Friday, May 23, 2014

river adventure education

Days where we make it here are automatically categorized as a success.  The river is toddler/preschooler/adult education at its finest.  We study many subjects at once: science, art, phys ed, religion, ourselves.

We gain both physical skill and mental confidence as we climb over wobbly rocks and fallen trees.

We learn that no matter how many rocks we throw into the current, the water keeps flowing and the shore is still littered with stones.

We are calmed and centered by the soothing sounds of the creek and birds and critters shuffling through crunchy leaves.

Our senses are stimulated by the cold water, the warm sun, the rough rocks and smooth stones.

Our bond is strengthened by shared experiences and helping hands.

We cultivate our sense of adventure and expand our imaginations exploring a place that is always new.

Owen and Maisy and I struggle to keep up with Bobby, who is one crazy brave skilled river adventurer.  He skips and hops and climbs and wades ahead singing to himself and his new toy pet snake, "River adventure, river adventure!"
Owen fills my pockets with rocks...

And I found a perfectly heart shaped stone to commemorate Maisy's first river adventure...

We're thankful to have this treasure running along our road.  And thankful for spring!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Meet Maisy Lou

Sweet little Maisy Lou is here!  She's a she, and she came two days "early" -- which shows that I know nothing.  Labor snuck up on me a little bit, just like it did the last two times.  I felt a little crampy on Tuesday, but it wasn't until around four in the afternoon that I realized our baby would be arriving that day.  "Are you having tontwactions, mom?"  Yes, as a matter of fact I am; around five they were mild but regular, coming every 5-6 minutes.  Ben came home from work and showered.  I called my mom, fed the boys supper, and packed a bag.  I think around 6:30 or so we were on our way to the hospital;  7:30 I was checked in and starting to really feel it as the setting sun shone through the windows; 8:30 I was just about fully dilated and saying, how about those pain meds?  The anesthesiologist came and gave me what they call an interthecal or somethingorother, which was the bomb of course.  So that numbed me up, and I had a nice little chat with the doctor and nurses about that show Call the Midwife while they set up the "baby slip n slide" between my legs.  I made some comment about the numbness feeling like cheating because it made labor so much fun, but my awesome nurse Kathy said, "Why not let it be fun?"  I totally agree.

I asked for a mirror because I didn't want to miss out on seeing the big entrance.  And then, three or four good pushes later (and one nice gentle push so as to minimize the damage) and the head was out!  I saw that teeny tiny face emerge into life outside the womb, and it was just as amazing as the first time.  That perfect little face!  But the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck; I stopped pushing; the doctor clamped and cut the cord, no big deal.  One more little push and, 9:27 PM -- It's a girl!  Actually it was more like, Well, what is it?  Can you see?  I don't know.  Everyone out of the way!  Oh, a girl!  The nurses took her aside to get her breathing and crying and then the doctor said to me, "She has a... malformed hand."  I leaned over to try to catch a glimpse but couldn't.  It felt to me like the nurses were taking forever with her (6 pounds, 0.7 ounces, 20 inches); Bob and Owen were both given straight to me and that's how I like it; in reality it was probably just a couple of minutes, but I just wanted to hold her and LOVE her.  Ben and I shot each other a sad look across the room; and then soon, after I got just a tiny bit testy and made it clear that I was needing my baby girl and if she was fine they'd better hand her over, there she was on my chest.  So beautiful, and so perfect even without ten fingers.  Many emotions flowed at once, of course -- but mostly: love.  Mad, crazy, heartbreaking love for my newborn girl.

Ben and I took some time to admire her and love on her.  She took some time to nurse, just a sample -- nothing like the boys who nursed for hours straight.  Soon, Cass and Kara arrived and they didn't even have to wait this time; Maisy is too polite to leave her guests waiting and she was ready to greet them straight away.  We hung out for a while -- a couple of hours? -- and just chatted and smiled at the star of the hour, and I crunched down about 25 cups of hospital ice chips.  That time was a huge blessing for me I think -- time with just the four people I needed.  My emotional state could have been much different without you there, so thank you C+K.  Eventually we said goodnight, we switched rooms, we sent Maisy to the nursery for her bath, we dozed a little waiting for the return of our girl.  (I don't send my babies away for the night; I'm a baby keeper!  I'm certain I get more rest knowing they're safe with me.)  My night nurse Alie came back around 1:30 with Maisy Lou all dolled up in a matching hat and tiny blanket and was so excited that she asked if we wanted a family picture, even though we were all pretty much asleep.  And of course we did.

Maisy was an angel that first night (and every night since).  Owen spent his first nights chugging boob milk and then puking it all over himself and me every two hours, and Bob was much the same but with less spitting up because my milk didn't come in with such force.  But my girlie is much more sensible; she's not one to overdo it and just sips until she's not hungry anymore.  She sleeps pretty much all night (and all day, for that matter).  That first morning I finally had to force her awake to eat around 5:30 or 6:00.  Ben was still snoozing on the pull-out couch and I was in heaven seeing my baby girl in daylight for the first time.  We took it easy, hung out; Cass and Kara stopped by after their big night at the Crowne Plaza with a pink puppy for Maisy before heading out of town.  We ate breakfast, talked to the boys on the phone (who informed me that Grandmother was taking them for donuts and ice cream sandwiches for breakfast on their way to the hospital).

Around 9:45, Bob and O arrived to meet their baby sister.  I wish we had a photo of Bob as he entered the room, because his smile couldn't have been huger.  He was beaming with excitement.  Both of the boys climbed right up onto the bed and were all love as they oohed and ahhed over their baby.  The scene undoubtedly ranked amongst the sweetest of my life.  Their pure love was so beautiful.  When I introduced Maisy I showed them, "She has one little hand and one tiny paw."  Because that is how God made her was a good enough explanation for Bob; really there was no need for explanation, they just accepted her.  They thought her little paw was just as cute as the rest of her and couldn't stop kissing and touching her all over.  Owie kept trying to dig her tiny little hands out of her giant sleeves to see and kiss them again.

The boys spent a good deal of time at the hospital that day -- maybe four or five hours altogether? -- and they were as good as you could expect from a four and two year old.  Seriously, such angels.  They blessed every single person they met along the way with their cuteness, too.  I was so proud of my three gorgeous kiddos.

As much as I wished I could just go home that day rather than be cooped up in a hospital room, it was a lovely stay.  I was happy -- no hospital weepies like last time.  And I felt good -- like totally fine, lucky me.  I was so overjoyed at being intact down there that I skipped down the halls singing songs about how grand it was to have my vagina in one piece.  Owen did a serious number on me but after Maisy, I wasn't even swollen.  Thank you, thank you, tiny girl.

We learned a little from the pediatrician and my obstetrician about Maisy's hand -- that her fingers were "naturally amputated" by what is called an amniotic band constriction.  There wasn't much to say.  I was sad for Maisy, but so thankful that she was healthy and not in any pain or in need of any intervention.

The boys went home for dinner with my mom and Ben's; they were pretty excited for a double grandmother sleepover, and they were totally awesome about it.  Bob had a little sadness at bedtime -- I miss Mom.  Why did we leave her and Maisy behind?  We should have brought them with us! -- but he pulled through and all was well.  Owen cried next, something the grandmas couldn't understand, so they brought him back downstairs and eventually figured out that he wanted his new blue motorcycle; once it was located he climbed the stairs right back to bed.

Ben and I had supper in the hospital, and Big Gram stopped by for a visit, and then we watched Survivor and flipped through the channels a little.  (I am so glad we don't have cable because seriously, it's all crap; what is the point?)  Ben fell asleep on the little couch and Maisy was asleep as always and I was a little lonely so I went down to fill my ice cup and chat it up with the nurses and entertain them for a bit.  One of them was my high school softball coach's wife Reina -- totally rad to catch up with her and make each other feel old.

And then I wrote a little in my journal before I went to sleep snuggling my little sweetie -- a total angel.

Kathy the nurse was well aware that I was eager to be on my way in the morning -- I just wanted to be home, our whole family together! -- and she was a doll making sure we were discharged as early as possible.

It's hard for me to believe, but I didn't shed a single tear for Maisy in the hospital.  I felt, and needed to feel, like everything was just fine.  Which it is, of course.  The waterworks finally flowed when Ben pulled the car around with I Won't Give Up playing (the song in Maisy's video below).  A happy drive, a happy time -- but also just a little bit hard.

The week since we've been home has been one of the most joyous of my life; this time feels so incredibly precious that I want to grasp it with all of my might.  Bob and Owen are the cutest duo on the planet; I laugh out loud at their beautiful boy antics and anecdotes all day long.  And Maisy is the sweetest.  The joy and privilege of caring for my newborn baby is simply the best.  That newborn smell.  The feel of her nuzzling into my neck.  Her soft fuzzy skin and teeny tiny bum.  Her kitten cry.  Her searching mouth.  Her bitty grasping fingers and stretching toes.  The almost weightlessness of her warm little body in my arms, or on my chest.  Oh, I'm so lucky.  On Saturday morning I said to Ben, "I think this is my favorite time of my whole life."

But scattered amongst all the dandelions I've also experienced moments of the most profound grief I've ever felt.  Moments of sadness for Maisy and the insecurities she might feel or the things she may have trouble doing or the questions she'll have to answer.  Moments of doubt, and guilt.  You want the best for your kids of course, and fingers are better than no fingers; it's as simple as that.  I've had some good cries this week, I won't lie.  But the moments pass quickly because I can already see that Maisy will be just fine.  I'm glad we're the ones who get to cherish her.  And cherish her we do -- Bob and O take frequent breaks from their play to stop by and say, "I love you, Maisy," or "She is so cute!" and I kiss her about a thousand times a day.  I will be the very best mama for her that I can be.  We are loving our new baby days around here.

So, without further ado... meet Maisy Lou.

video link:

PS.  Special loving thanks to the best husband birth photographer ever.  I'd say he's available for hire but that might be a little awkward, I don't know.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

about to pop, the third time around

I guess I've been a little bit in denial, but I just suddenly realized two nights ago lying in bed -- feeling some strange sensations, not contractions but more like a tiny human trying to dig his way out my cervix -- I guess it's possible that our baby could arrive any day now.  I'm still not thinking it likely -- Bob and O both came one week past their due date so I guess I just assume that's how long my body likes to cook 'em, which would give me another three weeks.  But, I heard a rumor that you can't really plan these things so, the point is, anything is possible.

I mostly don't feel nervous about the birth -- I've been through it twice, I know I can handle it, the path has been cleared, so to speak.  Of course, there are some rough patches in the whole process which I can't say I'm overly excited to re-live.

More than apprehension about giving birth, I worry: Is this, without me even realizing it, the last day I'll have with just Bobby and Owen, my two sons; is it the last day they'll have me all to themselves, before  a piece of me is taken, or at least borrowed, from them?

Ok, that sounds a little dramatic.  Mostly it's more like waking in the morning and thinking, phew -- I'm still here in my regular life.  The boys are either already in my bed, or they come in to snuggle for a while before we get up.  And then we play games, work on table projects, go outside and play ball or ride bikes or just explore.  We read books and have picnics.  I make lots of eggs and oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and wash and cut lots of fruit, and I clean up the ensuing messes.  The pups race around the house or hide out in their various secret spots pretending to be a whole range of superheroes and characters.  {And new activities include: making cardboard doll beds; changing and dressing our babies; taking turns being the doctor and the new baby... where the baby climbs into the cradle by himself, the doctor perhaps listens to his heartbeat then covers him with a blanket then leaves, the baby begins to make pathetic "eh, eh" sounds, and the doctor comes running to ask, "Are you okay, baby?"  Sometimes we go so far as to include labor and delivery from under a blanket in our pretend routine, but I can only handle a couple rounds of that.}

Now, normally I'd read through what I've been working on here for the past week or so, and I'd have more to say, but... I'm pretty sure I'm in labor all of a sudden.  So I'm going to go get the pups' supper on the table and maybe pack a little bag or something.  Wish me luck.

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