Wednesday, September 17, 2014

18 Months

I never would've thought that 18 months could go by so quickly, and be so filled with so much love and happiness.

Elise is growing into such a special little girl. She is so smart and picks up on things very easily. There's not a word out there that she doesn't try to say. People are always so amazed at how much she talks for her age. She's so polite too! She says please, thank you, your welcome, excuse me, and I sorry. Of course, they sound so incredibly cute when she says them. It melts my heart and tells me that I'm doing something right.

She had her 18 month checkup a few days ago. She weighs 24 lbs 7 oz (Allen said she's 24/7, 365! Ain't that the truth?!), she's 32" and still has her grande cabeza in the 97th percentile, haha. Right now, she is cutting her last 3 canine teeth. She's been wearing a raw baltic amber teething necklace for about 6 months and I swear it has helped. They say these teeth are the worst coming in, but they've been small potatoes compared to when she got her molars. Now THAT was awful and it's what made us look into getting the necklace in the first place. I highly recommend them! I will be soooo ready to be done with this teething business for awhile (until the 2 year molars come of course).

Elise still isn't eating dairy and at this point it's become a lifestyle change for us and we don't even miss it around here. In fact, I put cheese on a dish a few weeks ago and I thought it was disgusting. Who would've ever thought?? I do feel sad though that she won't get to enjoy ice cream on a hot summer day. But that's about it. People look at you funny when you tell them no goldfish for her or to hold the cheese. But, ya know, it's just not worth it and I think our entire family will be healthier for it in the long run. Seriously though, this kid could live on sauteed spinach, peas, and all things made from apples. I'm okay with that! The struggle that I grapple with is which milk substitute to give her. They all have so many additives and chemicals that it makes my head spin. It's infuriating actually. Particularly when it comes to carrageenan. I've become a bit of a food purist since having her. But that's a topic for another day and another blog. Foodbabe.com is one of my favorite resources leading the way on this issue if anyone is interested in becoming a neurotic foodie such as myself.

She seems to be a technology guru (like her Daddy), she can work a cell phone, remote, and iPad like nobody's business. She loves Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer. She loves when you read to her, but only certain things for a certain amount of time; aaaaand then she gets bored, slams the book closed on your finger and says "THE END". She loves to play in her pretend kitchen and loves when you give her tasks to do. She's still mastering the whole coloring book concept. Who knew crayons were so delicious? She likes to be outside, especially playing in a sand box, and could "swing swing" all day. She can count to 10 in groups (6, 7, 8, 9, TEN!! she exclaims!) and likes to sing the ABC song. She likes singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and gets a kick out of Itsy Bitsy Spider and the hand movements that go with it. She likes to go up and down, up and down, up and down stairs and proudly says "Biiiiiiiig Step!".

She had her first day of preschool this week. She's doing two days a week and seems to do okay so far. I feel bad leaving her, but I know it has to happen soon, Better now than later is what I'm told, because the separation anxiety that she goes through is quite mind blowing. I don't know anyone else who has a child her age who gets as distraught as she does. I know, I know it's my fault. I've kept her with me since day one. I actually had a lady in the church nursery, where I attend a mom's group, chide me for not leaving her with more people (BACK OFF lady!) But honestly, after all we've been through, who can blame me? But I don't get into that with well meaning strangers. On her first day, I think I was actually more of a nervous wreck than she was. It felt like someone had cut off my leg for three hours. I was so exhausted by the end of the day. When I came to pick her up, she was sound asleep in her teacher's arms. But I think she had a good day, and I'm excited to see all the things that she learns and to see her blossom from this experience. It's so awesome to see her little mind working.

This child never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I tell her that I'm going to trade her in for a billy goat; but really, I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. She makes our hearts explode and our lives complete. I can never get enough of her. Until the next update...



A little first day of preschool meltdown as we headed out the door. Oh the drama!!


Sunday, July 27, 2014




Here's our little Elise at her 1st Birthday photo shoot. She's already 17 months old now and is such a big girl. Where does the time go?!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

1st Birthdays and Beyond

Shame, shame on me for not keeping this updated! Yesterday was Mother's Day, so I have a grateful heart today (and everyday). I figured no better time than the present to update this page. This little girl sure does keep me busy. I always thought: "If I could be a stay at home Mom, I'd have time to do this thing or that thing. And my house would always be clean" Not so! For example, I've been determined to organize our upstairs and closets. It's been about a month since I said I'd do it, but yet it still hasn't happened. I don't know where the days go. But we have a good schedule these days and everyone is happy and healthy. So complain I will not! I feel so fortunate to spend my days with Elise and that I get to witness all of her little milestones and nuances.

Speaking of milestones; Elise is now walking!! It took her awhile to get her balance and confidence up. But she finally did it. She took her first few steps on March 13th. After those first steps, it took a few weeks of practice to really get walking good. Now she can't be stopped. She's all over the place! Still a little wobbly, much like a tiny drunk person, but it's the cutest thing ever. She thinks she can run (which she can't yet) and sometimes gets tripped up. She's banged her head and mouth now more times than I can count, but luckily after a few tears and kisses from Mama, she's right back to getting into everything. Of course, every time she falls, my heart sinks into my stomach and I hold my breath until I know she's ok. That's one of the worst things about what we've been through. Every sniffle, fever, bump, and bruise feels like it's the end of the world. We're constantly in fear that something bad will happen to her and that we'll lose her too. We try not to let it get the best of us though.

We especially had a rough time with that over her first birthday. We had an awesome party to celebrate her birthday. After so much planning, we didn't know if we'd get to have the party at all. A few days before the party, we got more snow dumped on us than we'd had in years. Luckily though, the roads were clear by the party day. I guess that's the iffy thing about birthdays in February. We had a great time celebrating with dozens of friends and family. But by the time her actual birthday came 4 days later, she was sick as could be. She ended up having a double ear infection and a nasty cold virus that hit us all (pink eye for Allen and me included). She was the most pitiful I've ever seen her. She had a fever that was tough to break and she refused to eat or drink. I was worried beyond belief. She cried and moaned for a solid 3 days. It was the hardest time we've had with her thus far. I didn't know what to do for her. I'd started weaning her a few weeks prior, but nursing her was the only thing that seemed to calm and comfort her. So, on her birthday, I nursed her for the last time. She seemed confused at first, but it helped her tremendously. It was bittersweet. If I ever questioned if I'd nurse another baby, this nursing session sealed the deal. Yes, I'd do it all over again. While it's nice to have my body back; there's nothing quite like the bond and comfort that it brings them.

She's turned out to be a good sleeper and eater. She sleeps all through the night, and loves to eat a variety of food. Especially vegetables. I swear I think this baby could live off of zucchini, bananas, and black beans. She's still having issues with dairy and some fruits. Although she still gets 2 formula bottles a day and yogurt, I've cut all other forms of dairy out of her diet. It seems to help. She goes to see an allergist in a few weeks, so I'm hoping we'll get some help and direction.

Elise it turning into such a sweet and smart little girl. She loves giving kisses, being outside, taking baths, playing with (not wearing) shoes. She loves doggies and other children. Although she doesn't really watch TV,  she loves to dance and sing to Bubble Guppies and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse; and she tries to snort like a pig when Peppa Pig is on. She says "thank you" whenever she hands you something or when you give her something. It's the sweetest thing. She tries to repeat everything you say and seems to know how to operate the remote and my iPhone. She's very much like her Daddy, in that she wants to know how things work. She learns new things everyday and I'm constantly amazed by her. Her chuckles and blue eyes make my life complete. I'm so lucky that I was chosen to be her Mother. My heart is so full when I see her smile. My goodness, she's growing too fast!

In memory of her sister, I decided to give back to Heartstrings. They were essential to our healing after Caroline died, and so I wanted to do what I could for other's. I signed up to be a support parent to another Mother who tragically lost her newborn in much the same way as we did. While I can't take the pain away from this newly grieving Mom. I can give her my support when she's feeling low. I talk to her, pray with her, cry with her, and just let her know I'm there. I think it makes such a difference and it's healing for me as well.

When people say that children grow so fast, it's the truth. Elise changes everyday and never ceases to amaze me. I'm so blessed to be her Mom and to be able to spend so much time with her. She makes me want to be a better person everyday. Nothing makes my heart feel so full as it does when she smiles at me and says "Mama". I never get tired of hearing it. I love her more than I could ever express. Hopefully I can do a better job of keeping things documented so that one day she can read just how deep my love for her is.




Saturday, September 21, 2013

So Much Growing Going On!

WOW, it really has been forever since I've posted here. This little one keeps me so busy! I love every second of it though. So much has happened, and lots has changed with Miss Elise. She turned 7 months old 2 days ago. She's growing so fast. You always hear people say that, but you don't realize it until you have children of your own. She learns to do something new everyday. Just last night she crawled for the first time! Now, it was more of a face plant and scoot forward type of thing, but I considered it a crawl nonetheless. She'll get there.

So much has happened lately!!

We had her baptized on Father's Day, which was so very special for Allen. Not only that, but it was the second to last Sunday that our dear Pastor Tom would be preaching before retiring to Florida. We will surely miss him. He was such an integral part of the loss of Caroline and the birth of Elise. He's truly a man of God! It was a great day. Elise didn't cry at all when the water was poured on her. She looked so beautiful in her white dress too. Such a proud Mommy moment! All of our friend's and family were there and everyone came to our house after for lunch.

We took our first beach trip to Carolina beach the last week of July. Guess who cut 2 teeth while we were there? That was interesting. Luckily we had lots of family around to distract her, so she wasn't too fussy. It was such a nice trip. As much as I hate waking up early, there was something so peaceful and wonderful about sitting outside on our balcony, with Elise in my lap, watching the sun rise over the ocean. It's moments like that, that make me feel God's love for us and make me feel so blessed. I'll never forget it.

On the food front... She's taking bottles again (sometimes, if the stars line up just right) and we're back to having dairy again! She's doing really good with solids too. Although, I admit that I mostly just give her store bought baby food (for shame!). Her favorite so far is peaches and banana yogurt, which seems so ironic since just a month ago there was absolutely no dairy to be had for her. You can't shovel it in her mouth fast enough! I'm so glad she's done okay with it. Just in time for Mommy to indulge in creamy pumpkin everything for fall and winter. I love this time of year.

Speaking of this time of year. The weather is getting cooler, and you can see the trees here in NC changing ever so slightly if you look for it. But with that bit of chill in the air, I'm reminded of two years ago with Caroline. How I was anticipating so much; only to be devastated so greatly. Seems like everyone on Facebook proclaims "October is my favorite month!". I wish I felt the same. But her second birthday, or angelversary as some call it, is creeping up on us. The day we had her was a perfect, picturesque fall day. After she died, I spent a lot of time just sitting in the rocking chair on my front porch. That beautiful fall weather helped me heal I believe. So, it's still my favorite season, even though it burns around the edges. I can't help but close my eyes and remember it all. I think I always will. I hope this year will be easier. I will hug Elise just a little tighter that day. She has healed me more than she'll ever know.

I've been reaching out to other loss moms lately. I'm now a Heartstring's "support parent" for another local mom who lost her son in labor a few months ago. I'm glad I can bring some comfort to another mom beginning her grief journey. I like to think of it as part of Caroline's legacy. Just this week I told Caroline's story at our county's Walk to Remember for Infant Mortality. I found out that our county (Forsyth) has the highest infant mortality rate in NC. That is shocking and unacceptable. So, I'm joining the Health Department's Coalition on Infant Mortality Reduction to do something about it. I welcome all suggestions and stories to bring to the table. I believe that ALL pregnancies should be considered high risk. If non-stress tests were part of routine prenatal care after 28 weeks, I believe that Caroline would still be here. But I know that's a health insurance issue that won't be easily changed. So that is my mission going forward. I know every situation is different. Especially dealing with medical malpractice, which is kept so hush hush. I know it's going to be an uphill battle and one that I probably won't win, but I've got to try. Lucky for me, my Sister is halfway through law school and can eventually help me along the way. Isn't that right Sarah? ;)

I sometimes wonder; is it possible to love on, kiss, and snuggle one's baby too much? If so, we've got a problem! I just love this little girl so much. I'm so amazed by her everyday. She will never know how much I love her and am so very thankful for her. Everything about her fills my heart with a joy I didn't know was possible. Although I have no idea what I'm doing sometimes, I think it's okay. I do my best. She's such a happy baby, but very opinionated already. You can really see her personality these days. I can't wait to see how she evolves as she grows. I pray that she never has to experience what we have in order to know how much I love her. She's truly my missing puzzle piece and a blessing to everyone who meets her. Sometimes we wonder if she really is as beautiful and as precious as our eyes see her? Is it because of all we went through? I don't know. But I do know that she's "my sunshine, my only sunshine" and being her Mother is truly my life's purpose.







Friday, April 26, 2013

Milestones

Last week was an important week for many reasons. Elise turned 2 months old on the 19th! Where is the time going? It was also our 5 year wedding anniversary that day. The next day, the 20th, Caroline would've been 18 months old. It's hard to believe how quickly time flies. They say time heals everything. But that's just not true. It just puts a bandaid on those wounds. Our little Elise has done more to heal us than time could ever do.

Allen and I went out to a nice dinner alone for our anniversary since Elise was born. My parents came to our house to watch her. It was their first time babysitting her alone. I think they loved it. It's funny how we talked mostly about her the whole time.

She's starting to hold her head up better by herself. All that tummy time laying on my chest is doing her some good! She's also focusing really well and will smile so big at you when you talk to her. I think she's starting to realize she has a voice and will coo at you and interact with you. It's the sweetest thing. There's nothing better than her smiling at you.

She also had her dreaded 2 month shots this week. I think I was more upset about them than she was. I wanted to cry the entire day before we went. But she handled it so well. Of course she screamed bloody murder when they gave them to her, but it didn't last long. She was just as happy and normal as could be afterward. Not at all what I expected. I had infant Tylenol on the ready, but there was no need for it. She's getting so chunky. They said she weighs 11 lbs 5 oz, she's 22 3/4 in. long, and her head is 15 1/4 in. around. Her Dr says she's "the model size for a baby girl her age". I couldn't be prouder!

So far going without dairy is working really well for her. She's doing and feeling much better. It took me some time to figure out what I can eat, but it's easy once you get the hang of it. It's quite maddening to realize how much dairy is in everything that we eat. My first grocery trip took several hours because I had to read all of the labels. Who knew Duncan Hines was dairy free? Um, hello chocolate cake. I've actually found some really yummy substitutes for things. Although I do miss cheeseburgers and my beloved ranch dressing. Oh well, it's almost bikini season so hopefully this will help me shed a few pounds. Here are a few blogs that have been a tremendous help for me in figuring this dairy free lifestyle out:

www.beanmom.com/nomilk.html
nomilkmall.com
www.godairyfree.org


Here's a recent pic. I love this little sleepy face.






Friday, April 5, 2013

She's Finally Here!

Oh wow, I have been seriously slacking when it comes to updating this! You can tell I've been busy with other things. Our little lady, Elise Arabella is finally here! I have been SO busy with her. She was born February 19th at 7:29 pm, weighing 6 lbs 3.5 oz and was 19 in long. She is absolutely perfect in every way. I hope to get around to writing her entire birth story soon.

She is growing and changing everyday. It's unbelievable! Breastfeeding has been going really well so far. We actually took her to the pediatrician's today due to some tummy troubles she's been having and she weighs 9 lbs 12 oz already. We found out that it's looking like she has a milk protein allergy and I'm going to have to give up dairy. Allen says it's ironic that I have to give up milk so that she can get some milk! I'm not looking forward to this big of a dietary change (What, no mac n cheese? No coffee creamer? Oh boy...) but I'm willing to do whatever is best for her and I'm committed to breastfeeding her for at least 6 months, ideally a year. I didn't realize how much bonding and healing would come from breastfeeding. It can be very exhausting and tedious at times, especially when she cluster feeds, but it so worth it.

Life for us has changed so much, but I'm enjoying every minute of it. She's such a miracle and has mended our broken hearts more than we could have imagined. We'd always hear our friends talk about how amazing their children are, but you don't fully realize what it is they're talking about until you have your own. I could just stare at her all day (and I do!). The sleepless nights are not so bad when your staring at her sweet face. She's finally starting to sleep for longer stretches at night. I get so paranoid when she sleeps for too long and usually end up waking her up anyway. I've realized that people who claim their infants "sleep through the night" are either liars or extremely lucky. I'm loving every minute of being her Mommy. I'm so thankful that I don't have to go back to work because I don't think I could handle being away from her for very long!

We're so thankful for our sweet little Elise. I'm glad that my stressful pregnancy is over and she's was delivered safe and sound. Our greatest dream has been fulfilled; we're finally the family that we've always dreamed of being and it's the best feeling ever. I can't begin to express how in love we are with her.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! We have a new reason for loving and living; and her name is Elise.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I got this from one of my Heartstrings sister's Facebook page. I think it's a beautiful, truthful, and emotional look into some of the things that a parent feels after experiencing a stillbirth.