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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saying Goodbye

My grandpa died last Thursday.

He's been suffering from congenital heart failure and a miriad of other old-age things for the last three or four months, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I had the realization that his time with us in this life was limited.  

He was 87 years old, and he lived an incredibly adventurous life, filled with travel and laughter and faith, as well as service to others. It was a good life.  He left his mark.  But still, I'd be full of it if I didn't say that his passing felt way too soon.  He was just this incredible presence of a person and I can't believe he's not here anymore.  The last three days of celebrating his life and mourning our loss as a family have been almost dreamlike, none of it seems real.  

This is, of course, Gus and Louie's first time dealing with the death of someone close to them.  New parenting territory, that's for sure, but I think we provided the boys with enough grace, time, and the right information so that they were able to process my grandpa's death in an age appropriate way.  Who knows though, I mean I'm not even quite sure how to process all of this.  Death is scary, and we don't know what happens after we leave this life.  I have faith that there's a heaven, that God is real, but when life throws something like this at you, when death is suddenly such a tangible thing... I just... well we don't really know, do we?

Heaven is a very comforting thing to believe in, and I am glad we can give that to our kids.  We told the boys that grandpa's spirit went to heaven.  That his body is still here, but he isn't, he's in a better place and he's not sick there.  Gus asked me if an angel came to get him and I told him that I hope so.  I hope grandpa had someone wonderful to guide the way to heaven.  Both boys really wanted to see his body.  Like, we walked into the visitation on Sunday night and the first thing they said was, "I want to go see grandpa."

So that was surreal.  And sad.  I'm so glad both boys got to see and talk to him in the hospital on Tuesday because yeah.  His body.  Well it definitely didn't quite look like him.

Louie is a bit all over the place, and at three years old I can't imagine he'll remember any of this, and I really doubt he fully understands. He acted out quite a bit actually, and was pretty much insane all weekend long.  So there are three of them now, (WE HAVE THREE KIDS, WHAT?!) and Dan spent a lot of time managing the boys so I could visit with family and make all the small talk and be there for everyone else, as well as have a chance to grieve, myself.  But on Monday, right before the funeral was to start, after a morning of trying to control a three year old who was just flat out nuts, not listening, running away, rolling on the floor, Dan laid it all out for me.  "He needs you.  You need to just hand over the baby to someone and deal with Louie.  You are the only one he wants."  He was right, of course.  He may not have been able to explain how he was feeling, or even understand it himself, but he needed his mom.  I held him through most of the service, rubbed his back when he got antsy, held his hand.  And he made it through.  He did great actually.  Sometimes you just need your mom and you don't even know why, and that was exactly what Louie was going through.  

Gus is old enough to have a lot of questions.  There have been a lot of moments with him over the last week where it was very clear that he's processing this all on his own time, something's going on in that cute little noggin.  What he has wanted is information.  The truth.  And lots and lots of reassurance that this isn't going to happen to any of us anytime soon.

"How old was grandpa again?  He was 87?  Louie, grandpa was 87 year old!  That's really old.  And he was sick.  I'm not old, and you're not old, mom's 33 and that's a long way from 87.  We're not going to die.  We're healthy, and we're not old."

Last week in the car he said to me, "Mom, Jesus died, and then he rose again.  I wish Grandpa Winkelman could rise from the dead."  I told him that was a special Jesus thing (Ha!) and he said, "Yeah, I know.  But I wish he could."

Yesterday we buried my grandpa at the little cemetery near the family cabin, after a very emotional and exhausting few days with the visitation and the funeral.  Really, aside from the reason we were all together, it was a good few days.  I spent a lot of time with my brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins, catching up, drinking beer, and of course telling stories about my grandpa and reminiscing about the past.  It felt good to be together.  My grandpa loved his family, was so proud of everyone and loved having us all together, and I know if he's looking down on us somewhere he appreciated that his death brought us all a little closer.  That this family isn't going to stop being family without him.

Last night in the bath Gus looked at Dan and said something about Grandpa Winkelman.  About how he's really gone.  Dan told him that yeah, Great-Grandpa isn't here anymore and no, he's not coming back.  You're not going to be able to sit on his knee anymore, he's not going to tease you with silly songs ever again.  And then Gus got that face.  He looked up at him with tears in his eyes, the corners of his mouth turned down.

I'm sure there will be more moments like this.  And more moments for me as well.  Like the first holiday without him.  Father's day.  Or Gus's birthday in September.

He will be so missed.    

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April

So how can April be almost over?  Spring is just flying by, and this month without question has been a wonderful one.  Mostly beautiful weather, a real Minnesota spring, which has been rare over the last few years, and a new glorious little baby to love on.  Yeah, not complaining over here.

We've finally figured out where Gus is going to Kindergarten, and in a highly anticlimactic decision, we've chosen the local public school. ;)  Ha!  After all of our back and forth, the STEM school magnet lottery that we didn't "win", the in-district transfer to the "better" school near his daycare that is a total cluster-f#$! of a process that I just can't wait on anymore, and even going so far as registering him at the Catholic school down the street that we were feeling lukewarm about... it's all over.  I'm done with all of that and it feels GOOD.  The local school does not have the best test scores.  So effing what.  Our little community school really is lovely, Dan and I met with the principal and walked around looking in on classrooms and lunchtime in the cafeteria and the beautiful new and bright media center, talking about positive discipline and a kindergartner's schedule, and the early years I.B. program that is a part of the school's curriculum.  The staff members we met are kind.  The principal knew every child's name that we passed in the hall.  The children we met appeared happy.

Kindergarten is coming and I'm finally feeling ready to embrace it.  Parenting and parent involvement has much more to do with how well a child does in school than the demographics and test scores of the school he attends.  Our baby is going to be fine.

I also talked to the neighbor whose son catches the bus right outside our house, and learned that our bus stop is the last stop in the morning, and goes right to school, and is the first stop in the afternoon.  For some reason this news helped calm this mama's heart in a big way.  Our neighbor also offered to potentially get Gus and her son on the bus every morning at 8:30 when I told her that I was trying to figure out how to make my work schedule and commute and daycare drop-off all work with this whole new school thing.  This could be huge for making it all work, and I feel so relieved to have made this connection.

Oh sweet child of mine, where in the world did the last five and a half years go?  How are we here already?

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In other news, I'm really looking forward to preschool being over for the year and a less hectic schedule for all of us.  Louie's last ECFE class is tomorrow and although I know he and I will both miss it, especially the people we've met there, I will appreciate less stressful Mondays.  Then in mid May the school year will end for Gus, which means a little more leniency on bedtimes and more evening walks to the park, and I'm really excited for all of that as well.  Looking forward to a more relaxed schedule, knowing that I'll probably be missing the structure and routine that school gave us all, at least a little bit, by the time July rolls around.

What I'm NOT looking forward to is returning to work.  Man.  I can't even think about that right now.  Work is not what I'm dreading, it's the more stressful schedule and the hurried weeknight dinners and the fact that ANOTHER ONE OF MY BABIES WILL NOT TAKE A BOTTLE!  I must have some really amazing nipples huh?  (Har har har.)

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Oh Olive.  Pull it together girl!

She is 8 weeks already!  I can't even fathom that, these weeks have just FLOWN and they have been so magical, this time with our girl.  I love her so much.

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Quite a ridiculous looking bunch, no doubt.  Laundry and signs of a supremely messy house surrounding them... life with three littles for sure.

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Parenting with the perspective that being a third-time mom brings is really a gift.  I am so much more relaxed about... basically everything... when it comes to this girl.  Even the bottle thing, while a bit stressful, is something I've not allowed myself to completely panic about yet.  We've been here before.  This girl will not starve.  We will figure things out, keep on trying, there will be a resolution to this problem eventually.

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In all honesty, it's really easy for me to be relaxed because I am well-rested.  This chick sleeps like a DREAM, I hesitate to talk about it for risk of jinxing it... but yes.  At 8 weeks old she is consistently sleeping through the {finish this sentence}.  Not going to even type it.  Poor Dan has been up with Louie multiple times a night over the last few days, and I, the parent in charge of the newborn, only have to contend with engorged leaky boobs.

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Oh Louie, that is not a good angle.  ;)  Look how huge his hands are though, compared to hers.  CRAZY.  He was my little guy just moments ago it seems.

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Shopping with my girl.  Maternity leave with the big kids at daycare is an extravagance that I am so thankful to have now experienced.  Three days a week of just me and her.

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She is not one to give huge crazy big gummy smiles.  That is definitely not Olive's thing.  Rather, she enchants us these little soft, sweet, gentle little smirky smiles and quiet coos that make your heart swell.  

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This is why 3rd babies are so easygoing.  They have to be.  The above little nap happened when an afternoon nursing session was interrupted by the sounds of her two brothers pounding on each other and arguing in the basement, resulting in excessively dramatic tears from a certain three year old which had me running to see what had transpired.  I plopped her down on our stripped bed in haste as I played referee, and when I came back, this is what I found.  Totally zonked.  This nap lasted 45 minutes and I was able to get dinner in the oven and the kitchen cleaned from top to bottom.  So awesome.

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Gus and Louie went to a birthday party last Saturday that freed up four hours on a perfect spring weekend for Dan and me.  We should have gotten some projects around the house done, but instead we went for a walk, met up with my brother and his family at the park, and then all walked to a neighborhood lunch spot.

I can officially say that I love drop-off birthday parties.  So excited that our kids have reached this milestone.  ;)

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Ridiculous attempt at our first mother-daughter selfie.

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Olive's first visit to the library this past Friday had to be documented.  (Mostly, I was just bored, annoyed that Louie was pulling all of the Berenstain Bears books off of the shelf, and she was wearing a cute outfit... so there you go.)

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Big bro Louie immediately got jealous.  "Mom, take a picture with ME in it too!  Mom!!!"  Beautiful.  That one's definitely going in the scrapbook, buddy.

The rest of these photos were taken today, we had a truly incredibly evening at my friend Kate's house with the whole crew of college girls that live here in the cities and all of our families.  Kate lives on a pretty large chunk of land in Burnsville and has the backyard to end all backyards.  I mean, we're talking a zip line, a huge swing between two trees, and woods to go exploring.  These children all had the time of their lives and it was so good to get them all together, and of course the husbands and all of us girls.  It just doesn't happen often enough, as evidenced by Corey's departing words... "See you all in 2017!"

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Carter and Olive are 11 weeks apart (I think?).  Lisa and I are about 10 months apart.  ;)

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Gus went crazy for the zip line.  Could not get enough.

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Kate's daughters are both OBSESSED with the babies.  "So many babies! Look at all the babies!"  (Epic Olive cheeks happening here.)

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So many children.  So many trees to climb and mud piles to trek through.

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Louie finally got up the nerve to try the zip line!  I was so proud, he was really really nervous, and it took a lot of coaxing and thinking about it, but when he finally did it an hour later he loved it.

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Ladies' man.

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It is just so surreal that all of these children are ours.  Us.  Girls who hosted massive drunken graffiti parties and Hawaiian parties out of our college apartments.  Girls who drove up to the cities on a random weekend and pressured each other to get tattoos.  (Ahh yes, my first BIG college mistake!)  Girls who slid down the halls of the dorms in their pajamas out of boredom.  Girls who knew every single word to Salt 'n' Pepa's Shoop, and would bust out their skills as a party trick.

And somehow more than ten years have passed and we've grown up and become civilized adults and spawned all these children!  It's just wild, love these girls and their families all so much.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Olive's Birth Story

When last I wrote before Olive was born I was feeling pretty low. And frustrated. That was Thursday, I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and my sister-in-law Heidi had asked if she could bring over dinner that night, provided we weren't at the hospital having a dang baby or anything. I had told her we were up for distractions for sure, and really I was just so sick of spending every evening in a perpetual state of wallow.  We definitely looked forward to the visitors. For the boys as well it was a huge treat to have their cousin Abby over to play on a weeknight.

Things snowballed a bit and Dan's mom ended up in the mix, and then my mom called as she was leaving work and I told her she was of course welcome as well. Dan's sister Kirsten lives just a mile away so I texted her and told her of our somewhat spontaneous little gathering and that there was plenty of extra food. So it turned into this whole great thing, and was the perfect way to keep our minds off the fact that a week before we would have fully expected to be at home with our baby at this point in time. 

I was feeling super crampy and pretty terrible Thursday night actually, after having my membranes stripped that morning and being told my cervix was already at 5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. We cleaned up the house that night after everyone left and went to bed not really sure if Dan should really go into the office the next morning, or if it was best that he work from home. I will say I wasn't feeling the most competent and prepared to spend the day with both boys at home, but I knew it was mostly all mental, because more than likely the cramping and pain would lessen after a night of "sleep". 

I woke up about 4:00 am with an actual real contraction which I was THRILLED about after all the pain I had felt the day before that I knew wasn't really anything. Of course after my two previous super quick labors, and the fact that I knew I was already 5cm, I was ready to get up and get going after that one contraction. I continued to lay there and waited it out a few more contractions, which were coming about every 8-10 minutes. Dan at that point was awake and we both stayed in bed dozing in between contractions until 4:45 when I said I was getting up. I had promised the midwife I would call as soon as contractions had started and I wanted to wake up my mom and give her a heads up. I was more than ready, obviously.  Let's do this thing.

When I talked to the midwife I told her we were planning on heading in, and would probably be there in about an hour.  Even though contractions were a little less than a minute long and still about 7-8 minutes apart at this point, I just didn't want to take any chances.  The boys were of course still sound asleep upstairs, the timing was right, it just made sense to go get my mom and get to the hospital.

However, I will admit that over the 20 minute drive there I felt unsure, worried that we shouldn't be going in already.  I knew I was in labor, but it sure as heck wasn't super active labor, and this went against all of the hippy dippy natural birth guidelines about staying home as long as possible.  But then on the other hand, I was also anxious about having a precipitous labor, and wanted to just get to the hospital and no longer have to worry about that anymore.  Certainly the whole process of getting to the hospital and checked in was much less stressful and frantic than it had been during Gus's and Louie's births.  We parked in the parking garage and trekked to the labor and delivery admission desk together, I even helped carry some bags and then was calmly able to sit and sign paperwork and do the whole shebang.  Clearly I was still doing FINE.

The midwife (Jessica) who had checked me and swept my membranes in the clinic the day before was the one on call, and she was excited to see us.  She had already delivered 3 babies overnight, which is pretty crazy, so of course she was exhausted, but happy to see us.  She told us about getting my call at 4:45 am, just as she had stolen away to finally go get some sleep after her marathon of working in the clinic all day and being up all night in the hospital catching babies.  OF COURSE we were coming in, she had thought.  Coffee to the rescue!

Anyway, she checked me and set me up to monitor contractions for a few minutes as a part of the admission process, and then some lab techs came to draw my blood.  It was about 6 am at this point, and we felt like first-timers, we had just never had any of these experiences before, used to bursting on the scene essentially in transition, ready to freaking push the baby out upon arrival.

I was found to be at 7 cm (!!) but contractions were still pretty spaced out, and really not that painful at all, so she asked me what we wanted to do.  She didn't want to send me home at 7 cm, but wanted us to know that it was an option.  Dan and I were both in agreement, that no, we're here, It's definitely still early labor but we were thinking that as soon as things started getting going it would be fast.  We wanted to stay, and Jessica totally supported that decision.

So we got organized and they prepared the big awesome room with the huge, beautiful water-birthing tub, since it was open and we were considering a water birth if it sounded like something I wanted to do when the time came.  (I was still wishy-washy about it.)  Jessica showed us the fancy-pants coffee machine and where to fill my water, and introduced us to our nurse, Barb, and we started to settle in to our room.  We ordered some breakfast and then decided to walk the halls for a while.  I really wanted to do SOMETHING to get this thing going, and actually was hoping to walk somewhere for some actual good coffee, but Barb scolded us and said we needed to stay in the birth center.  I tried to convince Dan to go out in search of a Starbucks or something, but he insisted on staying close.  I have a feeling he was thinking I might spontaneously give birth or something, considering our history, and didn't want to leave me alone.  (HAAAAAAAA!  Spoiler alert: that wasn't going to happen.  Not by a long shot.)

We walked the halls while waiting for our food, and I felt very much like a big giant pregnant elephant on display.  We ran into another dad on a coffee run who suggested that if we got bored we should head upstairs by the postpartum rooms and the nursery, that there was a longer loop for walking and the nursery added a little bit of variety to things.  Solidarity fellow dad.

We did quickly get bored and walked back to the room outside of which we found our nurse lurking and looking somewhat concerned.  I don't think she liked us wandering around... but dude.  Cannot just sit in that room and wait.  (Another spoiler for ya, a lot of sitting around and waiting was in our future.)

The lovely hospital food had arrived so we dug in, I ordered as much as I reasonably could so that we could both partake of the "free" (built into the hospital bill) meal, and since we were there, our nurse wanted to monitor me for a bit.  Even though we had asked for intermittent monitoring, our nurse took that to mean every hour, sitting in bed for 10-25 minutes.  Suuuuper annoying, and if I was having actual painful contractions I would have been pissed and said something, but whatever.

We watched lots of daytime television that morning, while I bounced on the birthing ball and snacked on trail mix and dried fruit.  Every single morning news program (along with half of my Facebook feed) was OBSESSED with the whole white and gold vs. black and blue dress viral phenomenon. Still today... I don't get it, but for the record, both Dan and I were team #whiteandgold. We heard A LOT about it from Matt Lauer and Al Roker and the whole Today Show gang, as well as everyone on Good Morning America.  That and two llamas that were on the loose in some quiet town in Arizona. So pointless and bizarre that those are two of the things I will now always remember from the day Olive was born, but I guess these are the times we're living in!

I want to say it was around 10:00 or so when our freshly showered midwife came back to check in. We talked about how my contractions still weren't any stronger, and maybe were coming every 5-8 minutes, but sometimes not even that.  Really, a whole lot of nothing happening.  She asked if I wanted her to sweep my membranes again and I said sure, have at it.  So she did said membrane sweep and FYI I was still at 7 cm, which surprised no one.  Whomp whomp.

Then we talked about some other things that could get things moving along, and she suggested binding my belly.  My response was pretty much, "Say what?"

So the whole point of binding the belly is to sort of lift it up and pull it in and encourage baby to get into an optimal position for birth, which would put more pressure on the cervix and maybe we would start seeing some stronger and more effective contractions.  Really it could end up doing nothing, or it could do something, but either way it wouldn't hurt.  She just needed a big taunt white sheet, which are a dime a dozen in a hospital.  ;)

I did as instructed and squatted, legs apart, belly in, pretty much a goddess pose yoga position, and lifted my belly while she took the big white sheet, wrapped it around my torso, and pulled it taunt and tied it in a big tight knot behind my back.  It actually felt sort of good, probably sort of like compression wear feels when pregnant?  It offered a lot of support.  Then while we chit chatted about Jessica's upbringing and baby names and hippy birthing stuff for about 20 minutes, I did lunges against the side of the birthing tub to encourage baby down down down.

I wanted to get out of the room, so we went out to the lobby/admitting area and did the stairs for more than an hour.  Up the stairs, circling around the little sitting area loft a few times, down the stairs, and a few more circles around that sitting area.  Over and over and over.  Good times, yes, good times.  At some point I sent Dan to the car to get the ear buds from his laptop bag, and he came back quicker than I anticipated after running into our nurse and being told they had a whole stash of them somewhere.  So a pair was found and I was able to listen to the local pop culture talk station as I did my rounds. I remember they were talking incessantly about something Kanye West did or said that required some sort of public apology.

The stairs definitely got my heart pumping (and my calves burning) and I was able to get contractions to consistently start coming about every 4-5 minutes, but they still didn't feel all that painful, in fact, they were frustratingly wimpy.  I definitely never had to stop for them, or take a break, so that tells you how effective they were.

My mom called me during my little stair routine, I think this was the 2nd time she had called, asking how things were going.  Gus was at preschool, and she was still at our house with my nephew Graham and Louie.  Supposedly Louie was getting anxious, and wanted to know if the baby had "popped out" yet.  My mom is SUPER impatient and antsy, so I'm pretty sure she wasn't just calling on Louie's behalf.  ;)  

It was really fun to talk to Louie, but it only reinforced how freaking annoyed I was that this was taking so long, or really seemingly going nowhere.  We were stuck in this damn hospital, and my kid sounded so cute and concerned and sweet on the phone and I just wanted to be able to tell him that his baby sister was here.  Or I just wanted to freaking be at home.  Definitely at this point second-guessing even coming in to the hospital.

I was getting tired from the stairs and starting to think maybe I didn't want to have ridiculously sore thighs and calves the next day, along with sore everything else from actually giving birth.  Also my back was hurting, partly due to the sheet tied tightly around my torso.  So we were about to head back to the room when our nurse came out to find us, looking stern again, and wanting to get me back to the room for some more fetal monitoring. She was really starting to annoy me actually.

She ordered me back to the bed, insistent that I needed to rest and relax a little, and said we'd do 10 minutes of fetal monitoring.  This is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to avoid in the hospital, and my midwife was okay with that, so it was somewhat annoying to me that the nurse wasn't really on the same page.

Of course the contractions started to space out again and got even wimpier once I was relaxing on the bed.  It was about lunchtime so I ordered more food and waited for it while bouncing on the birthing ball.  Both of us played around on our phones.  More daytime television, though at this point it had gotten REALLY boring, local news and soap operas and all that.

My mom texted.  No news, Mom.  YOU WILL BE THE FIRST TO KNOW I PROMISE.

I was trying to stay zen but was starting to get really nervous.  What is going on?  Is this even going to happen today?  Should I have gone home?  Are they going to force me into a bunch of interventions I didn't want?  I completely trusted my midwife, but also, we were in a hospital.  And I had a nurse who, despite being a very kind and sweet woman, was unintentionally extremely discouraging.  I swear every time she checked in on us I felt like I was disappointing her with my, "Nope, nothing... same story" response to her sing song, "Well... anything new?  Are they getting stronger?"

I didn't want to even look at her when she came in the room.  And I know she wanted us to do something, but I really wasn't ready to do something.  If it felt like my body was at least working on things I would have felt more confident in ignoring nurse Barb's obvious frustration, but she was getting to me.

Anyway, about noon we ate our lunch, I had ordered a BLT even though I wasn't all that hungry but THOROUGHLY enjoyed picking out and eating the bacon.  Mmmmm... bacon.  Nurse Barb left us alone for a while and I did more bouncing on the ball and in a fit of desperation I allowed my husband to do some stimulation of the you-know-whats. (I just cannot type that, too embarrassing.  And if you don't know what I'm talking about.. good.  Hint: boobs.)  It was super annoying and I just wanted to smack him at first but I forced myself to relax and it actually worked to increase the frequency of the contractions, but as soon as we stopped, the contractions stopped as well.

Over. It.

More of the same for the next few hours, bouncing on the ball, intermittent fetal monitoring, more unhelpful comments from nurse Barb.  I was feeling really down at this point.  And yeah.  I finally broke down and cried.  I couldn't stop looking at the clock, and I was feeling so much regret about even coming into the hospital.  At some point the stupid teacher heading up Gus's eval with the school district called and I stupidly answered my phone.  (We finally decided to get him evaluated with the school district to see if we could get any services to help with some behavior stuff.)  Well I've had issues with this lady and her methods from the very beginning and frankly just didn't really appreciate how she handled some things. But she had called to let me know she had been at his preschool today to observe him and had wanted to get in a few little fine motor tests that she hadn't been able to do one-on-one with him the TWO times I had brought him to her office.  So she freaking pulled him out of FREE PLAY TIME which is of course his favorite part of school.  He looks so forward to playing with his friends, and missing any of that time is just his worst nightmare. Well of course he had a big old meltdown after they finished with her exercises and was so sad and crying that playtime was over.  Ugh.  Whatever, not the end of the world, but I just felt terrible that he likely was already thrown off a bit because his mom was at the hospital having his freaking baby sister (ugh, I wish), and then this had to happen.  It of course wasn't the end of the world, but only made me feel even more regret about the fact that I wasn't there with him.  After our conversation (and setting a date for our final official meeting - read: multitasking), I texted my mom to tell her to give Gus some extra hugs because he had a bit of a rough time at school.  Of course she had known, he had already told her, and extra hugs had already happened. :(

So that whole conversation didn't help things with my psyche. (Why did I answer my phone?!) Overall I just felt trapped in this hospital room and frustrated and sad.

Finally at 2:45 or so my midwife came back (she had stolen away for a few hours of glorious sleep) and we had her break it down for us. What are our options? What are the pros and cons? How much time do we have once we start any of these interventions?

We could:

1. Go home.  Dan and I REALLY didn't want to do this, and she REALLY didn't want us to do this, not at 7 cm. She was worried that as soon as my water broke this baby would be born wherever we were at the time.

2. Get a line of Pitocin going.  See if we can increase the strength of these contractions. This would mean I'd have an IV and would have to drag a rolling buddy around with me wherever I went. This all sounded so... medical, which was just the last thing I wanted, and I was scared of what "artificial" contractions would feel like. I had had two babies before without medication and I knew I could handle normal contractions, but Pitocin contractions? I don't know. Just the idea of Pitocin terrified me, and that's probably irrational and stupid, but it's the truth. In my head, Pitocin meant an epidural which meant a c-section. I know. Talk about worst-case-scenario lady.

3.  Break my water. As soon as your water breaks, whether naturally or with a little help, there's concern over infection, so we would be on a time table. That was really the only downside. But I was ALREADY AT 7 CM. The hope here would be that as soon as the bag of waters was out of the way, my body would take over and we'd be having that baby in no time. But there was no guarantee of course.

We chose option number 3, seemed like a no-brainer.  Dan and I had been talking about this decision all day and we just needed a little push, which my midwife and the nurse happily gave.

And apparently, that little push was all my uterus needed as well. As soon as she broke my water, while sitting on the bed, I had two contractions just about 3-4 minutes apart that I actually had to breath through. I announced to everyone, "Yup! These are different!"

I was excited. FINALLY SOMETHING IS HAPPENING! So they asked if I wanted to get in the tub and I was like, "Sure, I guess, I don't now, maybe, I have to go to the bathroom."

They started filling the tub while I did that and I had a contraction in there that I had to bend over the sink and breath through.  When I got out I almost immediately had another one, and I bent over the side table next to the bed, rocking and breathing.

About two or three more of those and I was bearing down. Dan was kind of kneading my lower back like he did the last two labors when I was having back labor, which really helped then, but this time I wasn't having back pain. I think I told him, in the nicest way of course, to rub my back but to please stop squeezing it.

Holy crap. This was definitely happening. The midwife got me out of my skirt and encouraged me to push if I felt like pushing. They were milling around next to me talking about how the tub was still too hot, it was at 103 degrees or something ridiculous, and I remember hearing that and thinking, hell no was I getting in a hot tub. I was sweating profusely from like 5 whole contractions. Also I couldn't even speak to anyone, it was like they were all floating around me, ethereal voices, and I couldn't handle making any decisions about a water birth at this point. I could barely respond to anything anyone was saying.

Finally my midwife said, "Alicia, you're ready, this baby is coming, do you want to just get on the bed and have this baby on land, RIGHT NOW?!"

Yes. Yes, that is what I wanted.

Unused.

And that is what I did. I don't know how many times I pushed, it's all a bit of a blurr, but it couldn't have been more than 4-5 times. I do know that it felt like more effort this time, and once her head was out she didn't just slip on out of there like I had remembered from before. Dan told me later that the midwife had to do a bit of yanking, her shoulders were stuck a bit. Nothing scary, but it all definitely felt a bit "rougher" than I had remembered. (Not that that part was necessarily a picnic during my prior births.)

Our baby girl was brought up to my chest and oh my goodness, I was so happy to see her. And so happy it was over, so relieved, a bit shell-shocked seeing as it had gone so quickly... once it finally started! My legs would not stop shaking for like ten minutes, it was a bit unnerving actually and I felt nervous that it meant something was wrong with me, but no one else seemed to be concerned when I told them. I actually asked Dan to take the baby pretty quickly because I just could not stop shaking and felt so drained of energy, I was worried I was going to drop her. Dan said there was a lot more blood than there had been with both Gus and Louie, so maybe that had something to do with it, but again, no one seemed concerned, or at least no one expressed any concern to us. They did give me the shot of Pitocin to help with the bleeding but that is standard protocol and no different from my prior labors.


We were asked if she had a name and I announced that her name was Olive Sylvia. (Sylvia is my grandma's name.) Dan seemed a little surprised, or maybe it was just apprehensive, which totally confused me. I thought we were on the same page and truly she had been Olive for some time. We had ceased any discussion about it long before, but I guess Dan felt that it was my right to change my mind after all I had been through, enduring pregnancy for a week longer than I had expected and being the one to actually give birth and all that. ;) He thought I would have wanted to name her Iris, which had been a favorite of mine for most of the pregnancy. He had always been very lukewarm on Iris and we both also loved Olive, so it wasn't that difficult of a decision when it came down to it. But goodness... if I had known that I would have this kind of almighty power when it came down to it, maybe I would have held out for Iris. ;)


(She is sooo not an Iris now, of course.)

Squishy puffy newborn sweetness!



Olive was born almost exactly 30 minutes after my midwife broke my water, and about 9 1/2 hours after arriving at the hospital, on February 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm.  We were so happy to finally meet her, so relieved that she was perfect and healthy in every way, and so excited to introduce her to her brothers.    





Wednesday, April 08, 2015

First Holiday with Three Kids

Maternity leave is still great, wonderful in fact.  This baby of ours is growing like a weed... at her one month doctor's appointment she was already 11 lbs on the dot.  Oh and tall... baby girl is tall, in the 97th percentile for height.  So the milk-makers are working and doing what they're supposed to do, which is always nice to have proof of.  Not that there was really ever any doubt, considering the delicious rolls she is sporting.

Said rolls have actually been giving us trouble, in particular the neck rolls.  Oh my poor little baby. So Olive came down with just the most terrible baby acne at about 3.5 weeks old. It was truly hideous and made me sad every time I looked at her, but I knew that was all it was. Classic baby acne. Ugly, but not really a bother. Best to do nothing. It will go away within a few weeks or months and life will go on, with a few less pictures to document than would normally be taken. ;)

But then last Thursday all of a sudden her neck was just lookin... Not right. It was no longer just the acne that covered it, it was red and wet and swollen and smelly, and definitely painful. No doubt about that part. 

The girl has endless rolls for a neck, and said rolls had clearly become infected. So I tried a few things, hydrocortisone, aquaphor, and 24 hours later it was WAY worse.  Assuming it was yeast, we attempted some Nystatin cream we had lying around from back when I had thrush with Gus, as well as Nystatin powder from my mom, but that didn't seem to be doing much either so I went on a mad Googling spree and confirmed what my mother-in-law had suggested the day before.  A Lotrimin and Desitin concoction on a completely dried area, the Lotrimin to kill the yeast and the Desitin to sooth and provide a drying barrier.  And it really did work miracles, even though it was a horrible process at first because the application was clearly really painful for Olive.  :(  Except for the part where I blow dry (on cool) her neck rolls after her bath.  That part she actually LOVED (go figure) and continues to love because now my life is all about keeping those little neck rolls dry at all times, which apparently is key.,

Huge digression, because none of that has anything to do with Easter other than the fact that I am embarrassingly vain and was SUPER sad that my baby girl was going to have not only terrible baby acne but also a red, swollen, flaky white (from the thrice daily jock itch and diaper cream application) neck on her first Easter.  Yup.  I'm ridiculous.

So Easter.  Man, I love Easter.  It is just such a low-key holiday... jelly beans and baskets of trinkets and pastels and cute fluffy baby farm animals and egg hunts and ham and cheesy potatoes.  Of course, Jesus, that too of course.

The Easter festivities for me kicked off on Friday when Lisa and I had a shopping date and I got to pick out my first and most likely last size 3 month Easter dress.  Oh and a tiny itty-bitty white cardigan because we live in Minnesota, of course, and for the record, that tiny itty-bitty white cardigan was one of my most favorite purchases ever.  It was like some sort of milestone as a mom of a little girl and it made me irrationally happy.

I also picked up a few little things for the boys' Easter baskets and frankly, just had a wonderful time shopping for baby stuff and hoofing it around the mall with my best friend and her baby.

This year we were to spend Easter with Dan's family, so Saturday afternoon we went to my parents' house to dye eggs, and for the first time the boys were both super engaged and excited about the endeavor.  They absolutely loved it, and only a few eggs were cracked during the process.

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On Easter morning the boys slept until 6:30 am, and for those whom don't live in this house and thus don't realize, this is TRULY amazing because they both like to rise by 6:00 and I specifically remember at least one of them being up before 5:30 last year.

I went too crazy last year with Easter baskets, like bought a bunch of real and big toys, and I didn't want to continue with that precendence.  I don't know what I was thinking last year, but no.  That was not going to be how we do Easter.  Lucky for me, the kids are both little enough to not really remember these things super clearly.  So this year we did candy, beach towels, sticker books, a few Target dollar section trinkets, and one little special, yet cheap, toy for each of them.  Everyone was happy with this route and I think we'll stick with it.  The boys were excited, but not greedy, and the sticker books and tiny toys came in handy in church.

We are sort of in the market for a new church, but have not been very dedicated to making any permanent decisions, especially considering the fact that we haven't been wonderful about attending church regularly over the last few years.  So when my mom suggested joining them at a new church just down the street from us, I figured it was as good a chance as any to test a church out.

I liked it.  Still don't know.  We will see.  But we do have a kid that needs to be baptized at some point.  ;)

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After church we drove out to Dan's aunt's house, who does a lovely job of hosting Easter each year.  The boys LOVE going to aunt Pam's house, and had been talking about it for the last week. All of their cousins plus Aunt Pam's incredible collection of awesome toys plus an egg hunt AND a Pinata and an unending supply of candy all day... it makes sense that they were looking forward to it.  




I can't believe how tall and mature this kid is looking... my little ALMOST kindergartner!


Dan was saying and doing silly things to get some non fake cheese smiles.



And the Pinata!  An Easter tradition.




Unfortunately it lasted through a few very minimal beatings from just three little kids, and then just dumped open.  Target should be ashamed of itself, very poor cupcake pinata construction.

Somehow despite the fact that it lasted all of 3 minutes, tears were avoided.  So I'd declare that still a win.


My baby girl, cooing and smirking at her aunt Kirsten.



I just CAN'T.


Conveniently her neck had healed quite a bit and a lot of her acne had cleared up, just in time to show off how perfect she is in every way.