Crohn’s Update: Day 7

Crohns-Disease-updateA week ago we had just gotten home from church, enjoyed lunch together, and spent the afternoon resting and doing some decluttering. If you had asked us then what we thought the week ahead would look like, we surely wouldn’t have said we’d be spending the week at the hospital!

Today is the 7th day Brandon has been at UNC Hospitals. Here’s a little timeline:

Monday – ER visit to local hospital in the wee hours of the morning, CT scan shows intestinal blockage, transferred to UNC Hospitals Monday afternoon

Tuesday – lots of round and round

Wednesday – MRI done and more round and round

Thursday – more round and round

Friday – endoscopy procedure to drop a capsule down as far as they could

Saturday – several X-rays that showed the capsule stuck at the same point in his intestines

Sunday – More X-rays and another CT scan, oh and more round and round.

We’re currently waiting on the results of the CT scan and what they plan to do next. There’s been talk of another camera pill (do you guys remember that? He swallowed a camera pill once before that got stuck and had to be surgically removed with the part of bowel that was overtaken with scar tissue.) and maybe even trying to get things moving along.

To us, its sounded like this – “Hey, we know you have a blockage, but we don’t want to operate just yet. So here’s what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna make you do a bunch of tests to confirm you have a blockage, and then do some more tests, oh and then we’re gonna do one more. Oh and you can’t eat all week. Oh, and drink 2 bottles of contrast for your MRI even though you have a blockage and will be miserable. Oh, and yeah, we don’t care how long this takes.”

For those of you fairly new to our story, Brandon was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease 5 years ago. Those first 3 years were fraught with hospital stays, 4 surgeries, lots of scans, and trial and error with his medications. Since his diagnosis we’ve had 2 babies, both of us have changed jobs, and we’ve moved and had a multitude of other changes. To say the years have been busy would be an understatement. Last year was relatively a good year for Brandon’s health. We settled into a nice rhythm with his infusions, and only had a handful of hospital stays. We were getting the hang of this parenting 3 kids deal – not that we’re any good at it, or that we don’t lose our minds most days – and were enjoying a bit of a calmer year.

But see, what most of you don’t know is that even when we don’t have lots of hospital stays, Brandon still battles Crohn’s Disease The way I put it to a doctor earlier this week is that you and I, see, we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and don’t think a second thought about it. Well, maybe we do, if we ate that greasy pizza too late, or regretted those spicy tacos, but for the most part we eat, and then we go on about our day. Day in, and day out. Brandon, however, has a very different relationship with food. Every decision he ever makes before eating is a calculated decision, taking into account what the food is, how much of it he can eat, where he is when he eats and where he’ll be afterward, and the timing of it all… are we going to be going out of town? Will he be in the car for a long period of time? Will there be places to stop along the way? Will he be sitting in a crowd of people? Can he find an end seat near the back? Do his kids have any special events coming up that he doesn’t want to miss, such as a soccer or basketball game? Have we arranged a babysitter for the elusive date night?

Conversations in our house often go like this:

Me: Hey babe, what do you want for lunch? Brandon: Don’t pack me anything, I’m not going to eat today?

or Me: I made fiesta chicken in the crockpot and kept the corn out to add to mine separately so you can have some and it won’t hurt your stomach. Brandon: I’d love to have some, it was really good last time, it was, but I’m a little nauseous.

or Me: Babe, do you want me to go get you some soup? You have to eat something. Brandon: No, its ok, I probably don’t need to eat anything right now.

A lot of you are reading this and thinking wow, that’s sad, but honestly, that’s our normal. It’s our baseline and we’ve become accustomed to it. We’ve figured out how to make it all work, and how to wrangle this beast of a chronic illness. Our kids know the meaning of words like “semi-private room” and “CT scan” and “infusion” and that’s OK. They know to expect the unexpected, and are used to FaceTiming Daddy when he “goes to the hospital because his tummy hurts.”

You know why we’re been able to “get used” to all this? Because of Daniel 3. Do you know the story of Daniel 3? Of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Their story is one of faith. They were followers of Christ who refused to worship false gods and an idol of gold even though the King at the time demanded it. As punishment for not worshiping the gold statue of the king, they were tied up and thrown into a fiery furnace that had been heated up to 7 times hotter than usual. It was so hot that the guards used to throw them in burned up in an instant. When the King looked in the furnace, he noticed that there were 4 men walking around, unbound and not burned, and asked them to come of out the furnace. Not a hair on their heads was singed, nor did they so much as even smell like smoke. Because of their faith, and their unwillingness to serve anyone but God Himself, the King was transformed and declared worship only to the one true God.

That story has always been one of my favorites, but now verses 17-18 have special meaning to me:

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Did you catch that? The God we serve is able to deliver us. He can do all things. He is the Ultimate Healer, The Great Physician, The Mighty Warrior, The King of Kings, The Great I Am, Abba Father, The God Who Sees, and Yahweh Yireh or the Lord Will Provide. He can do anything. Because He is ABLE.

He can heal Brandon. He can take away the pain, the nausea, the discomfort, the uncertainty, the hospital stays, the tears, the anguish, the misery.

But, if not…

*Swallows hard*

But, if not…

*We can’t do this… can we?*

We know You are able, God, but IF NOT, we will still serve you.

I feel that one deep in my chest.That one is a little harder to get out, to muster up. That one is difficult when the hospital days are long and the questions multiply. But, God, in His infinite wisdom, knows what we’re enduring, and cares for us so much.

But if not, God, use this week to change our lives. Use this week to tell others about You. Use this terrible disease to shine hope in the lives of the hopeless, peace in the midst of unrest, and joy in the deep dark edges of sorrows.

I know this… that God was not surprised by this week and is not overwhelmed by our circumstances. He is not shocked by test results or worried about what to do next. He has carefully ordered our steps and numbered the hairs on our heads. We are asking Him to heal Brandon… BUT IF NOT, we will still serve Him… for He is good.

Fifteen years

15 years ago today, I was a freshman in college. It was very cold in Blacksburg and I was just arriving back at my dorm when I received a phone call. My mom had waited to call me after I finished taking some sort of math quiz.

My fingers fumbled with opening the door to my dorm – it was cold and I was in shock. I turned the corner down my hall and like it was in slow motion, all of the books and papers in my arms fell to the floor. I cried out and my roommate must have known. She flung the door to our room open and sat with me as I slumped in the middle of the hall in a messy pile of books and paper and hot tears. I cried – big, heavy, weighted sobs – right there in the middle of the hall.

I had lost someone very special to me. I was feeling my heart break right then and there and the pain was so real, I could feel it. It wasn’t just my grief splintering my heart though, I was feeling grief for one of my best friends because it was his dad who died that cold December day.

I have so many stories I could share about Mr. Scott, but I think quite possibly my favorite memory of him was the morning I felt so alone and oh so shy in Sunday School at church. I looked about as awkward as I felt, as middle school often does to a person, and my social game was weak and awkward too. I could barely bring myself to walk into church I was so shy, but Mr. Scott always greeted me with a warm smile and led me by the hand to a seat next to someone sunny and sweet. This particular morning, he led me right down to the front while the music played and everyone sang, and sat with me the whole service. He chose me – a shy, awkward, nerdy middle schooler – to sit next to, when he had a hundred friends he could have chosen instead.

Week after week, he showed me Christ’s love and through the years became a role model to me that I’ll always cherish. I went on vacation with his family more than once, and I even called him before I called my parents when I got into my first car accident. He paid for every chicken tender and fry I ever ate when I went with his family for dinner. He loved his wife easily and tenderly and set a great example for his children. He was hardworking and thorough, firm but kind. He had a winning smile, the most generous spirit, and a heart of gold.

That day in December 15 years ago, I felt like the cold was creeping in around the edges of my heart. Like I was angry that someone so gentle and so good could be taken from me, from us. I wrestled with my grief for months, and years later I realized that God had shown favor to His child by removing him from the heartache of this life – the broken world we live in – and rewarded his faithfulness with eternity at the throne of Jesus. I pictured the moment when God looked at Randy and said “well done my good and faithful servant, well done. You loved so well and I’m so proud of you.”

He was too good not to remember, so today I thought of him all day long, and cried a little and smiled a little, thinking about jus how wonderful he was. I vowed to be like Mr. Scott – to honor his life with a continuation of his ministry – so when we planted a church years ago and I stepped into my role as a pastors wife, I modeled my actions after his. If my ministry ends up anything like his, then 15 years from now, maybe someone else will be talking about how I changed their life.

His are big shoes to fill but I think there is an army of people made better because of him and determined to model Christ’s love like he did. I’m certain I won’t ever forget the chill of that December day, or the gentle man who I call my hero.

God Bless The Sweet Waitress at Cracker Barrel

God bless the waitress at Cracker Barrel…
Tonight we tried to go to IHOP for 59cent short stacks for IHOP’s 59th birthday. They were, of course, slammed. Brandon made the executive decision that we would not be dining at IHOP tonight and that instead we would go to Cracker Barrel and use the gift card we had. The boys were starving and the baby was tired and lucky for us, the food took a little longer tonight.

Out of desperation for keeping the peace and trying to maintain a shred of dignity, I made up a game on the fly “if you had to choose.” We chose between French fries and tater tots, chocolate and vanilla, blue or green, cupcakes or donuts, and the list goes on. My mind went as quick as it could trying to think up new categories to keep my 6yo and 3yo enthralled, because, boy were they fast with their answers! Then dinner finally arrived, I nursed the baby discreetly while cutting pancakes and gave half my dinner away to hungry little boys whose tummies wanted more than what we’d ordered them.

All was well for about 8 minutes. Then the baby wanted her bed – NOW – and the syrup was kicking in. Maverick dropped his water cup and the bacon and the pancakes and the biscuits were gone.

Brandon went to go pay the bill and I stood up to bounce the baby in one arm and gather our belongings. As I juggled the diaper bag and the car seat carrier and the baby and grasped for Maverick’s hand, a waitress stopped by our table and touched my elbow. She said “You’re doing a great job mama” and I laughed (so I wouldn’t cry) and said “oh so you saw us huh?” feeling the blush creep up my neck. And she said, “Everybody did baby, and we’ve all been watching how you handled tonight like a champ. It seems hard and overwhelming, but you’re doing a really good job. Have a good night hun.”

Can you believe she said that to me? I could hardly believe it. I mean, I have 2 strong willed little boys – one who can’t hear (literally… we have a follow up with ENT next week to see if he can pass his hearing test now after being on meds for a month or if he needs tubes again) – and one who thinks he knows it all (I have no idea where he got that from), and an overtired little babe. I had avoided looking at other patrons because I was certain their judging eyes would look disapprovingly at us for all the ruckus and here this sweet waitress was telling me that we were doing a good job.


One of my coworkers told me today that I would survive, that it would seem as though we wouldn’t, but that we would. That the days seem long but the years are short.

I am exhausted, to say the least. Up at least 3 times a night with Bridges, working 40 hours a week and can barely keep groceries in the house and clean laundry folded. Yet God used several people today to encourage me and I kept thinking about how He knows the names of the sparrows. I wasn’t even particularly frustrated or even the most overwhelmed I’ve ever been, but boy am I tired. I almost cried right there in Cracker Barrel when He used a waitress to pat me on the back and speak life into me.

I don’t have it all together, and my house is definitely “lived in”, but I felt my spirits lift tonight hearing those sweet words “good job, mama.”

To the waitress who encouraged me tonight, thank you for your kind words. I hope you are blessed tenfold, and I hope I remember you when I see a tired, overwhelmed mama out to dinner in the future. Thank you, sweet waitress from Cracker Barrel, thank you.


Crohn’s Doesn’t Care

IMG_2095Chronic disease is hard. That’s one of those statements that everyone knows, but I just need to say it out loud. It’s especially hard on the patient, but it’s also hard on everyone else in “ripple effect” distance of the patient. ***Side note, I actually typed “victim” instead of patient a minute ago and had to delete it because that wasn’t what I meant, but it’s basically how I feel.

Crohn’s is such a mean disease. It doesn’t care if it’s Sunday night with your work week ahead, or Friday afternoon with your whole weekend planned. It doesn’t care if it’s Christmas or Easter or your birthday or your anniversary. It doesn’t care if you have 3 kids and a wife and the yard needs to be mowed.

Crohn’s doesn’t care that you have to take time off work for doctors appointments and lab work and infusions and hospital stays. So much so, that you can’t take off work for the stuff that matters, like your kid’s field trip or career day or vacation with your family. Vacation days with a chronic illness are spent 2 and 3 days at a time, at your local hospital, hooked up to IVs, having scans and other tests, and fighting through the pain and nausea, not at the beach or in the mountains.

Crohn’s doesn’t care if you’re tired and weary from the endless cycle of not eating and being sick. It doesn’t care that you couldn’t sleep last night because you were throwing up all night, or rolling around in pain for hours. It doesn’t care how many pills you have to take each day, or how many hours you sit in an infusion chair. It doesn’t care that you have to decline certain foods – foods you used to really love – because they’ll surely send you over the edge.

Crohn’s doesn’t care that all your strength is used to put on a brave front for everyone else, and that when you get home, its all you can do to climb into the recliner for the night. It doesn’t care that you order food and push it around your plate at dinner so it looks like you’re enjoying yourself with everyone else. It doesn’t care if you’re about to eat your favorite meal, or if you just did.

Crohn’s doesn’t care that you’re emotionally exhausted. It doesn’t care that you’re worried about the medical bills. It doesn’t care that you bite back tears in front of your wife, or if you can’t hold them back in front of your mom. It doesn’t care that your wife tries to quickly swipe tears away so she looks brave for you and it doesn’t care that your kids ask if you’re in the hospital again.

Crohn’s doesn’t care that its picking away at all the things that make life easier. It doesn’t care that each spouse struggles with dealing with the disease. It doesn’t care that feeling bad makes you short and curt and snippy with the ones you love most. It doesn’t care that your wife is struggling to hold it all together. It doesn’t care that your wife yells a little too much because she’s a little too stressed. It doesn’t care that she sometimes gets in the car just to shut the door and scream and cry and beg God for mercy for her husband. It doesn’t care that they desperately long and hope for healing. It doesn’t care that they feel like they’ve taxed all their friendships and relationships asking for favors and accepting help. It doesn’t care that your wife brings your 8 week old to the hospital to visit you or that the nurses bring graham crackers and juice and popsicles for your boys.

Crohn’s shows no mercy and is horribly unpredictable. It is strong and persistent and ruthless. It is totally and utterly exhausting. It is belligerent and cunning and attacks when you least expect it to. It doesn’t care how many times it humbles you.

Crohn’s just doesn’t care.

38 weeks… and still pregnant!

IMG_9566Well, I honestly didn’t think I would be pregnant this long this time… I really, really thought I would go into labor around 37 weeks. Ha. Guess not, because here we are at almost 39 weeks and STILL pregnant.

This last week has been one of the most frustrating I can remember in a long time. It’s like Christmas Eve, except that Christmas Day is a moving target and you fall asleep every night feeling like the next day is definitely going to be Christmas, and then its not. Yeah, disappointment city.

BUT, in spite of the fact that I am disappointed that I haven’t had this baby yet, let’s talk about everything I’ve done to try and encourage labor to begin. :) Yall, this is our third and final baby (and thus pregnancy) so I’m making the most of the experience. I know lots of these things aren’t scientifically proven, and there might be some not so nice comments about it all, and trust me, I know baby will come when baby is ready, but let’s just have some fun OK?

So far I’ve eaten dates and pineapple (including the core! Yep, that’s right, I cut that bad boy out and put it in the food processor and blended it up in a smoothie! haha!) and Mexican. I’ve had raspberry leaf tea and done some crazy yoga moves (that my husband likens to the elephant from Zootopia hahahhaha) annnnnd I’ve walked approximately 15 miles in less than a week. Oh and Brandon has done his part to help… wink.


How far along: 38 weeks 5days

Baby’s size: Baby is approximately 20 inches long already and about 7lbs. If I had to guess though, I’d say she’s more like almost 8lbs at this point.

Total weight gain / loss: +36lbs I think I’ve hit a plateau… which they say some women do in the latter weeks of pregnancy. I’ve never done this before but hey, I’ll take it!! Less weight to lose afterwards right?!

IMG_9550Maternity clothes: About that… I’m starting to grow out of them… 😝 See exhibit A above 😜

Stretch marks: Little lady is straight tearing me up. It ain’t pretty, but it’ll be worth it.

Sleep: Not much at all these days. Between having to go to the bathroom, having contractions, and the hip/pelvic pain, I don’t get a lot of shut eye. I’m actually looking forward to the middle of the night feedings over this.

Loving: Trying every method and old wives tale to try and get baby to come. Its kind of become like a game now. Oh and washing and putting away baby clothes and going into the nursery (which is 90% decorated now!!) to just sit and think about holding that sweet baby girl in my arms. Ahhhh….. Also loving spending a little more time with my boys before baby comes ❤️


Loathing: The prodromal labor. Can I get an amen from those mama’s who’ve experienced it?! Oh my goodness. I’ve had contractions start, get more intense and closer together and then just STOP. It is the worst! You feel as though you’ve done all that work (laboring through contractions) for nothing. AND, its such a let down! Like biggest disappointment ever.

Missing: Being in shape and being comfortable. I could cry sometimes because I’m so uncomfortable and nothing helps. I can’t wait to feel good in my own body again.

Movement: Slowing down a bit, probably because she’s running out of room!

Cravings: Slightly sour and fruity candy like nerd ropes, sweet tart ropes, Swedish fish, sour patch kids, etc. And Chick fil A Ice Dream ice cream or Mickey D’s ice cream cone.

Aversions: COFFEE still.

Labor signs: Contractions. Lots of contractions. And I’m dilated some already, whoop whoop!

Symptoms: Crazy hip pain and pelvic pain. And a big ole belly.

Exercise: Well I’ve been walking a lot lately in hopes of convincing her to come out 😬

Belly button: Same answer as before: Already popped out, but that wasn’t a big deal since my boys already gave me a belly button adjustment 😉

Wedding rings: Not anymore… fingers are too swollen so I’m rockin the fakey 😉

Mood: Pretty good, but super whiny. I’m ready to have this baby.

Husband: He actually was in the hospital twice within 2 weeks, but is now feeling a little better because of a new medicine they put him on so we are thrilled!!! He is also super excited about his daughter and has gone into baby gear connoisseur mode which is so helpful. I’m preoccupied with thinking about laboring and delivering this baby so I don’t have the band width to research 400 baby swings to see which one wins and why. He also has been having what we think are sympathy pregnancy symptoms! Actually really funny!!! Like a sweets aversion, or craving Subway, or being nauseas… yeah we’ve shared a few giggles about all that!

Can’t wait for: MEETING THIS BABY!!!

32 Weeks Pregnant

Once again I’m kicking myself for not blogging more this pregnancy. Typical third pregnancy, eh? So much else going on with the two other munchkins, the holidays and working full time. Not to mention the crazy nesting that has set in.

Speaking of nesting, I have always been a “what if” person and that leads to keeping a lot of stuff. Like “what if I need this in the future?” and “what if I get back down to this size and want to wear this again one day?” and “what if I won’t get as good deal on this in the future as I got on this one?” or “what if I can’t find this exact one again?”

Seems silly to some I know, but I think its really just rooted in being frugal to the core. If I can get away with just using half a paper towel, I will, so I don’t waste the other half… *waits for judging thoughts and eye rolls*. Sigh… weird, I know, but I hate to waste things, and therefore money. Anyway, I digress.

Nesting. I have never had nesting hit me this hard before. I’m like throw away all the things. I don’t know who this girl is, but she keeps taking bags of trash out and bags of stuff to goodwill. And the thing about cleaning out when you have a lot of “stuff” (and by stuff, I mean years of random things we’ve held onto just because of my inability to let go) is that you can spend hours going through said stuff and it looks like a tornado went through your house even though there are 6 trash bags sitting by the door. So frustrating. And counterproductive to the nesting urges because it totally un-motivates.

But, fear not, I have plugged away, as quickly as my big belly and low endurance levels will allow at this point (think very slow progress each day… very slow). And I have sorted and organized and walked down memory lane in an effort to get ready for this baby because we realized shortly before Christmas that she could come practically at any time and we are not ready.

We still have to move Maverick into a “big boy room” and then tackle the nursery. We need to un-Christmas-fy (yes, I just made up that word. You know what I mean right?!) the guest room because in the event I go into labor, my out-of-town family will need a place to sleep and the guest room is Grand Christmas Central Station during the holiday season. I have also suddenly come to the realization that my closet organization is insufficient and must be rectified immediately. I spend my evenings looking at closet organization solutions on Pinterest and Amazon and then dream about a place for every.single.thing.we.own.

See, that’s the problem with “stuff.” It needs a place, and if it doesn’t have a place, it overwhelms me, and if it overwhelms me, chances are, I ignore it. Possibly for years. And I only say that because this is a safe place, right? If you judge me, just do so silently and then pray for me. Insert toothy grin emoji.

I’m working on everything having a place in this house, and if it doesn’t, it goes. It is not welcome. It is causing me more stress than joy and it.must.go. So, if you see my random posts of things for sale, or if I poach your trashcan, dear neighbor, because ours is overflowing, just know that I’m a very pregnant woman dealing with very pregnant nesting urges, and everything must be in order so we can bring this baby into a home of peace and order.

I have rambled on enough about my inadequacies as an orderly wife and housekeeper and will just ask you to move right along to the 32 week survey below :)


How far along: 32 weeks 4 days

Baby’s size: Baby is 16.7 inches long already and approximately 3.75lbs, um, what?! She is getting SO BIG.

Total weight gain / loss: +30ish lbs (oh my, two words. The holidays.)

Maternity clothes: Yep. I am actually starting to grow out of my maternity clothes too. How depressing. If you see me wearing the same 4 outfits over and over, its because I am frugal and I refuse to buy any more maternity clothes. 😬 Oh, I am SO excited to wear my regular winter wardrobe after she gets here, I just hope I lose the weight in time to wear some of it before it gets warm!

Stretch marks: Like a boss. Straight up, like a boss. If we’re in a competition for stretch marks, I win. Hands down. Don’t even try. I take the cake, and the road map. Trust me, this is a battle you don’t want to win.

Sleep: I get up a lot to pee, and sometimes wake up anxious and stay awake for a long time praying and trying to get a handle on whatever I seem to be anxious about. I’m not really that anxious during the day, but maybe because I’m dealing with it in the middle of the night?!

Loving: The Christmas festivities and having baby girl get so spoiled by family! Also loving the snow days we’ve been blessed with this weekend.

Loathing: Morning sickness, and reflux when I lay down and the leg cramps. Oy! Also not enjoying being this big. I am seriously limited in what I can do compared to pre-pregnancy. For all you leg-crossers to put your shoes on, bless you. I am used to being able to whip my foot up practically to my face in order to put my socks and shoes on (thanks to years of gymnastics) and now I can’t even think about putting my shoes on in less than 5 minutes, and a lot of times I get Paxton to do it for me.

Missing: Being in shape and being comfortable. I am going to try to walk at least 3 times a week though because I’m seriously worried about how hard labor will be if I don’t do something to whip myself into shape.

Movement: So active! She is non-stop practically all the time!

Cravings: Hot tea still, and if it doesn’t give me heartburn, then it sounds good. And Chick fil A Ice Dream ice cream, except now I am struggling because my church is doing a 21-day fast and since I can’t do a complete food fast, I decided to fast processed sweets so that means no ice cream for 21 days. I can do this. And this will be good for me. Because I am going to pray every time I want an ice cream cone, and that will be a lot.

Aversions: COFFEE. Oh please, please don’t talk to me if you’re drinking coffee, and bless my mother and step-dad for taking their Keurig into their room over the holidays and drinking their joe in to-go cups with lids so that I wouldn’t have to smell it. Other aversions… things with tomato sauce, like pizza and spaghetti, and garlic, and anything that might try to burn up my esophagus later when I’m laying down. Ok, those aren’t really aversions, but they could give me heartburn just by looking at them and that makes me really really not want to eat them.

Labor signs: I mean, this might be weird, but I feel like I might already be dilated?!?!?!? And loooooooots of Braxton Hicks contractions that are getting super strong. Like crazy strong.

Symptoms: Morning sickness unfortunately, especially after I eat. And hip pain, and leg cramps.

Exercise: I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes today. And I did some squats the other day… someone please hold me accountable to working out (ok I realize that’s a liberal way to put it when we’re talking about walking and doing some unweighted squats) every week. I’ve got to get ready for labor, and it is no easy feat.

Belly button: Same answer as before: Already popped out, but that wasn’t a big deal since my boys already gave me a belly button adjustment 😉

Wedding rings: Still able to wear them during the day but have to definitely take them off every night because my fingers swell so much while I sleep.

Mood: Pretty good, but still easily irritable.

Husband: Poor guy has had a rough few weeks with his Crohns, and I’m praying we can keep him well before, during and after the arrival of baby girl. He’s otherwise been very supportive and helpful with my nesting, and gladly takes those trash bags out :)

Can’t wait for: Decorating the nursery!

Sooo, I don’t have a 32 week picture yet (hey, snow days equal pjs and no makeup ok?! 😝) but I’ll add it to this post when I do. For now, here are some comparison pictures for 30 and 31 weeks. Enjoy! 😜😁



Bring on 2017! Happy New Year!

4da6c7ba-8b98-4e4d-b594-64a8b77ff0ddc1c8840a-78f1-4d2f-a81f-292bcb873b752016 was eventful. That’s a good word to describe a year with multiple hospitalizations, surgeries, broken bones, starting (and selling) a new business, and finding out we’re pregnant with baby number 3, right?! Yeah, I thought of a few other words too, but eventful seems safe.

I have had moments of serious panic over the last few weeks thinking about January coming up. Maybe it’s been the cold weather, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been having some of the same pain that landed me in the hospital in the first place, but I feel my breath quicken when I think about January 4. January 4 is that fateful day that I went for a run in the cold with my sister-in-law, and thought I was maybe coming down with a stomach bug, only to be sent to the emergency room the next day and put in ICU with ischemic colitis that caused me to be septic. I am seriously struggling thinking about crossing from December into January. It just feels so eerie, and scary. Call me crazy, but I also get really freaked out in the cold too. Like, I’ve never liked the cold (EVER), but knowing that it (and my lack of a certain important artery in my stomach) put me in the hospital for 3 weeks, makes my heart drop and my palms a little sweaty. Totally weird, I know, but it’s like trying to eat a burger after it was the last thing you ate when you got the stomach bug, ya know?!

My Facebook newsfeed has been full of comments and blog posts and memes about the new year, or the one we’re leaving behind. Some have had good years, and others can’t wait to turn the chapter in their book of life. I guess I’m somewhere in between. I was so optimistic about 2016, because we were leaving a kind of rocky 2015 behind and were ready for a brand new year. Then BAM, don’t you want to start your new year in the hospital for 3 weeks and miss the first 2 months of work on medical leave?! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!! It was like a bad dream, especially after everything Brandon has been through.

Even though the doctors didn’t know exactly what my diagnosis was until about 2 weeks in to my hospital stay, I was still strangely optimistic that everything would be ok. I think that’s called peace. Peace that the Lord gives His children when though they can’t yet see the outcome, they can hear His quiet voice assuring them He’s still in control. The last 3 years have been rocky for the Delk family, but I have to say that without these last 3 years, I would not have experienced the Lord the way that I have. I have had to depend on Him, release control over what I think is best, and fully rely on His provision. Our medical bills are more than what a car cost… a new car. But God is so good, and we have not once gone hungry, and we’ve enjoyed chuckles at the robo-voice billing office workers who call and ask if we want to go ahead and pay our $4,573 balance in full today… really, it’s quite funny! I always ask “do other patients respond ‘Sure!’ And whip out their credit card for you?! Because you’re one of approximately 21 medical providers we owe that much money to.” Then I laugh and tell them I’m just giving them a hard time, and offer to pay $25 :)

God also taught us about loss this year, with losing my grandmother and Brandon losing his great uncle. Those moments made us realize how precious people are, and how short this life really can be. Thankfully they are spending eternity with Jesus and we can rejoice in that fact, though we miss them terribly and feel their absence so strongly.

img_4305Then God apparently thought that this would be a great time for us to get pregnant… WITH OUR THIRD CHILD. Talk about a surprise! Not only did we think we couldn’t have any more children, but we weren’t exactly planning on this little munchkin, especially after the craziness of the year so far. We’ve talked about peace, so let’s talk about trust now. We laughed and we cried and we sat down slowly over that little pregnancy test, and had to pray and ask the Lord to help us trust Him and His perfect plan. Don’t get me wrong, we are THRILLED beyond measure to welcome a baby girl into our family, and think she will be a perfect addition to our lives, but I had my moments where I asked the Lord alllll sorts of questions… like “why now Lord?! I’m juuuust now recovering from a very serious acute illness that we really don’t know a ton about since it is so rare in someone so young.” And questions like “how can we afford another child with all these medical bills?!” And “why would you allow us to be told we wouldn’t have more children three weeks before we found out we were pregnant?” And “are we equipped to be parents to three? Officially outnumbered.”

Then in September, God thought the perfect celebration of our ten year wedding anniversary would be a 2 week stay in the hospital and another surgery for Brandon. OK, you have our attention! Talk about learning to trust in Him and literally living out our marriage vows to one another. In sickness and in health… Where you go, I will go, where you stay (the hospital haha!), I will stay, your people will be my people and your God will be my God. I never felt so vibrantly in love with my husband than on our ten year anniversary. I felt so passionately secure that THIS man was the man God hand picked for me, and that THIS journey was the most magical ride and I was so stinkin’ grateful to be on it with him, serving our Lord together, raising 2 (soon to be 3!!!) children to follow Him, through the good times and the bad… the scary diagnosis, and the thrilling (and surprising 😉) positive pregnancy tests. Through the surgeries and the bills and the adventures of moving and living and starting new beginnings.

Its beautiful really, the way this life weaves itself together. I couldn’t create a better one for myself if I tried. God knows exactly what I needed to grow and to mature and to love more deeply. We didn’t ask for trials upon trials but I wouldn’t be the woman I am without the life I’ve lived these last 3 years. And the year hasn’t been all bad. In fact, it’s been so sweet in a lot of ways. We’ve gone on some fun trips – some with family, some with friends – had friends who’ve had babies, celebrated some important milestones in our lives and the lives of those dear to us, and grown closer to one another and to our friends and family.

As I look to the new year, I look with a different outlook than I did at this time last year. I’m not slamming the door on 2016, although it was fraught with trials and hurdles for our family, because I know that God had everything perfectly planned out, and that He knew exactly where we’d be in this moment right now, a year ago. Instead, I’m embracing all that the Lord has taught us and shown us and looking eagerly ahead to the year before us. We have much to be excited about… we have less than 2 months before we meet our daughter and we are asking God to teach us and grow us and provide for us in ways that are perfectly planned for us. He is so good!

If you’ve experienced great success and happiness this year, I’m thrilled for you and praying that it continues. God wants to pour out His blessings on you! If you lost someone dear to you, or fought for your life – after an accident, or in a chemo chair every week – know that He is still good. He is weaving together the not so yummy parts of life with the lessons and the blessings that only trials can offer us. Trust in Him with all your heart, for there is nothing you can do on your own that will too what He has in store.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

He is the master at creating a way through the wilderness and we have wound our way through 2016 and are anticipating what God has in store for us in this new year. Whatever it may be, our eyes are on Him, and we know that He is good.

Happy New Year, friends. We love you dearly!


28 Weeks Pregnant

img_7679So basically I’ve been the worst at blogging during this pregnancy. Ugh. I totally blame working too much and feeling so bad… aaaand lack of motivation. I have been so tired this pregnancy, and when I told my mama that she gently reminded me that I AM older this time around. Totally makes sense. I’m 7 years older than the first time I was pregnant! Wow!

I’ve also been bad about taking bump pics too (which I hate because I love being able to look back on those!) and honestly, my face is so fat now I’m dreading taking any pictures of myself. This pregnancy has been totally different than I originally thought it would be, and definitely different from my pregnancy with Maverick. When I was pregnant last time, I was able to work out multiple times a week and this time I’ve been working so much (my full time job and doing LuLaRoe) that I’ve had to prioritize sleep over working out and I am feeling it. I feel sluggish a lot of the time, and so weak. And I’m to the point now that I have so many aches and pains and my belly is so big, I can’t really pull off a vigorous workout. Soooo, I’ve been walking some, not even every day. I feel like a fat whale. Or a cow. I pretty much “moo” every night when I get in the bed… you can ask Brandon. I just feel so big! I have NO IDEA how I’m going to make it a whole trimester more. Seriously.

And speaking of, I’m pretty tired of telling people how far along I am when they ask and getting this look like “wow! I thought you were going to say any day now” and some people actually saying it. Yes, I know my belly is huge. I don’t know how to make it not be huge and if I did, I would sure make it happen. I’ve love it if my due date was sooner than it is, but its not, and I’m not looking forward to a whole trimester of those comments. UGH. Sorry for the rant…

Anyway, here’s the latest survey:

How far along: 27 weeks 5 days

Baby’s size: Baby is 14.8 inches long already and approximately 2.25lbs, say whaaaaaat?! That’s crazy!

Total weight gain / loss: +21lbs (YIKES!)

Maternity clothes: Yep. I finally succumbed. I managed to not wear any maternity clothes until I was 26 weeks pregnant. I’m already struggling with what to wear because I pretty much just wear leggings all the time. Annnnd, I’m only going to get bigger. Speaking of.., anyone have some winter maternity clothes I could borrow for say… 2 months?! 😬😬😬

Stretch marks: In full force. My stomach is officially destroyed (sorry babe!) but I’m not even trying to prevent more damage because its inevitable at this point. Its not gonna be cute either way, so eh, here’s to road map belly!

Sleep: Mostly good…I can still occasionally make it through the night without even having to get up to go to the bathroom. Other nights I wake up randomly for no reason (which is weird, I don’t remember that in my first 2 pregnancies) in the middle of the night and just lay there. And for the last week and a half I’ve woken up every day with a headache right in the middle of my forehead… not sure if this is pregnancy or weather related.

Loving: Having the boys be able to feel their sister kick. I tell them that she loves them so much and each kick is because she is saying hi and I love you. They are loving it and I love their reactions! Precious!!

Loathing: Morning sickness that’s returned after my brief reprieve. And feeling so fat and huge. And my hips hurting. And the recent 3 hour glucose test I had to do (which was NEGATIVE for gestational diabetes by the way, Whoop Whoop!). And HEARTBURN. Ew.

Missing: Being in shape. I am so out of shape it’s not even funny. I just want to be able to get to the gym every day and have energy. And I also miss being comfortable. I am not comfortable at all any more. Ever. Not sitting, standing, walking, or laying down.

Movement: This little girl is SUPER active! Both my doctor and the sonographer have commented on how active she is. We had to do her anatomy scan in 2 different sessions because she literally wouldn’t stop flipping around and be still!

Cravings: Anything that won’t give me heartburn. Which is basically anything with flavor sooooo, I’ve been eating lots of chicken. And boring foods.

Aversions: COFFEE. The sweets aversion seems to be waning a little but I still don’t crave anything sweet. I want to eat sweets but I’m not craving them and when I eat them I still feel kind of sick and unsatisfied. Honestly, I’d rather eat a meal than dessert. I guess that’s a good thing.

Labor signs: None

Symptoms: Morning sickness again and oh the hip pain. I wake up and my hips feel like they’ve been drilled into. But bring it on. Spread hips, spread. We gotta get yall ready to birth this baby!!

Exercise: I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes the other day… And did some pushups. But basically this has been a huge fail for me. I don’t even get 10k steps a day anymore. UGH. Just call me fatty…

Belly button: Already popped out, but that wasn’t a big deal since my boys already gave me a belly button adjustment 😉

Wedding rings: Still rockin’ em! :)

Mood: Pretty good this week although I get irritable easily. Feeling bad just lends itself to being in a bad mood.

Husband: Brandon has been really understanding this pregnancy and helped me so much. We’re a pretty good team and he’s been really protective of me. He has done so much to help with the boys when I’ve felt bad and I feel awful that he’s had to do so much, especially since I know there are times when he doesn’t feel good either.

Can’t wait for: Christmas!

Also, we need to do maternity pictures and I need some inspiration. I feel like I’m fresh out of cool ideas/locations/outfits. Help a tired mama out 😉

For a good laugh, here’s my 28 week comparison with all 3 babies:



Surgery Eve (Again)

I think I’ve written a post before with that same title… or it at least felt a little familiar anyway.

Tomorrow morning, Brandon will have surgery… again. His surgeon came to see him tonight and told him that he watched a ton of footage from the capsule camera, mostly of the spot where he has a stricture in his small intestine. The surgeon will go in, retrieve the camera, and cut out the bad section of intestines.

I had someone ask me earlier if this was a pretty minor procedure.


NO, it most certainly is not MINOR. They can’t go through his nose or just numb him a little and then give him some gingerale and he will be fine.

No. The anesthesiologist will put him under, the surgeon will cut through his skin and abdominal wall, and then squeeze feet of his intestines until he finds where the camera is stuck, then examine the small intestine for other signs of blockage, CUT OUT THE BAD PART, reconnect the ends of the small intestines together, and then sew up my husband’s stomach. The surgery can take anywhere from 4-7 hours, the better part of the day, and then his recovery will be weeks long. I will bring him soup and help him set up shop downstairs since he won’t be able to climb stairs for awhile. He will be restricted to lifting less than 5lbs for about a month, and it will be tedious. The days will be long, and the path frustrating.

No, it is not a minor procedure.

Please, please join with me in praying for a SMOOTH, SUCCESSFUL procedure. Please pray that this is his last surgery. Please pray that his Crohn’s will go into remission and we can have a reprieve from this life filled with infusions and hospital stays and clinic visits and bloodwork and CT scans and surgeries. Please pray that he is a gracious patient and that I am a gracious nurse. I am tired and emotional and he is tired of feeling bad and irritable. We are ready to enjoy life with one another and not life with each other and Crohns.

Crohns, I hope you get the boot tomorrow. You have been disruptive long enough. I am claiming an end to this and hope you’ll join me in begging God for the same.

I will post updates in the morning and as I can throughout the day. If you recall, last year we prayed on the “fives” and you’re welcome to join me again in doing that.

Thank you for all the sweet messages. I will continue to read them to Brandon until he is taken back for surgery, so keep them coming. :) We love you all.

Hospital Update

Friends, we have received many messages and follow up questions about how Brandon is doing. THANK YOU. You have been so sweet to us and we rest a little easier knowing that an army of friends is bringing our concerns to the Lord Almighty. You are wonderful and we could not do life without you.

Here’s an update on his condition:

Today is day 3 in this hospital stay and we are beyond frustrated. When Brandon presented to the ER Tuesday night, he specifically talked with the doctors about not having a CT scan because he’s had so many in the past year, and it’s really not good for a patient to have so much radiation. We’re wanting to minimize our risks and potential side effects (because we’re already seeing negative outcomes from some of the treatments intended to “help”) and the doctors agreed it was in his best interest to not have another CT scan. They did an xray to rule out perforation and rupture and then he sat. For 2 whole days. Not eating and in pain and battling waves of intense nausea. Last night GI medicine finally came in and announced that they did not believe he had an obstruction and that he was going to have a CT scan shortly. Needless to say, we were upset that GI Surgery had not yet been consulted (we had been told they had been called earlier in the day and waited the whole day to see them) and that his GI doctors were making decisions opposite what had already been discussed.

Late last night, Brandon had a CT scan and GI maintains that he does not have an obstruction, but Internal Medicine (who is currently running point on his care) gets to decide and they agree with Brandon’s surgeon, that he likely DOES have a mechanical obstruction. Brandon’s surgeon (from his previous 2 resection surgeries) came by to see him earlier this afternoon and told us that the CT scan is not showing an obstruction in the sense that GI is thinking. His intestinal tract is NOT closed off completely. You might be thinking, so why is he in the hospital? Why is he having pain? What is causing all the nausea? Here is your medical lesson for the day (I learned something new today myself!!):

Your intestinal wall is made up of muscle, and food is moved through the tract by little squeezing motions, like contractions, that pulse the food on down the path. Well where Brandon had surgery, his intestinal wall has formed scar tissue and basically (this is the real dumbed down version coming from me, the furthest thing from a medical doctor, so just hear me out) that part of his intestines has become “paralyzed.” It doesn’t do that squeezing motion anymore because its stiff with scar tissue and the parts above that area have to work doubly hard and it’s gotten to the point that its causing Brandon extreme amounts of pain. Think about when you have a stomach ache with cramps, how it kind of comes in waves. The pain is like that for him, only it’s not just when he has a stomachache. It gets to be whenever he eats. Whenever food is trying to go down his intestinal tract. Think about that. Think about all the times throughout the day you eat. Every day. How awful.

The plan now is to have Brandon do a procedure called a capsule endoscopy. Basically, he will swallow a camera in the shape of a pill and it will take pictures of his intestines on the inside. His doctor has been talking about this procedure for half a year now, so it is somewhat a relief to know that will finally happen.

The risks with normal capsule endoscopy are minimal, but in Brandon’s case, the doctor thinks the capsule will get stuck (in the part of the intestinal tract that is thickened and not moving!) and that his surgeon will have to go in and retrieve it. At which time, they might as well go ahead and take out the blockage! His surgeon came in today and told us that Brandon is on the schedule for surgery for Wednesday. He is currently doing a bowel prep (which is no fun at all, seriously.) and will swallow the capsule tomorrow.

I am feeling so many emotions right now, I’m not sure I know how to even describe it all. I spent a large portion of time between 3:30-5:30am last night begging God to heal Brandon and to give his doctors undeniable wisdom and clarity. I am so distraught over how all of this affects Brandon. There’s the obvious, of course, that he deals with a lot each and every day physically. He is tough and on any given day, you’d probably never know anything is wrong, but I know. Because I see it. Up close and personal. It’s raw and its real, and it truly is amazing that he can go to work every day, parent our children every day, and love me gently as his wife, while being in pain, or nauseas, or uncomfortable, or tired, or anxious, or all of the above.

This hospitalization has felt different for me, I think because I have truly battled feeling overwhelmed with it all. I’d like to think I can balance work, owning a business, parenting 2 small children and being pregnant with a third gracefully, but to be honest, I’m juggling about 17 things right now and I feel like all of them are on the floor, having been dropped, by me. I’m so tired. And so worried I won’t be able to handle it all. And I’m worried. I’m worried about my husband, about how he’s dealing with all of the same emotions, but being trapped, unable to do anything about it all, in his hospital room. I’m sad that he’s feeling so crappy, and I’m worried that he’s worried. I hate that he’s been through so much, and I hate that I’m not more understanding at times. That I snap back when he’s feeling bad, and hold a grudge when he’s not himself.

As usual, you can pray for us specifically, because I believe there is power in taking specific requests to the throne of Almighty God:

For minimal pain and nausea and discomfort for Brandon these next few days

That his mind would be eased and he would not be anxious

That the team of doctors would truly look at his individual case and determine the best course of action for HIM

That there would be clear answers from the capsule procedure

That the boys would not worry

That he could avoid surgery if possible

That we could determine an effective treatment plan so that we don’t end up here again in the next few months

That I can be productive and focused at work early next week so that I won’t feel as guilty about being away the rest of the week to be with Brandon

That his recovery would be swift and without complications

That he would FEEL GOOD

Thank you for praying with us and for us. We love you all and are so grateful for your friendship and your diligence in showing us what community really is all about. I will keep you posted as I can and appreciate your words of encouragement more than I can say. This man is my world, and today, on our tenth wedding anniversary, the best gift I can receive is knowing you’re all praying for him. <3

(Read more about Brandon’s Crohn’s story here.)