Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"Before"-- Chantzlyn Hope's Birth Story

Before we get into the day of Chantzlyn's arrival, there are a few things I'd like to document that led us to that point.

If you'd like to get caught up on our journey into adoption, our paperwork, and up to the point of waiting, then read HERE.

Read HERE to catch up on our being "matched" with our birth mother, Jess. Here is a picture of us the night after meeting Jess for the first time:

And there was a post on one week out from meeting Chantzlyn that you can read HERE.  Here is a picture of us & Jess after the appointment:

On the notes of those sweet pictures, let me just take a minute to tell you about how much we love and respect our birth mom, Jess.  She truly is a warrior and someone that has overcome so much in this world.  From hearing her story for the first time I knew in my gut that we were all meant to be intertwined together to bring love to a sweet baby.  I wish each of you could know her story to be inspired from it, but it is her story to tell.  She is so sweet, very loyal, a hard worker, and very driven. And the best part of all of this, is now being able to call her our sister in Christ.  About a month after Chantzlyn was born Jess gave her life to Christ in baptism and we couldn't be any more proud or happy for her!  This woman is so wonderful!

Now back to our sweet baby girl's pre-birth story:

Chantzlyn was to be induced on October 7th in Abilene.  We had plans of being there the day before and getting up early to be at the hospital.  I had {half} of my bags packed and ready to head to Abilene in case she decided to make a grand entrance early.  The plan was that I'd drive down by myself and that Lantz and the girls would follow if our birth mom went into labor before the 7th.

We asked Jess to keep us posted if anything happened because the last thing we wanted to do was miss the birth of our 4th daughter.

Well, on October 1st at about 1:00 I got a phone call from Jess letting me know she was headed to the hospital with contractions that were strong and frequent.  I was so excited and also {slightly} panicked!  I hung up the phone with Jess and immediately called Lantz, who had just left the house from his lunch break.  I let him know what was happening while I walked around in circles trying to finish packing my bags.  We quickly dropped plan A and decided that he would get Sawyer and Kennedie from school and meet me at the house.  I was to pack everyone's bag and we were all going to Abilene.

I don't know how we did it, but we managed to be on the road by like 1:30 headed to Abilene with our 3 girls & who knows what that was packed or not packed. The whole time on the road I had been texting Jess & her dad who were both keeping me updated.  She was continuing to have strong and consistent contractions, but it didn't seem like our sweet baby girl would be coming quit as fast as we thought originally.  This was very good news because we felt we had enough time to get to Abilene, but that we'd still be meeting our girl that night.

We rolled into Abilene about 4:45, making great time & not having to stop for the bathroom for the girls. Right as we were pulling up Jess was literally walking out of the hospital with Brenda {my mother-in-law, who quickly made the trip too} and her dad.  She said they released her to go home and walk but that they'd probably see her later that night.

We were so excited to be in Abilene because we were nice in close if anything happened.  Jess decided to go back to her parent's house to rest some.  I told her to call me if anything happened and we'd meet her at the hospital.

We went out to eat and then headed to Lantz's aunt's house to stay the night.  Brenda came with us so if we had to leave in the middle of the night she could stay with the girls since Lantz's aunt was out of town.

Well, Jess rested up that night and we surprisingly didn't hear anything from her.  We hung out with the girls at Lantz's aunts house & just had a low key day playing and cuddling with the girls.

We decided to stay in Abilene through the weekend in case she went into labor.

I got to go with Jess as she followed up with her doctor on Friday {I think} and he said he was surprised they sent her home from the hospital because he thought it sounded like she was going into labor.  He sent her next door to the hospital to get a sonogram to check in on the baby and get a better idea of what was going on. Lantz and the girls came over to the hospital with us so that we could all see baby Chantzlyn's sonogram together.

We were there for awhile.  We didn't realize that Jess would have a hospital room and put on a gown and they would hook her up and monitor her for a few hours.

While we were there, Jess had the sweetest nurse, Stephanie, who took care of her for those few hours.  It was so great to get to see Chantzlyn on the monitor first hand.  Of course, my heart was going wild with love.  I thought love would ooze out of my body I was so excited!  The girls were super excited to see their baby sister too!  They did great at the hospital considering we weren't planning on being there so long.

Eventually they sent Jess home and told her to come back if her contractions came back consistently (because at this point they were not consistent or frequent like on Thursday).

So we hung out again on Saturday for a little while and then decided  that we'd go ahead and go back home to go to church on Sunday and so Kennedie didn't miss more school Monday and Tuesday.  Plus I had a batch of pictures sitting and waiting for me to edit on the computer and my house was a wreck.  We thought we'd just come back on Tuesday night like we had originally planned. We just thought going home was the best thing.

Saturday night I actually had a sweet friend who invited a few girls over for dinner and girl time.  It was such a great time and I so desperately needed it.

From the second we got home I did not feel at peace about being back.  I just kept thinking, "What if Jess goes into labor and this time I don't make it.  If I we would have stayed then I'd be there no matter what."  Something just wouldn't settle inside.

At the girls night I explained a little of what I was feeling and why we'd come back and then I had a sweet friend who spoke out of love very blatantly.  She looked me in the eye while outside on her back porch and said, "Why are you here?  Why would you come back?  Is Kennedie missing school or whatever else you have to do here really worth missing the birth of your daughter?"

I will never forget that conversation.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  Yes, why had we come back?!  It seemed like a good idea, but now being back it appeared to be the dumbest choice ever.

I got home and I woke Lantz up and told him everything.  We both went to sleep unsettled that night. When we woke up we decided that we'd go back to Abilene.  We decided after church we'd hit the road and that we weren't coming back until we had our baby girl.  Best. Decision. Ever.

Even though we got back to Abilene and nothing happened, I am glad we were there just in case.  I think I would have lived with regret had we stayed in McKinney and Jess had gone into labor before the 7th.

I cherish those few days of nothing to do in Abilene as we stayed outside of town at the ranch of one of our elders.  It was a time we could just be with the 3 big girls and love on them before becoming a family of 6.  It was nice to not be surrounded with a to-do list and just live in the moment there as we prepared to meet Chantzlyn. I was at peace knowing that I was close by in case something were to happen.

To say we were both nervous and excited would be understatements.....

{Up next will be Chantzlyn's birth story complete with amazing pictures by our amazing birth photographer, Micah of Double Knot Photography.}

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Preslee is 20 Months Old

I can't believe that my fun and sassy little baby girl is already 20 months old!  Time goes by fast in the fall as we prepare for Christmas, and this year was no exception.  This sweet girl rocks my world!  She is such a ham and so outgoing!  She makes me laugh every day and truly is so fun to be around.

Precious Preslee Ray,

- Each day you become more and more vocal as you learn your way in this communicative world.  This month you have started to say the prayer at meal time occasionally.  You will say, "Pay!" Meaning you'd like to pray for us.  I will say the prayer and then you so sweetly repeat after me as best you can. I love how you say your name, "Peh-eeee."  So sweet.  You will say "do it" when you want to do something.  You say, "moo-mee" for both "movie" and "smoothie" so we have to listen closely to the context.  You also say, "bud-ee" for both referencing a "buddy" of yours or your "bunny" you sleep with.  You will say, "tank-ooh" for "thank you," and "m-maan" for "yes ma'am" when you are answering me after you get in trouble.  You will say, "too-tee" for "cookie"-- which you love.  These are just a few of the words you have picked up on this month.
-On top of being vocal, you have also started to become a bit musical.  You will try to sing at times.  When something plays on the radio that's familiar to you, you will randomly sing the one word you know right on cue.  You will do the same when I'm rocking you and singing to you.  You will occasionally sing one or two of the words that you know with me. Tonight while rocking you I sang, "He is jealous for me... loves like a hurricane, I am a tree..." and right at the right time, you sang the word "me" and then a few seconds later right on cue, the word, "tree." On the radio, the commercial for KLTY played singing, "KLTY" and you right on cue sang, "Y."
- The last few weeks you have been a bit more stubborn and fussy than normal.  I was originally chalking it up to you having an ear infection, but when that passed your new little attitude stayed around.  We are constantly having to remind you to have gentle hands and to not hit your big sisters.  We still have to sit you on your bed to punish you and that still has been working, but it hasn't been as dramatic as it once was.  Most of the time you go to your bed without too big of a fuss, and after you have sat on the bed and we have a talk typically the behavior improves and you correct yourself.
- You want to do everything, and I mean everything that your big sisters are doing.  You are constantly trying to keep up with them.
-This month you have started finding yourself up at the bar.  We have started letting you sit on a barstool with your sisters at times and you just think you are so big and such hot stuff!
- You have continued to use the bathroom on the potty throughout the month.  Most of the time if we sit you on the potty you will "tee-tee" and know how to make yourself go.  The problem is that you are not consistent at all in telling us when you need to go to the bathroom and you continue to "tee-tee" and poop in your diaper without telling us.
- We got *most* of your hair into a back ponytail for the first time this month.  It's getting longer!
- You are currently wearing size 18 month clothes, size 6 shoes, and size 3 diapers.
- You are an early riser for sure.  A lot of days you will be the first up out of your big sisters.  You are up and at 'em before 6:30 on normal days. You still nap, but lately instead of a good 2 hour nap you've been taking more of an hour and a half nap.
- You are so funny!  You will do anything to get a smile.  You are confident and you love people.  You are most certainly not shy!  I love how much you will interact with others and how you just have a certain confidence about you.... the way you carry yourself and the interactions that you have with others.

My sweet little girl... you are at such a fun age right now! I wish I could bottle you up and come back and visit these days when they eventually slip away.  You are such a joy to be around! You are fun and like to make people smile or laugh.  On the flip, your little smile and laugh are to die for!  My heart could explode when I think of how much I love you!  I am so thankful that out of all the Mommies in the world, God picked me to be your Mommy.  You are so fun and I really do love you more than I could ever say.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Chantzlyn is 2 Months Old

I find it absolutely CRAZY that I am writing about my baby already being two months old!  Where, oh where did the time go?!  I feel like she should only be two weeks old, not two months!  My sweet little thing is still so tiny and newborn-ish that I really can't believe she is this old yet. I'm having a hard time believing it.... I just keep checking the calendar. Ha!

Sweet baby angel of mine....

- You haven't quite settled into a sleep pattern yet.  We are still working on getting you to the point that you can sleep through the night.  I think so much of it is us and not you.  I'm having a hard time getting you on a schedule throughout the day because your big sisters are so busy it's hard to get you into a rhythm.  You on the other hand don't notice at all... you are so laid back and go with the flow.  It's like you know you are the fourth and just completely content with doing whatever is going on.  You have had three nights this month where you slept for 7 glorious hours!  Those were precious nights, but they were random and haven't lasted.  This week I've noticed that after I try to feed you one last feeding before bed, I'll lay you down, and no matter what the time you are ready to eat again in about 30- 40 minutes.  This was making it very hard on me.  I would get in bed and just barely drift off to sleep only to wake and feed you again in such a short time.  Well, now I have decided to feed you, lay you down, and then get myself ready for bed & drink LOTS of water to get ready for your next feeding.  You are like clock work... you want that next feeding 30- 40 minutes later and then you crash and then I go to bed.  It makes it easier versus barely falling asleep and then getting up.  You will then sleep for about 4 hours give or take and then I'm up with you again to feed and then you will sleep another 3 to 4 hours and then you are ready to eat & the rest of us are already up and at 'em.  I'm hoping this next month we can settle into a little better sleep pattern.  But for now I'm just trying to get you what you need.
- I find this interesting.... you haven't had a bottle yet.  With your sisters I had already pumped and let the bigger sisters have a turn feeding, but I haven't pumped a bottle yet for you. I really hate pumping, and haven't seen a need for it yet & I'm enjoying our bonding time.  Maybe soon I will pump a bottle to give your big sisters a chance to feed you.
- Speaking of eating, you eat pretty much about every three hours except for at night which I already discussed.
- You are still so small.  We go to the doctor tomorrow to find out how much you weigh, but I'm guessing about 9 pounds.  So, you are still fitting in your newborn clothes.  There are a few 0-3 month things I've tried to put you in, but they are still big on you.  I'm thinking sometime over the next week or two you may be moving into 0-3 month stuff.  Newborn stuff used to be big and now it's fitting just right, which means 0-3 month stuff will be on you soon.
- You have moved into size 1 diapers but it's not because newborns won't fit it's just because we ran out of newborn sized diapers and had several size one's on hand so we just started using those.  They fit fine, but you can tell they are a bit on the bigger side as opposed to the smaller size.
- You have started smiling so much more this month.  And I don't feel it's as random.  I feel like you look and smile at me or at your sisters and take notice in what's going on around you. I mean I really can't even begin to explain how much I love seeing you smile! It really is the best thing ever!
-This month you have found you little voice.  It's so sweet.  At different times you'll coo or make little noises and I LOVE it! I like when you open your mouth and go, 'OHHH." It's the sweetest ever. You have only done it a few times but it is precious.
- We can still wake you up easily by slowly raising you up in the air and then slowly bringing you back down.  You never fuss about it, just open up your eyes to see what's going on.  It's awesome!
- You have really started to enjoy being held over the shoulder.  When you are fussy I can pick you  up and put you over my should and walk around and most of the time that calms you immediately.  It's like you know you want to check out the world around you.
- You have started to have a little tummy time this month and you are not sure what to think about it. I think you find the position comfortable because it almost seems to want to put you to sleep.
- I have put you on your play mat this month so that you can look around at all the colors and lights and toys, but again most of the time you seem disinterested and like it makes you sleepy. Sometimes though you will perk up and try to look around at what is going on. :)
-You  seem to be the most alert in the afternoons and evenings.  You love it when I hold you and look at you and sing to you.  You just study me and give me random smiles and it's so awesome!
- Sometimes you really like to put weight down on your feet and "stand" on my lap when I hold you up.  It's like you know something is going on, but you can't quite figure it out.
- We had to take you into Children's last week because your temperature got a little high.  We have all been battling sickness and I had just been praying that you wouldn't get it.  Well you were doing so good not getting sick, but it finally got you. Boo!  You got a cough and then started running a temperature.  It was after hours and so I couldn't take you to the doctor but the nurse line suggested I take you to Children's since your temperature had hit 100.6. Apparently in a newborn under two months if it gets at or above 100.4 then it's reason for concern.  I took you into Children's and after an x-ray, blood work, and urine sample they decided you were okay and it was just a virus and to just let it run its course but to watch it.  You temperature went away, but your cough is still hanging around just a bit.  It's not bad, but it's there.  We go in for your well check tomorrow, so I'm sure the doctor will listen to your cough again for us.
- You are not a spit up baby at all.  I love that it is completely rare for you to spit up.  It typically doesn't even matter if we get a burp or not from you.  You are just so easy and laid back.
- We also got to have a "Sip and See" for you.  Some of my sweet friends from church hosted a little get together to welcome you.  It was so sweet!  Lots of friends and family came by to see you and say hi and even bring some sweet little gifts.  It was so much fun!
- This past month we finally transitioned you out of our room and into the crib in your room with your sisters.  It was over the week of Thanksgiving and Kennedie decided to have a 'sleepover' in your room with all the girls.  She had a palate on the floor, and you and Preslee & Sawyer were each in your beds.  After I laid you down I stopped and looked at my room of little blessings.  I started to cry and my heart ached with love.  It made me so happy to have all four of my babies in the same room.  I just envisioned many more "sleepovers" in the future with little giggles and fun sister love.  I really can't explain the joy that moment brought me-- it's one I hope to never forget.

My sweet, sweet Chantzlyn Hope I feel so incredibly blessed that God chose me to be your Mommy.  You are the sweetest, most precious little baby ever and I love that I get to snuggle you and love you. You are getting so big so fast and I'm just not sure I can handle how quickly it's all going.  Most days I want to just bottle you up so I can keep you my baby forever, but then it's so fun to watch you hit new milestones. You are such a good little baby and it's so fun to be with you.  You are a true joy to my life and I can't imagine life without you.  You are definitely a little gem-- one whom I like to hold an admire, and drool over.  You are beautiful and precious and I'm so thankful that you are ours. I love you more than words could ever express to you. 

I love this next set of pictures.  My mom made the white dress especially for Miss Chantzlyn, and the smiles of course is what steals the show:

**And don't you worry all you fabulous blog followers out there, the goods are coming soon!  Chantzlyn's birth story, newborn pictures, and first week are in the works soon!  Being a photographer this is my busiest season and also had to wait for a few legal things before plastering stuff out there. **