29 May 2014

Enjoying the Small Things

Sorry about the crappy writing in that last post. I cringed re-reading it just now. Lots of things went wrong over the holiday weekend and continued into this week. Some of them not so bad, just growing pains as we get use to our larger family. Some of them more significant on the bad-scale; not fixable. Anyway, I wanted a nice distraction post, so I decided to talk about Eleanor's name. But I was clearly not producing my best work. My apologies.

I mentioned before about how newborn days are a microcosm of parenting: everything that happens during the first few weeks is really intense and incredibly challenging, but the time period is really very short. Sometimes there is no solution and the best thing to do is just grip that bucking bronco until your thighs ache and your knuckles are white. I don't want to jump online and complain all the time. I don't hate my life, I love my life, it's just really difficult right now. A blessed, soul-filling, purpose-driven amazing difficult; suffering, even, on the days following the nights spent sitting up on the couch with a cranky 19-day-old. But you can't look into the eyes of a newborn baby and feel anything but intense, instinctual love and adoration, even if you're sobbing over plugged milk ducts while you do it.

This too shall pass and the only goal is to be on that horse when it does.

So instead, I'm enjoying the small things.

-Abigail's crib. I'm glad we haven't transitioned her to a toddler bed yet because keeping her contained in the mornings before I'm ready for her is very crucial.

-Tiny magnetic white boards where I can take a moment to reflect on where I need encouragement the most and write myself a pep-note for the day.

-Tiny apartments. It's easy to meet a low-set bar for cleanliness without expelling much energy.

-Couponing and meal planning. I have yet to cook a serious meal by myself or do a sink full of dirty dishes.

-Scripted prayers. Sometimes an auto-piloted Hail Mary is the only thing my brain can manage when I'm whiplashing between emotional highs and lows while cleaning up a blowout.

-An in-unit washer and dryer. The one thing I don't miss about Chicago. That, and the taxes.

-A breastfeeding veteran of a sister-in-law (five kids, all exclusively breastfed until they ate solids) on speed dial who does not mind giving me advice and talking me off the ledge. Several times a week. Note to self: send her something nice as a thank you.

-Pink carnations that never die, spring-smelling breezes, flowering trees outside my window, pre-pregnancy clothing that is starting to fit again, a husband who comes back from a diaper run with a box of Junior Mints, Kelle Hampton's Instagram reminding me to loosen up and enjoy my girls, and levitating baby legs.

28 May 2014

How we picked her name

Quick note: Do you remember shortly before Eleanor was born when I posted the doctor's predictions about the birth? (He is one of my three favorite physicians out of the ten in the office). He was right on every. single. count.

-She'll be around 7-7.5 pounds (She was 7 lbs 5 oz)
-I'll go into labor naturally (my water broke; I never needed pitocin to speed things up)
-I'll go into labor around the 39th week - that puts us at about Mother's Day (Because of the due date confusion, his 39th week was my 38 weeks 4 days. Either way, he pegged the exact day: his 39 weeks occurred on the Saturday she was born).
-I'll progress quickly (11 hours from water break to birth and no pitocin)
-My chances of a successful VBAC are incredibly high (I had one!)

He said he's delivered 5,000-6,000 babies. I guess he knows his stuff.

* * * * *

Even though no one on here has asked me how we selected the name "Eleanor," I'm going to share anyway : )

You see, my name, Jacqueline, is one that always has to be spelled out for people. Those of my parents' or grandparents' generation always exclaim, "Like Kennedy Onassis!" quite happily as if they were good friends. So it's been in my head since I was a kid that I had an important first lady's name. When Matt and I decided on Abigail's name, we teased that the both of us had first ladies' names. One day as a joke, we hoped online and looked up a list of first ladies names to see which ones we liked for our future children. We weren't pregnant and weren't ready to get pregnant at the time. This was before we were even pregnant with the baby we lost. Anyway, we came across the name, "Eleanor" and rather liked it. As time went on, we continued to keep the name in the back of our minds. It's a traditional, elegant, and uncommon name; exactly what we wanted. Once we found out we were having a girl, we decided we still like the name. So that's why her name is Eleanor. Because we all have first ladies' names.

The middle name, Grace, is a less exciting story. I really like the name as a first name, but we know a lot of Graces, so we decided to make it a middle name. And obviously it has religious meaning that we embrace.

Both girls' first names are seven letters and three syllables long, both middle names are one syllable. Both names sound good together.

Unfortunately for our theme, we don't really like any of the other first ladies' names. If we have a boy next, however...

26 May 2014

My Girls

My girls.

It still sends a little thrill down my spine. We are a family of four. I am a mother of two. It gives me that feeling you get when you realize your childhood dream of being an adult so you could "do whatever you wanted" came true. Someone out there thinks I'm a responsible adult.

But lest you think my life has been perfect ever since that idyllic VBAC, let me assure you that we're working through our fair share of struggles. Eleanor wakes to eat every 4 hours during the day and 2 hours during the night. And interrupted sleep is a migraine trigger for me. Yesterday's migraine was so bad that Vicodin didn't get rid of it. Plus in the two weeks and two days since her birth, I've had mastitis twice. I'm very thankful we worked Matt's work schedule like we did, as I definitely needed him home after my brief attempt to handle two kids solo. I'm also glad this week will be a short one.

Everyone who sees Eleanor always exclaims about how dark her hair and complexion are, immediately declaring her to be her father's daughter and our two kids to be clearly distinct. But the truth is that I think the two girls look incredibly alike. At birth, Abigail had a dark complexion, dark hair, and dark blue eyes, all of which lightened up as she aged. I suspect the same will hold true for Eleanor. But even if Eleanor stays darker, I think her features clearly hail from my side of the family.

24 May 2014

Couch Sleeping Positions

So I'm pretty stoked that a micro-debate occurred in the comments of my last post. People read my blog and have things to say! Woot! Anyway, yes "[Eleanor] and I took a nap on the couch" is widely vague and could be dangerous. So I thought I'd clarify. I created a re-enactment of how we were positioned this afternoon and had Matt photograph it. So I nursed Eleanor (does anyone else get really tired while nursing?) Anyway, after she was done, I propped her up on my chest, threw a pillow behind my head, and let myself drift off. I thought she wasn't done nursing, so I was initially just waiting for her to realize she was still desperately starving.

But after a few minutes, she remained asleep, so I slowly shifted around to this position:

And we remained like that for a period of time. (Can't remember exactly how long; probably somewhere between 30-45 minutes). I was catnapping at the time, so I was in a very light sleep and did wake a few times when E would make squeaky noises (we call her Squeaker for all her little noises). Maybe this will only make things worse, but I think this position is perfectly fine, she can't slid down, she can't slide off, and I think my instincts would wake me if she turned nose-to-chest and began suffocating as I was in a light sleep and not under the influence of medication.

And to thank everyone for commenting on my blog post, here is a sister photo!

Abigail loves Eleanor so much, she seizes every opportunity to seize her sister. As a result, they are never left alone : )

22 May 2014

My First Day Alone

Matt will be home in about 12 minutes.

That's right - today, 12 days postpartum, my maternity leave ended. I didn't want to be staring down the barrel of a full week on my own, so Matt and I decided that if he went back to work on a Thursday, I'd only have to make it through two "test" days before weekend relief. And it's a holiday weekend, so we get a bonus day. Then the following week is only four days. Lots of starts and stops.

Things must be going well because I'm blogging and he's not even home yet, right? Right! Things are going magnificently! I only had two expectations for today: 1. I won't cry. 2. We'll spend lots of time in prayer. We Matt vacuumed, did dishes, and finished laundry yesterday so I wouldn't even be tempted to push myself. We're planning on a frozen pizza (sale plus coupon!) for dinner. I definitely helped that Abigail was in a very good mood (ie, willing to listen and playing nicely when I needed to nurse), and that Eleanor has decided the Ergo is acceptable (she wasn't so sure the first time I used it).

Although last night I didn't exactly get the sleep I would have liked for my first day alone (we're still trying to figure out the best arrangement anything that works), I managed to roll out of bed by 7am and get both girls and myself dressed and fed with only minimal tears from Eleanor. We said a family prayer for patience and wisdom (me) and focus and discipline (him). I did feel tempted to cry as Matt walked out to the car, Abigail blowing kisses and shouting, "Bye, Daddy!" through the open window, but I held myself together. Once he had driven away, Abigail voluntarily retreated to her room for some independent play, so I strapped Eleanor into the Ergo and very slowly worked my way through a few chores. I unloaded the dishwasher. Abigail still playing, Eleanor still sleeping. I stuffed and put away the clean cloth diapers. Abigail still playing, Eleanor still sleeping. I made a meal plan, hunted through the flyer to find the best coupon plus sale match-ups, and I made a grocery list. Now Eleanor was hungry and Abigail was ready for some attention, so I nursed Eleanor in Abigail's room while reading Abigail some books and playing dress up jewelry. Eleanor willingly did tummy time for a few minutes while I made some lunch, then we all took a short walk around the apartment complex. When we got home, we called Matt to give him an update assure him we were still alive. I put Abigail down for a nap (thank goodness she's back to napping), nursed Eleanor again, and then her and I took a nap on the couch! All three of us napped on my first day alone! It was wonderful!

Typically when Abigail gets up from a nap, she likes to snuggle, but Eleanor was hungry, so we did watch an episode of Blues Clues together on the couch, so I could satisfy both girls at the same time. I really don't want to be dependent on the TV to get through the day, and I definitely don't want Abigail watching it every day, so I do need to figure out an alternative. But today? No TV wasn't an expectation. So while I've identified room for improvement, I'm not beating myself up over it.

After the show we had a brief snack and Abigail headed back into her room for more independent play! So now I'm blogging! It was a slow, peaceful day, for which I am very thankful. It was a weird mix of boring yet my hands were full, though. I was nursing Eleanor with one hand and reading Abigail a book with the other - my attention is completely occupied - but playing with toddler toys and reading toddler books all afternoon is really mind-numbing.

Well, Matt is home, so I'll wrap this up quick. While I am incredibly thankful the first day went so well (and I hope tomorrow is just as boring), I do hope to find a more enriching balance. I suspect it won't happen until Eleanor isn't nursing every two-to-three hours and is able to hold her own head up a bit better.

21 May 2014

The Big 0-3

On Sunday, the second love of my life turned the big 0-3.

Earlier in the week, we had a (very small) more traditional party with balloons and cupcakes for grandparents and great-grandparents, but on Sunday, the actual day of her birth, we spent the day doing things Abigail would probably ask to do, if she could. We sat next to her best friend at Mass and lingered over donuts and chocolate milk afterward. Matt and I got her a bubble blower as one of her presents, so we took her to the campus of our Alma mater and let her run around grassy knolls chasing bubbles. And when we strode over to the Michigan State University dairy store for some ice cream cones, we didn't make her hold someone's hand. We had plans to let her eat french fries and M&Ms for dinner, but she fell asleep in the car on the way home (pretty much unheard of - Abigail rarely falls asleep anywhere but her crib!) and stayed asleep until the next morning! (She got fries for lunch the next day instead).

And I spent the entire day playing the, "This time three years ago, I was blogging happily/getting pitocin/begging for an epidural/having a c-section/holding Abigail for the first time" game. With each year that passes, it gets easier and easier to remember the good and forget the bad. And Matt and I did a count down until 5:43pm, and even though Abigail was sleeping, we both wished her a happy birthday and remembered the moment our lives changed forever. For the better.

She's getting so big. Her little hands and face looking less like a baby's and more like a little girl's. Her language improving so dramatically, her understanding of what we say, her adamant "No, no no" when we ask if she needs a diaper change.

She's getting so good at so many different tasks and her willingness to eat new foods and ability to feed herself improving so dramatically recently. When I look at her, I can see her in a few years - a sweet and helpful girl, a hard worker, a serious streak of stubbornness and determination.

My heart fills to bursting with each new sign of her maturity. I wish she could stay little forever, but each new stage brings out a new side of her personality that I can't help but fall in love with.

16 May 2014

The First Days

One week ago today, my water was two hours away from breaking.

The days are long and difficult, but my heart is so very full. Eating lunch over Eleanor, curled up on a Boppy Pillow around my waist. Her little unfocused, blue eyes popping open in dim light and quietly studying the room. The velvety soft skin, the one-two stiff kicks of the little legs during a diaper change, the slouchy sleep face when buckled into a carseat.

I love newborn babies.

My throat closes and my eyes well up with tears thinking about how fleeting these moments are. How precious they were to me with Abigail. How incredibly blessed I am that I get to have them all over again. Good flashbacks.

It has almost been one week. The incredible birth experience, the euphoric first few hours after her birth. I wish I could go back and re-live them over and over again. And I know that this week, this first week of life with its intense periods of constant nursing, unwillingness to be held by anyone other than mommy, and inability to tell night from day, is one that I will very much miss.

I am trying very, very hard to enjoy all these little moments in these very tumultuous days. The big sister kisses and shared parental looks of love are the scenes I want filling my head when I am old and gray.

14 May 2014

Day 4 Survival Update

I've gotta be quick about this, but I want a post to happen, so please forgive the lack of a proof-read. Eleanor is four days old today. My husband put it really well when he said, "we're in a microcosm of parenting." Everything is really short, but really intense. Like the first day both parents try to squeeze a shower. Or the day my milk comes in. It's a really short span of time, but it's a really intense one. It feels like by the time evening comes around, things have changed again - it's hard to capture the fleeting moments with words before they're gone, replaced by new moments that need new words. But I'll try.

How am I doing?
Physically - I'm doing really well. I get the impression I'm doing better than most woman on day 4 after a vaginal birth because people are usually shocked at how active I am, but since this is my first, I'm not sure. Natural birth recovery is definitely way easier than c-section recovery, though. I can't understand why anyone would opt for a c-section. Anyway, some pain, but it's very minimal and very easily controlled with super Motrin.

Emotionally - this one is harder to capture. My crashing hormones mean that sometimes I'm totally on cloud nine, all "Oh my gosh, two kids is amazing, I can totally do this!" Then two minutes later, my breathing is getting faster, I'm starting to sweat, and I'm panicking as to how I'm ever going to feed Eleanor when Abigail is around after Matt goes back to work. I try to keep things in check by not allowing myself to think about how things will be once I'm on my own. I'm not on my own right now and the microcosm nature of parenting a newborn means that things will change anyway. We're keeping a very light schedule around here, respecting time to rest and recover. I'm for once glad to have a tiny apartment, as it's no burden to do laundry or clean up the living room (mess and clutter stress me out). Plus I am already taking steps to stave off any postpartum depression that may be thinking about springing up - making time to shower daily, do my makeup - I even took a short walk around the complex by myself last night! Our life feels very cozy, happy, and peaceful right now.

In Healing - Background: right after Eleanor was born, the nurse decided to check her blood sugar levels and found the results to be a mere 3 points too low. While I thought she was overreacting (and a lactation consultant later confirmed), Eleanor had to have her blood sugar tested five times total throughout our hospital stay. A pediatrician's appointment after discharge resulted in another poke to test for jaundice.

So picture Eleanor and I standing in a clinic (Matt and Abigail in the waiting room), me on one side of the bed, the tech on the other, when the tech starts looking at Eleanor's heels for a good place to poke. "Hmmm...both sides have been poked recently? Well...this side looks less bruised, so we'll try it." So there we were, standing in a sterile clinic filling vials of blood with pokes from tiny heels again. And I held a newborn's hands and sang gentle lullabies to hush the sobs again. And they put the stupid little round bandaid on the heel, which proceeded to fall off and smear blood all over tiny pink socks again. And I waited for results to be faxed directly over to the doctor so we could discuss courses of action again. Lots of flashbacks. I did a lot of crying in the car on the way home. In the end, the blood sugar was fine, the jaundice was fine, everything was fine and there are no further courses of necessary action. But I'm still working through and processing everything.

Breastfeeding - Oh my goodness, so far we have mad success. Eleanor latches on easily and loves eating, and my body is having no trouble producing milk. They did give her a few milliliters of formula in the hospital to spike her blood sugar, but it didn't interfere with my milk production. (She fought the bottle and ended up spiting it up later - something she hasn't done once yet with my milk - which made me a little smug inside). Yesterday when we were in the throws of jaundice concerns, the pediatrician and a lactation consultant advised that I pump so that we could supplement Eleanor with more breast milk if her levels were too high. So after I fed Eleanor from one side, confirming the presence of milk from the dribbles leaking out of her lips after she finished, I hooked up the pump. Not one drip was coaxed out of either side. After two kids and the exact same results, I am fairly confident in saying that my body does not respond to a pump. I can have mad success breastfeeding, but apparently only with a real, live baby who latches on.

Baby fist-pump for the win.

How's Eleanor doing?
Well, I told you all about her concerns in the section about me, but other than those, she's great. I think she looks almost exactly like Abigail when Abigail was born. The nose, the wrinkles, the lips, the shape of the bones around the eyes. She's shaping up to be another little mini-me. She vastly prefers to be held - by me - constantly. I can usually pass her to Matt for a few minutes, but I a few minutes is all I'm granted. She wakes up every two hours at night and every three hours during the day, I'm pretty sure just to spite us. She is finally opening her eyes, recognizes my voice, and searches for my face. I have discovered that I personally sleep best when Eleanor is in the same room as me, but in the Pack n' Play or this little basket we have that goes in the bed. Eleanor has discovered that she personally sleeps best when she is sleeping rightnexttome while sucking at. all. times. On the rare occasion that I can get her in the little basket without tears, she'll wiggle out and I'll discover her next to me rooting the next time I open my eyes.

What does Abigail think?
We do keep their interactions very brief right now, so they haven't had a ton of exposure to one another. I think Abigail will do very well, but we just need to teach her how to treat a baby. Hence, we are trying to keep interactions positive and end on a good note. So far, though, Abigail is very curious about everything Eleanor does and follows me around little a little puppy when Matt isn't distracting her. She happily announces, "Baby!" when she sees her and has tried to share her water bottle with Eleanor on multiple occasions. She constantly wants to hold and kiss her and even gave the most gentle of high-fives to her sister this morning. Last night she started imitating a few new things with her baby doll, I came out of the bedroom after feeding Eleanor to discover a baby doll in the exact center of the tummy time mat. Lastly, I think Abigail likes having a companion in the backseat with her.

12 May 2014

Eleanor's Birth Story

If I had to write the exact opposite of my birth experience with Abigail, it would be Eleanor's. Sans the Thursday drama, of course, Eleanor's birth experience was the greatest, most healing event I could imagine.

Warning: birth story coming. Click away now if you're not a fan of such intimate details.

So after we were discharged from the hospital on Friday with the disappointing news, "you're not in labor," Matt and I attempted to return to life as normal. Back at home, I was still having a lot of pain in every position I stood, sat, or laid, and I did continue to have random, painful, sporadic contractions all day. We knew that I would likely enter active labor soon, but we had no idea what soon looked like. I was honestly wondering how I was going to make it through the workweek if Monday arrived and the baby didn't as caring for myself seemed difficult and adding Abigail to the mix seemed impossible.

But it was just after 10pm that very night when Matt and I were curled up on the bed watching tv online when my water broke. It was totally like what you see in the movies: I felt this odd popping sensation and suddenly a gush of warm liquid started pouring down my leg. As we hadn't really unpacked anything from our morning trek to the hospital, Matt ran Abigail back down to my sister-in-law's house while I double-checked our bags and straightened up the apartment from the small mess we'd made that day. We sped back up to the hospital, this time cruising through triage and ending in a large corner labor and delivery room with an amazing night nurse.

After my water broke, all my symptoms grew worse. To put it bluntly, there was gushing amniotic fluid, diarrhea, vomiting, and contractions all going on at the same time in a woman who hadn't been able to keep a single thing down - including water - in about 48 hours and was going on 48 hours of constant contractions. I was done. So very done. I couldn't stop using the F-word as I was enduring the above scene and as soon as I could poke my head out of the bathroom, I asked for an epidural as soon as possible.

It was one of my major goals to avoid an epidural. I had soft music, a back massager, a flameless fragrance warmer with a special fragrance selected, and plans to use the shower and a birthing ball to deal with the pain au natural. While I know that the epidural isn't the reason for everything going wrong with my labor with Abigail, it was the first of a series of incredibly invasive medical procedures and so it was cemented in my brain as a bad thing. So when I said, "call the anesthesiologist," I was fully prepared to end up needing Pitocin and had come to terms in my head that I would likely need a c-section. As much as I hated these prospects, I was far too tired, exhausted, drained, sick to care about anything anymore. So I asked for drugs and waited for everything to go wrong.

But it didn't. Nothing went wrong, in fact. In my regular IV, I had fluids and anti-nausea meds that cleared up all my awful symptoms and with the epidural, my contractions were nothing more than slight pressures. In a weird way I didn't see coming, getting the epidural was healing in its own respect. I was so terrified that getting one would cause so much more to go wrong. But it didn't. I didn't realize that epidurals and failed VBACs could be so very mutually exclusive.

And so I slept. In two sessions lasting five hours total. Periodically they would check my progress and comment as to how quickly and smoothly I was progressing. As the night wore on, I felt rested, restored, amazing. Every time the nurse walked in the room, I prepared for the progress to stall. For the cascade of medical interventions all the "natural hospital birth" books warned me would come. For the pains that came before. Every time the nurse walked over to the computer screen, I was prepared for battled, pain, regret. But nothing was going wrong. I especially waited for the heart rate to drop. But then the doctor and nurse would point and laugh, tipping the screen to Matt and I, "look, normally the heart rate drops a little with each contraction, but your little girl's spikes a little - she's so happy to be born!"

Somewhere around 8:30am, I was 10cm dilated and 100% effaced, but the baby wasn't low enough to start pushing yet. So I took another nap. I still could barely feel my contractions and whenever I had a twinge of nausea or heartburn, I'd mention something to my new, also amazing day nurse and she'd slip a little something into my IV. Labor is often described as the most painful event in a woman's life, but mine was down right pleasant. I felt a little guilty even asking for the heartburn meds.

My nurse kept asking me if I was getting any steady pressure that indicated a need to push, but I really wasn't. Finally around 10:30am, she asked me to give a little test push, just to see how things were going. "That's amazing! You're going to have this baby in no time!" She predicted. She gathered up the necessary birthing supplies and paged the doctor to enter. While we were waiting, she decided to have me push until the baby was crowning. After one good push, she commanded me to stop. "Don't push anymore! Don't laugh, don't sneeze!" As I tried to discern if she was joking or serious, she looked at me flatly, "If you push again, I'm going to be delivering this baby!" She yelled down the hall for the doctor to arrive Right. Now. I have to admit, I thought she was exaggerating a bit. The doctor, who I'd never met in the office during regular pregnancy visits, but ended up really loving, burst into the room, threw on a gown, did whatever other prep-things he needed to do as super-sonic speed and coached me to push again. The room was gently lit, there were only two nurses and one doctor, one of the doctors I really liked, present in the room at the time. Things felt soft, gentle, cozy. I gave two more good pushes and maybe one small push when I felt the rushing relief of birth and heard my daughter's little kitten cries. They put her on my chest for immediate skin-to-skin bonding while the doctor coaxed out the placenta and stitched up my tiny, one-stitch tear. I sobbed happy tears so hard I couldn't respond to the question on the nurses' and doctor's mind, "What is her name?"

Matt cut the cord and answered: "Eleanor Grace."

After about 10 minutes of bonding, Eleanor was eager to start nursing. She latched on and started chugging like she'd just graduated from breastfeeding bootcamp.

I was fully prepared to fight to keep Eleanor with me after she was born, but no one had any interest in removing her. They wiped her down while she rest on me, they waited about an hour or so before administering the eye drops and vitamin K shot. As I sobbed and we bonded, everyone kept repeating in astonishment, "I can't believe this was your first vaginal birth!" The doctor warned me in a half-joking, half serious voice that my next baby was likely to be born in the car. The nurse leaned over and told me that in all her 17 years as a nurse, I was her best delivery.

The birth of Eleanor Grace was incredibly healing, soothing, blissful, and astonishingly peaceful.

11 May 2014

Eleanor Grace

Story coming tomorrow. In the meantime...

7 lbs 5 oz, 20 inches long. Same length as Abigail, but a full pound heavier. A champion nurser.

10 May 2014

It's A Girl!

Eleanor Grace - born at 11:08am on Saturday 10 May 2014 via incredibly easy VBAC. Pics to come later!

09 May 2014

A Tangent From The Previous Post

I'm including this as a separate post as I put the previous post on Facebook and these are things for a smaller audience.

Without going into a super extensive history, I tend to fall on the side of people who would rather solve a health problem an herbal supplement and refine her diet than take a prescription pill from a doctor when possible. Combine that with pregnancy, when it's a good idea for everyone to take less medication in general. So I was really hesitant to ask for a prescription for heartburn or nausea for either this pregnancy or my pregnancy with Abigail. I choose to suffer through the symptoms rather than take the side-effects risks.

But this time around, I recently broke down on both of those counts. Around the end of the 8th month, I believe it was, I asked the doctor for a prescription for heartburn. Everything, even chocolate milk, ice cream, fruit, granola bars, flavored water, everything, gave me heartburn. I was downing 10 Tums a day on a good day. My throat hurt constantly. He prescribed something light (Zantac) and within one pill, I was feeling significantly better. I can't believe how much I wasn't eating out of fear of heartburn. When everything makes you sick, it makes you less likely to eat anything.

Then today, after nausea caused me to throw up water and become significantly dehydrated, I asked for a prescription for nausea. I had debilitating nausea in the first trimester and rather significant nausea returned in the third trimester. After a dosage straight to the veins at the hospital and an oral dosage at home, I feel amazingly clear-headed and normal for the first time in a long time.

And then the nurse volunteered that I can take Tylenol PM without concern to help me sleep at night.

And it's kinda got me wondering: pregnancy for me is so awful, I can scarcely imagine having much more than one more kid. If the prescription is FDA approved for use during pregnancy, wouldn't it be better to take them (as much as no one really likes or trusts the FDA), at least not hate pregnancy, and be able to expand our family? I mean, not as in a kid-collecting way, but in a feel-called-by-God way?

This is honestly just something that first came to me in the car on the way home this morning, so I haven't worked out all the kinks yet. I mean, it's totally possible this level of awfulness is God's way of telling me not to have a large family. Or it could be that I'm called to do extra suffering while I'm expanding my family. Or it could be that I drank too much soda as a kid and now get heartburn easily and God doesn't really care either way if I pop a pill to quell it. Not sure, but it's a new thread of thinking I hadn't yet considered.

If nothing else good comes from it, at least these last two days have given me a way to quell my nausea, which will encourage me to eat and build up my strength. I'm going to need it if I want to up my odds for a successful VBAC!

Not in Labor

So I think a full blog post may be in order for those who are curious. On Thursday at 2am, I had some very minor contractions, lots of back pain, intense kidney pain, and severe nausea. The contractions grew more uncomfortable as the morning wore on, so we assumed we were in labor. We told everyone the good news, passed Abigail along to my sister-in-law (who had previously agreed to babysit), and came home and waited.

And waited. And waited. The contractions were incredibly consistent, coming every 5-6 minutes and lasting 30-45 seconds, but they actually grew less painful. The worst of the worst were maybe a 2 on the 1-10 pain scale, but most of them I barely felt. The nausea really prevented me from doing much to stimulate contractions, making even the short .4 mile walk around the complex really difficult, and I couldn't keep a single thing down all day, even water! I called the doctor that evening (one of my favorites was on staff!) and told him about my contractions, but he advised that until I was in pain, I would probably be more comfortable at home.

On Friday morning (this morning) at around 2-3am, my steady, regular contractions were finally painful enough to get me out of bed. I would say maybe a 4 or 5 on the pain scale. They had the exact same consistency: 5-6 minutes apart and lasting 30-45 seconds. I knew I was dehydrated at this point and that I needed some assistance, so after a few hours of getting up and pacing the living room every 5-6 minutes, we showered and grabbed our bags. For those of you who've never given birth after starting spontaneously before, when you go to the hospital, they first send you to a triage unit to make sure you're in labor before admitting you to labor and delivery. I would have sworn I was in labor. The contractions were so. freaking. consistent. through movement, naps, puking.

The first thing the nurse said was that she thought there was a good possibility I wasn't in labor and would probably be sent home.

I was devastated. I felt so lethargic from no water/food consumption, so sick from the nausea, and so exhausted from the regular contractions. Those of you who've been with me for a while know that after Abigail, I am terrified of being hooked up to a bunch of tubes and monitors and changed to a bed for the duration of my labor, but at this point, I was so sick I just wanted to be hooked up to a bunch of tubes and monitors and confined to a bed and have someone else take over. That's how bad off I was.

Thankfully everyone immediately recognized my symptoms of dehydration and the nurse/doctor immediately gratified my request for nausea medication (the first thing my doctor said when he saw me this morning was, "You didn't tell me you were nauseous last night!") Within 10 minutes of the IV flowing, I started feeling better. Within about 30 minutes, my contractions had almost stopped. After an hour, even Matt and I were convinced that I wasn't in labor anymore.

On one hand, I am incredibly disappointed and embarrassed. To have to make all the phone calls and texts, to have to repost online about how I sounded the alarm bells too early. I mean, this is my third time going into labor. You'd think I wouldn't be so terrible at it. And all of our preparations! I did my labor projects, I hung up a new sign on the girls' door with both girls' names on it. Matt and I told stories about how much fun it was going to be to have a new baby on Mother's Day. And now here I am, still with a giant, uncomfortable belly, and a baby so low she feels like she might fall out at any moment.

But on the other hand, after 30 hours of contractions and dehydration, I finally feel alert again and after 6 months of nausea, I finally feel fine (I finally broke down and asked for a prescription).

Anyway, so now we're all back at home, even Abigail. Today will be a quiet, easy recovery day and this weekend we'll only push ourselves as far as we feel like. I'm still close to going into labor - 3cm dilated and 70% effaced and still have sporadic contractions. And while I do hope it happens this weekend, I hope it doesn't happen today. I need some rest and food to rebuild my strength!

08 May 2014

Still Pregnant

I'm still pregnant. I'm going to keep this brief because it's late and I'm emotional, which is a bad time to blog. I've had 20 hours of painless contractions. They come every 6.5 minutes on average and last 30-45 seconds each. The worst of the worst is maybe a 2 on the pain scale, but most of them I can barely feel. I don't even know if I'm in labor anymore. I am also incredibly nauseous, haven't kept anything down all day, and am dehydrated. I'm so frustrated and very physically uncomfortable.

Tomorrow morning I have a doctor's appointment that I will go to if we don't go to the hospital tonight. I desperately want to go to the hospital right now just to see if I'm even in labor, and get something for the nausea and dehydration. But I'm trying to hold out until tomorrow at 11:15am.

UPDATE: After some quick online searching, I wonder if I have prodromal labor? It's when "In a prodromal labor, the early phase of labor (cervix dilates from closed to approximately three-to-four centimeters) is prolonged with contractions that do not increase in intensity." Apparently it's more common in people attempting VBACs, says another website.

In Labor

: )

Contractions feel like nothing more than strong menstrual cramps and are pretty far apart. They started sometime around 2 or 3am, but it took me until 5 or 6 am to decide my body wasn't playing this time around.

All prayers for a smooth and safe delivery are appreciated!

07 May 2014

The Big Preschool Meeting

The Big Meeting finally happened this morning. Usually I don't blog about these things the very day they happen, but this one was not nearly as emotional as I thought it would be. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it actually went pretty well.

I was able to gloss over the whole, "Your child's receptive communication skills are at the level of a X-month-old" part and we spent most of the time focusing on preschool. Usually everyone hands me their 2-3 page report and we go over it line-by-line. "Abigail's self-help skills are..." "Abigail's fine motor skills are..." It's impossible to ignore and gloss over the age equivalency. People tell me all the time, the paper means nothing, it's just a number, it doesn't change who Abigail is, yada yada yada. 99% of the time, it comes from the mouth of someone who has never had to talk about their child's levels of cognitive impairment. My brain knows the numbers on the paper aren't important. But that doesn't change a $%^#@*&^ thing about the way my heart hears it.

But anyway, we've been through almost a dozen of these meetings (we go through them every time we arrive and leave a state/county and every 6 months if we're in the same area for that long), and this one was the easiest to bear. There were so many people and since the main focus was on transitioning her to preschool, we didn't have time to line-by-line everyone's reports. They gave me copies. I haven't decided if I'm going to read them or just burn them yet. But no one gave me a hard time about the damn bus.

The meeting even got me excited about preschool again. Everyone was all, "Oh Ms. N's classroom has an open-door policy - you can pop in whenever you want!" I can even volunteer to help out in the classroom if I want. They are all perfectly fine (or at least they say they are fine) with me dropping her off and hanging around a few minutes or showing up a few minutes early to watch them wrap up each day. Seeing all the therapists and the special ed director and teacher made me realize that it's a misnomer to even call it preschool. It's nothing like what most kids do in mainstream preschool, what with the writing of the name, the learning of the alphabet, and the learning to color in the lines. It's more like an intensive therapy through life skills in a play setting clinic. During gym time, she'll learn how to self-propel a ride-on toy. During snack time, they'll work on getting in and out of a chair independently, combining words, and making complete sentences. During art class, she'll learn how to use and manipulate a pencil and scissors. How to peel off a sticker. How to control her muscles when she applies pressure to things. Sometimes I think to myself, "There is no reason I can get some books from the library and teacher her those things myself!" But the truth is, I'd be re-inventing the wheel. I'd stumble a lot. I'd waste time and make mistakes. And un-teaching a bad habit in Abigail is incredibly difficult. But Ms. N? She's been doing this for a while. She's taught scores of children with Down syndrome. She's pretty good at determining learning styles and has a huge database of ways to encourage kids to blossom from years worth of practice. And she's fluent in sign language.

If all this sounds like I'm justifying my decision, it's because I am. My brain knows that preschool is the right choice for Abigail this fall, but my heart is still running in over-protective mode. It needs to be coaxed a bit. Abigail will thrive. And what we decide to do in the 2014-2015 school year does not have to be what we do forever. We can send her to special ed or mainstream preschool next year, we could pull her out completely and give her a year off before Kindergarten, we could homeschool a regular preschool curriculum. All the doors are always open.

Anyway, all of this means that Abigail is almost done receiving therapy in the home. After three years of weekly therapy, things are finally coming to an end. She has one more occupational and one more speech therapy appointment left before her third birthday. We get really attached to most of her therapists. Whenever we move, I usually keep texting her old therapists for a few months until she conquers whatever skills we were working so hard on at the time of the move. Abigail's therapists always see her for who she really is. That means a lot to me. Every mom can relate to loving those who love our kids. I don't see many people who love Abigail for who she really is, so when we find someone, they really mean a lot to me.

Anyway, we are going to proceed as if we are sending Abigail to special education preschool in September. We may change our minds at the last minute, but this way, if we don't, we have all of our ducks in a row. We are even going to work on backpack training over the summer. Our physical therapist gave us a list of goals: taking it on and off and wearing it with the weight of a folder in it. I'm kind of excited to pick out Abigail's first backpack and first school folder. Does anyone know if Lisa Frank is still in business?

* * * * *

Random side-notes for all those waiting for the day they see a pic and hear the good news:
-I'm 38 weeks 1 day pregnant (this is my third pregnancy and I've never been this pregnant before. Kind of funny to think about)
-The doctor's original prediction was for this Saturday, so I still might have a few days to go
-My body is still acting very "about to go into labor" what with the back pain, Braxton hicks, and slight cramping on a daily basis (I bet I'm going to be ridiculously dilated by the time real labor starts)
-Two random strangers noticed that the baby has dropped
-All of the looming appointments that would need to be rescheduled if I gave birth early are now over, so anytime after I pick Matt up from work today would be a wonderful time to go into labor. I am going to try very hard not to need the car between now and giving birth. Matt keeps assuring me he can always take a cab home, but I'd really rather he just have the car.

06 May 2014

Screen Time

I'd like to preface this post with two items.

1. I'm writing this on Monday and will schedule it to post on Tuesday. So if this appears while I'm in labor (I hope, I hope!), I didn't write it between contractions.

2. I wrote it during naptime (that point will make sense later)

There is a video blowing up my Facebook feed you may have seen called Look Up. It's nothing brilliantly insightful - a bunch of things everyone already knows and does nothing about.

But it's something we all need to hear. I've been mulling over a post topic in my head for the last week or so when this video started popping up and I thought it tied in perfectly with my post.

I have a confession to make: I spend a lot of time online.

The reason this is a confession is because if you walked through my apartment, you'd never know. Therapists say all the time to me, "Oh, I just noticed you don't have a tv - that's wonderful! I wish my family watched tv less, but my husband/kids/etc would never stand for it if I got rid of the television!"

There is no television in my apartment. No xbox or Wii. Neither my husband nor I own a smart phone. Nobody owns a tablet or e-reader. We do have an iPod shuffle (they don't have screens) and we each have a laptop with a dying battery (so we have to keep them near outlets). But neither of us have Twitters or Instagrams. We don't subscribe to Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus or Netflix. We have Facebook, I have a blog, he has a Linked In. Our DVD collection (not including fitness DVDs) takes up the equivalent of one bookshelf. We look like an ideal candidate for a family who is rarely staring at a screen.

But the truth is, we spend a lot of time staring at a screen. Tons. I hate it and I'm a big part of the problem. Between what's free on Hulu, Youtube, and the occasional trip to Redbox, we easily spend hours a day watching tv on the computer. Plus the time spent reading "32 Genius Camping Hacks" or "this bill passed that will make your life look like 1984" articles. Then there's the blog roll, the news sources, the email inbox. Matt and I call it the Internet Black Hole: you sit down to check the weather and get up an hour and a half later. I'll put Abigail down for a nap and pick up the computer and suddenly she's awake again. Two hours later, but it feels like just a few minutes. That's the Internet Black Hole.

You might think, "well, if you're only on it during naptime or after Abigail falls asleep, how bad can it be?" Well that's still four hours of time wasted online. And it's not just when she's sleeping.

An embarrassingly large number of times per day, I'm online while Abigail's having breakfast or lunch or playing with her toys. Or clinging to my leg desperate for my attention. Inside I start to feel guilty, but instead I usually push her away and say impatiently, "Just give me one minute of peace to finish this!"

At 1:50, the narrator says, "We're surrounded by children / who since they were born / have watched us living like robots / and think it's the norm." And it is depressingly true to see in my young daughter. You've surely seen it in your own children: the ability to manipulate the touch screen by the time they can isolate their own finger movements. The enraptured stare at the computer. The risking of life and limb to snatch an unwatched phone from the edge of the table.

Around 2:30, the video starts getting sappy enough to make a pregnant woman tear up. I particularly like the line at 2:51: "The time you don't have to tell hundreds of what you've just done / because you want to share this moment with just this one." Like when Abigail comes over and gives me a hug, leaves her head on my shoulder and looks up at me with her blue eyes. Part of me wants to take a pictures, post it online, see the flood of "likes" at her white-speckled eyes. But more of me doesn't want to move because the interaction fills me with such joy that I don't want to move and end it.

4:36 "Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined / go out into the world, leave distractions behind." On days when I have enough willpower to abstain from the computer, or at least regulate my time on it, I find that I am calmer and more patient with Abigail. My temper is better with everyone in fact. I'm more focused on tasks at hand and my head feels clearer. The house is cleaner faster and we're outside more. On days when I read during naptime instead of watching past episodes of Dr. Phil, I'm happier all day. Less irritable. Less stressed. Almost like when I'm on vacation, I feel like time slows down and I feel more connected to me.

I spend too many evenings sitting next to Matt while we both stare at our own computers. I spend too many days pushing Abigail aside so I can "just do one more thing." I get too mad too often at a page that won't load.

Life without Internet is not feasible in today's world and I don't think complete abstinence in the home is the best way to give my kids life skills, but I do want to have balance in my own life and pass that self control onto my children.

I don't know exactly how to start. I know that past resolutions (I'll only spend one hour online per day. I will only check Facebook one per day) have completely and utterly failed. But I need to figure out something cause what I'm doing now is not working for me.

What successful tips do you have to slow down Internet usage?

4:14: "Don't waste your life getting caught in the net / as when the end comes, nothing's worse than regret."

05 May 2014

Still Waiting

Quick update so my blog-only readers know I haven't gone into labor (yet). It was looking pretty good on Saturday night - I had so much discomfort, back pain, and Braxton hicks. I knew it wasn't actual labor, but I had hoped that it would progress as the night wore on. It didn't. I do think the baby dropped, though. I thought she already had, but I think she was "floating" and now she's staying put really low. The good news is that my appetite increased and heartburn and nausea decreased since she dropped!

I had my hopes up so high to be giving birth over the weekend that when things settled down and both the baby and the Braxton hicks were quiet on Sunday, I actually got depressed.

Lots of appointments today, but I totally wouldn't mind if I went into labor and had to postpone them all. I'm simultaneously so sick of being pregnant and so excited to meet this baby. And I keep accidentally typing her name and needing to backspace and retype "this baby."

In other news, my daughter reads law books for pleasure and gets upset when I try to take them away from her.

03 May 2014

Random Bits of Pregnancy News

Yesterday evening I wasn't sure if I was in early labor or passing a kidney stone. It was the latter. I'm 37 weeks and 4 days and every time I twitch, part of me is sure I'm going into labor. We're a bit eager over here. If I give birth to this baby as early as I did with Abigail, she'll be here on Monday.

Actually, if I could pick a day to go into labor, it would be Thursday or Friday of next week. Up until then, I have appointments that I'd need to reschedule for shortly after the baby is born.
So those of you who've been with me with these pregnancy posts know that I've been pretty concerned about weight gain. I gained 55-60 lbs with my 6 lb 5 oz first born because I stress ate my way through that pregnancy. It was very difficult for me to watch myself gain and to loose the weight and I think it contributed to my postpartum depression. Anyway, this time around I've only gained 28 lbs! I'm pretty excited about that. There were times when I made healthy choices for snacks, etc, but mostly, just constantly being sick and nauseous helped a lot.

Okay, last bit of random pregnancy. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the doctor is pretty sure my due date is May 17th. They are basing it off the day of my last period even though my cycles are not even kind of regular. Based on the date of conception, I'm due May 20th. I know that date because we do NFP and were trying to get pregnant, but the office doesn't believe that I could know such a fact. When they did my ultrasound at 20 weeks, she said, "Oh, you're measuring about three days early..." I responded, "So that puts me at May 20th?" The doctor was pretty flustered. "We're still going to keep the due date as May 17th," she responded. Yesterday when she measured me, she found that I was closer to 37 weeks than 38 weeks. Still, we are keeping the May 20th due date. Oh goodness. Good thing everyone agrees I won't make it that far. The doctors have made clear that they won't induce me because of my c-section. If I don't go into labor on my own, I'll have to have another c-section.

01 May 2014


I'm not going to talk about being pregnant this time. Promise. Instead, I'm going to talk about preschool! Woot! (Past preschool posts part I, part II, and part III) Very briefly, the exact moment Abigail turns three, she is no longer eligible for at-home therapy. If we want to continue to receive services, we'll do that through the school system, either by sending her to preschool or taking her up during pre-arranged days/times to participate in group therapy with the rest of the preschool class. I used to think that preschool was just 2.5 hours/day of day care, but after touring the special ed class and watching the teacher in action, I realized that it's more like 2.5 hours/day of therapy. So Matt and I decided that we would send her.

But now I'm having doubts.

Almost all of Abigail's therapists discuss preschool at almost every one of our sessions even though we already agreed that she will be attending. Abigail is really high functioning and most of the time kids who are doing half as well as her are phased out early. I fought to keep her in-home therapy, but it's like everyone is shocked to still be working with her. I used to hear about preschool two hours per week, and even though they sliced her hours down, I still hear about it 1 hour per week every week and 2 hours per week every other week. I'm so &#*(@*@&^$^&@!^@$& sick of hearing about preschool. Of talking about it. Of discussing how it will work and how Abigail will do. I get it, she's going to love it.

Shortly after we walked away from the tour with the decision that she would attend, I started getting doubts. She's still so very young. She'll only be three. She's not potty trained. Her communication can be difficult to understand. But I remembered back to the classroom and felt comforted.

But then the therapists started talking about the bus. The &#*(@*@&^$^&@!^@$& bus. The preschool is literally .4 miles from my front door and they want to bus her in. They insist she will prefer to do what all her friends are doing. I think it's going to be hard enough to send my very young daughter away from me 4 days a week and seeing her to the classroom instead of watching her drive away with a complete stranger is a damn generous compromise.

You wouldn't think the bus would matter, but everyone is making it clear that it &#*(@*@&^$^&@!^@$& does.

And my doubts kept growing. Am I being over protective? Can a person be over protective of a child so young? What would happen if we post-poned preschool for one year? Just one year to let her grow and develop just a tad bit more? But when I think back to the classroom, my brain knows that she will thrive in such an environment.

And then I started filling out the paperwork for the big meeting next week when we'll transition her to the school system. (We'll transition her in May to start in Aug/Sep because Michigan's summer services are awful and she'll be too old anyway). Forms that want to know exactly who is living with who and how everyone is related to one another. Concussion acknowledgement forms. Forms that ask me in a dozen different ways what languages we speak at home. My heart started panicking again. I shelved the paperwork.

So this is my brain's argument:
Abigail will thrive in preschool. She will miss you, but she will love it. The teacher is great at what she does. Abigail will learn so very many new skills. This program will really help her reach her potential. Preschool is good for Abigail.

This is my heart's argument:
Abigail is way too young to be sent away from her family for so much time during the week. She is still too vulnerable - relinquishing so much parenting to a government entity at such a young age puts her at risk. Post-poning school by one year will not damage her potential, but instead give her time to mature so that she is better able to handle the challenges of the classroom.

My gut says:
Hey, let's switch sides every couple of days.

Hence why this issue of preschool is still not resolved for me.

We are proceeding as if we are going to send her because it is way easier to transition her from at-home therapy to in-school programs than it would be to end her at-home services on her third birthday and re-enroll her in the fall. Or, it will be easier to change our minds and pull her out of school than it will be to change our minds and enroll her.

Ample more time spent in prayer, thought, and discussion is needed before the fall arrives.