Thursday, December 17

Rocking around the Christmas tree

Have you ever seen the little Santa that plays Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and dances? Bradley loves it, and it has always been one of my favorites.  We’ve been thoroughly enjoying this Christmas season and just life in general. There is so much to be thankful for; God continues to bless our family in many ways. This Christmas is particularly special to us as last year we were too consumed with all that was going on, in our life, to really enjoy the season. So, this year we’ve enjoyed every little moment probably as much as a child does. All the shopping is finished and everything wrapped; the house is decorated; and we’ve gone on a lot of drives to see Christmas lights. We’re still hoping to have a chance to go to Saluda Shoals sometime over the next week. The Christmas tree lights are on whenever we’re at home, and I love to have Christmas music playing as well. The boys especially love the Christmas music and often dance to the music. Yes, Austin does pretty well keeping the beat. It’s adorable! We’ve been to a couple of Christmas parties too.

We’ve been busy organizing the house to make room for Cameron. Some might say I’m nesting, but I’ve always liked to organize. And, I’ve spoiled Chris by keeping such an orderly house. We’ve turned our spare bedroom into a bonus room that hosts a multitude of things. It is upstairs, so we have some of the kid’s toys, my scrapbooking and picture items, Chris’ game system, and some other odds and ends you expect to find in a bonus room. We are ready to paint Cameron’s room after getting it cleaned out and have her crib. We have to have 2 cribs with our youngest children so close together! :-o We’ve painted some other rooms too. We have been in our house for 2 years this month, but life has been too crazy to personalize it. Life is still a little crazy, but it’s a good crazy now. So, we’re slowly going room by room and finishing things.

Cameron is over 25 weeks gestation now, so my restrictions must be working. She is growing well and moves all the time. Girls seem to move so much more than boys in utero. I have developed gestational diabetes again as expected. For now, I’m not on insulin and controlling it well with just my diet. However, it’s early and this will probably change as she and the placenta grow. I check my sugar 4 times a day and have certain ranges that it must stay in. If it doesn’t, then I have to call my doctor and he’ll start me on either an oral medication or insulin. We’re still hoping she’ll make it to 36/37 weeks when the doctor will take her via c-section to avoid further complications. So far so good!

Austin is doing well. He is pulling up and slowly cruising along the furniture and his toys. He is also doing an army crawl. Austin enjoys dancing; he bounces right along to the beat of the music. And, he has been playing peek-a-boo too. He uses his arm and only covers half of his face, but it’s precious. He still enjoys saying “Dada,” and even called his name the other night when he couldn’t open a toy. Austin has biweekly appointments with his EI, sessions once a week with his PT, and sees the speech therapist once a month just to make sure he is on the right track with his feeding issues. We also are getting Synagis once a month to help in case he was to develop RSV. Synagis doesn’t prevent RSV, but helps it not be so bad on children with lung issues. Austin goes tomorrow for his 12 month well check, so we’ll see then how big he much he has grown lately. We’ve been planning his 1st birthday party; it will be after the holidays. I know it’s late, but it makes sense for our family and with Austin being such an early preemie. He’ll be old enough to hopefully enjoy cake and ice cream!

Bradley is doing well too. Tomorrow is his last day of preschool before Christmas break which makes him happy since he still prefers staying home. They had a small program, during school, last week for just parents. My little star shined with the songs and motions; we were very impressed as he did everything with no stage fright! We enjoyed homemade cookies decorated by Bradley afterwards. Bradley is ready for Christmas, but NOT Santa. He has never liked Santa which we don’t really mind and think it will actually help teach him the true meaning of Christmas. Bradley does enjoy Christmas decorations especially the lights though. He helped us take some toys to donate to Toys for Tots and handled that very well. There was no fussing or tears as he seemed to understand it was for other children that might not get other presents. Bradley will be 4 in March and is talking about his birthday a lot these days. We think we’ll celebrate it in February hopefully before Cameron arrives. He tells people that Cameron is coming for his birthday!

We’re just trucking along, enjoying the ride, and making the most of each day. Life is fairly simple, and we are enjoying it so much. We’re looking forward to Christmas at home with our children. God is so good, and we continue to be amazed by His plan. We pray that everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season!

Daddy & Bradley decorating the tree

Austin waving hello

Austin smiles for the camera on his own now

Bradley relaxing in his new bean bag

Wicker Family on Thanksgiving

Brothers on Thanksgiving

 Bradley on Thanksgiving

Clemson Boys

Austin knows he's cute!

Sunday, November 22

One year ago

One year ago today my husband and I welcomed 3 little blessings into our family. God blessed us with 2 sons and 1 daughter all within 10 minutes.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is a man whose quiver is full of them. Psalms 127: 3-5

Austin Michael entered the world at 7:55am, Christopher Brayden at 8:02am, and Alexis Faith at 8:05am. Austin didn’t make a peep, I didn’t expect that a 24 week baby was able to cry, but Brayden and Lexi surprised us and cried when delivered. Each baby was shown quickly to me after the doctor delivered them, and I was amazed at how small but perfect they seemed.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Jeremiah 1:5

Lexi was whisked across the hall to another room as there wasn’t enough room in my delivery room for everyone including her NICU team. The delivery room was full, I was actually in one of the rooms used for c-sections and other OB related surgeries in case of any unforeseen circumstance. The OB that delivered the babies quickly found out why they delivered when she saw that my uterus had ruptured in the lower back segment. She quickly worked to repair it as I received 3 units of blood. I had lost a lot of blood during the pregnancy, over time, and especially while in the hospital on bed rest in labor for over 2 weeks.

“For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds," says the Lord. Jeremiah 30:17

I was wheeled to recovery where I enjoyed several cans of regular Coke and cookies. I’d had gestational diabetes during the pregnancy and was on insulin during my hospital stay, so these little snacks tasted like Heaven to me. I’ve never, nor do I think I will ever, have a Coke taste so delicious. Anyone that saw me or spoke to me in those hours after the delivery, before I was taken to the NICU to see the babies, can verify that I was extremely calm. I had this endless peace in my heart. God was there holding our family who was unaware of what the next year would bring.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

In the coming days and weeks our world was turned upside down. The life that we’d imagined with our 4 children didn’t exist. We buried our 2 youngest children by the time Austin was 2 weeks old. While lost and in this complete darkness God was there. We felt Him talking to us as we never have. We told him, after burying Lexi, that we couldn’t take anymore when Brayden took a turn for the worse. However, we heard Him saying that we could and we were going to do it. And, we did it. We got up each day and dealt with life as best as we could while having a 2 year old at home and a sick baby in the NICU. God provided wonderful doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists to care for Austin to the best of their ability. We met some wonderful healthcare professionals in the NICU that will forever hold a special place in our hearts. God provided people to care for our family, to cook meals for us, to care for Bradley, and to pray and give support to us. I still meet people that tell me that they’ve followed our story and still pray for us! How amazing. Oh how I wish I could thank everyone as much as I’d like in a proper way, but that task will take the rest of my life. In the meantime, I can promise I’ll never forget how each one of them showed us God’s love with their endless love for us.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Our family, friends, and complete strangers cried and rejoiced with us as Austin met important milestones in his journey to come home. We eventually came out of the fog that had rested on us for several months and realized that we had made it through something very large in our life. It changed us, and we’re so grateful, for the rest of our life. We never imagined that we’d continue to breathe or exist in anyway after suffering such grief.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46: 3-4

After Austin spent 108 days in the NICU he came home and began to grow so quickly. He entered the world at 1lb 7 oz, came home at 5lbs 10oz, and is now 18lbs at one year. He was off the oxygen and apnea monitor after 4 months of being home and started to thrive in all aspects. Austin has developed as you’d expect a completely normal child according to his adjusted age or due date, which was March 13th. He had a follow-up appointment at the NICU follow-up clinic this past week and they, like all healthcare providers, were amazed with his progress. He has normal vision and hearing. His chronic lung disease is still present, but he stays well and has had no complications from it in 5 months or so. A twenty-four week triplet, as he will always be known in the medical world, doesn’t do this well. In fact, we’re told it’s unheard of and a complete miracle. We know it’s a God given miracle. God knew Austin’s story when he made him and placed him in my womb. He knew that on Austin’s first birthday that he would be strong and thriving.

"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." Jeremiah 29:11

So today, as we celebrate Austin being with us a year, we are amazed by the journey and trials God has taken us on this past year. It is well with our soul, it is well, just like the old church hymn. After coming out of our "fog", when Austin was 6 weeks old or so, we weren’t sure he would make it a year. However, he did and we’re so grateful that God has given us this year with our sweet angel on earth. It has been amazing to watch him grow and become a part of our family. Austin and Bradley have an incredible bond, and Austin has turned into quite a snuggle bug with us. He laughs and smiles most of the time, and I’m continually amazed by the new things he is doing. God is so good, no matter what his plan for us on earth is, and loves us so much. I can’t imagine, knowing that He loves me more than I love my children, how enormous His love is for us. Happy Birthday to our precious Austin, Brayden, and Lexi! One day we’ll celebrate in heaven, with our gracious God, and Brayden and Lexi where the missed birthdays won’t matter anymore. While here, I'm so grateful for the endless blessings and miracles that God has given us in Austin. We can’t wait to see God’s plan unfold for Austin’s life as it has been amazing so far. Happy 1st Birthday Austin! We look forward to seeing you grow in your relationship with the Lord and pray that you will use your strong testimony to bring others closer to Jesus.

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. Psalm 145: 1-13

Austin's 1st Year

1day old

1 month old

2 months old

3 months old

3 1/2 months old
Going Home after 108 days in the NICU

4 months old

5 months old

6 months old

7 months old

8 months old

9 months old

10 months old

11 months old

I'll post pictures of Austin from 12 months later after I take some new ones today! May you all be blessed with the scripture that God led me to share!

Tuesday, November 17

Soccer Mom . . .

or should I say Soccer Family? Bradley just finished up his 1st season of soccer, and it was quite enjoyable. Chris was the assistant coach (he did a great job too!); I was Team Mom and #1 fan of ‘B’ and the Panthers; Austin thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the sidelines and already seems anxious to play; and all around it was a great first season. God blessed us with a very patient coach who seems to really care about the kids. Some days I know it took all the strength God could give Coach Jason not to scream and yell at the kids. They were a U4 (under 4) team, so they were 3 or had just turned 4 since September 1st, and you can imagine that there were often other things more interesting that got their attention. The league doesn’t keep score at this age, so they’re all winners. We celebrated, a few days after the last game, with a party for the kids at McDonalds. They enjoyed happy meals, playing together, received trophies, and had cake to celebrate a great season.

We plan to sign Bradley up for another season this spring. Games should begin early March and run through early May. Chris plans to be assistant coach again, and Bradley is excited about that and another season. I’m thinking I might be a little too busy to be Team Mom, but who knows what God has in store for me. We have a busy, but good few months ahead of us until next soccer season. I have loved being a soccer mom, minivan and all! :-)

A few pictures from the last game:

Getting ready

Bradley kicking off

Running during the game

Shaking hands with the other team

Pictures from the Party:

Good Job Panthers!

Bradley's Trophy

Waiting on cake

We have to always get a picture of the boys together :-)

Bradley receiving his trophy

The Panthers!

Enjoying cake, need I say more?

And last but not least, the cool dude!

Wednesday, November 11

You're Growing Like a Weed . . .

My Grandmama Shipley always used to say that when my brother and I were younger. She even said it into our teenager years once we stopped growing, and often repeated it during our visits. So, we always used to get a good laugh about it. However, now that I have children I realize that she was probably in disbelief about how fast we were growing up. I catch myself watching, more like staring at, the boys playing and doing other day-to-day activities. If anyone has any clue as to how to stop this please let me know!

Bradley is no longer a toddler in anyway, shape or form. He is wearing mostly 5T clothes, and recently when we bought his winter coat we had to go to the big boy section to find one that fit. He has outgrown every 5-point harness that we can find, that makes at least 4 car seats that he has outgrown of ours. So, we recently moved him up to the booster seat that buckles in with the regular seat belt. He, of course, was very excited to pick out a new one. He chose one with sports balls and planes. Bradley has also continued to grow with his verbal skills. I don’t think there are any words that are too big for him now. Cute story about his growing vocabulary:
When I get “sick” I take off for the bathroom, and Bradley usually follows right behind me.
B: Where are you going Mama? You have to tee tee? Are you sick? You gonna frow up? (his questions are one after another in about 2 seconds)
L: Mama is just going to the bathroom. Why don’t you go play?
B: I want to stay with you. Uh oh, you feel sick? Are you going to frow up? Mama it’s ok; you’ll be OK. (as he is standing there watching me) EWWW, that is Disgrosting! Mama you frowing up!
So, he has made a new word combining disgusting and gross, and I think it’s a very good description when someone is “frowing up”.

Austin has gotten very mobile lately. He is rolling and scooting, on his stomach and booty, around the den to get where he wants. It’s amazing to watch, but if he sees you watching he won’t do it. He is babbling like crazy. His favorite words are “Da da” and “hey”. He will also give a little wave for hello and bye if you wave to him, and he shakes his head “no” when he is particularly frustrated and says “na na na” sometimes . He gets frustrated when his physical therapist is here as he gets tired from all the hard work during the session. He continues to do well with his development, and his EI and PT are pleased. He has started to get physical therapy sessions every other week now since he is older and can do more. So, now he has some sort of therapy once a week. We’re also getting a speech evaluation next week for some feeding issues. He is unable to eat any table foods; he does fine with baby foods of all stages, but can’t handle anything else. If the smallest piece of food gets in his mouth he gags and will usually throw up. So, we’ll see what that is about. It’s common for preemies to have a feeding issue whether that be from their time on the vent, which causes an arch in the top of the mouth (palatal groove) and can complicate eating, or from the time with the OG tube that was used to feed him for the first 10 weeks or so of his life before he could bottle feed. We’re aren’t too worried about it though, because he doesn’t have any trouble gaining weight and that is the main thing. Hopefully whatever the issue is can be fixed after some therapy. His makes this cute smacking noise when he is hungry and will now do it when imitating us. It almost sounds like he blowing kisses, and he has been giving us sweet kisses on our cheek for awhile. They’re big, slobbery, and so sweet. In the last week he has started to say, “Ma ma” and something for Bradley too that I can’t replicate into words, but it’s obviously his word for his brother.  Austin also got his first haircut last week, and did well with it.  The cut will allow us to spike his hair again; it's adorable and fits his personality very well.  We also had to move him into a bigger rear facing car seat, because the infant carrier was getting to small.  God is so amazing!

Someone else is also growing fast, “Daisy”! For those of you who don’t know Bradley has said, since we first found out we were expecting, “it’s a gwril and her name is Daisy . . . Daisy Duck!” He pronounces girl in such a cute way. So, we’ve just called the baby, Daisy, as we thought it was cute and said we’d change the name either way depending on the sex. Daisy is growing well as you can see from the attached picture of my belly. We had an ultrasound last week, and the baby weighed 10 ounces and is in the 65% for its gestational age. All the organs and everything else looked good. The baby was extremely active, but we already knew that from previous ultrasounds and the movements that I feel.

This pregnancy has been very different from the previous ones. I’ve been much sicker than before and have continued to still get sick. I’m tired, but at the same time I have a baby that still gets up during most nights. So I thought maybe it’s sleep deprivation, but a lot of people started telling me that girl make you sicker. I’ve been very emotional and had lots of headaches too. Everyone continued to say it’s a girl, so we found out this week and . . .

It’s a GIRL!!!!

Cameron Grace is such a God given miracle. My OB said that even though my body looked good that 20-24 weeks can be hard on someone who has a history of incompetent cervix. The baby goes through a huge growth spurt then and can cause crazy things. So, I have to continue to use precaution and take it easy as much as possible. He hopes that if I make it past 24 weeks that we’ll be in the clear. I’m 20 weeks as of Monday, November 9th. So, we’re getting there and are asking for everyone to pray that God gives us another miracle (as we know He can make anything happen) and allows to make it to full term hopefully while still being able to care for the boys.

We're getting excited about the holidays and cooler weather.  I went in the hopital last November 4th and stayed until right before Thanksgiving.  The rest of November and early December were a blur, and it didn't really get any better for a couple of months. I missed the leaves turning and falling, so this year the colors have seemed so vivid compared to what I remember.  God made our world so beautiful, and I'm amazed by it.

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9: 1-2

The boys playing in their pj's

Bradley cheesin'

Austin is all smiles

Austin's 1st haircut

Big boy Bradley sitting by himself for his haircut

After his haircut in his new big boy carseat

Austin after his haircute in his big boy carseat too

"Daisy" is growing
I'll post the ultrasound pics of her as soon as I have a chance to scan them in.

Monday, November 9

Our pumpkin farmer and his pumpkin

For Halloween Bradley was a pumpkin farmer and Austin was a pumpkin. We started the evening by going to our next door neighbors; Bradley was such a big boy this year. He rang the doorbell and said, “trick or treat.” Then, Chris took Bradley to the rest of the homes on our street while Austin and I gave out candy. I think Bradley would have gone to more houses if I were able to walk with them. He is always shy in new settings and when doing unfamiliar things, and we don’t see anything wrong with him being a cautious child. Austin “cheesed” it up for all the neighbors and family that came by to see the boys dressed up. He didn’t mind being in his pumpkin outfit even with it being so hot. Afterwards, we just hung out as a family, had supper, and watched a movie together. Bradley enjoyed going to the door with us to give out more candy as more children came.

Farmer Bradley & Austin the Pumpkin

The Wicker Family

Bradley is ready for candy

Austin's 1st Halloween

Mama's Boys

And they're off!

Saturday, October 31

Pumpkin Picking

A few weeks ago we went to pick pumpkins. We went to my home church and the church we were married in, Mt. Hebron UMC. They had a huge inventory and great prices. Their youth group was running the pumpkin patch.

Bradley loves pumpkins, and Austin seemed to like them too. Bradley kept wanting more and more, and was constantly trying to put another one in the stroller.  We thought 7 was plenty; one for each person in our family. Austin seemed amazed with the bright orange "balls".  He was probably thinking that he can't wait until next year when he'll be walking, and can "copy" big brother (oh, the things he is learning! :-))

Our Pumpkin Family
Left to Right, Top to Bottom:
Mama, Daddy
Brayden, Bradley, Baby "Daisy", Austin, & Lexi

7 months adjusted, 10 months actual age

Bradley, 3 1/2 years old
"Look at all the pumpkins"