Last But Not Least

Now that Nolan is almost 6 weeks old, I thought it'd be nice to do a formal introduction. Better late than never I suppose...

After 36 blissful weeks of pregnancy (ha...ha...) I made my final trip to labor and delivery triage on February 1st. I had been counting my contractions. Timing them as they became increasingly annoying. I made a Target run to get birthday presents and Valentine's Day goodies "just in case". I debated on whether I wanted to spend my Saturday evening in an uncomfortable hospital bed and a drafty gown (again). Finally, at the urging of my mom and my husband we decided I better go get checked out.

We did the normal one hour on the monitor. It confirmed that yes, I was indeed contracting. But this time they were painful. Like an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10. With each one I cried and squeezed the life from Ricky's fingers. They checked my cervix change from my doctor's appointment 2 days prior.

I. Was. Done.

I burst into tears. I silently pleaded with God to have mercy on me and make-this-baby-come-out-NOW or I just might stop believing he exists. I begged the nurse for pain meds, assuring her I was NOT being a wimp. I reminded her I had done this THREE TIMES BEFORE and this was the most pain I'd felt with any pregnancy. She paged the doctor to get his approval and when he agreed to dope me up, I wanted to do a happy dance. If I wasn't going to have this baby that night, I was at least going to get some relief from the pain before I was sent home with my tail between my legs.

A few minutes later I had a particularly strong contraction which prompted the nurse to check me "just one last time". She said she wanted to make sure I hadn't changed before giving me the pain meds as once I got them, I would most likely not be able to get an epidural if I did in fact go into labor quickly. I knew there was little chance I made any progress in the two minutes it took for her to get the medicine ready, but I sure hoped.

Lo and behold, a panicked look streaked across her face. She stepped back and said (in more graphic words than I want to post here) that I was "ready to have this baby". And, like, NOW.

I screamed out "OH THANK YOU GOD!" but quickly realized that the panic on her face had to mean something. That something was made clear when her next words were "I'm not sure you'll even have time for an epidural."

Wait, come again? WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY? This was my last baby. I had an epidural with all the others and did NOT want to be a natural-birthing hero this time around. (I truly do think those who have unmedicated births are heroes. And also hella crazy. But that's neither here nor there.)

The doctor was called and given the update. He was at home, y'all, and so I truly thought I was gonna have this baby WITH NO PAIN MEDS and with some random on-call doctor rather than one of the physicians I had come to know.

For me, that is when panic set in.

I was shaking uncontrollably (nerves, adrenaline, FEAR FOR MY LIFE!!!) They whooshed me out of triage to a delivery room where everything was being done full steam ahead. All the while I prayed fiercely: "Okay, God, you heard my prayers before. So please hear them again. Please let me have time to get the horrifically large needle in my back before this baby makes his debut. I know I'm being picky here, but I'm begging you."

While nurses shuffled around at a feverish pace, my mom and sister made it to the hospital. A sigh of relief. I was checked once again and I hadn't changed much. Another sigh of relief. The doctor got there. I was feeling much less anxious now. And finally, the lovely lady with the needle came waltzing through the door. I damn near jumped out of bed and hugged her.

Twenty minutes after getting the epidural, Nolan Alexander entered this world.

Although it may not have gone as smooth as I'd have liked my last labor and delivery experience to be, it was the most amazing thing ever. What a gift I was given.

And...for those of you wondering...this really is our last baby.

No, really, it is. I'm serious this time.


Don't Wish it Away

<<< I have so much to share in regards to all of the things going on in my life -- the birth of our 4th baby boy Nolan, moving into our new home, the boys starting (and loving) their new school, birthdays, and more -- but right now, I'm not ready to write about all the amazing new beginnings we're experiencing as a family while our dear friends are going through one of the most heartbreaking endings anyone could possibly endure. 
As some of you may know, our friends and old neighbors, the Pickel's, have been tirelessly helping their little boy Dustin fight neuroblastoma. Cancer is an ugly disease, and while I've been touched by it before with older family members and friends, I've never been this close to a child in a battle for his life. I can still remember when Kelly called me to tell me her motherly instinct knew something was wrong when Dustin ran a low-grade fever for over a week and just wasn't himself. And a few days later, we sat in the waiting room at the children's hospital in Texas as they were hoping to confirm that the mass they found in his abdomen was in fact a benign Wilm's tumor and not, as they feared, cancer. Unfortunately, their lives took a very different turn when instead, they learned it was indeed neuroblastoma - one of the most rare and aggressive forms of childhood cancer.
This past week, after almost 2 years of traveling between New York, Michigan and Texas to have Dustin treated with the best teams across the US, the Pickel's learned that his remaining kidney is failing. The cancer and treatments have become too much for his little body and he doesn't have much time left on this earth. I cannot imagine the pain and fear that has lived in the hearts of our dear friends for so long now and how it has manifested in these last few moments they have with him. But I do know our hearts silently break all these miles away with each and every update.  
This precious family was put into our lives for a reason. We were lucky to have spent the time we did with them and to have known Dustin before cancer was in the picture. And while we will always long for the carefree days of sitting together in the warm Texas sun with cheap wine in a "Mommy's Sippy Cup" glass, watching our kids ride Razors and Cozy Coups up and down the sidewalk, I hope they know that we will always be there for them, even in their darkest of days.
Reflecting on Dustin's brave fight has put so many things into perspective. Perhaps that is one of the gifts he will impart on all those who have known him. >>>

It's 2:30 in the morning and the baby stirs next to me. A grunt, a whimper, a full-out cry. I peel back the covers of my warm bed and nestle him into my arms to feed him. With my eyes falling shut I think to myself, "I can't wait for him to sleep through the night."

It's 5:45am and Hudson, 19 months, begins his morning trumpet of "Daddy!" and "Out!" waiting to be retrieved from his bed to start the day. The older boys, still snug in their beds, are able to drown out the noise. "Ugh," I think, "I can't wait for him to be as old as his brothers so he sleeps a little longer in the mornings."

It's 7:00am and the morning rush is in full swing. Toothpaste riddles the bathroom sink, toast crumbs streak across the counter. I'm signing notebooks and packing lunches and shuffling tiny feet out the door to catch the bus. When the big boys are off to school, I drop myself into the leather recliner and think "Shew, I can't wait until they are old enough to do more for themselves in the morning."

It's 11:00am. I'm trying to perfect the timing of running the laundry and dishwasher so that I have enough hot water to take a shower (for the first time in 2 days) and simultaneously get the housework tackled. I put Hudson down for a nap, feed the baby and try to pull myself together, knowing my time is limited. Somehow I manage to grab a bite to eat while I'm sweeping the floor, hanging up jackets, and taking out the trash with day-old stinky diapers in it. "Man," I think, "I can't wait until 5:30 comes around so Ricky is home to help."

It's 7:00pm and bedtime routines are underway. One of us is cleaning the kitchen after dinner while the other is getting PJs out, making sure teeth are brushed and doling out just-one-more-sip-of-water. Exhausted, our tempers are short and we think "I can't wait until they are in bed and we can relax." We rush the boys to their rooms and hurry through nighttime hugs and kisses. We gently close their doors and collapse into the couch, knowing we have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Sure, our days are tiresome. Raising small children is a big job. And while the day-to-day monotony and chaos sometimes seems too much, there are families who would give anything to have the normalcy of a messy floor and homework fights be the worst parts of their day.

My heart aches for our friends. Thinking about how their minutes, hours and days will unfold without their complete family of 5 is too heavy to comprehend.

These moments - of rearing children and watching them grow, of endlessly cleaning up messes, of changing a diaper or wiping a bottom for the umpteenth time - they are a privilege. These past few months watching our friends and their 3 year old baby fight a hard battle has opened my eyes. When I'm in the thick of it, I think of them and remind myself, "Don't wish it away, Taryn."

And I don't. Because I know I GET to do it all over again tomorrow.

Please pray for the Pickel family as they prepare to say good-bye to their sweet Dustin. Pray for comfort and peace. Pray that their faith carries them through the days to come. You can follow their story here.

{Update: Sweet Dustin lost his battle in the early evening hours on March 4th. He was surrounded by his family, and passed peacefully in his mommy's arms.}