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Life Update: Pregnancy (week 33), fostering a newborn, Suriname

33 weeks — and I’ve very much officially outgrown this non-maternity sweatshirt!

Highlights

Well, this was quite the week! As I mentioned yesterday, in addition to all the upheaval, unknowns, and cancellations due to COVID-19, Kathrynne also got stranded in Suriname (I hope to have a good report to share on her situation there soon! It’s looking hopeful that they aren’t going to be stranded for 30 days!), and we started fostering a newborn who was born prematurely and is currently in the NICU.

This foster placement is likely a long term placement (as with foster care, that could always change) and baby will likely be in the NICU for another few weeks.

So I spent the bulk of the last 5 days at the NICU and will likely be there much of every day until the baby comes home. I’m so thankful for the flexibility of my job and our lifestyle that is allowing me the opportunity to pour into and love on this little one. We are completely smitten and the kids look forward to me coming home every day to share the pictures and videos I take.

This is my first experience with time in the NICU and I’m so thankful for the amazing team there who has patiently taught me so much about how to care for a medically fragile child. I’m learning all sorts of new terms, bottle-feeding techniques, what all the beeps and alarms mean, what I need to pay attention to… Each nurse teaches me something new every day.

I’m trying to make sure to pace myself, eat healthfully, exercise, stay hydrated, try to get as much sleep as I can, and have downtime each day to hopefully stay well and continue to have a great pregnancy (the hospital won’t even let you in the door as a visitor right now if you’re not super healthy).

Notable

I’ve spent a lot of time this week sitting in a rocking chair in the NICU rocking two babies — one on my lap and one in my womb. It’s crazy to realize they are both about the same size right now!

And it’s also funny because the babe in my belly is constantly kicking the babe on my lap.

Also, yes, it’s looking like we’re going to have “twins” at our house in just 6-7 weeks. The kids are beyond ecstatic!! It should be quite the adventure! Feel free to hit me up with all your best advice for having two newborns at the same time!

Cravings

Milk, cereal, milk, and ice cream. Notice a theme?!?

Weight gain: 25 pounds

A Few More Peeks Into Our Life This Past Week…

I had the privilege of interviewing Becky Keife for my podcast this past week. Her book, No Better Mom for the Job, was one that really blessed me this past year. I can’t wait to share her episode with you on Tuesday. You are going to be so encouraged!

Like I said, Kathrynne left for Suriname last Friday morning to go on a special learning/serving/experiencing trip with a teacher and a small group of girls from school. (This picture was taken at a park there.)

This is the girl who — just 5 years ago — was scared and completely uncomfortable to be around kids her age.

This is the girl who has struggled with so many panic attacks and anxiety.

The girl who was incredibly angry with us when we made the decision to put her in school after always homeschooling (she was so fearful of having to be around kids she didn’t know and to be in so many unknown situations all day long).

This was the girl who was terrified to get on a plane to South Africa with us just 4 years ago.

It’s our heart’s desire to raise self-sufficient adults, not co-dependent children. So over the past 5 years, we’ve slowly pushed her to do a lot of uncomfortable things, because we knew the only way she would grow wings and fly was if we gently nudged her out of the safety of our little nest.

We often wondered if we were making the right call and we spent a lot of time crying out to God for wisdom and direction for the next step. God has been so faithful to give us wisdom — even when it’s meant making really hard calls (like quitting homeschooling).

We look at her now and see that is was SO worth it — she’s a confident, outgoing 15-year-old with more friends than we can keep track of and a social calendar we struggle to keep up with. A girl who loves Jesus, life, adventure, travel, and people. A girl who excitedly jumped at the chance to go on trip to Suriname (her first international trip without us)!

We’re still finding our way in what it looks like to parent teens. And I know we’ve made plenty of missteps. But we continue to just look to the Lord to give us wisdom for each new day, each new situation, each new unknown… and we trust Him to be faithful!

Also, watching your kids go on their own adventures, jump out of their comfort zone, stretch themselves, and live courageously is one of the most rewarding things as a parent… even if it involves a lot of our own letting go!

How was your week? How are you doing in the middle of so much unknown and unexpected? Let me know in the comments! (And if you are feeling stressed and scared or just going through a rough time right now, leave a comment and let me know. I have lots of extra time to pray for people right now while I’m sitting in a rocker in the NICU!)

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45 Comments

  • Jeanie says:

    Prayed for your daughter in Suriname. Since you began fostering, I try to remember also to pray for you. Foster parenting is such a great way to give of yourself and to show God’s love and I know at times there must be great challenges with it. Keep following God and be courageous! (I’m speaking to myself too!)

  • Audrey says:

    So awesome! I’ve been loving watching your journey with your beautiful family. Thanks for sharing!

  • Melissa says:

    My son spent 7 months in the NICU born very prematurely. He is now 13 and this is all concerning. Bless you.

  • Laurel says:

    Mom of twins here! My biggest advice is to keep them on the same schedule! If one eats, the other eats. When one naps, so does the other. It’s the only way you will ever get a break, or be able to get out of the house/have time for your other kiddos. Also, we started ours very early learning how to self soothe and that was so beneficial because they could get themselves to sleep instead of us needing to spend precious time rocking 2 babies to sleep. Best of luck to you!!

    • Thanks so much for sharing! A lot of moms have been saying this… I’m not sure if it will work in our case since the baby we’re fostering is medically fragile and will need some extra TLC. But I’ll definitely try to make it work if we and the drs feel it’s in the best interest of the babies!

  • Susan Bonner says:

    On this National Day of Prayer I add to the prayers for our nation prayers for your daughter, your health and your Foster baby. I’ve read your site since almost the beginning and you are a great blessing! Also, love you and Jessie on your podcast. God’s blessings and grace on all your family!

  • Patti says:

    Sending positive thoughts to your family…you seem so strong right now. It is evident how much faith you have in God. Wonderful thing to witness such conviction. Those Nicu nurses are angels on Earth and hoping your daughter gets home safely and soon!

  • Kathryn P says:

    I just found your site after listening to your book. I love the fact that you foster as I do as well. It’s a different world of parenting. Thanks for all of the tips and I’ll be praying for you all. I’m hoping my teen’s placement becomes stabilized as that’s a struggle in care. 🙁

  • Cheryl S says:

    Foster parents are very special people and so are NICU nurses! Our baby who turns 21 in 3 weeks was born 11 weeks premature at 2 lbs 6 oz and spent 47 days in the NICU. Can you believe they sent her home at 4 lbs .5 oz, 1 month before her due date? The whole experience was so scary but my daughter is now a straight-A junior in college, doing great in every way, and rarely gets sick too. All credit to God! God bless you for loving on that little baby and wishing you all the best with your little one soon to be here. Hope K makes it home soon! What an adventure!

  • Heather Drossart says:

    I had twin girls 14 years ago. They were premature and one spent 3 weeks in the NICU the other 7 weeks! I honestly was glad that I could take one baby home first and get a routine down before they were both home. They let me bring her back to visit her sister and that way I could take care of both. Now times have changed and they don’t allow that. You only have 2 hands and sometimes you can’t help them both! It’s okay if they have to wait for what they need. Keep them on a schedule together. You feed one you feed the other, change one change the other. Enjoy the snuggles! Accept help from family and friends. If someone asks what you need tell them exactly what you need.

  • Shauna Schenke says:

    I just want you to know how much that picture of you (with that sweet little one in your arms) touched me. I am so glad God put you there to hold that child and to be present to love. You have given that baby a healthy beginning to life because, without you, he/she could have had attachment issues. My prayer is that you and your family will be blessed and that your hearts will be protected as you freely extend Christ’s love to one of His own. Thank you for sharing your brave journey and answering God’s call to love as He loves.

  • Katy says:

    What an adventure!!
    My twins are almost 7 years old now and the best thing we did when they were born was to keep them on the same routine. Feed them at the same time, put them down to sleep at the same time, etc… Luckily you’ll have some wonderful helpers around the house, thank God!

    • Thanks so much for sharing! A lot of moms have been saying this… I’m not sure if it will work in our case since the baby we’re fostering is medically fragile and will need some extra TLC. But I’ll definitely try to make it work if we and the drs feel it’s in the best interest of the babies!

  • Teresa says:

    What an amazing God we have! I love reading your updates and I keep telling my husband about what’s happening in your life and how God is blessing you and your family. I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy on March 10. I feel God is healing me but still have a long road ahead. Anyways I know my husband thinks I’m nuts because I always tell him what’s happening in your life and he will ask who is this your talking about and I will tell him my coupon lady. It’s so fun for me to see the blessings God is pouring on you and your family! Praying your daughter makes it home soon and for the precious baby that has came into your life!

  • Whitney Weyeneth says:

    I love this post so much! What a wonderful family for Christ! I currently have two month old twins, so not too much experience, but I would recommend feeding them at the same time. Sleep is most certainly elusive so sleep whenever you can. My husband and I take care of one baby through the night. And most of all, give yourself grace. So much grace. Praying for all your blessings! Peace!

  • Misty says:

    Prayed for your family and the newest addition. We have fostered/adopted the last 9 years. May God be with you on your journey.

  • Amy says:

    Hi Crystal, our son spent 4 months in the NICU. Upon talking him home, the doctors told us that much of his survival was due to our presence with him in the NICU. Thank you for being there for that little one!

  • Kristine says:

    I’ll echo the other twin momma comments on keeping them on the same schedule. Sanity saver! However, we did deviate from that slightly as they started to learn to sleep through the night because mine were very different sizes and developmentally ready at different times. We didn’t want to hold one twin back because her brother wasn’t ready to sleep through the night yet (I imagine it’s possible you may encounter this because you’ll have a preemie and a full term babe).

    Anyway, my hubby and I split kids at night so whichever baby cried that’s who got up.

    The babies still went to bed at the same time and I would do their morning feeding together. Even if someone wasn’t ready yet because they’d eaten overnight I’d give them a top off… all babies then had full bellies at the morning feeding and could then proceed on the same schedule for the day.

    This was only during that short month or so window. My one twin slept through about a month before her twin. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone, but it’s what worked for us!

    But otherwise, yes, same schedule all the way! Good luck! Such an exciting time for your family.

  • Rhonda says:

    While on vacation, I was sitting at my aunt’s home in Sarasota, FL this morning, and she mentioned receiving a prayer request from one of her friends at church for a granddaughter stranded with a group of girls in another country. In doing some FB sleuthing, I discovered that this granddaughter (LL) attends Franklin Christian Academy and is with Kathrynne! Small world. Praying for their safe return home!

  • Amy says:

    I inherited my twin grandchildren at 17 months of age after having 6 kids of my own. They are so much more work!! Find a twin mom group because they have the best advice and ideas. God is good and will give you what you need.

  • Darci says:

    I gave birth to twins 21 years ago and the best advice I received was when one wakes up, wake the other one up. Try to keep them on the same schedule as much as possible otherwise you will be constantly feeding and changing and it’ll exhaust you even more.

  • Emma says:

    Fellow foster parent and twin mom! I love so much what you’ve chosen to do. We’ve fostered for almost five years now and had 14 children ranging from premature in the NICU to 12 years old.

    When our twins were born, our twin B was teeny tiny with horrific acid reflux and difficulty swallowing. We had to wake her up to eat every 2.5 hours around the clock because she wouldn’t wake up by herself. But twin A was a totally “normal schedule” baby. My husband and I went back and forth between two stages depending on our level of exhaustion: Stage 1, we took shifts. I’d sleep from about 7pm to 2am and then take over from 2 until 8 or 9 while he slept. This made for better sleep, but honestly more stress for the on call parent, especially if Twin A decided she wanted to eat at the same time we had to wake up Twin B. Stage 2, we would choose a baby for the night, often with the drama of the NFL draft. 🙂 We’d get a piece of paper and be silly, writing down ‘stats’ about how they’d slept the past few nights, how much they’d eaten that day, etc., and flip a coin for first draft pick. I know for a fact the hilarity was fueled by delirious exhaustion, but those joking moments totally kept our marriage together as we dealt with two babies with VERY different needs.

    You both are going to be amazing, and I hope it’s not weird to say I’m proud of you! I’ve read your blog for so long, and I just think it’s so great you’re doing this. I’m so excited for you. First-time placements are so special – I still keep in regular touch with the parents of ours.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement! This truly blessed and encouraged me to hear your experience that might be somewhat similar to ours (two babies who are almost the same age but will likely have very different needs due to one being a preemie).

  • Leanne says:

    The picture of you holding the baby is so beautiful! I’m praying daily for Kathrynne and her fellow travelers to arrive home safely soon! Blessings on your family.

  • Theresa Martinez says:

    Hi Crystal this such an amazing experience and God is with you every step of the way. What does a long term placement mean in Tennessee? We are looking into more of the foster care process here in Ottawa, Canada and lots of prayers right now for guidance with God. Are you concerned about when the children go back to their families etc? How your kids will handle that if trusting God? Thanks again for always sharing so honestly.

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