January 1, 2011

Charlotte Elizabeth

Charlotte Elizabeth Rambin arrived on December 20, 2010 at 2:30 p.m. She weighed 7 lbs., 7 oz. and was 20 inches long. She was born at 35 weeks but is doing very well.

This pregnancy was supposed to be the easiest yet. After our loss in the spring, we had lots of questions about whether or not we would be able to have another baby. The question was answered quickly, though, when I was able to get pregnant the first month. My new OB watched me so closely from the beginning that we had lots of details this time. Once it was determined that the pregnancy was where it was supposed to be and growing properly, we sighed a sigh of relief.

My first trimester went smoothly - other than the morning sickness. There was some concern about my progesterone level, but that seemed to solve itself. I continued to work, take care of the kids and nap whenever I could. The second trimester was a welcome change - the morning sickness went away and I felt really good. I had been referred to a high-risk OB in Dallas (because of my "advanced maternal age") but was released at 18 weeks because the baby and I were too healthy to be seen in the high-risk office. I was incredibly thankful and relieved.

At 24 weeks, everything changed. I started having physical symptoms that were not familiar to me as "normal pregnancy" symptoms. My doctor ran a few tests and I was quickly diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (a syndrome only in pregnancy that presents as high blood pressure and protein in the urine). I was hospitalized 4 times in the two weeks following the diagnosis to get the symptoms under control and receive medication to mature Charlotte's lungs in case she had to be delivered early.

When I wasn't in the hospital - I was on bed rest. I was told I could get up to go to the bathroom, take one shower a day and heat a plate of food. I wasn't supposed to do anything else. My first thought when my doc prescribed bedrest - No really! Be real! I have three kids and a job. It was quickly apparent, though, that any time I was not laying down or reclining, my blood pressure would go up causing blood and oxygen to the baby to be restricted. So I took it seriously...for 12 weeks! I found out that bedrest is one of those things that sounds good until you have to do it. Then you find out it is boring and lonely and hard on your body.

Thanks be to God for my church family at Glenwood. They took care of me and my family in so many ways: meals every other day, grocery shopping, errand running, carpooling, babysitting, housekeeping and most importantly, prayers. We were completely covered in prayer. In the midst of all the stress and questions, my church family calmed the storm. I feel incredibly blessed and eternally grateful.

At 35 weeks, my blood pressure jumped up and the doctor decided it was time for Charlotte to be delivered. While it was stressful to think about having a preemie, we were very glad to have made it to 35 weeks. She was born with out any issues and was able to go home with me from the hospital.

Stay tuned...next time I'll tell you about Charlotte's jaundice!

April 23, 2010

Truth and Lies

If you know me, you know that the months of February and March were a living hell. I don't use that term lightly or flipantly...I use it literally. After finding out I was pregnant with my 4th child (the result of a planned attempt), I started having problems. By February 6th, I was in the ER being told that the pregnancy was ectopic - in the tube instead of the uterus. Trusting my doctor of 10 years, I started an ill-fated course of treatment that resulted in 6 weeks of extreme pain, both physical and mental. In the end, I had 3 trips to the ER, 2 rounds of chemotherapy, a d&c and an emergency laproscopy.

The truth: those 6 weeks were a result of medical mis-management and took a huge toll on me and my family.

The physical and emotional suffering were not the worst part. Within a few days of finding out that I would not be having a baby on September 27th, I found myself in a deep spiritual hole. I was incredibly angry at God and spent my quiet time asking why he would do this to me? Have I not been faithful enough? Am I not a good enough mother to be trusted with 4 children? Is this punishment for something specific I have done? I stopped praying and started blaming. I was unable to worship and could not feel or hear the presense of the Lord. I felt completely and totally betrayed by the the One whom I have served.

The lies: God caused this to happen based on my actions. God abandoned me in my time of greatest need.

My greatest strengh came from the people around me. Far above all others was my sweet husband. Jeff was absolutely incredible. His calm nature and willingness to help me in any way without trying to "fix it" made me love him even more. He stood by and held my hand. He backed off and let me grieve. He was my rock. I was also blessed by my mom who loved my kids with great compassion when I could not. She cleaned my kitchen and gave baths and insisted that I rest even when I didn't want to. Then there were my friends who surrounded me and cared for me in ways I didn't even see. My kids got to and from school every day. They were loved and fed - some days without me even knowing where they were. Each night a meal was delivered to my front door. Most importantly, though, is that these ladies prayed for me when I could not.

The truth: I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who love me and love my kids. I have taken my husband, my mom and my friends for granted; but will not do that again!

The story ends in a place I did not suspect: a picnic table in Lonestar, TX. After months of grieving and anger and seeming isolation from God, I was reminded of the truth by a total stranger. I went to Lonestar for a ladies retreat and was half-heartedly excited about the 8 hours of "silent time" when we were supposed to take a break from the world and spend time with God. Honestly, I had decided to use that time to get some work done. But after hearing the words of our speaker on Friday night, I thought I would give it a shot. I spent 8 hours crying and sleeping - but not listening to God. That night after dinner, we had a "celebration campfire" where all the women talked out about their encounters with God. I sat and listened (feeling even worse by virtue of everyone else's good fortune) and swore I would not ruin the evening for the other ladies. Then we were asked if anyone was disappointed and I couldn't help myself - I spilled my guts. I was immediately surrounded by 30 women who laid their hands on me and prayed. Of all the words I words I heard that night at the picnic table, the ones that struck me deepest were by our speaker (a stranger to me before that weekend). She prayed that God would quiet the lies and speak loudly the truth.

The lie: God was not listening to me and had abandoned me when I needed Him most

The truth: I was not listening to God, who was there all along!

Thanks be to God - I am able to pray again. Thanks be to God - I am able to hear Him speak. Thanks be to God - I am able to worship again. Thanks be to God - I can feel His presense. Thanks be to God!

January 9, 2010

Christmas, parts 2 and 3

Once the kids were out of school for their 2 week "Winter Break", we decided to head to Beaumont to see my grandparents. On Christmas Eve, they were celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary so I wanted to be sure we got down to see them. The kids love their great-grandparents. They are a true blessing in our lives.

Abby, Emma & Silas play ball with papaw; mamaw looks on

Abby and papaw "take a nap" on the back porch swing

We arrived back in Tyler just in time to spend Christmas morning at our house. All three of our kids still believe in Santa so it is incredibly fun to get ready for the "big event". The kids made cookies for Santa, put reindeer food on the front lawn and got in bed compliantly at 8:00 p.m. Only then did the evening really get going...Jeff and I both on the floor of the living room with instruction booklets for our assigned construction project. I built a 3-story dream home and Jeff put tother a motorized scooter and a race track with hundreds of tiny pieces. "Some assembly required" meant several hours of work for us. Of course, it was totally worth it...

Abby got a "motorcycle" (as she calls it)

Silas got a Mario Kart race track

and Emma got a Barbie Dream House

December 19, 2009

Christmas, part 1

We had our first Christmas celebration a few weeks ago in Nacogdoches with Jeff's mom. The kids absoultely love to go to her house...they get to see their Nanne Sue, eat hummy food and play in a big backyard with a swing. Abby would spend the entire time on the swing if we allowed:

Jeff's mom, Bonnie, has a new hobby: she is learning to play the dulcimer. She learned a few new songs for our visit and Silas was totally mesmerized:

After our outside play and entertainment, Nanne Sue had presents for all. What can be better than several huge boxes wrapped in beautiful paper with big bows. Emma got the unwrapping started:

We all had a great laugh when we opened the boxes and found "Snuggies" for everyone. These are the blankets with sleeves that people constantly make fun of. She bought three in kids sizes...

And two in adult size:

As silly as the commercials are...we have been so happy to have these this winter. I literally use mine every evening and the kids wear them to bed like giant robes. We love them.

December 8, 2009

The Trip

Several years ago, Jeff and I decided that we wanted to make our childrens' 6th birthdays very special and memorable. Since that is the year they start Kindergarden and by 6 they are old enough to remember, we have done special trips.

Silas turned 6 on November 20th so we took a Disney Cruise. I can't imagine that I even need to say how fabulous it was. The service was excellent, the food was great and the kids had a great time (minus Abby who stayed in Tyler with her "Nona").

We ate ice cream before lunch

and swam in the middle of November

and played in the Atlantic Ocean

and held up rockets with our brute strength...

August 24, 2009

First Day of School

Emma started 2nd grade today. She has Mr. Simms, who taught 5th grade last year at Rice. She came home today talking about how funny he is and how he likes to play games and make jokes. She had a fabulous, but rather serious, teacher last year so this will be a change. I'm thankful for varying opportunities and the chance to interact with lots of personalities. She knows a few of her classmates but is also going to have lots of new friends in the coming weeks. She has been asked to read at least 20 minutes each night as well as study her spelling, vocabulary and math. She will have a test each Friday. Emma desires perfection in herself and strives to be the best. She has a kind heart and loves to help others. She will bless many people...

Silas started Kindergarten today at Rice. He is in Ms. Jordan's class (the same K teacher Emma had). She is a wonderful woman who has spent 30+ years helping 5 year olds learn how to start and succeed at school. She is kind and loving; with a very structured classroom. I know from past experience that she is going to bless Silas this year. He will also have a little time outside the classroom at speech therapy. We expect he will start twice a week then reduce to once per week. He has made amazing progress in his speech and should be completely dismissed from the special education program by Christmas. Silas is eager to learn and has a complex, intelligent mind. I can't wait to see what he becomes...


Abby is going to school at Little People's School again this year. She is in the purple room which is specifically for boys and girls who are almost three or just three. Most of her class is learning to use the potty; her teachers are very patient women. She will learn her numbers, colors and be introduced to the letters in the alphabet. She is also going to have a special (and new) class this year called "world wise" that will be 30 minutes every day. A wonderful Christian woman who spent lots of years in Africa as a missionary is teaching the kids about different cultures around the world using music, dance, food and art. How many 3 year olds get that type of exposure? Abby is a calm and gentle soul. She is almost always happy and is delighted to go along with whatever is happening. Even though she is still hard to understand, she can sing songs without missing even one note. She has music in her heart...

August 19, 2009

Grapevine Botanical Gardens

I had no idea that there were gardens in Grapevine, Texas. What a find! Thanks to my sister-in-law, we used this fab spot to take some photos. I did a "shoot" with my kids, with her kids and then some will all the cousins. It was hot...and the kids got tired...but we got a few usable pictures.