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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mark's Surprise!?!

I am sure most everyone reading knows that we are going to have a big celebration for our 10 year anniversary at our church. Well, my sweet, sweet husband bought me a new wedding ring!!!! Apparently he has had the money set aside for a long time I didn't know about it. We found this ring together and he said, "do you like that one?" I replied, "well, ya, of course I do. It's beautiful." Mark said, "ok, it's yours." Then Mark proceeded to pay for the ring. Now it's ours. What a wonderful man.

Dahl Family Reunion

Here are a few pictures from our Dahl family reunion last Saturday. We had a really wonderful time. The weather the company and the food were perfect.
Our Little Family

Grammy and Grandpa with the 5 grand kids

Grace's Dress for our 10th Anniversary

Well, I ordered Grace a dress for our Anniversary celebration. It is very cute. It is white and black and made out of chiffon material. Grace insisted that I take her picture.

Updated Bathroom

So, I have the materials for awhile to give our bathroom an update. It was painted a year ago, but I wanted to add lighter accent colors, so I finally did. I found most everything for the update including the candles and shower curtain at IKEA (my favorite).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Princess Grace

I know that it may seem biased that I write more about Luke. So, I decided to make this entry about Miss Grace. I recently re-designed her room. It is sad that my kiddos are not in the baby stage anymore, so I packed up my classic Winnie the pooh stuff. She now has a pink room. And I am talking pink! It reminds me of the movie "Steel Magnolias" where Shelby is having her wedding and she says that her wedding scheme is her "signature colors, blush and bashful." That is what I think about in Grace's room. Three walls are painted a light pink and one wall is a darker pink. She has princesses adorning every wall and she loves it. I am in the process of painting Cinderella (well Grace insists that it is "Cinderelli") on the wall. I asked Grace what she thought of Cinderella and she looks at me, points her finger and says, "paint Ariel mom." OK I'll get right on that.
From the pictures you can probably see that yes, Grace is still sleeping in a crib. I have tried about 4 times to transition her to a big girl bed. Yeah, not happening. I tell everyone that she is on the five year plan for the crib. Grace is a very independent, bright, funny girl. She refuses to go to sleep when she has all the freedom in the world. There were some nights when she was up until nearly 1 am. And I tried everything. Then she will get up at 2am and 4am and 6am and turn on all the lights in the whole house. And wake everyone up. But the final straw for me was her going to sleep at 11pm, waking at 2am and turning on all the lights, then waking up at 5:30am to her in her church shoes watching her jump up and down on her mattress screaming at the top of lungs in delight. That was it. Back to the crib. Did I mention how horrible her attitude can be when she is sleep deprived? Did I mention how horrible my attitude can be when I am sleep deprived? We are all sleeping much better now. I have also found that she likes the security of the crib and crib tent.

Mark put together the new white shelving that I bought at IKEA. My brother hates that store, but I absolutely love it. It is my mother ship. Grace loves her new room. I am happy to be able to give her a space that is her own and reflects her personality. Yeah Gracie!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

3 Years Ago This Month....

I said goodbye to our third bio baby. She never made it to our world and developed to 11weeks1day (the furthest I have ever made carrying a baby). I nearly had a panic attack when I realized this evening that her date had come and gone I hadn't thought of it or spent time reflecting on it. July 1, 2005, was when we received the news that she had passed from this earthly life to heaven. Those are moments that I will never forget. Since I made it the furthest with her, a natural miscarriage did not occur. Instead I had a D&C at Southwest Washington Medical Center. Physically it was not painful, as I was put under, but emotionally it was very difficult to check into a hospital carrying a baby and check out of the hospital "empty". I remember crying for nearly two days straight. Grief and hormone changes are horrible on a person. When you are in the middle of the grief you feel like your world will never be "normal". It amazes me that after three years I could let the day come and go and not reflect or remember. It could be due to the fact of our last foster baby leaving to live with his mom, and that I was very excited that Mark and I were going to spend some time with out any kids for a couple of days. Regardless somewhere in the midst of life I missed July 1. But, I remember. I dug through my remembrance box I have for all three of my bio babies. I have something to remember each by. I have two ultrasound pictures of babies #2, and #3. I have my resource hospital guide from the doctor. During my anger and grief, I actually threw the guide away in the garbage only to dig it out later when my senses returned to me and I knew that I would want to look at it someday (I was right). I have one maternity dress that I kept, notes from the nurse, cards everyone sent, my hospital bracelets, and then my necklace. I don't know if any of you know but I wear a necklace that has a charm for each of my kids (not including foster kids). The charms have the birthstone of when they were born. The first is a pair of shoes and a Sapphire for our first babe, the second is a ring with a Sapphire for our second babe, next is Luke's with an aquamarine for March, third is a ruby for our third babe, next is another aquamarine for Grace. It is my daily memorial for all my kids, plus it is close to my heart. I know that one day I will see my babies again and I trust that Lord is using them for His mighty purpose and plan. Plus, I know that they are probably keeping my dad busy. In the picture are a few mementos of my third baby born too soon in July of 2005.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Bad Mommy Moment....and a New Car Seat For Luke

(Luke's new seat, Britax Regent)

The seat itself weighs 26 pounds!!! Heavy
Also, just so you can understand how big this seat is. The straps are set to Luke's height (lots of room to grow)

Ok. I am the kind of person that reads everything regarding parenting and development. This is only proof that one person can miss things. I thought I was following the rules, I thought I was keeping my kids safe in car seats, but apparently, I was mislead. Now, I was never breaking the law, but what I realized was I was putting my son at risk in a booster seat with a regular seat belt. I love Jon and Kate plus eight (great show on TLC). I was reading their website wondering what kind of car seats they used. I looked up the car seat online and ran across a video (Video added at bottom). It changed my life! And, I promptly went out and bought my son a new car seat. I had him in a little booster (because they are legal), but if we were ever in an accident, he could be severely injured, thrown from the vehicle, or even killed because of the his weight, and installation problems as well as just kid stuff (moving the seat belt, turning around, etc). I have never spent that much on a car seat (280 dollars) thanking the Lord for monthly adoption support, but what price tag can you put on your child's safety? He is now riding around in a Britax Regent car seat. He will continue to be in a five point harness until he is 53 inches standing or 80 pounds. In Washington there is a new car seat law (8 years old and 80 pounds). I know many might think that I am overreacting, because we didn't have rules when we were growing up. But, the thing is, we live in a very different world, And anything that I can do to help keep my kids safe, I feel it is my responsibility to choose to do the right thing even if others think I am crazy. Since he now only has one seat, I have another 5 point harness seat on order from Sunshine kids. It is a Radian Car Seat and it is rated the same 53 inches and 80 pounds. There also is a new Britax Frontier Seat coming out soon that is rated to 80 pounds and then a high back booster from 80-100 pounds, that is suppose to do well in side impact crashes. All these seats Regent, Frontier, Radian 80 are all around 280 dollars, so it is easy to see why many parents, like myself, miss this important information because you can buy a legal booster seat for as low as 20 dollars at Wal-Mart. So, many might laugh, but my kids will be in 5 point harness probably until their 8 years old. Did you also know that car seats expire? Apparently they do. Also, you are never, ever to wash the harness straps because they can compromise the integrity of the straps. Always wash with damp cloth and order more if they need to be replaced. Again, all things I didn't know.

Please watch this video and educate yourself even if you don't have children yet. It changed my life.

OHSU Infertility Specialists...Genetic Testing Results

About 6 weeks ago, I saw Dr. Patton at OHSU. He is an reproductive endocrinologist. I finally had enough nerve to go. I sat on the referral I had from my OB for 6 months. The first thing is you pay the 300 dollars upfront to see the doctor even if you have insurance. It is the most beautiful office I have ever seen. It is on the 10th floor of a building that overlooks the Willamette River and downtown Portland. You can watch the tram run right past you up to the OHSU campus.

Anyway, it was the most wonderful appointment I could have ever wanted in last six years. Wow, I just calculated, that I have been dealing with infertility since 2002. Hard to believe it has been apart of my life for so long. For so long I have wondered and hoped and prayed for some answers and I finally had enough courage to begin the process. Dr. Patton is the head doctor at the clinic. You can look him up online. He has published a lot of scientific research. OHSU is a teaching hospital so there was a young doctor with him as well. I sat in Dr. Patton's office looking towards my mom's work (she is very close) as we began looking through my entire medical record from Dr. Bishop (my OB). I could have cried as it all sat there in one pile together holding all my information and answers from 2002. In matter of 1 hour they put me together and began explaining things that I couldn't believe. The doctors reconfirmed that I am a "classic" PCOS patient. They also looked up all my progesterone levels and began explaining what kinds of testing they would do on me and Mark. It turns out, that I will never be able to just get pregnant on a whim, because if we do it will turn out the same way the first three pregnancies did. I have to be monitored, I have to take multiple medications to help me keep the pregnancy. I am thankful to God that I am able to get pregnant because I don't have to think about egg harvesting and IVF. They know just based on lab tests that I do not make enough progesterone to keep a baby alive. I possibly could have an autoimmune disorder because I do have psoriasis. They will check that. They will also check me for a blood clotting disorder and check different hormones in my blood and also take a look at my uterus. And they also wanted Mark and I to do a blood kerotyping genetic testing. It is very expensive, over 800 dollars a piece. But, in a turn of luck, or blessing, our insurance (or should I say Mark's insurance) covered it at 100%. Today... just a few hours ago, OHSU called to tell me that we are genetically compatible!!!! I was so relieved because I was very nervous. Just last night we sat and talked about what would happen if we weren't compatible. I am praising the Lord because this is great news! It is the one factor that the clinic could not help us with. Yes, we plan on trying to have a baby at some point. But right now the doctor has me on medication to turn everything off regarding reproduction so that it can have some time to rest. I am just enjoying one day at a time and reveling in the fact that I have allowed myself to hope once more that we may be able to have a biological baby. Not that we love our kids any less for being adopted, we absolutely do not. But this is a deep longing in my heart that was awakened six years ago when I lay in hospital bed being told that I had miscarried my baby. I had no idea at the time what the journey would be like. But here we are, walking down paths that we never, even intended to take. I know it may be difficult to understand why a blood test could make one so happy. But, if you thing about it like this, it is like I have been in a dark room for so many years and little by little, as answers come, the light in the dark room begins to brighten. It is so wonderful to see the light. Again, knowledge is POWER!

Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrician

(Picture of Luke after Heart Surgery in Aug. 2006 at Legacy Emmanuel Children's Hospital)

Luke had yet another appointment with a specialist this last week. He is such a trooper. He is not afraid of anyone. That does make it nice. His appointment was at Legacy Emmanuel Children's Hospital. This is where he had his heart surgery. So after checking in at Diagnotic, we went up the elevator to pedatric development. He walks into the waiting room and asks us in a really loud voice, "am I getting my surgery today." Poor kid. He has gone through enough surgery. Some of the other parents chuckled, as did we and explained we were just going to see a doctor. We waited 16 months for this appointment. It was 2 hours long. Luke saw a PT and then the doctor. Mark and I rehashed his entire life history and then Luke had a thorough examination by the doctor. This appointment was to talk about Luke's attention difficulties and the possiblity of him having ADD or ADHD. We didn't get a diagnosis, but we do have a referral to the Children's Program where Luke will receive a diagnosis, if he gets one. He does present several "red flags" for the disorder as the doctor said. And his biological father and uncles all had ADD/ADHD so that was the factor that pushed him to being further evaluated. So, needless to say, I was exhausted after that appointment. His height was in the 75% percentile at 44.75 inches, and his weight was in the 50% percentile at 42.5 pounds. His poor baby head less than 2nd percentile. It has grown slightly in a year. He will eventually fall off the growth curve completely. He most definantely does have "microcephaley". Luke takes it all in stride. Another day, another doctor. The poor baby was just upset to miss OT Therapy.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Good News, And the Bad News...

Well, I finally recieved the results from the testing I had done regarding food allergies. The good news is that I do not have yeast overgrowth in my body. The bad news (although not surprising to me) is that I have a severe gluten intolerance. The doctor wrote, "Your testing indicates that you have an active dietary gluten sensitivity. It is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten free diet. As gluten is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well." There is that word again "syndrome". It is estimated that 85% of women with PCOS also have a gluten sensitivity. So I am not surprised and have suspected for the last 18 months that I have had gluten sensitivity. So my journey into the gluten free world begins!

No more bread, cereal, crackers, waffles, pancakes, french toast, muffins, donuts, pastries, pasta, or croutons. Oatmeal is off limits unless bought through a special facility that does not process grains through the same machinery. Cross-contamination is a huge issue. Gluten can hide just about anywhere too. It is used as a thickening agent for so many things. Most soups and processed foods contain hidden gluten. It is in most salad dressings, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, it is hidden in things under other names like modified food starch, dextrins, artificial and natural flavors. Any food label that says that the food contains wheat or is processed in a facility that contains wheat or wheat product is off limits. I am having to look up items to see if I can eat them. For example yesterday at our BBQ for the 4th, we were having smores. Well, I had no idea if marshmallows contained gluten or if the type of chocolate being used contained gluten. Well, the graham crackers were of course off limits because of the wheat flour, but it turned out Kraft marshmallows and the "plain" Hersey chocolate bar were both gluten free. Nothing is going to be easy anymore. Eating out is going to be a nightmare. There are three things at Taco bell, I can eat, 4 things at El Pollo Loco, 3 things at McDonald's. Thankfully the information is easy to look up on the Internet and most companies are beginning to understand the importance of labeling products.
I just want to say thank you to which ever parent passed this along to me :)

Which brings me to one other point that has been eating away at me lately. It is only in the last year that I have made the frighting discovery that unless you are in the drivers seat regarding your health nothing ever gets done. If I hadn't pushed my doctors to look into the PCOS I would still be undiagnosed. If I hadn't paid out of pocket for my food allergy testing, I still would not know that gluten is poisoning the inside of my body. Let me just encourage you to find the answers to health issues. Knowledge is Power!
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