This next post chronicles the addition of 3 beautiful children into our marriage and years 5 through 11. Two things I did not understand before I had children. First, the absolute joy and increase in capacity to love that each child brings. We do not have to parcel off our hearts each time we add a child. Instead our ability to love just grows. Second, because of that love, our likelihood of experiencing anxiety, concern, and sincere pain increases in kind....So let the children begin.
2003 brought the birth of our first child, Ellery. I choose these pictures so you see where my sweet husbands heart is. Always first with me. It was our first real trial as we dealt with our new parent emotions, an extremely traumatic birth, and major life changes.
Ellery was born in an emergency C-Section. I was put under a general anesthetic. Ellery was born without a pulse and not breathing. Brent was ushered from the room, with a vision of a blue, lifeless baby, and an unconscious wife.
Chest compression quickly restarted her heart. However they left her with a collapsed lung. She had unrelated breathing issues, requiring oxygen. And excessive congestion (surprised?). The doctors misdiagnosed her with pneumonia and put her on a serious 10 day course of antibiotics.
We spent 8 days in the NICU with more questions than answers. Finally, they concluded she had a collapsed lung and not pneumonia. With no other health concerns except for the oxygen they finally sent us home. Oh yes, and on the way out they happened to mention she failed her hearing screening 3 times, and we probably better have her checked out. (And so began our adventures with Ellery's ears.)
For 4 weeks we carted around Ellery on oxygen. We were pretty much a wreck but making it, with the support of our wonderful families. Brent slept with her every night. Even in his sleep, he was on alert for the horrible pulse oximeter alarm to go off. Finally, the doctors cleared her of the oxygen. But still there was that nagging, terrible cough and congestion. They were certain she would grow out of it in a month or so....and then a year or so...and now several more years or so...hmmmm.
Ellery was an absolutely stunning baby from birth. At this point, 4 months old, we were still unsure about her hearing. You could slam a door a foot from her and she didn't even blink. (I remember the first time I saw the startle reflex on Callista when a loud noise happened, it stunned me. Then I knew, for certain, something was going on with Ellery as a baby.) It was unnerving as parents. However, we believe through prayers and fasting Ellery's hearing came to her. Her ears continue to be a struggle, as does her congestion. But beyond that she is perfect. We can't ask for more.
Another miracle that summer of 2003. I finished teaching in May when Ellery was born, 3 weeks early. My teaching pay checks continued until August. Then the miracle happened. In September Brent's little company born of his amazing ingenuity and determination printed our first paycheck. Not a single month passed without a means for providing for our family. The Lord truly watches and blesses us. From that first paycheck in September of 2003, Brent's paycheck has been steady and sufficient. He would have you believe he is "Just trying to keep the lights on." But for that reason, his humility and desire, he created multiple companies whose products are used world wide. I'm only a little proud. He will never boast so sometimes I have to do it for him.
In 2004 we had a wonderful trip to Hawaii, with Brent's parents and his brother and his wife. Ellery stayed with my mom and dad. The chemistry was alive and Ellery survived. It wasn't too hard for us to leave her because we were dedicated to her so fully every other moment in our lives. The break was well deserved. We had 2 siblings get married this year (and 3 others in the 5 years previous).
We spent some wonderful holiday's and some wild drives, with my family in Colorado and Brent's in California. This year sticks out to me particularly, as we had a family band. We did a cover of Sarah Mcclauglin and Bare Naked Ladies We Three Kings.
In 2005, we had had enough of condo living. After looking for years, not seriously, but looking nonetheless, we found our perfect house. Cul de sac, park, not too big, clean, and lots of trees... They had listed it that week. I walked in and said "This is it." We went under contract that night. I put a for sale sign in the window of my condo and in one week it was under contract. We make over $15k on it. A huge blessing.
At this point we were anticipating the birth of our second baby Callista. Brent was happily designing and building elaborate tree forts in the backyard, and we relished our first summer with fruit trees. And guess who turned 30?
The summer came to a grinding halt when at a doctor appointment my blood pressure was suddenly elevated. The doctors immediately admitted me into the hospital. They were threatening to deliver me at only 31 weeks. I was given shots to develop the babies lungs. We were in panic mode. After our experience with Ellery it just seemed babies weren't going to come into this world easily for us. In the hospital, my blood pressure leveled out. But I spent the next 6 weeks on strict bed rest.
Brent did the laundry, cooked, cleaned and was a perfect nurse. Maybe a bit overprotective, but it is one of the reasons I love him. I have never been a needy or high maintenance person, so his sweet attentions only overflow a cup already full. I am so lucky. He helped me collect all my urine, 2x a week. So gross. That's what you see in those containers below.
Our bi-weekly trips to the hospital included blood draws (wow do I have horror stories) and non-stress tests. Again, our families were indispensable. And a wonderful neighborhood and church, to which we were so new, brought us food and books and attention.
August 31st Callista arrived. A scheduled c-section. They delivered me at 37 weeks, considered full term. Brent and I went to the hospital and both of us began experiencing post traumatic stress. Brent was disoriented and out-of-sorts. I was shaking, bawling, and throwing up. We were so afraid. They strapped my arms down for the operation, which I thought was procedure until I had Emmett, and learned they were afraid I was going to freak out. It was the first birth I was awake for. It was difficult. We both just kept waiting for something to be wrong. Callista came out tiny but was screaming her guts out within seconds. It was a beautiful sound.
It was beautiful for a little while and then she just kept crying and crying and crying....Wow, she was a fireball from birth. She was laughing or crying and NEVER sleeping. Brent and I paced the floor with her in the front pack, hoping she would just go to sleep. Ellery gave her little whacks whenever she had a clear shot, so it was all a bit stressful. But again, we made it through.
Late that year, our wonderful friend Melissa moved into our basement. We had her with us for only 6 short months but we loved those months. So many times I don't think I would have made it in the car without her bouncing the wailing Callista's car seat up and down at a ridiculous pace, whilst shaking a very loud rattle and attempting to hold a pacifier in. It's a good thing she was so darn cute and full of vibrant joy as well.
Melissa you know what I am talking about. I'm sure you are grinning and cringing all at once. It was a treasured time to share our home with a wonderful example. Melissa came into our lives from Brent's mission in NYC. He taught Melissa and her family the gospel.
2006 began with a bit more trauma from our children. This time Callista.
After a nasty bout of pneumonia at 4 months, she started having small seizures. It was so frightening. She had an EEG at Primary Children's Hospital. Everything was normal and eventually the seizures disappeared. We attribute them to an underdeveloped, over stimulated nervous system. Overall she is an amazingly health little thing. I don't think she has ever coughed or had a runny nose a day in her life (well that is an exaggeration but it was a blessing to have a child who didn't battle fluid everyday).
Other highlights include, romantic Valentines day candlelit dinners...
Wonderful family vacations to Canada to visit my grandparents,
And to Lake Tahoe to spend time with Brent's family.
Brent owned a motorcycle for a couple years. He drove it a few times.
Turning 30, caused Brent to do quite a bit of self-reflection. He felt he had accomplished a good amount with a stable and growing company, but he had quite a bit of time on his hands. He was filling it with jet skiing and family things...but he didn't feel fulfilled. It was then he came to me and told me he wanted to get his MBA. I have to admit, I was flabbergasted. It was not something I expected. But the shock lasted only moments and then I knew also, this was what he should do.
In the fall of 2006, he began his MBA program. We decided to make it a "family affair." The commute to class was around an hour. It would be a huge time commitment. Instead of study groups, and him doing homework alone, we decided I would do the program vicariously. (Anyone who knows me, knows I have always been a bit of a school junkie...maybe that is part of the reason I am homeschooling now, I just can never get enough!) Brent would call me each night driving home and rehash his classes with me. I read all the homework assignments and we did the homework, projects, papers...everything together. It was a fabulous experience for both of us. But for 21 months we every spare moment was dedicated to school.
Meanwhile our children were growing as was Brent's facial hair.
The year 2008 was all about school, captrappers, running, an awakening, and Emmett. We continued to study hard. Brent took a great study abroad trip to Cambodia, China, and Hong Kong. It was life changing for him. As part of a school assignment Brent had to write a business plan. I had a little idea called a Cap Trapper. If you don't know what they are, read the first year of my blog, or click on the Savvy May Creations tag on the side bar.
The Cap Trapper and Savvy May Creations gave us a wild ride for a full year. We were filmed by CNBC's "The Big Idea with Donny Deustch," (it never aired)
won $5000 in a business plan competition,
were featured in all the local papers, had promises for massive orders from Office Max and the largest pre-school supply company. But when push came to shove. Nothing panned out. The idea never flew. I had Emmett, the economy tanked, and I told Brent I was throwing in the towel. It is a good thing he is the true entrepreneur in the family and not me. I couldn't take the rejection, it was way to personal for me!
We had a fabulous time working together at night. Strategizing. It was a a gift for me to see the truly amazing way my husband's mind functions. I wouldn't take back the experience for anything. Even though I have a basement full of Cap Trappers. Want some?
Back to the major occurrence of year 10 in our marriage...Emmett: February 22, 2008. What a blessing he has been from the moment he arrived. We had a peaceful, uneventful birth.
My blood pressure did rise at 37 1/2 weeks so I had to undergo the nasty preeclampsia drugs and an unplanned delivery, but Brent and I were calm. My arms weren't strapped down...it was a wonderful experience.
At 13 days, we did have a scare. Emmett was hospitalized with breathing problems. He had an undiagnosed RSV like disease. Hmmm... sound like maybe there is a pattern. He had severe congestion. Hmmm. Brent and I were both panicked. I knew this was related to a genetic condition, the same one Ellery has had. After 4 days in the hospital he pulled through. No pictures. It was too stressful. Besides the chronic hacking, rattly chest, and runny nose, he is perfectly healthy.
To celebrate 10 years Brent and I took a late (2009) but fabulous trip to NYC and Boston. Where I didn't run the Boston marathon. Sigh...if only I was on the ball and had signed up before it was full.
The little chitlins continue to grow. And I experience a fullness of joy.
I love you Brent. Thank you for the last eleven years. You are the best decision of my life. Everything of value in my life is a direct result of our shared testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this our 12th year of marriage we will welcome a new little one. My cup overflows. I love you.