Thursday, January 31, 2013

Snow Days and Sick Days

(With other days in between)

The last 2 Fridays I experienced my first and second snow days as a teacher.  After 1 year of graduate school, 1 year in Northern VA and 1 1/2 years in TN, I was beginning to think it was something I would never get. The first week we had just enough snow to get out and play for an hour, build a snow man, toss some snowballs and get very wet and cold.  The majority of the snow had melted by Saturday and the only thing left in the yard by Sunday were the remnants of "Frosty" who melted much more slowly than the surrounding snow drifts.  The second snow day saw us iced in the house for a solid 36 hours before everything began to melt.
Building Frosty
Kissing Frosty

The first Monday was a holiday and the second a sick day for me and Whit.  With these additions, our weekends evolved from a three day vacation to a four day weekend of fun marred only by the stomach bug which Whit brought home from school the first week and pink eye the second week.   Tuesdays were "back to school" for me as Whit cuddled with Nanny C and tried to get over his illnesses.

This year has proven to be the textbook "first year" in public school: full of sniffles, sickness and an over-worked immune system.  We are hoping that he is able to withstand things a little better once Baby Girl shows up or he will be getting a lot more "sick days" when I'll keep him home to prevent anything else coming home with him.

For all the other days in between we've been enjoying a "renaissance" (so dubbed by Kirk).  Living with a 2 year old is quite entertaining; Whit just keeps adding to the "Funny things Whit does" list and continues to change every day.  My energy level is (surprisingly) still hanging in there even though we are down to 5 weeks left (give or take a couple of weeks).  And I've apparently been doing a great (mediocre in my own opinion) job keeping up with the household chores, Whit and cooking dinner as baseball season heads into it's 4th week.  It is a bit of a honeymoon period as Kirk and I know (and Whit has no idea) how drastically everything is about to change!
Whit having a "coffee break" one of the "funny things" he does

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ask and You Shall Receive

One of the things I love about being Mommy to a 2 year old is that it gets a little easier all the time. 

Mostly, I have been amazed by Whit's propensity for understanding and following directions. For those of you who don't know me as well, I LOVE rules. I will sit for 15 minutes and read how to play a board game before I let anyone pick up the first piece because I want to play it correctly.  My parents didn't have many problems with me growing up because I tended to follow the rules.  (That doesn't mean that I didn't improvise when the rules were not well stated, sorry!)  I'm hoping that this ability and eagerness to follow directions will be helpful in the coming months.  I'm thinking "Can you get Mommy a clean diaper for the Baby?" and "Mommy is going to take a shower, let me know if your sister wakes up."

No, tantrums were not fun.  Luckily, we didn't spend a lot of time on them. 

No, I don't always relish the fact that my 2 year old is opinionated and strong willed (sometimes, I do!)

However, despite Whit wanting to do what he wants to do, as is the nature of the 2 year old, he's getting much better when Mommy and Daddy say "no."

Last night Whit became upset with Kirk and I was slightly amused listening to the conversation that unfolded. 

Kirk: "Why aren't you happy with me?"
Whit: "Because Daddy say 'no'"
Kirk: "Well Whit, sometimes Daddy is going to say 'no.'  Sometimes even when you really want to do something, I will know it's not what is best for you and I will say 'no.'
Whit: "OK"

Later that night when we were getting ready for bed Kirk asked Whit if he would sleep all night in his own bed.  Whit responded "OK Daddy." 

Early this morning I slowly began to wake up.  Typically, this is prompted by either a sixth sense or, now that Baby Girl is getting bigger, a need to visit the restroom.  Today it was surrounded by the vague sense that I was alone... OK, not alone, Kirk was in bed also, but I was in my own bed without a 2 year old draped over top of me.  I was even more shocked when just a few minutes later our alarm went off.  Not only had Whit slept through the night, but I had also.

Don't get me wrong, I have no illusions that my child will ever sleep through the night consistently (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree), but I did approach my day with a slight spring in my step and a bit of smile on my face... and I'm optimistic that perhaps Whit will give us a slight reprieve as his father and I prepare for another few years of consistently sleepless nights.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's all about the plan...

Sort of.

When I began preparing for Whit's birth, I knew I wanted to go as naturally as possible.  I had read the books, seen the videos, done the research.  I'd watched The business of being born and read a few books.  Natural birth was best for mother and best for baby.  Plus, everyone said birth was difficult, painful, hard!  If I could do it without the drugs everyone said I would need, surely that made me special, stronger, better (I'll admit, not a very noble thought.) During the 3rd trimester Kirk and I took a birthing class, I spoke with several doulas about childbirth, I wrote a birth plan which I shared with my doctor and had placed in my file at the hospital.

Still, I was nervous, if not scared, about the upcoming labor and delivery.  Kirk and I had gone through so much to get to this point, we weren't about to let anything get in our way of becoming parents.  Plus, I had very few resources and being the introvert that I am preferred to research on my own rather than reach out to the one or two people who may have been able to help.  In my family, very few people have had "natural" births.  Both my mother and mother-in-law ended up with last minute c-sections with their first children and planned c-sections with their second.  The one close friend of mine who had given birth had a c-section just the previous week and most of the other women in my family had epidurals (and loved them) or planned epidurals and didn't get them.  I know my mother was born at home, but it wasn't intentional and my grandmother did not offer many details about any of her 8 births when I asked.  I did get the sage advice of "babies come when and how they come," but no details.  I'm sure if I had tried harder I could have found someone I knew who had planned a natural birth and got it, but that wasn't the case.

So I was on my own (or better yet, we were on our own). I won't go into the details, but you can read Whit's Birth Story.  To summarize, I experienced what my obstetrician considered a successful birth after the complications of an extended labor and large baby.  Had I been giving birth 30 years before (or even 5 years before) I would likely would have had a c-section for failure to progress or too big of a baby.  Thankfully, I had an obstetrician delivering me who respected my birth plan and was "slow to section" to quote the labor nurse.  And yet, my biggest fear had come true: the inability to control anything.

In the end, I was satisfied with Whit's birth but knew that the next time something would need to be different.  Just six months later I witnessed my sister's labor, the only labor I'd ever seen aside from my own.  It was beautiful.  She clearly "got it" and seemed to have such a different reaction to the contractions than my balling up in fear of the unknown and anxiety that everything would "go according to plan."  It would be another 18 months before I would hear my first inspirational birth story from a friend who planned, and got, an intervention free birth at a hospital.  I texted my support to her throughout the process and, knowing how important a natural birth was to her, offered to come to the hospital if the need arose.  She was lucky to have a very supportive staff and husband and sailed through her labor and delivery beautifully.  Although I cannot recall the exact words she used to phrase how she felt after accomplishing this feat, I do remember her saying that if she were to have additional children they would all be born the same way.  I know she will be a valuable resource in the weeks to come.

Just last week I was visiting with a friend who labored at the birthing center and delivered just an hour after transferring to the hospital, completely naturally.  She suggested that I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth as she found it the most helpful in understanding the psychology of birth.  I've been devouring the text over the last few days and I must say it is very empowering and an important read for anyone considering a natural birth (at home or in a hospital setting). 

So what have I learned in the two and a half years since the last time I was in this place?  It is important for some people to plan.  I'm one of them.  I'm a planner.  It's not something about myself that I can, or really want, to change.  Yes, I will have a birth plan again.  This time it's more of a wishlist or a guideline for a hospital staff that just doesn't see a lot of "natural" birth.

But I am changing my outlook on childbirth.  I'm not trying to have a natural birth because it's best or because that will make me stronger than someone who didn't have one.  I'm having a natural birth because it's just that, natural.  God made me capable of delivering a baby.  I know this because I've done it already.  It's true that some of the fear of childbirth has been relieved by the knowledge that I have delivered a 9 pounder and can do it again.  But it's more than that.  My attitude has changed.  Labor and delivery, birth, is not something to be tolerated, survived, or managed, it's something to be experienced.  As with everything else in life, it's about the journey.   Like my sister before me, now I "get it" too.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

31 weeks (and other things)

This week was so eventful I felt it needed to have it's own post. 

Big Brother

I decided to put Whit first in this post because he has had such an interesting week.  After a difficult holiday break (3 Christmases are tough when you are two!) Whit has finally gotten back on schedule today.  It's a good thing because we all head back to school in just 4 days.  I know he's enjoyed the time home with Mommy and Daddy and he is not sounding excited about getting back in the swing of things next week. As always, he will roll with it and be ok and I am comforted with the knowledge that in just 7-11 weeks we will get to be back together again (albeit in a slightly more chaotic way). 

Whit's language and understanding continue to develop at a rate that is shocking to me.  He mostly understands that there is a baby inside of Mommy and he almost gets that eventually she will come out and be at home with us.  We've been trying to read books about new babies and new siblings to encourage his understanding.  Whit has also begun singing with me at bed time and I cannot wait for the first time he tries to sing Baby Sister a lullaby (or pick her up, feed her, or changer her diaper for that matter!)

Whit's imagination has also kicked into high gear.  A few weeks ago he began "pretending" on a more regular basis.  Now, he re-enacts scenes from his favorite movies.  We've tipped more tractors than I can count and he can quote nearly every line from Cars. An interesting manifestation of the re-enactment has happened in the last 2 days.  Whit is a big fan of Caillou, and we watch an episode nearly every night as we get ready for bed.  The other day Caillou was afraid of monsters and couldn't sleep.  As a result, 2 of the previous 3 nights Whit and I have had to go on a "monster hunt" to make sure that there aren't any monsters coming to get him before bed.  It's a fear I can remember having as a child and although I don't want Whit to experience the fear of going to bed himself, I have a hard time not smiling as we trek through the upstairs with the Thomas flashlight looking in all of the closets.

Daddy & Mommy

The (repeat) parents to be were busy this week with home repairs, maintenance and cleaning.  We managed to fix a few unknown issues below the house, organize a few closets and find space for the carload of generous gifts from our holiday break in Virginia.  Of course, this involved taking a load (or two) of items to the dump and goodwill.  Mommy had great intentions of having a super-sized yard sale this summer, but my current mind set is more about keeping 'stuff' out of the house, not holding on to it for another 5-7 months.  Daddy repainted the bathroom cabinets and Mommy washed and organized all of the baby things.  Although Baby Girl's stash of clothing is no where near the wardrobe that Whit boasted before birth, she should still be able to make it through the first 6 weeks of her life without repeating an outfit more than once, not bad for a newborn. Mommy has also begun packing the hospital bag and working on a few other sewing projects that I need to complete before Baby shows up.

Baby Girl
Baby Girl continues to grow bigger this week which will be her main job until delivery.  At an estimated 3lb 10oz and another 3 to 5 pounds to gain before delivery we are expecting another healthy child between 7 and 9 pounds who likely won't be fitting into the few newborn sized outfits she has.  It's a good thing I decided to pack both newborn and 0-3 month sized clothing in our bag. 

We had an ultrasound today that was deemed "perfect" by the midwife.  This was, of course, a relief to Baby's overly worrisome parents, not that we've had much cause to worry with this pregnancy.  Whit was excited to see pictures of his baby sister and will tell you that's who is in them if you were to ask.  We were able to see the little one drinking in some amniotic fluid and learned that she is a bit of a contortionist keeping one leg in the fetal position and the other up above her head (that explains how she can kick me in the bladder and the ribs at the same time!) She has just a little more wiggle room than her big brother did at the same time (Whit weighed about half a pound more at an estimated 4lbs 4oz). 

The biggest surprise?  The ultrasound tech pointed out that the reason her profile looks at little fuzzy around the head is because Baby Girl is already working on her curls (although you can't see it well in this image).  She's sporting quite the compliment of baby fine hair and with two more months of growth to go, I may need to pack a comb, brush and hair accessories in our bag as well.  Only time will tell if she will have the same head full of hair that her brother had at birth.

Baby Girl in profile at 31 weeks (the nose/mouth area is in the middle of the image)