Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the tale of baby reese

Oh Blog, how I have missed you. It's been two weeks since we welcomed our new son, Lucas Benjamin. I've wanted to sit down every day and write a little bit about his birth and how life has changed since he joined our family. But as those of you with children know, the first days of a newborn-hood are all about survival. The first days with two? Forget about it. If I get a shower, a latte, and an hour-long nap, I'm thrilled. I can't fathom what life will be like with three... so I won't think about that yet.

First, the baby. Lucas joined us on Wednesday, April 15 at 1:54 in the afternoon. Let me say that everything about his birth was the polar opposite of Eli's. With Eli, I went into labor naturally (just before his due date) and endured 36 hours of labor, of which at least 30 were drug-free. I am not bragging about that. Seriously, I was an idiot. Get the drugs. Always get the drugs. Anyway, I digress.

With Lucas, we scheduled an induction in March. After an unpleasant experience with the on-call doctor in the hospital, I decided that I really wanted to know that my own doctor would be there to deliver my baby, and thankfully, she was all for it. We were admitted at midnight to start the process. It was so odd to sit at home all day, twiddling my thumbs and knowing that in a few hours I would be having a baby. Or at least, trying to have a baby. I had my doubts about the whole process, but it went very smoothly and astonishingly fast. Around 7 am I was given Pitocin and had my water broken to start labor. "It's just the tiniest dose," the kindly nurse assured me. "You won't notice any crazy start to your contractions." Ha. Within twenty minutes I was contracting hard, having to breathe through each one and thinking, "Hell to the no. I did not sign up for this again." As luck would have it, the anesthesiologist was just beginning a C-section when my contractions hit, and I had to wait a couple of hours for my epidural. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I had determined that
this time I was not going to feel my labor, so I was a little impatient for the drugs. Ben was his usual awesome self, patiently riding the waves of my schizophrenic needs - "Rub my back! No stop! Rub my legs! Don't touch me! Hold me! Ice chips! Water! Leave me alone! HUG MEEEE!!"

Thankfully, Dr. Ford showed up just in time with my happy juice, and expertly and quickly administered my epidural. It helped that he had a wonderful sense of humor and kept a running banter with us to distract me from the pain. Within a few minutes I was blissfully unaware of both my contractions and my legs, and settled in for what I assumed would be many, many hours of labor. I was already beyond exhausted, having not slept for the past two nights. I decided to put in my earplugs, close the blinds, and take a nap. No sooner was I snuggled into my dozen pillows than the phone rang. It was my dear friend Dara, who had taken Eli for the day. She was at my house with both of our kids for nap time, and had gotten my obstinate house key stuck in the deadbolt. It wouldn't budge, so the door couldn't be unlocked and she couldn't wait outside with two toddlers for the next two days until we got home. In a lapse of judgment I told my dad and husband to scurry on home (we live a good 25 minutes from the hospital - barring traffic) and get the key out. In another lapse of judgment, they listened to me.

It was around noon when they left, and I was dilated to 6 cm. The nurse assured me that I had at least a couple of hours before I would even think about pushing, but to let her know if I felt any pressure. With the room almost empty (my mom stayed behind, thankfully), I replaced my earplugs and made another attempt at a nap. Not ten minutes later, I felt incredibly strong contractions and an unmistakable feeling that
this baby is coming now. I rang the nurse, who checked me again and, much to everyone's surprise, announced that I was "complete." As in, completely dilated. As in, holy crap my husband is not here he is not anywhere near here now is the time to freak out. And freak out, I did. I sobbed uncontrollably into my oxygen mask as my mother, nurse, and doctor all tried to reassure me that they would make it in time, that we could definitely delay the birth long enough for them, all while my new son swam ever-more-determinedly toward the light. I called Ben in an utter panic and choked out the words, "The... baby... is... coming... and... you... are... not... here!!" In typical can-do spirit, Ben told my dad to hang on tight, gunned the engine and drove approximately 100 miles an hour, weaving through traffic on the freeway to get to the hospital in record time.

As I waited, watching the seconds tick by and unable to catch my breath through the sobs, I decided that I just simply had to calm down. I put on the most soothing worship song I know ("All Praises to the King" by Hillsong - love, love, love it!) and determined that I would not open my eyes until it had played three times. Sure enough, halfway through the second repeat my husband and daddy came rushing through the door. Ben's face was ghostly-pale as he breathlessly raced into the room. He stopped short when he saw his wife, delivery "imminent," lying peacefully on the bed, headphones on, serene expression pasted onto face. After several people assured him that yes, the baby really was coming now, I think he forgave my panicked call. I think.

We got to pushing, and I will spare the details of that endeavor on the off-chance that an unrelated man might be reading this post. Suffice it to say that this baby was
ready. In approximately seven minutes, Lucas Benjamin was in my arms, and I was trying to wrap my mind around what had just happened SO FAST. My first impressions of Lucas were that he had a dent in his head and did not appear to be breathing, but all of that was forgotten when Ben laid my precious baby boy on my chest and he snuggled in like it was right where he belonged.

I have to take a moment to say that I had the most amazing birth team, for which I am incredibly grateful. Every nurse I had during my stay was excellent, but Kyleen, who was there from induction to delivery, was absolutely amazing. She was the epitome of what you want in a labor and delivery nurse - attentive, patient, kind, and competent, by turns bubbly and enthusiastic or calm and soothing. My OB was equally wonderful, and of course it was awesome to have my parents with us again to welcome their grandson into the world. And my husband? He simply rocks.

So that was the beginning of my darling baby boy. Lucas has so far been a very "easy" newborn, and many things about new mommyhood are much easier this time around. Nursing, which was a nightmare with Eli, has gone beautifully from the beginning. Aside from a couple of completely sleepless nights which threaten to send me to the asylum, Lucas is sleeping well. Eli, who turned two just a few days after Lucas was born, is completely in love with his baby brother. He calls him, quite practically, "Baby Brudder," and loves to touch his head, tickle his toes and fingers, and give him air-kisses. He checks in on him frequently - "Brudder seeping," or "Brudder eating," and then goes happily about his business again.

I think I am adjusting well to the brave new world of having plural children. I hit a wall of fatigue from time to time that sends me slightly over the edge, but after a good cry and a power nap, I am able to regain perspective and keep going. I am having to re-learn how to soothe a crying baby (I am definitely not the gifted one in that regard - Daddy is the real Baby Whisperer of the family) and constantly having to remind myself to stop doing "just one more thing" and rest. The hardest thing for me was re-establishing my bond with Eli when I came home. I could not believe how grown-up and how
huge my baby boy was the first time I saw him. Even though he didn't seem to be too affected by the new arrival, it was really hard for me to feel like I was neglecting him in order to tend to the baby, and then to deal with him turning two at the same time... it's definitely been an even greater emotional roller coaster than my first post-partum experience. I miss being able to sit around and hold Lucas for hours on end like I could with Eli. But I am also overwhelmed by how incredibly blessed I am. It is an awesome privilege to have children, and I am so thankful for it. Finally, I am reminded, over and over and over again, how completely sufficient God's grace is for every moment and every need. I have cried out to him (literally!) so many times since bringing Lucas home, and each time I am met with His awesome peace and strength for another moment.

So now we begin our new lives as a family of four, and I can't wait to share the moments with you. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

tales of domestic bliss

Our vaccuum cleaner bit the dust (heh heh) awhile ago, and we finally broke down last week and bought a Dyson. HOLY CRAP. How did I ever live without this thing? Yes, they're expensive, but oh my, so worth it. Ben vaccuumed a four-foot by four-foot section of our living room carpet just to demonstrate its awesome power for me, and the pictures here show what he picked up in just that section. Ewwww... He also had to show me how incredibly dirty our vents were. Please don't send these pictures to social services.

On another note of domestic triumph, I overcame my crippling fear of baking this week and baked my first ever loaf of homemade bread. I love to cook, but somehow my baked goods have never turned out well. My dear mom found a very simple recipe for me (actually titled "Simple Bread Recipe" - I appreciate truth in advertising), and I tried it out. It didn't quite rise enough, but it turned out pretty darned tasty. I also took a cue from some friends and tried my hand at making strawberry freezer jam. It didn't set up all the way (see a pattern here - just off the mark), but the flavor was delicious. Unfortunately, my clumsy pregnant fingers managed to drop one of the jars as I was putting the lid on, and strawberry jam coated my cupboards, floor, pants, everything. Man, that stuff is sticky. This picture is the final aftermath and does not do justice to the carnage of the spill. Thank goodness I had two other jars, or I would have been sooo mad. So I can't potty train and or get my dog to stop peeing in the house, but I made bread and jam. Suck it, Martha Stewart.

Monday, April 6, 2009

the countdown

The countdown is on, friends! I am being induced in ten short days. Several people have commented to me that they feel like this pregnancy has flown by. I think they're all smoking crack. I didn't much enjoy my first pregnancy, but this one has been pretty miserable. I don't take for granted the awesome privilege of carrying my children and I am so thankful that God has blessed me with this experience twice. But I can't wait to get this baby out!

Of course, I have some mixed feelings about Lucas coming.

Things I'm excited about:

  • Holding my precious little boy. I miss having a tiny bundle to cuddle with.
  • Bending over!
  • Being able to do normal things around the house without feeling like I'm going to pass out - picking up toys, unloading dishes, doing laundry, vaccuuming, you name it. Because the truth is, just because I can barely manage these tasks now, they don't go away. My overactive guilt complex keeps me from asking for help as much as I probably should, and my inner control freak wants to do it myself anyway.
  • Being able to keep up with Eli! I can't wait until I can chase him around the playground again!
  • My toes!
  • Wearing real person clothes again. I haven't gained as much weight with this baby (and I will have two built in calorie-burners in my boys), so I'm optimistic about getting back into my old clothes a little faster than last time.
  • Actually being able to sleep when I have the chance to sleep. Right now, so many forces conspire to keep me from sleeping now - achy hips, achy back, uncomfortably huge belly, overactive internal furnace, crazy pregnancy dreams. It is such a cruel trick of nature that I can't get enough sleep now when I need it the most.
  • Seeing Eli interact with the baby, and seeing my family grow.
Things I'm anxious about or not looking forward to:
  • Giving birth. My first labor lasted 36 hours and I spent 30 of them stubbornly refusing drugs. I learned my lesson and I'll get an epidural right away this time, but this time I also know how much it hurts. And of course, I have the usual fears of delivery. The other night I dreamed that I hemorrhaged to death while I was having the baby. Not a happy thought.
  • Breastfeeding. It didn't go well the first time around, so I'm really praying it goes more smoothly this time.
  • The physical aftermath of giving birth. A good friend of mine who recently had her first child called me to say, "Why didn't you tell me about all the crap that comes out after the baby's born?!" No kidding. Reading about locchia was nothing like experiencing it firsthand. Then there's the gelatinous mass that used to be my tight-as-a-drum baby belly, the overnight Anna Nicole boobs, the pain/burning/itching of said boobs, and the long, tough road back to a body that will never quite resemble the one I had before kids.
  • Sleep. I think about the mind-numbing exhaustion of having a newborn, and how this time I won't be able to lay around on the couch all day and sleep in between feedings... which is pretty much what I did the first two months of Eli's life.
  • Post-partum depression, which I had after Eli.
  • Adjusting to another person in our family. I know this will be a challenge for all of us, as excited as we are to have this baby. Eli has been our whole world for two years and it's hard to imagine loving another child as much as we love this one.
  • What will Lucas look like, and what will his temperment be? Shallow as it may be, we have one stinking cute little boy with a personality to match. Eli has always been a happy, easy going baby. What if Luke gets all of our recessive genes, or is a "high need" baby? Will I still love him as much?
So much to think about as I count off the hours until D-Day. I can't imagine how I would feel if I didn't know God's peace and hope, if I didn't know without a doubt that he is fully in control of all of this family-raising madness. Can't wait to have pictures for you all soon!