Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Major Milestone Down

We have been so, so busy. Let's see...

Halloween. Done. The kids dressed up, went Trick or Treating three times (well, as much as those costumes cost, I wanted them used!). Ate lots of candy.

Gavin had his palate surgery! It went very well. The first 18 hours were so, so tough. Every time he came up from the pain medications, be screamed uncongrollably, scratching and flailing. He pulled out his IV catheter. The stupid machines kept alarming all night. He insisted on sleeping ON me all night. I couldn't even put him down to go potty, much less eat -- I tried; I put him down after he got a dose of morphine and ran to the cafeteria. I was gone perhaps 10 minutes and came back to find him wide awake and completely confused. But he woke up the next day smiling, so I got us out of there as soon as I could.

He is eating well, drinking well. Our surgeon is so pleased with how it turned out. Next step...see if his language skills proceed on target for his age. And in a week, we can start trying to nurse IF we are not defeated by the continued reflux of liquids into his nose and this crazy lip tie related to his cleft lip.

Turned out all the fuss was over the Snuggle Wraps, the arm restraints. Took those off, and the crying stopped...until,we got home, and the tooth that is trying to come in started bothering him!

He also had bilateral ear tubes placed. There was an active infection but he never had any signs!

Ian had another swim meet, where he shaved 3+ seconds off his time for freestyle, but he was DQ'ed in backstroke for improperly closing on the wall. But he is getting better, and our coach says that studies have shown that kids who are on top when they are young are not the ones who keep with it, so we are just taking it easy and going to practice, keeping it fun.

Speaking of practice, there was a scary day I'll write about another time.

Other stuff gong on too, but that is all under wraps for now ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

And we have liftoff!

Gavin, my little one, who is not quite 9 months (he will be on the 18th), his first unassisted step tonight!

Hubby's brother saw it too. So this is not just a mom bragging about her kid.

Gav stood for a minute, took a step, then landed in my arms.

He wants sooooooo much to go. He sees his brothers, and you can see him thinking, that looks like fun. He has been crawling everywhere, putting things in his mouth, trying to keep up with the big guys.

It's always a bittersweet moment, one even more so as he just might be the last kid. This might be the last time a first step is taken in our house.

There is a song by Tim McGraw that goes, "You're gonna miss this." Sometimes, not so much. But the baby steps. Yep.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, October 10, 2011

A First for Us

You would think, by now, that we have BTDT on just about all toddler antics. Especially the gross ones. I thought so too. Puking in the car. Done. Pooping on the floor. Happens all the time. Then there was tonight.

I was sitting on the couch talking to BIL while hubby was at the store. I could hear giggling on the other side of the kitchen island and thought nothing of it.

But then, I thought, I should go see what exactly they are giggling about, as extended giggles here generally mean somebody is doing something illegal in our family.

I stopped in utter horror as I rounded the island. Sitting on the floor was my baby, just 9 months, laughing as his brother, 2.75, smeared poop all in his hair. Baby had handfuls of poop. Toddler had poop all over him.

Stinky, soft, mushy poop. Toddler has had diarrhea for some days, and he is just getting over it.

I thought about vomiting (I have a strong stomach, thanks to my job, but the handfuls of poop...well, that's really gross) but realized that would be another mess I have to clean up. Grabbed baby and ran a tub to wash him off, while toddler trailed along behind me to take his turn.

Then I had to wash the tub. And mop the floor. And change my clothes.

The irony is that this stuff always happens when Daddy isn't around. How does he time it so perfectly every time?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Being a Swim Mom

When Ian was three, not quite four, hdeco iced he really, really wanted to learn to swim, and specifically to race. I was pregnant and just not up to the task myself, as that pregnancy was a miserable one. But I noticed a swim school going in a shopping center not far from a place I often frequented (a fabric store, lol) and kept my eye on it. I thought learning to swim was a good idea.

The day it opened, we were there. I signed him up for initial lessons, and he took right to it after the first few weeks. He rapidly moved up the levels from blowing bubbles to doing the butterfly and breaststroke, taking about two years to reach the stroke clinic level.

We had a little trouble with coaches; the first one acted like he wasn't worth her time because, honestly, he really struggled to accomplish much those first few weeks before finding his way. Another one -- a real-life Navy rescue diver -- was great with Ian, not so much with Colton, when he started at 3, and then he quit teaching. One was terrific, but he got fired for not calling out of work one day (allowing me the opportunity tom teach my boys about work ettiquite). Finally, we found Allen, a kid who went to college on a swim scholarship, and the boys swam with him for a little over a year, until he went back to school and stopped teaching during the day. We then had a couple new instructors before finding the one they are with now at the swim school.

Along the way, we made some super good friends. Ian has two boys in his group who are also home schooled, and the three of them moved up the ranks together. Colton swims with their sister now.

After we had been at it for a while, we decided to make the move to swim team. And then we moved to a better-ranked team just a month ago.

It is one thing to take the kids to practice. That is honestly not too, too bad. We hit the barn then drive to the pool, located in a big sports complex. I send Ian to the pool deck, where the instructors are in charge, and I have the other three with me. They take some special toys to play with; there are some other kids their ages to play with, and the biggest problem is keeping them all from running around in the stands! Sometimes I take them outside the sports complex to play. We eat our snacks, and then it's time to go. We race home to cook dinner while I car-pump.

I love talking to the other moms. I enjoy the friendship and advice they offer.

And then it's a whole other thing to attend a meet. Get up well before dawn to pump, load up, head to the barn, feed the horses, then head for the meet. It's exhausting. Time consuming. Expensive.

When your kid is the one next to swim, it is so exciting. When your kid is out there struggling, your heart just hurts for him. Every fiber of your being pulls for him. It's great to be part of the team spirit and cheer for all the kids you see every day in the pool with your kid.

So, today, was our first race. He struggled, his stroke was tight, he had trouble with air exchange, and he finished last. Way last. But the goals were accomplished: to get in the pool, in the correct lane, and finish the race. There is nowhere to go but up.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, October 7, 2011

National Midwives Week

I have been fortunate enough to have all my boys with midwives, and actually, all were born in a freestanding birth center, outside of a hospital, in the same room. How cool is that?

I am flat out scared of hospitals. Utterly terrified. The idea of someone else being in charge. The hospital policies. The risk of infection just from being IN the hospital. IV catheters. Somebody coming in and out of my room all the time. The smell of a hospital. Not for me.

Then there are all the women I know who seemed perfectly healthy who went to the hospital, were told this or that was happening with their labor, various interventions were done, and many of my friends, with many different OBs in many hospitals and states, had C-sections.

I could not understand why more than half of women couldn't seem to have a baby without medical assistance of some sort, with a third of the total requiring a surgical birth. That just makes no sense to me as a veterinarian. Animals reproduce all the time, and the veterinary profession's C-section rate is nowhere near that!

So, to minimize my chance of ending up with a surgical birth, I chose to use a midwifery practice when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child.

When my first birth arrived, it was a long and drawn out process. The baby descended very slowly, and I pushed for hours. The midwife patiently held my hand through every push for three full hours, while the second midwife encouraged me through every strain. She could tell I was getting very tired, having been pushing hard for so long and having been in full labor for 24 hours with prodromal labor for several days, and suggested we transfer to the hospital for assistance.

I asked for a few more minutes, gave it all I had, and finally, I pushed out the largest baby ever born to a first time mother at that birth center. Unfortunately, that big baby caused some severe damage as he passed out of my body, a severe fourth degree tear along with hemorrhaging. The attending midwives conferred, and I was transferred to the hospital for surgery.

The OB who came in to repair me at 3 AM screamed at the midwives who had attended my birth, telling them they should never have allowed me to have that baby. He told me he would have done a C-section if he had seen me, even with the baby's head halfway out. The midwife leaned over to me and whispered she wouldn't have allowed it, but as he ranted on about all the complications I would likely suffer as a result of this birth and that I would never be able to have another baby vaginally, I wondered if she would have been able to stop him.

Two days in the hospital post-op cemented in my mind that I would never have a baby in the hospital if I could help it, and I would always have a midwife attend my births. The nurses were less than helpful, and I rapidly realized I could have taken better care of myself at home. Establishment of breastfeeding was rapidly undermined, and, looking back, it is amazing I managed to nurse that first child.

I went on to have three more children, two more with very little drama. One was born in the tub because he came so rapidly, surprising the midwives. The third I caught while the attending midwives watched quietly; he was even born with a nuchal cord. This was not treated as something to be scared of. We simply slipped it off and gave him a little oxygen.

The fourth had a little more drama surrounding his birth. He was diagnosed antenatally with a cleft lip by the specialist (yes, midwives refer clients to specialists when needed) at 18 weeks, and a cleft palate was suspected when the midwives' back up OB decided I could not use the birth center when I was about 28 weeks along. Fortunately, the various specialists I saw felt differently and ran interference for me with the backup, and I went on to have a wonderful and joyful birth, with the fourth baby being born on the same bed as my first and third babies after an uneventful labor and delivery.

The complications the OB swore I would suffer...they haven't happened. Honestly, the only complication I have specifically related to what happened during that birth is directly related to what HE did as he sutured me up, but it poses no problem to me during my everyday life. Every time I see my subsequent babies' photos, I wish I could tell him his predictions simply were not true.

I am so grateful for the care my children and I have received from midwives. It is a personal care, one with my needs and desires in mind, without fear and the "what-if" at the forefront. I am profoundly grateful for the empowering experiences I achieved with the help of women who believe in the normality of birth.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 16, 2011

Trying to Get it All In

Sometimes I wonder if we are the only people who don't seem to have enough time.

Our house is usually a wreck these days because between the baby, the pumping I have to do to feed him, the other kids and their needs, the computer, work, everything, I don't get it all done. Hubby's car has needed tires for a good two months or more, but we can't seem to get the time needed to take it to the tire shop, drop it off for the day and then return. The yard is reminiscent of a jungle; what landscaping there was has been overrun with native foliage. The kids sometimes don't get a bedtime bath because bedtime sneaks up on us. I frequently realize that dinner is in an hour...and I didn't get anything out of the freezer!The house routinely looks like a war zone and sounds like one too, with me barking orders to get the boys to pick up their messes before moving on.

And hubby and I even talk about the schedule days in advance so I know where he is going to be and what he needs to do. It's like I plan a military invasion every single day just to keep the family afloat.

Part of this is because I work weekends. He works weekdays. He gets home around 7:30 to 8 every night and leaves around 6 in the morning. When he's off, I'm at work. He has one Friday off every other week, and that one day is usually jampacked with things we must do. Or we spend it, unfortunately, driving from place to place to finish things up.

Between barn work (our horses live in a boarding barn 15 miles away, where someone has to go in the morning and night to look after them 365 days a year), caring for the kids, cooking, housework, homeschooling, swim team, pumping, feeding the baby, volunteer work online, and church obligations, there isn't a lot of free time to take care of the other things like landscaping and home decor.

It wouldn't be so bad if the boys didn't take as their mantra "Search and Destroy." If they can mess it up, they will. If I clean it, they trash it as soon as I'm not looking. If it looks interesting, they play with it. If it can be broken, they manage it. They drag in dirt and leaves and rocks and sticks every day. Just today, they built a fort in the living room/dining room, just after I'd tidied it up. I try to not get upset about this..there is worse they could be doing.

And they usually do this just as we are going somewhere or when I have something else going on. Right now, I sat down to pump and type, the baby wants to eat and sleep, the toddler took his diaper off and smeared himself with ointment, and the older two sneaked outside with some polished rocks out of the rock collection and proceeded to smash several rocks and a window. I'm chained to a chair, so it all must wait. And while it all waits, it just gets worse.

I haven't managed to even get dressed yet, and it's 1PM. Where to start...LOL

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Heart is Full

My friend's baby passed away Monday, September 12, 2011, at 8:01 pm in his parents' arms while listening to the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My heart hurts for my friend, yet it is full with the knowledge of the blessings of the eternal family and that parents who say goodbye to a child too soon will have the chance to be with that child again in the eternities.

I've long felt a bond with this mama. She struggled hard to have a second child, suffering several miscarriages along the way. We also lost a baby in utero, so it was easy to understand the pain of loss and the fear she felt with every pregnancy that started then ended too early.

I was joyful for her when it was clear this pregnancy would be successful and as she planned a wonderful homebirth to peacefully and gently bring her second baby into this world. The day he was born was a day of celebration and love.

Then, I again felt a special connection when she learned her child had a birth defect, just a couple days later. That happened to us, and the shock when the doctor tells you that your baby has a physical problem is like a brick hits you.

But what her family was going through made me feel grateful. What our baby has could be worse. But he will survive (barring some freak accident related to his defect until we have surgery). He will grow up strong and healthy. He may have some issues, but they won't be life threatening. Her baby didn't survive, even with everything that modern medicine has to offer.

She also had to pump to feed her baby, a third way we are similar. Her attitude about it is so much more positive than mine has ever been, to my shame. However, it was one thing that she could do for her baby while he was hospitalized, whereas our baby lives with us, and I see him every moment of the day, which makes the need to pump a little more difficult to wrap my brain around after successfully nursing three other children for many years, as well as finding the time to pump with all these little kids needing me. She is extraordinary in that she is pumping and donating through this difficult time.

As I have shared the story of my friend and her family over the last few days with my children, the faith of children has been a buoy to my spirit. My eldest son said, "But he's with Jesus, and he'll be resurrected someday." My middle son said, "And he'll have a whole heart, one that can get oxygen to his whole body!" The faith and knowledge of children is perfect and an example to us of how to have faith.

Our family's religion teaches that families, through the power of the Priesthood and the keys of sealing in the temple, can be together forever. The great plan includes sealing all members of the human family together, so none are lost and we can all be together. This enables families who, like my friend's, like ours, who have family members who returned to Heavenly Father too soon, to be able to raise those children, where they will be whole again.

We also know that these children are some of Heavenly Father's best, the most perfect, the ones who did not need as many trials as the rest of us to come to their full human potential.

We mothers were called to bring them to this life, even knowing perhaps that we would lose them too early and experience unimaginable pain at their passing, and their too-brief lives are part of the fabric of our lives, some of the trials that will make us who God knows we can be. Heavenly Father knows how much it hurts when we lose a family member here on Earth -- just look at what he did, sending Jesus Christ to us knowing he would die -- but who else knows better how to heal that hurt if we let Him?

So, my heart is full of love and life and knowledge. It doesn't make such trials much easier, but it makes them have a purpose and eventually, the pain eases and we can see the sun again despite the clouds. In God's time.