Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Laughs of an Angel

This is a sweet video Billie made of Harper laughing at me. She doesn't laugh a lot and gets very quiet whenever we pull the camera out, so this was amazing footage and Billie did a great job, too! There is nothing sweeter sounding than my children's laugh, Billie and Harper both have amazing giggles! You can't help but smile when you hear them laugh. God is so good and I feel so blessed this year. I would never have believed all that we would go through if you had told me last Christmas, even though I was on bed rest this time last year. It was a very difficult pregnancy, and an even more difficult delivery and recovery - especially for sweet little Harper Grace, but it was SO worth it. She has worked so hard to get to this point. It is just a miracle to see her sweet smiles and hear her amazing laughter. I don't know if life on Earth can get any better than this! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

First Solids

I only have a second, but I thought I would share this little video of Harper eating her first bite of solid food. We took her to her pediatrician yesterday and he started her on rice cereal. She weighed 10 pounds 5 ounces! Such a big girl! The conversation Matt and I have about it is funnier than Harper eating for the first time! Good times, lol! Enjoy...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Memories

Hello! Sorry it has been over a month since our last update. We have been so busy. Harper and I are getting into a better schedule/routine, though, and I am able to get more things accomplished. I enjoy her so much. She is such a good baby. She does rule the roost, but what baby doesn't? Billie always did, too. Harper doesn't really cry much at all, even when she is hungry. She doesn't like to be woke up so if a loud noise startles her or I have to put her in the car seat while she is still asleep, then she screams at me. She fights sleep, too, and will usually cry when I lay her down, or even if she is very sleepy and we are still holding her she will rub her eyes and cry. But it usually doesn't last more than 3 minutes and she is out. Except for during a meal, she doesn't fall asleep in our arms much anymore. She wants to lay in her bed and sleep on her own. Or stay up for hours on end! She naps her best in the morning, but does take several short naps in the afternoon. She has been sleeping through the night quite a bit, and usually wakes up only one time during the night. There are exceptions to all of this, of course, like the day she got her synagis shot. It is kind of like a flu shot, but intended to prevent RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). I may have already blogged about this, but just to be sure everyone understands, RSV is a virus everyone can get, but in babies it is very dangerous and in preemies and those babies with lung problems, it can be deadly. If she were to get RSV she would more than likely be on the ventilator again, and she may not even survive it. The shot is given during RSV season and it is only good for 30 days, so she gets one a month for 5 months. The nurse said they are painful shots, and Harper agrees - she screams for 20 minutes at least after she gets it, and then is so fussy the rest of the day and night. It really hurts her feelings, and it breaks our hearts.When she gets normal boosters, she screams for about 1 to 3 minutes and then is fine. The shot doesn't necessarily keep her from getting RSV, but if she does get it, hopefully it will not be as bad of a case. But hopefully we can keep her from getting it all together by not having her around anyone. The thing with RSV is that you don't really know you have it as an older child or adult, it can just be a runny nose for you because you have the antibodies to fight it off. Harper doesn't have that ability. SO we will keep her isolated through RSV season, which means no Christmas parties for Harper. I do take her out some, but I keep her in her car seat covered up and I do not allow anyone to even look at her. If I hear someone sneeze or cough, I run the other way, too! I don't take her out much, though. Usually Matt or I stay home with her and the other goes where ever we need to go with Billie. Or we just don't go at all. We have taken her to church twice now, but we don't let anyone get close and go to the early service and sit in the section no on else sits in. It's so nice to go to church as a family again - I can't even explain it. I know Billie loves it, too. Enough rambling, sorry. But I know I didn't really understand all of the RSV stuff before I had babies.
Christmas is bitter sweet, as I am sure it is for everyone. As we pulled out the decorations, so many of them brought back sweet memories of Michael and of Joshua and Caleb. There's always part of me that longs to be with each of them, and Christmas is always the hardest. We have ornaments that were Michael's as a child, and our "just married" ornaments that I love to put on the tree, but always shed a few tears as I pull them out. Billie loves to hang his fishing themed ornaments every year. It always leads into fun stories about her daddy, and Billie loves nothing more than a fun story! We also have ornaments that were purchased with the boys in mind. They never had a first Christmas, but we always felt we should include them in our Christmas traditions. They are still such a big part of our family and always on our hearts and minds. I always let my mind wonder a little bit about what they would be doing this year had they made it to this, their 4th Christmas. Then I try to picture them in heaven and I still fight with myself and my mind's picture of them in heaven. Are they conjoined or separated in heaven? People have strong opinions about this. Most people feel they are for sure separated and their reason is that heaven is perfect and we receive perfect, heavenly bodies when we arrive there. But the truth is that none of us actually know, we just try to interpret what we read in the bible. I am sure the answer is actually there, but since it is open to our interpretation, I won't feel like I really know until I see them again for myself. The thing is, while others may see them conjoined as not perfect, God doesn't make mistakes and they were not a mistake. They were perfectly made by God. They were so beautiful. I know there bodies were not made to survive here on Earth, but maybe they had exactly what they needed to be in heaven. Maybe their bodies were perfect for heaven. Maybe God had great things for them to do in heaven and they needed to be conjoined to do those great things. I know I have mentioned these thoughts in the blog before, but it just is fresh on my mind and good to get out. The same thing I say to myself about Michael to make myself feel better, that he is cured in heaven and has a new body with out cancer, is the thing that has me so perplexed about my boys in heaven. I don't know why I struggle so much with this. If I am honest, I would say it is guilt. Because part of me thinks if they had just separated on time in the womb, they would just be perfect identical boys and they would be here with us this Christmas. It is that part of me that still wishes that would have happened, even though I loved them so much just the way the were and I know it is selfish of me to wish it. I feel guilty for wishing they were here with me instead of with Jesus. I feel guilty for wishing they would not have been conjoined, because I know that was God's will and I got to witness such a wondrous outpouring of love around us because they were conjoined. I also feel guilty because if they had survived, I probably wouldn't have Harper today. I can not imaging my life without Harper! She is such a blessing, and such a miracle. All of this is just to say, I still struggle every day. I struggle with what I have and what I don't have. I miss Michael, and feel guilty for missing Michael because I am so loved and so blessed. I miss the boys and feel guilty for missing the boys, because I am so blessed with the two beautiful girls I do have. But I can tell you a person is not replaceable. One person does not replace another.
Matt spent the other night compiling a list of addresses for me to help get the Christmas cards addressed with. While he was searching on his computer, he found pictures of Joshua and Caleb and couldn't stop himself from looking. Looking, wallowing, call it what you want, but it surprised him how hard it was still this many years later to look at the day they were born. The feelings are still there, you just push them way down inside and secure them there. Some days are easier than others, and you have more minutes or hours in between that you don't think about them, but they are always there. They say time heals all wounds, but I think the wounds are still there and we just find ways to put bandaids on them. Those bandaids get ripped off, sometimes when we least expect it, and it still hurts just as much. We learn to live with the heart ache. You don't ever stop loving. I walked into his office as he was looking, saw one picture and ran right back out, knowing I wasn't emotionally able to go there that night. Some days I want to and can handle it better than other days. I was already so emotional from the decorations and just with it being Christmas time, plus being sleep deprived and exhausted from taking care of Harper, I knew there was no way I could go there.
Now our tree is decorated and the sweet ornaments that bring back memories are hung and are free to remind us. There are funny memories, like the ornament I affectionately refer to as "The Taj Mahal" which is Matt's and his grandma made it many years ago. Let's just say it's an attention getter from the 70's, and leave it at that! There is the adorable paper ornament with Billie's 5 year old smiling face on one side labeled "nice", and her pouty face on the other side labeled "Naughty!" We have lots of frogs on our tree, since Billie is a frog-maniac, and lots of Disney ornaments, since I am a Disney-maniac. There is no theme to our tree other than it represents our fun and crazy family. This year we will add some to it to represent Harper and Billie and this time in their lives'. Next year when we pull out the decorations, we will be fighting with a 20 month old toddler trying to pull everything down and put everything in her mouth! Maybe we will have to put a barrier between her and the tree to keep her from pulling it down on herself! I don't know what kind of a toddler she will be, but I kind of think she will give us a run for our money, just judging by the fight and determination God has clearly instilled in her - thus her surviving from such a teeny-tiny start! I have been mentally preparing myself for that. I keep telling myself, when she throws a fit when she is 2, or her first word is "NO!" I will have to just thank God and laugh because that is why I have her here with me to begin with! You all remind me of that if I need it though, Okay?
I am sure you are ready for the latest pictures, right? SO here they are:

Harper at the apnea/pulmonology office -- They weighed her in at 10 Pounds on the dot!! And just shy of 21 inches! Our girl is growing! I love this picture - her expression is so funny, almost a "snotty" look!
How cute are these two? Best hat ever, too. It is so warm and it actually stays on her head!
Billie checked out a book from her school library just to read to her sister. SO SWEET! So we put them in Christmas PJ's that night and snapped a few presh pics!
OK, not a great pic of us - you try to hold a baby and take a picture of three girls with HUGE eyes that always blink! IT was so fun, I just had to include it. We laughed so hard doing this, even Harper was laughing. Not that you can really see it, but this was in front of our tree.
This was Sunday after church, Harper's second time attending church. She was so quiet both times, and really enjoyed the music. Billie and Harper are so adorable together. Harper just lights up at Billie's face or voice. And Billie is just so in love with her little sister. I so enjoy watching her interact and even just listening to her talk to her sister in the car as we run errands or pick Billie up from school. Billie is so animated with Harper and knows just how to cheer her up or calm her fussiness. We are so blessed.