Thursday, June 30, 2016

Meeting Tessie

Two nights ago, that is to say, the night before my fifth C-section, I couldn't sleep.  I paced.  I lay in bed.  I tried to force myself to go to sleep, which was pretty much impossible.  I started to fall asleep and then jerked awake.  Sometime between the sun sinking behind the horizon and morning I stole about two hours of sleep... and then it was four a.m. and it was time to get up and go to the hospital. 

So Paul and I hopped in the car and headed north.  We were up before the sun. 

Things went fast once we got to the hospital.  I changed into a gown.  After three tries an IV was finally taped into place (ouch!).  I answered a few dozen questions and managed not to cry when it took two tries to place the epidural. 

It was the tenth time a needle had been that close to my spine for a spinal or epidural and my fear may not be quite a phobia, but it comes close, and I was hugely relieved when it was over. 

Me, arriving at the hospital.

And then Paul got to change into his neat little outfit.  And of course it was an outfit that I had to document. 

I was happy that my OB, who has been my doctor for the past three pregnancies, but who won't be seeing patients anymore after yesterday because he's going to be moving to an administrative job, was the one to do the C-section. 

At 8:58 am Mary-Therese Philomena let the world know that she had arrived with a loud squaking baby cry.  The doctor announced that she was a solidly built baby, which she is at 8 lbs 12 ounces (although that does make her the second smallest of the babies in our family), and after toweling her off for about a minute she was placed on my chest, where she immediately began to nurse. 

My doctor told me that my uterus is in amazing shape, that the scarring wasn't bad and that there was no thinning and no windows!  If I hadn't been lying on a surgical table I would have danced around. 

Tessie nursed for the half forty minutes it took to sew me up.  And then she nursed for another two hours in recovery.  She nursed on her way from recovery to our new room.  And she nursed as we settled into our new room. 

Everyone who watched her nurse for basically the first three hours and fifty five minutes of the first four hours of her life was pretty impressed that she was able to eat for that long, including me.  She definitely had figured out exactly what she needed to do to fill her little tummy, and we could hear that she was filling her tummy when they listened to it with a stethoscope in recovery.

And as for me? I was feeling pretty amazing. 

I thought it was just a really easy C-section. 

I realized today that it had more to do with the morphine that they put in my epidural, that carried me through yesterday.  It made walking super easy.  I could do just about anything for twenty-four hours, when it wore off and I felt like a truck had hit me. 

This, obviously, is before the morphine in the epidural wore off.  Way, way before.
And that is the story of how Mary-Therese was welcomed into the world. 

 So far she prefers nursing to everything else, and her second favorite thing is being held, all day and all night if that's at all possible.  And it mostly has been.

After sleeping roughly four hours in the past 60 hours... I'm hoping to get a little bit more sleep tonight.  Although I have a feeling our little Tessie has different plans! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

She's Here!

This morning at 8:58 am we welcomed the newest member of our family. 

Mary-Therese Philomena weighed in at 8 lbs 12 ounces and 21 inches, making her the second smallest of the Wollner babies (James is the smallest). 

Sadie was relieved, because she really didn't want anyone to break her record as the heaviest and longest of the babies (9 lbs 4 ounces and 22 inches). 

Mary-Therese, who Patch is calling Tessie (and who can resist a Patch nickname?), immediately caught on to the whole nursing thing, and spent roughly  3 hours and 50 minutes of the first four hours of her life nursing non-stop.  We were all kind of amazed.  She was definitely the first of our babies to spend the entire time in the OR nursing after she was weighed. 

I'll write a post later that tells the whole story of our day, but overall I will say that this was the most relaxing and pleasant of our baby birth days. 

So without further ado, here's one of the first pictures of Tessie.  We haven't quite figured out which of the babies we think that she looks like! 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Captain Maggie

Last Monday I sat in the room and watched as Maggie went through another OT evaluation. She'd been in OT until this last April, when I pulled her out after being told multiple times that the current therapy place felt like she just didn't need it anymore. 

I was shocked, as was just about everyone else that worked with her, because while she's very independent and has awesome fine and gross motor skills, she definitely has her share of sensory issues (especially auditory sensory issues).

It was the first evaluation that she'd done in a few years. 

I have to admit, OT and speech are not super high on my list of priorities when it comes to therapies on our schedules.  I mean, I take her, week after week, year after year, for that one hour a week, but because of the brief time that she's with those particular therapists she never quite warms up to them (she's in therapy roughly 26 hours a week, so they make up just a tiny part of her schedule). 

The therapists who work with her every day are a different story.  She spends her weekends asking when she'll see them again.  She drags me to the door to go to "school" and when I drop her out, if I linger too long, she'll push me to the door and say "Bye, bye" until I get the hint. 

Still, her speech therapist thought it would be helpful for her to see an OT at the center where she takes speech and there was no wait list this time around (the first time the wait list was a year long) and they could put speech and OT back to back (which honestly at this point was a huge factor) and so I agreed to have her start back up. 

Paul and I were both able to be there for the evaluation.

Maggie's flare for the dramatic made an appearance.  There was dancing. There was twirling. 

And then she reluctantly made an enormous tower of blocks. 

She protested having to stop twirling, and told her new OT the names of the Bubble Guppies at leat a dozen times, but once she settled in to build she was focused on the task at hand.  After that she was supposed to put some blocks in a cup, but instead she stacked them again, one on top of the other.  The cup wasn't quite level on the table, so she compensated for it by stacking each block slightly more to the left, so that her tower moved sideways, while staying balanced.  I don't think I could have built something that tall and uneven that stayed standing for as long as her tower did. 

She unbuttoned buttons.  She laced a sewing card.  She cut two straight lines and did plenty of other things that I had no idea that she could do. 

On a break she took a few pieces of chalk and drew on the chalk side of an easel, labeling as she drew.  "Mermaid.  Beach.  Water.  Sun.  Flower."

She's done so many amazing things over the years that I know that I shouldn't really be surprised by anything that she does. 

Still, I find that I am.

After the evaluation we accompanied Nani and Grumpa (who the boys have renamed Bopa) to Toys R' Us.  Sadie was adamant that there was one thing she wanted for her birthday.  A bike.  And to learn to ride that bike. 

As Sadie picked out a purple MLP bike, Maggie and I strolled up and down the aisles.  I was thinking about getting her a bike for her birthday too.  We strolled past the Princess bikes, and the Finding Dory bikes, and a particularly colorful Rainbow Dash bike. 

Maggie was unimpressed. 

Then she saw it.  The Captain America bike.  And she flung herself sideways in the cart and managed to grab the handlebars and hung on tight. 

She seldom shows any interest in any toys in toy stores, so I put her down and let her sit on it and helped her ride up and down the aisle.  She loved it. 

And by the time we left Nani and Bopa had volunteered to add the Captain America bike to their shopping cart.

And so it was, on Sadie's birthday that we took all the kids outside, Sadie and Maggie on their new bikes, Patch on a handed down tricycle (while loudly telling us that he needs a bike for his birthday in November), and James sitting in the little red wagon.

I shouldn't have been surprised that after five minutes of Paul helping keep her steady she was racing down the street, steering, speeding up and skidding to sudden stops. 

This is Maggie we're talking about. 

And of course, the bike matches her "berry dress" (which is being washed nearly every night since she wants to wear it almost every day):

And in possibly even bigger news, during the half hour the kids were riding bikes before bedtime, she didn't try to elope once, even though there was a huge field nearby and she walked to the edge of it and stared off at it.  Instead of sprinting into the open space she came back and kept playing with her bike and running around with her brother and sister! 

I won't be taking of her GPS anytime soon... but... baby steps! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

38 and a half

The day before James arrived Paul snapped a picture of me in a new maternity dress I'd run across and it ended up being one of my favorite bump photos. 

It isn't quite the night before the baby is going to arrive (five more days!) but I ran across the dress in the closet and I thought I'd see how this time around compared with last time.  Because right now I'm feeling like my baby bump is pretty gigantic:

But it turns out that this time isn't all that different from last time (the top row shows the photos from 2014):

And I think I'll make my official baby size prediction. 

All of the other kids were either 21 or 22 inches.  And their weights were (in order): 9 lbs 4 oz, 9 lbs 1 oz, 8 lbs 12 1/2 oz, and 8 lbs 7 oz. 

So my guess for this baby will be 21 inches and 8 lbs 2 ounces. 

Baby should be arriving in less than a week! 

And the days seem to be somehow flying by and moving incredibly slowly depending on the moment, probably because I can't wait to meet her! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sadie's Eighth Birthday

 Sadie turned eight yesterday and was up bright and early to celebrate her big day.  Which began with presents:

Then it was off to an activity that she'd been impatiently waiting for in the morning, while Mae went to therapy for the half day:

But by lunch time we were all back together.  Sadie had picked one of the most allergy friendly places that we know of for her birthday lunch (Red Robin). 

Sadie had very carefully mapped out her entire birthday, so we all knew that after lunch we were headed to Coldstone for sorbet. 

Next up was a trip to the zoo, which has become a huge part of each years' birthdays, at the kids' requests. 

Everyone wanted to ride the ponies:

Well, almost everyone.  James was pretty upset to even be near the pony.  We'd been worried he'd be upset if he didn't get to ride one too. 

Only Sadie rode a camel though.  Although she was super disappointed that it was a Dromedary Camel and not a Bactrian Camel.  The other day we were at the zoo for a quick visit and saw that they had a Bactrian Camel with a saddle on (which she's been hoping begging to ride for years) so her hopes were pretty high.  But she still had fun.

Bouncing may have been her favorite part of the day:

Then we came home and had the gluten free, dairy free, peanut free, soy free, green pea free cake I'd managed to make:

And after dinner it was time for a bike ride.

And Sadie started learning how to ride a bike.  Both girls got to pick out bikes and helmets for their birthdays and it was so fun to see what they decided on. 

As did Maggie.  It took Maggie all of five minutes to figure out how to speed up and stop suddenly on her own.  I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I still was.

And of course, at 38 1/2 weeks I'm still hanging out here with this baby, which my doctor estimates is "not going to be a little baby..."

I actually tend to think this baby does feel smaller to me... but I'd be surprised if we made it all the way down into the 7 lb range this time. 

Less than a week to go!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Goodbye to Seven

Yesterday after dinner, as we were watching the sun set and her brothers and sister were falling asleep upstairs, Sadie said:

"Tonight is my last evening sky as a seven year old." 

So of course, we had to enjoy those last pink and orange dyed moments:

And tomorrow when I'm not quite so sleepy, I'll hopefully have time to share a few of my favorite photos about how we welcomed her eighth year. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

From the Threenager...

Me:  “Patch could you please get down from the table.  We don’t lay on top of tables.”

Patch (to himself, very, very quietly) “No.”

Despite his response he began to climb down off the table almost immediately.  At the same time James climbed down off my lap and hurdled across the room over to Patch.  James, was not quite nineteen months on this particular day and he has quite the temper. 

The second Patch’s feet touched the ground, and before I could move an inch from where I was sitting, he reached up and slapped Patch on the top of the head.  Patch looked at James, totally bewildered and this conversation followed.

Patch:  “James.  You is evil.” 

James:  (pushes Patch)

Patch:  “No baby!  You is evil James.”

James: (bursts into tears and falls to the ground, because of course, he's at the stage where anyone simply saying the word "no" can cause waterworks) 

At which point I actually had waddled over to where they were, scooped up James and explained again that we don't hit (hysterical tears always follow these explanations, no matter the tone) and cuddled Patch until all was forgotten and Patch was back to making his usual “Look at James, Mommy. He so cute!  Baby is so cute!” comments. 

Sadie and I were trying to figure out where Patch’s sudden use of the word “evil” was coming from (he used it again when I asked him to do something) and finally figured out that it, along with saying “excuse me Mother” nearly every time he spoke to me (and calling me “mother” instead of “mommy) started the day after he watched 101 Dalmatians while we were driving around town doing errands in the van.  
I suspect his new favorite word came from his new favorite puppy movie.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Introducing the Newest Member of the Family...

The baby is, at the moment, still staying put.  However our family did grow a tiny bit today.

A few weeks ago, after a series of days that felt like minor (and not so minor) disasters, Paul was dropping Maggie off at therapy when he texted me and asked me if we could get a puppy.

I said of course not.  But, then I agreed to go see the puppies.  I knew I wouldn't be tempted to take one home.  The puppies were chiuahuas and I'd never thought chiuahuas were all that cute.  And then I saw them.  And they were darling. 

Today that little puppy that Paul and the kids picked out a month ago was big enough to come home.  Paul picked out the name (which has a long story behind it) and called him Tony Pena.

And so he accompanied us all over town today while we were doing major moving errands and anytime anyone got fussy I only had to show them little Tony and they were immediately happy again. 

And Lily has met him and seemed to think that he was kind of interesting for about thirty seconds before she moved on with her day.

Kittyfish, on the other hand, thought that he was very, very interesting, and will only be having super supervised visits with the puppy until he's a little bit older.  Because I've seen that mouser look before and I don't trust it one bit!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Patch at Mass

Sitting next to Patch at Mass is always an adventure.  It's also usually a struggle of varying degrees.  At our first visit to a new parish somewhat closer to our new home, I had this conversation with The Boy:

Me (whispering near his ear):  “Patch.  I need you to be quiet right now.  This is the consecration.  Jesus is here right now.  The bread and wine have become his body and his blood. 

Patch:  “Jesus is here?!?!?!?!?!  Where?!?!?!?!” 

He looks around.

Me:  “The bread and wine become his body and his blood.  Up there on the altar.  But it’s him.  It’s really him.  We need to try to be very quiet and to pay attention.”

Patch (peering through the windows of the side chapel up at the altar and seeing the cantor, who happens to have shoulder length brown hair and a beard standing off to one side):  “I see him!  Mommy I see Jesus!  I see him right there!” 

Me:  “Um.  Nope.  That’s-“

Patch:  “It’s Jesus!  It’s Jesus!  I see Jesus!” 

Me: …

Later that night…

Patch:  “Mommy.  I want Mickey Mouse Birthday.  I want Mickey Mouse Birthday party.”

Me:  “Okay.  We can do a Mickey Mouse Birthday.  When it’s your birthday.  In November.” 

Patch:  “Mommy.  I want Jesus come to Mickey Mouse Birthday.  Jesus come to Mickey Mouse birthday, okay?"

In the last few days, however, he's elaborated on his big birthday plans.  He would like Jesus to come to his Fishing Pole Mickey Mouse Tea Party Birthday Party on Number Eight (because he says November like "number").  And he's requested that I use the silver tea set for the tea party portion. 

He has pretty specific plans for his fourth birthday.  And quite a while to wait. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

All Things James

James had an MRI a week ago and I documented it in pictures sent to Paul via my phone while he had a lovely time at home wrangling everyone else to get them to where they were supposed to be, while I sent him frowning pictures of a very unhappy toddler.

 Mostly unhappy, at least.  Although we started out strong:

Our six a.m. registration was a breeze:

My stress level was much higher than it had been when Maggie had her MRI.  Maggie, being Maggie, just seems so much tougher and is so much bigger than James is.  And James, having had low tone and hyperflexibility for so much of his life, seems so much younger sometimes than he actually is (and obviously it's not like he's that old anyways!).

We didn't expect the MRI to be abnormal.  It was just to rule out any of the problems that would be visible in an MRI that would cause him to favor his left side over his right side, so strongly, at such a young age (although we've seen serious improvement with that lately.  It's not nearly as dramatic as it was six months ago).

But I'd asked the neurologist if he really, really thought it was necessary and he said that he did feel that at this point, after tracking James' progress for so long, that it was something that we needed to do.

And so we went in.

I realized early on as we met with the pediatric anesthesiologist, that James would not be charmed like Maggie had been.  It was the same anesthesiologist we'd had with Maggie, and he'd completely won her over when she'd been in a very, very bad mood.

James could not be convinced to smile.  At all.  He did try to eat the bubble wand that he was allowed to hold while he was getting his IV though:

The time between getting the IV in and his sedation was a full hour.  That was the toughest part.  I managed to bribe him to mostly be still with an episode of Bubble Guppies.  But then he'd glance down at his left arm, where they'd gone through the vein during the first IV attempt, and he'd see the band aid, and then he'd look over at his right arm, which was entirely wrapped up, and he'd be furious again.

The MRI itself was utterly uneventful. 

He did look incredibly tiny when they were hooking him up to oxygen and monitors and putting him in the machine.  That was the hardest part.

And then it was over and he was back out.  They had me crawl onto the bed with him, because I was having not-so-fun contractions, and people were getting pretty nervous about me having the baby right there in the MRI department, and so they suggested I lay down next to him and talk to him as he woke up.

Except he didn't want to wake up.  The sedative should have been out of his system but he was determined to nap.  Only when I moved a little bit away from him once we were back upstairs, did he begin to stir.  And  he woke up and had some popsicle and some apple juice and all was right in the world again:

Today as we arrived at the house for more packing, my phone rang.

I picked it up and heard a woman identify herself as being from the neurologist's office.  Then she said "The results of James' MRI are back and everything looks good, except that we could see fluid in his..."

And then, because we were still in the car, Patch started talking loudly behind me and I could barely make out a word she said.  I finally was able to hear "sinuses" and got everyone to stay quiet long enough to learn that his sinuses were what was filled with fluid (thankfully not anything scarier) and that I needed to call his pediatrician's office to see what they want to do about that (it explains why he's slept horribly for the last week).

But the important thing is that the MRI looks good!

Now we need to wait three months for him to get in to see the same geneticist that Maggie sees.  Everyone from his pediatrician to his neurologist seem to think that's likely where we'll get actual answers if anything is going on beyond some little quirk causing developmental delays.

I was thrilled to learn, when that particular office called, that the wait list was only four months.  Last time it was seven months... so far is a huge improvement.

In other random James' news, his orthotics should be here any time.

But after writing all this I do think I should say that overall he's really been steadily improving in every area, from gross motor, to fine motor, to his social skills.  He's still not all that interested in words most of the time, but he busts out a few now and then and sometimes I think we just have late talkers (like Patch, who talks just about non-stop now).

He is totally her baby.
The description I give at our different appointments for his progress is that he's steadily learning and growing and moving forward.  It's just that when I fill out the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (basically a questionnaire about milestones in different categories) for each of his checkups I'll start out totally confident that he's really, really caught up, and then I'll start answering questions and he'll still only be able to do between one and three of the six to nine things he's supposed to be able to do for his age.

And so I'll tell the doctor that we really haven't quite got all the eighteen months milestones down (as she can see) but he can totally blow the twelve month milestones out of the water now. And those six month ones that he couldn't do at seven months that set off the first little alarms of worry?  Totally mastered.  So he's getting there.  Just a little bit slower than we expected.

And now, since it's late again, here's one last picture of one of my favorite frowns.  He still hasn't given up frowning at my camera and then laughing when he sees pictures of himself on it: