Tuesday, October 28, 2014

copious amounts of leaves, two babies + one blanket

I have the same number of kids as my parents... It feels strange to type that out. To think about that. It felt strange when we put two kids in a stroller late Saturday evening for a walk through our local park. The temperatures were dropping quickly, as was the sun and it all reminded me of so many walks I used to take with my parents as a little kid. Specifically, it reminded me of our walks when we lived in England and the sun would disappear by late afternoon in the fall and a persistent mossy odor and ever present veil of moisture hung in the air. My brother and I would kick up puffs of leaves with our feet, always hoping to come upon a hedgehog, or better yet, a baby hedgehog. I also remember always hearing the voices of my parents, deep in conversation, at the nape of my neck. I used to wonder what they could possibly discuss for so long... Now I know. 
I know that my parents were probably keeping one very watchful eye on us and sneaking glances at each other with the other one. I know that they probably talked about grocery shopping, personal goals, what we should have for dinner, dreams of the future and how they hoped we wouldn't get sick this fall. I know that their heart probably swelled when we did something adorable and stopped when we did something dangerous. I know they were probably tired, overwhelmed, anxious and happy. Because that's life as a parent - 50 percent awesome and 50 percent hard. 
Sometimes when I think about the fact that every moment, every activity, smile, walk, song and dance party is like a tiny pebble that is filling up these little humans with memories that they will have ownership of I feel totally overwhelmed. It is terrifying to have so much responsibility. A part of me, the OCD part, wants everything to be perfect, to create that storybook childhood. Yet I am well aware that that is impossible. So I do the next best thing and I hope that they remember the really good stuff. 
Like the time we shared a bag of chips and cups of apple cider while her brother was sleeping and colored in between bites and sips. Or the time she held my hand through our entire walk, only letting go when she spotted a rock that needed to be picked up or a butterfly that needed to be pointed out. Our our goodnight kisses and good morning hugs. I hope she remembers that I baked all those cookies just for her, even if she just takes one bite of it before getting distracted with something better. I hope that she knows that she's responsible for the best memories of my life. And I hope he knows that just when I thought I couldn't possibly have room for any more pebbles he came in and exploded the whole jar.
I recently came across a piece that someone wonderful wrote about parenting and I thought it was just too good not to share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

"People tell you a lot about how much parenting will change your life and they’re right. But usually they mean that you won’t ever sleep in again (you won’t) and a few other things about how much we “give up” to become parents. No one tells you how much you’re going to laugh. No one tells you how much wisdom resides in these small humans, how much they will teach you about love and life and friendship and forgiveness and worship. No one tells you how good and freeing it is to leave your selfishness behind. No one tells you about recapturing your own wonder and innocence, about re-reading the Ramona books, about playing football in the basement, about birthday parties and snow days and every day beauty. All the best things I know about the big nouns and verbs of a life came back into my life because of them." - Sarah Bessey

I am loving this new season of life as a family of four. There are so many dirty diapers and messes and tears but goodness gracious there is SO much GOOD. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Theodore Finch: A birth story

I have been dying to get Teddy's birth story down ever since we came home. It was such an incredible experience for me and I wanted to put it into words so that I would never forget how I felt that day, so that one day I could share it with him too. I finally squirreled away some time to myself tonight and I knew that writing all this out would be the absolute best use of it. I don't ever want to forget a single detail because, to me, it was all so beautiful. 
...
The morning of monday October 6 was a busy one. We needed to get everything in order for papa bear and my stay at the hospital as well as for my mother-in-law who would be watching Birdie at home while we were gone. There were last minute things being throw into bags, showers to be taken and meals to be planned. As always we were running late and though my heart ached a little when I hugged Birdie goodbye the tears didn't come until we were actually in the car. I just knew nothing would ever be the same the next time I would see her and my heart broke for the ending of this chapter of our lives. 
As we neared the hospital my heart began to pound and my palms got sweaty. We both got silent as we pulled into the parking garage. We checked in and took a seat in the lobby. We would continue to wait for a nurse to take us to the pre-op area for another hour. That's when my mind just went absolutely blank. I thought of nothing. I wasn't scared or nervous or anxious I was just empty. Looking back I think it was my mind's way of keeping me sane until the procedure. 
After what seemed like an eternity a nurse called our name and it was go time. It finally started to feel real. I suppose changing into that dingy hospital gown will do that. On came the silly socks with those sticky things on the bottom and off came everything that belonged to me. After a round of questions things started to pick up. They put an IV in, which I must say was the most painful part of my entire experience. It took them forever to get it in and it basically always hurt. In fact, the bruising from it is still visible and it still hurts when I put pressure on that area. So for those of you worried about an epidural, in my humble opinion, an IV hurts much more. Speaking of epidurals, a few moments after the IV went in a cheerful anesthesiologist arrived with a promise to be out of there within five minutes. I thought "yeah right" and winced. Turns out he really knew what he was doing because the entire thing was over within exactly five minutes. Other than the IV the other slightly traumatic moment for me was when the numbing sensation hit my diaphragm and I started to have trouble breathing, I was already shaking uncontrollably from the anesthesia, so the wheezing noises I started to make really freaked me out. But everyone managed to calm me down pretty quickly and before I knew it I was being whisked away to the operating room. 
This is where papa bear had to leave me for a few minutes. One thing that surprised me about the operating room is just how many people where there. They must have squeezed close to a dozen people into the smallest room ever! There was a lot of prepping of this and that, the sheet going up and soon enough papa bear was by my side again. In a few minutes a slight hush fell over the room as my OB announced that she was beginning the procedure. I had the sweetest anesthesiologist in the operating room next to my head and she would ask me questions about Birdie or my pregnancy as well as keep me updated on what was going on. She would tell me that I would feel pressure here and there but to me it wasn't weird or uncomfortable it just got me more and more excited. As each minute passed my heart beat faster and faster as I knew we were that much closer to meeting our baby boy. I kept asking the girl "is it time yet??? is it time yet???" 
Finally, my OB said "you are going to feel a lot of pressure as we are about to take your baby out." I could feel the knot forming in my throat... I felt his tiny body pulled from me... The girl told me "look up here he comes!!" and the next thing I knew I felt a release and heard my sweet boy cry. As his body was released from mine for the first time in nine months I began to sob. I called out to him just as I did with Birdie, telling him it's all going to be ok. I haven't cried like that in a long, long time. I felt like I had just been witness to one of the most incredible things and I felt like I myself had been reborn in some way, as cheesy as it sounds.
As tears continued to roll down my cheeks papa bear followed Teddy outside of the operating room for his examination. The anesthesiologist wiped them away and I asked her if he was healthy, she replied that he was perfect and I felt like I wanted her to tell me that over and over again. A few minutes later they wheeled me out to meet my sweet boy and rejoin papa bear. I immediately began to feed him and couldn't believe just how well he latched on right away. I was in heaven. He was all mine. I began to take him in - the face I've been dying to see all these months, I felt each delicate little finger and caressed his fuzzy soft head. There is nothing like the day that you go from feeling them inside your body to feeling their body on the outside of yours. It's surreal and momentous and glorious and I would give anything in this world to relive it. In fact, as they were taking us up to our room I turned to papa bear, grinning like a fool, and told him that I want to "have ten more babies." Perhaps, it was the percocet talking but regardless Teddy's birth was wonderful experience for me. I felt like I got to experience birth in such a vastly different way than I did with Birdie. You can read Birdie's birth story here, but basically I was blacking out from the pain for most of it and remember very, very little. I don't remember pushing, I don't remember feeling her body leave mine, all I remember is pain - vicious, monstrous and inhumane levels of pain. 
Every woman is different as is everyone's experience with birth but for me, personally, this c-section gave me the gift of being mentally present for my son's entrance into this world. It also ensured that after his birth I could comfortably sit and breastfeed him, get in and out of bed to tend to his cries and it made me feel complete - I remembered everything, I could give him everything. There was even a brief moment, later that night, as I was drifting into sleep when I felt a ball of bitterness rise up inside my chest. I felt angry at being robbed of all this with Birdie. I was angry and bitter that my first hours and days and weeks with Birdie were consumed with managing my constant pain and just trying to survive. I felt it was so unfair to both of us. I've cobbled together her birth story in my mind from slivers of memories I have and from what papa bear has told me. And I hate that. But just as quickly as that feeling came over me it had passed and I continued to feel nothing but gratitude for the successful delivery, for this healthy babe sleeping next to me and for my body for carrying him and releasing him into this world. 
I also want to mention that my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude to the amazing staff at the hospital that gave me peace, made me laugh, treated me with the utmost love and compassion that you would think would only be reserved for family members and made me feel safe and cared for. I gained a new appreciation for nurses as they saw me at my absolute worst and were so loving, caring and competent. There is no way I could have gotten through those first few days of recovery without them. People often make out c-sections to be nothing but a sterile medical procedure but for me it was an incredibly spiritual experience surrounded by so much love. I couldn't have asked for a better way to bring my baby into the world. 
Here's to the miracle of life and birth, however you chose to make it happen!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

welcome teddy boy!

At 4:48 pm this past monday we welcomed our son - Theodore Finch into the world. In an instant our hearts grew twelve sizes bigger. In seven short days he has already managed to fill our life and our family with so much warmth, joy and love. These days have been unbelievably wonderful all four of us knitting ourselves together forever into a new, larger family. I'm feeling like the luckiest mama in all the world and just soaking up every moment of this very special time in our lives. We're up to our ears in tiny socks, newborn smell and lots and lots of diaper changes and we couldn't be happier about it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

nothing like a fall fair

I realized when I sat down to write this that it turns out this was my second fall fair that I attended while pregnant. I don't know if it's the fact that I have days left in this pregnancy or what but it certainly is starting to feel like I am pregnant ALL THE TIME. I guess it's not all bad because I got that little cutie above out of the first one and goodness gracious if this kid isn't a ball of fun lately (what a change from just a few months ago, so SEE fellow mamas it does get better!). Papa bear and I were talking the other night and we both expressed the same feeling that we have both been on cloud nine over the fact that just recently Birdie has gone from engaging with us on a strictly "need" basis (i.e., I need to eat, sleep, watch a show, etc...) to having conversations or just "hanging out" with us for the sake of entertainment or "fun" and it has turned our world upside down in the best way possible!
So let's talk about the carousel. We actually had no intention of taking her on any rides. Pretty much any non-Disney theme park scares me a bit and I wasn't even sure she would be interested. Well was I ever wrong... She spotted the carousel a mile a way and whined until we got near it at which point she literally began to climb the fence surrounding it in an attempt to get in. So papa bear ran off to buy some tickets and I just kept repeating that she has to "wait, wait, wait" (also known as her most hated word to hear, ever). Finally we made it through the line and onto one of the horses. She was beside herself! Pointing to all the things and grinning like a fool. Then we began to move... You guys I about died! This kid got the most serious face and gripped that pole like her life depended on it. She never complained, never wavered, just stared straight ahead! You would have thought she was going on a mission to Mars! And then it all stopped. I was sure she would beg for me to remove her immediately but to my surprise she was terribly upset that it wasn't spinning anymore and we had a bit of a meltdown over leaving all those shiny horses behind. So I suppose she was hiding the entire time just how much she enjoyed the experience! She is such a silly goose that kiddo of ours!
We also fairly recently discovered that Birdie is crazy about popcorn so there was no way we were leaving without getting her a bag. She munched on that bag the entire drive home with an expression on her face that could only be explained as - pure bliss. I tell you this kid made out like a bandit at that fair! Carousels, popcorn, cotton candy and her prized possession - a plastic apple full of fresh apple cider! 
The next day at home we did one of our favorite things to do together and baked some desserts. It's something I've been doing with her since she was a year old and it's become one of my most beloved traditions. I give her some bowls and spoons and tell her to "mixy, mix" and together we measure and whisk and pour and bake. She gets so engrossed in the process and takes the job very, very seriously. I'm really trying to soak in and treasure these memories because in just a few days I will have two babies instead of one and I never want to forget these days. I am excited to create new memories as a family of four but there's something bittersweet about letting go of what we have known and learning to embrace something utterly different.