Thursday, July 3, 2014

Labor hopes & wishes

I know, I know.  Labor does its own thing.

Believe me, I learned last time: there's not much you can control if your body refuses do what it's supposed to do, unlike some people I envy know.

But we also learned a lot that I hope will be positive in helping me reach a different outcome.  A lot of the proverbial what not to do's.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of the things I'm keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for on D day:

1. My water doesn't break before labor starts.  Because, though I'm pretty much resolved to ignore the doc's advice to come into the hospital right away, there's immediately a ticking clock on labor if that happens.  I'll only have so much time to get it going and get it going strong before I do have to go to the hospital, which means that I'll be subjected to all the monitoring and checking that comes along with it.  All of which may effectively shut down any labor progress I've made.

11 p.m., just a couple of hours before leaving for the hospital.  If only I'd known what was in store.  I SO wouldn't have been smiling.

2. To be well rested beforehand.  If last time is any indication, my labor is a marathon and not a sprint.  Maybe that's not even the comparison - I'm a little closer to the Tour de France.  Sure, I may shave a few hours off of the 24 it took to git 'er done last time, but I'm pretty sure I can be a whole lot more effective in the birthing process if I haven't been awake for like 40 hours in a row.

Ahhh... 3 a.m.  Seriously, quit smiling, kid.  You have no idea.

3. That I can move around.  A lot.  This is one I definitely learned my lesson on last time through.  Sure, we walked.  I bounced and bounced and bounced on the birthing ball.  I tried to move and change position.  But because I'd already been up for nearly 24 hours and it was 2 a.m. before I even arrived at the hospital and I wasn't progressing very quickly, I also rested.  Maybe more than I should have.  It was a delicate balance between moving to help labor progress and trying to save my energy - a balance I'm hoping I can do a better job of achieving this time through.  Not to mention, without being tethered to a gazillionty wires (all of which definitely hinders the entire process).

6:00 p.m. and we're finally getting somewhere.

4. That I can eat during labor.  Again, if I'm in the hospital because my water has broken, this is a no-go (though... I'm pretty sure this is another rule I may flirt with breaking).  Remember that marathon comparison?  Nobody does that without being properly fueled.  There's lots of good research that cites the importance of eating during labor, and the ways it can contribute to positive outcomes for mommies.  I'm so getting on that train.

5. That gravity will be my ally.  At the end... after 23 hours and a whole ton of stuff had been done to me, I still had to push for over an hour.  And, like an idiot, I chose to do it on my back in bed (largely, probably because I couldn't feel a lot of what I should have been able to feel because of all the trial and error issues with the epidural.  Ideally, that won't be the case this time because there won't be an epidural).  Yeah, let's not make that mistake again!  NO VACUUM!  NO VACUUM!  Poor, poor little Logan.  No vacuum is up there at the top of the list of things I hope I can rectify this time around.

This moment.  Breathless.  Tears.  So worth every second of pain, before and after.
 I've been doing a lot of research on what is and isn't part of "evidence based care" as opposed to the "cover your A" care often enacted in hospitals due to insurance or legislative restrictions.  It has been extremely eye-opening, and maybe more than a little worrisome.

For example:

Evidence-based care for you means freedom of movement, freedom to eat and drink as you like, intermittent auscultation to monitor your baby’s heart rate during labor, one-to-one continuous support by someone who is educated in childbirth, water immersion for pain management, privacy so you can focus, no vaginal exams during labor unless there is a specific reason for it or you want to know your dilation, and freedom to push in whatever position feels comfortable to you.  It includes interventions when medically necessary and not before.

Contrasted with what we typically (and I, certainly - pretty much exactly this) experience in hospitals:
...Strapped into bed with belts for continuous monitoring of your baby (this kind of monitoring has an over 99% false positive rate), no food or drink allowed (they might give you ice chips), no one-to-one support, maybe a tub for water immersion, but you can’t get in if you’re on monitoring belts, an automatic IV into your hand that hurts and makes it hard to move, lots of interruptions by people wanting to give you vaginal exams (that serve absolutely no medical purpose, but increase your odds of infection down there), and constant pressure to “hurry things along” with medication or “give you a break” with an epidural.  It’s unlikely that anyone will tell you the significant risks of medications that speed things up (Pitocin causes fetal distress, which is a #2 cause of C-sections) or the downsides of an epidural (primarily, that you won’t be able to move around to get baby positioned better, which makes it much harder for him or her to descend through the birth canal and can result in a need for episiotomy/forceps or vacuum or even surgery!). (via)

Most of all, though, the thing I hope and wish for at the end of the day is a happy, healthy baby

I'd like to be happy and healthy, too if we can swing it. 

So although I've said all these things, my number one concern is going to be for the baby, and all other decisions will be made out of that very important perspective.  All the rest of these are just ideas to help me even up the odds a little in the face of what will probably be a difficult day.  I'm not heeding my own advice from two years ago and electing for a c-section, so fingers crossed that one doesn't come back to haunt me.  

And, I now know enough to know that if I'm just not progressing, it's okay to do the epidural and then pitocin - in that and only that order.  

I'm kinda, sorta ridiculously excited.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The only thing standing between me and this baby is July.

Oh yes.


Which is probably a good thing, because the view from above looks a lot like this these days:

I've officially become the biggest I've ever been (gulp).  That's what I get for thinking I could carry weight while nursing and then lose it as soon as we quit.  Turns out, when you get pregnant right away, that's not so much a thing.

Our summer has been absolutely fantastic.  I think it's some kind of restitution for the atrocious summer we endured without air conditioning when I was pregnant with Logan; instead of a record-breaking hot summer, we've come somewhat close to a record-breaking cool one.  It has been absolutely fantastic to have summer days in the 70's to the end of June.

Mostly, we've been doing a lot of this:

There have been a lot of Popsicles.  A lot of water toys.  A lot of playing in the backyard.    

The truth is that with Casey gone as much as he has been and me as large and in charge as is my current condition, keeping the people fed and clothed and entertained is just about as much as I'm capable of every day.  We're definitely not shooting for the stars here.  There are no Pinterest-y bucket lists or super clever crafts, and Best!Summer!Ever! is pretty much out the window too.  We've been to the zoo and the pool... and that's about the end of the list.  But they seem quite content, thankfully, to play in the water and with miscellaneous buckets and kitchen utensils to measure and dump water and sand.  We're getting miles out of the new patio we had poured at the beginning of the summer.

Leah has been attending swim lessons since April, and she absolutely adores them.  She is gearing up to go to summer camp three days a week for the better part of this month; a nice treat for her and me.  I'm excited to have some one on one Logan time before that's not an option ever again anymore.  

Otherwise, we're kind of in a holding pattern.  I'm getting  reallyreallyreallyreally a little antsy, because everywhere I look throughout my house all I see are projects that need to be finished and I'm not remotely capable of helping finish them.  The nursery.  The baseboards.  The moldings.  The grass in the backyard needs patching in about two dozen places.  All these projects we had initially intended to be part of our "five year plan" on the house, which I am now absolutely itching to have done before this baby comes.  

September-ish, 2012

Mostly, I just want us both as parents to be able to have peace of mind in a way that we didn't after Logan was born.  Literally, we don't remember Logan's newborn days.  They are just a haze of stress and tasks and messes and construction and long drives back and forth, for Casey more than anyone. 

Not to mention, oh so attractive photos.  Seriously, though, this was our reality.  It looks every bit as bad as it felt. 

Our memories are choppy until sometime around Thanksgiving when Logan was 3 months old.  I have absolutely no desire to repeat that scenario, so July will be a pretty ugly push (mostly for my husband) to get a lot done in just a few weeks.  That way, we can sit back and enjoy the normal chaos that comes with a new baby, but at least in a home that is (mostly) finished the way we want it to be.  Or at least, you know, has baseboards after two years.

We've definitely come a long way... but with the big tasks in the fall approaching quickly - those read: BABY! and homeschool, in that order - we know there isn't going to be much time for home improvement for quite a while.  

So here's to a bit of emotional investment and some good ole' fashioned elbow grease to pave the way for some really fantastic memories to come.  And photos that we're proud to display, instead of hiding away in a dusty, never seen file on the computer.  And maybe, just maybe, a lot of joyful pushing before the end of the month.  Because that's the part I actually get to handle!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I said goodbye to my grandmother today

When the sun came up this morning, my heart was still pretty heavy.  Fortunately, in a rare occurrence of luck and love, my wonderful husband got up with the tiny one who came running into our room to cuddle, stroke my face and mumble, "Hi Momma.  Hi Momma. Hi."  

To my great surprise, I went quickly back to sleep. 
Grandma, my mom, my aunt, Kelsey and me.  Christmas, 1991.  Too bad we don't all look alike. 

I'm convinced I almost had this baby on Friday.  My contractions started Friday night around 8:30 or 9, largely due to this text message from my aunt: Grandma's in the hospital.  I'm headed there now.  It doesn't look good.  Call you when I know more. 
Grandma and Leah.  April, 2010

Her heart had stopped.  

Though my grandpa called the EMT's, who were able to restart her heart, she'd been under a long time.  There was concern that she would have little or no brain function - if they were even able to bring her back. And, anyway, a little over two years ago she received a terminal diagnosis and was given 6 months to live.  Six months ago, that degenerative disorder finally reached a point of no return.  Though she still had her life and wasn't yet forced into hospice or a nursing home, it was really only a matter of time.  Even if she did come back, what would she be coming back to?  

I cried a lot.  And contracted perhaps even more.  
I adore this photo.  Even if Leah is screaming.  Four generations of women - April 2010.

And prayed, mostly that the Lord in His mercy would take her just as she was.  That He would reach down out of Heaven and let her burdens be relieved.  That in His grace, she would not have to suffer a slow and gradual descent into death, but would simply enter into glory on a day no one expected, with all signs of still being herself in-tact.  
Mother's Day, 2012

It's no fun to pray that your grandma would die.  It doesn't sit well with the soul, though I was (and am still) convinced it was the best possible scenario.  My great fear about my grandma's death hasn't been that she would die, but that she would live so long she'd no longer be herself.  She would no longer be able to sit outside under the grapefruit tree or stockpile wonderful flavors of homemade jam or send nasty e-mails about a new breed of pepper that looks like a penis.  That she wouldn't be able to drive to Seattle to make sure her grandkids' lives were just a little bit easier.  

You see, she's a pretty awesome lady, my grandma.


Selfless.  Kind.  So, so wise and loving. 

She has been the most incredible role model to her family.  Grace through tragedy.  Perseverance in the face of pain.  How to live a Godly, Christ-centered life.  Kindness, love and mercy.


She buried two of her (adult) babies.  She helped hold her grandkids together.  She was always, always there when we needed her, even though she lived in other states throughout our lives.  She watched me at baseball games and swim meets and came to musicals and saw me graduate.  She watched me get married and have babies.  She cried with me when I lost mine.  I couldn't love her any more.

I have so many wonderful memories of Christmases at her house and exploring the woods and driving the golf cart.  Her house always smelled like freshly baked bread; I recall it every time I make bread in the machine she gave me.  


We are so, so lucky and blessed to have had her in our lives.  To have watched her live and had the chance to listen to her lessons.  To have laughed with her.  To have received her comfort in times of sorrow.

The last picture I have with her, taken on her 83rd birthday.  February, 2014

Today, she went to be with Jesus.  And, though I have cried a lot and my heart has been heavy, because I love her, I am so very glad.   

I love you, Grandma.  I am privileged to have shared in your life.  I'll see you in Paradise.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Me and Amy, we sound the same.

I would like to hereby proclaim my undying love for Amy Poehler.  Because I think we can all agree, she's completely hilarious.  So many amazing SNL moments.  The best Hillary Clinton impersonations (one of my all time favorite skits and the absolute only good thing to come out of election year dramas.  Two funny, funny ladies).

Here's the problem, though: it's day one (seriously?  It's only day one?!) of a two week single mom stint and already I sound waaaay too much like Amy.  

And not the nice, conversational, complementary side.  

I'm a little more intense.  A little more "HOW DO YOU MISS A PASS LIKE THAT?!"   

Because, I love my little stinkers.  More than life itself.  This Mom gig is my most important job, and all those sappy, inspirational quotes that have those with kids and without kids debating whether motherhood really is the hardest and most noble job in the universe... they totally get me.  Sentimental and sappy though they may be, there is no question which side of that debate I fall out on.

I also feel a very strong sense of obligation to teach them right from wrong, proper manners, good citizenship, character, patience, gratitude, humor, joy, about good books and belly laughs, empathy, the beauty inherent in hard work, kindness, self-reliance, humility, prayer, how to fall in love with themselves, appreciate what they bring to the table and all those other things that will be so necessary as the real world seeps in to beat them down.  And more often than not, I hope very dearly to confer these mighty life lessons, not with words or lectures but by living them out.  By being my very best me, flaws and mistakes and imperfections and stretch marks and all, and letting the wisdom and the lessons that are learned in those ordinary, everyday moments flow out of me and into them.  Not because I've taught them anything, but because they've come along with me and watched me learn.  Watched me grow.  Watched me fail.  Watched me try.

But I have a secret to tell you: there are days.  Like, well, today. 

Days that begin with milk and cereal spilled because, in some miraculous role reversal, the one year old has much more control of his body and choices at meal time than the four year old.  Days where it took us literally an hour to get our sad selves out of the house.  Days where, despite the conversations about how important it is to rest her body and staythefrickinbed, there are fairy wings and dress up clothes strewn about her room and her motto is nap?  We don't need no stinking nap! which would all be fine if only she could be a reasonable, rational, somewhat decent human being until 7:30 p.m. without a nap.  Days that end with me nixing a bath and giving the go-ahead for tiny humans to run around in public looking rather like that dirt-cloud kid from Charlie Brown because, as Twisted Sister once said: we're not gonna take it anymore!  And by we, I very fervently mean me.  

Hello, my name is Melissa.  And I can't take it anymore. 

Which is bad, mostly on account of the fact that there's no relief pitcher in my house for the next two weeks, it's just me.  And all those life lessons I'm working to pass on through my Super Mommy Behavior are cancelled out, and instead the message is I'm TIRED! and ANGRY! and FRUSTRATED! and sound all Amy Poehler-y.  WHY ARE YOU DISAPPOINTING ME?!

Yeah, well done on that.  

Which brings me to the last important lesson I hope I am conferring to my children: the lesson that involves just showing up.  

True, it is a far cry from those inspirational motivational posters and a little more like the "hang in there, kitty" posters that used to make me cringe in high school.  But the truth is, there are times in life where we won't be all that we can be, and to GNC's dismay, we won't beat average, we'll just be average.  Not because it's what we're striving to be, not because it's our ultimate goal or because we don't want to improve, but simply as a result of that little state of affairs called being human.  

If the goal is to only show up for the days on which we're sure we can be perfect and can fulfill all those other things on that list I made up there, we're... well... totally screwed.  We'll never, ever show up. 

Life doesn't give me the luxury of waiting until I can be Super Mommy who knows ALL THE ANSWERS to ALL THE THINGS and manages to handle every circumstance with grace, wisdom and style.  Life asks me to just show up, beautiful mess and imperfections and all, and keep trying.  To make sure that, above all else, my kids know that they are loved and cared for and that they have a mommy who will always, always show up for them, even when that's the very best she has to offer.  

Because I love them, perfection cannot be my goal.  If that's the legacy I'm determined to leave for my children, what a massive, unrealistic disservice I've done them in the long run.  I've set them up for failure if perfection is not only the goal but the expectation and they miss the huge, average-but-critical importance of just showing up, when it's hard and when it's easy.  When you want to and when you don't.

Which works out well for me, particularly after a day like today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Life update and photo dump

Well, the title of today's blog post might be a wee bit misleading, what with the implying that I have actual photos to dump.

It's a little like those paranormal shows (which may or may not be a guilty pleasure of mine, on account of their total ridiculosity and nonsense-itasticness.  #what?itsaword!) when they're all like ooooh, ahhh, a noise in the dark! and somehow the only possible conclusion is that it is obvious evidence of a ghost or bigfoot or whatever they happen to be "hunting."  Um, sure, because... if you declare something with such enthusiasm, it must be true, right?  Regardless of pesky little ideas like facts, truth or evidence.


So, without regard to any of the above mentioned, I declare: HUGE PHOTO DUMP TODAY!  Come one, come all and see what we've been up to for the last six weeks or so!

First up: Easter.  We did it.  We were down a daddy since he was (predictably) working.  So there wasn't much fanfare or taking of pictures, but we did the Easter baskets.  We did the dressing up thing, we listened to an awesome message at church.  We brunched and hunted for eggs. All in all... huge success!

Though, the Easter bunny did not bring us pants...

Still a no on the pants front.

First haircut.  The verdict?  He hated it.
Our little "before."  I love that he was in need of a haircut at 20 months.  Leah didn't get her first hair cut until she was three and a half.

Those eyes just say it all.

And then this happened...  

 ...and then this happened, and even the lolly pop wasn't enough to save the day.

But it turned out alright in the end.  My cute little grown up guy!

Summer is here.  It's been pretty warm, and the kids have been itching to get outside.

So we bought a sandbox.  And Mommy put it together - that's right!  And lugged all 100 lbs of sand (and waited for Daddy to lug the other 100 lbs) to fill it with!  All before being warned not to lift anything over 5 pounds, of course...

This is how we roll in the summer.  And yes, we are desperately working on getting the back yard up to snuff.  So far... well, we're getting there.

Glenwood Springs.  We went with some of our best friends and had an absolute blast swimming in the hot springs and exploring the mountains.  Here are the only pictures I took:

It should be noted that all four, soon to be five, children are exactly 15 months apart.  Except Logan and Lauren, who are only 9 months because some people jump the gun...

And there we have it!  All the notable moments I've captured in photos over the last nearly 2 months.  I'm obviously not doing such a great job on the picture front, but everybody is still getting fed, showered and loved so that's a win in my book.  Maybe after the baby is born we'll try again.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thirty weeks.

The first time around looked a lot like this:

The second time was a little more like this:

The last time I was in this position, we were packing up our house to move into my mom's for the next three months.  We didn't have a place to live, and the future felt very uncertain.  I had one child who was still sleeping in her crib, the first place she rested her little head a little over two years before.  It was hot.  HOT.  Unbearably, record-breaking hot, and would continue to be beastly hot for(ever) a really long time.  And I'm pretty sure that stressed doesn't begin to cover my emotional state, even though I was super happy to be 30 weeks pregnant.

And, these days...

As I write this, my two littles are outside playing in the sandbox in our backyard.  Their room is 98% finished, and the nursery is the next on the chopping block.  Bottom line?  Everybody is happy, healthy and will already be settled and ready by the time this little person makes its appearance.

Did everybody else just hear that great big sigh of relief?

I know, it's a bit superficial, but the truth is that it gives me such profound peace of mind to know that we will be ready for this baby before it gets here.  Praise the Lord.

So a few weeks ago I had a doctor's appointment where I let slip that Casey had been gone for over 4 weeks in a row.  Evidently this was distressing news to the doc, who got rather alarmed and promptly started listing off the ways I need to change my life so I don't end up on bed rest later in my pregnancy.  Seems that mothers with small children are like number one on bed rest... something about not taking care of ourselves, eating, drinking or resting properly, most especially when they're on their own... yeah, I don't know anything about that.  

She put me on the same restrictions that women whose husbands are deployed are on: I can do everything in my life, but that's it.  I can still pick up the kids and the stroller and go to the grocery store and all those things, but I'm supposed to pay very close attention to all the things that don't need to be immediately done.  Can someone else mow my lawn?  GREAT!  Do I really need to move the couch, or can it wait until Casey gets home?  So the general guidelines are to keep doing what has to get done to run our lives, but make the extra effort to eat, drink, and lay down when I can (back to that age-old nap when the kids nap rule of thumb), and don't lift anything over 5 pounds that doesn't immediately need to be lifted.  

I was all ready to disregard this advice since I was feeling really good.  And then the third trimester hit, and out of the blue I discovered that I have some very real limitations.  It's funny how fast that happens, and how quickly you have to remember to adjust.  

This baby is most definitely a girl.  Not only has this pregnancy kept up pace for pace with my pregnancy with Leah, but she's just so dainty.  Logan was honestly ready to break out, Alien-style.  He thunked me, seriously thunked me, all the time.  He was the same on the inside that he has come to be on the outside: full-steam ahead pretty much all the time.  This little one is subtle, quiet and downright demure.  Those are the adjectives I'd use to describe her.  I've never really had to kick count before, because my kids were movers.  This one makes it tougher and requires me to actually keep track of her.  

I also think she's going to be an easy baby (knock on wood and throw some salt over your shoulder.  For reals.)  She doesn't freak out in the car - first one of my kids I can say that about.  Leah and Logan both wiggled and wiggled every single time I got in the car, which translated to screaming bloody murder for the first five months of their lives each and every time we got in the car as soon as they were on the outside.  This one sleeps in the car.  My other two were totally counter to the rule of thumb that babies sleep when you move and are awake when you are still.  This one adheres to that pretty closely, except... wait for it... when I wake up to pee ninety times in the middle of the night, she wakes up, wiggles a tiny bit, and settles back in.  WAAAHOOO!!!  I am seriously, seriously keeping my fingers crossed that this will be something that continues once she makes her way into the real world.  (For the record, sweet little Logan would wake up and decide to hang out and do somersaults, which is exactly what happened when he got to the outside just slightly less the somersaults).   

And, yes, I have taken to referring to the baby as "her."  I know, seems a little risky.  But I'm convinced deep in my soul that this baby is a girl.  I've carried a girl and carried a boy, and this one is nothing like Logan and everything like Leah.  In my head I have always unconsciously thought of her as a girl, so often that I've just given in.

We also began to feel the baby and the outline of her little body in my belly.  Oh my word, that precious little body!  How much I love and cherish being able to carry this baby in my belly!  I feel so blessed to be able to lug her around all day.  All my wonderful little people, they sure turn out amazing.  Clearly, the world needs a few more...

We consider ourselves pretty lucky around here!

I changed my font at