Finally, about three days later, we got to take Braden home. About a day or two after that, the engorgement went down and it was such a blessed relief. I never was able to just breast feed Braden exclusively after all that, though. Despite weekly visits to the lactation clinics and pumping and lengthy tries with breastfeeding times and all other manner of tactics. I had to settle for supplementing breast feeding with formula. In all honesty, it wasn't what I wanted, but Braden was not the worse for it. He was just fine with it. He got the nourishment and immunity that my milk provided and the full tummy that the bottles provided, so really it was okay. Also, for about a week, we had to keep going back to the hospital for various tests and I can't even remember how many times that little punkin got stuck by a needle. Let's just put it this way. He eventually got to where he wouldn't even wake up even while they were squeezing the mess out of his feet for a few drops of blood! He had little band-aids all over both feet. Poor little guy!!! Well, needless to say he survived just fine. The hardest time for me after all of that was when I had to go back to work. I was only going to be in the military for a few more months, but it was still a huge struggle. I had looked for a daycare or person I trusted to take care of him during this time. The friend that I had hoped would be able to take care of him, found out she was pregnant not too much before Braden was born. Since this was going to be her fourth kiddo, she and her husband had decided against her doing any outside childcare. Then I found a daycare that wasn't too far from work and they had an opening. I went while I was still pregnant to interview them and take a look at the facility. While everything was kept super clean and the kids were taken care of just fine, I was not settled about having my baby there. I talked with several friends and family members about my struggle here, including Juan and Donna who we had asked to be Braden's Godparents. Unbeknownst to me, Nina and Padrino had discussed it and Donna offered to keep him for me during the day until I got out of the military. Also, she did it for free. I was going to pay her the amount that the daycare was going to charge me $400/mo., but she said she wanted us to be able to have that money for the move. Such a blessing in so many ways!!!!!!! You'll see what I mean....(They are such an awesome part of our family and I wish everyone could see how much they love their godchildren!!!) More drama arose when he was around 3 or 4 months old. (My timing is off, but I'm in the general time frame;) I was very close to getting out of the military and Sam and I decided that he should go contract to be able to support us. He got a job in California and had to go there for about a month before I went on terminal leave from the military. Of course I did not prefer being on my own with our 3-month old son. I was keeping things together as best I could while still living in such a strong fear on a daily basis. One night at around 9 pm, I kept hearing a gulping noise. Like the toilet when the water drains out of it. I went to check but didn't see anything. Braden was also being super fussy and wouldn't go to sleep. I was tired and getting cranky. I believe this happened on a Friday night, but I can't remember for sure. All of a sudden, I noticed that the carpet outside the bathroom was wet. I went in and the floor was flooded. I started to totally freak out. I grabbed all of our towels and threw them on the floor. Then, I started to panic. When I went back in to assess the damage, the flooding had gotten worse. It was coming up through the drain of the bathtub and spewing out from the bolts that hold the toilet in place on the floor! (I found out later that someone had flushed wipes down the toilet in our building and it had backed up the communal sewer pipe....yuck. By the way, it wasn't me...I grew up with a septic system and had it ingrained in my brain that you don't put anything but toilet paper down the potty....sometimes not even that!) Anyway, I rushed to get everything off of the floor as best I could in our little one bedroom condo we were renting. I didn't know what else to do, so I called Juan and told him the situation. He and his son Felix immediately got in his car and came to rescue me. They helped me pack everything up that I would need , including my cats, and told me I was coming to stay with them for as long as I needed. I was so grateful and relieved even though I did not want to intrude on them. I actually lived with them for over two weeks. The flooding had caused some expensive damage. The walls were wet on the inside, the carpet had to be completely removed and some other stuff had to be replaced. I took care of as much as I could for our landlady. She was such a blessing and I miss being her tenant at times! Anyway, I was not able to go back and live in our condo for the rest of the time Sam was in California that month. Boy, did God provide for Braden and I, though. Juan and Donna have such servants hearts and attitudes. They are so loving and giving and I am so thankful for them. They are gonna definitely have some crowns stored up in heaven! Hopefully, we will get continuous opportunities to bless them as well!
After that, Sam came back, we got all packed up and moved out to California. I was still living in fear, but God was totally with me the whole time. During that first year, I flew on a plane with a breastfeeding 4 month old to California...yeah, that was not fun. I made the drive from California back to Texas over the course of five days. I was traveling with my 9 month old son, two cats and a Jeep packed up to the brim. I stayed in four different Holiday Inns (they let you bring pets:). I also, flew on a plane to Hawaii from Texas with a layover in Las Angeles, CA with my 10-month old Braden by myself. Sam had to go there a month before us. Have I mentioned that I get the full security check EVERY SINGLE TIME I FLY?!?!?! That time, we were moving there, so we had all the suitcases you could possibly bring, a big honkin' stroller, and a car seat that was not designed to ride in the stroller. Not to mention the diaper bag, purse, snacks, toys and other paraphernalia that goes with a first baby! Yep, security check...plus, I had missed my first non-stop flight. Let's just say that the tears of frustration and pity for myself flowed freely all the way to Las Angeles.... ;) Not until Braden turned 1 did I lighten up. (I had read somewhere that the elderly and babies under a year were the ones that got sick the most and easiest.) Yep, didn't care if he ate something off of the floor or put dirt in his mouth after his first birthday. Its so funny to see how much God has taught me through all of this and also how much grace and mercy he gave me! So, there it is the story of Braden's birth in all its glory!:) Hope you enjoyed reading about it and maybe my experiences could help someone else overcome similar trials. Oh, yeah...as a p.s. Sam and I have agreed that I don't fly by myself with kids anymore. He was with me the last time we flew and he got the benefit of a security check by association and so has lots of compassion for me! ;)
Here is a photo montage of Braden: