Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The New Normal?

Well, I've got a lot to say but not much time to say it in, since I have a sleeping sickie 3 year old and a ready-to-wake-up-and-eat newborn waiting in the wings. Not to mention packing for my new family of four for a trip out to the mountains for Thanksgiving. (Talk about intimidation, but I'll get to that in a second!)

Family Transitions

My delightful custom designed birth announcement, courtesy of PIY Invites 
Nobody ever told me that the hardest part of transitioning from a family of three to a family of four might not be the newborn or the sleepless nights or even wrangling two kids into the car to go anywhere... In our case, it is my dear, sweet, emotional three year old that is having a bit of a time adjusting. He loves the baby and is sweet with him and kisses him and asks questions about everything. But you can tell that he feels precarious a lot of the time and needs extra love.

I knew it was normal and tried to head it off with all kinds of big brother talk, "enough love for everyone" talk, extra hugs and snuggles and one on one time and verbal affirmations and the whole enchilada. But my big boy is a sensitive creature who is easily thrown off and takes awhile to get back on track. So I feel that much of the first three weeks of the baby's life have been putting out fires with the big one. The baby pretty much sleeps, poops and eats just like he's supposed to, so that's been fairly easy!

At least someone in this house is calm...

Then Illness Strikes...
I feel like a lot of this year from spring on has been dealing with illness of some kind or another. I call it the "preschool tax", since my son started preschool this year and obviously then started getting sick a lot more often!

Last night was a special brand because I came home to the 3 yo screaming in pain because his ear hurt, working himself up into a snotting, coughing, panicking mess. My husband in desperation used Children's Tylenol, which I am always secretly disappointed to have to resort to, since I'm such a hippie mama with my essential oils and such.

But last night the Tylenol was administered in my absence and there was still screaming and panicking going on. So I grabbed my oils and got to work. Oregano for the ear ache (I put one drop in my hand and smeared it behind his ears since he wouldn't let me stick a cotton ball in his ear). Eucalyptus for the cough and snot (diluted in coconut oil and smeared on back and chest and neck). A bath in the middle of the night with three drops of a Calming Blend (Serenity) for the panicking. After much panicking and many tears, we all finally slept in some fashion or another.

This morning we woke up and he says his ear doesn't hurt. At all. We went from screaming pain and panic to nothing. Praise Jesus! Still some coughing and a little snot. Fever developed sometime in the night which probably helped to kill whatever was causing the earache. So I let the fever go for a bit but then decided to do a drop each of Peppermint and Lavender in coconut oil for the fever. He fell promptly to sleep on the couch and is currently sleeping off whatever remains of this illness, hopefully just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving. Yay for oils!

Poor buddy. 
Packing for Thanksgiving
So in the midst of all this chaos, I started to get really intimidated about packing for our three night stay up in Amador County for Thanksgiving. Newborns require a lot of stuff. So do three-year-olds. And then there's the grown ups! I started to think up brilliant ways to procrastinate until I remembered this wondrous little app that I discovered a few months back called PackPoint

As advertised, it practically packs your bags for you: it dials in your location (for weather), number of nights staying, whether you have a baby or kids, what activities you might be doing (hiking? fancy dinner? beach?) and pumps out a rather intuitive packing list for you! It's AMAZING. They're not even paying me to say that.

So I'm going to go and do my packing now that I've got the list done for me and still two kids sleeping! =) Looking forward to many beautiful vineyard vistas like this one:


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Imperfect 10

My little buddy is 10 days old today!

His onesie describes the kind of night he gave us/me last night...eating every hour or two and grunting and kvetching in between:

Gobble gobble gobble - need it to chub you up, baby!
Gobble, gobble, gobble, indeed! Mommy is rather exhausted, but that's par for the course with a newborn. Then the big boy had a bad dream in there somewhere and you can now imagine the coffee fantasies that I will be fulfilling for myself today!

Life with two kiddos is so far fairly chill, since one of them sleeps most of the day. I'm trying to enjoy the relative downtime because I know, as one friend eloquently put it, "it's about to get loud!"

So I'm spending my time cleaning the house (which was in dire need!), doing laundry, playing games with my big boy, trying to remember where I was in my knitting chart, staring at the sleeping newborn, and generally NOT following the wisdom of sleeping when he sleeps. I'd be sleeping like 20 hours a day! 

I don't know why I can't turn off and wind down in order to nap like I did when I was pregnant. I only do it when the whole family takes a nap together in our bed (well, Little A is in the co-sleeper, but close enough!), which are glorious times of joy and relaxation. I get all grateful and teary laying there amongst my guys.

I was crazy enough to think to myself yesterday, "Gee, I feel like I could almost just go back to work! Bring the baby in my office since he never cries anyway and get some work done!" Don't think the lovely gal temporarily taking over for me would appreciate having her job for barely a week or two, for one. And for two...I'm obviously crazy, and the baby reminded me last night what having a newborn is all about: HIM. 

Getting to know him, getting to know all about him...and feeding and feeding and feeding him! Introducing him to music worth listening to (Elton John's Honky Chateau, Ray LaMontagne...real autumnal stuff for the season!), exposing him to sunlight to help him figure out the difference between day and night, snuggling him so he knows he's loved and who his mama is. =)

So it has been an imperfect 10 days since that fateful morning of delivery. But imperfect in the best way...the messy, beautiful, agony and ecstasy kind of way that defines any life worth living. I have been grateful for the reminder.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Archer's Arrival

Now that I have a minute or two to type away while nursing, I'd better get all this out before the details are relegated to the foggy mists of my post-partum brain!

Our little adorable one, Archer Fox, has arrived in his own signature way. Hello, world! 

Here's the skinny: On Halloween, I began to get more of an inkling that this guy was on his way. People were commenting on my belly and not just because of my hilarious 8-Ball costume: 

It looked different and I felt different and a few other little bodily details to give me hints. After warning my husband, I made it through that evening and even the next one (my little baby shower celebration) without a hitch. 

However, at about 4am on November 2, I got up to pee (per usual) and got a weird cramp. It wasn't a huge deal, but it was a little more uncomfortable than anything I'd had thus far. 

I took a second to pray, because at my previous week's appointment, I had found out that baby was breech and I had an External Cephalic Version (or just "version") scheduled for November 4th, one day short of turning 38 weeks along. It was early Sunday morning and no sign of him flipping on his own and I really did not want to have to do the version!

So I prayed, "Lord, please help this baby come out the way he's supposed to, and when he's supposed to. Help me get through it and have a healthy, whole baby when I'm done. Amen."

No sooner did I utter that "Amen" than my little baby gave a huge lurch in my belly. I had enough time to think, "What in the wor--" before my water broke in diluvian fashion. I reached over to smack my husband and tell him, "It's happening now! My water just broke." 

Now, a little backstory to give perspective on my frame of mind here. My labor and delivery with my first son was long and difficult and for a few days after,  incapacitating. It involved forceps and when I left the hospital I still needed to use a walker to get around and was limping for weeks. I'll spare you any more gory details, but imagine all the things running through my mind about what might be in store for me in the coming hours!!

Ok, the rest of the story pretty much needs to be told in time stamps!

4:20am - Water breaks, I wake husband. We both freak out for a minute because this is happening about 2.5 weeks before we were expecting it! I half-heartedly throw things into a hospital bag (aka cloth shopping bag) while breathing through some pretty strong contractions. I struggle to find the number for the hospital to warn them we're coming and pass that task off to my husband.

4:50am - We hang up the phone with the advice nurse whose famous last words were, "If you feel like you have time, you could take a quick shower before heading over, but if contractions are coming too hard and too fast, you can just head over now." Without a moment's hesitation, I knew the latter to be true. I told my husband we needed to just throw the 3 year old in the car and GO. I've never felt the urge to push before but I'm pretty sure that this is what I'm feeling now. My body seems to have taken over completely and these contractions seem that they will very soon do the job of pushing my baby right out!

We hurry down to the car with a sleepy preschooler, with me breathing through contractions, beginning to pray we will get there in time. I have enough of a space between pains to explain to my son where we are going and why mommy looks like something hurts. "Don't be afraid, it just means we get to meet your brother very soon!" He responds, rather airily, that he is not afraid while his dad literally throws an uninstalled infant seat in the car, and off we go.

5:05am - After a mercifully quick drive to the hospital, me biting the seatbelt straps to keep from yelling and scaring the kiddo, we arrive at the ER. My husband rushes in to grab someone and I'm whisked into a wheelchair. We're still wondering where the heck our preschooler is supposed to be during all this, while the orderly is asking some triage questions. It quickly becomes apparent to them, as I gasp about the urge to push and tell them last I knew this baby was breech, that it is about to get real in the ER! They surmise there is no time to get me all the way across the hospital and up to the 3rd floor for labor and delivery. The ER Doc is calm but I can tell he's concerned and when he checks me I hear the words I already knew were coming, "Oh yeah, that's a foot!" He tries to push the foot back in and hold it there, which was one more clue that this wasn't going to be your normal delivery.

5:09am - The Labor and Delivery docs receive the call to get down to the ER for a footling breech extraction. I find myself on a gurney getting my clothes literally cut away from my body. I know this baby is coming very soon and briefly and distractedly wonder how they will possibly have time to get me prepped for what I assume will be an emergency C-section. I also wonder what I'm going to do with the one bra that still fit me lying in pieces! 

Two doctors appear and an RN grabs my hand and tells me to push, and I am shocked. PUSH the baby out feet first?! I have no time to think further as that's pretty much when the pain came and I could hear myself howling and hollering without any permission from my brain. There was no breathing between pushes, just push, push, push, (scream, howl, holler), push, "this is the most important push" (giant yell) and then that was it. I hear somebody say, "Cry?" and I ask frantically if he's crying. I hear a voice float back,"It's a boy! He's crying, he's fine!" I finally open my eyes and see my RN for the first time as she calls out, "Time?!" and I hear somebody say...

5:17am I dazedly sit up to see my husband rush in and he's crying and telling me how well I did and then my tiny son is in my arms and then seemingly from nowhere my older son is there and gazing at his brother for the first time. 

I look up from my baby's face to see the rather large crowd of gobsmacked hospital personnel that have materialized outside my room, suddenly realizing what a crazy event this was, not just for me but for anyone within ten yards of my bed. People begin to congratulate me, then my very own OBGYN appears at  my side and I'm so happy to see her because she understands all that led up to this point! She happened to be on rounds at the hospital that morning. She says, "I missed it!", to which I reply, "Almost everyone did!" She looks delighted and awestruck and says cheerily, "Well, at least I get to deliver the placenta!"

At this point I've got a baby in my arms and they begin to wheel me up to my proper place in Labor & Delivery. At different points in the coming hours I get shocked visits from the advice nurse from the phone and the two L&D docs who rushed down to help deliver a footling breech baby, and an email from the nice young doctor who tried to push my baby's foot back into the birth canal. I decide not to mention that to him but thank everyone profusely for getting my baby into the world safely.

I got to have some of the gaps filled in and the timeline filled out from the aforementioned visits from doctors and nurses who were involved. 

A few questions people kept asking were, "Wait, you delivered him feet first?", to which I reply yes, and then they try and clarify, "You PUSHED him out feet first?!" This makes me smile because it is exactly the the thought I had when that RN told me to push! 

They just don't do breech deliveries anymore; I've even heard they only teach the theory in passing to incoming doctors since there's no one to practice on...hospitals simply will not deliver a baby breech unless, as in my case, there is no other recourse. So you can imagine that the poor ER doctor was only semi-prepared to deliver a baby that morning, and completely UNprepared to do a footling breech extraction!

The other question I get is where my husband and son were during all this. I realized later that my husband had to take my son down the hall somewhere to sit with a nurse, and by the time he got back to me, Archer was already born! I estimate that my older son was with that nurse for approximately three minutes before getting whisked to my bedside. So the answer is that he was with us for all but the moment of truth, as it were.

And there you have it! Less than one hour after my water breaking, with almost no warning at all, Archer Fox shot fast as an arrow into this world and into our hearts!

I'm so happy to not be pregnant anymore and to begin our lives as a happy family of four! Praise God for His provision and protection and complete answer to my middle of the night prayer and all the similar ones that came before it!

Psalm 139:13-14
"For you formed my inward parts; 
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
  Wonderful are your works; 
my soul knows it very well."