A Breath of Fresh Air

Glimpse the Living God.

Location: Virginia, United States

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

2013 - A Year of Unconditional Love

His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, (Song of Solomon 5:16 ESV)

Baby #4 was on the way, I was tired and sick and a poor housekeeper. We had pancakes for dinner way too often, but my sweet Hubby never complained. He supported me by arriving home from work with a smile and brought peace to our house. He was my rock. Most nights, he put the kids to bed so I could crash at 7pm.

From about January 15 to the end of the month, everyone got sick. Achy, fever, sniffles, we were a NyQuil commercial. We took care of each other. The light bulb in our TV went out, but the kids had so much fun watching Netflix on our phones and iPad. Whew! That was a close call.

Bob and I planned a romantic getaway in Berkeley Springs, WV. (Thanks Mom and Dan for watching the kids!) We rented a cabin in the mountains with a wood burning fireplace. It was cold, but we were looking forward to a few short hikes, some geocaching, browsing the used bookstore, lunch at Terri's, dinner at the Seaside Bar and Grill, and perhaps a movie at the one-screened theater where popcorn is made fresh and soda is served in red Solo cups.

We arrived Friday night int the rainy darkness. There was wood inside, so we got a fire going and snuggled on the couch. It was such a blessing to be able to sit and have a long, lazy, uninterrupted conversation. We laughed at the size of the Queen sized beds, thankful for our King at home. Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up with horrible chills. Oh no, not again! I moved to the couch and then to the other bedroom and got about 2 more hours of sleep.

Saturday morning, we found a hole-in-the-wall doughnut shop with strong hot coffee and the best doughnuts ever. We went to the local grocery store and bought food for lunch and dinner, cough medicine, cough drops, and kleenex. Next door was a Goodwill so we picked up a few VHS movies to watch. Do we know how to party, or what?

Back at the cabin, we got the fire going, I got into my jammies and bundled up on the couch. There were many games at the cabin and Bob's project was finding all the pieces and reassembling them. We played most of them, enjoyed turkey sandwiches, and watched The Parent Trap and Catch me if you can. So much for romantic, but it was still such a fun weekend with my very best friend.

The basement project begins! Since our family was taking over the upstairs bedrooms, Bob decided he was going to finish our basement so that our guests would have a more private bedroom and bathroom and so that the kids would have a nice big space to play.

The entire time he talked about it, I never believed he would actually do it. Two hundred 2X4s were delivered to our house and still I didn't believe it. Bob bought a very manly hammer and thousands of nails, screws, and of course the Ramshot - a gun of sorts that uses a blank bullet to shoot screws into metal beams. It was pretty impressive.

Once the first wall went up (thank you Dan!), it looked like he was really going to do it! He worked tirelessly every Saturday and Sunday and a lot of evenings.

Work on the Basement continued. One Saturday, Bob got up with the kids so I could stay in bed. I slept in until 8:00, and came downstairs just as Bob was walking in the door. He had gotten us cinnamon crunch bagels at Panera! He greeted me with a bright sunny smile, a kiss, and a huge cup of coffee. We had a nice family breakfast together before he went back downstairs to work.

Despite all the work in the basement, Be took time out to take the older kids to Home Depot's workshop on the first Saturday of the month, he helped with bedtimes, was with us for dinner, and never missed a family movie night on Fridays. I was very impressed with how he balanced a full time job, caring for his family, and finishing the basement.

Selah had a sleepover with two of her friends for her 6th Birthday. Bob watched the other two so that I could party with the girls.We all had a great time.

On May 20, we went in for my 20 week ultrasound. I found out that I had a partial previa which is where the placenta (the area in the womb that attaches the baby to me) was too low. They said it was common and that it would most likely move up in time. However, for the next 6 weeks, I could not lift anything heavy. "What's heavy?" I asked thinking like 50 pounds. "Ten pounds" was the reply. ??? Come again? "I have three kids!"

At my next appointment, I asked my midwife, Wendy about the ten pounds. She bypassed my 18-month-old and pointed to my 3-year-old and said, "How much does he weigh? That should be okay." So, I tried to take it easier than normal, but didn't worry so much. Bob was right there to carry laundry baskets up and down stairs, to bring groceries in from the car, and to carry kids to bed. Great Husband, great Daddy, and I felt so blessed!

We also found out that we were having a girl! Let the naming game begin! Me: Cadance, Sage, Chyanne Bob: Alexandra, Abigail  Oh, here we go again.

We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary at the Melting Pot. We got a round booth so we got to snuggle and share food and talk. Good food and fun times with my best friend.

Bob took time out from the basement to take us to Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA for a long weekend. We arrived Thursday night, but woke up to pouring rain on Friday. The heated pool at the hotel was not heated (heater core broke), but the kids loved it anyway. We swam in the morning, pizza buffet for lunch, found a fabulous hands on kids museum where they could process eggs, drive a tractor, mail letters, work at a grocery store, plant and harvest corn, be part of an assembly line, and play all kinds of games. Saturday and Sunday were bright and sunny. What a fun family weekend!

Every June, the kids go to Ohio for a week for Grammy camp. Bob again took time away from the basement so we could hang out. We went to the movies, played poker, played mini golf, and had dinner and game night with friends (Miss you Jim and Sue!)

Of course the kids were gone, so Bob didn't have to time the loud and quiet activities in the basement, the power outages, or the turning off of the water in accordance with their needs, so we did do some work down there too. In fact, we went down at 10:00 one night, cut the power, and I held the flashlight so he could wire some fuses. Go team!

The basement would have been finished by now if Bob would have just worked and not taken time out with friends and family. I was happy to have him and so thankful for the time that he gave us. In fact, he sacrificed three Saturday mornings to take the kids to workshops at Lowe's twice and Home Depot once. Yay Daddy!

In addition to a full time job, family duties, fun times, finishing the basement (with more than a little help from his friends), he also took the VA real estate course and got his real estate license. One of my biggest struggles is finding balance in all that I do, but he seemed to handle it with ease. My Super Man!

I had horrible back pain and was struggling to handle every day tasks like laundry, shopping, cooking. With baby girl coming soon, my Mom moved in to help. It was nice to have an extra set of hands so that Bob could finish up the last bit of the basement and I didn't have to worry about who would watch the kids when we went to the hospital.

Good thing too, because my water broke at 11pm and we were off to have a baby! Amelia Joy arrived at 7:25am on August 11. The birth didn't go exactly as planned, but my fearless cheerleader never left my side. I held his strong hand every step of the way and I knew everything would be fine as long as he was there with me. Our baby girl was strong and healthy so life was good.

My Mom stayed with us for a couple of weeks until I was strong enough to care for everyone. Then, I was on my own with 4 kids! It seemed like so many in those first weeks as they swarmed around me, each needing me in a different capacity. Breathe, just breathe.

The carpet was installed in the basement, but the family sleepover that I had envisioned to celebrate did not happen. Amelia slept at least 4 hours in a row all night every night from the very beginning, but I was still way too tired to try to sleep in one room with everyone. I had been a parent long enough to know that the picture in my head was never even close to reality most of the time.

Selah started 1st grade, and Miles began his school career at St. Andrew Lutheran Preschool. I was excited to get some one on one time with Moriah. We went to the play ground or ran errands after we dropped Miles off. Life would have been perfect except my right leg hurt. My body didn't heal as quickly after baby Amelia so I figured it was from being pregnant and would eventually get better. I stretched it, iced it, and even tried to run and work it out. At my 6 week post birth check up, the Midwife suggested that I see a chiropractor. The thought of anyone touching it made me shudder. It was really hurting.

16-leg still hurting, went to doctor, got x-rays
22-went to orthopedic surgeon, mass in my distal femur, use crutches
23-Mom moved in. Said she was ready to stay a month. I told her she would be able to leave in two weeks.

CT scan, MRI of leg
CT scan of organs
Bone biopsy
Giant Cell Tumor. Benign!! Praise God!
Surgery scheduled for December 3. Prayer warriors praying for an earlier date. Surgery rescheduled for November 26!
Thank you so much Dad and Diane for taking care of the kids and Thanksgiving dinner! My ever faithful and supportive Hubby spent the night in Arlington with me. He made me laugh. He let me sleep. He was there.

The tumor had grown considerably since the last image was taken. It was removed and replaced with cement. Recovery would be longer than expected.

Bob's Mom came to stay for a week.
I could do nothing for myself. Bob even had to help me get dressed. We relied on friends and family to stay with us, drive Miles to and from school, bring meals, wake up with Amelia.

Once I was off the heavy drugs and started PT, life began to get better. I got stronger every day. Bob did all the shopping. Without complaint, he went to Costco, Harris Teeter, Trader Joe's, and Target. He carried laundry up and down stairs. He got the kids breakfast, packed his own lunch, and did bedtime every night. He brought me meals in bed on the baby's high chair tray. Hahaha! I sure do love that man!

January 2014
My 6 week follow-up x-ray showed that there was not enough bone left to grow properly around the cement. The outside of my femur buckled leaving my leg crooked. Another surgery would be necessary. The options - break the bone and reset it using a metal plate and more cement and see if that would work, or a full knee replacement even though my knee is fine.

The oxygen had just been sucked out of my world. My head spun as I thought about all that we had already been through, all the help we'd received, all the progress I'd made. Go back to the beginning? Start over? Do it all again?

Bob held me as I cried off and on for days. No words, just the strong assurance of his arms around me, his familiar smell, and the hope that one day it will all be behind us.

February 2014
I am now walking (poorly) without a crutch. I can go shopping - even with kids. I can carry things upstairs. I can carry Amelia up and down stairs. I can walk short distances with Moriah. I can hold Miles standing still. Selah is so big, she can almost hold me!

24- I was once again in Arlington getting x-rays taken of my leg. I met with the Dr. to find out that my leg is stable and not getting any worse. I can put off major surgery for a couple of years. Also, a partial knee replacement is now an option. In the meantime, they are going to put a cast on my leg to straighten it so that I might walk better. That happens on Thursday.

I would totally dread it, if not for the man beside me. Bob has taken time off of work to be with me at every appointment. He has held my hand, asked questions, and talked with me at length about what has happened, our lives now, what the future holds. He has prayed with me, bought me ice cream, taken me to lunch, and just been with me. He runs around the house taking care of the kids, getting me water, getting ice for my leg, handing me the remote, throwing things away, so that I don't have to walk when my leg hurts.

I am over it! I'm ready to be healed and back to my life. Enough already! Bob has never complained. He has never made me feel like a burden. When I need to rest, he doesn't give me a hard time, he encourages me. He has a heart big enough for me and my emotional roller coaster. He has had unique opportunities as a Dad to interact with the kids in ways he may not have had I been there. He has put his real estate career on hold, come home every night to help me, and given up much of himself for our family. One day, when I was feeling extremely upset he looked at me and said, "For better or worse, babe."

I love you so much, Bob Waddell. I can not thank you enough for the care and love that you have shown me this past year. You have put up with pregnancy hormones, post pregnancy hormones, sleep deprived craziness, depression, and all the emotions that have come with this new road that we are traveling. I couldn't ask for a better life partner. I would marry you all over again! You are my forever!


Blogger Lois said...

Add to that putting up with having his mother-in-law invade his home for 7 or 8 weeks!!! I don't know too many men who could tolerate that! I know you cried while writing this and I cried while reading it. You are both blessed to have each other! Love you!

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Steph said...

Jen you are a warrior and I absolutely adore you. Thank you for sharing your life. I know God is glorified through your life and writing. I'm honored to call you friend and I love you from the depths of my heart, even if you concede to hit COSTCO on our bang-bang shrimp free night.:-)

7:06 AM  
Blogger jim whittaker said...

What a year indeed! And what an amazing couple you and Bob are. Miss you guys. I wish we could drive across town and play a few games of No Name and Chicken Foot. Love you guys. Give Bob and the kids a hug. I know Bob especially like my hugs. Ha OK, just tell Bob I said hello.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey sweet lady. You are such a compelling presence. I had no idea how difficult of a time you've had. I'm sorry for being MIA. Would love to come see you. How would next week be? I could bring Holly, Selah and Sylas. What day would be good? We can bring lunch. I miss you. xoxo


4:42 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

WOW. Jen. I am amazed by all of this...I didn't really understand it all. CRAZY and scary and amazing.

12:51 PM  

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