A New Dawn

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Hi faithful readers! Thanks so very much for sticking with me! I know I’ve mostly been absent from this blog in recent months. I have an explanation for that, and here it is…

She’s adorable but she’s a lot of work 😉

I’ve started several posts but I haven’t been able to see them through. This post is my second attempt at an update regarding my health now that I’m on the new breakthrough CF medication called Trikafta. I’m having a hard time clearly communicating what has been a complex physical and emotional experience for me.

So. Where to begin?

August 31, 2019 was the first day of this journey. My doctor sent a message telling me I might be eligible to get early access to the new CF medication that was due to be FDA approved on or before March 19, 2020. Early access was being granted to some patients with low lung function. My application had not been submitted yet and the doctor was unsure if I would qualify if I was still nursing Alena. He wanted to check to see if I was willing to wean her if need be in order to get this medication early. I didn’t want to wean Alena. I didn’t want to surrender yet another positive part of my life to the demands of my disease. However, since the beginning of my pregnancy, through Alena’s birth and into the months that followed, I had been living under immense strain and my health situation felt precarious. I knew I could not turn down the opportunity to get early access to a medication that could improve my health and provide me with a measure of safety heading into the winter months where the threat of illness is at its worst. I wrote back and said if I was granted access, I would wean Alena if it was necessary.

October 4, 2019 was clinic day. My lung function was 29%. A bit disappointing! For some reason it had fallen five points after I gave birth to Alena. That didn’t make any sense to me, but regardless, it had settled there and wasn’t budging. I was just about to leave clinic when they received word that the clinic was approved for the early access program. They had me sign a consent to begin the program and said my individual participation should be decided within a week. The consent didn’t prohibit nursing but being that there are always unknowns with new medications, they suggested I wean Alena and I agreed to begin that process.

Early the next week I got a call saying that my case had been approved! We agreed that I would come in on Friday, October 18 to get the medication.

The weaning was not going well, at least not for me. I spent much of that week in tears. Alena was doing quite well with the bottles but I hadn’t taken away her favorite nursing times yet and my heart was broken. On Friday morning I woke up and knew I had to press harder about the issue. It just didn’t feel right. I emailed my doctor and asked if it would be possible to keep even a few nursing sessions. The doctor overseeing the early access program called me and we discussed the issue at length. In the end they agreed it should be safe to nurse part time. A huge weight was lifted and for the first time I started to feel real excitement about beginning the medication.

On October 18, 2019 I headed back to the clinic to do another breathing test and have an exam. My lung function was 29% again. Many people stuck their heads in the door to wish me the best as I started this journey and the excitement was palpable. “It’s a new dawn,” my doctor had said. I left there with medication in my hand and hope in my heart!

October 19, 2019. I took my very dose of Trikafta. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I felt different within 24 hours. My lungs felt less irritated and my coughing on Sunday morning seemed far less explosive. In fact I was able to nurse the baby back to sleep before my usual morning mayhem. Sunday morning and Monday I morning I coughed up my normal amount of mucus but it was looser and cleared more easily. Tuesday morning, just 72 hours after I started the medication, I coughed up only the tiniest bit of mucus, and on Wednesday, NONE. I’m not sure I can adequately explain all the ways that this one thing, alone, is life changing. Very few people other than my immediate family have witnessed what my mornings had become over the years, but I will tell you, it wasn’t pretty. In order to clear the congestion that pooled in my lungs overnight, I would spend several hours coughing. And not polite coughing—persistent, gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing, violent coughing that would leave me bent over, sweating, and gasping for air. The amount of energy I spent doing this each morning was significant. Having that congestion meant constant infection, inflammation, and illness.

Over the next days and weeks I began to notice other changes. It felt good to breathe. I was getting the oxygen I needed and my lungs were calm. I still got out of breath doing “normal” things, but I would recover so much more quickly after exerting myself. I began to be able to do more–carry the baby up and down the stairs more easily. I could carry heavy baskets of laundry. I could push the stroller up a hill. I began to notice subtle changes in the way I was thinking. More often than not, it was, I can do this! rather than, how on earth will I do this? I stopped dreading physical activities. If I was up in the night with Alena, I didn’t worry about how I’d survive the next day. I started to feel strong enough and brave enough to do things I haven’t dared to use my limited energy on for the past few years, like running errands. When I was out and about on one such day, I suddenly realized I was speed walking. I had fallen back into an old habit that used to drive Jaime crazy! He would ask me to slow down all the time, until one day I asked him to slow down. That was a moment he said he would never forget.

One night, for kicks, I decided to try and carry Lucas up to bed on my back. I wanted to be reminded of the old days when I did that all the time. He looked a little surprised when I asked him if he wanted to but he climbed on and I carried him from the basement to his bedroom. It wasn’t too hard, even though I’m pretty sure he was a bit less than his current 55 lbs last time I did it. It felt good, oh so good to handle normal life again.

Since normal life was becoming more manageable, it seemed like a good idea to start exercising again. When I could, I took Alena out for walks, but it was hard to be consistent. It suddenly dawned me that I could probably work out in the morning again! I haven’t been able to for 10-15 years due to that incessant morning coughing. I decided to try it out the next day and was able to walk two miles in 30 minutes before Alena was up for the day. What a feeling!

Anxieties began to lift. I wasn’t worried about having coughing fits in public. Alena got a cold and a few days in, I realized I hadn’t been at all concerned about catching it myself. I stopped holding my breath if people got too close to me in public.

Hope for the future started tugging at my heart. I could more clearly imagine being not only present for my kids in the years to come, but also a participant in their activities and adventures. I found myself wondering if maybe, just maybe I might be able to hold my grandchild someday, or celebrate our 40th (or 50th!) anniversary. Is it possible? I don’t know. But maybe.

Amidst my joy and hope came some unexpected grief and sadness. As I began to feel better, I started to remember, really remember what my life used to be like. I remembered the feelings of strength and ability, and of freedom and vitality. I began to long for complete healing and I became afraid of getting a sense, for the first time ever, of what irreversible damage had been done in my body. As the grip of the disease loosened, I felt desperate to cast it off completely. I wanted to be free. I knew there was a limit to the improvement I would experience. This medication is not a cure and there is still dysfunction in my body. And nothing can erase the suffering this disease has caused and the physical and emotional toll it has taken. Not all losses can be regained, not physically or otherwise. I cannot go back to 100% lung function and I cannot go back to participate in all I have missed. I simultaneously felt intense gratitude for the blessing of significantly improved health and intense sadness for all that had been lost.

It also made me realize just how difficult things had become of late, and I felt overwhelmed by that. Since the beginning of my pregnancy with Alena until I began the medication, I had been struggling. My life had gotten very intense. Every day I was being pushed to the absolute limit of my health and strength. I had no reserve. I had only enough strength to (try to) handle the day to day demands on my body and no additional strength to process what was happening to me–how hard life was becoming and how this disease was seeking to ravage my body. It came into focus as I began to emerge from that place and I found I needed to face it and grieve it even while celebrating the improvements.

On Friday November 15, 2019, I headed back to the clinic to do another breathing test and have an exam to check my progress. I felt excited, anxious, worried, confident, and everything in between. I knew without a doubt I was doing so much better! But I didn’t know how my breathing test would look, and if it would show the gains that I felt. I wondered what the doctor would think and if he’d feel I was responding well.

First up was my breathing test. My FEV1 went from 29% to 39%! A 10 point gain, from 29 to 39, means I gained 34.5% function. In one month! That is significant! I was so excited. The rest of the exam went well and my doctor was pleased at the gains both in lung function and in strength and ability that were seen in such a short time period. The stories of my exercise and small, but meaningful physical feats were rewarded with a broad smile. We know from the study data that the greatest gains in lung function happen in the first weeks of beginning the drug, but he was hopeful that I might see another small bump as I gain more strength. And beyond that, there is hope for years and years of stability.

Obviously 39% lung function is nowhere near normal. I won’t be running any marathons or scaling any mountains, but with that much lung function and the absence of the most oppressive symptoms of the disease, I feel confident that I will thrive within the life I’ve been given. It’s truly a new dawn.

In this new reality, I will still be marked by the struggles of these last years. At times they will still cause me pain. But I wouldn’t change my story. I see God’s hand on every page. I have learned lessons in the darkness that could not have been learned in the light. I have seen God do miracles on my behalf. He has given me the strength and courage to do impossible things. He has protected and preserved me, sustained and upheld me. It has been his strength, his power, his provision that has brought me to this day. I am grateful to have labored hard for some of the greatest blessings in my life. These labors have been life giving and soul satisfying. And God has taken my pain and struggles and turned them into blessings for me over and over again.

As I become accustomed to an easier life, I pray I will never forget or forsake the lessons I learned in shadow. May I never mistake God’s strength for my own. He has given me strength for today and BRIGHT HOPE for tomorrow!

Photo by Jess Marie photography

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:16-19

Fall

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It’s amazing how a small thing like having a baby will limit your time for all non-essential activities, including blogging. It feels like just yesterday we were enjoying the last, long, warm days of summer. Hard to believe it will be November in two days. A lot has happened in the last couple of months.

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At the park. In short sleeves. Must have been July.

Lucas has had a great start to second grade! He’s growing in different ways and learning a ton. We love his teacher this year. Lucas’s first grade teacher was great too but his teacher’s approach to homework this year is so much better for us. Last year we would get a packet on Friday which was due the following Thursday. We are just not the kind of people who are good about doing a little bit each night. We were constantly realizing it was Wednesday and we hadn’t started even the first page. It made for a lot of long, unpleasant nights. This year his teacher sends home one page of homework every night. It’s so much more manageable and Lucas has even realized he doesn’t hate math. Lucas’s three best friends from school all ended up in his class which has been great for him too. Earlier this week he programmed a video game in his technology class. A couple weeks ago his class went on a field trip to the botanical gardens. It’s been a great year so far!

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“Dad, you don’t have to walk me to the bus stop anymore.”

Lucas has been playing a lot of soccer! He just finished the fall season with his school’s rec & ed team. He’s played with most of those boys since kindergarten and it’s been fun to be part of that community over the last three years. He also joined the travel club that I coach for this past August. It has been a really different experience for him but he’s learning a lot and has had fun wearing a real uniform and playing in a legit tournament (we took second place!). We finish up our fall season this weekend!

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We play a lot of soccer.

Alena is seven months old which blows my mind. She has become so interactive recently. You forget how much and how quickly they change when your kids are almost eight years apart. I came home one day and she was sitting up all by herself. Now she’s trying to pull herself up on furniture. Crazy. Alena definitely seems to be an extrovert. She is energized when she is around people. She always has a smile for people, even strangers (Lucas would always hide his face…he still sort of does, haha).

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At Trader Joe’s. On the lookout for new friends.

Alena is trying solid foods. So far the experiment has been met with mixed reactions. Alena loves her big brother. She is always excited when he gets home from school and she loves to sit on the floor and watch him play. Lucas loves to make her laugh!

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Sibling love

Alena needs remarkably little sleep. I guess I am to blame for that. I tend to be more of a night owl and function pretty well on five or six hours. Alena sleeps more than that (don’t worry) but her naps have been inconsistent and recently she’s been more wakeful at night too. It feels like she just doesn’t want to miss out on anything. She’s growing and happy so I guess it’s not a huge problem (apart from the fact her parents are buying a lot more coffee than usual).

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Who’s got time for sleep? (Photo taken at 4:21 AM)

One of the biggest developments of the past few months is that Betsy was approved to start taking a new drug aimed at the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis. There has been a lot of scientific breakthroughs over the last several years but until now, the new treatments didn’t work for people with Betsy’s genetic mutation. We knew that this new drug was in the pipeline but thought it would still be six to twelve months before it would be available to patients. Sometime in September, though, we got a call from the doctor saying she could apply to start the new drug early. She was approved in October! We had to frantically work out a few logistics, namely how to wean Alena. Initially, we were under the impression that Betsy would have to stop nursing the baby but thankfully after a few different consultations, we determined that reducing the feedings and supplementing with formula would be sufficient. Whew. Betsy has been on the new drug for less than two weeks but I don’t think using the words “life-changing” is an exaggeration. Her symptoms are greatly reduced. She doesn’t spend the first three hours of her day coughing. The other day, Betsy carried the baby and a basket of laundry up from the basement and didn’t feel overly winded. She is starting to exercise again. It’s remarkable. I am sure Betsy will write more about this but we are so thankful for this new development. It feels like we’ve gone back to a time when her disease seemed more like a footnote rather than the essay itself.

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Living her best life.

For years we have been participating in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides campaign. The sole purpose is to raise funds for cystic fibrosis research. This new drug is a direct result of that research. We are so thankful for our good friends, Ross and Deb, who organize our Great Strides team every year. We are so thankful for everyone (many of you who are reading this) who has ever donated money to the Great Strides campaign. Every single dollar contributed has led to this medical breakthrough. We are so thankful for the scientists who are doing this important work. And it’s not done. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has recently unveiled a new research agenda to continue the development of treatments for every person with cystic fibrosis with an end goal of finding a cure for the disease. It actually feels like this could happen within Betsy’s lifetime.

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Great Strides 2019

So that has been our fall! We are excited, tired, and thankful but above all, our hearts are full of hope.

Dear Sheri

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Dear Sheri,

It’s so hard to believe that 15 years has passed since you left us. Fifteen! How can that be. I can still hear your voice, as if I spoke with you yesterday. I can still see the contours of your face, feel the warmth of your hands, and hear the sound of your laughter. I easily picture your small frame and the way you walked (a purposeful walk!). I can see you standing by the sink on one leg like a flamingo, rinsing out your mouthpieces after a breathing treatment. I remember you in your blue robe sipping juice at the kitchen table with damp hair in the morning. I see you sitting at your sewing machine working on your quilt. Do you know, I never took that little piece of medical tape off your sewing machine? You must have put it there to mark a seam. It reminds me of you.  And speaking of medical tape, I’ll admit, I’ve started wrapping gifts with it sometimes too now. I mean, why not?

I don’t dream of you as often as I used to. I suppose that is affected by the passage of time, and the fact that the intense grief is less constant now. But when I do, they’re always vivid, and I wake up feeling like we really talked. In my dreams, you’re always wearing a bright pink shirt. We sisters have been talking about our memories from the last months of your life. I remember the last time I saw you. I knew it would be the last, and it was so hard. You were laying on the couch, so still, and so tiny. In my memory you were wearing that pink shirt. I honestly don’t know if that’s accurate, but your pink shirt has become, to me, representative of you.  Just like that shirt, you were bright. You lit up the room, and you were also so smart! You were vibrant and colorful. You were confident. You were fun.

You left an indelible mark on me. In fact your life had a tremendous impact on all our family, and on your friends and acquaintances too. You did such a good job living, keeping your humor, keeping your faith, staying you in the midst of your struggles. I know that’s not easy. In fact it overwhelms me to think of how much you suffered, especially at the end. Honestly, it scares me. Yet you lived and even died with grace and with purpose and with gratitude. You focused on the gifts and blessings and beauty around you and endured the pain and loss and grief without bitterness. You had so much strength and an incredible amount of courage. You lived well and you died well.

I wish I could sit down with you over beverage…coffee for me these days (I’m tired!). Maybe some Faygo for you. What would I tell you if we could chat? What would I say about these last 15 years? I’d want you to hear about the new medication I’m hoping to take soon for my CF. I hear it’s life-changing. I’m hopeful. I think you’d be so excited about it. How I wish you were here too and we could try it together.

I’d probably share some of my CF struggles. It would be nice to tell someone who truly understands. But I wouldn’t want to spend much time there. It’s not the biggest, most important part of my story these last years. I won’t allow that, because I learned from you, that it should never be. You never made cystic fibrosis your focus or your identity and I’m trying to follow your example.

I know I’d want to talk about my kids. First Lucas. I’d want you to know that he loves you.  It is really the sweetest thing. He always includes you when he makes lists of family members or counts how many aunts he has or asks me about what it was like growing up. He told me when he gets to heaven he will be sure to find you. He wishes he knew you here on earth. He talks about you quite regularly. He comforts me when I’m sad because I miss you. He reminds me of you in some ways. He’s smart and very creative like you! He’s very loving. I think you’d get a kick out of the things that make him unique. 

And Alena. There are times when I see your face in hers–an expression or a passing look. I’ll never forget the first time she smiled at me, a true “soulful” smile rather than a reflex. She looked up at me and her whole face broke into a grin and it felt like the sun had just burst out from behind the clouds. She is already vibrant, like you! She’s opinionated and feels free to “speak” her mind when she deems it necessary, also like you. She has a great laugh. She makes us work for it, but it’s so worth it! It’s bubbly likes yours. She doesn’t know you yet, but she will.  We will tell her.

On my bed I have a basket full of supplies I might need for Alena in the night or early morning. It’s that basket you made, covered in blue fabric with cute little tulips. It’s a reminder of you within arms reach. I imagine maybe someday she’d like to have it.

I guess what I’m saying is that I see daily reminders of you–in my kids, in my house, in nature, in myself. Perhaps it’s because I’m always looking. It keeps you close to me and makes the distance between us feel a little less vast. But really you are here. Bits and pieces of you that you left along the way. Ways you touched our lives, memories we have, stories we tell our children about you, gifts you made, funny things you’d say, advice you’d give, things you wrote. Especially the example we had simply by watching you. All five of us sisters looked up to you (figuratively of course 🙂 ).  You were a worthy line leader and an amazing example. I miss touching you and talking to you, yet you live on in my heart and I’ve brought you with me in my experiences. Because I loved you, and you loved me, and we are forever part of each other’s stories.

I miss you and love you so very much. We all do. How could we not? That will never change. And when we get to heaven, we’ll find you.

Love, Betsy

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Sheri Leigh Van Bruggen~September 26, 1968-September 4, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight Years Old

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It’s that special day, Lucas’s birthday! I feel like I was just writing his seven year post. This past year has been quite the blur. It was a good one though. Here’s what makes our boy tick at age eight! I’ve sprinkled in some funny conversations we’ve had along the way:

Current Favorites:

  • Color: Still Orange!
  • Food: Chicken quesadillas
  • Song: Butterfly by Twin Peaks
  • Books: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and the National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia for Kids
  • Animals: Cats closely followed by foxes
  • Sport: Soccer, soccer, soccer!

Dislikes:

  • Going to bed (when do they grow out of this??)
  • Waking up (complicated by the aforementioned dislike)
  • Sweets (except for fruit and fruit snacks)
  • Picking up his toys (he regularly leaves death traps for us on the stairs)

Lucas is still into creative play and making his own movies, shows and games from beloved characters such as Lego or Chronicles of Narnia characters.

L: Mom, I made a new Lego 2 movie game! You get to be Emmett.  The first challenge is to jump over the venomous red pants.

B: Venomous pants?!?

L: Yeah! They’re poison but they can’t kill you.  They make you sick for two years which is better than dying.  Although maybe not much better…

His movies, shows, and games always seem to have a great deal of action and peril. Never a dull moment in his imagination!

Right before Lucas turned seven, he got into VeggieTales and that was what interested him for much of the fall, even edging out DC Comics and Legos temporarily. The general veggie theme extended to his interest in my pregnancy and what fruit or vegetable size the baby was in utero that particular week. He even liked perusing the produce section at the local grocery stores to see what interesting fruits and veggies were available.

Veggies!

Right after Christmas (after asking for and receiving a lot of VeggieTales toys and movies), he lost interest and it became all animals all the time. He fished out his animal collection and built many different zoos which littered our floor for months and months.

Lucas’s zoo and the zookeepers

He also spent hours poring over his animal encyclopedia and made me feel good and ignorant with all his knowledge.

L: Mom, what do you like better? The African wild dog or a dhole?

B: Dhole? What’s a dhole?

L: Oh, you don’t know? It’s also a wild dog. It’s about the size of a margay.

B: ………..What’s a margay?

He started watching Planet Earth and as many spin-off series we could find. He loves David Attenborough and now narrates his own informational animal shows with a British accent.

The snow leopard is enjoying his meal in Lucas’s version of The Hunt

He and Jaime went on many nature walks in the area looking for animals and took many trips to various zoos. He used to love farms and wanted to be a farmer. Now he says he wants to be an animal scientist!

Soccer is still a big interest and he had a good year playing on the King Cobras team with his schoolmates. He and Jaime also attended many DCFC games, both the home games and any away games within a drive-able distance!

At a DCFC game with his friends

This year he continued his love of writing and filled several journals with his stories. He wrote his own Frog and Toad book, several Narnia-themed stories, some DC super hero adventures, and adventures involving his friends and family. At some point I introduced him to mechanical pencils because I got so tired of our pencil sharpener getting clogged. Now I’m so tired of picking up tiny pieces of lead off the floor.

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Lucas likes a certain amount of structure and order in his life. He also loves to categorize things and make lists. He has lists of characters, lists of animals, lists of vegetables, lists of states, lists of license plates from different states, lists of projects he wants to do, lists of stories he wants to write.

J: What do you want to do right now, Lucas?

L: Let’s make a list of everyone we know in alphabetical order! I’m a little tired, so this will be a good, relaxing activity.

J: … … … 

As you might expect, a huge part of Lucas’s year was my pregnancy and the birth of his sister Alena. He showed a ton of interest all through the pregnancy in how I was doing and where Alena was at in terms of growth and development. Since she’s been born he’s been a very loving and attentive big brother and he has earned her adoration. She watches him with wide eyes and gives him lots of smiles.

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He’s very proud of her. And we’re very proud of him.  Happy Birthday to our wonderful boy!

All About Alena

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It’s been 12 days since our little girl made her appearance! I thought I would tell you a little bit about her so far. I’d like to come back to the blog soon and write about my pregnancy and her birth, but for now I’ll just give you a few details about her and share some of my favorite pictures.

Her name:

Alena Abigail. Alena is pronounced a-lay-na. It means “bright, shining light.” Abigail means “source of joy.”

Alena’s likes:

This girl loves to eat! She cluster feeds, sometimes for hours at a time. But then she’ll take a good long snooze, so I’d say it’s a fair exchange.

The bouncy seat! This is very similar to big brother Lucas, and she even turns her head to the right, just like he did. She likes to sleep in there and will hang out there when she’s awake as well.

Mommy is her favorite for obvious reasons. Lucas is quite sure he’s her second favorite with Jaime bringing up the rear. I’d say there’s a tie for second 🙂

Alena likes getting her hair washed! I think she appreciates a good scalp massage.

She likes snuggles and kisses. It’s a good thing, because none of the three of us can stop kissing her and holding her.

She likes her hands up by her face and sometimes sucks on her fingers or fist.

Alena’s dislikes:

Diaper changes! I mean, they really are the worst. She does not like being cold.

She likes getting her hair washed, but hates getting the rest of her body washed.

She does not appreciate being passed around when she’s found a cozy spot.

Recognizable features:

Alena has a full head of blackish brown hair. I’m sure you can guess where that comes from!

Her eyes, nose, and cheeks look a lot like big brother Lucas’s.

She has very long fingers and very long toes. They look just like mine.

Clues to her personally:

Alena will let us know very loudly if she’s upset. However, when she’s done expressing herself (and we’ve rectified the issue) she’s able to calm her self down and be content without much intervention from us.

She seems a bit more laid back and independent than her brother…at least for now!

She’s also more flexible and will sleep in a variety of places and nurse or take a bottle. Yay!

She’s a tough little one. She had jaundice and endured what seemed like countless heal pricks. If she was being held when they poked her, she didn’t cry. If they put her on a table she cried but would stop immediately when back in our arms.

Lucas is a loving, doting big brother. He’s eager to help and showers her with affection. It’s so sweet! It’ll be fun to see how their relationship develops over time. Alena stares intently at him, I’m guessing because of the contrast of his dark, dark eyes. He was the first to get a smile and although I’m sure it was involuntary, he felt pretty proud.

Jaime and I are doing well too, and adjusting to our life as a family of four! We feel so blessed and thankful for this precious new baby. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Thirty-seven weeks

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In some ways it feels like the pregnancy has flown by. Well, at least to me. Betsy might give you a different answer. When we found out Betsy was pregnant it was hot and humid. In the last month, Lucas has missed eight days of school due to snow, ice, and polar vortexes (vortices?). I guess the change in weather is as good as any indicator to show how far we’ve come.  This past Wednesday, Betsy reached week thirty-seven of the pregnancy. It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point. Betsy recently went back on IV antibiotics. Her breathing wasn’t quite where it should have been and in an effort to make sure she is in the best possible place heading towards labor and delivery her doctors decided it was the best course of action. Betsy also came down with a stomach virus (which she got from Lucas, which he might have gotten from me) which has been pretty draining. Still, she’s made it to thirty-seven weeks and that feels like a pretty big deal!

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The day we found out Betsy was pregnant (miss you summer)!

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Thirty-seven weeks!

It’s particularly significant because Lucas was born at thirty-six weeks! The story goes something like this: unsuspecting couple is having a quiet night in; they decide to watch a movie; pregnant wife suggests some ice cream; dutiful husband goes to fetch ice cream; husband returns with ice cream only to find his wife’s water has broken; frantic couple rushes to the hospital; baby is born twenty-seven hours later. Just like in the movies! We were caught off guard, to say the least. Betsy was bound and determined that this time around there would be zero chance that we weren’t ready for the arrival of our little one. The baby’s room has been ready for close to two months. All of the baby clothes have been washed and put away. Hospital bag has been packed since about November. 🙂 The infant car seat was installed a couple weeks ago. We have the name picked out (true story, Lucas was born so early we hadn’t even decided on his middle name yet!). We feel ready!

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We’ve got a name, even if all my suggestions were rejected! 😉

Of course, we have no idea just how big a change we are in for. It’s been seven and a half years just the three of us. And in the last few, in particular, we’ve found a certain equilibrium. That familiar, family dynamic is bound to be disrupted with the introduction of another human being. Last weekend we had one last “Lucas gets to make all of the choices” day. After church and a quick lunch we headed off to a park nearby to check out some great horned owls who nested and had babies. Then it was off to an arcade for a couple of hours of fun and games. We finished the day seeing The Lego Movie 2 and snagging some of his favorite chicken quesadillas from Qdoba for dinner. Of course we are all thrilled for the arrival of our baby girl but we have also loved every minute of being a family of three!

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Betsy and Lucas tearing it up at the skee-ball lanes!

So, yes, all is well! We feel blessed. We feel ready. We have no idea what weeks 38-40 will bring! And we are looking forward to introducing our little girl the next time we post. 🙂

P.S. As it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I would take a moment to pay tribute to all of the extraordinary women in my life. First and foremost, my wife Betsy, who has done what seemed impossible and soon will be the mother of two all while educating children and finding all of my stuff! To my mother Debbie and my mother-in-law Mary who raised 10 children between them without even one iPad (how, I’m not entirely sure!) and who are now a huge support to Betsy, Lucas, and me. To my sisters Tina and Ede and my sisters-in-law Carolina, Kristi, Julie, Laurie, and Carrie who are all raising families and pursuing meaningful work. I salute you all!