All Work and No Play

Just a week ago we entered into a new year and I did a post about different projects I worked on, but I didn’t talk about the behind-the-scenes activities much.  I want to take some time to shed some light on my little part of the world and get personal.

If you haven’t been here before, then you wouldn’t know that I am a homeschooling mom to 6 of the most precious children in the world – not including my little girl and other baby (which I believe was a boy) that are now in heaven.  You can read more about my baby journey here.

As part of our what we call “language lessons”, our homeschool curriculum has the children in grammar grades learn to recite this poem:

Work by Anonymous
Work while you work,
Play while you play,
This is the way
To be happy each day.
All that you do,
do with your might,
things done by halves,
are never done right.
This little poem has been on my mind for the last nine months because my life has been a whole lot of work and has had to forget the play part. Before starting my business and blogging, you would never had seen me with a cell phone in hand or, gasp, on Facebook.  I hated the idea of social media and getting techie. I can do all that stuff, but didn’t need it.  I spend most of my days barefoot, without makeup, and creating culinary delights with our whole food lifestyle.
I’ve had to give that up for a time.  It is hard for me not to constantly “talk” about my children and my husband because I love them so much.  I’ve often thought about having a mommy blog, or a foodie blog, etc. because there are so many aspects I’d love to share with you, especially how blessed I am. Obviously, I’ve found a whole new world in blogger land and am feeling this is God’s direction for me.
So, you may be asking, why haven’t I shared more?  Well…this past year put me through trials that were soooo stinkin’ hard.  My pregnancies are not what I would say easy. No, I don’t end up in bed rest each time, but my start to them is very hard physically. Because we had two losses in between our four year old boy and last little girl, this time was particularly scary, but I chose to lean on God throughout it all.
My, now 9 month old, sweetie was supposed to be born at home in our newly renovated bedroom, and be welcomed by all her brothers and sisters, and we were to relish this sweet fleeting time.  God had different plans.
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
 Our sweet little bundle came 6 weeks early, which in most cases I could have delivered at home and then been transported to a hospital with babe, if need be. We called our local hospital and they said that unless I was in an emergency delivery state (as in pushing on the way there), they would not let me deliver there.  So, we decided to head to a bigger hospital an hour away since they were more equipped for premature birth.  Let me just say that I had no idea I would be spending the next 3 weeks in a hospital.
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
You have to understand that I am a home birth lady (except for my first boy) and minimal intervention is the most glorious part of the experience.  Going to the hospital is a not something I relish, especially to deliver a baby.  Upon arrival they noted that I was 2 days shy of the 34 week mark and because my water had broke prematurely, they thought it better to stop my natural labor so my little one had a couple more days to mature.  I won’t go into too much detail here, but not being allowed to eat nothing but popcicles and ice chips for 2 days will drive a person CRAZY!!! (I had an IV and was getting “nourished”, and I know they had their reasons, I’m glad they did).  I was a bad girl and ate a little bit anyway.  My hubby gave me bits of his food and I ate and drank to a degree because I knew what a long journey I was in for and for sanity’s sake had to do it.
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
The view from the first room I was in.

Somehow they messed up my due date and kept me from laboring longer than was necessary, but when it was time to stop the magnesium (that’s used to relax the muscles from contracting) they wanted me to jump into labor.  Baby was fine and I told them that you’ve been telling my body to stop and now you want it to jump-start?  I was getting so much heat for not starting an inducing drug, so much to the point that they told me I had better start labor by this specified time or else….or else what?!  They were patient with me waiting for labor to restart on it’s own, but I got so fed up with being harassed that I gave in to minimal dosages just to stop being bothered (I am absolutely not the norm, so I feel for them). Remember, I’m used to a homebirth with a qualified EMT nurse-midwife, and this is nothing like what I was used to, except that my firstborn was also been in a hospital with a nightmare birth.

Needless to say, when you start that sort of stuff it puts you through a horrible labor, and even though I delivery naturally at home without drugs, this messed up birth was more than I could handle and took an epidural.  I knew the risks of the epidural causing baby to struggle and she did.  Her heart rate jumped all over and they were afraid they’d have to take her by c-section. To say I was angry was an understatement, but I chose that route.

Thankfully, our baby was born without any problem breathing and was doing great.  This particular hospital isn’t equipped so that you can room-in with your baby. The babies are placed in a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) instead, and my room is in a separate wing.  If I had known that hospital was equipped that way, there is no way I would EVER go there again.  I nurse my babes on demand, co-sleep, and wear them so they get the full heart-to-heart experience and there is no way I can do that in a place where no food was allowed, no bathroom for new mom ( a man had to have built that place), and no phones. Keep in mind that I have 5 children at home who where freaked out because the last time mom left pregnant to go to this same hospital, she came home without our little girl who died upon premature delivery at 21 weeks from a subchorionic hematoma.

Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces

So, why were we in the hospital for 3 weeks??  I really have no idea, except it’s all about numbers and regulations.  She had to reach these specified hurdles in order to qualify to take her car seat test – an hour long sit in a car seat while they watch her stats.  I am thankful for her special care, but some things were unneccesary.

I also strictly nurse (no bottle feeding) and they put her on a 3 hour schedule for feeds (I don’t do schedules!!).  My routine was this: take her out of the incubator and try to get her to nurse, if she was too sleepy I’d hold her until I needed to eat or go to the bathroom (remember I had just delivered a baby!), while out I would take care of calling and try to get a minute of sleep.

Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
This is my second room during the bonding program – a bonus in all the chaos because I got to stay free and got 3 free meals. Praise God for the wonderful program at this hospital!
This little ray of sunshine would make my day and I would crawl up in to the window sill to soak it all in.
The nurses, by my request, were supposed to let me know if she woke while I was out so that I could nurse her.  Some of them eagerly abided, but for most it is a norm for some of them to not want a parent in there?  Nooo, of course, not. You mess up their schedule and they just want to bottle feed the babies and keep you at a distance.  I can’t tell you the number of times I would go in at the scheduled time to find her screaming or finding her so exhausted to the point she wouldn’t wake up to nurse because she had been screaming and they never called me. How in the world could we get out of there with those crazy issues?
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
Because the nurses worked in shifts, there were a few special ladies in there that saw my plight and worked hard to make sure I was notified, and even bent the rules for me.  During that trying time, I got to share with those nurses my faith and about my life, as they shared with me.  I made waves in that NICU because I wasn’t the norm (didn’t really want to create waves, but somebody has to stand their ground!) and I think God put me in there for a reason.  God bless you, my nurse guardians!
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
I never once left that hospital during that 3 week time, and for the most part was alone because we had children at home needing care and my husband had to go back to work. I don’t know what hell is really like, but in my mind (a hormonal new mom mind) you couldn’t get any closer. But…I had God. Even though I was “alone” in a massive hospital full of people, I could talk to him and cry to him. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise because not only was I in the NICU, but had never been apart from my kids or husband that long.
This was my first escape to sunshine in the courtyard after the most dreary, nasty cold winter since 1965 we had here in Ohio. It was my absolute therapy.
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
This little bird reminded me of a windged fried my kids named Cheepside at home.
To make matters worse, they got so utterly sick when I was gone, and I couldn’t be there to take care of them.  They couldn’t even come to the hospital for fear of passing it to me, or worse, our baby for weeks.  So they didn’t get to see her until we left.  Oh yeah, and our chest freezer died while our frozen goods went to pot, my shop had the best sales ever in that time period, which was a blessing and a nightmare for me to maintain sales from a smart phone that I just received days before this event…I could go on, but you get the idea. You can imagine what my husband was going through.
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
Failing the first car seat test.
My little girl failed her first car seat test by doctors decision (although the nurse and I thought she would have been fine), which meant we had to stay another week.  The second test she passed and we were allowed to go home.  I could not believe how soft my car seats were and to see my kids, and to be able to touch them was unreal.
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpieces
My 3rd room I was very thankful for because I lost my bonding room and was going to have to leave the hospital due to no room. God worked wonders through the helpful hospital staff. Here I would sit to get my snippet of sun.

Since then, we have been working our tails off to pay the hospital bills we incurred from being there that long, and am thankful is was not as long as others have had to endure.  I have felt as if I’ve had to pay for our daughter to be ours in some ways.  My furniture work is what’s been keeping our heads above water.  We are just shy of being done with those payments and I can tell you it is only by the grace of God we have been able to take care of this debt.

Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpiecesOver and over again, a piece would sell just in time before we had to make payment.  There was one time we didn’t have a penny for it and I had worked so hard on some furniture, but nothing was selling in time.  It was down to the wire and 2 of them sold in one day and I couldn’t help but shout and praise God for His timing.  Why he waits sometimes is a mystery to me, but I am always needing a patience lesson.
I am enormously blessed to not only have our little girl, but my family.  Things could have went wrong and we lost another baby, but God saw fit to heal my past wounds with this sweet little girl.  No words can express my gratitude.
Premature Baby Gives New Take on New Year and God's Promises of What's to Come by Prodigal Pieces #prodigalpiecesMy goal in this coming year is to be more real with you, to share more of what God’s doing in my life so that you can be blessed too.  My brain is forever reeling with ideas, and aching to make my life normal again. I haven’t really been able to do that in so long because furniture needed to be done to generate income.  You can lose a bit of yourself when that happens and it’s easy to lose joy in what you do.
My homeschooling has been lacking zest due to our current circumstances, but that will be remedied soon, my lack of pep in the blogging department is going to change, our diet is going back to healthy, and my business is going to get some much needed changes as well. My bedroom is still not finished and our bathroom is still partially tore up, not to mention our living room needs finished and the entire rest of our house!  sigh.
It will all be done before this summer is over if not before if I have anything to say about it because once that hospital bill is gone, I am going DIY crazy around here and gaining my sanity back.  Maybe you have no idea what it’s like to live in a 1600 sq. ft. home with 8 people, 1 dismantled bath, and furniture everywhere, but amidst it all I’m surrounded by things I love. Kudos to my family for putting up with it all, including a crazy painting wife/mom.
If you’re still reading at this point, I thank you.  My readers are why I do what I do in this blogging world and you have been tremendous support this year.  I urge you to take a minute and consider where you are today in your relationship with your heavenly Father.  Without Him I would have been truly alone in that hospital.  Without Him I would be lost.  Do you need some time to grow closer to God?  I’d love to be an ear for you and a prayer warrior for you if you do!
Let’s make this year a good one!
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  • Lisa @ Fern Creek Cottage

    I am so sorry you had to go through such an awful experience! Sounds like that hospital is stuck in the dark ages. So disgusted to read about them letting a newborn cry it out when she is hungry. Praise God for bringing you through it and I’m sure your experience can help others to advocate for themselves and their child.

    January 8, 2015 at 7:23 pm Reply
  • Sharon @ mrshinesclass

    I’m so glad the worst is over and that y’all are all home together and starting to return to normal. It’s beyond me why God waits, or says no, when you need money the most, too. I’m so glad your furniture business kept y’all afloat.

    January 8, 2015 at 8:32 pm Reply
  • Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique

    I think sometimes when you are going through ‘difficult’ times Larissa, you wonder how you’ll get through it, but then when you look back on it later you realise that a lesson was learned and it made you stronger. I think it is just meant to be and is part of our journey. I’m so glad you are nearly over the worst of it. Your family is so adorable and your baby girl looks so strong and full of life after her early start. I hope 2015 is a year full of good things for all of you!

    January 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm Reply
  • Kim

    I am absolutely overwhelmed with your life!!! But God has blessed you in so many ways and His timing is so perfect. Keep on your knees is all I can say. My word for the year is TRUST! And every time I start to feel anxiety, I just say the word and He lessens the crazy!

    [email protected]

    January 9, 2015 at 2:21 am Reply
  • Marie Blackburn

    I’m hoping 2015 is a great year for you Larissa. You made it through that dark period and I have no doubt came out of it with gifts and lessons learned. We always do if we choose to see them. I am in total awe of how you are raising 6 children (a baby at that), homeschooling, producing amazing furniture makeovers, running a successful blog, and staying sane in the process! You must have the energy of the Ever Ready Bunny! Being the eldest of 7 children and 9 of us packed into a 950 sq ft bungalow growing up, I completely get IT.
    [email protected] Interior Frugalista

    January 9, 2015 at 5:02 pm Reply
  • Bliss

    Keep making waves.

    January 9, 2015 at 10:53 pm Reply
  • Anne

    Thank you for sharing! I have goose pimples and tears! You truly are an inspiration! What a beautiful family!

    January 10, 2015 at 12:44 am Reply
  • [email protected] Harbor

    What an amazing story and you are inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story and reminding me that God moves mountains.

    January 10, 2015 at 2:20 am Reply
  • Serendipity Refined

    Oh Larissa, I’m so sorry that you went through such a difficult time. Your children are beautiful and YOU are a strong and amazing woman. Blessings on all of you. xo

    January 10, 2015 at 2:29 am Reply
  • Twinkle Terrior

    Larissa, you are INSPIRATIONAL !! God bless you darlin…and your beautiful family ox

    January 10, 2015 at 3:24 am Reply
  • Sherry Fram

    What a tough time you have had!! As a nursing professional (retired) I am sorry you had to deal with the problems with nursing your baby. That should have never happened. God Bless and prayers for continued success.

    January 10, 2015 at 10:12 am Reply
  • Jeanette L.

    I just got around to reading this and I’m so sorry for your previous losses, but what a miracle you were able to pull through this ordeal and come out the other side with a beautiful baby girl in your arms. I’m so glad you’re doing well and I’m sure it’s been because of a lot of hard work and focus to get you and your family’s schedule back on track. I know what you mean about nursing, some hospitals make it very difficult and I experienced the same. xo to you and your family.

    January 14, 2015 at 1:40 pm Reply
  • Jane

    I got lost in your story. You have a beautiful family and you’re inspiration to all of us.

    I’m pretty new to Facebook and started to follow you and could not believe all that you get done. I headed over to your site to see your bedroom Finale and stopped to read a little more about you and the birth of your daughter. The love of a mother…is pretty amazing.

    Now I’m really wondering how you get everything done

    April 16, 2015 at 4:03 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      So Jane…there’s such a thing as no sleep…hahaha. Thank you for your sweet words, it means so much to have take a minute to share. I am blessed beyond belief and only have the strength because God is with me. 🙂 Blessings to you!

      April 16, 2015 at 9:53 pm Reply
  • Nancy Crowder

    Larissa I loved reading about your journey. I often wonder how people get through trails without the Lord. Your family is beautiful. Oh and by the way your bedroom is beautiful! I love thrift stores, garage sales and the curb! Way more fun than a department store. God bless you and your beautiful family!

    April 18, 2015 at 2:35 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Nancy, thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragment. God is good. May you be mightly blessed too! 🙂

      April 18, 2015 at 6:02 am Reply
  • Mary-In the boondocks

    May God bless your beautiful family. Such a moving story. And you are such a strong young woman. God has given you so much in your children and husband and I believe that is what is most important in life . Thanks for sharing your story.

    August 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      He has and is. Thank you, Mary. I am challenged every day to find that new norm because I’ll never forget those lost little ones. One day I know we will have a grand reunion.

      August 3, 2015 at 6:41 am Reply
  • Tiara

    I’m actually sitting in the hospital trying to distract myself with diy project ideas and came across your blog. My sweet baby came early( water broke at 32, but we kept her in till 35 weeks)and spent two months in the nicu, and I can say I agree it is hell. I had to leave my eighteen month old at home while I was hospitalized and I was a wreck. She has additional health issues and manages to still spend half of every month in the hospital. ( she just turned nine months as well!)Not all nurses or doctors are created equal and unfortunately some of them fail miserably and the little ones need us to advocate for them. She fights for her little life but with concourses of angels around her. I still think the nicu was her hardest hospitalization, and wouldn’t wish that on any mama. Your so brave to keep trying after such painful loses. This experience has traumatized me. I hope to be as brave as you someday.

    September 12, 2015 at 1:53 am Reply
    • Larissa

      You are a to be commended, Tiara, for standing firm for your children. It is no easy task when these “educated” people are believing what they are doing is the best, and you know in your heart otherwise. I will pray for you and your family, and know that God will use this for good. I, too, am still working through it all. Blessings to you!

      September 12, 2015 at 5:45 am Reply
  • Lourdes Garcia Ambrosio

    Wow! I stumbled upon your blog last Fall thru Pinterest when I was looking for “farmhouse bathroom” pictures and signed up for your emails and started following you on Facebook Then in late Fall I purchased my very much treasured Christmas Ice Skate decoration that you made. And now that we are starting our bathroom renovation, I took the time to read your full post on the bathroom make over and I clicked on the link that referenced your time in the NICU. My heart broke a little thinking that you had had a difficult delivery and possibly a sick baby. Happy to read she is healthy and so are you but so sorry for the trouble you went thru. We really never know what path people’s lives take until we take a moment, breathe and listen. Just by connecting with you on Facebook, I knew you were a special person but after reading this post I just know that you are one of God’s angels on earth. God Bless you and your family. I so admire you!

    January 4, 2016 at 12:07 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You are such a sweetheart and I can’t thank you enough for all of your support. It is wonderful to hear from readers and it makes what I do all the more sweeter. God bless!

      January 5, 2016 at 9:34 am Reply
  • Emily Roberts

    I know this is a bit late, but I followed your link from your shabby chic hutch post. What an amazing story! You are such a strong woman, mom, and wife (and reading between the lines, I know your husband has to be just as amazing and strong).

    Just reading what the hospital put you through stresses me out! I was so blessed to have a relatively easy and uncomplicated birth (an extra blessing after struggling through pregnancy, so a feel you there too). My daughter is my first, and I most certainly would not have been educated nor strong willed enough to stick it out in the nicu against the nurses like that. Reading stories like yours make me think that now, if I had to go through it with another, I could. So thank you for sharing.

    And I can completely relate with having God take care of finances just in the nick of time. I run a horse farm and have lost count of the times that I’m short for a bill coming up, and someone new calls and prepays for a month of lessons, or books a last minute birthday party, or wants to board a new horse. I think He waits until the last minute to teach us to trust Him. It’s a hard but at the same time a little thrilling lesson.

    I can’t even remember how I found your facebook page a few weeks ago, but I’m so glad I did. Thank you for sharing so much. You are very inspirational, and I’ve had so much fun reading your blog and talking to you through comments on your facebook posts!

    April 11, 2016 at 11:01 am Reply
    • Larissa

      What an amazing testimony, and I thank you for taking the time to share. Emily, I am happy you found me to as it is a blessing to know of others who feel God’s grace in more ways than one. Thank you!

      April 11, 2016 at 9:16 pm Reply
  • Cassie

    Wow! Just found your blog through your pic of your farmhouse master bedroom (which is gorgeous btw). What a story, not only are you talented at restoring furniture, but you my dear need to write a book! I am deeply sry to read of your losses. My family has also suffered loss! After my first daughter, we lost 5 babies to miscarriages. At my doctors advice, we kept trying and finally carried past 12 weeks, just to become devastated at 15 weeks. We were told the baby was not making amniotic fluid, had kidneys full of cysts and should terminate, with no hope of survival. Its was my immediate reaction, to fight for this child, that God had so graciouly entrusted me with. Though her pregnancy was hard and long, i dont regret a single moment. At 34 weeks I began to have very strong, consistant contractions. After 4 trips to the ER, we were sent back home, but I decided to go to my mother’s house. She was born literally after an hour of arriving. She was born breech, and I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. But in the chaos, August 21,2012, Gabriella Grace was born, . She lived about two hours and I sang her to sleep as she passed from my arms to Jesus arms. She was beautiful,tiny and perfect. My husband and I were later told that Gabriella had Multicystic Dysplastic Kidneys. When girls get MCDK, they are twice as likely to have bilateral MCDK disease (affecting both kidneys) along with other birth defects. But to God be the glory; exactly a year after she was born God blessed us with our baby boy Preston and 17 months later our baby girl Ellanor! Thanks for sharing your baby stories and allowing others in similar situations to feel not so alone♡God Bless, Cassie

    May 11, 2016 at 3:03 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Oh, Cassie…I’m so sorry for you, but you get my praise for finishing what God started. It is so absolutely hard and I still ache, thought God has seen fit to bless us with another little girl. So coincidental that we both named our babies Gabriella. Thank you.

      May 11, 2016 at 5:35 pm Reply
  • Rita

    Larissa, you are such a strong woman. Even with God at my side I don’t think I would have been able to do what you did to stay sane. I am so glad you have shared the pictures of all your children. They are truly lovely and happy because of you. Really loved the picture of your new little girl with that big smile on her face. My hope for you is that you have wonderful lives and that God protects all of you from any more horrific sadness?
    God Bless!

    April 8, 2017 at 11:11 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      I couldn’t have done it without Him. Such lonely times, but yet there are those that have far worse going on than I did. Thank you!

      April 11, 2017 at 9:42 am Reply

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