Four against One (learning I'll never have a daughter...and how I feel about it)

This is a guest post I wrote for A Family Village - if you haven't checked them out yet, I encourage you to do so! It is a wonderful networking site where families can interact with others with similar interests. Sort of a Facebook meets for families :) Plus, I am over there every other Wednesday sharing new pieces that you won't find here! You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
I’m already outnumbered. The testosterone to estrogen ratio in my house is 3:1. And soon, it will increase once more. I’m due in August with our third baby, which we found out today, is another boy.
Being a mom of boys has been a huge joy. An accomplishment, even. I am thrilled to be adding another one to the troop. I felt this coming – there was only a small period of time after finding out I was pregnant that I thought this baby may be a girl. Not only because I was so sick for the first few weeks this time (and wasn’t with either of the boys), but also because I heard that if you don’t look all glowy and beautiful during pregnancy it’s probably a girl, as they “steal” their mother’s beauty.
Unfortunately, those old wives tales proved wrong which means this boy just wanted to be difficult in the beginning and my acne and lack-luster hair, well, that’s just a product of weird pregnancy hormones and my age.
Having two boys already, everyone assumed I wanted this baby to be a girl. Sure, it would have been nice to change things up a bit. And I will even admit that I would daydream every now and then about accumulating dolls, buying frilly pink dresses and having princess tea parties.
Most were shocked when I would say that I truly had no preference – or perhaps they thought I was stretching the truth. “Come on,” they’d say, “deep down you want a girl, don’t you?”
In all honesty, I’ve always felt like I was meant to be a mom of all boys. Maybe it’s because I’ve just gotten so used to the life I have now. Or perhaps it is the fact that my husband and I hyperventilate when we see the latest girl “fashions”. I already think I’m going to be an overprotective mom, but having a daughter would amp up the crazy momma-bear tendencies to a different degree. Poor thing would be wearing turtlenecks until adulthood and I’d never let her out of my sight.
So sure, it’s going to be four against one in my house. I’m okay with that. Really, I am. Besides, I can look forward to the days when they venture out on father-son bonding adventures like camping (I don’t camp) or attending college football games (not much a fan). I’ll kiss them all good-bye then spend a weekend doing all sorts of girly things on my own.
Did you ever have a strong preference for the gender of your child(ren)?

He makes it look easy

I ran a 5k once. Wait, let me rephrase...I ran about two-thirds of a 5k once and walked the other third trying to keep the vomit from coming out of my mouth. It was pathetic.

Yeah. I am not a runner.

About 8 months ago Ricky made a spur of the moment decision to run the Austin Marathon. He got an email about joining "Team Ronald" to help raise money for the Ronald McDonald House and on a whim, signed up that night.

Ricky's Team Ronald bib for Austin Marathon
Such a great cause! To be a part of Team Ronald
for your next race, click here!
I was all "um, isn't that a pretty big commitment to make so quickly, especially since you are not a serious runner?"

And he was all "why yes, yes it is but I already hit send so now I'm in SCREWED!!!!"

In all seriousness, Ricky is a very goal-driven person. And he keeps his word. So there was no turning back.

He set his alarm for 6am several times a week to run before work. He sacrificed many opportunities to sleep in on Saturdays to go train with a group downtown before the boys or I even got out of bed. When he hit a road-block by injuring his calf muscle with just weeks to go, rather than use it as an excuse to give up, he enlisted the help of a physical therapist and followed a revised training schedule to ensure he would be at his best come race day.

Last night, Ricky was a big ball of nerves. He tossed and turned because that's what he does when he thinks too much about needing a really good nights sleep. He slipped out of the house at 4:15 to give himself more than enough time to get downtown amidst the road closures and parking shortages. And because he was probably too antsy to wait around any longer.

The race officially started at 7am just as the boys were coming downstairs to snuggle. Instead, we got dressed, loaded up the car with the wagon, a few hours worth of snacks and a few good friends who wanted to come cheer Ricky on (our neighbor Abbi and her little boy Wyatt). We found a perfect spot where the course weaves through a neighborhood and set up camp on the sidewalk.

The boys had a great time yelling for the runners as they whizzed by us. When daddy approached we all screamed and jumped and hollered. It was such a proud moment as Ricky's wife - and one that I am so glad to have shared with the boys.

Cutest cheering section ever!
They got to see their daddy accomplish something after many months of hard work. Each time he walked out the door after work to run, they noticed. Standing there today, seeing the thousands of athletes pass us by, they finally understood what it was daddy was working towards.

Despite his recent injury, Ricky finished the marathon - all 26.2 miles of it - in 4 hours 35 minutes. A photographer snapped his pic at the finish and told him, "You're going to want to go online and view this one, it doesn't even look like you just ran a marathon!"

I swear, there is nothing that man can't do. And do well. And look good doing.

Ricky finishing Austin Marathon
So proud of you babe!

Aiden is 4! He's getting so big...and so is his head.

After a great weekend of celebrating little man's 4th birthday, we got a phone call that we were not expecting.

Dr. Fearon, Aiden's craniofacial surgeon, called yesterday to let us know the results from a test Aiden had done last Friday in Dallas. The test is a Visual Evoked Potential (VEP) in which Aiden was fitted with a pair of basic goggles souped up with little red lights on the inside that flashed and flitted before his eyes. The VEP collects data about how fast the optic nerve receives information from the red lights and bounces it to the brain. This is important information for kiddos with craniofacial conditions because it can indicate very early on any problems which may be linked to increased intra-cranial pressure (ICP), something that needs immediate surgical intervention.

This was Aiden's 2nd VEP and we were not expecting any abnormal results. He is doing so well developmentally, has not complained of headaches and has not shown any other signs of ICP. So you can imagine how shaken we were to hear otherwise from Dr. Fearon. It seems just as we've gotten used to a long stretch without any major surgery, we now face Aiden having to undergo his 2nd cranial vault. We knew this was something we would deal with at some point - in fact he will need several more skull surgeries as he grows - we just weren't expecting it for another year or two.

For those of you who may have just started following Aiden's story, I'll give you a quick snippet of what this surgery is all about and why it is needed. Part of Aiden's craniofacial condition, Apert Syndrome, involves the sutures in his skull prematurely fusing before birth. The cranial vault surgery is needed so that doctors can expand his skull the way other kids' skulls do on their own. It is important because as kids grow, their brain does too. If the skull is not properly expanding then the brain growth is inhibited which can cause development delays, vision loss, and various forms of brain damage. For this reason, Aiden will require several of these skull surgeries as he gets older to accommodate the normal growth of the brain.

The fact that he needs this earlier than anticipated? Well, I'd like to believe it means his brain is growing so quickly because he is just so darn smart :) Staying positive...

Next steps include an appointment on Thursday with a pediatric neuro-ophthalmologist. They will take a quick peek at his optic nerves to see if there is visual evidence of any change. Typically if the intracranial pressure is increased enough, it will cause the optic nerve to appear shorter or a different "color". The results from this exam will determine how quickly Dr. Fearon wants to proceed with surgery.

Now on to more light-hearted news: Aiden's birthday was so exciting this year. It was the first year that we had a birthday party where we invited friends from preschool. He chose the place and the theme - so we had a football party at Safari Champ, a local indoor playscape that we frequent.

On his actual birthday, we began the tradition of filling the boys room with balloons. It was a hit (until Ethan went to kick one and kicked the corner of his bench over). We then took them to the mall because Aiden declared "I'm 4 now so I want to do the bouncy thing at the mall". It's this contraption where they get to be strapped to bungee cords and jump on a trampoline. We did not think he would actually follow through once we got there, but sure enough he did!

Maybe his bravery will surprise us as we approach the possibility of surgery as well. We will keep everyone posted!

On pregnancy cravings, how I'm REALLY feeling and the age old boy vs. girl

For the first few weeks of this pregnancy I had a hate/hate relationship with food. I hated the thought of food and if I managed to get anything down, it didn't stay down for long.

I hated that I hated food. Let's be real, I am not a dainty eater. I like 3 square meals a day, plus 2-3 snacks and of course something sweet after every meal (or whenever). I just wanted to WANT to eat again, and to actually be able to do it.

Fast forward a few weeks and well, I've gotten my wish. Let's hope chasing after the boys will help keep my weight in check because eating an entire box of Swiss Cake Rolls in a week (true story!) doesn't fair well for my waistline, pregnant or not.

When I was pregnant with Ethan, I craved Outback Steakhouse (good thing we both worked full-time), Wendy's frosty's and Sour Patch Kids. With Aiden it was fruit and Sour Patch Kids. This time around, now that I have my appetite back, it literally changes daily. There has not been one thing that I'm stuck on, rather on a moment's notice I will have a craving so strong that I must fulfill it immediately, then the next day don't want a thing to do with it.

12 weeks
To name a few: Chuy's jalapeno ranch dip, fresh cheese and crackers, Sweet Tarts, Starburst Jelly Beans, cheese and peanut butter crackers (the bright orange ones that come 6 to a package), anything with bacon, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, lemonade. All very random and not particularly healthy I know. But I shall pull the pregnancy card as this is the last time I will be able to do so :)

As for how I'm feeling...

I try not to complain often because I do not want to come across as ungrateful or just plain whiny, but I've had so many people ask so I am going to share. At just 13 weeks I feel as if I'm in my last trimester. Not. Kidding. I have this horrible pubic bone pain that has something to do with the bones *down yonder* relaxing to prepare for childbirth, but um, body, did you not get the memo that I have 27 more weeks?!?! My back hurts constantly. My head pounds with each step I take. And I find myself NEEDING a nap at least 2 or 3 times a day (problem being I have 2 kids so this is impossible). Okay there's all the whining you're going to get from me. This too shall pass, right? Or will it? I'm pretty sure that these pregnancy symptoms will parallel how I'll feel being sleep deprived with 3 kids. Well, minus the pubic pain...

Finally, let's talk about the "big question". You know, on whether we want a boy or a girl? At the risk of sounding completely cliche, I'm going to give it to you straight, we just want this baby to be healthy. Honestly. Some might think with two boys that I'm pulling for a little pink but that's just not the case. Not saying I wouldn't LOVE to have a girl and experience a whole new realm of parenthood - that would be wonderful. But if this baby is a boy you won't find me crying on the ultrasound table. Unless of course they are tears of joy that this baby is 100% healthy from the outside looking in.

I'll give everyone a little teaser though...I was totally feeling "girl" but told my husband several times that I just feel like we'll be hearing "It's a boy" during the big reveal at the doctor's office. When we were at our 12 week appointment with the high risk doctor, they took a peek. From what I saw, I was convinced it was a boy. The sonographer was too. But then the doctor did another one and said "I'm not so sure about that". At 12 weeks, it's still a little early to make heads or tails of it (er, um, penises/vaginas?) so we won't know for sure until our next scan at 16 weeks. We'll be getting a 3D ultrasound so as long as baby cooperates we should know in 3 weeks!

Anyone want to take a guess????

One day at a time

Image credit: Simply Hue Designs on etsy
Being pregnant is an emotional journey. For many reasons, it is especially emotional for people like me who have experienced preterm labor and/or bedrest at some point, given birth to a child with physical differences or who have had struggled with infertility and miscarriage.

Every little fear you have from the moment you see the two pink lines is magnified by the intense life experiences that forever change the way you think about bringing a child into the world. I wrote a little more about how I'm feeling this time around over on the CCA Kids Blog here.

Ricky and I had an appointment yesterday with a high risk doctor to discuss my pregnancy. At 12 weeks, we were able to have another ultrasound to check all the major physical developments of baby 3. We searched the screen for every limb, a healthy spine, all chambers of the heart, the brain. And although I am not overly concerned with having another baby with Apert Syndrome (as our chances are the same as before, 1 in 160,000), we asked the sonographer to get a good look at the hands and feet for peace of mind. It appears all fingers and toes are present and accounted for...separately. What a relief.

However just before we left the house, I scanned Facebook for the millionth time and almost hit the ground when I read the following from a friend: "So the only reason I'm putting this on fb is so I don't have to tell each person individually. The baby didn't make it."

On the days leading up to that morning were posts about their exciting appointment where they would find out the sex of their baby. She was 21 weeks along.

My heart broke into a million pieces for her and husband. While our experiences are entirely different, I can relate to the the feeling of excitement turning to devastating loss before their eyes. Not knowing about Aiden's condition until he was born provided a flood of emotion that I'll never forget.

It didn't take hearing of this friend's tragic loss to register in my mind just how difficult it is to actually carry to term and have a healthy baby - what a blessing it is when all the stars align and the outcome is good. That is something I learned the moment it didn't happen for us. But reading her news while I am pregnant stirs up all kinds of additional fears. After leaving our appointment yesterday, we joked that I am probably every doctor's worst nightmare. We spent an hour and a half asking questions and searching for reassurance. But the reality is, the only reassurance you get is when the baby is placed on your chest in the delivery room. Alive. Healthy.

Today, this friend is dealing with having to deliver the baby she carried for 21 weeks. And saying goodbye to something she'll never know but already loved more than words can describe. That is something I cannot relate to. I can't even imagine.

Please say a prayer for my friend and her husband - that they can somehow find comfort in the love and support from their family and friends as they go through this extremely difficult time. And if you wouldn't mind throwing an extra one in there for me - that even knowing all the terrible things that can happen, all I can really do is breathe and take one day at a time.