Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Little Scare at 13 Weeks

Today I had my latest OB appointment.  It's only been three weeks since the last one, since my doctor is watching things a little bit more closely than in the past because of the scares we've had so far.

A little over a week and a half ago I unexpectedly took another short break from blogging when the subchorionic hematoma started doing it's hemorrhaging thing again, for three long days, and the stress of waiting to see if everything would be okay (along with nine days of migraines!) was a little bit too much for an writing inspiration to come through.

This morning, however, things were going well.  I dropped Maggie off at therapy after managing to keep her from diving into not one, but two snowbanks, and as I handed her lunch to her therapist this conversation followed:

Maggie's therapist: "Say bye, bye!"
Maggie:  "Bye, bye!"
Me: "Bye, bye!"
MT: "Say, love you!"
Maggie: "I love..." (turning and coming towards me and almost giving me a kiss and a hug in her hurry to get back and play with her friends) "pizza!!!"

I was still chuckling to myself when I arrived at the hospital.  Maggie's sense of humor has been shining through of late and she can always make me smile when she's in a silly mood.

I waved at the receptionist to check in for my appointment and then settled in for a short wait.  Soon I was asking my doctor questions about Meniere's and pregnancy (because mine is definitely flaring up even though my salt intake has been even lower than it was before the pregnancy) and the migraines and then I lay back and waited for the dopler to find a heartbeat.

A minute passed and then another.  For at least five minutes my doctor patiently searched for a heartbeat (they might have been some of the longest minutes in the history of the world).  Then he stopped searching and announced that we'd be going across the hallway to look for the baby on the ultra sound.

I was very thankful that I didn't have to wait even an hour for an appointment with their ultrasound tech.

The moment that the ultrasound wand touched my stomach the baby appeared on the screen and the doctor could see movement.  Soon even I could see a tiny limb waving back and forth.  Disaster averted.

The doctor did point out that he could still see a 3 cm blood clot and said it was fairly likely that there would be more bleeding in the near future, which is nice to know before hand, to somewhat mitigate the panic that happens whenever bleeding occurs, especially on a large scale, during pregnancy.

So now I'm back to once a month appointments and I'm hoping that this clot goes away without any sort of drama so that things can continue (or should I say begin?) to progress smoothly.

I'm hoping for a boring 27 weeks from here on out!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's Eve Countdowns on Netflix to Save Bedtime

Sadie's already asked if she's going to be able to stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve and

I've already given a vague non-committal answer and resisted pointing out that in the last week she voluntarily went upstairs, brushed and flossed and asked me to tuck her in at 7:30 pm, a full half hour before her bedtime, because she was so sleepy, so I think that the actual chances of anyone in the house making it to midnight stand somewhere between slim and none.

Last year Netflix saved the day by coming out with a kid's countdown that could be played at any time.  This year the selection has expanded and this afternoon the kids and I previewed them and came up with a list of the Top Five Netflix New Year's Even Countdowns for this year.

This is how we'll be doing New Year's several hours before it actually arrives in our time zone.

The Countdowns range from one to three minutes.  And overwhelmingly my kids loved the same one.  Their first choice is:

All Hail King Julien's New Year's Eve Countdown

It's the same little countdown as last year.  They loved the weird little lemurs dancing to club music, surrounded by flashing lights, just as much this year as they did last year.

I possibly should note that when I turned this Countdown on in Paul's presence to write this post, he decided that 9 o'clock was a perfect time to go upstairs and immediately fled the room.

Puffin Rock New Year's Eve Countdown

This is my favorite countdown. I like to think that it's James' favorite too, although the fact that he stopped nursing to watch the lemurs, and totally ignored the cute little Puffin, makes me think otherwise.

It shows an adorable little puffin as he remembers 2015 and prepares to welcome 2016.  It's the least flashy of the options, and maybe if James is the last man standing on New Year's Eve, we'll watch it together before he goes to bed, since he isn't old enough to tell me he wants to watch the lemurs, yet again.  

Care Bears and Cousins New Year's Eve Countdown

The title of this one pretty much sums it up.  The Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins dance and cartwheel their way through a fireworks, confetti and heart filled New Year's Eve countdown.

If I'd had to guess which one my kids would love I would have totally picked this one.

Inspector Gadget New Year's Eve Countdown

This one ranked high on Sadie's list of favorites as she giggled through watching "Go Go Gadget" (as she called him) blunder his way through saving a New Year's Eve party, while Penny and Brain work to save the day.

Mr Peabody and Sherman New Year's Eve Countdown

This was my least favorite of the Countdowns that we watched, but it did get some extra points since it showed Toothless and Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon.  It flashed around so much from one show to another that none of our kids really paid attention to it until the numbers started flashing at the very end.

And those sum up the top five New Year's Countdowns that we discovered on Netflix today!

Last year we had so much fun doing the early Countdown that I'd definitely recommend watching one of them as a quick, sweet New Year's Eve tradition!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Journey into Decluttering

Another reason for my infrequency in blogging these past few months, besides the pregnancy and the book (the second edit of which should be complete tonight!!!), is that I've taken on the task of de-cluttering the house with a passion.

I'd tried the forty bags in forty days challenge, where you fill up and remove forty bags of belongings from your house (often done during Lent) for the last couple of years and I liked the progress that I'd made, but I needed to continue the work after those forty days were done.

This summer I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up while I was in California and came back recharged and ready to continue the progress that I'd made over Lent.

I didn't strictly follow the ideas in the book above, but it did change my perspective as I gazed around the house and decided what to keep and what needed to go.  And I found myself asking my own set of questions that ran along the lines of "Does someone in the house enjoy this?  Do I use it and need it?" And if I still found myself wavering on something that I probably didn't need "Do I really want to pick this up fifty times a day?" or "Would I rather have this or have more space for our family and another baby?"

The last question led to quite a few items going into the donate bin.

A big part of my problem was that buying new things isn't really a big part of our budget and so I had a hard time letting go of things that I "might need someday."

Still it was easy to start in the basement where there were boxes that hadn't been unpacked in the three plus years since we moved to Michigan.

 If I hadn't missed something or needed it in three years, I probably wasn't going to miss it if it was gone.

I began to divide things into three bags.  There was the consignment shop bag, the donation bag and the trash bag.  The bags quickly began to accumulate.

Paul would come downstairs and eye the fifteen enormous trash bags that needed to be hauled to various locations and sigh and then double check to make sure that he was taking them where they needed to go.

The majority of bags went to Saint Vincent de Paul, quite a few from the lower levels of boxes went into the trash, because the great mouse disaster following the ice storm of 2013 had done a lot of damage (which is why we now have a cat and no mouse problem) as had the various bouts of flooding we've experienced.

A smaller number of bags, with clothes and shoes I could never convince Maggie to wear, and toys that no one was interested in playing with, went to a kid's consignment store where the credit is steadily being recycled into the sizes of clothes the kids now wear.

Some larger pieces of furniture went straight onto the sidewalk, where they nearly always disappear before an hour passes.

All in all, if I haven't missed anything, my current count stands at 97 bags (and sometimes other large pieces that were too large for large garbage bags) that have left the house this year.

Cleaning is much easier.  There are two empty closets upstairs, one which belongs to Sadie, where she keeps things the littler kids might break, and one that's totally empty, except for an enormous pile of clean blankets, that Maggie can put her toys in or escape to when she needs to be in a completely dark room.

I'm not totally done.  There's still one closet, in Patch's room, that is halfway done and the master bedroom is not totally decluttered (having Paul work nights means it's difficult for me to find time to get in there when I'm not about to fall asleep).

While the kitchen is mostly done, I've still found that everything that comes into the house accumulates there so it still needs weekly de-cluttering sessions and I still have some ideas for making the space more efficient.

All in all though, cleaning most rooms in the house is now incredibly simple.  It's not unusual that in the time it's taken for me to put the boys to bed, Sadie will have cleaned the entire downstairs herself and will be proudly waiting to show me what she's done.  It only takes five minutes to do the two main rooms if the floors don't need to be swept.

And the kids are thrilled with it because there's so much room to run around.

I'll probably type up another post, with a bunch of pictures, once I'm totally done and once I've finished painting the downstairs, since I'm halfway done with several coats of primer up, but with most of the walls still not showing off the super durable paint that promises to wipe easily clean that I found at Sherwin Williams... that's also another post and I'll let you know how durable their super durable paint really is once the kids have tested it out with their general every day wear and tear.

But for now I'm about 90% of the way done (the basement was definitely the hardest part of the process) and it's definitely made me more cautious about what I bring into the house (I'm looking at you dollar bin at Target).

I'm hoping that the second trimester gives me that energy boost to carry my through the last little bit before the new baby arrives.  Having every room in order would be a huge help in keeping things running around here!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Feasts Days and Advent

This year I had grand Advent intentions, but I also had a creeping feeling that the morning sickness was going to thwart those plans and in a way it have.  Or at least, it's provided an unexpected Advent, which probably is exactly what was needed even if it wasn't on my checklist.  

Still I've tried to step things up for a few of our favorite feast days, and the kids were pretty excited about how they turned out.  

I started with Saint Nicholas' Day on the 6th.  The 6th was the end of that tough weekend when I mostly stayed laying down, and Sadie was a huge help getting everything ready:

On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception I actually felt well enough to go to Mass.

There were a few moments in the parking lot when the morning sickness made a last stand, and I seriously considered getting back in the car and calling it a day, but once we got inside I was actually okay and the kids were actually pretty good.

Before Mass Sadie had asked me to cut her hair and I did.  So after Mass was over she posed for a picture to show off her new hair cut.

And we tried to get a picture with all the kids, but it was really like a series of outtakes where all the kids looked everywhere except at the camera.

 The next day we hurried over to the tree lot and, for the first time since we celebrated Christmas in Florida in 2011, we got ready to set up a big Christmas tree (as opposed to a teeny tiny one on the mantle that Maggie couldn't reach).

I just had a feeling that, if we set it up off the floor, and got a heavy duty stand and huge screws and bolted it to the table it was on, Maggie maybe wouldn't destroy it this year.

We'd done a couple test runs with the trees in the building where she has therapy, and since she hadn't a) removed ornaments or b) tried to climb them I thought we stood a fair chance.

So we let Sadie pick out a tree:

And got ready to haul it home.  James, as usual, was totally unimpressed by everything that was going on around him and wasn't really sure why he'd had to come along at all.

Once the tree was set up the decorating began.  Maggie had a high fever and was home from therapy and watched the decorating, while Patch demanded ornaments and then screamed at the top of his lungs when he couldn't get them to stay on the tree.

He finally settled in handing Sadie the ornaments once I put the hooks on them, with occasional outbursts when she wasn't decorating at the exact rate that he thought was appropriate.

James thought the whole experience was pretty magical.

I was particularly thankful we'd invested in some "shatter proof" bulbs, when they were on clearance after Christmas last year.

Although I can assure you that if you have a dog who can reach those bulbs (in this case on her hind legs while reaching as far as she possibly can with her neck), they are not puppy proof.  Luckily they're just plastic and not sharp when they're shredded by Great Pyrenees teeth.

Patch was convinced that every tree comes with a monkey.  I have no idea where he got this idea but he spent a full two days walking around, peering into the tree, and saying "I don't see it.  I don't see monkey?  Monkey?!?!?  Monkey?!?!?! Where are you!?!?!?!"

He also sometimes stands under the tree and tells everyone not to touch it, which irritates his biggest sister to no end.

So far the tree is still standing and only four ornaments have been demolished.  And Maggie was only responsible for two of them.

Then came Saint Lucy's Day.

For this feast I found a wreath for $7 at Meijer that looked like it was roughly the size of Sadie's head.  I had some small battery operated tea lights that I picked up last year during the week after Christmas when they were discounted and I twisted the wreath around the lights until they stayed in place.

Then I found one of Sadie's favorite white dresses and a red scarf that we had downstairs and voila, we had Saint Lucy.

The night before the feast I took down a package of Aldi gluten free pizza (it's dairy free too) and I dumped in about a cup of sugar and a bunch of cinnamon.  I mixed it all together, greased up a pizza pan, and formed the pizza dough into a wreath and baked it.

The resulting bread was a huge hit.  All four of the kids came back for seconds and thirds and fourths until it was completely gone.  

Later in the day Maggie put on her mermaid costume and I let the kids break out the Kindle Fires that they were given, in the hopes that if Maggie watches Patch play on hers enough, she may actually try to use it.

She isn't a fan of screens at all the vast majority of the time, but this Kindle has an app that works like PECS board (to help her communicate) and I would love it if she would give it a try when she's having a hard time telling me what she needs.  I loved seeing her sneak over and look over Patch's shoulder.

I'm pretty sure that's progress because she's actually voluntarily looking at it instead of coming over and flipping it over so she can't see any part of the screen, at all.

During a run to the store Sadie showed had tall she's grown when she hoped on Sandy.  I completely failed to get a non-blurry picture... but I had to share this one because look how tall she's gotten! When did that happen?!?!

And those are all of my favorite pictures so far from this slow paced Advent!

I hope that you're having a wonderful season leading up to Christmas!  Can you believe there are only nine days left?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On the Banning of Diaper Bags and Strollers and Why It Could Make Mass Impossible for Some Families

Yesterday there were a flurry of posts on social media about a Catholic Church in Charlotte, that happens to be one of the largest Catholic Churches in the country, and the steps that they are taking to increase security.  

An article in the Charlotte Observer states:

The safety measures will include uniformed and plain-clothes police officers at all weekend Masses along with hired security guards, Monsignor John J. McSweeney told parishioners in a memo emailed Friday. 
The Charlotte church is also banning a list of 15 items in all worship halls. They include: large bags, backpacks, diaper bags, laptops, computer cases, luggage, video equipment, laser pointers, baby strollers, and anything that can conceal items or that clergy and staff determine poses a security hazard. 
The church has already added cameras throughout its sprawling campus. The new measures, McSweeney said, were approved by the church’s safety awareness team.He told the Observer that the measures aren’t a reaction, but “a proactive piece of planning we have for security." 
To continue reading click here.
I have to admit that my first thoughts as I finished reading the article was to imagine what wold happen if these safety features were being implemented at our parish.  Or worse yet, what if they caught on and became standard at parishes across the country?

Mass would be completely impossible for us.  We would no longer be able to go.

Life without a diaper bag wouldn't be the deal breaker for me.  I think I could probably stuff the epi pens and allergy meds into a bag small enough to take inside.  The inhaler that we carry is small, but the spacer and little kid's mask isn't, adding another challenge to the packing of a small bag.

And maybe even a diaper or two could fit into that bag, although I think back to the long months when we had a refluxy baby, who we'd change immediately before Mass and then likely have to change (we're talking entire outfits) another two times before Mass was over because no matter what we did her stomach was miserable and her outfits, and our outfits, were likely to be ruined, forever and ever, on any given day.

We haven't had a baby like that in a long time though.  These days the deal breaker would be the umbrella stroller that comes in with us to Mass each week.

I'll start by explaining why the stroller has become so necessary because over the last couple years it has become clear to me that it is something that bothers some people and that if there's any hope that they understand why it's necessary for us, it needs to be explained.

There have been looks.  Frowns.  Shaken heads.  People do not understand why a child so large isn't sitting quietly in a pew.  Why does she need a stroller?  One couple earlier this fall looked as though they really, really wanted to say something as they turned fully in their seats and shook their head through the glass door at me for the entirety of Mass, mouths turned down in frowns despite the fact that she was completely silent.

At the time I came up with the response in my head of "Why don't you step over here with me and tell Father what your complaint is?" as I readied myself for the words that looked as though they might bubble over at any moment.  It didn't come, likely because I had to take a certain two year old out at the very end of Mass and wasn't there to enjoy whatever it was they seemed bursting to share.

The vast majority of people are kind.  99 out of a 100 are welcoming.  I don't want to make it seem otherwise because I love our parish and most people are absolutely amazing.  But it's hard to miss the shaken head and glare of disgust by someone who won't look away when they see Mae in the stroller that she needs to get through Mass, or hear her sweet chirping voice when she's excited.

At this point we don't ever go in through the glass doors anymore.  We stay in the vestibule.  I tried going in for a while, but she would giggle, or squeal with glee as she stared at the cross and even while I quickly shuffled out with her I would see the looks (which are not the same looks I get on those rare days when I have James with me by myself and he lefts out a cry).

The looks made me sick to my stomach.  I would stare back, waiting until they finally dropped their gaze.  Sorry, no, you don't glare at my four year old (I haven't tried it since she's turned five).

I'd need to go to confession for the thoughts that would fly through my mind.

It hasn't been a problem lately though, because the last two months the morning sickness have allowed me to go to Mass exactly one time,  

But I've gotten away from the point.  The stroller.  We wouldn't be able to go to Mass without the stroller.  Whether or not people understand it, it's her safe space in a busy, noisy, incense filled world.

Maggie has a hard time with certain sounds.  Some of them, we know.  If her sister coughs one time, her face will crumble and she will collapse sobbing "hurts" and clutching her head.  If she hears certain musical instruments, or sounds, the response is also painful.

Often she's excited to Mass.  I've seen her throw back her head and positively glow with joy at the consecration.  Sometimes I hear her whispering to herself about Jesus as she stares at the crucifix.

Other times, that are far more rare, it's clearly too much.  Her stroller, however, has become a safe place.  Most days she sits in it quietly now, but when we've tried to remove the stroller things have gone dramatically in the wrong direction.

One particularly memorable Mass we tried and I got to go home with a broken nose from a stray flailing (and entirely unintentional) kick to the face from the terrified child.

So for the time being, the stroller stays.

I understand the security concerns that have caused this Church to take the steps that they obviously feel are necessary to keep people safe.  The climate we live in is very much filled with fear and this is honestly one of the less radical ideas I've seen suggested.

I hope it doesn't catch on though.  I hope that before they ban the materials that make it possible for many families to go to Mass, they set up walk through metal detectors and have those uniformed police officers that the article mentioned (or perhaps other security personnel), check large, worrisome bags like they do at Disney World (or like they do at the local ER).

A check of strollers outside would be easy to do as well.  Ours has no baskets and no place to hide anything.  It is, quite simply, a seat to help our daughter feel safe.  Again, I'll use the Disney World example where people without large bags or strollers can go in one line, and those who need to be checked go through another.

I also can't help but wonder what comes next.  Will we be taking off our shoes so they can be checked?  Pat downs at the door?  Evil people have come up with plenty of ways to attempt to bypass security checks.  Is that pregnant woman really pregnant or is she concealing something else beneath her maternity shirt?

Mass can be really, really hard for some families.  I pray that we don't see this sort of thing expanding and catching on at other parishes, and making it incredibly difficult, or even in cases like ours, entirely impossible, for families who are trying to raise children in the faith to go to Mass.

I pray for those making these decisions, trying to keep the people within their Churches safe, that they will be prudent in making these decisions and in balancing the actual risks with the real possibility that they're making it impossible for some families and individuals to come to Mass.  

Read more here:

Monday, December 14, 2015


I finally got the picture that I've been hoping to get for months.  

I've described what Maggie's eyes look like over and over again to doctor after doctor.  I'd been told it would be helpful if I could get a picture, but getting a picture when she's having a migraine isn't the easiest task.

Last week she came home after a rough day at occupational therapy.  Usually we hear about how great OT has gone and she's always incredibly impatient to go, so I was surprised when Paul brought her home and said that it hadn't been great and they were wondering if OT should be stopped.

While I tried to keep my head from exploding, and hoped that maybe something had been lost in translation when Paul brought that particular gem (because I find it hard to believe that the child who cries hysterically in pain every time her sister coughs doesn't need sensory focused OT), I took Maggie up to our room and noticed that she definitely seemed a little under the weather.  She lay on the bed while I hung Christmas lights on the windows and set up a line of little fake candles on the window sill.  

She was quiet, but happy to watch the lights and look out the window.  

After a while I lay down next to her and let her look at herself in the camera on my phone.  She loves to do that:

It wasn't until the next day, when I was looking at the pictures, that I realized what I'd captured in the pictures:

Here's an example of a moment when, after being in a bright room for about fifteen minutes, her eyes weren't dilated to the same size.  This is what all the doctors' appointments have been about.

It's a relief to finally have a picture to show the doctors what so many family members and therapists have seen over the last eight months.

I think it's very likely migraines, as the doctors have suggested.  I'm so thankful the MRI was normal.  She does have some moments that seem like they might be absence seizures, so we're keeping an eye on those, although I can't imagine that we'll be able to perform the test the neurologist would want to do to confirm those (Maggie, holding still for half an hour with sensors attached to her head?  I don't think so).

Now hopefully, after a rough week last week, we'll have a migraine free week this week!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Our Big News

I bugged Paul all day Wednesday to give me the green light to write this post.  And he did.  So you think that I would have gotten around to writing it before Saturday night, when James, who has been asleep for approximately 27 minutes (but who's counting) is bound to wake up, trying to convince me that he's starving, beginning our first round (tonight) of night weaning, which right now means that we try to make it to midnight before his first feeding.  Or at least 11:30.

That, if I'm totally honest, is the real reason I haven't written much lately.

The other day I counted how often the 14-months-old-tomorrow-boy woke up during the night and it was five times between 8 pm and 12 pm and then an additional seven times between 12 pm and 6 am. That's twelve wakings in ten hours for anyone who's counting.

So night weaning it is.  Last night he only woke up three times instead of five during that first four hour stretch, which I'm telling myself is progress.

But to get to the actual point of this post (which you may be surprised to learn isn't about night weaning), I'll begin by saying that we've had quite the week.

And this past week has changed our plans for the next couple months, mostly because we realized that at this point asking for prayers might be more important than keeping the Big Secret, a secret.

Towards the end of October we were thrilled to learn, when two little lines appeared on a small collection of tests, that our family was again growing.

In the past I've been able to keep that secret for approximately ten seconds.  This time I asked Paul if maybe we couldn't keep the secret a bit longer, and since I'm always the one ready to shout it from the rooftops, he agreed.

I joked that, since winter in Michigan was moving in fast, I could probably keep the secret until the baby was practically ready to be born.  Paul reminded me that I'd have to shed my fluffy down jacket some time before the baby's due date, which happens to be the Fourth of July.

Maybe, I insisted stubbornly.  Sometimes we still have snow in April.  Which isn't July, he pointed out.

There was spotting at six and seven weeks, but it wasn't that big a deal.  Or so I told myself, trying to really believe it.  Spotting is always scary.

I believed that it was okay more than I believed it when it happened at seven and ten weeks with James (which we found at twelve weeks was a subchorionic hematoma) and I believed it much more than I did when it happened at six, ten, sixteen, and twenty weeks during my pregnancy with Patch (when it happened at six weeks I raced to the ER, hysterical, because I was sure I was miscarrying).

This time I called the nurse's line the next day to let them know what was happening, and she asked if I'd gone to the ER, and I said "nope, it's not like there's anything they can do" feeling like I'd finally learned something from all those past moments of fear and she'd agreed and told me to call back if it started up again or got worse.

A week ago Friday, at nine weeks and four days, it got worse.  And it continued to be worse all weekend.  I tried to stay in bed.  Or at least lay on the couch.  I burst into tears at random times when I was the only one in the room.  And I couldn't eat because there was still morning sickness all the time, along with clots and other things that steadily sapped my hope of getting any good news on Monday when I would hopefully be able to see my doctor.

At 8 am on Monday I'd already called my doctor's office a few times, just in case they were there early.  When I got through they only had one appointment left, in the afternoon, and it wasn't with my doctor.

Paul dropped me off and drove with the kids to Maggie's speech appointment, and I waited, feeling increasingly hopeless, as the doctor I'd met approximately two minutes earlier searched for a heartbeat.  I thought of how they'd hardly been able to find James' heartbeat at eighteen weeks, because of an anterior placenta, and hoped we wouldn't face a similar scenario at that moment.

Just as I'd begun to feel my heart sink further, we heard the rapid sound of a baby heartbeat and he assured me that it sounded good.  It's not too slow, I asked worriedly.  A slow heartbeat was how we knew that things were going wrong with Christian at twelve weeks.

I asked about an ultrasound, but he was sure that since we'd heard a heartbeat we didn't need one.

I undoubtedly looked desperate when I got out to the receptionists desk and she asked me when my next appointment was.  "In two days." I said.  "We can push it back a couple weeks." She replied, looking at the form the doctor had filled out.  "I was hoping I could keep it." I said quickly.  "You see if the bleeding hasn't stopped by then I'm going to be having a nervous breakdown and I really want to see my doctor, because I'm almost completely sure he'll order and ultrasound, which will keep me from going completely crazy."

I was almost completely sure he'd order an ultrasound because he'd ordered ultrasounds for much less.  The receptionist took pity on me and let me keep it and two days later my doctor walked into the room and said that of course he'd order the ultrasound, maybe they'd even be able to squeeze me in that day.  He said that he couldn't promise me that I wasn't miscarrying, but he was able to find a heartbeat, going strong at 189 beats per minute.

He listened for a while longer, because the other doctor had noted that the baby was on the left side, and he'd found it on the right, and after he said something about wondering if it was twins I assured him that the other OB had found the heartbeat in the exact same spot.  And then we talked about some of the scary things that can cause bleeding, especially after four c-sections, and some of the not-so-scary things, like the subchorionic hematoma I had with James.

Two hours later I was staring at an ultrasound screen, praying that everything was okay.  Then I saw this.  The baby was measuring exactly on for the dates I'd given them:

Another subchorionic hematoma was quickly located and I watched as the newest member of our family squirmed and wiggled and kicked her legs on the screen(we totally don't know, but Paul is insisting that his baby-intuition has him seeing pink).

"We have to tell everybody!"  I said, when I got to the car.  Paul gave me that look he gives me when I'm passionately announcing something that's the exact opposite of what I was saying a short while earlier.  But I was remembering how prayers have carried us through those other scary times and I'd also realized that if we did have to say goodbye to this little one, I would never be able to keep this tiny life a secret from the world.

"Let's wait until Christmas!" he said.
"Let's tell them today!" I countered.

And finally, after extensive negotiations I promised that he could find out the gender of the baby this time (something I've been pretty strongly against, because I was hoping maybe it could be a surprise this time) and maybe I would and maybe I wouldn't but he wouldn't be telling me if I didn't, if he only would let me make the announcement ASAP.

So he made some phone calls.  And I made this banner on Pic Monkey, because I wasn't quite motivated enough to actually come up with a cute picture and make everybody pose for it in real life:

Besides, those little snow people were so much more cooperative than the little people that I would have been working with here.

Right now I am ten weeks and five days (Who's counting?  Me.  Totally me.).  Things are good.  I'm pretty sick, a result I guess, of those strong HCG levels they measured last Monday.  The hemorrhage, after 4-5 days, has finally stopped.  And I'm impatiently waiting for my next appointment, which will be at 13 weeks, when I'll hopefully begin to relax a little bit more as more time passes after this last scare.

And that is the very long announcement that doesn't look much like the Pinterest worthy idea I was carefully crafting a few weeks ago, but that brings the very happy news that sometime between Sadie's birthday and Maggie's birthday, we expect that we will be welcoming the newest member of the family!

Sadie's concerned that we may not be able to handle eating three whole cakes inside of two weeks, but somehow, I think we should be able to manage. After all, James is pretty serious about eating cake: