Saturday, June 29, 2013

Five Years

Last night, Clay and I celebrated our fifth anniversary.  We headed out to Ross Bridge late yesterday afternoon, and were able to stay through a late lunch thanks to Mama Zo and Pops keeping George!  Last night at dinner, Clay and I were talking about some of our favorite times over the last five years.  We reminisced about some of our favorite trips, moving to Birmingham, what we used to do with our time (and money) before we had kids, and countless George memories as some of our favorite times in our marriage.  

On the day of our wedding, I think there was a level of naivety in both of us when we thought about our future together.  We never considered what it would be like to walk through the hard times together, because, frankly, we hadn't experienced any hard times before.  In the same breath as we talked about our favorite times together, we also talked about the loss of a job, when Clay moved to Phoenix and we were apart from each other for four months, and our latest season of life as we wait in anticipation for Nan's arrival.  One common thread that we've both been so aware of, is God's faithfulness to us.  It hasn't always been the outcome we'd hoped for, or even what we thought was best for us at the time, but His provisions have always been right, and good.  I have seen Clay lead our marriage, and our family in such a way that I know the Lord better because of the husband Clay is to me on a daily basis.  

I am so thankful to get to walk through this life with Clay by my side.  My most favorite part of our marriage is watching him be a father to George.  He makes our family life so much fun (for example, right now, Clay is building a 'car wash' for George out of PVC pipes, just because he wanted to, and because he knows George will love it), and I am eternally thankful for that.  It was so good for us to get to celebrate last night, and we had the sweetest time together!

...and now for a trip down memory lane.  These are just the highlights, and some of our favorite times together.

Summer 2007 working at Camp Winnataska.

November 17, 2007
Where we got engaged

June 28, 2008

Honeymoon Goodness.  Take me back.

 Our first New Year's together.
Gatlinburg, TN

 Trip to DC, March 2009
One of our most fun trips to date

Jackson Hole 2009

 Boston 2010

Babymoon/Anniversary trip to Blackberry Farm, July 2011
This is my most favorite trip I've ever taken with Clay.

 The day we became parents
September 19, 2011

 Our first trip post-baby
Portland, Oregon 2012

 Post-baby trip: Part 2
Seattle, Washington

"...but then God gave me you, it was then that I knew, 
He'd given me more than my share."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Father's Day

I feel like I could write a novel about how great of a dad Clay is, and it still wouldn't do our day-to-day life justice.  As soon as George was born and made us a little family of three, I really was so blown away by how naturally Clay became a dad.  Motherhood was not quite as natural of a transition for me, so I was amazed by Clay's low-stress approach to sleepless nights, long workdays, and taking over as soon as he walked back into the house.  Sometimes I can hardly believe he still came home day after day- especially on the days when I would call him at 2:30pm asking him what time he'd be home.  

Every single day of our marriage, and even more so since we've had George, Clay has taken such great care of me.  Even on the days when I might have even walked away- he has pressed into our family in the most intentional way.  Throughout this pregnancy, he has never once left my side.  He even stayed for the entirety of my three-hour glucose test.  He has not missed a single doctor's appointment- and there have been A LOT.  On our hardest days, he has worked from home just so I could have him near.  He has literally held our family together- when everything in me fell apart.  

I know that the source of Clay's strength comes solely from the Lord.  I know that because if he drew his strength from any other source, he would run dry so quickly.  When I watch George, and how much he idolizes Clay, my heart rests peacefully knowing that if George follows Clay, that Clay will lead him to the Lord.  I cannot wait to watch him be a dad to Nan.  It takes a special man to be a dad to a daughter, and Clay Cochran was created for this.  She is going to know her Heavenly Father more because of the way her earthly father loves her, and that, to me, is so exciting.

I am thankful that we get to have a day to celebrate who Clay is to our family, because he would never choose to be celebrated.  He is the greatest man I know, and I am thankful for the way brought us into each others' lives thirteen (!!!!) years ago.  Who in the world would I be if it were not for Clay Cochran by my side?  

I feel like this is the most incomplete post about who Clay is as a dad.  But, I know I could never adequately describe how Clay's role as a father has shaped and molded me into the mother that I am.  And I will be forever thankful for this impact on me, and, ultimately, our family.

So here are a few of my favorite pics of Clay "Super Dad" Cochran in action:

I will forever love this picture.

 Nothing makes Clay happier than making George happy.  
And that makes me so happy.

 Clay is hands-down the most fun dad to have on the beach.

 I'm pretty sure that 95% of George's vocabulary comes from the countless books Clay reads to him on a daily basis.

 I'm also sure that 95% of the sugar George eats comes from his dad.
I love watching them enjoy a sweet treat together.

Happy Father's Day, Clay!
Love, Mom, George, Nan and Harper

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nan's Journey

What a journey we have been on, and continue to walk through, since March 20.  I wasn't going to blog about what we've been through, but the last four days have been such a pivotal point in this season, that I feel like I would be keeping God's goodness and mercy to myself.  So I am going to share a snapshot of this incredible journey that Clay and I have been on over the last (almost) three months.

When we found out we were having a girl, our doctor at St. Vincent's saw some soft 'markers' for chromosomal abnormalities.  She sent us to UAB for a targeted ultrasound, so we could see if what she was seeing was, in fact, the reality of our situation.  When we went to UAB, we saw a precious little baby girl, who virtually had no chin.  They called it micrognathia, which can be a physical attribute of Trisomy 13 or 18.  They also saw a myriad of other smaller issues, and gave a pretty grave prognosis for Nan's life- should she have one.  My heart sinks when I think about this day.

They've monitored us closely over the past 2+ months, and we've had bi-monthly ultrasounds.  Her chin never showed any improvement, but the smaller issues seemed to be solving themselves.  We've seen a neonatal cardiologist who said that Nan's heart looked strong, and was functioning in a healthy way.  But her chin was going to make it hard for her to come into this world in a healthy way- even with interventions they would do within the first seconds and minutes of her life.  They set up a meeting with a surgery team who would come up with a birth plan for me, and a surgery plan for Nan on the day of her birth.

So we marched in and out of UAB, week in and week out.  Anytime they told us to come in for an appointment we were there- sometimes 1-3 times a week, Clay always by my side.  So when they called me in the middle of the day last week, asking me to come in for a 'special appointment' for a 'targeted ultrasound', I took a deep breath, put it on my calendar, and showed up when they told me to.  Doctor's appointments were wearing me thin at this point.

We saw a new doctor, one who normally doesn't see patients.  He started the ultrasound, and I was bracing myself for the chinless profile we'd seen countless times before.  Then, out of nowhere, we see this precious little face- full and complete.  Our doctor said, '"Oh wow.  There's the chin."  He didn't have a lot of enthusiasm in his voice, but Clay and I almost crumbled to the floor.  He was so matter-of-fact, but we didn't need him to add to our excitement in that moment.  He actually thought it was possible that Nan may not need any intervention at all.  The Lord created something- out of literally nothing.  He made the sad things about Nan come untrue.

When I was pregnant with George, every day that passed during my pregnancy made me more and more excited for his arrival.  Since March 20, when we would think about Nan's birth day, there was so much fear and anxiety associated with it.  The Lord has replaced our fear with joy and hope, as only He can do.

We still have a long way to go, and we know that there are still so many doctors to see and tests to do, but we know that the Lord is ever-present in our daughter's life.  We know this, even if she isn't 'normal' by the world's standards.  We know that Nan's life is going to have an eternal purpose, and we have journaled for her throughout this incredibly hard season, so she always knows that she was wonderfully made by our Creator, even when the world might tell her otherwise.

I share this story, to bring light to the fact that the Lord works incredible miracles, even in the deserts of life.  Sometimes the miraculous outcomes aren't seen in this world, and we were prepared for that.  I am  thankful for the way the Lord has shown Himself to us- not just in our appointment on Friday, but every single day since March 20.  Even on the hardest of days- He was so near to me.  Maybe even especially so.

So, here is our little Nan.  I'm not usually one for sharing ultrasound pictures, but this one is just too beautiful.

"Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power.

He is able, He is able;
He is willing, doubt no more."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Seaside with the Brantley's

For Memorial Day weekend, Clay, George and I headed down to Seaside for 6 days.  We met one of my best friends from college, Mandy, and her family.  George was in absolute heaven to have some older boys to play with.  I'm not sure he's ever played so hard in his whole life!

We got to Seaside on Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and the weather could not have been more perfect.  The ocean was crystal clear, and as calm as a lake.  George could not handle the excitement that he was able to just walk out into the ocean and play and splash around with the big kids.  

My mom gave George this little Seaside hat after our last trip down there.  He finally embraced the hat, and I was so happy about it.  I mean, is there anything cuter than a little boy in a baseball hat?

George and Fisher were riding buddies for the week.  Whether they were in the wagon or the bike trailer, they were always having some good times.  I just wish I spoke their language to know what was going on back there.

On our second night we rode bikes to Seagrove Market and had the yummiest dinner!  The kids were pretty tired and hungry, but everyone loved some delicious seafood for dinner.  There's just something so great about not having to drive/park/drive home from dinner.  Riding bikes (even when you're 29 weeks pregnant) is one of the most relaxing things to me.

Day 2 on the beach!  Notice George is still loving the hat.

Fisher, Mandy, Adam, and Harrison

The whole gang on the beach!  Seriously- the weather could not have been better.

Fisher could hardly contain his excitement in the mornings, so he usually gave us a pretty early wake-up call.  I loved that our house had a front porch swing.  These boys loved playing on the swing while Mandy, Adam, Clay and me would eat breakfast.  We ate every meal outside, and it was so fun to be able to watch them play outside (where they really wanted to be anyways) while we could leisurely eat whatever meal we were enjoying at the moment.

We had dinner at Great Southern Cafe on our third night (we had the early bird special that night) and then played in the ampitheatre in the heart of Seaside.  If you haven't been to Seaside, the ampitheatre is pretty much a gathering place for every. single. kid. within a ten-mile radius.  George picked up a lot of bravery from Harrison and Fisher- so he had a big time running all over the place.

Family pic after dinner and before ice cream!

On Monday, we decided that we'd rent some boats.  Since it would be virtually impossible for me to get up on a Yolo Board (see pic below), Clay and I opted for a sea kayak.  George was actually obsessed with the 'blue boat in the ocean'.  We took him out 4 times for about 45 minutes each time.  Clay was an expert-paddler, even in spite of the rough water.  We never tipped over, just lots of waves crashing in our faces :)  But seriously, those are some of my favorite family memories of all-time.  George talked our ears off while we were out there.  He loved seeing the birds, airplanes and waves.  It was the best money we spent the whole trip!

George just played at the shoreline while we figured out the boat situation.

...then he had fun figuring out the boat itself.

Here's the Yolo Board.  Clay took it out once and was able to get up and ride a few waves!  I wasn't brave enough to try it...maybe when I'm not huge and pregnant.

Suiting up to head out in the blue boat!

Here's Clay taking the Yolo Board out.  

At some point, we took a break from the boats and Clay, being the greatest dad of all time, let the little boys just tackle him over and over in the sand.  Seriously, I could not do a beach trip without him.  He is the most hands-on dad I've ever seen.  He makes going on trips so relaxing for me, and nothing gives me greater joy than watching George light up around his dad.

Monday night we boiled shrimp for dinner, and then watched the sunset from the top deck of our house.  It was the most perfect day I can remember at the beach.

Tuesday was Mandy's birthday, so we picked up dinner from the food trucks around Seaside and had a picnic in the park with everyone.  Here is Fisher taking over the entire picnic blanket.  For being such a little kid, no one fought him for any blanket space :)

Happy 31st Birthday, Mandy!  All the kids stopped playing just long enough for cupcakes.  In this picture, Fisher had already started singing 'Happy Birthday'.  We couldn't quite pick up his unique tune :)

George is loving his cupcake!

Roomies for life!

Wednesday morning, it was time to pack up and head home.  Mandy and I took the boys to the pool while Adam and Clay packed up the cars.  These boys had so much fun together.  George and I went to the pool today (June 4), and when we got out there, he started calling for Fisher and Harrison.  I guess he just assumed that they would be at any pool we go to.

Everyone was pretty tired at this point, but I had to include this pic of Mandy, me, and our boys!

One last family pic!

It took about 30 minutes, but George was absolutely sacked out during the drive home.  I think he had the time of his life, and I was glad to get to be a part of it all.