Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Twitter will make you a better mom

As many of you know, I am an avid Tweeter. I Tweet about big things like my bed rest adventure and even the birth of my baby to little things like when the baby finally pooped after days of constipation. And I have to confess that Twitter has become one giant source of mommy support for me. I have a fantastic circle of real life friends that offer all kinds of support but during bed rest having moms on Twitter who were or had been on bed rest was invaluable. And after I had the baby I had several mommies with newborns who would all Tweet during midnight feedings and such and it made me feel better knowing I wasn't the only one awake at butt thirty in the morning!

But I think the thing I love most about Twitter is that it allows mommies to vent and be heard at any time of day. There are so many social expectations of mothers and sometimes a girl can feel a bit suffocated. I think that for the most part mommies still feel censored, like we don't have a voice. Like we still need to keep a smile and put on a brave face. Heaven forbid mom have a bad day and flip her shit when the kids are at each others throats (again!) or when the hubby makes her angry. Even though women have clearly advanced since busting out of their aprons in the 50's, there is still this Madonna (the virgin- not the "Like a virgin") imagery society has in regard to mothers. We can't lose our tempers. We can't admit that it's overwhelming some days. We can't call our kids brats or say our husbands are jerks- even if we only mean it until the mood passes. We can't drink, smoke, or pop a Xanax from time to time. We can't wear clothes that make us feel sexy (yes moms still like to feel sexy!). And Lord help us if we have tattoos!

The truth is that motherhood is a blessing but there are other moments where it feels like a curse! I love my kids unconditionally (obligatory disclaimer) and nothing they do on any day will ever change that. So what's the problem with having days where you want to lock yourself in the bathroom with a bottle (or two) of wine and turn your iPod up until you can't hear the screams, whines, and nagging? Well while we can't (legally) do that, we can now instantly connect to a plethora of amazing mommies who know exactly what that feels like and can cheer us on and talk us down. Twitter is a place we can scream (IN ALL CAPS) or cuss (so little ears don't hear) the minute we get upset. This form of venting can be super cathartic and allow moms to move on from the moment quicker. No more shutting your mouth and bottling your feelings behind a smile until one day you explode and go on a wine drinking brownie eating credit card burning rampage. Yes kids- Twitter makes me a better mom!

The Holidays really sealed the deal on this theory for me. I can't even tell you how many Tweets I read about crazy in laws, stupid husbands, and ungrateful kids. These were moments in the lives of my Twitter moms that needed their own voice so these mommies could move past it and enjoy their Holiday. It's like our internal dialogues finally have an external outlet! Sometimes they sound like sheer frustration. Sometimes they sound like snarky sarcasm. Sometimes they are straight up anger. But if it keeps a smile on mommy's face while still giving her a voice, then you go girls! Twitter seems to have become a place for moms to get a little piece of themselves back. So keep Twweting ladies! You need it and believe it or not- your family needs it too!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Drama-It's a choice

I had a dramatic upbringing. Drama flowed freely in our house of women- 3 of us teens at the same time. Poor mom. Much of this drama was courtesy of yours truly. But thanks to my mother's patience, a few visits from the Oakland Police Department, & a heavy dose of professional counseling for me we all made it out alive! And, I made a decision to have as little drama in my adult life as possible.

This wasn't an immediate change. It's taken years of self evaluation, deep breathes, and tongue biting to get to a point where I understand the difference between crappy things happening to you and drama. Hard times in your life are unavoidable. They're going to happen. But it's how you respond to them that dictates if they will be dramatic or not. This year our lives were turned upside down with more bad news than we ever expected. But we kept our heads up and handled ourselves with as much dignity as possible. This wasn't just important for us. It was also extremely important for our children. I believe that once God has placed children in your care it is your job to eliminate drama and set an example for them. You need to be a shelter for your children. And choosing drama and involving your children doesn't do any good.

Every time horrible circumstances come across my path I remind myself that it will pass and that far worse things are happening to other people every day. I think that, for myself, the realization that I may not be unique in my circumstance but that I most certainly can be unique in my response to it has been the life changer for me. Example: Some people spin out of control because of divorce. That could pertain to spouses or children. So before indulging your urge to be self indulgent and then blame everyone but yourself remember that it may be a low point for you right now, but that people do it and do it well every day without submitting to the drama. I know for me, my first 8 weeks on bed rest found me in self pity, chaos, & fear. Until I joined a forum of bed rest mommies and realized this happens every day and that other moms have it worse. So even though I had another 15 weeks of bed rest, it was full of love and not drama. It was a choice.

So if I have been able to make this choice then I also expect the same from those I choose to be around me and my children. I can't and won't deal with lies, exaggerations, bad choices in the name of hard times, and the like. We are all adults and as adults we must be who we want our children to become. If you want your children to grow up unable to cope when life throws curveballs at them then continue with the drama. But if you want them to be successful adults, employees, spouses, and event parents, then make your choices.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pajama Christmas

In a year where chaos has been the theme an nothing familiar has taken place, I am 100% giddy like a child for Christmas! Each year our family does Pajama Christmas. We completely skip all the traditional Christmas Day festivities and opt for a day of leisure. And I couldn't be more excited this year! We don't completely deny Christmas it's traditions. We just do them a day early. On Christmas Eve we do the big dinner with friends and we allow the kids to open one gift. But on Christmas Day when everyone else is up early baking, cooking, cleaning, and even showering- we are cozied around our tree doing none f it.

Our Christmas morning starts with a tradition that began when I was a child. My grandparents owned a general store. And each year on Christmas Eve we'd head over to their house and have the big dinner then stay up until midnight to open gifts. That's not the tradition I am talking about though. The best part of Christmas with our grandparents was that they would wrap and gift each of the grand kids a box or two of Pop Tarts. Then on Christmas Morning we already had breakfast while we opened our gifts from Santa!

So as soon as the kids wake us, we all pour out into the living room and begin. We eat Pop Tarts and open presents. We are sure to get games and movies each year for the kids because the remainder of the day is 100% lazy family day. We play games, watch movies, and never get out of our jammies! It's magnificent! And there is NO cooking! A day or two before I will buy sub sandwiches, etc. so that our lazy day isn't bothered by trivial things like cooking.

This is my favorite day of the year because I know that I will have the whole day with my family. Free of disruptions and responsibilities. It's a day when all of us are happy to be at home with each other. We have no where to go and nothing to do other than enjoy each other.

This year, this tradition means even more to me. I have really learned to refocus and appreciate every day with my husband an children. Each day is not promised to us but is gifted to us. And the greatest gift each year isn't under my tree. It's sitting in its jammies eating Pop Tarts with me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Winterhanakwanzamas!

We are killing Christmas.

Before you get your stocking in a bunch hear me out. You may be thinking that Christmas is alive and well! Why, we even start celebrating it in October now! The stores are adorned with lit up trees and jack-o-lanterns. This year one of the houses we trick-or-treated at already had their Christmas lights up. I was actually disappointed when they didn't hand out candy canes. Then we graze over Thanksgiving really quick so we can get to Black Friday and start threatening each others lives for a great deal on an iPod at 4:00am. Finally December arrives and houses are in fierce competition to have the best lights. It's neighbor against neighbor block after block! And don't forget the trip to see a grumpy Santa after an hour wait in line. Be sure to pay $20 for ONE picture of your child screaming while drunk Santa wrestles him into his lap for that perfect shot.

Speaking of Santa, how much longer do you think this beloved childhood memory will last? I think that when I was growing up it was easier to keep that belief going and keep it magical. But with TV, Internet and social media everywhere our children turn, the secret may be out sooner and sooner. When we were kids we saw one Santa at the mall. If we saw him on TV at all it most certainly wasn't HD so he could easily pass for mall Santa. Now there's Santas at each mall, pet stores, libraries, on the Internet, and in HD on your TV! Kids can tell that these are not the same guy! Bad news for mom and dad!

Yes! Aren't the Holidays grand?! Wait- that brings me to the next knife in the back of Christmas. It's Christmas people. The birth of Christ and all. How would you like it if on your birthday everyone had to say Happy Birthday to everyone else just to be fair? I'm not saying that we should ignore Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any of the like. I am saying that if your celebrate Christmas, you should be able to say "Merry Christmas" to whoever you like. Just as if some says "Happy Kwanzaa" to you, you wouldn't tell them they should say "Happy Holidays".

I worked in real estate property management for years and in accordance with Fair Housing we couldn't acknowledge ANY specific holiday. So I invented Winterhanakwanzamas. It's all your Holiday needs rolled into one. And it's a bit of a tongue in cheek salute to the absurdity of how P.C. we have become. Feel free to use it. I'm done with it. I'm not working this year so I'm gonna Merry Christmas the CRAP out of people!

There was a time when Christmas was about Jesus, friends, family, food and grattitude. But somewhere we lost it and it became about consumerism, competition, and it certainly has nothing to do with Jesus. I think this needs to change. So go out and let your Merry Christmas shine! Let's bring Christmas back to life!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hitting the bottle

This has been a year. For any of you that have been following my blog you know what I'm talking about. We started the year finding out we were expecting our third child (surprise!) and then 8 days later we lost my father in law suddenly and tragically. Just weeks after that we began our 23 week bed rest journey with a trip to the ER when I hemorrhaged and we thought I had lost the baby. After losing his father just weeks before my husband had to hear that he could lose me and/or the baby. Thankfully this was not the case. But that trip to the ER set off a series of events that kept us busy trying to keep our baby, our home, any form of insurance, and any last bit of sanity we had. You'd think that once our son was born the weight would be lifted but the hits kept coming when the baby & I were involved in a car accident caused by an under aged drunk driver. A few weeks after that I had surgery to have my gall bladder removed. Busy, Busy, Busy.

I'm, surprisingly, not complaining about any of this. I am grateful for each of these things as God has provided grace in each of these circumstances. My Pastor recently said that God does not give us our circumstances but rather He gives us the means to overcome them. A message I needed to hear this year and the truth in that statement is abundant. Now that we are past each of these circumstances I can see the lesson I learned in each. The strength we have gathered and the love that was provided to us by those around us so that we can survive it.

There is one exception. My father in law's death. Each of our other circumstances had an expiration date. Pregnancy ends with healthy baby. I'll find another job. Physical therapy heals the wounds from the accident. And surgery takes care of the bad gall bladder. But the sudden and extremely unexpected death of someone you love dearly is something that doesn't have an expiration date. It's something that we now have to learn to walk with. It will be with us forever. Especially my husband. His father was his best friend. They talked several times a week from across the country. We video chatted, emailed, texted, and visited regularly. My father in law was so excited about the new baby. He loved us and we loved him.

My husband was able to head to Tennessee right after it happened to help arrange the funeral and help settle affairs. And I am so grateful for that. But the issues with our pregnancy started so soon after that my husband refocused his energy and emotions. He was not going to lose me and the baby too. He spent the whole pregnancy tenderly caring for me and our other two boys. He cooked, cleaned, drove, attended appointments, disciplined, and held me when I cried. He was my hero. All of this kept his brain busy and he took all of the mourning for his father and stuck it in the bottle. Then after the baby was born healthy and strong, we got hit by a drunk driver and his focus stayed on us. More went into the bottle. Just as things were settling down I went in for surgery and my husband was left caring for me again. The bottle is getting pretty full.

Finally I recovered and I am able to help take care of our family and lighten my dear husband's load. But there's a few more things lurking around the corner. They say that the first year after a loved one dies, the survivors experience "The year of firsts". Between October 12 and Jan 23 my husband will have endured his 40th birthday, Veterans Day (his father was air force), Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, our son's 4th birthday, and finally the anniversary of his father's death. These will all be the first time my husband has faced these occasions without a phone call from his father. POP! The top is off the bottle!

So how do we navigate this? How do I ensure that I am the wife he needs me to be? How does he say goodbye to his father without feeling like he's letting him go? I feel as though each of our vows has been tested this year. But we will prevail. My husband was an amazing example of love and husbandry this year for me. So I will support him, cry with him, talk with him, listen to him, pray for and with him, and love him with everything in me. We will learn to walk with this. We will learn to live despite this. We will always love his father and each other. God is good and He will provide.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Open post from my breasts

Motherhood Nursing Bras - $5 each Pictures, Images and Photos

Dear makers of nursing bras- in all of your years making and selling nursing bras, have you ever consulted an actual mother? Let alone one with a cup size larger than an A? I am a naturally busty lady. I sport a D cup when I'm NOT breastfeeding. When you figure in breast milk and swollen glands, we're in the market for some serious support. By serious support I'm talkin' under wire and thick straps! Additionally, it needs to breathe. There's a lot going on in there. While you're at it we can add some sass to the bra too! Believe it or not, mommies like to feel a little sassy too and when we are wearing grandma style bras it socks our self esteem right in the gut!

I have gone shopping for nursing bras twice now since having my baby 2 months ago. The first trip I was so disgusted with the lack of style and support that I bought two sports bras that fastened in the front instead. These bras looked infinitely better, had support cups, and made me feel less like a milking cow and more like a hot mama! HOWEVER, they were racer back bras and the weight of my giant milk bags pulled the straps causing pain in my shoulders.

So back to the store I went! I finally found a bra in a DD size with under wire! But the fabric is so thin that my poor boobies look like they are melting. Boo. And the only color it came in was nude. A serious lack of sassiness. But it went home with me because I needed the under wire! I also grabbed 2 other bras in a DD that did not have under wire. WHY you would even MAKE DD bras without proper support I have no idea! They instantly age my breasts by about 30 years! And can I mention that I am actually an F but that the largest size I can find is a DD so everywhere I go I look like my breasts have breasts! I'm talking overflow ladies!

I am sure there are amazing DD and larger nursing bras out there. I am also sure that in order for me to own one I would have to search high and low and pay an exorbitant amount of money. Money that is better used on diapers right now.

Nursing bras are a necessary evil. They offer mommies ease in feeding, especially out in public. Because at home we can just let it all hang out! But for as much as we need them, we loathe them.

So I challenge you nursing bra makers of the world. Help a sista out. Talk to some actual moms. Design a beautiful, affordable bra that keeps the girls closer to their original location- above our belly buttons! With all the technology out there I'm sure we can make it happen. Until then, I'll be strapping my F boobs into my DD granny bra and waiting..... just waiting.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Never is a four letter word

Have you ever heard the term "Don't write checks with your mouth that your ass can't cash"? I learned a while ago that when you use the word "never" it's like asking the universe to book mark that idea, judgement, or opinion so you can circle back to it yourself at another point.

This can be any number of things. I'll give you an example. In my early twenties I had a smokin' hot body. When I met my husband he was impressed with my ability to eat anything. I wasn't the typical salad eater when we went out. I'd strap on the old feed bag with the rest of the guys. Foolishly I thought I'd keep this virile young metabolism forever! I also thought people "let" themselves get fat or out of shape. Like it was a choice for everyone. I would NEVER let myself get like THAT! Check written. At the age of 25 I started having these terrible back issues. My doctor thought it was a result of my jogging on cement and said it was a joint issue. I'd have the back pain every once and while. Then when I was 28 I was working out much more in preparation for my wedding. I had 3 flare ups in 6 months. So my doctor sent me in for an MRI where we discovered that I had 2 herniated disks in my lower back that aggravated my sciatic nerve. Awesome. My lifestyle was forever changed with that diagnosis. I put on 25 lbs the first year. Check Cashed.

Over the course of the years I've seen this happen time and time again in my own life. I've tried so hard to stop using the word "never". It's a four letter word! It's a dare to the universe! I have this image of God sitting up in heaven with his "lesson board". When you say things like "We'll NEVER break up!" or "When I have kids I'll NEVER yell at them!" or "I've NEVER lost my job because I'm a good employee". These are all lessons to be learned. You will break up because he or she turns out to be someone different than you fell in love with. You will yell at your kids because it is normal and unavoidable. And you will lose your job because your company goes under and the fact that you're a good employee can't save you.
It may not happen right away. It could be years down the road. But chances are that at some point you will experience the flip side of those statements. The universe is listening.

I figured this one out years ago. But there are still checks out there floating around. I still have outstanding "never's" that have their lesson attached to them. And try as I may to avoid the cashing process, it always catches up to me! But the bright side to all of these check cashings is that we grow and become empathetic to the people around us. We slowly learn that we are not the exception. That we are just like the people we judge. We become more capable of compassion and understanding. So keep an eye out for when your never checks head back to be cashed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Babies SMILE

It's been a debate for years. But I don't know why. What is there to debate? Babies smile. Really. They do. It drives me absolutely insane when someone tells you that it's "just gas". If it IS gas, has it ever crossed any one's minds that maybe that fart or burp felt awesome and made the baby SMILE? How many times have you witnessed the relief and happiness any given adult experiences after a good gas letting followed up by a smile? Hmmmmmmm?

My babies have each came out the womb smiling. They smile at me. They smile in their sleep. They smile at nothing. But they smile. If babies can find it in themselves to be responsible for feelings of unhappiness as early as the moment they are born, then why is it so far fetched to believe that they can also understand happiness?

Babies are pure emotion as they feel their way through this new world. They are emotion and subsequent reaction to that emotion. If they are tired they sleep. If their tummy hurts they fuss. If they are upset they cry. And if they are happy they smile. Big beautiful baby smiles!

If you still don't think that babies smile, keep it to yourself. Because parents love their baby smiles. They light up our days! They are what we live for! They make the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, and the post baby body all worth it. Baby smiles are why we try for months to conceive, suffer IVF, bed rest, and a whole other flurry of hardships in our attempts to be parents. It's all for that beautiful baby smile! It's pure, it's real, and it's all for us!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Green Pumpkin

This year has been different in so many ways. One of those ways is that I was not able to be an active mother for the 23 weeks I was on bed rest. This was so hard on many levels. I think that my 14yr old adjusted better to this as he had a better understanding of the situation but I worried about our 3yr old and how this would affect our relationship. I tried to maintain my mommy-ness through reading in bed to my 3yr old, watching movies with him, doing arts and crafts, and playing catch with balloons but he needed so much more. So with a heavy heart I watched as my 3yr old grew closer and closer to his father. Now, he has always been a daddy's boy but he and I still had our special relationship. So as he became increasingly aware that my parental role was far less active than daddy's, he naturally gravitated to dad for anything he needed. And who was I to argue since I literally could not care for my kids. I could only care for the one growing inside of me.

So since we've had the baby, I have been able to step back into the role of full fledged mommy to all of my children! To my teenager I am sure his opinion about my reemergence changes depending on the day and how much trouble he is in. I think overall he is glad I'm back to normal and able to be mom again. But much to my delight, our 3yr old has become a bona-fied mommy's boy! It's like he's rediscovering me all over again! What's great is that even though my time is more divided with a new baby, compared to the months preceding the baby's birth our 3yr old feels like he has more mommy time than ever! He wants mommy to read to him at night. He wants mommy to buckle him in the car seat. He wants to sit next to me and cuddle with me. His favorite thing is that when he gets done with his bath mommy can pick him up an wrap him in a towel to make a "baby burrito". He waited so patiently when I was on bed rest for these moments. And I eat them up! Each one is special and makes my heart happy!

Last Friday our 3yr old's daycare class had a trip to the pumpkin patch. I really wanted to go with them but due to my car accident I was scheduled for physical therapy that day. I was pretty upset about this. So my husband and I waited at the daycare until they were ready to load onto the bus and I gave our son extra kisses and told him to have a fun time on his adventure (even if it was without me). When we went to pick him up from daycare later that day he was so excited to see us and told me to cover my eyes because he had a surprise for me. I promptly obeyed. Once he was ready he instructed me to open my eyes. When I did, my little boy was standing proudly before me with his arms stretched out and in his hands was a small green pumpkin. He was beaming and told me it was a surprise for me and that he picked it himself. He also said he picked the green once because green is my favorite. Heart. Melting. Now.

In a patch of pretty and traditionally orange pumpkins he saw this little green pumpkin and chose it just for me. His mommy. While all of his friends undoubtedly picked pretty orange pumpkins, he chose that green one. He didn't pick a pumpkin for him. He picked it for me. His mommy. And I wish you could see how proud he was of this little green pumpkin. He knew how special what he did was. And still, days later, if you come to our house he will pull that pumpkin down from its prime spot on display in the living room and show you the pumpkin he picked for mommy.

This is what I missed. While I sat in bed for 23 weeks wondering if I was a good enough mommy to my family, this little boy never gave up on me. He just waited patiently until I made my come back. I have always appreciated my children and the gift they are to me. But this year has emphasized that for me. I appreciate them 100% more! I love each and every one of them and I love that I get to be their mommy every day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where does the luck fall?

The other night while driving home from dinner at a friend's house, our car was struck by a drunk driver. It was my sister, my best friend, my newborn, my 1yr old niece and I in the car. We didn't see it coming as we were coming up over a small hill. I just remember seeing lights and then instantly being hit. I can still hear the sound of the metal crunching and scraping. The driver struck us, we bounced off the curb and then I believe we struck him again before he hit the Hummer behind us head on. The drunk driver and the Hummer ended up on the sidewalk. My best friend did an excellent job of correcting our car and bringing us to our final stopping place in the center turn lane.

Whenever I am in an emergency situation I get this serene sense of calm and clarity. This night was no exception. My best friend had been screaming and I remember telling her it's okay repeatedly. My sister had been sleeping in the back when the car struck her door. Her head hit the side of the car and then she instinctively wrapped herself around my baby's car seat. Once we came to a stop, I called my husband right away as we were just blocks from our home. My mission now became getting the babies from the car, out of the rain, and safely home. My sister and my best friend couldn't get out of their side of the car as that's where the impact was. I grabbed my baby & his car seat from the car and then got my niece out of the car with my other free hand. It's that super human mommy strength you get when your babies need you! I then headed to the side of the road where we would be safe. My sister and best friend could now climb out of the car. Everything after that is flashing lights, police, rain, and fire trucks. My focus the whole time was getting those babies back to the house. It was all I could think about. I just kept thinking that I had worked too hard to bring my baby into this world and he could have been taken from me. So I wanted him home.

We all walked away from the accident that night. We have injuries and are sore. We will spend the next few weeks in physical therapy. But we walked away. God was with us. God was with that drunk driver believe it or not. So many things could have gone differently. If one of the babies had been on the side of the car where the impact was- this would be different. If there wasn't a center turn lane the driver would have hit us head on- this would have been different. If we had taken a smaller car- this would have been different. Different for us and different for that driver.

So who was the lucky one? I can say without a doubt that myself and my family are lucky. God had angels wrap their arms around us and keep us all safe. Especially those babies. But I hope this young man realizes that he is lucky too. I hope he sees this for the lesson that it is. I hope he NEVER makes that decision again. A few beers with buddies can change your life forever. It can change the lives of people you don't even know forever. So many drunk drivers continue to drive drunk, tipsy, etc. because they haven't had a night like this YET. I hope that not only does this young man choose to never drive after drinking again but I hope he can be a living witness to the people around him. I hope he speaks of his luck and understands that God graced him with a second chance that night.

In total he hit 8 people in 2 cars that night. Two families were effected by his actions. But again, by the grace of God, 8 people went home and slept in their beds that night. 8 people are alive and breathing still today. And 8 people will spread this story. Hopefully this night will keep others from drinking and driving. Because I don't know how luck is determined and where the luck falls. But that night it fell on all of us.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lie to me..... how to care for a new mom.

The following blog is a how to guide on how to care for a new mommy. Understand a few things about a new mommy and her fragile ego. So many things are going on in her head in regard to how she views herself. Part of her is feeling thinner than she has in months! On the flip side, her old clothes still aren't quite fitting. Her skin is finally clearing up from acne, red spots, and a variety of other afflictions. She is getting less and less sleep which leaves her a little more emotional as well. Not to mention that her hormones are trying to get back to their normal state. She is also so in love with her new baby! And this is an extreme love on an emotional level you may not understand if you don't have children. This may leave her more focused on her baby than herself most days. All these things leave our new mommy unsure of how she looks and feels about herself. And please understand that by the time she is seeing you she has had to struggle all morning just to get a shower in, make up on, and find clothes that fit and don't have spit up or breast milk on them. Sure, she may not be the super model she was before she got pregnant. But she is beautiful now for many other reasons.

So what can YOU do for her you ask? It's really quite simple. Just tell her she looks great. Tell her you can't believe she just had a baby. Tell her you are amazed by how how she is juggling it all. I don't care if you really even mean it. This is what EVERY new mommy needs and deserves to hear. This simple act of kindness will be like a shot of energy and encouragement for any new mom! And it's so easy for you to do! I had my third baby just 3 weeks ago and the other day while visiting my old office, someone told me that I didn't even look like I'd had a baby! I hugged her. It was just what I needed to hear! Look, I'm well aware that 3 weeks after baby my body still has a ways to go. But that didn't matter at that moment. Someone else thought I looked good! I don't even care if she meant it. Lie to me. Just keep the compliments comin'!

And if you are a husband or partner of a new mommy, listen to me carefully..... you need to do this daily- starting directly after birth! Mommy needs to hear how great she looks TO YOU. She needs to know that you still find her attractive and that you respect the work she just did to give you this beautiful child. Now that her special place has been stretched and ripped in unnatural ways and her breasts are now milk machines (which she fears may never return to their former glory), it is super important that you calm her fears that she isn't your sexy wife anymore. After experiencing these things, some new mommies start viewing their bodies as functional. You need to assure her that you still see her and her body as attractive. This will not only keep her spirits up but it will nurture your relationship so that when you are able to be intimate again, she won't feel as self conscious. Again, she may not be the sexy vixen she was before baby right away. But she'll never get there without your encouragement and support. A dash of sugar is far more effective than a pile of salt any day. So sprinkle her with sugar daily and watch her spirits sweeten! My husband has been a shining example of how effective this method is. He tells me how great I look before we even leave the hospital and keeps it going every day. This encourages me to make sure that I am showering each day and looking good for myself and for him. I am so grateful to know that he still finds me attractive even though my body isn't the toned 22 yr old body he met 12 years and 2 babies ago!

This next piece of advice will require an open ear. But let me tell you the joy it will bring! There is no story more amazing to any mom than the story of the delivery of her child! This is the day she met the love of her life. This is the day she became a warrior. This is the day she put a person on the planet! It may not seem like these things to you, but to every new mom this is the most important, scary, amazing, painful, joyous, challenging, happy, and miraculous day of her life. Hands down! So it only takes a few words. Repeat after me- "How was your labor?". And then listen. Whether the labor was amazing or scary, let her talk about it. In her mind, nothing you've done recently can compare to this miracle day. So let her tell you about it. Listen to her and tell her how amazing she is for making it through.

Finally, tell her how beautiful her child is. If you don't believe it- lie. Or use a word like amazing or fabulous. This baby doesn't have to be the cutest thing you have ever seen. But you need to understand that to this mommy, she has never seen anything so perfect and beautiful in her life. After I had my first baby I remember saying to my mother "You'd tell me if he was ugly right? Because if he is I can't see it!". That baby could have come out with a foot on his head and I would have thought it was the cutest foot I had ever seen! This is honestly how mommies see their babies! Pure perfection! So validate that and let her know that she has done good work.

If you have never had a child you may not fully understand what I am asking you to do and why it's so important. If you have had a child then you totally get it. And while I am telling you to "lie to me" really what I am saying is to recognize the work I have done, the work I do daily as a new mom, and that while it may not seem like it, I am more beautiful now than I was before- just in a different way. And I need to hear it. All moms need to hear it. So take care of the new mommy in your life. She'll thank you for it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Milk Machine

I love, love, love breast feeding! I recommend it to anyone who is expecting. It's an amazing bonding experience for you and baby plus it's the healthiest option for your little one. It's the easiest way to feed at 2:00am and you certainly can't beat the price! The biggest draw for me is that you can't duplicate with a bottle the way that your baby looks at you while he or she is on the breast and their eyes meet yours and he grabs your finger. Love. It's the sweetest! Formula feeding is not bad for baby. Let me just clarify that before anyone jumps all over me. The strides that have been made in recent years to ensure that formula feeding is as equal to breast as possible are awesome! And for many mothers formula feeding isn't even an option. They have to due to an array of issues. I personally don't produce milk very long myself. I made it to 5 months with my first baby and 6 months with the last. Then my supply dried up. So I had to formula feed. My boys are healthy and strong! And I'm hoping to make it to 7moths with this baby!

So with that said, I'm gonna get to the flip side of breast feeding. When moms talk about breast feeding it's all unicorns and rainbows flying around while mommy and baby bond and share that magical moment. Seldom do they talk about the cracked nipples, the pain while baby is learning to latch on, the leaking, the engorgement, or the inability to plan your life past 2 hour increments because you will need to find a spot to sit and feed your baby!

I am a mother of 3 breast fed babies. My first was by far the easiest. He latched on like a pro right out of the womb! No pain, engorgement, or cracked anything. It was an adjustment for me, at the age of 20, to get used to the new found functionality of what had previously been fun. Fun to dress, fun to play with, fun to use as a supreme source of power over the opposite sex! Yes, they were no longer these things. They were now milk machines. Then my next 2 babies came out tongue tied. Meaning that the tendon that holds your tongue in their mouths extends all the way to the tip of their tongues and makes learning to latch on quite a trick to learn! Here's where we got to the pain, cracked nipples, and engorgement! But in time- and with enough breast feeding paraphernalia- they both got the hang of it. But I tell you, while they are learning those first few sucks on each breast felt like they were trying to extract my spine through my nipples!

Yes. There is a side of breast feeding that isn't so glamorous. And there are times where you will love it and times where you won't. Then there will just be days where you feel like a dairy cow! But overall its an amazing experience that I wouldn't trade for the world!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 Miracles

When my husband and I found out that we were pregnant in January it was a surprise. There wasn't any work that went into it. It just happened. And I remember telling him I was a little sad because this baby happened so effortlessly that he wouldn't have a miracle story. You see, I had felt that my other two boys each had a miracle story. That they were on purpose. So why did this one just fall in our laps. Lesson #1 for the year, don't speak too soon.

Miracle #1~ I was 19 when I conceived my first son. No one would have pegged me as the perfect candidate for motherhood at that time. I was living it up in the San Fransisco Bay Area and having a great time. I often say that there was a lot of trouble to get into in the Bay Area and I tried to get into all of it. I was at dance clubs and raves regularly and hanging with people who were not child friendly. I was horrified when I found out I was expecting. This didn't fit into my life! But the night I found out I was pregnant I was at a friend's house and her father, who was a former pastor, was there. I was crying and lamenting over what I should do. I told him that I had promised God I wouldn't have an abortion if I got pregnant but that now I just don't know. I will never forget what he told me. He said that If I break my promise to God, he will forgive me. But that if I delivered on that promise (which was honestly more scary at this point!) He would lead me down the right path and take care of us. And that He has. My oldest son is a miracle because from the moment that I decided he would be mine, he saved me from myself. I lived for him and stopped being a "kid" and started being a mom. To this day I refer to him as m Angel. When you are young, single, & pregnant people feel free to ask you if it was an "accident". This was insulting to me. My son was on purpose. So my response was always that "Cars get in accidents. My son was a surprise." My son has taken equal care of me. He is the reason that I fell in love with my husband. We met when my son was 2yrs old and seeing my husband care for him and love him painted a picture for me of this man's character. I remember when we first started dating he said to me "If you ever put me before your child, I will walk". After a hearty laugh I told him it will never happen. But it was a sign that this man understood and respected who my son was to me and to us. My son is a miracle!

Miracle #2~ My husband and I dated for 6 years before getting married. We had been successfully (depending on the day!) raising our first son and were excited about the prospect of getting pregnant right after our wedding! Literally- I planned to get pregnant that night! But it didn't quite happen that way. So we kept at it with the light hearted outlook that at least trying was fun. But anyone who has suffered with trying to conceive will tell you that after a while, even the trying becomes work. Over the course of the next 2 years we tracked ovulation, suffered miscarriages, I was tested for a myriad of things, blood was drawn and Josh even went in for testing. After 2 years we were on the verge of IVF when we found out that we were pregnant again. My miscarriages were all early on so we rushed to the OB when we tested positive and he put me on Progesterone supplements 3 times a day in an effort to keep this baby in. I was told to rest often. My husband was told to do everything so that I could stay off my feet. And we made it through the first trimester & started enjoying what was coming! Then our little impatient baby dropped at 34 weeks and I was placed on modified bed rest in an effort to keep him in until lung development at 36 weeks. He was born at 37.5 weeks perfectly healthy! He was also a miracle! When I look back on the 2 years of trying and the miscarriages, I can now See that the timing wasn't right. But with this pregnancy the timing was perfect! He was on purpose! And he was perfect!

Miracle #3~ So skip to this pregnancy. If you don't know the story you have some catching up to do on my blog! Needless to say that my theory of this baby not having a miracle story was short lived. He has been a fighter from the beginning. He has turned our lives upside down. And we wanted him even when we didn't know it! He IS on purpose and he IS a miracle!

I know that every mom believes that their children are miracles. But each of my children have a story to back it up. They are the greatest of all miracles to us. God has strategically placed each of them in our lives. They are all on purpose. I am amazed to see them and kiss them every day. There literally isn't a day that goes by that my children don't hear "I love you" several times a day. Love is like food to children and mine are well fed!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Delivery Day!

After a looooong and suspenseful pregnancy, our sweet baby boy was safely delivered September 7th at 11:01pm! And boy was he ready! Our sweet baby boy arrived at a hearty weight of 9lbs 14oz and stretched out at an amazing 22" long! I guess I am just TOO good at bed rest!

I was scheduled to be induced at 39 weeks and 3 days on Tuesday the 7th. My contractions started on their own the Friday before. They were strong and pretty regular. I almost went in for a labor check by Sunday night but decided to wait and see if my water broke. I mean, it was only a few days until induction. And with my last pregnancy I had the same contractions 3 minutes apart from December 26th until January 3rd when our now 3yr old was born. I went into the hospital 3 times with our 2nd and all 3 times they confirmed I was in labor and sent me home since my water hadn't broken. Therefore when the contractions started this time we decided to wait it out.

The night before I was induced I took a sleeping pill (standard issue by my OB to ensure that mommy & baby are ready for the big day) and hit the sheets. We had to be up at 5:30 to get ready for our 7:30am check in time. But at 4:00am I was awakened by extremely strong back labor. By 4:30am it was time for my hubby to wake up and rub my back! No sleep for mom- no sleep for hubby! But even that didn't help. Induction or not, this baby was coming today! So we got up and started getting ready. We dropped off kids at school & daycare and headed to the hospital.

We checked into St. Francis at 7:30am and got settled in. Our friends arrived and once school was out the children also arrived. In all there were a total of 10 people who joined my husband and I at the hospital just waiting for this baby to make his appearance! Six of those were children ages 1yr to 14yrs and they did an amazing job waiting!

We have an amazing hospital and that extends to the two amazing L&D nurses that joined us that day for our delivery. Yvonne & Evelyn were just amazing and I think we were just as much of a gift to them as they were to us! As I am not a screamer or yeller when I am in labor, we were all able to enjoy the day. We joked, laughed and even watched "Swamp People" while I was pushing! The nurses had a fun day and so did we! The nurses took such amazing care of me while I was in labor and even took care of all of our visitors. At one point one of them delivered Popsicles and Graham crackers to all of the children waiting so patiently in the waiting room!

When it came time to push our 14yr old decided to stay in the room for the delivery which I was so excited about! He was there for the birth of our other boy so it felt complete to me to have them there again. And while I was on bed rest I spent a lot of time prepping our 3yr old for what would take place during delivery as it was my hope that he would also be in the room. We talked about how the baby comes out and even discussed C-sections in case that happened. While he wasn't in the room at the moment that the baby arrived, he did spend a good amount of time in the room while I was pushing. And while my 14yr old chose to stay safely at the headboard of my bed to avoid further mental scarring, our 3yr old bravely chose to be at the business end so he could see what was taking place! At one point I was mid push and I heard my 3yr old say, "I gotta get out of here". I lost it and we all started laughing!

So after an hour of pushing our baby's head emerged! Whew! Hard part's over- right? Nope. Someone has daddy's shoulders. One of his shoulders got stuck and the doctor had to twist and pull and prod to get him free. Finally I looked down and saw this massive hand sticking up. Our baby was here- and he was BIG! When they placed him on my chest I was in a bit of shock. I was amazingly relieved. But I later told my husband that it was like we were on that show "I didn't know I was pregnant"! We spent so many months keeping mental distance from this day just in case it turned out badly. So to be at this moment... to have him in my arms... so see him healthy and big and strong... I can't even explain it. It was surreal. But I couldn't exhale just yet. My husband and I had dreaded a part of delivery. We were scared that when it was time to deliver the placenta, the very thing that was the source of all of our issues, that I would hemorrhage again. So I couldn't totally relax until I knew it was out. Usually new mom's miss that whole part of the delivery because they are so infatuated with their new baby. But I was waiting. And when I felt it pass I asked the doctor if it was out and if I was okay. He confirmed both. At that point I relaxed. Were we really done? Was it really time to be happy?

It's been almost 2 weeks since he arrived and I can't stop looking at him, kissing him, telling him I love him, and thanking God that he is here! He truly is a surprise we never knew we needed! My family is complete. I have 3 healthy boys, an amazing husband and I have made it out healthy and able to enjoy them all.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Last Day

So tomorrow is a day we didn't plan for. Since March 2nd we have had only one plan for our baby's birth- keep him in as long as possible! And now we have reached as long as possible! We will be induced tomorrow! Baby will FINALLY be coming home! It's weird to plan his birth and know what will be happening for the first time this whole pregnancy.

The plan today is to enjoy our last day at home as a family of 4. If all goes according to plan (wouldn't that be Divine!) we will have today to do last touches and baby preparation, pack the kids bags for their night at Tauntie's while we are in the hospital, as well as getting the guest bedroom set up for my mother who will be here the first full week home (YEAH!!!!!). Then we can have a great dinner, maybe watch a movie, and mommy has a special treat of an Ambien so I am rested before our labor day! Then tomorrow at 6:00am we call to get our induction time!

It's surreal now to look around the house and picture our baby taking up these empty spaces. The bassinet next to our bed will have him sleeping soundly in it soon. The swing in the living room will keep him happy while I make dinner. The Boppy Pillow will help hold him while he nurses. And then there's all of our arms. They have been empty in anticipation of this little boy for so long. I can't wait for them to be full of this little boy!

Yes. It's surreal after so long to know that he will be home soon. There is still a part of me that is worried something will happen during delivery so I keep praying- hard. I won't fully let myself embrace my excitement until he is home safe with us. Until I can hold him and smell him and kiss his little (or big!) head. Until I know he is real and ours. So please keep us all in prayer. We are at the end of an incredibly long and turbulent journey. It's the last day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cry Baby

So as of today I am 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. A full week more pregnant than I have ever been. I have always loved being pregnant and have sung the praises of pregnancy to anyone who would listen! However, I have always inserted the disclaimer that much of that opinion can be attributed to the fact that I have never made it to the last few weeks of pregnancy. The really uncomfortable part. Well wasn't I lucky to insert that disclaimer into my exhalations of pregnancies!? Otherwise I'd be hearing a lot of "I told you so's" right about now!

I am sore. My hips feel like they are splintering, my herniated disks are being challenged daily, and I continually feel like someone has taken a baseball bat to my pubic bone. Awesome. I am not sure how much of this is attributed to the last few weeks of pregnancy or if it is a direct result of not really carrying the baby for 36 weeks since I was on bed rest. And I am EXHAUSTED! I sleep in 30-90 minute increments each night. So after a busy day it is of no relief to crawl into bed at night. And I cry. Yes. I cry. I am not sure if this is hormones or exhaustion. Probably a decent mix of both. And since being switch to modified bed rest at 32 weeks, I have had daily contractions. They are not painful but they are exhausting none the less. I am a hot mess all around. It's glamorous to say the least.

And it doesn't physically help that the baby is a linebacker. At our OB appointment last week we had an ultrasound to determine his size (since I have been measuring a few weeks ahead) and we found out that our little man isn't so little. My back, hips, and pubic bones have all been crying and suffering due to an 8lb 8 oz baby hanging out in my pelvis! That explains so much! but I have to say that his cute little chubby cheeks on the ultrasound made me want to meet him even more!

I also struggle with the mind games that still being pregnant has presented me. I know I should be so super grateful that he is still growing and getting healthier every day but the selfish, tired, uncomfortable part of me wants him out NOW! I feel guilt for still being pregnant when I know so many women (personally or through the bed rest forum I am on) who didn't make it this long. Why do I still get to be pregnant? It's just been a lot to deal with that I didn't expect. The whole time I was on bed rest I dreamed of making it to 36 weeks and being overjoyed with the success and the freedom. I wasn't prepared for the guilt and confusion that being full term would present. I feel like a cry baby but I can't control it. I will be better once he comes and is home. I know this.

But we have an end in sight. If he hasn't come naturally by September 7th, we will be induced. Again, due to his size, this will help increase my chances of delivering him vaginally. I just want my little man home, my body back, my sanity in tact (well- as much as it ever has been!) and a little bit of predictability in my life. Then I will stop being a cry baby.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I. Am. Ready.

So here I am at 37 weeks. Today I am 37 weeks and 3 days. I am just about as pregnant as I have ever been since my 1st baby was born at 37 weeks and my 2nd was born at 37 1/2 weeks. And I feel it! I know I've been absent from my posts but I have been out and a about and enjoying life outside my house for the first time in months! I have been soaking in the compliments and comments about my belly. Answering the question "When are you due?" and waddling to as many places as my body will allow me. Additionally, my sister and her family moved around the corner from us just as I hit 36 weeks and came off full bed rest! So for the first time in months my days have been full, busy, and wonderful!

I have to admit that for the last 2 weeks (since 35 1/2 weeks which is when full lung development starts to occur) I have had mixed emotions about belly baby arriving. There is obvious relief that for the first time since finding out we were pregnant he is safe and can come when he chooses. But then after so many months of bed rest and trying to keep him in until he is safe, you kinda don't want him to come out yet. You kinda need him to stay in so you can enjoy being pregnant the way you are supposed to. It's a tough gear to shift to.

But I do have to say that after 2 weeks of relief and being able to get up and move about for the first time..... I AM READY NOW! There is a gradual physical adjustment to your pregnancy that you experience while pregnant over the course of 40 weeks. This is an adjustment I didn't get to experience since I was sitting or laying down for the bulk of my pregnancy. Therefore as I move about and do all the things I dreamed of for months, there is an incredible amount of discomfort which is only amplified at night when I am forced to sleep on my side. My hip joints feel like they are splintering into a million pieces. Sometimes when I get up to pee I can barely walk. This is all new to me! I didn't have this issue with my last two. And while at first I simply wrote it off and told my husband I can't complain because we are so lucky that we are still pregnant, I no longer feel that gracious! I'm tired and want sleep! Even if it's an hour or two between feedings! And since coming off of strict bed rest I have had contractions every day as my body adjusts to carrying this heavy load. It's exhausting! I keep telling my husband that I feel like I'm balancing a boulder on 2 sticks! And because he is a big baby when he stretches and moves, it can be downright painful!

And this isn't all in my head either. This is a big baby. I make big babies. At my 30 week ultrasound he measured 1lb. 4oz. ahead of schedule. That was almost 2 full months ago. So if he was 4lbs. 4oz. almost 8 weeks ago he has to be a bruiser by now! And I can feel it! I have an OB appointment this week and we will do another ultrasound to try and determine his size. Once we know his size we will schedule me to be induced. If he grows too large then a C-Section will be required which is not what I want. It just seems crazy to me to plan his birth. For months we didn't know when he'd come. The goal was to NOT deliver him. And my last 2 pregnancies resulted in early delivery so I was still working up until the days I went into labor! I've never felt "ready". I've never had hospital bags packed. I've never sat and wished my water would just break so I can have this kid already! All new to me.

Here is the good thing about all the trouble with this pregnancy. My husband and I had determined that we were done having children before we got pregnant this time. But to me it didn't seem right and a piece of me mourned the fact that I would be closing the door on my child baring years. But this pregnancy has been just the closure I needed for that chapter of my life! I can safely say I am all done and I am satisfied with the the idea of never being pregnant again! I have always LOVED being pregnant and I still loved this pregnancy and feeling our little sweetie grow inside me. It's a miracle you can't explain to people. With that said... I am ready to be done. I am ready to raise our children and send them off into the world! Next stop- grandma! In about 10-20 years!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

That Day

I've been contemplating for a while over reliving the day our world changed. March 2, 2010 was when our bed rest roller coaster ride started. It was a horrifying day which resulted in a complete upheaval of our lives. I wasn't sure if I wanted to lay it all out in writing but after a lot of thought I came to the conclusion that it would be cathartic. Additionally, I felt I needed to do this before our baby was born. Any mom knows that once that baby is in your arms, any pain of pregnancy or delivery is greatly minimized if not entirely erased. What happened that day may be considered a little graphic to some. Fair warning.

To say this all began on March 2nd wouldn't be fair. It all actually started in December. My husband and I had always dreamed of having 4 children. But after having our 2nd child our minds changed. Our oldest hit his 13th year the same year that our youngest hit his 2nd year. Tough years for both and a tough year for mom and dad. We had several discussions and came to the conclusion that we were happy with the 2 boys we had. We wanted to raise them well and see them off then enjoy our remaining years staring at each other lovingly. Yes. This plan sounded divine to us!

But at the dinner table one night I opened a door. I said to my husband, "Honey, I really don't want any more kids."
He says, "I know. Me neither."
"But it doesn't seem right to me to stop at 2 when our plan was to have 4".
"Did you want to try for more?!"
"NO! But.... it just doesn't feel like we're finished."
Picture husband's confused face here. We discussed for a while and talked to the kids about how they felt about another baby. They were fine with it but my husband and I still weren't 100% on board. So by the end of the conversation we agreed to leave it in God's hands. After all, when we tried to conceive our youngest we tried for over 2 years, endured multiple tests, suffered a few miscarriages, were on the verge of IVF when we conceived, and then I had to take progesterone supplements 3 times a day for the first trimester just to keep him in. It's not like it was going to be easy so why not leave it up to God? Famous last words. Sometime in the next 1-2 weeks I was pregnant.

So off to the OB we went where I was, again, put on the Progesterone supplements to keep baby in. It was all so hard to process as it happened so quickly. Since we had a history of miscarriage we decided to hide the pregnancy from everyone for the first trimester. No easy feat since I show very early. But thankfully God whispered in our ear and advised us to inform our immediate family. They were all ecstatic. it was great to hear the excitement in their voices! I found out I was pregnant January 16, 2010 and on January 23rd, my husband's father died tragically and unexpectedly.

Our lives started spinning while we grasped everything that was happening. And to be honest, between my father in law's death and the fact that we didn't really plan to get pregnant, I hadn't bonded with the fact that I was even carrying our baby. There were days I would forget. I would still take my Progesterone out of habit but mentally I wasn't connected. Every once and a while I would get a reminder that I was pregnant as my little bulging belly would bump into something. And I felt bad about it. I felt like a bad mommy. But our lives were so full of funerals and mourning. I had been sick with a terrible cold for over a month and I was also under an immense amount of pressure at work. My mind just wouldn't go there.

So the morning of March 2nd I went into work as usual. I had just stopped taking my Progesterone supplements as I was now 2 days into my second trimester. I had also just told my employees about my pregnancy the week before as I was having a hard time hiding it and I felt we were in a safe place. That morning at work was like any other. I felt fine and went about my business as usual. At one point I stood up from my desk and felt the urge to go pee so I headed down to the bathroom. When I sat on the toilette I felt this large gush and heard a lot of plopping. I looked down and saw blood and clots falling out of me. Oddly, the first thing I thought of was my sister. Our family suffers what I refer to as "Teflon uteruses" and while I had always been lucky to suffer miscarriages very early, she had them later on (as did my mother as well) and they were much more traumatic. So when I saw all this blood the first thing I thought was that this is what it was like for her and that I, too, was losing my baby. I panicked and reached into the toilette thinking my baby was in there. There was so much blood and muck that I couldn't find anything. So I cleaned up, washed my hands and headed upstairs.

I told my leasing associate that I think I was having a miscarriage and that I needed her to call my husband to take me to the ER and to call my supervisor to let her know why I was leaving. I sat at my desk breathing in and out and trying to remain calm. I kept thinking that whenever you watch TV and some pregnant lady is possibly losing her baby, the doctors always tell her to remain calm because that's what's best for the baby. So I sat and breathed but I could still feel the gushing. My husband arrived quickly and we headed to the ER.

We went to admitting and the 20 something nurse behind the desk took all my information while talking hospital office politics with an orderly. I was 13 weeks so she also assumed I was "just" miscarrying. She told me that if I am miscarrying that there's really nothing they can do but make me comfortable. She asked if I needed a pad to which I replied "Yes! I am gushing blood!". At this point my husband was called away to hand over the kids to our friends who had just showed up at the ER to watch them. Nurse No-sense wheeled me over to a bathroom in the hall and handed me a few pads and wipes to get cleaned up. When I came out of the bathroom she was no where to be found. She left me in a hallway with my wheelchair hemorrhaging. Did I mention that the wheelchair wasn't the kind you can wheel yourself? After waiting a few minutes my husband found me and wheeled me back over to the desk. Nurse No-Sense was still chatting up the same orderly and informed me that we'd have to sit in the waiting room. So that we did. For 2 hours. I cried the whole time. I was still hemorrhaging and I could feel each gush. I sat and questioned everything I had done the last 13 weeks and how this could be my fault. Was it the medication they gave me for my cold? Or the medicine I was prescribed for my migraines? Was it the stress from work and losing my father in law? Or was it simply because I wasn't connected to the baby and was somehow deemed ungrateful and unworthy. So many things went through my mind and my husband tried to calm my fears but in that moment the guilt was immense. At one point another family saw my belly (I told you I show early) and wished me luck with my baby. I feel bad now but my response to them was "There probably won't be one!" and I broke down again.

Finally at the 2 hour mark I told my husband to tell the front desk that we are going home because I'd rather loose my baby at home in my bed than in the ER waiting room. When he told them this, they suddenly had an open bed. They took me and my husband back and put me in a hallway bed while they looked for a room. Once we were back our new nurse was very sweet and sympathetic. She got me a warm blanket as I had lost a lot of blood and offered me more clean pads as I was still bleeding and passing clots. She also offered me pain meds to make it easier and I declined. Thankfully. An ultrasound was ordered so they could see what was happening and much to my dismay my husband was not allowed to accompany me. I understood the policy but it was hard to leave him. This man just lost his father and now he's possibly losing his child. I didn't want him to be alone.

When I got to the ultrasound room the tech offered me a gown and told me to strip down. It was at this point that I noticed my underwear were completely soaked all the way up to the waist band. She offered me a bag to take them home and I told her I don't want them. It was just so much blood. I got on the table and she began the ultrasound. It was complete silence as she didn't turn the sound on on her machine. Understandable in situations like this. I laid on the table as she moved the wand all over my belly. I stared at the ceiling tile and prayed. I prayed to God and to my husband's dad. I wanted this baby that I didn't know I wanted. Then she apologized for taking so long and stated that the baby was just so small and she's trying to get a good heartbeat. Shock! I thought she wasn't finding anything! Tears welled up. "He's still in there?!" YES! I started bawling and telling her she was my favorite person of the day and that I loved her! I wanted my husband there. I wanted him to know his baby was okay.

She stated she had to leave me for a bit to show the images to the doctor. She said it looked like I had several blood clots. I laid on the table for what seemed like forever! I thanked God and thanked my father in law who I was now designating official angel for my baby! She returned shortly and stated that the doctor saw something else and wanted me to do a trans vaginal ultrasound to get a better look. Upon doing the second ultrasound they discovered that I also had Placenta Previa. Instead of the baby attaching to the side or top of the uterus, it had attached on top of the cervix. Not good.

They finally put me in a wheel chair and headed me back to my husband. I was so excited to tell him we hadn't lost our baby! As they wheeled me to our room, he was heading to the bathroom. I smiled so big with tears in my eyes and told him the baby was okay! But his face was blank and he said "Okay" and that he was headed to the bathroom. Not what I was expecting. When he got back to the room you could see the change. In the 45 minutes that they had me in ultrasound, my husband had shut down. He was on emotional overload between his father's death and this. The ER Doctor didn't comfort him much either when he arrived. The doctor was great and my spirits were much higher. But the doctor informed us that I had a subchrionic hemorrhage which lead to the clots and bleeding and that I do have Placenta Previa. He stated that the hemorrhaging was serious and that if it continued or happened again it could be fatal for the baby, myself, or both of us. He stated there was nothing we could do but strict bed rest, monitor the bleeding and wait while my body tried to heal. While I heard good news (my baby was alive no matter what was happening to me)my husband heard only that he could lose his wife and baby. It was agonizing to see his face as all this information struggled to implant itself in his head. We tried to decide what was going to be best for our family. We had 2 beautiful boys that needed their mommy. Do we keep the baby and trust in God or do we take our family's fate into our own hands to ensure our children have a mother. These are agonizing conversations to have as a husband and wife. It was all too much and we decided to make that decision later. We were drained. After several hours we were released home to strict bed rest (laying down with feet up. NO getting up unless I needed to use the bathroom) and advised to follow up with our OB the next day.

That night was restless. Each time I changed position in bed my husband would jump up and ask if I was okay. The bleeeding slowly tapered off and the next day we headed to our OB. More bed rest was prescribed. Over the next week or so we decided to let it ride and trust God with the baby. For the next few months everything was week to week with us. OB appointments weekly, high tech ultrasounds with the perinatologist to monitor everything internally, and the agonizing isolation of bed rest. Our diagnosis changed almost every time we went in for an ultrasound. More issues such as blood pooling in the lining of my uterus which can cause your water to break prematurely. Bed rest was literally all I could do about any of it. I fought the bed rest mentally. I had lost all control of my life. Nothing was in my hands. My job was on the line, I couldn't be a mother to my children or a wife to my husband. I was immensely depressed and cried almost daily. Finally it hit me that God can handle it if I can't. It's the old saying that God won't bring you to it if he can't bring you through it. Once I released my fate to God things got better. I found a online forum for moms on bed rest ( which has been a life saver! Our friends and family gathered around us in amazing ways! Our church supplied meals and prayer. While I lost my job, the Lord continued to provide. My husband became the most amazing man on the planet to me! I have loved him for 12 years and just when you think you can't love someone more, they amaze you!

This has been what I call a "God year". I can't control everything or anything in my life this year. That was all changed on March 2nd. But by allowing God to take over and redirect our lives I am learning so many lessons- from bed none the less! And despite the agony, drama, pain, and fear that March 2nd threw at us, we are now 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Our baby will be born healthy and any day! I suffer a little guilt for ever questioning if he should be here. But he is on purpose. He is supposed to join our family. He is our pot of gold at the end of the storm!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And Mommy is BACK!

Okay, so you've read all I've written about bed rest and so many of the emotions it stirs. One that I don't think I really elaborated on was jealousy. I'll admit it. I was just plain jealous. Of who? My own husband. I wasn't jealous that he had to do all the cleaning, cooking, laundry, fetching, shopping, worrying, bread winning, etc.(okay... maybe a little- I AM a control freak after all!). No, no. I was jealous that all of the sudden, he was the best thing in the world to our 3yr old and I simply had nothing to offer that kid!

Our 3yr old was patient at first with the situation. He'd sit in bed with me and watch movies and we found little creative ways to play. But he slowly learned that mom was out of the equation when it came to anything he needed. So dad fast became his favorite. Dad read books. Dad took him to the park. Dad read to him at bedtime and got him to brush. Dad made him dinner and put on his favorite movie. Dad. DAD. DAD! The term "No! Dad do it!" was a regular occurrence in our house for months. And he began to utilize my bed rest to his advantage. I'd ask him to do something and he'd yell "NO!" and run down the hall because he was aware I could not chase him. Damn.

But then I was released to modified bed rest a few weeks ago. That meant that a few times a week I can leave the house for a "sit down" trip. Like a movie, dinner out, the park, etc. I can stand for a short period of time and can do minimal walking. The rest of the time I am sitting with my feet up still. But things could be a little more normal. This little bit of freedom did wonders for my attitude and well being. That much was to be expected. But what I didn't expect was how much of a relief these little freedoms would mean to my 3yr old!

I remember the first time we left the house together to go somewhere. As we drove past a local strip mall, my little boy pointed out each store to see if I remembered it. "Mom! That's the store with the Thomas the Tank Engine! Mom! There's the pet store!". He was so excited to reintroduce me to the outside world! And then little by little he relied on me more. Ahhhh.. heart melting. But this past week or so has been the bees knees for mom! I am actually outranking dad! I get called in the middle of the night. I get to read his bedtime stories. I get to give him baths. And the other day he switched the seating arrangements at the dinner table so that he sits next to ME! Mommy is back!

I have tried not to gloat to my husband... but I'm really bad at it because the truth is that I am ecstatic! My 14yr old has a much better grasp of our situation so he resented my husband and I equally (LOL! But not really....). But the 3yr old was tough. So now it feels amazing to be mommy again and not that lump of baby maker stuck in bed all day! I'm back! I'm back! I'm back!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Place We Never Thought We'd Be

Today we reached a milestone we never thought we'd see. We turned 35 weeks pregnant! Additionally, last week the baby dropped. Therefore he is getting ready for delivery. One more week and this little baby, who has had to work so hard to be here, will have full lung development! That means that if he comes after 36 weeks, even though it would still be 4 weeks early, we would be able to bring him home. Home. I know I've tried to explain it but it's surreal to imagine this part of the process. The whole past week or two as we take the little steps to get ready for baby we have done so with such mixed emotions. As healthy as he becomes every day and as close as we are to the finish line, there is still hesitancy to let ourselves go and enjoy this. It's like my husband says, we spent so much time trying to keep baby in that now it's hard to plan for him to come out. It just seems like a foreign idea or that by getting ready we are jinxing it.

I'm having an easier time enjoying these last few weeks of pregnancy. I can feel his movements and can tell which is an elbow, foot, baby bum. I can feel that he's healthy and strong. And therefore I can let go a bit and enjoy being pregnant a bit more. My husband, on the other hand, carries more of the hesitancy and can't quite relax. Since the January death of his father and then our pregnancy roller coaster, loss has been the theme of his year. So he feels he can't really fully enjoy this until his little boy is home, healthy, and in his arms. It's so hard to see him blocked off like that. But it's probably been just as hard for him to see me go through everything I have endured to get this far. This is what marriage is about. the good and the bad. We will love each other through both.

The boys are ready for baby! Our 3yr old asks every day if the baby is moving and loves feeling him roll around. He's fascinated with boobies now as we have been attempting to prep him for mommy breastfeeding! And he wants to share room with the baby right away. Cute. He'll learn. Our 14yr old, on the other hand, is a little grossed out as the baby's movements get bigger but he's excited none the less! He still hasn't decided if he wants to be in the room when the baby is born this time. I think the last time was an eye opening experience ;0)

I have to say I am so grateful to everyone who prayed for us, brought meals, cleaned our house, visited, or just kept us in mind over the past months. We have really come to truly realize what an amazing group of people we have in our lives! This whole experience has been one of the hardest things I have ever endured but it has also been one of the greatest. I really believe that you find your strength in tough times. And we will come out of this stronger and with a beautiful new addition to our family. A reason to celebrate. Which we need this year as we process the loss of my husband's father and now the upcoming passing of my grandfather (who has been fighting cancer and other various issues for almost a year and is an amazing display of strength and stobbornness!). God works in mysterious ways. We don't always agree with His timing and reasons, but I am grateful for His guidance and love. He is the reason I know we will all be okay and the reason we have made it this far.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Naughty Stories

Before I begin...let me clarify that I'm not talking about THOSE stories you dirty birdies! I'm talking about the collection of stories that every parent has. EVERY parent! Regardless of race, religion, marital status, gender, etc. each parent collects these amazing stories over the life of their child. Unavoidably and even unaware that what they are experiencing will someday turn into the best stories in memory!

I was talking to my best friend this morning. She was at her wits end. The kids (ages 3 & 4)had eaten dog & cat food, dumped water on the floor, smeared toothpaste into the carpet, and broken into the stash of goodies mommy keeps to reward them for being good (ironic right?). My friend had already taken all the toys out of each of their rooms (a tactic I have used several times with my oldest! Toys are priveleges not rights.) and both kids were on time out in their rooms- not that it mattered to them as they continued to run to and from each others rooms whenever mom wasn't watching. What's wrong with these kids? What's wrong with this mom? Nothing. Really, there isn't even anything unusual about this scenario. This is parenthood. These are the stories. Every parent has them and if you are a parent and reading this, there are most likely many flashbacks to your own children playing in your head!

It's hard for first time parents (and my best friend's children are 17 months apart so they are double trouble!) to understand these things are normal. Parents are on a learning curve too. My oldest is 14 and the things we have gone through would make the hairs on your neck stand up- right before you laughed hysterically because after all, they didn't happen to you! I mean, I remember a specific instance where I sat on our bed crying and telling my husband we can't have any more children because we messed this one up so bad! But now that we have the 3yr old, I don't stress as much. I know we'll get through and he'll be fine. So I can collect the little stories and enjoy them.

When I talk about the stories here's what I mean. Have you ever heard a parent, whose child has grown up, say "I remember when she was little. Remember that day she did everything we told her to? It was so great!". Be real. IF someone said that you wouldn't believe it! Here's what real parents sound like, "UGH! When mine was that age she got into my make up and drew all over our freshly painted walls! The red lipstick would not come off the wall and we had to repaint all over again! I thought I was going to kill her!". And yet she still breathes. And that story will be told over and over again. Let's face it. We like to recount all the naughty little things our kids- and even our teens- do! Those stories are relatable and memorable!

The pictures above are the perfect example. This is our 3yr old (I think he was still 2 at the time) who thought it would be neat to get into his diaper powder.... in our bed. BUSTED! And you can tell by the look on his face! Here's the difference between child #1 and child #2. I don't have any pictures to accompany the stories with child #1 because every thing he did felt like the end of my parenting world! But by the time child #2 rolls around you can pause and preserve the memory. The kid will turn out fine. Even if he or she eats dog food! My husband and his borther were big fans of milk bones when they were little. They both made it out alive!

So to mommies and daddies the world over- and to my bestest friend who WILL survive this (the kids on the other hand....) I say take heart! You are in good company the world over for millions of years! You are good parents regardless of what your children do or say. Think of them as Ikea models. They don't come ready made, delivered to your door. Hell! They hardly come with directions at all and it seems like the ones they do have are in another language! You build them over the years and in the end, you sit back and enjoy your work. So collect those stories! And enjoy the fact that you have your sweet angel/demon babies to entertain you!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Excitement- a first in months!

So last night was a horrible night of sleep. My hips were spreading (although if they spread any more the baby will just fall out!) and I had to pee constantly. But in the midst of all this waking up and falling asleep, I dreamed many dreams. And to my surprise and delight, each of them was about bringing our baby home! This is a welcome change from the standard dreams I have had that are full of fear of the baby coming before he's due and having health issues or not making it all.

The first was that I went into labor at home and it went so fast that the doctor had to deliver in our room! Each other dream was about bringing him home, how big he was, breast feeding, introducing him to our family & friends. All of it was really normal stuff. Normal. There's something we haven't experienced this whole pregnancy.

But as we get closer to the end (a place we didn't prepare for) I think my subconscious is allowing me to feel something I have been scared to feel up until now. Excitement. I literally woke up excited about our baby for the first time this morning! No hesitancy. Just pure excitement! Again, I know it sounds strange to most people that you wouldn't be excited or prepared for a baby until the last few weeks of your pregnancy but our situation didn't lend itself to a lot of joy these past 6 months or so. Fear was our driving factor. So now as we close in on the finish line and things are starting to feel normal we can begin to feel normal feelings associated with the birth of a child!

I feel August will be a great month. Our baby hits 36 weeks and achieves full lung development! Final goal achieved! Also, our 14 yr old, who has been all over the country this summer visiting family, returns to us so he can be here for the birth! And my sister and her family are moving to Washington just in time for baby! It will be the first time in 12 years that we have family living near us and the timing couldn't be better! PLUS when I go into labor my mommy will be flying up from California! She has never missed a single one of her grand children's births. I have missed my mommy this pregnancy. I can't tell you how many times I have just wanted my mommy during this dark and scary time. So it will be so great to finally have her by my side!

I feel that I am getting to a place to finally process everything that has happened to us over the last few months. I feel the need to post a blog about the day that I went to the ER and our lives changed forever. I feel it would be cathartic. I am getting closer to a place where I can put it all in words. This whole situation has been something that I never pictured for us. It was a nightmare that's hard to put into words. But I will try. Soon.

I praise God in all this for bringing us through a really difficult situation. I know He has a plan and we will follow. He has been an awesome provider for us when things have looked their bleakest. I know He gave us this baby to make some major changes in our life that needed to take place. To point us in new directions and refocus us on what is important in life. Our family and our faith.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Holy cow! We're having a baby!

So obviously we all know I am pregnant. Our whole world has revolved around this pregnancy for the last 33 weeks. But up until now it's been very functional. We haven't been able to daydream, plan, set things up and bring things out of storage. We have been on a day to day and week to week basis just trying to reach one goal or another. All of the normal things that go along with expecting a new baby have been lost on us. It's not to say that I am not grateful. I am grateful and amazed beyond words to have each week. We never thought we'd even make it this far into the pregnancy. We didn't dream about bringing a baby home. We imagined how we would cope with visits to the NICU. And now as the weeks go by and we get closer we are able to breathe a bit. If our baby were to arrive right now it would be a matter of days that he would be in the NICU as opposed to weeks or months. While it's no parent's dream, it's a great relief!

So with so so much of the fear behind us, it's starting to hit me that I'm not just pregnant... I'm having a baby! I know to most people the two are the same. But to those of us who have had a traumatic pregnancy, the two are very separate. My husband and I haven't allowed ourselves to imagine what life will be like when we have our new baby home with us just in case that never happened. And even though I have felt him kick and move for months, it feels different now. I feel more connected to him. I can allow myself to enjoy the movements as opposed to simply feeling relief that he's still alive.

Last night my husband and I went shopping for the first time for the baby. It was surreal to pick out things we will need for him. There was still a hesitancy about it. A fear in the back of my mind that if we set things up and get ready that something will happen. But it felt good. It felt normal. This is what we should be doing! Today we will begin moving things around in our 3yr old's room to make room for his brother. I think that will really make it real for me. When we are creating a space in our home for our newest family member. There will be spaces reserved in drawers and on shelves for our little one as opposed to a pile of baby loot on the dining room table from the baby shower! He will have a room. A space that's his to share with his brother.

And while I know that we need to keep him in at LEAST until 36 weeks...and while I am so excited to finally meet this baby we have sacrificed so much for...I kinda don't want to have him just yet. I feel like I just now found out that I am having a baby and I need to enjoy my pregnancy for the first time! I can finally leave the house and I am enjoying having people ask when I'm due and what the baby's sex is. All the normal things that come along with having a baby. We went to dinner last night and when I slid into the booth I got stuck! My belly was too big! But the learning curve of adjusting to a belly was lost during this ordeal. None the less, it delighted me to not fit into that booth! These are the experiences I should be having. This will be our last baby (unless God creates a miracle that can reverse medical intervention!) so I NEED these last few weeks. To start to celebrate. To start to bond. And to live as though we are having a baby!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The funny of 3

As a mother of 2 1/2 boys, I have to say that my absolute favorite age is 3. Boys run a little behind girls in their intellectual thinking. So at 2 while girls are growing their imaginations and playing dolls, tea party, etc., boys are "physically inquisitive". Let me break that one down. I never referred to either of my boys' 2nd year as the "terrible 2's" but rather I called them the
"inquisitive 2's". Boys are just physically inquisitive. This often translates into climbing this, breaking that, swallowing who knows what just to see what it tastes like, and flushing any small item in the "magic bowl". It doesn't take the stress off the 2nd year to view it as inquisitive over terrible. Don't get me wrong! But when you understand it that way there is less anger added to the frustration. In addition to this physical need to explore their world, boys are often stuck in an eternal state of frustration. Their minds are going, their bodies are going, but their speech often falls behind their female counterparts (a trend that continues throughout life). So they get frustrated more often at not being able to communicate their feelings, needs, or thoughts and we end up with the inevitable and notorious temper tantrum. We always acknowledge how hard year 2 is for the parents but seldom think about how frustrated our toddlers are.

But then 3 comes along! And the language light switch turns on! (Enter angels singing from on high) Now, my two boys learned to speak at different rates. My oldest, being an only child, had less of a need to speak until later as I understood his toddler speak. Whereas our 3yr old spoke much earlier because whatever big brother was doing he wanted to do! But let me be very clear that speaking and communicating are two very different things to a small child! Knowing words is impressive but being able to clearly translate your thoughts into words is where the world really changes for little boys. And it gets entertaining for parents.

The first thing I love about 3 is their ability to discover things and TELL you about it! When my nephew was 3 we were walking through a parking garage and there was a red directional arrow on the ground. This type of thing is something we, as adults, typically overlook. But to my nephew it was the coolest thing he had discovered all day and he had to share the excitement! 3 is also when parents of little boys start hearing this several times over each day- "AIRPLANE! MOMMY! IT'S AN AIRPLANE! I FOUND ANOTHER ONE!". Everything is new an exciting and our boys are ready to share it all with us! I love it!

Then comes the story telling and the ability to translate their thoughts! The things that come out of a 3 yr old's mouth are priceless! It's like getting little glimpses of who they are and who they will be! Example: when my oldest was 3 we used to call his farts "froggies" because his bottom croaked when he farted. It was our cute and dainty way of addressing a stinky topic in our house. We didn't stop to think of how this translates in the mind of a 3 yr old. Then one day he was running around the living room naked after a bath and he stopped, dropped, and stuck his finger in his bottom! We immediately freaked out and told him to stop then asked what he was doing. His response, "I'm touchin' the froggies!". We no longer referred to his farts as froggies again. Age of discovery for parents and toddlers! And now we are once again going through the 3's with our next one. I love listening to him speak, play with his action figures (for which he creates the most elaborate story lines), and hold full conversations with me. For both my boys the ability to conversate and express things calmed the temper tantrums quite a bit.

Being a seasoned parent I am well aware that the temper tantrums will continue for my 3 yr old. The ability to communicate feelings is now lost on my 14 yr old. And that each age is precious in its own ways. The best parenting advice I ever got was to enjoy each stage they go through (good or bad) because they only go through it once and you can't get it back. This is true of 3 or 14. And now with a new baby on the way we have another set of years and discoveries at our finger tips! We are blessed and excited to see what things our boys discover!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Belly Baby Update

So it's been 2 weeks since my 30 week ultrasound and 1 week since my OB's determination as to whether I stay on bed rest or not. Sorry for not updating but I had family in town. Lots of family. I haven't been that busy in 5 months!

Let's start with our ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed that the Placenta Previa had corrected itself and is no longer an issue! YEAH! It also revealed that little Belly Baby is a line backer! Apparently I am TOO good at bed rest. An average 30 week baby weighs in at roughly 3lbs. My super baby was weighing in at 4lbs 4oz! He is also measuring in the 95% for height, weight, and head. So the Perinatologist was concerned that I had Gestational Diabetes. Why not. Nothing surprises me at this point. Luckily I had just done my glucose testing that morning. The next day the results were in and I do not have Gestational Diabetes! I just make giant babies! My hubby was so relieved that the Previa was resolved and asked me if I was relieved. My answer? "NO! Now I have to figure out how to push that giant head out of me!"

So for the first time this entire pregnancy both baby and I are healthy! I don't even know what to do with that! So with this good news under our belts we headed to the OB the following week. He reviewed the report from the Perinatologist and decided to release me from full bed rest to modified bed rest. This means that I can leave the house! JOY! But I am still restricted. No long term walking, heavy lifting, work, and I still have to stay resting most of the time. Due to all the issues we've had with this pregnancy, we all want to play it safe.

This was so exciting at first! But then I learned that readjusting to the "outside world" is not as easy as it seemed. Stimulation, even in small doses, overwhelms me. Short trips anywhere exhaust me. And after a week with family visiting doubled with my baby shower, I was left with 2 days of contractions as my body doesn't know how to carry this baby. My body is used to being in a resting state and having to hold the baby in an upright position is just too much still. So we will rest as much as possible for the next 4-8 weeks. Once I am 36 weeks I am free to do anything and just let the baby come. Both my other boys were born healthy in their 37th week and with this one growing and gaining at an overly healthy rate, 36 weeks should be safe!

It seems weird to me that this crazy life changing/ life challenging journey is almost over. Just a few more weeks until we meet our Belly Baby! Last night I had my first good dream about the baby. My dreams about him until now were riddled with anxiety and scenes of early delivery and loss. But last night I dreamt that he was home with me, my husband and our other 2 boys. We were all snuggled into bed and cuddling. I dreamed of kissing his head while he slept in my arms. It's almost like my subconscious can finally allow the reality of him being here to set in. It's strange to start planning for baby just 4 weeks before his potential arrival. It's something we couldn't allow until now. But now that it's here and we can exhale, I am so excited! I can't wait to meet my little man!