Monday, May 27, 2013

Just A Glimpse

All day I have been thinking about Matt and wondering what he is doing, which I do a lot. This morning I got an e-mail telling me about a Facebook page for the company Matt is a part of, but I was on my phone and it wouldn't open the page right on there. Then I got busy and forgot about opening the page on my computer until about 6 pm this evening. I opened the page and was looking at the pictures there. It was so great to see pictures of what Matt is doing! I was looking at the guys in the pictures and it made me happy to see them smiling! I was scouring the pictures for a glimpse of Matt and then I found one! He was just kinda in the back of the group, but it was his smiling face. My heart jumped with joy! What a wonderful blessing to see him, even if it's not real time. For the past week I've been praying to just have some kind of conformation that he is doing OK. This was just what I needed. Finding another picture with him right in the center was AMAZING! It put me on cloud 9. Life just didn't get any better.

It's kinda like playing "Where's Waldo" except it's "Where's Matt"

And Last but not least!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Letters, letters, letters

Disclaimer: This post is kinda random and goes from one place to another, but it's what is on my mind right now. 

I LOVE LETTERS! I love running (literally) to the mailbox to see what surprises it holds for that day. I love going through the stack and finding a letter with my name on it, and even more when it's in that crazy chicken scratch handwriting that I know belongs to Matt. 

In this day and age I think we take for granted how quickly we can contact people and get almost any piece of information that we need. Having Matt gone has already begun teaching me the valuable arts of patience and independence. I'm not saying that I was dependent on Matt before he left, but I did rely on him for certain things, like getting Mason ready on Sunday mornings or knowing his Social Security Number. It was always easier to just text him for it than to go dig the card out of the file box downstairs. (I now have it memorized, BTW) 

It's so crazy to get letters that are dated from 3,4,or even 5 days ago. He tells me what is going on in that day, but that was a few days ago. I wonder what is going on today, right now, this very second. I have no way of knowing. Yesterday I got a letter that FINALLY had his address on it! So today in the mailbox there were 3 letters waiting for the mail lady to whisk them away on their journey to my boy. Writing letters is actually quite therapeutic. It's a great way to see what good things have happened during the day, even when it feels like nothing has gone right. It's also a great way to have a little rant and then be done. Just a sentence or two about what's bugging me. And most of the time once I've written down what's bugging me, it doesn't seem so big anymore.

I'm beginning to understand how our grandparents and great-grandparents must have felt when they were separated. I believe that the war time separations they went through are part of what got us out of the depression and built them into the great generation that they are. If you think about what the world was like before WWI & WWII and what it was like after, there is a huge difference in the way people lived. I don't think it was just the invention of the automobile or the electric stove or the TV. I think it came from the hardships those people endured and the trials they faced. I look at my life now and really my life is easy. If I want to know some piece of trivia or I have a question for someone, I simply pull out my handy dandy little iPhone and look it up. Regardless of where I am, unless I'm in that middle of nowhere place that doesn't have cell coverage, I can find out just about anything I need. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it's actually pretty great. But some times I think we take it for granted. Sometimes I think that as a younger, more technologically advanced generation we have forgotten how to work hard for something and how it feels to have to wait to find out how a loved one is doing. 

I just booked my plane ticket to go out to Rockford to see Grandma and Pap, and then we are all going to drive down to Fort Benning to see Matt graduate from Basic. It's something that before now I would have never done with out running it by Matt and making sure that the dates were good with him and that I wasn't spending too much, etc. but I just did it! It's kinda liberating to just do something and not run it past the other person and not worry about what he's going to say. Like my mom said to me the other day, I'm not going to go out and buy a new car or rent an apartment or anything huge like that, but I can't bug him with every single question that I have. I have to put on my big girl panties and just do what needs done for our family to function. 

And what would a blog post be without a few pictures of Mason;)
 Mmmmm! COOKIE!

Cookie Monster Mason
Mason thinks Uncle Collin's beard feels funny
Eating the bubbles in the bathtub/sink

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ummmm....What to do with Mason?

Yesterday one of the members of the Relief Society Presidency called and asked me if I could teach Relief Society on Sunday. Of course I said yes! Teaching R.S. is one of my favorite callings I've ever had and I love to substitute. I spent the afternoon getting ready for my lesson and I think it will be pretty good. I mean how can you go wrong when your lesson is from Lorenzo Snow and about going to the temple? Tonight I was going over what's going to happen tomorrow at church and after church, I realized that I don't have anyone to watch Mason while I teach! Mom isn't going to be there because she has to work tonight. Amy and Brenda aren't going to be there. Who am I going to ask? I'm kinda picky about who I give Mason to for long periods of time. I'm totally good with him going to family members and most of the time I can't keep track of which family member has him. But for some reason giving him to non-family people makes me nervous.
For couples who are both at church, they can arrange it so that one of them is able to watch the baby while the other is teaching, but as a newly single parent I'm feeling a little outta sorts about the whole thing. Mason seems to almost always be the most cranky during R.S.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

6 Months

Today I have been thinking about how long/short six months is. It's half a year, 1/48th of my life, winter semester plus spring term, twice as long as we spent in Russia, less than half the time we've lived in Glenwood since we graduated, almost as long as Matt and I were engaged.

Mason turned six months old today. I can't believe it has already been that long. It feels like just a few weeks ago that we were in the hospital with him, counting the days till we could bring our sweet boy home.  I could not imagine my life without him. In all honesty, even though it was only 6 months ago, I can't remember what life was like before he was born. Well I can, but at the same time I can't. It feels like he has always been a part of our lives.This kid blows me away each and every day with how much he has changed in such a short period of time. He rolls over front to back and back to front, he has two teeth, he loves applesauce and sweet potatoes, tolerates broccoli, and hates green beans. He loves to sleep in the middle of the bed, just not his bed. He is still my little cuddle bug (right now as I'm typing this up he is curled up on my chest asleep). He puts anything he can get his hands on into his mouth and especially likes to grab onto my hair. So if you see me with my hair up more often you'll know why! I am totally and completely in love with this little boy!
At the same time that I can't believe how fast the last six months have gone, I look forward to the next six months thinking that it seems so long. It will be at least six months until both of my boys will be with me for more than a weekend. More than six months until I can have a house of my own again, with my own things, decorated by me and lived in by just us three. 

On a separate note, I've gotten 3 letters and one envelope with a bunch of insurance forms plus 2 notes. I am certain that insurance forms were created by Satan himself. Good grief. They may or may not have had me biting my tongue to keep from swearing at the stupid forms. It doesn't help that they have all these acronyms that I don't know yet and that I don't live near a military hospital or clinic. The only pediatrician listed as in network is in New Castle and I know nothing about her. All the family practice doctors are at Mountain Family, which is not a place I will ever take Mason. EVER. Matt went once to get his staph infection checked when we were home for Christmas and the whole office felt dirty. Not good for a doctor's office. Plus the only people who spoke decent English were the doctors. It's just not going to happen. (OK. My little rant is over) On the plus side my doctor is on the list so I don't have to find anyone new. 

A few nights ago I decided that my count down to all of us being together is going to be by chapters in the Book of Mormon. I've always been bad about reading scriptures daily, so this is a good way to get myself to do it. I put a picture of all of us that I took on our hike the week before Matt left in the chapter I should be at when he finishes OCS. All of us together is the goal and I'll read myself to it. The nice thing is that I can move the picture up a few chapters or back a few chapters depending on the dates when the time comes. Most nights I've been reading out loud to Mason as I feed him before bed. Although some nights if he's already asleep I just read to myself. The scriptures have a great calming effect on me. I have noticed that Mason and I both sleep better on nights when we read them. Reading them has greatly helped me not feel so lonely as I fall asleep at night. I think it is because I have something else to think about as I fall asleep. 

OH! How could I forget! I got to talk to Matt yesterday! It feels like it was forever ago because the phone call came at 2:15 AM...yes you read that call in the middle of the night. Luckily Mason had just finished eating so I was partially awake to hear the phone vibrate on the bed. I thought for sure my eyes were playing tricks on me or that I was dreaming when I saw his name come up on the screen. It was wonderful to hear his voice again. I wish I'd been more awake to be able to carry on a real conversation with him, but it was amazing nonetheless. I love that boy so much! And I miss him almost as much. I think the hardest part about him being gone is that I know that he's pretty much miserable right now. The first 3 weeks of Basic are supposed to be one of the hardest anyone will ever go through. It's kinda the "break them down so we can build them up how we want them" mentality. I don't know that I agree with that, but I do want to know that when Matt ends up in a combat zone, the guy next to him will have the proper training and have his back. 
This post has been kinda random but it is what is on my mind at the moment so that makes it all relevant I guess. I just have to keep reminding myself of our family motto: We can do hard things. Which may need to become the new name of this blog

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day, One week down

It's Mother's Day and I've been having a really hard time today. It's the first holiday that Matt and I have spent apart, it also happens to be my first Mother's Day, and the first Sunday that Matt has been gone. Some people wouldn't think that it being a Sunday wouldn't be that big of a deal, but for me it is. The thing is that Matt always helped me and Mason get ready on Sunday mornings. He would get up and shower, then hand Mason into me, so I could shower him, and then take Mason and get him lotioned and dressed. Then he would watch me do my hair and put my makeup on. We had some great conversations during those times. But today I had to do all of that myself.
This past week I have realized all the little things that I have taken for granted that Matt did for me and Mason. Things like Sunday mornings and laundry. Matt has always done the majority of the laundry because he knows how much I hate doing laundry. Most days I can handle everything that goes on, but some days are just hard.
Tomorrow morning will mark one week since I've gotten to hug and kiss and see him. It has been one of the hardest weeks. I put up a pretty good front and manage to stay pretty busy during the day, but it's hard, especially at night. I feel bad for my siblings because I've been pretty testy this week, a combination of lack of sleep and missing Matt. There have been two people that keep me going, Mason and my mom.
My mom has been so great this week. She's been there for me every time I've needed a shoulder to cry on and needed a mommy hug. Seriously, nothing beats a mommy hug when I'm missing Matt. I'm so glad that I can be here with the rest of my family until my family can be together again.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mason Andrew Riley

Where to start this story...I guess we start the day after Austin got home from his mission  so November 1, 2012 (33 w 4 d) . That's the day I found out I had moderate pre-eclampsia and got put on bed rest. Matt was at work so I was hanging out at my mom and dad's house with Austin, getting ready to take him shopping for new clothes. My mom took one look at my feet and hands and insisted that I call the doctor. I looked like I had moon boots for feet, they were super swollen. I did what mom said and called the doctor's office, they could squeeze me around 1. When I got there Dr. Dwyer took my blood pressure, sure enough it was super high and my urine sample had protein in it. She sent us to the hospital for a Non-Stress Test (NST) to make sure baby was doing ok. Mom and the nurse at the hospital got me all hooked up on the monitors and then the waiting began.We were there for what seemed like forever, but was really about 4 hours. Matt got off work and came over, I kinda freaked him out a bit by not telling him anything till I was at the hospital. Everything looked good with baby and my blood pressure was going down when I was sitting. The doctors decided that it was bed rest time for me. Yuck! Sitting on the couch and having everyone bring you whatever you need sounds like fun, except it's not. I couldn't even get up to go to the bathroom without someone asking what I needed or telling me to go sit back down. I hated it! Lucky for me, mom has hulu plus, so I could sit and watch tv shows via the wii. My routine became, get up, get ready, go to mom's house, get all 3 remote controls (universal, tv, and wii), watch tv. Over the next two weeks I watched the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, got caught up on Once Upon A Time, helped Austin plan how he was going to ask Ashley to marry him, and got really good at online shopping. I tried reading books, but my brain was gone, my attention span was worse than Eli's.
Ashley painting my toes
Over the two weeks I spent sitting on the couch, I was also going into the doctor's office at least once a week and to the hospital every three days for NST. Every time I went in I was getting worse and I was contracting just as much or more than the labor patients that were there, but I wasn't feeling any pain, so they kept sending us home with the warning that the next time we might not get to leave. Matt and I went into the doctor's office on November 15 for an ultrasound to double check that everything was good and to measure baby, since most pre-eclampsia babies are small. Everything looked good, but they still wanted me to go next door to the hospital for another NST and to turn in my 24 hour urine sample. My blood pressures were still super high (think 180/90, normal is 120/60) and my urine sample came back with over 5000/mg protein, which was the magic number we were trying to avoid. That marked the shift from moderate to severe pre-eclampsia. We weren't going home until we had a baby.
Lucky for me that morning I'd decided that it was past time to get a hospital bag ready and put in the car. So I had Matt go grab the bags and we started to settle in for the long haul. I remember calling my mom in tears when they told me that I wasn't going to leave. He wasn't supposed to come yet, I wasn't ready for everything to happen quite yet, I still had stuff to get ready! She lovingly reassured me that everything was going to be ok and called my doctor to make sure that she would make the same call as the on call doctor did. Once mom made it to the hospital I started to calm down a little bit because I had my support team, Matt and mom, with me. I think that was about the only part of Mason's birth that went according to the plan I had in my head.
Officially checked in and all IV'd up
Because they were inducing me, and because of the pre-eclampsia, I had to have an IV. I started out with just the magnesium, to prevent the seizures that can happen if you progress to full blown eclampsia, and a cytotec pill, since I was only at 2 cm and 50% effaced. the mag made me feel kinda achy. My contractions weren't super strong, I was only feeling them every once in a while and they weren't painful at all. Mostly I was just ticked that I had to have an IV and and oxygen monitor. I figured out real quick that I do not like being hooked to things at all! At this time I was still feeling up to visitors, so Lorna came to bring a few things we had left at home and to see how Matt and I were doing. Collin and Emily stopped by after school, I think they would have come regardless of if I said it was ok or not, they were so excited. Amy, Kelsey and Lindsey Larsen stopped by as well. It was kinda nice to have people come and take my mind off the waiting for a little while.  Shift change came at 7pm, and mom asked Nikki to be my nurse. Mom wanted someone with lots of experience to be my nurse, and I liked having someone I knew and was comfortable with. Around 8 pm my dad and Mike came and helped Matt give me a blessing. About that same time the doctor decided that it was time to start the Pitocin. The combination of the Mag and Pit made me feel awful. Thank goodness for nurses who convinced the doctor that my discomfort could be lessened by turning the Mag drip down a bit. It helped, but I was still pretty miserable. My water broke, but it wasn't complete or something, so the doctor finished it, and after that I was defiantly starting to feel the contractions more and more. My blood pressure spiked to around 200/100 so when I got up to go to the bathroom, so they decided that I was going to have to get a catheter put in...uggg one more wire! By this time I was getting two medications via IV, had an oxygen monitor on my toe, had compression cuffs on both legs, the catheter, and they tried twice to put in an internal contraction monitor, but couldn't get it placed right because his head was too far down. I couldn't move with out getting tangled in wires, it was so frustrating. I think that was worse than the actual labor part. I was progressing fairly well, sometime about 10:30/11 pm Dr. Boyson checked me and I was about 7cm and 100% effaced. I was miserable and my mom kept telling me that I could get an epidural if I wanted one, but I did not want one more wire attached to me and I didn't want to get poked by another needle, so I just got a dose of Fentynol, a narcotic drug to take the edge off the pain. It worked pretty well. Somewhere around midnight I started feeling like I was ready to push, but I wasn't at the full 10 cm yet. I'm really not sure what was going on at this point in time, I was somewhere in my head in the zone. It sounds weird, and it was weird. I can't really describe it other than to say I was in a trance and I was not in my right mind. I could barley respond when people asked me questions. I didn't really care what was going on around me or what other people did. I was just focused on what was happening inside me. I was determined that I was not going to let this go on for much longer. I also had to get a second dose of the pain medicine because it had worn off. Not long after that I got the go ahead to start pushing. My mom said I didn't push for very long, I had no concept of time other than holding my breath and counting to 10, over and over again. I remember them asking Matt if he wanted to touch Mason's head, and he wanted nothing to do with that. He was having a hard time with seeing me in so much pain, and not being able to do anything about it. If I was a selfless person I would have gotten an epidural so he wouldn't have stressed so much, but I'm not. I was feeling like I couldn't do any more when they told me that they could see a bunch of dark hair and that if I reached down I'd be able to touch his head. Feeling him for just that little moment gave me to strength and determination to finish pushing. It wasn't long after that and all of the sudden there were lots of nurses and the doctor in the room getting ready for Mason's grand entrance into the world. A few more big pushes 1:10 am on November 16, 2012, I heard the most wonderful sound in the world my son's first cry. Then he was on my chest and I was getting to see him for the first time.
 Our Little Miracle
 I was overcome with the most wonderful, overpowering love. It was so different from the love I have for Matt, which built slowly to become what we have now.When people talk about love at first sight, I think they are talking about the love that mothers have for their children. It was instant and possessive. This little boy was mine and Matt's and we had created this life, and he was perfect. 10 fingers and 10 toes, a healthy set of lungs, and curious eyes. When he was on my chest he stopped crying and was looking around, trying to figure out what was going on in this new place. Matt and I were smitten, this little boy had a giant hold on our hearts and still does. Somewhere in the midst of all of this emotional overload I was going though, Matt cut the cord, something that he didn't think he was going to be able to do, due to his dislike of blood and all things medical. Bring on another wave of pride for me that he did this.

The nurses took him to weigh him and measure him and wipe him off and all the other stuff they do. He was a whopping 6 lbs 13 oz and 20 inches long, at 35 weeks and 5 days. The doctor seemed to take forever to get me all stitched up. She said I had a 3rd degree tear, but that it was deep not long. All I know is that when she started stitching me up I could feel what she was doing and definitely let her know. It took 2 more shots before I wasn't feeling it. This was the only point in time I wished I had the doctor I'd been seeing for all of my appointments. by the time she was all done I was rid of all my wires except for the IV with the Mag in it. That one was supposed to stay for another 24 hours.
Once everyone cleared out of the room, mom and Nikki snuck me some chocolate milk and graham crackers. I wasn't supposed to have anything but clear liquids while I was on the Mag...but I was hungry after all that work and chicken broth and jello weren't going to cut it. After a little bit of rest, a phone call from Matt's Grandma Barb to say congratulations, and some ice packs, I was wheeled into our recovery room, where Matt and I finally got a couple of hours of sleep. But with nurses coming to check on you every 3 hours, an IV in my arm and a blood pressure cuff going off every hour it's a little hard to sleep, so I just put our little boy on the bed in front of me and looked at him with wondering awe. At this point in time he still didn't have a name, but as I looked at him I knew he couldn't be a Conner Patrick, he was too dark for that Irish of a name! So after very little discussion he was officially Mason Andrew Riley.

Our First Family Picture
The next few days were all kind of a blur as we admitted Mason into the NICU for glucose monitoring, and then he started doing funny things where his breathing and his heart rate and oxygen saturation levels would all drop at the same time. They called it a Brady and after having one of these episodes they had to keep him in for at least 5 days with out any reoccurance. That was Sunday, we didn't leave until Wednesday November 28. Mason was 12 days old. That was the longest 12 days of my life. I'd thought bedrest was bad, but at least then I knew he was ok, it was me with the issues. Now it was Mason that was struggeling and there wasn't a thing I could do to help him. There were many many tearful walks from the NICU back to my room. Thank goodness for all the nurses, and for them already being such good friends before Mason was born! I can't even count how many hugs I got from all of them. They took such good care of me. Every day Mason went without a Brady with an oxygen desaturation we did a little happy dance, ok maybe a big happy dance! One day we had gone 3 days without anything and we were getting so excited that we were going to be going home, and that morning, while Matt was in with Mason he had another episode. We had to start our count down all over agian. That was so hard. There were many many tears that day and I was at my wits end. I was sure we were never going to get out of that place!
Family picture in the NICU
I could have gone home at any time, I was discharged and there on "hotel status". But the idea of being away from Mason killed me. What if something happened, I needed to be there close to him. My momma bear insticts were out with full force Mom finally convinced me to leave the hospital on the 19 for just a little bit. We went and visited a couple of Mom's friends who were having a hard time. One had just lost her daughter and the other was recovering from her second hip surgery. It felt good to get out and to remind myself that I wasn't alone in my frustration and that things weren't so bad in my life. Matt and I did go home for a few hours for Thanksgiving dinner, and I had a glorious nap on my own bed! Hospital beds are NOT comfy! After making it out for a few hours a couple of times that week life started to get better. Sometimes I'd just go wander around Target, just to get out of the hospital. But everytime I left, if Mom wasn't working, I made sure that the NICU nurse had my phone number and knew to call if anything happened.
We had made it 5 days, he was going to get to come to our room that day and stay with us for the night and then we could go home! Matt and I were so excited we could barely contain ourselves. They were trying to see if Mason could come off his oxygen and he had another Brady with an oxygen desat and he didn't self recover, they had to give him extra oxygen to get back to normal levels. Matt told me that and I was sure that we were going to have to start our 5 day count all over again. I was absolutely devisated, I cried and cried and cried until I didn't have anything left. I fell asleep when the Doctor came in to talk to us, but I remember hearing her say that it was all ok and that we could still come home, he'd just have to stay on his oxygen for a while at home and since his Billy Ruben levels were still high and he was still pretty yellow/orange we would also have to keep him on the Billy Lights as well. Her words were like music to my ears! HOME! We could really go home! Finally, after 13 days in the hospital for Matt and I and 12 for Mason, we could take him home to our little room in the basement and start our adventure of being a family.
Going Home!