Motherhood Right Now...

A few days ago, I was in one of the many valleys that exist on this journey.  The day-to-day-to-day was getting to me.  I was sleep deprived from my normally-great sleepers having abnormally awful nights.  Things that cause me occasional frustration felt like they never truly change or go away (and they often don't. ha!).  So, yesterday was a Groundhog Day reset button kind of day. 

I canceled school (I can do that because I'mthemom!), kept everyone home, had them do homework worksheets, fold their laundry, and then we were off to pick up GG and go for a pizza picnic at their most favorite park (the "farm" park!).  We had a great time, went and visited my aunt, and capped off the day with cake and ice cream. (Happy birthday to my grandma!)  It was precisely the kind of hump day breather we all needed.

It's sometimes still very surreal that I'm the mother of (and responsible for!) four little children!  My biggest focus right now is trying to stay sane (and trying not to yell all the time), and trying to understand each of these little people for who they are and celebrating each of them in their uniqueness.  I have a lot of work to do.

L was born and M was off and the adjustment was easy.  Turns out the adjustment was just delayed for when he returned to work.  So, I was hit with it when L was 4.5 months old, instead of at birth.  I'm only sort of just now getting used to it.  I knew having R and L would be like having two babies in many ways, but one truth of life is that Knowing and Doing are often completely different beasts.

I often feel like I could be Superwoman and get All The Things done if I didn't have to stop "what I am doing" and change diapers, pump, feed people, put people down for naps, etc.  All my small progress is punctuated on either side by long, stationary periods of such small (but important) mundanities. And the real truth of it is that "what I am doing" is all the small mundanities, not all the other "stuff I need to do". 

It's a blessing to even be in a position to feel that frustration. I remember too well when I worked full time and used to cry because I missed C so badly and wanted to be home with him.  So, I try really hard not to be in too much of a hurry to have all the "free time" to go running or go to yoga or take up painting or read a book or take a daily shower... I see my friends who've come through it a little bit and are gaining some independence back.  I know there's light at the end of this long tunnel. 

But there is also a bittersweetness to the fact that they HAVE to grow up.  Because the thing is, this baby/little kid stage is often so exquisite in its smallness and loveliness: cuddling, kissing and rocking the baby to sleep, or hearing the ever-increasing language of the toddler (and melting every time her sweet voice calls me "mommy"), or talking the preschooler through fears of bad dreams or of the house swallowing him up or flying off into space, or trying to help the first grader express his feelings (and ideas) in ways that are healthy and helpful and remembering that he needs more hugs than anyone.

But, the other side of that coin is that the sheer physicality of this phase is an unsustainable condition.  With the sweet comes the bitter...

But the sweet is pretty awesome.



L @ 2 months

L is now 2 months old! She’s such a calm and easy baby (so far).

Easter baby
trying to sit up
a hug from big sister
pretty baby
lately, she's just Done with laying down!
She survived her second road trip and did really well on the trip, just like she did on the first.

second road trip, first hotel stay
those dimples slay me!
We see this smile a LOT!  Seriously, though - what baby smiles at you as you're sucking boogies out of their nose!?!?
first sink bath!
second hike
At her two-month wellness visit, she was 24 inches long (90th percentile) and 12 lbs. 13 oz. (85th percentile). She spits up quite a bit sometimes, but we don’t think it's much of a problem right now. She’s generally really content, and is growing really well.

As I’ve been suspecting, our pediatrician picked up on some tightness on the left side of her neck, which means she favors looking to the right. It’s a mild case of torticollis that the ped thinks will resolve pretty quickly if we encourage her to look to the left and do some stretching exercises. (In other words, nothing like R’s more severe case!) Still, Miss L might be due for a movement lesson pretty soon!

She’s starting to want to be entertained more often, but mostly likes to “talk” to whomever will listen and smile profusely at whomever passes by. She sleeps pretty well and is just generally a very unassuming, undemanding, happy baby! We love you L!



L's Birth Story

Date of Birth: 2/2/16
Original Due Date: 2/1/16
Weeks Pregnant: 40+1 (adjusted)
Baby's Weight: 8 lbs. 12 oz.
Baby's Length: 21 in.

My pregnancy felt like it was never going to end!  My original due date was 1/27, but was adjusted to 2/1 based on ovulation date and early ultrasound dating.  So, it was technically the longest I had ever been pregnant!

On the first, my adjusted due date, I saw my midwife and she stripped my membranes, saying the last two women she had done it for had gone into labor.  I was 2.5 cm already (first cervical check of my pregnancy!) but my cervix was still posterior, so it was anyone's guess whether it would work.

I came home, stayed active doing stuff around the house, sat on an exercise ball and squatted and bent over a lot, but had nothing other than some random cramping and spotting.  I went to bed with nothing going on and convinced I would still be trying to go into labor all of Tuesday. 

Instead, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. with contractions that I had to breathe through.  After several of them, I decided to start timing them.  They were 5-1-1 while I was laying down, but I was still afraid that they would stop once I got up and started moving around.

Around 6:15, I woke Michel up and told him that I was in labor and that I was going to get things ready and see if the contractions continued.  I asked him to call his parents to come and stay with our children, but that it probably wasn't a hurry.  I finished packing my hospital bag (ha!) and kept timing contractions.  The contractions went to 3 minutes apart.  Then 2.5 minutes.  I was telling my husband through the bathroom door that we had to get going SOON!

His parents arrived at 7:15 to stay with our sleeping kids, and my husband had little sense of urgency.  My contractions were about 2 minutes apart and we had a 30 minute drive to the hospital.  I told him we had to GO NOW!  He drove with me facing backward in the passenger seat, gripping the back of the seat and hunching over as much as I could.

We arrived at the hospital and I couldn't walk more than about 100 feet without having to stop and lean over for a contraction.  I found myself scanning for something to lean on.  I felt things change and felt myself go into transition near the cafeteria.

All told, I had about 8 contractions between the parking lot and the elevator.  It took everything I had to change into their gown.  By then, I had a ton of bloody show dripping down my legs, and a ton of pressure on my butt.  They asked me to sit on a bed to be monitored and I asked if I could get in ANY other position.

The nurse dispensed with all other preliminaries and said "let me check you".  I was 8cm.  All my sentences were one-word commands by then.  I remember saying "pressure! pressure! pressure!" and moaning/yelling and gripping my husband's shirt as she was trying to place the IV and as contractions and pressure got worse.  I said "antibiotics!" and she said they'd start a bag of fluids and antibiotics, but said she was going to go get my midwife first.  She then came back and checked me again.  I was complete.

I was also in my body but not completely consciously in the room.  Suddenly, there was no time for fluids or antibiotics or anything else.  I then realized what I already knew: I would NOT be getting an epidural.  There was a rush and nurses and my midwife were suddenly wheeling my bed down the halls. I was aware of voices only, had no idea who was who, and could not open my eyes much for faces.  I do remember they were so chipper!  And I was in so much pain!

They asked me to transition beds, like it was no big deal, and I made it as far as getting on my left side and scooting toward the bed.  Thank god for the male nurse/angel who said "give her a minute!" as I worked through a contraction and tons of pressure and then told me "get on your hands and knees," which is the ONLY way I was getting in that bed!

Once I got in the bed on my hands and knees, the pressure sort of eased and I wanted to stay in that place for a bit, and to just feel a little more relief from the constant pain/pressure I had been feeling.  But the nurses were telling me I needed to push!  One nurse said "she'll have this baby out in two contractions" and I was so hopeful she was right that I started to push.  But, I felt more pressure and the "ring of fire" as baby's head descended. I was so scared and it hurt so badly, and at that moment I had to give myself a mental shove: "you're the ONLY one who can do this! you HAVE TO do this! you HAVE TO push! it's the only way this ends!"

So, I screamed and pushed as hard as I could.  As I did, my water broke and I remember being vaguely grateful it had not broken earlier.  I pushed maybe three times (HARDEST thing I've ever done!) and she was born.  They handed her to me through my legs, and I put her on my own tummy as I flipped onto my back.  I handed a nurse my still-undone gown and she said "ok! we're going naked!" as my midwife helped monitor my contractions and birthing of the placenta.

Once I had the placenta out, I felt even better.  I had a few stitches for tearing, and then got several hours just loving on my baby skin to skin (while they asked all the admit questions we didn't have time for before).  Baby L didn't ever cry.  Her first sound was "Lah!" - like a little song - and she was so quiet and content (until she was hungry.  ha!).

Her labor and birth was crazy, intense and I'm so glad it wasn't any longer than it was.  After a spontaneous, medicated labor, an induced, medicated labor, a section, and now a unmedicated VBAC, I can now say I have birthed in every way I know to be possible!  Each of my children have definitely written their very own birth story, and this is L's.

Sweet baby L is the most easy-going baby!  She's content to sleep, eat, and smile a lot.  She basically only cries or fusses when she's hungry and sometimes when her diapers needs changing.  She's starting to coo and "talk".  And smile a lot.  (Seriously, this baby smiles all the time!)  We love her so very much!



Baby Bump - 20 Weeks

end of 17 Weeks - Ahahaha!
end of 17 Weeks - freshly home from camping (i.e. 3 days without a shower!)

 19.5 Weeks
How far along: 20 weeks
Gender: GIRL!!  (Yay!)
Weight gain: 7 pounds.
Stretch marks:  No.
Worst moment this month: The "Welcome to School" cold brought home by C, which ultimately led to three sick kids AND the discovery of mucousy, cold curdled milk vomit that I discovered only because I sat in it.  And going to a midwife appointment and arriving 15 minutes late... no wait!  I didn't even have an appointment that day so, I was technically two weeks EARLY! Oh, and waking up to find that A had taken our return address stamp to many (many!) illegal surfaces, such as couches and floors and high chairs, before transferring his dutiful efforts to paper.  I was also NOT pleased to hear my midwife say I'll have to have biophysical profiles and non-stress tests weekly, starting at 34-36 weeks, and that I'll have to be induced at 38-39 weeks "due to my age".  (What!?)
Best moment(s) this month: Having the anatomy scan and seeing a healthy baby GIRL!  She is estimated to be about 13 oz. right now and looks great!
Strangest moment(s) this month: Waking up from a dream where I was head over heels in love with a Forney look-alike (from Where the Heart Is)... The weirdest dream possibly of ever.
Miss anything: My energy!  If I don't sleep well (most nights!), I feel pretty useless until I rest a LOT.  So many evenings, I've finally built up enough energy and buzz around getting things done after dinner time.  So ineffective!
Ultrasound count to date: 3
Movement:  Yes!  Daily now!  I always tell her "hi" and call her by her nickname.
Cravings: White cheddar cheetos, regular popcorn, ice water, fruit salads, whole wheat baked goods, tomato basil wheat thins.
Queasy or sick: Mostly better, except this damp, musty smell in my house makes me feel queasy.  And everyone's "I have a cold" breath.  And I still can't have many sweets (dark chocolate is ok now!) and any soda makes me feel sick!
Looking forward to: Honestly? February.  But until then, I suppose "cooler weather" and maybe even "Halloween" will suffice.



Motherhood Right Now

There's a line from a movie that perfectly encapsulates the way I'm thinking and feeling about my children right now.

"She was a unique constellation of attributes... my Halley's comet."

This is exactly what each of my children are: a constellation of unique attributes, each one a Halley's comet in my life. 

Daily life is busy.  Memory books are woefully outdated, my blogs (like this one!) are waning because of my inability to string together coherent thoughts, and, truthfully, picture books are the only things that are lagging by a only a few months.  

I'm not quite the record keeper I want to be, mostly because we're busy living and loving.  But, I look at my children often and marvel at the singleness of who they are as individuals, people who have never existed on this earth before now and who will never exist again.  I look at them as they grow and learn and begin to express their inborn uniqueness and am continually (and often newly) amazed.  

I think often about what I want for them.  Like a lot of parents, M and I talk and dream about what they might decide to Do for work or as a profession or even artistic expression.  But we also talk about who we want them to Be.  And, really, I think that Being is way more important than Doing.   

Much like Halley's comet, I hope to help each of my children achieve the brightest and fullest expression of their truest, most vibrant selves.

It is humbling and wonderful to be able to be part of this process.  They are amazing and sweet and funny and, if I'm paying attention, our crazy daily life is filled with hundreds of small, glittery glimpses of who these little people are becoming.



Baby Bump - 16 Weeks

How far along: 16 weeks
Gender: We don't know yet.
Weight gain: None yet.
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Worst moment this week: Being besieged by migraines.
Best moment(s) this week: Starting to feel little fluttery movements!
Miss anything: Feeling good
Ultrasound count to date: 2
Movement:  A few fluttery movements here and there.  Especially at night after I've had cold water.
Cravings: Still white cheddar cheetos.  And sweets, but they make me feel super sick.
Queasy or sick: Mostly better.
Looking forward to: Finding out if this baby's a girl or a boy.



Baby Bump 4.0 - 12 Weeks

So, I decided to do belly pics again.  But this time will be monthly instead of weekly, and this time, rather than posed with a chalkboard, I'm going to post photos that sort of happen naturally.  Even if they are unflattering (ha!). (I'll also probably do a belly cast toward the end. We're definitely done this time!)

10 Weeks
13.5 Weeks
How far along: 12.5 weeks
Gender: We don't know yet! I had an ultrasound at 12w2d, and asked the techs "best guess".  She thinks girl (twice!) and that would just be awesome!
Weight gain: None
Stretch marks:  Nope.
Worst moment this week: My nerves and emotions slapping me around HARD in the waiting room for my ultrascreen (first trimester screening, including ultrasound and blood test).  My doc originally sent me to PPA, and I was all kinds of superstitious and felt silly, but I did NOT want to go back there!  I called the fetal medicine doctor I saw with A and R (before the perinatologists!) but he's now retired.  So, I found another one, called for an appointment, and had my referral switched to them.  I am so glad I did that!  I was grabbing at kleenex and told the tech I was feeling fragile.  She was awesome, as most MFM techs I've met are!
Best moment(s) this week: Seeing baby move and kick
Miss anything: Feeling good
Ultrasound count to date: 2
Movement: Not yet! 
Cravings: Anything with white cheddar on it!  Popcorn, cheetos, more cheetos...
Queasy or sick: Yes.  Getting better, but still sick.
Looking forward to: Feeling movement.



So Much Since Then!

I can't believe it's been so long since this blog was updated! As the family historian, I am woefully aware of how behind I've gotten.  The good news is: the kids' photo albums are updated!  The bad news is: their journals, this blog, and R's blog aren't.  AND our laptop has a ton of pics that need to be put into their respective folders on our external hard drive.  Sigh.

Since I wrote last, we had a relaxed Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's, a fun trip to Tucson for Valentine's Day, C's official first Spring Break, R's first Easter (and A's first ever Easter egg hunt!), R's first birthday (fairy garden theme), A's third birthday (construction theme), the advent of summer 2015 (replete with barbecues and pool time!), another fun trip to Tucson for Father's Day... aaaaannnnddd this:
YES! We're expecting Baby Number 4!  Which is a complete surprise to me!  I'll never forget the moment things changed on that front.  It was the last day of February.  We had just eaten Chinese food with my family and were driving down Main Street in Mesa to see the progress on the light rail when M turned to me and was all "awwww! baby!" and I was all "awwww! good luck with that, Dude! I'm DONE!"

We had been through this multiple times over the previous six or so months: whether or not we were really, truly Done.  And every time, I was convinced we were complete.  I could list literally 100 reasons to be Done, but knew that only ONE was needed to tip things the other way: the baby itself and whether it was meant for our family.  So, 24 hours later, I was contemplating not being done and what that would mean.  Over the next month or so, I asked all my friends with four children what it was like, I asked fellow AMC moms who had had children after their AMC child what that was like... and everyone was all "Go for it!"

Never have I ever before been so on the fence about a decision!  I thought and prayed a LOT!  I would swing wildly between being totally convinced we should go for it and thinking we should just get a dog.  (Not kidding.)  When it came down to it, the reason people would probably think we shouldn't have another is the only reason it felt right: for R. Sounds odd probably.  But it felt right to have someone younger than her in our family for her.  

But it still didn't make sense or add up completely.  So, we sort of left things up to chance...

(it's NEVER NOT like Indiana Jones' step of faith!)
 and ended up with two pink lines right away.

I had my first visit with my new OB (who practices with a team of midwives!) a few weeks ago an it was awesome.  I'm very excited to try for a VBAC with their support. Last Friday, I took C with me to my first ultrasound, and we saw a wiggly baby and a heartbeat.  It made things more real for him (he kept saying he didn't want us to have another baby because R is our baby and he didn't want me to "leave" {stay at the hospital} - he also keeps saying it's a boy!) and he started announcing "we're having another kid!" after that, so we spilled the beans at 9 weeks instead of waiting any longer! 

We're very excited for this baby and feel very happy and blessed he or she will be joining us in February!  We have a name picked out for either sex and while a tiny part of me hopes it's another baby girl, I really believe Heavenly Father knows best and is sending exactly who we need!



Five Years Old!

Dear C,

You turned five years old! You've been so excited for this milestone, and rightfully so!  You accomplished a lot in the last year: potty training (finally!), fully dressing yourself, brushing your own teeth and hair, riding your own bike, becoming more helpful, starting preschool (which brought its own list of can-now-do's), and being a pretty cool kid!

You are a still a master negotiator, a force to be reckoned with, and a master builder with everything from Legos to couch cushions.  You love to play outside and really love to be helpful.  You recently told me while picking up around the house that you like working hard, because "working hard means you earn money".  You also really like to "do art," especially cutting/gluing or painting. 

You speak very forcefully when you want something and are being told "no" (not unlike your parents) but are slowly getting better at expressing your feelings and playing more nicely with your brother.  You are generous with "I love yous" and hugs and kisses and I hope that continues for a really really long time!

I tell you often that you're our firstborn, which means that you "made mommy a mommy and made daddy a daddy" and that you were our first ever baby and that we wanted you so much.  And we are so blessed to have you! 

On the day of your 5th birthday party, you were very excited that you're turning six after you turn five, and we had to make a deal that you won't be six too fast.  Definitely don't grow up too fast, ok Dude?

"May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world." -Ray Bradbury