Help Her Out!

18 04 2014

So you see that lady at the grocery store…the one with ALL THE KIDS??

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Well…if she is there on a holiday weekend with three kids ages 3 and under…just know, there was probably no other choice.   It’s possible that her girls got their 1 year shots on the day she had previously set aside for grocery shopping…and she stayed home with everyone because they were mad!  It’s possible her husband is having to work a ton…and she wanted to spend the evening at home with him…which meant doing the grocery run during the day for once.  It’s possible she’s got a very involved holiday baking plan and just needed a few more things to make it work.

Whatever the reason, she is there.  Here is how to interact with her:

1. DO give her a compliment.  Anything.  “You’re doing a great job!”  “Those kids are cute!”  “You remembered both your own shoes!” Anything.  She needs it.  She probably hasn’t talked to anyone over the age of 3 all day.

2.  DON’T stop her and tell her a story about your old roommate’s second cousin who had twins…but one died.  She doesn’t have time for that.  She doesn’t need to hear that.  In fact…you probably don’t need to ever tell that story again.

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3.  DO ask if you can grab something for her.  Chances are, despite her detailed list…she forgot something on the other side of the store.  And in her head, she’s doing the math to decide if the kids will be happy long enough to justify the trip back over there to get it.  Did she really need those bananas?  Probably…but she may decide to cut and run without them if one of the kids is unhappy.  YOU could be the reason those kids have bananas for breakfast tomorrow!

4.  DON’T scowl at her because the huge double stroller is blocking the aisle.  It’s blocking the aisle because some idiot left an empty cart there too.  She can’t move it with the one hand she’s got free.  Smile at her.  Move it yourself.

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5.  DO ask if you can grab her some lunch and meet her at checkout.  That empty coke can in the stroller cup holder was probably her breakfast and lunch, even though she has fed 3 other people at least 2 meals apiece by now.  If you happen to be in the type of grocery store that is also a McDonalds/Subway/Auntie Annes (Did you know there are WalMart’s with Auntie Anne’s??)…or maybe the type with a Starbucks…ask her if you could buy her some lunch/coffee and meet her at the checkout.  She will probably say no…b/c it might be weird if you’re a total stranger AND b/c mom’s with that many kids are pretty tough anyway.  But she might say yes…b/c she’s desperate and b/c mom’s with that many kids have probably had to learn to accept help.

6.  DON’T compliment her on her “three handsome boys”…unless she’s actually got three handsome BOYS.  If you can’t tell, just say “cute children” or “adorable kids”.  Don’t heap on that guilt because her baby girls are wearing their brother’s hand-me-down tshirts and no headbands (and may actually look like boys).  You may not realize that one of them puked on the other one while she was trying to get everyone in the car.  And because it’s laundry day, she’s down to old tshirts.  She probably gave up on the headband fight long ago.  Just be happy her kids are all wearing clothes…smile at her…and keep moving.

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7.  DO let her go in front of you in the check out line.  She’s only got the amount of groceries that will fit in the basket under the stroller anyway.  AND if you don’t, you just might end up having to listen to her kid(s) cry the whole time you’re checking out.  Trust me, you–the adult alone in the grocery store–are NOT in a bigger hurry than the mom with 3 kids.  If you do go in front of her…consider paying for her groceries.  Buy a $10/20/100 gift card and leave it at the register for her.  She probably won’t notice until you’re long gone…because she is trying to keep everyone’s hands away from the candy.  But trust me, she’ll cry when she does.

8.  DON’T judge the crusty oatmeal on the back of the 3 year old’s head.  She doesn’t know how it got there…and probably didn’t know it was there until she was already at the store.  No amount of mom-spit-and-rubbing will get crusty oatmeal out of hair.  That stuff dries like cement.  Just smile…you were 3 once.  You probably walked around with dried oatmeal in your hair too.

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9.  DO ignore the smell coming from the baby on the left.  You may have noticed the lack of diaper bag in the stroller…that’s because she forgot it.  And, even if she had remembered the diaper bag, there is really no easy way to get a double stroller in a bathroom, keep a 3 yr old from touching stuff, and change a diaper…especially if there’s already merchandise in the stroller.  (BONUS:  if you happen to hear the 3 year old say that he needs to pee and he can’t hold it and he needs to go now…offer to walk with her to the bathroom and stand outside with the stroller.  Unless you happen to be wearing a prison inmate uniform, she’ll likely take you up on that offer.  Double strollers DO NOT fit in grocery store bathrooms.)

10.  DO smile at her.  She doesn’t know you.  You don’t know her.  But she is teaching three small people how to act in public.  If you followed her for an aisle or so, you’d hear her answer approximately 97 questions from the 3 year old.  She got them dressed (hopefully), into the car, out of the car, into a stroller, and through the parking lot without losing anyone.  She attempted to leave the house!  Reward her bravery!  Smile!  If you feel led, start clapping as she walks by.  She will cry.





Mom Fail

23 02 2014

This is about the one year anniversary of being on bed rest.  Oh bed rest.  The calm before the storm.  The still, quiet 7 weeks that I now fully appreciate.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.

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These kids…they are cute.  But keeping up with them is…interesting.  There have been lots of times I’ve screwed up mom-stuff.  We are still working out discipline.  Scheduling two babies is a nightmare.  Teething is…  fun.

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But sometimes…things happen that are definitely mom fail moments.  Sometimes, its little things, like saying out loud “Maybe we can go to the park today.”  And then it stays cold and we can’t…but all I hear the rest of the day is “blah blah blah park you said park”.

We’ve gotten to church before with no diaper bag (no bottles, no diapers, no heart meds for Kate.)

One time, I put the girls down for their long nap…and totally forgot to feed them first.  Every day, bottle at 1:30, nap at 2.  Except the one day where I forgot to feed them.

Or the time I was busy putting tires back on a monster truck, and I looked over to see Emma standing on Kate’s chest to reach something on a bookshelf.  That’s a fail by itself…but my honest first thought was “where’s my phone…I need a pic!”  (The phone was too far away so I just rescued the baby.)  Oops.  (Don’t call CPS…I promise, they are fine.)

Here’s some of my best (worst?) Mom Fail moments.  Just in case you’ve been wondering what’s been happening around the Byrom house…

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Last September, Jack got a weird stomach “virus”.  He was turning three.  My mom and my Aunt Jenn were coming to keep the girls for a full day so Clint and I could spend the whole day with Jack for his birthday.  We had planned to take him to the lake and play all day.  But the day before, he started getting sick.  A potty-training 3 year old with diarrhea is just stupid.  But it seemed to come and go. We hadn’t been around anybody who was sick.  Very strange.  He seemed to be alright the morning of lake day…so we went.  He was fine the whole day.  But the next day…started getting sick again.  Finally, we were in the playroom upstairs…and he reaches into his Little People Barn and pulls out a sippy cup.  He takes a big drink and puts it back.  “Jack, what’s that?”  “That’s my upstairs cup.”  “What?”  “I keep it upstairs so I can get a drink anytime I want.”  Sure enough…cup full of moldy week old juice.  Mom Fail.

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Crawling babies are fun.  Especially when they put random stuff in their mouths.  And when there’s two of them…it feels like you’re playing whack-a-mole sometimes.  One morning, Emma almost choked on a sticker she got off something in Jacks room.  Her gag reflexes kicked in, she vomited…all good.  (Yes, I’m at a point in life where vomit is good.)  About an hour later, with that choking experience still fresh in my mind, I’m changing Kate’s DIRTY diaper in the floor of their room.  Emma and Jack are playing in the same room…but I look over and Emma is putting something else in her mouth.  Not wanting another choking/vomit experience, I dove away from the baby with the poop and toward the baby with the possible piece of death in her mouth.  Turned out there wasn’t anything in Emma’s mouth…but by the time I looked back at Kate, she was waving the dirty diaper around over her head.  Poop everywhere.  I dove back to Kate.  By this time, she has poop IN HER HAND.  I get the poop away from her…and here comes Emma.  She gets some in her hand too.  That is two babies with handfuls of poop.  I had to enlist the help of the 3 yr old to keep Emma from eating poop while I cleaned up Kate.  Then Jack kept Kate away from the poop while I cleaned up Emma.  Then everybody went in the beds while I cleaned up the poop.  Mom Fail.

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Every morning, the girls take an hour long nap.  This is my time to spend with Jack and I usually try to do something school-ish.  He knows his alphabet and numbers.  We are working on writing his name and letter sounds.  But sometimes, I let him play on his Leap pad when I need to get other stuff done.   One day, I gave him the leap pad in the living room so I could sweep and mop the kitchen floor.  It was gross (…mom fail?).  I put the dog outside and got the floor done.  While it was still wet, I went and sat down to play some Candy Land with the boy.  Right after we got the game set up, the dog scratches on the back door to come back inside.  Now, to get to the back door, you go from our living room, into the kitchen and then take a sharp left.  Being the fantastic mom that I am, I said “Jack, go let Charlie in!  Hurry, run fast!”  Never once crossed my mind the floor was wet…until I heard him crash and scream.  Mom Fail.

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I will assume that y’all are laughing with me…and not at me.  We laugh a lot around here…sometimes, that’s all you’ve got.

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Oh bed rest…how I miss you!

(Disclaimer statement:  This post is meant to be humorous…I do not actually believe I am failing as a mom.)





We won.

26 09 2013

We never win anything. We just don’t. No doorprizes. No sweepstakes. No drawings. Nada.

Last year, September 26 was a Wednesday. I will never forget that day.

The weekend before, we’d driven to Waco to tell our parents that we were expecting baby #2. Please note, these reactions are based on the news of ONE baby. (I guess these pictures aren’t necessary to this story…but they make me laugh. And that’s reason enough to share.)

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(We told mom in a birthday card.)

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(Clint’s parents had just returned from a vacation to Hawaii. Welcome home!)

Clint had recently started a contract architecture job in downtown Dallas.

I had a doctor appointment that day. We knew I was pregnant. Calendar-wise, I figured I was about 7-8 weeks. I’d had lunch with a friend earlier in the week…and I told her I just felt more like 10-12 weeks. But there was no way.

Clint wasn’t going to go with me…we’d done the first sonogram thing before. And he would have to take 1/2 a day off work…from a new job with no personal time.

At the last minute, he decided to come.

When the sono tech put the first images on the screen…I thought I saw the baby. And then….I thought I saw the baby…from another angle?

And then, she said it. THERE’S TWO BABIES IN THERE.

I sat straight up. Are you kidding? Nope. Are you sure? Yes. Please check again. Still two.

Clint was smiling. I was crying. She said, “I’ll leave you two alone for a second.” And she handed me a kleenex box.

While we were in the second waiting area, waiting to see the doctor…I just sat there…looking at the sonogram picture and crying. And everytime someone walked by, Clint would say “We’re having twins.” “We’re having twins.” And I kept thinking: “You have to shut up. We’re not even sure this is good news yet!”

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The rest of the day was nuts. When you tell people you’re pregnant, they’re excited. When you tell them you’re having twins, they laugh at you. Really, every time. And it was a Wednesday. I had to go back to the FieldHouse…and act normal. Pretty much nobody even knew we were pregnant.

I read somewhere that there is a 3% chance of “spontaneous” twins. Spontaneous….that’s what they call it when there is no fertility drugs involved. When it doesn’t run in the maternal side of the family. When it just…happens. Spontaneously.

A 3% chance.

A year ago, I had no idea how one person could feed two babies at one time. How do you hold two babies at one time? How do you tell them apart? How do you pay for two….of everything? We weren’t sure it was a good thing.

 

A year later….we still can’t answer most of those questions. But, I am sure of one thing.

We finally won something.

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This New Life

4 09 2013

Several weeks ago, I took the girls to their 4 month dr appointment. I made arrangements for Jack to be somewhere more fun…but that fell through. And then my backup plan fell through…so I ended up with all three of my kids at the dr’s office…by myself. I didn’t panic until I got to the office, parked, and realized I didn’t have the double stroller. That meant I would be carrying two babies in (heavy) carseats AND a diaper bag AND trying to make sure Jack didn’t run into the street. Cue the circus music.

Thankfully, Jack decided to obey. And the girls decided not to cry. We actually made it into the office and through the visit pretty uneventfully. In fact…I had it together enough to take this pic in the waiting room… (Kate is red b/c she’s pooping. Just FYI. I know you were wondering.)

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While we were in the waiting room…another lady and her daughter walked by. And the mom said “Wow. I don’t envy you!” I smiled and kinda laughed with her. I usually get “looks like you’ve got your hands full” or “I bet they keep you busy”.

Later, when I had time to think about it, her comment made me sad. Not for me…but for her. She did not want what I had. I had three beautiful, mostly healthy kids. Jack was well behaved (at that moment), and the girls were taking turns laughing and smiling at me (or pooping). For whatever reason, the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and grace chose to bless us with these kids.

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Sure, we have days that aren’t perfect. There was the day when Jack pooped in his underwear, then shook it out on the floor and the dog ate it before I could clean it up. (You can go throw up if you need to. I almost did.) There was the day when Emma projectile vomited all over the couch (and the rug and me and Kate)…and the dog ate it before I could clean it up. There was the day when we ran out of formula and I had to take everybody to Target…just for one can of formula. There were the days before Emma was on meds for reflux. Those were bad days.

(No picture here. We don’t take pictures of the bad days.)

Just kidding…yes we do.

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But even on those days, there is still this promise:

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.

They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Psalm 127:3-5

For me, this life as a full time mom can seem incredibly different from my old life. I’m only a few months away from having my Starbuck’s gold membership revoked because I never use it anymore. (When you share an office with two boys…you tend to do your counseling at Starbucks. I miss the barista’s knowing my name.) There are days…sometimes weeks…that pass where I wear nothing but yoga pants and tshirts. I no longer spend my days meeting with high school and jr high girls, talking about life and faith and salvation. Instead of writing curriculum, counseling students, and speaking…I make grocery lists, sing silly songs, and change lots and lots of diapers. Some of my closest friends have asked “How are you really doing?” I never thought I’d be a stay at home mom. Just didn’t seem like me. I expected to be bored. I expected to be disappointed, maybe even slightly depressed. I expected to miss my old life incredibly.

And there are days when I miss it. Watching the FH staff and volunteers update Facebook statuses and tweet while they were at camp…that was hard. It was borderline torture. (Houselife too…missed that b/c of the bed rest.) I miss seeing a girl understand for the first time who Jesus is and what He has done for her. And then watching as she is baptized and begins to walk in a new life in Christ. When I can tell that some of the girls are struggling via social media…I want to call/text and invite to grab some coffee… Sometimes, honestly, I just miss the Venti Iced Green Tea, Sweetened. (Or the Venti Caramel Iced Latte if I’ve earned enough stars for a free drink. Splurge when you can!)

The circumstances of my life have changed drastically over the last 6 months. But my purpose has not.

In Psalm 22:27, David says, “I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.”

“My people” have changed.

“My people” used to be 100’s of teenage girls.

Now, “my people” are, well, smaller.

“My people” all look like their daddy.

“My people” are with me 24 hours a day.

I have been called to declare His name to “my people”…to a 3 year old boy and 2 baby girls.

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The Lord may allow another season of ministry outside of my home in the future. But He has given me the incredible responsibility and privilege of spending my days with these kids. These kids, who really, belong to Him. He has allowed me to participate in their lives, but they belong to Him. He loves them more than I ever could.

Thank you Lord for sharing these kids with me.

Starbucks, please open a store in Mesquite with a drive-thru.





Fear…and Pound Cake

18 08 2013

Last September, the FH staff went to Refuge, a Student Life Conference for student ministry staff members. We worshipped, we planned, we hacked, we ate wings. We proved that CJ really does know everybody…or everybody knows him. For two days, we listened to great speakers encourage and strengthen our passion to see students come to know the Lord.

There was one speaker we’d never heard of before…and honestly, whose name I don’t remember. He spent the first 25-30 minutes of his talk outlining his life and ministry. It was interesting…but we couldn’t figure out where he was going. I even closed the journal I’d been taking notes in. This guy had a great story…but it looked like all he was going to do was tell his story. His church was in a terrible neighborhood, he’d had to live in his car, his parents were ailing, his family couldn’t move to be with him…I’m sure his dog was probably sick too. He said he’d thought about giving up on this new ministry because he feared it would fail (and at times, he feared for his life)…

And then he read Isaiah 41:8-10.

“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,

I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Verse 10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you…” It’s a command. It’s not a suggestion. It’s worded the same as the Ten Commandments…do not steal…do not murder. Do not fear. When we fear, it is sin. When we fear, we are not trusting the Lord.

Fear, just like every sinful desire in us, must be submitted to God.

I started crying. (I think I’ve typed that sentence in every blog…)

Only a week before, we found out I was pregnant. It was September. Clint had been without a job since June…and there weren’t any prospects as far as we could see. There was as much fear there as excitement. (And that was before we knew there were two babies!) The verse was convicting then. But the Lord was revealing a command and promise to me…and in His providence, He was preparing me for a time when I would repeat that promise over and over. When I would hold onto it…because there was nothing else that could comfort. Nothing else that could satisfy. Doctors would make their guesses, their suggestions…but The Lord had promised to strengthen, help, and uphold me. They were experts on the human body…but HE created it. He is trustworthy.

In Isaiah 40, the author gives us a tiny glimpse into the unsearchable character of God.

In verse 10, he comes with power.

In verse 12, he measures the water and the land of the earth with his hand and he weighs the mountains on a scale .

Verses 13 & 14 ask who could counsel or teach him.

In verse 16, the best of the best is not a worthy offering for him.

Verse 26 tells us he created the stars and calls them by name.

In verse 28, he is everlasting and Creator. He does not grow tired or weary.

We are commanded not to fear…not because we are strong. But because he is sovereign.

When we were in the emergency room, we feared the worst. But this promise said we could trust, even when we didn’t understand. Even if the worst happened…God would still be sovereign.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were called before their earthly king, who had commanded them to worship him instead of God. They refused. That meant death. In the face of death, they said they believed their God could save them, but even if he didn’t, they still wouldn’t worship anyone but the one true God (3:8).

When we prayed for our girls…we prayed for God to save them. We prayed for God to heal Kate. But even if He didn’t, we would still not turn from Him. So if our faith is real…what place does living in fear have? None.

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I have to be very careful not to fear. I have to ask forgiveness for this daily. The temptation to fear is the temptation to believe that God is not trustworthy, that God is not all good, that God is not in control. And those are lies.

When I am tempted to worry or I start to fear…

When I start down a path with all the “what if’s”…

I have to stop. And I repeat Isaiah 41:10. And I ask the Lord to comfort my heart and to protect my family. I bring the concerns I have to Him, the King of Glory. My little, sinful self can worry all day…I can live in fear. But it changes nothing. There is power in bringing my prayers before the Creator. He has promised that he hears me. He has promised that he longs to give good gifts to his children…although I must remember that good means he is glorified, not that I get what I want.

This does not mean that I’m not concerned for my family. I don’t send Jack to play in the street because I have no fear. This doesn’t mean that I’m never scared or worried about my kids or our safety. I don’t go to Walmart by myself after dark. But I ask God to overwhelm me with trust in Him, so I do not continue to live in fear. And let me be clear: it is His work in me that comforts and calms…not my firm resolution to be a stronger person. That would never work. I am a wus.

Here’s my example:

Kate has a heart issue (I don’t like to say “problem”). At any time, her heart could get into a really fast rhythm. If I don’t notice quickly enough to get help, the result could be very bad. I am tempted to sleep next to her bed, never leave her alone, never leave her with a babysitter or in a nursery. I am tempted to follow her around…well, she can’t walk… I am tempted to carry around a stethoscope and her heart monitor all the time and check her heart every hour, just to make sure. But that is living in fear!

We take the proper precautions. We didn’t put her in her own room until she had gone 2 months with no SVT episodes. We warn babysitters and nursery people symptoms to look for…and I always have my phone in plain sight if she’s not with me. We give her medicine 5 times a day. I use the heart monitor if I feel uncomfortable with any of the symptoms we’ve been told to watch for.

But I don’t live pressed down by fear!

The Lord has commanded me not to…and I trust Him!

So the pound cake?

Well, my family finds comfort in food. We love Jesus and we trust the Lord to comfort us…and we like to eat.

My parents came flying up from Waco the second they heard something wasn’t right with the pregnancy. Mom still had time to bring a roast. Before she left to go back to Waco, she made a cake. When I was on bed rest, she would come on the weekends and cook. Sometimes, she would cook at my house. Sometimes, she would arrive fully armed with food.

Throughout the pregnancy, I fought fear with scripture, with prayer, alongside friends and family who stood with us (or sat with us…I was on bedrest for 2 months)…and with my mom’s pound cake. In fact, there’s one on my counter right now. There’s only 2 pieces left…and they’re earmarked for my breakfast tomorrow. (Editor’s note: it’s already gone.)

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Sure we can make fancier stuff. Cheesecakes and this one toffee tiramisu cake that is ah-maze-ing… But there is something comforting about a plain, dense piece of pound cake. You can cut a piece and eat it without a plate…just standing in the kitchen. You can warm it up and cover it with strawberries and Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream. (And you should.)

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If you are fearful, memorize Isaiah 41:10. Thank God for his promise to uphold and strengthen you. Turn your concerns over to Him. And go make a pound cake.

(If you were looking for weight loss info…you’re on the wrong blog.)

Bess Hobbs Moist Pound Cake

(Recipe from Wylie Baptist Church Cookbook)

3 cups flour

5 eggs

1 cup sour cream

2 3/4 cups sugar

2 sticks whipped margarine

1 cup shortening

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp almond extract

Cream margarine, shortening, and sugar. Add eggs. Alternate adding flour and milk. Stir in vanilla, lemon, and almond extracts. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Eat. Don’t fear.





What about the boy?

27 07 2013

The last 5 months have been a pretty wild ride. Especially for Jack.

First…he dealt with mom being on bedrest. For 2 months.

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(I learned to crochet…and made him a dinosaur hat.)

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(Snuggled on the couch, watching a movie…with the twin bump.)

His schedule remained the same: we have sweet friends who kept him during the day while I was working, and they continued to do that. Shout out to Emily who pretty much moved in with us! Oh my gosh…we are so blessed by our friends! So many people went so out of their way to keep my boy! Here he is taking a nap at T$’s House.

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(Playing in the mud at Emily’s.)

My mom and Clint’s mom made frequent trips…to help take care of the boy, to help clean the house, to cook for us. Once the girls were born, I stayed at the hospital for 7 days. Clint was back and forth from the house, to his job in Garland, to the hospital. Jack was at home with a grandma or with friends most of these days.

He did ok. We noticed he was more disobedient and fussier than normal. But he was suddenly away from mom and dad almost all the time. For about a month.

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(Date with mom before Kate came home. Playing with the Thomas train set at Hobby Town.)

And then the girls came home…gradually…and he had to share all the attention. And he was told to be quiet. And be careful. And not throw things toward the babies…which was pretty much everywhere.

IMG_7840(Finally showing some love to the sisters)

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(Helping mom try to take cute pics of the girls.)

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(Playing quietly with some new toys…thanks Amy!)

And then, right about the time he started getting adjusted…our house sold. And his stuff starting getting packed. He went with us the first time we saw our new house.

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(See, there’s a big hole in our new backyard.)

IMG_8127(Looking out the window in his new room. It came with all those stickers on the wall…some of them stayed.)

It took awhile to get used to the new house. He kept saying “I want to go to my old house” and “This is not our house”. And there was definitely a day when me and my boy just sat and cried because we missed our old house and our friends and the nice Target. (Well, that last part was probably just me.) Now that we’ve been here a month…and he has had consistent parenting from HIS parents…he is finally back to his happy, mostly obedient, silly self.

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(Matching colors.)

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(Playing with water on the back porch. Or dumping water on himself….whichever definition you prefer.)

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(Making cupcakes with mom.)

It is taking some time…for all of us…to adjust to not going somewhere everyday. His whole little life, he has always gone somewhere and seen other people at least 5-6 days a week. Now, we stay home during the days. I’m working up the courage to take them somewhere by myself. It hasn’t happened yet.

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I think he’s going to make it.

I think we’re all going to make it.





Kate’s NICU Story

12 07 2013

The girls were born at 35 weeks. See previous post for more of that day!

Emma is Twin A. She was born first, and went straight to our own hospital room. She spent 7 days as a patient at the hospital…a few days longer than a normal baby because the pediatricians wanted to be sure she was eating enough/gaining weight properly. There was one day when a particularly picky doc rounded on her…and he wanted to send her to the NICU because she wasn’t gaining enough weight. Praise the Lord for our nurse that night! Tara sat with us during two feedings and showed us how to make sure Emma ate enough. The next day…with a different doc…I got this note back after Emma went for her checkup:

ImageYay Emma!

Kate is Twin B.

As soon as we found out about we were having twins, we realized that the NICU was a possibility. But it’s one of those things that you think only happens to other people. You hear about someone else’s kid having to go there…but not yours.

My kid went there.

To be fair, Kate’s issues were not anywhere near as severe as other babies we saw. In fact, she was a favorite on her hall at Cook’s because she was OK enough for the nurses and dr’s to play with.

Immediately after she was born, Kate went straight to the NICU. By the 24 hr mark, she was able to breathe on her own, maintain her temp and didn’t need an IV for blood sugar issues…the only thing keeping her there was the inability to eat on her own. She would rather sleep than eat, so she was fed through a tube. Slowly, the nurses started weaning her off the tube and pushing more of her meals through the bottle. For the first 7 days, Clint made almost every night feeding for Kate and I tried to make every other daytime feeding. The girls ate every three hours.

We are so thankful for the sweet NICU nurses that were with us every time. I am thankful for the worship music they kept playing in the NICU. I kept having to remind myself that I didn’t really know them outside of this strange hospital world. We talked about their mission trips, our kids and weird things we wanted to DIY. I would almost feel normal for a second…until I remembered I was holding a baby attached to wires and tubes and I couldn’t leave with her.

I am so thankful for the neonatologist who brought me a box of tissues and pulled up a chair next to me one day when I was crying by Kate’s little spot in the large NICU room. He made sure all my questions were answered. He assured me she was doing fine. He told me I was a great mom.

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Clint and I did everything short of cheating to get Kate to eat enough so they would let her go home. Probably not advisable, but there were times we would squirt-gun milk into her mouth. It would run down her chin…but, technically, it came out of the bottle and went into her mouth…so it counted. We counted every milliliter, trying to get enough in her so the dr’s would be convinced she could do it. But she just couldn’t get enough food on her own. She would get so close. She would have 3-4 good feedings in a row…and then bomb one. Everyone kept saying “she’ll get the hang of it soon”…”it’s just a matter of time”…”you can’t rush this”…”once she gets it, she’ll be great”.

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Above: Kate. Below: Emma.

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We took Emma home from the hospital on day 8. Without Kate. I tried to celebrate that day for Emma…but I was so sad to be leaving Kate. I refused to take any pictures with my real camera. It didn’t seem fair to Kate. Good thing we had iPhones.

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Emma in her “going home” shirt! Everything was big on these girls!

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Jack meeting Emma for the first time.

On day 10, Jack went to the dr and came home diagnosed with an ear infection. The NICU nurses agreed that I probably shouldn’t visit Kate until Jack’s germs were under control…but I was going to drop off milk for her anyway. I took tiny Emma with me…and left sick Jack at home with Mia (Clint’s mom).

When I walked into the NICU with Emma strapped to me in a carrier and a little ice chest full of milk…the nurses just looked at me. Kate’s nurse for the day came over and asked if I’d gotten a call from the neonatologist. I immediately looked over to where Kate’s little bed had been for the last week…and her spot was empty. There was a big open spot where her little bed had been… My mind went a million terrible places in the split second it took the nurse to tell me Kate was going to be ok. The dr walked up and said words that I will hear over and over again in my mind forever.

“Have a seat Mrs. Byrom. We need to talk about Katelyn.”

He started talking about the electrical system in the heart…and what had gone wrong with Kate…and what he thought it was…and all I could think was that there was no where to sit down. He told me to sit, but there were no chairs. I just stood there holding Emma, looking for Kate and trying to pay attention to what this dr was saying and not completely lose it in the middle of a room full of other babies and parents. He was talking about her heart…and I just wanted to yell back…”no, it’s not her heart. Not my Kate. She just needs to learn to eat, and then she’ll be fine. Her heart is fine!”

But her heart wasn’t fine. I saw the EKG that showed around 300 beats a minute. It should have been between 120-150. They told me how they had “iced” her to bring her out of the SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia = really fast heartbeat) episode. “Iced” means they put a plastic bag full of ice over her little face, covering her nose and mouth, and basically suffocated her until her heart reset itself. (Eventually we were taught how to do this and we keep a bag of frozen peas on hand at home, just in case.)

The transport team that would take Kate to Cook Children’s Hospital had already been called and were en route to pick her up.

I signed several consent forms. The charge nurse that day urged me to take Emma home and wait for Clint before heading over there. I thought I wanted to follow the ambulance…or ride with Kate. But the nurse said the transport would look scarier that it really was…she pointed out that Emma needed to be home anyway…she was very calm, very reassuring, and very right.

When Clint and I got to Cook’s, Kate was already in her own little room and there were teams of people lined up outside her room. We watched as they wheeled in EKG machines, Xray machines, drew blood, and lots of other stuff that we didn’t recognize. Each team came in, did their tests, and left. When the last group of people left…Kate’s nurse looked at me and asked if I wanted to hold her.

I cried. At the original NICU, we were encouraged to hold Kate only during feeding times. Then she went back into her plastic box for the next couple hours. At Cook’s, I could hold Kate anytime I wanted…as much as I wanted. I didn’t put that kid down until Clint said we absolutely had to leave.

That day-April 18-Kate was diagnosed with WPW (Wolff-Parkinson-White) Syndrome. Basically, there is an extra “wire” in her heart that allows the heart to beat way too fast. Praise the Lord for his timing. If she had learned to eat earlier…we when wanted…and been at home when that first episode had happened, it would have been bad. Very bad.

Kate was started on a med and we were told that it was possible this was a one time thing. That sometimes, with babies, they have one episode and then its gone. It wasn’t a one time thing. We left Kate at Cook’s and went home that night. Later that evening, we got a call from Kate’s nurse: she had another episode and they had iced her again. Twice in one day, my little girl had to be suffocated with a bag of ice to reset her heart. But she was fine now and they were upping her med.

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For the next 20 days, the dr’s kept adjusting/adding medicine to get Kate’s SVT episodes under control. After the first day, she never had to be iced…she came out of each episode on her own. She continued to have episodes, but they would last 4 seconds or 10 seconds…maybe 25 seconds…and each time she could handle it herself. For 20 days, I drove to Fort Worth and spent the day with Kate in her little room at Cook’s…and then drove home and spent the night with Emma.

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(I was sitting in a rocking chair by the window when I took this. It was great to have our own room, even if there was no door to close. It was the first time I’d ever been alone with Kate.)

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(At home with Emma, trying to be a normal family.)

3 times the dr’s thought Kate was ready to go home. The heart monitor that was on her all the time seemed to be clean…so they would do a Halter Monitor. A Halter Monitor is basically a 24 hr EKG that records every single thing her heart does. They did the first one on day 15. She failed. There were too many SVT episodes to send her home. They added a stronger drug…it would help control her heart, but can cause eye, liver, and thyroid damage if used long term.

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(Kate on a Halter monitor test day…those days were there lots of extra wires.)

One of the things that made being away from Kate easier….still not easy, but at least more manageable…was knowing that I could call her nurse directly 24 hours a day for an update on my kid. And every time I called, they were always happy to tell me when and how much she had eaten, what she was doing, how much they enjoyed my girl. One night, I called and the nurse said Kate was doing great now, but had been fussy earlier, so they got a volunteer to come hold her and rock her. A volunteer! This broke my heart. I was so glad that there was a volunteer there…but it shouldn’t have been a volunteer. It should have been me! Clint’s practical side kept me from leaving the other two kids at home in the middle of the night and driving to Ft Worth right then. When Kate finally got home, I’m pretty sure I didn’t put her down for the first week!

On Day 21, they did another halter test. They were so sure that this one would be clean that we were rushed through all the going-home procedures. The car seat test. The CPR class. The parenting videos. (Yes, we had to watch videos on how to bathe a baby. No, they didn’t care that we had a 2 year old who had obviously survived our parenting up to that point.) She failed again. Still too many episodes. She looked fine! She acted fine! Her nurses that cared for her round-the-clock didn’t see the episodes on the normal monitors. There were only two episodes on this failed test. 4 seconds and 6 seconds. Meds were upped again.

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(Playing with my little NICU Kate.)

On Day 28, they did another Halter Monitor. We got the results on Day 29. Technically, she failed this one too. There were 7 episodes on it. Each time she came out of it herself…and none of the episodes were longer than 8 seconds. The cardiologist gave us two choices: 1) take Kate home, knowing that “there is a very real possibility you’ll have to call 911 and re-admit her” or 2) start a third drug that is a “toxic mix in babies this small”. The quotations are her exact words.

I cried. How do you choose between those options for a tiny baby girl? The cardiologist that day, who delivered those options, was a believer. She reminded me that the Lord was sovereign over my little girl, no matter my choices. Several hours later, one of the neonatologists who had been Kate’s main dr, came by. She had heard the results of the halter and knew our options. She came by to reassure us that we were making the right choice.

For the last 19 days, the only thing the nurses had done for Kate was feed her, change her diapers, and give her meds. We could do those things. Her SVT/WPW seemed to be controlled very well by meds. We learned to use a stethoscope (that’s a word I still can’t say) and a heart event monitor, which we only use if we think something is wrong with Kate’s heart. We took her home on day 30.

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(Kate’s going-home shirt! Her last NICU pic and the first time in her entire life with no wires!)

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All 5 of us at home!

She has been home for 2 months. She has had three halter tests since she left the hospital…and will continue to have one every month until she is 1 year old. The first halter, one week after she was discharged, had one 10 second episode. We didn’t notice it at home. The two since then have been completely clean.

Kate will stay on meds indefinitely…with the dr saying we will start weaning her off the more dangerous one around 1 year old. Apparently, lots of babies born with SVT or WPW grow out of it. Otherwise, she will be on meds to control it and we can consider a surgery to fix it when she is 4 or 5 years old.

Day to day, she is no different than Emma…except for the 5 times at day we give her medicine. Crying/being upset doesn’t cause SVT…so we don’t always rush to calm down Kate. Whenever she gets really upset, I always wonder if it’s SVT. And that thought will always cross my mind…so I grab the stethoscope or her monitor and check.

We are thankful for all the NICU nurses who took care of our little girl, who played with her and talked to her and treated her like she was their own.

We are thankful for the volunteers who held her when we couldn’t.

We are thankful for the doctors who took the time to make sure they got her meds right instead of just hoping for the best and sending her home too early.

We are thankful for the friends who took care of Jack.

We are thankful for all the people who brought us dinner…so that I could come home from the hospital everyday to real food!

We are thankful for our moms, who pretty much moved in with us to take care of Emma at home so that I could go to the hospital with Kate.

Before we knew we were pregnant with twins…before any of this started with Kate, the Lord knew what was coming. Psalm 139:16 says that all of the days of Kate’s life were ordained before one of them came to pass. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I am grateful that the Lord gave peace when there should have been fear…that He gave joy when there should have been pain.

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3 month old Kate, smiling and playing at home with Mom and Dad.