Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fear in a wheelbarrow.

There is a group of which I am a part, and have been, in fact, for over fifteen years. At times over the years I have heard their various sayings regarding fear; "fear and faith cannot coexist", "fear is the opposite of faith", "F.E.A.R. = Face Everything and Recover" or "F.E.A.R. = Forget Everything and Run." Cute sayings, and I've no doubt that they give hope to some, but I find myself questioning the substance behind them.

I have faith. I can look you straight in the eye and tell you that I believe. That I believe not just in who Jesus was, but in who He is today. You can strap me to a polygraph and ask me whether Jesus is my Savior, my Salvation, and I will not sweat the result, so confident in my answer I will be. When I pray at night I often close with the line "in the name of my precious Jesus, who would have still died on that cross if it were only me he could save", and this powerful truth brings me to tears more nights than not.

But still I am afraid. It causes me to question all the cute catchphrases by which I am supposed to live and take comfort. Because I think there is more, perhaps a piece of the puzzle that has been missed or discarded in our effort at broad and breezy appeal. I think if we go deeper, we come to the message of substance. The text below is credited to the book Alcoholics Anonymous and I think the words are as substantial tonight as they were at first publication in 1939.

From the Chapter, How It Works:

We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns.Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely upon Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

We never apologize to anyone for depending on our creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradixically, it is the way of strength. The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead, we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commenced to outgrow fear.

For me then, I think what all those cute slogans lack is action, pure and simple. I can talk about faith all day, and find nothing in that profession that spurs me to action, nothing that forces me to step out of who I am.

If we look at the paragraphs noted above we see that faith has been largely put to the side in favor of words like trust, dependance and reliance. These are strong words. Action words! And this, for me, is where the substance lies, and where my faith is finally put to the test. Do I merely believe, or do I trust?

Years ago, this difference was highlighted for me in stark terms by a friend named Bob in Las Vegas. Bob asked me to picture this, and I ask you to do the same. I am at the circus, enjoying the acts, and as the evening winds down, the big act is preparing his show. It is the tight rope act, one of the most dangerous and most anticipated acts of the Big Top. High above we watch the preparations, as the rope is checked for tightness, the tight rope walker checks his gear, from his clothing to his props, insuring that nothing has been left to chance. As his performance draws near, the final prop is wheeled over to the platform, a wheelbarrow, which will make the journey across with the walker.

As I sit safe below in my seat I marvel at what I see. I imagine the hundreds of hours of practice which must have gone into perfecting this act, the trial, the error, the injury that must have all been a part of the journey leading to this moment, he up high, me in my seat with absolute faith that he will make it safely to the other side. This is faith. My belief requires no action on my part, only the certainly that what I know is so is so. But what about trust? Well, if I had trust, I'd be up in that wheelbarrow wouldn't I?

But it's hard you guys! I want to trust. I want to be that guy running with reckless abandon to God, jumping in the wheelbarrow, and facing the unknown with the joy of a child and not the fear of an adult. I want to discuss how you guys manage this in your lives. I want to sit through seminars about how I am going to get in the wheelbarrow. I want to read lengthy and well documented books about how to get in the wheelbarrow. But I don't want to get in the wheelbarrow.

And to admit my greatest fear today, I don't want to put my four babies in that wheelbarrow. It scares me. I want to take control, tell the world that I know what's best here, and how I'm going to do it. Early on in my pregnancy, I sat down with an old and dear friend who leaned across the table, put her hand on mine and said with grace and love, "these babies don't belong to you, they are children of our LORD, and He will take care of them."

It's true. They aren't mine. I can do everything I can physically to keep them safe inside me as long as they are with me, but I can do no more. As always, I have a part to play and God has a part to play. I can't play His part and He won't play mine. So for my part I step away from the fear and place these four precious lives in the wheelbarrow, offering them to their Heavenly Father, knowing that His plan is always the best plan, whether I see it at the time or not. It's not easy though. The unknown rarely is. My prayer continues to be that I keep these babies safe inside me for a total of 32 weeks, while knowing all the while,

Your will LORD, not mine, be done.



For someone who can't do much but kick back on the couch, we sure do have a lot going on! First, since last we visited, there is baby movement! Lots of baby movement. Roland and Marin are kicking up a storm. Funny, our baby who didn't have much chance at survival is by far the most active. The other day I looked down and saw him kicking out at my stomach! There are days when he completely distorts the shape of my belly. See the linea nigra line way over to the left? That's the center of my belly, with our little Lando popping way up on the right. Sometimes Marin does the same to my left side, and at such times my bump looks like a square.

Well, summer has finally arrived in July. I have to admit, though I usually don't mind the heat, there are nights when I wish we had air conditioning. Last weekend was really warm and I was able to convince Andy to take a break from his home improvement marathon to go to the beach for a couple hours. Once we started getting ready I quickly realized that I no longer had a bathing suit that would fit me without completely cutting off my circulation. I managed to put together shorts and a top and off we went! I was a little self conscious with my belly hanging out, but the sand and water felt so good that I didn't mind for long!

As I get more and more swollen my wedding rings are becoming more of a challenge. In the last few weeks there have been only a few days I could get them on comfortably. I tend to force them because I feel strange walking around with a naked ring finger. Well, I found a great solution. It's called the Qalo, and it is a silicone wedding ring used mainly by athletes, folks with metal allergies, and those for whom the nature of their work makes it dangerous to wear a metal ring. It's super comfy and since it's silicone, it should stretch enough to accommodate my finger even if it swells a bit more. It comes in lots of fun colors, but of course I opted for grey. Yes, it lacks the sparkle of my actual rings, but seemed like a marvelous temporary fix at $15.00.

In baby news, there are a few things to report. We had an appointment Tuesday for a quick heartbeat check and everybody is still beating away, mostly in the 140 BPM range, which is normal. Next Tuesday should be a longer appointment, which hopefully will include checks of everyone's weights. If you recall, last time we did this, back on June 30,  all the babies were between 11-12 ounces, so we hope they are over a pound each by now. From this point on we will have weekly, rather than bi-weekly appointments.

Next Thursday Andy and I will head over to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital for a tour of the NICU and a meeting with one of their Neonatologists, Dr. Dinh. 

Last in baby news, please send up extra prayers this week. We are nearing the end of a very critical time in Baby Land. Today we are at 23 weeks, 2 days. At 24 weeks, the babies are considered viable. If they were born today, there would still be a chance for them, but as you can see by the chart, their chances of survival go way up next week and then continue to rise steadily from there, right up until our goal date of 32 weeks when their odds are all the way up to 99%.

Last but not least, The Intervention. As I've mentioned, I've really been losing steam these last few weeks. If you look at my belly it's easy to see why. I'm now carrying an extra 45 pounds around with me, and it makes everything uncomfortable! On a side note, no stretch marks yet, but I imagine they're coming.

So this week, Andy and I found our new FamilyMobile, for which we have been searching several months. The long hunt has given me time to get used to the idea of driving a minivan and Andy time to get used to the idea of parting with his beloved Honda in favor of my newer, lower mileage (but far less sporty) Mazda. Unfortunately, our new van turned out to be located in Peoria, Illinois, a five hour drive from us. I told myself and Andy that I could make the drive. I'd spend the whole trip there reclined and would take the return trip slow with several stops. Besides, I needed to be there to sign paperwork so there was really no way around it. Wednesday, Andy and I had dinner with my mom, stepdad and two old friends. They took the opportunity to stage an impromptu intervention and tell me in no uncertain terms that attempting ten hours of travel was a bad idea! On the twenty minute drive home that evening, I realized that I was incredibly uncomfortable before we even got to the highway. Suddenly the idea of me being in a car for ten hours seemed almost comical. I probably wouldn't make it thirty miles! Well, I called the dealership first thing in the morning and they immediately offered to overnight the paperwork to me so that I could sign from the comfort of the couch and send it along with Andy on Saturday. As I write, The Mom and The Hubs are driving together to Illinois to pick up our new ride. Happy travels, Road Trippers!

As always, thank you all for your prayers. There are a lot of days that reminding myself of how many people are lifting our babies to the LORD is all that keeps me positive! Thank you too, for continuing to share the blog and adding so many more Prayer Warriors. You all mean so much to us.

Love and blessings,

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

21 Week Progress!

Can you believe we're at 21 weeks already? I'm behind as always, so tomorrow will begin week 22. We are creeping steadily closer to that big milestone, the bare minimum viability date of 24 weeks. Of course our prayer continues to be a delivery at 32 weeks.

Here's what this week looked like, according to the good folks at The Bump. We hope to hear at our next ultrasound that our little pomegranates are all over a pound!

And here I am, growing ever outward and now sideways as well.

And since you haven't seen one for a while, here's the view from up top.

Still no stretch marks. I don't know if they will come later, but I'm doing what I can to prevent them. Becky introduced me to an amazing body butter that she used during her pregnancy. I slather it on twice a day. What I love about it, besides that it's locally made in small batches, is that when I put on my afternoon application my stomach is still dewey from the morning. I haven't had any dry belly at all! When I bought my new jar yesterday I bought it in Cucumber Melon, not a fragrance I normally choose, but such a blast from the past that I couldn't resist!

My weight is creeping steadily upward, though it will dip down periodically by a pound or two. Overall I think we're doing well and I seem to be getting a good mix of calories and fruits. I will confess that I am currently typing one handed, with a rice crispy treat in the other.

We had our 21 week MFM appointment yesterday and everyone continues to look great. Micah was working on his dance moves the entire time we were in the ultrasound. I think that he's got rhythm, unlike his parents.

Marin frequently seems to be waving at us during the ultrasound. Our Little Miss Congeniality already!

A few days ago I woke up and realized something had changed. It seemed Roland had extracted his naughty little head from my rib cage and headed South, much to my delight. As you know, between the rib pain, RLS and frequent urination, sleep has not been my friend these months. Sadly my excitement was short lived, as I sensed another new sensation. An itch. On my belly. My hands. Arms. Legs. Feet. Back. Ugh. Sure enough, I had traded rib pain for the dreaded PUPPS rash! In the end, I guess I'm Even Steven, as I've lost a pain to gain an itch, and the rash also gives me an excuse to take multiple oatmeal baths each day, which, bonus, temporarily calms my restless legs!

I want to thank all of you who having been praying for my fellow quad mommas going through difficult times right now. My southern friend and super quad mom, Sherri, wrote a beautiful post on these ladies yesterday. Please take a moment to click over to her marvelous blog (the cover photo alone is worth the click), Quads In The South, and continue to pray for all these families.

Much love and blessings to you all,

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Shower Part II - Genders and Names

It's a good thing we announced when we did. In my foggy pregnancy brain I almost slipped and gave the surprise away more than once, and did completely give it away once (sorry Jess). On a side rant, pregnancy brain is real, people! I have tried to start watching three different TV series on Netflix, only to discover that the plots, even in the first episode, were too complexly woven for my pea brain to follow. I will admit that I have since reverted to reruns of Seinfeld, and the ever popular teen drama Gossip Girl. Apparently these are now more my speed. Also, I have on three separate occasions sleep walked my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night and bashed myself into a wall.

But back to the shower. We debated about whether to reveal names or if we should just stick with genders. Several people warned us against revealing names, since not everyone had a mother who schooled them in the lost art of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." In the end though, we decided to reveal the names for a few reasons. First, we love the names. We are confident in the names, and we felt we could handle a less than supportive comment or two. Second, you guys are praying for these tiny kiddos, and we want you to be able to lift them up to the LORD by name. Last, everyone at the shower was someone who is very special to us, and we wanted to share the joy of the big reveal with these wonderful people.

I am not big on shower games, so we decided to do just one very simple game. On a piece of paper, people were told to write A. B. C. D. in a column, with "boy" or "girl" beside each letter. I had made up award show-esque envelopes (very dramatic effect!) for the reveal, and we placed each envelope behind it's corresponding letter on the stage.

Once everyone had filled out their guesses, we began to call family up to reveal each gender and name. It was so fun for everyone in the crowd, and so special for us and the readers, since everyone who read was chosen because the baby name would have significance for them.

Only one person, my uncle Dave, guessed everyone right. You can see him here proudly gloating his victory with the Culver's gift card.

So what was revealed? Our darlings quaddos are BBBG. Andy says that this is the best possible baby combination since anyone who tries to date or bully our little princess will have to get through three big brothers first! 

My dad announced Baby A, mom Baby B, Andy's Aunt Cathy Baby C and Andy's mom Baby D. We thought it was a giant success, but I'll let you be the judge.

And here is what each of them saw when they opened their envelope.

There was a lot of suspense hanging in the air as everyone wondered whether Baby D would be yet another boy!

What a day! Big thanks to my parents and stepparents for all their hard work with the shower, as well as my mother in law, who stayed an entire week to help with roughly five thousand house projects, and my sister (photo below) who designed our beautiful invites.

Quick question before I go. Is it still considered a "bump" once it reaches the size of the yoga balls some people sit on for posture?

Bye for now. Love and blessings from the Mielers!

The Shower.

What a day we had for our shower on Saturday! Those of you here in The Mitten know that this summer in Michigan has felt more like spring, with lots of rain and cool temperatures. Saturday, however, finally felt like summer!

The shower was held at mom's barn, aka Sanborn Woods, the site of many happy events for us, including our wedding and the announcement of the babies to our mothers. The mommas did a beautiful job decorating, and we loved how the barn look all covered in pink and blue lanterns when we arrived. You'll have to excuse The Hubby's photo bomb. He really can't resist.

The day was absolutely perfect. We had planned for a lunch shower and an early arrival back to the house to get me back on the couch, so we were stunned to look at the clock and realize that we had been there nine hours! Along with our last few guests, we ended up reheating lunch and eating it again for dinner!

For those who were not there, I don't even know how to describe the day. We felt surrounded by so much love and warmth. I don't know how we have been blessed with so many kind and lovely folks in our lives. The biggest surprise of the day was how many people told us that they had shared our blog with community, co-workers, church and friends, so that others could pray for us. We now literally have a prayer chain that stretches around the world. These miracle babies are amazingly blessed to be so loved and lifted up before they even make their grand entrance! Please keep up the sharing as we'll take all the prayer we can get.

Midway through the shower, mom pulled out a couple of tiny plastic dolls which were immediately familiar to me, though I couldn't remember for what reason. Mom explained to me that the dolls had been given to Grandma The Mouse by her best friend at Mouse's shower when she was pregnant with mom back in 1951. Back then they rarely knew genders, so one doll was bright pink and one bright blue. Later the dolls made an appearance at mom's shower when she was pregnant with her first, your's truly! So here they are again, very faded after 64 years, but all the more precious and special for their age.

The banner hanging over us was made my my mother in law, Master Quilter (and gardener and chef) Mary. She is going to add more squares and turn it into a large floor quilt for the kiddos!

In all the excitement and chatting, we ended up opening only about five gifts at the shower. The next day mom and Jeff brought a carload full and will bring the rest later. We having been opening one or two a night which has been really fun. 

Mom, of course, insisted that we open two of her gifts right away, and the contents of the bags absolutely delighted us! Yes, that's two beautiful sets of hats hand knitted by momma, one set in shades of grey, the other Packer Proud!

Another piece of the day that was extra special to me was having another quad mom present. You guys will probably remember Becky from the stroller post, and she has been an amazing source of support over the last few months. Her beautiful quad babies are nearly three, so she is a constant reminder to me that this can be done!

It was an amazing day and we left feeling overwhelmed with love and gratitude. We thank everyone for the prayers they send up on our behalf, those who know and love us and those we have never met. We are aware daily of the fragility of our situation as well as our powerlessness in the outcome. We continue to remind ourselves that God is in control, and believe that his plan for us is best, whether we can see it at the time or not.

I also want to thank those of you who have been praying for Casey and Meaghan, and give you an update. Our happy day Saturday was bracketed by sadness as we learned that morning that Meaghan had lost one one her babies due to a stroke brought on by a brain bleed. At 6:30 in the morning I found myself in tears, mourning the loss of a child I had never met, and the agony his parents must be  feeling. And that evening, arriving home, I was shocked to learn that another mom in my group, Roslyn, had delivered and lost all four of her precious angels while we celebrated life at our shower. It was a devastating loss for her after carrying her babies for the previous 20 weeks. Casey's babies continue to do well. One had a surgery to correct a bowel issue, but the surgery went beautifully and his outcome looks good. Please continue to keep Casey, Meaghan and Roslyn in your prayers. 

Last, is anyone else tired of saying Baby A, B, C, D? Me too! Up next time, genders and names.

Love and blessings,

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

20 Weeks and Counting!

Hey guys, and welcome to 3:30am! That exclamation point is a liar. I'm not excited about it at all. One of the side effects of being pregnant with quads seems to be a near inability to sleep for more than an hour at a time, so I am up a lot and The Night has become my arch nemesis! It's not all bad though. I've never had an arch nemesis, so I can cross that one off my bucket list now. Seriously, I dread the constant tossing, turning, restless legs and bathroom breaks, but know that all the pain and discomfort now is leading to incredible blessings to come!

Also, let me apologize in advance for any spelling and/or grammatical errors in this post, but after all, it's the middle of the night so cut me some slack.

I want to ask for special prayers this morning. This week two of the women in my Quad Mommas group gave birth to their quads, both at just 24 weeks! The babies are amazing little fighters but have a long road ahead being born so early. Please lift Casey and Meagan and their tiny quad squads up in prayer. They have been heavy on my heart and both families will need a ton of support in the weeks and months ahead.

There's not much to report on my end, which is the best possible news. Every week that we have an uneventful week is a huge blessing. And speaking of huge, check this out.

Here are our Week 20 stats. If you remember the numbers from our big scan last week you know that we are right on track so far, and even a little ahead with our little ones all measuring 12-13 ounces!

Have I mentioned all the "sympathy" Andy is going through these days with me? Sympathy nausea, sympathy naps, sympathy cravings, sympathy junk food binges, sympathy pregnancy brain, and now, sympathy bump. Isn't he sweet?

That's it for me tonight. I'm going to take another stab at sleep. Please keep those prayers coming. We are now officially within three months of our 32 weeks goal!

Love and blessings,

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Big One!

For women carrying a single baby with no complications, there may be only one or two ultrasounds during the course of the entire pregnancy. This would be one of them. It's usually done around twenty weeks and is the longest and most detailed ultrasound of any pregnancy. You may recall that during the first trimester our scans consisted of a crown to rump measurement which determined the size of the babies, though little else. At the second trimester mark, the crown to rump measurement was no longer taken, and instead size was gauged by the measurement of head, belly and femur.

As of yesterday's ultrasound I was 19 weeks 5 days, so it was time for the big one. The ultrasound lasted over 90 minutes due to all the measurements taken. We were excited to be scheduled with Emily, our favorite tech, who chatted with us the whole time making it pass very quickly. For each of the four babies she measured head, femur, abdomen and fluid. She verified that each baby had nostrils and lips, ruling out the possibility of a cleft pallet on any. She checked each little brain to be sure it had two halves, and each heart to verify four chambers. She checked each umbilical cord to be sure they had three vessels. She checked kidneys, spine, bladder, and bowels. And guess what? Everybody looks perfect!

Here's a short recap of where everyone stands developmentally.


Measuring 20 weeks 1 day
Weight: 13 oz. (362 grams)
97th percentile
Gender: Wouldn't you like to know?


Measuring 20 weeks
Weight: 13 oz. (355 grams)
95th percentile


Measuring 19 weeks 6 days
Weight: 12 oz. (351 grams)
94th percentile

Measuring 19 weeks 4 days
Weight: 12 oz. (337 grams)
89th percentile

Everybody is doing so well. Doc J is pleased that their development is so close together. We hope it can stay this way.

What you can't tell from the pictures above is where each baby sits in relation to the others. Keep in mind that each placenta is attached to the uterine wall, so the placentas cannot change position, but each baby has freedom to move within each individual placenta. Here is the position on which they had settled as of yesterday, probably something you don't see every day!

Talk about "putting your heads together!" The cluster of heads you see are just below and to the right of my belly button. How cute is this? You may notice that something seems missing from this picture, one Baby C perhaps. The Baby in question, unwilling to join the rest of the pack, has decided that a far more comfortable position would be directly beneath the front of my rib cage. So I have a head lodged there, along with my organs that had been shoved skyward, causing quite a bit of pain. I keep jabbing at the rib trying to jolt the Naughty One into heading south for the summer, but to no avail.

I'm behind once again on belly pics this week. Here is week 19, though tomorrow will be week 20 already. We found out at the doctor's yesterday that my uterus is already measuring a whopping 34 weeks!

Though Doc J says we are all doing great, he cautioned us yesterday that we are entering the scariest time of the pregnancy. The next eight weeks are crucial for us, and there is a lot that could go wrong. We need the babies to stay safe inside for a minimum of eight more weeks. Preterm labor before that would be disaster as the babies have only a very small chance of survival prior. The larger my uterus measures, the greater the danger that my body will decide it's time for delivery and try to begin labor.

Please continue to pray for all of us, and pray that my body can stay strong a while longer.

Love and blessings,

Just a day at the beach.

A few weeks ago Andy and I met a new friend who had only been in the Grand Rapids area for a month. Over dinner last week he mentioned that he had never been to any of our beaches on Lake Michigan. What? Obviously we knew the situation had to be remedied at the earliest opportunity, and, after a quick check of the forecast, we settled on Sunday as Nick's introduction to the big Lake.

We set off Sunday on the forty five minute drive to Grand Haven, one of my favorite beaches since childhood. It was looking like a perfect day with a high of eighty and not a cloud in the sky. As we got close to the lakeshore we realized that we weren't the only ones with the beach idea that day. The traffic stretched for miles and there wasn't a parking spot to be found! Our forty five minute drive took us two hours. Of course, by this time my bladder was about to burst! Andy dropped me off at the entrance to the State Park while he and Nick continued the hunt for parking.

A full thirty minutes later they returned to the beach and we set off for the sand.

Nick went to grab a bite to eat while Andy and I got settled. We had picked up a beach chair for me so that I wouldn't have to try to get up from way down on the ground, something which is becoming increasingly difficult.

We weren't on the beach for ten minutes before things got interesting. One moment Andy and I were chatting, the next I was pouring sweat, dizzy, nauseous, and everything around me looked very far away. I couldn't believe how quickly it had happened! As if from the end of a long tunnel I heard Andy's voice asking if I were okay and what he could do for me. I could barely speak and really didn't know what I needed so I waved him away and flopped myself out of the beach chair and onto the sand, curled up on my side. After a minute or two, Andy half walked, half carried me up to the pavilion with the restrooms, where I clung to the door jamb trying not to lose consciousness before a stall became vacant. Finally, after sitting on the toilet with my head between my legs (as far as my head will go with the giant belly obstruction anyway) the swimmy, far away feeling began to subside and I felt well enough to stand.

I had a similar experience during my 17 week ultrasound and the tech said that it was because the babies were big enough that they were cutting off my circulation when I was too long reclined on my back. I suppose that this time the combination of my reclined position, the heat, the walk to the shore and a relatively light food day had conspired against me and caused the dizzy spell.

The guys graciously agreed to vacate our position on the hip part of the beach and join me further up where the elderly (and us) huddled beneath shade trees as if a single ray of sun may burn like acid. Despite the loss of cool points the guys made the most of it and swam, threw the football, and walked down to the lighthouse while I stayed grounded like the proverbial beached whale. You can see from the picture below that the lighthouse is quite a hike.

Near the time when we were getting ready to leave I felt a stinging in my left ankle. It reminded me of the dreaded fire ant bites I used to get while mowing the lawn when I lived in Texas. I reached down, ready to swat away an offending insect, and instead of a bug found only a massive lump of flesh where once an ankle had been!

All in all, it turned out to be a wonderful day, but sadly, the swollen ankles seem to be here to stay.