Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Random Update On All-The-Things....

In other totally random news,
my computer was fixed after being gone
for two weeks
(thank goodness for warranties)
and so I should have
some new pictures up soon!
For now here are a few throwbacks
that kind of relate to the random post I just finished!
Yesterday was a day of small victories.  I managed to install the car seat and get the bassinet linens washed and dried and put in place in the upstairs bassinet.  And Paul moved two book shelves out of Patch's room into another part of the house because he's been going through a book dumping phase for pretty much his entire life and I'd like to be able to let him go to his room for nap time once he's outgrown his crib without finding three hundred books scattered across the floor afterwards.

I've come to almost-believe that installing book shelves and tacking them to the walls is a sign that we'll be moving soon (heavy on the almost).  Shortly after deep-cleaning and rearranging the apartment in Florida, all while pregnant, we found out we'd be moving to Michigan.  So each time I move something to it's new place and secure it to the wall I can't help but feel like the second all of this is done we'll likely find the perfect place (of course all that moving was pre-Friday contractions... now all the furniture moving is being done by Paul).

We almost found the perfect place for a second time in the past month, only to find out it wasn't quite so perfect.  It was in the neighborhood I would pretty much give my left arm to live in and it was next to a beautiful playground.  The buildings were a little bit old and run down, and smaller than our current place and of course there was no yard, but location is big right now and was going to carry the day.

I was about to put all our information in and send in the rather steep application fee when I decided to do a few searches on the buildings... and quickly discovered dozens and dozens of reviews that included pictures of black mold everywhere and page after page of claims that the police visit the complex at least four times every night and that it's a hotbed of drugs and prostitution.  The next day I met a mom at the playground from the same town and after mentioning where we'd thought of moving, she repeated the same thing and said that it was an incredibly good thing we didn't make the move.  So apparently even in my dream area we'll have to be very careful with our research when we see places opening up.

So back to square one.  Since it's unlikely the broken windows in this house are going to be fixed before winter (since this will be winter #3 and they weren't fixed the other two times either) I'm coming up with plans to try to lower the impact of the cold this year (boards, plus felt, plus plastic maybe?) and find a way to hopefully lesson the impact of the inevitable flooding that I'm cautiously optimistic is still several months away.

The windows were kind of patched before, but not as well I thought since the neighborhood animals managed to break through in spring (I thought they were boarded because these particular windows are hard to get to/see but apparently someone had only shoved insulation into them and insulation by itself is not animal proof) and our request that they be fixed is lingering on month #2 so... I'm not all that hopeful anything is going to happen.

Of course most of these ideas are just going on in my head since the whole bed rest order, instead of actually being implemented since my helper in getting things done is working and helping me chip away at the to-do list, but doesn't quite have that same third-trimester-pregnant-let's-stay-up-til-4-am-and-fix-all-the-things drive that I have without the help of pregnancy hormones.

He's awesomely watching the kids and applying for jobs and working into the wee hours of the morning and not sleeping all that much and checking the boxes off the list of things I was hoping to do myself... and I'm mostly managing to "rest" although "rest" around here might not quite mean the same thing it does in the hospital... but homestretch (can you tell I keep telling myself that?)!  We hit full term and either way baby will be here in the next two weeks!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Patch's Late Night Plea...

Patch has hit a stage where he's gone from sleeping through the night for months and months, to waking up at 2 or 3 every morning and insisting that he needs to come into our room.  And if I don't want to hear Mae's voice telling me the same thing (and she's much harder to get back to sleep) it's easier just to oblige the request for a short amount of time before setting him back in his crib where he happily sleeps for another four or five hours.

To be honest though, I'm almost starting to look forward to the late night visits, because it seems to be when he's at his chattiest, which is saying a lot because Patch always has quite a bit to say.

Last night he began what very much seemed like a rant about the unfairness of the set up of our house.  He pointed to Sadie and Maggie's room and went on and on about "Maggie and Sadie! There!!!!  Maggie and Sadie!!!!" and then gestured to our room and "Mommy and Daddy, Daddy and Mommy, Mommy and Daddy!!!  Here!"  or something like that (it was quite the impassioned speech).

And then he'd point to his own room, with it's little lone crib in it and from the bits and pieces I managed to pick out from his many, many words, it seems that he's decided it's wildly unfair that he's in there with his Cars nightlight and stuffed animals by himself.

I'm also 99% sure that part of the rant involved him trying to convince me that he should share a room with his sisters, which just isn't going to happen because I'm confident that he and Mae would never, ever sleep again and would spend all night bouncing off the walls and making sure that no one else ever slept again either.  Besides I just can't imagine how much trouble they could get into together, without adult supervision.

Unfortunately he has quite the wait until the new baby is big enough to move over into the room with him (the bassinet is finally set up next to the big bed... now I just need to get out the co-sleeper and wash all of its parts).

Finally, after pretending his little hands were monsters and insisting on tickling everyone at least twice he happily went back to snuggle with his light up music playing elephant... and hopefully when the new baby is big enough to move into the big boy room with him, he'll be as enthusiastic about having a roommate as he is now!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Back to Labor and Delivery... and Home Again...

I'm spending enough time in L&D that I can
just recycle the pictures from last time...
Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time playing Farm Hero and Candy Crush on Facebook.  I don't usually play computer games... well... at all, but I was attempting to not move or clean or do any of the things that my brain was telling me really, really needed to be done and so I found myself lining up little vegetables and pieces of candy on the computer screen and trying my best not to move.

Before that I spent the morning back in Labor and Delivery, trying not to be annoyed with how my doctor's instructions of "not having contractions at all" fail to line up with the hospital policy of "well yes, you're dilating and effacing and having contractions but you aren't quite in active labor yet, because you aren't dilated enough, so you need to go home until you're dilating a centimeter every hour."

This is frustrating because it simply won't happen.  After three c-sections my body doesn't seem to work that way anymore and even if they hooked me up to a pitocin drip for twenty four hours while having contractions every couple of minutes that are very, very real, I still wouldn't be making that sort of progress.  Hence the need for a c-section.

It all started on Friday.  Friday afternoon, after Mae and I got home from a super fun time at the autism lab at the university, in which she picked out her own pink shimmering outfit to wear over a Doc McStuffins sleeper (she was having a sensory sort of morning) and giggled and spoke and charmed everyone she met, we went to the store to pick up a few things before Paul went to work.

And the contractions suddenly decided to not only come every two minutes, lasting around a minute, but they were in the "on a scale of one to ten... definitely a nine... since I save tens for what happened when I was having Sadie and they accidentally turned the pitocin all the way on instead of off for the hour while we waited for an anesthesiologist... after the c-section had been ordered..."  And they started when I was sitting down rather than coming on because I'd walked ten steps, like they usually do, which made me think we might be welcoming the baby a little bit sooner than we'd planned.

(at least this time there was no IV)
We went home and I laid down and the contractions started to space themselves out a bit more.  I told Paul to go to work because they were more than ten minutes apart.  But they lasted all night and were strong enough to wake me up all night long, and since I'm "not supposed to go into labor" I finally called the doctor's office and Saturday morning was sent back into Labor and Delivery.

In labor and delivery we learned fun things like I had progressed since the Wednesday appointment and that I was now 50% effaced.  But it wasn't enough to stay, so after turning down a shot of morphine, because I can't really imagine dealing with Mae and Patch under the influence of morphine and because I knew that Paul needed to get some time to sleep before going back to work, I went home, with instructions to try to lay down and not move "as much as possible" because everyone seemed to be able to tell that "as much as possible" wouldn't be all that much.

And it's true. If I lay perfectly still and no one touches me, I don't have regular contractions.  If a toddler careens across the room and bumps into my stomach while I lay on the couch... contraction.  If the baby on the inside moves... contraction.  If Sadie comes over and hugs me... contraction.  If I run down stairs to put laundry in the washer... contraction, contraction, contraction.

As you've probably guessed, I won't be making it to Mass or posting a WIWS picture today.

On the upside, we are at 37 weeks (and one day) now.  If we do have to go in it's not the end of the world.  On the other hand it's taking all of my self control not to get up and do the things that need to be done.  So that's the latest.  Waiting and wondering if baby boy is going to hold out for October, or pick a really great feast day (like maybe Michaelmas? Or beyond that the first week of October, which hold so many of my favorite saint days!).  I should really put up one of those little polls for people to vote... if nothing else to alay the boredom of not being able to do much at all.

Friday, September 26, 2014

7 Quicks Day: The Spinning Baby, Nesting, and a Talking Toddler

And one of these days I'll find time
to update the week by weeks pictures!
Baby, baby, baby.  At this moment I can tell he is breach again because his little head is nestled right up under the right side of my rib cage.  Yesterday he went back and forth from breach to transverse at least six times.  He apparently has ample wiggle room in there and doesn't seemed to be thrilled with either position and so giganto-baby is doing flips back and forth all day long.

And I've come to the conclusion that I prefer transverse right now because the whole snuggled-up-under-the-ribs-thing is getting a little bit old.

The excitement for the night last night arrived when Paul got home from work and announced that the night had been busy with people getting into fights (which is really unusual for where he works now) and that he'd almost been tasered breaking up a fight.  I guess while he was separating the people fighting the police arrived and while the taser lights were going back and forth between the two people fighting they kept going across Paul, who thankfully didn't get shot with the electrodes.

However that did mean he got pestered by me with non-stop questions at 3 am like:  "Do you think that your work boots would have made any difference because of their soles?  Like with an electric fence?  Because it made such a huge difference when I was little and I would grab the fence out by the horses and not get shocked if I had my boots on but totally get shocked when I didn't."  Followed by:  "Would you have gotten shocked if you were pulling them apart when they got tasered?" and any other questions that popped into my suddenly-very-awake-at-3-am-mind, when really he was probably just hoping to fall asleep before any of the babies woke up and decided "Hey-it's-3am-and-that's-practically-morning!" and started begging to get up and go downstairs.

After a little googling this morning the answers I've found to my questions seem to be a) the boots would have made no difference and b) as long as he didn't get hit with the electrodes himself, probably not.

There's so much I'd like to do before
we start snapping pictures like this one...
but if that past has taught me anything it's
that even when I don't get everything
I'd like done pre-baby, it'll work itself
With Sadie and Maggie  I was in super nesting mode throughout pretty much the entire pregnancies.

With the last few pregnancies not-so-much.  The only default mode in any trimester seems to be sleepy and ready for a nap.

However, with a few weeks left I'm finally trying to get a few things done and am trying to force myself into nesting mode because there are simply a few things that need to be done in the next few days/weeks that aren't going to do themselves.  And so the top of the list at the moment (36 weeks 6 days today) include:

  • Packing a hospital bag. 
  • Installing another car seat into our car.
  • Pulling out the baby clothes that I packed up when I was desperately clinging to the hope that we were moving before the baby arrived.
  • Washing the baby clothes and finding a place for them somewhere in this house.  
  • Washing/cleaning/finding places for the two bassinets that we have for nap time that will go upstairs and downstairs

And if those things get done I have a whole other check list of things that I'd really like to complete that are slightly less important but that would still be really nice to have finished (like figure out a way to move all the boxes in the basement so that the next time it floods, whether it comes from the east side of the house or the south side of the house, it hopefully won't reach any of our belongings... although when I think of how likely that actually is to happening I find myself thinking "dream, little dreamer, dream..." because they probably are not all that likely without a burst of super-human energy).

I know I posted about this on my Facebook page, but I'm not sure I shared it on the blog (and am leaning towards thinking I haven't... although with my totally distracted pregnancy-muddled brain at the moment, it's possible that I did... so bear with me) so here goes.

I am so used to our kids being late talkers and not really talking until after the age of three, that I'm shocked every time Patch busts out with perfectly clear little words to let us know what he's thinking. He's 22 months old right now and while many of his very, very long sentences aren't understandable, more and more of his words are making sense.

My personal favorite phrase had to be the other night when he woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep and I finally had Paul bring him into our room where he cuddled next to me and was perfectly quiet for a half hour before his little voice was heard breaking the silence saying "Daddy?  Can I borrow a cup?"

I have yet to hear him say "milk" (for almond milk because of his allergy) but whenever he's thirsty he follows me around shouting "Cup!  Cup!  Cup!" (usually while waving his cup in the air and trying to launch it over the baby gate and into the kitchen where he's hopeful it will just fill itself), so we both knew what he meant.  After having his drink he went (mostly) happily back to his crib to sleep... I'm loving this whole, being able to tell us what he wants before he turns two thing.  It still surprises me on a daily basis.

Earlier in the week I came downstairs from my upstairs-make-room-for-the-bassinet-cleaning project to find Patrick following a certain sister around the house saying "Uh-oh!  Uh-oh!  On no!" followed by his sister's name and "Uh-oh!  Poo!" He then went over and lightly patted the back of her pants to show that he thought an accident had happened and that I needed to take care of it ASAP.

I assured him that there hadn't been an accident, she was fine, but apparently he's used to pants that fit like leggings and anything that looks baggy is to be announced as "poo."

A few minutes later our little rule enforcer saw Mae climb up onto a chair and shouted "Uh oh!  Oh no!  No, no, no!  Maggie!  No!  Down!" and she actually listened to him before I could even move a muscle from where I was sitting... unfortunately he then proceeded to climb up in the exact spot she'd vacated to do exactly what she'd been doing

The bruise before Patch's arrival.

Just in time for the new baby's arrival and the pictures that will be snapped in the coming weeks, Sadie slipped while running through the play room and knocked her head against a toy chest, resulting in a huge knot/bruise that I've come to believe is a requirement before the birth of a new baby in our house.  Before Patch was born she fell during ice skating lessons and that fall resulted in a bruise just under her left eye.  I'm tempted to believe this is a sign that the baby will arrive before the bruise fades because what are family pictures around here if someone doesn't have some sort of major bruising on their face?

Halloween and All Saint's Day fever has arrived in full force.  In keeping with her yearly theme of being something totally random (last year she was a jelly fish), Sadie is going to be a "Blue Morpho Butterfly" this year.  Maggie burst into tears at the site of a mermaid costume in the Halloween store, so my guess is that she'll be a mermaid this year, and Patch threw himself onto the ground and started to cry at the idea of not being a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle, so it seems he'll be Michaelangelo this year.

Last year Sadie insisted Patch be
Saint John of the Cross
so that he would match her...
And apparently people under the age of five in this house are just a little bit too overwhelmed by the wonderfulness of all the choices at costume stores...

On the All Saint's Day front they went through their little book of Saint's yesterday and Sadie is going to be Saint Bernadette (but very specifically in her habit after she became a nun), Maggie is going to be Saint Cecilia, Patch is going as Saint Patrick and Sadie is adamant that baby James must go as baby Jesus, because what else would he be?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The 36 Week Check (in which I rant)

Warning: If you dislike kind-of-rants or words like "dilation" or "pap" just breeze on by this one.  It's a pregnancy update/ appointment post so these things will be mentioned from time to time.

There's one every pregnancy.  A venting post.  A why-oh-why do I have to meet every doctor in the practice post, because one of them will inevitably be unable to keep their mouths shut about our family size or about their thoughts on the fact that I'm not signing up for a little packet of pills the moment that this baby is born.

I understand the reason for the policy of meeting every doctor... because one of them might be on call if the baby decides not to make it to his due date... but that doesn't mean I don't dread going in to meet the newest hire because in my mind chances are that since the two doctor's that I've been seeing are great and respectful and understand that violating my religious beliefs just isn't going to happen, the newest one will probably have thoughts on the matter that they just aren't quite able to keep to themselves.  At least that's what I've taken statistically from my own experience moving from OB to OB as we moved across the country.

Before she came into the room I saw a flier on the wall that said that her specialty included contraception, but I didn't think much of it.  She's an OB/GYN, for quite a few of them that's a pretty big part of their jobs.  Besides, this practice and hospital have both been pretty awesome in the past about not pushing contraceptives.  When I was having Patrick they actually asked if there was anything they could do that I would find offensive and I was thrilled to be able to say "Yes.  I would love it if people wouldn't try to push the pill on me while I'm here because our family doesn't believe in contraception and I'm not going to be changing my mind." and for the first time in my experiences having babies in hospitals no one acted like I was an idiot or made comments about how I'd be back in a few months having another one.  

I like my doctor.  I like the other doctor in the practice.  I was hoping I would like Doctor #3.

She walked into the room and introduced herself and immediately asked me what form of contraception I was on before this pregnancy and what form of contraception I would be started after it ended.  If she'd looked at the chart the answer would have been staring back at her, but she didn't, or if she did, she ignored what was there because she obviously wanted to lecture me on the subject.  When I answered that I wouldn't be going on the pill she launched into a description of the dangers of having more than four c-sections.

I naively thought that maybe she just hadn't looked at my chart.

"Thankfully so far we've been really lucky."  I found myself saying.  "It seems that I don't really scar very much and during the last c-section they found again that there was very little scarring and that I would likely be good for at least two more c-sections, although we'd reevaluate as we went along."

"Well it's true that scarring can be important" she said "we don't really know what's going to happen.  We don't really know whether or not your uterus is going to rupture."

I didn't roll my eyes and say what I was thinking when she said "we don't really know what's going to happen" which was something along the lines of "You're right.  We don't ever really know what's going to happen... I could walk out the door and get hit by a car in the parking lot... but at this point every single doctor who's worked with me has been incredibly impressed with the state of my c-section scars and uterus after three c-sections, both inside and out, so... so far, so good."

She then began to explain how she had been in a practice that was very, very supportive of NFP in the past, and was "very familiar with it" before beginning to explain why it just wouldn't be right for me and ending with "how old is your youngest anyways?"

I'm not entirely sure but she may have been slightly disappointed when I said "22 months right now... He'll turn two just after the baby arrives." because it wasn't the scathingly condemnation of not being on the pill post c-section, that I suspect that she was looking for, that it might be if I was having Irish twins less than a year after having the surgery.

Then she glanced at my chart and said "Oh did your doctor tell you that your pap came back as abnormal?"

Now since she said those words I've talked to quite a few friends who have doctors who won't even do paps when they're pregnant because the chance of a false positive during pregnancy is so incredibly high and the results rarely accurate.

I shook my head.  "Well it did." She continued cheerfully.  "It might be false.  Who knows.  There's a little chance you'll just have to get another one done at the six week appointment and that will be it.  We can't really tell at this point or do anything about it until you've had the baby.  We'll retest at your six week check up."

It was around this time that I really started to not like her.  If I had to guess I would guess that my doctor probably didn't mention it because a) the percentage of false positives is high and b) he knows that I worry and decided that having me worry for six months when they were going to wait to retest at the post-natal appointment was pointless.  I just don't feel like it was her place as not-my-doctor to tell me without talking to him... because of course I spent the rest of the day worrying about what that meant and googling and then imagining worst case scenarios and how on earth I would handle a worst case scenario like cancer along with everything else that needs to be done.

The one bright point of the appointment (which I can find if I search hard enough) was that despite the fact that I was having serious contractions about two minutes apart (thanks to the walk from the parking lot) and was already at 1 cm when she checked (not bad for me at this point compared to past pregnancies when I was usually 3-4 with a month to go...and they did all make it past 39 weeks) she didn't make me go to labor and delivery to get checked because I was able to clearly describe how this has happened with each pregnancy and it hasn't meant I was actually in labor, even though it really, really looks like I am in labor with the contractions and their intensity and progress.

So I'm supposed to be careful and make sure I don't wait to long if they don't eventually stop when I lay down and hopefully we'll keep on chugging along until the scheduled c-section.

As I left the office I couldn't help but draw one conclusion that is totally anecdotal and obviously doesn't apply across the board, but that I can't help but think of all the same.  With the exception of the NaPro doctor that saved my life in Florida, most of the female doctor's I've had, OBs or just general practice, have not been able to contain their contempt with my not being on the pill (or accepting the tubal that they're determined to offer) and have instantly treated me like I'm obviously not all that bright and it's their job, in the most condescending of tones, to educate me on how stupid I am...

I've also gotten this reaction from male doctors who have mentioned that they too are Catholic and who can't wait to share that they know plenty of Catholics who love contraction.  Whereas the non-Catholic male doctors I've had have asked a few questions and said something along the lines of "well, it sounds like you've done your research... you're informed... and you've made your decision... so I can support that." and not brought it up again.

I know there are many, many doctor's out there that don't fall into that generalization, but that sort of condescending paternalism that seems to be born of what we have in common while condemning choices other than the one that they have made is one of the most irking things about these appointments.  It sometimes feels like these are the same doctors who would be all about reproductive rights, as long as the choices made with those "rights" are in line with what they would decide for their patients.

And in case you were wondering, now that we've gotten that lovely meet and greet out of the way, I will be refusing to see her a second time.  I just don't have time for that.  And I'll be pestering my own doctor with all the questions that I now have thanks to her little reveal at our next appointment, because I really didn't feel like asking her anything by the end of the appointment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Year from the Diagnosis

A year ago this morning I was waiting by the phone for a phone call from the speech pathologist who'd helped administer Mae's ADOS test two days earlier.  It was an excruciating wait.  I was torn.  In the previous weeks I had poured over books on autism and I was fairly certain Mae was on the spectrum, but at the same time I felt like she'd been really well behaved when we'd gone into the test and I was suddenly terrified that she wasn't going to get the help that she needed.

I was in the kitchen when the phone finally rang and I practically jumped across the room trying to get to it and after answering heard those words that she qualified for services and after asking exactly what that meant was told that she was officially autistic.

I didn't burst into tears right away.  Later that week, a few times, the overwhelmingness of all that I didn't know and understand would rear it's head and I would burst into tears in my room, but those days were also an odd mixture of relief, tempered with large amounts of worry because I had no idea what came next.  I'd begun to gain a tiny understanding that the stereotypes of autism that I'd seen portrayed here and there on TV were just that, stereotypes, but I still had no idea what to expect from the future.

In ways it was overwhelming but at the same time I felt like I needed to rush right in, as if movement, simply doing something, would keep us afloat.  I wanted to do everything at once, do all that I could, read and research and learn and find a way to bridge the gap in communication that was between us.

Suddenly our calendar was full of meetings and doctor's appointments and tests that I was jamming into the moments when Paul wasn't at the law school in class so that someone could watch Sadie and Patch.

Before that day I hardly glanced at my calendar.  These days my calendar feels like an extension of my body that I bring with me everywhere, because if I don't a doctor's office that I've been waiting for months to hear from will finally call me and tell me that we're at the top of the waiting list and I absolutely must be able to schedule that appointment (which will still likely be two months out) at that moment, because there is no way I am even allowing the possibility of giving up a spot that we've been waiting for for a full calendar year.

This month I slapped open my calendar and showed it to Paul.  "At this moment, we have 26 therapy sessions scheduled and eight doctor's appointments/meetings/tests in the next month" I said, to give him a feeling of what we were facing.  "I imagine there will be more doctor's appointments by the end though.  There are six days (four Sunday's and two Saturday's) when we have nothing scheduled."  There always are.  And they aren't all for Mae.  There was Patch's allergist appointment and blood test for venom allergies and my OB appointments thrown in to, along with a check in with the doctor who diagnosed Mae, after which we were all a flutter for at least a week because the progress that she had made was so hugely evident on the test.

So we're busier than we were when we first started out.  Our lives look different than they did a year ago... and I am so grateful for that fact.  The daily meltdowns at 4 pm are gone as are the three hours of waking and yelling and jumping from 1 to 4 am.

We've learned so much about Mae in the past twelve months. We've learned how important her diet is and what a huge impact it has on her behavior.  We've learned that she's smart as a whip and that the local university is happy to have her come in to help train grad student's because she keeps everyone on their toes, thinking ahead of what they're doing to what they're about to ask and giggling as she tries to trick them into doing what she wants to do instead.  And I'm thrilled to take her in because she has so much fun doing it.

In the last year we've watched her blossom into an amazing, happy little girl who isn't in pain all the time because of her tummy problems, and who loves mermaids, fish, and impatiently waits by the door each and every day for her therapist to arrive to start the fun.  She isn't quite the climber she was a year ago.  She's a tiny bit more cautious, although not quite enough to keep me from worrying.

The other day as we walked out to the car I let go of her hand to open the door and she glanced around, surveying the street we live on.  Then she put her little hand out flat and thrust it at the world as if to say "stop" before turning and climbing into the car and walking to her seat.  I'd known from the second she looked around that she was thinking about running and I'd quickly put down the folder I was carrying with me in case I had to chase after her, but this time she didn't take off at a sprint.  It was a first.  A year ago 10 out of 10 times she would have sprinted just to feel her legs pumping as she propelled herself away as quickly as she could.

In a way this morning I find myself still a little shocked and surprised.  Can it really have only been a year since she was diagnosed?  In some ways it feels like a lifetime, like something we've always known.  And the progress that she's made, could that really have happened in a single year?

Every week she does something to amaze me, something that seemed unimaginable a year ago.  Between drawing pictures, making up signs and using words, and also through her many varied expressions, the world of communication has expanded in the last year far more than I could have imagined that morning when I was wondering what the future held.  And while this roller coaster has had it's share of tumbles as well as climbs, the general direction is evident by her joyful smile as she races past me while I type this, stopping to show her sister how to blow a kiss.

Monday, September 22, 2014

9 Years Ago Today... Our First Date! 8 Years Ago Today... Our Wedding!

Nine years ago today Paul and I went on our first date.  Eight years ago today we were married.  And so I put together some pictures of the whirlwind that has been the last nine years.  Some of these were taken on anniversaries, but as the years go by it's harder and harder to find pictures of all of us (or even both of us!  Although that is getting easier now that Sadie takes a pretty good picture!) on the actual day and so some of these are from other holidays around our anniversary where we managed to have someone else snap a photo!

Sometime around our first date nine years ago!

The reception!  Eight years back!

The One Year Anniversary!

Two years!

Three years!

Four years!
Sadie was too speedy to be in any photos!

Five years (almost) and getting ready for the move to Ave!

Six years (almost again!) and getting ready to move to Michigan!

7 Years!

8 Years!
Happy Anniversary Paul!  

I can hardly wait to see where the next 9 years take us!

Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Baby Hats, Therapy Sessions, Mermaids and a Toddler Who's Trying to Take Off in the Van

Sadie's on her third baby hat of the week.

I asked her if maybe, just maybe, I could keep her first one for James but she was pretty adamant that all of the hats that she's made so far are for babies in foster care.

She did take the time today to pick out some blue yarn to make a hat for her newest brother to wear next month though, so I guess he's not totally out of luck.

My computer's hard drive is broken and so I've been borrowing Paul's computer while mine is awaiting repairs from HP (thankfully it's still under warranty).  In the meantime I've been keeping busy with sewing and more chaplets.  These aren't up in the store yet, but I'll be working on photographing them in the next week.

Sadie picked out the beads and they ended up being some of my favorites:

Patch is working hard at being Mae's understudy in getting into just about everything.  She's absolutely his roll model.  He can climb up to get things off of the mantle now (which is just under five feet tall) and when he realizes he's been caught doing something he should be doing he shouts "Maggie!  Maggie!  Maggie!" over and over again.

They really are two peas in a pod.

Do you remember how Mae used to insist on wearing her red super girl boots around the clock?

She wore through two pairs and they were constantly on her feet.

These days there are several pairs of shoes that she'll wear, but I've noticed a trend developing.  She is all about matching.  If she's wearing an outfit that has a ballerina on it (or is a tutu) than they have to be her ballet slippers or her Dora ballet crocs.  

The greatest challenge in the "do these match" saga however, is when she's decided that she's a mermaid.  Can you see where I'm going with this?

You see, mermaids don't wear shoes.  And suggesting that our little mermaid wear shoes when we leave the house is pretty much the worst idea ever... unless they're roller skates... in which case a costume change might be upcoming... because mermaids don't roller skate either.  

When asked her name earlier this week Mae responded by saying "mermaid."

After being asked a second time she did say "Maggie!"

She is definitely still all about mermaids.

In somewhat related news, today I take Mae back to the university for therapy after her regular session.

I was excited a couple of weeks ago to get a call from one of the people who runs the autism lab in the psych department there, asking if they could borrow Maggie to train the new grad students who are starting the program, in exchange for free therapy (during the training sessions).  Basically Mae would get to go in and play while they learned from interacting with her.  Since I absolutely love the program that they're developing and because Mae has had a blast every time she's been there I was quick to say yes!  I know she's going to be so excited when she sees where we're going!

This morning the entire house got to hear Patch yelling Maggie's name at the top of his lungs because when he got into the living room she was still upstairs asleep in her room.

He didn't have to wait long for her to join him though.  About ten seconds later she was awake too...

When Patch thinks it's time for us to leave the house he runs over to me, holds up his little hand and says "hand!  Hand!"  If we are actually leaving and I take his hand and open the door he then pulls his little hand away and walks next to me giggling and insisting that he doesn't need to hold my hand.  While I watch for cars he'll sprint around to the door that all the kids get into the car through and will climb in as quickly as he can and attempt to evade Paul to get into the driver's seat where he'll try to put a seat belt on before pretending that he's driving.

Yesterday Sadie yelled from the back seat "Press the go button Patchy!  Press the go button!" and he started pressing every button he could reach in an attempt to get the car going before Paul had buckled Mae in and could put him in his seat too.

I guess our big boy thinks he's old enough to take the mini van out for a spin...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our Rocky Paths through Introducing Solids and What I Think I've Learned

The fussiest.
With the arrival of the new baby around the corner I've had all things baby on my mind lately.  And one topic that's been on my mind in particularly is the experience that we've had with each of our babies when it came time to start introducing solids.

Our strategy for solids has slowly changed over time.  More than anything I'm curious at this point to see what will work for us this time around because so far each baby-starting-solids experience has been vastly different from the one before it.

I'll start at the beginning with Sadie.

Sadie was a baby with tummy troubles from the start.  With 20/20 hind site I'm fairly certain that she had food allergies from the very beginning... but I'd never had a baby before and had no idea that what she was experiencing might not be normal.  I mentioned to the doctor that she spit up dozens of times a day, that she was miserable if we put her down, that her skin was dry and itchy even if we put lotion on her over and over again throughout the day and he sort of waved it all off as typical baby stuff, because she was huge and her weight steadily kept her in the 95th percentile throughout her first two years.

Still, she acted like she was starving constantly.  Anything she spit up on was ruined forever and ever (something that hasn't happened with our two non-refluxy babies...).  She nursed 10 times more than her brother and sister would when they came along, but she was never full (probably because of all the spitting up).  When she was about four months old she started to try to grab food off the table and shove it into her mouth.  I could only assume that at over 20lbs she was starving and thought that my milk just wasn't enough.

I talked to the doctor and he suggested we start rice cereal at four months.  We did and then added in veggies, carefully adding in one a week to identify any allergies once she hit the six month mark.

The food didn't really change anything though.  She was still fussy with super dry skin and woke hourly (that isn't an exaggeration) to nurse for the first eighteen months of her life.

It was exhausting.  When people ask me if having three has been harder than one I always shake my head no.  Nothing has ever been harder than the first exhausting, sleep deprived year and a half of parenthood.

Then Maggie came along.  Sadie had just started mostly sleeping through the night.

Maggie was an entirely different baby.  In the hospital she slept four hour stretches from the day she was born.  I found myself fretting to the on call pediatrician that something was wrong because she slept so much and wasn't disturbed by anything.  I do wonder now if this had to do with her low sensory registration, but that's really a topic for another post.  

Maggie followed in her sister's footsteps in being in the 95th percentile from the start.  She didn't have reflux or any signs of allergies.  She slept and nursed like a champ.

When she was six months old she showed that she was interested in food and we started with rice cereal, quickly adding in pureed veggies and then fruit like we'd done with Sadie.  Everything went smoothly.  She loved food and could spend two hours slowly eating bowl after bowl of whatever we were having for dinner.

When Patch arrived I figured that we would just do what we had always done.  We'd try to make it to the six month mark before we started solids.

But early on Patch went from a quiet happy baby who slept well, to a screaming reflux-y baby with rashes over his face and body.  This time I didn't think "dry skin" and excuse the reflux as just being part of being a baby (especially now that I knew what reflux looked like and realized that was what Sadie very likely had).  Something was wrong. I just knew it.

At that point I had more experience as a mom and had learned to trust my gut.  And so I pushed and pushed and ignored the doctors who rolled their eyes at me and said "you're a first time mom, aren't you?" when I insisted that something was not right.  Finally I had a referral to an allergist who didn't think that I was insane and who very quickly announced that Patch was in fact allergic to all things dairy and who gave me a plan of attack for dealing with the allergy.

Within days we had our happy baby back.

Six months of age rolled around and Patch didn't want anything to do with baby food.  I tried to spoon it into his mouth but he was adamant that it was disgusting.  "Baby's gag" people told me.  "It's natural."  But it didn't feel natural spooning food into a mouth of a baby that clearly didn't want anything to do with it.

Around this time I began to learn about baby led weaning and since forcing Patch to eat food that he didn't want to eat as he attempted to throw things off the table and lock his little mouth shut to avoid the spoon didn't seem all that appealing to me, we decided to give it a try.

He'd sit at the table with us during meals, happily babbling away, and I would put little pieces of soft food (that came from whatever we were eating) on his tray, trying everything from avocado to sweet potatoes, and would watch eagerly to see if he would try them.  I wasn't worried about allergies at that point because he'd been extensively tested and we already knew what he was allergic to.

Without fail he would immediately throw every single scrap of food on the floor.

Time passed.  At around the twelve month mark I started to worry a little.  The PA at the clinic I go to shook her head and lectured me on having a kid that would "nurse til he was ten," but Patch's pediatrician didn't seem worried at all.

So we kept offering him food and he kept refusing and I began to wonder if he would ever eat solids. And then one day he did.  He was a tall, lanky thirteen months old, who had been exclusively nursed his entire life, when he suddenly decided that food was the best thing he'd ever tasted and began eating everything we put in front of him.  He was suddenly voracious.  He was always up for seconds.

And now as an almost two year old, he still eats just about whatever you put in front of him and let's us know when he wants more.

As we go into this the fourth time around I have a new strategy.  I'm going to watch this baby and see what works for him.  I don't plan on going the rice cereal/pureed route this time, but if baby #4 is interested in food when he's six months old I'll start offering little soft, mushy pieces of whatever we're having and see how he does.  And if this baby acts like he's starving at six months and is all about purees, we'll reevaluate.

And of course this time I'll be on the lookout for allergies from the start.  We're batting 0 in the allergy free department these days and when I asked Patch's allergist what the chances were that this baby wouldn't have allergies he laughed and pointed out how well we've managed the allergies that we have.  At least we already have an allergist's number programed into my phone (fun fact: the other day I counted the numbers in my phone and realized that of around 54 numbers, something like 27 belonged to doctors and therapists... which likely explains the hectic state of my schedule, which now involves a day where I say something to Paul each month like: "okay, it looks like we have 26 therapy sessions and 8 doctors appointments this month... just so you know going in..." with weekly updates each Sunday to let him know how many appointments have changed or been added in).

Overall, I think the main rule I've learned, as with co-sleeping and crib sleeping and so many other parenting topics that can be contentious, is to be flexible and open to rolling with the punches when this little guy arrives, because holding fast to a decision that I made before I meet the newest member of our little family face to face can at times do more harm than good!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sadie's First Knit Hat

I'm very proud of Sadie's very first attempt at (loom) knitting a hat.  She's on a hat making quest and pretty much asks if she can knit every hour or so.  Yesterday she finished her first hat, which is part of a service project that her AHG troop is doing this year and will be going to a baby in foster care.

Last night when I left for the baptism prep class she was sitting on the couch in her pjs, busy working on her second hat.  The first one I helped set up on the loom and helped tie off.  The second one she set up herself and was off and going before I could put on boots and get out the door.

I have a feeling that her latest passion is going to put a major dent in my yarn stash (and I'm actually pretty excited about that because I have way too much yarn!).  And so, here's a picture of her very first hat! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hiccups and Headbutts

Will Sadie lose her record as biggest baby?
Here's my totally boring "am-I-in-labor...yes?  no?  maybe?" update that's pretty much stream of consciousness as I bump-watch (navel gaze?) and count down the weeks until we meet this not-so-little-guy.

The not-so-tiny person who's head is squarely wedged directly under my ribs has the hiccups right now.  I'm fairly certain he has the most rapid fire hiccups of any of my children so far, averaging a hiccup every five seconds or so.  I don't know how anyone can hiccup so quickly.

Tonight I attended the required baptismal prep class at our parish.  It's the first one I've ever had to take (baptism #5 and I finally didn't manage to avoid it).  The baby and I argued the entire time.

The argument went something like this.  He would head butt my stomach/lungs and then I would try to lightly press down on the area next to my ribs to maybe encourage him to find a slightly more comfortable spot and he would deliver a good hard kick to my hip to let me know that encouraging him to move was not an acceptable suggestion.

I can never decide if I prefer the baby to be breach of transverse.  Patch spent almost the whole third trimester transverse, with  short periods spent flipped breach.

Will Mae be bumped from 2nd to 3rd place?
I'm pretty sure I complained every 30 seconds about being kicked repeatedly in the side.

This baby is spending some time transverse but usually prefers to try to fit his head under my ribs.  And all I can think about is how much I would like this baby to not be under/inside my rib cage for ten seconds.

I think the truth is probably that there isn't a comfortable position towards the end of the third trimester, but I always live in denial that there actually is and that if the baby could just find it life would be perfect (or at least much, much more comfortable).

Also, it would help if the baby wasn't 25 lbs (okay, so that's probably an exaggeration... but if we're going by what he feels like.... 25 lbs it is).  Maybe I should find the website I used last time so that people can guess weight.  What will it be this time?  Will Paul finally get his over 10 lb baby (I'm secretly convinced that that's what he's hoping for)?

If I had to make one guess it would be
that I do think Patch will remain
our littlest baby so far as long as
this little guy stays put!
Right now the main problem I'm having with all of this moving/head butting/ kicking is that each little move causes a wow-am-I-in-labor? contraction, so that I spent a fair portion of our day fairly certain we were going to be headed to labor and delivery tonight.

Thankfully I think it's just a matter of more irritable uterus contractions that hopefully aren't doing anything that will send us to L&D before October.

I actually do think we're going to make it to October.  I think I tend to forget how much I tend to feel like I'm in labor before actually being in labor.

Of course I also will probably think "this is it" about 50 times before than if this little guy keeps this up!