Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Eaton Five 2016

It was about this time last week that I gave up on the dream of sending out physical copies of our Christmas card.

2016 has been full of surprises and hard work for our little family. Here is a bit of a recap:
We started out the year in Texas settling in to our new routine as a family of four. But, life threw us a few unanticipated blessings that had us as a soon to be family of five living in Kansas.

Gabe is now employed by Schwan's, working in their pizza department. He recently developed some new pizzas that might end up at a store near you.

Heather continues to be a stay-at-home mother. She had a baby and graduated with her Bachelor's degree from BYU in Family Studies/Human Development, and Public Health with a minor in gerontology.

Roland has grown leaps and bounds this year. Socially he is much more approachable and we have loved watching him continue to be a wonderful big brother. Roland very much cares about others and always wants to know the way things work. He is obsessed with most motorized vehicles and music.

Hazel has gone from baby to toddler this year. She is fiercely independent and loves to tag along after Roland most of the time. She loves all animals (especially dinosaurs and her Uncle John's bearded dragon), to color, and categorizes most things as "pretty" or "cool."

Zelda fought long and hard to get here and we are so grateful she made it. From in utero growth restriction to isoimmunization the pregnancy wasn't easy. But she is now a happy, healthy almost three month old and we are all in love with her toothless grin and coos.


This year went by quickly as we stayed busy. We are grateful to be back in Kansas, closer to family.
We sincerely hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The not so Texas Eatons

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Only in Kansas....

Two days after Zelda was born and we were still in the hospital, I was getting ready to take a shower when the tornado sirens went off. We live in Kansas so I thought nothing of it, until Gabe knocked on my bathroom door to inform me the rest of the family would be in the hall and to hurry up and finish my shower.

I rinsed off, jumped out, halfway dried off, threw clothes on, and headed into the hall where everyone from Labor and Delivery was gathered. There was a full on, touching the ground, tornado outside the window. Zelda was still in the NICU and we were told she was safer than we were, but we were all still on the sixth floor and it made me nervous.

Thankfully, the tornado was far away, it never reached us, and all is well.

I guess Zelda is a tried and true Kansan with her first tornado under her belt.

Monday, November 28, 2016

NICU Memories

There were a lot of difficult things about having Zelda be in the NICU, but there are some wonderful memories there as well.

When they were inserting Zelda's initial IV Gabe was in the NICU with her. They had to use the vein in her head, which Gabe was not expecting. He later told me "I had the strongest urge to hurt the nurse who was inserting her IV. I seriously wanted to hit her. It was so weird."

I love how protective my husband is of our children and our family.

Another memory was when Roland and Hazel met Zelda for the first time. I love the hospital that Zelda was born in and because it was only a level 2 NICU her siblings were able to come in and meet her and hold her only a day after she was born. The nurses were weary of Roland holding Z because of the IV line, and monitors she was on but Gabe and I reassured them he would be extra careful, and Roland, being Roland, was extremely careful with her. Hazel was a little too little to hold Z but was also careful as she sat on my lap next to Z pointed out her eyes and said "soft...soft" as she petted her head (her IV had been moved to her hand at this point).

I appreciated Zelda's nurses who encouraged breastfeeding and kangaroo holds and letting Gabe and I basically be in the room 24/7 if a medical procedure wasn't being done.

Zelda made her first little friend in the NICU, another baby who had IUGR (in utero growth restriction) was born within hours of her and they were next to each other. I joked with baby's mom through our privacy curtains as we nursed, that our babies were trying to talk to each other as they took turns crying.

Friday, November 18, 2016


After dealing with the stress of a high risk pregnancy, and watching two women with the exact same condition as me have to say goodbye to their babies I write this to remind myself.

Tonight Zelda laid next to me all snuggled up as I typed up a homework assignment. I looked at her and couldn't help but think "I know she is going to be awake and ready to eat and look around as soon as I finish this."

And I am grateful for that. I am grateful for every grunt, squirm, and cry. I am grateful for the sleep deprivation. I am grateful for the diaper changes and weeks of isolation that come with a newborn.

I am grateful because it means we got to bring our daughter home with us. These things mean she is healthy and thriving. They mean I get to watch my daughter grow and take in the world around her.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Zelda Ember 's birth story

I have now had three very different birthing experiences. (Roland here Hazel here)

And I can say Zelda's has been my favorite labor and delivery. Whether it was the hospital, the ability to plan some details because we had so little control over others, the pain meds, or the fact that this was the third time we've done this... who am I kidding, it was probably the pain meds.

The few weeks before I delivered were strange, exhausting, and busy. As my previous post said I was sick. Add to that a freak accident of a highway worker breaking our back side window with debris from weed eating, both cars batteries going out, and a baby Zelda who appeared to not be growing.

The weeks before my induction I kept going into labor. Once, we even dropped the older kids off at their grandparent's house. But then nothing.

October 4th I woke up at 4am to the sound of a storm. Whether it was the excitement of a baby or the weather outside I couldn't go back to sleep. I slowly got ready and finished cleaning some last minute things around the house. Soon it was time to load up the car and go.

As Gabe drove through town we saw branches scattered across the slick black streets. I love rain, and funnily enough it has been raining each time we have gone to the hospital to deliver a baby.
A valet parked our car, we registered and headed to labor and delivery. It was a strange feeling going through those doors without being in serious pain. We chatted with the nurse as she charted all of our information.

Both Gabe and I had copies of the necessary testing and care that needed to take place immediately after Zelda was born. We have learned with the rarity that is Alloimmunization (ISO), most doctors and nurses are unfamiliar with correct procedure and treatment plans that do not deal with Rh incompatibility.
I was so grateful when a resident was told her only job was to learn everything she could about ISO and ensure all the correct tests were performed.

But I digress.

Around 9am I was on a pitocin drip and finishing up a homework assignment. My OB came in around 10am and broke my water.

When I started to feel some serious contractions we switched to catching up on Hulu shows and waiting on the epidural. As it goes, all three of the women in L&D requested the anesthesiologist at the same time. I am not sure where in line I was but I was grateful when she showed up.

Around noon the residents came in to check my progress, and ended up breaking my water a second time. We found out later there were two bags of water (This in and of itself is a miracle. ISO must cross the placenta to affect baby and having an extra barrier to cross is something Gabe and I are extremely grateful for).

Around 130pm I was still dilated to 4cm. I told Gabe to go grab lunch because at this point I knew he was as hungry as I was. When he returned I started feeling contractions again. Gabe was able to time them and measure intensity easily because the monitor was above my bed. They started to last 4-5 minutes with breaks between 1/2 to 2 minutes.

The nurse came in to check me "before your Dr heads into surgery." I wasn't surprised when she said I was at 10cm. She called my OB to tell him he needed to postpone the surgery.

I was surprised with the amount of movement I still had control over, but still needed help getting myself situated in birthing position. Gabe was in his now standard place, holding my left leg. While a resident held my right. I looked at the clock behind Gabe's head, it was 225pm

I pushed twice, paused while the cord was unwrapped from Zelda's neck and arms, then pushed a final time, which was followed by another gush of fluid (the second bag had most of the '"waters" behind it).

As Zelda came out she wrapped both her arms around our Dr's arm, and grabbed him with both hands, but didn't cry. We held our breath as they finally got her lungs cleared (We later found out she had an in utero lung infection).

Zelda was born at 229pm. At 6 pounds 4oz and 20 inches long she was our smallest baby yet.

Gabe cut the umbilical cord and handed her to me. Everyone else quietly left as we had skin to skin time, she nursed, and we stared at our little girl.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Well, I was wrong

Our routine the past few weeks has gone something like this:
Wake up and eat breakfast, depending on my level of discomfort and lack of sleep a lot of times it is Gabe who gets the kids food and into the bath. Then he's off to work and I let them play until there's an altercation or too much water on the floor.
Then we do hair and get dressed and we more likely than not venture out for some sort of activity.
Sometimes it is water cups from Sonic that Roland is convinced is soda and the park.

Other days we get a bit more adventurous and head to the zoo or library.

And at least once a week it is to the store for groceries and othe necessities or the Dr's office.

And then by the time we get home I am utterly exhausted. We eat lunch and then veg out for the rest of the day with books, toys, and Netflix/Hulu.

Gabe comes home to a messy house, kids who want his attention and a wife who is either laying on the couch trying not to loose the contents of her stomach or making dinner.

I initially felt guilty for this routine, and then Wednesday I became really sick and the past few days I have managed to get to the point where both kids are fed and dressed. Then I become an extension of the couch as they run around like little curious tornadoes. At lunch Gabe comes home, gets them food, cleans up from the morning mess, and then he's back to work. When he comes home he takes the kids, I fall asleep and wake up in time for dinner, then the kids play or get on the tablet until bedtime. Then I go to bed with the kids and wake up to a clean house all over again.

I don't know what all that guilt was from before. I was doing great.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Six Years... a little later

Dear Husband,

Six Years.

A lot has happened in that span of time my dear.

Things are different, and yet as I sit here and type this in between homework assignments while you read a graphic novel there are some things that probably never will change...

Three states, three kids, and lots of memories. Our dates ussually consist of house hunting and Drs visits. Our bed rarely has less than three people in it by the time morning comes. Neither of us can remember the last time we got a full night's rest.

I am grateful for the husband I have next to me as we learn, grow, and change. I love you and your scruffy beard and affinity for all things green. I appreciate how hard you work in and out of our home. I am lucky to have someone who supports me in my endeavors, and has some pretty fantastic goals of his own.

This adventure is still my favorite, no matter where it takes us if I've got you by my side I will be content.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Shelley's 50th Birthday Party

Tomorrow my mom turns 50, and this past weekend I helped my Aunt Karen throw her a surprise party.
Honestly, the party itself was somewhat last minute and I definitely could not have pulled it off without a lot of help from Karen, Gabe, my Uncle Mike and various other people I hope I don't offend by failing to mention.

We had Rhodes rolls, smoked pork loin, baked beans, watermelon, colelsaw, corn on the cob (the cooler method totally works), brownies, and root beer floats.

For the decor we tried to focus on Shelley:

As a side note, it was amazing to be able to go through all of the family pictures looking for ones of her. We showed Hazel who she was named after (not that she cared), saw that baby Roland looked just like my Uncle Coyle (who died as an infant), and saw lots of memories of my awkward years.

We also set out picture props for people to pose with the lady of the hour, and I am glad because we made some memories with those silly things.

We also had a box set out for people to write down their favorite memories with Shelley and some framed subway art with hisotircal events that happened in 1966, the year she was born. 

But the best part of the party was seeing my mom see so many people who loved her in one place. 
It was a lot of fun and I am grateful she has given me the legacy she has. 

Happy Birthday Momma! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I did not always believe that I was meant to be a mother. In high school, in college, when I was struggling with fertility and then sustaining pregnancy, when our oldest had sensory issues, when Hazel cried for hours at a time, and as my two oldest had simultaneous screaming at the top of their lungs meltdowns in the grocery store while I was on a fairly important phone call (hence the meltdowns, I know)

...all of those times I didn't really believe that I was a right fit for motherhood.

And then tonight, as I was pouring over medical journals, printing off important studies, and highlighting articles, something dawned on me. Not all mothers are prepared in the same way, and my life experiences have been preparing me to be my children's mother for quite some time.

In high school I was taught how to research, and then how to form educated opinions based on said research, and most importantly, how to voice those opinions in a somewhat cohesive manner.

In college, I was further taught about statistics, learned important milestones in child development, studied genetics, and learned how to effectively advocate for change in the public health arena. And, because I have taken so long to graduate I still have access to many forms of research I would not have otherwise.

I have been prepared to advocate for my children for over ten years. I have been prepared to understand their specific needs and my girls' rare blood disorder.

So no, I might not be a mother in the same way other women are. I might not have wanted children from a young age like other women. But Heavenly Father blessed me to know how and when to fight for my children. He gave me the knowledge and courage it takes to question experts and say "That isn't good enough." 

God allowed me to have life experiences that prepared me for my specific experience in motherhood.

And tonight...
I finally realized that I am good enough to be my children's mother. This is what I was meant to do. It is not all I am meant for, but it is the most important thing I have done in my life thus far and it is the most important thing I am doing right now.

I am meant to be a mother. 

I find it somewhat amusing it took me fighting for my children to figure that out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Choose Your Hard

After Hazel was born, Gabe and I went between being finished with having kids (2-4am jogs around the house to soothe a fussy baby will do that to you) and wanting a few more, to wondering if that was even an option.

We discussed the time frame between Roland and Hazel and decided it actually isn't a bad gig. Kids close in age is pretty awesome. We havr even seriously considered "4 in 4" (four kids in four years) for various reasons.

A few months ago I came across the phrase "Choose your hard." It was in reference to health (you can choose to eat right and exercise or you can choose to suffer from the effects of a poor diet and lack of exercise both are hard to do). But, as I have thought about that phrase I think it extends to most facets of life. And while we sometimes have no control over our trials, we always have control over our reactions.

Right now, that "hard" is having children so close in age.

While I am cursing the potty training gods (aka my very stubborn, not ready or interested toddler) for ruining my plan to never have more than two in diapers at once, I am also glad those diaper years are overlapped and not spread out.

We chose our hard, and we are actually pretty excited about it.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cause baby now we've got bad blood... (sorry, I had to)

Here is what is going on with my pregnancy and Baby Eaton #3:

When we found out Hazel had Coombs Antigen E+ it was not explained to us very well. This is mostly because while Coombs is fairly common, the antigens that caused her particular form of Coombs are not.

Basically, there are blood types that carry certain antigens in them and blood types that do not, this is based on genetics but it can be affected by a blood transfusion (which Gabe hasn't had). Gabe's blood has heterozygus E, e, C, and c type antigens in it, and my blood has developed anti-E and anti-c antibodies.

This wasn't an issue until Hazel's blood entered mine (because of how mild her case was this most likely occurred during the two weeks I was in active labor, but I have had different doctors have different opinions, one specialist believes the issue started earlier and it is why I have had three miscarriages, while others believe that the baby cannot be affected until the second trimester). When that happened my body built up antibodies (the anti-E and anti-c ones) to her blood, started to treat her red blood cells as a disease, attacked and destroyed many of them causing severe jaundice and moderate anemia. Even with those issues she had a minimal hospital stay and is a thriving, happy 1 year-old.

The condition is called "Red Blood Cell Alloimmunization (Isoimmunization)", and even those babies who do have it have an 80% survival rate, chances are baby girl will be just fine. Our biggest concern is the baby developing Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus and Newborn (HDFN), which can cause liver damage, heart failure, severe anemia, and rarely (even more rare than this condition) death.

If the antibody levels in my blood reach a certain level  (1:16 , I am currently at 1:4) we will begin weekly sonograms to test for anemia in the baby. If she becomes anemic enough an in utero blood transfusion will occur, or if I am far enough along they will deliver.

Right now, we are planning for a delivery around 34 weeks. She will most likely be delivered in Kansas City because of the possibility of a blood transfusion. This could all change though.

She could be born at 37-38 weeks with a short visit in the NICU like Hazel.

Sometimes I feel like we're on a bomb squad and we know there is a bomb but we have no way of finding it or knowing how big it is, or when/if it will go off. It could be tiny, it could be huge, and we have little to no control over any of it.

For now, we wait. And get monthly sonograms and weekly blood tests, and pray the bomb is a big fat dud.

**If you're pregnant this isn't something to freak out about. If you have had blood work done they have already tested for antibodies in your blood. While similar to the Rh factor this is not the same and there is no shot that can be given. Could a shot be developed? Yes. Why hasn't it been? Money. The condition is rare enough that no one has funded the research for it yet. But hey, any of my PD Bio friends who are interested in furthering the research on it, we would totally let you poke us countless times in the name of research.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Two words...

Tonight as I was laying Roland down he sleepily said "Mommy..." expecting a request for a drink or his pacifier I asked "What Roley?" He responded "Love you."
Sometime around his first birthday Roland stopped giving us kisses (he now usually reserves those for Hazel, although he did kiss my belly today saying "Baby kisses, mwah!") and tonight was the first time he has ever told me he loves me without prompting.

Sometimes it really is the little things.

To a father who made me like this holiday...

Dear Gabe,
I love today and celebrating you. It might have started a bit rocky with Hazel projectile vomiting on our breakfast and a migraine that had me asleep most of the day. But here we sit snuggled up as a family and I can't help but reminisce on all the moments I've been able to watch you be a father.

Rides on shoulders.. late night and early morning snuggles... adventures and road trips... family projects.... learning and teaching.... sickness...  tantrums... "I love you" s (remember when Roland finally said it to us?!) the ER and NICU... diagnoses that left us reeling... lunches where we drop by just to see you... loss... labor... bedtime...

You do it so well. And while no one is perfect you naturally know how to help our children feel safe, loved, wanted, and cared for, how to teach them so they want to learn.

You are an example of hard work and persistence. You encourage our son to play with dolls and our daughter to roar like a dinosaur. You fix Hazel's hair and kiss Roland's "ouchie"s.  You teach our children of the love Heavenly Father has for them and their own worth.

You are a wonderful Papa, and we love you more than the vacuum, Kissy Cow, and learning new things.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Hazel Turns 1

It is so strange to think of everything that has happened since Hazel was born. We live in a different state, Gabe has a different job, I will be graduating soon, and most importantly little Miss Hazel has grown into quite the one year old.

She fits perfectly into our family and I am unsure if I have ever met a happier baby. She loves her brother and tries to do almost everything he does. Her newest thing is to scrunch up her nose and make a funny breathing noise when she is irritated, but if you do it back to her she usually starts laughing.

Hazel started walking the week before her birthday. She is now pretty efficient at it and would rather fall down than hold someone's hand for help. She loves to talk on the phone and is about as social as her brother was hostile at this age. She loves the swings at the park, reading books, "singing", sliding with her brother, playing in the water (as long as Roland is around to help) and fights sleep more than I have ever seen a child do.

Hazel is independent, joyful, daring funny, and kind. If Roland gets put in time out she sits next to him and cries until he is out. She loves music, peopen, and snuggling (on her terms). When she doesn't feel good Gabe is her go to and she gives the sweetest little kisses.

Happy Birthday Hazel Evangeline! Thanks for making our lives better than we knew possible!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Three's (not so much) A Crowd

In case you haven't heard...

We're expecting our third child in October.

When people ask we typically say we are elated, and that is completely true. However, on days like today when Roland and I are sick and both kids just want to be held I wonder if I will be good enough to fit them all in when the time comes.

After we had Hazel we were told it was highly unlikely we will have another child, and if I did get pregnant survival past the first trimester is about 30%. Considering I have already had three miscarriages and the numerous health issues involving my reproductive organs we thought two was it. And we were grateful. How many people get the chance to have two children? Let alone a boy AND a girl.

So while this is unexpected, we won't be complaining about any of it... we might stress out about the fact that the car we bought in January won't fit a third car seat, or that I gave away all of my maternity clothes, our newborn essentials, and most of our baby clothes when we were moving. I might cry at the grocery store because there isn't really a way to fit three kids under three and groceries into a cart. And we might shake our heads as we try to configure a space for the new baby to sleep.

But, all of it is done with a sense of gratitude that we get another chance at pregnancy, and a newborn and all that comes with it. Our above stressers are pretty superficial. I know people who have twin toddlers and are expecting another set, and even a few with triplets. They all get my kudos and awe.

Wednesday we got to see our baby moving around and hiding from the ultrasound for almost a full hour (gotta love an in depth sonogram). And in the next few weeks we have to go in for more in depth genetic testing (Is it wrong that I am excited to talk to a geneticist? Simply because I find their job fascinating...). We still don't have a name, but we have another baby and that is something we are all too happy for.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Quit

Our maid quit yesterday. She decided she was tired of picking up the kids toys, mopping the kitchen, rearranging books, doing endless loads of dishes, and putting away the shoes the kids have spread across the house, all several times a day.

I saw this coming for awhile now, she's been slacking off as of late, cleaning has become a lesser priority and to be honest it takes a lot of stress off of me. Mostly , because I am the maid.

Last night I was stressing out about finishing school in time (which now probably won't happen until August for reasons beyond my control), having a clean house, and dealing with a renewed exhaustion from either pregnancy or my lovely thyroid. Something had to go and I decided it is the maid.

In her place I am implementing:
1. A toy and book rotation. I'm thinking we will split their toys into 3 groups and rotate every month or so.

2. I'm buying a dishwasher. Hello beautiful portable genius that makes my life better.

3. Gabe is solely in charge of laundry (his idea, not mine).

4. The shoe rack is going in the closet (we will see how long this one lasts).

Goodbye maid. Goodbye old level of cleaning standards...
Hello a bit more sanity.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2015 in Review

As I look back I can't help but give a sigh of relief that it is over. But that sigh also holds a bit of nostalgia because there are so many memories I hope to never forget.

Obviously, the biggest change in our family was Hazel. We have enjoyed having her in our lives more than we knew was possible. She turned 7 months old at the end of December with giggling, scooting around, and lots of kisses. She is healthy and thriving.

Roland has kept us on our toes with his dare devil antics. He went from having a major speech regression to using full sentences. His favorite things are outside, animals, cars, and his baby (he refuses to refer to Hazel in any other way). Roland is shy, thoughtful, extremely perceptive, and maybe a little too curious for his own good.

I am finishing up a few classes in order to graduate while enjoying motherhood. It has been nice to have time for hobbies as well. Running and photography are my outlets these days and while I don't excel at either one, I enjoy them enough to not care.

Gabe had a busy year at work. He received a promotion and traveled to old and new places. He makes parenthood look easy and has joined in on my running habit.

.... this folks is all I wrote for our 2015 newsletter... months ago. But for posterity sake, I'm posting it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

And I can easily understand...

Life has been moving at an ever quickening speed as of late. How have we lived here for almost two months? Hazel is on the verge of walking, and Roland has grown leaps and bounds in the vocabulary department. He is currently obsessed with telling people how we moved from Texas to Kansas and now we live in a driveway. He misses Texas more than I ever thought he would. He wants to visit old friends, the gym, our swing set, and Chick-fil-A. We explain to him how long the drive is and that we don't have a bed there anymore and he is usually satisfied with the answer.
But my momma heart instantly feels guilty because I know what it is like to miss an old place after moving as a kid, especially Texas.
Luckily, he has a built-in best friend in the form of Hazel, a friendly play group, and close by relatives.
Gabe really enjoys his new job and I am busy finishing school. We started a morning routine this week, which I love. Growing up my mom always had schedules and while we all complained about them I secretly loved it. These days Gabe's relaxed attitude balances out my overzealous one so we both end up getting more done, including this blog post and the following picture dump.

Because apples and Jif whips are the best. Also, Hazel must do whatever Roland does.

Our washer machine was broken in the move, which means we had to use the laundry mat a few times (before one of my mother in-laws started doing our laundry, no joke). Roland was especially okay with it because they have the neatest video games there.

Papa's shoes are cooler than his any day.

When brother naps the Hazel will read all his books.