Jul 29, 2014

On Top of My Heart

It is late July. The usual hot and sticky pool weather of the Midwest is lost, replaced with a cool spring like breeze which drifts in through the open window. The feeling outside, with the warm sun and coolish wind reminds me of the weather in San Diego. When I close my eyes I can almost smell the salt and sand blowing across the beach.

The house is mostly quiet. While the big girls are over at a friend's, Nora and I are dozing in the living room, the occasional squeaky cry my reminder to feed her.

She fits perfectly on me with her legs curled up under her and her head against my chest. I wonder if the thumping of my chest in her ear reminds her of her time in the womb. I cradle her bottom in my hand and pat her gently on the back, breathing in her baby scents of Dreft and shampoo, with a dash of milky breath leftover from her most recent nursing session.

She stretches her arms above her head and yawns, her eyes still tightly shut. When she smiles I wonder if she's dreaming of milk. I close my eyes and feel the weight of her, all seven or eight pounds, on top of my heart.

* * *

I am in awe at how easily she fits into our family. How quickly she is finding her place. And how the big girls are adjusting to the newest member of our family. They are incredibly eager to help, grabbing diapers, wiping her spit up, informing me when they think she's hungry. Nora is doted upon and smothered with kisses, and each big sister has about three hundred requests per day to hold her.

We are ever-so-slowly finding a rhythm, one that is sure to change as quickly as she does, speeding up one day and the next day slowing to a crawl. We are sleeping four hours at a time one night followed by a night of multiple feedings with long episodes of rocking in between. We are taking trips to Target and the coffee shop, with lazy afternoons of snuggling together on the couch.

We are finding our way as a family of five, the family of just four slowly fading to a distant memory.

We are all in love. And it is so good.

xoxo, christine

Jul 24, 2014

Two Weeks and Back to Work

Adam went back to work on Tuesday. I can tell you how that makes me feel: Pthhhhhhhhhhht with a big Roger and Ebert Two Thumbs Down.

It also happened to be Nora's due date. (Kind of funny, to think that instead of starting his leave on her due date Nora is two weeks old and Adam is returning to work.)

I don't think it ruined Adam's time off, but the idea of him going back to work has been hiding in the corners, jumping out at me and causing great amounts of dread even since most of last week. I'm pretty sure it was haunting me more than him -- which was, in fact, confirmed by Adam himself. The idea of getting up alone at night with the baby, meeting the needs of the big girls, and functioning all day with no possibility of alone time made me break out in a cold sweat.

It would have been nice if Nora had given us a good night's sleep on Monday, to ease us into our new "regular" routine, but of course she's a fickle (although awfully adorable) little newborn that decided to have a long and fussy night. I'm not exactly sure how Adam survived his first day back to work, but I did it with a large coffee (yes that's three shots of espresso -- don't judge) and a visit from friends.

(Although the coffee kept me awake, it was the friends that made the day manageable with the playmates for the girls and help in the kitchen.)

Yesterday the girls and I went to a friend's house and today and tomorrow they are out of the house on play dates. Honestly, this week has been less scary than I thought it would be. The help is wonderful, and even the girls themselves are pretty easy going. Today they let me sleep in until ten o'clock.

I am exhausted by the end of the day though, and poor Adam comes home to a tired and most likely cranky wife, two big girls dying for his attention, and a new baby he wants to bond with. Somehow we are making it work, with most of the credit going to my dear husband who I could not do any of this without. Which explains why I was dreading his return to work.

But, two days in and it's going pretty well.

That, however, doesn't mean I'm not still counting down the days until the weekend. Two to go.

xoxo, christine

Jul 17, 2014

A Good Reason

Generally, I don't find myself ruminating about whether or not things happen for a reason (although I would certainly like to believe that they do), but several days after Nora's birth, I had the thought that her labor and delivery happened they way they did for a very good reason.

I know, of course, that part of the reason her delivery was so fast was simply because with subsequent pregnancies labor usually gets faster (and faster and faster). And with Paige being born less than two hours after being admitted to the hospital, friends and family were joking that I'd be lucky to make it to the hospital this time around.

I made it to the hospital.

But, I was not expecting to go so quickly that I hardly had time to register being in triage or moving to labor and delivery. And I certainly didn't expect for things to progress with no time for pain medication or the doctor barely making it in to "catch" our baby.

Physiologically, I understand exactly why Nora's birth worked out the way that it did. But I am starting to think that there was another very good reason she came so quickly.

One of my biggest fears about the labor with this pregnancy was knowing that we would be going back to the same hospital, the same triage, the same labor and delivery unit, where we met and said goodbye to Calvin. I knew that being there would be difficult, painful, emotional, and I was sure that the loss of Calvin would over-shadow the birth of this baby. And even though it made me sad and worried, I had pretty much accepted that this was just the way it would be.

Delivering Nora within forty-five minutes of arriving at the hospital left no room for me to think of anything other than making it through each contraction and getting this baby out. And even though there is some guilt about it, I can say that because of how everything played out, I did not think of Calvin or our experience delivering him until we were moving from Labor and Delivery to Recovery.

Nora's quick birth provided me with a wonderful (although extremely painful) distraction that left no room for the emotional pain of relieving my last moments of pregnancy with Calvin. She knew exactly what she was doing, and came exactly how she was supposed to, and I was well into falling in love with her and doting on her by the time I could register the sadness of being in the same place we said goodbye to our son.

She is a miracle in every way. And I can honestly say that her Birth Story is one of those things that happened exactly how it was supposed to, and for a very good reason.

xoxo, christine

Jul 13, 2014

Welcoming Our Baby Girl

So... we had a baby this week.

I feel like this post is a long time coming, it's already been five days, but the time to sit down and write does not feel as urgent as getting more sleep (as I'm sure you can imagine), and when I try to think about putting words to what's been going on it feels impossible. Partially due to finding time to sit down and think about the words, and partially due to finding the words themselves. Somehow, describing our past five days, especially her birthday, feels almost impossible.

But, back to the point.

On Tuesday morning at 4:02am I delivered Nora May. She was determined to stay on my good side, because Nora graced us with an "early" (but still full-term) arrival at 38 weeks exactly. She was a healthy 7lbs 5oz and 20in long, so I can't imagine how much chunkier she would've been if she'd waited another two weeks.

All three of my darling daughters have been born on Tuesdays, so I tried to convince Adam that at least her middle name should be Tuesday, but we settled on May instead. (A combination of our mom's first names.)

She came with a full head of dark hair, big chunky cheeks (complete with double chin), and the squished features of a newborn I like to refer to as looking like "a little garden gnome." I have been in love ever since.

We are slowly working on our at-home adjustments and getting enough rest to function (and not be a crabby mess -- that would be me). In some ways it still feels quite unreal that she is here. But she is here, and I can't imagine anyone else but this sweet baby being our Nora.

Next on my list, whenever I can sit and focus and write again, is getting her birth story down. Hopefully I can squeeze that in before too much time goes by, it's already starting to feel like a foggy dream.

We are so happy to introduce and welcome our Baby Nora!

xoxo, christine

Jun 30, 2014

Counting Down

Oh the contractions! That I have basically been having since twelve weeks. Okay, twelve might be an exaggeration, but shortly after twenty weeks is not far off the mark. Which is fine and all because, well, Braxton-Hicks and all that stuff, but ugh, now that I am nearing the end of pregnancy these "practice" contractions are torturing me.

Am I going into labor? Am I going into labor now? How about now? Are these getting stronger? Just go to sleep, Christine, for the love, and if you're in labor they'll wake you up! Clearly I'm not in labor. And that is actually a good thing since I'm only hitting the 37 week point this week, but it still doesn't stop me from obsessing almost every. single. night.

Obviously, I want this baby to come when she is ready, I just wish she could be one of those babies that are ready around 37 or 38 weeks. She's already got such a good track record for this pregnancy, passing my first glucose screening and all. I'm sure she wants to stay in Mommy's good graces. (Wink. Wink.)

We are pretty much ready, which I suppose means she won't come until August, because isn't that how these things work? And my doctor informed me that if there's no type of progress by forty weeks they are not allowed to induce me until forty-one weeks. (And if my previous pregnancies are any indication my body does not "make progress" until it is actually in labor. So, you know, I'm not really excited at the possibility of waddling around for another four and half weeks.)

Of course, I realize, there is nothing I can do but wait patiently (or not patiently, but either way I still have to wait), so I might as well end my rant. All these contractions do just make me want to spend the last several weeks of pregnancy in bed, preferably asleep, which I realize is not possible for various reasons (my children being one, my bursts of nervous nesting energy being another, and the fact that I'd never actually be able to sleep Rip Van Winkle Style for the next month, unfortunately.)

She will comes when she comes and then I will be exhausted and uncomfortable for other reasons, but I'll get to hold this sweet baby in my arms. Something I am anxiously waiting for.

(Nope. Still not in labor.)

xoxo, christine

Jun 19, 2014

Goodnight Storm Clouds

I love my bed. In fact, I'm pretty sure I have an unhealthy relationship with it. But let me tell you, as wonderful as it is, it is not comfortable with four people in it. Even if two of the people are little people.

We have had overnight thunderstorms the past couple of nights, which have led to two girls screaming and running to our bed at two or four in the morning. I can't really blame them, I remember being afraid of the loud thunder when I was a kid (and still am if the storm is severe), plus it's not exactly a pleasant way to wake up in the middle of the night. But, that still does not make for a good night of sleep.

Also, we've had one or the other girl in our bed for various reasons several nights leading up to to the stormy nights.

Generally we take the girls back to their beds because I have a really hard time sleeping with extra bodies in bed, but when it's due to thunder that doesn't stop all night, it's hard to get them back in their own space. On top of all this drama, I haven't slept well for pregnancy related reasons since, well, the beginning of time (or close to it).

In any case, you can imagine that we are feeling quite sleep deprived over here, which is why I envision today as rather unpleasant in our household.

I realize that this should all just be preparation for the sleep deprivation we are going to experience once our newest little bundle makes her appearance. Trust me, I have already had many panicky moments imagining how we will all survive once Mommy and Daddy are not getting adequate sleep.

I'm going to just go ahead and assume that somehow it will be okay and we will all survive without too many scars. Until then though, you can find me napping on the couch. Or my bed. Or the chair. Or wherever and whenever I can.

xoxo, (and zzzzzzz) christine

Jun 10, 2014

Dear Friend,

I am sorry if you have felt detached from me, or that I am neglecting our friendship. I assure you that this has not been intentional at all. In fact, I'm not sure what it is about me, that stops me from keeping up with you, because when I don't I feel incredibly lonely and sad. You would think that my loneliness would be enough to motivate me to be better about being in touch.

I'm sorry.

I miss you. I miss your voice. I miss your hugs. I miss hanging out with you. I miss being silly and laughing with you. I miss the way you get me in just the way only you can. I miss knowing what's going on in your life and hearing about the cute guy you tripped in front of, or the great deal you snagged on a new sweater, or the way your one-year-old laughed so hard milk came out his nose.

Please know that my lack of (or sporadic) communication in no ways reflects how much I care about you, how much you mean to me, how much I need you.

I wish that the thought of a telephone call didn't leave me feeling overwhelmed and breathless. I wish that I could go back to those teenage years of being so comfortable on the phone that it's like an added appendage. I wish that I was a better letter writer, email updater, and phone conversationalist. I wish I could remind myself that I don't need a three-hour window of time to chat with you, even a quick two-minute hello is enough.

I want you to know that I think of you often. I want you to know that you are important to me, even if I have a horrible way of showing it. I want you to know that I appreciate your friendship and am here for you, even if it's been ages since we last spoke.

I want you to know that I miss you.

My dear friend, you have a special place in my heart. Always. And I just wanted to make sure that you knew that.

xoxo, christine