photo by Surely Sweet Photography

Changing Diapers: the Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering

Friday, August 9, 2013

Road Trip 2013

All year we have been anticipating our 15 day road trip to California and back.  We were so busy, though, that we had other things keeping our minds from dwelling on it too much.  I was anxious about how the kids would do with all the driving (I was not ready to hear "Are we there yet?" for hours on end).  I planned our route, made reservations at some RV parks, planned out meals, bought groceries, packed up the camper.... But even up until we left I didn't feel like it was really time to leave.  So much planning, it felt strange to get in the truck and go.

2 days before we left, we had serious truck trouble.  Ryan had to stay up late the 2 nights before we left to fix it (and still get up before dawn to go to work all day).  It wasn't easy chipping away each bearing that had essentially welded themselves to the axle, but at least we didn't have to buy a new axle.  Once again, I was thankful he has super mechanic skills and was able to fix it himself.  Sure did save us a lot of money, and we didn't have to delay the trip. 

We left on a Saturday morning, a little later than planned thanks to the truck troubles.  Our goal was to make it to Carlsbad, NM so we could visit Carlsbad Caverns the next day.  Let me just mention here that there were only 2 things on this trip that I had not seen before, but Ryan hasn't seen any of it.  He's been to San Diego and the beach, but that was it. 

This was our very first night to pull into an RV park with our new (to us) travel trailer and get it all hooked up.  Fortunately, Ryan is a 'jack of all trades' so this was a no brainer for him.  He showed me how to level it out with the jacks and set it all up.  The kids were going crazy from sitting all day, and they enjoyed the small playground the park offered.  We managed to get the kids to bed, since we knew we had a long day ahead.

Carlsbad Caverns was simply amazing.  We took the natural entrance down, which looks like a big hole in the ground.  It was approximately a 1.25 mile walk to the Big Room, all down hill.  Then we did the self guided tour of the Big Room (about a 1.3 mile walk).  Eli was too young for any of the guided tours, so we skipped those.  Because I had to take it slow due to my foot, and the fact that we had 2 kids with us, we were still down there for several hours.  When we finished in the Caverns, we took the elevator up, ate some lunch, then headed back to camp for a break.

Riley was mad that we stopped for a picture, and refused to smile.
He was just ready to get down into that big cave!
Eli was getting tired from all the walking, so he hitched a ride.
Later, Ryan carried Eli on the front and Riley on the back. 
I really wished I had remembered to bring the Boba!

Riley adopted "Batty" and Eli adopted "Batman".  They slept with these each night of the trip.
We returned later that night for the Bat Flight Program.  Since they don't know exactly what time the bats will decide to wake up to find food, the park ranger leading the program shared some facts.  The highlight of the program was the skit they did, with some audience participation.  They needed a "mysterious man" for one of the parts.  Guess who was voted in?  Batman!  A young boy (9-10?) came dressed as Batman, in full costume.  He had to grunt when pointed to for his part, and he did the perfect impression of Batman.  No photos are allowed during the Bat Flight, so as not to disrupt the bats, so we only have our memories of that.  I was actually surprised at how long it took for them to stream out -- we left after 30 minutes and the bats still were coming out of the caves! 

We had to stop and talk to the park ranger, though.  Riley didn't believe Ryan and me when we told him that there was no giant robot bat hanging from the cave ceiling.  He swore he saw one down there, even though we tried our best to explain that is was just shadows.  The park ranger didn't give a straight answer, though, so I'm not really sure what Riley believes now....

Monday morning, we unhooked and hit the road.  We drove through beautiful Cloudcroft, NM, where the temps were only in the low 70's!!  We stopped briefly to let the brakes cool, and enjoyed this view of White Sands in the distance.

You can see White Sands in the distance.
We asked strangers to take photos of the 4 of us at various places on the trip.

Our stop was brief at White Sands, but we had a quick picnic lunch then let the boys play.  They loved rolling down the sand dunes!  We wished we had sleds (or at least cardboard) with us, but we also knew we'd never be able to drag the kids away if we did. 

We continued our drive to stay in Tucson, AZ for the night.  The desert was so hot, and so bland.  We pulled into the Oceanside RV Park in Oceanside, CA just before sunset.  We quickly hooked up, then walked to the beach.  It should have been only an 8 minute walk, but we didn't know where we were going and didn't look at a map.  So after about 20 minutes we finally arrived just in time to see the sun set over the Pacific. 

"Cheese!"  Now can I go play?!

This was the best photo I could get of him.  I'm just sad his face was blurry!
But it captures him at the beach so perfectly, since he was too excited to be still!
 The boys didn't want to leave, but we promised them we would return to spend more time in the sand. 

We spent all day Wednesday at Legoland.  The kids had a blast!!  Riley was able to ride everything, but Eli had to miss out on 3 rides because he wasn't tall enough (about 1" short).  This was never an issue, though, since Ryan or I would just take him to another ride.  We were there about 10 hours, and still didn't do everything!  We skipped the longer lines (anything more than 30 minutes) so we'd be able to see more of the park.  There was an awesome display of Star Wars Miniland, and even a life size model of an X Wing fighter made of more than 5,335,200 legos!!

This was a favorite for all 4 of us!  The boys loved to play and get wet. 
Ryan & I enjoyed being able to sit and watch instead of constantly moving!

How many hugs do you think Darth Vader is used to getting?

The boys protected us from the fiery dragon!
The life size model that took 32 builders over 3 months to build!

Thursday we decided to take a break from Legoland, and have a quiet day.  We drove up to the Oceanside Farmers Market and enjoyed some delicious peaches and plums!  Then we walked out on the pier before going to Carlsbad to find some lunch.  After a wonderful seafood lunch (I had the Scottish salmon, Ryan had swordfish), we had ice cream at Sub Zero, a place where they make the ice cream, yogurt, or custard to your unique taste and freeze it in front of you using liquid nitrogen!  The boys enjoyed picking out their flavors and add ins and seeing the cloud of 'smoke' before enjoying a cold treat.

Juicy plums at the Oceanside Farmer's Market
The pier in Oceanside.
Fro Yo at Sub Zero, Carlsbad, CA
We then headed back to the camper to change into our suits and head for the beach!  This was our first time to Cali in the "heat" of the summer (it was only about 74 degrees and cloudy while we were there).  The water was still cold, but we all got in the water.  Riley told us that he wasn't cold, that his arms and lips were shaking because "they're just scared".  The boys absolutely loved playing in the waves!!  Eli was knocked over countless times, but he didn't care.  We built sandcastles.  I even had the genius idea to let them bury me in the sand (hey, I get to lay there while they stay busy, what could be better than that?!).  It was a good idea, until I had to try to wash the sand off of me.  The pool at our campground had a warm water outdoor shower, which worked so much better than the cold mister they had at the beach.  Then we swam in the heated pool before getting ready for dinner.  No pics of the afternoon, since I left my camera behind so I could also enjoy the sand and water!  And since my phone crashed, I lost the pics I had on there.
We had 2 different people recommend Pizza Port -- a great pizza place with their own micro brewery!  The place was packed, but Ryan and I enjoyed some local craft brews while waiting for the delicious pizza.  We were disappointed they don't bottle their own brew, but we did buy a few local craft beers to bring home for Ryan's 30th birthday beer tasting party. 

Waiting for pizza!

Friday, we headed back to Legoland to visit the water park!  It was much busier that day since it wasn't mid-week, but not terrible.  We brought the camper this time since we had to check out of the RV park by 11:00.  It was only $5 more for parking, but we were able to park near the entrance in their oversized vehicle parking lot.  Again, no pics of this day since I left my camera behind so I could enjoy the fun in the water with the kids.

Riley told me his favorite part of Legoland was "Everything!!  I liked Legoland water park and the regular park!"  Eli told me his favorite was "Legoland water park!"

Late afternoon, we left Legoland and changed in the camper before heading off to the California desert to visit my brother, his wife, and their 2 kids.  I'll post the rest of our trip in another post:)  This one is long already, and our internet out here in the stix in extremely sloooooooooo....oooow to upload pics.  It took about 4 hours just to upload the ones to this post. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Two Years.

Today marks 2 years since our motorcycle accident. I often wonder when the day will come that it won't constantly be on my mind. While I have accepted what happened and forgiven the person who hit us, it is difficult to put it behind me when I am reminded of it with every step I take. Literally.

On April 6, 2013 I participated in my very first 5K. I knew I couldn't run it, but I wanted to do it to prove to myself I could complete it. I felt that if I could accomplish this small feat, then I would be one step (or a couple thousand) closer to putting the accident behind me. I walked it with a friend who is training for a 5K in May. We completed our 3 goals: 1) finish in under 1 hour; 2) don't come in last place; 3) cross the finish line.

During the walk, I felt fine! I was barely winded as we kept up a brisk walking pace. I was proud that all of the work I've put in at the gym over the last 3 months have paid off, in that respect! We even jogged for about 100 feet or so. I have discovered that I am capable of jogging, though it's with a limp and a lot of pain. But I am capable of jogging for brief distances -- something I was not able to do a few months ago. This is a great comfort to know that if my child runs out in a parking lot I will be able to chase them.

Immediately after the 5K, I felt fine. I felt proud. I felt accomplished. My foot was a little sore, but not too bad.

Two hours later, I wasn't feeling so great. We had a busy day, shopping for flooring and picking up our new appliances for the new house. Yes, that's right! We bought a house!! More on that later. My foot hurt so bad that I took a long, hot bath and a pain pill before bed. It was the first pain pill in over a year. Two other times the following week I took a pain pill, as the aftermath of the 5K was just too much.

That proud feeling of accomplishment diminished. I wondered, Why the hell did I think I could do that?! The awful thought crept back into my mind, Why didn't the doctors just amputate my foot? Why did they try so hard to save it, when it causes me so much pain?! Medical technology has come so far that people with prosthetics can do far more than I can.

It is hard to stay positive when every step hurts.

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas holidays is bake. I love to try new recipes, as well as old. This past Christmas, I decided to just deal with the pain of standing in the kitchen so I could do what I love. I have tried to make this decision more often the last several months. I figure, this is something I just have to deal with so I shouldn't miss out on what I want to do. I joined a gym in January and started meeting with a personal trainer twice a week. With my inactivity, I gained weight. I decided I would no longer use the pain as an excuse not to better myself. I try to prevent as much pain as possible, by taking ibuprofen, stretching, and using kinesio tape before anthing that requires a lot of standing or walking. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't.

But when I do something I love, I pay for it dearly. It takes a minimum of a week to recover from a big event. The 5K was by far the worst recovery in a long time. It has been harder to deal with emotionally than I expected. While I'm still proud of myself for doing it, it also made me extremely disappointed that I was one of the last ones across the finish line. No, I wasn't last, but I wasn't even close to being in the middle of the pack. I was reminded yet again of how one moment can change a life forever.

Then the guilt hits. Again. I feel like I should be more grateful we are okay, and I am. I am extremely grateful. The guilt creeps in when I remind myself of how much worse it could have been.

I didn't pay attention to what the charity was when I signed up for the 5K, or even the morning of the event. It was all about proving something to myself (kinda selfish, huh?). It wasn't until later that day when my mom noticed the race's t-shirt I was wearing. The race was to support Jackie's Scholarship Fund. Jackie Murphree is the victim of a drunk driver. She suffered traumatic brain injury, and nearly died in the accident in 2007. Her family has held strong to support Jackie. She has become an inspiration to those around her. 

I feel I don't have the right to complain about the pain when others aren't as fortunate as we were. While I am thankful it wasn't worse, it doesn't change the fact that every step I take hurts. Yes, it could be worse. But that doesn't take the physical pain away. I feel guilty for wishing (at the worst of times) that the doctors had just amputated my foot.

I also feel guilty when I think about how Ryan survived cancer. If he could go through 2. 5 years of chemo and be the amazing man he is today, then I can suck it up and deal with this.

I also have guilt about money. I received a sizeable settlement from the insurance company for the accident. Part of me is thankful for what we got, the other part of me thinks it wasn't enough. I have had a hard time accepting that we do deserve some kind of compensation for the short and long term hard ships the accident caused. It was a stressful ordeal, and I'm thankful we had a lawyer to take care of it all for us. We haven't talked publicly about the settlement very often. I feel like others will judge me for accepting a settlement. Even worse, I feel others will judge me for being excited about getting a settlement.

I used to secretly judge those who pursued a settlement after an accident. I thought they were just being greedy and trying to take advantage of an unfortunate situation.  While many people do this, I now realize there are many people who pursue settlements because they truly did suffer.  I didn't realize until we went through it just how hard it makes your entire life. We paid a lot of money upfront for medical bills, while others went to collections because we couldn't pay them. Yes, we have medical insurance but there were the co-pays, deductibles, and patient portions that we were responsible for.  In addition, there were childcare expenses so I could go to doctor's appointments and physical therapy once my mom moved back home.  I also went to a chiropractor for a few months to see if that made a difference -- that was all out of pocket.  It was hard not just on me, but my entire family: my husband, my parents, my kids, my inlaws.... It was more than just myself affected by my injuries.

I have permanent damage, that I will always have to deal with. How do you put a price tag on something like that? I struggled with finding a magical number that made me feel comfortable. I felt guilty for wanting more, but also felt like I was selling myself short if we asked for too little. Nearly 2 years after the accident happened, we got a check from the insurance company.

It would have been easy to splurge with the money (which we've done a little bit, but not much). We have done our best to be smart with the money. We paid off some debt and medical bills (because I had a lot of medical bills!). We also took full advantage of things we normally wouldn't have been able to do. We bought a second vehicle (the truck Ryan has wanted since before he met me!). We bought a house with 5 acres, in cash. Not having a mortgage is such a blessing for us, as we are a one income family. We are also buying an RV to use for family vacations. Since hotels and airfare are so expensive this will help make those trips more affordable. We are planning a 2 week vacation this summer to visit Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, family in California, Disneyland, the beach, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. Most importantly, we are setting aside a good emergency fund and retirment savings.

I often joke that my foot has paid for all of these things. Though it's true, and it's a bigger blessing than we can even express, I would never go through any of this again. I can't imagine where our lives would have been if we weren't in the wreck, therefore never receiving the settlement. There's no point in wondering what would have been, but I don't think we would be in as good of a place as we are now.  But I also wouldn't have chronic pain.  It is very bittersweet. I am thankful that something good has come out of something bad. I hold onto that everytime I feel the guilt creep up.

We finally feel like our life is no longer on hold. For the first year, it was all about short term recovery. For the last year, we have been waiting to see what would happened with the settlement. Now that that chapter is closed, we can finally start moving forward. At times, it is harder to deal with the aftermath of the accident now than it was in the beginning. Short term recovery was easy, in retrospect. The reality of the long term effects is hard to accept.

I am working on dealing with the guilt. I also plan to make a doctor's appointment to see if there is anything that can be done for the pain in my foot and ankle. While I don't have an official diagnosis, I am pretty sure I suffer from Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis as a result the permanent damage in my ankle. I have done research to find new ways to find relief for these conditions, to no avail. Everything I've tried provides very little, short term relief. As much as I hate to think about it, surgery appears to be the next step for relief (and it's not even a guarantee). But I'm to the point that I will try anything to reduce the pain in my foot and ankle. I am tired of living in pain. I'm tired of having to decide if an activity is worth it, as it takes a week or more to recover.

The one thing I know for sure, is that God has seen us through the last 2 years. He would have been there through every "what if...." scenario I could think of, if those had come to fruition. He will always be there for us, no matter where life takes us. I have always been, and I continue to be, thankful.

And now, just a few photos of the reasons I am thankful!  These are raw, unedited photos -- far from perfect!  Which is fitting, since we are far from perfection.  These memories hold a special place in my heart.  Not only the memories we have already experience, but the ones yet to come as we see what God has in store for our future.

Taking the boys to see the pond on our new property!

Sunset view from the pond.

The gorgeous view behind our house! It's not all ours, but it's nice to look at!

Ryan showing the boys a prickly pear cactus.

Kings of the Mountain!

Ryan and his new (to us) truck.

Working together at the Children's Museum.

Mr. Fix It, just like his daddy.

I love the bond these boys have!

Easter Sunday 2013


Monday, July 23, 2012


My heart is breaking right now, for someone I barely know. 

A friend, who I've only met a couple times in real life, lost her husband this weekend.  He was a police officer, on his way home from work.  He was on his motorcycle, and hit by a drunk driver. 

As soon as I read about it on facebook, the tears started flowing.  I've never met him, but they have 3 young children.  She is a stay at home mom.  He was in a motorcycle accident, caused by someone else.  I guess it just hit close to home.

While it brought back memories of our accident, and was a reminder of just how blessed we were, that isn't why my heart aches for her.  I immediately thought about how I would feel if it were Ryan.  That ache in my heart that would never go away.  Having to tell the kids (probably multiple times) that they would never see their daddy again.  How would I go through each day with this terrible yearning for a life that could have been?  The inevitable question of Why?!  Why him?  Why me?  Why do our kids have to live the rest of their lives without their father? 

That is why my heart breaks for her, their kids, and their entire family.  That is why I have been, and will continue to pray for them. 

At church Sunday morning, just hours after hearing about my friend's horrible loss, a man asked about my motorcycle tattoo.  He rides, but said his wife doesn't really like it, so he's considering stopping.  After I mentioned our accident, and that I haven't been on the bike since, he said "Why should you?"  He pointed out that if something were to happen, it would be both parents that their kids would lose. 

I told him of my friend who just lost her husband.  I told him I don't ever want to be in her shoes.  That is a pain that I never want to know, a pain I don't want my kids to know.  But I also told him I would ride again.

In today's world, just going to a movie can get you killed by a senseless act of violence.  People are killed each day in motor vehicle accidents (motorcycles or not).  High winds can cause an 18 wheeler to fall on your car.  Going to school doesn't guarantee safety, as we learned after Columbine and countless other school shootings.  Ryan's job has the potential for a fatal accident.  Even staying at home, there can be an electrical fire.  People get sick (Ryan himself is a cancer survivor).  Our daily routines are never 100% safe.

I have often thought about telling Ryan that as long as we have young kids, he can't ride.  I've thought about never riding again.  Almost everyone asks me if I'll get on another bike.  My answer has always been "Yes, I will."  

I do not want to live my life in fear, for that is no life at all.  I will ride a motorcycle again, with Ryan.  When?  I can't answer that.  I do know there will be some amount of fear involved, I'm not going to lie.  The few times Ryan has gone on his bike alone has had me worried. 

But I refuse to let my fear win.  I will continue to live my life.  I will use our story as a testament to God's mercy, love, protection, and grace.  (Side note: You should read the article, "So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!")

If He calls me Home before (what us humans think is) "my time", then so be it.  I know in my heart I will see my family again.  But I will live this life He has created for me until that day comes.  Because He lives, so will I.

"Because He lives I can face tomorrow.  Because He lives, all fear is gone! Because I know He holds the future.  And life is worth the living just because He lives!"

Please pray for my friend who lost her husband, their 3 children, and their entire family.

Lord, I pray for my friend, their children, and their entire family.  I pray they feel the comfort, strength, and peace that only You can provide.  I pray they allow Your people to help them through this terrible time.  Please be with their friends, who will be Your hands to hold them, Your shoulder to cry on, Your feet to help them, Your arms to lift them up.  Lord, drive all fear and anger from their hearts, so they are able to hold onto the loving memories of a loving husband, father, brother, son, cousin, and friend.  Help ease their pain, but never forget.  Help them to feel Your presence today, this week, this month, the first holidays, and every day of their lives as they miss him.  Help them to know that they can face tomorrow, and that life is worth living, just because You live.  Amen.

Because He Lives

(Verse 1)
God sent his son
They called him Jesus
He came to love
Heal and forgive
He lived and died
To buy my pardon
An empty grave
Is there to prove
My Savior lives

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life and is worth the living
Just because he lives

(Verse 2)
How sweet to hold
A newborn baby
And feel the pride
And joy he gives
But greater still
The calm assurance
This child can face
Uncertain days
Because he lives


(Verse 3)
And then one day
I'll cross the river
I'll fight life's fi-
Nal war with pain
And then as death
Gives way to victory
I'll see the lights
Of glory and
I'll know he lives

(Chorus 2xs)

Monday, April 16, 2012

One Year

I wasn't sure how I would feel today.  And I'm still not quite sure.  I actually wrote most of this a few days ago because I wasn't sure if the words would come to me today.  But actually sharing this post is more difficult than I thought it would be....

One year ago this morning we woke up, not knowing what the day would bring.  We went through our day, our normal Saturday routine.  We were excited for our date night.  The kids were excited their Nonnie and Pops were coming to babysit. 

One year ago today our lives were forever changed. It took only an instant. But that instant will last a lifetime.

What a difference a day makes.

I just re-read the post I wrote about 4 months after the accident detailing the events of that night.  It was hard to read.  I think even harder than writing it.  That night changed everything.  That night....

April 16, 2011. 

A date that I will never forget.  I've spent a lot of time reflecting over the events of the last year.  The good times, and the bad.  There has been pain, both physical and emotional.  A total of 6 surgeries, and bad reactions to the anesthesia and pain meds.  Nearly 6 months of painful physical therapy.  And it's not over.  I return to the doctor next week to check the fibula fracture, which I don't think is fully healed.  There have been hard times with the kids, as they tried to process what happened.  There has been anger, sadness, grieving, frustration.  Mostly, there has been a lot of change.  The reality that my leg will never be the same.  Learning to deal with the chronic pain, and the fact that I can't do as much as I used to.

Despite all of that, the moments that stand out most to me are good ones.

Riley coming to visit me on Easter at the hospital.  He brought me some of his candy, and a bunny for me to sleep with.

My family and friends who were there for our family.

The meals that were brought to our house.

My mom moving in with us for 5 months, even though it was difficult on my parents (she had to quit her job, and my dad had to pack, move, and unpack on his own).

The prayers and support from people I've never even met.

The flowers from the family of the girl who hit us that I received in the hospital.

Encouraging words, thanking me for sharing our story.

Learning to forgive.

Riley and Eli celebrating birthdays, and growing closer each day.  And yes, this includes fighting more, but they are best friends.  Riley told me so.

Our niece being born (Ryan's sis and her hubby's baby).

Going to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and my niece in California. 

Ryan and I spending our 5 year wedding anniversary in San Antonio, kid free. 

Thanksgiving, when we had so much to be thankful for.  Truly thankful. 

Christmas morning.  I remember sitting there so incredibly thankful that I was able to see the pure joy on my kid's faces.

Being able to celebrate a New Year.

My 30th Birthday!  Yes, I have good memories of turning 30.

Another trip to visit my brother and his daughter in California.  Only this time his wife was deployed to Afghanistan. :(  But we had a fun trip to Sea World, the beach, and enjoyed watching the cousins play together!

Shopping for baseball gloves with the boys.  They had to try on the pink helmets, too.  ;)

Getting a new tattoo.  I wanted something to represent our accident, something that forever changed our lives.  Ever since I've known Ryan, I have always said a quick prayer when he rides (whether I was with him or not) that God would send His angels to protect him/us (hence, the angel wings).  Yes, we were hit.  But I still truly believe that God was there, holding us up, surrounding us with His love, grace, and mercy.  He carried us through  He DID protect us.  He still is protecting us.  And He always will protect us. 

I could go on and on.  I have SO many wonderful memories.  Some of them I was in a wheelchair, others on crutches, but I was there.  I was able to enjoy those precious moments.  My foot is still part of my body, and I can walk.  I can hug my kids and my husband.  I know I sound cheesy and sentimental now.  But despite all of the bad, the good moments are what I will remember most. 

If I were to sum up the last year in one word, it would be THANKFUL

Sunday, February 12, 2012


What is it about guilt?  It seems to follow me everywhere.  I have struggled with a few things recently, and guilt is the cause of that struggle.  It is not easy to share these things with the world, but here goes...

I feel guilty for saying "Yes" to something because it takes time away from my family, and also myself.  Or it causes me to neglect another area of my life.

I feel guilty for saying "No" to something, especially when it's something I'm passionate about. Especially when that something is good.   (see my dilemma here?)

I feel guilty for feeling angry, hurt, and frustrated about the accident, resulting injuries, related family issues, and the long-term limitations I will have to deal with. 

I feel guilty because I should just be thankful to be alive and that I can walk.  It feels wrong to have those feelings when I could have lost my foot... or my life. 

I feel guilty because those feelings are what I would have if I haven't truly forgiven the person who made a mistake. 

Guilt is a basic human emotion that we feel after doing something wrong.  It is normal.  We normally apologize to whomever we have wronged.  But, why is it that I feel guilt when I haven't done anything wrong?  And who to I apologize to if I haven't wronged anyone?  Why is it that no matter what I do, guilt finds a way to gnaw at me, making me second guess everything?  Why can't I just say "No" without that guilt?  Why can't I just feel without that guilt? 

Satan plants that seed of guilt in my mind.  He is trying to stop me from doing my best.  He is trying to sabotage relationships.  He is trying to stop me from doing good.  He wants that guilt to stop me.  He wants that guilt to pull me down and isolate me.

I am learning to let go of that guilt.  It's not easy.  It keeps popping back up. 

I just attended an amazing Women's Retreat with ladies from a wonderful church!  It was definitely a spiritual renewal.  I finally allowed myself to admit that I need a lot of emotional healing after the accident.  The physical is about as good as it's going to get.  I accept that my leg will never be the same.  But I refuse to allow my spirit to be held back because I allowed the guilt to prevent me from dealing with the emotions I have. 

One of the speakers addressed another area that I have been struggling with, saying "No".  I have a hard time saying that 2 letter word to projects that I am passionate about.  The speaker shared that saying "No" is not always saying "No" to God.  That sometimes saying "No" is really saying "Yes" to Jesus!  I needed to hear those words.  I am now beginning to feel at peace with saying "No".  I know that in saying "No" to some things, I am saying "Yes" to my family, myself, and to whatever God has in store for me.  It is okay to say "No".  And it's okay to not be able to do it all.

I am also starting to accept the fact that it is okay for me to feel hurt, angry, and frustrated about the accident, and the last 10 months of our life.  It is okay for me to feel those things about the future that will forever be changed because of the accident.  It does not mean that I am not thankful.  It does not make me weak.  It only makes me stronger for admitting that I need God's comfort and healing. 

Feeling hurt, angry, and frustrated also does not mean that I have not truly forgiven the young girl who hit us.  Those feelings are not towards her in any way.  They are about the situation, the life I had before, and the life that will forever be restricted.  It pains me to know that I can't run and play with my kids.  Every step I take is painful.  You may not notice it, because I hide it well, and I have learned to deal with it.  I accept that the physical pain is just part of my life now.  Each step is a reminder of not only the physical pain, but the emotional pain, as well.  My life will never be the same, in so many ways.

I feel like I am mourning the loss of the life we had before.  The life where I could walk pain-free.  Where I could run with my kids.  Where my 4 year old son never had PTSD.  Where we didn't have to deal with the emotional pain of what has happened in the last 10 months.  I feel like I am mourning the loss of things I will not be able to do with my kids.

Yes, there are many things I can do.  But it is a fact that there are some things that I can't.  And it is okay for me to feel hurt, angry, and frustrated about that.  It is okay to mourn the things I can no longer do. 

It is okay because I am still thankful.  I have forgiven the driver.  And I am still loved by the One who created me.  The One who saved us (both spiritually and physically).  The One who has greater plans for me.  He is my rock and my salvation.  God has told me it is okay to let that guilt go and give it to Him. 

Jeremiah 29:11 - 13

"'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'

Psalms 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him."

How GREAT is our God!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It shouldn't be about business.

I'm sitting here watching the Business of Being Born for the first time.  I've put it off, knowing that it would only confirm this nagging voice telling me that with the next birth, I do not want another c-section.  I've finally sat down to watch it, and I was right.  Less than 5 minutes into it, it just confirmed I want a midwife to deliver my next baby.  And here I am writing this.  Which I've also been putting off. 

Riley was born via c-section, after a scheduled induction.  I was 38 weeks, 4 days pregnant.  I had been dilated at a 2 for a couple of weeks, and having horrible back labor.  I went in for an appointment at 38 weeks, and the doctor suggested scheduling the induction.  I was so done at that point, that I agreed.  I was uncomfortable. 

"I" being the key word.  But in all honesty, I was fine with it.  I was still hoping to hold off on the epidural as long as possible.  I only wanted it as a last resort, for when I couldn't take the pain any longer. 

I went in early on the scheduled day.  The IV with the pitocin drip was started at about 7:00 am.  By 1:00 (or so, I don't remember exactly), I was dilated to "barely 4 cm".  The doctor had broken my water a few hours earlier (which was extremely painful without any pain meds), but things weren't progressing as they liked. 

I asked for an epidural then, after they upped the pitocin, trying to speed things along.  Well, labor stalled after that.  I couldn't feel the contactions, thanks to the drugs.  I watched them on a moniter.  Around 5:45 pm, I was still at a 4, so the doctor recommended a c-section.  He cited "failure to progress" as the reason.  He also told me Riley's head was getting stuck in my pelvic bone. 

Riley was born at 6:15 pm in an operating room.  The cord was wrapped around his neck, so it was a couple of minutes (that felt like an eternity) before we heard his cry.  Once we did, it was the best sound in the world!  I cried silent tears of joy.  I still hold dear that moment when I heard him for the first time, and then a few minutes later when I saw him.  As soon as they closed me up and took me back to my room, Riley was there waiting for me.  I nursed him within minutes of returning to the room.  He stayed in my room the entire stay at the hospital.  I wanted him close so I could nurse on demand.  And, I didn't want to be away from him.

Riley, just minutes old in the OR.
He weighed in at 8 lb 2 oz!
When I was pregnant with Elijah, I was unsure of what to do.  I liked the idea of a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), but I was scared something would go wrong.  I was scared of going through the labor process, and still needing a c-section.  I spoke to my ob/gyn about what to do (a different one, since we thought we were going to move at the time).  She told me because of the circumstances of my delivery with Riley, that she would only do a scheduled c-section. 

I ended up changing back to the ob that delivered Riley when we realized we would not be moving.  I spoke with him about what to do.  He told me it was my decision.  Great.  Now *I* had to be the one to decide.  Secretly, I was hoping he would just tell me so I wouldn't have to think about it.  I wanted a VBAC, but I was scared.

The fear won. 

We scheduled a c-section for 11/11/09.  Eight days before his due date.  I kinda liked that day, it would be easy to remember.  And it happens to be Veteran's Day. 

It was very different than the first birth.  Very calm.  A lot of waiting, not feeling at all like we were about to change our family forever.  Eli was born at 8:03 am.  Less than 2 hours after arriving at the hospital.  His cry came almost immediately after he was out, and it was a very surreal moment.  I was able to breastfeed him as soon as I returned to my room.  But I was so out of it from the drugs that I ended up sleeping most of the morning.  Eli was in the nursery most of that time.  Which is not something I wanted, but I was so out of it, I couldn't really complain.  That was the only time he was away from me, since we also "roomed in". 

Elijah, seconds old in the OR.
He weighed in at 8 lb 10 oz!

I can't go back and change anything about my 2 birth experiences.  I don't feel guilty about them, either.  I don't feel cheated.  It is what it is.  I was (and am) happy I had a healthy baby in my arms after each birth.  Not all moms are so blessed.  I won't be ashamed to tell the anyone about how my children came into this world.

I'm not any less of a mom because I've had 2 c-sections.  Nor do I love my babies any less.

At the time, I really didn't know any different than what has become the "norm" for births in America.  I didn't know anyone who had a midwife instead of an OB.  I didn't know anyone in real life who had a successful VBAC.  Online, of course I read success stories.  But those didn't feel real since they were just people behind a computer screen. 

But now I do.  The cloth diaper community has opened my eyes to a whole new world of birth!  Now I know there are midwives in this area that will do VBA2C's.  I know people who have given birth in birth centers.  And at home.  And even at home unassisted, without a midwife. 

Before the accident happened, we had discussed trying for #3 in the summer of 2011.  Well, things didn't exactly work out they way we planned.  Techically, I could get pregnant now if we wanted.  I have been told my pelvic bone is all healed up, and there are no more surgeries anticipated.  But we have been through so much in the last 10 months, both physically and emotionally, that we have decided to wait.  My body is still healing.  6 surgeries in an 8 month span is hard on any body.  I'm still trying to figure out my new "normal".  We are trying to heal and move on after a life changing event. 

I don't know when we will have another baby.  But I know our family is not complete just yet.  For now, we will enjoy life!  God has His own plans.  We may not know what He has in store for us, but I know He will continue to bless us more than we deserve!

When we feel the time is right to have another baby, I want to see a midwife. I want to give birth in a birth center. I'm not quite sure of a home birth, especially after 2 c-sections. I would feel more comfortable not in my own home. Especially if we move to the country soon.

I want to experience spontaneous labor. The anticipation of adding another child to our family.

I won't let fear win again.

I want to experience birth the way it was meant to be.

Monday, January 9, 2012

This year WILL be better!

Hello, old friends!  It has been way too long since I've had a chance to sit down and write.  I've missed it.  So this post is kinda long, playing catch up.  But I've included pics of my cute boys to make up for it!

A lot has happened in the last few months, including 3 major holidays, Eli's 2nd birthday, knee surgery, lots of physical therapy, my uncle passed away after a sudden stroke, Ryan's great-uncle passed away, my computer crashed, the DFW Cloth Diaper Project officially launched, and the DFW Cloth Diaper Group has grown to nearly 1,000 "likes".  Oh, and Ryan went on his first ride since the accident.  It was for a great cause, a motorcycle toy ride, but my nerves were beyond frayed that day.  All this on top of the normal daily routine with 2 young kids.  Things have been hectic, to say the least.

Things got so busy we didn't even have an actual party for Eli, just a fun family lunch at Babe's Chicken House!  Riley ate 7 pieces of smoked chicken and a cupcake.  Eli loved all the attention!

This is piece #6.  It really is that good.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Eli!

Yes, I mentioned more surgery.  Which makes #6 in an 8 month span.  This one was on the knee.  I finally went to see about it (since 2.5 months of PT didn't help as much as it should have).  They did an MRI and scheduled more PT.  After 4 additional weeks of PT, the doctor told me I had 3 choices:

1. Live with the pain.  Yeah, not happening.
2. Try more physical therapy.  Um, I've had a total of 3.5 months on it, 2-3 x's a week.  It's not better.
3. Do orthoscopic surgery to fix the tiny tear he thinks he saw on the MRI. 

So surgery it was.  On December 9 (just 2 weeks before Christmas), I had my knee scoped, and it was the best decision!  I am exactly one month out of surgery, and my knee is world's better!  I have a general soreness from surgery, but the sharp pain is gone.  I can walk through the store without feeling like somebody is stabbing me in the knee with each step.  He sutured a partial tear in the medial meniscus.  And also "filed" down some scar tissue on one of the bones.  It feels like my knee will be somewhat "normal" again once it's fully healed. 

Left knee a couple days post-op.

Scarring on the bone before he filed it down.
I just finished the last of my PT.  I am done, and it feels so strange.  Only one more doctor's appointment, a follow up on my knee (which the doctor said is looking great!).  And then I will be completely done!!  It feels so freeing to be (almost) done with all of the appointments.  I've had 4 different doctors (orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon, podiatrist, and a sport's medicine doctor; and one awesome physical therapist!).  Am I completely back to how I was before?  No.  And I never will be.

The long term effects are now apparent.  I can't squat.  At all.  My ankle just won't bend.  And my physical therapist told me that while it's not impossible, it will be very difficult for me to be able to run again.  Not that I'm a runner, or do frequent marathons (ok, none).  But I've always thought that maybe someday I would do one.  Just to prove I could.  But chances of that happening are small.  At least, running one.  I could always walk it.  I'm not even concerned about that.  My focus is more on the simple things, like What if my kid runs to the street or parking lot and I can't chase them?  I can't do that.  And it's frustrating.  And scary. 

When I returned to PT for my knee and ankle in November, I got a special splint that will help the range of motion in my ankle.  It helps some, but not a lot.  The biggest problem is I can't walk in it.  That's impossible with kids.  So, the best time to wear it is when I'm sleeping.  But it's uncomfortable, and I can't sleep with it on.  Ideally, I should wear it 12 hours a day for maximum benefit.  That doesn't happen.  I'm lucky if I wear it 2.  The PT said to use it for a couple more months before returning it. 

I wore this stylish shoe for a couple months before seeing about my knee. 
It kept all pressure off my heel so the one spot where the skin graft didn't
"take" could heal properly.  Skin grafts on the heel are a tricky thing.

The not-so-awesome-and-very-uncomfortable ankle splint I get to wear.

I am finally feeling like I can do some things without great pain.  Like cooking and light cleaning.  Picking things up is hard, since I can't squat.  But I like that I feel well enough to do this stuff.  Only problem is, I'm out of the habit.  It's been 9 months since the accident.  I'm having to figure out my new "normal".  I can't physically function the same as before, but it really won't improve much more.  So I just have to figure it all out, and deal with any discomfort.  It's not easy.

Today I took the kids to the mall to get a haircut, eat lunch, and let them play.  It's cold and wet outside, so I thought I'd let them run off some energy.  Eli was super cranky.  I forgot the stroller wasn't in the car.  I didn't worry, since I figured we'd just get a mall stroller.  But the atm wasn't working, and the machine only took cash.  I had 3 $1 bills.  It cost $5.  So, no stroller.  Eli wanted me to carry him.  The whole time.  Not only is he heavy (about 33 lbs), but the extra weight still hurts my leg.  I can only tolerate carrying him for a few minutes.  If I didn't carry him, he stood there screaming.  If I carried him, it hurt.  I was frustrated, as eyes started at me as if I was torturing my child, that I couldn't carry him easily.  Normally, I don't let the stares bother me.  But today it did.  I felt like a bad mom because I can't carry my child without pain.  I know, I'm not really a bad mom.  But it's still frustrating that I can't carry him when he wants/needs a little extra comfort. 

I'll figure it out.  I know I will, and these frustrations will be a thing of the past.  I'm still so thankful that Ryan and I did not die in that accident.  I'm also thankful that I still have my foot.  And that I can walk.  And hold my kids and watch them grow and learn each day.  My heart aches when I think about what could have happened.  God has blessed us beyond what we deserve!  He has been right here with us the whole time, giving us the strength and comfort we need.  I still need that strength and comfort.  I think the end of this chapter in our lives has been harder than the beginning. 

I was sad on Saturday as I watched Ryan and the boys play Hide and Go Seek in the yard.  I wanted to run and chase after them, and I was reminded of what I won't be able to do with my kids.  I almost feel as if I'm mourning the loss of my old "normal" life, when I had no restrictions on what I could do.  But when I get a little down about this, I just need to look at 2 wonderful little faces to remind me of how truly blessed I am.  I may not be able to run after them, but they can run to me.  And for that, I am thankful.  And my heart is full.