27 July 2006

A day in the life of...

... a crazy, busy mom of four:

8:00 am - scenario A) wake up panicked to hear your 2 little boys downstairs in the pantry, probably having a food fight; your 7 yr. old daughter (aka " big helper") is obliviously watching something totally worthless on Nickelodeon. scenario B) boys are still asleep and I can warm up to the day before diving in

8:15 am diapers changed - check, breakfast served - check, turn attention to baby

8:45 am - baby fed, me? not so much, place baby in swing, pray she falls asleep again, and rush upstairs to throw on some clothes

9:00 am - clean up remains of breakfast and kitchen; dress everyone, make beds together

9:30 am - decide how to spend my morning with the elder siblings. Options: play in backyard (swingset), play in front yard (bikes, scooters), blow bubbles, set up sprinkler, fill pool, go for a walk, bake cookies

10:45 am - 11 am - wind down aforementioned activity, wrangle kids in for a snack, pop in an Einstein video for Drew, change diapers and feed baby again

11:30 am - cuddle with baby for a bit before lunch craze

11:45 am - put baby in bouncy seat or sling, lunchtime!

12:15 pm - lunch over, clean up time! (This may extend into other areas of the house... whatever you can get done in about 45 minutes, or as long as your toddler will continue to nibble/play in high chair)

1:00 pm - if baby isn't settled down for another snooze, place back in swing; or, let kids take turns holding her before naptime (for Drew, almost 2)

1:30 pm - ah, naptime: change diapers again (obviously this happens frequently between the 2 "babies"... in fact, sometimes Sasha goes through 2 or more in one sitting!), read story or sing song first, go in bedroom multiple times over the next 30 minutes to put Drew back in bed, make mental note that he is too young probably to be in a big boy bed as he gets out frequently and destroys bedroom; hop on computer for a bit to check email, blog and message boards at warp speed

2:00ish pm - change and feed baby :) preferrably in front of TLC upstairs in bedroom, pending older two children's temperament to be left alone downstairs for 30 minutes. PBS sometimes works.

2:30 pm - serious naptime for baby in cradle in bedroom. This gives me a couple hours to fold or do a load of laundry, remind kids to be quiet, tidy up the house, work on a project, remind kids to be quiet, rest, pull out viola/violin, remind kids to be quiet, pop on computer again in effort to ignor loud disobedient children and calm dry, frazzled nerves, and of course fetch umpteen million snacks for 2 suddenly ferocious apetites! They usually need another activity in here somewhere too: painting, computer game, reading, coloring, playdough, water tray, popcorn/movie time...

4:30 pm - wake toddler or release him from his holding cage, change diaper, survey damage in bedroom, play the "clean up game", feed him a snack, think about dinner

5:00/5:30 pm - bewitching hour: wake baby and change and feed her, then start making dinner (usually with baby in sling as she has an internal sensor that tells her "Everyone is going to want Mommy for something over the next couple of hours and I am going to make sure I am first on the list.")

6:15-6:30 pm - eat dinner and pray that Daddy will walk in the door very soon :)

7:00 pm - wind down with fussy baby in a comfy chair while Daddy cleans up dinner (read: collapse).

7:30 pm - Bathe 3 (sometimes 4) little piggies. Tickle, read stories, get drinks of water, say goodnight - a thousand times.

8-8:30 pm - Official bedtime. Feed and change baby. Daddy snuggles her while I take my shower. I lay her down to sleep and spend 30 mintes or so talking with my hubby over ice cream or some other delectable treat. Then I hit the sack.

1ish am - baby wakes. Change and feed her.

4:30-5:00ish am - baby wakes. Change and feed her. Pray she'll be down for the count; if not pass her off to Daddy to settle down before he gets ready for work.

Somewhere in there at no specific times I tend to bickering, disasters, and hurt feelings or bodies, pray a lot, fulfill requests for hugs and kisses, answer the phone/door, pee and eat something. If I'm lucky, I'll even crack open my scriptures a half dozen times or so while breastfeeding to try and refill my spiritual cup and my patience reserves.

Does this all sound vaguely familiar to anyone? ;) I think if there were a boss involved, I'd get employee of the year for sure.

26 July 2006

Slow Dance

This poem was written by a teenage girl suffering with cancer. I received it today in my email and wanted to share it because it sums up so much of how I am viewing life right now. I am savoring these moments with a newborn... moments I will not experience again until I have grandchildren. And I wake up each day and squeeze every little bit of time in with my older children that I can, because they are growing up and leaving babyhood/childhood behind quicky. Take the time to let these words soak in. And be grateful for every living moment you have:

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight? Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done !
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,"Hi"
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

21 July 2006

I'd forgotten...

... how much I love:

the smell of a newborn baby's head
and their soft, scrunchy necks
the way my lips fit perfectly in the bridge of their nose
wide eyes at 1 in the morning
and bobbing little heads when put to my shoulder
teeny, tiny hands wrapped tightly around my fingers
floppy sleeping positions
the way every picture of a newborn turns out perfectly
grunts and squeaks and grimmaces
and the most adorable little sneezes
sleepy smiles, gas or no gas :)
melting like butter when placed chest to chest
and the immediate calming effect of holding baby in your arms
the excuse to just sit and cuddle and stare and think deep thoughts

19 July 2006

And the award goes to...

Thanks to all who participated in the guessing game. The winners were Morning Glory and Allie for birthdate and cmommy for weight. Your luxurious prizes are virtual chocolate and a pedicure.

Enjoy. :)

Things are going well here. Sasha loves to be held. She is sleeping 4-5 hours at a time at night. And I feel great!!! Now if I could just get back on top of my housework, lol.

14 July 2006

Shall we nickname her Liberty?

Well here it finally is... the tale of Sasha Evalani's arrival. I know it has taken me *some* time to write this. Unfortunately, the day after bringing her home we were back in the NICU for jaundice. That was not a fun experience, but it is behind us and she is doing fine now. Thank you for all the warm comments and well wishes!!!

On July 3, 2006 I woke up feeling a little bit of pressure and back pain associated with my contractions (which had been going on for some time). I took it easy throughout the morning - getting in and out of the bathtub, lying down, drinking plenty of fluids… just trying to decipher this from any other day. I called my doula Laura and discussed my symptoms with her and she felt like I should go into the hospital and at least get checked. After lots of thought and prayer, Andrew and I decided she was right… we just didn’t want to have another false alarm disappoint us. Getting out the door proved to be a challenge in and of itself. There was an entire bottle of juice spilled on the kitchen floor, lots of anxiety from the kids who were excited to have a “sleepover “, and a napless Drew to contend with. I actually sat down on the sofa at one point and said, “I refuse to have the baby under these conditions. Today is NOT the day!” I was fully convinced that I could talk my body out of labor. After all, I’d been doing it for months!

We got to the hospital around 4:30pm. At my OB appointment on Friday I had been 1-2cm dilated, 80% effaced and Sasha was quite low already… below 0 station. But my cervix was still posterior. Upon arrival at the hospital, I was 4 cm and 90% effaced, plus my cervix had moved forward, which had brought baby back up a bit but was really of no concern since that stubborn cervix had finally done its job! They called me “in active labor”, but my body really wasn’t doing it yet. I didn’t feel in sync at all and figured it would be as it was with Drew… that I would walk around at 4cm for a couple weeks. Disappointed, Andrew and I decided that rather than sit in the hospital infinitely waiting for something to happen, like being talked into getting labor augmented, we’d go home. The nurse strongly suggested we walk the halls for an hour first and see if there was any change. We knew there wouldn’t be (or that it would be minimal, if anything) but we agreed. Laura was with us and helped me through the few contractions I was having here and there… they were getting stronger and closer together, but I still was not convinced! It really did not feel as if my body had completely agreed to go into labor yet. After walking the halls for an hour I got checked again and was closer to 5cm dilated. By now it was after 6pm and I was hungry and uncomfortable in the tiny triage room. They wanted to monitor the baby for 20 minutes, during which time I had 3 contractions that required me to focus. During my last one, the OB on call came in and said she wished me the best, all the time watching this huge contraction peak on the monitor. I did my best not to show my discomfort. As if she believed that I wasn’t really feeling it! At this point I really didn’t know that I wasn’t in labor. In fact I was pretty sure things were “syncing up” now. But I knew I’d be miserable if I didn’t get somewhere more comfortable before active labor really began, and get some food in my system. So, with Laura’s full agreeance, we decided to go get ourselves some dinner and just see what happened at home on the birth ball and in the bathtub. The children were already taken care of and our friends were more than happy to keep them while we waited to see what my body would do. I signed an AMA (“Against Medical Advice“) to get out of the hospital. Once in the car, contractions came much, much closer together… almost on top of each other. They were getting painful, too. It just didn’t feel right to me, though. They seemed too close and too sudden, so we continued on our way home, stopping to pick up some dinner first. I knew I needed to wait for the contractions to space out and get even stronger before I’d be in active labor, so I was feeling calm and collected. I practiced breathing through each one, focusing on relaxing my entire body and letting nature take it course. I took bites of my burrito between the contractions on my birth ball at home. Andrew was watching wrestling on TV. After eating I decided to get in the bathtub for about 30 minutes, which felt great! I was almost wishing I’d decided on a water birth at that point, it was just so relaxing and comforting. I‘d been taking baths for a couple weeks to calm my prodromal contractions. The fact that they stayed strong this time told me something. Plus, it was at this point that they spaced out to an even 3 minutes. So, I could clearly see how many women preferred birthing in water.

As things got stronger and more organized, I knew without a doubt that this was it and that we needed to head back to the hospital. Only 2 hours had passed since leaving the hospital when we returned to it. It was now 9:15pm. I was admitted immediately and had reached 6cm. From this point, I had to get into a zone, find a voice for my contractions, move from the ball to the edge of the bed to my side once transition hit. I began to shake and Andrew rubbed my legs. Either Laura or Andrew was constantly fanning my face. The music we had compiled was very helpful in keeping me calm and relaxed. Laura read affirmations to me that gave me some relaxing imagery. As transition came to an end Andrew and Laura took turns providing counter pressure to my back as Sasha moved down the birth canal. It was then that I reached a point where I truly did not think I could handle the surges. I just couldn’t get on top of them anymore… the pain was definitely no longer under my control with any breathing or thoughts or music. Laura got to thinking that shaking + nausea + doubt probably meant I was close to complete (10 cm) so she suggested I get checked. I wasn’t sure if I wanted any disturbance at that point, but was anxious to see how far I’d come. This was my first check since being admitted. Lo and behold, the nurse proclaimed me complete! It was midnight and I could push as soon as I felt the urge. I was in shock, but also feeling very reassured. I had made it all the way to 10 cm before questioning myself. I knew now that Sasha was just minutes away, if only I could find my momentum to push her out. I said a few times “How am I going to do this?“ I guess I was a bit scared. My nurse Darlene said, “You ARE doing it!“ I just couldn’t believe it was happening, that this challenge was almost mine.

My body was not quite telling me what I needed to do yet, so I used a few contractions to experiment with pushing positions. I ended up being the most comfortable with a squatting bar over the bed (which I sat on the very edge of) and with Andrew behind me supporting and continuing to rub my lower back. And he had to do so quite vigorously. I also had to lean back into him just to keep from jumping out of that bed in utter pain. But leaning back quickly proved to be counteractive to pushing, which my body was really beginning to want to do, so I had to lean into my contractions, going against my instincts. This did not feel right for a few more contractions, but I finally got in tune and found my momentum, and pushing was a relief ! At that point something else took over completely. I could feel Sasha’s head with my own hand as I pushed. I felt totally in tune with her now and with bringing her into the world. The room was very quiet. The nurses were incredibly respectful. I hardly knew there was anyone there but me, Andrew and Laura… but there were also 3 nurses and the OB on call, Dr. Southmayde. They trusted me completely to know what to do and let me find my way through it all. I did nothing conventionally… I breathed through each contraction. There was no counting to 10. I just pushed when I felt the urge and for as long as I wanted and as many times during he contractions as I wanted. They did not quiet me or correct me at all.

I began to chant “I” while Laura said “I can do this!” for me. Andrew was getting emotional behind me I could tell. Iz was singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” as Sasha emerged. I don’t believe it was coincidence that this was also a song that I deeply associated with my late mother. It was comforting to hear that song again at this very moment and I felt some part of Mom was there watching me give birth to her granddaughter. And then came Gladys singing “I Am a Child of God”. Talk about perfect timing.

First the head. Immediate relief and rush of endorphins. Then my water finally broke. And the shoulders and the rest of her quickly followed. July 4th, 12:38am, 8 lbs. 12oz. and 21 inches long. I was overjoyed and emotional and feeling as if I were on top of Mt. Everest. She was perfect in every way, with lots of black hair and big brown eyes. Long, graceful fingers. She came out loud, ravenous and ready to eat! Latched on right away. Everything felt surreal for quite some time. As we called to deliver the wonderful news to our friends and family, I was feeling high and elated in a way I’d never experienced after birth. I had done it. My body had gone into labor on its own. I had experienced it in one fell swoop, from beginning to end, without stops and starts spread out over weeks. Without augmentation or artificial rupture of membranes or an epesiotomy. Without an epidural! And WITH a team of incredibly supportive and respectful medical professionals. It was the most amazing and strengthening experience for both Andrew and I and we knew instantly why we’d been compelled to go the route we did.

I will share a picture as soon as Blogger lets me!

02 July 2006

The Bathroom - Man's Portal Into Another World

As I wracked my brain for one last measly baby project to work on this past week, the thought occured to me (or an MOF, to be honest) to paint Sasha's closet door like a window into a fantasy world. It has yet to be completed, but provides a nice metaphor for today's post. For men, the bathroom seems to be a portal into some private world. A quiet place to get away and relax. For at least 30 minutes. In fact, it's a given that he'll be gone that long when he says "Honey, I'm going to go use the bathroom." Really, there would be no need to announce it if it weren't going to be such a big deal for him. Like, a treat or reward for being gone at the office all day. With how much time my husband spends in the "John" (see it's even named after a man), I wonder if he saves it all up for the minute he walks in the door, before I get my chance to unload on him.

Does your husband disappear for long periods of time to do his "business" like mine does? Is he also smart enough to find the furthest bathroom from where the hullabaloo is when he goes? Upstairs, master bedroom. Always. There's a bathroom just inside the garage door entrance that he walks by every evening. And another one at the top of the stairs. Nope, we want the suite at the end of the hall in the back of the house where you can't hear a dadgum thing. :) I, on the other hand, rarely get the chance to use my beautiful purple and sage green bathroom that I so thoughtfully decorated.

And are your children somehow trained to leave the husband be while he reads poops? Is there an unwritten rule that children must follow Mommy into the bathroom or is that just what happens in my house? Why oh why have we not learned from our counterparts how to properly use our time in the bathroom? Seriously. We rush through our business at lightening speed, sometimes without even closing the door all the way. I have learned to lock the door most of the time. Because having company sitting at the table just outside of it does not, I repeat, does not deter your children from barging in on you and revealing your nakedness in all its glory. But locking often leads to knocking. Incessant knocking. And whining.

Ladies, I think we must be missing out on something big here. I mean, I don't sit and watch my husband do his business in the bathroom, but I am pretty sure something miraculous must be happening in there for him to love it so much. And if it weren't for the aftersmell, I might even think there really was a portal in there somewhere.

Men also seem to have the showering thing downpat. I don't know about your significant other, but mine takes way longer time to shower than I do. And it's never rushed by queries for cereal or tattle taling. Or worrying about whether there has been a cereal catastrophe or reason to tattle that needs your immediate attention. "Calgon take me away?" Totally should have been designed for a man.

Conclusion: There's no such thing as "getting away". for a woman. in a bathroom.

For example, take my bath this morning. The minute the water is turned on, my 4 yr. old is right by my side. How does he do that? I already mentioned how far away our bathroom is.

And the 3rd degree: "What are you doing?" "Why?" "Are you going to use bubbles, Mommy?" "Which bubbles, Mommy?" "Oh, l like the purple bubbles." "Let me wash you, Mommy." "What's THAT, Mommy?" And of course, your husband doesn't hear you screaming his name at the top of your lungs. Because where is he? In front of the computer (the other portal to ignorant bliss) with headphones on "watching the children for you so you can get some down time". Or in my case, so you can contract in peace.

That brings me to my weekly update. On Friday my OB said that Sasha was at +2 station. You heard me right. And here I sit, very pregnant, in front of my laptop. :) Am I complaining? I'm not sure, lol. I thought I'd reached a state of contentment over this, but the mind really is a powerful thing. I can't get over the likelihood of her falling out when she is 2 inches from crowning. Rofl.

Both yesterday and today I have had some bloody show. My contractions are strong and applying adequate pressure to everything "down there". :) I have some good cramping going on as well. And am sure this has all lead to dilating further than the 2 I was on Friday. My hope is that I arrive at the hospital at 6 or 7 cm and am done in just a couple hours.

Let's have some fun. Maybe there will even be a PRIZE! Oooooh, now I've gotcha. ;) Would anyone like to guess how much longer Sasha will hang on (to whatever there is left to hang on to in there)? Oh, and how much she will weigh? 3 weeks ago our ultrasound showed her measuring 6 lbs. 11 oz. On your mark, get set, go!