Sunday, May 14, 2017

Waves

Growing up on a farm, it is pretty obvious I had zero interaction with the beach or the ocean. Cows and ditches and manure were more in my wheelhouse. My only experience with the ocean was what I saw on TV or in pictures. It looked beautiful, and romantic and perfect. I was going to see it someday, smell the salty air, (whatever that smelled like) swim, and maybe surf. Oh, and I was totally going to look good doing it. How hard could it be?

It took a while to get there, but on our honeymoon, Dan took me to Huntington Beach. He was so excited for me to finally experience what he loved so much. And I was super stoked to finally experience it. He got out of the car and he threw his hands in the air and said, 'Don't you love it!!??" I got out of the car and my first thought was, "Woah.....eeew. What is that smell?" Basically.......it wasn't all exactly what I thought it would be.

Don't get me wrong....the ocean WAS unbelievable. It was magical and beautifully amazing. Better than I could have ever anticipated. I sat and just watched the water crashing on the beach for a really long time. But it scared me. There was power in those waves that caught me by surprise. I didn't want to swim or get near the water anymore because I wasn't sure I would be able to control myself compared to the waves. I didn't want to be some headline on page 18 "Honeymooner dies on Huntington Beach." I had a life to live! And suddenly the idea of sharks seemed a little less laughable. I was also surprised at how small and insignificant I felt compared to it. 

And I definitely DIDN"T want to surf, because it was full of so many unknowns. I saw people playing in the water and they looked so comfortable. They made it look so easy. But suddenly being at the edge of something so amazing made me feel unsure and worried.

But eventually Dan convinced me to get in.

It was colder than I expected but surprisingly exhilarating. Eventually I allowed myself to go farther and farther. The waves came in and out and I found it enjoyable even! Maybe it wasn't scary! Sharks? What sharks? Maybe I can do this beach thing! Go me!! Get me a surfboard! This is fun! This is just what I wanted it to be!! ..............

Suddenly, a giant wave came crashing down on my head. I didn't know which way was up. I was thrown around and sideways. My swimsuit went places it wasn't meant to go, seaweed was hitting my body. I had water up my nose, and I couldn't breath. I came up completely disoriented and gasping for air. 

I immediately wanted to get out. That was NOT fun. That was NOT magical. THAT was scary. THAT was unexpected. And I hated the feeling of not being in control. 

But....Dan made me stay in. He wouldn't let me get out. "You got to stay IN if you are going to figure it out! You won't be stuck under a wave forever!" He reassured me I wouldn't die by shark (which I guess turned out to be valid. I'm still here) and I would not end up being a headline in the paper. (And maybe he was trying to reassure himself he hadn't married an insane person.....) 


I recently was thinking about some motherhood issues I have been having lately while I was blow drying my hair, (because all good thoughts come with your head upside down next to a heat source....obviously.) A particular morning had left me feeling frustrated and mad and I was trying to sort out why certain behavior was happening and why I was handling it all so poorly. I felt washed over with this problem and couldn't see a solution. Then I suddenly had a flash of being in that wave that first time. And I figuratively felt just like that. I felt thrown around and sideways, I couldn't breath, I felt disoriented and I didn't know which way was up. I felt not in control. 

I have thought about that a lot and how it has so many parallels with my motherhood and even other life experiences.

All my life I saw people being mother's. It looked magical. It looked picturesque. I had a vision of what it was going to be like and how it would happen. I couldn't wait until it was me. I assumed I would be great at it. How hard could it be? But imagining myself as a mother and me BEING a mother are 2 VERY different things.

The power that comes with Motherhood is beautiful and empowering and was surprising. But it is also frightening and overwhelming. It is amazing and can be picturesque. But sometimes it stinks. Especially in the middle of the night. Or in the middle of postpartum darkness. Motherhood has made me feel small and incapable of the task. But has also made me feel empowered and strong and capable. It also makes me realize that I AM NOT REALLY IN CONTROL when you involve other peoples agency. I have wondered if anyone has died from motherhood? Could that be a potential headline? Getting eaten by your children somedays does seem more likely and scarier than a shark attack. (Some days at 5:30, I miiiiight pick shark infested waters over the dinnertime meltdowns......)

Ok, maybe some over dramatization here, but after I got or get the hang of something and as I stepped in, it IS exhilarating. It IS better than I thought. I would finally get the hang of "a thing" Maybe its breastfeeding, a nap schedule, biting, temper tantrums, friend issues, or whatever. And it isn't so bad. Its FUN and rewarding and amazing!!!! Sometimes the small monotony of waves of motherhood are a welcome peaceful and noisy rhythm to my life. It is monotonous, but I find a groove. But then I'm not looking for storms or sharks or big waves because things are just going along ANNNNNND....

WHAM. A wave. Knocks me down. Takes my breath away. My feet get knocked out from underneath of me and I don't know what way is up. Even after further experiences (I am a California girl after all now....ish....;) ) when I am prepared for a wave, and watching for them, I can still get taken down by them. Lately as I have been thinking of those "waves" that have knocked me over. I feel as though I am floundering and drowning and looking like I don't know what I am doing. But I know I have to stay IN if I am going to figure it out. Because the wave won't last forever. 

I am flying by the seat of my pants with some of this mom stuff. It is hard. I don't like cleaning my house. Sometimes it does not come naturally to snuggle my kids. Sometimes I don't want to touch my children and on a lot of days by 5:00 I definitely don't want them to touch me. I like to be by myself and eat alone. I like to sleep. ALOT. Kids aren't conducive to that kind of thing. I hate packing or even feeding my kids lunch. (WHY DO WE NEED LUNCH???) 

But you know what I DO love? Them. So dang much. And so I do it. All of it. The parts I love and the parts I don't. I do it all for them. Because of them. Because they are worth the struggle. They are worth every tear and worry.

And I know I can do it too. Even on hard days when its hard to see that I can. Because of ALL the women who are figuratively in that ocean with me. Mothers and non mothers. Taking the waves like champs. I feel braver and stronger because I am surrounded by strong women in the waves. Women who have come before, women I know now and the young little girl I am raising. I want her to take her waves with bravery and courage and confidence.

I am grateful for a mother who braved those waves for me. Who regained her footing every time she was knocked down and every time she felt incapable or not strong enough to the task.  I am grateful for women in my life who are hit with wave after wave and come up NOT in tears and fear, but with smiles and shouts of exhilaration. With looks of joy and sincerely enjoying the ride. 

I am grateful for the waves. For the fear and the joy. For the complexities of motherhood and the trust and growth I get because of it. I am grateful for a mom. Dan's mom. My sisters--biological and not. My friends who feel like sisters. Neighbors. Teachers. Coworkers. A Savior. A Heavenly Father who are ALL in the waves with me. 

Happy Mothers Day. To all who are fighting the waves and braving the water--whether they be waves of motherhood, infertility, loss, grief, pain, loneliness, sadness, worry, stress, or hopelessness. 

We have all got this, because we got each other and the waves won't last forever. 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Birthday Reflections

Ezra is one today. The boy with 2 names. The little guy who refuses to sleep. The baby that has the biggest fan club and takes manhandling like a champ. I have had him for 365 days on the outside and he is just the easiest going baby (sans night time) baby I probably have had. 

Still hardly a hair on his head. Just started walking 2 weeks ago and is ecstatic that he can go where he wants to. Has 7 teeth and a gap-y smile that brightens my heart. His eyes are big and blue and soulful. He is the slowest eater, but can put a lot of food away. He adores his brother and sister and Dad and they adore him. He is a bit of a momma's boy and always wants to be up in my arms and see what I am doing. He gives the best snuggles and hugs, but does not give kisses. He is still hard to get a genuine laugh out of unless its a courtesy laugh, which are funny. Many people say his cry sounds like a laugh, that he is a spitting image of Dan, and that he has a great smile. He loves peanut butter and jam sandwiches, yogurt, cheese, and recently graham crackers. 

His nicknames are Ez, Ez-Bez, Za-za, Zaz, za-za-ga-booz-ga, zazy, E-Z-Squeeze, and still occasionally Dash. :) 

It is interesting to me that being a mom to all of my children changes me in different ways, mostly for the better--and some towards insanity. I have been re-reading my sporatic journal entries about Ezra's last year and was reminded about this experience and thought I would post it on the 'ol blog. Maybe it will kick start me into actually documenting more stuff on here. But.....probably not. 

This is a journal entry from last August. 

"Ezra hasn't been sleeping. I tell everyone that he isn't. The person checking out my groceries, the librarian, people at the park. EVERYONE! It has been consuming me because the lack of sleep is frustrating. Well, a few weeks ago I decided to take matters into my own hands. He was going to cry it out. A 5 month old does NOT need to eat every hour in the night. He self soothes for naps, and he can go 4 hours easy in the day time, so he can go AT LEAST 4 hours at night. Right? RIGHT??? Anyway, I was strong in my resolve, dang it!

Well, 10 o clock rolls around and he starts crying. GAHHHH! I hadn't even gone to bed yet. I buried my face in the couch cushion and growled. I wanted to go to bed, but now I couldn't because if he saw me in our room, he would cry even harder. And sleeping on the couch was hard because, well....he was crying. 800 square feet isn't enough space to NOT hear it. I waffled back and forth in my resolve. 

Should I just go in and nurse him? It had been 3 hours, that's basically 4 right? He would just go back to sleep and I could go to bed. 

NO!
I was strong in my resolve. 

At least 4 hours. I knew he could do it. 
As he cried I almost convinced myself to go sit in the van for an hour and then I wouldn't have to listen to it. But I oddly wanted to listen to it to make sure he was ok. 

After 25 minutes I army crawled into our room, to peek and make sure he wasn't stuck in the crib because his crying was just so sad. (parenthood at its finest...am I right?)  He was fine and I wriggled onto the bed and watched the clock tick by. I told myself I would get him at 11--at the 4 hour mark. 

After another 5 minutes I nearly jumped up to get him but then I asked myself a question:

Why am I even doing this? What does it matter whether he gets up so often? It is just a phase probably anyway. WHY am I making or letting him cry?

The answer? I wanted him to progress. I want him to sleep. Sleep will make him healthy, happy, and feel rested. I don't want him to be 30 and need his mom to go back to sleep! Or need bedtime snacks every 2 hours of the night! I love sleep and I want him to sleep LIKE ME. I am doing it for myself, but I am also doing it FOR HIM.  

As I was thinking this, Dan poked his head into the dark room. He crept around the crib and reached inside the crib and grabbed his pacifier and tried to drop it into his mouth. HAHA! Ezra didn't see him because he was crying too hard. Dan kind of slid down and sat by the crib. "Come on buddy!" I pleaded silently. "you have 15 more minutes and then I will come in and scoop you up and feed you if that is what you need. But I know you can get yourself back to sleep and I know you can go 4 hours because you have done it before! In fact I know you can go longer! But if you need it in 15 minutes, I am there, because I know you can do it!" 

Then I had this moment of clarity on how God parents us. 

We are figuratively in a crib and in the dark. Sometimes we cry out in the night because we are scared, frustrated, hurt, angry, sad, tired, or lonely. And GOD IS THERE. He hears our cries. In fact his hand is IN THE CRIB trying to pacify us and comfort us but sometimes we don't see it. And why does he let us cry? Suffer? Struggle? Feel angry, hurt or sadness and frustration?Because he wants us to progress. He wants us to be like Him. And we can't, unless He lets us. He won't give us more than we can take. Just figuratively 4 hours. And He isn't in the van waiting for us to figure it out. He is right outside the crib listening to every single cry. He wants to hear it. "



"I feel as though I have had so many moments in the dark hours of the night and in breathing in this baby of mine that he allows me to feel God's love for me in a perspective that I have never been able to before. His spirit is calm and peaceful (unless its at night or he is sick and uncomfortable.) I have felt so often that Ezra has allowed me to dig deeper into who I am as a soul, not just a human. He has healed me and given me peace." 

January

"Last night Ezra just wanted to be snuggled and I was frustrated that he NEEDED me so much at night. But perhaps during the 3 months prior to his birth, my stress or anxiety was keeping him up at night and he was up WITH ME. I had several nights where the culmination of pregnancy and Dan's cancer kept me awake, and my mind would push to take off to places that caused me to worry and stress, Ezra would push and kick and thump around and remind me, to trust. To have hope. Faith. Confidence in God. Happiness. Peace. Love. Joy. Because his very existence was the result of all of that. He comforted me when I NEEDED it. I guess all is fair, and it is evening out. HA! I think that having Griff be such a good sleeper, I went into this 3rd baby stuff thinking it would be the same. It has been humbling to realize that I don't ever have it figured out and I have to be in tune with what my kids needs are individually. I have been thinking today how beautiful families are. We need each other and we give of each other even when it isn't convenient. We give when we are tired or don't want to because that kind of deep love comes BECAUSE you sacrifice and give up things that don't matter, for people who very much do."

But now this boy of mine is 1. It hasn't just gotten more crowded physically in this 800 square foot space since he moved in a year ago, but his existence has added to our home with feelings of peace, love and happiness and (noise) that have it nearly bursting. And although it drives me bonkers and crazy sometimes, I love it, and I love him. So glad you are ours Zaz.




Pictures taken around 2 months by our awesome friend and neighbor Jen Berg! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Christmas Music Video

Our 2016 video is here!
Check out the link!

https://youtu.be/6voA9XhrTOE

Merry Christmas!!

Dan, Suzanne, Nova, Griffon and Ezra

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Dash's birth story

We had a baby!

I doubt anyone will actually make it through this post, but I am a much faster typer and all the details I want to remember.

I should start this saga by saying that I went into the doctor Wednesday afternoon. I had been dialated to a 2, 2 weeks prior, and was really hopeful that I had made a tiny bit of progress since then. I was also hoping that they would strip my membranes. With Nova and Griff, I went into labor within 24 hours of having my membranes striped so I was hopeful that little Dash would be the same. Unfortunately, I was only to a 2.5 and she could hardly strip my membranes because my water sack was so low that she was worried about breaking my water.......(I was like--that's ok! Just break my water! Ha! She didn't think that was a good idea though.....) And she scheduled me for an induction on the 9th of April, when I would be 41 weeks. I came home SOOOO discouraged. I did not want to be pregnant for another week and a half. My mom had just come into town and I think mentally I was finally ok with actually doing the labor thing. Prior to the appointment, I still felt a little hesitant about my readiness to do the labor thing mentally and physically. The last few months had been draining on me and I just didn't feel prepared. The previous Thursday I started having contractions and really thought it was the real deal. I had kind of a panic attack and Dan gave me a blessing. It's not that I didn't want to have the baby, it was that I just felt like I needed a bit more time to prepare. Dan had only been done with chemo for 3 days and was still feeling sick, and I had a bad cold, and I just needed more time. But this appointment did it for me. I was ready for this 9 months of anticipation to come to the ultimate end--delivery.

That night I went to YW to our activity, which ended in a lot of dancing--(attractive when you are 39 weeks pregnant) It was a stake talent show. and then I came home and walked about a mile and half with my mom. 

I woke up on Thursday March 31st, at 6:00am with some contractions. They were hard and consistent--every 4 minutes apart. At 7 when Dan was leaving for work, I declared to him that I was pretty sure I was going to have a baby today--but also told him to go to work, since I wanted to make sure things kept going and I wanted to do most of the labor thing at home. :) 

I consistently had contractions all through getting Nova off to school and getting showered and dressed. My mom and Griffon and I went to the dollar store for some puzzles for general conference. Still every 4 minutes. I could still walk and talk through them, so I kept telling myself that I should just stay home and not call Dan. We got home, and around noon I went for a walk to our nearest park. The contractions picked up a bit--I had a few 3 minutes apart and they were a bit stronger. I called Dan on the walk and we debated if he should come home. By the end of my walk, I texted and told him to come home and we could head to the hospital. 

Dan came home and I brought out the bassinet and told him to set it up. (It takes under 5 min) My mom and I moved my bed over so we would have room for it and we snapped a couple of pictures and headed out to the hospital. Griffon was so excited, and I was really emotional hugging him as my baby for the last time, knowing that the next time I saw him, he would seem so huge. I told him that the next time I came home, I would bring him a new baby! He totally grinned and was so excited. 

We arrived at the hospital at 2. I told them I had been having contractions since 6 in the morning. They hooked me up to a monitor and things were going great. But, the only downside was is that when they checked me I was only at a three. WHHAAAAATTT???? I felt like the biggest wimp, and pansy. Had I really only dilated a measly 1/2 cm in 8 hours? I started to question what I knew about my body and my ability to read its cues---and also my pain tolerance. At this point, the contractions were uncomfortable enough that I definitely didn't want to be sent home, but not strong enough that I couldn't keep a steady face during a conversation either. (my pride is obviously an issue....)

They had Doctor Hill, the on-call doctor come in and check me about 45 minutes later after I answered some questions to get me pre-admitted. I was at a "maybe 3.5" and he told me he suggested that I walk for a while. 
The conversation went a little like this:
Dr: I would walk around a bit and see if things progress. It might get things moving a little.
Me: Can you just break my water? I go really fast after my water is broken. 
Dr: But then we are committed you know? If you slow down or don't progress, we can just send you home--how far away from the hospital to you live?
Me: 10 minutes or so. (What I didn't say, but was thinking: "Oh, I am totally committed, and I will be having this baby today Doc.)
Dr: Oh, well, yeah, I mean you aren't huffing and puffing during our conversation, so it seems like you aren't in too much pain while I am watching your contractions, so, yeah, just walk around a bit--I am off at 7:30, so I don't think I will be the one to deliver you. I will come check on you in an hour or so and see how you are doing and decide whether you should stay.
Me: Ok. I'll walk. Thank you. (What I didn't say, but was thinking: "Seriously? You will be delivering my baby before dinner buddy.")

This conversation ended about 3:50. 

My nurse told me that she was going to give me 20 minutes to walk around and come check on me. I asked for a blanket and pillow for Dan for the fold out bed because he was feeling pretty sick. I figured he could rest while I paced around for 20 minutes. After about 10 minutes I was having some really hard contractions. I debated calling in my nurse asking for an epidural, but my pride got the best of me---again.....seriously....I need to work on this.....I kept telling myself "I can do 10 more minutes---I can't ask for an epidural when I am at "maybe a 3.5." but when she came in 10 minutes later, I decided I would get one. Then I could relax. Dan did a ton of pressure points with Griffon but I just felt that I should just get an epidural and then we could both relax a bit before the final showdown. 

The anesthesiologist who came in for my epidural about 4:25 was actually the same one who did Dan's surgery to remove his tumor---well both surgeries since after his first one he had internal bleeding so they had to put him under again.....so she totally recognized us. It was a weird sort of reunion. I think my nurse was wondering what the heck was up with my husband taking a nap on the couch---I told her, "Fun fact that isn't really fun: My husband just finished chemo last week, so he isn't feeling super great." Dan was up at that point and came over to help with the epidural.

She put in my epidural and I felt so hot and sweaty and felt terrible. I just tried to hold really still and was squeezing the life out of Dan's hand and was breathing really deeply. After it was in, I sat back and she told me that I would be feeling better by the next contraction. Welllllll.........it didn't. My nurse, Dagny, (who was the coolest and best nurse ever) started bustling around getting things ready for the delivery. I had another contraction, and then another and it actually didn't feel any better---just more painful. My eyes were mostly closed as I told Dan that it wasn't working and that I didn't think I could do it. I was scared to do this task of delivering this baby alone without any assistance. I had tears in my eyes because the feeling was just so intense. With Griffon, my epidural kicked in right after I had transitioned, but took immediate effect. So although I felt it all the way up to the end, I had it for the end and had a bit of respite before the grand finale. But I knew that for this baby, it was he and I. 

To describe the last bit of labor seems nearly impossible. I would simultaneously describe his birth into this world the most terrifying, joyful, intense and spiritual thing I have ever done. After the anesthesiologist left, Dagny checked me and I was at a 9.5. I had dilated from maybe a 3.5 to a 9.5 in about 30 min. I told her I felt a lot of pressure. I thought about people I know who scream during labor and I tried moaning but the moment sound left my lips it just got worse, and so I just breathed. Dan whispered encouraging words to me. Dan is such a source of strength for me. I can easily get worked up (biggest understatement of all time) and just him holding my hand and looking at me and talking to me with confidence and calm can calm me down almost instantly.  Dagny kept telling me that that pressure was my baby and that I could do it too.

Then something happened, an image of a painting that I love came into my mind, It is called She will find what is lost by Brian Kershisnik  and I instantly thought of angels on the other side who were in that room with me. Women who have gone before me who were cheering me on. I felt the presence of my Grandma Zelma there with me and my Grandma Ila and even Dan's Grandma Thomas who I have never met. I felt empowered and strengthened through this image in my mind.

Doctor Hill came in, (not my doctor--she went on sabbatical the week before) and he said surprised, "Well! It looks like we progressed pretty fast! Let's have this baby!"


 I pushed for 2 contractions and little Dashal was here. My left leg was numb but I could feel everything else. In between my contractions, the Doctor told me that if I pushed like that again, it would be done. I don't know if it was a mix of adrenaline, pain, excitement and hormones, but I started to sing.......yes.....sing. It didn't phase Dan, but my nurse was laughing and the doctor just looked completely bewildered. I started to sing, "I am strong! I am powerful! My body can do this! The human body is amazing! This is amazing!" Yeah......maybe my pride isn't such an issue after all......hahahahahaha!

Dashal cried for the 1st 20 minutes. A beautiful image I want to remember is Dan's face when he was born. Dan doesn't show a lot of emotion. But the look of joy on his face as Dash was born was really a moment I don't want to forget. As I pushed him out, I looked at Dan as he watched. After Dash was here, I just cried. I wept in relief that I had done it. I wept because I knew I had not done it alone, and that he was here safe and sound. For some strange reason I had a lot of worry about him getting here safe. But there he was, lying on my chest, and I was holding him with my arms instead of within my body. My sweet son who we prayed so hard for, who brought me peace and joy through a very difficult few months. The human body truly is amazing and we truly never are alone.

8 lbs 13oz of adorable-ness. Hardly any hair and 21.5 inches long. Having the kids up to see him was pretty magical. It is an incredible thing to SEE love. But as they met Dash for the first time, you could almost see it. They adored him and in my tired and exhausted state, I was so grateful that they will always have each other and that we will always have each other no matter what.

On the way out the door......


Holy crap, give me an epidural.......




Dashal! 

bald head and bright eyes
His long frog legs

Also, for a virtual birth announcement the hospital puts together here is a link for that:


Note on his name: Pax means peace. We knew we liked that for his middle name. But for the first name, we really were down to the last few minutes of naming him just like Griffon. I wanted to go home the day after, but we wanted to get the birth certificate in before we left and get it notorized---basically, we NEEDED a deadline--or this kid would never have a name. The 2 we were down to were Ezra and Dashal. I tried to convince Dan on a few others that I still really liked, but they just didn't seem to fit him and Dan didn't like them--Milo, Odin, Twain, and Kessler. 

We waffled back and forth, and if she would have come back in a few times, he would have been Ezra. We weighed the pros and cons of each name, tried each name, but the nickname given to him in the womb just had stuck to hard I guess. He was just Dash. However after we went to his 3 day appointment, and they came out and called him Da-shawl, I looked at Dan and told him I wanted to change his name to Ezra. (and truth be told......I may still be considering it, depending how sleep deprived I am?!?!?! Maybe??? I have problems!) 

Birth is incredible, and the sacrifice and love of motherhood continues to astonish me. I am so grateful for a human body and human emotions no matter how difficult. So glad you are here my sweet little Dashal Pax!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Done!!!

Today was Dan's last day of chemo! YEAH! I cannot believe that its done. And I could not be more grateful. It feels surreal. Driving home I felt so emotional. I felt relieved. I felt happy. I felt exhausted. But I mostly felt thankful that we are through the whirlwind of the last 3 months.

Dan's doctor told him last Friday that he has never in his career seen anyone his age with this kind of cancer with this kind of regime of drugs do as well as he has. He said, "I don't know how you have done it man." Dan said, he wanted to tell him, "The enabling power of the atonement and prayer." How true that is. I have never felt so empowered and enabled by Christ, and I know that Dan will say the same thing.

I will not miss this cancer business and hope that it never comes back--ever. But the growth that has happened within myself and with Dan, and together as a couple, and as a family has been immense. It is amazing how after you have done something and you realize how much you have had to rely on the Lord and each other and your friends and family how you realize you never knew how strong you had the capacity to be. We never could have done any of this without the love and prayers of so. many. people. And we could not have done it without God. It makes me think of the poem that President Monson quoted a few conferences ago while Dan was unemployed, "Good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." That really resonated with me then and I still reflect on it. I want to be a strong tree, but I hate the wind and when the wind starts to blow, I don't want to be a strong tree anymore. :) (Let me stay wimpy!!!!) I know that we don't have to stand in the wind alone to become a stronger version of our tree though. I am so grateful that we have a respite from this particular storm, but am grateful for the wind from this particular hurricane. (That blew so hard that it took Dan's hair with it--Ha! I just couldn't resist.)

 Getting all hooked up for his final dose of Bleo--and final dose of chemo.

All of the great nurses at the infusion center. On the bottom right is Jessica--she was our main nurse and was so fabulous. She is getting married in a couple weeks. On the left is KB. The other nurses in the back are Lori, Hannah, Sarah and Shelly. We loved them, and will miss them, but won't miss that green chair. :) They came in and rang a bell and gave him his cancer monkey and a survival certificate and clapped and cheered with him as his IV started to beep that he was done. 

We all three spent a lot of time in this little room. A lot of people have commented that its been crazy timing being pregnant during all of this. I don't know if I have written this here, but this little boy has brought me more peace than I can even articulate. Admittedly, this has been my hardest pregnancy as far as feeling sick and tired goes. I have been more achy and had a harder time than I ever have with Nova or Griffon. But in some ways, his has been the easiest. He has brought me a lot of joy and happiness even in times of a lot of stress and worry. And I am so grateful he has stayed in this whole time too and hasn't decided to come early. :)


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Round 2

Last week is over! And I am so very very glad. It was long, but it went smoothly. It was hard, yet was made easier by so many people. I am overwhelmed and humbled by so many people in our lives who love us and care for us and are so willing to love and serve even when their own lives are busy and crazy and stressful. I truly felt angels on the other side last week as well as angels on this side as well. And we couldn't have done it without either.

This week was very much the same as week 1. They repeated the same drugs, same chemo schedule. He had the same side effects around the same time of the week and so although it was helpful to know what to expect, it was also this cloud looming knowing that it was just going to go downhill as the week progressed. By Thursday, he was declining and feeling weaker and yesterday he was completely wiped. He got a steroid yesterday to help produce white blood cells and so if everything repeats on schedule like last time, by tomorrow he will be feeling about a thousand times better than he does now. Doing anything kind of takes it out of him. He feels week and tired and just all round blah. I think this round hit him a bit harder than the last because he was weaker when it started. But, he doesn't have a cold like he did last time, so in that aspect, that has been better. He said this round has been harder than the first. But he has been amazing through this whole process. He hasn't complained at all. The most he will say is, "I'm ready for this to be done." I have always loved him, but seeing him take this with so much grace and strength has made me love him even more. He is so phenomenally incredible and I am so lucky to have him.

I am so grateful for friends who took Griffon for a bit everyday so I could be with Dan during chemo. Although he isn't super chatty and worked most of the time I was there, it was nice to eat lunch with him and break up the monotony of the day for him.

Tender mercies this week--consisting of mostly people :) I just want to remember how MUCH people have done for us. : (I am sure I am missing people in this too, I have tried to write everything down so I can remember, but still probably haven't even done a good job of it--our friends and ward family have been so unbelievable. It makes me want to be better at serving and loving.)

*Kate, Olivia, Melanie, and Michelle for watching Griffon. And Chrissy for being ready to watch my kids even though I cancelled at the last minute because my kids needed to be home.
*Erin and Jen for picking up Nova and letting her hang out at their house after school on the days that Dan wasn't quite done with chemo.
*Debbi and Erin for helping with Griff on Friday and getting him to gymnastics.
*Dave Erickson bringing cookies all the way from New York for Dan.
*Carol, Kate, Michelle, Cynthia, and Britt for bringing dinner. I have always been pretty terrible at asking for help, or accepting it for that matter because I have the mentality of just hunkering down and getting stuff done that needs to be done--even when its not easy. But having dinner brought in all week was the so amazing for me. By the end of the day I was completely wiped out, and only having to figure out food for Dan and Nova was way better than thinking of something for Griffon and I as well. But to top it off, everyone brought food that Nova could have at least some of and it was amazing to have that load lightened at the end of the day.
*Erin brought over some amazing bread that Dan devoured after nothing else sounded good.
*Phil watched Griffon while I was able to take Nova to a tap dance performance for her old teacher that she desperately wanted to go to.
*Our home teacher brought over some "chemo chip cookies." He made them himself.
*Friends and family texting and calling and sending letters to lift Dan's spirits.
*A gift card from Dave and Elisa to Red Robin.
*An anonomyous gift card to Chik-fil-a for us to get dinner from someone in our ward.
*We were able to enjoy a movie on Friday as a family. It has been a LONG time since we have had a Family movie night and it was so awesome to be together doing something normal even though Dan felt blah.

Hardest things for the week:
*The week in general was really long.
*We had an inspection at our property and I needed to make sure our house was clean and tidy.
*Watching Dan feel miserable.
*Finding out Wednesday that my amniotic fluid is low--they aren't super worried about it, but I have been told I need to drink a gallon a day and rest twice a day. Drinking a gallon a day with a baby sitting on my bladder means I am living in the bathroom or always needing to GO to the bathroom. Hahaha!
*Thursday afternoon. The kids were so done. They were play-dated out. They were tired. They were cranky. Nova particularly had a rough time. As in epic meltdowns. I think at this point of the week everyone was kind of done. Ha!

SIDE NOTE ON FRIDAY (that will be of no interest to anyone but me, but I wanted to record it somewhere.)

*I so carefully orchestrated getting everywhere where I needed to be. I needed to be at the school in the morning to check to see if there was any prep work for Nova's classroom. Then I dropped Griffon off at our neighbor Erin's house. Then I ran back to the school to drop off Nova's backpack that she had left that morning (The morning was so crazy because we were trying to tidy everything up for an inspection happening later in the morning that I wouldn't be home for.)  I then volunteered in Nova's class, and left early so I could be to Dan's doctors appointment on time. Another friend, Debbi, picked up Griffon from Erin's house to get him to gymnastics where I would meet her before it ended.
After leaving Nova's school a little early to get to Dan's doctors appointment on time I was feeling really proud of myself because I was actually a little early to Dan's doctors appointment. (Typically I am running behind.) I texted him as I was parking to let him know I was there and he texted back as I was walking in to say he had been pulled back early for his appointment, it had only lasted 3 minutes and he was done. I felt SO defeated. After all my careful planning and figuring, I still couldn't be everywhere where I felt like I should be. It was frustrating and annoying. I kind of wanted to put my head in my hands and cry. I could have been home for the inspection. I could have finished volunteering. I could have picked up Griffon and taken him to gymnastics. I felt exhausted trying to be impossibly everything for everyone. But instead, I just took a moment to be really mad and then decided I didn't even have enough energy to be mad about it.
I had packed Dan a lunch and sat with him for a bit while he got started on chemo and went and met Griff and Debbi at gymnastics. Because I was exhausted and my kids were exhausted, I cancelled the playdate for the kids that afternoon and we hung out at home. Griff and I had a great nap while Nova played quietly. And that night we had a movie night all together. Although Dan didn't feel good, it was such a great thing to just be together and have things feel normal. It was a good reminder that I can't do it all--as much as I want to and that as much as I can simplify things, I need to.

My view at chemo. :) 

Last day of the long chemo week. We both look pretty tired.

A view of the IV drip machine he is hooked to.

But, the great news is that he only has one treatment left--next Monday! Hooray!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Chemo week 3

Half way there baby!

We finished up the week and are officially half way done with chemo! In some ways it has seemed really fast and in other ways it has seemed to be really dragging.

This week Monday started off kind of rough. Dan went in for a treatment and was able to go back to work afterwards for a bit but came home feeling pretty miserable. The drug he gets every Monday makes him feel like he has the flu and can make him feel achy, chilled, and get a really high fever. He has never gotten a fever before with this drug, but Monday he got a pretty high fever and felt awful. I was a little worried we would need to take him in. Luckily, the Tylenol took it down and he was able to get some sleep and felt much better in the morning.

Tuesday, his hair started falling out in clumps in the shower. It was pretty crazy, and although expected, was a little sad. Dan shaved his whole head before he went to work. He had Griff watch him because whenever we have talked about Dan loosing his hair, Griff has been really concerned about it and has even cried a few times. But Griff (and Dan) took it like a champ. Dan did a big strip down the middle of his mohawk and Griffon laughed and told him he had a bridge on his head. Afterwards Griff went and sat by the window and just stared out the window for a bit. I went over and sat by him and snuggled him and he said, "I think that when I have chemo, I will shave my head like Dad. It's not scary." It made me smile, but also pulled at my heart. One of the hardest things for me throughout this whole process has been to try to help Nova and Griffon process what is going on without being scared or feel worried or totally have our life turned upside down with our regular routines being different or dynamics changing. (Along with coping with those things myself)The kids have overall done well, but seeing little Griff being so pensive made me sad that he even has to process stuff like that, let alone have cancer be such a part of his life right now. Cancer is dumb.

Tuesday night Dan came home from work and experimented with the kids about how to pull the rest of his hair out. They tried duct tape--but that didn't work, and they tried a lint roller too. HA! That didn't work either. Wednesday morning, he completely shaved it off, but there are parts that are still sort of growing. It is super weird. He has been wearing a hat to work, and it actually has been harder for him to loose his hair than he anticipated, and that as a spouse has been hard too. I wish I could give him some of mine! :)

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. Friday he had a doctors appointment, and his blood levels look great and he is on track to go into his heavy week on Monday of treatment everyday. It is a little daunting and am not looking forward to it. But, knowing that we have done it before helps, and after this week, we really will be on the home stretch.

Tender Mercies this week:
*A sunshine package from one of my best friends growing up. It came on a bum day, and it really was such a ray of sunshine! Thanks Mel!
*Baby Dash. Although all the feelings you get at the end of pregnancy isn't the ideal thing to be feeling during all of this, this baby boy has brought so much peace and comfort and joy to me. A year ago, this week, I was 12 weeks pregnant when I went into the doctor and found out that there was no heartbeat. I was so sad. I felt frustrated. I was discouraged that for the 4th time I would have to go through a miscarriage. But. This week, a year later, I am weeks from delivering a baby. I have felt immense love that I have been pregnant these last few months even with all the chaos of this cancer business. He has been a constant reminder that Heavenly Father hears our cries for what we so desperately desire--but in his time table. And through this whole cancer process, when it has been scary and uncertain, this tiny moving human that I am carrying inside of my body has reminded me of God's love for me and His hand in my life and how God knows what we need when we need it. God does not always give us what we want, but He will always give us what we need.

Hard things this week:
*Dan loosing his hair, and seeing him struggle with it.
*Friday was a rough day. I just felt sort of blah after about noon. Dan has been working really late hours this week with a big project that has been coming up that kind of bottle necks with him. It has been a miracle he has been able to work through this entire chemo thing so far, but he has been super busy. So the days have been long without him here at night to help with bedtime routines and dinner. But hooray that he has a job that he loves and that he has a job! But putting kids to bed alone 8 months pregnant isn't my favorite. HA! (Lets be real though---doing the bedtime routine not pregnant and alone isn't my favorite either!) HAHA!

So grateful to be halfway done!