Thursday, March 12, 2015

hello again, again!

If you are friends with Jeff or I on Facebook, then you likely know what we have been up to for the last five months.  But here's a recap!

On October 8, 2014 Jeff and I went to Atlanta. The next day we got to the hospital and I quickly went to pre-op. After pre-op (where I passed out when they gave me my epidural) Jeff and I went to the OR. Our baby girl, Virginia Madison "Madi" was born at 1:20 pm on October 9 via cesarean at Northside Hospital. She weighed 7 lbs 4 oz and was 18 1/2 inches long. The doctors and Jeff saw immediate movement in her legs (we were so dang excited!!) and I got to see her, talk to her, and kiss her cheek before they whisked her away to the NICU.

As soon as Madi was gone they had a serious bleeding complication with me related to the way I healed from my previous c-section. My 25 minute ceserean turned into a 5 hour ordeal. I got 4 units of blood and platelets and who knows what else. It was kind of crazy and very scary. I was supposed to be able to see Madi again before she left my hospital and went to Children's at Scottish Rite, but when they got her packed up and ready to move, I was not in the recovery room where I belonged, I was still in surgery.

Madi, on the other hand, was doing awesome! They got her settled into the NICU at Children's and she was really just showing out. :-) She was moving all over the place in her your little isolette. In fact, they had to keep moving her back into the middle of her bed because she was moving and squirming so much that she kept bumping her head against the top wall.

Madi's NICU space.  She has a deluxe penthouse space with a window! :-)

Madi had her spina bifida closure surgery at 9 a.m. Friday morning, October 10th. Dr. Reisner had previously told us the surgery might take up to 4 hours. After only 2 hours Jeff was surprised to get a call from him that he was done. The doc said that on a spina bifida scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best possible situation regarding her nerves and feeling et cetera below her lesion, she was a 20! He said that he had not had an SB closure surgery that easy in years. We were amazed at her and SO grateful to God. :-)

I was able to go from my hospital to hers on Sunday and see her again for the first time since she was born.

This was her first bed space.  She moved to the penthouse space the next day.

It took what seemed like forever (14 days), several head ultrasounds, and finally a CT scan to determine that her hydrocephalus required a shunt. She got her vp shunt when she was 15 days old on Friday, October 24th. It was a hard day. She reacted poorly to the pain meds after her back closure  so they were trying to manage her pain after shunt surgery with only Tylenol. That didn't work at all so for several hours I tried to sooth her by holding, giving a paci, sucrose, feeding....but that was all a no go. They eventually gave her some morphine (a very small amount) which helped her finally nod off and me relax.

Me holding my girl one day in the 2 weeks between surgeries.
We finally got to bring Madi home the following Tuesday! That was a GREAT day!  We were welcomed with balloons and posters form our friends and Ben got to meet his little sister! :')

Madi is now 5 months old (I can't believe it!) and has grown so much. She is wiggling her toes, kicking her legs, and even likes to try to stand. She just woke up from her nap so I don't have time to fill you in on the last four months of fun right now, but I promise to soon. I am so glad to say that while her spina bifida (and related conditions) was very much our focus those first few weeks, it has had minimal impact on the majority of her life thus far. She is a wonderful girl. She brightens up the lives of all who know her and even those who just get to see her beautiful smile at the grocery store. :-) I am so proud to be her Mom and give all the glory to God for her

Monday, September 29, 2014

madi's birthday is coming soon!

I am 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant with my sweet girl today.  As long as she and my body continue to cooperate, she will be arriving on October 9th (just 10 days!!) via cesarean.  I will be 39 weeks that day and it will be precisely 20 weeks since we found out our girl has spina bifida.  Looking back to May 22nd I am amazed by how far we have come...emotionally especially.

While there is still fear of the unknown (Madi's surgery(ies), my ceserean recovery, transitioning from the NICU to home, adjusting to life with 2 kiddos) and worry for what certain aspects of Madison's future holds (i.e.: motor ability, potty concerns), I know that she is going to be one amazing girl and I am just so dang excited to meet her!

We have every confidence in the doctors and nurses that will be attending to Madison and in the hospitals where she and I will be in Atlanta.  We are grateful that my parents are able to come help us there and are willing to stick around for however long we need them.  We know Ben is going to be a great big brother and are thankful to the folks that will be caring for him while we are in ATL with Madi. We have been blessed over and over again by our friends and our community and we know that they will love our girl (almost) as much as we do!

And most importantly we know that God has this.  He has Madi.  He has me.  He has Jeff and Ben.  He has ALL OF IT.  There is no greater peace than resting in that knowledge, so even though there are times when my fear gets the better of me, I keep trying to come back to that - God has this.

So, we have been focused on the awesomeness of what it will be like to see this cute face in real life...

 ...and on getting ready for her arrival!

All of Madison's clothes are clean and ready.  The changing table is stocked, the Diaper Genie is ready to go, the pack n' play is up, the swing and rocker chair thing are assembled (...not the crib so much, but we'll get there eventually!), and she has diapers and blankets and onesies to last a lifetime (or at least a few months).  My house is still a bit of a disaster, but I have 10 days, right.  No biggie!

I cannot wait to meet my girl!  And you better watch out Madison, because there is nothing better than being a Coth-berry....and your BIG brother, Ben, is super excited to tell you all about it. :-)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

rollercoaster day

Ben is in Port. St. Joe with his Nina this week enjoying some super awesome times with her each day and at her church's VBS each evening.  Jeff and I have enjoyed the quiet around the house, but I have missed Ben something fierce.  I don't think I had realized how much having him around to love on and to care for and entertain had kept me from getting in my own head too much.

Today has been rough for me.  I have been on the phone quite a bit scheduling appointments to meet my doctors in Atlanta (an OB and a Maternal Fetal Medicine doc [MFM]) who will provide my care in Atlanta and deliver Madison when the time comes.  I also scheduled an appointment for Jeff and I to see a pediatric neurosurgeon for the first time on that same day.  This will be the doc that will perform Madi's initial surgery on the defect in her back after she is born and will also provide follow-up care throughout her childhood and adolescence.  After he reviews my ultrasounds and reports for our MFM in Albany, we will learn from him more about what we can expect for Madison after she is born.

So we will spend all day, July 2nd, in ATL going to doctors appointments.  I suppose this is a routine we might become accustomed to once we have little Madi to care for.

I also called the insurance company today because, of course, their website indicated that our ped. neurosurgeon was not covered under our policy.  Thankfully, upon calling, I learned that he is, indeed, covered as an in-network provider, but I was stressing for a while on that one.  I imagine that I will eventually build up a thick skin or some kind immunity to these anxieties...if you know me I am not much for being an anxious person...but those defenses are not yet in place.

All in all, I am ready for this day to be over and I am MORE than ready for my Ben Bear to be back home.  He is my best medicine right now. :-)

Thursday, June 05, 2014

it's a GIRL!! ...and other surprises

We found out several weeks ago that our little baby is a GIRL!  Her name will be Virginia Madison (after her Greatmother and her Nina) and we will call her Madison or Madi. :-)

Ben really wants to have a little sister - he has been talking about it A LOT - so we are super thrilled that he is getting one!  I can't believe that I will have to learn to deal with hair(!) and girl drama (which my sis-in-law tells me begins in infancy!).  I bet Jeff is going to turn out to be the world's best pony tail maker or something crazy. :-)  We are so thrilled to meet her sweet self in the fall - to count her fingers and toes, to see how much hair she is born with, what color her eye are, and all those other wonderful new baby things we get to experience again.  She is going to rock our world, that is for sure!

On top of learning that Madi is, indeed, a Madi, we have also recently learned that she has Spina Bifida.  This is a serious, incurable, but manageable condition.  We were completely taken aback to receive this diagnosis for our girl, but we know that our God was not....and Madi won't be either.  This birth defect and the toll that it may take on her body will be a part of her, but it will not define her.

So, while we have cried and grieved for the "normal" life we had expected for her and for our family since getting this diagnosis on May 22, we know that God has bigger plans for her (and for us) than we had ever imagined.

My pregnancy has been such a breeze thus far, and that has been a blessing.  We ask that you pray for me and for Madi over the next several months - that my pregnancy continues smoothly and that we learn more and get as prepared as possible for little Madison's arrival.  We're excited and nervous, like all expectant parents would be, with just a little extra anxiety of the unknown thrown in to the mix.  But like I said before, Madison is going to be more (much more!) than her Spina Bifida and we cannot wait to see what all God has in store for her. :-)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

baby on board

In my first trimester of bring pregnant with Ben I was non-stop nauseous for weeks and TIRED all the time (like, going to bed at 8 p.m. or earlier tired).  So far, this baby has been much kinder to me. :-)  I have had a few moments of nausea and I have certainly been much less energetic than before but no early bed times yet and there has not been anything or anyplace I have patently refused to eat because it sounded so awful.  I have been, however exceedingly hungry, especially the last few days.  Yesterday, I satisfied my hunger like a champ with peanut butter pretzel sandwiches topped with toasted marshmallows, some almonds topped with toasted marshmallows, some more peanut butter pretzel sandwiches topped with toasted marshmallows, and about half a bag of Doritos. That was all consumed between lunch and dinner. Ah well!  You win some, you lose some, right? :-)  With any luck, today will be better!


In other news, our family spent a recent weekend in Port St. Joe with Jeff's mom and had a fantastic time, as always.  We ate seafood every night (we all had fried scallops, oysters, shrimp, mullet, and boiled shrimp over the course of the weekend) and it was AMAZING!  Ben, yet again, enjoyed a few raw oysters when we went to Boss Oyster in Appalach.   That boy can sometimes be a very adventurous eater.  His favorite part of that meal though....the peanut butter pie for dessert. :-)

Nina, Ben, and Jeff at Boss Oyster in Appalach.  It was delicious!
We had a fun time hanging out with Nina, walking along the beach each night with Scout, and breathing in the cool, salty air.  There is nothing like the Gulf Coast.  Can't wait 'til we go back in June!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

weight loss and a pregnancy surprise

Jeff, Ben, and I are super duper crazy excited to share with everyone that we are expecting Baby Berry #2 in October of this year!!  As many of you know, we have always wanted more children, but did not think that I would be able to have any more.  You can read more about my thoughts on that here and here.  But despite what we thought...we are so thankful that we were wrong and that God is so good!!

Also, it turns out if you lose 80 or 90 lbs, your body is more cooperative! :-)  That's right, since last April (the 9th to be exact, Ben's 6th birthday) I have been watching calories and doing my best to become healthier and, frankly, lighter....and it has been going great. So here are before and (since I am not done yet, just taking a 9 month pause, we will call this one) in-progress photos:

Jeff has lost about 30 lbs in an effort to make healthier choices as well and he is totally rocking it!  Suffice it to say, we have had a lot to be excited about around here.

So let me back up and tell the 'how we found out story' here: Around the first week of February I was expecting certain things to happen that did not happen.  I went out town to work at a conference on February 8th.  I should have been home on the 12th, but got stuck in Charlotte because of a major ice and snowstorm that blew through, so I was not able to head home until the 14th, Valentine's Day.  The entire time I was in Charlotte I kept expecting things to happen (that obviously never happened) and starting to become quite suspicious, to say the least!  As I drove home on Valentine's Day, I decided around Atlanta (3 hours from home) that I would get on home and then just grab a pregnancy test the next day when I was out running the millions of errands I knew would need running since I had been gone for a week.  However, by the time I got to Macon (1 1/2 hours from home) I needed to pee and I was dang well going to do it on a test!  I found an exit with a Target, bought and took the test there, and drove home in a daze while half giggling and half crying! :-) After we put Ben to bed that night, I told Jeff I had some good news to share with him, but first I wanted to give him the mug I had gotten him while I was out of town.  I slipped the test under the mug in the bag and handed the whole thing to him.  He pulled out the mug and rejoiced over it (appropriately, of course).  BTW: I feel the need to point out that the mug was not Jeff's Valentine's present.  I gave him an iphone, he just got it early cause I had no will power! :-)  As he was about to toss the bag off his lap he realized there was something else in it.  He pulled out the test and flipped it over and over in his hands trying to figure out what it was.  It was funny to watch to say the least! :-)  Finally he focused on the only part of the entire thing that was not made of white plastic and saw...

He was flabbergasted and speechless and I was giggling uncontrollably at his astonishment.  Then he cried and it was all over for both of us!  We immediately called Nina, Grandma and Granddaddy, and all our siblings to share the news.  Excitement abounded that night.  When I pointed out to Jeff later that night that he had not gotten me anything for Valentine's Day he smiled and said, "Yes I did.  ....a baby."  That stinker! ...but I guess I could not argue with that one! :-)

We told Ben about the baby on Saturday night. He was so funny.  Not only was he very happy and very excited, but he was also very inquisitive, specifically about "How old will I be when the baby is x?" and "How old will the baby be when I am x?"  We asked him if he thought he could keep this news a secret for a few days or weeks and he said "Ummmmmmm.....I don't think so!. :-)"So that night we decided that even though we had only known for a day and it is kind of outside of protocol to tell so soon, we were going to do it anyway!  We decided we wanted all our family and friends to share in our joy, and, should something happen, to share in sorrow.  So, starting that night and continuing through Monday night when it became "Facebook official" we shared our news and hugged and laughed and cried and it was awesome. :-)

So, now you know how all that went down...   :-)

Ben is VERY excited to be a big brother.  He wants the baby to be a girl, but says it would be okay if it were a boy.  :-)  Ben will be turning 7 in April, so he will be 7 1/2 years older than his sibling.  He is going to be a fantastic helper, and he is looking forward to getting to move into a bigger room (our current office/guest room) over the summer as we make room for baby. 

I got my first look at Baby Berry today at the doctor.  It's heartbeat was very strong and was so cool to hear.  I think it made it even more real for me to see and hear it and know that, so far, it is doing great.

So far I have very minimum symptoms but we will see how things so from here.  Thanks for praying for us for a healthy baby and for this big transition in our lives.  I will do my best to keep my blog updated.  I have to admit it has been quite fun to go back and read my entries from when I was pregnant with Ben.  Perhaps this little one will provided equal amounts of entertainment. :-)

Friday, December 27, 2013

growing up before my eyes

Rarely as a mom do you get to literally, within a short span of time, see your child grow up.  But tonight, I had one of those moments.  A moment that was sweet and was so precious to me even though to many it may seem quite silly....Ben called his friends Nick & Noah (ten year old twins that Ben just LOVES).  It was the first time he has ever placed a call.  He wanted to call them (as in mom and dad were not MAKING him talk on the phone), he dialed the number, and we even went over what he should say when someone other than Nick or Noah answered the phone.  Unfortunately we did not discuss how to leave a message should that be necessary so I had to talk him through that in the moment.  It went something like: Me and then Ben repeating "This is Ben Newberry" "Can Nick or Noah call me back?" "My number is XXX-8421" "Bye!"

About three minutes later Suzanne, Nick and Noah's mom, called us back.  Ben answered the phone "Hi this is Ben" and he asked to speak to Nick or Noah.  After that he and his friends spent 15-20 minutes on the phone talking about their Christmas presents, specifically Skylander's Swap Force, which they all got for Christmas.  I stood in the kitchen watching him and listening to him as he described in detail and with much enthusiasm all the levels he had played through so far and as he asked his friends how their Christmas was and what level they had gotten to on the game and I thought: "Wow.  He is literally growing up right in front of me - in this very moment."  Jeff was working on his novel and did not seem to appreciate the moment the way I was, but I knew someone else who would, my mom.  She loved it and thought it was so sweet and so grown-up just like I did. :-)  She told me I should write it down so I didn't forget, so here we are.

I love that boy and cannot believe that in a few short months he will be seven.  I am so blessed. :-)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

long time no post!

Well, I see it has been over a year since I blogged.  Too many things have happened since then to really completely fill in the black hole my laziness has created, but maybe if I hit the high points, I can build a bridge across the year.  :-)

Halloween happened!  Ben went as Indiana Jones and I have to say, he was an awesome Indy!

I am sure we celebrated Thanksgiving...I I am sure.  Just fuzzy on the details, sad to say.

On December 22 our nephew Jackson was born and he is a cutie!!

We went to my parent's house for Christmas with the Cothrans.  Is was an exhausting, yet fun time with everyone despite a few hiccups.  Here are some pics to prove it!

We handily survived the rest of December and entered the new year unscathed.  January and February passed and in March Jeff and I got a to go to NYC!  Chip and Shannon (and the kiddos!) were awesome enough to come down from Boston to be my tour guides while Jeff was in meetings.  The city was amazing.  I have to say that the TV shows and movies set in NY do it justice.  I felt as if I had been there before and I truly loved every minute of it.  I rode the subway several times.  Twice by myself and it was way easier and nicer than I expected.  Goes to show you can teach an ol' southern chick new tricks!

NYC Public Library

Had to go to the LEGO store!

Took a carriage ride in Central park with the Cothrans!
Made it down to Battery Park that day too!  If you squint, you can see the Statue of Liberty behind our heads.

Jeff and went down to Times Square that night.  It was AMAZING!

Of course, we had to go into the Times Square Toys R Us.  :-)

In April, Ben turned 5!  We celebrated several times, but his main "party" was his very first sleep over with his bestest buds, Nick and Noah.

In May, my little boy graduated from First Methodist Preschool.  That place did more to shape his future than I will ever know and I am so grateful for the wonderful teachers he had.  After the ceremony he still had a few days of school and he and his classmates got to celebrate with a last day party.

Abe, Grady, Ben

(old mom brain is not working - I'll have to ask Ben his friend's name!), Sophie Claire, Ben

We had a FANTASTIC summer!  Ben and I went to the pool at the YMCA at least 4 times a week and we essentially swam the summer away.  We met up with the Smiths and the Mayfields a lot and had way more fun that one summer should legally be allowed to hold!

We also got to take a trip to Atlanta with our friends Joe, Theresa, and their Ben to go to the ATL Zoo and the Renaissance Festival.

In August, Ben started kindergarten.  We were (and are) so proud of him!

In October we went back to the Pumpkin Patch and had, of course, a wonderful time just like last year.  Alas, the only pics I took are on my phone and I have done nothing to get them off of there yet.  I will have to edit this post later to add them.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving in Port St. Joe, Christmas at home, and post-Christmas time with some of the Cothrans in Alabama this year.

I hope that your families have fared as well as mine in the last 13 months and I hope your 2012 holiday season is bright, your time with friends and family merry, and your new year happy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

weekend fun

On Saturday we decided to have a double dose of fun!  Fist we took our little pumpkin to the Pumpkin Patch at the Agrirama (huh-hem, excuse me, the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village) here in Tifton.

We had a good time...mostly (to be explained in a moment).  Ben loves riding the train there and he had a fantastic time playing in the corn box (like a sandbox, but filled with dried corn kernels).

In case you can't see it, and who could really, Ben is making a corn angel here.
Happily the sand sifter he's laying on looks just like his halo! (Totally unplanned!)

 He completely covered in corn and corn dust when he got out of there!!  Also on the P-Patch menu - a big tractor that was AMAZING and a huge seesaw!


So now to the not so much fun part - we were headed to the corn maze when I took a spill on a sandy, pebble infested downhill slope.  I landed on my knee and, of course, injured my poor self.  My scrape had bits of gravel and sand in it and still hurts even now, three days later.  But I mommed-up (which, by the way should totally be the phrase, not manned-up, because if Jeff or Ben had fallen and gotten my kind of injury, no way would we have stayed) and we enjoyed the train ride and more corn box time even though I was bleeding and hobbled.  Ben didn't really want to do the corn maze anyway, so, no big loss there.  :-)

Later that evening we went to a friend's new home to watch the LSU / FL game.  We enjoyed good food (Jeff made some fabulous chili for chili dogs) and our Ben got play with our friends' son, Ben (we call him 'little Ben').  They had fun with the alphabet magnets on the fridge and going up and down the stairs in the backyard!

Sunday we worshiped and relaxed and our weekend came to a close in a peaceful and wonderful way.  It's so nice to have an enjoyable and truly relaxing weekend every once and while!    :-)