Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jude's Story, Jack's Perspective

So the question everyone is asking is "How is Jack doing?"  It was hard to tell at first, since Marmie and Poppa have been here all week.  But now that they've left, I have a lot more to say on the transition ...

Jack spent two nights with his Great Aunt Julie and cousins.  And from what I hear he had a blast!  Aunt Julie journaled all about his visit for me, which I LOVED!  I heard about the fun they had outside, going on walks, shopping for Jude and all the good food he ate.  And of course he loved playing with Maggie the dog.  From what I hear he only required one time-out, although I'm sure he kept everyone very busy! ;)

Jon and I were really missing Jack during our stay in the hospital.  Right after Jude was born I looked at the clock and realized Jack was probably up and eating breakfast.  Later that day I had a salad for lunch.  I looked at the cherry tomatoes on my plate, safe from little hands trying to steal them.  Later on I was flipping through the TV channels and "Jack's Big Music Show" (his favorite!) was on.  One of the main reasons I wanted to get released earlier was to see him again.  But Jon and I both knew he was in great hands and probably having the time of his life!  We decided not to have him come visit the hospital.  One look around the room and we realized there was way too much for him to get in to.  Plus I think it would have been too hard to say goodbye again.  So he came home the same day we did.

We pulled into the driveway and Marmie and Poppa and Aunt Julie and Jack were already there waiting for us.  Jon stepped out of the car and Jack immediately came running, then I got out and he veered away from Jon and gave me a huge hug!  (Poor Jude was left in the car at this time!)  Everyone warned us that our oldest would seem big when we returned.  And it is so true!  Not only did he do a lot of growing up in just two days, but both Jon and I are positive he's put on weight (according to the scale he still weighs 32 lbs.).  I must have just gotten weaker from not holding him.  It's easy to forget just how tiny babies are.  And when you see little Jude next to Jack, everything about him looks huge!

It was a little hectic when we first walked in the door.  Jack was excited about all the visitors.  We hadn't seen my parents or Aunt Julie in a long time, and then Jude was suddenly starving.  Things finally calmed down.  Poppa took Jack on the first of many, many walks that week.  I'm afraid that Jack now thinks a "walk" no longer involves a stroller, since Poppa lets him run crazy around the neighborhood and beach.  Each time Jack would return to the house looking like this:

Poppa also took him on bike rides and tree climbing in the back yard.  Marmie read him lots of books and gave him a tubby every night.  My brothers surprised us by arriving at 2:30am on Sunday morning, and they also kept Jack pretty busy.  Of course, with a very active toddler comes a very tired toddler.  He had a few meltdowns, but took some incredible naps!  And of course, now that Daddy is in charge of Jack in the mornings, he's started sleeping later as well. (Not fair!!)

We kept busy the whole time my family was in.  Jude has been a FANTASTIC baby so far!  I'm tired, but not nearly the way I was when Jack was born.  It's been so nice to enjoy this time off from work with my kids and family, in fact, it's almost been like a vacation!  On Saturday we went to the mall.  Jack was afraid of the giant cow at Chick-Fil-A, but had fun playing on the rides.  And Marmie and I had fun spoiling the boys with some new clothes.

On Sunday we all went to church.  We don't have many more weeks left there so I wanted to go while we still can.  Jude slept through the whole worship service and then he and I spent the rest of the time in the nursery.  And from what Daddy says Jack had a good day in Sunday School.

On Monday we all went to the zoo. The weather was perfect and it wasn't very crowded. Jack LOVED the zoo. Especially the farm animals and the reptiles. He was a little afraid of the cow, and refused to pet the sheep, but got a kick out of the monkeys! 

Lunch was a little rough.  He threw his food, dumped his juice and screamed through much of the meal, but he did eat.  And it was mainly our fault for keeping him up past nap time.  He konked out on the way home and was refreshed and ready to spend the rest of the afternoon at the beach!

So, as you can see, Jack has been very busy these past few days.  Too busy to notice much of his little brother.  He's interested.  And he likes to get close, a little too close for my comfort.  But there's always someone around to watch or distract him.  At least, there was.  My brothers left on Monday afternoon and my parents the next day.  As predicted, Jon has been busy working on his final final.   Which leaves me alone with the boys most of the day.  And now Jack's starting to show his real feelings ...

I'm sure he's feeling a little jealous and neglected.  And I think he's a somewhat angry with me, which probably explains why he's hitting me and throwing objects in my general direction.  I mean, I do spend a lot of time with Jude.  I have to hold him about 5-6 hours a day, and that doesn't include the times I'm not feeding him.  So unfortunately for big brother, Mommy's lap isn't always open.  But Jack hasn't realized that yet.  He seems to think he can fit there too.  So I tend to spend the entire time nursing Jude with one hand and warding off Jack with the other.  First he'll try and sit on both of us, then he tries to lay across me and put his head on my lap.  When that doesn't work he decides to grab a pillow and jump on me and the baby.  Occasionally he'll bring a book over for me to read but then he gets distracted and wants to touch the baby.  And do you have any idea how difficult it is to nurse a baby when a toddler is jumping on the couch?  When he's not bugging us he's off getting into trouble.  Today, during our last nursing session, Jack managed to injure himself while playing near the toy box, and came running to me with a bloody nose. Earlier, he decided to pull the Vaseline out of the the diaper caddy and smother that all over himself.  Then he dumped my pile of papers off the table.  And when he got really angry that I was pre-occupied he purposely banged his head against the wall.  Hmmm, I think he's trying to get my attention.  I'm really hoping this is just a phase and we'll soon get used to being a family of four.  But in the meantime, I think we're going to have to make some changes.  I think we'll start with Mom and Jude nursing in the chair instead of the couch from now on.

Jack is generally good around Jude.  Our most challenging moments are in the car, since both boys sit next to each other.  I have to ride back there to keep Jack's hands off of Jude (and to put Jude's head back where it belongs everytime Daddy brakes).  It might be a while before I can venture out with both boys...

When you remind Jack to be gentle you can see he's making a conscious effort to do so.  Although his version of gentle isn't quite what I had in mind.  He likes to pat Jude's hand, bring me his socks (Jude's always loosing his socks), or stick a pacifier in Jude's armpit.  He also likes to test me.  I asked him to get off the diaper mat while I was changing Jude's diaper.  So instead he just puts one foot on it, then he'll walk away, come back and do it again.  Normally I can take care of things right away, but when you're in the middle of a feeding or diaper change, it's kinda hard to drop everything.  And I think Jack has realized that Mommy's hands are full!

And so we're all learning and adjusting, taking one day at a time.  Thankfully, Jude is a VERY good baby.  I hope he keeps this up because it's allowing me to focus on Jack more than I thought I would be able to.  I wanted to have this all worked out before Jude arrived, but I honestly didn't know what to expect.  We're learning fast, we've only had one day on our own so far, and we're going to learn even faster once Jon goes back to work on Monday.  But I think we'll get the hang of it. 

In the meantime, I've at least figured out a way to get a shower each morning.  This should work until Jude starts rolling ...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wow, that was fast! (Jude's Story, Part 3)

Within minutes I was wildly uncomfortable. Contractions went from a 5 on the pain scale (that subjective little sign they hang on the wall) to a 10. Okay, maybe not a 10. But at least a 9. All I could do was breathe. Apparently that wasn’t enough. The nurse came in and said the Baby’s heart was decelerating. (From what I read this is perfectly normal so I wasn’t concerned). But she wanted me on oxygen. So she put a mask on my face. At first I was like, “Cool, I’ve never breathed pure oxygen before.” Yeah, that excitement lasted for a minute. Oddly enough, it felt like I was breathing through a straw, a big straw, but a straw nonetheless. I was pretty annoyed. She also wanted me to turn on my left side, which is a more optimal position for laboring. For some reason this made contractions MUCH worse. So I was in twice the pain and unable to breathe comfortably. Needless to say, Jon’s napping ended right around this time.  This is also when he offered to take a picture.  I "kindly" declined, thus there are no pictures of my labor this time around, which is fine with me!

Between 6:30 and 7 there was a shift change, I told the new nurse I wanted the oxygen mask off. She’s like, “Sure, Baby looks fine, I’m not sure why you’re wearing that anyway.” Soon after that I started feeling the urge to push with each contraction. And they were quickly becoming unbearable. The nurse offered to check me again and within one hour I had reached 8 centimeters. Not complete, but getting close. I knew transition wasn’t very far off and braced myself for what was to come. Seconds after the nurse and doctor left my left hand started going numb, just like it did with Jack. Then my right, and eventually my whole chest was buzzing with numbness. My body started pushing with each contraction and I couldn’t make it stop. The nurse had just left and I was afraid to call her in again. A few contractions later and my hands locked up, just like they had with Jack.

I was afraid they would make me start pushing before my body was actually ready and I really wanted to avoid that and just let things progress on their own. That theory last about 10 minutes. By then, I was moaning enough with each contraction that she came back to tell me, yet again, how good I was doing and to see if she could do anything. I told her I was trying not to push but I couldn’t help it. And so, less than 20 minutes after she told me I was 8 centimeters, she checked me again and lo and behold I was complete, Baby was ready to arrive!

Within seconds the end of my bed was removed, the stirrups brought out and at least 10 people gathered around the room, mostly residents and interns curious to see the girl “going natural”. The doctor told me to start pushing while Jon and the nurse each grabbed a leg. I didn’t really take her seriously, I thought she wanted me to do a few practice pushes. I didn’t want to force the baby out and risk tearing, on top of that I’m still reeling from each contraction, trying to focus on what’s going on, but everything was happening very fast. Someone was trying to set the mirror up but wasn’t getting it right, so while contracting and half-heartedly pushing I’m trying to explain that I can’t see. Finally (and by finally I mean within a second or two since this whole phase only lasted maybe a minute), they got it right and I quickly realized that Baby’s head was RIGHT THERE. I pushed twice, his head was out, one more push and Jude was on my chest taking his first breath. It literally happened so fast that I feel like I almost missed out on the experience.

I could tell immediately that Jude was significantly smaller than Jack. He also didn’t look anything like him. It sounds horrible, but I looked at him and thought, “This isn’t my baby.” Then he cried and I fell in love all over again. He had the most perfect head of hair and was more adorable than even I had imagined. I got to hold him and cuddle him and then start nursing right there. Jon cut the cord. The nurse said he was incredibly handsome and had great color. His APGARs were 9/10. I don’t normally give that scale much credit, but when your son scores a 10 you just gotta mention it. :)

Eventually I passed him off to Daddy so I could call the family and send out a text message. The small crowd had left long before and gave Jon and I plenty of time to love up on our new little Jude-man. We eventually found out he weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 inches long. I guess this is an average sized baby, but both Jon and I think he seems incredibly small. It’s taken me a while to get used to holding such a tiny guy, without worrying that he’s going to slip through my fingers. But I’ve been doing my best to fatten him up so that he’ll fit into all the cute clothes Marmie and Poppa bought him.

My recovery has been great! I had no tearing, no significant blood loss and no other post-partum complications. Other than a jiggly belly and a little exhaustion I feel totally back to normal. In fact, my worst pain has been the tiny bruise on my hand where they inserted the hep lock for my IV. I had to beg the nurse to remove it before 24 hours was up because it was bothering me so much. After practically threatening to take it out myself, she finally agreed, but warned that I’d “better not spike a fever.” Please, I just had a baby. Don’t threaten me.

Jude was doing great too, and it looked like they were going to send us home early but then the nurses started getting concerned that he hadn’t peed yet. He had a good first poop that Daddy did an excellent job taking care of, but so far, no pee. I was having a hard time keeping him awake to nurse, especially his first night. And they were concerned that he hadn’t received enough fluids. On Wednesday morning they told me he was very “dry” and if he didn’t pee soon they were going to catheterize him (not quite sure if that makes sense now that I think about it). So they sent the lactation consultant in to make sure he was nursing fine, which he was even though it took a good 40 minutes to get him started. She suggested we take off his diaper and sprinkle him with some cold water. Within 2 minutes he had peed all over the bed. As a result of the lack of peeing they were also concerned that his bili numbers were going up (jaundice) so my goal all of Wednesday was to make sure Jude had ample opportunity to eat. I forgot how hard it is to nurse sleepy newborns, and how incredibly frustrating it can be. The nurse assured me it wasn’t my fault … so I guess she was implying that my son was less than perfect? Which is just not true because other than Jack he is just the most perfect little thing I’ve ever laid eyes on!
Jude kept up with the eating, pooping and peeing and after a second great night at the hospital, in which the nurses kept me up more than my newborn child, we got to go home on Thursday morning and, the moment we've all been waiting for, Jude got to meet his big brother for the very first time!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

... and then some more walking (Jude's Story, Part 2)

I don’t know why the checking-in process is so slow. I suppose there was clearly no rush. They hooked me up, tuned into Jude’s heartbeat, and confirmed that he was head down. I was having true contractions but they had slowed down considerably so then I felt really dumb for being there. There was a nurse, then a resident, then an intern, a doctor and some other doctor. Why on earth they require so many staff is beyond me. The one nurse wanted to know why I was 40 weeks + 6 days and hadn’t had an induction on the books yet. She hinted that I’d be staying there and having a baby regardless of my progression since I was “overdue.”

Finally a different doctor said it was time to “check me.” I was really getting nervous. I was hardly having any contractions, they didn’t really hurt too bad, and it felt like I hadn’t made any progress. So both Jon and I were incredibly relieved to hear that I was 4 centimeters and 80% effaced. Now that’s not much, and usually not enough to get you admitted under typical circumstances, but since I was only 50% effaced and not dilated at all 4 days earlier, we felt pretty good! The nurse mentioned starting some Pitocin to get things moving, and that’s when we explained that we were really hoping to have a natural birth, with no pain meds or Pit. She gave us “the look”, the “Yeah, okay I’ll believe when I see it" look. Which we got a couple of times that night. But I’m very happy to say that the doctors and nurses honored ALL of our wishes and, except for the fact that it occurred in the middle of the night, we got the exactly the kind of birth I was hoping for. So rather than putting me in a room with an IV bag of the evil Pit, they let us go walk the floors of the hospital for an hour or so, mainly to make sure I really was progressing on my own. So Jon and I hit the halls. Okay, so I hit the halls, Jon meandered around studying the photography, and would catch up whenever I had a contraction and had to stop.

For some reason it felt better to stand on one leg when I had a contraction, so that’s what I did. And then it felt better to squat. So I would hold onto the wall and squat. It’s a good thing no one was around except for a few janitors. During our hour long walk contractions were 3, sometimes 2 minutes apart and definitely increasing in intensity. We grabbed some juice and snacks and walked, stood, squatted, and took a bazillion potty breaks, all the way back to L&D.

They had a room ready for us as soon as we got back. We met our nurse, who was very nice, but didn’t seem so keen on the natural thing. But the doctor had our back and after her and the nurse had a chat it was decided that even though I would need to be hooked up to the heart and contraction monitor, and blood pressure cuff and pulse monitor, I could still get out of bed, stand or labor on the birthing ball. Which is exactly what I wanted, at least that’s what I thought at the time. The doctor came in to check me and we found out I was 5 centimeters. She was super pleased that I had progressed that far on my own, told the nurse I could go without Pitocin, and then the nurse talked, and talked, and talked about all that was happening and what we could expect. I was seriously getting tired of hearing the same things over and over again from different people, especially since I had heard this all before only 18 months earlier.

Contractions were getting more intense, but were totally manageable on the birthing ball. Jon took a seat in the chair and quickly dozed off. So it was just me, sitting on the birthing ball at 4am in a dark room. If I could’ve reached my phone I would have started play Tetris, but I couldn’t, and the Baby Channel on the TV was boring me to death. I could feel myself nodding off. After about an hour I didn’t think I could stay awake anymore. I’ve heard it’s best to stay upright during labor to help move the baby down, but I was SO exhausted. I knew if I got into bed I might be able to get a little sleep, which would probably be needed in the long run. Contractions were still 2-3 minutes apart, but for some reason the 1 to 1 ½ minutes in between seemed much longer, long enough to sleep a little in between. And then there was Jon, who was able to sleep through most of the labor until transition. He did get me a cup of ice chips at one point.

I should say here, just in case it’s not obvious, that we don’t practice The Bradley Method, or Husband-Coached Childbirth. I’ve read the book and think it’s great, but after two deliveries I think I can safely say it’s not for us. I don’t know what kind of natural childbirth we do. My only pain management technique is breathing. The harder the contraction - the faster I breathe. It’s not that Jon isn't willing to help, but I don’t know what he’d do. I can honestly say that although each contraction was “painful” I wasn’t in pain. And the only thing that hurt was my belly, and my pelvis. Gosh, I thought my hips and pelvis was going to break with each contraction. Three days later, they appear to be completely intact.

Since I was 5 centimeters I was now “allowed” to get an epidural, which I declined, but they had to send the anesthesiologist in anyway, just in case it would be required down the road. Which is completely understandable. What wasn’t understandable was what he was saying. I just remember he had a lot to say, told me he completely respected my decision to go without the epi, and had me sign some paperwork. He talked a LONG time. I tried to look at him, but I know my eyes were crossing and my head kept falling forward. Couldn’t he see how tired I was?? He finally left and we were both hopeful he wouldn’t be coming back.

At 6am, (had it only been 2 hours since we got into the room??), the nurse came in to tell me how well I was doing (aren’t they the sweetest!) and the doctor wanted to check me again. I was 6 centimeters, +2 station, Baby’s head was engaged and my water sac was bulging (sorry if this is TMI for some of my readers but the details are VERY IMPORTANT!). The doctor wanted to break my water. I was a little unsure since this is another form of augmentation, albeit a more natural option, and can cause some more complications. But based on her recommendation we went ahead. So she ruptured my membranes, confirmed the fluid was clear and then left the room after reminding me that contractions would likely intensify at this point. That was an understatement!

Friday, April 23, 2010

All it took was a good walk (Jude's Story, Part 1)

Sunday was a very important day because, for the first time in 9 months, Jon announced that he was ready for the baby to arrive. He had completed the majority of two of his three final papers (which was probably all he was going to do before Baby arrived anyway) and stated that he didn’t feel like going into work that week. And so he let Baby know that any time now was good for him. A lot of people were thinking Tuesday. I personally preferred Wednesday for a few reasons, mainly because 4/20 doesn’t have such a great reputation in high school and college circles and I wanted my Mom to be able to star as the Peanut Butter Jar in her Kindergarten play. But apparently it wasn’t up to me.

Monday started out just like every other day lately. Things have been very routine without anything exciting on the calendar. I woke up to another beautiful morning, thought to myself, “Still pregnant for another day!” and went to get my cutie pie out of bed. Jack and I had a great day. I got lots of work done, Jack took an excellent nap, and we had lots of fun together. I also missed a phone call from the window man, I always miss his phone calls. And he always leaves the same message, “You’re probably in the hospital having your baby right now …” and I always call him back and leave the same message, “Still here, no baby yet …” And so we made plans for him to stop by the next day to install our new screens.

We were so busy that day that Jack and I didn’t get our daily walk in. So Daddy joined us after work and we went out to pound the pavement together as a family. Jon’s Aunt Julie called while we were on our walk to check-in. They’d been prepped for Jack’s visit for over a week now and were anxious to hang out with our Tank. I let her know we were ready too and we worked out the final details of “the exchange.” She happened to mention that if I went into labor during the night that either she or Cousin Holly would just come spend the night at our house and then take Jack back in the morning. We all agreed this was an excellent plan, although I was really hoping not to have a middle of the night labor again! Our walk continued and I kept telling Jon we needed to go faster, harder. “We’re trying to get the baby out, not put him to sleep!” We got a good two miles done before Jack started getting hungry and Mommy had to take a potty break. It didn’t seem like enough to me and I secretly made plans to hit the beach during sunset after Jack had gone to bed.

Well Jack was wound up after an extra long nap and not ready for bed at his usual time. So we played for a while, read some books over and over. I had asked Jon to get me a pineapple while he was out running errands because rumor is fresh pineapple can put you into labor. I didn’t feel like sharing so I was waiting for the Little Guy to go to bed before cutting it. He was having too much fun throwing it around the living room anyway.

While reading books to Jack I felt my first real contraction. I’ve been having false labor for at least 3 weeks now. Lots of contractions while I’m walking or standing, and nothing while I’m resting. But this was different. And it kinda hurt. I felt like such a first time mom throughout this whole labor because I never experienced a traditional “going into labor” with Jack. I never had good contractions until they started Pitocin, 12 hours after my water had broke. So I spent most of the night wondering if this was the real thing or just another teaser. I took Jack up to bed, prayed with him and laid him down for the night. Never thinking that I wouldn’t be there to greet him in the morning.

Just for fun I logged onto and sure enough, contractions were coming regularly at 7 minutes apart. While semi-watching “Dancing With the Stars” they started edging closer to 6 minutes, then 5 minutes apart. But they were only 30-40 seconds long. So I wasn’t quite sure what to think. At this point I told Jon that tonight just may be the night. So … he put in a movie.

I did some things for work while bouncing on the Pilates ball and timing contractions. I finally admitted to myself that they weren’t going away and announced that I was going to take a long, hot shower to see if things slowed down. Jon asked if he should start packing his bag. “Yeah, that might be a good idea.” By the time I got out of the shower contractions were 4 minutes apart. Which is “head to hospital” range. But still only about 30-40 seconds long. And I was still able to walk and talk through them. I called Labor and Delivery and they said since they were that close I should come in regardless, especially since it’s my second baby. Both Jon and I knew that since I was almost a week overdue, if we went into the hospital we’d be having the baby by the next day. It was a tough decision, especially since I didn’t know what to expect over the next few hours and the last thing I wanted was an induction. But I was feeling more confident that this labor was the real thing and that we could still get the natural delivery we’d been praying for. So after talking it over we went ahead and called Aunt Julie, who lives an hour away, and let her know it was time to come get Jack, we were going in!

Jon and I packed bags, tidied the house, wrote notes … I kept sneaking into Jack’s room to get one more peek. Aunt Julie arrived at midnight and by then contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and hurt enough that I preferred to stop walking and didn’t want to talk unless I had to. But in between them I felt perfectly normal. She took one last picture of us before we loaded into the car. The drive to the hospital went fast. There’s not a whole lot of cars on the highway at midnight. Jon and I would talk and then things would go quiet for 40 seconds and then we’d pick up where we left off again.

We arrived at an eerily empty hospital and headed to the triage. The receptionist asked how she could help us. I felt a little silly, “Um, I think I’m in labor??” So we checked in and headed to the examination room hoping for some good news!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Details to follow ... after a much-needed nap!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Still here, still pregnant

Just in case you were wondering.
My apologies to the 5 of you who were expecting him to arrive yesterday. I mean, we're not surprised right? I've only been saying for the past 9 months that I'm fairly certain this baby will show up later than expected. But still. The waiting can definitely take its toll. Every weekend I wear myself out cleaning the house and stocking the cupboards in case Baby decides to make an appearance. And every week I watch it get all messy again and my freezer stash shrink because I've been lacking the motivation to cook. Isn't that a form of torture in Greek Mythology?

Some days are better than others. I had my first majorly sleepless night on Friday and ended up spending the rest of the night on the couch. Earlier this week I was nearly worn out with contractions. And then suddenly, on Thursday, I got a second wind (or rather a third or fourth wind at this point). I'm so anxious to get out of the house and DO SOMETHING. To fill my calendar that went blank after April 14. So I indulged in some retail therapy and bought the boys more clothes this past week than I have all year. And I got myself a few things for the post-partum wardrobe as well. Oh, and did I mention we bought a new refrigerator and spontaneously decided to get #2 his own crib off of Craigslist. The shopping has been fun, and I have to admit, I get a funny sort of kick out of the look on peoples' faces when they ask when the baby's due. "Oh, four days ago." I don't know why I find it so fun, but I'm easily humored these days.

Fortunately, this weekend was not without its celebration of babies! My friend, who happened to be due two weeks after me, had her son on Saturday. I'm firmly convinced it's because her husband has been hoping and wishing for it. My man, on the other hand, is still searching for the motivation to finish his three final papers of the semester. I have a feeling he'll be typing those with one hand while rocking a newborn to sleep with the other. I also went to a baby shower for my friend Janine, mother of Jack's friend Abbie, on Saturday. Not only is it absolutely delightful to croon over all the new baby clothes and blankets, but there was a 6 pound, two week old little girl there with scrunched up legs, making little grunts that only the newest ones do. *sigh* I'm so ready to have that all over again!

I also had my weekly doctor's visit, which I purposely scheduled as late as possible the week of my due date. I just knew what she was going to say. So there I was, the only person in the office as the last appointment on Friday afternoon. And the first thing she says is, "Do you want to schedule an induction?" I was totally prepared for that and quickly said "no" but now it's starting to bug me. After only two days, why on earth would I want to force my baby out now? And that's assuming my due date is precisely correct. And we all know it's not, right? Right? That's what we're telling ourselves these days.

So, no induction for me just yet. I have a non-stress test scheduled for next Thursday to make sure Baby is tolerating his "extended stay" well and that my aging placenta is still functioning properly. If he's not here by then I'll have to schedule an induction for 5-6 days later because "the schedule gets booked up." Honestly, I'm not afraid that Baby's not going to show up. I mean, he will be born eventually. I'm from the school of thought that babies come when they're ready, and bodies go into labor when they're ready (although I did start wondering last night if maybe my body doesn't know how to go into labor, it's certainly been practicing the whole contraction thing for a while now!). It's just a tad stressful when you feel that the pressure is on. It's wearing on my nerves. I just keep telling myself that #2 is going to arrive at the perfect time, because that is exactly what we've been praying for. Then again, if you were him and heard all that goes on right outside your nice, comfy little womb (i.e. "Jack, do not stab your Mommy's leg with the scissors!!" or "No, you are not allowed to hang out the window!"),  ... you might delay your entrance too.

Fortunately, nerves are easily cured by quick trips to the beach, watching Jack point out the doggies, hearing him giggle as he dips his toes in the COLD water, and having little old ladies tell me how great I look and that I'm going to love being a mama to two boys so close in age. And I have to agree. It's going to be fantastic! And just because of that I'm willing to wait it out a little bit longer!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dear Babysitter

Jack's bag for his first independent overnight trip is mostly packed, I have a list ready of last minute items to add, and our family that is planning to watch him are waiting by the phone, ready to deploy at a moment's notice.  And just in case that doesn't work, we have about 6 back-up sitters willing to fill-in.  I typed up two-pages of notes on Jack's routine, food he likes and doesn't like, and some other information to help with the transition.  And that's where my wise husband cut me off.  So I'll pick up here where I left off there.  Because there are a few of those little Jack things that only Mommy's care about, and just in case you end up watching my son some day, you might want to know about them too:
Dear Babysitter,

Thanks for volunteering to take care of our lil' Tank while his Dad and I are having a baby. We know this is no small task. Here are a few notes to help get you through...

Jack loves to brush his own teeth. We usually do this together in the mornings, which is why he may start humming while brushing. He wants his toothbrush to sound just like Mommy's electric one.

He needs two binkies to fall asleep. One to suck on and the other to twirl in his hand while he unwinds.  He's also not allowed to bring these out of the crib, ergo expect a ceremonially throwing of binkies, one at a time, when he gets up from his nap.

If you're reading I Love You Through and Through he'll probably open his mouth and stick out his tongue when you get to the page that says, "I love your inside ... and your outside." I taught him that one!
If you're reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, he turns the pages so fast you'll probably only have time to say the color and name of the animal.

And if you're reading The Belly Button Book he'll probably make sure you're aware that he, too, has a bee-bo.
He gets very excited about turning on the TV, but will probably only watch about 5 minutes. Unless it's Jack's Big Music Show. It's a personal favorite.

He likes to jump down the stairs. Usually while holding your hand, although he's been known to attempt this unassisted ... with undesirable consequences.

He almost always poops before 10am. If he doesn't poop in the morning, chances are he'll wake up early from his nap with a stinky surprise.

The longer you ignore him, the higher his voice gets.

He tends to take his shoes off as soon as he gets in the car.

He has an affinity for toilet plungers, trash cans and toiletries you thought were hidden in drawers and cupboards.

If he stands up in bed, he's ready to get out. If he cries while he's still laying down, he almost always falls back to sleep. He usually does this around 6/6:30am.

He's afraid of vacuum cleaners.

He refuses to talk on the phone.

He thinks it's funny to fake sneeze.

Although most animals are referred to as "dog" (aka gog or gah), he generally calls a cow "boo" *insert flying spit*.

He's been known to hide objects in the couch cushions and air vents.

If you notice his hands down by his side when he's eating ... he's probably hiding food.

He'll probably wave "bye-bye" when it's time for bed or a nap.  Don't take it personally, he's just a kid that appreciates his quiet time.
Most traumatic situations are easily remedied with a hug and some cherry tomatoes.
Thanks again,
Jack's Mom

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jack, Where's the Baby?

Jack appears to have no idea what's coming in a few days. He likes to look at pictures of babies, and he always gives the doll Nonnie gave him a good snuggle while holding it ... and then will stuff it in some interesting location i.e. the training potty. But I don't think he realizes he's going to have his own, real life baby in the house soon. And that this baby is going to take away a lot of Mommy's attention. Considering how rude he is to the laptop when he thinks I'm spending too much time on it, Lil' Bro is going to need to toughen up real fast!
When you ask Jack about the Baby he'll sometimes point to his own round little belly. But usually, when you say, "Jack, where's the baby?" he gives Mommy's belly a tiny little poke ...
... and then winds up for a few good whacks.
Yes, the Baby hasn't even arrived and he's already not allowed to be alone in the same room with Jack.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the menu!

So, I'm not much of a foodie. I have great aspirations, and have made a lot of progress over the past few years. I have a few tried and true dishes, but I'm quite certain I'll never be able to make toasted cheese without burning at least one side, or that I'll ever roll out a perfect pie crust. But one thing I have made recently, and that actually turned out well, is homemade yogurt. I've read on several different blogs about how easy it is, but it took me a while to work up the courage to actually try. So, without further ado, I highly recommend trying out the instructions found on Sarah's Musings blog. I've made it twice now and it's turned out fantastic both times!
Although I'm getting more used to it, I do find plain yogurt a bit tart. I usually add a little honey or vanilla to mine. I love it with homemade granola and bananas in the morning. Or I'll mix it into my chocolate milkshake at night. :) I even used some in place of buttermilk in our regular whole wheat pancakes recipe and it was delicious! And the best part is, I'm not the only one in this family who is a fan of yogurt. Check out who decided it was high-time he started feeding himself!

Clearly this recipe is Jack-approved!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Half Birthday!

Today my little guy is 18 months. I'm a big fan of half-birthdays. My parents used to make a small deal out of them, making an announcement at breakfast and singing half the "Happy Birthday Song." So with all the focus on Baby lately, I thought we'd do a little something special for the Jack-man. I had an adorable 1/2 b-day celebration all planned out in my head. What really happened was Jon worked late, Jack had a short nap and was downright cranky, and I was tired and sore from random contractions all afternoon. I did manage to pull a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin out of the freezer, top it with some whipped cream and put a candle on top. We later found out it was a trick candle and Jack required Daddy's assistance in the blowing-0ut process.

So what is 18-month old Jack like? He's still my little lover-boy. He hands out random hugs, still gives kisses, still squeezes my neck like he'll never let go. He's also my rough and tumble boy. He's discovered that the cushions come off the couch and make great summo wrestler pads. He likes to get a running start and attack me when I'm not paying attention.

He is obsessed with dogs. He points them out on anything and everything - the TV, the refrigerator magnet, every book or magazine, when we're outside. He also calls things which are not dogs, dogs. We're working on that, studying up on our farm animals in books. And then practicing their names with the Little People Barn we got him for his birthday. I'd love to take him to a real farm this summer, or some sort of petting zoo. But for now all the dogs on the beach are enough to satisfy his curiosity.

He's still a fantastic eater. Sure we have our moments. Sometimes nothing I give him is good enough. But I try not to hold back. There are so many foods I didn't like as a kid, simply because they were weird or unfamiliar. I figure I'll give Jack the opportunity now and we'll see where things go. I'm quite certain his most favorite food in the whole world are cherry tomatoes. He sneaks them out of the fridge when my back is turned, pulls them out of the grocery bags when we're putting things away, and will steal them right off your plate if you're not watching. Most fruits and veggies are an easy sell. Whole wheat breads are also a list-topper. Beans tend to go over well, but for some reason he's just not into meats. And like his Dad he is very much a cheese-lover!

So he's a good eater, but also very messy one. We are working on not throwing or dropping food. But in spite of that he's just plain sloppy. He gets sauce stuck in all his chubby crevices, peas down his pants, and peanut butter behind his ears.

Thankfully, he likes to "help" clean up. In fact, he's really into helping Mommy and Daddy these days. He holds the dustpan when we're sweeping. He bring me books and balls when we're picking up toys. He picks up laundry I'm folding (that he threw on the floor in the first place). And he gets the groceries out of the bags. The other day I was bringing bags up from the car and there he was, lining up all the jars and cans in a row on the floor. Of course, there was also a carton of eggs lying there, with yolks oozing out of the corner. Oops.
Sleeping is going well again. We're back to full 12 hour nights, and no more early wake-ups. Which is a HUGE relief to me! He's really good about "telling" us when he's tired if we happen to keep him up too long. Either he crawls on our lap and puts his head down, points to his bed if we're in his room, or is extremely emotional and in meltdown mode. He goes down easily, but doesn't necessarily fall asleep right away, as I learned after we got our video monitor. Sometimes he runs laps in his crib, other times he does bicycle kicks, and he always twirls his free pacifier (he takes two to bed) in one hand. Watching him fall asleep has been a great source of entertainment!

He's really starting to exercise his independence lately. Running halfway down the beach by himself, walking up the stairs without holding Mommy's hands, giving me a hearty bye-bye wave when I drop him off at the church nursery, and entertaining himself in the Pack 'n Play while Mommy gets a shower every morning. This has been the greatest development these past few months. He actually enjoys going into his PnP, and usually asks me to put him in before I get a chance. He sits in there with a few books and some toys and then I have a chance to get ready for the day without worrying about what he's into now! It's been very nice, now I just have to figure out what to do when Baby arrives and needs a place to sleep.

We've been reading to Jack every since he was a little guy, but just recently he's been showing a keen interest in books. He constantly wants me to read to him. While I'm cooking dinner, while I'm doing work, even while I'm trying to go to the bathroom! He still turns the pages a little faster than I can read, but he's definitely paying attention. He really, really loves books. And I love that he loves books. But I don't love reading the same books, over and over, every. single. day. I don't even have to look at the words anymore, which is helpful when Jack begs me to read while I'm doing something else. If I'm washing dishes I can even turn the pages with my toes. This probably isn't the best way to spend time with my son, but believe me, we spend plenty of time snuggled up on the couch reading through a large stack. Jon says we have too many books. Clearly, he is not the one doing the majority of reading in this house, otherwise he'd be ready for some new ones too! I think Jack's due for his 18 month well-baby appointment, but I didn't think it'd be a good idea to schedule it with a baby arriving any day now. Which reminds me of one other thing, at 18 months Jack is one healthy dude. Other than the occasional cold and current allergies, we haven't had to deal with any kind of illness or infection since his arrival. Which is something I'm very thankful for! Now, bumps and bruises, scrapes and splinters are another story ... but I can't be held responsible for his every action can I?

So that's our Tank. It's not hard to believe that he's 18 months already, but it is hard to believe that he's only been a part of our lives for 18 months. I really can't imagine our life without him!

P.S. I've added another poll to the blog, just for kicks. Feel free to take a gander at when you think #2 will arrive. I've been having some decent contractions the past few days, but nothing I can't walk or talk though, and nothing consistent. The anticipation is killing me! And today, for the first time in 9 months, I'm actually ready to have this baby!! So humor me and take a guess!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Giving birth in the communication age

A few weeks ago, I skipped out on going into the office on Monday since my meetings were all canceled. I then proceeded to leave my phone upstairs the next morning, and missed 3 calls and 2 text messages from my boss. He was about to have someone stop by my house to check on me when I called him back. I felt pretty bad. All this to say, I'm not planning to surprise anyone with this baby. My goal is to keep anyone who's interested informed, within reason of course.

Recently two different friends of ours delivered their babies while their husbands sent out regular updates on their progress via text message. Another person I know kept us all informed on her delivery by updating her Twitter account. And yet another friend managed to update her Facebook status throughout her entire labor, posting cell phone pictures of the baby at the end. And then there's another couple we know that failed to inform of us of their baby's arrival until we heard it from someone else 5 days later. After our recent experiences with keeping tabs on friends' deliveries, I was kinda surprised that such news could be withheld for so long! And I have to admit, as a big social networking fan, I'm very grateful that I live in this current age. I go crazy when I know I'm missing out on something! I can't imagine living 100 years ago and having to find out about new babies via snail mail!

The more I think about how we keep friends and family apprised of our pregnancies and babies, the more I want to start planning out our strategy for #2! In fact, I feel kinda bad about our lousy updates when Jack was being born. But then again, most of the action took place late at night. As a silly, giddy new mom I sent out a text message at 3am announcing his arrival. And was promptly surprised at how many congratulatory messages I received back at that hour. 18 months later, I apologize for waking up our friends that night. I promise I'll hold off until a more decent hour this time around.

And so, in addition to the fancy new phone I got a few months ago with a keyboard, I've also figured out how to update Facebook via text message (I know, I know, I'm a little slow with technology!) The email announcement is created and ready to be sent - pending Jon and the hospital's Food Court Internet capabilities. And we have our contact list ready. Unfortunately, a lot of that is work-related. I have to call my boss when labor starts so he knows I'm no longer working. I have to email a few of my co-workers to hand off whatever is left to be done. And of course, we have to get someone to watch Jack. Here's hoping we get a clear start to true labor ... but not too fast! It should be interesting to see how it all works out. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The End

My husband is getting nervous. I'm going, going, going all day, trying to get things done because, as I explained to him last night, I may not have tomorrow. And then he gives me "the look", the look that says, "Don't speak such things out loud." Yes, we are really hoping Baby holds out until at least Sunday. But if he is willing to wait 10 days beyond that, well we think that'd be just dandy. And everybody else thinks we're weird.

The truth is, I feel really great! I'm still able to wrestle on the floor with my wild guy, give airplane rides on my shins, crawl under furniture to retrieve toys, and carry two toddlers with sandy, bare feet back from the beach. I've been sleeping fairly well at night, although I'm constantly dreaming about my water breaking, contractions and all those fun things. I'm awake early in the morning, ready to greet my happy guy when he gets up for the day. And I'm still making meals, going to work, doing laundry and cleaning. Haha, just kidding about the cleaning! Please don't drop by my house this week. Cleaning is the one thing I'm suddenly no longer able to keep up with. Jack can litter the entire house in 5 seconds with books, balls and plastic Easter eggs. And there's a nasty layer of yellow pollen on all the furniture. I see the mess, I really WANT to take care of it, and then I sit down for a few seconds and decide I'd rather not get back up for a while.

For the most part, I feel good. Better than I think I should at this point. And for that I am so thankful. I don't know how else I'd keep up with Tank. On the other hand, I have noticed a big change since Easter. Remember how I said everyone's been telling me I look bigger? Well I FEEL bigger. Most of my maternity shirts don't cover my belly anymore, so I have that great underdraft thing going on.

My belly is literally "all baby" at this point. You can't put your hand on it without touching some baby body part. And he is all up in my grill. Squeezing my lungs, crushing my ribs, and pushing down on my hips. I feel like a science experiment. He has most definitely grown! My doctor noticed too. At today's appointment she said she could tell, just by feeling my belly, that the baby had filled out. She was pretty happy with his new chub. And I am too, even if it makes my walk a bit more of a waddle.

Speaking of walks, they've gotten a bit shorter lately. First, I can't get too far without having to go to the bathroom. Second, the way Baby is laying must be causing me to favor my right side because that foot starts to hurt after a few blocks. And finally, I'm afraid if I walk too hard I might put myself into labor, and that's just not the goal right now. But we're keeping them up because Jack and I both need the fresh air (less pollen of course) and it's fun to point out all the neighborhood "gogs."

So here were are today at 39 weeks, 2 days and that, my friends, is a personal record!! My water broke with Jack the night I was 39 weeks, and he was born at 2:30am the next day. I'm feeling strangely accomplished for making it this far. But I have to say, I don't remember "the end" being this stressful before. Not stressful as in Mama's cranky and on edge all the time, but stressful as in the anxiety of just not knowing. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and out of control, and I'm just not used to that. But the good news is that Baby is healthy and that for him anytime now, whether or not it is convenient for his parents, is a good time to arrive.

So these are my last thoughts on being pregnant, maybe. I figured I should get them out now in case I don't make it until tomorrow. When my water broke with Jack I had three blog drafts waiting to be edited and posted, after he was born they were kinda out of place. So I'm trying to say everything I want to while I still can.

I'm excited, really excited. I can't wait to go into labor again and give birth. I can't wait to hold my second born for the very first time. To tell him how much I love him, to smell that sweet, sweet scent of a newborn. I'm looking forward to nursing, to taking it easy for a few weeks, to lots of down time. I can't wait to see Jack step it up as a big brother, to watch him love on this baby. To take advantage of his new desire to be a "big helper" to Mommy and Daddy.

But I will certainly miss being pregnant. Feeling those strong kicks, watching my belly move up and down while the Baby practices "breathing." Getting those annoying hiccups. Seeing people look at you and smile because you're carrying a baby. And feeling that sense of honor that I'm doing what is possibly the most important job on earth - growing and preparing a new little life. So yes, I'm one of those girls that loves being pregnant. I know not everyone does, that not everyone has good experiences. I know that I'm super-blessed to have had two great pregnancies. Two baby-carrying experiences that, instead of sucking the life out of me and making me miserable, have only caused me to feel more alive and so, so happy. And I also feel a little bad that not every woman feels like this, which makes me even more appreciative of these last few days I have left. Sometimes I feel whiny, sometimes I get tired of carrying my 33 pound toddler around. Sometimes I don't want to get off the couch all night because I'm afraid my hips are going to split town. But it usually doesn't last long. All it takes is a hug from my son when he rests his head on my belly. Or my husband telling me I'm meant for this, I was made to have babies! Or the doctor saying I look really good, did I get some sun this weekend? "Why yes I did, when I stopped thinking about my aching back and dirty house, and hauled my little guy and all our stuff out to the beach for a spontaneous romp in the sand." Sometimes it just takes a little reminder that yes, it doesn't always feel good, but it is so worth it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mama almost goes into labor... courtesy of Jack

I love plants. I'm not much of a green thumb, and I've yet to keep an orchid or any other flowering plant alive for any significant length of time, but but my greens I can manage. We have several house plants in our Love Nest, all but one of which I brought into our marriage. There's the ivy plant my mom brought home from me when I was really sick once in Junior High, and which now has taken over our bookcase and wall.
There's the palm tree that I rescued from the "as-is" section of Ikea my Junior year of college. I feel like I've spent the better part of the past 5 years battling for its life, but we're currently in a good spell.

There's my favorite something-or-other that I transplanted from a planter that my mom received as a gift.

And then there's this guy. Who, up until last week, I didn't know much about. Silly, naive, little me.

Not long after posting the stories about my accident-prone, injury-magnet child, he decides to take things up a notch. I'm sitting in the living room one sunny afternoon, attempting to get some work done while my son is being unusually quiet in the kitchen (typically the first sign he's getting into trouble). A few seconds later he comes running out, screaming, while holding the leafless stem of one of my plants. I thought maybe he felt bad he had broken the stem. So I picked him up, gave him some snuggles and waited for him to stop crying. He always stops crying once I hold. But he didn't. Then I started to worry that he had a leaf stuck in his throat, but I couldn't see anything, and when I checked the kitchen all leaves were on the floor with no chew marks. At this point I'm starting to panic. Jack is sobbing uncontrollably, drool is running out of his mouth, and he won't let go of my neck. I kept checking his mouth but nothing looked red or swollen. He appeared to be breathing fine. Other than excessive amount of tears, snot and drool, and the fact that he kept putting his hands in his mouth, I couldn't figure out the problem. And so I start to cry because, for the first time ever, my son is in obvious pain and nothing I do can make it better. My husband is still at work, 40 minutes away, and I'm realizing I may be making a trip to the Emergency Room with Jack by myself. I wasn't even sure where the nearest ER was! (Don't worry, Jon has since educated me on what to do in case of an emergency!)

I gave Jack a sippy cup of water, which he guzzled down while still in tears. Meanwhile, I'm trying to Google "poisonous houseplants" with my free hand while also chatting online with a friend. This person, who has chosen to remain nameless, suggested I lick the plant myself to see if it did anything. So I did. (A few minutes later we both realized that this may not have been the smartest action since I am pregnant and all, but it was too late for that.) At first, nothing. And then a few seconds later my whole mouth began to burn. So by now I figured out that the plant was indeed the culprit and that my poor boy was suffering from some sort of burning mouth.
Eventually, a cupful of water and several helpings of raisins later, he calmed down enough that I could call the local Poison Control Center. Unfortunately, since I didn't know the name of the plant they couldn't be much help. So I did some more Googling (identifying plants via the internet is not as easy as it sounds!), and after two phone calls to my parents and one to a plant-expert friend back in PA, we finally figured out the I am the not-so-proud owner of a Dumbcane, plant species: Dieffenbachia. While easy to care for and helpful in purifying the air, "Painful and immediate swelling of the mouth and throat occurs after chewing on dumbcane. Speech impediment can occur, sometimes lasting for several days. Avoid eye contact with the juices which can result in intense pain and swelling." [source] Interestingly enough, since this incident it seems like everyone I know is fully aware that Dieffenbachia are poisonous. Where have I been? Note to readers: If you see a poisonous plant in someone's house, particularly mine, it might be wise to let them know!

Pain, swelling, speech impediment ... fan-tastic. I called back the fine folks at Poison Control:
"Hi, I'm the mom who called a little bit ago with the boy who ate a house plant ..."
"Oh, the [insert name of another common plant]."

"No, ... a different mom. This plant is a dieffenbachia."

Apparently, I was not the only mom in Southeastern Virgnia who's child ate a poisonous plant that day.
The nurse on duty assured me that Jack, who had since eaten a full dinner and was back to running around like a crazy man, was going to be fine. And he is. And so is #2, who remained the most calm throughout the entire incident. He's one lucky lil' brother to have Jack paving the way ahead for him, breaking Mom's best dishes and testing out poisonous house plants... Now if we can just get through the next week or two without anymore of these moments of panic, I will be a very happy mama!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New Life

I was telling Jon the other day that I don't think I've ever appreciated the arrival of Spring more than I do this year. Part of it is spending a winter cooped up with a little man with no place to run, but even more than that, my firsthand experience with nurturing a new little life arriving this spring. Watching the robins gather twigs for their nests becomes even more significant while folding itsy, bitsy baby clothes and blankets. Seeing the squirrels out gathering acorns while watching my own little pantry grow and groan under the fruits of my "stockpiling for baby weeks" shopping. Watching green shoots appear through the dirt and having my son point out the blooms on the bushes, has really helped me to understand the wonder and beauty of bringing forth new life. The arrival of spring this year has reminded me of the blessing it is to be a woman and the honor I have of bearing a little life. The recent sunshine and gorgeous weather has only heightened my excitement over new Baby's arrival. I can't wait to watch him grow with the rest of the world!

In addition to our soon-to-be-born son, we also shared Easter with my in-laws and Jon's grandparents, who were driving up from Florida. I was so excited to have guests in for Easter since we knew we couldn't make any travel plans ourselves. We didn't know if any of our family would want to come see us if they knew they'd be returning soon to meet the new guy, but I'm so glad they did because this weekend was an excellent distraction in the "waiting game." We had a blast!

We hung out on the beach, took a trip to the local botanical gardens, had dinner on the bay, noticed how much Jack has grown since his last ride in the bike seat (I wasn't able to join that excursion, but I did manage to take advantage of an hour by myself and gave the flower bed a desperately needed weeding), and just spent time together catching up the past few months. Thanks to the abundance of good food and fellowship, I also managed to put on a whole pound over the weekend, and everyone agrees I'm looking a bit larger these days.

It's also been nice to pull out a few of my summer maternity clothes again. One thing I've noticed about being pregnant over the winter is that a lot of people just can't tell there's a baby growing under all those layers. I waved hello to my neighbor across the street today while we were both weeding and she said, "Janine, are you pregnant?!" (I tell myself she only asked to be polite, not because she couldn't tell.) And I thought to myself, "For heaven's sake, if I hadn't happened to walk out my door this afternoon wouldn't Wendy have been surprised to see me carrying around a newborn this summer!" It is good to be out of hibernation! And so, although I'm still partial to Fall babies, I'm really enjoying these last few weeks of anticipation, along with the rest of the world, as we watch nature come into bloom and new life arrive on a daily basis. Happy Easter!

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