Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Routine

Earlier this spring, I brought Ella to the Festival of Books put on at my university, where she got a really cute (free!) book called Say Hello to Zorro in which a grumpy old dog has a very strict routine, but his life is a little disrupted when his owners bring home a new puppy.  It all turns out okay once they realize that both dogs have the same routine, and life is better--as long as everyone sticks to the routine.

I'm kind of feeling like Zorro these days.

I've been back to work for than a month now, and now that we have all beat the bug that we shared with each other, we have settled into a nice little routine.

On our "ideal" days, Anna sleeps until 5:30 am, which allows me to get up at 5:00 and do some crunches, take a quick shower, get dressed, comb my hair, do my makeup, and grab my breakfast.  I then simultaneously nurse her while eating my breakfast and doing my Bible study.  By the time I'm finishing up with Anna, Ella starts waking up. 

To save time, we started picking out Ella's clothes for the week every Sunday afternoon.  Initially, I had the clothes hanging on the mirror in her room, but they were too high for her to get herself.  So last weekend, we installed a little row of hooks at her height so that she can reach them.  Now, she picks out her outfits on Sunday, and then grabs what she wants to wear each morning when she wakes up.  And she has been so fabulous about it!  She has a SleepBuddy night light that goes off at 5:55 each morning, and she's free to get out of bed.  I've heard her moving around in the early mornings a couple of times before her light goes off, but sure enough, she waits in bed each time until she can come to our room and announce "My light went off!" with the same enthusiasm that she had the day before.  She still insists on having us help her get dressed--some days more than others--but she's starting to take more pride in doing it herself.

Once she's dressed, Ella plays the iPad while I finish getting myself ready, and then I do her hair.  She has pretty thin hair, and not a lot of it (we've only gotten it cut twice!), but it's pretty unruly and she's fairly sensitive about it.  I wish that I didn't have to rely on technology, but it works.  And for the most part, she's pretty good about turning it off when I tell her to do so.

Before I came back, I was really worried about how I was going to get out the door with two kids. I remember marveling at how long it took me to get out the door with one kid when Ella was a baby.  And then in the middle of my pregnancy with Anna, I was disappointed that we were habitually late, day after day--and that was with only one kid!  But that one kid was a very, very slow eater, and our breakfast time typically consisted of me begging her to eat faster.  I know that they say that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day"--but it was just taking us way too long.  I was spending a tense half an hour at the breakfast table, trying to get her to eat faster; followed by a tense half an hour in the car, trying to get to work on time.  So when I went back to work, I told Ella that things were going to change.  I gave up on that idea of quality time over breakfast, and instead, opted to feed Ella her breakfast in the car.  Now, every Sunday afternoon, I prepare five little baggies with fresh fruit, string cheese, and a homemade mini muffin; and every morning, after doing her hair, she knows to grab herself a little breakfast before we head out the door.  Part of me feels bad, but it's a sacrifice that needed to be made.



Being the competitive child that she is (I wonder where she got that trait!), Ella insists on getting into her carseat first.  So most days, she hurries herself to get into the car before I get Anna into her seat.  She can get her arms into the straps and click it across her chest, but I need to help her with the bottom latch.  Once she's in, she gets to eat her breakfast as we hit the road--on a good day, we're pulling out of the driveway at 6:35.

We absolutely love Ella's school...but they don't have an infant room.  So I'm stuck doing a two-kid two-school drop off for this year, and I'm already counting down the days until Anna can go to Ella's school.  Anna's school is right on the way to Ella's, so we drop her off first.  Ella has embraced her role as my "helper", and holds the fob key to unlock the doors.  She is very kind to the teachers and loves giving Anna a hug and a kiss goodbye.  It's a little frustrating to have to get Ella in and out of her carseat, but she's usually pretty good about being cooperative.  Then we're off to Ella's school, which is less than a mile away, and on my way to work.  Before she moved to the three year old room, we really struggled with drop-offs.  But there was something about transitioning to the big kid room that really resonated with Ella, and now she's phenomenal about saying "Goodbye Mommy!  I love you!" and giving me a hug and a kiss and jumping right into things.

When I was nursing Ella, I always felt like I had just barely enough milk to get by.  I was typically pumping four times at work--twice in the morning, nursing her during lunch, and twice more in the afternoon.  With Anna, I have plenty of milk (Praise God!).  It has been such a blessing to pump once in the morning, nurse her during my lunch, and one more time in the afternoon.  Sure, pumping still sucks.  But it is so much more manageable this time around!  Anna's skills is pretty much 10 minutes from my work, so I have just enough time to rush over there, nurse her on both sides, and rush back.  I do miss the fun break room discussions that we had over lunch with my colleagues, but it's a sacrifice that I'm willing to make to have this special time with Anna.

At the end of the day, I pick up Ella and head over to get Anna, with Ella once again being my "helper".  Once I have both girls in the car, Ella gets a "surprise".  I'm not proud that I am essentially bribing my child to behave--rather, I try to justify in my mind that I am "rewarding" her for her good behavior and being so helpful.

We get home around 5:30 pm every day, which gives me just enough time to nurse Anna one more time while my husband makes dinner.  He wasn't too excited about taking over the cooking responsibilities, but he does the best he can, and I try to make a big crockpot recipe on the weekends to give us at least one leftover meal for the week.  I'm trying to be a good wife and hold my tongue when he does things differently than I would have done...like not putting nearly enough seasoning in the tacos.  But I don't want to discourage his efforts, and I can tolerate some taste-less meals from time to time.

After dinner, it's bath time.  I've been getting in the bath with both girls lately for some quality bonding time.  Ella is a good helper, for the most part, and holds Anna on her lap with her arms under her sister's arms so that I can get out and dried off.  After baths I nurse Anna while reading bedtime stories to Ella.  It's quite the multitasking feat--especially on days when Ella is a little on the wild side and Anna is distracted at the breast.  Then it's time for bed--and Ella has even started going to bed all by herself on nights when my husband is not home and I'm still nursing Anna--though she would definitely prefer to have me tell her stories. 


I then have just enough time to clean the bottles and stuff the cloth diapers for the next day, before crawling into bed to get the rest I need so I can be ready for the next day.  My students laugh when I tell them that I'm asleep by 9:00 each night, but I need my eight hours of sleep! 

Part of me wonders if it's all worth it.  When I type it all out, and truly calculate that I and the girls are out of the house for eleven hours every day, I can't help but wince.  But it wouldn't necessarily be "easier" to be a stay-at-home mom either.  I would be just as busy--but in different ways.  When it comes down to it, I love my family, but I also love my job (though not nearly as much).  I love helping others--I really do.  And I still remember the feeling when I returned to work after Ella--sure, I was sad to leave my baby, but I told myself that my job was to be as good as I could to my students, and I had to trust that her teachers' job was to be as good as they could to her.  I still try to remind myself of this everyday.

Today's blessing was the chance to run in the rain.  You'll notice that I don't really have any time to go for a run during the work week anymore, but I'm trying to be good about running on the weekends.  It's supposed to rain all weekend, on and off, and I happened to have the chance to run when it was raining.  There is something so incredibly refreshing about running in the rain (and so incredibly comforting about taking a nice, warm shower afterwards!).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Think I Can

Remember the story of The Little Engine Who Could?  He kept reminding himself "I think I can, I think I can"...

I'm feeling like that little engine these days.

It's taken a full three weeks, but I feel like I'm finally getting over this cold!  It was a nasty one!  And I still don't feel like I'm quite 100%, but I'm getting there, slowly but surely. The girls--yes, poor little Anna caught it too--are starting to heal as well, which helps me start to believe the mantra.

There was one day, towards the beginning of the illness, when I told my husband that I was seriously reconsidering his offer for me to be a stay-at-home mom.  The wise man that he is, he refused to have the conversation with me until I was feeling healthy again.  I now feel like it's a moot point.

This weekend was Homecoming, and I had the chance to reconnect with a couple of my favorite former students.  Seeing them and hearing about their successes is always a great reminder about why I do what I do, but it was an especially strong motivator to keep on telling myself "I think I can, I think I can" at this early stage of returning to my role.

But I know, despite my efforts, that I couldn't do it on my own.  My husband has really stepped it up with his household contributions, and Ella has really embraced her role of being my "helper".  And I couldn't ask for an easier baby in Anna.  But really, I recognize that I couldn't do any of it without faith that God is on my side.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Today's blessing was the chance to get a pedicure with Ella's little friend's mom.  It was my "thank you" for bringing Ella into school so often while I was on maternity leave, but it was also a great chance or get out of the house and have some "grown-up" time with a woman who is becoming a great friend.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Mommy, You Want to be Lonely?"

I sat on our bathroom floor, crying. 

I had just hugged Ella and sent her back to the kitchen to help my husband.  She turned back to me before she left the room, puzzled, and asked, "Mommy, you want to be lonely?". 

Yes, sweet child, I do.  At least at that moment, I did.

After a pretty good first week back, my second week sucked.  It started with a tickle in my throat on Friday morning.  By Friday afternoon, when Ella asked for a drink from my water bottle, I refused, because I was feeling congested and didn't want to share germs with her.  Sharing a car with her must have been enough, because it came on her really strong.  By that evening, I was feeling hot, and her voice was raspy.  By Saturday morning, I was googling "croup" and pulling out the humidifier.

She napped on the couch for four hours.  I wish that I could have done the same, but there was laundry to be done and dishes to clean.  I felt miserable, but my husband really wanted me to go to the football game with him that evening.  Since my mom was here to watch the girls, I felt like I had to take the chance to spend some quality time with him.  In retrospect, I probably should have gone straight to bed instead.  At least it was a good game.

We skipped church on Sunday.  I felt well enough to go get groceries.  Ella had one more scary moment when we had to talk her through a coughing episode, and then slept for three more hours.  I prepared my lunches and clothes for the week, determined to not let the cold hold me back from balancing a career and a sick child.

By Monday morning, I had no voice, but since my mom could stay home with Ella, I took some Dayquil and headed into town with a friend so that my mom could drive in to pick me up when it was time for me to bring her to the airport.  I somehow made it through the day, but was strongly considering stopping by one of those "minute clinic" sorts of places on the way home--except, my mom loaded Ella into the car without any shoes.  I opted instead to run by our house, grab some shoes for her, and head to our nearest Walgreens to buy myself some meds and another humidifier.

I got home, nursed Anna, and left my husband with two crying girls and ran to the closest health clinic.  The Family Nurse Practitioner ran a strep test--I whispered jokingly, and yet honestly, that it was as nerve-wracking to wait for those results as it was to wait for a home pregnancy test.  I was, and continue to be, worried about getting poor Anna, now 10 weeks, as sick as Ella and me.  It was negative, to my relief.  But the only diagnosis he could give me was "Viral Laryngitis"--nothing really to do other than wait it out.  He was, however, kind enough to give me a couple free masks so that I could at least nurse Anna without coughing all over her.  (It's the little things in life, right?)

I sent my supervisor a text saying I wouldn't be in on Tuesday.  I just couldn't do it.

By Wednesday, Ella was feeling better.  She still had a little cough, but what kid doesn't have a cough as we head into Fall?  I, however, had quite the cough. 

And sore throat.

And congestion.

And now, runny nose.

The top of my mouth is cut up from sucking on throat lozenges, so I switched to the sides of my cheeks, which now feel raw.  My nose is completely scratched up from wiping and blowing (note to self--bring in soft tissues so I no longer need to use the rough ones at work).  I smell like vapor rub.  I'm having an out-of-body experience between the meds and the congestion.  The only benefit to all of this is that I'm coughing so much that my post-baby belly muscles are starting to tighten up again, just the tiniest bit.

I've been pretty miserable, but made it in to work the rest of the week.  You know it's bad when you start figuring that your 10-week old will probably be safer at a new daycare than she would be at home with me and my germs.  Praise the Lord, she has remained healthy so far.  I pray (and please join me) that she continues to stay healthy, because this is one nasty virus.

My husband has been sleeping on the couch all week.  I don't blame him.  I miss him, but I don't blame him one bit.  Friday night, I told him that he was on baby-duty, and I took a dose of NyQuil the moment that Anna popped off the boob.  The commercials lie--I didn't sleep through the night like a baby...but I did get a little more rest than the previous nights (and some funky dreams). 

I think--I hope, I pray--that I'm on the mend.  My throat no longer burns--it only feels like I have a lump stuck in there now.  My nose is running--although it hurts to blow and wipe, I'm hopeful that the drainage is a good sign that this dang virus is finally leaving my system.  Now if only I could get rid of this cough and congestion.

My blessing, amid all this sickness, is the reminder that I'm usually pretty healthy.  Granted, I feel so miserable now that it's hard to remember what it feels like to be "normal" again, but I need to remind myself that the last time that I was this sick was probably when I went back to work after Ella was born.  For the most part, I'm usually pretty healthy, and for that, I'm extremely grateful.  I just hope that I can beat this virus once and for all, and I pray that Anna is spared. 

So Far, So Good

(This post has been sitting in draft form for more than a week now...but I figured I'd still share it to help myself remember that my first week back was indeed good...even if the second week was not).

Well, I haven't had the chance to workout like I said I might because Anna slept until 5:00, my normal wake-up time, the rest of the week!  God is so good in giving us an easy baby!

I was welcomed back to my office with open arms and plenty to do.  The week has flown by as we transition from one busy period into a new one.  I didn't even post any regular appointments and yet still had plenty to do...which also means that I didn't have much time to miss my baby.  Sure, I miss her, but I have enough on my mind and on my plate to not ache for her.

My mom brought her in to let me nurse her at lunch on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then stayed home for the last two days.  Anna has been wonderful for her, playing independently and sleeping soundly for extended periods of time.  She has done just fine with the bottle, and I've been doing just fine with my milk supply.  With Ella, I struggled to keep my supply up, and was typically pumping twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.  I'm blessed to have my own office and would respond to emails or work on projects while I was hooked up to the pump.  But I was actually pumping more than she was eating these first days back, so I've allowed myself to cut back.  And since I started pumping so much earlier this time around, I have a freezer full of milk.  So I think that I'll be able to get by with pumping just once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and feed her during my lunch breaks most days.

When Ella started sleeping through the night (at closer to four months), I started setting an alarm so that I could pump in the middle of the night to keep up both my internal and external supply.  This time around, I feel like I have plenty of milk, so I'm allowing myself to sleep--and it's been glorious.  I am still a little bit nervous that my supply will drop--perhaps even drastically--if I cut back too much, but I hope that I'll be able to recognize any changes and adjust accordingly.

My mom leaves Monday.  The girls both had doctors appointments scheduled for that day, and I wanted my mom to be able to help out a bit with them, but they were rescheduled for Thursday.  So Tuesday will be Anna's first day at daycare. 

My blessing is having my mom here to help.  She and I may not always see eye-to-eye all the time, but ultimately, she is a wonderful grandma, and has a lot of knowledge on child development (which is sometimes both a blessing and a curse).  But I love her, and I know that she loves me and my girls. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Perhaps I Should Work Out Tomorrow

Anna has been sleeping until 4:00 am the last couple of nights--which is absolutely wonderful, right?!  Except, today is my first day back at work and my alarm was set for 5:00 am.  So here I am, thinking I as going to be totally rushed this morning, and instead, the baby is fed, I've showered and eaten a quiet breakfast, and now I'm just waiting for Ella to wake up in about forty-five minutes.  Perhaps I should try to work out tomorrow.

I should work out, not just to pass the time in a healthy way--but also because nothing fits!  I made the mistake of waiting until the last minute yesterday afternoon to try on my work clothes, and had the following results:

# of pants that absolutely do not fit:  14
# of pants that barely button:  7 (including one that needs to go to the dry cleaner)
# of pants that flatter:  0

Eek!  I admit it was a bit of a shock.  When I sent a text with those results to my amazing colleague, she was kind to point out that I'm heading back to work four weeks earlier than I did with Ella.  I know that I have lost some of the baby weight, but I still have a long way to go.  Aside from a couple of easy runs here and there, I had been relying on Anna to help me with my "breastfeeding diet" (which really is synonymous with "eat whatever I want and let the baby suck it right out of me") the way that Ella did, but I have yet to reap the same rewards this time around.  Like I said, perhaps I should try to work out tomorrow (or perhaps I should just face the reality that I'll need some bigger pants and do some online shopping instead). 

I'm as prepped as I think I can be for the week.  My mom is here to help us transition back into a new routine, and to give Anna one more week at home before going to daycare.  She'll bring Anna in for me to feed her at lunch today, so I look forward to seeing both of them.  I ran into a cross-campus colleague at the grocery store yesterday.  She had her second child a month or so before Anna was born, and has been back to work for about a month now.  She warned me that it was harder than she thought.  Even now, as I write that, I can feel tears forming.  I know I'll be okay--I know Anna and Ella and my husband will be okay too.  We've been here before.

Today's blessing is having my husband offer to get up to help me out this morning.  He has the day off, and I know that he loves to sleep.  But climbing into bed last night, he offered to get up and help us out the door.  Like I said, he loves to sleep, so this is a really big thing for him to make such an offer.  It looks like I'll have plenty of time, but I do appreciate the thought. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's Time

Today is my last day of maternity leave.  Technically, tomorrow is my last day, but since Ella's school is closed for solar panel installation, today is essentially my last day at home with Anna.  And silly me--I waited until the last day to make an appointment to get my oil changed, and I'm now kicking myself, wishing that I could spend this last day completely locked away at home with my baby.

I'm feeling a little teary today.  I know that it's time.  I know that she is a wonderfully easy baby and will do just fine with my mom next week and then at daycare after that.  I know that I'm valued and appreciated at work by my students, colleagues, and supervisors.  I know that I would probably start going a little crazy here shortly if I spent too much time at home.  I know that it's time, but it's still a little sad to think that I will no longer get these days alone with just her.

Sure, I have the weekends to which to look forward, but it's just not the same.  Ella and my husband want--and deserve--my attention as well.  I realized last night, as I nursed Anna around 2:00 in the morning, that our middle-of-the-night feedings will soon be our only "alone" time together.  And soon, those will end too.  While I'm anxious for her to start sleeping through the night, I'm also going to mourn that one-on-one cuddle time in the dark quiet.

I love being a mom, but I also feel that I am called to do the work that I do.  I'm proud to have a career.  It's nothing glamorous, but I know that I'm effective and make a difference for my students.  I want my girls to be proud of me--I love how Ella smiles sweetly when she tells people that I work at the University.  I could have lengthened my leave out longer, but when it comes down to it, I know that it's time.  And really, I would have these mixed emotions about going back even if it were six months from now.

So today, I'm going to snuggle with my baby (when she wakes up).  I'm going to take pictures so that I can bring them in to work with me and remember her at this stage, when it was just me and her at home...and then marvel at how she grows and develops each day when we're apart.



My blessing is that my mom is coming to spend that first week with us to help us with the transition when I go back to work.  This way, I can get back into a routine of bringing Ella in to school and the going to work, while she helps Anna get into a routine of drinking regularly from a bottle and napping more regularly in her crib than on my chest (though I did spend considerably less time curled up on the couch with her than I did with Ella).  I really think that this will be good for all of us to help us ease into what it means to be a working mom with two kids. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

With Hope, The Odds Don't Matter

I had a first-of-its kind request from a reader.  Heather read my blog, and appreciated my message of hope, and asked me to share her own message of hope.  Perhaps I'm opening the floodgates to future requests by doing this, but for now, I appreciate that someone took the time to read my blog and share a request.  My mom always taught me that you're allowed to ask for whatever you want, as long as you're also prepared to hear "no" as a response.  But for now, I'm saying "yes" and sharing Heather's story.  Although our challenges were different (she survived mesothelioma; I survived recurrent pregnancy loss), I also believe that with hope, the odds don't matter.  Please take a minute to learn more from Heather's story. 

Today's blessing is fall weather.  We live in the desert, and our interpretation of "fall" may be very different than other parts of the country.  But I believe that our high will only be 75 today.  We can feel the coolness in the mornings and evenings--Ella even wore a little sweater to school this morning (the trick will be remembering it when I pick her up this afternoon).  I was able to do a little yardwork yesterday while Anna slept in her bouncer on the back porch.  Let's just hope that I fit into my fall wardrobe when I return to work next week!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3





Ella turned three yesterday.  My baby--my first baby--is a bright, silly, energetic, creative, observant, and caring three year old now.  She has her naughty moments (especially after a weekend of birthday festivities), but I am so proud of and amazed at the person that she is becoming.  I love her so much more than I ever dreamed possible, and I look forward to all that this next year has in store for us.

Today's blessing is my mom, who is sometimes so sensitive to what I need.  After sharing some frustrations with her, she asked how she can be of the most help when she comes back to visit my first week back to work.  It showed such care that she would already be thinking--two weeks in advance--how she can help our whole family transition back to a work routine.  I still definitely "have my moments" with my mom (and we've had quite a few through the years), but when it comes down to it, I know that she feels about me the exact same way that I feel about Ella (and now Anna too).   Having my girls helps me to appreciate my mom (and my dad) so much more.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Two Trees


Two trees stand in our backyard.  Soon, there will be a third.  They are very different, but equally important in my life.

The first tree, the one on the right, is a mesquite tree that--to me--represents my losses, and is home to what remained of my third loss.  We didn't plant it there--much like we didn't ask to experience loss.  It just started growing shortly after we moved into our house.  Like many natural desert plants, it's covered in spikes and it's trunk is gnarled.  I was once like that mesquite tree--as I experience loss after loss after loss, I had my own spikes.  I wasn't a happy person.  I was bitter and gnarled.  And yet the tree grew; and I somehow grew too.  I found that it grew best when I trimmed it back.  I still marvel at how the tree seems to jump skyward whenever I cut away the dead weight from the overburdened branches.  Like the tree, my burdens have also been lifted as the Gardener urged me to grow despite being in my infertile desert.  This spiky, gnarled, unplanned tree stands above our outdoor living space, shading our (artificial) lawn and providing a little relief from the hot sun in the evenings.  My daughter now plays in the shade offered by that tree, oblivious of the significance and memories that the tree brings to me.

The second tree, the one on the left, is a Desert Museum Palo Verde, planted days after Ella was born.  The tree is a perfect desert hybrid--strong enough to withstand the extreme elements all year long, but with flowers instead of spikes.  It's a beautiful shade of green (palo verde meaning "green stick") with pretty little flowers in the spring and monsoon season.  It's been nurtured and cared for (due partly to an automatic watering system), just like we have nurtured and cared for Ella.  Like the mesquite, it too grows best when it's pruned.  I gave it a good trimming yesterday--it's branches were getting so low that Ella was having a hard time riding her bike under it.  It's so thick now that when Ella played in the monsoon rain last week, she found shelter under leaves and branches of her tree.  The "Ella Tree" couldn't be any more different than the first tree.

Soon, there will be a third tree--the "Anna Tree"--on the opposite side of the patio, to the right of the first tree.  I'll say that we're late in planting it because we were waiting for my husband's parents to come down (they bought Ella's tree)--and that's partially true--but I should also be honest and own up to the fact that things just get done a little slower the second time around.  But I look forward to having my third tree for my second living child planted soon.  It will be planted where I'll be able to see it as I finish my runs, and it will be a happy reminder of all my runs during my pregnancy with Anna. 

Three different trees for three very different parts of my life, and yet all remarkably significant in their own way.  Time will tell if we have room for a fourth tree.

Today's blessing was watching Ella enjoy an open gymnastics class at a local gym.  My very-dear friend was a collegiate gymnast, and Ella has recently been fascinated by watching YouTube videos of her.  Since today is National Gymnastics Day, we took advantage of a free open gym to see if how she did--and she absolutely loved it!  I don't know if we're really ready to commit to signing her up, but at least for today, I loved seeing her confidence in her abilities to try new things and take direction from the instructors. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Big Sister

Ella was smitten with Anna from the moment she met her.  Since then, she has been a very helpful big sister.  For some reason, she's fascinated by the dirty diapers, and wants to put them in the diaper genie for me.  She also will pull out a new diaper for me at each change.  Initially, we were letting Ella give Anna a bottle each night at bedtime (typically less than an ounce of breastmilk), but the wonder of feeding her baby sister faded after a while, and Ella got a little distracted and careless.  There were some tears shed when I told her that it just wasn't working, but we found a new job opportunity for Ella, and she now helps to give Anna her Vitamin D drops at dinnertime when she takes her own vitamin. 

We did have one meltdown a couple of weeks ago on the way home from church.  We typically stop and get Starbucks for my husband, and often get Ella an ice water.  On this particular Sunday, we had an almost-full water bottle for Ella.  When she asked for a Starbucks water, we told her that she already had water.  She told us that it was empty--which it was not.  Since she had plenty of water, we explained that we were not going to waste a plastic cup or more water.  She responded with a meltdown, and then pouted and proclaimed "I don't want my baby sisters".  It was a very two-year-old-almost-three-year-old type of tantrum, and I think that Anna (who was sleeping peacefully, as she always does in the car) was just the unfortunate target.  We tried to help her redirect her disappointment away from her sister as best we could.  Before we made it home, she had to use the bathroom, so we stopped at a grocery store.  She and I talked on the way in about where her frustration was coming from, and how things were bound to be different with a new baby in the house.  I also let her pick out a special treat just for her so that she understood that she really is still an important part of our family.

Our little chat seemed to have worked.  The following Sunday, Ella told us "I'm holding Baby Anna's hand so that she feels like she belongs", and then proceeded to fall asleep herself.  My heart skipped a beat when I opened the car door to retrieve my sleeping beauties and saw this:

Growing up with brothers, I always wanted a sister (though I wouldn't trade my brothers for the world). Yet I admit that when we found out we were having another girl, I worried that I wouldn't know how to best foster a relationship between sisters. It looks like they are figuring it out just fine on their own. I recognize their relationship won't always be as sweet as this moment, but I pray that I find ways to encourage their love and friendship to grow.

Today's blessing is having Ella's friend back from their vacation so that they can bring Ella in to school again.  Her little friend moved out to our area (about 30 minutes from town) a while back, and the mom (who has become one of my good friends) has been gracious enough to bring Ella to and from school so that I can stay home with Anna.  They went to London to visit her sister, so I was either bringing Ella in myself, or letting her stay home with me and Anna.  While it was nice, in a way, to have both girls, it is also nice to have my one-on-one bonding time with Anna again.  And--I know this sounds selfish--but because she is a such a happy baby who still sleeps a lot, I'm also blessed to have a little time to myself to get caught up on little projects around the house.  I go back to work a month from tomorrow, and I feel like I will be able to feel "ready" when the time comes.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time Flies

Anna is one month old today.  Where did the time go?  It's funny--it feels like she has always been a part of our life.

I realize that things change daily with newborns, so perhaps I'll regret saying this a day, a week, or a month from now--but for now, Anna is a pretty happy and content baby...or perhaps we just have a better idea of what we are doing this second time around.  Ella was never a "bad" baby, and she wasn't even a "colicky" baby...but she was rather "needy", and I don't think I ever really every figured out exactly what it was that she needed.  But I did learn a lot from caring for Ella as a baby, and I've been able to unlock those distant memories to make it work well enough for Anna. 

After some initial concerns from one resident about her weight gain, I'm pleased to share that she's been gaining weight fabulously.  At her appointment last week, she was up to 8 pounds, 12 ounces, which was an average of 45 grams per day (they hope for at least 15-30, so we're doing great).  Ever since my milk came in, she was sleeping great--so well, in fact, that I was setting an alarm clock to wake her up to eat at the four hour mark.  However, I found that it was really hard for me to wake up to my alarm clock, and I admit that she went 5-6 hours a couple of nights between feedings.  But at her appointment, the doctor agreed that she was gaining weight well, and gave me permission to let her sleep longer and wake up on her own.  So now she typically nurses while I'm reading bedtime books to Ella, sleeps until around 12:30 am, wakes up on her own to nurse again, and goes back to sleep until around 4:00 am.  This is almost ideal--even for when I go back to work in a little over a month.  If she can stretch the morning feeding until closer to 5:00 am, we'll be set. 

She remains an awesome traveler.  I often find myself looking in the backseat to make sure that the carseat is indeed in the car and not in the middle of the parking lot.  She naps well during the day, but is starting to be more awake when we're are home (she seems to just "check out" and snooze if we're out and about).  She does get a little fussy in the evenings around the "witching hour"--which always seems to correspond with dinner time--but as long as I try to nurse her right before dinner, she'll usually hang out in her swing next to the table and let us eat peacefully.  She cried the first couple of times we gave her a bath, but now enjoys it.  She does have a knack for peeing and/or pooping in the middle of a diaper change--and she's already outgrowing the newborn diapers.  They said they are designed for up to 10 pounds, but they definitely won't last us that long.  We'll use up the remaining 20 or so that we have in the next couple of days, and then start the cloth diapers again. 

I do think that some of her easy-going attitude is simply that her tummy is nice and full.  With Ella, I didn't start pumping until she was about six weeks old (if I remember correctly).  She gained the appropriate weight, so I never really thought too much about it.  But when I went back to work, I worried about keeping up both my internal and external supply.  So this time, I started pumping the day I got home.  It sucks--quite literally--but I try to do it after nearly every feeding.  I've got plenty of milk saved up in the freezer (enough that my husband and I briefly considered buying a deep freezer), and Anna seems to be getting her fair share as well.  For one thing, she sometimes nurses for less than 10 minutes and is then done--whereas with Ella, she would sometimes spend 45 minutes trying to get every last drop.  Anna also spits up--A LOT--and Ella very rarely ever spit up.  But as long as she stays happy, I'm happy.

I also wonder if her happy-go-lucky personality thus far might somehow be attributed to her exposure to happy endorphins in my system from running while I was pregnant with her.  If it works that way, then I'm going to take my due credit. 


Today's blessing is that my husband is really enjoying the new Bible study group that he joined a couple of weeks ago.  My husband has been wonderfully faithful about going to church with us and saying prayers before dinner and bedtime.  But I think a certain "spiritual spark" had been missing in his own life, but is now lit.  I'm excited to see him grow in his faith. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Settling In

Anna is now two weeks old, and I should try to finish the rest of the story before I forget.

The hospital protocol has changed since Ella was born, so she was placed on my chest the moment she was born, instead of being cleaned up first. She nursed right away. Those first moments of looking into the eyes of your child are so incredibly precious.

I had a good amount of tearing again that required some stitches. You may remember that I ended back in the hospital after Ella for a really bad hematoma. I don't know if it was somehow related to a resident doing my sutures or not, but I appreciated that my doctor did them herself this time. We later learned that the first-year resident who was learning and helping with our delivery (we chose a teaching hospital because I value education) is actually an ER doctor, so I'm glad that he was able to observe, but glad that he wasn't actually the one with the needle. Stitches "down there" are never comfortable, even from the best doctor.

By the time they were able to clean Anna up, I was able to walk around, which made me so glad that I had persisted without the epidural. I also got a lot of praise and admiration from the nursing staff because I was able to wheel Anna down to the recovery room myself instead of by wheelchair. I was a little tender from the stitches, but it sure felt good to be up and walking around!

Anna nursed well in the afternoon and evening, but wasn't interested at 12:30 am when I woke her up at the 3-hour mark. We did an hour of skin-to-skin, but she still wasn't interested. The nurse did a heal prick to test her blood sugar levels, which were fine, and in doing so, Anna took a little "comfort nurse". But when she finished, she spit up, and there was some nasty blood mixed in, which freaked me out a bit. We called the nurse back, and she explained that Anna had probably swallowed some vaginal blood, and while it looks alarming, that it's actually fine, and perhaps even "good" for her gut. My very-dear friend further explained that the blood could be upsetting her stomach, thus explaining why she wasn't interested in nursing. She nursed and spit up more blood throughout the morning, but it seemed to work it's way out, from both directions, in time.

My parents arrived the next morning, and my husband went with my dad to pick up Ella while my mom watched Anna and I took a shower. It was one of the smallest showers with the worst water pressure ever, but it still felt good (we had gotten to the recovery room so late the night before that we just went straight to sleep).

Here is the video of my first baby meeting our newest baby:



As she was getting ready to leave to go out to lunch and then back to our house, Ella asked if we could name the baby "Tutu" instead of "Anna Victoria", but we had to explain that we had already signed all the paperwork and we were sticking with her original suggestion.

A couple more screenings and a dozen or so papers to sign, and we were released to head home pretty much exactly 24 hours after she was born. By the way, we learned with Ella that there would be lots of paperwork, so we brought a binder with pocket inserts so that we could keep track of everything. If you're headed to have a baby anytime soon, I'd recommend that you do the same. It helps you keep everything in place, and will totally impress the staff!

Ella screamed the whole way home from the hospital. Anna didn't make a peep (in fact, she's a really good traveler, at least so far--she's only made one little grunt noise in last two weeks while in her carseat). Ella screamed that whole first night at home, impatient for my milk to come in. Anna did the same--though this time, we knew to expect it. After nursing her the best I could, I gave her to my dad to soothe so that my husband and I could get a good "base" sleep of 2-3 hours. I nursed her the best I could ever two hours or so after that, and gave my husband the in-between shifts. Unlike with Ella, when I was petrified of causing nipple confusion, we opted to offer Anna a pacifier that first night, which seemed to help. The second night was a little better, and she was on a good cycle of waking up to eat approximately every three hours after that.

We went back to the hospital the next day for a weight check, and weren't surprised that she had dipped a bit (as is expected). They asked us to come back two days later, and her weight took another tiny dip. That resident gave us the "doom and gloom" speech, and my husband and I were not impressed. But when the attending came in, the first thing she asked was how long I had breastfed Ella. When I responded that we had breastfed for 15 months, and had exclusively breastfed for six months, and went on to explain that her poops were indeed transitioning from meconium to the expected stooling pattern, the attending waved off the resident's concerns and agreed that we were doing everything right. We went back the following Tuesday for another weight check, and we were only two ounces off from her original birth weight--so my milk did indeed come in sometime over the weekend. Unfortunately, we had to see that resident again (and had to wait an hour to do so!), but I really hope that we don't run into her again.

Anna continues to be a pretty content baby--or perhaps we just know what we're doing this time around! Ella wasn't necessarily a "colicky" baby, per se, but she was rather "demanding". But I'm sure that I was probably also a nervous new mom, and there's something to be said for having a calming and confident presence this time around. And I know I made little "mistakes" with Ella--even things like nursing for 15 minutes on each side, instead of letting her drain one breast before offering the other. I look back and wonder if she perhaps cried because she had an upset stomach because of how I was nursing her. I also started pumping as soon as we got home this time around instead of waiting so long with Ella--pumping continues to suck, literally, but at least I feel more confident about my internal and external supplies; and perhaps Anna even has a fuller tummy, thus adding to her behavior. Or even little things like how to create a good, tight swaddle--I remember asking our pediatrician for instructions on how to make it really snug and tight with Ella--now I know. Lastly, I wonder if the happy endorphins that I got from running are somehow built into her personality. I realize that her mood can change, but for now, I'm just happy that she's so happy. Whatever it may be, she's so easy to love.

Today's blessing is Ella's little friend's mom, who has been bringing Ella into school with her every day since my parents left. Ella's school is in town, about a half-hour drive. But they live about five miles away, so I've been bringing Ella to their house in the morning, and she's been dropping her off at home in the afternoons. I want Ella to be able to have some consistency, and I selfishly want to be able to sleep and relax, and yet also be productive, while I'm on leave. I love Ella too, but I do want some time just with Anna at this stage.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Anna Victoria

Picking up from where I left off  from Sunday night...my contractions slowed down around 1:30 in the morning. I figured that if they were "real" labor contractions that they would pick up with walking. I'm too scared of rattlesnakes and other desert creatures, so I was limited to walking around our patio a couple dozen times. They didn't pick up--and if anything, slowed down--so I opted to try to sleep. I woke up to contractions twice, but was able to sleep until 5:00 when there was just barely enough light to walk around the block.

When I still didn't feel any contractions, I decided to call my mom and lament how confusing labor felt. She worried about my fluid levels, and urged me to call Labor & Delivery, so I agreed to do so. L&D wanted me to come in, since I suspected that my waters had broken. My very-dear doctor friend, knowing my desire to labor at home, discouraged me from going in, since she knew that they would likely put me on pitocin to get her out soon. But she's awesome at painting the medical picture for me, and then letting me make my own decisions, so I opted to play it safe and head in, figuring we were right around the corner from my office if it was not actually my water breaking, though I would feel pretty silly.

Labor & Delivery checked me (I was at a 2.5, so making some progress!) and collected a sample of my vaginal fluid to see if my membranes had ruptured. They ran three tests--two said my waters had broken, but the ferning test was inconclusive, so they did a final stick test, which indeed confirmed that it was my waters. Woohoo! So I was admitted, transferred to a delivery room, and started on pitocin. They started me low (2), but quickly amped it up. I tolerated each dosage pretty well, but started to intentionally breath through the contractions around 12. They checked me around 1:00, four hours after my initial check, and I was hoping that I had progressed one centimeter per hour...but I had barely gone to 3.5; which was a little disappointing. They upped the pitocin again--I asked my husband to rub my back at 14, and asked to speak with the anesthesiologist by 16 (I didnt have the perfect experience with Ella and wanted to be better informed this time around). My amazing nurse, Sheila, offered to check me again, and I was now at 6 cm, so was indeed making progress, and decided I wanted to keep trying without medication. Because the pitocin is so intense, they needed me to stay on the baby monitors, so I didn't have the luxury of walking around like I had hoped. When I got up to use the bathroom, Sheila saw that I could tolerate the pain a little better while standing, so suggested that I lean on the birthing ball on the bed from a standing position, even though it meant that the baby monitors didn't stay put. She also checked me again, and I was a 7.5, and she claimed that she thought I would have the baby by 4:30--which was in 45 minutes, and she started getting the room ready. I told myself that I could try for 45 minutes, but made a promise to myself that I would ask for an epidural if she wasn't here by 5:00.

Shortly thereafter, I started to think I was feeling the urge to push--though it definitely felt different than last time with Ella. At exactly that moment, my doctor came in--how is that for perfect timing! She checked, and I was indeed complete at 10 cm, so was given permission to get started. With Ella, I know I was a pretty inefficient pusher, and I was determined not to make the same mistakes again (this was part of the reason why I ran during my pregnancy). I assumed that I would be given some set of guidelines, as I was with Ella, about pushing through the count of 10 with a contraction, but instead, was given the total freedom to push whenever I liked for however long I could tolerate it --which was nice, because the pitocin was making the contractions a little crazy! And as much as I'd like to say I "experienced" Ella's birth despite the epidural, I now fully understand why they call it "the ring of fire". Let's just say that I was feeling plenty motivated to get her out! It took five pushes in fifteen minutes before she was on my chest. As Sheila predicted, she was born at 4:30, on the dot.







I'll finish the rest of the details later, but wanted to share the reasoning behind her name. Since Ella was the one to tell me that I had a baby growing in my tummy, I figured that I'd give her a shot at coming up with a name. She suggested "Anna"...or at least I think she suggested it--maybe she just rolled her two-year old words together while trying to respond "I-don't-know"-- but either way, it stuck. As for her middle name, we went with the tradition of using a family name. Ella's middle name is in honor of my mom, but my mother-in-law and I share the same name, which would just be weird. Instead, we chose to honor my father-in-law, Victor, with the feminine version of his name. He really is such a hard working man and is very devoted to his grandchildren.

I'll try to update the rest of the story--including introducing Anna to Ella--as time allows. For now, I'm just trying to keep up on my own rest and fluids as I try to help establish a routine and wait for my milk to come in fully.

Thank you--as always--for your well wishes, support, and encouragement!

Besides the obvious blessing of having my baby safely in my arms, my other blessing is my parents, who drove down the minute I confirmed that it was my waters that broke. They have been a tremendous help to me and my husband as we care for Anna, and have been especially amazing in helping Ella transition into her role as a big sister. I am so appreciative of all that they do!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Getting Closer!

There is a mama bird who has made a nest on the top of our front porch light.  She hasn't left it for almost a week now, so I'm pretty sure that she's guarding some eggs.  After accidentally scaring her away the first time I realized she was there (and scaring myself in the process), I've been going out the garage door each morning and evening when I go for a walk. I've often wondered which of us would meet their baby (or babies) first.

I don't want to speak too soon, but I'm hoping that it will be me.  I'm pretty sure that I'm in the early stages of labor.

After putting Ella down tonight, I committed to bouncing on the exercise ball for an hour while my husband worked on a project.  Neither of us really want to go in to work tomorrow, so he agreed to help me try to get things started, one way or another. Ella, being the little night-owl that she is--came in around 8:45 to say that she had to go potty.  As I got off the ball, I also felt an odd sensation that I too had to go.  Either my water broke, or I just have very poor bladder control these days (I knew I should have done more Kagel exercises!).

I got her back to bed and started paying attention to my body.  I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions all afternoon, but they we inconsistent and totally painless (as they had been for the last month or so).  But sure enough, I started to (and currently continue to) feel something.  Just before 10:00, I sent a text to our friends who offered to watch Ella (who was indeed fast asleep by this point).  I figured that even though it's only the early stages of what I think (and hope and pray) is labor, it's also early enough in the evening that they would hopefully get a decent night of sleep if we brought her over now--even if it is a false alarm.  I was going to send just my husband, but couldn't really bear the thought of not kissing her goodbye.  So we took the five-minute trip down the freeway, calling my parents along the way to tell them where things stand.

Now we're home, and I'm waiting next to my contraction timer app while my husband sleeps.  The pain is definitely bearable (I'd like to think that I'm much more fit this time around and that somehow has something to do with the pain management), but I'm sure it will pick up in intensity.  It's just a matter of knowing when exactly we should make the 30-minute trip into town.  I do indeed think that this is truly it, but would be so disappointed and embarrassed if we head in there too soon.  And as much as I'd like to curl up next to my snoring husband and try to sleep, I worry that laying down might slow any progress.

And so for now, I bounce, and wait, and time, and pray, and look forward to having my life changed all over again.  I welcome all prayers as we look forward to all that comes next!

Today's blessing was the sweetest little sleepy smile from Ella when she woke up briefly as we were dropping her off.  Her confusion at being at her friend's house in the middle of the night turned to pure joy for an instant when we told her that she would get to meet her baby sister soon.  Oh, how I look forward to watching my first baby fall in love with the new baby!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Attitude Adjustment

I haven't had the best sleep this week.  It's understandable--I'm 40 weeks pregnant in August in Arizona.  My feet get so hot, and it wakes me up and keeps me up.  Each time I woke up, I found myself nearly cursing God that I wasn't going into labor yet.  I really was struggling with still being pregnant--which is crazy, because for the most part, I love being pregnant.  I just don't enjoy being awake in the middle of the night when I'm trying to sleep.

At my appointment on Wednesday, I was still only 1 cm.  I was bummed--even though I had no indications to lead me to believe otherwise, I was still frustrated that things weren't rolling along yet.  I figured that being 80% effaced last week would have counted for something!  The plan is that we will induce next Thursday, at 41 weeks, if she hasn't made her grand appearance by then.  With Ella, I remember my doctor telling me that she starts getting nervous when her moms don't deliver by 41 weeks.  So I know that she's consistent with this approach.

And I thought being induced with Ella was perfect!  For the last three years or so, I've proclaimed that it was the perfect experience for me.  It took all the anxiety out of giving birth for the first time.  I was able to check in comfortably and joke with the nurses.  Sure, I ended up getting an epidural when my initial intent had been to go natural, but I was fine with it.  So if I end up getting induced again, I know what to expect and it won't be the end of the world.

I do still hope to have the opposite experience this time--laboring at home, the excitement and energy of rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night, and hopefully a more "natural" delivery than what I experienced with pitocin last time (not that it was "bad"...it was just...well, "induced").  But I need to realize that getting frustrated and cursing God for not being in labor yet isn't going to speed things along. 

So Wednesday night, I prayed for an "attitude adjustment".  And each time I woke up in the middle of the night, instead of cursing God, I prayed again for an attitude adjustment.  And what do you know--by Thursday morning, I was already feeling better.  I had a good long cry during my morning walk (I must have been quite the scene, had any of my neighbors been looking out their windows at 5:30 am), pouring out my heart to God and trying to grapple with how it is perfectly fine for me to want this baby to come soon, but how I need to truly start trusting God's plan and His timing, instead of simply claiming to do so. 

So now it's Friday, and I'm officially past either of my due dates (8/8 by the first measurement at 9 weeks; 8/6 by the NT scan at 12 weeks...I've been going with the 8/6 date in my head all along).  I still really, really, really hope that she comes this weekend (frankly, I'm getting kind of tired of some of the comments from some of my colleagues).  But I'm feeling more at peace and less anxious (don't get me wrong--I'm "positively anxious" about meeting her, but I feel like I'm less "negatively anxious", in the sense that I'm trying not to get "worked up" or frustrated).  I still hope that she does indeed come quickly, but this attitude-adjustment-answer-to-prayer is definitely helping in the mean time. 

Even though my baby isn't here yet, it was a blessing to learn that Cheryl had her baby!  Cheryl is also a loss survivor, and I started following her blog shortly after she found out she was pregnant with her now-three-year-old son.  At the time, she had just heard his heartbeat, and I remember her being filled with such hope--cautious hope, but hope nonetheless.  And it somehow was really a turning point for me, after so much loss, to see that it was indeed possible to inch forward towards starting a family.  A short time later, I got pregnant with Ella; and then we both got pregnant around the same time with our second babies.  I have enjoyed sharing the pregnancy journey with her week by week and I look forward to the baby adventures we'll now experience...whenever my baby finally comes!  Cheryl, blessing to you and your growing family! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wrong Order

I sit here, still at work, at 40 weeks (by my 12-week measurement), while I have two friends on hospital bedrest.  One is waiting for a c-section later today at barely 36 weeks, and the other was admitted to the hospital last night at 29 weeks to be given magnesium and steroids in the hope of keeping the baby in a little longer.

All I can think is "this is the wrong order!".

I really don't want this to sound selfish--instead, I write this out of true concern and amazement.  I am amazed at the strength of these women who hold so carefully for so long, who give up the comforts of home and put every ounce of energy into keeping their babies safe.  I am amazed at the advancements in modern medicine, and the knowledge and patience of the doctors and nurses who care for these women and babies.  And I am amazed that God's plans for us are sometimes so delicate.

I wish I could trade places with them--in the sense that I could be the one who is mere moments away from going into labor, and they could just relax with a "shallow" and yet otherwise apparently fully intact cervix.  Life is so "unfair" sometimes--that I can be so active and yet only 1 cm dilated at 40 weeks while another mom is so careful and already 2.5 cm dilated at barely 29 weeks.  Again, I don't mean to make this about me and my own excitement about my own eventual labor; rather, I'm just stuck thinking "wrong order!".  I know I can't, but I wish that I could somehow give them one of my "extra" weeks. 

I know that God's plans are never wrong.  I know that He is a God of wonders and miracles.  I know that His plans are not always what we envision for our lives, but I know that He loves us even through these challenging times.  So even though I feel like screaming "wrong order!" up to Him, I know that's not the case.

Please be praying for these two women and their babies. 

Today's blessing was another running accomplishment.  A little over a year ago, my very-dear friend ran a mile in under 10 minutes at 40 weeks pregnant.  At the time, I thought she was crazy (I still think she's crazy).  I was, am, and will always continued to be inspired by her.  Today, I ran a 9:41 mile at 40 weeks pregnant.  (I do feel a little weird switching gears so quickly from concern about my friends to "bragging" about my own run; but I do have to keep it in perspective that God created us each differently and has a different plan for all of us.  Yes, I am deeply concerned about their situations, but I also recognize that I am extremely blessed to be so active at this stage in my own pregnancy.  I hope that makes sense...)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ready

I am beyond ready to meet this baby.

I feel silly for saying that when I'm not yet to her due date.  We're past July, which would have been a stretch for her to come quite that soon, but I guess I was assuming that she would have come a bit early since she's not my first. 

I've done everything that I can--gone on walks (an even a two mile run this morning), ate spicy food, sat on the exercise ball, and everything else that everyone suggests.  My bag is packed (and I remembered clothes for my husband this time), Ella's bag is packed and already at our friends' home, we have a carseat base in each car, with the carseat sitting by the door, next to my bag.  The house is clean (and staying mostly tidy).  Everything is wrapped up at work.  I feel that if I don't have her this weekend, that I'll have to start a new project at work on Monday (there's no way that I'm staying home to just twiddle my thumbs and wait). 

Going into labor tonight, and having her tomorrow, seem--to me--like they would be so ideal!  We had a great morning at the zoo with Ella, followed by lunch, cookies, and a nap.  I then went and got a massage while she slept, so I'm feeling totally relaxed and ready.  The plan is that Ella will go to her little friend's house if/when labor truly starts, and my parents will either jump in the car or hop on a plane.  (It's so different this time around to be concerned about Baby #1 while waiting on Baby #2!)  I know that my friend (Ella's friend's mom) would make it work to care for Ella in the middle of the week, but it would just be so much easier on the weekend.  Not to mention, my dad is a pastor, so it would be ideal for him to work tomorrow morning and then head down with my mom, spend the week or so here once the baby comes, and then head home.  If we wait much later into the week, he'll likely have to wait until after church next Sunday to come down.  Lastly, I intend to take weekly pictures again, like I did with Ella, and it would just be so much easier to add them into our Sunday routine than in the middle of the work week. 

But I know it's not about me.  It's about this perfectly-content Baby, and about God's plan.  I can wish and plan and wait and hope and drive myself stir-crazy, but ultimately, I need to wait.  If I've learned anything through this experience, it's that God knows what He's doing. 

Today's blessing was seeing Ella respond so positively at the zoo.  We have an annual pass, so we've been to the zoo plenty of times, but it's been too hot to go lately (and was indeed rather warm today).  But she is "clicking"--cognitively speaking--in so many amazing ways these days, and it's just amazing to see her interacting and truly "learning" about the animals, instead of simply admiring them.  I'm sure I'm rather biased, since she's mine, but she is one cool kid, and I fall in love with her more and more each day.  (And you can see why I'm so anxious to meet her sister!)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Embracing August

Unless things really pick up here in the next five hours, it looks like I better start embracing the idea of an August baby (and its not-as-pretty birthstone).  I guess it just wasn't mean to be to have a July baby, as I was secretly hoping.  And really, I know that this is better, in the long run.  As my very-dear friend, the pediatrician, was quick to point out--she's much safer on the inside than on the outside--even at 39 weeks. 

I had an appointment today, and I am pleased to share that I was in and out of there within 20 minutes, which was considerably quicker than my last appointment when I spent five hours at the hospital between my check-up and monitoring.  My doctor is actually out of town this week, so I saw the midwife and a student (it's a teaching hospital, and I truly value education, so I welcome the students at nearly every opportunity--though I will ask to not have a student this time if I end up getting an epidural again).  My doctor was okay with me declining a "check" last week (since I had absolutely no indication that she was going to make an appearance), but I agreed to let the midwife do it this week (even though I still had no indication that she was going to make an appearance--but figured that we're now one week closer...and was secretly hoping that it may somehow trigger labor).  The word she used was "shallow"--as in, I'm 80% effaced.  I'll take that!  I have been having a lot of completely painless Braxton-Hicks contractions (I really just feel tightening, but no pain...which is "nice", I guess), and they're apparently doing something.  On the other hand, I'm only 1 cm dilated (I was hoping for more), but hey--it's a start. 

I feel ready--emotionally, physically, and even at work.  I'll keep on working up to whenever she arrives, but I feel like I have all my projects and responsibilities in a good place.  If she came tonight, I'd be perfectly happy leaving the couple of little papers on my desk. 

Until she comes, I'm going to try to cherish these last few days (perhaps hours?!) with just Ella. 

Today's blessing is simply feeling excited about meeting this baby.  I told my very-dear friend that I was "nearly giddy".  It's just so different this time around!  Don't get me wrong--I was extremely excited to meet Ella, but I was just so unsure of what to expect!  I recognize things are going to be totally different, but it's all at a whole new level of excitement. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

If I Nest, Will She Come?

Back when I was pregnant with Ella, I wrote about my style of nesting--which included convincing my husband to hire a cleaning service.  The house looked great, and I never lifted a finger!

This time, I still wouldn't say that I have the "urge" to clean, but I did indeed clean the house pretty much from top to bottom, including the baseboards (though I stopped short of moving the couches and cleaning behind them, because really--who is ever going to see behind them?!).  But I think that my thinking is perhaps backwards.  From what I've read, nesting is supposed to be an "instinct"--this overwhelming desire out of nowhere to get the home in order for the baby.  I think that I'm perhaps "nesting in reverse"--intentionally cleaning the house in the hopes that it somehow jumpstarts labor so that we can meet this new little one.

I am, indeed, anxious--in a good, excited, can't wait, counting down the days sort of way. 

(I also want to have a somewhat presentable house in the event that my friend--Ella's little friend's mom--comes over in the middle of the night.)

I did ask my husband to have someone come and clean the carpets for us (especially now that Ella has been officially potty-trained for months), but I cleaned the counters, baseboards, tile floors, rugs, and windows myself (though I did stop short of cleaning the exterior windows--we are, after all, still in the middle of monsoon season). 

Like I said, I'm anxious to meet this little one.  She now has a perfectly clean house to which to come home.  Let's just see if I can convince Ella to help me keep it tidy until she arrives (the rule is that she is allowed to have one big toy out at a time--currently, it's her railroad tracks).

Unlike last time, when I wondered if men nested too, my husband hasn't yet found the urge to get things in order.  I'm currently sitting in his office, which is overflowing with random computer parts.  He definitely appreciates the clean house, but figures that as long as he can get his office door to close, that he's fine.  For now, I'm okay with his messy office.  But we'll see if the nesting urge truly kicks in--he might be in for a surprise if this is the only room in the house left for me to clean!

Today's blessing is that the sciatic pain seems to be nearly gone!  On a pain scale of 1-10, I'd maybe give it a 0.5.  I can feel that something isn't quite normal down there, but I guess that's to be expected at 38+ weeks.  I'm just so relieved that the pain is gone!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Accomplished!

The sciatic pain has let up just enough to let squeeze in the last couple of miles that I needed.  I'm so proud to say that I doubled my initial goal and ran 200 miles while I was pregnant.  Here's what I shared last night on facebook:

(Fair warning--if you're opposed to seeing pictures of hot, fat, sweaty, pregnant women...then please kindly refrain from viewing these pictures...since that's what they show).

Shortly after I found out that I was pregnant, I made a goal to run 100 miles during my pregnancy. I reached that goal shortly before the end of my second trimester. Doug somewhat playfully, somewhat seriously challenged me to make it 200. Today, I doubled my initial goal and met his challenge.

I still don't feel like I can consider myself a "runner", but I am proud of my effort and determination. I am also aware of just how extremely blessed I am to be healthy and to still be able to run at 38+ weeks pregnant. I appreciate my friends and family--especially Doug and Ella--who continue to support and encourage me.

I now feel truly ready to welcome this new baby.







I feel so blessed to have accomplished this goal!  God brought me through some pretty painful challenges along the way.  He has blessed me with patience, persistence, perseverance, and determination along the way.  I pray that I continue to see these traits play out in my life in the weeks, months, and years to go as our family grows.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Monitoring

I spent another long afternoon/evening at the hospital yesterday.  Luckily, I was there for so long because I was the absolute lowest priority in the Labor & Delivery wing.

I had a late afternoon regular 38-week check up, and my doctor was running especially late (I overheard her calling over to Labor & Delivery at one point to let them know that a woman had lost her baby at 17 weeks and was headed over there--my heart go out to both of them).  It was nearly two hours after my arrival that she saw me, but it gave me a chance to chat with my childhood friend as she drove to pick up her boys from daycare (and made me appreciate that my husband had picked up Ella on his way home from jury duty since I clearly wasn't going to make it there by 6:00 pm at this point).  When my doctor listened to the baby's heartbeat, she expressed concern that it was a little bit lower than in previous weeks.  She acknowledged that heartbeats do indeed drop closer to delivery, but she still wanted me to head next door to Labor & Delivery for 10 minutes of monitoring--once again, thinking it's better to be safe than sorry

However, "10 minutes of monitoring" turned into half-an-hour of waiting to have an available bed, then closer to 90 minutes of monitoring the baby.  When she cooperated, her heartrate was consistently in the 130s (until she wiggled around and out of range of the monitors).  My initial blood pressure reading was a little higher, but then settled down with subsequent readings.  Throughout my time in the L&D triage area, I could overhear the conversations with the other women, and it was clear that my very normal, very low-risk pregnancy was the least of the staff's concerns.  As things slowed down, I was eventually taken off the monitors, and the nurse told me that the Resident would do an ultrasound to check the fluid levels. 

Unfortunately, the resident got called into a delivery right around that time.  So I waited for another hour or so until he returned.  By this time, there was another woman who had come in while she was in labor, so I was certain that he would see her first, given that she was clearly a higher priority than me.  But the nurse was amazing and suggested that he see me first, and I am very grateful that he did.  The baby still has plenty of fluid in nice, big pockets.  Again, a tiny bit of concern about some of the higher blood pressure readings, but they trust that was just related to emotions, since the other readings were okay and my 24-hour urine test from two weeks ago was clean (and was clean at my appointment five hours prior).  They did mention that I had quite a few little contractions, but nothing consistent yet.  I was eventually released at 9:30 pm...5-1/2 hours after I initially arrived at the hospital.

My very-dear friend's response was "you are officially too boring for your own good".  She's got a point.  I am more and more aware of just how blessed I am to have a such a boring, low-risk, normal pregnancy.  I've definitely had my share of struggles in the past, but what a blessing to feel her wiggle and hear her heart beating loud and strong (albeit a tiny bit slower than a couple of weeks ago). 

My only "bad news" from yesterday is that my doctor is out of the office next week!  I'm still kind of hoping for a late-July baby, in which case, my doctor may not be here for the delivery; but if I got the full 40 weeks (or more!), then I have nothing to worry about.  Either way, I trust the staff, and I trust we will be in good hands with whoever delivers our new baby.  I'm hoping to get through work today and tomorrow (and squeeze in two more runs on Friday and Saturday morning to reach 200 miles), and then I'll truly feel ready for this baby to come. 

Yesterday's blessing was the chance to text with my very-dear friend.  As a mom and a doctor, it's great to have her perspective, even from the other side of the country.  She's great about giving me layman explanations for medical interventions, and putting it all in perspective.  It was a wonderful blessing to have her keeping me company, all the way from Florida. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Backyard Maternity Photo Shoot

When I was pregnant with Ella, I set up a maternity photo shoot as a surprise for my husband for his birthday.

This time around, I dragged my husband away from his video game to take a few quick pictures of me outside in our own backyard after the monsoon came through.

This poor, second child...already getting the short end of the stick.

















Today's blessing was another prenatal massage.  I wish I could say that it totally fixed the sciatica, but it wasn't 100% effective in that realm.  Don't get me wrong--it was definitely relaxing, and definitely helped.  I would have loved to have jumped off the table with absolutely zero pain, but that would have been quite the massage.  Still, it felt good, and I got to that totally-relaxed-almost-asleep-and-start-to-snore sensation, which was quite the blessing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pain in the (You Know What)

I'm starting to think that this injury is more than just a pulled hamstring.  Instead of getting better, it's feeling rather worse.  I'm thinking it may be sciatica. 

I try really hard not to complain about anything pregnancy-related.  After our experiences with loss, I feel like it is such a blessing to be pregnant, so I told myself with Ella--and with this pregnancy--that I would embrace every symptom and experience, no matter how uncomfortable.  This is definitely the most uncomfortable I've been between the two pregnancies.  I can barely even walk--there is pain with every step.

My husband has stepped in and is trying to be as helpful as he can, but I feel bad for leaving him to care for Ella by himself.  And I feel for her, too.  These are her last couple of weeks of having us all to herself before the baby comes, and I can't truly enjoy them with her because I'm in so much pain.

I'm doing everything I can think of to try to heal--I'm sitting on a heating pad as I write this, and I've been doing some prenatal yoga stretches.  I have another prenatal massage scheduled for Saturday, and until then, I'm trying to stay off my feet as much as possible (which is rather challenging with a two-year-old in the house).  My little glimmer of hope is that if it is sciatica, perhaps that means that she has "dropped" and is simply pressing against a nerve, but hopefully relief will come when she makes her appearance.

If you have any other suggestions, I'm desperate to hear them.

Despite the pain, today's blessing is how beautiful the desert came be after some monsoon rains.  Everything seems extra-green this year!  We've had some amazing sunrises and sunsets, and I'm reminded just how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful area!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sidelined


Thank you for the kind words and encouragement after our (very, very, VERY) minor accident.  I survived the four hours of monitoring, and Ella was very sweet that evening when I picked her up from our friends' house.  When I mentioned that I had missed her, she suggested that we sing "You Are My Sunshine"...which we did.

In my previous post, I said that all my labs and tests were coming back normal--which is what the nurse had told me.  I guess that the OB Resident was a little bit concerned about a couple of my blood pressure readings.  I'm guessing that some of my initial blood pressure readings--when I was still a little perturbed that I had to be there for four hours and was frustrated that I couldn't get my wifi working properly--were a bit on the higher side, and that they stabilized once I was able to relax a bit.  But, in the spirit of being "better safe than sorry", she asked me to do a 24-hour urine test, just to rule out preeclampsia.  So I agreed--but try explaining why you are collecting a day's worth of pee to a curious two-year old!

I submitted my sample Saturday evening, and was told that I would get a call within 4-5 hours if the results were concerns, but that "no news was good news" if I didn't hear anything.  I never got a call that night, so called to confirm on Sunday morning.  Sure enough, the results came back with only trace amounts of protein, so I feel that I can officially say that I got the "all clear" from the accident (though Ella still expresses a little bit of concern while we're driving).

However, I'm feeling sidelined from my running with another injury.  I'm so close to getting my 200 miles--only 10 more to go--but I'm in too much pain right now to run.  I think it may have pulled my hamstring while pulling weeds, but it could have been anything related to:
a) being 37 weeks pregnant,
b) carrying a toddler around,
c) running,
d) sitting in a hospital bed for four hours, or
e) any combination of the above. 
Either way, I hurt.  When I hurt, I have to convince myself that I'm not allowed to run.  When I don't run, I miss out on all those happy endorphins.  When I miss out on those happy endorphins, I'm not my usual cheerful self.  When I'm not my usual cheerful self...well, let's just say that this is an opportunity for me to truly practice being patient. 

I'm 37 weeks today.  In theory, I've got three more weeks to go in this pregnancy (give or take).  At this point, I have no indication that she's coming anytime soon (though we are now considered "full-term", so she now has my permission to come early, if she chooses).  I'm trying to remind myself that if I let myself rest and heal, I can knock out the last 10 miles in about a week.  We shall see...

Today's blessing was that Ella was very obedient and cooperative this morning while getting ready to go to school.  As she gains more and more independence (which is great, developmentally...but frustrating at times too), we've been struggling to get out the door on time.  I don't want to be the mom who screams and yells at her to get her butt in the car every morning, so we've been talking a lot recently about responsibility and making wise decisions that will help the family.  And this morning, something must have clicked, because she put down her toys and came right away when I asked her to get in the car.  What a tiny little thing, and yet still so so so significant!  It felt good to drive out of our neighborhood without worrying about being late!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Better Safe Than Sorry

I was in a very, very, VERY minor fender-bender yesterday.  It was so minor that I'm pretty sure I can buff out the scratch myself.  But after dealing with the insurance today, I figured that it would be wise to be "better safe than sorry" and mention it my doctor.

The nurse called back and told me that it sounded like everything was fine, but that I should really come in for an hour of monitoring...at least I thought I heard her say "one hour".  When I arrived at 2:00, thinking I would be out by 4:00 to pick up Ella, Labor & Delivery told me I would be here for at least four hours.

After a slight freak-out as I tried to figure out what to do with Ella (since my husband is out of town for Army Reserves, but we found friends to pick her up), I agreed to stay for the duration of the monitoring, and have been hanging out ever since.  My former colleague is now a nursing student, and she kindly dropped by to keep me company.  Unfortunately, my iPad doesn't seem to like the hospital wifi, so I'm stuck with just my phone (and praying it keeps a charge).  Had I known I would be here when I left the house this morning, I would have grabbed a book.

Although it's no fun to be hooked up to monitors, I know it's better to be safe than sorry.  I would hate myself if I didn't come in and something went wrong.  And hopefully this will give me a little peace of mind to get over the unnerving feeling of being in the (very, very, VERY minor) accident.

As much as I would rather not be here right now, it's a blessing to have access to quality care.  The nurses have been very kind, and I trust that I'm in good hands.  It's also a blessing to be in such overall good health.  Since I'm in the triage area, I can't help but overhear some of the concerns from the other women, and I definitely have it better than most! Lastly, it's a blessing that my labs, urine, blood pressure, and baby's heartrate are all coming back normal.  One more hour to go!