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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Disney Craziness

Another random link provided by Ben...
How is it possible that I've never noticed any of this before?!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Test Reflections

I finally took the GRE today. That's right--it's now over! *big sigh of relief* Everything that I have been dreading (childbirth, Mohs surgery, and GRE) is now OVER, and I survived it all. I'm pretty much ready to kick March 2010 to the curb, but before I do so, a few reflections on the GRE...

* I suspect that this test would have been much easier and would have caused me far less stress if I had taken it as a college student or soon thereafter. I actually knew stuff then. As is, even with teaching, my brain has been slowly turning to mush for the last 9 years.

* Standardized tests are not designed for nursing mothers. While the people at the test center were very nice and as accomodating as possible, it was a timed computerized test, and the computer did not care if my body was overflowing with milk. I got a 10 minute break after the second section (of five). That was 10 minutes to sign out, retrieve my breast pump, lock myself in a public restroom, set everything up, pump (while simultaneously scarfing down my lunch), clean up, pitch my pump back into storage, sign back in, and return to my computer. Let us just say that this was not terribly effective as a way to empty out milk, but very effective at stressing me out.

* I would also not advise taking this test while recovering from surgery or nursing a head wound. While my spot has now scabbed over to the point where I don't need to bandage it daily (which is especially good because bandages don't stick to hair very well) and I have been able to end my regime of pain pills, I still have to take Tylenol several times a day. In short, my head hurts already, thanks, and a big monster test did not make it feel any better. I will be treating myself to some migraine pills shortly.

* Studying at 2:00 in the morning in college was only effective because I hadn't been to sleep yet for the night. I studied for the GRE every time I got up in the night to nurse, but the subsequent sleep deprivation mostly just made my brain feel fuzzy.

* I was hoping that my skills in logic and reasoning would get me through the quantitative section. Yeah, logic and reasoning help, but they will only take you so far if you haven't had a math class since 1997. Logic and reasoning do not remind you of the definition of "hypotenuse" or remind you what pi has to do with finding the area of a circle. You need actual knowledge to do those things.

* With all of those things said, I'm still happy with my scores (which the computer provides at the end of the test). Well, I don't know my writing score yet, but I'm not overly worried about that section. As my father said (while laughing at me for having been worried about it), "Do you realize that percentage-wise, you scored higher on the GRE than the SAT?" No, actually my brain is such mush right now that I won't be figuring any percentages again for a long, long time, so I'll just take your word for it. :)

So, phew. Now I can (hopefully) stop worrying about getting into grad school. Not that I'm going to take more than one or two classes a semester, and not that I'm even 100% sure that I'll ever even use the degree that I may someday get, but it's just such a relief to know that I don't have to stress over it anymore. With childbirth, surgery, and testing now behind me, I can just focus on this whole "being a mom of three kids" thing and figure out what that's all about. Because, after all, it's the most important job I'll ever have.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Father of Invention

You know the saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention"? Well, in our house at least, it seems that the father is also rather inventive.

The other day, I asked Ben to watch Liam for me. While I was gone, Ben's thought process must have gone something like this: "Hmm, I really need to take a shower. Liam is asleep, but I want to make sure I hear him if he cries. Where should I put him? I know...."


Thus it was that I returned home to find the boy cub carefully swaddled in Ben's bathrobe and a Camp Tecumseh sweatshirt, fast asleep in a suitcase in our closet....

Empathy

For anyone who has ever breastfed their baby, you have got to check out this link that Ben sent me. Hilarious!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Go Dawgs! (Elite Eight)


Picture 088
Originally uploaded by amypfan
We're proud to be a family of Bulldogs tonight!
(ok, so this picture was actually taken at Butler Homecoming 2008, but I still thought it was appropriate in light of the Dawgs big win)

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Not To Wear

There's a reason that the show "What Not To Wear" will never host a spinoff entitled "What Not To Wear: The Preschool Years." When you're four, apparently anything goes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Looking for Spring

Today Shay insisted on wearing her swimming suit over her clothes. She kept talking about going in the water. I think this is her way of saying that she's ready for warm weather! Me too, kiddo.

Excuse the poor image quality--I took this wuth my phone, and she was a moving target.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Post-Mohs, Part 2

Apparently recovery from this Mohs thing is rougher than I anticipated. My pain pills are making me really tired (although I'm sure that the months of pregnancy-induced sleep deprivation leading up to now aren't exactly helping). I'm also hugely dizzy. At first I also thought this was from the medicine, but over the course of the day, I've discovered that the dizziness is actually at its worst as I approach the time for a new dose and can feel the wound the most. So shoot that theory. It may be from the pain itself. I've also wondered if it may be because of loss of blood--this spot hasn't actually bled too much, but I'm still having postpartum bleeding, so maybe opening up another bleeding area has just kind of pushed me over the edge into dizziness? Anyway....

Ben was truly a hero and took baby duty for all of last night, in spite of the fact that he had a big day at work coming up. Then our wonderful friend Sara came over to help me with the kids all day. I seriously don't know what I would have done without her help. This evening, Ben again wowed me. He changed the dressing on my wound for me so that I wouldn't have to see it (although I did take a brief peek, and it wasn't pretty). He even helped me wash my hair, while simultaneously distracting our children so that they wouldn't see "Mommy's owie" (as they've been calling the bandage on my head) and get freaked out. Talk about super-husband!

My dad (who has had this procedure three times) assures me that I will feel significantly better on the second day after the procedure. I sure hope he's right, because today was rough!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Post-Mohs

I have to admit that I was incredibly nervous heading into today. I knew that this surgery wasn't going to hurt as much as, say, childbirth (which is still vivid in my mind), but I was really freaked out about what it represented--my first round of cancer. (I'd like to say "my only" or "my last," but I'm realistic enough to know that I do have other moles that are likely to be dangerous and need to come off soon.)

The nature of Mohs surgery is that the doctor cuts of a layer of skin, then tests it to see if he got all the cancer. The actual cutting only takes about 5 minutes, but then there are 45-60 minutes of waiting while the lab tests the sample. After that, if the sample shows that the doctor didn't get it all, you have to go in for another shot of anasthesia and another round of cutting, then another round of waiting, and so on. For me, one of the hardest parts was the waiting and fearing that I'd have to do it all over again.

Luckily, the doctor managed to get it all in two rounds. He even managed to do this without shaving any of my head, which was another big fear of mine. I haven't actually seen the spot, as it is covered with a huge bloody bandage, but this is probably for the best, as I'm sure it will just upset me when the bandage comes off tomorrow.

While the doctor was very good and efficient, he did not have exactly what I would call a good bedside manner. When I first went in, he couldn't find the spot, as it was in my hair. He said, "Well, if I can't find it, we'll just send you home today. Eventually the lump will grow back and you can come in and have it removed then." I think he was trying to be reassuring, but it had just the opposite effect. Um, really, you're going to send me home with cancer still in my system and just let it grow back? No thanks. But he did eventually find the spot and go in for the surgery.

Later, by way of conversation, he said to me, "You know, it's highly unusual for someone with as dark of hair as you have to get basal cells on their head." Yes, I'm just a freak. I'm only 31 years old, which made me the youngest person in the waiting room by several decades. And I don't even like being in the sun, which of course is one of the major risk factors in developing skin cancer. Lucky me that it still showed up.

I would say that the most upsetting part of the procedure for me was after the whole spot was gone. I knew that they would have to "clean up" the wound at the end, but I did not realize that this would involve stitches. I get really quesy when I just think about stitches. It conjures up memories of when I was in the eighth grade and had those seven moles removed and had over 100 stitches in my body. I can still practically see them in my memory: blue thread standing out against ugly yellow bruises. Plus I hate the sensation of the needle pulling the stitches tight. And then I'll have to go back and have them removed, which also majorly turns my stomach. Plus I also have stitches in me right now from the second degree lacerations that Liam's birth caused, so all in all, I kind of feel like I'm only being held together my little bits of string. Ugh. Moving on.....

I also didn't realize how sore I would be afterwards. I'm tempted to say, "What was I thinking, doing this so soon after Liam was born?" But I know what I was thinking--that I wanted to get the surgery over with as soon as possible as so not to give the cancer any more time to spread. So in that regard, I'm glad to have it done, but OUCH, I hurt a lot and have a newborn at home (not to mention a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old). I can take painkillers, but the good ones kind of knock me out. Thankfully, we have a friend coming over tomorrow to help me out. The process is not entirely over, as I have to go back 2 weeks from now to have the stitches removed, and then again a few weeks after that to have my other moles checked, which may lead to starting this process all over again.

Oh, and did I mention that thanks to my status as the mother of a newborn, I got to lock myself in a public restroom to pump breast milk in between surgeries? Which just made the whole thing even more awkward. Although probably not as awkward as it will be when I get to take the GRE next week, while wearing some kind of dressing for my gaping head wound and still needing to pump in the middle of that..... Again, it bears asking: What on earth was I thinking when I scheduled all this for the same month?!?! (I actually do know the logical answer to that, but it somehow seems less logical in the midst of actually doing it all!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pre-Mohs

Ever since I can remember, I've had moles all over my body. When I was younger, I thought that everyone probably had as many as me, although I've realized since then that this is not the case. When I was little, I used to try to figure out connecting patterns that would make shapes between my moles. I thought it was cool that I had "matching" moles on my feet.

I had my first mole removed when I was in junior high. It was a huge one on my head, under my hair, and having it off was hugely painful. Mole removal surgeries have come a long way since then, but I remember the dermatologist being freaked out because he'd never removed one from someone's scalp before. I had to have a shot in my head to numb it, and it hurt immensely. After removing the mole, the doctor realized that it was actually two separate moles that had grown together, thus its freakish appearance.

Also in junior high, I had to go in for a mole removal surgery. On that day, I had seven different moles removed. At that time, the doctor basically numbed the area and then went in and sliced them off, revealing the layers of fat under the skin, then stitched them up. By the time the day's proceedings were done, I had over a hundred stitches in my body and felt like I could barely move without painkillers. It left ugly scars that people still ask about whenever I wear a tank top or a bathing suit.

Since then, I've had more moles removed, bringing my grand total up to 15 or 16--even I have lost count. I've experienced every method of removal that has been developed over recent years, including both freezing and burning them off. All in all, I've become used to visiting the dermatologist, and mole removal has become no big thing to me. While I've had plenty that have looked scary over the years, we've caught them all in time and none have come back as cancerous.

Until last month. That was when I went to a new local dermatologist and he removed another mole from my head. Less than a week afterwards, I got a call from the office telling me that it had come back from the lab as a basal cell carcinoma. Translation: cancer. I'm 31 years old and have cancer.

Now, to be fair, if you have to have cancer, basal cell is by far the best kind to get. It doesn't spread to other parts of the body, and it's the least invasive kind. But once you find it once, it's likely to recur in other spots, so it becomes increasily important to get checked more and more frequently.

In my case, the labs revealed that the mole removal in the dermatologist's office had not gotten the entire cancerous spot. This means that I have to go in for Mohs surgery, where, in a nutshell, the doctor will remove my skin layer by layer, performing labs on each layer, until we get it all. Scheduling the surgery was a bit tricky, considering the whole childbirth thing in the middle. I'm particularly anxious about this surgery since the spot is on the front of my head, just under my hairline. I fear that I will be sporting a bald spot after the surgery, and my hair is definitely not long enough to hide that.

So my surgery is tomorrow morning. Ben's sister Jill and her husband Jim are here to watch the kids while Ben takes me to the surgery. I'm hoping that everything goes smoothly and it doesn't take too many rounds to get rid of it. After the surgery, I'll have to go back in for another examination of my other moles, as most were so stretched and swollen from 8 months of pregnancy that the doctor couldn't get a good feel for them before.

So, please wish me luck tomorrow. I know it's relatively silly to be scared about an outpatient procedure when I did 12 hours of labor and childbirth without an epidural a mere 3 weeks ago, but I'm still a little freaked out. I'll post again tomorrow to let everyone know how it goes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One-Upping

Way back in 2007, when Shay first came home from the hospital, she was a paci baby. All of the nurses at hospital commented on how she had such an exceptionally "strong latch" (read: she was brutally strong, thus why nursing didn't work out) and gave her pacifiers a real workout. Shay actually gave up pacifiers on her own at the same time that we quit the torture of breastfeeding her, along about 2 weeks of age. After that, she wanted to be sucking on a bottle all the time, a habit which we just recently kicked.

Bryn also gave up pacifiers herself, along about 7 or 8 months of age. After that, she never displayed the slightest interest in them..... until Shay came home from the hospital with one in her mouth. Check out this old post, where I detail how 2-year-old Bryn liked to steal and suck on her 8-day-old sister's pacifiers.

All of this is why I think it's pretty funny that Shay has suddenly developed an interest in Liam's pacis. She keeps popping them in her own mouth (and don't worry, we keep washing them). My favorite instance by far is the one captured below, where she one-upped both Liam himself and surpassed Bryn's old antics by enjoying two pacis at once.

But hey, if this is the worst that the sibling rivalry gets around here, I'm certainly not complaining!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Planting


Lately, Brynie and Daddy have been busy with a new project. Bryn calls it her "planting." Shortly before Liam was born, Ben picked up some little pea-pod planters. During the week that he was home following Liam's birth, he sat patiently at the kitchen table with Bryn and planted various seeds in hers. Most notable are the strawberry seeds and basil seeds, although I believe some of the pods got wildflowers as well. Bryn got a huge kick out of watering them with a medicine dropper. Then Ben put them in an upstairs window to grow. Bryn loves to water them and check on them daily, and they're really flourished. This weekend, Ben took the girls outside and made a huge mess with potting soil (they loved it!) in transferring some of the bigger seedlings to pots. Bryn is so incredibly proud of how her "planting" is turning out! Overall, two thumbs up on this project!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Brynie's Babies - Part 3

Several of you have asked recently about whether Bryn still believes that she has babies in her own belly. She had not mentioned them for several weeks, so I was hoping that she was over it, but was largely afraid to ask, for fear that my questioning might get her going again. She did display several telltale signs that she was over it though--she no longer sticks her belly out, she doesn't complain of not being able to do everyday tasks, and she doesn't bring up "Clark and Lois Lane" at every available opportunity.

So the other day, when she was sitting quietly with me when I was feeding Liam, I took the opportunity to ask her about. Our conversation went as follows:

Me: Sweetie, do you still think you that you are going to have two babies?
Bryn: Yes.
Me: Oh? When are you going to have them?
Bryn: Oh, in a few years.
Me (deep sigh of relief): That's good. We're busy with just baby Liam right now.
Bryn: But Mommy?
Me: Yes?
Bryn: I want you to have another baby soon.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blessed

I've been reflecting today on the myriad of blessings in our lives. For our Thursday Thirteen, I'd like to share just a few of them, listed in no particular order:

1. Both a mother and a mother-in-law who have been willing to put aside their own schedules to come and spend time with us, getting to know their new grandson and helping us during this time of adjustment.

2. My amazing husband, who goes above and beyond in every way.

3. Three beautiful, healthy children.

4. A quick recovery and renewed health after a long and challenging pregnancy.

5. The gorgeous weather that allows my kids to play outside and makes us all feel rejuvenated and renewed.

6. Our wonderful friends, both local and at a distance, who have sent cards, gifts, emails, and well wishes of all sorts to welcome Liam to the world.

7. Our church family, who have provided us with so many delicious meals that our deep freeze is now overflowing with bounty.

8. Three consecutive nights of good sleep (compliments of Nana Helen), which make me feel almost human again.

9. Liam's continued growth. He continues to eat well (albeit mostly pumped milk from a bottle, but he's doing great with that), and he's becoming more alert every day.

10. Bryn and Shay's love for their baby brother. I just love watching them with him. This afternoon Bryn put on a show for him with his stuffed animals, and while I'm sure that he didn't get much out of it, it absolutely warmed my heart. Both girls love to "help" give him bottles and want to know his whereabouts at all times.

11. Our slowly-stabilizing financial status. We've paid off all our debts except for our house. We actually made money on the sale of Ben's old car and the purchase of the new-to-us van. We'll still have some money left over from our federal tax return after paying off our state tax return. Even without me working this year, we've been able to pay all our bills and even add a tiny bit to our savings. Especially in these hard times, I'm so grateful for what we have.

12. Our support network of family. Even though most of our family is at a distance, they've all been able to share in Liam's birth with us. I'm looking forward to seeing both my sister and my sister-in-law this weekend, and the mothers have been amazing about helping with our childcare needs, both in the last two weeks and in the coming weeks.

13. While there are a million items on my "to do" list that haven't been touched since Liam arrived (thank you notes being the at the top of that list), the many hours that I have spent in this rocking chair while nursing/pumping have provided me with time to do things that I would otherwise never get to do. I've gotten to actually watch some TV (very rare for me), and I've spent time reading books that have been on the shelf for way too long. It's been nice to do some things that I enjoy and would not have made time for on my own.

Wordless Cheers

Suggested captions?
(Gwyn and Mom R, if you're reading this, thank you so much for the awesome gifts! Clearly Bryn is enjoying the pom-poms and bunny purse......)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two Sweeties

This photo is compliments of our friend Cathy and was taken over the weekend at our friend Emily's 4th birthday party. I was holding a sleeping Liam on my lap when Shay decided she needed some Mommy cuddles too. Good thing Bryn was absorbed with watching Emily open her presents or she might have tried to climb in as well!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two Weeks Later

This morning I took Liam for his two-week doctor's visit. Dr. Z was wowed to see that our little guy has now surpassed his birth weight and is up to 8 pounds 5 ounces. And that was with nothing in his stomach (he refused to wake up and eat breakfast beforehand), so I'm betting that he normally averages even a little more than that. He's also increased his length. While it's definitely an imprecise science, the nurse measured him at 21.5 inches today, as opposed to the 20.5 he was when he was born.

Liam is a strong and healthy baby. He can hold his own head up for short periods of time, and he's doing well at grasping objects (my personal favorite being when he holds onto my finger while eating). And while this sounds impossible, Dr.Z confirmed it--our little guy is already rolling over! I actually didn't believe Ben the first time he told me that Liam had rolled from belly to back. Then, two days ago, Liam did it in front of me. I accused Ben of "helping" him by pushing on the mattress (he was lying on our bed at the time). Ben put him back on his belly and then retreated across the room, and sure enough, in a matter of seconds, Liam had rolled over again. He even showed off his trick to the doctor today. Looks like this one won't be abiding by tummy time if he doesn't like it.

In other news, Bryn is absolutely fascinated by all of my own changes in the last two weeks. She keeps asking me to lift my shirt up so she can see my belly. She wonders where my big stomach went, and she likes to look at my "wrinkly" skin (ugh). I tell her that while my belly looks a little funny right now, it's much better than it was before, and it will keep getting better until it's normal again. She looks at my folds of excess skin with a skeptical expression on her face.

Overall, we're all recovering nicely from Liam's birth two weeks ago. Ben is back at work full-time, the girls adore "their" baby, and I'm feeling better than I have in months. All good news!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day and Night

Overall, Liam is an angel baby. He is incredibly sweet. He doesn't cry very often. He doesn't protest when his sisters want to "love" him. He has the most beautiful eyes and looks at us in a way that already has me convinced that he'll be a deep thinker. He's eating much better, and due to our early difficulties, seems unbothered whether he is offered bottle or breast. He's been wonderfully behaved when we've taken him on outings. A perfect little boy.

Except that he has his days and nights mixed up. Two nights ago, he utterly refused to sleep at night. He would snooze if I was holding him, and he'd pass out cold while nursing, but the second that I would put him in his crib or a swing, he'd be wide awake. Absolute refusal to sleep. This went on for five loooong hours before I gave up and settled him in his carseat at about 5:30 am. Then he slept for seven hours straight, snoozing away the entire morning, before we felt that we'd be negligent parents if we didn't force him to consciousness to eat.

As a result, we've got a very tired Mommy and Daddy around here. With the girls around, we obviously have to get up at a reasonable hour (Bryn thinks 7:30 is reasonable) every day to take care of them, and we need to tag-team our naps in between everything else that needs to get done. I know Liam will get better about this as he gets older, but for right now, I think both Ben and I would LOVE a good night of sleep!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sweet Siblings

I know that many kids display signs of sibling rivalry when a new brother or sister joins the family, but Bryn and Shay have been nothing but wonderful so far. All 3 of our kids have been playing so well together lately that it has really made my life a lot easier. Admittedly, Bryn and Shay do still fight, and Liam isn't up to much active "playing" yet :) .... but overall, I'm so thankful for three sweet kiddos!

Bryn and Shay, enjoying the warm weather:

Shay shows Liam how to make the most of his play mat:

Places To Go

Today, I survived my first solo outing with all three kids. Admittedly, it was just to my MOPS meeting (so there was childcare for the girls once we got there) and we arrived almost an hour after the meeting started, but it still felt like a major accomplishment. Highlights included Bryn wetting herself so thoroughly that we had to change outfits in the van, and also me getting to chase down Shay halfway across a large soggy field, where she had adventured while chasing a flock of geese while I got the other kids out of the car. Liam, however, was an angel and slept through the entire experience. It was really quite the production, what with manhandling all 3 kids into the stroller, packing and hauling around a bulging diaper bag of supplies, and the combo of nursing and pumping that needed to take place both seconds before leaving the house and seconds after arriving home, but overall--we made it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hands Full

I took this picture of Ben last week at Liam's first doctor's appointment and have been meaning to post it since. Aside from Shay taking the inopportune moment to rub her eye, I think it's so cute--reallly shows that we've got our "hands full" now that kids outnumber adults in our house!

That's all for tonight, folks--too tired to blog!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Liam

And here, appearing in his very first Wordless Wednesday, is..... baby Liam!
Suggested captions?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Rough Day

This day has been a rough one from start to finish. Here are some of the highlights, starting with last night, which pretty much blended into today:

* Liam didn't want to go to sleep, so we asked my mom (who is visiting) to give him a bottle, thinking that Ben would go down and get him in a little bit. Liam fell asleep on Mom, and she brought him up to our room. The door opening startled Bryn (who goes to sleep with us at night, and then Ben moves her over to her own bed), who hadn't quite drifted off to sleep yet. Liam then woke up and cried, so Bryn couldn't sleep (and neither could Ben and I). We eventually had to pass Liam off to Mom again for the short term, but all told, it was 10:30 before our 4-year-old made it to sleep. This made for a very cranky girl today.

* Following this precedent, Liam decided not to sleep last night. I nursed. And nursed. And nursed. And when that supply gave out, I gave him bottle after bottle. We rocked until my post-partum body was one big chair-shaped cramp. He repeatedly fell asleep while I held him, only to awake, crying, minutes after being placed in the Pack 'n' Play at the foot of our bed. Multiple diaper changes yielded no relief. Ben slept fitfully, waking often from the noise. At one point, he relieved me as bottle-giver, but by that point I was too frustrated to sleep, so I switched him back, thinking that at least one of us should be getting some rest. Ben eventually carried Liam's swing upstairs and we put him in that. It always knocks him out during the day, but apparently does not have the same powers at night. Liam eventually fell asleep at about 6:30 (yes, a.m.), and his exhausted mommy finally fell into bed.

* Ben's alarm went off at 7:30. Thankfully, Liam slept through it. Ben got in the shower. Bryn knocked at our door at 7:45. Thankfully, Liam slept through this as well. I, unfotunately, did not sleep through either.

* With my back and posterior regions aching from my many hours in the rocking chair, I rolled onto my side in an attempt to find some comfort. I have not been able to sleep in any position other than flat on my back since Liam was born, due to my poor recovering legs and hips, but in my hazy state, I did not think of this. When I awoke a few hours later, my entire body had cramped into an incredibly painful position and I could barely stand up. This pain persisted for the entire day.

* I had not set an alarm, as I figured that Liam would be my alarm. However, after his late night of milk-chugging, he was content to sleep and sleep. Shay eventually woke me at 10:00. Unfortunately, Bryn needed to be picked up from preschool at 11:00. I rushed around frantically, pumping milk since the boy wouldn't wake up, laying out clothes for Shay and Liam, showering and getting dressed, packing a diaper bag, and hustling Shay, Liam, and Mom into the van, all without either me or Liam having breakfast. We arrived at preschool 10 minutes after pickup, but thankfully, our friend Eric had picked up Bryn for me and ushered her out to the playground.

* I left both girls playing on the playground under Mom's supervision and went indoors in search of a place to nurse Liam, who was quite fussy by this point. We settled in the nursery. Let it be said that Liam is not a good nurser (thus the much feeding apparatus, such as the special Haberman bottles and the nipple shield, as well as the need for frequent pumping of milk). He has been catching on more and more in the past few days and really is improving, but he still has a long way to go. This was the first time that we tried nursing in any location other than our rocking chair with Liam on the Boppy. And it did not go well. He couldn't get latched on right, but he was voracious. We raised several blisters and acquired a new bloody spot (both of which have made nursing for the rest of the day sheer torture), and after half an hour of me trying not the scream out profanities, he still went away hungry.

* We decided to go out to lunch for Baby's First Outing. As we settled in Einstein's Bagels and my mom went up to the counter to order her lunch, the girls got into a fight over who got to sit next to me (both have been wanting more Mommy time than I've been able to give in these first few days with the baby at home). I ended up sitting at the table with three crying children, feeling like everyone in the restaurant must be staring at me and thinking I was the Worst Mom In The World.

* When we got home from lunch, I tried to hurry the girls upstairs for naps. They will typically take any excuse to avoid this. While I was going to the bathroom, the girls dumped out two buckets of dress-up clothes and started playing, while Liam (who my mom had put in his crib) started screaming for all his little lungs were worth. This fiasco ended with me sending Mom downstairs to give Liam a bottle, while I forced the girls to clean up. Then I did stories and diaper changes, got both girls in bed, and pumped yet again, all while despairing over my own rapidly disappearing naptime.

* Turns out I would have despaired anyway. A half hour into naps, my mom let our dogs out, since they'd been in the basement all day so far. She let them stay out there to run off some energy. Unfortunately, this translated into them barking with wild abandon for the next hour, preventing me and the girls (and probably the rest of the neighborhood--sorry, neighbors) from sleeping.

* Following "naps," it was time to get ready for Bryn's dance class. Shay was in an absolute snit (I'm guessing due to lack of nap), had a big tantrum, and didn't want anything except Mommy. Unfortnately, Mommy was again pumping, as Liam refused to wake up from the bottle-induced coma that Mom had fed him into, no matter how much I tickled him or pleaded with him to wake up and do his job. I again attempted to move the entire crew toward the car, again behind schedule. Thank goodness, Ben (my hero!) returned from work at this point and spirited them away for me.

* Throughout this whole ugly day, my legs had been cramping fiercely, and I'd been bleeding more heavily than the past several days, passing several blood clots during each bathroom break. Add this to the blisters and sores that Liam created during his morning nursing session, and I was just one big ache.

Life did improve significantly after Ben got home. He got me to go lay down for a while. Our friends the Willmans brought over dinner, so we didn't have to cook. We gave Liam his first at-home bath, and while Shay cried through the whole thing ("I scared baby Liam belly button," which still has the stump of the umbilical cord attached), Liam did not cry at all. He did fall asleep while nursing and utterly refuse to wake up, necessitating yet more pumping, but I did this while Ben and Mom handled naps, and we all got into bed at a decent hour. My wonderful husband even convinced me to take some Tylenol PM, which has yielded the first decent night of sleep I've had in a long while, in between nursing/pumping sessions of course.

Here's hoping that tomorrow (or rather, today, since it's 4:19 am as I finish this after several pauses) will be better!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Little Man in a Big Bed

Check out my little man in his big bed.....

This is a little misleading because he hasn't actually slept in the real crib yet (aside from as a holding pen for cleaning up after diaper changes) because he has been sleeping in the Pack 'n' Play in our room. He'll probably move to the crib next week though, when Ben has to start getting up early for work, since I don't want Ben's shockingly loud alarm to wake Liam every morning.


Notable events of today:
* I am recovered from my flu thing, which was indeed just 24 hours.
* The girls and I went outside to play this afternoon. Loving the warm weather!
* Liam went back to the doctor (just for a weight check) and is now up to 7 lbs 13 oz, so he seems to be rebounding nicely from his early days of not wanting to eat.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

This Isn't Helping

So the days and weeks of recovery from childbirth are rough no matter what. Anyone who has been through this knows what I'm talking about. There's the bleeding. And the minimalistic sleep patterns. And getting the hang of nursing. And the aching legs and stomach and every other part of the body that was involved in pushing the kid out. And in my case, getting the other kids acclimated to the new baby.

As if all of that isn't enough, now I'm sick too. I started having really bad stomachaches last night, which I tried to tell myself were just due to my uterus shrinking back to a normal size. But then I started getting sick out both ends, which is definitely NOT a side effect of delivery. What this boils down to is that I seem to have caught a flu/stomach bug from some of our friends. My kids seem totally fine, and I'm assuming that I only got it because my immune system has obviously been through the wringer lately. But just let it be said, getting sick while dealing with stitches from second degree lacerations is NOT a good time. Nor is nursing while fearing that I will vomit on my newborn son. Our friends assure us that it's just a 24-hour bug though, so I'm hopeful that soon the fever will recede and I'll be able to just deal with normal post-partum stuff.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Milking

WARNING: If talking about breasts makes you uncomfortable, do not continue reading this post.

There was a time when I was incredibly uncomfortable discussing breasts. Luckily, this didn't really hold me back much, as this is not a topic that comes up very often in everyday conversation. Until, that is, my friends started becoming mothers. Suddenly lactation became a topic for casual lunchtime conversation. I'll admit, I was freaked out by this.

Then Bryn came along. I felt like I lost all dignity while in the hospital. I needed a nurse to help me go to the bathroom. I bled all over the place and cried from pain in front of complete strangers. I wore those horrible hospital gowns that leave your butt hanging out (in mesh panties, while wearing a pad the size of a phonebook, no less). But even in the midst of all this, I was especially freaked out by the lactation consultant.

She was a sweet yet professional older woman, but come on, she wanted to touch my breasts in order to help me achieve a proper latch? That was just weird. I should feel free to call her any time I had problems? Yeah, right, like that was a conversation I wanted to have.

Then I got home, and the reality of being a nursing mom kicked in. I leaked through nursing bras in public. I periodically locked myself in public bathroom stalls to feed Bryn, praying that no one else would need to use the restroom for the duration of our feeding session. Well-meaning friends kept asking me how nursing was going. I was not comfortable having these conversations.

But slowly, over time, all of this changed. I nursed Bryn for a little over a year. That's a lot of time for discussions. And even once I was done nursing, there were always war stories to share. This is a major bonding point for mommies. Now I can eat lunch with friends who nurse in public without batting an eye, and the state of my breasts is a fully acceptable topic for discussion at my various moms' groups.

Which is why it was funny to me when Ben came in to our room tonight, looking exceptionally freaked out and telling me that I needed to go talk to the girls. It seems that while they were in the bath together, Bryn leaned in toward Shay, made some slurping noises, and told Shay that she was eating out of her breasts. Ben told her that kids don't do that, and she informed him that she was just pretending. Without missing a beat, she then offered her own chest to Shay and asked if she wanted a drink from her breasts.

Yeah, so, the girls have been watching me nurse Liam. They comment on the difference between him drinking directly out of my breasts and when I pump to make bottles for him. I think it's healthy to let them see this and view it as not a big deal. They constantly want to "help" me feed him, although I'm rather hazy on what they think they could do to facilitate this process.

Last night, Bryn put my nipple shield on under her pajamas. She then came up to me, lifted her shirt, and offered me "sips." I was laughing too hard to answer.

In the hospital, Bryn wanted to know why my belly was "still a little big," even though I'd had the baby. When I told her that it would take a while to go away, she thought about it, then said, "Oh, because that is where you keep the milk for him!" So apparently he eats out of my breasts, but my bulging stomach is where I store my reserves. Nice.

So all in all, it seems that my children (or at least Bryn) have no qualms discussing this topic which was once so awkward to me. Which is good, since I feel like I spend the majority of my time producing milk these days. And yes, I have been nursing Liam while tying this.

Friday, March 05, 2010

4 Days Old

This week has gone by in a flash. I can't believe that Ben has been off work for an entire week. I can't believe that Liam is 4 days old. I can't believe that we're going to have to slowly start back into our regular routine next week.

We took Liam to the doctor for his first check today. In most respects, he's doing awesome. In fact, I believe that Dr. Z called him "perfect." :) However, he has lost weight. While pretty much all babies lose weight at first, it still makes me a little anxious. He was born at 8 lbs 2 oz but is now down to 7 lbs 9.5 oz. He's just not all that interested in eating. He just really likes to sleep, and obviously he can't do both simultaneously.

On the up side, he only woke up once in the night last night, so we got some awesome sleep. Of course, that can be translated to a down side in the eating department.

It's like he knows what I'm writing right now.... because he just woke up crying and is demanding some food. So I'm off to take care of that!!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

First Day at Home

We've now made it through our first 24 hours at home as a family of five! Last night seemed to go on for ages, whereas today itself has gone pretty quickly.

Here's Ben, Liam, and I at the hospital last night, packed up and ready to bring the baby home:

And here we are arriving at home..... note that Liam slept through most of this:

And here's my gorgeous Bryn insisting that she be allowed to feed her baby brother. I told her that she could hold the bottle, but I had to hold the baby because of his "owie" (from the circumcision).
I know I have said on this blog before (actually listed it as one of this year's goals) that I plan to breastfeed this baby, yet I have also posted a couple of pictures of him drinking out of bottles. You may also notice that the bottle in the above picture is a fancy-schmancy one. Basically, our little dude is having a rather hard time catching on to breastfeeding. He didn't want to latch on for the first two days, so the lactation consultant at the hospital had us start him on this special zero-flow bottle that forces him to learn to latch and suck properly in order to get any milk out--but without having to trial-and-error that on my body. This was a welcome relief after all the pain that Shay caused me while "learning" (and eventually failing) to nurse. So I've been pumping to establish my milk supply, then giving him my milk in his fancy bottle. That wasn't enough for him during the first two days, so we supplemented with a little Enfamil to teach him to get going. Now I'm making more than enough, though, and he's doing well with the bottles. He's also MUCH better about latching on when we attempt to actually nurse. I have to use a shield in order to minimize the blisters that he seems to enjoy raising, but he is actually getting some milk out, and then we finish out the feeding with the bottle. Now if we could just keep him from falling asleep the second he touches my skin....
Anyway, last night we feared that Liam had left his good sleep habits at the hospital. After acting like an angel and sleeping around the clock in my hospital room, he was up for most of last night. His daddy was so attentive to him that he never got a chance to get going into a good cry, but there were plenty of squeaks and wails. My personal theory is that his "owie" was bothering him, as he just couldn't seem to get comfortable. So it was a loooong night, as he would only sleep 15-30 minutes at a stretch before crying out again.
He seemed much better by the light of day though. Today Daddy Ben volunteered to watch Liam while the girls and I napped, but when I came downstairs at the end of our naptime, this is what I found:

Their first father/son nap...... cutest thing EVER! The boys ended up sleeping over two hours past the girls, so I just kept Bryn and Shay upstairs. The three of us played together and gave our boys a chance to snooze. We eventually had to come down and wake the boys up for dinnertime, as it got to be after 6:00! We've been fighting (rather unsuccessfully) to keep Liam awake since then, and now he's laying down in his Pack 'n' Play while Ben bathes the girls and I post this blog. I think all of us are off to bed soon..... keep your fingers crossed that there will be some actual sleep for all of us tonight! We'll be taking our first family outing (to the doctor's office, for Liam's first visit) tomorrow morning--I'm interested to see how it works out to have the van full of kids!!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Loving That Baby

I should be released from the hospital in about an hour (I know, super swanky hospital that I can blog from!), so I wanted to take a minute to post a few more pictures while it's still quiet. I'm sure that things at home will not be so calm as Ben and I resume care of our two girls, in addition to the new boy, plus the dogs, household responsibilities, etc!

Here's me and my new sweet boy doing some kangaroo cuddling. This one is definitely a cuddler and loves to be held--but falls asleep pretty much every time I touch him! Hope he keeps that up at home. :)

And this may be my new favorite picture--me and my three wonderful kids. Shay was too excited about loving on her baby brother to actually look at the camera. He looks like he might be a little stressed out by the big girls though!
As you can see, Shay is fascinated with her little brother! We haven't let either of the girls hold him today because he had his circumcision this morning, and the poor little guy is very sore and tired. He's spent most of the day asleep in his little crib, but Shay still wanted to get as close as possible!
So, as we end our 48-hour post-partum stay, both baby and I are doing well. I'm looking forward to going home and getting acclimated to life as a family of five!!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

William David

I am pleased to announce the birth of William David Pfanschmidt Meyaard, aka Baby Liam.

He was born last night (March 1) at 5:57 pm, following my 6:15 am induction. As you can see here, he weighed in at 8 lbs 2oz. His sisters, who were both induced after their due dates, were 7 lb 11 oz (Bryn) and 7 lb 12 oz (Shay), so we're thinking that I must just grow boys bigger and it's a good thing that we went in after him early! He measured 20.5 inches, which put him exactly in between his two big sisters (Bryn was 20, Shay was 21).

Although you can't see it in many of these pictures because of his hat, he's got a full head of dark hair. He also has beautiful (can I say that about a boy?) blue eyes. I think he looks like Ben, Ben thinks he looks like his great-grandpa Meyaard, and Bryn thinks he looks like her (which he actually does, minus her long eyelashes).
I was very, VERY glad to see him finally arrive, since as a grand finale to his weeks of injuring me from the inside, he decided to be rather feisty during delivery. His sister Shay arrived less than 4 hours after the start of her induction, and everyone told me that based on that, my third child was likely to just "fall out." He had other plans, though, and kept me in labor for almost 12 hours. After my experience with Shay coming so fast (basically 2 contractions and there she was), I had decided that I wouldn't really need an epidural this time around. That, my friends, was a very foolish decision. There were a lot of hours of labor and a lot of pushing to endure before he finally came out. Without scaring anyone away, I will just say that should we go for baby #4 someday, there will definitely be an epidural, possibly the minute that we check into the hospital.
I did end up with second degree lacerations, which is really not that bad considering the fourth degree ones I had with Bryn. Like his sister and his daddy, Liam has a large head (somewhere in the 90s for percentile), but blessedly not the 99th percentile like Bryn. All that being said, recovery is going well and we're both going to be fine.

My wonderful sister Kristin is staying with the girls while Ben and I are at the hospital, and she brought the girls to the hospital to meet Liam last night. They were thrilled to see their baby brother and adored him immediately. Our biggest problem was them fighting over who got to hold him first, and they both decided that they can't wait for him to go home so they can "hold him and play with him every day."




Here's big sister Bryn, who will be quick to tell you that she already knows how to be a big sister and is going to teach Shay all about it. She is so awesome and gentle with him already and can't get enough of holding her baby brother.

And here's Shay checking out the new baby of the family. She's wearing the same "I'm the big sister" shirt that Bryn wore two years ago when coming to the hospital to meet her. Shay was initially a little overwhelmed by Mommy's absence yesterday, followed by the evening trip to the hospital, and she just wanted to be held and cuddled herself for a while. She was also scared by the "owie" (IVs) in Mommy's hand (which honestly kind of freaked out Mommy too), but she was a champ and took it all in stride and now adores her baby brother as well.



Liam is a sleeping champ already, for which this Mommy is incredibly grateful. He clearly inherited this from his daddy's side of the family. Both Ben and I actually got decent nights of sleep last night (although I think his "bed" was less comfortable than mine!). Liam is now sleeping the morning away as well, and I hope to soon join him in a little nap. The only difficulty so far (meaning since childbirth ended) is that he doesn't want to eat at all. He's been spitting up some fluids, so we can't really tell if he's just got some gunk in there from being born or if he just doesn't understand about nursing. I'm going to see the lactation consultant in a little bit, so hopefully that will help. Of course, he'll have to actually wake up to eat, so that might be a challenge. :)
Anyway, I'm off to attempt a shower, call some friends, see a lactation consultant, take a nap, and oh yeah, recover from childbirth, so I'll sign off for now. More pictures to come as we get to know our little man better! Thanks so much to everyone for all the thoughts and prayers over the last few days and weeks!