Friday, August 30, 2013

Cheeks! And cleavage!


Look at those cheeks! We had a doctor's appointment today because Mary has some eye gunk and also because I really wanted to weigh her and she is up to 9 pounds and 13 ounces! Finally past her birth weight. Phew. Pretty good for a baby who refused to eat for several days, dropped 9.5% of her birthweight, and then gained a s-l-o-w three to five ounces a week after that. I counted a lot of diapers and did a lot of pre/post-feed manual boob weighing to make sure she was actually getting calories. I think we're back on track now. Which is good because her brothers are terrifyingly clumsy and she's going to need some girth.

She is such an easygoing baby that she's been coming up to school with me for class. My dad holds her when I am teaching, but before and after, she can be with me. She usually sleeps in her stroller or cuddled up with me. So far she's attended a research meeting and visited someone else's classroom when the instructor had a question about the projection system. I LOVE this setup, but I'm light on productivity when holding a baby in one arm, so eventually she'll have to stay home with the other kids. Sad!

Speaking of class, on Thursday I passed out boxes of mineral samples and divided the class into groups. We went over the mineral properties one by one and after each one they had to find a mineral sample that demonstrated that property. The students were talking amongst themselves when it was time to go over the third property, "cleavage", so I stood up and said "CLEAVAGE!" Everyone stopped talking and looked right at me. I may keep this in mind if I need to get their attention in the future. I do the same thing at home except I say "POPSICLE!" or "COOKIE!" but maybe when they get older "CLEAVAGE" will work.

Oh, and that reminds me that James learned to massage knots out of his pectoral region using his thumbs JUST LIKE I DO. He offered to help me this morning while I was pumping. I declined.

Also, IT'S A THREE DAY WEEKEND. I am very excited about having a 2:4 ratio for the next 72 hours.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ready or not!

The party is over tomorrow. And by party I mean summer and I also mean the boozy college party we've been living in for the last three-ish weeks since Mary joined the family. The one where no one wakes up in the same bed they went to sleep in and some chick (me) is always running around topless and there are half-drunk drinks and plates of food in all the bedrooms (and bathrooms, who are we kidding) and there's always one kid who can't stop crying for some reason no one can identify.

I have been looking forward to the return of the great and powerful Structure for some time now, but I have to admit I got a little twinge tonight when I awakened at eight thirty to found myself drooling on my pillow next to Charlie who was still wide awake, trying to finish Mr. Popper's Penguins, and I had to tell him it was time to go to sleep. I mean, he may have thrown Wes to the ground over a video game dispute today, which was the last straw that led to me rounding 4:38 up to 5:00 and having the last of the Malbec a friend brought me, but he's still, most of the time, he's pretty great to have around.

I feel like I missed summer this year, between the research project, the traveling for work, and the pregnancy. And now it is over. The kids are ALL badly in need of some kind of externally imposed routine (School!) and so am I, but I sure am going to miss waking up to Charlie and Wes "sneaking" in from their room and snuggling up next to me in bed and ending the day with late night read-a-thons (also in the big bed, the end of the pregnancy was difficult, the kids adapted).

I have no desire to eat watermelon for the next seven months, I do not want to swim, I'm ready to wear jeans and scarves and make pumpkin bread and chili for dinner. I want to buy Mary tights and Mary Janes and dress the boys in cozy sweaters and make them hot chocolate after school.

I'm not sad to see summer end this year. But I'm not ready to see Wes heartbroken over Charlie leaving every morning and I'm not ready to see Charlie exhausted and anxious after school every afternoon. I wish I didn't have to leave everyone behind to go to work (who am I kidding work is awesome. Not ready to leave Lady Mary, though, as you might imagine, I've been looking into a big, loose-fitting sweater to hide her under).

And I'm REALLY not ready to wake up with an alarm clock of the non-human variety. GAH, WHY?!

Ready or not...

Aaaaannnnd there's the human alarm clock now, so I really had better go. I am not sure any of this makes sense. You're welcome.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to reality

After two weeks of unfettered baby-snuggling (and feeding! SO MUCH FEEDING!), Wednesday was my first day back at school for prep work. Classes don't start until next week but I needed to print my syllabus and get my first few lectures ready and I really needed to get out of the house, so I went in for a few hours.

First challenge was getting dressed. My two pairs of maternity jeans, which I chose carefully because they seemed like they'd be good for the postpartum awkward period, would not go on, which was a great way to start the day, but one of my regular pair of jeans went on just fine. Just fine isn't exactly the right description, but they buttoned and zipped with a little bit of effort. A loose maternity shirt and a cardigan hid the muffin top nicely. Unfortunately it was ninety-five degrees outside and I had to park like half a mile from my office, so the cardigan was not ideal, but YAY NORMAL CLOTHES!

Mary got all dressed up too for her big academic debut. We took a Back to School picture, the first of three for the family this year.


It took twenty minutes to find a parking place which never happens at my tiny school except for this week and next week and then I spent several minutes debating the merits of the huge fancy stroller versus the beat up old Graco that would hold the carseat, ultimately deciding that working would be easier with a sleeping baby, coolness factor aside, so I should just stick the carseat in the Graco and be done with it. It worked because she slept in there for two full hours and I finished my syllabus and returned a whole bunch of emails.

Before this week I was dreading going back to work, especially since Mary is so tiny still, but I am so glad I am working this semester. In some ways I feel like this is the real beginning of my career, instead of the end of grad school in 2009, since I know FOR SURE that there will be no more pregnancies. I've NEVER had a continuous block of time stretching out like this! I thought today that I should set some five year goals so that I would have something tangible to work toward and then I looked down at Mary, who was not as cooperative today, but who was very snuggly, and thought "She'll be in KINDERGARTEN in five years." "Mary in kindergarten" has always coincided with "Real job" in my mental projections and now that she is here, that actually feels like something that could happen one day (although Mary is going to have to be awake for more than ten minutes at a time to go to kindergarten).

So that means there's a lot of work to be done in the next five years: Publishing, grant(s), teaching experience, conference attendance, form professional relationships, find a mentor, lose twenty pounds, potty train James, diapers!, homework help, dinner-making, laundry!

I'm actually excited about this. Three weeks ago I was ready to quit. Pelvis dysfunction will do that to you.

Although for the next few months, most of this will have to be done with only one hand.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Maladaptive Behavior Edition

1. So if all the screaming and writhing on the floor is any indication, Wes seems to be having the most difficult time of the three boys adjusting to Mary's arrival. Every single time we get home in the car Wes refuses to get out. This makes things slightly complicated seeing as I can't lift him for another few days and he sits in the way back. Once my mom came over and I was calmly sitting on the hood of my car with Mary in the carrier. James was in the playroom looking out through the window forlornly, and Wes was lying in the side yard screaming. My mom thought something was terribly wrong. But no. It's just Wes, frustrated.

2. For reasons related to #1 we made a U-turn this afternoon while we were on the way to a restaurant where we were planning to enjoy a beer, some live music, and a playground. We were nearly there, but Wes was screaming, Charlie was whining endlessly about something trivial, Mary was fussing, and James was asleep. Not the recipe for a pleasurable family outing. I've learned enough in the last six years of parenting to know when to pull the plug. We stopped at the grocery store and bought milk and a six pack of Shiners. I had one the moment we got home. It may have been the most amazing beer I have ever tasted. Magical family afternoon, CHECK.

3. Speaking of shiners, James is responding to the change in our household by hurting himself every chance he gets. Those of you who know me on Facebook know that he gave himself whiplash on the Slip n'Slide. In classic third baby fashion we did not know there was an actual problem until the next morning when he awakened rubbing his neck and crying. So we've added "Baby's first C-spine Xray" to the nonexistant baby book and are treating him with Advil and massage. He seems to be unphased, except for the tantrums that occur when he asks to use the Slip n'Slide and we say no. In addition to that he also now has a black eye that he incurred by walking down the upstairs hallway, tripping over his lovey, and falling face-first onto a toy car.

4. One thing I always want to remember about Mary's arrival is James following a pair of new parents and their baby down the hall of the hospital yelling "TOUCH BABY! TOUCH BABY! TOUCH BABY! TOUCH BABY!" I've never seen a postpartum woman walk that fast before. James should be a physical therapist.

5. Mary had some nursing issues for a while. She wouldn't eat at all. The nurses (more than one!) said to me "You're doing everything perfectly, I don't know what is going on." So I pumped and gave her a couple teeny little bottles and they gave her a little formula one night after I could only pump ONE FREAKING MILLILITER and this really deserves its own post, but it was NOT a great experience for me. So many newborn weight checks! So much anxiety! So many multi-hour feeding attempts in the middle of the night. And conflicting advice from EVERYONE. Fortunately we sorted things out (she sorted things out, I was "doing everything perfectly" remember?) and now she is doing fine (as long as there is a nipple shield, which is not my favorite but I like it better than plunking down twenty bucks for a can of formula every few days). Anyway, today she had her first normal newborn poop and I was beyond excited. Wrist rolls HERE WE COME!

6. I can no longer balance snacks on my tummy. Sort of a thumbs up/thumbs down, really.

7. We went to church last week, did I mention? We were kind of a sideshow between the squirmy James and hungry Mary. Ryan spent the whole service with James on the Bench of Shame in the lobby and I spent the whole thing in the back trying to discreetly arrange the nipple shield and get a very inexperienced and noisy Mary latched on under the pretty floral nursing cape my friend gave me. Wes and Charlie stayed with Ryan's parents in the pew. The pastor had a good-natured laugh at our expense during hand-shaking time on the way out. We were overwhelmed by love and well wishes and support and it took us nearly an hour to get to the car. It made me think of the words of the baptism liturgy "...we will surround her with a community of love and acceptance." I am so glad we went. I love our community.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This seems like it happened more than a week ago...

Holy cow, you guys, I just got back from the grocery store and it was SO AWESOME.

Driving my car!

Choosing the radio station!

Walking down the wrong aisle for peanut butter then circling back to the correct one instead of leaving empty handed because OMG IT IS SO FAR OVER THERE TO THE RIGHT PEANUT BUTTER AISLE!  I WILL JUST MAKE RYAN COME BACK LATER.

It is only now that I feel almost like myself again that I am able to see the last three months for the horror show of physical discomfort that they were and stop wondering why I was so pissed off and nasty all the time.

Wes and I went for a walk around the neighborhood and we only came home because he wanted water.  A WALK!  I went for a WALK!

Feeling normal, it is amazing.

So who wants to know about how I labored to eight centimeters ON MY OWN IN MY OWN HOUSE?  I am still looking back on last Tuesday and wondering exactly what happened.  I woke up having painful contractions about every twenty minutes.  This lasted for a couple of hours, long enough for Ryan to call in and arrange to stay home, and then it stopped.  So that was disappointing.  But I had my induction scheduled for that evening at six so I figured I would only have to wait that long.

Ryan was home so he took the kids out for the morning.  They rode bikes, they ran errands, they ate lunch.  I sat on the couch and talked to friends online in between reading a memoir about childhood polio.

At some point the contractions started again (around one o'clock? Possibly? It took me some time to realize they were happening regularly).  I didn't time them because I refused to get my hopes up again.  My mom came over to start cooking dinner.  She was planning to stay with the big kids that night since we would be headed to the hospital.

Around two o'clock Ryan came back and I asked him to start timing the contractions on his phone.  Every time I felt one starting I called out "LAP!" and he would push the lap button and tell me how long the interval was.  First it was ten minutes, then it was eight, and so on, until we got stuck between six and seven minutes for most of the hour between three and four o'clock.

During that time we had many conversations about When We Should Go to the Hospital.  I did not want to get sent home so I was in the "I'm going to stay on this couch until these contractions are five minutes apart if it KILLS ME" camp and Ryan was in the "You deliver babies really fast, maybe it would be good to go over there now" camp.

My mom looked nervous.  The kids were oblivious.  My friends were urging me to GO TO THE HOSPITAL AND LIE IF YOU HAVE TO.

The contractions started to hurt more.

Then Wild Kratts came on at four o'clock and the kids were distracted and I had a particularly painful contraction so I stood up and said "Let's go!"  We kissed the kids goodbye and got in the car and drove the five minutes to the hospital.  I am so glad it was only five minutes because now in addition to the contractions, I had persistent, highly uncomfortable pressure, that in past labors has indicated it is almost time to push.

And I was in the car.  I dismissed this thought to the back of my mind because I assumed we would be sent home until six o'clock. Or that I would be pregnant forever like that lady on the National Enquirer.

Looking back I think denial to be an excellent analgesic.

Also a great analgesic is my friend Cindy, whose snarky Facebook banter was a welcome and highly entertaining distraction. I suggested she start an online business. Everyone should have a Cindy.

At the hospital I instructed Ryan to park far away because I figured the extra walking would give me a few more millimeters of dilation.  I just knew they were going to send me home again.  Ryan and I were all laughy jokey between contractions, but when they came I had to take a little break from the walking and take deep breaths.  A nurse walking to her car gave me a knowing smile, which surprised me because I was making great effort to keep my face neutral. You know, since I really shouldn't complain about these "fake" contractions.

When we got to the door Ryan pushed the call button and said nervously "My wife is... having... some... uh..." and I interrupted "IN LABOR.  HIS WIFE IS IN LABOR." They buzzed us right back.  I smiled at the nurse and said apologetically, "They're only like six minutes apart."  Surprisingly, this seemed like an acceptable interval to her and I was allowed into the room they had already set up for the induction.

I changed into my gown (which took almost fifteen minutes because I had to stop so many times for contraction breaks) and got into bed (this took several attempts, between the contractions and the severe pelvis pain) turned on Friends and continued to joke around with the nurses as they put in my IV and answered some last minute questions.  The one doing my IV said "You know, I'm going to check you before I finish doing this."

"OH WOW," she said "You're at EIGHT CENTIMETERS."

Then she looked at me very seriously and said "If your water breaks we may not have time for the epidural.  Do.  Not.  Move."

I did.  Not.  Move.

I would not have moved if the hospital was on fire.

The pace of things accelerated after that.  The nurse called the lab twice to politely tell them to hurry the hell up with the CBC so I could get my epidural as quickly as possible.  She called anesthesiology to tell them they needed to have the doctor CLOSE BY because there wasn't much time.  They rolled the delivery table in.  They readied the epidural equipment.

I stayed very, very still and tried to stay calm through the waves of pain.  Between contractions I watched Friends and joked around with Ryan.  I willed Mary's amniotic sac to STRREEEEETCH.

Then the phone rang with a clear CBC and the anesthesiologist came in. It was as if he'd been waiting right outside the door.  He placed the epidural and marveled at my super-woman-ness when the nurse told him I walked in here smiling and joking at eight centimeters dilated (anomaly of nature, were his exact words). He wished me good luck and left the room. I waited patiently for the ten minutes he promised it would take for my lower half to go numb.

And then it became clear that the epidural was only working on the right side.


This is what happened with Charlie.  I had half of a natural delivery.  That is a strange and extremely uncomfortable sensation.  That I did not care to repeat.

So the nurse rolled me up onto my left side and we waited for the medicine to sloooowwwwlly work it's way over there, which it did, eventually.

Less than a minute after I felt my left side go numb I knew it was time to push.

They called the doctor.

When the nurse noticed I was clinging to the epidural button like my life depended on it she called the doctor again.

Finally the doctor arrived and said it was OK to push.  But for some reason I couldn't tell *when* it was time to push as soon as I had all those people standing around looking at me expectantly.  So I just started pushing.

Three pushes on one contraction and three on the next and THERE SHE WAS!!

It was six o'clock, two hours after we'd left my house.  Thank goodness we left my house.


It's a baby girl!! And her name is Mary Helen!!

And she was beautiful and pink and BIG at 9 lb 8 oz. We are absolutely in love with her already.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

More soon, swearsies

I keep trying to summarize the last five days into a light, fun, read (because much of it HAS been light and fun, including most of the delivery [a teaser, I walked into the hospital at EIGHT CENTIMETERS and had NO IDEA]), but I can't quite capture it and I am sleepy, so here are some pictures of our first few days at home. We are really enjoying Miss Mary!










Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Miss Mary Helen!


9 lb, 8 oz, 21 inches

Born August 6 at 6:00 PM after a very fast labor (more details later!).

Parents and brothers are in love!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Frank! the! Tank!

The good news is we got Wes's first kiss out of the way this morning.  That should save a lot of teenage angst.  And it happened at church, no less.

Wes has a friend, V.  They were in preschool together last year and were inseparable.  Every day I asked Wes "Who did you sit by at lunch?" he told me "V".  Same for "Who did you play with on the playground?" and "Who did you sit by at chapel?"

We usually see V's family at church on Sundays so this summer, when they don't get to see each other regularly at school, they at least get to spend a few minutes together on Sundays.

Wes made V a card in Sunday School once and had his teacher help him sign it "Love, Wes."

V's mom told me that her husband had read it "To V, from your good friend, Wes."

So he is not exactly comfortable with their budding relationship.

Which is why it was so amusing two Sundays ago when Wes crossed the aisle as soon as the Benediction was over and wrapped V in an enormous bear hug before explaining to her father "We lub each-udder."  There were two more bear hugs after that before V's mom and I gently pulled them apart.  They reeeeallllly lub each-udder.

 This morning we went to church despite me swearing off public places until after we get home from the hospital.  Just church, though, no Sunday School.  There's only so much sitting up and wearing shoes I can take, after all.

After communion Wes wanted to go kneel at the alter rail.  Hardly one to stand in the way of Wes's prayer life, I agreed.  We returned to our seats in the second pew and Wes stayed up there for several minutes.  And then V's family walked by.  I wondered what would happen.

V bounced up to Wes and knelt down next to him.  Wes turned, his face brightened, and then he gave her a huge hug.  Before he let her go he pulled back and KISSED HER ON THE FOREHEAD.

Right there in front of her parents and grandparents and the entire congregation.  AND HER DAD.

I turned to Ryan like "Did you see that?" and he said "I thought he was going for her mouth!"

So my kid put the moves on someone at church.  Not all sneaky-like out in the hall during Youth as is customary, but right out there in front of God and everybody, DURING COMMUNION ON SUNDAY MORNING.  At AGE 4.  Fortunately V's mom is lovely and I could totally see us having fun as inlaws.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The pelvis icing will continue until further notice

So, a nurse called yesterday and said "JUST KIDDING!! Too many ladies have gone into labor on their own so your induction has been bumped into next week like Jet Blue."

That's right, friends, I am sitting in Terminal 5 of the JFK of obstetrics. Which is my living room.

I was, to put it mildly, upset yesterday after the phone call and stomped up the stairs, punctuating each angry step with a swear word. Of course I tripped and flopped over onto the stairs halfway up because I cannot walk normally, especially after the baby pool incident, and that made the yelling even more profane and R-rated. I (delicately) flopped on my bed and called Ryan who correctly surmised from my hysterical state that I would want him to come home for a few minutes to FIX ALL THE THINGS. And then I threw my phone against the wall.


He called and talked to the nurse, who gave me the party line, which was "rest, Tylenol, Tylenol PM, and ice and there's nothing we can do about the scheduling problem so sit tight." He nobly kept her on the phone for a good fifteen minutes, asking the same question over and over in different (but calm and polite! Which is the difference between he and I) ways. This is the same way he gets us free computer advice when one of us gets a virus or the power supply quits working five minutes before I have a Skype meeting. This is why he is in charge of these types of phone calls. But this time it didn't work.

When I finally calmed down enough to type I told Facebook what was going on. People are awesome, you know that? So much support and encouragement came back through the computer. I chatted with a friend "Can you come over? Tonight? After bedtime? And bring me my glass of wine for the week (OB approved!) and some of those chocolate truffles I like?" And she said "Whatever you need, I'll be there." So, so awesome, you guys.

I stayed in bed for about three hours, not least because I was embarrassed about yelling the F word at least twenty-five times right in front of my entire family and didn't want to go back downstairs. I downloaded a funny novel. I made snarky comments about how this was all Rick Perry's fault on Facebook. I chatted with sympathetic friends and invited a few to what I began calling my Pity Party.

I ate dinner with the family (which my mom made and cleaned up and my dad helped serve, all while taking care of the kids, they are one of the reasons I haven't yet chained myself to the door of L&D), "helped" with bedtime, which meant reading my new book while Charlie read his, all snuggled up together in the big bed.

And at eight o'clock, all of this showed up at my house along with three wonderful women full of righteous indignation on my behalf and lots of awesome pregnancy horror stories. My favorite chips, dip, and salsa, chocolate truffles, wine, and Ryan brought me a whole pitcher of water before he made himself scarce upstairs so I wouldn't have to get up off the couch, not that my friends would let me.

I was up until midnight and I woke up exhausted but smiling and somehow feeling much better. I had to go see the doctor this morning and she was sympathetic and profusely apologetic. She did a couple of things to hopefully speed things along naturally and then I hobbled home and parked it on the couch while my parents took the kids to have the time of their lives swimming and playing games and watching movies (when James saw me pick up my purse he yelled "BYE!" then ran into my mom's arms, they are clearly having a good time out there).

The new plan is going in Tuesday night for a Wednesday induction. That is a LOT of days from now, but everyone is taking such good care of me, it's going to be OK. Even if I had to ask the doctor to arrange my legs on the table for me, because once I'm lying down, I can't move.