Friday, November 29, 2013

Eli William's birth story

I realize that I have been rather MIA lately, but the reason is-

early Tuesday morning we welcomed this little guy into our family:
Eli William Smith
8 lbs 9 oz 19 1/2 in long
born at 5:53 am 11/26/13
William is a family name. My Papaw's name was William as well as my sweet nephew (John William) who unexpectedly passed away last year. Our hope was to honor both of these amazing people by passing the name William along to our new little boy.

Eli is the only name that we could agree on after months and months of long discussions on the matter. Apparently every name that I like is the name of a kid who will "get beat up on the playground" (not my words). Of course, no alternatives were suggested- until we somehow landed on Eli.

Eli William.

This is a birth story- so if that isn't your thing- feel free to skip this post with the happy knowledge that HE IS HERE!!! And he arrived safely.

If you like birth stories- let me take you back to last Monday. Actually before that. I fully expected to have this baby right on 39 weeks just like the other two. But this didn't happen. And we tried EVERYTHING (i.e. everything that worked to send Carter Henry popping out right on schedule. Addison was induced right on 39 weeks). I had been having many contractions on and off for a solid two weeks, so really I felt like I had been in labor for a long, long time by the time I actually went into labor. My body was spent.

Because my blood pressure has continued to climb this pregnancy (this has happened to me in pregnancies past as well), my doctor deemed it now more safe for the baby to be out than in. Because of some of the intense headaches I was getting and stress and exhaustion of just a simple day- I fully agreed.

So Monday- the day of induction.

I awoke at 6:30am eager to get the call from the hospital telling me to come in. (I had been into the hospital for a non stress test the day before because I wasn't feeling any movement and they said for SURE there would be a spot for me on Monday. After hearing the baby happily jump around they refused to induce me on Sunday because Monday was FOR SURE. ha)

I didn't get the call. I was rather tense about this. Especially when I called in and they said that they were all full up because of so many deliveries that came in the night before. (I KNEW that would happen.) I went in that morning to a regular checkup, and everything was poised and ready for labor. All it would take would be a simple nudge- such as breaking my water to get me rolling.

At one point they called and said that they HAD a spot for me, but in the amount of time it took them to dial my number, a high risk doctor called and took the spot for one of his patients. Hearing this, I began to panic. A big storm was coming in and Aaron needed to be available for his snow removal business the next day. The week was bound to get only more busy as it was a holiday week, and I just knew that my baby needed to be born sooner than later for health's sake.

Since it would take us 40 minutes from the point we got the call to get into the hospital (20 for babysitter to get here. 20 for us to get to the hospital), I began to worry that we would get cut out again because we couldn't get there on time. So I called the babysitter and said "come now!" told Aaron to get ready and that we were going to go walk at the mall (right by the hospital). We loaded up all our stuff and prepared to set off without a call from the hospital saying there was a spot for us. It took us about an hour to get on our way. (Aaron said I was rather psychotic about this, but it made perfect sense to me at the time.)

As we were driving past the hospital exit- we got the call. We were there within minutes. The nurses looked rather surprised to see us so fast and asked us if we had been circling the place. (Insert joke from Aaron about how weird and tense I had been all day about this.)

So we finally got settled into our room around 4pm, and my doctor (who said she had to bribe the head nurse with bagels and chocolate to make sure I got in today) went ahead and broke my water.

Seriously I thought for SURE this would be all it took to put me into active labor. My body was ready. I was feeling weird pressures. I had so so many contractions (I started this process at almost 4cm dilated). And I had done this twice before. I was feeling confident.

But after 4 hours of literally running around the walking circle, squats, and all the many positions that have gotten this rolling for me before- there was little to no progress even though the contractions had picked up speed to a very intense place.

That's when they started the Pitocin. (The WORST)

I was induced for Addison's labor, and managed to survive the whole 31 hours without an epidural. I never wanted to repeat that experience, but here I was again.

The Pitocin quickly picked everything up to an insane level- off the charts painful. I was making my way through them all, holding on because I thought we were getting there FAST. Until I discovered after 4 hours of THIS (every two minutes) that we had only made 1 cm dilation progress. After 8 hours I was now at 5 cm- where I STARTED for my last labor. My doctor projected at this point that it would take at least 12 more hours for my body to get to the point of pushing.

This was extremely discouraging to hear- especially since my body was just done. After weeks of not being able to sleep, crazy contractions, and a toddler schedule that didn't stop for me- I knew I couldn't make it for another 12 hours.

So I got my very first epidural.  And in the moment I struggled with this decision. Aaron said "don't try to be a hero". And I thought about WHY I didn't want an epidural vs why I really needed one to make it through this birth and realized that this was another one of those mom war things.

We have our ideals. We have our "perfect world scenarios" but in all reality we need to make the decision that makes the most sense for our bodies in the moment. After two births that I successfully did with no epidural- I was now facing the need to get one. And I was completely at peace with this.

The worst part of was the 2 minute apart Pitocin contractions having to sit completely still while they got the epidural up and going via a needle in my back. I also didn't even know if the epidural would work because of my various back issues. But it did. And it was just what my body needed.

The epidural let me sleep for a couple of hours- and this relaxing was all it took to get my body the rest of the way there and to have the strength to push. My doctor came in to check me and said it would probably be about 2 more hours, but a few minutes later all of a sudden the epidural stopped working.

The intensity of the contractions was nothing new to me, but after a little rest I had some strength back to deal with them. I knew it was time, so I had Aaron go get my doctor after about 40 minutes of this. He came back with the resident who said that yes, I was ready to push and I could do some "practice pushes" while we waited for my doctor. Um...third child here. Who practice pushes after so much real life practice?
Pretty much the baby was half out within a few minutes (a couple big pushes) and my doctor came running into the room just in time to catch the baby. The resident looked a bit stunned that a couple "practice pushes" could accomplish what she thought would take a few hours to get moving.

When I saw my baby come flying out- I cried. He was perfect. I had waited so long for this moment.
He was big- by far the biggest of my babies. (Carter was 7lb 11oz and Addison was 7lb 14oz). And he was definitely ready to join us- one day before my due date.

I also have to say- Aaron was amazing through the whole birth process. I gave him so much grief for falling asleep during CH's labor, but he more than made up for it this time. I could not have asked for a better coach or support. (My only complaint was when he went to get his sandwich from the cafeteria and then came back complaining about how much his stomach hurt from a questionable tasting pickle. Um...really?? Tell me all about your pain.)  Other than that- I couldn't have done this without him.
I don't know if it is a third child thing or perhaps because my body was truly the most relaxed it has been for any of my other labors (or maybe it was just in relation to how horrible I was feeling those last weeks)- but my recovery has been fast and relatively painless. I am so thankful because jumping right back into life with three kids three and under- there just isn't time for the pampering I got after my first baby.

Carter came to the hospital to meet his new brother, but we didn't have Addison come because she hasn't been feeling well this week. She still hasn't bounced back to her regular self, so we haven't taken official "meet the baby pictures" with her because we're trying to keep her sick germs away from him.
Also, my official camera started giving me some grief while at the hospital, so all of these are phone shots. Hope to have my DSLR up and going again soon. Sorry for the fuzzy pictures!
This week has been overwhelming and a bit strange as our family has been scattered, but we are so thankful to have welcomed another son into our family. Taking it one day at a time- we already can't imagine our lives without our sweet cuddly baby. (FINALLY A CUDDLER!!!!!)
Thank you for your many kind words of congratulations on facebook and Instagram. We could not be more thrilled and happy. It has been a one-of-a-kind Thanksgiving week around here.

Here's to sleepless nights and snuggly babies!!!! #thankful

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pregnancy Update

Well, here it is. Friday. November 22nd. I am officially more pregnant than I have ever been before. 39 weeks, 2 days. To those of you who have gone to 41, 42 weeks, you might be rolling your eyes at my wimpiness. But because of a tricky blood pressure issue that always comes up for me at the end of pregnancy- 39 weeks is usually when my doctor starts putting priority on immediate delivery and my body starts to fail pretty quickly. This baby seems to have other plans than joining us ASAP. Since he has refused to respond to all of our initial attempts to get him to come, induction is scheduled for Monday. Not my first pick for sure. (Addison's birth was induced- Carter's was not. I chose to go epidural free for both of them...let's say that Carter Henry's was waaaaay easier compared to the Pitocin contractions-ouch)

My children are in the living room right now watching Elmo- again. For the billionth time this week. Mother of the year, right here.

The house is half-way clean. I tried to keep everything caught up for the past week, but have in more recent days completely given up. I gave it a valiant effort to keep everything middle-of-the-night-labor-ready for a full week. But then my energy ran low and had to go towards things like getting out of bed and enduring yet another night full of false labor contractions. I'm apologize in advance to anyone who gets an eye-full of my house while I'm in the hospital. If you feel the need to judge me, please remember that I live with two hurricanes, I am choosing to save that "extra energy" for labor, and it WAS clean a week ago. (yes, I DO know how that vacuum works)

Waiting for a baby to come any day is such a weird thing. Suspended in between two life events- pregnancy and birth, it's hard to know how to plan day-to-day when what you really want to be doing is meeting a new little person and adjusting accordingly. Your body grows more miserable and the pain of labor sounds more and more inticing (I said it was a weird thing).

My children know something is up although I don't think they fully comprehend the magnitude of change that is coming their way. I have no energy with which to parent them (I just fed them some m&ms to get them to stay still for a few more minutes- guilty). I am so thankful for the friends and family who have surrounded me to help me with them (and a husband who has made us his #1 priority). I am fully willing to dedicate all my time and energy to care for my little brood, but this transition time in which my body has turned into an alien vessel that hates me is turning out to be rather rough transition, not gonna lie.

And yet I still know that as frustrating as it is to wait and wait and wait- there are far worse things that could happen when it comes to having a new baby. I am extremely blessed, and I know it. I take it one day at a time, and pray for the day to come quickly when I can finally take a full breath again. The tiny baby kicks that have turned into monster sized baby jolts (I swear he was wearing shoes and carrying a hammer when he danced across my middle last night)- still thankful for them.

That's pretty much it. Nothing earth-shattering to share. Still pregnant. Still slightly snarky. Trying to stay off the internet as much as possible in these last days of feeling "I HATE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE" because I feel that might get me in trouble in the long run.

Hopefully we will have a brand new little mug shot to share with you soon...and the return of brain cells and energy that allow me to go back to more of my normal blogging self soon. I miss that person, but I know this will all be worth it...very soon...

(I've posted some belly shots and such on Instagram...feeling entirely too tired and lazy to copy them over here...)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Middle Of The Night Pregnancy Rant. Read At Your Own Risk.

I have been up most of the night the past two nights. Last night I got bored...and wrote this following bit. I wasn't going to share it because it was just a middle of the night rant. But I read it this morning and laughed and laughed at my own I AM going to share it. Because perhaps I'm not the only one who has ever felt this way as she was suspended in those last weeks of pregnancy.....especially during those long nights when sleep is so elusive...

There's something about the end of a pregnancy that turns every minute into an hour. Every hour into two. And every day into a continuous stretch of unending hours.

Yes, we all know those women who gracefully glide to that last day of pregnancy at 42 weeks and bemoan the fact that they will soon no longer be pregnant. They rub the large belly and proclaim every second of this miracle to be among the best moments of their lives. They are sad to deliver. Sad to give up this experience. Rainbow, unicorns, and glittery mucus plug and all. I try very hard not to hate these people. Because I know a lot of them personally- and they are wonderful people. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they aren't lying through swollen teeth...(the last body part to give into to the pregnancy swell fyi...OK I made that up.)

They used to say that once you reached 37 weeks you were home free. YAY full term! Now they're saying that 37 weeks this is EARLY term, and you shouldn't try to will out the interloper from your body-held-hostage until at least 39 weeks. I can only assume that this research was done by a man.

For me there's always a point of crossing over from sane this-isn't-so-bad-I'm-still-a-semi-sweet pregnant person and evil, insane, my-husband-goes-into-labor-hating-me pregnant person somewhere between that magical 37 week full term moment and 39 OK-to-deliver moment.

It's not that I'm so happy to go through the labor experience again. No. No, no, no. In fact, as I remember explicit details from previous labors, I pull a Rachel from Friends as I say "I don't want to do this. How do I get out of it?" as I hold my fully grown belly in front of me and vow that if my husband doesn't stay awake for the entirety of labor this time- body parts WILL be cut off.

My body begins to perform unspeakable acts weeks before the actual GO time. But they are exactly that- "unspeakable". When I see others posting in extreme detail about their mucus plug and discharge and bowel movements to signal that labor might possibly be coming I completely judge them for the grossness of their over sharing...while my head is in the sink discharging the vomit that occurs every time I see or hear the phrase "mucus plug". Seriously. That phrase should be illegal. Mucus plug  mucus plug mucus plug. Oh wait- my tongue just fell off.

I think about everyone knowing what I will be doing soon- exactly what I will be doing as my body swells to maximum capacity as the tape worm inside of me sucks up every last bit of my will to live. All of that delightful nutriance goes straight to the little sucker's head, of course. Being an immensely private person, I hate that everyone knows. No matter how tightly I cling- there is no dignity in this all.

Having done this twice before (exactly on 39 weeks both times), I know that the loss of dignity and complete insanity is worth it. Definitely worth it. But part of the "insanity" bit is that my mind is refusing to wrap itself around that fact right now. REFUSING.

I don't understand why I can't just blink and get to the happily ever after part where I am holding this new little person who has come to bless our lives. Because I am soooo thankful and appreciative of that part of this all.

Someone asked on facebook the other day that I should let them know if I needed anything! I barely restrained myself from replying that I really needed a hip replacement- could they oblige? Because of course my sciatica had to give out like yesterday and make walking a near impossibility. This does not go over well when my main occupation is chasing toddlers. They seize the opportunity and run that much faster- taunting me with their mobility and the fact that I turned into a 95 year old overnight.

I type this as I sit on a bag of frozen peas in a darkened house. I am supposed to be sleeping. There is near magical silence coming from the tots' rooms, and my tired body needs rest. And yet the aches and pains and the fact that I can't just sleep on my flippin' back for the umpteen month in the row is doing me in. Seriously. Just. Want. To. Sleep. On. My. Back.

I try to remember how this all went down the last few times. With my first pregnancy I jumped at every cramp and twinge. THIS WAS IT! It wasn't. With my second pregnancy I was so much wiser. But eager for the big day- I still jumped at every cramp and twinge. THIS IS IT! This third pregnancy, I was awake most of the night last night with horrible cramps and twinges. This is NOT it- I reminded myself. No doubt I won't feel comfortable going in this time until this baby is crowning on my living room floor. (Note to self: vacuum the living room tomorrow. No one wants to give birth on a bed of crushed Cheerios)

They say my body is made for this. You know what else my body is made for? Sleeping through the night (or at least while your children are sleeping). Running after the children I already have. Finishing making dinner without having to drag a leg alongside me as I scuttle from counter to counter. Getting off this bag of frozen peas without having to scream my husband's name for assistance in pulling me up. (Did I say scream? Eh...why lie?)

So to sum up, I LOVE being pregnant and every second has been the most wonderful experience of my life! I will be so sad to finally deliver and give up my baby bump! What do you mean...mixed messages?

I am 38 weeks pregnant. I could have the baby today. I could have the baby in 4ish weeks (heads will roll). My husband says I need to wait at least another week so he can finish up his landscaping season. Suspiciously- this lines up with the 39 week mark also advised by that suspected male promoting torturous living by suggesting that 37 weeks is no longer "full term".

I just want to meet my baby. Also- I want my body back. Selfish? You bet. But reaching a magical breaking point from happily pregnant to completely insane and cranky has made "selfish" seem like a nice, sweet word. The new bad word around town? "Patience." Worst word ever.

When I grow up, I'm not going to get pregnant- ever. I hear those last few weeks are brutal. And I am a wimp. In junior high I had a pet rock. That worked out pretty well for me. Hindsight is 20/20.

If one more person tells me to "Hang in there sweetie" with a smile full of pity, an all-knowing raised eyebrow, and well-rested eyes that clearly slept excellently the night before- I WILL throw my pet rock at them. Not cool, world. Not cool.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Overwhelmed with Thankfulness

His head lay on my rounded belly, contentedly sharing his little brother's space. Her soft body was wrapped under my arm- her head pressed against me while she nestled close.

We just finished a round of "Give your baby a kiss!" and my belly was now covered in wet marks from tiny mouths joyfully giving their baby a kiss and then laughing hysterically.

Their baby. Right now just a contained bump that makes Mommy's lap smaller- but soon to be a much more tangible thing/person guaranteed to rock their worlds.

I sat comfortably in the rocker that I bought last week for the new baby, all cuddled up and slowly rocking with my people. Considering that they are not cuddlers, this was a rare moment. A moment that fed my soul exactly what it needed. Small legs rested against mine. Two blonde heads looking almost identical except for the messy pony tail sprouting out of one stared up at me. Tiny hands randomly moved against me. I leaned down and placed soft kisses on two warm foreheads. Something about this moment made my world feel complete.

These past few weeks have been rough. My survival instinct is to laugh rather than cry. So I laugh. And I write about it. Because that is my therapy. But there have been moments these last weeks that I felt my world spinning out of control, and I wondered how I would handle a new baby on top of this.

One thing that I have felt for a long time has been confirmed for me this past month. Parenting is hard. Parenting Addison is hard. Parenting Carter is hard. Not one more than the other. They have their challenges in totally different areas- but they are equally hard to parent. There is no "them" and "us" when it comes to being a special needs parent vs. not understanding a diagnosis and being a typical parent. Parenting period is hard. These past few weeks Carter has been the difficult one. Soon he will move aside and Addison will take that center stage.

As I hold on for dear life and adjust, swerve, and adjust some more to keep up with the ever changing challenge of parenthood, the roller coaster stills for just a few minutes- and my heart is overwhelmed.

With thankfulness.

It is November: a time focused on thanksgiving. Truly an appropriate time to bringing a new life into this world. As I feel myself overwhelmed with the emotion that never truly left even in the hardest of times, I count the blessings in my lap and wonder how life could ever get sweeter than this. I feel the exuberant kicks of the little one inside of me who I will meet very soon. I see the smiles and feel the snuggles of the two already in my nest. I picture my circle of people expanding by one, and my joy knows no limits even though this also means we are leaning in for a series of unknown twists and turns up ahead in this parenting ride.

Yes. It is hard. Yes- I write honestly about it because that is who I am.

But every second of it all- I am thankful. I am in love with littles. I am blessed beyond what I deserve with perfectly designed children (although sometimes I put a note about the extreme stubbornness in the complaint box). I worry that I'm not doing enough, teaching enough, embracing enough, being enough for them- but then I think about how far we have come, and I know that each step will work itself out- just as it is meant to be.

So we rocked. We cuddled. We talked about the new baby, and my heart grew a few sizes. Just big enough to make room for one more.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Can, a little boy, and a lacerated finger

My rarely written Friday night post is being followed by an almost-never Sunday night post this week. Why? Because I forgot about how finicky the Facebook status gods are.

You know. You post "It's so awesome that my kid has been napping for 3 hours a day all week! Just checked on him and he's going on 1.5 hours of an awesome nap today too. Whoohooo!"

And then as soon as you hit "post" something horrible happens and your child wakes up for seemingly no reason at all. And then refuses to nap even one blessed minute...for the next 10 days.

That would be the work of the Facebook status gods. Don't tempt them.

On Saturday I completely forgot about this as I posted about my new Saturday laziness that has come upon me this pregnancy:

Every time Saturday rolls around, I feel like it should be a day off from housework. I deliberately take the time "off" and refuse to keep spinning the cleaning wheel...just for one day. Considering the kids have mastered the art of trashing the house in 3...2....1... seconds, every Sunday I always pay for this. Dearly. And yet I never learn. Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to brush aside the Cheerios that someone so sweetly placed in my bed and take a nap. Because it's my day off.

A day off. Somewhere- the facebook status gods were going crazy laughing at me and my desire to not have to do any heavy cleaning that day. I had gotten away with this the past twenty or so Saturdays, but as soon as I tempted the gods...

Carter Henry slashed open a finger and gushed gallons* of blood all over the kitchen requiring some very definite cleaning. 
*I claim the constitutional right of slight exaggeration

Did this happen while he was roaming haphazardly all over the house when I thought he was asleep in his bed? Nope. Was I chilling in my rocking chair and ignoring my child while he played with knives? Nope.  (not that either of these ever happen normally...but just in case that was your first thought)

This happened while I was standing right next to him in the kitchen- enjoying a super sweet moment with my son.

I had just finished cleaning out the fridge (I was OK with this type of cleaning on my "day off" because it wasn't going to get undone ten seconds later since the kids can't get in the fridge by themselves. Also- it smelled like something had died in there) and I was dicing up apples for a new apple cinnamon muffin recipe that I was prepping for the next morning's breakfast.

Carter was standing on his little stool next to me "helping" me cook. He loves to help me in the kitchen, and I involve him whenever possible. Just when I was having such warm fuzzy thoughts about his fascination with the muffin making process and our time together, I saw that with lightening speed he had put his hand out and grabbed a can off the back of counter. A can that I forgot that I had pulled out of the fridge while cleaning- not sure if I should throw it out or find a new container for it. A can of refried beans that had been half opened, the lid shut back down, and then thrown hurriedly in the fridge a while ago (another reason why the cleaning of the fridge was so necessary).

The problem was that my inquisitive little boy stuck his finger between the lid and the can. The problem was that he got it stuck and then almost immediately panicked- yanking his finger free with all the strength he could muster. The problem was...I glanced over from my diced apples and saw him standing there with a dazed look on his face, and blood literally spurting from his finger.

I grabbed a paper towel, his hand, and put as much pressure as I could on the wound to try to slow the bleeding. Thankfully I had my phone close by- so I called Aaron who was outside mowing the lawn. No answer.

Carter and I settled in the middle of the kitchen floor- blood pooling around us from those spurts that happened before Mommy emergency mode kicked into high gear. He was crying hysterically. If I let up the pressure at all the blood got out of control as it was the paper towel was already soaked through and I was quite covered myself. Aaron didn't answer any of his 14 calls (he couldn't hear his phone over the mower). Addison was in my face with her bowl INSISTING that I get her more cereal RIGHT NOW.  I didn't know what to do and really just wanted to hysterically cry with Carter. I couldn't physically go get Aaron because I couldn't move. Should I call 911? 

It's ridiculous, but my first thought was- I am in my pajamas and now covered with blood. Addison has spent the last half hour spreading cereal over every inch of the floors. The house is a disaster. Can my pride handle a team of emergency personnel coming into my house when it looks like THIS? I could yell "THE FRIDGE IS CLEAN" as they came in...but still... Plus, 911 calls end up stopping traffic right in front of our house and it is a pretty major road and cars line up for miles to stare at us (don't ask me how I know this).

I figured if I had a second pair of hands we could get him to the emergency room (assuming that the blood flow let up soon). So I called Aaron's parents who live just a few minutes from us. I explained that Aaron was outside mowing and couldn't hear my call- could someone please come over and get his attention for us because Carter was bleeding out in the kitchen and I needed help (or something like that).

Long story short- Aaron came inside just a few minutes later because he glanced down and saw the missed calls. Long story short, Aaron's parents came over and Aaron and his mom took Carter to the emergency room while I cleaned up all the blood and got Addison (who was hysterical when Carter got to leave on a super fun trip with Daddy WITHOUT her) some more cereal. Aaron's dad finished the work out on the lawn. Long story short, Aaron and his mom had to stay at the emergency room for HOURS and wait for Carter Henry to get 8 stitches on the very tip of his middle (of course) finger that apparently was quite torn up from the can.

Once things were under control back on the home front, I felt weird not being there with him (and couldn't join them because they took my car). But considering how questionable my blood pressure has been my last few OB visits, and the number of doctor/hospital/surgeries that I have had to do alone with the kids in the past- it was really wonderful to let the other half of the parenting team cover this one (and Grandma) while I tried to not picture them restraining my little boy for his very first set of stitches. 

I did NOT appreciate the text from Daddy half way through that said that they went ahead and amputated and were now putting in a hook. My sense of humor does not kick in mid-emergency. It takes time for me to get there. A HOOK??? Jerk.

Long story short- Carter Henry is fine; the pools of blood have been cleaned up; Aaron informed me that he earned extra "Daddy points" this weekend; and Grandma and Papa helped hold the whole operation together. We are very thankful that they were close by and able to help us on a pretty rough afternoon.

My day off. Ha. Facebook status gods 1. Deanna 0.

It's a new week. And it's going to be a better week. How do I know this?

1. We might have a baby this week (but don't hold your breath- still only 38 weeks)
2. Daddy just whipped up this little gem for a certain little boy's room. $16 and a half an hour of table saw work. His Daddy points are now off the chart high. I see a new week of improved and earlier bedtimes.
3. Everyone took a 4 hour nap today which meant that mommy got a 4 hour nap which means that the positive outlook on it all is returning. So much to be thankful for. It's amazing how much better life looks after a 4 hour nap.

4. Carter Henry is totally fine and seemingly no worse for the wear. That dude is one tough little kid. (This does not bode well for avoiding future ER visits. Daddy saying that they picked up a "punch card" at the ER was also not taken well by this mommy who is preparing for TWO boys. Fear has officially set in.)

5. All of last week is going to be filed under the "things I will purposefully forget about the toddler years.". (Except when I need a story to hold over their heads when they are older... using of course that constitutional right of slight exaggeration whenever necessary).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Things I will purposefully forget about the toddler years:

When I fantasize about the future- it always involves 3 beautifully raised children. Yes, I will still have challenges and new hurdles to overcome, but these toddler years that are so messy, overwhelming, and at points- suffocating- will just be a distant memory as I sit in my much-cleaner house (it won't be perfectly clean because let's face's me) sipping coffee that 1. hasn't been spilled on important papers and/or the white couch 2. hasn't been reheated 5 times before I finally get a chance to drink it 3. hasn't been confiscated from a 3 year old after she took the liberty of snotting all over the rim of the cup before taking a few stolen sips.

As I recall the toddler years- it will be fondly. It will be of memories like tonight's family dinner and then toddler bath time where there was good eating, laughter, chubby little hands handling their own silverware and then scrubbing themselves down with bubbles in the bath while laughing hysterically. It will be of the cuddles, the adorable faces, the small limbs that just beg for a tickle, the wide eyes full of emotions- swinging from happy to sad within seconds if the whim so hits them. The first words, the happiness when new concepts fall into place, the obsessions with certain toys/clothing objects, the way their voices sound when they call me "mommy" with such sweet innocence...

My memory will conveniently erase the messy, overwhelming, and suffocating things about these toddler years. I will only keep the good and wince at the occasional picture that documented the bad as I say to myself "it wasn't that bad" and sip deliciously steamy coffee and dream about grandchildren that I can send back home at the end of the day.

It is for this reason that I write this post. So that when I am in that fantasy stage and I pass the young mom in the grocery store with children screaming in the cart because their stolen candy bars were taken away- I will think very carefully how I phrase my "Enjoy every second. It goes so fast!!!!"

We are transiting Carter to the toddler bed. Not by choice.

1. Can climb ninja style out of his crib from all angles (Exhibit A:)
2. Will be sharing a room with the new baby (in a few months) so this adjustment seemed less painless now than when there is an infant involved

This transition would be easier if
1. he was slightly more mature
2. he couldn't climb ninja style over the tallest baby gate in the world
3.  he didn't feel the need to get up multiple times each night to roam the house just to test to make sure that we're listening for him (Yes...I am. Motherhood has made me a very light sleeper)
4. I wasn't 9 months pregnant. Tired. And cranky.

We'll have good nights. And then bad nights. Wonderful nights. And then "WHY DID WE HAVE CHILDREN!!!!" nights. It's been a few weeks. I am even more tired and cranky now than when we started. When you can't contain your child- and your child ONLY falls asleep when left completely alone in their contained space...there is a problem. A big one. He is not a cuddler. NOT. In fact, if we try to cuddle or rock him to sleep, it is a big like trying to hold a beater whirring on high. Fingers might be lost. Concussions given. Screaming like the poor lad is being strangled will emerge from him. NOT a cuddler.

Because he hasn't been sleeping well, he is tired all day. Exhausted. He will scream and scream over such injustices as "SHE IS MAKING ME WEAR A SHIRT!" and "NO I WILL NOT TAKE THIS COAT OFF AND I RESENT YOU FOR TRYING!" and "HOW DARE YOU FEED ME ANYTHING OTHER THAN ICE CREAM!"
Last night we reached a new low. Like in all of parenting. Ever. In the world.

I had been racking my brain as to how I could help him. And the last several nights when he would wake up at night he was coughing. Like a lot. His cough has been rather steady these past several weeks- getting progressively worse. A light bulb went off. He is sick! If we can get him over the sickness- maybe he will sleep better, behave better, and stop giving me reasons to seek out other families housing arrangements for him.

So, dutiful mother that I am- I took him straightway to the pediatrician. The doctor suggested that he had a lingering sinus infection and possibly some signs of asthma. Since Aaron had pretty aggressive childhood asthma this didn't seem too far fetched. The Pediatrician suggested that we try a couple of treatments from Addison's inhaler to see if it helped ease up his breathing a bit. Genius! We would all sleep tonight!!! We have found a solution to the problem!!!

We picked up his antibiotic and headed home. Bedtime came. We fed him a good dinner, gave him his meds, and then he sat very still as we gave him two puffs from the inhaler. He seemed to be feeling better almost immediately, and my tired little (ok not so little) self silently sang the Hallelujah chorus. SLEEP!

And this plan would have worked brilliantly if not for one tiny little thing.

While Addison does not have any noticeable reaction to the inhaler (other than having her breathing clear up), Carter did. He became hyper. Super, super, super, super hyper. (Aaron confessed later that he remembered this being a possible side effect to the inhaler. ahem.)

I sat in his room with him (since every time I left his room he did too), expecting him to give up and go to sleep any minute- for over two hours. The kid was literally bouncing off the walls. His body became a blur he was moving so fast. A normally high energy kid, I have never seen him that wound up. After an especially wonderful wind down evening routine that we did with both kids that night- I was shocked that he was taking so long to fall asleep.

I was exhausted because it had been a long day, and I wasn't sure what to do. All my little cute parenting tricks that I neatly tie up in a bow (to remember in those later years of course) were failing me. Aaron finally arrived home and took a shift. The authority of Daddy seemed to be helping because I heard Carter indignantly cry, a "HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME STAY IN MY BED" cry...aaaaand then vomit all over his room (a room that I spent most of that afternoon cleaning) to show his displeasure.

Great. The antibiotic was no longer in his system.

Saint Daddy cleaned up the vomit while I fixed some peanut butter toast in the kitchen. I was getting lightheaded and didn't feel well at all. It was going on 3 hours of banging my head against the proverbial toddler bed wall.

Just then I heard a noise come back from Carter's room. A weird noise.

I ran back, not sure what was wrong- Aaron was close on my heels. It soon became obvious that Carter was lying in his bed (first time all night) choking. Choking badly. Like not breathing choking.

I flipped him over and did my usual aggressive back pats (have had to do this with Addison a few times before), and it took far too long for him to start coughing through it. That moment was so, so, so scary and seemed to last forever as we waited for him to cough up whatever was lodged in his throat and start breathing normally again.

Apparently he had stored a granola bar in his room while he was "helping" me clean earlier that day. When he was done vomiting up his lovely dinner and medicine- he was hungry, so he sought out his bar and attempted to eat it while lying on his back in his bed. Thus- he choked.

Then- his breathing was still kind of ragged. Was it because he still had something lodged in his throat? Or was this the asthma or maybe the sinus infection cough? Was he OK? Should we take him to the ER? When he lay down and immediately closed his eyes to sleep, we didn't feel comfortable leaving him. So Daddy scooped up Carter and they went out to the living room to watch some tractor videos.

After a bit, he perked right back up and was excitedly talking about the tractors and life in general- breathing fine. He ate a snack- everything seemed to go down OK.

He was going to be fine. Deep breaths.

At this point-it was getting super late. I was exhausted. Carter was clearly exhausted. Simple solution- let's all go to sleep!

Except as soon as we put Carter back in bed, he immediately became super hyper again- bouncing off the walls and refusing to close those stubborn, stubborn eyes.


Daddy took over and told me to go to bed. Did I mention Saint Daddy?

But even after Daddy finally convinced our stubborn 2 year old that sleep was the new Thomas the Train, Carter then proceeded to get up many, many, many times last night- alternately crying and/or roaming the house. It's like I had an infant. Who could outrun me. Who was so tired he could no longer sleep (this makes no sense to me).

And then when he wanted to sleep in this morning, I had to wake him up to get Addison to school on time. Pretty much an awesome start to the day after an awesome night of going to be late, getting back up at 12:09, 1:30, 2:45, 4:00, and 5:50 to convince Mr. NoBed that he should go back to sleep. If you seem me out in public and I look a little strange, it's because I am holding on to my sanity with the tiniest of just the nails. And it's a slippery hold about to give any moment. #needohsomuchmoresleepwheniamgrowinganotherhumanbeing

This. This is the kind of story that my memory will erase from the toddler years.
(If we all survive them.)
"Sleep? Oh, we were a little tired, but just occasionally. My kids slept through the night starting at 6 weeks and never varied from their 12 hour a night snooze! Did my children ever choke? NO NEVER! I'm surprised you would even ask me that!!!! Transition before 3rd baby? It was awesome! We all sat around most of the time and talked about our new blessing. The kids were so excited to meet their new brother they were on their very best behavior!" That's the story that I will tell and remember.
Mostly because when I try to remind myself of how it actually was- I won't believe it because I'll only be looking at pictures like these:
My facebook status the other day was this:

Toddlers have a way of making you look forward to an upcoming stay of luxury and vacation on the labor and delivery floor...hopefully returning home with a 7-8 pound souvenir. First baby? Labor scary. Third baby? Restful time away from the toddler bed monsters. Sign me up.

I think some people thought I was joking...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It is unfair

At church we've been going through a series in Ecclesiastes. This week's message really struck home as the speaker was talking about life being unfair. That's a sentiment I carried around for a long time when it came to our first born child.

My husband and I were both good people- good Christians. We made great effort to finish grad school (debt free), get settled into jobs, buy a house, and get our lives ready to welcome the perfect baby- before "pulling the baby trigger". At that time we had been married for 3 years. (I'm not saying any of those things are the perfect or even right path to parenthood. Just in our specific situation this is what we felt we needed to do/accomplish before we were ready to grow our family. Yes...we tend to be a bit on the overachiever side.)

It really never crossed our minds that things wouldn't go perfectly. In marriage counseling I remember being asked "How would you react if you had a child with a disability?" Out loud I said "We would be fine with that." But inside I was saying "Ha! That'll never happen to us so I'm just going to say what I'm supposed to say."

When the 20 week ultrasound showed big concerns, I had a horrible feeling, but I kept telling myself that everything would be fine. After all- we deserved the perfect baby- right?

When the amnio came back with positive results for Trisomy 21- my first thoughts were ones of anger. This wasn't fair. I knew of people who accidentally got pregnant with babies with the right number of chromosomes who chose not to even give that baby life- people aborting babies not because something was wrong- but just because they didn't want a baby. All we wanted was a child to grow our little family- and yet our journey was heavy with disability, fear, and more questions than we could find answers. This wasn't fair.

When Addison was born she was extremely sick for a long time- NICU for 5 weeks, oxygen for 9 months, gtube, heart surgeries, therapies galore- I had more anger. This wasn't fair. Sure, our daughter had an extra chromosome, but at least God could have sent her to us HEALTHY. Didn't we deserve that at least? We were in the NICU with many drug babies. Babies whose pregnancies had been abused. Babies who weren't given a chance at a good life for the first nine months of growth. I had given our daughter the model pregnancy experience- vitamins, nutrition, classical music listening- and yet our health "result" was even worse than the drug babies' health.

This wasn't fair.

This week's message talked about how God designs our lives- not to be fair- but for our ultimate good. He doesn't compare our lives to what society would deem successful and make sure that we fairly get our cut. He doesn't build our families according to what Hollywood sells us as perfect. He doesn't count happiness and goodness as what might believe as ultimate when you look around and see the quintessential modern day family with 2.5  brilliant children. He doesn't even always choose to give children to those who would make the most amazing parents.

The results we are given in life do not always equal our efforts. And that seems grossly unfair- especially when dealing with such highly sensitive matters as a child's life.

And yet He designs our lives for our good. And this includes the children that he sends or doesn't send us.

The awesome thing is- there is no cookie cutter "good" that we all get to experience. We all have our own unique paths laid out before us with precision- waiting for us to experience our specially designed brand of "good".

With us- two extremely impatient people who lived our first three years of marriage like two single, driven people who just happened to share an apartment and a last name- having a child with a disability pulled us together into a type of unity that we had never known before. That was good.

Having a child with a lot of health needs right on the heels of newly starting a business, moving to a new state, and taking on a brand new mortgage- caused us to have to trust in a higher being than we ever had to before because it had been pretty easy to just "do it ourselves" up to that point. New reasons to trust- good.

Learning to love a child who wasn't on our original radar of "perfect" and having to trust her very fragile life with the one who perfectly created her, this changed us as people. It made us better people- a better couple- a better family. Because this was our good. And even though it was a huge surprise, disappointment, and for a long time a matter of grief for us, the last four years of Addison's life has shown us nothing but goodness.

God is good. He has given us a daughter with Down syndrome. I wouldn't even say that she is the most advanced child with Down syndrome- or the highest functioning. It took her 9 months just to be able to breathe without the aid of oxygen for goodness sakes. But He is still good.

Addison is the light of our lives. Yes, she has 1.75 brothers who we love dearly as well. But there will always be a special spot in our hearts for Addison. It's like we didn't truly start to live until we met her. She changed us. She made our lives richer. She gave us a sharper focus as a family. She has brought something amazing to our family that we are still discovering more about each and every day. Being Addison's family has been good beyond our wildest dreams, and I know it will continue to be good as we grow with her.

As I peruse my Facebook friends list these days- I am seeing a lot of unfairness. I see babies born too early. I see babies getting sick. I see babies getting scary diagnosis that no one really knows what it even means. I see heartbroken families trying to cope with issues in their children's lives. I see the scary unknown facing many families.

It seems somehow trite and callous to type a comment that "God has designed this for your good."

Because in the moment of the pain, it doesn't seem like it. It doesn't seem fair. And it doesn't seem right.

But he has.

I have felt the anger. I have cried the tears. I have fought against something that I couldn't change. But at the end of the day as I settled into life as a new mommy with a very special little girl, I learned first hand that in a situation that seemed extremely unfair- God had actually designed every last detail of it for our good.

It seems to me that a lot of people say this about finance problems, relationship struggles, work drama, or sickness. But something about bad things happening to our children, our babies, makes the the words "God is good" somehow stick in our throats.

This subject has been on my heart a lot this week- a difficult week in which I was ready to trade all my children in for some peace, quiet, and much needed sleep. But as I pondered the deeper message that we learned through a big circumstance, it came to me how much this applies to my day-to-day difficulties as well.

As I wait for new baby; as I chase around a two year old who has turned into a monster overnight; as I work with a 4 year old who refuses to obey. I know that this is all for my good. My little family- uniquely ours- specially designed-full of mistakes and perfection bound up in one- chaos, happiness, exhaustion, peace, uncertainty- it is good.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In which I totally use my daughter's expressiveness to describe these last few weeks of pregnancy

On Wednesday I will hit official full term with this pregnancy. 37 weeks. I don't expect to have this baby for at least a few more weeks, but it is reassuring to hit the point where the baby is considered full term (even if "early term").

I haven't said a lot about this pregnancy because
1. I'm too busy with the two I already have to sit around pontificating about each day of pregnancy
2. There isn't a lot to say

Every ultrasound and checkup has been healthy, normal, and spot on with growth. But I guess because of my history of my first "perfect" pregnancy with Addison turning into a lot of unexpected health needs after she was born- I tend to face pregnancy with a lot of anxiety. Especially this time around. Probably because it wasn't necessarily a planned thing for us and I hate not feeling in control- even though I know all too well that I am certainly not in control of the babies that we are blessed with.

That being said- I am very eager to meet this baby. I am ready to move onto the next stage of adjusting to 3. I am ready to move out of this emotional and physical fog that I find myself in, and I am ready to be able to bend over and pick up my kids' toys and books again and just generally stay on top of my responsibilities without needing a nap every half an hour.

I feel less prepared for this baby than I ever have for the other two. Because the tots are daily ripping up the house, I haven't set out all of the baby stuff yet. I don't want it to be coughed on, trampled, and toddler tested before the new baby even gets here. (Side note: don't wish that for the baby either...)

I find my emotions all over the place these days.

When I have a great afternoon with my two amazing children, I'm all like:
But then when they strip down and pee all over their rooms, empty large boxes of cereal in the kitchen, and unfold the large pile of laundry that I spent the last hour on...I am all like:
When they give me sweet hugs and kisses and show that they DO understand our lessons on "pick up" and "wash" and "put away", I'm like:
But then when they spill the cup of coffee I had been lusting after for hours after getting up multiple times the night before with disobedient tots because apparently "toddler bed" now means "get-up-and-eat-Rice-Krispie-treats-at-1:30am bed", I'm like:
When Daddy gets home early and helps lift the two 30 pound weights in and out of the bathtub and then into clean sleepers, I'm like:
But then when I settle in on the couch to finally rest at the end of a long day but they refuse to actually fall asleep in their rooms requiring that I get up and down and up and down and up and down ten million times to help bedtime actually happen, I'm like:
When they finally fall asleep which means that I can have a restful evening and then go to sleep myself, I'm all like:
But then when I feel like my body has decided that it will be pregnant forever and will start imploding any second, I'm like:
And when the housework starts to suffocate me, I'm all like:
But when my work is done for ten minutes, the children are happy and cooperative, a delicious dinner is simmering on the stove, I remember that I'm going to meet my new baby soon, and I'm all like:
But then for no reason at all, I'm all like:
And the cycle starts all over again. I blame pregnancy hormones. And the fact that toddler evil is hidden by such cuteness and everyone else is surprised when I even whisper of the behaviors that we are working through right now.
Anyway...where was I?

Oh yes. 37 weeks pregnant. Please come soon, little baby boy.

p.s. please excuse picture fuzziness. These types of pictures can only be snapped on the cell phone in the heat of the moment. No posing here.