Archive for October, 2009

More Layla Portraits

I just love these photos of my little girl!  I am already planning some more portraits for tomorrow–one of the joys of being the photographer!  I can take a few today, a few tomorrow! 🙂







Layla’s first Portraits

Just wanted to post a quick photo taken today during Layla’s first photo session with mommy!  We are all so in love with this little girl.  She gets tons of kisses and hugs from her big sisters.  She’s a sweetie pie!

Here she is in her Daddy’s arms.  I love this little smile.  She looks so peaceful and content in her Daddy’s arms!  I am going to treasure this photo forever.  One day when she’s all grown up we’ll say, “Can you believe she was ever that small?!”



Welcome Layla Joy!

On Monday, October 26 at 10:06 a.m. we welcomed Layla Joy into the world!  I had a much better experience with my c-section this time.  My doctor and my anesthesiologist were awesome.  And like I had mentioned, my friend Susie was my anesthetist (and photographer!).  Things went very well.  I had one episode during surgery when my blood pressure dropped really low and I felt really “out of it” but they gave me meds that quickly brought it back up and it was smooth sailing after that.

I’ll tell more about my birth story later but for now I’ll just share a photo.  Here is our new little princess!






Layla’s coming!

It’s 6:25 a.m. and in about an hour I’ll be checking into the hospital to have Layla!  Please say a prayer for us.  Aaron and I (and my mom!) are all very nervous.  I had a talk with God last night and decided that I am done crying and getting all worked up about this.  It is out of my hands and I have to trust that He will watch over me and Layla today!

So I couldn’t resist….here is a little Clapton for your Monday morning!

“Like a fool, I fell in love with you.  Turned my whole world upside down.”

Can’t wait to meet you little Layla!  You will certainly turn our world upside down just like your sisters!

The Final Countdown

In about 16 hours I will be in the hospital, most likely in the delivery room, having my third c-section.  We are so excited to welcome baby Layla to the world!  We recently discovered that her name means “dark beauty”.  I am picturing a sweet little chubby faced girl who has a head full of brown hair just like her sister Annagrace!  Annagrace had bows in her hair at 2 days old!  It won’t be too much longer until we find out!

We are taking the girls out this evening to get dessert somewhere.  We never get dessert when we go out so we figured we will go out especially for that!  I have the most adorable big sister shirts to give them and their dad and I have a little card for each of them.   We have a few other surprises to give them over the next few days (Annagrace is getting some books she has really been wanting and they are getting a new Halloween Goosebumps movie to watch tomorrow night).

Anyway. . . since this is my last day EVER as a pregnant woman I wanted to get a few pictures to remember it.  I was surprised when afterwards Aaron said he felt a little sad that this was going to be our last pregnancy (not that we are changing our minds about the tubal ligation!).  It has been very surreal and I am amazed at how quickly it seems to have gone by.

Here is one quick one of our Family of Four.  Hard to believe that tomorrow this time we will be a Party of 5! : )  Now I’m off to finish up some cleaning and packing and straightening around the house!


Lapbooks! Lapbooks! Oh I love me some Lapbooks!

Before last Tuesday I had heard of lapbooks but never actually seen them or been interested in learning about what they are.  One of the mommies from our homeschool playgroup mentioned on Facebook that she had made one with her little boy so I asked her to bring it on Tuesday so I could see one.  It was so cute!  I knew Madalyn would love it and when I got home I started researching online about lapbooking.

There are so many resources online for lapbooking.  Basically a lapbook is a folder, or a notebook, or simply some construction paper folded into a book in which you place all sorts of things about a particular subject.  Kind of like a scrapbook.  Within the folder you might have a mini-book, an accordion book, a pocket to hold a little game, printed poems, etc.  The only limit is your creativity.  They can be very sophisticated–like this one I found on youtube:

Or very simple. One really good resource is Homeschool Share.  There are tons of free stuff for lapbooking.  Things to print out, ideas for laying out your lapbook.  It’s pretty awesome.  Another site I found is Lapbook Lessons.  You have to sign up for this one but it was just a matter of signing up and waiting for an e-mail with my passwork.  They have some pretty cute ones including one I just found for a “Big Sister”.  I may just have to try and put that one together for Madalyn tomorrow.  It is adorable!

So here is our first lapbook.  After I printed and cut everything out it took less than half an hour to put it all together.  Madalyn helped with the gluing and putting the wheel together.  She loves looking at her book and showing it to others!

Here is the outside.  We haven’t done anything creative on it yet.  I just let Madalyn write on it!


And this is it opened up.  To the top left is just a picture of the front of the book.  Underneath that is a flip up book of different nursery rhymes about mice.  In the middle is the story wheel.  Madalyn is almost able to tell the whole story by herself using this wheel.  Underneath that is a flip book with different things that start with M (and the letters were traceable so she could practice writing).  To the top right are a few vocabulary words and underneath that is a pocket for her cookie match game (the pieces are on the table) . In just a few days she is already recognizing her numbers (I am sad to say she couldn’t recognize any of them before we did this project!).


All the pieces to this I found online except the vocab words and that took me about 5 minutes to put together myself.  We already are planning several more of these.  In fact I need to get to Office Depot and pick up some colorful file folders today!

If you haven’t tried lapbooking you SHOULD!

Free Starbucks!

Go TOMORROW and get a free cookie and a kid’s size hot chocolate at Starbucks!  Valid tomorrow only and only at the Barnes and Nobles Starbucks stores!

CLICK HERE to get your coupon!

My C-Section Birth Plan

With both of my daughters my OB-GYN up in Virginia had a birth plan that was given to us that we filled out and took to the hospital with us.  The nurses read it, filled out a little card with our wishes on it and attached it to the baby’s bassinet.

This time I have not received anything.  Nothing.  Nada.  No way to make my wishes known to the nursing staff.  So I am taking it upon myself to write my own birth plan and bring it in.  I am very blessed that my childhood friend, Susie, is going to be in the OR with me–as my nurse anesthetist.  That makes me feel so much more comfortable about the surgery!  I am honestly dreading the surgery this time.  I am trying to stay positive but it is hard with the memories of my last one so fresh in my head.  I am praying for an uneventful, complication-free delivery and that I will be able to go home after 48 hours.

Anyway, here are a few things that I am including on my birth plan–some of which I have discussed with my doctor already.


  • Urinary catheter put in AFTER spinal inserted (best thing I ever did was request this with Madalyn)
  • Aaron present at ALL times (with the last 2 he wasn’t allowed in the room until my spinal was in–this time I want him there the entire time)
  • Photos allowed (haven’t asked my doc about this one…nurse at the hospital said it is all up to the doc and they are all different.  We didn’t with Annagrace but did with Madalyn.  I treasure those photos of Madalyn!)
  • Hands NOT strapped down (they were with Annagrace, but were not with Madalyn)
  • Sutures NOT staples (already told my doctor this one but I’ll remind him before.  I had sutures with both girls but had to request it with Madalyn).
  • Want to hold Layla in the delivery room (sort of held Annagrace but didn’t get to hold Madalyn at all because I was so drugged and out of it)
  • No family (other than Aaron) allowed to hold the baby before I am able to . . . and I want to be there when the girls hold her for the first time.
  • Breastfeeding as soon as possible in the recovery room
  • If able I want to sit up at the bedside the first night and I want to get up out of the bed as soon as possible the following morning (with Madalyn they let me lay there and lay there and lay there and finally when my doctor came in SHE helped me get up out of bed!).

Baby Care after Birth

  • NO erythromycin eye drops or ointment.
  • NO Vitamin K injection.
  • NO Hep B vaccine.
  • Breastfeeding ONLY.  No bottle, no pacifiers.
  • Me or Aaron with the baby at all times.
  • 24 hour rooming in

That’s about all I can think of at the time.  I am making a sign for the bassinet about the eye drops and shots.  We were talking about this at playgroup and three of the moms there did not have any eye drops or shots either and they all told me to tell every single nurse who comes in the room what my wishes are.  I also plan to have Aaron with the baby at ALL times that I am not with her and I have given him instructions to be strong and not let them talk him into anything that we don’t want.

Oh me oh my.  3 more days.  I have several small things to finish up around the house and a few more things I need to throw in my suitcase but otherwise I am ready!

Life as a Hospice Nurse Part 3

As I mentioned yesterday, the last week of work was by far the hardest of the last two months.  Not only am I now very uncomfortably pregnant–making it very difficult to work a full day!–but the cases that I have had lately have really touched my heart and have at times made me extremely sad.

In the last two months I have cared for two patients with ALS.  Last week I saw my second ALS patient.  She has a caregiver who is amazing with her and can communicate and understand her even though the patient is unable to speak.  They have a communication board that is divided into 6 sections.  The caregiver points to a section and the patient is able to blink her eyes to answer yes or no.  Then they go line by line until they reach what the patient wants to “say”.  There is everything from “push my glasses up” to “I’m cold” to “fix my bra” on her list.  And down at the very bottom in the lower right hand corner it simply says, “THIS SUCKS!”.  I pointed that out to her and her caregiver said, “Yes, some days that just has to be said.”.  And it DOES suck.  I HATE ALS.  I hate it, hate it, hate it.  I pray that there is some very simple cure out there that is going to be found one day soon.  It is an evil, awful disease.

The same day that I saw this ALS patient I also visited with a 20 year old with brain cancer.  He has been fighting it for two years now and just recently was told that Hospice was the best option for him at this point in time.  He is the most pleasant, kindest young man.  He was so respectful–everything was “yes m’am” and “no m’am”.  He and the grandparents who raise him have a strong faith.  And although they do not understand why he has to suffer they do believe that even still God is good.  I couldn’t help but think though that it just wasn’t fair.  Instead being concerned about studying for a college exam, he has to spend his days checking his blood sugars and counting carbs and insulin units because of his steroid-induced diabetes.  Instead of playing on the college football team, he is recovering from a stroke caused by his tumor.  He can not plan for his future other than the next day…and even that is not a guarantee.  I left his home and cried all the way to my next patients house.

I had many other patients last week that greatly saddened me.  An older women with Alzheimer’s who could not even recall her son’s name.  A man recently diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma that had gone to his brain (can I put another plug in here for wearing SUNSCREEN?!).  I just don’t understand it sometimes.  Why do some have to suffer so?

I had a conversation with a new co-worker last week about how unfair it seems sometimes.  Kids getting cancer, babies dying.  Sometimes you just sit and think, “when is it my turn?”.  When will something happen to my loved ones?  I said that we can’t really do anything but pray for the health of ourselves and our family and pray that when or if we are afflicted by sickness that God will give us the strength to endure it.

I will be completely honest.  I live in constant fear that one of my loved ones is going to get sick.  Or worse, is going to die.  I hear about a child with cancer and I immediately start wondering which one of my children is going to get cancer.  While working in home health I cared for an 8 year old who died shortly after Christmas last year.  EIGHT years old.  My daughter is almost eight.  Why have I been so blessed to have a healthy child?  I know two people who have lost their babies to SIDS in the last year and I am already losing sleep over the fact that I am bringing another infant into this world.  What if that happens to me?  What if something happens to me during my surgery?  What if Aaron’s kidney starts to fail?  What if he gets cancer?  What if something happens to my dad and he can’t care for my mom?

The list of my fears and worries is at least a foot long.  And my fear at times can be crippling.  Last night I was all snuggled next to my sleeping three year old on the couch and I thought about how precious she looked.  And then all those fearful sad thoughts came into my head and I laid there and cried.

Aaron and I talked about this a little the other night.  He worries too he says, but he doesn’t dwell on it.  Sometimes I dwell on it.  I think that Satan wants us to live in fear.  He wants us to think these horrible thoughts because it takes away our joy in life.  He wants us to wonder if our faith is strong enough to endure hardships.  He wants us to feel weak and powerless and hopeless.

And I hate feeling that way.

In Isaiah we read:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

I have to remind myself that if bad things come still God is good all the time.  We may not like it.  We may not understand it.  But in the end God is holy.  God is righteous.  And God is smarter than us.  One day this life and all it’s hurts and pains will be gone and we’ll wonder why we were so afraid of death.  Until then I pray that I can find comfort in Jesus and that my fears will ease so that I can enjoy the precious blessings that I have been graciously given.

I do love my job.  I love helping people.  I love feeling like I have made a difference.  As I have often heard it said, Hospice is the hardest job you’ll ever love.  I believe that with all my heart.

Life as a Hospice Nurse Part 2

This is part two of my short little series about Hospice nursing.  As I stated in my last post, I began working as a Hospice nurse two months ago.  The great thing about my job is that I only work as much as I want to.  I chose which days I want to work and they “plug me in” in whichever office needs help that day.  I am on a set schedule of working every Wednesday and Thursday.  I also volunteer to take call on occasion–so far it has only been a few times because of being pregnant.  I love that it is not something I “have” to do but rather something I choose to do.  If I only want to work one day on a particular week (like this week) then I’ll only work one day.  Or if I want to get some extra hours in I can offer to work more.

For the last month I have been traveling each week to a neighboring town’s office.  Our company has about 40 offices across North Carolina.  There are at least five offices that are within a 45-60 minute drive from our home.  I love the office I am currently working at because it is close to my parents home.  I know the area well since I grew up there and the patients are wonderful.  Some times I’ll walk into a patients home and look around at the photos on the wall and can figure out some way that I know them.  Recently I have had an old high school classmate’s mother, and another classmate’s grandmother.  I have cared for farmers that know my parents and others who attend church with family members.

So what exactly do I do?  Typically the visit starts with vital signs and a head to toe assessment of the patient.  We listen to their lungs and their abdomens, check their legs and feet for swelling, etc.  Then we talk about how the week has been.  Are they having any pain?  Are their pain meds working?  Are their bowels moving okay?  Are they eating?  Do they have enough help with their bathing/dressing/etc.?  What has been the hardest part of the last week?  Do they have enough support at home?  Is there anything else that we can do that would make their present life easier?  In addition to nurses we have a social worker, hospice aides, and of course a chaplain–my hubby!

You really get to learn a lot about people, about family dynamics and about patient’s faith in a short amount of time.  Some of them are accepting of their impending death.  Some think they are going to live for 5 more years and “make it to 100”.  Some of them will live a few days on Hospice…and some will live several years with Hospice.  Some of them will suffer rather than take their pain meds for fear it will cause death to come more quickly.  Some of them will choose not to sleep or not to close their eyes at the end for fear that they will not wake up.  Some of them gain closure with their families and resolve difficult situations.  Some of them never have that peace of mind.  Some of them die without fear knowing that when they pass away from this life they will wake up in Heaven.  Some of them are without faith and without hope and have no idea what the afterlife holds in store for them.

It can be very rewarding at times.  And at other times it can be hard.  In fact, some days it is VERY hard.  Last week was my toughest yet.  More about that tomorrow.

October 2009