Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmas Decor Takes Over The Zollinger House

We cannot deny that the Christmas season is quickly approaching. I have been much more motivated to decorate our home this year, especially compared to last year. During this time last year, I was just thankful to be feeling well, seeing that I was half-way along in my pregnancy.

For a couple years now, I have been wanting to make a "JOY" sign for our front porch (if you can call it a porch?) I whipped this up one evening and called it good enough. A leftover piece of wood, some paint, a piece of sandpaper, and here you have it.

Lately, I have been trying to use the items I have around and incorporate those into my decorating, instead of buying new. I have these rustic frames that I like to change out from season to season. You can find all types of free printables online and customize frames to go along with whatever the season may be.

How can I write a blog post without previewing my little helper. I am so excited to celebrate this Christmas season with Bennett in our lives. He is a bit young to get excited about all that is going on, but he does seem a bit intrigued with the Christmas tree.

This year we placed our tree in the front living room. Since this is where we spend the majority of our time, we have had a greater chance to enjoy it.

I do not always get around to changing my chalkboards to Christmas sayings, and although I wish I would have written this phrase a bit larger, it is still a good reminder as to the true meaning of Christmas. "Joy to the world, the LORD has come!"

I placed some leftover items on our table. These little glass medicine bottles came from my grandma, which is special. I snipped off some remnants from our Christmas tree to add a little greenery.

You might notice that I am very much into the macrame/chenille texture. I think it adds a neat element. I am not sure what possessed me to wrap a gift in leftover chenille scraps, but I guess it blended in with the rest of the decor.

That is all for now. I enjoy putting my stamp on our home and making it feel cozy. I will enjoy the decorations "staying put" as long as Bennett is still in the rolling phase. Like I posted on Instagram...next year may be a whole different story. I will keep you posted=)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Recent Happenings

You will find that the common denominator to the pictures below = Bennett being present in most of them. He has added so much sweetness to our lives, along with hundreds of photos to our iPhone libraries. Here are some highlights from the last couple months.

When Korinn offered to come see Bennett and I, I knew instantly that I wanted to take her to one of my favorite coffee shops for lunch. This girl knows her coffee. We enjoyed hanging out with Korinn and it made the rainy Friday afternoon zoom by much faster.
#CoffeeSnob #SheWouldAdmitIt #LoveHer

Bennett Clay meets Mavric Jay. My lovely cousin Brooke brought us a most delicious meal soon after Bennett was born. When Mavric made his entrance, I was ever so anxious to go meet the little heart-breaker. He is very much loved and adored by his sweet parents.
#NewMommies #FutureBuddies

Bennett and I had to take a selfie, to send to Daddy, at Bennett's two month check-up. Nate was not offering to accompany me to this appointment. His daddy heart did not want to see our boy get his shots. Should I be concerned that Bennett's vaccines did not phase me a whole lot? That is what happens when you spend a couple years working in the medical field, plus Bennett took it like a champ.
#Pre-shotSelfie #CluelessBoy

#StillClueless #WhereIsTheDoctor

Kali might win the prize if we were doing a contest on which cousin has held Bennett the most. According to her mom, Kali is an excellent baby holder, and it is very evident. She could have sat there for hours holding her little cousin.

I cherish this picture of my dad giving Bennett a kiss. Lance and Sara hosted a family night, and we lined all the grandkids up for a picture, youngest to oldest. I hope someday that Bennett will be friends, maybe even the protector, over his three girl cousins that are right above him in age.
#KissesFromGrandpa #EndOfTheCousinLine

I cannot wait to see the relationships blossom and memories come forth from this group of cousins.

Bristal, Ada, and Sadie. Things started off alright. Two out of the three look happy enough.

Farewell to Bristal's happy face.

And the rest is history. All three joined in on the crying fest. If wedding scrapbooks are still a thing, by the time these three get to that stage, I may have to dig up some of these pictures.

We were ready, quite promptly, one Wednesday night before church. I hurried my boys outside and snapped away. I love seeing Nate interact with his baby boy. A father's love is a beautiful thing. While I am blessed with a wonderful earthly father, who has always been a reflection of how much my Heavenly father adores me. I am again reminded of our Father's love as I see how much Nate loves Bennett.
#Blue-eyedBoys #LikeFatherLikeSon

I want a picture with Bennett too. 

Go-to-work-with-Daddy day. Bennett got to hang out with Daddy, while I went to a dentist appointment. The jury is still out on how productive Nate truly was, during that hour.
#FutureAccountant #WhoKnows

Was the swimming garb unnecessary? Probably
Did he even get in the water? Barely
I just could not resist. I sincerely believe that swim trunks are so much cuter on little people.
#HiltonHeadSC #First-timeMother #BennettGoesOnVacation

Bennett (+ Mommy and Daddy) were spoiled getting to share a condo with my parents. They helped out with Bennett a great deal, and it truly felt like a vacation for me. 
#GrandparentTime #18thGrandchild

On our way home from vacation, we stopped halfway to stay overnight at a Hampton Inn. When I walked into the lobby, my eyes instantly fell upon this giant stuffed bear sitting in the corner. Now that we have a baby, what a great excuse to get a picture with such things. There were also several senior citizens lounging in the lobby. Of course, Bennett got much attention from the sweet older ladies. They then went on to tell us about their grandchildren or great grandchildren. I am finding that to be a pattern. I have been shown multiple pictures of grandchildren, from very proud grandparents, most of which I have never met.
#BennetLikesSeniorCitizens #TheyThinkHeIsCute #GiantBearAlert

Have you heard about the guy running across America? We had the honor of hosting him for a night. Check out his website here

As he came through Illinois, he met and stayed with some friends of ours. That is when I began to follow his journey on social media. When I first began to read about him, I had an initial thought of, "hmmm, I wonder what route he might be taking as he enters into Ohio, it would sure be fun to host him." When my cousin, who had also kept him a night, messaged me and told me that Paul would be coming through our area, I knew that I wanted to offer him a place to stay. So it happened...he got the joy of visiting the lovely Paulding, Ohio.
#BennettMadeANewFriend #RunAcrossAmerica

Nate picked him up a few miles outside of VanWert this past Wednesday, and dropped him off the next day. What an amazing individual. I give credit to anybody who can run farther than a mile. Running is not my cup of tea. Paul is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, now that he has less than 600 miles to go. We pray that he will have the endurance to make it to his final destination, and knowing him, he will most likely finish with a smile. 
#KeepGoing #RunToInspire #YouInspiredUs

To sum it up, this is basically what Bennett thought about the zoo. I have a feeling that his interest in animals will come in time, but for now he would rather nap. 
#NoInterestInAnimals #ExceptForHisFrogPacifier

At least mommy got to be with her friends and Bennett got a long stroller ride out of the deal.
#ZooDay #LattyJunctionGirls

I am running out of blogging power, but thought I better post some photos before our sweet boy grows up even more. I was told it would happen, but wow do they grow quickly. We are enjoying parenthood more than we ever imagined. What a fun and tiring responsibility. 
#3MonthsOld #BennettClay #Blessed

Love, The Zollingers

Friday, July 14, 2017

Bennett's Birth Story

Bennett here, welcome to my mom's blog. Below you will find my birth story, but beware, it got a little bit long.
In this picture, I was only 6 weeks. Now I am a whole 2 months. I'm growing fast. Have a good day!
I have been wanting to get Bennett's birth story written for some time now. The details are fading quickly, but that is probably just as well. No need for this to be too detailed.

Tuesday, May 9th is where I will begin. The night before, I began experiencing some very intense abdominal pain. The pain was sharp and consistent. I stayed on the couch most of Tuesday and all of Wednesday. To get up and walk only intensified the pain. I had my 39 week OB appointment the following Thursday, which was a comfort. I figured that abdomen pain was a normal sign that my body may be getting close to going into labor, and I planned to ask if I could do anything to help it subside a bit.

Thursday morning arrived and I was not even sure if I would be able to drive the 35 minutes to the doctor's office due to the sharp pains. I knew I could force myself to do it. Nate encouraged me to complete packing my hospital bag, "just in case." I halfheartedly threw some things together, knowing that it would most likely be all for nothing. I had already put myself in the "deliver past your due date" and "get induced" categories. 

I picked Nate up from his workplace, as is usual when going to my appointments. I asked him to drive the rest of the way, while I reclined in the passenger seat. 

Once at the OB office, we were informed that we would be seeing a different provider, as our intended doctor was delivering three babies at the hospital that morning. This was out of the ordinary for the Van Wert County Hospital, usually they deliver around 4-5 babies per week. 

The practitioner, whom we saw, informed us that I was around 6 cm dilated. I was surprised by this since I had expected to feel contractions before getting to 6 cm, but I had not felt any. Other than the stomach pain, swelling in my feet was my only other symptom, so I thought. The practitioner also informed me that I had abnormally high blood pressure compared to my other visits, along with some protein present in my sample. She called the doctor at the hospital and they agreed that I head over to be monitored and get some labs drawn. I assume that the practitioner knew more than she was telling us, especially when she mentioned that we should not be surprised if they want to keep me and that I was certainly in early labor.

We finished at registration and headed up to the OB floor of the hospital. They begin to monitor the baby, my blood pressure and see if I was experiencing any contractions. I was having small contractions, but nothing I could feel. When the doctor got my lab work results, he made the decision to keep me overnight. Our doctor has a laid-back personality, which we appreciated in this whole situation. He mentioned that much of my lab work came back abnormal and he wanted to draw some more to see if he could figure out what was going on. 

Some of you reading this may be putting the pieces together and may be thinking, "well, of course, it sounds like you had pre-eclampsia." You would be exactly right. The three most common symptoms of pre-eclampsia are high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and swelling.

Nate and I did not think too much about it, they had caught it in the early stages, plus I was full-term at 39 weeks. Pre-eclampsia is much more serious if it creeps up earlier on in a pregnancy.

Friday morning, the doctor came in and began asking me questions such as, "do you take blood thinners on a regular basis?" "do you drink alcohol?" Both of which I replied, "no." 

He said that my labs showed very low platelets (involved in clotting the blood), high liver enzymes (liver not functioning to its full capacity), and my blood pressure was still elevated. 

He also began talking about a syndrome that can go hand in hand with pre-eclampsia, a very rare pregnancy condition called the HELLP syndrome. The HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, Low Platelet count) syndrome can be life-threatening and hard to pin-point. The global mortality rate is as high as 25% for the mother (this we did not know until afterwards=). Mothers with this condition are at risk of liver rupture or stroke. Since my pregnancy was full term, the baby was not at much of a risk.

He said that he believed I had the HELLP syndrome. Apparently my body was not tolerating the pregnancy any longer and the only way to cure both conditions was to get the baby delivered. The plan was to start me on Pitocin, get the baby delivered, and then try to get my body back to functioning normally. 

Neither of us were familiar with the HELLP syndrome, it was probably a blessing that we did not do much research on it until later.

At 9:00 a.m. on Friday, the Pitocin was ordered and started soon after. That is when I realized what a contraction really feels like. The harder the contractions, the higher my blood pressure went. Not knowing how much longer I could handle the contractions, I began thinking an epidural sounded pretty nice. One of the anesthesiologists would not consider giving me one, due to my low platelet count, but they tracked down another who would. Around 2:30 p.m. they gave me the epidural, followed by the doctor breaking my water at 3:15 p.m. According to the doctor, I was 8 cm dilated at that point. The nurse thought I was closer to 9 cm and so we began to do some practice pushes. I could move and feel my legs the entire time, which made it easier to push.

Bennett Clay made his grand entrance at 4:23 p.m. on Friday, May 12th. We were delighted to meet our precious boy.

As exciting as it was, the next few days were physically miserable. They had me hooked up to multiple IVs and were pumping fluids and magnesium sulfate into my body. The magnesium sulfate was needed since my blood pressure was not decreasing after delivery, it also helps to prevent seizures, which can happen with the HELLP syndrome. Nonetheless, it made me feel extremely drowsy and feverish. I was ever so happy once the 24 hours were up and the magnesium was no longer flowing into my body. I was on a clear liquid diet for the next two days after delivery and firmly instructed to stay in bed. 

After my third day in bed, I began to get very stir crazy and a little emotional. I felt disappointed that I was not able to get up and take care of my little boy as much as I wished too, sad that I was not completely coherent to enjoy my visitors, and so ready to be unhooked from the endless tubes and contraptions. I kept wondering why my body was not getting itself back to normal like we had hoped for. The doctor ordered blood work for me multiple times per day, stating that he would not let me return home until my platelet count increased, blood pressure decreased, and liver enzymes stabilized. The doctor kept saying, "I don't think you know how serious your condition is, had it showed up earlier in your pregnancy, you would have needed transferred to a larger hospital." 

On Sunday, May 14th, which was Mother's Day, I was finally allowed to get up and sit on a chair. They also unhooked me long enough for me to get my OWN clothes on. The hospital gown was not missed. I began to feel more like myself and we really begin praying that my labs would get back to normal in order for us to go home. I was put on blood pressure medication, which was helping. We asked others to lift us up in prayer as well.

God heard those prayers, for by Monday afternoon, my platelets had increase enough to the point that we were cleared to go home. I felt like my sentence, being hooked to IVs, had ended and the freedom to walk around was very much appreciated.

We were so thankful that Bennett's life was not at risk and that he remained healthy and strong throughout everything. I know it would have been much harder to see his body struggling compared to mine. 

This was not the birth story that I ever thought I would have to endure, but for some reason God wanted it to be. The experience taught me a lot. It reminded me how weak and feeble the flesh really is. I am more thankful for each breath that the Lord gives to me. Maybe the Lord wanted it to be an eye-opener to show me that I need to more fully depend and rely upon Him. 

I was also reminded at how often we, as human beings, try to make our own plans or envision how an event might go, and typically it does not go according to our thoughts. I had envisioned a smooth two day hospital stay without any complications, but God's plans are higher and greater than our own. We will not always know why He brings us through rough times, but we trust that He is working it all together for good.

If you made it this far, I hand it to you. Two months later, I reflect back, and am thankful to be at this point. Our little boy brings us so much joy and we thank God for him daily. Blessings to all!

What's that I hear? You think I am pretty cute, huh? 
Thanks for the compliment=) - Bennett

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bennett Clay- Our Little Miracle

Bennett Clay Zollinger joined us on Friday, May 12th at 4:23 p.m. A whole 7 lb 1 oz of pure sweetness. It did not take him long to steal our hearts.

I am still getting my act together, and may be for quite some time. Each new day brings me a little more confidence and leaves me a bit more refreshed. 

I eventually hope to share some details of how Bennett made his entrance into this world, but let me rewind a bit first.

Our Bluffton shower was on a Friday night in April. It was a very nice evening. The committee went above and beyond to make it special and the food delicious.

Nate and I had a contest on who could diaper and dress the baby dolls in the least amount of time. Let me just note that the a baby doll is much easier to dress than a squirming human baby.

Here are some of the other girls due around the same time as myself. Three of us have either had/are having boys and two are having girls. Bennett will have lots of friends when he goes to visit Bluffton.

My cousin Brooke is also expecting a baby boy in June.

Here I am at 38 weeks, looking prime and ready to pop.

Bennett was born at 39 weeks and 2 days. Some have asked how we came about choosing his name. Nothing super significant, but it seems that I have been drawn to boy names that begin with the letter "B" for the last couple of years.

The "B" name that I initially liked came about from a little boy who goes to our church, but I was hesitant to use it. Nate had a "B" name that he was in favor of, but I was not convinced.

When I asked Nate about the name Bennett, he seemed pretty neutral and fine with it. The last two months of my pregnancy, we were fairly certain that the name would be Bennett. Any other name that would come about, I would compare to the name Bennett, and I never liked any other name as much.

The name Bennett means "blessed" and his middle name of Clay means "in stiff ground." We pray that Bennett will be firmly planted and blessed in the solid foundation of God and that we may raise him to know and understand the truth of God's Word.

Bennett has gradually been meeting some of his cousins as our siblings find the time to come out, along with others who have stopped by.

Don't be fooled by the picture above. I am holding Brenda's, much larger baby, and she is holding Bennett. A few months in age can make quite the weight difference,

We are enjoying our little guy, while trying to navigate ourselves to a whole new state of normalcy. We feel under qualified to be parents, but privileged at the same time. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness that God would grant us the gift of a child. It is bound to be an adventure when raising our little Benny Boy.

Thank you for the love, well wishes, and prayers that we have received from so many of you. I find it hard to believe that we are already past our second week into parenthood. We will cherish each moment as we know time passes quickly.

Thank you for reading!