Archives for February 2015

My Fabulous Five

IMG_1655This week has absolutely blown me away.  I’ve been keeping quite busy tending to five, fabulous little people and… well that’s about all I’ve been doing.  No housework to speak of… none.  In any case, we have a new routine set with our sweet Kyrie added to the mix, and it is working out better than I ever could have hoped for.  After a very long and difficult winter, things are certainly looking up!  In fact, things are smoother around here now than they have been since we got home from Ukraine.  Never did I expect adding a child to the family would make my life easier, but it seems to have done just that.

A huge part of that has to do with my own attitude and perspective.  I will be the first to admit that many of the struggles we’ve had as a family in the last several months were really just issues with how I was managing (or not managing) the household.  Emotionally I was running on empty, which meant a lot of withdrawing was going on and not a lot of intentional presence with my children.  Our routine always seemed crazy and hectic, and I was constantly overwhelmed with what needed to be done like… yesterday.

We still have a million and one things to do.  But I’ve just had to take a step back and realize that God has this under control.  We can only get done what we can get done, and my first vocation is to love my family.  I can’t love my family well when I am so caught up in the “needs” of the world.  Has He not provided all that we need?  Will He not continue to do so?  Including providing us with days to run errands and make appointments?!  Of course!  So I’m going to stop stressing over those, and wait on the Lord to provide those opportunities in His good time.

And while I wait, I am working on making my world much smaller and focusing on just being present with the beautiful family He has entrusted to my care.  With Kyrie here I knew I had to lower my expectations with what I could accomplish.  Going into this week I was determined to bring my “A Game”, because I knew I’d need it, and I knew better than to expect anything but the minimum from both myself and the kids.

I have also been convicted lately of not putting as much work into this job of motherhood as I would have if it was a “real” job where I was getting paid monetarily and had to answer to a supervisor who I wasn’t also married to.  Ahem.  Yeah, quite humbling to realize how I stack up against my own self!  Especially since that self was a college kid from seven years ago.  Yikes.

Yes, there are totally differences between the 24/7 job of motherhood and an 8 hour shift in someone else’s home where you only spend about 20 hours a week.  However, I can do better.  And I know it.  So that’s what I’ve been working on this week.  While the children are awake, they are my job, and I am trying really hard to treat it that way.  No more Facebooking at “work”, no more saying “Just a minute,” when I really mean “I sure hope he forgets what he asked for so that I don’t actually have to add that to my to-do list.”  Etc…

This perspective has really been working well, though it’s the equivalent of having a 14 hour shift every single day that ends with being on call until the next shift starts… which is totally exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding and worth it.  It’s also doable, and I know this season of life won’t last forever.  It’s also the reason why I’m not blogging too terribly much.  When I do have a break in the middle of the day now I have been finding I must take that afternoon nap.  It has been a lifesaver, and that is typically my computer time when I’m awake.

I know ya’ll understand that I’m busy, but I also love blogging too or I wouldn’t be doing it.  It’s a great outlet for me, so I’m definitely going to keep trying to make time for it where I can.  Self care is so important when you have other people depending on you for their needs, and with five very needy (and lovely) people depending on me day and night – I have come to realize that I need to take care of myself if I’m going to be a healing presence for them.

But anyway, enough about me!  I did title this my fabulous five for a reason.  I wanted to let you all know how the children are adjusting to our new normal, because that’s the question everyone has been asking.  The answer is… they are doing amazingly, astonishingly well – all five of them!  Let’s start with the itty bitty one first shall we?  Kyrie is a dream.  She fits like a glove in our family.  She is the easiest baby I’ve ever had.  She sleeps when we sleep, at nap time and at night time.  I’m getting more sleep now than I did when I was pregnant!  She is very content in her bouncy chair, which makes my days actually doable.  She almost never cries; she is doing really well with her pottying, which means we won’t have to have two kiddos in diapers.  Woohoo!  (Yes, I will blog more about that later.)

And, best of all, she sleeps through everything.  Anyone who has spent time in our house or on the phone with me will know that this is not a quiet place, and she doesn’t care one bit.  Thank you Lord for little mercies!  When she is awake, Kyrie is always very still and quiet, much more so than I remember Evie or Stephen being.  She seems to have a very contemplative nature, which will be quite an interesting dynamic to add to our very active crew.

Speaking of active :)  Stephen is next.  He is doing great with his new big brother status, it hasn’t fazed him one bit.  He loves to dote on his little sister and holds her every day.  He’s always saying how he loves the baby, and if she isn’t in bed when he is (his bed is still in our room as well) then it is quite concerning.  He is the classic protective older brother, and we haven’t seen even a hint of jealousy.  I expected regression in several areas, but the only change has been that he’s much more clingy in the wee hours of the morning.  That usually ends in an uncomfortable Mommy sandwich with Kyrie on one side and Stephen on the other.  Suffice it to say, I hope this phase ends quickly.

Dear Evangeline has also been doing better, much due to our new routine that has everyone less stressed.  She is incredibly empathetic and perceptive and is a sponge to the emotions of everyone around her.  Because Jake and I have been doing a lot better the last few days, she is also doing a lot better, which I am so grateful for.  Her nurturing side is just basking in having a baby around to care for.  She would hold her all day if Kyrie would allow it.

Kyrie is also just a healing balm to weary souls. (What baby isn’t?!)  But she especially ministers to her older sister.  If Evie is having a hard time falling asleep I’ll even make a point of taking Kyrie in with me, and her presence seems to calm her in a way that even I can’t.  It’s beautiful watching God’s compassionate hand working through even the smallest and neediest of people.

I would say of all of them, Jacob’s life and demeanor seem to have changed the least in the last week and a half that his new sister has been here.  He loves her just as much as the others do, but his interaction with her is noticeably less than theirs.  He does hold her and give her kisses, but he just doesn’t seem quite as interested as Evangeline and Stephen are.  Is it a personality difference, an institutional thing, something else entirely?

It’s really hard to know, but either way he does love her and we aren’t seeing any regression with attachment or in other areas, so I’m perfectly happy with where he’s at right now.  We’re still in the process of finishing up his evaluations to get therapy services from the school district, and that should be done mid-March.  I’m looking forward to seeing him add occupational and speech therapy to his repertoire!

And saving the best update for last… sweet Hope.  Things are changing around here for our darling girl, but mostly indirectly due to Kyrie’s arrival.  She doesn’t have much contact with the baby other than a few attempts at teaching “gentle touches” here and there throughout the day.  She is certainly interested in the squirmy bundle on my lap, but she still can’t do much in the way of interacting with her.  Many of the children she shared a room with in the orphanage where babies, so I think she rather likes having Kyrie around, she just doesn’t know how to show it yet.

So, how has our new bundle of joy added to Hope’s life?  There are a few ways.  First, having a new baby forced us to change our routine with Hope.  What we were doing was not working.  I’ll try to blog more extensively about this too, but really, parenting a child who spent nine years in a laying room is a puzzle.  There are very few people experienced in this sort of care, meaning our doctors and therapists and experts can help by laying out tools and resources, but we are the ones who have to figure out which ones to use and how to use them.  As my dear husband says, she is a riddle wrapped in a question mark.

Much of our parenting Hope has been trial and error. I can’t even remember how many different sleeping arrangements we’ve tried in the last six months.  My midwife, on a visit a few days after Kyrie was born, suggested we try a Tryptophan supplement for Hope to help her sleep.  Sure enough, she has slept through the night three times this week!  A first as far as we can remember.  Typically she either doesn’t go to sleep for hours or wakes up around 2 or 3 am.  Having her sleep better is a blessing for all of us and I really pray that it continues.

We are also giving her more intentional sensory/play times, as well as intentional resting times during the day.  Our routine really revolves around her schedule now, as the other kids’ activities are much more flexible.  It’s too early to say how much it’s helped her improve, but it certainly has made our family’s dynamic more peaceful and that is absolutely worth it.

And finally… drum roll please…

Hope has words!! She started talking!  Seriously!!!

Mima spent several days with us that first week postpartum and started a new game with her.  To everyone’s surprise, she loved the game (she is usually motivated by nothing but stimming) and she was so eager to play that Mima got her to attempt the word “ball” whenever she handed the little ball over to her.  The more they played the more her word sounded like ball, and now she will do it consistently when asked!  Crazy!  Then yesterday at lunch I was able to get her to say “oooo” for food.  She tried adding the f sound to the beginning, but we’re not quite there yet.

She actually has sounds that she uses that have meanings attached!  I can’t emphasize how huge this is for her.  Our ten year old girl is learning how to talk!!

Kyrie’s Birth Story: Part II

So sorry it took me so long to get this up!  I was out of commission the last couple of days due to a uterine infection, but I’m feeling much better and we caught it quickly so there shouldn’t be any complications from here on out, praise God!  If you missed it, you can read Part I of the Birth Story HERE.

*****

Things started progressing very quickly at this point. People began arriving… Stephen was the first member of my audience. When I heard him wake up I was so worried that he was just going to cry for me the entire night. He is never consolable at one in the morning unless I’m holding him.  Much to my surprise, God provided him with a very peaceful spirit and allowed my mom to hold him. He was even perfectly content (and kind of emotionless) when she had to leave for a moment. Next Jake’s parents arrived, followed by the midwife’s assistant and her back up midwife who was also attending the birth.

Birth AudienceMy mom went upstairs to see if Evangeline wanted to wake up. Now, if you know my daughter, you know that she is just like me and that being woken up does not put her in a happy place. But as soon as she heard “Mommy is having the baby,” she sat straight up and proclaimed “Oh! This is my favorite part!” She came downstairs bounding with energy and sat right next to Stephen to watch the birth.  Jake’s mom sat down to help and before long I had my own little audience with their chairs pulled up to see the big event.  It probably would have been terribly distracted if I had had any presence of mind to think about it, thankfully I was preoccupied.

They couldn’t actually see me in the tub during contractions because it was so tall, but I popped up in between and smiled and gave them thumbs up to let them know I was excited and everything was going well. Jake and I took a picture together and I was still talking and laughing in between contractions. They did get closer together, though I didn’t notice it much because they had started so close.

I started feeling a bit pushy so my midwife checked me. I was dilated to almost a nine already (and still happy in between contractions?!) so she told me to breathe through a couple more and that I was almost there.  At this point Jake’s back rubs stopped helping, which I managed to communicate mid-contraction. My brilliant midwife told him to try constant pressure instead of moving pressure. That felt much better. Contractions were getting so intense that I found myself holding my breath when one started. “I need you to breathe through these,” my midwife reminded me, which I did with quite a bit of vocalizing.

Breathing hurts less than not breathing, but for some reason the natural reaction is just to clamp up. About three contractions after my midwife checked me I let her know that my body had started pushing on its own during contractions. She started helping Jake by putting pressure on my hips while he pressed down on my back.  She asked me if I wanted him to get in the tub for support while pushing and I said no. Their cumulative effort was helping me manage and the last thing I wanted was to change it up and risk being in more pain, so I opted to keep everything the same. I was on hands and knees, not my preferred pushing position, but again I wasn’t about to move. I had found a way to cope and I was going to stick with that.

During the next contraction I started pushing. My midwife checked me afterward and said that I was fully dilated with just a little lip. I told her I was pushing through the last contraction and she said “I know; I wasn’t born yesterday. That’s why I checked you.” I didn’t laugh out loud but I did chuckle a little on the inside.  She asked if I wanted my water broken to push, and that she always felt more comfortable pushing without the bag of waters there. I was totally indecisive. I had no idea! I had never made it to the pushing stage with an intact bag of waters.

We broke my water during Evie’s labor at 5cm because I was tired of the slow progress, and Stephen’s broke on its own before his labor had even really started.  I couldn’t make up my mind, so I said we’d work through one more contraction and then decide, which was really me just stating the reality as the next contraction was already starting anyway. Several seconds later the point was totally moot as my water broke easily on its own and baby was crowning with the next push.

After that it took about five more pushes for baby to be born, way more than I’ve ever had to push before. But I had no tearing, and have been much more comfortable post-partum than I was with either of my other babies, so I don’t mind having had to wait a little longer in the pushing phase!  Baby was born at 2:10am almost two hours exactly from when active labor started. After doing some gymnastics with the umbilical cord… ahem… my midwife handed me our sweet little one and we put a towel over her to keep her warm in the tub. This is the first baby that Jake didn’t actually help deliver, but I think he was ok with that.

I held her for a minute before someone inevitably asked if baby was a boy or girl, I had to move the cord to see, and when I did I just remember saying “She’s a girl! But I already knew that, Mommy didn’t even have to look to know you were a girl.” Which is true, from my feelings during pregnancy and then seeing her face when she was born, somehow I just knew.
Baby girl and I stayed in the tub a while longer. The placenta did not come out nice and whole like it should have, so my midwife had to work on that for a few minutes (not super comfortable if you were wondering). Unfortunately we didn’t quite get all the little pieces (which caused my uterine infection a few days later).  We found that she also had a true knot in her cord, just like her older brother did!  Not sure why my children like to do that…

IMG_1558After all that was finished, Daddy brought Jacob over to cut the umbilical cord, he had just been woken up after the baby was born, although he didn’t particularly care to. The story I heard was that when Daddy went to get him and said it was time to meet the baby Jacob’s answer was “No, let’s do it in the morning.” Sigh… a child after my own heart. But he was glad afterward that he was awake with all the excitement!

Finally it was Daddy’s turn to hold the baby while I changed clothes and slowly made my way to the family room to rest in the recliner. After a good while of sweet girl nursing, Stephen helped Daddy weigh her and the midwife did a few quick newborn measurements and checks.  Last, but certainly not least, Mommy got a very early morning breakfast of oatmeal before we all headed back upstairs to bed at the very sleepy time of four in the morning. We still had no name for her at this point; it wasn’t until later that afternoon that we decided on Kyrie.

Out of all three births, Kyrie’s was definitely the smoothest. She also broke all of the similarities that my other two shared. I suppose we truly have no idea what pregnancy and childbirth are going to be like no matter how many times before we’ve done it. It is always changing from one child to the next!  Yet one thing continues to remain the same… the sacrifice is miniscule and not even comparable to the reward of bearing life. And to those dear mothers whose pregnancies didnot come to such a joyous end on this side of eternity, my heart and prayers are always with you and the reward that awaits you in Heaven is greater still.

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Kyrie’s Birth Story: Part I

Kyrie Rose

February 14th 2015

8lbs 2ozs – 20 1/4 in.

Five weeks after I was let off of bed rest and there I was, still pregnant. I could not believe it. My mom and brother were in town to meet the baby who was not here yet, and I was a week past my due date which had never happened before. Needless to say, I was ready to get this little one out into the world! We had one more day before my family had to leave.
The days before we tried stripping the membranes with absolutely no results. I dilated a tiny bit from 2cm to almost 3cm, but nothing else of note. On Friday evening my midwife came over with one last option to try.

She gave me an herb regimen to use that night and the next morning. It included Evening Primrose, Verbena and Cottonwood.  She told me that at this point she didn’t want to get too aggressive trying to kick start labor, and I agreed. As much as I wanted to have this baby, I wanted the baby to be ready above all else. I started with the Verbena; I was to take it every two hours that I was awake and to switch to Cottonwood the next morning.

My first dose of Verbena was at 5:45pm, I immediately noticed that my contractions seemed more persistent. We had gone walking at the mall earlier in the day, which had set off some good contractions, but they had been dwindling through the afternoon. This seemed to revive them a bit. I felt optimistic, but wasn’t going to get my hopes up yet. After a month of contractions and false alarms I was over trying to guess if I was in labor, but it felt better at least trying something.

I took my next dose of Verbena at 7:45pm, but it didn’t seem to have the same effect. My contractions were waning again and this didn’t pick them up too much after the first twenty minutes or so. I did a lot of walking, swaying, squatting and sitting on my birth ball that evening. I ate some jalapeno cheetos, joking with my mom that maybe the spicy food would help.

Mom and I retired upstairs and chatted while we waited for 9:45 so I could take a final dose of Verbena and go to bed. I told her that I didn’t want to go to sleep because that just meant one more day of not having the baby.  After all, my contractions always petered out when I laid down. But away I went, consoling myself with the knowledge that we could try the Cottonwood first thing in the morning. I took my last dose of Verbena along with the Primrose oil and went to bed.

Jake had not been feeling well so he had gone to sleep with the kids a few hours earlier. We talked for quite a while, it had been a long day and we both needed to decompress. Sleep didn’t come easily, I kept having little contractions that did nothing more than to remind me that I had been having the same ones for months and they meant absolutely nothing.
By the time I was finally dozing off, Evie woke up and I jostled Jake to go check on her. He was gone for several minutes so I checked my phone to see what time it was – 11:49pm. Two hours since my last dose of Verbena.

Well… I was awake so might as well get up and take another round right? Within fifteen minutes of laying down I had another contraction, a different-feeling contraction. It was certainly the best one I’d ever had laying down! I decided that if I had another I would sit up and see what happened. Sure enough, several minutes later another contraction started, I sat up and maneuvered into a modified squat, trying to put as much pressure on the cervix as I could while still in bed.

Ouch.

Several things went through my mind…  I had forgotten what actual labor feels like. — That was definitely an actual labor contraction. — I’m not sure I actually want to be in labor after all.— If I have any more of those I will actually be in labor.

I had another one. Just as painful. After posting to Facebook (because that’s the most important thing right?) I went to go find Jake who had fallen asleep cuddling with Evie. All I said was “Jake… ouch,” while pointing to my tummy. He got up and I caught him up to what was going on at  that point. We both started looking for clothes so I could go downstairs and walk through the contractions that were coming about 2-3 minutes apart.

On my way downstairs I knocked on the office door where my mom was sleeping for the week and let her know that I thought I was in labor and asked if she could listen for the kids for us since we’d probably be preoccupied. I knew my midwife had had two straight nights with no sleep, so I didn’t call her right away.

IMG_1406The contractions were strong from the beginning, I could talk through them barely, and I had to stop what I was doing to hold onto something. My brother was still awake downstairs so we enlisted him to take a few pictures before things got going.  I decided to do a cute little heart shape, being acutely aware of what day it was.  And Jake is texting people to come on over.  :)

I took a quick shower to see if the warm water would help relax me during contractions. It didn’t help too much so I got out and asked Jake to start filling the tub. I called my midwife at 12:51am, but told her not to come out just yet. I didn’t know how quickly labor would progress and I felt bad making her get out of bed sooner than she had to.

My mom came down shortly after that and we started prepping the birth room, I turned on my music playlist, which was awesome for helping me focus through the contractions. I don’t think I made it more than ten minutes before asking Jake to call the midwife back, this labor felt way too much like Stephen’s labor and I knew we didn’t have a whole lot of time.

The timeline becomes a bit of a blur after that. Somewhere in there I went to the bathroom a million times thinking I had to go, but not really needing to; my midwife arrived; and we ran out of hot water, so my dear brother went on boiling water brigade (heat water on the stove, put it in the tub, repeat) and that was his job for pretty much the rest of my labor. He’s a swell guy, and single by the way ladies. 😉

I also changed into my labor gown, and started getting really grumpy with Jake if he wasn’t helping me through contractions. I actually remember joking with him after one that we knew we were in labor when I start yelling at him to “pay attention” during a contraction. He’s not allowed to talk or be distracted, lol! During all of my labors he has been my biggest support, though I’ve needed him in different ways. This time he rubbed my lower back through contractions which helped to take some of the pressure off.

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My midwife wanted to check baby’s heartbeat and to see how far dilated I was. I told her I didn’t want to be checked yet, and she only had to see one contraction to know that I was quite actively in labor. I asked her if I could get in the tub, because I wasn’t sure if the water was deep enough yet. She told me to get in whenever I felt like it, which I did very promptly.

The water was noticeably more comfortable. I briefly considered asking someone to get my essential oils out, but I knew that at this point in labor they really would do nothing for pain relief, so I decided against it. Jake continued to rub my back through contractions from outside of the tub.

To Be Continued…

Kyrie Rose

February 14th – 2:10am
8lbs 2oz – 20in

Kyrie Rose
Kyrie (Kear-ee-ay) is the Greek word meaning LORD. Her name means “The Lord’s Rose”, or as we like to say… God’s Little Valentine. Our most fervent prayer is that Christ our Lord will now and forever be the Greatest Love of our daughter’s heart

My Pride or Joy

My babies come on time.  That’s just what they do.  For nearly five years I’ve been able to brag about how my kiddos came on the day before their due dates – both of them!  It’s quite convenient to have prompt babies who follow their schedules obediently.  And with this pregnancy?  I was sure that I was going to go early.  I said as much for about a month…

Then I did go early, too early.  Pre term labor at 33 weeks was not exactly what I had in mind.  So I went on bed rest for three weeks.  I worked hard to be vigilant about my vitamins, my protein intake, my fluids.  I took an Epsom salt bath almost every night, and when all else failed, I obligingly took that horrid medicine to stop the contractions.

It was a dark three weeks, too cold for the kids to play outside, little light, not enough sleep for my husband and far too much work to do.  The kids handled it about as well as you could expect little ones to cope with not having a functioning mother.

So many people blessed us with meals, without which we probably would have been eating hot pockets and lunch meat for a month.  I couldn’t get up to greet them as they came in; I couldn’t even write any thank you notes, because when I wasn’t trying to get comfortable or force down vitamins and food I was usually attempting to put out constant fires amongst the children.  (You can imagine how effective that is when they all know you can’t leave the couch.)

I couldn’t believe how little I was able to do.  It was frustrating to put it lightly.  Then off of bed rest I went, and for a week it was just battling constant pain and fatigue.  I finally got a maternity belt which brought me back to almost 100% and that’s where I am now.

IMG_1401Today is the day before my due date.  (Yes that’s me on the right… 40 whole weeks.)  I’m not uncomfortable, actually other than persistent heart burn, I feel more comfortable for nine months pregnant than I can ever remember feeling before.  I can cook and clean and play with the kids and run errands.  For all intents and purposes I should be perfectly content staying pregnant a little longer… but I haven’t been content, not in the least.

I was venting to a friend a couple of nights ago about how on Earth I haven’t had a baby yet.  My midwife and everyone was certain that this baby was going to come as soon as I went off bed rest, and yet… baby never came.  I knew this baby was coming early… and yet here we are, right on time and it looks like probably even a little late!

What happened?  How did I get this all so wrong?  I hate being wrong and I hate not knowing things and I hate not being in control of what I feel is important.  There’s a word for all those things, and it’s called pride.  When I was talking to my friend I told her how I felt like such a fraud.  People reached out to help us at what felt like a very critical time, only for the crisis to pass and to seemingly have been pointless.

Was it pointless?  Could I have gone to term without bed rest?  Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever know that answer… but it’s certainly not a gamble we should have taken.  And yet, it feels so wrong to still be pregnant – like I am doing something wrong.  It feels like I did nothing for anyone for a month for no reason.  And my friend?  God has given her such a kind wisdom.  She showed me that those feelings are simply lies.  “Do not regret loving your baby Dalas,” she said, “because that’s what you were doing.”

And in that moment I realized how foolish all this pride was, how not wanting to face everyone at Church on Sunday because I’m “still here”, is just plain silliness.  No one is judging me for still being pregnant!  (And even if they were it really shouldn’t matter more to me than meeting Christ in His Sacrament.) God has given our family an amazing gift by allowing my body to carry our precious child to full term.  An amazing gift.

This baby is going to be born with the very best chance at thriving on the outside of my womb, and what more could we ask for than that?  Every day longer I carry this baby is just one more day I get to express my love for our child in this unique and very short season of his or her life.  What is there to be sorry about?  Why let my pride over being wrong and needing help overshadow the immense joy that should be characterizing such a beautiful season?

How foolish of me to think my timing for this child is better than the Lord’s timing.  How foolish to spend the blessings of today in angst over details that only have meaning because it’s what I thought I wanted.  I am so thankful that God has given me the humility to see such error, so that I can spend my last few days with the joy He is intending for our family.

I reject your lies, Satan, your foolishness and your poison pride.  Instead, I will drink of the cup of joy and thankfulness.  I am thankful for one more day to prepare.  I am thankful for one more day to love my baby so uniquely, knowing we will never again be as close to each other as we are now.  I am thankful for one more opportunity to bake cookies and make crafts before another season of survival and adjustment.

I am thankful for the completion of a healthy pregnancy.  I am thankful for one more round of children kissing my belly good night.  I am thankful for one more night to cuddle with my sweet Stephen for as long as his little heart desires.  I am thankful for the possibility that my mother might actually get to be present for the birth of one of our children.  I am thankful that God’s ways are not my ways.

If it’s a choice between my foolish pride or His joy… for Heaven’s sake, today I choose joy.  And I thank God for giving me just a little moment of clarity to grasp that.

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