Friday, December 29, 2017

Lava hot springs

One of our favorite trips last summer was going to Lava Hot Springs with some members of the Mays family. We stayed in a beautiful home on an amazing piece of property. There were streams near by and horses. One day we went to the pool in Lava Hot Springs and the following day we went tubing down the Portneuff River. The kids enjoyed sleeping over with their cousins; playing games, watching movies and enjoying delicious food.

And Baby makes seven!

After Forrest's arrival, I didn't feel that our family was complete. What confused me, however, is that I didn't have a strong feeling that someone was missing either. For years, my personal sentiment was, "I don't know if we are done having children. What I do know is that I am not ready right now to add another."

The reason for sharing these personal details is because I was annoyingly curious about how other parents came to the understanding that their family was or wasn't complete. If I could sense someone was willing to talk about something so personal, I would ask. I would ask because I was in great turmoil; which is selfish of me. I realized that someone else's answer wasn't going to necessarily be ours; but I wanted to know if it was a process like it was for us. During these conversations; someone would often say something that would strike a chord with me. It helped me decipher what I was feeling. Insight would linger in my mind after a particular conversation; again, helping me understand my own feelings better.  If our family was complete, I wondered, when would that peace come? Am I just hanging onto a possibility of another because the idea that this chapter ending is sad?

For many couples, that decision of when their family is complete is made for them. I wish to acknowledge that it can be a painful, heartbreaking, frustrating experience when that agency or choice isn't a family's to make. With full sincerity, my heart goes out to those who wanted to grow their family and could not.

Andrew and I were in the the Oahu temple in March of 2016. It was there that he told me that he was  supportive of us having another baby. He wasn't strongly pushing the idea but he wanted to let me know that if I felt like we should have another baby, he was on board. I didn't feel pressure from him either way and I really appreciated that. Having received the green light, I began to seriously think about it. It would take me another year, more or less, before I was ready to try.

Again, due to the dwindling popularity of blogging, or at least this blog, I am going to proceed with details. I can't articulate what it is that motivates me to write, record and share but maybe one of my daughters or daughter in laws will someday benefit in reading through this; maybe not. The idea of nobody caring is always a strong possibility as well!

October 2016, I made an appointment to have my IUD removed. Ooh, gross. I just typed IUD. Yuck! I did it again! ;) The days leading up to that appointment, I was a wreck. What was happening? Ali, you have four kids! Are you even a good Mother to the four that you have? How are you even considering this? You are a fertile lady. If you do this, you will be pregnant by Christmas!  Thoughts and doubts such as these circulated through my brain. I could not sleep the night leading up to the appointment. In fact, the morning of my appointment I drove to the wrong facility. My OB's office is just down the street, such a familiar place for me; but I ended up at the wrong building. My poor sense of direction was an outside reflection of my inner struggle. Finally, I made it to the appointment. The doctor removed my IUD and then showed it to me. I nearly barfed.

"WHY ARE YOU SHOWING THAT TO ME?!" I shouted in my mind. Gross. It was gross. I don't do well with stuff like that. When I asked aloud, in a more polite manner, he said he had to prove that he had actually removed it. Okay, then.

After the feelings of "gross...why are you showing me that" subsided, I felt this intense feeling of PEACE. What in the world? Finally, there it was. And that peace stayed with me. I wasn't ready to try for a baby just yet, but that IUD needed to go. I felt so much relief as I left the office that day. I thought I would be a bigger mess of doubt and fear, but that feeling of peace was undeniable. And I welcomed it.

Months passed. I continued to choose fear over faith; so we waited. Finally, in the Spring of 2017 Andrew and I went to an adult session of stake conference. I had a very specific list of concerns regarding another baby. Through the influence of the Holy Ghost, each speaker addressed one of my concerns in such a powerful, beautiful way. I don't know if I have ever felt personal revelation in such a "personal" way. Andrew and I came home and compared notes. And at that point, we took a wait and see approach to having another baby.

It didn't happen immediately. I was surprised, discouraged and relieved. Analyze that, internet. Even so, I started paying closer attention to ovulation dates; among other things. I bought a crazy amount of cheap pregnancy tests from amazon. My kids noticed and starting asking questions; but I downplayed the situation as best I could. It was July and we were getting ready for our first family trip to the cabin of the summer. It was a little premature, but I took a few pregnancy tests before we left. They were negative.

On the drive to the cabin, Andrew and I gave ourselves credit for having opened the door to the possibility of having one more. And it hadn't happened. Maybe we could find peace in knowing we tried and finally move on. We started talking about the idea of getting a truck. You can fit four kids into a truck; but not five. This was our mindset that weekend. We had tried and it hadn't happened. And we would be okay. I had some sad moments the previous months thinking that perhaps this was our answer; our family was here. And that was telling. The tears that I cried over that sadness indicated that I had really wanted another baby.

We came home from that trip on Sunday, July 23. It had been a few days since my last negative pregnancy test. I had one more legit, first response brand, test. We came home and I thought, "Well, why not?" One last test. I bet it will be negative.

You can guess what happened next. It was positive! I was wrong. There it was!! A beautiful, faint, but still visible, pink line. I could not believe my eyes. Emotionally invested (polite way of saying "crazy") women trying to conceive, like me, are familiar with the practice of "pregnancy test tweaking." If you take a photo of your pregnancy test and then open an editing app, there are settings that will help expose the line more effectively if you are unsure.

Wanting the best lighting for my photo, I placed my pregnancy test discretely in my pocket and went to our front yard. Andrew was busy unloading the car while the children ran around the yard; excited to get their wiggles out. I take the photo of the pregnancy test and as I begin to mess with the different settings, Eliza sits down besides me.

"Hey Mom," she begins. "You know how you have all of those pregnancy dip tests upstairs?" My mouth falls open. Why is she bringing this up now? "I had the weirdest dream last night." I wait for her continue. "In my dream, Forrest brought me one of your tests and it was positive! I had a dream that you're pregnant!" I can't remember what I said, but I remember what I felt. I had chills. My heart was soaring. She had no idea that I was sitting on top of a pregnancy test that I thought was positive and that moments before, I had been tweaking a photo to try and get a clearer picture. It was a tender mercy. Eliza's response to this pregnancy has been the greatest tender mercy because my concern for how this would impact her as she steps into her teenage years has been high. But more on that later.

I knew I was pregnant. It would take a few days and a few more tests to convince Andrew, but that was when I knew. Once the children were in bed that night, I broke my rule to not shop on Sunday and darted to the store to buy more pregnancy tests. It was very exciting; but for the next month or two,  was also very anxious! In many ways, I feel like we are starting over. It wasn't until Andrew was giving our kid's their father's blessings before school, that my anxiety disappeared. He offered to give me a blessing that night and what he said made an impact on me. I know this sounds overly churchy, but it's very much apart of this sweet baby's story. I have loved her from the start. But if I had to understand those early feelings; I would say it stemmed from self doubt as I remember how challenging a new baby is and worry of all the things that could go wrong.

Here are the photos from our trip to the cabin; taken days before we found out another baby Flegal was on the way.

Can we please be friends?

This summer we got to  know the darling Palmer family better. We have kids similar in age and the Moms share a mutual love/dependency for Diet Coke. Its kind of an awesome match. We were thrilled when they invited us for swimming; even better, our cute friends Carly and Scarlett were there too.

Also, as this first picture shows, Lottie decided she was ready to dive off a diving board for the first time. Go Lottie!

Audrey, Scarlett and Henry

The bookends: Eliza and Julia

These two girls didn't know it yet, but they were both be selected
to be sixth grade peer leaders at Uintah this year; so so cool.
They also both landed a lead role in the six grade play, Dig It! 


July, July and some more July

Flegal family
July 2017

Our fourth of July began with a trip to Lagoon-a-beach. 
The past two summers we have spent our morning at a water park on the fourth of July.
I thought I would miss attending the parade, but I haven't. 
The kids don't seem to either. 

However, they are less than thrilled that I still ask for "one more picture."
Again, breaking with tradition, we decided not to attend a firework show.
I think because we had been treated to a great show a few nights before in Oakley,
we decided to stay close to home. 
Our neighbors also did a fun a show in our culdesac a day before. 

Again with the pictures, you can't always get everyone on board. 
Bless his heart.
But sometimes you can... cute little firecrackers, right?
I have been noticing in a lot of my pictures of Henry,
that his shirt is always on the big side... 
Apparently I do not know his size!
As I was saying, instead of another firework show
we cuddled up for a movie in our backyard. 

Shifting gears to another important part of our summer is the time 
we are able to spend time with our cousins. 

Coordinating schedules the best we can, 
we squeeze in outings with both sides of our family. 
The Mays crew join us from Alaska and the Greens arrive from New York;
both families settle in with the Utah gang and we do our best to make some fun memories together. 

We went and saw Despicable Me 3 with the Mays cousins and then went to Fiiz. 

Bouncing over to the Flegal side, here are some pictures from our time
up at Pineview boating.

Boating with cousins is such a treat that we decided to go again; 
this time inviting the Mays cousins.
Speaking of treats... you can always count on Nana Marie to bring something delicious to share. 

Boating is super fun and exhausting. 

Another memorable weekend that Forrest continues to talk about...
was when Andrew took Henry and Forrest to "Fathers and Sons." 
The girls and I had a sleepover at Nana Teresa's and were treated
to a show at Hale Center Theatre, 
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

Lottie lost her first tooth ever that weekend!

These three cousins are best pals!

Random cute pictures of Lottie and Forrest

Some snaps from Fathers and Sons

I think everyone came home a winner that weekend.