Monday, June 27, 2011

Two and Trouble

Is is wrong to feel utter relief when it is naptime?  (I'm thinking NOT!)

Today Isaac:
  • decorated himself and the table with oatmeal
  • emptied the Sunday bag of its contents (crayons, books, hand sanitizer, spare clothes...)
  • scattered 3 decks of cards on the floor
  • dumped a box of Quaker Oat Squares into a bucket, took the bucket upstairs, and scattered the cereal down the hallway and in Melissa's room
  • climbed onto the counter, found a jar of red sugar sprinkles and emptied the entire contents on the counter, chairs and floor
  • overturned a toy basket and tossed toys everywhere
  • found a pen and scribbled on his and Matthew's bunk bed (I still haven't found the pen he used)
And for his coup de main, he came downstairs declared himself "stinky" (he was).  This after I'd taken him to the bathroom and put him to bed no less. And I just settled down to nurse a distressed Corinna too!

Lest any one think I just let him run wild- he accomplishes his rampant destruction in 3-5 minute time chunks.  Usually in the time I'm trying to prepare a meal, feed or change Corinna, or help Matthew or Melissa with a problem, he finds fun things to do!

Just yesterday he flooded the entire kitchen floor while I was diapering Corinna and changing her clothes.  ARGH!

It's after 2 PM and I still haven't used the bathroom since this morning, because I'm afraid to do so! 

I do believe this child is trying to drive me batty.

Friday, June 24, 2011

May peanuts

  • I'm getting impatient, waiting for Melissa to finish her dinner. Rachel laughs: "This is the girl who can take 30 minutes to eat an English muffin."
  • Matthew and Isaac are singing "The wheels on the bus" instead of sleeping. Isaac is telling Matthew what verses to do. Isaac: "Beep beep beep!" Matthew: "The driver on the bus goes beep, beep, beep..."
  • Me, looking at old pictures: "Wow, that beard was really ill-advised." Rachel: "I tried to tell you..."
  • I had an encounter with one of the Primary presidency in the hallway at church. Rachel Ellis was substituting in Sunday School. "I have to hand it to Rachel. She's doing a great job -- that class is wild. Even more than _your_ kids!"
  • Isaac is finally strong enough to cock his nerf gun. He has a _huge_ grin on his face. Pow! Pow!
  • Melissa, looking at family pictures with her mom: "That's me! I'm so cute!"
  • ‎"If you were sitting at the table like you're supposed to, your brother couldn't pull your pants down." [Isaac gleefully harassing Matthew]
  • Baby girl kicked Rachel awake this morning, so she got up and made pancakes. Matthew: "You're the best mom ever!" Melissa: "Mommy, where's the syrup?" This illustrates their personalities pretty succinctly.
  • "Melissa, take your foot out of the popcorn bowl."
  • Rush of adrenaline when I replied to customer X thinking he was co-worker Y. No harm done this time, but damn, that was a close one.
  • Doctor: "How much does Isaac weigh?" Me: "They just weighed him in at 14.9." Doctor: "Is that pounds or kilos?" Gosh, I don't know. Let me check: is he dead? No? Going to go with kilos then.
  • The touchpad on my laptop decided to quit registering clicks unless I pound the living hell out of it. Limping along with external mouse for now. [Shortly afterwards, it stopped clicking completely. That's where we stand today.]
  • Apparently my brother David used to spar with Tim Ferris. Huh.
  • OH: "He's not short bus dumb. Just regular manager dumb."
  • Isaac is leading with three pukes to Melissa's two, but here's the thing: when Isaac pukes he stops, gets it over with and then he's ready to move on. Melissa runs down the hall moaning, dribbling vomit as she goes. Insult to injury: "Why didn't you use the bowl I put right next to you?" "I forgot..."
  • Matthew: "Do you remember my Skype password?" A month ago: "Matthew, you should make your Skype password the same as your Windows password so you don't forget it."
  • Rachel doesn't believe me when I say, "the kids ate the chips!" But I didn't have a single one of the last can of pringles and they were gone in a single day.
  • Isaac came up to me, holding a pair of underwear. "You went potty? Good, I'll help you put these on." He grabs his butt. Uh-oh. "Do you need me to wipe you first?" He removes his hand from his butt and traces a line of poop down the table with his finger. "Got it. Let's go back to the bathroom."
  • Isaac is eating prunes. With a crochet hook.
  • Isaac climbed up his dresser to get to Matthew's cactus on top. He learned that cactuses are Ow.
  • Me: "She might not be on facebook." Rachel: "Everyone's on facebook, even my grandma. Both of them."

Mopping my baby to sleep

Ta Da!  No more sticking to the floor AND a sleeping baby.

The Dentist

Wednesday I went to the dentist to get some work done that I was postponing till after the baby.

Now ordinarily I'd rate going to the dentist just above going to a proctologist on my fun-o-meter, but I really like Dr. Rust and his staff.  His receptionist and hygienists know the whole family by name and ask about each of the kids when they aren't with me.  (And they really like little kids too!)  Dr. Rust is a white-haired, twinkle eyed chap in his 80s, who loves to tease and joke.   Best of all, when he gets down to business, he is quick, does good work, and can give shots of lidocaine painlessly. It's nice too that his office always follows up the next day, to make sure everything feels alright afterward.

The tech and I were chatting for a bit and I mentioned how glad I was for modern dentistry.  "Can you imagine what it was like 150 years ago without anesthesia or refined tools?  Yikes."

The dental tech then said that they do have a few patients that decide to forgo any numbing agents.  The one patient that topped them all though was from his army days.

"Once we had this colonel come in for a root canal.  She didn't want any anesthesia at all.  She just opened her mouth wide and didn't move a muscle.  At first the dentist went slowly and kept asking her if she was okay.  After awhile he seemed to forget she didn't have anything for the pain and went about the procedure drilling  normally.  She didn't flinch once."  The tech said this last bit in awe.

We agreed that that was pretty hard core.

Now I have to find a new dentist in Austin.  Drat!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Day is DONE

Thank heavens!!!

All four children are sleeping.  Whew.

I checked on all of them and tucked the covers back on each peaceful child.  No matter how stinky they act during the day, each one looks like a perfect cherub sleeping.

Jonathan is out of town for a board meeting and Matthew, Melissa, and Isaac decided to test the boundaries.  So. Very. Tiring.  To top it off, Isaac wouldn't go to sleep until sometime after 10 PM.  I had to "guard" the door to keep the little toad darling in bed.  I was not amused.  I don't think Grandma was amused either.

Tomorrow is a brand new sparkling day.  May it be a better one.

Newborn Exam

Since that last post was a bit depressing, I'm going post some more cute baby pictures to make up for it. Here are the pictures taken during her newborn exam about an hour after she was born.

Checking the fontanels, sutures, and shape of her head 

Ears, eyes, mouth and nose!

Listening to the 'ol ticker, then lungs, then belly

Corinna wasn't satisfied unless she was sucking on something.

Toes! (and reflexes)

stepping reflex

Getting her hat size

more cute toes

All bundled up and sucking her thumb
Happy baby, happy mama


Just woke up from a nap...

In my dream, my friends, family, teachers, mentors, neighbors, and dear loved ones were at a certain school.  It was similar to a small community college.  Granted, I've never been to a community college, but work with me here.  It was late in the day and time for Jonathan, the children, and me to leave.  We would be going far away and possibly not returning.  We said our goodbyes, hugged many, many people, opened the wide heavy doors and walked out into the late afternoon sun.  

I cried.  

Oh, how I hate moving!  It is very hard to leave when you fall in love with people.

Someday, someday we will live in a place we can call our "home base."  Travel sure, but always have a place to come back to that is home.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A little maternal boasting

Matthew did very well this last school year.  He worked hard and had straight A's all four quarters and earned a good citizenship award at the end of the year.  His classmates voted him "Most Responsible" and his teacher had nothing but praise for him.  She told us that we must be great parents, but really it isn't our parenting.  He's just a good, sharp kid and we are proud of him.

He's also pretty funny without even meaning to be.  I saved some of his essays that he wrote in school.  Most of them are from 4-5 months ago, so his spelling and grammar have improved since then.  

This is about the day last summer that he learned to ride his bike.  It was in the 90s outside and humid.
Learning to ride can be fun
When I was lerning how to ride my bike it diden't take me long.  My mom wasen't holding on that much.  She also took off the training wheles [wheels]!  I was feeling unsher [unsure] I wanted to learn how to ride my bike.  When we started I was very nerves [nervous].  But then I felt good and was not nerves any more.  I started peddling slowly and when I got good at balincing I went faster.  Then my mom was tierd [tired] and let go!  I fell down about four times but got back on and kept trying even if it hurt.  When I got good when my mom was resting and I past I would stick my toung [tongue] out at her but I did not get in trouble. I thout that was funny.  At last it was time to go I had a good time learning how to ride.  But I did not want to go home wet.  Insted I wanted to ride even more and never stop but I did not get my wist [wish] wich happens.
My favorite essay was entitled "big trouble"
big trouble
Onec I was argewing [arguing] with my Dad.  Boy I shor got in trouble!  My Dad sent me to Bathroom!  I hate the bathroom I thout.  But I went to the bathroom eneyway so I won't get into aney more trobl.  The next thing I was doing was thingking abowt what I did.  It was a long and boring wait.  But I was lucky because I left a book in the bathroom!  It was my favorite Calven and Hobbes!  I read alot the rest of the time.  When my Dad said, "you can come out now."  I came out and said I was very sorry.  "That's ok."  He said.
The End

some Spanish pictures

Monday, June 06, 2011

On having a baby at home

This opinion piece in the Washington Post sums it up nicely.

Why I chose a home birth

Clearly it isn't right for everyone, but it can be a good option for a healthy, low-risk mom and babe with a skilled attendant.

10 days post-partum

Just some assorted musings.

It is hard to believe that only 10 days ago she was still curled up inside.  Her little feet were tucked under my right ribs.  I still marvel that she fit!

After 4 babies, I've learned a few quirky things.

You will sweat a LOT.  In fact, you may wake up in a puddle of sweat.  Lovely, huh?  The body is trying to get rid of all the excess fluid and water retained while pregnant.  Not only will you sweat a great deal at night, but you will pee quite a bit too.

Babies go through growth spurts. When they do, they change their regular routine back to eating all the time- day and night.  If breastfeeding, they do this to increase the milk supply.  Not only do they want to eat all the time, but they will probably be fussy and pull off of the breast crying.  The extra fussiness and constant eating usually lasts a day or two.  It can be rough patch, but then things get back to normal.  I've found that the growth spurts seem to occur around 2-3 weeks, at 6 weeks, and a few times after that.

Belly binding. I didn't learn about this until my third child.  Pregnancy can cause the abdominal muscles to separate; this is called diastasis recti.  In addition uterus is still shrinking back down, the organs have shifted, and you have a big pouch of loose skin.  Immediately after the baby I tend to look about 5 months pregnant.  Tightly binding the stomach and hips helps bring those muscles back where they are supposed to be, improves posture, and I personally think aids in keeping the uterus firm.  I've found it also helps get your waist back quicker.

You may feel like you've been hit by a Mac truck.  This is especially true if the delivery was long or tough or the baby (bless his heart) is a challenging baby.  It's tempting to take care of the baby's needs and forget your own, but if you don't eat, drink, and rest enough you can't adequately take care of the baby.  Accept offers of help!


You may feel great!  Everything above still applies.  Rest, rest, rest.  (Otherwise you could end up with raging case of mastitis, a fever of 104, and heavier bleeding- btdt not fun.)

Learn to feed the baby while lying down as soon as possible.  It is much more comfortable and you tend to rest better.  Corinna and I are still working on this one.

Losing hair is normal.  I still get surprised when it happens at about 4 months after the baby.  It comes out in clumps for about a month and I always fear I'm going bald. Fortunately that hasn't happened.  Eventually things do normalize.

And another picture of the baby, just because.
Right after baths her hair springs into curls.  Sometimes when she eats she breaks out into a sweat, and her hair curls then too.  She takes eating quite seriously.  :)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The cavalry has arrived!

Grandma came into town yesterday evening.  This morning she and Isaac made malt-o-meal together.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Sleeping Corinna
This child can sleep through most anything.  An excellent trait in a fourth child!

In other news Isaac had a better day today.  We made cookies together while Corinna slept, and he wanted to snuggle on my lap.  I guess I won't sell him to the circus after all.

"No more homework, no more books...."

It's summer!

Today was the last day of school.

Matthew with Mrs. Hardin
"Mom, is it okay to feel happy on the last day of school, but a little bit sad too?"
I assured him that it was.
"I'm really going to miss my friends and teachers."

Melissa and Mrs. Chandler
Me: Melissa, how do you feel about the last day of school?

Isaac and Corinna

Isaac is very gentle with his new sister and he asks to hold her periodically. He'll sit down, pat his lap and say "baby!" We waited a few days before letting him hold her as a precaution since he'd had a tummy virus. He also likes to get diapers and blankets for her.

That's the good news. The bad news is he seems to be unsure of his place in the family and has become a grumpy and clingy 2 year old. He is at times contrary for contrary's sake. Before he was a picky eater, but now it is nearly impossible to feed him. Isaac has also started the whole "revenge pee" trick. We went through this with Matthew, but not nearly to the degree Isaac has taken it. Yesterday he didn't make it to the bathroom at all and I was about ready to sell him to the circus at the end of the day.

We're hoping that over time and with lots of love he will adjust and return to his normal, happy pumpkin self.

Corinna's birth

A bit before 5 in the morning I woke up to some crampy contractions. After about a half hour I couldn't ignore them or lie down any longer, so I got up and puttered around the house between contractions. They weren't strong enough to warrant waking Jonathan, so I let him sleep.

I threw in some more loads of laundry, and asked this child to wait since Isaac and Melissa were sick the day before. Neither of them is adept at making it to the bathroom in time nor capable of using a bowl- so I did a lot of laundry. Despite my concerns, the contractions picked up in strength and got closer together.

I called our midwife, Robin, about 6:30 am to let her know that something was possibly happening and we might be having a baby that day. At seven o'clock Matthew got up to go to school, and when Matthew gets up, everyone wakes up. Isaac and Melissa had both thrown up at least once the night without our knowledge, so I bathed the kids while Jonathan got out the carpet cleaner and washed some more laundry. At this point my contractions petered out.

Melissa was very pleased at the prospect of staying home from school. She wasn't running a fever and was positively chipper. In fact, despite being so sick the day (and night) before, she didn't have any more symptoms of being ill. Isaac, on the other hand, still looked the worse for wear. Fortunately his stomach settled down.

We launched Matthew to school at a quarter to eight and settled the other children on the couch with a movie and fluids. Robin called to see if anything was happening. "Things seem to have petered out and pretty much stopped." I had a few piddly contractions or perhaps they were Braxton Hicks with oomph, but nothing to get excited about. "Well, how about I come by to check on you?" We had a scheduled prenatal for the following day, so worse case scenario I'd have a prenatal checkup a day early.

Robin arrived about 9. All of the vitals looked good, baby sounded great, and my cervix was at 4 centimeters and "mushy." Robin relayed some stories of women who'd gone into labor only to have it stop and resume another day. "Call me if things pick up again. I have a prenatal appointment way out in Seguin later today, but I don't want to leave town if you go into labor." It's a deal. I said goodbye to Robin and decided to take a nap since I'd been up with sick kids the night before and with contractions in the early morning. Jonathan originally planned to go to Austin that day, but decided he should stay nearby and work from home, just in case.

I took a lovely nap and woke up feeling refreshed. Isaac and Melissa were still watching movies on the couch and downing juice and bananas. Jonathan worked beside them. While they were preoccupied, I straightened up the house and got to work on dinner. Chicken noodle soup with whole wheat bread seemed appropriate under the circumstances. Jonathan put Isaac down for his nap, and it was then that the contractions hit.

It was about 12:30. Jonathan brought me the large exercise ball. That ball was heavenly since standing was a bit too intense during a contraction. It wasn't very long before I noticed how distracted I was even after the contractions. I'd open the pantry door only to forget what it was I was I needed. Jonathan must have noticed too. He helped me chop vegetables to speed up dinner preparation. Sometime after 1 pm the midwife called and he let her know that this was it. I still wasn't convinced. However, I did take the chocolate cake I'd made the previous Sunday out of the freezer, just in case. Probably a half hour later he wanted to call again. "Rachel, they are getting a lot closer. I think we should let Robin know!" "Are you sure?" He was timing them, not me, and I was afraid it was still much ado about nothing. I think I was in some serious denial at that point.

Jonathan called the midwife. For my benefit he relayed my message that I didn't want to be a "watched pot," and that "it wasn't an emergency," but Robin must have sensed the urgency in his voice because she decided to come. "I can just be in another room if Rachel prefers." About twenty minutes later I was convinced too, and asked Jonathan to call Kathi who'd offered to watch the kids for us. When talking to Kathi, I noticed he seemed a bit flustered--he gave her the old gate code. I told him and then laughed as he looked at me sheepishly. "Is the midwife coming?" Jonathan assured me that she was on her way.

First to arrive was Kathi. She's a gentle, grandmotherly lady in our ward and the kids adore her. Next came Joi, the assistant midwife, and finally Robin and her apprentice, Heather, arrived sometime around 2:30. (My times are not precise- I was a bit preoccupied!) Dinner was ready, but I stayed in the kitchen swaying my hips on my ball. At some point I decided I needed to move upstairs with my friend, the ball. The midwives were all set up with their supplies in the bedroom when I arrived.
Jonathan called Gwen, our photographer, and she arrived a little after 3.

I spent more time laboring on the ball and then in the tub. The water didn't help as much as I would have liked, so I got back on my ball.

For this labor what I needed most was the light embrace or touch of my friend, companion, and lover.  Unlike other births I didn't feel the need for massage or counter-pressure; I just needed him- and he was there.


It helped to make soft "Ah" sounds during the peak of the contractions, so that is what I did!

Jonathan labored with me the most, but every once in a while he needed to heed the call of nature or of the wild (Isaac). Robin filled in for him beautifully while he was gone.

Joi was a hoot. Anyone who can turn the topic of postpartum belly binding into a comedy routine is golden.  Here she is on the right with Heather on the left.

Melissa wandered in and out periodically. She had so many things to discuss and questions galore. "Umbilical is a funny word huh? I used to say bilical, but that's not right. UM-bilical. What's this for? Do you like origami?" She was a welcome distraction. You can't get too serious or grumpy with a happy six year old in the room.

Matthew came home from school at about 3:20. He peeked his head in and I told him that his baby sister was coming today. Satisfied that all was well, he went back downstairs to play computer games. 

That ball and I were on good terms.  At some point I remember sighing, "I suppose I'll have to get off when it is time to push."  The midwives chuckled, "Not necessarily.  We had one lady who just rolled forward and we caught while she was still on the ball."  She pantomimed how it was done and I couldn't help but laugh at the picture in my mind of a large pregnant woman in that position.  Whatever works!

Checking the baby's heart rate

Robin checked about every 20-30 minutes, and more frequently toward the end.  She sounded great throughout the labor.

A few times I grumbled that this was not the day she was supposed to come.  I wanted her to wait since Melissa and Isaac had been sick and I had it in my head that she would be a few days "late" anyway.  I was banking on a June baby, not May.  Robin told me I needed to open my heart and allow her to come.  She was ready and I needed to welcome her.  Of course she was right, and I didn't argue out loud or in my head again.  Instead, I changed my attitude to welcome this new little soul and even spoke to her and told her she could come into our home. 

This picture was taken after we found out I was at 8 centimeters with a "bulging bag."  As always, Robin was respectful and asked first if I wanted her to check the progress and then asked if I wanted to know the dilation.  I told Robin flat out that I did NOT want to know if it was still a 4 or thereabouts like the morning prenatal. I would have been quite grumpy if still a 4, in fact.  She said with a grin, "nope, try twice that." Now that is reason to smile.

 At about this point my legs were a bit shaky during the contractions and they took *all* of my focus.   They were very intense and I felt a deep aching that would grow, peak, and subside.  However, between contractions I felt great!  During the breaks I sipped water and chatted.  The labor was gentle and the contractions never got too close or to the point where I felt like I could not ride on top of them.  I just focused on relaxing my body and muscles so that it could do the necessary work as efficiently as possible.  

This is 15 minutes before Corinna was born.  It was hard work (and it wasn't pain-free), but I laughed her out.  
Shortly after the contractions picked up in intensity, Joi suggested that I might want to try to empty my bladder since that may act as a barrier for the baby's head. That sounded like an excellent suggestion so I made a dash to the bathroom. Since the midwife had said earlier that the bag was bulging I also wondered if a little push would break it, because I was feeling DONE.

A small push was all it took; the membranes broke, and the water gushed into the toilet. It was nice and clear with flakes of vernix.  Then the nausea hit.  Joi was prepared with wastepaper basket.  I wasn't bothered though since I was expecting it (I've thrown up in my previous labors too), and it meant that the baby was coming very, very soon.

I waited for a contraction to come, stood up and PUSHED. I could feel her head moving down. Instinctively I reached down and cupped my hand to receive her.  I felt her head swell and grow into the palm of my hand.  Incredible!  The contraction ended, but the pressure was too much and I pushed some more. Paused. Another contraction came on the heels of the last, her head crowned, and then was out! Still there was a great deal of pressure and I was momentarily baffled. Melissa and Isaac were born with one good push, but I had to push again to get her generous shoulders and chest out. I thought for sure I had torn since this was the first time I ever felt that "ring of fire." To me it was more like a ring of stinging- but I was wrong. No tears! The whole "pushing stage" took a total of 2 minutes.  She was fairly quick.


Here's her head!

She's out!
I looked down and saw her for the first time.

A feeling of awe and amazement came over me as I held and gazed at her.  The labor resulted in such a wondrous reward!
She was caught by Jonathan, Robin, and me.

The time was 4:24, on Friday afternoon.  From the time the contractions resumed till birth was about 4 hours. 

We let the kids know that their little sister was on the scene. Kathi brought Matthew and Isaac upstairs. (Unbeknownst to me, Melissa had slipped into the room as Corinna was being born.)  Kathi exclaimed, "I can't believe you've already had the baby! I didn't hear any screams or anything!" Corinna had a pretty peaceful birth. The midwives said that neither she nor I had to work too hard. I still thought it was definitely work!

Kathi with the kids meeting Corinna- just a few minutes after birth

Post-baby bliss

Big sister Melissa

And big brother Matthew

Melissa cuts the cord.  She finally got the little sister she'd been wanting!

First time in Daddy's arms.

Checking out all the parts


Placenta lesson!

8lbs 4oz!

We celebrated with a chocolate birthday cake

Matthew holding his sister for the first time. When he held her he sighed, "I love this baby." Melissa and Isaac really wanted to hold Corinna too, but under the circumstances we felt they should wait a while longer till we were sure they were completely better.

Sucking her thumb. She isn't content unless she's sucking something. I think she must have had lots of practice in utero.

Checking out little sis

The whole family