Brown Baby Boy!

photo(8)Tradition is for us to have a Sex Party to reveal the gender of our babies. But between birthdays, holidays, and the craziness of life, we decided to do things a little different this time around. Still special, but different. And since nothing about this third pregnancy has been normal, we’re going with it.

TJ and I had a mid-afternoon date to our OB this week and found out together that we are in fact having a baby BOY! To be honest, we were both thrown back! We of course know that there’s only two options, but just sort of assumed and pictured another girl given my extreme morning sickness and probably the fact that Sadie was absolutely convinced she was going to have another sister. More on that in a moment.

We were thrilled to see that little boy kicking away since it’s been completely quiet to me feeling no kicks or movement whatsoever as of yet. My placenta is in the front, so now I can quit the freaking out. It is the most incredible thing to lay there and watch an ultrasound unfold as you trace all the different parts that make up your newly-formed baby growing inside of you. As the sonographer went from each limb, each chamber of his heart, and view of his brain I could not help but be so thankful and in awe at a God who is so good to bless us with precious life. It is truly a miracle and we don’t take it for granted.

Later in the afternoon we came home to the kids who were being watched by Nana and Papa. Earlier in the week, Sadie had gone with me to pick out a baby boy outfit and a baby girl outfit. She knew she would get to open a present later and it would either be the pink or blue she picked out. Let’s just say leading up to this point every time Sadie has been asked if she thought Mommy was having a boy or girl, these would be the responses:

  • It’s a girl. I already have a brother.
  • It’s a girl. She will play princesses with me.
  • I know Mommy has two brothers, but I bet she wanted a sister. (I love my brothers, but that’s sadly true.)

So let’s just say when she opened her present to find blue, it was a little rough on her little heart. There were tears shed, questions asked, and denial happening. We felt for her, knowing that these past few months haven’t been easy on her almost 4 year-old life. Preschool this year has been a major adjustment, I’ve been out of commission a lot more often than I’d like, and swimming lessons had been a fear to overcome. So not getting the princess partner was understandably a letdown for her heart and we get it. photo(9)We are working through it with patience, lots of love, and reassuring her in her own love language that she has a special place in our growing family. God gives us exactly what we need even when we envision something else, and now is as good a time as ever to teach her this life-long lesson and we know she will one day thank God for giving her two brothers!

Just today, she kissed my belly, talked to Baby Boy and assured him she loved him. So, of course, we are going to be fine.

Jonah knows there is a baby in my belly. He hugs him every day, talks about it daily and is careful to be gentle around me. But he has no clue about the boy/girl thing. I love his aloofness.

After our family relished the moment together, we Skyped with Nana B and Poppi in Texas and then went to the rest of our local extended family to hand deliver blue balloon surprises.

We couldn’t be more happy with a healthy, growing, Baby Boy Brown to welcome into our lives in 4 more short months!

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Getting Over Yourself: The Emotions Behind Anaphylaxsis

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You can easily picture how horrifying it is to watch your child go through Anaphylaxsis. If you’re like our family, we’ve encountered those life and death moments five times now.

You beg and plead with God to make them keep taking a single breathe, just one at a time until help arrives.

You panic as you watch your child swell into something unrecognizable, changing colors everywhere from pink, to purple, to blue.

It’s simple as a parent, whether you’ve been in that scenario or not to understand where your heart aches in those moments of uncertainty in the frailty of life.

But there’s more to it.

I remember sitting in the hallway of the hospital ER this last time I had saved Jonah’s life by giving him the EPI-Pen after TJ had discovered he was crying in his bed because he couldn’t breathe. I was holding on to him while digging for my phone with our allergy list, because in an emergency I can’t trust myself to remember all fourteen of them. The nurse ran through their typical questions and in my blur of sadness, worry, and panic another unexpected wave hit me, just as it always does.

Guilt.

Inadequacy.

Remorse.

Unforgiven.

Whenever I know we are in the clear, immediately these emotions rear their ugly head screaming at me, telling me I’m not good enough to take care of my son for weeks after the fact. Even bringing myself back to the scene in my head takes me there.

I could have double checked the nutrition label instead of wondering if people around me would think I was paranoid. I should have asked to speak directly to the chef at the restaurant to see if the recipe changed instead of relying on the waiter for right information. That I should have stayed at home instead of trusting him with another person because I would be in close proximity standing at the ready should something go wrong. That I should have been more of an advocate for him.

Especially in the beginning of our journey, I made a lot of rookie mistakes.

But the reality is that I am learning along the way. I was thwarted into this new allergy world and have taught myself everything I can every day that I get. I have dedicated my life to researching food, making my home a safe haven, planning ahead, cooking, double-checking cross contamination, educating those around us for his safety.

I have endured the looks, the disbelief, the rude comments, the sh-luffing off by general society all in the name of keeping my son alive. Breathing. Laughing. Playing. Happy.

Whether I could have prevented any episode of Anaphylaxsis or not, the point is that it is never my fault. What I am doing will always be enough because I’m giving him all that I have and all I am capable of giving.

And whether or not I feel it that day or not, my daughter and my son’s lives rest in the hands of a God who made them perfect just the way they are. Anaphylaxsis and all.

I will always be enough of a Mom for them.

I pray that where ever you find yourself on your journey, you have a renewed confidence knowing you are exactly who God had in mind. Imperfections and all. -Psalm 139:14

Baby Brown #3

We are floored and we are so excited that God is growing our family by another two feet! As always, there is a lot to prepare for, a lot to figure out, and a lot of joy around the news. We are so blessed…

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Here’s a little questionnaire to get an idea of how things have been going since we found out:

How far along: 7 weeks, 6 days

 

Total Weight Gain/Loss: None. Praise the Lord.

Maternity clothes: Things I usually wear are already uncomfortable. They say your body remembers and stretches right back out and you’re bigger the third time around and I am finding that to be true.

Stretch marks: I have a few from my other two pregnancies, we’ll see if this one adds to my collection. Whatever. I’m a warrior!

Sleep: I’m exhausted all. the. time. Any sleep I get is heavenly and never enough.

Best moment last week: We had our first appointment this afternoon and I always love getting to see our little Nugget on the big screen.

Movement: Not yet.

Food cravings: It’s been a little random. Anything with peppermint and preferably cold tastes amazing.  Yesterday I had to have spaghetti with a meat sauce. That was not like me.

Food aversions: Cheese, or the thought of it is disgusting.

Gender: Don’t know yet, though I have my suspicions.

Labor signs: Zilch, thank goodness.

Belly button – in or out? In.

What I miss: Having energy.

What I am looking forward to: Not being nauseous. This time things came on fast and furious. I have spent days on end flat on my back already and it has not been pretty when you’re already taking care of two little ones who don’t understand what’s going on. I’m hoping to move past it quickly, but I have never experienced this kind of sick before with my previous two.

Milestones: Telling the kids they will have a new brother or sister. Sadie is so excited and very opinionated about it…she is convinced God will make a girl for her to play with. When you ask her how she would feel about having another brother, she says, “But I already have a brother.” Jonah is totally aloof and has no clue what is going on, but by the time the baby is here his little world will turn upside down. :0)

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We can’t wait for you to join in on all the fun and craziness Baby Brown! We already love and thank God for your little life!

Swing of Summer

It’s hard to believe we’re in the middle of July already and there is so much fun to catch up on!

Sadie finished her first year of preschool at Calvary and saying good-bye to her friends and beloved teacher, Mrs. McKee was a bit traumatic. She honestly thought for a while that summer meant the weekend would be spent at the beach and then come Monday she would be in the big kid class. What a disappointment to have to spend 3 whole months with Mama. It’s a process.

Here’s the big girl on her last day…last day

Her best bud at school, Sophie gave her a special picture and told her how much she’d miss her. Be still my heart.sophienote

And finally, the best preschool teacher EVER for my girl. She loved on her and taught her so much. She and Sadie bonded over their love of all things purple and Target.

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Since school let out we have been busy soaking up the sun at the beach…beach

Relaxing in the backyard…backyard

And playing hard with our friends…spectrum

Stay tuned for more fun!

A Decade of Life

I have almost drowned twice.

My first experience was when I was around 8 years old. I was a strong swimmer, but my friend wasn’t and her pulling me under by my pony tail in the deep end so she could try and tread water overtook me easily by her brunt force in her panic. I remember my heart racing, taking in water, and wrestling to find my way to the top of the water with a kind of desperation I had never known. Luckily, my friend’s Dad was reading his newspaper by the opposite side of the pool with a cigarette in his mouth and jumped in fully clothed to rescue me.

My second experience was when my Mom took her final breath 10 years ago today. It felt much, much worse than the first experience but so much the same. When she drew her last breath, I in many ways did the same for a long while. You can expect it, anticipate it, even wish for it just to be over. But when it is, the finality of it all drags you under a wave of grief so strong there is no easy way to find your footing again. It pulls you under and desperation for it all to go away and not hurt takes over.

How she’d never meet my husband. It pulls you under.

Never hold her grandchildren. It might as well be a tsunami.

I distinctly remember one night sitting in the hospital with her, writing in my Bible and yelling at God for giving me so many things I would have to face. The day I never wanted to face was this very day….10 long years later.

Will I remember her voice?

Will my life even be recognizable to her?

Can I move on without any guilt of leaving her behind in so many ways?

Could I create a life for myself she would never get to know?

I drowned in those fears at 19 years old, calloused by everything cancer had already subjected me to since the age of 12. I had been treading water for so long through the process.

Combing out her hair after chemo and reminding her I still thought she was beautiful. Treading water.

Changing a bandage and seeing the wounds of surgery. Treading.

Seeing her cry in defeat when she thought I wasn’t looking. Drowning.

Living days while she was sleeping them away. Treading.

Watching her slip away. Drowning.

And being so strong for her that when the moment came and she was gone, I was overcome by the water of the storm that had been so volatile and violent.

But…

God rescues.

He lifts me up out of the grief, even today. He shows me His providence, His love, His compassion, and mostly His patience.

Cancer is ugly. His love is beautiful in spite of it.

If there is anything I have learned over these 10 years without my Mom here, it is that God remains. There is still life he breathes into my lungs every morning telling me there is still a life to live. She isn’t here, but I am here now.

And I am okay.

To know her thru the eyes of others, go here…

Half Birthday Updates-Sadie 3 1/2 and Jonah 18 Months

jonahbeachJonah boy,

You amaze us. From your diagnosis in the hospital in January to now, 4 short months later with an ear surgery added in, you are a completely different boy. You can walk, you can talk,you can hear, and most importantly…you can eat. You have accomplished so much of what everyone thought would be a struggle for you and you did it on your own without the multidisciplinary intervention everyone, including us thought was so needed and necessary.

  • You used to eat purees or nothing. Now you eat everything when you decide you aren’t going to be a picky toddler.
  • You used to not have enough trunk strength to learn to walk. Now you run.
  • You used to scream all day, literally hours on end. Now you talk to me and tell me what you are thinking.
  • You used to pound your head against anything you could in pain from too much fluid. Now you give us “bonks” to cuddle.

You are a big miracle packed into a little frame.jonahhospital

At 18 months old, you still have all of the severe allergies you were diagnosed with and we’ve had a couple rough patches in the hospital with anaphylaxsis. But you are strong and we are still learning and educating ourselves to be the best parents we can be for you to be included, normal, and healthy.

Your favorite foods are:

  • turkey meatballs with marinara
  • crushers (must be Ella’s organics or Plumb organics or you will refuse it)
  • fruit leathers (raspberry flavor)
  • coconut vanilla yogurt
  • apple sauce
  • turkey breast slices
  • waffles
  • oatmeal pancakes

Your words:

  • Mama
  • Daddy
  • Sadie
  • Plane
  • Bus
  • Car
  • Truck
  • Go
  • Tree
  • Water (Wa-Wa)
  • Waffle (Wa-Wa)
  • Poo poo
  • Shoe
  • More
  • Yea
  • Cookie
  • All Done
  • Owie (ouch)
  • Nurse
  • Open
  • Hi
  • Bye-bye
  • Book
  • Baby
  • Up
  • And much more…wow!

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Sadie Rae,

You are our passionate, hilarious, crazy intelligent little 3 1/2 year old already! Your first year of preschool is rapidly winding down and it will probably be the hardest adjustment so far for you to leave all the new friends you made for the summer and continue on with a new teacher next year. You live for school! You love finding treasures on the big playground with your girlfriends and your dixie cup. You rave about chapel time and getting to sing and jump on stage in front of everyone. You squeal about motor days on Wednesdays and you love to learn about God and how He is always with you.

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At home, you are such a loving and patient sister. You are learning to share with Jonah so nicely, you show him compassion by feeding him a lot of his meals because he likes it when you give him attention. You absolutely love to help me cook and bake and eat up Daddy when he goes out on dates with you and reads with you at night.

The best part of you is the funny things you say. You listen to adults talking so intently and personally challenge yourself to generalize prior conversations to something novel in your life. When it finally comes out, it’s always shockingly funny.

Another highlight of you is that you remember and memorize things. Like the 3 stuffed animals we hid out of rotation and packed into the garage 6 months ago. You tell me exactly which 3 are missing, all their characteristics, when you received them as gifts and why you miss each one personally. Or your ability to tell me the exact recipe for your favorite Vegan Pesto and the steps to make it. Or reading a book once with us and then being able to recite it once we show you the pictures on the pages again.

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You’re current favorite things are:

  • treasure box (full of treasures from school)
  • purple
  • reading
  • singing
  • dancing
  • style (clothes, shoes, hair accessories)…you did not get this from your Mama
  • Disney princesses (even though you’ve only seen parts of Cinderella)
  • playing in the sand
  • cooking/baking

We love both of you kiddos with all we have and all we are. We couldn’t be prouder of who you are together and on your own. Keep growing, but not too quickly.

 

A Whole New World

walkingReal-life scenario 1:

I couldn’t breathe. All I saw were chocolate chips falling on the ground, peanuts crumbling in a small hand, wheat bread being thrown to the ducks, and my son toddling in every direction of danger excited with his new-found freedom and mobility.

I couldn’t even see my daughter who was just craving my attention.

But she knows how to deny food offered to her, how to say she has a food allergy that can hurt her, how to find me and ask my permission.

Her little brother doesn’t.

What was supposed to be a casual, fun outing for me and several other Mom-friends was petrifying.

I left. I broke down in the car.

Sad for my Jonah and the limitless ditches of disaster he has to face with his allergies that he has no clue about yet at his age. Sad for my Sadie who is starved for attention and often times gets the leftovers because I’m trying to keep everyone alive, including her. Frustrated for myself not being able to deepen any relationship outside of my children’s basic needs while all the other Moms seemed so relaxed and calm.

We’ve all been robbed in some way.

Real-life scenario 2:

New nursery location.

New room.

New volunteer workers.

Mommy sitting in a completely different room.

Not there to keep an eye out. Hover. Clean. Watch. Protect.

As usual, I explain his allergies one by one.

“Yes. There are fourteen. Six cause Anaphylaxsis. They are life threatening. 911 first, then me. Don’t be afraid to use it…it will save his life if you do it in time.”

I get an alarmed, blank stare. Questions.

Will he get a tummy ache? Oh, I didn’t know milk could do that.”

Shock. Doubt.

Finally a familiar face who knows what we’ve been through. She reassures me she knows how to work his EPI Pen and yet I still leave with a mound of guilt, worry, anxiety and regret over an hour and fifteen minutes of my absence.

An absence that never takes place. I am always there. Every waking and sleeping moment. 24-7.

My friend stops me in the hall with the familiar tears already rolling down my face.

Most parents leave their children feeling bad they cry from separation anxiety. I leave my children wondering if I will see them again okay and happy or in the back of an ambulance swollen and blue in the face.

She prays.

I don’t want him to be seen as different, or special needs, or perceived as damaged goods.

I want them to see him.

Not his allergies.

They need to see his sideways smile when he squints and closes his eyes on purpose just to be funny. And his beet red face when he shows off his muscles. Or how he will walk to you and get your attention just to tell you he went poo in his diaper and won’t give it up until you change it. Or the way he always stops whatever he is doing to yell and point at the airplane in the sky with a gaping mouth, smiling in amazement every time.

Do people see what I see?

I collect myself and relinquish my control.

He survived, but I barely did.

I may look like I’ve got my act together or like I know what I’m doing, but I am being bluntly honest when I say that this allergy world I live in is a whole new world. The older Jonah is becoming, the more terrifying it seems. He can walk, he can’t talk, and he’s a curious boy who puts everything in his mouth. There are so many obstacles, so many things to know and research, plan for, execute and there is no room for error.

It is overwhelmingly terrifying some days and I melt under the pressure. It breaks my heart. It makes me feel sorry for all of us in different ways. And then I pick myself up off the floor and press on because no matter how I feel, it is what it is.

I am committed to keeping him safe. And I am trying as hard as I possibly can to make food enjoyable, nutrient-dense, and special.

It’s a whole new world.

 

 

Catching Up…Literally

We have a lot to catch up on. And I’m not just talking about the fact that this is the longest stint away from the blog I have ever made since it’s inception. I’m really talking about our Jonah.

It took months for us to finally land ourselves in the hospital with Jonah to finally get a clear diagnosis of what he was dealing with.hospital

At his worst Jonah:

  • lost over 5 pounds
  • stopped eating for days
  • stopped drinking for days
  • Vomited everything he did try to eat, even though it was never anything but a puree
  • was banging his head all day
  • was screaming all day, thrashing himself on the floor
  • was constantly sick with an ear/sinus infection from overproduction of fluids from out of control reflux

After being put under a special allergy-friendly anesthsia (who knew anesthesia was made up of egg and milk?!) to diagnose Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE) by doing multiple biopsies on Jonah’s esophagus, we got on a new medication and were sent home on our way after three, long days. Only time would tell if it would help and waiting for biopsies to come back positive would let us know how to proceed.

The problem with being in severe pain for months on end in Jonah’s short lived life thus far means you don’t have the energy or the desire to learn new developmental skills. He has fallen behind on speech, on walking, and especially on food consumption.

The fabulous news is that one week after being discharged and on new medication, Jonah gained 1.2 pounds. The very first weight gain since he turned 9 months old. He started eating and drinking again immediately, screaming all day was reduced, and now I can’t keep enough food in the house for him for the week because all he wants to do is eat now!foogtherapy

We will be working hard for the next six months to get him to where he needs to be developmentally since he has lost out on some valuable time. He will be doing Occupational food therapy to get him eating more textures without choking or vomiting, Physical therapy to get the low muscle tone in his trunk up so he is able to really start walking on his own, although he gets better every day the more we practice. We will also be doing Speech to get him expressing more, but lucky for him Mommy is his SLP probably too often.walkingMy background being in Speech, I never in a million years thought I would the mom on the other side of the therapy table. It was a numbing experience and it’s still one I digest daily because you are so blind to things that are second nature as a practitioner when you are the mom of your child who is struggling. Regardless, I’m thrilled he is cognitively intact and that he will catch up quickly now that he isn’t in pain.

He is also working closely with his Allergist where just this past week we diagnosed two new allergies, 14 total,(rice, carmine) that have a delayed response. This means that he doesn’t have the same type of reaction you would expect when he eats them (hives, anaphylaxsis, eczema, etc.) but consuming these things over time impact the amount of EE found in his esophagus as time passes and will do a number on his digestive tract making it hard for his immune system and absorption of nutrients to operate as they should.

As you can tell from pictures, Sadie has taken on such a helpful and sweet role with Jonah in helping out with feedings since he loves to eat for her and being his biggest cheerleader while he learns to walk. She has done so well with often times having to take a back seat while we have tried to figure out what was wrong and give him the attention he has required. She’s been working hard every day asking and reciting all of his allergies so she can help tell people what her little brother can and can’t have to eat. She’s so mature sometimes, but we can see that life has required it too. We’re so proud of her.

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Since getting him on his new treatment plan he is:

  • Eating all day long. I think he is making up for lost time.
  • Eating new textures. Before he would only eat puree, if that. Crunchy things would be gagged and thrown up immediately, but not anymore.
  • Gaining weight. In the first week out of the hospital, he gained 1.2 pounds!!!
  • Interested in walking and is able to take 8-10 steps unassisted, though still prefers to hold our hands.
  • Banging head/screaming fits have diminished. This will take a while to deal with because now it’s a learned behavior for his frustration and he doesn’t have many words to tell us when he’s angry.
  • No more writhing in pain!!!!
  • Sleeping through the night.
  • He has a playful, rambunctious, silly side we see more and more every day and many more smiles than ever before now that he isn’t hurting.silly

 

Family Road Trip

We took some much needed vacation time and ventured out to Texas to be with TJ’s family for a week.

We woke the kids up early morning, prayed they’d go back to sleep (which they did because they are awesome like that) and made our way across three states.

The first day we stopped about halfway in Arizona to see my lifelong friend and her beautiful family. The girls had a blast together and I reveled in the rare opportunity to share a cup of tea before going to bed catching up with my kindred spirit. We also spent time with TJ’s Aunt so the kids could meet their Great Aunt and Great Grandma who was in town from Northern Texas.

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Once we got to Texas, we lived it up with family spending time with our niece who we wish we could spend so much more time with, soaked in time on the Army base where TJ feels most at home, the kids got to meet their Great Grandparents for the first time, we got spoiled like heck, and had fun talks with his parents about life.view

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Then illness hit. Hard. Both kids had problems breathing, ran high fevers, seriously lacked sleep (we did too), and were pretty much miserable. It was such a bummer, but they pulled through and we still managed to enjoy time together as a family in spite of sharing germs.

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We opted to drive home in one day on the way back to get the kids back to normal and healthy as soon as we could and they were amazing yet again. Thank you DVD player for turning my children’s brains to mush for over 10 hours of awake time in the back seat. I don’t think they had seen that much TV in their life span. Desperate times.

It was certainly a trip we will always remember and are so glad we did it.brownfam