Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Ladies from Way Back

I'm not sure when our tradition started...I want to say 2007 or so. That's when we started getting together every year to Christmas season to shop, my two friends and I. My two friends from the way waaaay back.

Erin I've known since 3rd grade. That blows my mind to think about because I currently HAVE a third grader. I try to imagine one of her little buddies right now, being her good friend 25+ years down the line. And how they might reminisce about life back in 2015.

And Melissa I've known since 7th grade. We did everything together in high school especially. I have many memories of being at her house and riding around in her green mustang convertible. It even had a car phone, back before anyone knew what a car phone was. 

Now we are all grown up and busy and live in different towns. Between us we have 8 kids ranging in age from 17 years to 2 months old. We are busy busy people. But a couple of times a year we carve out time to shop. Mostly we catch up and talk, but there is also shopping involved. Sometimes with an overnight hotel stay (if there is proper time and babysitting for such a thing). Sometimes one of us is pregnant or there's an infant tagging along, as was the case this past weekend. 
This summer we even finally made time for long weekend at the lake cottage, begging the question..why haven't we done this before? Why don't we do this every summer until we die?

Notice that there aren't any kids in these pictures. That's the deal, and part of what makes it great. No husbands, no kids. Except an occasional baby...

There's something so relaxing and easy about hanging with friends that you've known for SO long. It's like pressing the hold button on a phone call and then picking up right where left off, mid-sentence. I feel blessed to have such old kindred friendships with these two ladies. I think if everyone had relationships like these, there might not be need for expensive therapy.

I guess if someone is reading these who doesn't have good girlfriends in their life, I would advise them to go search some out. Find the time, MAKE the time. It'll be worth it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Middle Child Memory Fog

There was a time in not so distant history that I wrote on this blog a LOT more. There are almost 1,300 posts here, starting in 2006. I had followers and reposts. I think I even got nominated once for having a good Mommy blog. 

Yeah well, life happens right? That was before the ease of quick Facebook status updates and before I had a phone fancy enough to do a mobile upload. It was also before I was busy running my kids around town to multiple activities. Before the distracting simplicity of using my laptop to stream old episodes of The Wire instead of using those fleeting free moments to write something. 

Then recently I asked myself why I ever did it in the first place, and why I really stopped? And I guess I got sad at the idea that I wasn't writing anything anymore. I've always been writing something, ever since my first day as a Comm major at Purdue. I miss storytelling, I miss the rapid fire movement of my impressively quick typing fingers (can I say that I HATE and SUCK at typing on a phone),  and I really really miss having a good chronicle of what's happening in our house. 

So I'm trying to make a comeback here on this blog. To start, I'd like to start writing family stories at least a couple times a week. I'd also like to post important pictures here instead of just dumping them on Facebook (important like baby dedication and holidays...not like uploading pictures of my lunch). Wish me luck!

So let's start!

I don't know if you've noticed, but I have three kids right now. Even though Crosby is now 7 weeks old, I'm not sure that the reality of that has fully sunken in. His pregnancy was so easy and he is such a good baby, it's almost like he just fell from the sky and into our family. Sometimes I forget that he is mine and that I'm not just babysitting someone else's kid.

And yet there's some sense of calm reverence with this one. I'm paying attention, taking note of things that happen. Trying to spend more time holding him than may be necessary, often letting him nurse as long as he wants to in the afternoon..even if it means becoming a temporary human pacifier. Because I know, he's probably the last baby. In fact I'm almost sure of it.

So when he spits up AGAIN on my shoulder, cries at night, poops all over his outfit...there's something that feels different in my brain than it did with Tessa and Charley. Something that says 'this part won't last long'. Today he's spitting up, in a month he probably won't be. It changes so quickly, the good and the bad.

But I've noticed another interesting phenomenon. I often have very crystal clear memories of Tessa as a baby...when her milestones occurred, what her baby personality was like or how we handled certain things. But with Charley, I...don't remember.

I noticed this last week at Crosby's baby dedication. I remember Tessa's. I even remember what I was wearing. I remember spending most of the church service in the cry room because after she got dedicated she had baby meltdown. And Charley's dedication? I...don't remember.

I know he was dedicated. I was certain I would find a blog post about it but I can't find one by searching the word 'dedication'. I'm sure if I went archive digging, I would find a picture.

The same thing happens when I'm asked questions like...when did the older kids start sleeping through the night? I remember Tessa, but not Charley. Did the other babies ever has gas problems? I remember Tessa but not Charley.

I'm going to go ahead guess that this is true because when Charley was a newborn, I also had a 20 month old kid who was occupying large chunks of my energy and brain power. I was a bit distracted by trying to manage it all. And of course, Tessa was the first kid so everything seems more notable right? I just wonder...since I am taking such care to soak in Crosby's life (because he is the last) and did the same with Tessa (because she was the first), will my memories of baby Charley be a muddled mess?

Perhaps Jan Brady was onto something.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Another Pumpkin Retrospective plus another Pumpkin

 Age 18 months

 Age 2

 Age 3

 Age 4 
(couldn't find a solo shot from her that year but it was a weird year. I was still unable to walk)

 Age 5

 Age 6

 Age 7

Age 8

 Age 9 months

 Age 21 months

 Age 2

 Age 3

Age 4

 Age 5

Age 6

Age 1 month

Group Shots


 (I was still non-weight bearing on my boot at this point so how I got over into the picture was a big feat indeed)





Friday, September 25, 2015

Crosby's Birth- the Full Story

Even though I haven't written on this blog in a long time, sitting down to record the details of my baby birth stories has become one of my favorite postpartum traditions. Crosby Elliott Bennington was born on Sunday September 20th at 5:01am and, as one might expect, his entrance into the world was not like that of either of his siblings.

Tessa's story was long and bumpy, with a 36 hr NICU stay for her at the end. Charley's birth was short and exciting and he came very close to being born in our car. Crosby, like Goldilocks and the 3 bears....seemed just right.

On Saturday September 19th, I was 40 weeks and 3 days gestation and definitely ready to get the show on the road. Tessa and Charley had both come at 39 weeks so I had been expecting labor for well over a week at that point. Walking, evening primrose oil, labor salad...nothing could make him come except patience.

On that morning, Jeremy took the kids to lunch and dance class while I stayed back to be lazy. While he was gone, I started noticing light time-able contractions starting around noon. Soon it became obvious that they were consistently coming 10 minutes apart. Not painful, just consistent, which was music to my ears. I sat on the couch and tried to relax, wondering if I had a long evening ahead. I watched stupid mindless movies like Bring it On and The Wedding Ringer. When the kids got home we watched Home Alone 2 and cuddled on the couch.

Later I got into the tub for about 90 minutes, waiting for the contractions to pick up in pace, but they still seemed pretty slow. I told Jeremy that it was best to go ahead and feed the kids dinner and wait, since we didn't know what the evening would hold. Mom and Dad (our babysitters) were up at the Purdue game so I alerted them that things were happening, since that is a good 90 minute drive from our house. I told Mom to enjoy the game and have a beer, but plan to come our house instead of going home when they left.

We ate hot dogs for dinner and watched The Middle, while I watched the contraction timer get only slightly closer together, to 7 or 8 minutes. After everyone had eaten we decided to walk around outside on the cul-de-sac while the kids rode their bikes. I walked round and round the circle for at least and hour and noticed that the contractions were finally getting both more painful and closer together, at 3 minutes apart.

Once they were consistently 3 min apart for a while, we checked on Mom and Dad. They were a good hour away and since our hospital is 30 minutes from our house....we decided that it was best to go. I knew it wasn't yet TIME time, but since Charley's delivery had come so fast a furious, you could say I was a bit paranoid about waiting too long. So we decided to take the kids with us to the hospital and have Mom and Dad meet us there. The kids packed up snacks and iPads in a backpack while asking....'really? We're really going? Now???' They were quiet and excited in the car, not having expected such a trip that evening.

We got to hospital around 9pm and Mom and Dad (along with Andy and Whitney who were also at the game with them) came shortly behind us. We parted ways in the waiting area and they took the kids back to our house because it was obvious there would still be a long night ahead. We told them we'd see them in the morning with a baby brother or sister.

Upon admittance I was only 4 cm dilated and everything was looking good. Our awesome amazingly cool labor nurse Katie was a blessing. She was witty and funny but also very helpful and knowledgeable. She ended up staying with us all night until the end of her shift at 7am, and there were big hugs upon parting ways with her. So Katie informed us that she needed to strap me a heart and contraction monitor for 15 minutes out of every hour, and for the other 45 minutes we were free to do whatever we wanted for pain control. I was determined to once again try for an unmedicated birth and she basically said that my wish was her command in terms of how I wanted to handle that.

Since Tessa's birth was so much more closely monitored due to the meconium in the amniotic fluid, and my options for movement and freedom more limited (and with Charley I had done all the laboring at home)...this statement was a breath of fresh air. Once we were openly given 'free reign', I knew I'd be able to do it again.

*I should disclaim here that I am not fervently anti-epidural. I think women should make whatever choice is they need to during labor. I just know my personal preference after having done it both ways, and that I wanted to give natural birth the good college try again.*

So we started the night by walking the hospital hallways. Then moved to a birth ball while watching Saturday Night Live. After that the pain was increasing and I told Jeremy to take a nap so I could be alone with my music. Some people may lean heavily on their support person for massages and pep talks but me...I like to be left alone. Jeremy knows that so he snoozed for about 3 hrs while I listened to music in my earbuds.

Mostly standing up, swaying and slow dancing with songs like Beautiful Things, Elastic Heart and Cologne. Or bouncing and thumping my head to songs like Lose Yourself and Empire State of Mind. On repeat over and over in order to become one with the beat, I played each song at least 7 times. Closing my eyes with the ever increasing contractions, alternating between thanking God for the pain and the child or asking Him to help me through it.

By 3:30ish the pain was getting pretty bad, and my genius nurse Katie suggest I hit the shower. Before I got in she checked me and found out I was only 5cm. I was disheartened to hear that after all the time that had passed, and I was starting to get tired. In the shower, the pain hit the max level. The cool head I had while playing my songs was gone, and I think I started to growl and cry. Jeremy sprinkled lavender and peace and calming essential oils in the shower (later the doctor commented on how nice our room smelled).

At about 4:45 am I left the shower in a much different mental state than I had entered. I was done and when the nursed asked if I was doing okay, I told her I was not. I told her and Jeremy both that if I was still at only 5cm, then I was calling for an epidural. I believe I said...I need an epidural or a baby. Whichever way it went, something needed to change because I couldn't take much more. Then she checked me and said I was at 9cm. In the course of less than an hour, I had transitioned in the shower and it was almost time.

The doctor then entered the scene for the first time all night. She was the same doc that had caught Charley and we hadn't seen her since then. Yet the first thing she remarked upon entering our room?..."You guys are my snowstorm people!! I remember you!!". Apparently that had been a crazy and memorable night for her as well and she totally knew who we were.

Since I was at 9cm, the doc broke my water and everything else happened very fast. The insane fire in my hips and the urge to push, the doctor rushing to get everything ready.....Crosby was born about 5 minutes later, within the course of 3 or 4 pushes.

It was still dark outside and we had lowered the lights in our room (aside from the medical spotlight the doc had used), so the morning came in very peacefully. Crosby laid on my chest for about 90 minutes before they scooped him up for weights and measures. An hour later we were wheeled up to our postpartum room just as the sun was rising and Jeremy was sent on the task of finding us some biscuits and gravy down in the cafeteria.

By 9am, Mom and Dad arrived with Tessa and Charley who were the first to meet him and find out that he was a boy.I had texted Mom to come, telling her only that we had a baby but not revealing the sex until their arrival. The kids held him, gave him presents, and watched his first bath, then went out to lunch with Mom and Dad and on the important task of buying baby boy clothes.

We stayed 2 days in the hospital while Mom stayed at our house and took care of getting the kids to bed, to the bus, their homework done and of course shuttling them to the hospital to visit. Crosby has done very well at nursing, being very persistent in those first couple of days before the milk comes in. By last night, his 5th night, his belly was so full and content that he slept a couple of nice long stretches as did I. Finally our nursing rhythm is being established.

Tessa and Charley seem pretty fascinated and content with their new baby brother, as do Jess and Mike who arrived from New York early to meet him before his umbilical cord even fell off. Tomorrow we are all headed down to North Vernon to introduce him to even more family and watch his older siblings swim in Mom's pool. Creating memories and bonds in these early days of our new family, we feel extremely blessed that his birth was such a healthy and uneventful one. Welcome to the world Crosby.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

6 Years- Might as Well Be Another Lifetime

6 Years is how long it's been....since I've been pregnant or had a baby. By the time this guy is born, it will be closer to 7.

And I guess in someways it's like riding a bike. My body so far has remembered what to do, and in fact this has been my healthiest pregnancy to date in terms of energy and illness. As I think ahead to the labor process, it's amazing the dusty details that my brain is able to unearth after all this time. What worked for me and what didn't, what to brace myself for (water and music are my friends, and Jeremy is best not to get in my face too much, even if it's well intended).

There are also parts that my mind has probably glossed over...what it will be like to be up all night with a baby again, or potty training a two year old? Those were all perfectly happy and sane times...right?

We've been doing a lot around here to get ready for baby, but almost all of it has centered around getting US ready...reorganizing closets which led to a reorganization of the office. Basically moving our crap around so we have space for baby crap. One great debate here has centered on whether to keep a guest room a guest room (and have baby move in with their appropriate older sibling with they're older), or to make the guest room into another kid room.

I've flip flopped on that issue almost weekly but I think we have landed on the idea of having three kid rooms, and our visiting guests will sleep in Tessa's room when they come to stay. For now, however, we are setting the crib up in our bedroom...so the transition will not happen for a year or two.

So there's no nursery to set up, just in the corner crib and some space cleared in my closet for a changing table and baby clothes. And that part feels kinda strange. The part where we don't really need much and aren't really setting up a room. Maybe there's a wise part of my dusty memory that reminds me how little you really need at first?....crib, car seat, boobs, cloth diapers, clothes? Sounds about right.

We have all of those things except clothes. Since we are not finding out the sex, we only have about 6 neutral sleepers hanging out in my closet. The clothes shopping is where big sister and Mamaw come in. When they come to meet baby in the hospital, I'd love to give Tessa an envelope with like  $150 and send her and Charley off with Mom to Kohl's or Target or wherever, with one objective....buy your baby brother or sister a full starter wardrobe including a coming home outfit.

I think the kids will really get a kick out of that and will take great pride in their job. Who am I kidding?...Mom will too.

So my list is still very small, which is kind of awesome. We need a new baby swing, a changing pad for my dresser, and nursing bras. The simplicity of that list is nice but also makes me a little paranoid...am I forgetting something important? Is there something else I should doing to prepare like sewing it a quilt? Oh wait, I don't know how to sew.

And I guess that's when I remember that this is the third kid. The one we weren't sure we were going to have. The one we weren't always sure I could carry again. The one who's belongings are already here, stuffed into the attic. The one that everybody is already ready for. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

First Trimester, Laying Low in the Snow

Life has been fairly uneventful lately. This pregnancy has seemed so strangely easy so far that it's almost hard to believe it's real. A few bouts of nausea in the beginning, but so far no puking. I've been a little tired in the afternoons, but thanks to the amazing rock hard sleep I get with my c-pap machine I still feel pretty good. I worried how my appetite would be given that I had bariatric surgery two years ago, but it remains pretty normal. I've gained 3lbs and have just a little over a week until I'm in the 2nd trimester.

I did get a new catagorization from the OB the other day, 'advanced maternal age'...because I will be 35 when the baby is born. Basically that means I get a couple extra genetic tests and a 3D ultrasound that is covered by our insurance. We've never had a 3D before, so being old is cool!

Our weather has been cold cold COLD lately, and the kids had 2hr delays every day this week.. Most of my days this winter consist of getting the kids off to school, running errands, going to pilates class, doing some church commitments and cleaning my house. And in the afternoon, I usually hang out with my good friends Waffle, Rosie and Netflix.

As much as I love binge watching Netflix shows, I am more than ready for spring. Walking around the neighborhood or getting my hands in some dirt would be awesome. I've already mentally mapped our garden for this summer. Daydreaming about corn.

Today we had a perfect combination of snow accumulation AND a mild temperature around 30. Finally!...snow that can be played in. For hours. 

We took a break in the play to go to a Ninja birthday party at a gymnastics studio where the kids flipped and ran for 2 hours straight. I'm thinking they'll sleep well tonight. 

I'm not sure why I waited until 34 years old to get a real pair of snow boots, but I did. They are insulated and waterproof and not from Target. It's amazing how warm and dry my feet stay. And at the price they were...I'm assuming my grandchildren will see these boots. 

Jeremy's so cammo...can you even see him?

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

That Mysterious Blood Type

Three pregnancies have followed the same pattern so far. I have some minor spotting at around 8 weeks, which leads to an unexpected run to the doctor, an emergency ultrasound and an injection of a magical substance called rhogam. All because...I have weird blood.

I am part of the 10% of the American population that has negative rh factor blood (more simply known as Rh-). Of course I had never heard of such a thing until I was pregnant with Tessa. I had some early bleeding with her which landed me in the ER since it was a Sunday, where they did a simple test to tell me that I had that weirdo blood, and was not having a miscarriage.

With Charley it happened again and AGAIN I got my shot in the ER, because we were out of town. Baby #3 caused less drama, and it was only a short afternoon trip to the OB office. I was home in time to get the kids of the bus.

So what's this Rh- blood type thing all about? Well...I'll try to sound as smart and scientific as I can here. I have negative Rh factor and Jeremy has a positive blood type. If a positive blood type baby and an rh- mother cross blood either in utero or at delivery, the Mom's body will freak out and try to eliminate it. Or the mother could become septic.

Here's a good excerpt from a medical article I found online: If you are Rh-negative, you may develop antibodies to an Rh-positive baby. If a small amount of the baby’s blood mixes with your blood, which often happens, your body may respond as if it were allergic to the baby. Your body may make antibodies to the Rh antigens in the baby’s blood. This means you have become sensitized and your antibodies can cross the placenta and attack your baby’s blood.

All that being said, we live in an amazing time of medical advancements. Women and babies used to die from this. For me, it's as simple as getting regular injections of antibody called rhogam. Usually women can wait to get injections until later in pregnancy and around the time of delivery. But since I'm extra special, I've gotten to do it early every time. The OB docs take ANY spotting seriously with Rh- moms.

I had kind of forgotten that in the 6 years since I haven't produced, and when I casually left a message for the OB nurse yesterday, I was thinking they might want to see me sometime this week. She called back and told me to start driving, asking how far away I lived from the office.

Momentary panic followed by the relief that everything was okay. I got to see the bean on an ultrasound, hear a healthy heartbeat, pee in a cup and get my shot. The bleeding was all cervical, no big deal. (Sorry, tmi? Yeah I said cervical. Sorry.) I will have to get 4-6 more injections in the butt over the course of this pregnancy, just like with Tessa and Charley.

But isn't it weird to think that I will carry this baby, nourish it, deliver it, nurse it and we are completely simpatico...but if God forbid we cross blood, we are mortal enemies. Seriously, it's just the weirdest condition.

An alien blood inhabitant.