Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Well, it seems that tonight is the night.

I got a call from the hospital a little after eight this morning and they want us to bring Morgan Kate for her sleep study tonight. We are supposed to back an overnight bag and be there at eight this evening. Oh, and did I forget to mention? They kick us out at six in the morning. Six in the morning? MK and I are both usually sound asleep at 6am. 

Please say a prayer that everything will go smoothly and that the test results will reveal that everything is "a-okay". Provided that everything goes well we could be finished with the apnea monitor, meaning my baby will be completely wireless at night for the first time since birth. 

Monday, June 29, 2009

If you received a call or text from me this weekend and there was no one on the other end - it probably wasn't me and more likely this baby girl. She is intrigued by my phone.

Morgan Kate has never really been a fan of the pacifier. She took one for a short time while in the NICU and then for maybe two weeks once we got home. Since then she has had zero interest, which happens to be perfectly okay with me. However, the other day she wanted something to chew/gnaw on. I tried numerous things and nothing worked or did the trick. After trying about fifteen different toys and teething rings I decided to try a pacifier. She loved it! She wouldn't suck it or keep it in her mouth, but she would gnaw on it and pull it out and put it back in. It was actually very cute. Luckily she wanted nothing to do with it the next day. I have nothing against pacifiers and happen to find them very cute, but I am just not looking to get up multiple times during the night to help MK find hers after it falls out of her mouth. 

Morgan Kate loves this green "spikey" ball. Several of her therapists have them, but we have not been fortunate enough to find any for ourselves. Thankfully our friend and neighbor, Mary, happened to have two of these balls and gave us one. MK can't stop playing with it. She has even become quite the acrobat!

This past weekend was one of the best we have had in quite some time. Yes, Morgan Kate went on her first boat ride and had her first lake trip. But we also did so many other fun things and got some good quality family time in.

Since it was the weekend Morgan Kate got lots of time to snuggle and love on her Daddy.

The three of us also went for our first walk across the Lake Murray Dam. It was so very hot, but so very nice. Morgan Kate slept the entire time, while Mommy and Daddy struggled to complete the walk. Ha!
MK and Daddy before the walk

View from the dam

After our very hot, but very nice walk we came home to cool off. However, our usually very cool house was hot and stuffy instead. Our A/C unit was in need of some repairs. Three hours later and $250 poorer we were back in business. Thank goodness!

We spent Saturday afternoon cooling off in the pool. Our friends, who also happen to be our neighbors, asked us to go swimming. After our HOT morning we instantly took them up on their offer and had a blast. MK is quite the water bug! 
We had a terrific time and I am already counting down the days until next weekend! 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Last spring Travis and I bought a boat only days before finding out we were pregnant. We had wanted a boat (and a baby) for quite some time. Even dreamed of a boat (and a baby). But it wasn't until last spring that we were actually able to "make it happen". 

In March and early April it tends to still be a little cool here, especially on the water. Or at least it is for me. But we didn't care. We would bundle up in sweatshirts and hats and head out in the boat. Once summer rolled around we lived on our boat. Most late afternoons and weekends we could be found "boating" out on the lake. Once July rolled around we took our boat to the beach and spent as much time as possible in the Folly River. Being on our boat was the best, but I was also a little nervous. Hard to imagine, right? I was a little hesitant about being on the boat while pregnant so I called my doctor just to make sure it was okay. Sure enough. He agreed that it was perfectly fine as long as we weren't cruising around in 50 foot swells. I told him that I didn't think that would be a problem. 

We had planned to use our boat through the summer and into the fall. It seems like our summers last until early October anyway. However, our little plan was changed somewhat. Only six days after our last "boating adventure" I was put on bed rest and eight days after that Morgan Kate arrived. Needless to say, the boat was put on the back burner. Cleaned up, covered, and put away. 

In the past ten months I have spent zero time on our boat. Travis on the other hand has had a few fishing excursions and "I-need-to-take-the-boat-out-for-a-little-while-because-it-shouldn't-sit" kind of trips. We weren't exactly sure when we would be able to enjoy our boat together again or even more, when we would be able to share our boat with Morgan Kate. 

However, today all of that changed. In a very spontaneous decision we decided to take Morgan Kate on her first boat ride. She is now holding her head quite steady. She can sit very well supported and almost without support. And her lifejacket fits. So we called the family and made a day of it. 
Morgan Kate sporting her lifejacket

It's funny. Usually I am a nervous wreck about things, especially things involving Morgan Kate. But today I wasn't. Really. I was very calm and more than anything I was giddy with excitement because I was getting to share something that I love with her. I was also really calm because Travis is super safe especially when it comes to the boat or water or anything for that matter. He's also knows an awful lot. Here's just a snippet of our conversation on the way to the boat landing:

Me: I am so excited about today. I can't wait for MK to ride on the boat and get in the water. 
Travis: I know you are excited, but we really need to be careful. I'm serious.
Me: Babe, I know.
Travis: No, really. I mean just take your time. Take your time with everything. Don't do anything too fast. Walk really slow so that you don't fall with her. Hold her tight in the boat and in the water. When you are handing her to someone else do it very slow. Just don't get in a hurry doing anything. We have to be really careful.

As I was saying, I feel really calm because Travis is super safe, as well as my parents and brothers. 

So we packed the boat bag, the diaper bag, the snack bag, the towel bag, and the cooler and were on our way. Five minutes into Morgan Kate's very first boat ride she fell fast asleep.
Don't worry, I didn't unzip the life jacket until the motor was off.

Once Sleeping Beauty awoke she played and swam and ate some bananas and swam some more. She definitely loves the water!

She also got to spend some quality time with Kaky and GDaddy. They brought their boat and we tied up together. We spent the day swimming, conversing, eating and basking in the sun. Oh, and Morgan Kate napped some too.

Morgan Kate loved the boat. While riding she slept, she smiled, she cooed and she slept some more. She also loved the water. She swam and floated and enjoyed being held by others. She didn't love the lifejacket so much, but once the boat started moving she forgot about it. Morgan Kate also happened to love being surrounded by these two fellows - Uncle O and Uncle Kyle.  

It was an awesome day! And Morgan Kate did so well. I feel like I say that about everything. But it's so true. She loves going and doing. She loves looking around and watching everything and everyone. She just soaks everything up. I guess anyone would after being cooped up at home for months without being to go anywhere or see anyone. I just love the way she enjoys things and really adjusts to any situation or place. She is amazing!

Before MK could call it a day she spent some time "just a swingin" with Ninom (aka Trenholm).

Oh, and this last picture is especially for Uncle Kyle and Tabitha. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

After six months and two weeks we said goodbye.

Goodbye to our oxygen tank(s) that is. 

Morgan Kate was officially finished with oxygen as of March 17th, St. Patty's Day. She has not used even a smidge of oxygen since that time. I could have called and had the equipment rental place come and pick up the tanks the very next day, probably even late that same afternoon. But I didn't. I was too afraid. I was scared. I felt like if we sent them away or had someone come get them then we might unexpectedly need them again. Thankfully we have not! So, over three months later I made the call and today someone came out to get them. 

I should feel better right? A huge sense of relief? Well, if I said that I was relieved or that I wasn't scared anymore then I would be lying. And I have vowed since the beginning that I would be honest. I'm still scared. I'm still worried. I still have this lingering fear that something might go wrong and we might need those tanks again. I am still afraid that Morgan Kate's lungs might need assistance. 

Everyday I find myself watching her. Of course I am watching her play, and babble, and touch her toes and try to sit up, but I am also watching how she breathes. Is she breathing too fast? Is she breathing too slow? Does she sound like she is wheezing? Does she seem to be having a hard time breathing? Do certain positions or activities cause her to breathe differently? For the record, she breathes fine. She doesn't seem to be breathing too fast or too slow and she doesn't sound like she is wheezing. And the only time I see her breathing change is when she is lying on her tummy or trying to sit up. It takes a little extra work which therefore causes her to breathe a little harder and slightly faster. However, despite all of that, her breathing terrifies me. Scares me to death. And I know that it's only because of her history. Because she was so early and did have such a hard time breathing. Because she did require the CPAP and oxygen for quite some time. And because she did have chronic lung disease. 

I would love not to worry about it. I would love to take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. But I just don't see that happening anytime soon. So while I am thrilled the oxygen tank(s) is gone because it means extra space in her room, I am still scared. 

On a slightly different note. This is Morgan Kate in her crib right after her morning nap. The grey cord is part of her apnea monitor. The grey cord is usually at her feet and her head is at the opposite end of the crib. However, as she has gotten older and more mobile I often times find her at this end of the crib and she is playing with the cord and at times chewing on it. I have tried explaining that the cord is not meant for chewing or playing, but she just doesn't seem to understand yet. 

We are still in the process of scheduling the sleep study. They study that will hopefully "free" us from the apnea monitor. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

From the moment he knew we were pregnant he was smiling.

From the moment he knew our baby was going to be a girl he was smiling.

Despite my hospitalization, her extremely early birth and all the obstacles that followed, he was smiling.

Each day I get to enjoy that smile over and over. And it completely melts my heart.

I thought being Travis' wife was the best feeling in the world. It was and still very much is. I love the way he loves me, I love our marriage, I love the way we talk and enjoy the little things in life, I love the way he takes care of me, and I love that not only is he my husband, but my absolute best friend. But watching him being a daddy is the most wonderful feeling I have ever experienced. I could watch him for hours and hours. And I do.

Travis is an amazing daddy. I think it is something he was born to do. It comes so natural and without much effort or thought. Watching him and Morgan Kate interact brings tears to my eyes. Tears of complete and utter happiness. And Morgan Kate is completely and totally smitten with him. The minute she hears his voice or he walks into the room she lights up and begins to smile.

The day Morgan Kate was born was such an emotional day for all of us. Every single person involved was affected somehow or in someway. But I can't even begin to know what Travis was feeling as he waited all alone in the hallway outside of the operating room waiting on any news. Here was Travis expecting his very first child and everything that could be going wrong was going wrong. His daughter was making her entrance at only 25 weeks gestation. His wife was out cold on the operating table recovering from an emergency c-section. And he was left to wait and wonder about how it would all turn out. He was the very first person to see our little one pound, twelve ounce wonder. He was the one who accompained her to the NICU and stayed with her until she was stabilized. He was the first to touch her tiny toes and take her first photographs. And he was the one who came to my bedside in the recovery room, kissed my forehead, squeezed my hand and showed me her first photographs and told me that our precious baby was doing okay. He was so strong that day. So courageous. And so very proud.

Travis has always given 100% to our marriage, so I knew he would give nothing less to being a daddy. From day one he has changed diapers, fed Morgan Kate, dressed Morgan Kate, gotten up in the middle of the night for feedings and changings, given baths, washed bottles, and made formula. He has had to insert feeding tubes, change feeding tubes, change oxygen tanks, move oxygen tanks, give countless medications and carry multiple monitors. He has even gotten over his fear of "messy diapers" and figured out those complicates onesies. He did all of this and continues to do all of this without being asked, without complaining, without being reminded. He just does it. He does it because he knows it's part of his most important role ever. The role of being a daddy. And he sure is a good one.

One of my favorite times of the day is the late afternoon when Travis and Morgan Kate are hanging out together. She is usually laughing hysterically because he is tickling her or kissing her tummy. Later, after play time, Travis begins to play the guitar and it gets so incredibly quiet. I usually tiptoe to the door, peek in and find Travis playing to Morgan Kate and Morgan Kate watching him so intently. She can't get enough of him. And neither can I.

I feel so lucky and so incredibly blessed to be his wife and the mother of his child. It is an honor to know him and love him.

Happy Father's Day, Trav! Thank you for who you are and all you do. I love you with all my heart.

Just a few of my favorite pictures of Travis and Morgan Kate.

Seeing how Morgan Kate looks at her daddy reminds me of how I look at mine. Through my eyes this man can do anything and anything he does is never wrong. He is so calm, so laid back, so very strong and such a good "sharer". :) He is very wise, a great listener and loves all of us unconditionally. Happy Father's Day, Daddy! I love you so very much. - Skeeta

Thursday, June 18, 2009

So I have a new "night-time" best friend. Huggies Overnites. Thank you, thank you to all who suggested those.

Last night I got Morgan Kate ready for bed as usual, except I used a Huggies Overnite instead of Pampers or Luv's. She slept for 12+ hours and when she awoke she was completely dry. Her sheets were dry, her blanket was dry, her clothes were even dry. The diaper was humongous, but it handled the job well. I would recommend these to anyone. 

A few of you commented on the tents and gave suggestions and some even offered me theirs. However, no one really seemed to absolutely LOVE them. I am looking for products that I love. I want MK to be protected from the sun while I try to enjoy some myself, but I don't want to purchase something that is a total waste. So my question(s) for tonight is...

What are some items that a 8-10 month old would absolutely need while at the beach?

What are some items that parents of a baby might absolutely need at the beach?

How often do you reapply sunscreen? (I always reapply after about an hour and a half, but I'm just curious as to what others do.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pampers update.

Last night we encountered even more "soaking". Morgan Kate slept for almost twelve hours so everything was drenched. I took the advice from several people and purchased a pack of Huggies Overnights. And I had a coupon. Nice. My only hesitation with the Overnights is that they start in a size 3 and Morgan Kate isn't quite there yet. Actually I don't really know what she weighs so she may really be a size 3. Anyway, I bought them and put one on her tonight. It was larger than her usual diapers, but still fit okay. I'll keep you posted on how they do. Maybe I could get a part time job testing out diapers...

Questions. Tonight I have two questions. Well, maybe more.

My first question regards Gerber Puffs. Actually it's several questions, but they all pertain to the Puffs. I bought some Puffs today and opened them and several questions popped in my mind. Oh, and I also tasted them. I know that they claim to "melt in your mouth", but it took a while for mine to melt. Maybe I didn't have enough drool, I'm not sure.
At what age did you start giving your baby Puffs? 
I realize they are supposed to melt, but what if your baby swallows first, can they choke on a Puff?
Did you find that your baby liked Puffs? 
Did you give your baby the entire Puff or did you break it up?

My second question is in regards to a "sun tent". Our annual beach trip is in 31 days and I am already "packing in my mind". I absolutely cannot wait!! I found two tents (tent one and tent two) at Babies R Us today and I was wondering if anyone had ever tried either or had another tent in mind. I would love any advice/help.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thanks to Pampers I now have all of this to wash. 

All of this was accumulated in a matter of hours. Morgan Kate hasn't had this much dirty laundry in one day since her first few days at home. 

While Morgan Kate was in the NICU they used Pampers. When we came home we continued to use Pampers and even told my mom that Pampers was the only brand we would use. (By the way, all new parents say stupid things. That just happened to be one of ours.) We were very fortunate to receive lots of diapers as gifts, most being Pampers, so we didn't have to buy them ourselves for quite some time. Once we finally started having to use our own hard earned money, we opted for Luv's. A fifty pack of Luv's from Wal-mart will run you $7.47. Sounds good to me. Anyway, we started using Luv's and were pleasantly surprised. They were great diapers, held up well and were more cost efficient for us. And Morgan Kate seemed to be satisfied with our choice as well. 

Recently Morgan Kate has slept through the night a time or two. She usually sleeps through the night for two days and then she's up once a night for the next five. Something like that. I began to notice that when she slept all night her clothes were a little wet the next morning. They weren't soaked or anything, just slightly wet right above her diaper. It happened several times and I decided that maybe Luv's was a good brand, but not the brand we needed for all-night wear. So I decided to invest in the pricier brand, Pampers. I figured she could wear Luv's during the day and Pampers at night. Pampers had always worked for us before and I assumed they would work for us again. Ha. So much for my assumptions. 

For the past several days and nights Morgan Kate has been wearing Pampers. The first night she wore them she slept for five hours and then woke up crying. I tried to let her soothe herself, but she continued. I finally went in her room only to find her completely soaked. Her clothes were wet, her blanket was wet and her sheets were wet. Not so much fun at any time of the day, but especially not fun at 1:00 am. Not wanting to put the blame on Pampers, I accredited MK's "soaking" to a full bladder, much more full than usual. 

Not so much. Six hours later when she awoke the second time she was again, soaked. This continued to happen for the next three nights and I even encountered some "soaking" during the day. 

Today, after three different outfits and two different blankets, I made an executive decision. We are going back to Luv's. 

I hate to point fingers and put blame on Pampers, but I really have no choice. I guess it's possible that I got a bad batch, but really, what are the odds of that? 

On a completely different note, check out my baby girl doing big girl things. She can now sit up for quite some time using the boppy for support. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yesterday with lots of hand sanitizer and Morgan Kate in tow I headed out to help with a baby shower for one of my dearest friends, Liz. I must say that it turned out perfect. A beautiful "mommy to be" (she is super cute), fabulous decorations, terrific and tasty food, and wonderful company. It was a great day indeed.

"Mommy-to-be" with MK

Not only was it awesome because we were celebrating and honoring Liz and her upcoming arrival, little Miss Neeley Anne, but it was also really neat because many of us have been friends for a very long time. We go back through college, high school, middle school, even down to elementary school. Some go even further back. I just think it's really special that we have all maintained our friendships and still manage to get together every so often. 

Neeley is due in early August and I am so anxious to meet her. It seems like many of my friends are expecting girls and it makes me smile. Of course I love little boys too, but all these girls mean more and more friends for Morgan Kate. Hopefully she will be able to have the same kind of friendships with them that I have been fortunate to have with my friends.

MK already hanging out with one of her newest friends, Caroline

Oh, and I almost forgot. It was also a really special day because Morgan Kate was making another debut. Liz, along with several other friends, came to see Morgan Kate while she was in the hospital and super itty bitty, but hadn't seen her since. Liz asked me to bring Morgan Kate to the shower and I happily obliged. I was so excited to share her with everyone. It was a moment I have waited a really long time for. And I did bring my hand sanitizer. 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday as I was preparing for our morning walk I grabbed my camera and a blanket. I decided that after our walk we (Morgan Kate and I) were going to go to the park in our neighborhood and hang out for a while. It was a beautiful morning and we had so much fun. Definitely something we will have to do again. My only complaint was there were thousands of these stupid little black bugs with red lines on their backs. They were everywhere and kept jumping on us. Other than the bugs, it was a really nice morning.

As we were wrapping up our walk Thursday evening a nasty storm came up. Travis is fascinated with storms and insisted that I take a few pics. I have to admit it was neat to watch. And don't worry, we took Morgan Kate in before the lightning started. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nope. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. That is my baby girl reaching and grabbing. And I caught it all on camera. Of course it's much easier for me to see now because while it was happening my eyes were full of tears making things quite blurry. Any milestone that MK reaches, big or small, brings me to tears. Nine months ago when I saw my tiny one pound twelve ounce baby girl for the very first time I wasn't sure what our future would entail. I wasn't sure what she would or would not be able to do. Fortunately, it did not take me long to realize that Morgan Kate is absolutely amazing, so very strong, extremely determined and slightly feisty. And all of those things combined make anything possible.

One of the first things, maybe the only, we were able to do as a family outside of our house for quite some time was strolling around the neighborhood. Oh, how I lived for these strolls. Each morning I would wake up and check the weather all the time praying for slightly warm days in the middle of February. We would bundle up, load MK's monitors and off we went. MK seemed to love the strolls as much as Travis and I did.

About a month and a half ago all of that changed. She began to hate the stroller. She wanted no part of it and cried until I took her out. I thought maybe she was too hot, or maybe she wasn't comfortable. I just couldn't figure it out. I asked Travis if he thought she was ready to ride in the stroller without the car seat. He said he didn't really know, but it was worth a try. Well we tried and she was way too small. Size wise she was not ready for the stroller minus the car seat. So Mommy here tried to do things that didn't require the stroller as much. 

Last week I decided to try the stroller thing again. MK has grown quite a lot lately and I thought maybe, just maybe, this time she would be ready. See picture below. She is still a little small, but she LOVES it. She loves to look around, watch the dogs, watch people. She is fascinated with everything. We have been on so many walks - two just today - and we have even had some great shopping trips and she LOVES it. When MK loves something, so does Mommy. 

Today has been a busy day. We went on a morning walk, played, napped, ate, had a PT session, played some more, napped again, went out for dinner, and took an evening walk. Oh, and we also took a mid-day bath. That's right. We don't typically take mid-day baths, but when you have poop clear up your back and all on your legs and it even gets on your arms when your mom takes off your onesie then you must have a bath. I am finding that baby food makes MK quite regular and today we had quite the mess. She was a mess, I was a mess, her clothes were a mess, the changing pad cover was a mess. It was all one big mess. Pictured below is MK all cleaned up after her bath. 

And the last picture is "just because". Just because I thought she looked super cute and I just can't get enough!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I do not like grocery shopping. I never really have, except for maybe when I was in college. On Sundays before I would head back to school after a weekend at home my dad and I would go grocery shopping. He of course was shopping for things that he and my mom needed. I, on the other hand was throwing things in left and right. Things I thought I would need while at school. Most of it was junk, but it was so much fun.

Fast forward to the day where I have to start paying for groceries and actually doing the shopping - not so much fun. Therefore, whenever I do venture out to the grocery store I try to shop for at least two weeks. Crazy maybe, but it works for me. Like I said, I don't like grocery shopping so I try to go as seldom as possible. 

While Morgan Kate was in the NICU we rarely visited the grocery store unless we needed the bare necessities (i.e. toilet paper, milk, etc.). When she first came home grocery shopping became my "weekly outing". Literally it was the only place I went for the first few months at home. Travis would keep MK at home and I would grocery shop. Lately we have been shopping as a family. One of us does the shopping and one of us entertains Morgan Kate. It works perfectly. 


Until today. Travis has not been feeling well at all. Sore throat, coughing, sniffling, etc. Which means that Morgan Kate and I are staying as far away as possible. I have not let her anywhere near him. I am serious. I am feeding her round the clock, changing all diapers, making all bottles, mixing all formula, and she and I are playing together without Daddy. We miss him, but we don't want any illness he might have. With all that being said, today a grocery store trip was very much needed. Really. We only had half of a roll of toilet paper left. 

Now I have learned to do a lot of things on my own with Morgan Kate. I feel comfortable shopping, driving, visiting people, running errands, and all that good stuff. However, there are still things I am not comfortable doing solo. Grocery shopping happens to be one of them. 

So, what is one to do when grocery shopping has to be done, but one parent is out of commission and the other parent doesn't feel comfortable shopping solo with the child? I called the family, specifically my brother, Owens. Bless his heart. I called him today, asked him to go grocery shopping with Morgan Kate and I and he gladly obliged. Never complained. 

We had a great time. We really did. We got the shopping done in about an hour and I actually spent a lot less than I typically do. I laughed a lot, Morgan Kate laughed a lot and I think we had Owens laughing too. It was a nice trip and I might just have to call him more often for grocery store trips. Hee hee. Just kidding Owens. 

After our shopping trip Morgan Kate was worn out. About five minutes after I buckled her in, she was out. Grocery shopping is tough work! 

(Look at those cheeks! Yummy!!)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

This past week I have been a terrible blogger. I just looked back and I only posted twice. What have I been doing?

We have had a great week. Not too busy, lots of pajama time and hanging out with friends. All in all, a very nice week.

We have also been working on nap time. And I am very proud to say that Morgan Kate is now napping in her crib. Most of the time. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE holding her, especially during nap time. During this time I get to gaze at her and look at her precious face as much as I want to and as long as I want to. I get to kiss on her little arms and legs and I get to feel her take her tiny breaths. Nap time is probably one of my favorite times of the day. I have several. However, I realized that we weren't going to always be home during nap time and that I may eventually leave her for a few hours - maybe - and someone else will have to handle nap time. So last Sunday we worked on napping in the crib. We even started a little routine. I took her in her room, closed the blinds, changed her diaper, hooked up her monitor, placed her in the crib with her "lovie", started the mobile and closed the door. After about ten minutes she was out. I think the mobile was the trick. She LOVES her mobile. Anyway, she napped in her crib on and off all week and did fabulous. Yesterday she napped for a full two hours in her crib. It's funny though. I'm glad we have established some sort of routine and I am glad she likes her crib, but I do miss her. Even for those few short hours. The minute she wakes up I run in to scoop her up and love on her. I just can't get enough!

Not only have we been working on nap time, but we have been working on sitting up as well. MK wants to sit up so bad and she can now do it for about five seconds unsupported. I know it's going to come and it's going to come fast. It's amazing how one day they won't do it at all and the next day it just clicks. Babies are so fascinating! 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I am a teacher. Specifically, I am a fourth grade teacher. I am actually certified second through sixth grade, but I love fourth. Really I do. I love the age of fourth grade students. I love that they have their own personalities, that they still need some help, but can do lots on their own and I love that they still love their teacher. Or most of them do anyway. I also happen to the love my 4th grade team. In my opinion they are the best and like no other. We are all a little different and have different interests, but I think it's our differences that make us so compatible. 

4th grade team 

Our silly pose 
You gotta love this group!

I have been a teacher for a little over four years and since the beginning I have taught at the same school. I even did my student teaching there. It is a school that is very near and dear to my heart. Not only do I love my students and my team, but I truly love all of the staff and the administration. I feel so fortunate and so blessed to teach there. It's one of those jobs where you look forward to going because you get to do what you love doing and because you just get to be around great people. 

I assumed I would always be a teacher. I assumed that I would teach until it was time to retire - many, many years away. I do love teaching. I don't love all the meetings and paperwork and assessments and all of that jazz, but I do love sitting with my students and really teaching. This past August when the school year began I assumed I would teach up until December when Morgan Kate was due to arrive. I would take nine or ten weeks off and then I would return to work. That was the plan anyways. 

Thursday, August 14th was the first official teacher work day for our district. I always look forward to this day because by the end of the summer I am anxious to see familiar faces and catch up with everyone. My school usually tries to plan something fun for the first day back. This year we were supposed to wear our favorite t-shirt. I had a really hard time deciding what to wear. But in the end I decided on a shirt I had purchased over the summer. It was a white shirt and in red letters it read, "Due in December". I thought it was perfect. 

The first day back was really nice. We had a great breakfast and lunch. I got to see those "familiar faces" I had been anxious to see. I got to catch up with everyone's summer vacations and the latest gossip. We spent the day in catching up, eating and attending numerous meetings. It just so happened that I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon. You know the "Don't-worry-Travis-I'll-only-be-in-there-for-a-second.-It's-okay-if-I-go-alone" appointment. I had to leave a few minutes early so I left my room in sort of a mess. It was basically ready for students, but I still had name tags to make and posters to hang. No worry, I was coming back the next day.

Wrong. It was at that appointment that I realized I would not be returning to work anytime soon. I was on bed rest indefinitely. And little did I know that ten days later my "Due in December" baby girl would be arriving, fifteen weeks early. 

Since that day in August I have not returned to work. I took as much of my leave as possible and used all of my days from the Family Medical Leave Act. When all of that was said and done I needed to return to work in early January in order to keep my position. Well, that didn't happen. As of early January Morgan Kate had only been home for three weeks, she still required oxygen at all times, and she was being fed with bottles and a feeding tube. I was not about to leave her. My heart wasn't ready for it and I just wasn't comfortable asking someone else to feed her with the feeding tube. Can you imagine that conversation? So, I resigned. It was a very tough decision because like I said before, I just assumed I would work, have Morgan Kate, take some time off and return. Besides like I also said, I love fourth grade, I love my team and I love my school. 

Several months ago I had to make a decision about next year. Boy, was this tough. I agonized over this decision for weeks. I prayed, I cried, I prayed some more. I asked God to send me a clear, clear message. Something in flashing lights would really be good. I needed to know in black and white what decision to make. Unfortunately, God doesn't always make things so crystal clear. I had to do a little thinking of my own and a little soul searching. And in the end I decided that I wanted to spend one more year at home with Morgan Kate. It's what I think she needed and ultimately what I need. 

That brings me to this week. Remember the room I left sort of in a mess, but basically ready for students? Well, my co-workers all jumped in and finished the room. And two wonderful women filled in and took over as "teacher". This week I had to go and pack all of it up. It was something I thought I was ready for, but I really wasn't. Walking into the school on Wednesday was emotional. A flood of thoughts and memories all came rushing back. I felt like it was August 14th all over again. Packing up my stuff was overwhelming too. First, I have way too much stuff. More stuff than any person really needs. Second, it just felt so awkward to pack my things up and move out of "my room". And third, I hate goodbyes.

We had lunch at school today and a farewell to all of those that are leaving. Each year we do this. We have lunch, we socialize and then we say goodbye to those who will not be returning. I have always been on the other side. Today I was on the "goodbye" side. And I must say it was overwhelming. I know I am making the right decision for my family and for me. I know that more than anything I want to be with Morgan Kate. But it's still hard. It's so hard to say goodbye. And I do plan to return, but as I know all too well, we never really know what's in store or what's right around the corner. So today was tough. It was emotional for me. My school and my coworkers are amazing and it's hard to say goodbye to them. It's as simple as that. 

I pray that when the time is right and I do return to work that there will be a spot for me. And even if there isn't there will always be a spot in my heart for LMES and all of the people there.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

A long run down of our weekend with lots of pictures and few words. Or at least I will attempt to use a few words. I could get quite carried away.

A weekend filled with fun and firsts.

Saturday, May 30
Morgan Kate went swimming for the very first time. Our awesome friends Mary and Matt, who also happen to be our neighbors, invited us to go swimming Saturday. It was hot, it was sunny, and we thoroughly enjoying hanging out with them, so we took them up on the offer. First, we had to purchase a bathing suit, hat and float. One trip to Babies R Us and we were ready! Morgan Kate LOVED the water. No surprise - Trav and I both love the water as well. It took her a few minutes to get used to it, but after that she was in heaven. We can't wait to take her back. And you all would be very proud of me. I was very relaxed and only worried a tiny bit. 

Our "fish" all decked out and ready to go!
*Note: The hat, which is size 3-6 months, was entirely too 
small, but got the job done. 

Ella doing her "cannonballs". She is such a great swimmer!

After our swimming adventure we headed home for a short nap and then headed over to the Pyle's. Amanda (aka "AA") and JP are building a beautiful house not very far from us. We have seen the house in passing, but haven't had the chance to go in and "look around". Saturday we stopped by for a visit. It was a special visit because 1.) We got to see their amazing house (Love it, love it!) and 2.) Amanda and JP got to "really" meet Morgan Kate. The best part was that Amanda even got to hold her. Morgan Kate was so excited!

Morgan Kate loved seeing JP and AA, as well as looking around their house. She was enthralled with their light fixtures and of course this terrific mirror.

Sunday, May 31
The 4th grade team at my school (including me), gave a baby shower for this terrific mommy-to-be. It was a wonderful shower and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing lots of people that I haven't seen in quite some time. Jessa looked absolutely beautiful and got so many nice things. I can't wait to meet Baby Stewart!

Mrs. Ward, shower hostess extraordinaire, graciously offered her house for the shower. Her house is absolutely amazing and not too far from where I live. Therefore, at the end of the shower I just had to call Travis and ask him to bring Morgan Kate. My 4th grade "girls" have not seen Morgan Kate since coming home from the hospital. I have been dying to share her with them, so I jumped at the opportunity. Pictured below is the 4th grade team, minus one, with Morgan Kate. 

As always, I had my hand sanitizer very close, so I passed it around and Morgan Kate got the chance to be held by Mrs. Ward, Hollie, and Jessa. It was such a special moment for me!
MK and "Bling Bling"

MK and Hollie

MK and Jessa

After meeting everyone MK got a little hungry. I really think she just wanted something to "gnaw" on. Teething is tough work! I didn't have a bottle, so I just gave her a carrot to gum until we left. It worked!

I happen to think we live in a awesome neighborhood with some of the best neighbors/friends. Many nights we can all be found "congregating" in someone's front yard or in the middle of the street. Last night was no different. And last night was super special because Lauren (aka "Lala") got to hold Morgan Kate for the first time. Lauren had THE magic touch. After only a few minutes Morgan Kate fell fast asleep. It was the sweetest thing ever and I just had to snap a few pictures! Lauren may have to come down every night and put Morgan Kate to sleep. Last night she slept the entire night through and didn't wake up until 8 this morning. Wow!

A weekend full of fun and firsts, indeed.

I didn't do so well using only a few words, did I?