Friday, August 26, 2011

Sleep. It's overrated

Disclosure: My 8 week old baby has been sleeping for 3-7 hour stretches from the get-go. Miraculously I've been able to avoid the sleep deprivation that usually goes hand in hand with a newborn. I consider myself VERY. VERY. VERY lucky and as I was discussing with a friend just last night, I feel more than a little guilty about it.

I have been spoiled this summer with two older kids who let me sleep in until 7:30-7:45 even though they are up and at 'em as early as 6:00. They either play in their own rooms, in the playroom, or in Sam's room. I am a stickler about them staying upstairs where all our bedrooms are and they always follow that rule.  (If only I could figure out how to extend that exceptional behavior to other things!!!)

The second their clock turns to the appointed time they come bounding in to wake me. They are hungry, they want to watch a movie, they want to tattle on each other, you name it....they are more than ready to get a move on!  So we do.  If Elsa is still sleeping I set up the video monitor and we head downstairs to pour bowls of cereal.  This usually involves some sort of whining or arguing between siblings while I try to wade through the destruction that always seems to happen the second I get done cleaning the house the day before.  I hop back on that hamster wheel all the while harping on the kids to not leave their stuff laying around!!  Not exactly a pleasant way to start the day.

Yes, I already know that they'll only be little once. I know that spending time with them is more important than keeping the dining room table spotless, but at the same time....laundry needs to get done at some point, if the table doesn't get cleaned off where else are we going to eat dinner together as a family? Our home is by no means spotless. But the fact of the matter is that I function so much better when there isn't chaos in every room.  Wait, wasn't this post suppose to be about sleep?  Here's where I get to that.

For the past week I've been getting up an hour before my kids each day so I can pick up around the house in half the time, I can do my quiet time (I'm re-reading Power of a Praying Parent - highly recommend it!!), laundry tasks get done, the kittens get fed, and a whole bunch of little things that would have taken me all morning to accomplish with the kids underfoot are DONE before they come downstairs.  I also have the pleasure of chatting with PapaBear before he heads off to work for the day. Bonus!! 

What this means for our day is that I'm not distracted by the mess and we can get on with whatever we have planned. Sometimes this means taking an hour to watch a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, other times it means going for a long walk through the park. The biggest difference I've noticed is that when we have plans to run errands or go some place fun, it's no longer pushing lunch time before we get out the door. Now I feel good about leaving the house by 9-9:30.  This change means that rather than being gone during rest time (12-2pm) we can be home by then and I get a break in the middle of the day. I wasn't getting that with our old schedule and I justified it by telling myself that we were doing something fun so I didn't really need the break. Not true. I do. My kids do. We are all in a much better mood as a result.

Being less stressed is much better than being less tired. Until all of my kids are sleeping for 10-12 hours a night, let's face it, I'm going to be tired to some degree anyway!

So what do you think? Do you get up before you kids do? Is it worth it?

eight weeks

alternately titled: I'm gonna need a bigger basket

I haven't really noticed many changes in Elsa from last week to this week, but there are a few things I want to make sure I make a note of....She's up to 2-3 15 minute stretches of contentment that don't require bouncing, rocking, or singing. We bought a floor gym that she's getting the hang of. Her favorite part of it is looking at her reflection in the mirror.

She smiles the most when she's on the changing table. That's Sam and Julia's favorite place to talk with her since she's at their eye level. 

She spent her first night in the tent this past week. She did great!  She was asleep when I put her on the air mattress and she stayed asleep until 3am. Her siblings on the other hand gave me a run for my money that first hour! ugh. They would not settle down at.all.

She found my hair this week so I've been keeping it pulled back as much as possible. If she doesn't have my hair then she's got a hold of my shirt or my finger. love.

I did some comparing of photos of Elsa and ones of Julia at this same age and was surprised at the differences I saw. I truly thought they looked exactly alike, but in fact they are similar but aren't exact.  Julia had more hair and a fleshier nose. They have the same shaped head though and their lips are the same. Only time will tell if Elsa's eyes will remain dark like her brother's have or if they will lighten like Julia's did.

Tonight is the first time I've worked a Friday night camper check in shift without her. I feel like a part of me is missing even though I'll admit, it is much easier to work with two hands!  You can be sure these hands will be snuggling my we babe just as soon as I get home!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elsa's Birth Story

The morning of July 1st started out like all the other mornings this summer. The kids let me sleep until 7:30 and then came in to wake me up. We ate breakfast and I started picking up around the house. We had spent the previous day at the town pool and because the heat index was going to be just as high again we made plans to go to our beach. The kids really wanted to practice their swimming skills but I didn't want to have to pay for the pool again. At 8:30 I lost my mucus plug and my brain started running a mile a minute. Could this mean we're getting close? Could I actually go early for a change?I turned to Google and learned that labor could be hours or days away. I feel I should warn you - if you decide to Google mucus plug be prepared to see photographic proof. Why people felt the need to post pictures to Google images is beyond me!  Moving on.....

Just in case I ended up being one of the lucky ones who only had hours to wait until labor started I kept up with my cleaning so I would have the house in decent shape for whoever ended up staying with Sam and Julia.  It was SO hot outside that even before this new development I had bailed on going to the beach. That's how hot it was - not even worth packing up to go swimming. Sheesh!  Instead we decorated bikes for the 4th of July parade we have in the campground and drank lots and lots of slushies.

The kids went to their rooms for rest time around 12:30 and I took a much needed nap myself. At 1:20 I awoke to the same feeling I had back at 34 weeks when I started bleeding.  I hopped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. It was my bag of water. Phew!  This was uncharted territory for me even though it was my third pregnancy. My water never broke with the first two - my midwife always broke it for me hours and hours into labor.  My first thought was, "thank goodness I just took the best nap of my life!" and then I started texting coworkers. It was a Friday after all and that meant at 4pm I was expected at the campground office. Of course we had a plan in place so it was just a matter of putting it into action. 

I called my inlaws and learned that my mother in law had gone to town so I asked my father in law to have her call me when she got home. I wasn't having any contractions yet so I wasn't worried. I called PapaBear next to make sure he was on his way back to the shop. (To beat the heat they started at 6 instead of 7 so I was expecting him home at 2:30 and didn't see the need for him to drop everything and return any sooner.)

Once I had made my phone calls and updated my mom I changed the sheets on the beds and checked on the kids. They were both sleeping which is very rare! Thankfully they woke up before we left for the hospital so I could tell them that the baby was coming today. Contractions had started by this point (2:00ish) and I was getting a little anxious about leaving. Thankfully we have friends who live in the campground six months out of the year and Jo was able to come up and stay with the kids until my mother in law could get there. The kids were thrilled - that was the exact sanerio they had hoped for.They watched a movie and played a board game with Jo.  They hardly noticed when I was leaving!

PapaBear arrived at 2:20 and we finished up getting ready to leave. Bags loaded. check. kids supervised. check. litter box cleaned out. check. kittens sequesterd. um....where are the kittens? Eventually we found where Ali had moved them (in the two minutes the door was opened to the basement) and we could leave. It was 99 degrees outside and about 110 degrees in the van. Did I mention that our air conditioning didn't work or that the contractions were starting to pick up in intensity? So with my head hanging out the window we hustled to the hospital as fast as we could.

PapaBear dropped me off at the door and I made my way to the third floor. They took their sweet time getting me back to a room, where they took a sample of amniotic fluid to send to the lab. Did you know that they don't take a woman's word for it anymore? Crazy people out there have wet pads with water and tried to tell staff that their water broke. So now they have to get confirmation from the lab first. That means instead of getting settled into a delivery room I was stuck in triage. I was a 'stretchy' 2 and 75% effaced. I was barely a 1 and 25% effaced at the clinic for the previous three checks. LABOR HAD STARTED PEOPLE! but of course they have to follow proceedure and I had to wait an eternity to get off that awful bed.

At 4pm I walked down the hall to a delivery room where I gave my nurse all the details she needed and she got my IV going. (I was strep B positive) She checked me once all that was taken care of and I was a 3. She ordered my epideral and I wanted to give her a giant hug for doing that so early in labor. Seriously, my nurse was a saint! It felt like I had a midwife through the whole thing because she never left my side (except to grab a bite to eat long after I'd been given my epidural. She was only gone 15 minutes at the most and was able to give us a storm report because she'd gone to the place in the hospital with the most windows.

Storm? Of course we weren't going to get a break from the severe weather we've been having every.single.weekend this summer just because I was having a baby!

We had to have the curtains closed because there was a severe thunderstorm warning so I couldn't see how bad things were. PapaBear took this picture for me so I could see. Thankfully I didn't actually look at it until days later.I did see some of the aftermath on the news the day after Elsa was born. My cousin lives in Wisconsin where the storm hit the hardest. Some of the pictures in this news clip were taken by her.

From 4:00 until 4:30 (when the doctor came to give me my epidural) were the worst of the contractions. I don't know how I managed them for 15 HOURS with Sam. I was so grateful that the doctor put the start of a surgery on hold to be able to help me first. It took two pokes to get it right, but I didn't care. I knew it was worth it. I started to feel relief by 4:45 so the length of time I felt bad contractions was very short - an hour at the most.

At 5:15 I was only at a 4. Not the progress we had hoped for so they started pitocin. At 6pm the power went out.

Eight seconds later the generator kicked in. (The power stayed out until after 2am the following morning.) When they could finally open the curtains it was very eiry to not see a single light outside.
We chilled for a couple of hours, trying not to mind that labor wasn't going as fast we we'd hoped it would. (With little kids at home if they were going to visit the first night, she needed to come sooner rather than later.) We watched TV and I ate popsciles and drank apple juice. I hadn't eaten in hours and had thrown up a few times - common for me when I'm in labor.

My doctor was on that day so I lucked out in that department. We weren't expecting her to be the one to deliver because she was scheduled to be on vacation the week I was due. She ended up delivering my baby and two others that night (in addition to five others in an eight day span.) Crazy huh?  The craziest part was that in the room next door to mine the moment my doc went to put the baby on the mom's chest is the exact moment the power went out. They knew the gender and the baby cried so what could have been a scary situation turned out to only be a good story. 

At 8:20 I was almost 6cm when my doctor came in to see if she had time to go home and tuck her kids into bed or if she should stay until I delivered. She opted to do some paperwork instead of going home for a few minutes. We called my sister in law to give her an update and to find out how late at night we could call with news.  Twenty minutes later I was almost a 10 so the nurse had me do a little practice push. It must have ben effective because the doc came right in and they had me push again.  Apparently it was very effective because they wanted me to STOP pushing so they could get the bed ready. I could feel the contraction (yeah for awesom epidurals that take the pain away but allow for awareness of contractions!!!) and let the staff know I was ready. One more push later and she was born.  It was 8:49pm. Twenty nine minutes earlier I was at a 6! If we hadn't had to wait for the bed to be set up for deliver it would have been an even shorter window.

She was much bigger than we expected. My doc predicted low 7's but she tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 9
 ounces. I wrapped her in my arms and marveled at how much she looked like Julia. She had a short cord so I couldn't bring her up as close as I would have liked but it was important to me to get as much of the cord blood into her little body as possible.
Once they wiped her off some they offered to let me nurse her right away but I opted to let them clean heer up more and wrap her up nice and good. I surpised myself for choosing that option because I was all about keeping her with me and nursing asap. It turns out that it was a good thing I waited to nurse because once she was weighed and back in my arms she ate for 45 minutes PapaBear didn't get a chance to hold her until almost 11pm because she just kept eating and eating!  I was on cloud nine. I had so much trouble nursing Sam for the first month that I was so appreciative of a great nurser.
PapaBear made a few phone calls. My mom had just arrived at my house so she was able to pass the information on to my mother in law and the kids.  It was too late at night for Sam and Julia to come visit that night so I kissed PapaBear goodnight and sent him home to get some sleep.  The next three hours were a blur as reality set in. We were parents of THREE. Our baby girl was HERE and oh so PERFECT!

At 2:30am on the 2nd I still couldn't move my right leg thanks to the epidural but my bladder was about to explode so two nurses helped me into a wheelchair and then into the bathroom. I've never peed so long in my entire life. Ever.  Since I was out of bed already they took the opportunity to move me to a post partum room down the hall. The bed was like a giant pillow after the delivery room bed and especially after the triage 'bed'.

I spent the next four hours snuggling and and nursing and ringing for help to go to the bathroom. It was 11am that day before I could take myself to the bathroom. A small price to pay for zero pain during the majority of my labor if you ask me! 
The kids came to see us and couldn't get into the bed fast enough to snuggle up to their new sister. As I expected, they fought over who could hold here next.  Grandparents got their turn next and I dug into the breakfast that had been delivered by then.  It didn't sit well with me though and I really thought I was going to throw up.  I think going so long without food (though I did have a turkey sandwhich and some milk when I switched rooms) for so long and being so exhausted in combination with not having any of my medications in my system was not a good mix. I did keep my breakfast down, but I couldn't eat as much as I would have liked.

The grandmas took turns taking the kids on walks to the gift shop and to the waiting area while PapaBear and I spent some time discussing names. For the second time we ended up choosing a name that wasn't on either of our short lists. In fact, it wasn't on our list at all! I have always always loved the name Anna, but PapaBear wasn't sold on it. I'm a firm believer that when it comes to naming a child, getting your own way is not 'winning'.  One parent chosing a name that the other parent doesn't like is not the way to go. Compromising and chosing a name that you can both agree on - even if it isn't one that you LOVE at first is more important.  We've kept our name options a secret all along so with some hesitation we threw out our two name choices for discussion amoungst our family.

For months Sam had his heart set on Anna, but when he heard that we were considering the name, Elsa, he said he liked that name better. And so Elsa it was.  Not that we let our kids pick her name or anything. Sam just gave me that little nudge I needed to go with Elsa. 

And so she had a name.

Elsa - because we liked it and...
Louise - because it's my mom's middle name.

All of our children's names have an 'L' in them and I really like that there's something that ties them all together.

All of our family left late morning to go back to the campground to participate in the 4th of July Kiddie Parade we host. I was sad to miss it but grateful that I'd gotten their bikes ready the day before. They had lots of people to wave to with Grandma, Grandpa, and Grandma Gayle there to watch.  Later that afternoon PapaBear returned and we visited with Great Aunt Dianne, Aunt Kara and Cousin Lily, and some family friends.  PapaBear went back home to sleep and I settled in for the second night of my "vacation" as I called it.  (I'll never have a holiday weekend off again as long as we work in park and rec and the room service was pretty sweet.)

She slept in my arms whenever she wasn't eating. I didn't get all that much sleep because the longest stretch we would have had was interupted by the need for her 24 hour testing. (the bad part of being born at night I guess) She had her PKU test, hearing test and her bilirubin tested.  I watched TV and ate leftovers from lunch and dinner. The rooms had a refrigator which was really handy! Speaking of the rooms...they had the nicest shower ever. It would have been worth it to have another baby just to be able to use that shower again! I kid you not!

PapaBear came back Sunday morning and we hung out until it was time to get discharged. It all went by SO FAST but I was ready to go home. Ready to show Elsa her home and be together as family of five. While we waited we took some pictures of our sweet girl.

I wish it hadn't taken me so long to get Elsa's birth story written, but as life with a newborn goes - we don't have time for much else besides meeting the needs of others.

As the saying hands are full, but so is my heart!

Friday, August 19, 2011

We're smiling today!

We're also celebrating seven weeks since Elsa was born. Overall it's been a smooth ride - some days being easier than others. We're slowly working in the direction of a schedule. I'm not a stickler by any means but I know that a rough schedule will help everyone.  Two nights ago she didn't fall asleep until 10pm and then didn't get any long naps during the day. She was much more crabbier as a result.  Last night I put her to bed at 8pm and she slept all the way through until 3am! I fed her at 6 and again at 7. Then she slept until 9am.  Today has been much better. She's had more stretches where she's content to sit on her own without being held.  I've made some changes to my routine but I'll save that for another post. 

My dearest Elsa,
Your smile melts my heart every time, especially when you smile at your big brother and your big sister.  You love bath time and diaper changes. You are taking a new paci like a champ and in combination with your swaddle blanket and Sleep Sheep are a good sleeper. You like me to stroke your forehead with one finger as you fall asleep. If you are having trouble drifting off I can cradle you in my arms for a minute or two and you drift off.  Yesterday I let you air out your bum at the park (don't worry nobody could see us where we were sitting) and you kicked and kicked your chubby little legs.

Everyone comments on how big you're getting but I know to savor just how little you really are. (0-3 month clothes) I've told myself not to mourn the passing of your newborn stage, but to embrace each new day as a gift. Your blue eyes are my favorite feature of yours, but your soft baby fine hair is a close second. 

A butterfly emerged from its chrysalis today and your siblings brought it over to show you. The look of wonder on your face was priceless!  God created so many wonderful things on this earth for you to learn about. I look forward to seeing His creation with new eyes as you discover the world around you.

You are so so loved!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Free Kittens

If you know anyone who might be interested in a kitten let me know! They will be two months old tomorrow and are ready to go to a good home.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Elsa at 1 month

Elsa at 1 month. August 1st, 2011.

I have been doing a terrible job of journaling Elsa's early weeks. Most of the time I get her weekly photo taken but writing my thoughts on her rapid growth, terrible spitting up, and the noises she makes when she eats? I just can't seem to get into a routine that leaves time for reflecing on what it's been like with a newborn in the house. At least I have the photos safe on my phone and computer so I can refer to them and write things out another day.
So why am I blogging today when for the first time in forever it isn't 90+ degrees? Well because we've already gone on a bike ride, baked a pie, cleaned the playroom, and done the laundry so
we're chilling in front of a movie while we wait for Daddy to get home.
That, and I'm hoping someone can offer some insight into Elsa's spitting up. She doesn't cry or appear in distress when she spits up, but there is SO much that comes up that it's disturbing. My other two didn't spit up at all so this is new territory for me. She's growing fine but it can't be OK to spit up everything she just ate!


Friday, August 5, 2011

if i had a picture

It would show both of my kids sword fighting on the deck of a ship.

It would be of sweaty, tired kids having fun with random kids at the castle park.

It would remind me of a former preschool classmate's words when she left " Bye Sam! I'll miss you!!!"

It would be of simple pleasures like make believe and lazy summer days.

Since I won't have a picture, my memory of this day will have to do.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Savoring Summer

School starts in 29 days. Not that I'm counting or anything. We've had a fun and busy summer. I have LOVED not having to work three jobs (four if you count running a household). Most of the pictures I've taken have been with my cell phone and some day I hope to get them posted here on my blog so my kids will have a record of what they did this summer. The list of activities is long and rewarding. Yet I can't help but question whether we did TOO much. Lazy days of summer? I don't think we had very many of those, but then again....I was pretty uncomfortable at the end of my pregnancy so we didn't do a whole lot in June. We made up for it in July!

It's been ridiculously hot and humid all of July. I really hope August brings some relief! You know it's bad when you are grateful for a rainy day because it brings the temps down from 103 to 73! There is a threat of more rain today so I think we'll head to the library. It's Julia's special day so we'll have to see what she's in the mood for. Right now they are flying paper airplanes. They are having SO much fun that they haven't even asked for breakfast yet, but I'm hungry and the kids are asking for another airplane.

How can I refuse these faces?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Her First Smile

It looked a lot like this one except she wasn't dreaming at the time. On Friday night (at exactly 4 weeks old) Elsa smiled at me for the first time.

Be still my heart.


Three weeks have passed and our little girl has woken up from her newborn sleepiness, not that I have the photos to prove it. She never did get her days and nights mixed up - something that still amazes me. The other difference between Elsa and her siblings is she spits up a LOT. It's not reflux because she doesn't cry afterwards but I'm still getting used to having to change her outfit (and mine) multiple times a day.  It's summer though so she spends quite a bit of time in just a diaper or a onesie so those changes are easy.  Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself, but 'easy' seems to be the theme with her.  How did I get so lucky?

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...