Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gettin' Clean

Where have the years gone? Natalie is almost 7 years old now, and while she is still small, in many ways she is getting too big. 

Until now, bathing Natalie has been awkward, but manageable. But lately, she has become so long and heavy, taking her in the shower or putting her in the bath has become difficult. I'm beginning to wonder how I will be able to do this twenty years from now. 

Yesterday, we brought home a new piece if equipment that will hopefully help make shower/bath time a little easier.

Following the flood, we knew one of our priorities would be creating a handicap accessible showering area for Natalie. The no threshold shower is pretty nice! And, after lots of research, I found this shower chair to fit inside the shower. It's small, has many folding options, and can also fit in our bath tub. Most pieces of medical equipment end up being too big. This is compact and will be easy to take with us on our travels.

Natalie seems to like it. Time will tell if it is going to be a good solution in the months and years to come, but so's a thumbs up.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


It's the eve of Natalie's first day of kindergarten.  I'm feeling nostalgic.  I'm feeling excited for her.  Most of all, I'm feeling grateful...grateful that we can share this milestone with her.

It wasn't long ago that we got to meet her for the very first time and eventually hold her, all two pounds of her.
Imagine waiting days before you can actually hold your baby for the first time.  It was agony.  She was connected to so many tubes and cords, but I couldn't feel any of them.  I only felt her hot little body against mine, waiting to be held and secure in my arms.  Amid the beeps of the monitors, it was the most peaceful feeling in the world.

Soon after this, we nearly lost Natalie again.  I remember sitting in the hospital in Minneapolis, sobbing uncontrollably, believing there was no way I could return to Minot without Natalie.  I couldn't bear to see her nursery.  I couldn't fathom burying another baby.  I prayed for God to give her the strength to stay with us; that I would be the best mother in the world if she could just hold on for us.  And she did. And I may not be the perfect mother, but every day I am thankful for the gift God gave us, because the milestones have become more precious.  The birthdays have more meaning.  The smiles are more significant.  It's an enhanced version of motherhood and childhood.

At the worst of times, I prayed for one more more second with her.

Then, we became thankful for one whole year with her.

I'm not going to lie, it has been TOUGH.  There were times in the first year (when she had undiagnosed seizures) that I wanted to pull my hair out.  We didn't know how to make her happy.  We didn't know what was wrong with her.

But the years went on, and we slowly started to learn how to control her seizures and make her days and nights more comfortable.  She was our tiny little miracle, and she was thriving.

Soon, she was starting preschool and gaining a little brother.  Our lives were getting busier in an absolutely amazing way.

Each year has passed, and our little peanut has grown bigger and more beautiful.  We can see so much in her beautiful blue eyes.  She speaks to us through smiles.  What a wonderful way to communicate.

And now here she is...a gorgeous little six (soon to be seven) year old.  We'll drop her off at school tomorrow for her first full day.  This milestone seems so incredible to me.  

1 Samuel 1:27 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Introducing Dexter Arthur Olson

So, I realize he's approaching four months old, but it's finally time to share the arrival of our sweet little baby boy, Dexter Arthur.

This was my second C-section, and it went so much better than the first, thanks to an amazing anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist.

The worst part of having a C-section is waiting an hour in recovery before being able to join Daddy and baby up in our room.  It's like being a kid on Christmas morning, waiting for my parents to wake up so we can open presents.

And, oh, what a present he is!

 That little angelic face just melts my heart.

This is NICU nurse, Laureen.  She brought Natalie to me the day she was born almost seven years ago.  She will always hold a place in my heart as the nurse who has been there for all of our babies (she works in the big baby nursery, too!).  Unfortunately, Natalie couldn't be there for this picture.

Fast forward four months, and Dexter is smiling like crazy, rolling from back to tummy and tummy to back, grabbing for toys, and cutting his first teeth.  As cliché as it is, time really does just fly by.  Before I know it, he'll be graduating from high school.  

While I often feel like I'm swimming against the current, and never getting anything done, I also feel like I'm enjoying motherhood much more this time around.  Maybe it's because I'm older and more "experienced," or maybe I'm just realizing that this is probably our last baby, but I don't want to take a single second with my children for granted.  

If I'm doing the dishes and Calvin says he wants to play with me, I drop the dish rag.  I can't think of anything better to do than play with my kids.  I'm lucky enough to stay at home with them, and I'm not going to waste that time worrying about having a spotless house.

So here they are, our little ones.  Our family is complete.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dream Catchers

I realize it's been quite a while since I've posted anything, but we've been a little busy around here.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  My main reason for not posting has been that header right above.  I desperately need to update it to include our newest addition:

Meet Dexter Arthur Olson.  He's an adorable little boy who loves to smile, snuggle, and sleep!  He arrived on March 26th at 7:03 a.m., 15 minutes earlier than I had guessed.  It was a pleasant surprise, and a much easier surgery than last time.  More on Dexter later.

Today, I'm sharing a couple of pictures of Natalie at her Dream Catchers softball game from last night.  Natalie's one cool kid, and I'm happy there's a baseball league just for her (and kids like her!).  She doesn't really know what's going on, but she smiles the whole time, and it's a fun outdoor event for the family.

Michelle Bliven is a saint for all of the work she puts into this league.  I can't thank her enough.

Last night, Natalie was on the same team as one of her first classmates at preschool, Mystika.  I hope I spelled that right.  Mystika is a lot like Natalie, but she has her vision, something I pray every day that Natalie will regain at some point in her life.  It would be such a blessing if she could see us again.

Aren't they little cuties?!?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two Weeks to Go!

It's hard to believe that, two weeks from right now, we will have met our new baby boy.  I've been using the basketball season as my finish line.  Perry is now officially done with reffing for the year (he just got to work the State B Boys Championship game!), and now we are officially in the home stretch. I'm currently 37 weeks and two days, with the C-section set for March 26th.

I'm very thankful that I've reached full term, something that used to be unattainable for us, as you can read about in this previous post.  Today, we have one big, strapping three and a half year old, who is about to meet his little (BIG) brother!

Every day, Calvin asks me if the baby has come out.  One day, he ran into the living room to find me assembling the baby cradle...he got super excited and asked, "Mommy, did the baby come out?!"  I wish it were that easy!  He is going to be the most amazing big brother...he's already so kind and caring to Natalie, I can imagine he's going to absolutely LOVE having a baby to hold.  I'm so thankful that Natalie will have another brother who will be there for her no matter what.

It's been fairly smooth sailing for me during this pregnancy, except for some early (8 weeks) spotting that led to my doctor restricting my exercise to only walking.  That was fine for a while, until I started to experience some nasty tailbone pain as the result of each walk.  I've gotten some help from the chiropractor, but the unfortunate truth is that I've gained more weight this pregnancy than last because I haven't been allowed to exercise.  Oh, and I was pregnant over Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My mom is a good cook.
Here I am at 35 weeks
Although I'm hoping to make it to March 26th, I am definitely ready to meet this little guy.  The only problem is that my OB is on vacation this week, and I'm very attached to him...I really don't want anyone else to deliver our baby!  I've been retaining water like crazy the past few days, and carpal tunnel is taking over my right hand again, but apparently there's no worry of preeclampsia at this point. So...if I can make it through this week, the baby can arrive anytime after Sunday.  I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Stitch that Changed Our Lives

WARNING:  If you're squeamish when it comes to learning about the female anatomy, read no further.  I promise not to gross you out, though.


The finish line is in sight and we'll soon be welcoming another little boy into our home.  I feel great, although I'm really starting to slow down.  Keeping up with a busy little 3 year old and caring for a handicapped 6 year old isn't as easy as it used to be!

So what happened to us that has allowed me to carry two babies to full term?  It wasn't long ago that we lost a baby during my second trimester, and of course had so much trouble (and failed at) keeping Natalie from being born too early.

Some may know what happened, but for those who don''s the story:

Our first child, Cheryl Lori, was born on November 3rd, 2005, when I was approximately 17 weeks pregnant.  I hadn't had any troubles up until that was a typical, happy pregnancy.  On that day, my cervix dilated to 10 centimeters, painlessly.  The weight of the baby caused my cervix to fail.  My doctor at the time, Dr. Madland, attempted to place what is called a cerclage at the bottom of my cervix to try to pull the cervix shut, but it was too late.  There was no cervix left to stitch, and I gave birth to our little girl, who was far too tiny to survive outside of my womb.  She was an absolutely perfect little human being.

That's when we learned what my condition was called: incompetent cervix.

At the time, we thought the answer to my condition was simple...during the following pregnancy, Dr. Madland would place a cerclage at the bottom of my cervix at about 14 weeks into the pregnancy, past the critical first trimester, but before the baby could be big enough to put too much pressure on my cervix.  The cerclage would then be removed right before my due date, and I could have a normal delivery.

And so when we found out I was pregnant again, we were elated and couldn't wait to have the cerclage in place.  Four weeks after the cerclage, at an ultrasound appointment, we were shocked to learn that my cervix was failing once again.  The cervix is shaped like a cylinder, and my cervix had flattened out into a pancake, with just the small stitch holding on for dear life.  That's when I was placed on bed rest. For ten weeks, I barely moved.  It was torture sitting there, thinking of all of the things that could go wrong.  We were so excited when we passed 24 weeks, which is considered the gestational age at which a baby can be born and survive (along with a boatload of medical assistance).  The further I got into the pregnancy, the better we felt.  But, it all came to an end at about 28 weeks, when labor couldn't be put off any longer, and Natalie was born.  You all know her story!  It's an amazing one!

The truth is, it was a traumatic year for us.  As incredibly blessed as we were to witness the survival of our daughter, it took a toll on us emotionally and physically.  Natalie was a difficult baby to handle for the first year, as her seizure activity wasn't yet diagnosed.  Having any more children just wasn't in the picture for us, so we really just gave up on believing we would have another child.

About a year and a half later, some research by my mother-in-law led me in the direction of what's called a transabdominal cerclage.  Instead of placing the stitch at the bottom of my cervix, I would have it placed at the top of my cervix, through a small incision in my abdomen.  The stitch would then stay there forever, and from my research, it sounded like it would take any future babies to full term...a true miracle for us.

The problem is, there are very few doctors who can perform this skilled procedure.  After consulting a group of women online, who have the same problem, we came up with two doctors whom we could trust, Dr. Davis at a hospital in New Jersey, and Dr. Haney, at the University of Chicago Medical Center.  After two very long phone consults, we decided to go with Dr. Haney, for a variety of reasons.  I felt like we were in good hands either way, but I had a great feeling about Dr. Haney.

Two or three months later, after sorting out insurance issues and quitting my job at KX, Perry and I flew to Chicago and prepared for the procedure.  Little did we know how much this tiny piece of material, called mersilene, could change our lives.  The procedure didn't take long at all, and I was assured that all went well.  Dr. Haney was amazing...the nursing staff at the hospital, not so much.  We were happy to leave.  I was in a lot of pain for the first few days, but after that, life went back to normal.

A couple of months later, we found out we were pregnant with Calvin.  It was the easiest pregnancy ever.  I couldn't believe how amazing it could be to be up and about until the last day, and take a baby home with us on the day I was discharged from the hospital.

The only drawback to having the TAC is that I'm relegated to C-sections, since my cervix won't open anymore.  It's a tiny price to pay to have a full term baby.  What's interesting to me is that Calvin's due date was actually November 10th, 2009.  When you schedule a C-section, you schedule it for 39 weeks.  That put us at November 3rd, exactly four years to the day that our first baby was born.  What an amazing blessing, and a wonderful way to turn an awful day into a day of celebration.

So, now that I've rambled on enough about how amazing this TAC is, I wanted to share with you a news story that features Dr. Haney.  He's a miracle worker in our eyes, and I'm so glad God brought him into our lives.

There you have it...the story of my once incompetent, but now strong as steel cervix.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Natalie's Room

It's been well over a year since we moved back into our house, and I'm just now finishing Natalie's room.  In fact, her room is technically the first room to really be "finished."  It's amazing how little you get done when you have little ones who constantly demand your attention.  It's also amazing how much you want to get done when you're just weeks from giving birth to another little one!

Natalie is six years old now, which means I really wanted to transition her room from little girl to big girl.  I love how it has turned out!  It's not a huge bedroom, but it's cozy, pretty and just how I imagined it to be when we moved in.  I painted the headboard on her wall a long time ago to add a little something whimsical.
The final touch was adding the most beautiful pink houndstooth drapes.  It adds so much to the room!  These drapes belonged to one of my very best friends, Abby, for a long time.  They were made by her incredibly talented mother, Shelley, who passed away about a year and half ago...far too early in life.  I'm honored to have those drapes hanging in Natalie's room!

The picture collage includes the pretty picture of a pink grand piano, given to Natalie by her Great Grandma Vivian.  I'm in love with it.  One of the little projects I have left is to put an "N" at the top left of the collage.  I also want to replace the handles to her dresser, but those are projects that aren't priority at this point.
Grandpa Terry made the pretty wall shelf for her very first bedroom (nursery).  It's now overflowing with special items we've collected for her over the years.  Next to it is a wall hanging that holds all of Natalie's pretty little bows, which was made by her auntie, Brittany.
The little rainbow-colored bear...what are those bears called?, I can't remember...watched over our tiny little Natalie in her Minneapolis NICU bed.  It was there in the worst of times, and now it watches over her while she sleeps!  The little porcelain box on the middle shelf to the left has a little ballerina slipper on top.  Inside that box is the key to the little box her big sister, Cheryl Lori, was buried in.  A part of her sister is always with her!
 Here is a better view of the beautiful drapes:  
A view with the curtains open.
We recently just installed a new closet system in her closet...I heart organization.

We actually increased the size of her room by about three feet in the "renovation."  I really wanted to make sure her room was more accessible in the years to come, so we put her doorway at an angle.  
It's all about the small details...which is something Abby wrote in a card along with a gift of the pretty finials in the following picture.  

I found the chandelier online at The Land of Nod.  It's the perfect size for her room.  

The precious moments picture was made by my former co-worker at KX.  I still can't believe she was only 2 pounds, 4 ounces at birth.  The baby I'm carrying now is already twice the size of Natalie at birth.  

And finally, the picture in the center includes the beautiful blanket made by Abby, along with a pillow made by Abby's mother.  The pillow was part of crib bedding and window covering made by Shelley.  I'm almost sad we're not having a baby girl so we could reuse that beautiful bedding.  At least the pillow will always be a part of her room.

So, that's it for Natalie's room.  Next up is the boys' room, which is nearly complete.  The due date must not be far away!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life Goes On

It's been a busy couple of weeks at our house, but the most exciting news is that the FEMA trailer is now GONE!  As fun as it was to have Grandma and Grandpa Olson just a few steps away from our house for the past year, we're so excited that they are back on Souris Drive in their home sweet (new) home.  It's been a busy nine months of building for them, and they're not yet finished with all of the work, but enough to move back before the new rental fees for the FEMA trailers kick in.  They have a beautiful new home that we'll make lots of memories in in the years to come.  Life is finally getting somewhat back to normal...the new normal.

Calvin has been obsessed with the FEMA trailer since we moved back, so you can bet he was fascinated and saddened by it leaving our front yard.
This was the view from Calvin's bedroom window since we moved back home.  Sunlight can shine through his window now!
The whole process took under two hours.  I have a feeling it would have taken much longer on a nice summer day.  Hint: these workers are not from around here.  Also, around 200 cigarettes were smoked in the process.
 And off it goes...
I can't believe how big our front yard looks now!  We're looking forward to a big landscaping project in the spring.  Our front yard needs at least one more big tree.

So here's the latest in Natalie's life...

She started a new school schedule after the Christmas break.  She has always attended the morning session five days a week at Jefferson, but since she will be doing full days next year in kindergarten, we decided to let her try out the afternoons.  So far, it has gone really well.  My main concern has always been that mornings are her best time...she's more alert and happy during that time.  I should never assume anything with Natalie...she is really enjoying her afternoon school time, so it is a huge relief knowing that it may not be such a huge transition for her in the fall.

Right now, we're enjoying our mornings and sleeping in until nearly 9:00 every day, instead of the usual 7:30 school schedule.  The mornings are lazy, then she heads off to school at noon.  I'm a spoiled mama!

Tonight, Uncle Tim stopped over to do a little music therapy with Natalie.  If there's one thing in this world Natalie loves (other than us), it's music.  We're so happy that he can share his talent with us when he gets the chance.  He plays guitar for her...
Then lets her strum the strings...
She LOVES it!
 Of course, so does her brother.
 He's always willing to join in singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."  

Meanwhile, Calvin is a busy, busy, busy boy.  He's growing up way to fast for my liking.  I can't believe how old he seems lately.  I love the conversations we have...he's such a smart, funny little guy and I cherish the one on one time we have at this age.  He's so loving and caring and will be an awesome big brother.  I can't wait to bring this little one home from the hospital!

On the cold days, we're mostly stuck at home, and Calvin loves to play the Disney Junior online games.  I enjoy watching him learn!
He also LOVES to work on projects with me, whether it's painting or drawing or crafts.  He received a subscription to Highlights Magazine for Christmas from his Uncle Greg and Auntie we've been working on that lately, as well.
His favorite thing to do, though, is run around like a mad in November, I enrolled him in a class called "Itty Bitty Sports" at the YMCA.  He LOVES this class!  He learns about a different sport/activity each class, and it's been great for his social skills.  He's constantly telling the teachers stories or yelling at me to watch him.  The smile on his face is priceless.  It's only two days a week, so it's not too much of a good thing.

I am currently 29 weeks pregnant, and that means I have ten weeks to go before we meet this new baby.  I'll have a C-section a week before the actual due date of March 31st.
I absolutely love being pregnant.  I can feel myself slowing down a bit at this point, but it doesn't really bother me.  The baby is very busy and reminds me a lot of Calvin in how he moves and where he likes to position himself in the womb.  I've already surpassed where I was when Natalie was born, which is hard to believe!  There is still so much growing to be done.  

Perry is on the road nearly every day this month and next month reffing basketball, his favorite pastime.  He's starting to do a lot more college work, which is fun for him, but also means he has a lot more traveling to do.  This year, he got into the Northern Sun conference, which is NCAA Division II.  Many of those teams are in South Dakota and Minnesota, so there will be some long nights for him.  He's willing to do it though, with the hopes of someday moving up even higher!  Anything is possible for him...he's the most talented guy I know and I admire his ambition.

So, that's the latest.  I have many more fun blog entries planned for this month, as I have many fun projects going on before this baby arrives.  I'll share them with you soon!  Stay tuned....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Job Opening...It's a Good One!

We are currently searching for a loving, caring person in Minot (18 years or older) who would like to spend some time with the most beautiful little girl in the world, Natalie Olson. 

The respite care position pays well, and involves lots of snuggling, reading and singing.  Hours are as flexible as you want them to be.  It's a "job" that doesn't require prior experience, but if you've had experience taking care of a handicapped child, it's definitely a plus!  

Unfortunately, Natalie's two favorite respite providers (Meghan and Sean Charley) moved off to college at the University of Mary this past August, leaving us with no options for a little bit of respite least until summer rolls around.  Respite is important for all of us because it allows me to run errands or get housework or projects done without ignoring Natalie, since she isn't able to play on her own.  It also allows Natalie to spend some quality time with others, and she loves every minute of it.  

If you know of anyone who would be interested in spending some time with Natalie, please let me know by emailing me at:

Thank you!