Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dear Will - One Month!

Dear Will,

Happy One Month!  Can you believe we made it this far?!

You are smiling so much now!  You are starting to coo and try to talk to us!

You got braces for your thumbs this week.  You have a tendency to put your thumbs into your fist, rather than outside of it.  The braces make you look like you have boxing gloves on - especially when you're kicking and punching when you're mad!

You are 8 pounds and 15 ounces, and you grew an inch already!

Your umbilical cord stump fell off, too.  Your belly button looks so cute!

You have started to sleep in four hour chunks through the night.  Praise the Lord!  You are such a good baby.  We still sneak naps when we can, though!

You are too long for some of your pajamas, but then, other longer pants fall off your little bum.  I have a feeling this will be the start of our problems in looking for clothes for you.  You are very, very long, and very skinny.  

You are finally done (or almost done) peeling!  

You had your "newborn" pictures done with Tara Christians this past week.  You sprayed Tara, me and your daddy with pee twice, spit up on all three of us at least twice a piece, and pooped all over Tara's baby blanket.  Way to make your mark, buddy!

We gave you your first REAL bath last night.  You weren't too sure about it, but then we found out that you like the water hot, like your mom.

You are having fun doing tummy time!  We are working to build big and strong muscles in your neck.  You do a great job most of the time, but when you are tired or hungry, you pitch a fit and hate it.  Your dad insists on doing it, even when you are angry.  He just wants you to be ready for football.

You love to be held.  When you are awake, you insist on snuggling or being in your baby carrier, close to mom.  You are such a softie.

You made your first trip across Iowa this weekend to visit Grammy Pammy, Papa, and your aunties.  I barely get to hold you anymore, now that they're around!  

We love you so, so much, Will!  

Love, Your Mama


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dear Will - Two and a Half Weeks

Dear Will,

You are two and a half weeks old already!  

You smile, but we still have to work really hard for those smiles...  Will you give them out more freely soon?  Please?  

Once, I could tell you were dreaming.  You smiled really big and then giggled.  I think Jesus was giving you a dream about getting into mischief with your daddy.

You don't cry very much, which I am really thankful for.  You do cry when your dad and I are dwadling around changing your diaper or clothes and you just want to EAT.  Sorry about that...

We can tell you're irritated when you start to kick and punch your little fists.  You can kick and punch up a storm!  I know you are upset, but we can't help but think you are really cute when you pitch such a fit.  You were so rowdy in my tummy - now I know what you were up to in there!

Your skin is still peeling like crazy. 

You are such a boy.  You will grunt and grunt and hold your breath and push until you pass gas (as loudly as your dad) or poop your pants with gusto.  Really Will, it would be more polite if you were a little more subtle about it, but I suppose a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.  I forgot to mention that your burps are very loud, too.  You are ALL boy.

The last two nights, you just haven't been able to get settled.  You will only sleep when I hold you and then we fall asleep together for hours.  I am wondering if physical touch will be your love language?

You are kind of lazy when it comes to eating.  You get really worked up about being hungry in general (also like your dad), but then when you get what you want, you either overeat until you puke...or you just fall asleep eating.  Either way, you love to eat.  You are growing fast!  

You cross your feet, one over the other, like daddy, too.  If I put socks on you, one falls off, inevitably, within about three minutes.

I like to sing to you when I rock you in the nursery.  Our favorites are "All night, all day, angels watchin' over little Will..." and hymns.  Hymns?!  Who knew we would love to sing the oldies together.  Your dad likes to sing "Lean On Me" with you - even though he doesn't really know the words to the song.  I have also caught him singing "Hakuna Matata" with you - he doesn't really know those words either, but he is very enthusiastic in singing made up words with you.

Your daddy likes to call you his "little dude nugget"...  Weird, I know.  He said that it is because you are like a real dude - a real man, but you are a nugget.  Like a chicken nugget?!  Not sure.  Ask him about that someday.

Love you lots.  Looking forward to celebrating Mother's Day AND your dad's birthday tomorrow!  Hooray!

-Your Mama

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ten Happy Things...

Enough gloom and doom.  Today is a sunny day, I had an extra hour or so of sleep, and life is good.  

Here are ten meaningful and shallow things I am thankful for and happy about...

1. Mark - How do single moms do it?  Seriously.  I have no idea...  I have always been thankful for such an incredible husband, but I am extra extra thankful for Mark now...  He has been more selfless, more loving, more gracious, more attentive, more strong, and more encouraging than ever.  Oh, how I love him.  I think I am spoiled in having such a great hubby.

2. Will's Smiles - I never knew babies could smile so early!  I know I am super biased, but I still think his smiles are the cutest thing ever.  Even in the midst of being super overwhelmed, one smile just makes it all worth it.  They are magical, somehow.  

3. Sleep - I knew that having a newborn would require much less sleep...but I did not anticipate this little sleep.  Little Will seems to have his nights and days mixed up a bit, so sleep for mom at night is a rarity these days.  HOWEVER, this is a thankful post, so I am extra, extra thankful for the sleep I DO get.  When I crawl into bed, and when Will is quiet or being watched by someone else, it seems like a luxury and is oh-so-sweet and extra fun to look forward to.

4. Psalms - Up until Will, my favorite books of the bible were Job and Lamentations, and my least favorite book (or close to it) was Psalms.  I prefer stories - not poems.  But now?  Now I love Psalms.  There's something refreshing about seeing David feel sorry for himself, whine a bit and get frustrated...all while, two seconds later, praising the Lord for His goodness and steadfast love.  In the past, it seemed schizophrenic and a little crazy, but now, it seems refreshingly raw and real.  

5. Encouragement - Oh, how we are loving your Facebook messages, texts, cards, sweet words and yummy meals!  We are so, so thankful for so many loving, thoughtful and selfless friends and family.  Mark and I have both been in ministry since college, so we are used to being on the giving end of things.  To be on this receiving end has been humbling.  We have been so blessed.  Thank you!

6. Help - Evidently, it DOES take a village to raise a child!  Oh my word.  I am all the more thankful for my mom and my mom-in-law.  They've cooked, cleaned, encouraged, and snuggled Will while I've slept and caught up on other things.  Praise the Lord for help and support.

7. Breast Milk - Though my heart has been sad about not being able to provide as much milk for Will as I have wanted to, our sister-in-law, who is also breastfeeding, has been super generous in giving us a ton of her extra milk.  Now, instead of having to "top" Will off with formula, we are using her milk instead.  Holy smokes.  I can't even begin to articulate how special this has been to me.  Breast milk is another thing that seems magical these days, so being able to feed Will without formula is something I am treasuring.

8. Home - No offense to the NICU, but I really hated that place, and I am really loving being at home.  We've been transitioning out of being in a sterile system and into our own comfy rhythm - away from wires, electrodes, pokes, and alarms.  I am extra thankful for our privacy, the familiarity, and the peace that comes with being in our own place.

9. Will's Health - Though we had a rough start, and the future looked really grim at first, Will is doing really, really well right now.  He seems to have a pretty mild temperament, and only cries when he is hungry.  He is doing all sorts of "regular" newborn things, so we are optimistic.  Though we can get ourselves worried sick thinking of all the "what ifs" of tomorrow, today is really good... 

10.  Can I be shallow for a second?  I love not being pregnant again.  Sleeping on my stomach and not feeling incredibly bloated and huge is just grand...  I like Will on the outside world better than in my stomach.  :)  Now I just have to figure out how to lose all the extra weight he left behind.  That's what I get for all that chocolate!! 

So, so much to be thankful for and happy about!  The Lord is so good to us!

From Psalm 5 - But let all who take refuge in you rejoice' let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.  For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover them with favor as with a shield.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Initiations, Weaknesses & Strengths...

I think yesterday was an initiation of sorts!  We had our first DeYounge family the doctor in Sioux Falls.  Fun, fun... :)  

I am pleased to announce that we made it.  We made it through two bouts of nursing in the backseat of the Buick, problem-solving through a I'm-crazy-hungry-feed-me-meltdown, a couple of diaper changes on my lap, a record-breakingingly quick run to Target for wipes and being poked and prodded at the doctor's office...  I can't say it was pretty or very put-together, but we DID it.  Phew.  How do you mamas do things like this everyday?  Teach me...

The doctor appointments were fine.  No new news.  Will is gaining weight like a mad man and doing all sorts of "regular" newborn things.  We are praising God for some sense of normalcy in the midst of the chaos.

Call me a jerk, but I still hated the appointments.  I hate talking about things like strokes, seizures, and brain bleeds.  Sometimes, I find myself pretending like none of these things ever happened, so having to deal with these topics at appointments makes it all too real again.

On the ride home, I was thinking about the power of these words - stroke, seizure, bleeding...  Every word has some sort of connotation...a feeling or idea that pops into your mind when you hear the word spoken...  When I hear "stroke", "seizure", "bleeding" - especially in regard to my tiny baby, my heart just sinks.  These are such nasty words that come pre-packaged with such nasty connotations, feelings and emotions.  "Stroke" is full of hopelessness.  "Seizure" comes with fear.  "Bleeding" is a loss of control and weakness.


I'm not saying there's a demon lurking in every corner or trying to overspiritualize this, but I am not okay with the way the enemy can/could use these words to promote despair and anxiety.  I am not okay with how "beat up" I feel when I think about them.  Just because these words - labels, even - have been spoken over our son, they do not need to hold him (or us) in bondage.

It makes me think of the passage in II Corinthians 12...  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."

If our weakness really is the Lord's strength, and if our weakness really is the place that the Lord's power can rest on us, then Will's seizures, strokes and bleeding - those labels, those insults - can be delighted in as the Lord uses them to display His glory, to give Will a testimony, and to show His healing power.  These hardships are special and beautiful and strengths in Will.

But why, oh why, do I hear those words and still my heart sinks...?  In my mind, I know these things about the Lord are true, but my heart hasn't quite lined up with all of it yet... He isn't finished with me, evidently.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

On "Losing" Control...

Preface - This is where an honest mama just vents a little bit.  Be prepared to apply a little extra grace, please.

Having Baby Will has been an, a surrendering, trusting and letting go of control (as if I was ever really in control, anyway...).

1.  My Timing Vs. Will's:  Little Will did not come per my Google calendar appointment.  He showed up about 2 1/2 weeks after his due date.  It was so hard to wait so long!  Looking back, this was my first hint that the Lord was beginning to teach me about giving up control.  (For more info, click here:

2.  Home Birth to Hospital: Many of you know that we had planned on having a home birth. (For more info, click here:  Though I labored for about 3/4ths of my 39 hours at home and did well, we obviously ended up at the hospital, due to sheer exhaustion and getting "stuck" at 8 centimeters dilation.

3.  Natural to Drugs:  I had planned on laboring without any sort of drugs or intervention.  32 or so hours in, after three nights of no sleep, and getting stuck at those 8 centimeters, our midwives recommended pitocin and epidurals...  The two things I swore I never would take for so many reasons!  In the end, I ended up hemorrhaging, and needed more drugs...  Let's just say we ended up with a very UN"natural" birth!  So much for my hippie birth plan!

4.  Will's Health:  The biggest wrench in all of our plans was obviously the fact that Will ended up in the NICU with strokes, bleeding on his brain and seizures.  Three big scary things a parent never, ever wants to hear - especially in regard to their newborn.  We still have more questions than answers.  WHY?  How did this happen?  The doctors still shrug their shoulders in response to these questions.  Will's "weaknesses" aren't because of our home birth or any complications, because I did or didn't eat something in my pregnancy, or did anything out of the ordinary.  They are strictly anatomical - his brain just never developed the necessary parts it needed from the very beginning of his tiny life.  I don't think anyone plans to end up in the NICU with their new baby.  So much was out of our control.  We needed - we HAD - to trust the doctors and the Lord.  We just needed to sit, watch and pray.  SO tough.

5.  Fast to Slow Recovery:  For some reason, I had the expectation that our recovery time would be minimal.  After all, my body was meant to give birth and our baby was going to be perfectly healthy and dreamy, so why not jump back into a regular schedule after a few days??  Well, friends, we are almost two weeks in and I still feel like things are messy and exhausting and overwhelming...go figure!

6.  Breastmilk to Formula: In the NICU, Will started on an IV to feed him, then transferred to formula.  Again, I swore I would never feed my baby formula.  Since then, my milk STILL hasn't come in really, so, though I nurse him every time he feeds, we continue to have to "top him off" with formula.  Ugh.  This makes me sick inside for some reason.  I so, so badly wanted to be able to provide just this ONE thing for our baby.  Lord, help me.

7.  Birth Story:  Overall, I told myself that I would be one of those moms that told their birth stories with rejoicing and excitement.  It would be full of victories, happy memories and wonderful things to cherish.  I am hating the fact that I still feel like our honest and authentic birth story and the story of the beginning of Will's life was just plain traumatic.  I hate thinking about it and recounting the details.  Yuck.  I HATE that I hate thinking about it in general...  Shouldn't I love remembering it?  Something seems wrong.

I could go on, but you get the point.  Total loss of all control, all our plans, all our expectations throughout this journey.  Call me naive.  I know.  Many of you long-time mamas are saying, "Get used to it!  This is LIFE with kids!"  I get it.  I knew this was supposed to be generally true.  I'm not trying to complain or host a Caring Bridge pity party.  I am more just trying to be real and raw.  Things are not what I expected, and I have lost more control and "put-together-ness" than I ever imagined.  

I know in my heart that this is not a terrible thing - it is a very good and right and meaningful thing.  It is a life lesson, an opportunity to surrender more to the Lord and experience His provision in the midst of it all.  But at the same time, it's still just hard.  At the same time, I am still grieving the loss of my dreams and plans and perfectly put-together expectations.  It's just taking a little bit longer to get over being sad and frustrated about some of these things.  Is that fair?  I am just struggling a bit - in the midst of the rawness, the newness and the sheer reality of it all.

Though the struggle is real, I am comforted by the fact that God's plans really are the best.  I want His control in my life.  If we would have had OUR plans with a home birth and no hospitals, Will probably wouldn't even be alive today.  Praise God for changing our plans and demolishing our expectations.  

Regardless of the messiness of it all, Will has been more than worth it.  He is the cutest, most handsome, most miraculous, most precious present ever.  No matter what, I wouldn't trade him or the lessons we are learning for the WORLD.

You can bet, though, that in the next few weeks, I will still be praying for grace to get over my own selfishness and lack of surrender.  Lord, help me be flexible.  YOUR plans are the best!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

On Pain and Brokenness... PS - We're Home!

It's true, friends.  We are home.  Will was gaining weight, eating well, and responding well to his anti-seizure meds, so they discharged us out of the NICU, praise the Lord.  I know the NICU serves it purpose, but I really, really hated that place.

We still may have a long road ahead of us with doctor appointments, medications and therapies, but for now, we need to be at home, try to adjust to "normal" life and sort of just "see what happens" developmentally for our little buddy.  We are trusting the Lord for full restoration in the dead/stroke areas of his brain, continued healing for the bleeding in his brain, and continued stability with his seizures.

Though we are thankful for the NICU and the wisdom and care they offered to us, we are SO SO SO thankful to be home.  We will never forget our experiences there...

When you hear that YOUR baby is being admitted into the NICU, life seems to stop.  You're instantly filled with fear, anxiety, more questions than can be answered, and honestly, I just felt like throwing up.  It's awful.  We felt lost, alone, and helpless - and like our entire world was falling apart.  

A few days after the intial shock, as I went to Will's room to visit him, the Lord seemed to speak to my heart in highlighting of all the other rooms I had been passing in walking down the NICU hall.  I bet I had passed at least 20 of them.  Each room represented a story like ours - some much worse.  Each room represented a family who was grieving, feeling alone, and maybe feeling desperately hopeless.  Each room represented a mom and dad whose hearts were breaking, who had really important and pressing questions that couldn't be answered, and who were bone-tired and weary.

A few of the nights, I stayed in Will's NICU room on the couch so I could feed him consistently.  Right outside our window was the landing pad of the Medevac Helicopters.  It seemed a new helicopter was landing every half hour or so.  Each helicopter represented another emergency, another sleepless night, another family ripped apart, another widow, another...

Though we are grieving Will's sad news, I am finding myself grieving the overall realization that there is more pain and brokenness in the world than I know what to do with.  

Sure - before Will was born, I knew there were starving children in Africa and that brokenness existed in the world in general, but I had never come so close to the sheer pain and stinging-sort-of-nauseous feeling that comes when you see pain up close and personal...and when you can't do anything about it.  You just can't fix it.

There is something sick and wrong about a tiny, cute little baby being born into the world with strokes and seizures.  There is something raw about such terrible things happening to such innocent people around the world.  I hate it.

Though the pain IS raw, I feel like I'm living in more reality these days.  After all, isn't it pretty delusional to live life in a place of constant hearts and flowers and happy endings?  Though it sort of seems weird to say it out loud (or write it), maybe I am becoming more sane, more grounded and having better perspective these days.

Don't hear me wrong - this isn't a message of hopelessness, and I don't want to give the enemy more credit than he deserves.  Yes, sin entered the world and screwed a lot of things up - I am coming to grips with the depth and weight of this more and more.  

BUT, in the face of such darkness and filth, hope seems so much more beautiful, joy seems so much more powerful, and God's grace seems so much more...well...gracious and merciful.  

In this dark, dark world, how much more do we need His mercy?  His kindness?  His joy?  His provision?  His faithfulness?  We are leaning into Him now, more than ever.

I am praising God for the victory He has already won against sin and death and pain.  I am praising God for the victory He is actively winning day by day - right in front of my eyes - as our little family continues to press on in the face of trial.  

I hate the pain and brokenness I am suddenly aware of...if this earthly stuff is all life's about, then I don't want it.  I will fall into a heap of depression and hopelessness.  But, praise God, this world is not my home and my hope is in Jesus making all things new.

Revelation 22:20 - He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!

PS - Though we are home, we are not accepting visitors at this time.  Thanks for your patience.  We really need some sleep, peace and quiet in adjusting to so much!  We SO appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement, and we look forward to seeing you all when things settle down a bit for us!
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