Wednesday, April 25, 2012

4 kids...really??

Remember my plan of only having 2 kids….and my plan of not having 3 boys….and my plan of not having babies close to 35 yrs. old…Well, let’s just say sometimes life just turns out better than you can plan for.
The summer of 2010 (I was 34 yrs. old); Michael and I decided to try during the months of July and August to have another baby.  That was it…we gave ourselves 2 months and if we weren’t pregnant, then too bad, so sad.
We didn’t get pregnant, so we started school…and then basketball (same old story, new year).  Towards the end of February 2011, I prayed (ok, begged) that if a baby girl was not in God’s plan for me, then could He please change my heart.  I didn’t want to long for something that was not what God intended for me or our family.    I was so happy with my boys, and I needed God’s help to be content in my blessings.  I began planning our trip for Disney World.  We were planning to go during Spring Break of 2012.  I was excited because Cooper was all about The Mouse at the time, and I just knew he was going to love it.  It had been right at 6 years since the big boys had been, so Carter didn’t remember his first trip. 
Fast forward 3 weeks from ‘the prayer’.  Spring Break 2011.  That Thursday, March 12, we were at home, and I was obsessing over focusing on Disney stuff on the internet.  I had just about figured out where we wanted to stay.  I stopped to go and cook a late breakfast and got a really strange feeling that I should take ‘a test’ just to be sure.  I can’t really explain why I felt the need to take one right at that moment, but once the thought was in my head, there was no avoiding it. 
I didn’t tell Michael what I was doing, but as the faintest of all faint lines appeared (so faint, in fact, that I wasn’t even sure I could really see it), I started to panic.  Four kids, its way passed the summer deadline, I’m planning Disney (I quickly did the math….really?? Disney with a 3 month old!!!) and I would be 35-almost 36-when this baby would be due!  This was not in my plan! You would think I would learn, right?  Anyway, I ran in to tell Michael the news.  He was relatively calm, and I think he was actually confused as to why I was so baffled. 
By the fourth time, one might think it becomes old hat.  No big deal, you know what to expect, your older and wiser…lol.  I am here to tell you, at least for me, every time feels like the first time. 

I spent the next several hours re-planning Disney for the summer.  I decided I would rather go pregnant than with a new baby. 
Over the next few days, we alternated between excited and wondering if we were absolutely insane for having another baby.  I scheduled my first pre-natal appointment, and my doctor went over all of the essentials.  Due to my ‘advanced maternal age’ I was asked if I wanted an NT scan.  This is a test they do right around 12 weeks to make sure everything is developing as it should.  Well, with all of my obsessing researching, I had read that sometimes they can tell you the baby’s gender with about 70% accuracy at this scan, so after a lot of thought, I opted to have the test.  Besides, it was a chance to get to see the baby.  It’s a good thing I’m not an ultrasound tech…I think I would give myself an ultrasound every other day.  Anyway, at 11 weeks, 5 days, the doctor said she was about 75% sure it was girl.  More importantly, the baby looked amazing.  They did a very detailed scan of the heart, brain, lungs, etc., and everything was developing exactly the way it should.  They combine this scan with some blood work and that came back great as well.
We decided not to tell anyone about the ‘girl thing’ yet…not even our moms, which I would later get in trouble for.  A few more weeks went by.  I went in for a routine dr. appt., and I asked if there was any way we could have a quick gender check ultrasound.  We were leaving for Disney the following week, and I really wanted to buy something for the baby while we were there (obviously, patience is not my strength).  Unfortunately, the tech was busy that day, but said I could come back in a couple of days. 

The day before we left for Disney, I had the quick u/s, and was told that it was, indeed, a girl.  Thrilled might be an understatement. I sent a picture of the u/s to Michael and our moms.  Sigh, it was amazing! 
This pregnancy was very similar to the others except I had a couple of episodes of spotting, which always proved to be nothing, and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the first time.  Other than that it was smooth sailing.  I had to be monitored more closely in the last trimester because of the GD, but everything always came out perfect.
We scheduled an induction for Nov. 14.  My doctor didn’t want me to go over 38 weeks because the GD can cause some issues.  I had really been hoping I would go in to labor on my own this time, since I had been induced with the other 3, but I was also glad to have an end date in sight.  It was also the very beginning of basketball season, so it was nice to plan it around that.
Well, the night of Nov.8, same night as Michael’s first scrimmage of the season, I began having contractions.  By the time he got home, close to 11:00, they were getting stronger, but still not very regular.  I was up all night, and by 3:30 that morning I knew I was ready to go to the hospital.  By the time we got there at 4:00, it was getting pretty intense.  Epidural please!  Well, I figured out why it was so intense.  As soon as I got my epidural, I was already at 9cm.  A little after 7:30 am, on Nov. 9, 2011, Clara Grace Jackson was put into my arms, weighing 5 lbs. 13 oz. 
What a little miracle baby.  The boys were so excited to get into see her.  They were smitten from the minute they laid eyes on her.  And, at that moment, the Jackson family was complete.
Thank you, Lord, for knowing the details of our lives.  Thank you for having absolutely perfect timing and thank you for loving me in spite of my impatience and doubt. 
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~Psalm 139: 13-14
Clara-What a miracle you are.  You are so loved!  We are blessed to be a part of your life and can’t wait to see where God takes you and how He uses you for His glory! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hold on to your hats, it's Jackson #3!

OK, if you read Carter’s birth story, you know that my plan was to have 2 kids. I only have 2 hands, there are only 2 parents, and it is all about logistics..HA! Sometime after Carter turned 3, I began thinking about whether or not we should have another baby.Truth be told, it probably would have been a much easier decision if I hadn’t been terrified of having 3 boys.Michael and I would talk about it, but I just could never commit to having another, although the thought of never having another made me sad…what to do, what to do.

The summer after Carter turned 3; Michael took his first head coaching job in Hillsboro, TX (about half way between Waco and Dallas). Now, this was 4 hours away from the mamas, which was quite a change from the 2 minutes we had been accustomed to.We got there, and the boys adjusted well.We were sure this was temporary and that we would soon be back in the Houston area (God willing).Towards the end of our first year there, I had the realization that I was 31, and if we were going to have another baby, that summer was it. I wasn’t having babies close to or after the age of 35 (that was the magic number in all of the books after all!).So, in April, we loosely agreed to begin trying that summer, preferably in July/August. If you work for the schools, that is prime baby time, because it means you won’t have to come back from maternity leave before summer.
Well, as usual, my plans were altered, and on May 8, 2007, we found out that I was, indeed, already pregnant. A little early, but I was excited.I just knew we were going to add a sweet little girl to these amazing boys that we already loved so much.If you know my family, you know that my plan for that baby girl was not realized (at least not yet). After the ultrasound, I was sad. Not because we were told it was boy, but I just knew that I would never have a daughter.I so wanted to experience that relationship.I adored my boys and wouldn’t change that mama/son relationship for anything in the world, but deep down, I felt like I was missing out.Maybe you want to roll your eyes or judge me and think I should have just been happy with a healthy baby…don’t worry, I’ve beaten myself up over those same issues. Judge away, but it was just the honest truth of how I felt.Blame it on my mom, lol, it was our relationship that I wanted with my own daughter one day.
As his due date approached, we again decided to induce.Timing was even more important this time since we were so far away from everyone, and the hospital was about 40 minutes from our house.On December 21, 2007, Cooper Reed Jackson was born and weighed in at a measly 6lbs. 7 oz.I was surprised because Carter had been over 8 lbs., so I just expected Cooper to be a little bigger.
Just before noon, the clouds parted and the angels sang, because when they put that baby boy in my arms, I saw a little piece of Heaven.I looked at Michael and cried “How could I have ever cared!!”That little ball of love was so sweet.I said over and over that I wished I had been a kangaroo so I could put him in my pouch.I couldn’t imagine anything different.He was so squishy and sweet!All of the thoughts of what I thought I was missing were washed away, and I was the proud mama of 3 boys. I would be queen bee, the only girl, and let’s face it; boys love their mama!
The only down side is all of the fun comments:“wow, 3 boys,” “you really need a little girl,” "they must keep you really busy,” and my favorite (insert sarcastic tone), “don’t you want to try just one more time?”

I began to get a little defensive (on the inside, because if you know me, you know how non-confrontational I am).I felt as if people thought something was wrong with me for having all boys.I, instead, think of it as an amazing challenge from God.Our society is running low on good Christian men, and I find it complementary that God has entrusted us to raise 3.Three, that I pray, will grow up and fill God’s Call in their lives and be loving, productive members of His kingdom.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.~James 1:17

Cooper-You are a true gift from God.  You amaze us every day with your wit and your heart.  I am so thankful that God knew better than I did when He made you!  We are so excited to watch you grow and learn and develop into the person that you were created to be.  We love you more than you know and have cherished every minute of the last 4 years!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And then there were two...

Like most people, I had a plan.  Although our pregnancy with Cole had been a surprise, I knew just when I wanted to try for Jackson #2.  Michael had graduated from U of H, Cole had turned 2, so within a few months, it was time to start the process.  I had decided 3 years was the perfect age gap, and since we weren’t trying when we got pregnant with Cole, I figured we should get pregnant right away.  First month…negative.  No big deal, I knew it might take a month or two.  Second month…negative.  This process continued for what felt like an eternity (looking back it was a very short time, but in the moment of “my plan”, it felt like forever).  I was diagnosed with PCOS and my doctor said “well, you can either begin some mild fertility treatments, or start back on birth control since that is the treatment for PCOS.”   Ok, I wanted another baby, but I wasn’t ready for 2 or 3 at a time, so back on the pill I went.  I began to wonder if we would be able to add to our sweet little family.  Cole was amazing and I felt a little guilty longing for another child so badly.  I had just assumed we would have two kids(that was my plan, afterall).  Well, during the second month of taking my pills, I accidentally skipped a couple of days.  Fast forward about 2 weeks….POSITIVE!  I may be the only person that had to get on birth control to get!

Needless to say, after months of waiting, we were so excited to be pregnant (when you are trying, it feels like everywhere you look, someone is pregnant).  Anyway, Cole informed me that he had prayed for a brother.  I very gently informed him that we wouldn’t know for some time whether it would be a girl or a boy.  Well, apparently, God heard his prayer, and on November 22, 2002, Carter Lane Jackson entered the world at 8 lbs. 1 oz. 

Carter was a very serious baby taking the world in and watching his brother run about.  He was so sweet, and Cole adjusted to big-brotherhood pretty well.  He was in pre-school now, after all, so he was a very big boy.

Carter was our sicklier child (I can count on my hands the number of sick visits Cole has made to the doctor’s office). He had multiple ear infections and had tubes put in his ears at 13 ½ months old.  He has had many sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, and a mild case of pneumonia.  He had croup more times than I can count which required breathing treatments.  He’s had to be seen by a neurologist for migraines (which turned out to be ‘normal’, thankfully).  For the last couple of years, however, most of that has stopped, and he seems to stay healthy most of the time.  We are very grateful for that!

It was pretty incredible to watch Cole and Carter’s relationship form.  Still to this day, they fight and argue, but when one of them is not at home, the other is a little lost.  When one is hurt or feeling bad, the other wants to make sure he is ok (unless they are the one inflicting the  They love each other, and I pray that they will be close when they grow up.  I pray that they will realize what a gift God has given them in each other. 

Carter is now 9 years old and in the 3rd grade.  He, too, excels in school, surprising even his teachers at how quickly he acquires new material.  He plays basketball year round and is getting better all of the time.  He’s the one that we never know what he is going to say, and he analyzes pretty much everything all of the time.  I can’t wait to see how God is going to use this analytical mind of his.  He has a great big heart, and I love him to pieces.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.~ Philipians 4:13

Carter-You are such an awesome kid.  We love you so very much and look forward to watching how you continue to grow both physically and spiritually!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The one that made me a mama!

September 1998…We had just gotten married in March, and I was starting my senior year at The University of Texas in Austin \m/  It was so exciting to see the light at the end of that tunnel.  Michael had just started working for Rick Barnes and the basketball program, which was an amazing opportunity (resume gold, we thought).  Our world was trucking right along according to plan.  Then, on September 13, 1998 we had a little surprise.  Ok, not so little, we were going to have a baby.  We had intended to wait a couple of years, but the test was positive.  We were nervous, excited, nervous some more….all of the joys of the emotional roller coaster that every first time parent feels.  As far as unplanned goes, at least the timing worked out well.  The baby would be due in May, just around the time of my graduation.

Michael wanted a boy.  He tried really hard to convince me that it didn’t matter, but I knew deep down he hoped for a son.  I didn’t have a preference, but I kind of hoped for a boy to take the pressure off of any future!  I actually felt like it was going to be a boy until December.  That’s when we went in for the ever-anticipated ultrasound and, in addition to a good report, my doctor said he thought it was a girl.  He wasn’t able to get a very good look.  He wasn’t sure and was very clear about that, but he thought from a quick glimpse, that it was a girl.  We cautiously prepared for our daughter; I even had a pink baby shower.  Michael took it all in stride.  Never once did he act disappointed.  About 3 weeks before my due date, I had a follow up ultrasound.  My doctor said “what did I tell you that you were having?”  I said, “Well, you said you weren’t sure, but you thought it was a girl.”  He said, "Well, I'm glad I said I wasn't sure!"  Apparently the umbilical cord had been down covering the parts.  It took everything Michael had not to jump out of his seat.  He was thrilled (that’s when I realized just how badly he had wanted a boy!).  So after some exchanging and another baby shower (this time in blue), we were ready to see this baby boy. 

With my impending graduation and the fact that I had already begun to dilate, we agreed to induce on May 7, 1999 (just 2 days before Mother’s Day!).  After a perfect pregnancy and a perfect delivery, Cole Matthew Jackson was born that afternoon.  He was the most remarkable thing I had ever laid eyes on.  He was 7 lbs. 3 oz.  He immediately cried, boy did he cry, they took measurements, bathed him, and finally brought that perfect little bundle back to my room.  To look into his little eyes, the eyes of the one who made me a mom….there are no words.  My heart aches a little just thinking about it.  
We stayed in the hospital for 2 days, and then our new little family was released into the big ol’ world, new baby in tow.  Shortly after Cole’s birth and my graduation, we moved from Austin back to Angleton.  Cole was a great baby.  Sure, there was the initial shock of sleeplessness, but once we figured out that if we would feed him per his schedule instead of the one in the book, he was happy.  Everything began to settle down, and we enjoyed parenthood.

We did really well for the first couple of years.  Aside from Cole’s desire to run off when he was put down in any public place, we made it through what were supposed to be the terrible two’s.  We patted ourselves on the back thinking we must have been such good parents that we missed that dreaded stage.  Then……he turned THREE!
Hello, reality check.  A walking, talking, THINKING, three year old!!!  Why didn’t anyone warn us???  Every stage has the good and the not so good.  Three was tough, but we survived.  Cole started school and excelled in all subjects.  In Kindergarten, he won the award for best writing in the entire grade level.  

He is now in Junior High.  He continues to amaze me.  He has grown physically and emotionally, but more importantly, has also grown spiritually.  He blows my mind with his questions and his understanding.  I pray that God will protect him and use him.

11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Cole-We love you very much.  You bring so much to our lives.  We know you will go on to do amazing things! J