Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday Feature - Ask the Quad Mom



We get tons of questions every time people find out we have quadruplets. I thought it would be a fun blog feature to do a weekly section called "Ask the Quad Mom"! So, in anticipation for next week's first "Ask the Quad Mom" post, send me your questions!! 

You can pose your questions in the comments below, on our Facebook Page, or email me at lotsobabylane@gmail.com! I look forward to answering your awesome questions! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's Gonna Be Okay Child; It's Gonna Be Okay



As I’m writing this, I’m comfy in my bed. I had another post started and fully intended on sharing it with you guys tomorrow. However, what I’m about to tell you, is much more important. What I’m about to share, is nothing short of a miracle.  What I’m about to share with you, is one more experience to add to my testimony for Christ.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t share experiences like this with the world. What I experienced was extremely personal. It was something that caused me to sit and ponder if my experience had been real or if it was all a dream. But if you’ve been following and reading my posts, you know that over the course of the past year, my faith in Christ has been pushed to the limits and has been proven through and through. And now, I have just one more story to share as part of my testimony. What I experienced was no doubt real and it was a message directed specifically for me.

The past few months have been HARD. We have faced struggle after struggle all the while witnessing miracles in kind acts of others. I’ve written about the health struggles my Mom has been battling. I’m not sure if I have accurately shared the true depth of her struggle, and the real fear my entire family has faced regarding her health. My Mom has been extremely sick. She battled illness after illness only to later find out those struggles were caused by stage IV, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the bone marrow. The disease caused quite a few struggles for her including HLH Syndrome (a syndrome where her red and white blood cells ate each other like Pac-Man). She also faced something called Stephens’ Johnson Syndrome which was a severe reaction to an antibiotic given to treat a urinary tract infection. During the course of her first chemo treatment for the lymphoma, Mom became septic and tested positive for multiple bad bacteria. During all of this, there were points where we didn’t know how much more she could take. I remember spending one Tuesday at the hospital with my Dad and both of us spending most of the day in tears, holding Mom’s hands, and praying for healing for her. She was unresponsive and all her energy was used to sleep and fight off infection. I’m not kidding, things were bad.

During all of this, I remained strong in my faith and continually prayed that God would heal my Mom. I also requested prayers from pretty much everyone I knew via Facebook, text messages, phone calls, and in-person. I was at the point where I was asking random strangers who asked about the babies to please pray for my Mom. It was extremely challenging for me because during a time when I really wanted to be by my Mom’s side, I also had to handle my responsibilities as a wife, a mother and as a full-time employee. It was tough going for a while! So I began praying to God asking him not only to restore my Mom’s health, but to give me some sort of a sign that things would be okay. I remained in constant prayer for my Mom, day and night. When I’d awake during the night, I’d pray for her. When I said prayers every night with each baby, we prayed for her every time.

The house we are living in for now belongs to my uncle. It was my grandmother and grandfather’s house and the house my Mom (and uncles) grew up in. This house has very special memories for me. For the first three years of my life, I spent almost every day of my life in this house with my “Nanny” (grandmother). My Nanny was probably my best friend as a baby and a toddler. We spent countless hours playing together, making “mudcakes”, going through her “button box” and she made me more bowls of macaroni and cheese and “butta bread” than either of us would probably admit. I loved her so much that both of my daughters are named after her. A huge hole has always been in my heart since she went to be with the Lord.

As often happens, on the morning of July 8, 2014, I awoke to one of my babies crying at about 3:00 AM. I sleepily rolled out of bed so I wouldn’t wake my husband and started my way to their room so I could comfort him. Immediately when I entered the living room, I could smell fresh baking bread. The smell was so strong, instead of going straight into the babies’ room, I went to the kitchen to see if perhaps there was bread in the oven. When there was no bread, I returned to the living room where I stood puzzled. Suddenly, an indescribable feeling of peace came over me and the words “it’s gonna be okay child, it’s gonna be okay” played over and over in my mind. I knew immediately that this was a message meant for me. My “Nanny” was well known in the community where we live for her homemade bread. I took care of the crying child, but remained in the living room contemplating what had just happened and praying regarding the message as well as Mom’s health.

The next morning, I shared the story with my husband and a few others who are close to me. I was scared that people might think I was crazy for such an odd experience but everyone I told, reassured me that what I’d experienced, was exactly what I thought it was: a true message from God meant only for me. I clearly knew without a doubt that this was God’s sign that I’d been begging for. He was going to heal my Mom.

It just so happened that that very day, was the turning point in Mom’s hospital stay. The bacteria started responding to treatments, and slowly, very slowly, her health began to turn around and she began to heal! I was so excited the next time I visited her to see her awake and alert because that meant I could share my experience with her so she’d know that Nanny had brought me a message from God and we were going to be okay. When I hugged my Mom bye that day, she told me “I’m going to be healthy again, Misty. I’m going to get healthy and I’m going to come home.”

It’s been a long process, and a tough battle, but today, I’m happy to share with you the miracle we received. A bone marrow biopsy was taken this past Monday to see how Mom had responded to her first round of chemo. We received the results today; THERE WAS NO SIGN OF LYMPHOMA!!!! Immediately upon receiving this news, tears filled my eyes. God’s message to me was undoubtedly true. I knew at that very moment that He had sent my Nanny to give me the message so that I could be at peace with everything I was trying to juggle, knowing that my Mom would return to health and be able to share in my joy as a mother with me very soon.

My Mom still has a long battle ahead of course. She has to recover from the chemo and will still possibly undergo more chemo but God is with her and He’s with us. He’s with each and every one of us. All you have to do is believe in Him! Give your life to Him and trust Him with your struggles. He will never leave you and will never forsake you. Even in the deepest, darkest times, He’s still there. He sees your struggles and while He may allow you to suffer for a period or a season, but always remember He won’t ever allow you to go through anything that He does not ordain as for your eternal good. I know firsthand that He won’t ever give me more than I can bear. Even when it feels like I’m at my breaking point, He sends JUST ENOUGH of whatever it is I need, to get me through. If you haven’t already, talk to God. Share with him your faith in Him and Him alone and then give him your burdens, your worries, and your fears. God says He won’t forsake you and He means it.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A year ago today...

Let's travel back in time to one year ago today, July 22, 2013 - things were SO much different!

As I'm typing this, four little babies are sitting in the living room mostly jabbering but one is fussing because he thinks he should always be held. I can't help but think about where I was one year ago today.

Today is the one year anniversary of when this whole journey began. Adam and I went in early on the morning of July 22, 2013 to begin the procedure that we would soon find out would change our lives forever (times four). 

I can remember the day like it was yesterday. The best way to describe my feelings were: fear. But my fear that day was nothing like the fear I face now. After ten years of struggling with PCOS, I didn't know if I'd ever fulfill my dream of being a Mom. We prayed so much that day that God would hear my plea and that He'd give us A baby. He sure answered that prayer in a BIG way!  

I have learned in the past year never to underestimate just what God can do for us as humans. It may not always be in the time we'd like to see it, exactly the way we wanted, and He may put us through test after test, or He may decide we need to go through a period of trials. But He's always there with us. 

Have you seen the movie The Internship? Remember the Google interview question about the blender? That's basically been my life since July 22 of last year. We endured infertility and the struggles that come along with treating infertility. We overcame and came out with not just one, but four babies. We were faced with mold during my extremely high-risk pregnancy in the home we were renting in Houston. We overcame. We relocated to be near family and were met with to our surprise, more challenges. We overcame. Said challenges meant that our plan to build/buy our own home by the time babies came home from NICU were derailed. We overcame. I went through a very tough, physically and mentally draining pregnancy. And I overcame. I went through preeclampsia in delivery. I overcame. The babies spent 52 days in NICU. They overcame. We were faced with tons of needs for diapers, formula, baby clothes, baby gadgets. The needs were overcome. We were faced with little help/childcare due to unexpected illness. We overcame. My Mom is battling a very severe illness as we speak. She's overcoming and WILL overcome. 

I could go on and on talking about the challenges we've faced in the last year and the flat out miracles and truly answered prayers that have gotten us through. Sure, there are times when it HARD to remain faithful and know that our needs will be met. It's still easy to be fearful of the day to day struggles we face. Sure, there's times where I want to throw in the towel. Yes, there are times when it's just me and all four babies are crying and each has needs to be tended to. There hasn't been a time yet that we haven't survived. One baby at a time, one second at a time, with God's help, I'm able to meet their needs. It reminds me so much of how He cares for us - each of us, with our own sets of needs, wants, struggles, etc. - yet He is able to ALWAYS sustain us and care for us in the way only He can love us. 

When people see me in public, I'm always met with dramatic reactions, statements and questions. A common one I get is, "you must have a lot of help". Usually, my standard answer is "we have a little bit of help, but for the most part, it's just us and God". Often times, the response to that comes as "Oh wow", or an "I'm sorry" or sometimes people will even go as far to ask about my Mom being close by to help.  I'm always happy to share my story with them and let them know that there's no reason to be sorry. By living through what to some may appear to be a nightmare, I continually prove to myself just exactly what I'm capable of with God by my side.

While we were in the NICU, our Pastor and his wife came to visit with us and pray over us and the babies. I shared with him just a few of the miracles that had happened to us during the pregnancy, the delivery, on into our extended hospital stay. He mentioned to me to write down all of those miracles as they happened a keep a journal with them. That one day, perhaps I'd be able to share my story and my testimony with others. I can't wait for the babies to celebrate their first birthday because I'm going to have a novel to share by that point! 

Never in my life would I have ever dreamt that I'd be a "quad mom". Until the day I found out I had four babies growing inside of me, I had no idea there were amazing women all over the country raising quadruplets just like I am now. You may not see us much (that's because taking four babies out of the house is HARD), but we're here. We each have a unique story to tell of our journey, and how God brought us to this place in our lives. We face unique challenges that most people don't even think about but one day at a time, with God's help, we get through this as well as any other challenges that He deems as necessary for our eternal good! My only hope is that I can share our story with others the way God wants me to so that I can use it to glorify Him.

Monday, July 14, 2014

When You Can't Count on Family, Where Do You Turn?

When you can't count on your family, where do you turn? The answer? To God, and in turn to amazing community and friends who share Christlike love.

When we found out that we were expecting quadruplets, as you can imagine, our lives were turned upside down. On the day we left the clinic after hearing the news, Adam and I sat in the car in the parking lot of the doctor's office, held hands, and just stared straight ahead. I'll never forget Adam asking me "What do we do now"? My answer "we better both get to work because we're going to need our jobs more than ever now"! We did just that! Although, I'll admit, I didn't get a lot of work done that day.

Soon after, we began sharing the news with our families. We knew we were going to need a lot of help during this sudden change in our lives and felt like the people we could count on the most were our families. We began making plans. Let me just say that we both have the most amazing, supportive parents in the world and both sets of them would go to the ends of Earth for us and our babies. We both came from pretty close-knit families so we just assumed they'd be there to support us through this.

We knew some changes had to be made in regard to our living arrangements. With four babies, it was obvious to us, we were going to need some help! Unfortunately, on our budget, it was going to be very difficult to hire someone and still pay the expensive rent we were paying in Houston. The plan was that I was going to keep my job so we anticipated having some pretty high child care costs. Then my Mom suggested that we move closer to her and she'd help with the babies. So we did just that! Our plan was to move into my Aunt and Uncle's Farm House on the family land for a couple of months while we either moved in a modular home or built a "barndominium" on the property. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, those plans didn't materialize. We've remained in the farm house since, as trying to find alternate living arrangement while super pregnant, with babies in NICU, or with newborn quads at home has proven to be challenging. And the thought of moving with quads...yikes! 

When we first came home with the babies after 52 days in the NICU, there were many late nights where I'd just stand in the nursery and wonder what in the world we had done. I remember a time or two, standing over the changing table, feeling so overwhelmed that I was in tears. How was I going to care for all of these babies all by myself? How would Adam and I get by? How on Earth could I be the parent and provide for all of the needs of not one, but four babies all on our own? Of all the women in the world, why did God decide that I was fit to be the mother of quadruplets? 

I've come to learn, I can't. We can't.

In the beginning, Adam and I nearly killed one another. I'm serious. It. Got. Ugly. The babies needed care around the clock. We did nothing but feed, change, burp, bathe, love babies. When we weren't doing that, we were washing endless loads of laundry and bottles and then filling them. I once went three days on three hours of sleep. We were both tired, exhausted, and frustrated with our situation and were snappy with one another. My Mom unfortunately had fallen ill with a bad hip and was unable to help us as she'd planned in the beginning.We turned to God for help and asked Him to get us by.

The saving grace was Adam's Mom, who blessed us with three months of live-in services. I'm not kidding. That woman saved my life and probably our marriage. She realized that it's hard for me to ask for help when I really need it. She realized that I was struggling and she just took charge and lovingly did what needed to be done without me asking. She helped with late night feedings, made bottles, did laundry, cleaned house, cooked for us and all in all, filled in with the extra set of hands we so desperately needed. As the time fly by and it came closer for her to leave, I was sent into a complete state of panic. What was I going to do? How would I survive without her? Were we going to go back to fighting with each other in front of our babies? Would our babies be cared for in the way we planned? Would the babies' needs be met? All of these questions danced in my mind.

Fortunately, we were able to create a plan. We decided the best option was for me to stop working to focus solely on caring for the babies and Adam would take a position that paid more, but meant he would not be around to help with the babies. I planned to give two week's notice at work and during that time, Adam's sister would come from East coast to help me. Unfortunately, when I talked to my boss, she asked me to stay on until August 15 (almost three months vs two weeks) to help find and train someone to take my place. Back to the ol' drawing board we went. We had to hire help.


Meanwhile, my Mom suffered setback after setback with her hip replacement and complications turned into some pretty scary moments for us. I honestly did not know what I was going to do. My Mom was in the hospital. My Dad was caring for her. Adam's family is over 1,000 miles away. Frantic calls to my siblings for help didn't pan out as they all had their own families, children, and work to care for. I felt pretty alone. I turned to God and begged Him to get me through this. Throughout everything, during my fertility treatments, my pregnancy, and now parenthood, God has been right beside me carrying me through and He continues to do so. The blessings we have received make it so plain that God is on our side. I've learned not to count on Earthly people or things to get by but to rely on my faith in Him alone. 

Help has not come from the places where I would typically expect help to come from. One would expect that during such a trying time, all help would come from close family and friends. Instead, God has chosen to show us His love in a much bigger way. He's taken those people out of the equation in one way or another and instead, He's sent help from so many places and none of which I would have expected.

My work was flexible and has allowed me to work from home during my pregnancy and after the babies came home. My Aunt and Uncle have been a huge blessing allowing us to live here while we decide what our next step is going to be. We've been blessed with gifts of diapers, wipes, swings, money to buy the 4 seater stroller that I desperately needed to do grocery shopping or doctor's visits on my own as well as other items from members of our communities, my work and from both churches we attend. We were blown away by the generosity of people we would have never expected to help us and usually the exact help we need always came right when we felt hope is lost and we are at our darkest. When we came home, and didn't have time to go to the store and had no idea how we were going to eat, ladies from our Life Group brought us meals that helped us get through. When we were panicked about how we would survive with Adam working long hours, me continuing to work from home, and were unable to find someone on short notice to watch the babies, God sent someone to tell me exactly where to look and we found the perfect Nanny for us three days before she started. When we were at our wit's end, my Mom wasn't doing well and I desperately needed some time to speak to God, He had four women specifically picked out to hold each of our babies in the nursery at church while Adam and I were given much-needed time to worship. When our families were unable to stop by to help hold and feed babies, people who were practically strangers stepped in, eager to hold babies. Some of my closest friends right now are ladies I didn't know existed until my babies were conceived. Women from all over the US have been brought into my life in a quad mom group I'm blessed to be a part of. Women from our community have stepped in to help with the baby's laundry and to help me hold them. One even came by on a day that wasn't hers, just to sit with me, give me a hug (she knew I needed it), and to give each baby some one on one time with being held. It was such a special treat that we don't often get and I know God was directly behind it because who else would have known how bad I desperately just needed a hug! It continually amazes me how perfect God's timing is. I could go on and on about the miracles of God's love that I've witnessed during this journey I'm on but the point of the message is, God's love is REAL. It far surpasses any kind of love on Earth. He's so capable of loving us and He does just that if we will only ask Him. God has used this pregnancy and this adventure in new motherhood, to plainly show me just how far He can and will go for me. 

Sometimes, I am tired and I am weak. I get frustrated when I can't have MY life and I can't go out in public with my family like any normal person because of all of the attention we receive. But as a wise mentor told me once, like Moses, when I say I can't, God says I can. He gave me these babies so that I can be a testimony to His love. When the doctors told me there was a 0.5% chance of ever conceiving, God said "here, have four healthy babies". When I've needed help, God could have allowed people that I've always counted on to be there and to come through for me, but He didn't. He knew that by sending other people to show His love, He'd make His point that much louder and that much clearer. Nice work, God! I get it. And in turn, I intend to take every opportunity presented to share Your love with others in the way it's been shown to me. Like Moses, you've chosen me to endure struggles so that I can praise Your name and tell everyone all you've gotten me through and how You've never left me alone. What I once viewed as unfair, is no longer such. It's all about God and seeing that He gets the Glory. It is afterall, His to begin with!

Love and Prayers, 
Misty



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where I've Been...

It's been a while since I've been able to post an update. My world has been turned upside down recently and if I'm completely honest, there are days where I am struggling to keep my head above water.

When we found out we were pregnant with quads, we knew that our world was going to change. We just quite didn't know how much. Boy were we in for a ride. Even the plans we made while I was pregnant, somehow, have all turned pretty much upside down. It seems like nearly every plan we made faced challenges, albeit some larger than others. Except for our commitment to keeping God in our lives and our children's lives, it seems that somehow, every plan we made, was derailed. Fortunately for us, we did keep God by our side and he's been right here helping us through every challenge, decision, and change we've had to make. He's always provided for us; often, at the very last minute, but He's always seen that we are taken care of. 

On the day the babies were born, other than my husband, there was only one other person at the hospital: my Mom. My Mom was my rock through my pregnancy. Always there to listen, support, clean, wash baby clothes, put together a nursery, she even sewed all of the babies bedding (with minute details I might add). On the night they were born, I begged her to go with Adam to check on our babies while I was in recovery. She was hesitant to leave my side as I did have some complications during delivery but even when she went to see the babies, she refused to touch them until after I had a chance too. The plan was, that after they were home, my Mom would be one of my primary helpers in caring for them. We even moved to be right next door to her so it would be easy for her to come over at all hours of the day or night. What an amazing grandmother!!!

A few weeks after the babies were born, Mom started having some pain in her lower back/hip area. Knowing that several years prior she had undergone a very major back surgery, she immediately thought it was complications from that. However, upon visiting her doctor, she learned it was her hip and was quickly referred to a specialist who focuses solely on that area. Two weeks after we came home from NICU, Mom went in for a total hip replacement. 

It was supposed to be a quick recovery lasting about 6 weeks! Unfortunately, several weeks into it, Mom began having issues with being extremely exhausted and not having energy. After several doctor visits, and a hospital stay, they determined that she was not making blood. We battled with doctor after doctor as they tried to diagnose what could be going on. At the beginning of June, Mom texted me one morning asking for Benedryl. I told her I had some and would be happy to bring it but asked what was going on. She told me she had sores popping up on her body and in her mouth and she thought it was an allergic reaction. Quickly, I told her I thought it was important to visit her doctor. She did. Unfortunately, her doctor was not quick to recognize what was going on and that my Mom was actually having a very serious reaction to an antibiotic she'd been given in the form of Stephen's Johnson Syndrome. What started out as a small rash, quickly escalated into an all out major medical crises as her body began shutting down, skin began sloughing off, and her mouth became completely covered in sores. We soon decided it was best to take her to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston where my Mom has been in the fight of her life ever since.

She was later diagnosed with HLH, a blood disorder. Unfortunately, that diagnosis changed, and after a little more than a week, we learned she had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a blood cancer. Lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes, white blood cells that help protect the body from infection and disease, begin behaving abnormally. Abnormal lymphocytes may divide faster than normal cells or they may live longer than they are supposed to. The main form of treatment, like many cancers, is chemo.

The issue at hand was that before they could treat the cancer, they had to clear up the other issues caused by both the cancer (HLH) and the allergic reaction (Stephen's Johnson Syndrome). The past three weeks have been a roller coaster. Often feeling that every time we took one step forward, we took three back. 

My Mom finished her last dose of this round of chemo yesterday. With much prayer, she seems to be improving. She was removed from the ventilator yesterday and is having tubes removed from her body daily as she hopefully begins to function on her own again. My Mom was an athlete and a coach all of her life and she's amazingly strong so I know she's going to fight this lymphoma. My Mom also has something else on her side, bigger than all else: her faith in Christ. While I haven't been able to be with her as often as I'd like during this ordeal, I've remained in constant prayer for the restoration of her health. 

This time has been really tough for our entire family. My Dad has remained by my Mom's side through all of it. He's such an amazing man and witnessing his true love for my Mom has really made me realize what marriage is all about. We've been so fortunate to be surrounded by loving family and friends who've stepped in and helped out in so many ways. We are so thankful for each and every one of them and for every single prayer that's lifted up my Mom to the Lord. 

During this time, we were blessed to find an awesome helper locally who has been able to help me care for the babies during the day while I am working. The women in our community have also been a Godsend; offering up their time and strengths by picking up the babies' laundry, washing, drying, and folding it before returning it at the end of the day. The community has also pitched in an helped us with diapers, wipes, a four-seater stroller, and other (expensive) necessities that are constantly required by four infants. Still, four babies require pretty much constant care and attention but I trust God and know that every part of this is His plan to teach us something. 

We definitely have a long road ahead of us but are prepared for the journey with God by our side. Adam and I are still in the process of more changes as our life adapts to quad life and we start to settle into our new normal. Mom has a long battle ahead as she fights against lymphoma but her faith and her strength are in Christ. If you are able, please lift her health up to the Lord and ask him to restore her body to health and provide her with comfort that only He can provide in the meantime. As things begin to settle here, I do promise that my blog will soon become more of a focus for me. I'll post more later in regard to those details but for now, please understand why my posts are sporadic! 

In the meantime, love and prayers to all!

Misty