Thursday, May 28, 2015

new home sweet home

Last Wednesday, at one week old, sweet baby Ellis came home from the NICU and joined the crazy that is our little family. It was a precious day. We all went down to the hospital to pick him up (I had to stage a bit of a sit-in to get him dismissed early in the morning, but that's a different story). The "big kids" were so sweet and incredibly excited to bring him home. They couldn't get enough of him and wanted to hold him and talk to him and kiss him all day. Andrew and I were overjoyed to have our entire family united. Seeing my four children together brought a peace to my spirit that is simply inexplicable. And then the chaos returned.

The day after Ellis came home, we moved. We are thrilled to be in a home that we hope will be ours for many years, and the kids absolutely love their new house. The front yard is perfect for playing, and they can ride their scooters in the street which is a huge bonus when you are a preschooler. But moving comes with its own challenges. So now we are living with boxes as we get used to the new normal of four kids under four. We are still searching for many "essentials" and just re-buying others as we sort through this crazy period. And we are trying our best to remember how quickly this will pass in the grand scheme of life. Oh, and of course taking pictures so that we can actually recall these crazy days.

our beautiful boy moments after birth

meeting his crew

on the morning he was discharged--so peaceful

proud dad loading him in for the ride home

so excited

instant love

middle brother wants in on the fun


my loves

making sure dad does it right

sweet helper

not so sure about the madness

this big brother is the best hand holder

settling in

first bath at home

no more pictures, please

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

an extended stay

So...although sweet Ellis was a term baby, his lungs decided to act premature. They just couldn't quite     keep his tiny body oxygenated enough. On his first night, we sent him to the nursery to get a short stint of sleep, after which he came back to nurse and cuddle. About an hour later, I decided to let the nurse take him to the nursery one more time, and while she was transporting him she thought his color looked off. She called another nurse, they tested him, and rather than being in the 90s, his oxygenation rate was in the 50s. Not good. I am so grateful that I called that nurse. So grateful that he wasn't in our room, in the dark, with parents not trained to notice distress signs. So grateful that someone realized he needed help.

We initially thought it would be a couple of days, but Ellis needed a little more help than predicted. Tomorrow, after a long week of balancing our big kids' needs with sweet baby boy, we are scheduled to get to bring him home. I know that in the grand scheme of life, a week is nothing, but it has been a hard one. Three-year-olds need their parents. One-year-olds need their parents. NICU babies need their parents. And we couldn't be more excited to get them all under one roof where they can all have access to both mom & dad. Prayers that tonight goes well and Ellis joins the chaos tomorrow.

even with a cannula and feeding tube, this face is just too precious

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ellis Andrew

On May 13, 2015 at 8:29 a.m., Ellis Andrew Shafer made his way into our world. He weighed 7 pounds 10 ounces and was 19 inches long. And he is perfect.

His birth was precious. The c-section was incredibly low-key and peaceful, even including delayed cord cutting to get him more of that precious, rich blood. After being weighed by nurses under dad's watchful eye, he was placed directly on my chest for skin-to-skin time, something I've never gotten to experience with any of my children at birth. For about 20 minutes, he spent time with mom and dad, cuddling and getting to know each other. Just magical.

His entire first day was story-book perfect. He met his excited siblings, who all showered him with hand-holding and kisses. Barnes especially was immediately smitten. He met all four of his grandparents and his Aunt Elizabeth. He was surrounded by love and support from the moment he was born.

He is a beautiful boy, with a perfect head and fuzzy hair. He has long toes and fingers. He likes to keep one hand by his face at all times, and sometimes he grabs his tiny ear. And we are completely in love.

On his first night, things got a little less perfect, and he is currently still in the NICU (more on that later). We are immensely grateful that he is getting the care he needs, but I will be forever thankful that we had that first perfect day together. That I got to cuddle him all day. That I got to nurse him and kiss him and pass him around to those that love him most in the world. And now I am counting the days until I can hold him again.

Barnes is in love with baby brother. He could not stop holding his hand. When he called to say goodnight after meeting him at the hospital, he asked, unprompted, "Is baby Ellis still okay?" 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

final countdown

Baby boy is coming in four days. In just four short days, I'll be holding my fourth little one. And I cannot wait to see him and kiss his precious face.

After a slew of appointments and medicines, it has been decided that I will have this little guy at 38 weeks on the dot. That means 8 fewer days to plan and prepare, but hopefully 8 fewer days of no way to treat my ribs. I never thought I would want to have a baby early. I truly believe that each day in the womb is a gift...each day of development is so very needed. But I also know that there has to be a balance, and for our family's sake, the balance this time is giving baby boy the time he needs while getting him out once he is healthy.

For some reason, the idea that I know exactly when this little guy is coming feels very strange this time around. Don't get me wrong, the planner in me loves it, and with three other monkeys to care for it makes the whole process far more smooth. But something about knowing that surgery begins at 8:00 on Wednesday and that I'll be looking at him by 9:00 is just surreal. Exciting, but surreal.

So I'm taking these next few days to love on my big kids. To play with Shep, who is still the baby for a bit longer. To make sure they all understand how special they are, how incredibly much I love them. And to let baby boy grow just a tiny bit more as we all excitedly anticipate his arrival.