7:17 PM

Kaleb's First Birthday Party

Written on: Monday, September 28, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2009

Kaleb's first birthday partywas a gigantic success. We had it on Sunday which was perfect for the football/Bengal's theme. The Bengals ended up beating the Steelers 23-20 so that added something extra. We love a Bengal's Win! We decided to grill out and provide food for everyone which turned out so nice. The day was actually sunny and felt amazing. Kaleb was a very happy little boy and, after threatening everyone in the house, I was able to lay him down for a nap right before his party.

We wanted to make the morning of his actual birthday special

Daddy had to work but he met us for a great lunch!

Some of his birtday haul from us, he was a very happy camper.

The cupcake cake: very good for little kid's parties. No cutting!

All my neices, nephew plus Kman & Riley.

He was ready.

Smash cake. I made that one myself :)

His gift from Aunt Olivia!

This was the face he made when he realized he had all new toy's the next morning.

Overall everything went amazing. Kaleb was so tired after that weekend he slept a good 14 hours into Monday morning. I know future parties will only get bigger and more fun but it felt good to celebrate with our closest family and friends. I'd call the day a huge success. Hopefully Kaleb did too!

Kaleb is 1 year, 3 days old.

3:37 PM

Looking back: 1 year later

Written on: September 25, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2009

This is an honest account of what I can recall from those first 24 hours.

The morning of Wednesday, September 24, 2008 looking back... I was.... on edge. I passed off everything on pre-baby jitters. Now, I'm attributing those feelings to a little thing called, "mother's intuition."

12:50 pm: As they we're checking us into the room I looked at the room number. No, no no this was all wrong. I don't remember exactly what it was. I could probably check but it's not important. It had a ton of 6's in it though- how stupid right? Why would a bunch of 6's make me uneasy... it's just a room number Ericka!

1:45 pm: After the nurse hooked me up to the monitor’s she showed us that I was having a few contractions on my own which was awesome news. I tried my best to keep an open mind about my birth plan. I just wanted a healthy baby and I trusted God's plan.

7:00 pm: Nightfall quickly approached and my parent's stopped by for a visit. I couldn't walk or even sit upright for hours at a time because of the medication they had to put in to induce my labor. My cervix was completely closed when the process began.

September 25, 2008

7:00 am: Four agonizing rounds of medication. One amazing sleeping pill. No progress. Dr.Grim makes the call: c-section. I found out from the nurse that Dr.Grim's brother passed away suddenly. He was leaving right after my surgery. I find it amazing that he even made the trip in for me; he kept his promise to us. I wonder if his brother hadn't passed if we would spent more time trying to induce my labor, maybe try IV medication or something. I am happy with the decision to go with the C-section, knowing how much Kaleb was struggling on the inside now

7:15 am: I started crying hysterically when they go to take me back to surgery before my sister and mom can arrive. Dr.Grim, again, saves the day and grabs some breakfast while I wait for my family. Thank God they made it in time.

7:45 am: I go back alone for my spinal. My doctor get's an A+++ for my spinal. I didn't feel a thing! They bring Brian in for the surgery. I-pod on...

8:20 am: The surgery is the most bizarre experience. I can feel tugging and pressure but nothing uncomfortable. Brian, however, is struggling. I can tell. He goes quiet for long periods; I can tell he’s praying to himself. I keep asking if he can see my "guts" yet. He doesn't find my joke funny and keeps especially quiet when a drainage bag full of my blood busts on the floor. Bless his poor heart.

He told me what he was praying for a few months later during that time. It is so unbelievably personal that I don't know if I should share the details. The guy really loves me though.

8:29 am: "Okay Ericka, you're going to feel some pressure." (This is the understatement of the century) My eyes started watering. It felt like there was a giant elephant on my chest. I can't breathe. I couldn't even get a breath to say I can't breathe. I make a few grunting noises and just like that the pain is gone. Kaleb was stretching out and he was so set on his position they had to use forceps to get him out. He was literally squishing my lungs from the inside. I'm going to have to put him in a 'timeout' spank him for that when he's a little older.

8:31 am: Kaleb makes his entrance into the world. Silence. I can still feel each heartbeat, each second that ticked by, before I heard his beautiful cries. Of course, I was sobbing by this point and then suddenly I realized it was quiet. Too quiet. I cannot see the warmer above me so I start twisting around on the table to try and get a better look.

8:35 am: The details of the next few moments are burned into my brain. When Brian returned to my side I knew immediately something wasn’t right. He said, “Don’t worry. Kaleb is fine. He is healthy but he is missing his left hand.” I felt like I was in a dream. What? His what? I couldn’t catch my breath. I grabbed Brian’s hand, “He’s healthy right? He’s okay? It’s just his hand?” I could still hear his screams behind me. “Yes, he’s fine.” I instantly felt relief, “Then who cares?! He’s healthy… go be with him!” He argued for about 15 seconds before he left my side. He told me later that is the hardest thing he's ever had to do.

8:40: It's so quiet in the room. My vision is blurry from the tears. Happy tears. I didn't need to decide that this hand thing was no big deal. I felt heavy... nauseated... I barely get the words out before I start throwing up. Doc throws some crazy cocktail into my spinal instead of the IV and I feel instant relief. Now that is service.

Dr. Grim tells me about Jim Abbott while he's closing. I drift in and out. I'm guessing doc slipped me a little something extra to help me relax. I'm thankful because I'm alone. This is why they should let two people come in with you on a c-section. Sheesh.

9:15 am: It's been almost an hour since his birth. Recovery. My sister in law, Jennifer, gets to me first. All she said was, "he's beautiful" and I lost it. It felt good to have her there. I didn't even know if they'd make it down here for the birth. I know now the waiting room was packed. She asked what I wanted, "My mom & sister please."

After my mom and sister arrived I really felt good. Dazed from the medication. My eyes start itching. I start to just rub them and after a few minutes I start to really scratch. Hello spinal side effect: itching! The nurse gives me a shot of something which knocks me loopy again.

Olivia and my mom take some pretty hilarious pictures of us during this time. My eyes aren't open in many of them but I'm making some pretty awesome faces.

11:00 am: I still haven't seen Kaleb yet except for those quick seconds at first. My bed is too big to fit in the NICU and he's too unstable to transfer. My nurse tries to tell me I can go see him when I get up to walk around 5 pm. Everyone tries to persuade me but it isn't happening. When she leaves the room I threaten everyone in it, you help me or else. I was up a few minutes later. Ah, sweet relief.

I cannot explain how life changing it is to have a child, unless you've been there yourself. It is the most pure, unselfish love I have ever experienced. I look back on that day with such wonderful memories. If I had any doubt about Brian or God or the point of living, it all changed that day. I have loved every second of his first year. I cannot wait to see what life has in store for our special little boy. He continues to amaze me each and every day.

Happy Birthday Kaleb. We love you.

Kaleb is one year old.

1:35 PM

Livin' On A Prayer

Friday, November 6, 2009

We went from thriving to existing within a few short months.

I'm sure everyone can recall my Summer of Saving post in May. We were so overwhelmingly excited and motivated and on the move. I just knew that when we left my parent's house we would have the house of our dreams and a nice little nest egg to boot.

Fast forward: November 1, 2009.

Existing. It's such a yucky word. How do you fall so fast? I knew that this whole bad economy thing would effect us when I heard the term "recession" thrown around three years ago when Brian & I began our life together. Oh how very wrong I was about HOW much it would effect us.

The long and short of it? We are broke, looking for work and living with my in-laws. It turns my stomach just reading that sentance. Me. Ericka. The always over-achieving, planning, saving, wise-decision making person I grew up to be had hit the bottom. No, not rock bottom but lower than I have ever been.

My work? It's still there but some funding issues (to say the least) has caused me to take a step back and let them fix what is wrong. I still volunteer my time and work a few hours a week to help correct the issues but as of now I am severly under-employed. I love my job and I just continue to pray that the company can finally get the push it needs in 2010. I just found out I landed a part-time job with a local TPA (an insurance company similar to my old job) so hopefully that will give us the boost we need for this holiday season.

Brian's work? They promised amazing things when he took this new job in May. No lay-off's, no 'seasonal' work, great benefits, even better pay and close to home. When I casually reminded Brian that it was time for his insurance to become effective (have you ever had to pay a COBRA premium? It's ridiculous.) We we're notified his hours we're being cut which means no insurance and a lay-off would be imminent. Damn recession.

This was 2 months ago. So... here we are.... barely surviving. Our savings was gone, gone, gone when Kaleb's medical bills started rolling in from that 7-day NICU stay. Our 'Summer of Saving' and turned into the 'Summer of Surving' and now it's simply 'The Winter of Existing.' To try and make the burden lighter on my family we had to head to Hamilton to stay with Brian's parents. Thank GOD for our family. Between my grandparents, B's parents and my amazing mother Kaleb wouldn't know we we're struggling if I told him so. I can only praise the Lord for that- not to mention the outpouring of support from our friends. I hate living across town... I miss my Char & Dani & my sister.

So this post turned out pretty, um, negative. That was not my intention because some very great things have happened because of this gigantic wave of crap we are dealing with right now. Brian and I are so very close. Insanely close. Stripping a family down to nothing will really show you what you are made of... I sometimes find myself wondering what it would be like to go through this with someone else and immediately feel thankful for Brian.

The biggest positive is all the time with K-man. This winter he will spend all his time with family. No outside daycare which drastically limits his exposure to all these sickies (H1N1, seasonal flu, ect). We continue to pray and wash our hands frantically in hopes of keeping him safe this season. Kaleb is rotating between me, Brian, his mom, my grandma and Aunt O during working days.

Stripping it down and admitting all of these struggles has been tough. We are all here, we are all healthy and we still have faith (and are counting our MANY blessings)

I have continued to blog and have a ton of updates to post. Keep an eye out for them- words of encouragment, bible verses, your own stories and prayer requests are always appreciated.

Kaleb is 13 months, 1 week and 5 days old. (and over 30 pounds- I know right!? Look for an update soon!)