!) had such a false confidence in her skills thanks to her three years in Essentials.

This past weekend, I decided to have LO complete the Accelerated Christian Education diagnostic test for English to discover the learning gaps she was wrestling with. This would allow me to use PACE's (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education) specific to each of her learning gaps to help get her up to grade level in English.

She completed the assessment today and I was floored to discover she has learning gaps in both 4th and 6th grades. In fact, she had failed one PACE at the 4th grade level, and five PACEs at the 6th grade level (there are 12 PACEs per grade).

I was completely devastated to discover just how bad her knowledge of English grammar actually was! She was nowhere near as "advanced" in her English skills as I had previously thought. I feel like I failed her by putting her into a program back in 2016 without asking a single question or making any attempt to investigate whether or not it would meet the necessary requirements that span over three grade levels. I feel like I failed her by keeping continuing to use a curriculum for three years that she had clearly mastered after two, rather than putting her into a more thorough, complete English grammar curriculum.

So after I spent several hours today feeling sorry for myself and feeling such regret for the schooling decisions I've made for my children in the past, I took a few minutes to thank the Lord that He led us away from that path and into the real world where I have complete and total control as the parent of my children to determine what is best for each of them, rather than putting them into a box and "trusting the system" that IMO has done nothing to earn that level of trust with my children's educations.

I shared my frustrations today with fellow homeschoolers, several of whom have previously used CC and/or are currently enrolled in CC, and I was again shocked at what I discovered.

We were NOT the only ones finding these HUGE gaps in CC's Essentials program. In fact, comment after comment after comment only supported my discovery that Essentials is NOT a complete program and WILL likely leave your child with several learning gaps unless you supplement it significantly at home (which, if you're paying hundreds of dollars for a program, you'd expect it not to require supplementation to keep your child at grade level).

Check out a few of the responses I received:
"I had a similar experience with my son. He completed 2 years of essentials and was always the kid with his hand up. He knew a lot of his charts as well. I switched to well-ordered language and he has struggled with some concepts for sure. I realized that he had just learned to anticipate the likely answer for the sentences in the EEL because they were all so predictable based on the lesson. WOL throws in a mixture of sentences from all they have covered which forces you to really know your stuff. WOL also has the kids answer why each word is what it is and identify what it’s modifying while they analyze the sentences. He couldn’t do that easily at all. He’s doing well now but I realized how those contrived sentences based strictly on the lesson didn’t help him to really understand parts of speech and sentence analysis."
"We have to test yearly in MN as a requirement to homeschool. We did First Language Lessons for 1st and 2nd grade then Rod & Staff for 3rd and 4th grade. I did only Essentials for 5th grade and noticed a drop in her score for English. So for 6th grade I went back to Rod & Staff. I get the diagramming and classifications, but they really have no practice for things like prepositions, etc."
"We discovered some major gaps with my middle child after 2 years in essentials...she has really struggled with very basic mechanics like where to put commas, which words to capitalize, etc. We have been working on catching her up all year, but I believe she is still behind where she would have been if I had rejected the essentials hype..."
"My daughter had major gaps. She took the Stanford 10 after 2 years in Essentials. While she placed far above grade level in almost every subject, she placed below level in grammar...I was pretty surprised and disappointed."
"The punctuation and capitalization rules are almost non existent in EEL. Spelling is there but in an afterthought sort of way. I feel like they do an abysmal job teaching about parts of speech and what they actually do. I tutored EEL two years, and had never covered a noun clause at all or verbals in depth until we switched programs this year. Some of the charts are useful, but I don’t think they provide real practical application of knowledge."
"How do you have a 3 year grammar program that’s going to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $1,500 that doesn’t cover punctuation and capitalization, and also doesn’t cover more advanced grammar topics? It blows my mind."
"I agree, there is a lot missing. It is not complete and we have had to fill many holes. It wastes so much time over 3 years."
"Gosh, I could be writing this! My Challenge A student is dissatisfied with Challenge and we will be likely making a change next year. I have been in Essentials for 5 years and I do not love it. I am seeing a lot of gaps based on standardized testing."
"I am not surprised. It never felt like enough regular practice to me and lacked in many ways. We did another Grammar curriculum the entire time we did Essentials. It’s kind of humorous that so many parents stick with it for the price. The included spelling stunk, so I substituted that with another curriculum. The included editing stunk, so I substituted it with something else. The 5 sentences were not enough realistic practice, so I added another curriculum on top of it. The skills (prepositions, types of nouns/verbs, etc.) practice was not existent, so I added that. At the end of the day, what was I even paying for?"
"Essentials is basic and not thorough."
"After 7 years of CC (including Essentials for years) this is our first year out. It’s been a MAJOR gap-filling season for my 14 and 16 year olds."
"I feel vindicated for not buying into EEL. I enrolled my younger child in essentials only for IEW. Knowing how successful Rod & Staff English was for my older child, I stuck with that curriculum for my younger child. CC leaders didn’t agree with my decision, but I’m extremely grateful I had a strong English grammar program and didn’t rely on essentials. When I directed Challenge, it was apparent that many of the kids who had taken essentials struggled with capitalization, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. One of my biggest gripes, though, is that English grammar is a necessary subject for many years, not just during 4th-6th grades."
"I agree 100%. Essentials should be called “non-essential details.” My kids seemed to gain everything BUT the essentials."
"This is one of my biggest pet peeves about Essentials. There is just not enough practice work for the student. And not enough detailed rules regarding punctuation and capitalization - never mind all the various parts of speech and usage. We have used Abeka since about second grade (now in 8th and 10th), and my kids consistently make errors (and they're fairly bright), so I know they need to keep at it. Essentials just doesn't cut it. At all."

If my experience alone doesn't communicate the inadequacies of the Essentials program, these comments from other Essentials families surely do!

At the end of the day, after discovering these unexpected weaknesses in my daughter, I'm SUPER disappointed in myself and feel like I let my children down by putting them through CC for four years. However, I also still believe it was God who led us to make the decision to join CC back in 2015, so I know all of the experiences we've had have been part of His will for our family. And that gives me peace.

I also have peace knowing that God is still in control, and He is going to lead us to the next step in the path of His will as we make decisions for our upcoming 2020-2021 school year. There are SO. MANY. OPTIONS. for educating children at home, and I am certain He will lead us to the right fit for us during this season of our home education journey.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The One with the Fractured Clavicle??

It’s been an interesting week around here, y’all! We’ve had an ER visit for one kid, a head cold for over 2 weeks that just.won’t.quit. for me, and a canceled family vacation for all of us.

Wednesday afternoon, while I was at work, sweet little Squish walked behind Chase when he was on the swing in the backyard and was thrown into the ground. With quite a bit of force, as one might expect. He cried a bunch, hubs took care of him, and we were keeping an eye on him. He refused to use his right side well into the evening on Wednesday, wouldn’t let us pick him up under his arms, and was extra clingy and whiny, again, as you’d expect after such an injury. He didn't have a fever, but you could tell he wasn't himself.

Thursday was more of the same thing. He seemed to improve a bit with a rotation of Tylenol and Advil, but he would just let his right arm hang at his side, doing everything with his non-dominant left hand.

On Friday, when he was still refusing to use his right arm, I took a closer look. I carefully tried moving his hand, then bending his wrist, then his elbow... all was fine. But when I tried to move his arm in a way that required the use of his shoulder, he wanted nothing to do with it, and was in obvious pain.

I looked at his shoulders and was surprised at what I saw:

His right shoulder was clearly lower than his left shoulder. Also, his right shoulder blade looked quite a bit lower than the left side. I was immediately concerned he had dislocated his shoulder considering the impact of hitting the ground with such force. #majormomfail

Hubs was working from home Friday, so my mom come over to keep the older 3 while we took Squish to the ER. We considered the nearby urgent care center, but our expectation was that if he had in fact dislocated his shoulder, it would result in a trip to the ER anyway in order to have a pediatric orthopedic doctor sedate him to put the shoulder back in place.

Thankfully, overall, the trip was uneventful. Squish was such a trooper as we waited to be seen at the ER.

He’s using his left hand to color here. My poor sweet babe!

It wasn’t long at all before we were called back. He was such a trooper and was charming both of the lovely nurses.

They got us settled into a room to wait on the ER doctor to see him.

Again, Squish was such a trooper! He had to put on a tiny little hospital gown, and was just so patient throughout the whole process. He really had a hard time doing things with just one hand, so daddy had to help him drink his water. LOL!

An intern came in to examine him, and it was the most movement I've seen from Squish's right arm without him complaining at all! There was even a tiny "pop" as he manipulated his arm and shoulder for a few minutes. I was surprised Squish didn't wince in pain, but I don't doubt it was just because someone other than mommy + daddy were doing it. He may or may not work us over a tiny little bit since he is (currently) our youngest and most spoiled babe. ;)

Thankfully, he eventually figured out how to make that sippy cup work with just the one functioning arm! LOL!

Eventually, the resident came by to see him and evaluate him. He said he'd like to order a few x-rays to see what's going on. He didn't think anything was broken or dislocated, but wanted to rule it out regardless.

A few minutes later, a nice nurse from pediatric radiology came by to take us for his x-rays. He started out pretty cooperative, which was nice. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to stay in the room with him due to my being 21 weeks pregnant, so I had to step out and leave daddy in charge.

I will say it was absolutely HEARTBREAKING to stand on the other side of that door and hear my sweet baby crying as they had to move him and force him into (likely painful) positions in order to get the images they needed to diagnose him. I was grateful daddy was with him, but there's nothing like a mama's sweet hugs and caresses when undergoing uncomfortable procedures. I was about in tears before they finally opened the door seemingly ages later for me to come in and rescue my sweet Squish.

We went back to his room and waited for the doctors to read the scans and give us the diagnosis. This actually happened a LOT quicker than I had expected! They came in to tell us Squish had a fracture in his clavicle (collar bone).

Apparently, this was one of the better bones to break because they told us they fully expect it to heal on its own with NO intervention. So no sling, cast, surgery... nada!

Praise the Lord!

It really was such a relief to know he wouldn't have to be put under anesthesia or have any complex procedures performed on him. It was further heartbreaking to realize he'd been suffering with a broken bone for 2 days, but the fact that they didn't do anything about it made me feel a little better. The same things we'd been doing -- letting him self-manage the use of his arm/shoulder, keeping up a Tylenol/Advil regimen, making sure he takes it easy in order to eliminate the possibility of injuring it further -- that was basically all they told us to do! What a relief!!

Now, the worst part of all of this (if you ask the older 3), is that we had to cancel the vacation we had scheduled to Great Wolf Lodge!

Hubs and I had been planning it for a while, and we told the kids about it two weeks ago, so they've been counting down the days until we were to leave, which was supposed to be bright and early TOMORROW morning! They weren't too excited about the delay, but I promised we would reschedule as soon as we possibly could (and we did!).

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

20 Weeks!

This afternoon, we had our 20-week full anatomy ultrasound for baby #5 to make sure everything looked good. Our ultrasound tech was awesome and talked us through everything. Praise the Lord!!! Everything. looked. perfect. And it was SUCH a relief to see that healthy, four-chamber heart with my own eyes!

We're having a HEALTHY baby boy, y'all!!!

For fun comparisons, check out my 20-week post when I was pregnant with Squish and my 20-week post with E!

It was so good to see baby Cinco and get a healthy report. It gives me such peace of mind! I know God is creating the perfect little finale for our family, and I can't wait to meet him!

TBH, there was one little thing the tech noticed during the ultrasound. She was worried the placenta was covering the cervix. This would be problematic and, if it were the case, would force me to have a c-section. She took a closer look and, thankfully, it appears the placenta is right at the very edge of the cervix. This was a HUGE relief! The expectation is that it will continue to move further away as the pregnancy progresses. We'll definitely have to keep an eye on it, but I will be praying fervently that it continues to move away and doesn't impact the delivery.

My gestational diabetes is nicely under control with a basal dose of insulin each morning. While it is likely we will need to add a second dose at night, I'm totally fine with this treatment. Insulin helps me balance things nicely so I'm not limited to only meat and cheese and eggs for 3 meals per day! LOL!

Thanks again to everyone for praying for our sweet Cinco today. We are so grateful and thankful for the love and support of our family and friends!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

19 Weeks

Here we are, approaching the half-way point of my pregnancy with Cinco, and I haven't really discussed much about it here on the blog since my 12 Week post. So, I figured it was about time for me to post a little pregnancy update.

I'm 19w4d today and am feeling pretty good overall! Check out that mango-sized baby bump!

This pregnancy has been rather uneventful, with the exception of what I'm about to share below.

For starters, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes... again. This is my 3rd time with GD. My doctor prescribed insulin already... when I was 18 weeks. So a minimum of 4 finger pokes per day to check my blood sugar, and one shot of insulin each morning (likely increasing to a second shot in the evenings as well starting next week). For another 21 weeks. Good times, friends!

Let's go back to October 2019, a few weeks before I found out we were expecting... I started experiencing arrhythmias. Like, a lot of them. I had never had them before, so it was slightly unnerving to suddenly experience an onset of funky heart rhythms. I had actually even googled to see if arrhythmias were a sign of early pregnancy, since we were hoping for #5 at the time.

Fast-forward a bit, and we're happily expecting our last baby in July 2020. However, the arrhythmias continued to get stronger and more frequent. I'd speculate maybe 40-60 per day. Definitely more than enough to get your attention. I was concerned, but not terribly worried, until I started feeling lightheaded at times. In fact, I vividly recall the first Sunday in January when I was playing the piano for my church, and I literally felt like I was going to fall backwards off the bench at any time during both of our morning services! It was SO scary and unnerving! I was having a hard time catching my breath as well, and it was after that morning that I decided to talk to my doctor.

At my 16 week OB appointment in January, I discussed my concerns with my doctor. He suggested I completely eliminate caffeine and try to reduce stress. One of those things I could easily do. The stress part though? There was a lot going on. Homeschooling. Starting a part-time job. The unexpected death of a dear friend from high school. A house to run. Kids to feed. So.Many.Obligations. Reducing stress just wasn't something I could easily do.

While I did notice an improvement in the frequency of the arrhythmias after eliminating caffeine, they were still a significant issue. My OB decided to refer me to a Cardiologist, who I saw at the end of January.

The Cardiologist ordered a full workup, including an EKG and an Echocardiogram. He also had me wear a holter monitor for a week so we could track when the issues occurred and how often they were happening. I saw him yesterday for the Echo and to remove to holter monitor. I don't see the Cardiologist again for the results of my tests until the first week of March. I'm trying to be patient and not allow the stress and anxiety to worsen my symptoms. I trust God that everything will be fine, and that perhaps the arrhythmias are just a side-effect of being 100 years old and pregnant. πŸ˜‚ Well, that combined with already having 4 crazy kids at home, plus homeschooling, plus working, plus... well, you get it. We all have to deal with all.the.things. in our lives, so this isn't anything new!

In the meantime, we have our 20 week full anatomy scan this Tuesday, February 11th. Please be praying along with us that everything with baby Cinco will be healthy! It was at this same anatomy scan appointment with Chase that we first discovered his congenital heart defect, so I won't even pretend that I'm not nervous and sightly apprehensive about this appointment. In the end, I fully trust in God's plan for my sweet family and know He will take care of us. I have been meditating over Matthew 6:25-34 concerning this anatomy scan next week and will continue to do so as God reveals His will in our lives.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The One with the Potty (Again)

Earlier this week, on Thursday, January 31, 2020, we officially began ATTEMPT #2 to potty train Squish. I spent some time here on my blog, reading through past posts about potty training the first 3 kids, and had a tiny bit of hope that maybe--just maybe!--we would find success this time with Squish. We tried for the first time about 6 weeks ago and he just wasn't having it. Surely he's ready now that he's 2 1/2, right??

I'm not so sure.

It's been a rough few days, y'all. It just hasn't seemed to "click" as well as it did with LO, Chase, and E. And we've been doing all of the same things: 24/7 access to the potty, an endless sippy cup of chocolate milk, unfettered access to electronics... all the things that worked in the past haven't quite seemed to work with sweet Squish.

Don't get me wrong--he's had a few successes on the potty. But those have been somewhat outnumbered by the accidents that have occurred elsewhere in the house. I typically like to potty train for the first few days with NOTHING on the bottom half, but that's proving to be difficult. We've got a pre-teen daughter and a dog: both reasons why it's not so great for a little guy to be strutting around half nakey.

I can't decide if I want to call it quits (again) or see it through for a few more days. I feel like the signs are there... I'm just waiting to see if/when it all "clicks" for him. Please pray for patience! I don't want to scar the boy with my irritability caused by having 3 other kids to care for, homeschooling, working part-time, and being 18 weeks pregnant with baby #5! There are a lot of stresses happening these days, and I really want this process to be as comfortable for Squish as possible. Lord help us!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Cardiology Update

This morning Chase had a routine checkup with his cardiologist. We'd been keeping an eye on his tricuspid valve regurgitation at prior appointments, but overall anticipated a straightforward appointment today.

We began with the typical height and weight measurements, followed by blood pressure readings on all four limbs, an EKG, and an O2 check. Everything was looking fine until we checked his oxygen saturation reading. For some reason, it never climbed any higher than 92-93. In the past, Chase has usually had sats around 97-99, so this was quite a bit lower than we anticipated.

We went back for the scheduled echo to check heart function and get pics for the cardiologist. Chase was a happy camper watching Cartoon Network during the echo (we NEVER watch this channel/programming at home so of course he was glued in LOL!).

I was surprised/concerned when the cardiologist, Dr. H, came into the echo room as this has never happened before. He requested the tech obtain specific views of Chase's LPA (left pulmonary artery), aortic arch, and of course tricuspid valve.

When the tech finished with what he thought the doctor needed, he left to go ask Dr. H to come back in to take a look to ensure he had everything he needed. Only Dr. H was with another patient, so our tech brought a second tech in (presumably more experienced) to double-check his work. She worked for a bit, then sent the first tech to find Dr. H. The cardiologist came in a second time and sat down at the echo machine (also never happened before). Dr. H looked around and was able to see most of what he wanted to see. Chase was such a trooper considering the echo took so much longer than usual!

Dr. H performing Chase's echo
Once the echo was complete, we went back to the exam room to discuss Dr. H's findings. Ultimately everything looked great -- heart function, tricuspid valve, LPA, liver, etc. However, Dr. H suspects that Chase may have a few collateral vessels that have formed, which would account for the decrease in oxygen saturation. His plan is for us to monitor Chase's O2 at home over the next 2 to 3 weeks to see if he holds around 92 or continues to slowly decrease. If it holds or continues to decrease, we will likely head to MUSC in Charleston for a heart catheterization.

This wasn't exactly the news we were hoping for, but we're grateful to find what we did so we can address it before it becomes a bigger problem. Please keep Chase in your prayers over the next few months as we make decisions about our next steps. If he's going to need a heart cath, we would definitely like to do it before Cinco makes his arrival. I'm trying not to stress out over what will unfold in the next few months. I know God has a perfect plan for this perfect boy of mine, and I fully trust Him!

For the first time in as long as I can recall, Dr. H wanted to draw some labs on Chase to check blood count, heart function, etc. So we left his office and had Chase's blood drawn at LabCorp. Y'all. He was NOT a fan. He got crazy worked up about it when I just explained to him what we needed to do. I felt awful. When it finally came time to have it done, I walked him through everything as best as I could and tried to settle him down. Bless his heart. This kid, who's been through three heart surgeries, countless heart caths, and a slew other procedures, flipped a major nut about one tiny little blood draw. Ultimately, he did great and they were able to get three vials for the tests Dr. H ordered. We finally we ready to head home, but not before a not-so-quick trip to Chick-fil-A during the lunch rush on a crazy rainy day! LOL!

Thanks for following along on Chase's heart journey and keeping our family in your prayers. Hugs to all!

"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."    -- Philippians 5b-7