And Now We Are Five

It happens so suddenly, even though you know it’s happening. One day we all woke up as a family of four, and the next we were five. We prepared and waited.. and then we just were.

The transition from one to two kids really wasn’t a big one for us. The boys were born 13 1/2 months apart, so we were still doing diapers and had barely been away from bottles. Our first was not always the best sleeper (thanks to acid reflux), and so the middle of the night feedings didn’t wear much more on us. And once our second child was walking and talking – well they’ve basically loved and fought like best friends do.

So many people had told us that it’s either hard going from one to two children or if you thought that was easy, then it’ll be hard going from two to three. Honestly, I think those people are full of it. It’s been a little harder in the exhaustion department since we were already pretty well done in each day caring for a 2 and 3 year old; but it’s not so bad. G has been pretty great in terms of sleeping for a newborn, and we have quickly adjusted to running on a little less sleep (don’t get me wrong, I’ll be thrilled to have that sleep back when the time comes)!

I don’t feel that it’s really all that scary being “outnumbered” by our kids either. Maybe I’ll sing a different tune in a few years, but for now, we are all just getting along fine.

The boys have been phenomenonal when it came to adjusting to having a little sister around. They want to help hold, feed, and love her in any way they can. They’re not bothered by her crying or her needs; we have worked to teach them that not every need or want is instantly gratified, and it has been a real blessing since they occasionally have to wait a little longer than usual now for a drink or snack. We have allowed them to be involved with every aspect of caring for the baby that they can be involved in, and their personalities have really shown through. It’s incredible to see the love that my little boys have for their sister.

I will say that it’s funny how quickly we as parents put from our mind the changing of diapers or mixing of a bottle; and how quickly we can fall back into those routines.

It’s been a true blessing to have welcomed G into our family. My heart is overflowing with joy and love when I have my three little munchkins together, and especially when we are all cuddling together on the couch. So now there are five of us- it’s amazing how a contentment has settled over our family; as if the little ones even can feel that we are now complete <3

A Baby Story (#3): Part Two

Gianna

Photo credit: Blink of an Eye Photography

Wednesday I told you about my Sunday through Tuesday stay at the hospital, in “A Baby Story (#3): Part One.”

Well, Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly uneventful in our world in terms of baby related news. Some contractions of course, but that had been happening for weeks now. I had mixed feelings. Of course I just wanted to not be pregnant anymore, but I have felt that way for the greater part of each of my pregnancies. I don’t mean this in the sense that I wanted my baby’s to come early, just that I was not a fan of being pregnant and I was ready for it to be over if the little one in my belly was ready to come out. Since I was turning 38 weeks on Thursday though, I was ok with the idea of her staying put in my uterus as long as she needed until it meant she would arrive healthy (and preferably on her own terms). Wednesday night I went to bed around 11 pm, after not having much of an appetite all day.

Thursday morning I woke up in pain; I was curled into a ball on my side. I looked at the clock- 6:45am. I waited. 6:50, another contraction. And again at 6:55. In those 15 minutes I had gone from “that kind of hurt” to “we better get to the hospital FAST.”

Trying to remain calm, I woke my husband and told him we needed to get moving quickly. He packed the boys school lunches while I called the doctor to let her know we were heading into the hospital and then my mom so she could come to the house. I grabbed clothes for the boys, and threw my toothbrush in my hospital bag. As soon as my mom pulled into our driveway, we were out the door.

Fortunately, we are only a few minutes from the hospital; the pain increased during that short drive, as did the closeness of my contractions.  When we arrived at the hospital, my husband dropped me off at the front door so he could park in the garage. Unfortunately neither of us knew that there was no one at the volunteer center to assist patients who needed it before 8am- I was lucky that a receptionist heading to another building stopped and offered to wheel me to the appropriate floor! By the time we got to labor and delivery and I had told the nurse my name, current situation (discharged from the floor Tuesday at 5cm dilated and 50% effaced, contractions coming 3-5 minutes apart), my husband was coming down the hallway to be at my side.

From that point on, the next 15-20 minutes were sort of a blur. The nurse quickly got me into a room and I changed into a hospital gown. They were moving in the trays for delivery as well as everything that may be needed for the baby and I. At 7:50, I got into the hospital bed. My nurse (who was incredible, in fact- I can’t say enough about the talent and kindness of the staff throughout my entire hospital stay) began the process of admitting me. The contractions were coming every 3 minutes and lasting for a minute… at 8:21 on November 20th, after being at the hospital for a short half hour, and with one push, my little G arrived into this world. She was quite the peanut in comparison to D1 and D2 at birth, weighing only 6lbs 9oz!

She is beautiful and absolutely perfect!

A Baby Story (#3): Part One

It’s been a month since I last wrote (and I know, I was slacking before that). The end of my pregnancy was quite hard on me. But hopefully now that G is here, I can settle myself into a writing schedule again!

This little girl’s birth story is split into two parts because in order to get the whole story, it’s a long one!

On Sunday November 16th I spent the day with my husband and kids. We ran a bunch of errands and had an enjoyable day. When we returned home that evening, I packed a bag for each of the boys (just in case I went into labor), completed payroll (it was due Monday at noon), and was planning to relax. But when I made a quick stop at the bathroom, I spotted blood! This had never happened to me at home with my other labors, so after consulting my mom, I decided I would move forward with that relaxing and see if anything else happened.

Within 20 minutes my mild cramping moved to contractions 5 minutes apart and lasting up to a minute each. So we called the doctor, packed up those recently packed bags, showered the boys and got them ready for bed (it was only around 6pm but we figured they would be spending the night away from home), dropped the boys and dog at my parents, and headed into the hospital.

The nurse checked my labor progress when we arrived around 6:30 pm- I was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced. That’s a pretty good sign that you’re on your way to having a baby, but we didn’t get settled in just yet. The general rule is to check back in an hour and see how things have progressed, which is exactly what happened. After that first hour, I hadn’t changed much, but the contractions were coming faster and harder, and the bleeding was still happening, so it was decided that we would wait another hour. To my excitement, at the end of that hour, I was at 4 cm!

At this point, I was deemed in “active labor” and admitted to the hospital. We unpacked a few items and made some phone calls, putting everyone on alert that we were planning on having a baby in the next few hours. And so began one of the longest nights of my life.

Throughout that night and into the next morning, I was in varying states of my labor. From active contractions and pain, to virtually nothing. By the time the morning arrived, I was only progressed a little further, to 5 cm, and my labor had seemed to stop altogether. Every time contractions seemed to stop enough that it would mean I could be sent home, they would start again, and so did the bleeding. And so on the day went, until a little after 5pm.

When my physician came to see me, I had a minor (ok probably epic meltdown). I was ok with the idea of not having a baby yet, or I was before the ordeal had started the day before. I hadn’t eaten since 1:30 pm the previous day and had slept roughly 4 hours of the last 36. I was sitting in a hospital bed, missing my boys, 5 cm dilated, and knew full well that I was being sent home without a baby. The doctor was very kind and offered to keep me overnight since I was exhausted and so far along in the labor process; she asked the staff to bring me some food and prescribed something to help me sleep. We discussed the idea that with some rest, labor may begin again, but if not I would be sent home in the morning. So I sent my husband home to be with the boys and settled in for the night.

I’m sure that you can guess by now, since I’ve told you that this was a two part story, that I was sent home on Tuesday morning. Thanks to a good night’s sleep, I was in better spirits. But I was definitely hoping that I wouldn’t make it to my check up that Friday..

The Vaccination Debate- Part 2

My first ever blog post was inspired by a heated social media debate over vaccinations.  Or more accurately, a bunch of inaccurate blog posts being thrown back and forth substituting for scientific data or argument.  I shared a little of my position on vaccinations when I wrote that post, but over the last 10 months, I’ve wanted more and more to do a followup that focused on my opinion and reasoning.  Now seemed like a great time to do that.

I am pro-vaccination.  I received every vaccination that was scheduled to be administered as a child, and opted for additional vaccinations as an adult.  I did not live in a college dormitory so at the time I was not required to be vaccinated against meningitis, but I was.  After graduating college, and working as a plasmapheresis center, I opted to revaccinate against Hepatitis B instead of having a titer drawn for my levels.  I have received a flu shot every year for quite a few years now.  Before D1 was born, my husband received the DTaP, and I received it the day I was discharged from the hospital.  Recently, it was brought to my attention that receiving another DTaP vaccination could produce a response in my unborn infant, therefore protecting her until she can receive her own DTaP vaccination at 6 months; so I opted for another DTaP, and of course a flu shot, at my 28 week prenatal visit.

D1 and D2 have been given all vaccinations on time, starting with a HepB vaccination at birth (and vitamin K, but that is not optional, it is not a vaccine- don’t even get me started on that one).  In the interest of full disclosure I will say that D1 did not receive a flu vaccine his first flu season; my reasoning was that all parties around him were vaccinated and he was not often around people who were not vaccinated.  Since I work from home, he was not around other children who may have had flu symptoms.  In hindsight, I regret this decision and feel very lucky that we escaped nearly his first year with no illness.  Nearly, because at 11 1/2 months, he was diagnosed with his first case of strep throat.

Did I have concerns about vaccinating my children?  Of course I did!  But I did my research, I asked my pediatrician, and I advocated for my children’s healthcare to be in their best interest.  So let me tell you about those concerns..

The primary concern for me was the pain for my children.  Having been vaccinated myself, I know that not only can the shots be painful, but the achiness after a shot can be fairly uncomfortable as well, and that a mild fever after vaccination can be expected.  After speaking with my children’s doctors, we determined the correct dosage of anti-inflammatory medications and used them as needed after a vaccination dosage.  However, this response is not a bad thing!  This achiness and fever is the body’s response to being vaccinated, and it’s a great thing, because it means their tiny little bodies are producing antibodies- the very things that will prevent them (or reduce their reaction to) the disease if they are exposed to it.

I was concerned about the side effects of any given vaccine.  I educated myself on what those are (thank you to the CDC website and the wonderful handouts our pediatrician provided with each vaccination) and knew what to watch for.  I also was very aware of the rarity of a severe reaction.

Those were my concerns.  As an educated adult in America, I can’t quite imagine that there are any other concerns that a parent might have about vaccination.  But moving on..

Since we live in a developed country where many illnesses have never been a part of the lives of today’s parents, I believe this has actually skewed our view on vaccination.  Many parents have never seen or experienced a severe case of chicken pox, let alone known a mother who had a child born with severe defects because she contracted measles during a pregnancy, or had a relative who was disabled from a childhood infection with polio.  Many parents are ignorant to the fact that yes, it could indeed, be their child who dies of pertussis (whooping cough).

I don’t believe it’s anyone’s right to opt out of vaccinating themselves or their child and here’s why.. This is not a personal decision that only affects you and your child.  The decision not to vaccinate effects the mailman, whose child is immunocompromised.  It affects the pregnant grocery store clerk who doesn’t know her immunity to measles has dropped in the years since she was vaccinated.  It affects the elderly person at the table next to you at a restaurant who is on medication that lowers their immunity and ability to fight off infection.  And quite frankly, it affects me- the mother who will have a child who cannot be vaccinated against many illness, but can certainly contract them before, 6 months and up until one year.

No one, and I mean no one, has the right to put my children at risk because of their own selfishness.  The only exception, for me, to a fully vaccinated child, would be one who is immunocompromised, or who has a parent who had a severe (and by severe I do not mean redness or a rash) reaction to a vaccination or vaccination component, therefore putting that child at risk of the same reaction.  I would think, I would truly hope, that if a child falls into one of those two categories, that their parents would be on the same side of this (what should never even be an) argument as me.  Because, quite frankly, the only way for those children to be protected is for everyone else around them to be vaccinated.

My Third Baby

As a great deal of my posts are, this was inspired by a recent conversation with a close friend.  Many of my friends now have children, many more are having their second, and a few are like us- thinking about or working on baby three.  (I can still considering it “working on” since she’s not here yet, right!?)

There are the standard rude comments like “was this one planned?” or of course “are you hoping for a (insert gender opposite other children)?” and the second seems to be the favorite of strangers everywhere when it’s the third child.  I talked about rude things people say to parents and expecting parents alike in this post, but it’s become all that more apparent that people overstep their boundaries the further along in this pregnancy I’ve gotten.

Let me say this- we have two amazing boys that I would not trade for the world.  I couldn’t imagine my life without two boys in it.  The fighting, giggles, wrestlings, trucks, and dirt.. and the drama, yes boys have drama.. every bit of it is incredible.  There’s something special about mommy’s boys and I already know that one day I will be overprotective of them when they date and cry some day at their weddings.  There’s a bond there that I could have never imagined with my boys.

And I feel sure I will feel the same once this little girl arrives.  There are so many things that will be the same about raising a girl and boys, and just that many as different.  There will be new things to learn about her and ways of loving her that I can’t imagine right now.  It will be awe-inspiring to see her bond with her brothers and her daddy.

But had this baby been a third boy, I would have felt the same way.  Yep, you read that correctly.  I wasn’t hoping for a girl, or a boy for that matter.  I simply was hoping that we would be granted the chance to have a third child in our lives, one more sibling for each of the boys, and another person for us all to love.

There were times when I felt that I couldn’t even be excited that I was having a girl, for everything that she will be, because other people were more excited that it wasn’t a boy.  Maybe it’s just the hormones, but that is truly how it felt.

Maybe parents who ask have forgotten what it’s like to feel your heart grow in size like the Grinch’s on Christmas- because that’s how it feels when another child, be it your second or third or tenth.  Your heart doesn’t have to share space, it just doubles with the love it now holds for another child.  As you see your children learn about and love each other, it continues to swell.  Sometimes, it overflows.  And that, is a beautiful thing.

Forgiveness

I don’t tend to hold grudges.  “Yeah, whatever” you may be thinking if you know me.. but honestly, I don’t.  I’ve been hurt a lot in my life, but who hasn’t?  I tend not to let people close to me after they’ve hurt me, and I truly never forget.  But forgive?  I can do that.

See, it doesn’t do anyone any good to hold onto the anger and hate that they sometimes too.  After all, the person you’re feeling those things towards isn’t being hurt by your feelings- you are!  I sound like some self-help book, so I think I’ll keep this post short.  But I wanted to share my take on forgiveness for anyone who’s struggling.

There are two choices as I see it..

  1. You can spend your time and energy thinking about what someone did to wrong you, or..
  2. You can forgive the person who hurt you.  You can accept that not all people you have welcomed into your life are destined to stay there.  You can accept a person for who they are, knowing that you have no control over that person, and no control in changing them.

Which path do you take?

Advocating For Your Health

It’s a crazy time we live in with healthcare being what it is today in America.  I consider my family to be blessed that we have the options of healthcare through my husband’s employer or mine, and that we’re able to make the decisions and receive the care that we do.  We pay for a portion of this health care out of pocket, but it’s absolutely worth the peace of mind knowing that we will be covered if (and with 5 people, 3 being children, let’s face it when) something happens.

I’m not sure if many people outside of the medical field realize the strain that new healthcare laws and rules are putting on our physicians and the medical community.  Instead of your doctor being able to order a test or proceed with a procedure that’s right for you, they have to go through the rigor of running other tests and seeking approvals before proceeding on a course of action.

I grew up in a medical family and 3 of my siblings have entered the medical field.  Truth be told, I wanted to me a doctor but I knew I didn’t have the commitment needed for medical school or the long hours that would follow in a career in medicine.   But I know a lot about a lot when it comes to medicine; my undergraduate degree is one many future doctors share as their undergraduate.  And I’ve spent a lot of time learning through personal experiences and other outlets about diseases and other things I’m interested in.

While I completely understand that this isn’t something that interests everyone, I have recently become acutely aware of the amount of people who know and participate so little in their health care and decisions, and it saddens me.

Most of my experience with this recently has obviously been in the world of pregnancy.  I’m blessed to have a phenomenal doctor and, along with her staff, trust them implicitly with the health of me and my unborn baby.  But I recently had an experience in which I was told by another medical professional that she was going to perform a procedure; I promptly cut her off and told her she was not.  From the look on her face, I gathered this was the first time that she had received that response.  This both shocked and saddened me.  The procedure was minor, carrying almost no risks, and yet it wasn’t something that was appropriate for the stage of my pregnancy, and it was something I had discussed with my doctor previously as not being appropriate at all for me.  Yet here was this woman, assuming that I was going to go along with whatever she wanted to do, as if my care was ultimately in her hands.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am nowhere near a doctor, or even a nurse for that matter- those people are well trained in their profession.  I would agree that most times these medical professionals have their patients best interest at heart; after all, they’ve committed their lives and careers to helping others.  But sometimes, we as the patient, need to advocate for our own care.  Once in awhile we have to ask for a second medical opinion.  Sometimes we have to do some research and ask the right questions so we know more about the plan.  And sometimes we have to step up and say “no” to a test, a procedure, a general plan of care.

You should feel comfortable with those providing your care at all times, and if you do not, it’s time to find someone with whom you do.  I urge you to speak up if you feel that something is not in your best interest or the person whose medical care you are in charge of, be it a parent or a child.  Ask more questions, get the answers you deserve, and make sure that you are entirely aware of the reasoning behind a decision.  Ultimately, it’s you who is charge of your health, no one else.