Friday, October 23, 2009

Flower Girl

About a month ago, my brother got married down in Moab. A few of weeks before the wedding, he text messaged me and asked if Madeleine would want to be a flower girl. I responded that if he really wanted a demonic 3-year old who doesn't know how to listen in his wedding, I'm sure she'd love it, but I'd take no responsibility for her demon-ness. Which I wasn't at all worried about, she's an angel for everyone in the world BUT her mother.

We set out on a mission to find a black and white dress. Black and white. The most simple, common color combination IN THE WORLD. Except during September apparently. I looked everywhere, I didn't want something so fancy she couldn't wear it again, I didn't want to spend a fortune, and I didn't want it solid half and half (the top black and the bottom white, or vice versa) - those are boring. After checking every store possible and finding nothing that fit the bill, I hit the internet. Of course. I found a few dresses that met all of my expectations. And none of them were available in the size I needed. So I ordered a size up in the only dress that had one available and figured she could just wear a sweater over it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a dressy-ish black sweater in September? Harder than finding a black and white dress, I'll tell you!

Turns out, the dress worked perfectly. It was a touch big, but not noticeably. She was so excited to get to be a flower girl in her "fancy dress." We talked endlessly about the job of a flower girl, "drop flowers down a walk way and LISTEN. Listen to what you're told. Do what you're told. Oh - and drop some flowers as you walk down between people. BUT LISTEN!!!" I tried to set her up with some expectation of what she would be doing and she got it pretty well. I was just afraid she'd see all the strange people and freak out a bit. Not at all. She ate it up. I should have figured that. Little diva.

The bride's niece was the other flower girl and they hit it off instantly. All the little kids ran around playing with the flowers and baskets after the ceremony. It was my kid that went around and picked up every flower petal that they dropped. Every single one. That was when they all realized it could be a game, put em in, throw em out. All night long. So it worked out well. She got to wear her fancy dress, throw some flowers on the ground and best of all - she listened to what she was told. Yeah, I'm a little crazy about that...

On a side note, the wedding was wonderful and the reception was perfect. They did a really great job putting everything together. It was outside and the weather was perfect for an evening wedding, perfect time of year. And in all of it, we got an awesome new sister-in-law whom we all adore and look very forward to having in our family. Congratulations Chad and BJ - we love you!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Difference a Year Makes

A year ago today we packed our entire 3,000 square foot house
Put all of our things in boxes
Packed it all in a car trailer, a truck bed, a CUV and a sports car 
And we headed west 
This pretty much sums up how Madeleine and I felt about leaving our home and our friends: 
She adjusted significantly better than I. I'm getting there. A year later.
Just yesterday, a life time ago, maybe just a vivid dream.
Virginia, and our people there, we miss you.
New jobs. New home. New friends. New baby. New life. New dreams. New goals. New perspective. Whole different world.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Second Month - or - September

A monthly update on just one child is a bit more difficult than I had expected. So at the risk of throwing the universe out of alignment, I'm going to change things up a bit. Conveniently for me, (you know she planned it this way) the itty bitty baby chose to be born on the first of the month. So I'll keep doing the "monthly updates" but they will be for the actual month and for both kids, if not the whole family.
The second month, September, was a bit easier than the first. I could finally put her down on occasion without the screaming. She sleeps big chunks of the night - sometimes - and someday she'll do it in her own room! She's at 9 lbs, 8 oz. but seems so much bigger. I spent the month working from home with her, going in to the office for a bit here and there. I would take her in with me, put her in her sling and wear her at my desk and around the office. It worked out very well. She would sleep and I would feel like I was being productive. Everyone in the office thought it was absolutely adorable that she would just curl up and snore-hum while I worked. She was the novelty of the month. Working while at home was not quite as easy. I didn't leave her in the sling so she didn't do a whole lot of sleeping since she would only sleep while held. But I mastered the art of balancing her on my lap, in my arm or on a pillow on my lap while I worked. I also found a new addiction while I was working at home. Our house is so quiet that I would turn the TV on for background noise. My family is always watching NCIS while I am there and there were a few marathons on while I was at home so I'd turn it to that station - turns out it's not so bad. Needless to say, I'm now an NCIS junkie.  
Madeleine was still going to day care those days (hey, if we have to pay for it, she's going!), so it was just the two of us. It was nice. But I was excited to get back to work so that the real world would have some consistency and routine. I loved the time I had at home with her. I could do it for real if that's what was going to be our lives but given that I knew it was temporary and work was back and forth with having to go in at random times, it kind of took its toll. So at the end of the month, I went back to work for real and her Nana came to visit for a couple of weeks to watch her before we put her in day care.
It was amazing how fast the time went. The four weeks of maternity leave flew by in the blink of an eye and then, in one breath, it was like September was over and it had been eight weeks and life had to start again. While it was a little chaotic and annoying running up and down the mountain at random times, it was a nice transition back into the real world. And like I mentioned earlier, the month was easier. She mellowed out a bit and we got the knack of things a little more. Like a semi-predictable feeding and eating schedule, the best way to hold her, how to play with her, how to survive through the night when neither one of us sleeps, how to help the big one get dressed while the little one is eating or being held those kinds of things.
We also discovered a solution to the ear-plugging Madeleine tries to do to drown out her screaming baby sister. In the car, anyway. Our car DVD player came with headphones (she calls them her speakers), so Dan dragged them out and gave them to Madeleine. Now, every time we get in the car, Miss Monster "demands" her speakers be on her head. Hey, it works. One screaming kid is bad enough. Now we just need to figure out a fix for when we're in the house.
I had expected a little more drama from Madeleine in the beginning. It didn't start until the end of this second month. When her Nana got here and started doing things for her that Mommy usually does, I think it occurred to her that Mommy was already not doing nearly as much as she used to and now even less since Nana is helping, so she's been quite the dramatic three-year old with the "I want my Mommy." It may be what I had expected but it certainly is difficult. The feelings of guilt, of frustration, of impatience, of inadequacy, it's hard to cope knowing you're indirectly disappointing your child. And the idea that I am rewarding her with my attention when she just whines and whines drives me absolutely crazy. So I've made a very intentional effort to redirect and try to focus on the positives and the happies and give lots of attention for that before she has the meltdowns. I don't want her learning that misbehaving is the only way to get attention, or the best way. Ha. Good luck, right?
This month has given us lots of firsts - with the baby and as a family. We had her first smile. Which I am putting down for the record books as the weekend we were in Vernal and she was totally flirting with her Uncle Chad. She would grin from ear to ear while he would play with her. He would walk away and she would stop. He would come back and so would the grin. I would say that's pretty deliberate and official. So that was September 12 (yes, that's more for me to be able to remember than for you to care about). And she's been smiling like a crazy person ever since. Seriously, the kid smiles ALL the time. It's adorable. Especially with the dimples.
She went to her first wedding. Stayed in her first hotel room. Took her first "trip" (that wasn't to Vernal). And went to her first National Park. All at the same time. My brother got married in Moab (more on that later - Miss Monster was a flower girl!) so we drove down for the weekend for that. Not only were some of those the first for the baby, they were firsts for Madeleine and I as well. We'd never been to Moab before, we'd never seen any of the arches or anything. That was great to do with my entire family. Madeleine loved it and I had a pretty great time as well. (Not sure about Dan, but he didn't seem completely miserable at any point.) I will post more about that in its own post but I just wanted to note that for Elena, she did pretty stinking awesome on her first trip. I don't count the trips to Vernal because those are just a fact of life, and well, she screams the whole way there every time.
That was another thing we "figured" out - if we want to travel, we have to do it during the day. When we leave for Vernal, it's usually after work on a Friday. Well - that's the time of night she's up and awake and wants interaction and to NOT be stuck in her car seat for three straight hours. So she screams and screams the whole way. We worked it out, traveled to and from Moab during the day and it worked perfectly.
The only other "first" I think is worth mentioning is that she had her first day without Mom during this month. And she was a champ. Much more so than I apparently. I did just fine Madeleine's first day of day care, I went back to work with no problem whatsoever. This time was a little harder. I don't think it helped that in dropping off Madeleine that day, she absolutely melted down and wanted her Mommy worse than ever. That was heart-wrenching given I'd just left the other one for the first time too. But it got better. Kind of. I miss both kids this time around a lot more than I would have imagined. I was always completely comfortable that I worked and Madeleine was in day care all day - she was LEARNING. But now, for some unknown reason, it's harder. I just want the day to end so I can get home to my kids. Even though once I'm home with them, I spend the entire night just trying to get them to quiet down and chill out. I guess you just can't win. That's the story of parenthood. Right?

Monday, October 5, 2009

August 1, 2009

I saw the doctor on Tuesday and he scheduled an induction date for August 6. It was three days before my due date and the way he talked, he expected to see me Thursday morning - not sooner.

I left the doctor's office reading over the information about induction and started to cry. I didn't want to be induced. It was the pitocin. I was scared to death of the pitocin. Why would I want to voluntarily start contractions - and from everything I've heard, pitocin made them stronger and closer together but doesn't always really help labor go any faster. So I was terrified. I went back and forth for a few days about whether or not I would keep the scheduled induction. Friday afternoon I tried to call his office to cancel but they had already closed for the day so it would have to wait until Monday.

Or not.

Our plan for Saturday was that I would take Madeleine up to my sister's house so we could take the kids to the park for a festival. I had promised Madeleine we would get her face painted again after we had to wash her face so quickly after her last painting. We would hang out up there and then Dan would come up later and we would go to a friend's house for a party that night. But there was a glitch. My sister's kids had caught a nasty bout of the flu a couple days prior. I called that morning to see how everyone was feeling and turns out, she caught it and felt like crap. Being nine months pregnant, she could keep her plague to herself. Her oldest step-daughter had caught it the night before. Her oldest step-daughter is the daughter of the friend whose party we were supposed to go to that night. So both pieces of our plan that day were infected with the plague. We chose to stay home. I knew of another festival much closer to home that we could take Madeleine to for her face-painting. Since we had nothing else going on that day now, it would be a perfect, lazy afternoon.

Around 11:00 I started feeling a little... um... ouch? It didn't last long and then went away. But I paid attention. And about every 20 minutes, I'd have about a minute of ouch. They weren't getting worse, everything about them was completely consistent. So I just ignored it. I took it easy for the day, laid on the couch, played with Madeleine, made some lunch - lazy, easy day. I knew if I said anything, Dan wouldn't let us take Madeleine to the park. So I kept my mouth shut and just paid attention. Just in case. Besides, the doctor's instructions were "Head to the hospital when your contractions are 15 minutes apart and last for a minute each." I was at 20 minutes. I had plenty of time - IF they were even the real thing.

Around 2:00 or so, we took Madeleine over to the park for her face painting. We had to park a little ways from the park and walk over. That was fun. But I still said nothing. We made it to the park and found the face painting booth and got in line. Conveniently, two parties after us in line got to hold the "Closing Now" sign for the booth. We'd made it just in time. There were about 5 parties in front of us so we waited in line, taking turns holding Madeleine because she was being a clingy little monster. Contractions and holding a three-year old monster was not a good combination. Especially since my temperature would go up like a million degrees with each one. I think it was then I finally said something. In passing. Like oh no big deal.

Madeleine got her face painted - you guessed it, like a butterfly. And we headed back to the car. Maybe I would have pushed to wander around a bit more any other day. I think maybe that should have been the first clue. But we headed straight for the car. The tightening and pain level were getting a little worse. But they were still 20 minutes apart. So we headed home.
Madeleine fell asleep on the ride home so we had to carry her upstairs and lay a towel on her bed so she wouldn't get face paint everywhere. Once we laid her down though, she woke right up and naptime was gone. That was around 4:30. She and I hung out and played and just took it easy since I was kinda feeling like crap and I finally came clean that these buggers kinda hurt. But that it wasn't time yet. But maybe I should start paying attention and writing them down to keep track. But I didn't.
Between 6:30 and 7 I gave in. I knew I'd be going to the hospital that night - whether I ended up having a baby or not, who knew? I went downstairs and told Dan that if he wanted to have dinner, we'd better have dinner NOW. We'd planned a steak dinner that night and I had been waiting for it for days so there was no way I was going to skip it. So we made dinner. And I started officially timing and writing down. And there was no consistency whatsoever. A 30 second contraction here followed by a 45 second one 5 minutes later followed by a minute one 20 minutes later followed by a 20 second one 2 minutes later followed by 50 second one 15 minutes later. They were all over the place. But I could still talk and I could still walk. Knowing we'd be heading to the hospital and Madeleine's face butterfly being all smeary, I threw her in the bath tub to wash her off. I changed my clothes. I finished grabbing the few last things for my bag. I took a picture. I changed my clothes again. I started a load of laundry. I went and yelled at Madeleine to "Get out of the tub, we don't have time for this!" At which point I went and yelled at Dan that it was time to go NOW. RIGHT NOW! Poor guy. Wasn't ready at all. So while he took a few minutes (a few damn too many minutes, mind you!) getting ready, I took Madeleine out to the car to try to get her in her seat. She of course refused to listen as I'm doubled-over leaning against the car begging her to JUST GET IN. One of our neighbors a few houses down was outside working on his bike - he's an older teenager - and he noticed me and asked if I was okay. "Yeah, just in labor." Given Dan wasn't out there yet and I was still trying to get Madeleine in her seat, he asked if I needed someone to drive me. So nice! But I responded that no, my husband was just being really slow.
Dan gets outside and starts to get in the car at which point I realize we don't have enough gas to get to the hospital. So I mention that - to which he says, "That's not very responsible of you. Something something something" To which I say, (as I walk around the car having a contraction) - and under any other circumstances would never have said - "Now is NOT the time for a lecture!" I just have to take a second and say go me. That took a lot of balls for me to be that blunt and well - honest - for me and I did it. So yae.
As we were getting in the car, I still wasn't sure if I'd get to the hospital and they'd not send me home. I knew there was a possibility we might get there and it not be time (boy, am I a MORON). I just wanted to be sure I made it in time for the epidural at this point already. After I had spent a few weeks telling myself maybe I want to try without, I'll wait until the last possible second before it's too late again, maybe I can go without (again, I'm a MORON).
We head down the mountain, the gas station about 5 minutes down. I very specifically tell Dan to NOT fill the car, just put in enough gas to get us to the hospital. Yes, that's how bad they were. That's how quickly they were coming. So he does. By the time we reach the bottom of the mountain there is no doubt in my mind I would NOT be coming home tonight. I would grab the hand bar and breathe like hell just trying not to scream bloody murder with each contraction. That were no harder and more painful than hell and really close together. To the point that I was not only sure if I'd make it in time for the epidural but that I'd make it to the hospital at all. I was terrified. And poor Madeleine is in the backseat having no idea what was going on. I tried to stay as calm as possible, didn't really work but I think I did a decent job. I was able to calmly tell her that mommy was okay just hurt a lot because baby sister was coming and we're going to the hospital now. I had talked with her quite a bit about it beforehand - so that at least helped me feel better anyway. The hospital drive is about 20 minutes, though it felt like an hour with every light being red, getting stuck behind the slowest, stupidest drivers in the world, and the 8 trillion bumps in the road.
Dan pulled up to the doors (I had NO idea why he wasn't just parking - just get me IN THERE! then realized, less far for me to try to walk, duh) and stopped so I could just get out and go in and he could park the car and get Madeleine. I wasn't even sure if I could walk let alone stand on my own. But I did. I walked in the doors, that were locked because it's after hours and managed to reach the button. As soon as the nurse said, "Can I help you?" a major contraction hit, I doubled over and all I could mutter out was "Labor!" The doors opened and not two seconds later, a nurse flung the doors open from the stair way and grabbed me to help me to the elevator. The questions started immediately, "Which baby is this?" "TWO!" "How far apart?" "I HAVE NO IDEA! NOT FAR!" And the rest are a blur. We got to the second floor and they sat me in a wheelchair and wheeled me to a room that was way too damn far away (three doors down, maybe!) asking questions the whole way.
We got in to the room and that was it. I'd had it. They were too hard. I couldn't keep any remote piece of composure anymore and I would just scream with each contraction. They had to undress me and put the robe on me, I don't even remember getting on the bed. When I had Madeleine, the contractions were nowhere near this bad or close together when they told me if I didn't do the epidural NOW, it would be too late. So I was panicked. I wanted the damn epidural NOW! Pretty sure it took the anesthesiologist 8 hours to get there. All the while me screaming with each one. They'd tried putting an oxygen mask on me but that sent me panicking and I had to make them take it off so I could even think of trying to breathe at all. Finally we figured out that if I just held it in front of my face, it was much better. All I wanted to know was where the hell the epidural was. Dan and Madeleine got in the room and I only lasted a few seconds before I begged someone to please take her out. I couldn't let her see the fear and pain and HOLY TERROR I was in. She cried, wanted to stay with Mommy, and I lost it (as I am even doing now just as I type it) - the tears came. I knew that was it. She wasn't the only one anymore. I was never going to be just hers again and I would never be able to dote on only her. She very hesitantly went out with the nurse, not upset, not screaming but just little, quiet tears as she walked away watching me. Thank God the physical pain was so bad. I could focus on it instead. And it was bad.
FINALLY the drugman showed up. After what seemed like another 800 years (seriously, my last epidural took a matter of seconds, this guy took his time!), I had the drugs and it was just a matter of time before I could survive again. The contractions had been unbelievable. I didn't remember them being so bad the first time around. But then again, I had a little more time to gradually work my way in to the hard ones last time around. These just hit me out of nowhere.
Once the epidural took effect, I was able to let them bring Madeleine back in. So she came in and asked all sorts of questions and talked to me and was so very timid. She was calm and very friendly with the nurses. She was only in there a couple of minutes before they needed to check me again. So I had them send her back out with Dan. I was at a 9 and pretty much ready to go. Just as they were finishing up, Dan brought Madeleine back in to say goodbye because my brother-in-law was there to take her home.
The doctor kept talking to me about breaking my water and having a baby and I kept begging "no!" because the last time my water was broken it hurt like hell AND that meant the pushing part was right around the corner. I had the epidural, life had just gotten tolerable again and now they want to rush me along to the worst part ever??? So the doctor's response was, "Well I can just go home for a while and come back later if you want to wait. Or we can just get it over with already." Oh sure. Put it like that. So they broke my water - which didn't hurt even one bit this time. Wish I would have known that, I wouldn't have wasted the minutes arguing and whining about it! About ten minutes later, it was time to push. He'd asked if I needed the crash course on pushing again and I said yes because "I'm not so good at the pushing part. Well, the not screaming part. I'm really, really bad with the not screaming part." He and the nurse put the fear of God in me about screaming. And after last time, having screamed way too much and taking forever to get that baby out, I think I had it figured out.
After about twenty minutes of pushing, and no screaming!!!!!, a slimy, covered, nasty little beautiful, gorgeous baby girl was placed on my chest, screaming her little lungs out. I wasn't expecting that part. Nobody told me about that part. Last time, they immediately took the baby away, I didn't know that in normal circumstances, that's not what they do. I would have liked to have expected that because it kind of freaked me out. Yes, I quickly got over it and then they wrapped her up and whisked her away. It was 11:11 PM and I had barely been at the hospital for two hours. I was dilated to a 5 when I got there, by the time Dan and Madeleine had come in from parking the car, I was to a 7. It all happened so very quickly that it was a complete blur (which is exactly why I should have written this two months ago!).
I was very worried for the longest time that I wouldn't take to this baby as easily, that it would just be another baby to go the rounds with. I was completely taken aback by how quickly I fell in love with her. I was pretty sure the guilt from adding a sibling for Madeleine was going to make me distant and just go through the motions, I am sure every parent feels that way. I was so relieved that it wasn't that way at all. She was beautiful and adorable and mine and I didn't feel one bit guilty for it at all. (No, that would all come later.)
And since I have waited two months to finally write this up, I can add that Madeleine STILL talks about how "Mommy went to the hospital and breathed (she'll do the breathing here) and had a thing on her face and the doctor and baby sister" .... And it's the cutest story ever told. Maybe I should have just let her tell it.