Friday, February 1, 2019

And so we are into 2019....

February 1, 2019
It seems so strange to be back in this space and writing almost two years since my last post. What a two years it as been! I hope to use this first post of 2019 to fill in a few gaps and to talk about a special focus that I'd like to take with this blog for a bit. 

My how they grow! Our kiddos are now 10, 7, and 3 years old! Yes, the preschooler you see front and center is our sweet baby M from all those adoption posts in 2015. He is such a joy and brings lots of fun (and some three-year-old challenges) to our family! :) Our daughters are enjoying 2nd and 4th grades and love the Classical Christian curriculum that their school offers. We really love the 3-days of school and 2-days of homeschool that we get there! Currently, they are reading Peter Rabbit and Heidi, so this English nerd mama is in heaven! 

At the end of 2018, I turned 35. I have never been one to complain about growing older, but the past two years did seem to place a little urgency on my heart, maybe a little more forward thinking, into the kind of life-style I'd like to pursue to make the coming years more healthful ones.  I think this type of thinking, this type of change, for me, could only come after a complete loss of the health I had taken for granted. 

I'll share a little of my story here today, but I hope to be able to expound on several of the issues I've faced in future blog posts. Perhaps, someone walking a similar road can find some guidance, comfort, and a little nudge toward the next step in healing here.

I could start in 2017, when the walls began to collapse around me, but I'll go back a little further--to the beginning. I started life with a deficit, born 2 months early, I came into this world prematurely, with lungs and a body that struggled to keep up for a bit. There are a few significant things that mark my early years that I have come back to think on in recent months: 

-I was frequently sick as a child. I was hospitalized frequently around the ages of 4-6 with pneumonia. 
-I grew up in a home where both my parents smoked. Though my mom stopped when I was around 7, my dad continued to smoke (mostly out of the house) until 2003. 
-I had terrible seasonal allergies and did 2 rounds of immunotherapy as a child and young adult. 
-Our family doctor over-prescribed antibiotics. I took low-dose antibiotics as a teen for acne. 
-Our house had a damp basement. I remember my mom always running a dehumidifier. 
-I ate what everyone else did--lots of junk food, soda, etc. 
-I took birth control from the age of 22-24 and then later the mini pill after both our daughters were born. 

My first encounter with "health issues" didn't really come until after our first daughter was born. Immediately after she was born, I felt "off"--while everyone else was constipated after birth, I had diarrhea for days. My biggest symptoms were huge adrenaline rushes, coupled with exhaustion and insomnia. Everyone around me assured me that I was just "a nervous new mom" or that my hormones would "level out." I tried to listen and convince myself that I was just the type of person who didn't cope well with these things, but in my heart of hearts, I knew that something had changed. 

I won't go into the whole story here, but I was eventually talked into talking an anti-depressant drug and, while it did improve some symptoms, I never really healed. I would have periods of exhaustion--literally couldn't function after 7PM. I was 25-26 years old and I suffered from frequent periods of insomnia, fatigue, heart racing, feeling cold, catching every germ that came around easily (lots of strep throat), frequent canker sores in mouth (I remember having 10 at once)... And yet, I was told time and time again, my lab results were normal. I even vividly remember one male doctor telling me I was stressed out because I had kids. I felt ashamed and powerless. 

We would go on to have our second daughter two years later and, while I was able to go off my anti-depressant for the duration of the pregnancy, I soon found myself crashing again and back on it. It was around this time that our world began to change--we found a chiropractor! I'd been having back and neck issues for a bit and we started seeing a chiro that my sister-in-law visited. When he later passed away, we went with her to a new office that focused on not only chiro care, but whole body health. 

I was a wreck emotionally and physically. My husband had a vasectomy because we were terrified of how my health might respond to another pregnancy. I was growing spiritually with the Lord, but I felt like my body was failing. I'd seen multiple doctors who all told me I was "fine" but our chiro was the first to acknowledge that I was not. He recommended a local doctor--a naturopath who worked with a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and I made an appointment. There was a 6 month wait! 

I'll never forget that warm May day when my husband and I went to her office for the first time. I had written out my "health story" and was relieved to finally have someone who might listen. We sat in Dr. C's office for over an hour that first day and I told her everything. And something incredible happened: she listened, she was patient, she validated what I was feeling. She wasn't rushed. It wasn't the standard 15 minute appointment I was familiar with. When I was finished sharing and answering her questions, I remember she leaned back and said, "I think you are dealing with these things." I sat there as she listed them out one by one. These were real medical issues, with real tests, and with real treatments. She told me firmly, I was not crazy. I was sick. 

About two weeks later, I received those test results in the mail. I remember grabbing them out of the mailbox on my way to run errands. I drove about a mile and couldn't wait any longer to read them. I pulled over into a parking lot and ripped open the envelope. One of the first things my eyes lit upon were the words "abnormal results" and with that I just started sobbing. I wasn't crazy. I was sick. 

And that's how the first part of my health journey began 7 years ago. 

In the next blog post, I'll share about my "crash" two years ago--a little reflection on some things I should have done differently. And then, I'll try to get into some individual topics more deeply. Some things I hope to talk about in the future are: 

-Autoimmune Thyroiditis 
-Diet changes in relation to inflammation/thyroid/gut health 
-Candida Overgrowth 
-Mycotoxin Illness/Mold Toxicity 
-Epstein Barr Virus 
-Mineral Balancing (heart racing/ heart palpitations) 
-Genetics (testing/protocol)
-symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia
-adrenal issues 

I'm not an expert on these topics, but I have spent the better part of the last seven years researching, learning, and healing. Hey, my Master's in English came in handy for doing good, sound research! :) If I can share resources, books, research that might point one person in the right direction for healing, I'll count these posts as 100% worth it. 

It's a new year! You're not crazy. You might be sick. You can heal. Never. stop. digging. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Its hard to believe that it's already 2017! We're approaching the one year anniversary of Max's adoption finalization. He has grown so much since then! Last year, he was still a such a chubby little guy who wasn't moving around very much. He's now a speed demon who is into everything! Max is such a joy to be around. He does have a little stubborn side that has started to show, but he's usually a very happy guy. He loves Baby Signing Time, cars, books, and being outside. He also loves having "car races" around the house with his sisters, who also like to take a spin on his ride-on toys. Some of his favorite words are tractor, cars, go-go, eat, more, thank you, shoes, mama, dada, mamaw, papaw, out, up, and uh-oh. He is very into music and loves to dance. We've even caught him trying to mimic words from songs lately. He is pretty good at humming and imitating "That's What Makes You Beautiful" 😅 He's such a character! He has had two haircuts so far. Both times made me want to cry! I love his curly long hair, but it was nice to see his ears and to make sure it wasn't in his eyes all the time!! 

We are thankful for each day we have with Max! He is such a blessing to our family! 

Here's a little recap of the last few months, including his 1st Birthday party! 

 Swimming Summer 2016 

 In our ADOPT Shirts! We should have bought one for Max!! AH! 

Playing outside 
Wild Things Smash Cake! 

First Birthday Party 

Smash cake 

Max's big cake (both cakes were made by mommy!) 

First Haircut at Disney World

Our first family Disney trip with my parents! 

Max's first trip to the beach 

Where the Wild Things Are Photo Shoot 
Photos by Jen Shouse 

Photo by Jen Shouse 

Photo by Jen Shouse 

First Hay Ride 

Fall Leaves 

Halloween with Scooby and the Gang! Max was Freddy! 

Merry Christmas in our jammies! 

Valentines Day Party at his sisters' school 

Swinging in the park! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Thank You Post

At Grandma's House before we finally made it home!

Newborn photos 

First Halloween 

First Christmas 

Learning how to sit in the highchair 

Superman was adopted too! 

First Easter

Big Boy! 

10 months old

Our Maxwell is almost 11 months old. It's so hard to believe that almost a year has passed by, but in two days (June 24th) we will celebrate the First Anniversary of the day we were matched! What a crazy beautiful day that was! 

Often, when I am rocking Max to sleep, I sit in awe and contemplate God's grace in bringing this sweet boy into our home. I also think about each person who graciously helped us to bring our son home. So, on this eve-eve of our match anniversary, I wanted to post a special thank you to the hands and feet that helped to bring Max home to our family. 

So many of you bought t-shirts or cards, came to our yard sale, donated items, allowed us the privilege of babysitting your kiddos, donated time and money, and even selflessly worked for a day (not to mention sending out all those sponsorship letters) for our Both Hands project. Many sponsored a worker and a special friend even donated some skilled labor to create a new deck for Miss Penny in our project (You can still watch the video about this very special fundraiser that we did that also benefited Miss Penny here:  ). And the blessings just spilled over and over! 

Life with three busy children leaves little time for lengthy thank you notes, but please know we are THANKFUL. We think of you every time we look down at Maxwell! If it hadn't been for your love, support and prayers--for you holding up our arms when we were weary, we wouldn't be loving on this beautiful son of ours right now. 

Maxwell is thriving! He's healthy, chubby, and so much fun! Right now, he's learning how to pull up and can get around surprisingly fast with an amazing army-crawl. He loves to growl and jabber and is probably one of the easiest going babies I have been around! He loves the water and is enjoying pool time this summer. His sisters adore him and Mabelle often says, "Max is the cutest baby ever!" We agree! 

This year, we were blessed to finally sell our house (you might remember the one that was a rental property and suffered a fire) and Kurt was able to apply for and get a job that he's wanted for a long time! We are still working on paying off our adoption loans, but are so thankful for God's provision so far and are trusting in Him for the rest.

 Maxwell's adoption was finalized on March 28th, acknowledging to the world, what we already knew--he's our son! Each month, we send photos and a letter to our adoption agency, praying fervently for Maxwell's birth mom. I can't begin to express how much we love her, how we long to hear from her. 

I promise to try to post some other updates as his first birthday approaches! 

With love, 


Monday, December 7, 2015

A Season of Thanksgiving!

We're at that magical time of the year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year seems even more special because our sweet Maxwell is here! It has been too long since I have posted an update, but we've been pretty busy getting used to life with three children! Max is 4 months old now and is thriving! He is healthy and is doing great (and growing really fast)! His sisters adore him and we can't get enough of his sweet personality. He is mostly all smiles and loves to be held and cuddled. 

It's amazing to think of how far we've come from last year when we were just starting this process! When I think about the mountains God has moved to bring Maxwell to us, I am overwhelmed by His goodness and grace. I was just thinking the other night about all the amazing ways in which He has blessed us throughout this process. In the spirit of the season, these are things for which we give thanks: 

1. We found Faithful Adoption Consultants early on in the process: they led us through this process with humility, professionalism, and prayerful guidance! 

2. We were able to fundraise enough money early on to pay for our consulting fees, home study and other expenses out of pocket. We literally started this process with us a few hundred dollars to use for adoption. 

3. Our family and friends have been so supportive of our call to adoption--especially our church here and our small group (BFG). 

4. We became members at Ashland Avenue in early 2015 and are so blessed to have church home for our family! 

5. God placed an amazing friend in my life whose family is also in the process of adopting. 

6. Our rental house suffered from a fire--yes, we are thankful because it allowed us to get rid of a bad tenant and God used the situation to show us that He would be the one to provide for all our needs during the adoption. 

7. There were many cases that we presented to and we are thankful for each one that we weren't chosen for--we were able to pray for those birthmoms and babies and that was a blessing in and of itself. 

8. When we thought that our Birthmom had already chosen and that we weren't being considered by any other birthmoms, God showed off and totally surprised us in the fact that she hadn't chosen (miscommunication) and that she wanted to talk to us. 

9. That we got to speak to our birthmom on the phone and share our hearts. I think that conversation is one of the most precious memories I have. I'll never forget being on the way to swimming lessons and getting the call that she wanted to chat with us! 

10. That we were chosen by Maxwell's birthmom to be his forever family just 4 months after becoming active. 

11. That we were chosen to be the parents of a baby BOY! We were open to either gender, but our oldest daughter really wanted a baby brother and we thought it would be neat to experience having a son! This was particularly ironic as most of the cases we saw were 80%! 

12. That our initial loans we needed came through in the 48 hour time span we had to send the first payment to the agency. This was a stressful time and at one point we thought there wasn't any way we could pull it off. God showed up big and everything got processed in time! Nothing was going to stand in the way of us getting to our boy! 

13. We were able to talk to Max's Birthmom's mother on the phone. It was a beautiful conversation and we both cried! 

14. When we left for Utah, Kurt and I were both feeling unwell--we recovered quickly and were fine by the time Max was born! 

15. Leaving for Utah was as "relaxed" of a process as it could be knowing we made it to his induction date and it was pretty planned. It was nice not to have to fly out suddenly! We were also blessed by being able to stay with another FAC family for our first week in Utah--which not only helped us to save funds, but provided us with new friends!! 

16. Our parents and Auntie cared for our girls so well while we were gone! 

17. For a healthy delivery for birthmom and baby on August 3rd! It was a tense time with birthmom ending up with an emergency c-section! The waiting was horrible! Mabelle also had an accident that day requiring oral surgery for stitches. I have never felt so helpless, as I felt two of my babies needed me so much and I couldn't be with them (we didn't see Max till he was 24 hours old). We were thankful that the surgery went well and Mabelle handled the process like a champ. It had to be so scary for her! We were so thankful my parents and Auntie took such good care of both she and Hazel that night. 

18. That our birthmom signed a "see and hold" so that we could see Max on August 4th when he was just 24 hours old. 

19. That we got to meet our birthmom's mother and spend time with her before meeting Max. We looked at photos and chatted. It was precious time. She introduced us to Max, which was so humbling and beautiful. 

20. Our precious birthmom signed consent forms on August 5th and we became legal guardians of Maxwell. Signing was pushed back three times and just when we were starting to become fearful to the point of tears, we got news she had signed. 

21. We were able to meet and spend time with Maxwell's birthmom on August 6th. 

22. Maxwell spent 19 days in the NICU and we were so thankful that he overcame each health obstacle that he faced. We were told that he would most likely not be able to go 5 straight days without medication to be discharged, but he did it with no problems! Everyone was astounded, but we knew that God was answering prayers. 

23. That I (Priscilla) was safe the week I spent in Utah alone with Max and that our precious cousins drove from Colorado to visit us before Kurt left. It was so amazing to see familiar faces and have support. 

24. That Kurt was able to fly back to KY to spend a week at home with the girls and give them a sense of normalcy. 

25. For Kurt returning to Utah a bit earlier than scheduled (He clearly knew when I needed him most!), as I came down with a case of shingles. 

26. For Max being discharged from the NICU and for all the paperwork and consents going well that day--I was alone in Utah the day he was discharged and it was by God's grace alone that I had the strength to take a baby from the NICU to a hotel room alone! I was starting to get sick with shingles at this point but I was so elated to have my baby boy that I didn't mind! 

27. That Max did not get chicken pox from me! 

28. That we were able to meet with a judge while in Utah (it looked like the appointment might not happen for a bit but it worked out perfectly, along with our ICPC and our flight to leave). 

29. That our flight home went well and that there were no crazy incidents bringing Max on the plane. 

30. That our girls did so well adjusting once we were home and that they are both crazy over their brother. We prayed so much for God to prepare their hearts and to comfort them while we were away. I was away from them for 23 days and we were away from home 26 days.

31. Mabelle started school one week after we were home (Jr. Kindergarten) without crying--basically  a miracle for our child who has a hard time with new situations. 

32. That Maxwell's health has been perfect--he is gaining weight (he's a big boy), eating well, and that he is close to being medication free! We have seen no complications so far from his NAS. 

33. That our Both Hands fundraiser went extremely well and that we were able to serve sweet Ms. Penny. It was very hard to prepare for such a big project with a newborn and we know that God carried us through and provided the donations and help we needed. 

34. That everything legally has gone smoothly so far--we are waiting to finalize at six months. 

35. We weren't sure how much we would be able to pay on adoption loans this year--if anything, but, through the gracious donations from friends and family (through Both Hands and otherwise), we will be able to pay off $6,000 of his loans before the year ends! 

These are just a few of the amazing things we have to be thankful for this year, regarding Max's adoption. We are looking forward to celebrating Christ's birth with Maxwell for the first time this year. Adoption is such a beautiful, bittersweet thing and we are humbled and blessed that God was able to use this process to call us to be Maxwell's parents. We don't deserve it. We aren't amazing or great, or even good--but He is! We didn't have the means, but He did! We are so thankful for Maxwell and his sweet birthmom. We are thankful for life, for his sweet life, and for the grace of an amazing God that allows us to live free from bondage in the center of the precious gospel message. 

We hope you have a beautiful Christmas season and we'll try to update again very soon! 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Just a quick update: We're home!

I will do another, longer update soon (with lots of photos), but I wanted everyone to know that we are home! We have been home for about a week now. Baby M ended up spending 19 days in the NICU and we were away from home 26 days before we finally made it back! It has been an incredible journey! He is doing well and is already up to 12 lbs and 2.5 ounces! We are so thankful he is in our lives and are just so in love with him. Our girls think he hung the moon as well!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

10 days old, 10 days in the NICU

Thank you so much for your prayers! As you can see from this photo, we are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby boy! Baby M was born on August 3rd weighing 9lbs and 7oz!!! I can't even begin to express what a whirlwind these last 10 days have been for us! We have seen God's provision, mercy, and grace poured out on us in amazing ways. I'll try to recap a bit of our journey here: 

On August 1st, we flew out to Utah by way of Las Vegas. Our flight didn't leave Kentucky until later in the afternoon and both Kurt and I weren't feeling very great from some sinus stuff. It was also pretty hard for me to leave our girls, though I really tried to contain it for their sakes! They were excited to go with my parents, so that helped. Once we reached Vegas, we were supposed to have an hour layover before flying another hour to SLC. Our one our layover turned into a four hour layover! By the time we got to SLC, rented a car, and checked into a hotel, it was closing in on 5:00 AM Eastern Time. We were so tired!! Needless to say we tried to sleep in the next day and occupy ourselves while we waited to see if our birthmom or her mother wanted to meet. 

Waiting in the airport in Las Vegas (we didn't really play the slots :D) 

While we were waiting, we decided to drive out to Park City, a place we had visited on our honeymoon. We had to take a new photo from the same overlook near the Olympic ski jumps. The photo on the top was taken on our honeymoon in January 2006 and the bottom one was August 2nd 2015. Later that afternoon, we found out that our birthmom's mother's flight had gotten in late and that we wouldn't be meeting. 

Aftter sleeping about 12 hours straight, I awoke on August 3rd already feeling anxiety about what the day would bring. We got a message around 9AM that our birthmother was already in the hospital with her induction underway. We weren't sure how long it would take, if she would want to see us, or what would happen. We dropped flowers off at the hospital for her and headed out to Hooper, Utah to stay with a local adoptive family there. We heard updates throughout the day about how birthmom was progressing. It's pretty surreal to find yourself waiting for your son to be born and to not be in labor! Around 3 PM, we heard that she was at 9cm. We also got a call from my best friend at that moment that started with the words, "Don't worry, but were at the ER with M!" Our four year old had had an acident and split open her top lip. She was going to need stitches, though the smaller ER where my parents had initially taken her didn't have a plastic surgeon. She'd be going to a hosptial closer to our home to be sedated and have stitches. I cannot even begin to describe how crazy I felt. My daughter needed me and I was so very far away and my son was being born, but I couldn't even be there. It was literally one of those times I feel like God hammered home the point that He is in control and I am not! We really started to get anxious about the baby when we hadn't heard anything by 6PM. I was pacing the floors and praying for both my children! Around 7PM, we finally got a message that said our son had arrived! Our precious birthmom had ended up having a c-section because our sweet boy weighed 9lbs 7oz and had gottten stuck! We knew that he was being taken to the NICU because he had some fluid on his lungs and needed O2, but otherwise we didn't really know anything. A few mintues later, our social worker sent us these two photos: 

We spent the rest of the evening waiting for updates from both our baby boy and on M. M finally got an IV around 3AM (EST) and was finished with stitches by 6AM (EST). We were up most of the night waiting on a call that she was home and fine. Exhausted in every way possible, I finally collasped to sleep. 

August 4th, was another intense day. We weren't sure if we were going to get to see our birthmom or baby boy. In order to see baby without birthmom, she had to sign a "see and hold" form, so we basically weren't allowed in until that happened. Finally, we got a message to come to the hospital around 3:00PM. We met our social worker there and later met our Birthmom's mother. She was such a sweet and special lady and we were thrilled to meet her. Our birthmom was in a lot of pain from surgery so she didn't want to meet us that day. We totally understood. However, she did sign the "see and hold" so we were able to go back to the NICU to meet our son! It's hard to describe how I felt scrubbing up and then walking down those halls. The NICU has huge glass doors on each room and when we finally turned a corner, we could see our precious boy snuggled up in his bed. 

I had always imagined that I would bawl when I saw him, and, while I did cry, I couldn't get this crazy happy grin off my face. Not only did we get to see him, but we were able to hold him and feed him. It was such a gift. We spent 4.5 hours with him and each moment was a celebration and a miracle. 

Because our birthmom had a c-section, we knew that would delay her signing paperwork for an additional day. She was having a hard time with the pain and her grief, so Wednesday was a particularly hard day. At one point, she invited us up to meet her and then changed her mind. Her mom was visibly upset, which made things harder for us. We also couldn't visit baby because it just wouldn't  have been the best decision for birthmom at that point. We left the hospital weighted down with worry and anxiety. She had been going to sign at noon, pushed it back till 5PM and then told us she wanted to wait and sign Thursday. Each time I got a text or call, my heart sank. To distract ourselves a bit and to get some "air" literally and figuratively, we drove out to the Great Salt Lake. Now, the lake gets a bad reputation for stinking, but it was a windy day and we didn't notice it too much. It was beautifully overcast with just a hint of rain and we hiked out to the water and just stood there looking at God's creation. I felt like things were so out of control, but God reminded me there that I had never left His hands. He knew all of these things were going to happen and they were not a surprise to Him. I just stood out on a little sand bar, pouring my heart out to him and basking in His glory. Kurt captured this amazing image. 

After we left the Salt Lake, we went to dinner. I was typing an email update and asking for prayer, when my phone rang. It was our social worker. My heart started beating about a thousand miles a minute. However, her news was not bad. Our birthmom had gone ahead and signed the papers that evening. We were offically parents of this sweet baby boy!! Our sorrows and worries turned to joy and dancing. We were in awe of the miracle of adoption and so thankful for our own adoption in to God's family. 

Thursday was a busy day. We were finally able to meet our sweet birthmom. It felt so good to hug her and see her face. We couldn't thank her enough or tell her how much we already loved this boy--and her! Afterwards, we got to see baby M for a short time before going to sign our own paperwork. Once that was all done, we were free to be with our boy, and that's where we've been most days since. 

Baby M spent 4 days under the lights in his shades for Jaundice. 

Snuggled up and ready to sleep! 

Second try off of O2 and hoping he doesn't have to go back. Apparently, the altitude makes it harder for babies here! 

I've had many people ask us why he is in the NICU and while he does have problems feeding, these probably stem from the fact that his birthmom was taking a medication (under the care of her doctor) that can cause NAS (neonatal abstenince syndrome). Baby M has been having various signs and symptoms of this and it is being managed with two different medications. One medication he can come home on, the other he needs to be off of before we are released. We knew this before he was born and tried to prepare ourselves as best we could. Being in the NICU is hard but we have received such encouragement from others that have walked this road and we are truly grateful that he is healthy otherwise! Today, Baby M is feeling better and is eating better! He needs to eat 80mL on his own and he did 58mL this morning--much better than just 5mL a few days ago! We also think he has some reflux and he started a med for that. How long will he have to stay? We just don't know at this point. He needs to meet a few milestones in how he is feeling/eating and in medication before we can leave. We are also waiting to meet with a judge for finalization and we need our ICPC to be completed so we can travel out of state. While we are hopeful that he is on an upward trend and will be home soon, we are also preparing for being here longer than expected. K has plans to come home next week to stay with our girls and will then return depending on what's going on with Baby M. It's very hard for me to be away from my girls and I can't even begin to express how much I want all my babies in the same place. 

Please pray that Baby M will continue to improve daily and that he will be discharged soon. Pray for Kurt as he travels, our girls, and for me here alone--for safety and stamina. If you haven't donated to our adoption and would like to, you can still do so through our Adopttogether account here:
We are so thankful we had savings and loans to pay for our adoption, but we will still be doing some fundrasing to pay off those loans and the additional cost of travel, hotel stay, and our birthmom's c-section. 

Thank you for traveling this journey with us!