Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ayla's Stocking: The True Gifts of Christmas

Last year I promised a dear friend of mine that I would create a blog post in support of a Christmas Project that she was doing. Then the Christmas season began, and some difficulties hit me full force, and all to suddenly Christmas was over and her project was done and I was left feeling like a jerk-friend. 

LUCKILY, she is doing her Christmas Project again this year. So. I hope I can redeem myself by writing this post. 

The 'good friend' that I speak of actually frequents my blog often (and also hangs out with me on some of my family vacas ;): ms. Julie O'Brien. Here's a couple recaps of blogs about her that I have wrote in the past here and here. There's a lot to write about, let me tell you. She's one of a kind and one of the most spectacular ladies I know. 


julie helping me wrangle my one year old at disney land this last summer. need i say more? #shesamazing
Nearly two years ago my friend Julie faced an experience that was heart breaking, to say the very least. Her baby daughter, Ayla, contracted a deadly illness. She was transported to the Children's Hospital in Calgary, Alberta where Julie and her family were able to reside with Ayla and stay near her side. The Doctors soon determined that Ayla would likely not survive. Julie and her family were able to move to the Rotary Flames house by the hospital and wait for Ayla's passing.

ms. ayla and her momma.

I cannot imagine facing this trial. I cannot imagine Julie's pain. 

I still remember the phone call in the middle of the night when Julie called to tell me that Ayla had passed. I remember hanging up the phone after speaking with her, tears running down my cheeks, and thinking "How can Julie ever mend from this?... How will she ever be okay?" 

Two years later, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the wonderful example of perseverance and courage that she continues to display in the face of her difficulties. 

Last year Julie began a project called Ayla's Stocking. It's a project geared towards helping families who have sick children and are residing at the Calgary Children's Hospital, to be able to enjoy Christmas as they should. Julie collects toys and stocking stuffers and gifts for children and then delivers it to the hospital so the children can enjoy it on Christmas morning. There is a list of suggestions of things that can be donated and more information on the project here

Or here's a list here: 

"- Infant rattles, rings, teether type toys
Gift cards that can be given to families (Toys R Us, Walmart, Tim Horton's...)
Pyjamas of varying sizes
Craft kits (with supplies all enclosed) or small boxes of pencil crayons, crayons, markers, etc.
Musical toys (anything that plays sounds or music, push button toys...)
Slippers (children and adults)
One-size fits all stretchy gloves
Toques and winter hats
Books (mostly infant and teen books)
These are just some ideas, if you have ones of your own then by all means go for it."

I believe in this project and the good that it can accomplish. Having had to be in the hospital with my child in the past, I know how much joy it brings to children to have even the smallest of toys to lighten their worries and hurts. 

If you don't know how to reach Julie and it's more convenient to arrange pick up or drop off's with me, then please feel free to do so and I will make sure that everything gets to her. 

The deadline for drop off's is the 19th of December. 

I am deeply grateful for my friendship with Julie. She has taught me so much about kindness and charity and forgiveness. Though Christmas is a difficult time for her, containing difficult and painful memories, she has shown me what it means to look past myself and love others by reaching out in kindness to those who are hurting and in need of love. 

And isn't that what the true gifts of Christmas are really all about? 

"We all enjoy giving and receiving presents. But there is a difference between presents and gifts. The true gifts may be part of ourselves-giving of the riches of the heart and mind-and therefore more enduring and of far greater worth than presents bought at the store. Of course, among the greatest of gifts is the gift of love..." 
- James E. Faust

Saturday, October 25, 2014

a birthday: becky bob turns one

I can't believe that my baby is 1 (and almost a month!) He weighs 23.3 lbs and is 32 inches long. It has been such a joy watching this little babe grow.

He is perpetually happy. He is so, so happy! The other night, he woke up right when I was about to quit studying and go to sleep. I thought that if I just laid beside him, he would lay beside me and maybe cry for a bit and then go to sleep. But I was wrong. Nope, he did not want to go to sleep at all. He just wanted to sit beside me and laugh hysterically whenever I tried to push him down onto his back.

Bex sits up. I push him down. He laughs hysterically, like the deep kind of belly laugh that creeps it's way into your heart and forces you to smile. After he catches his breath from his jolly laughing he tries to pull himself up and once he finally wiggles up, I push him back down. He laughs hysterically. And on and on. Of course Bex is the babe that keeps me up with his laughter, rather than his cries.

Sometimes when he wakes up in the morning at the crack of dawn (yup, that's what I said #whoneedssleep) he sits in the middle of the living room floor and just smiles and smiles. He has a special "I'm totally so full of happiness" smile where he grins with all his little chicklet teeth, closes his eyes and tilts his face up to the sky like he just can't contain it all. Sometimes he'll tilt his head so far back that he flops over backwards and then starts laughing  hysterically.

Let's not get carried away, though. Bex has his fair share of tears too. Mostly when he is teething or gassy. But let's be honest, who wouldn't be a little perturbed by sharp calcium formations pushing it's way through gums? And who wouldn't be a little upset by being so full of gas, your gut is churning? I know I would be a little bit upset.

On top of that, he may have wide grins, but this does not mean that he has no preferences. Before Bex was born we bought him a beautiful, ivory, minky bed sheet. It is so soft and cuddly. I've always used it in his crib and have only switched it out with Hav's minky crib sheet. The other day though while I was putting him down for his nap, he barfed everywhere (a norm for him) because he drank too much milk. I had to switch out his sheet and the other one wasn't yet in the cupboard so I had to settle for a cotton one with animal print. He woke up from his nap screaming and sitting in his crib starring at the strange dark spots on his normally solid ivory colored sheet. I didn't think much of it. I put him to bed in the dark and assumed the animals wouldn't bother him. He laid down and I was patting his bum. He kept rubbing the blanket and wailing so I finally picked him up rocked him and just as he was drifting off laid him in his crib. He rubbed the sheet again and then started wailing all over. At this point I had clued into the fact that he maybe didn't like the sheet. I switched it out for his ivory minky, nursed him, and laid him down. He reaches over with his hand, rubs the minky sheet and then totally relaxes, closes his eyes and drifts off to sleep. This boy takes after his Dad this way: he has a few preferences and he will be SURE to tell you ALL about it.

When Bex becomes sleepy, he just wants to be held and kept close which I'm totally ok with. Bex usually doesn't like kisses or hugs or snuggles overly. I like to terrorize him anyways though. Let's be real here, I could smooch his soft rolly cheeks all day.

Bex adores his brother - from a distance. He laughs at him hysterically when he does crazy things. I can do the exact same thing as Haven and Beckum will still laugh harder at Haven. He really does love his brother.

This love does not cause Beckum to put up with any shenanigans that are alarming or potentially dangerous. Beckum appreciates his bubble. If Haven gets a little too close to even the outer edges of his bubble, his face takes on resemblance to a gremlin and a pterodactyl shriek erupts from his mouth.

When we're talking about Bex and relationships, we can't not mention his love for his Daddy. Oh how he loves his Daddy. When he comes home for lunch, Beck's face lights up. He toddles to him as fast as his short, chubby legs will carry him. He makes this panicked grunty noise like "Daddy, I'm here, pick me up now now now now." Nine times out of ten he wants his Dad.

Bex had a special moment when we were at Disney Land and he met Whiney the Pooh. The second he saw him his little face lit up and he started laughing and smiling. I think we can safely say that Pooh bear is his favorite Disney character.

Beckum's favorite food right now changes daily, so I don't know what to tell ya there. One thing he does enjoy eating is SPAGHETTI SQUASH and HALLELUJAH for that, folks, because heaven knows I have enough of it! My garden mass produced spaghetti squash this year - I don't know what I'll do with it all. Hunter basically detests it and Hav basically detests it because "Daddy" basically detests it. But HAH! Becky Bob is not swayed by his Daddy psychologically quite yet. And so I feed him full of spaghetti squash. I think he likes it because it's easy for him to grab in fist fulls and shove in his mouth. He also seems to like mild tasting food. He doesn't even really love sweet food all too much.

Bex wakes up twice in the night still. We have a routine though and he usually doesn't wake up for the first time until 11, around when I'm just heading for bed. I nurse him and lay him back in his bed and he drifts off again. Then some time in the night - I really don't know when, because hunter gets up to get him for his second wake up - he comes into bed with us and snuggles until the morning. His wake up time is between 6-7:00 am right now and he's SURE to tell you that he is awake and ready to get out of bed. He crawls over to Hunter, sits beside his head, and then proceeds to slap his face and cheeks until he finally gives up and gets out of bed. 

Beckum has been such a joy to have in our little family. He is peaceful and loving and he is not phased by a lot. 

The past couple of months have been difficult on our little family. I transitioned from spending all of my time with the boys, to having to be a part from them for the majority of the day. Hunter has been in the busiest time of his work responsibilities.  

In the past two months I have gone to school each day. I learn of all of the atrocities the world has to offer; the pain, the abuse, the hate, the loss, the devastation. I come home on some days feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.  

It all is really quite taxing. It really does cause one to lose hope in the goodness and joy in the world. 

But when I come home I know I can count on one thing: Beckum toddles over, with arms outstretched and with his giant toothy grin. 

Yes, there is bad in the world. So much of it. 

But there is oh, so much good in the world too. There is sweetness and joy in the world. There is pure happiness to be found in so many places. 

And my sweet Beckum's smiles and peace filled soul remind me of that again and again. 

We do so love our baby Beckum.  


A pirate and his Parrot

flying kites

one of our very most favorite people, ms julie obrien. Sbe made our trip to disney land , las vegas and st george an amazing trip by joining us and helping out with the kiddos.  We were so blessed to have her.

Wedding clean up!

Weddings for days. Bex got to show his cuteness in some very important weddings this year!

When bex wants his food, he wants it now. 

one day i will have to write a review about this stroller, the croozer 2 plus. it has seriously been one of my best baby purchases. ever. 

bex regularly expresses his sassy side.

this is his face when hes getting into something that he knows he's not supposed to. could you say no to that?

a visit to sask,

Trying to dive in for a kiss, and him swatting my face away. He hates kisses lol. 

having some fun at the beach!

Bex first major wound :( a cut in the bath tub. 

one year photo shoot :)

considering how much he hates kisses, he sure does know how to make it look like he does. 

The beginning of his 'head tilting', falling backwards smile.

mr beckum on his birthday: he loves spaghetti and spaghetti sauce.. he was thrilled with the meal. I'm not sure if he got more on his face than in his stomach. 

the curiosity of a babe <3

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Beckum's Baby Story pt. 3

warning: once again, this is a delivery story. and this is the messy part. so if you don't like delivery stories then STOP READING NOW. :)

When I was a little girl me and my sisters had a favorite movie called "The 10th Kingdom". We loved it the most because it was TEN hours long (it was actually a mini series, but we didn't know the difference) and - if we played our cards right - Mom and Dad would let us stay up ALL. NIGHT. LONG. to watch our beloved show full of fantasy and fairy tales. We devised plans to keep ourselves awake and when we would begin feeling exhausted we would go and move around and find some sugar and then we were able to continue on in our quest to "stay awake ALL. NIGHT. LONG". The next morning we would feel that type of overwhelming tiredness that makes you feel like your brain is the equivalent of a computer with a virus; every movement is laggy and delayed.

Let's just say that the morning of the 26th of September, I was definitely feeling like my brain had a virus. The night had been exhaustively long. Haven had drifted off to sleep shortly after Hunter - and suddenly I was left to my own thoughts. I was excited but nervous for the next day. On top of that our sweet little baby thought that just as I was drifting off to sleep was the ideal time to kick me in the side. To top it all off with a cherry, my water continued to leak; every 15 minutes I had to drag myself out of bed to change my clothes again and find more towels to lay on.

It wasn't until the second or third time of having to get out of bed to change my clothes that the pain started. Back labor. Unlike normal contractions with definite intervals, back labor seemed to be a constant, unyielding ache. It wasn't enough to make me cry, but I definitely had to breath deeply and walk very slowly to the bathroom every time I had to change. A few times when I got up, I turned on the shower and sat in there with the hot water on my back; it definitely helped to ease the pain as well as calm my ridiculously reeling brain.

Every time I got up, Hunt would groggily wake up and ask what he could do and I would tell him to just go back to sleep. I wanted at least ONE of us to not be sleep a deprived crazy for the coming day. A few times when I got out of bed, Hav woke up and Hunt would try and help him get back to sleep; of course Haven would only want me, though and so I would try and take care of him.

Finally at 4:30 AM I gave up with trying to sleep and decided to have an extra long hot shower and then start getting ready for the day. We needed to be completely ready and out of the house by 6:00 AM.

Havie could tell that there was something exciting about to happen and he was really giddy when he first woke up.
 We explained to Haven what was happening and that he would go and stay at T's while we were at the hospital going to have the baby. He started getting worried and nervous and by the time we got there he was close to tears. And it broke my heart!

of course i made the pictures happen! there was no convincing hav to smile for the cameras though. poor little dude.
On the drive to the hospital Hunt and I talked about middle name options for a boy. I was still going a little kookoo over the fact that we did not have a solid middle name picked out if it was a boy. We were considering "George" after my Grandpa on my mom's side but I felt conflicted about it. I decided that the torture of trying to choose a middle name was too much for me (I could blame it on my 'virus brain' but if you know me, you know that making decisions - especially under pressure - is, without question, not one of my strong points) and simply hoped that the baby was a girl. This was pretty easy to tell myself for TWO reasons:

1. Hunt definitely wanted the baby to be a girl. He had a few reasons he felt this way, one of them being that we already had a little boy and we were both excited to experience what a little girl would be like.
2. I tend to get a little excited about cute clothing. So I went a little crazy every time I saw cute girl's clothes (it was a problem) and, needless to say, I had stock piled a fair amount of girls clothing.

We made it to the hospital with time to spare (probably one of the only instances that we have been on time in our entire married life. ha). I met my nurse in labor and delivery and LOVED her, which I was so relieved for. I was pretty disappointed when I found out that I was still only at 3-4 cm. I was hoping that things were progressing on their own so that I wouldn't have to be stuck in a hospital bed for the majority of my labor (you generally have to be monitored a lot more if you are induced).

My nurse explained to me that my Dr. wanted me to be induced using Oxytocin. There was two reasons that this made me extremely stressed out: first of all, I had heard that contractions with an oxytocin induction are more painful and second of all (and more importantly) I am terrified of IV's. I will save you all on the horror stories of my IV history, but just trust me when I say that I do not do well with IV's.

On top of that, I thought that there was more options as for induction and I felt rushed into it. I decided that I wanted to make sure that I understood all of my options and asked my nurse why my Dr. had recommended the oxytocin drip (to any Momma's to be that deliver in the hospital setting, I highly recommend making sure that you are informed on everything that happens with your delivery!) She explained everything to me and I felt a lot better about it.

*side note* for baby #3 I plan to try and be a lot more prepared in regards to what options I have.

The IV was no better than I thought it would be - it felt like I was being stabbed in my hand with a very large, sharp object. Oh wait, that's exactly what happened. Ugh. I HATE IV's.

My mom arrived to the hospital after the drip had been started. I was having a little bit more back labor and could feel contractions but nothing that was really difficult to handle.

when i was still happy ;)

they made me stay hooked up to these monitors the whole time.
one definite downfall to induction.

hunt keeping everyone up to date on our status.

They continued increasing the oxytocin level until it reached the maximum amount allowed. Still nothing substantial changed.

my arms look so weird haha!

I got out of bed to see if moving around would help progress things along.

oh look, we're still smiling and happy.
i think around this point is when i thought "wow, this oxytocin stuff really isn't so bad!"
i was wrong folks.
oh, so wrong. 

my momma catchin' up on some reading!
My nurse left for her lunch break and I had a different nurse step in to take care of me. I told Hunter that he should rest while he could.

And then, as murphy's law would have it, just as Hunter dozed off my contractions began coming on stronger. At first I was excited and thought "yay we're finally getting somewhere!" The first few contractions that I could feel with distinction were completely bearable.

And then, as if the pain had come out of nowhere, my pain level increased from 4 out of 10 to a solid 1,000,000 (yes, a million) out of 10. To put it in completely simple terms, it felt like knives were slashing and gashing my insides.

I began to panic in a huge way.

The nurse told me to try and remain calm and "breathe" through the contractions as if it was supposed to help ease the pain. That's a load of crap. It doesn't help with pain. It actually only made me want to punch everyone who said it in the face, only I couldn't because I was in too much pain to expend that kind of energy (which said fact only made me even more angry).

She tried to convince me to breath more calmly by telling me that I would lose consciousness if I continued hyperventilating. Consciousness, schmonciousness - at this point unconsciousness would have been  fabulous. jk.... but seriously, the only thing that kept me from wanting to lose consciousness was the fact that I didn't feel that would be best for my baby. Obviously.

I worked up the courage to tell myself that I could get through this and it would be over soon.

*When I had Hav and the contractions became strong I was ready to start pushing within 20-30 mins.*

So I told myself that the end was nigh and buoyed myself up, trying my hardest to keep reminding myself that these contractions were getting my body ready to deliver the baby and that, in the end, contractions were helpful not harmful. I was sure that I must be at least 8-9 cm.    

My Dr. came to check me and see how things were going.

I was only at 3-4 cm.

If I could have spoken to the Dr. through my pain I would have said:

"So you mean to tell me that after an entire sleepless night of back labor, a whole morning with back labor and contractions and then an afternoon of more back labor and excruciatingly painful contractions that I have not progressed even one. single. freaking. cm?!"

But obviously I did not have the capacity to say all that. So instead I said:

"Epidural. Now."

side note: I will say that I was pretty set on NOT getting an epidural. I knew that I didn't want morphine because that didn't help at all when I had Haven and so I wanted to try and do it completely naturally with this delivery. I was stubborn about it. But I knew that I absolutely could not continue on in the pain that I was in for a possible 5 or more hours.

They ordered the epidural immediately and said that the anesthesiologist was on his way.

He ended up taking a lot longer than expected.

They sat me up on the edge of the bed so that I was ready for the epidural when he arrived. I leaned against Hunter in front of me and my Mom rubbed my back behind me - which seemed to help calm me for a little bit.

The contractions just continued getting worse and worse though. Even in between contractions I was so extremely terrified of the next contraction that I was crying and frantically thinking about the fact that there was another coming.

I quickly became delirious.

The nurses, my Mom and Hunt all got to witness "kookoo Megan" first hand. I began talking to myself in third person; I said anything that was encouraging. It didn't ease the pain one single iota but it gave me something to focus on and that helped to calm me a little bit.

The anesthesiologist arrived and began asking me questions about allergies, etc. I say "etc." because I honestly don't remember what the questions were. After the first one I tuned him out and Hunter answered all of them.

Then he began explaining to me the possible complications:

a severe head ache... in some limited cases, bouts of paralysis, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.

He followed this by explaining the entire procedure to me. At this point I do remember saying (with great emphasis, I might add ;)

"I don't care, I don't care, I don't care! Just DO IT!"

It took him a minute to sterilize everything.

Then he explained to me that he was ready to give me the needle with the freezing and that he would wait until I was in between contractions to do it.

Let's just take a moment to remember how much I hate needles. I would be a liar if I tried to tell you that part of the reason that I did not initially want an epidural was not because of my great fear of needles. This girl hates needles. But I knew with complete surety that ONE dose of pain was so much better than the above said "slashing and gashing" pain that was repeating itself over and over again inside my body.

Some people say that the administration of an epidural doesn't hurt at all. Let's just say that I am most certainly NOT one of those people. It hurt nearly as much as the contractions hurt. Knowing that it was a means to an end helped though.

So I gritted my teeth, squeezed my eyes shut, dug my nails into Huntie's arms, and cried all while simultaneously trying to maintain the will power to not pull my back away from the giant needle that was causing the pain...

and then, just like that there was sweet relief. 

Just imagine anything wonderful, blissful, heavenly, euphoric or joyful; then multiply it by 1,000 and then again by 100,000 and add it all together and that, my friends, is what I felt once the epidural began working. If hospitals came equipped with choirs, I may have gone and found it so that I could sing choruses of great joy with them. Alas, they do not and so instead I had to settle with laying back into my hospital bed and basking in my immeasurable gratitude and joy that I no longer felt that my insides were being hacked by a serial killer.


Hunt also appeared as though a 1,000 ton weight had been lifted off his shoulders. I don't think he has ever been more thrilled to see me laughing and smiling as he was in that moment.

that crazy town business was exhausting.
I could still feel pain from the contractions, but it was completely bearable. My Dr. came to check on my status about 20-30 minutes later. He told me that I was already at 9 cm and that I could likely start pushing within 20 minutes! I was amazed. I think that the epidural had helped me to relax which in turn helped me to progress.

And so about 10 minutes later, at about 2:50 PM I began the exhausting task of pushing. I thought that the epidural would numb out the pain, but I was definitely wrong. After a length of time that seemed an eternity I asked my Dr. how long I had been pushing for. Much to my alarm, his reply was "10 minutes". I was so entirely exhausted.

Every ounce of my being wanted only to be sleeping.

I worked as hard as I could to focus on the end goal to keep my body working.

And then, finally.... 

"It's a boy!"

Our baby Beckum was born and we became parents all over again for the second time. As soon as I laid eyes on him, I felt like I recognized him; like I had known him for so long.

Any hesitations that we had felt about having a boy vanished.
We were both so thrilled.

becks does look a little dirty to say the least...
but there's nothing like holding your baby for the first time <3

proud daddy

The first thing that I noticed about little Beckum was his black hair - and so much of it!

Only minutes after I had saw Beckum, I knew that I wanted to name him after my Dad. Hunter agreed that he thought it suited Beckum well too.

And so Beckum's whole name became:

Beckum Robert Olsen

During our one night hospital stay with Beckum he slept peacefully almost the entire time. I thought that maybe it was just because he was a new baby and that after he started becoming more alert, he would cry more often.

I was wrong though.

Beckum is now three months old and continues to be a completely content and peaceful baby even when he is alert.

He has added such a sweet and calming spirit to our little family.

We adore this little boy.