Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adjusting to life as the Mom of Two under Two

I started this post a few days after we came home from the hospital.  I'm glad it's taken me almost three months to post it because it has really been quite the on going life change.  Now that I can see the semblance of a routine forming, I finally feel like I've gotten somewhat of a grip on being a mom of two under two (I'm sure I'll pay for that comment shortly, it is murphy's law after all).  For a few weeks I literally felt like days were just getting away from me, one melting into another compounding the feeling that I was seriously not winning at this game of whining and crying, feeding, changing diaper after diaper, repeat.

When I was pregnant and envisioning this next life change, I truly just felt a bit frozen in fear.  Part of it was that I really had no clue how taking care of every need for 2 young kids, myself a dog and a cat alone for close to 10 hours a day was going to go down.  I was scared big time of the change and was worried about how I would handle things like getting Sammy down for a nap while the baby was awake.  I wasn't too worried about loving both  Sammy and the new baby.  I had heard enough times, your heart simply grows.

What struck me horribly by surprise was what has been my biggest adjustment.  I guessed people had me thinking the only two worries would be loving the new baby as much as I loved my first and easing through Sammy going from only to oldest child.  The problem for me was that I somehow changed how I saw Sam because I started loving the new baby.  A terrible feeling knowing that Sam was also probably feeling very replaced.  Can you imagine, it would be like your spouse bringing in another woman to love and you just had to deal.  I didn't anticipate how I would react to Sammy, vs the new baby.  I've written redundantly about how Sammy's babiness has been disappearing in what seems like milliseconds on my monthly Sammy posts so I'm not sure how this surprised me so much.  However when I got home it was like a bomb had gone off and in it's wake my baby and toddler were just replaced by big kid.

In hindsight by 4 weeks postpartum the thought was completely ridiculous, but I just couldn't and still sorta can't see him as a baby anymore at all.   His needs were so different than this helpless newborn weighing just a mere 8lbs.  It was just crazy how he truly grew up in a blink of an eye.  It took me several days to find a new normal with how I viewed Sammy.  I was really upset over the way Sammy had gone from my whole world to this kid who was driving me absolutely nuts.  After a few days had passed, I was able to see on Sammy's face how down trodden he had become.  He just seemed weathered and sad and it just about broke my heart.  It was right then and there that I realized some of this had to do with me treating him as an older child vs the not even two year old he was.  I needed to get back to treating Sam with the level of care I had always given him.  Doing so, really helped us both to adjust.

Paul is fortunate to work for an amazing company that provides fully paid paternity for two weeks and then allows a father to take as much of their vacation leave as they'd like or also just unpaid FMLA.  Paul took off a bit more than 4 weeks and it was great and needed, especially with two kids.  It gave me the chance I needed to bond with Lexi.  Without him being home, I honestly can't imagine being able to sit and be still and just love on her the way we both needed.  Paul being home allowed us to keep Sammy on his regular routine of getting out of the house each day, which in turn gave me 1 on 1 time with the new baby and Sammy 1 on 1 time with his Dad and sometimes with me.  By the start of the 3rd week, I was ready to face reality and find a new normal at home.  I think everyone Sammy and Paul included also needed to get back to life as a new normal. 

What has helped for me now 3 months in has been to really focus the first set of waking hours before Sammy takes a nap just on him.  I struggled emotionally with having to let Sam be by himself while I tended to Lexi but we have both adjusted to the normality of needing to tend to each child on their own a few times a day.  I'm not sure what I could have done to prepare Sammy for this change in his life as I also didn't expect to have a nosey newborn who didn't just conk out when tired.  It's almost like giving birth.  You can only do so much to prepare for it, but in the end only the present moment will give you the opportunity to know and write your story.  Fortunately, Lexi has blessed us as a great at home sleeper (knock on wood) which has given me and Sam wonderful one on one time.  

I think back to the question we get often of if it is harder or easier the second time around and the fact is that both are hard and easy in their own right.  I know I had severe newborn amnesia from the first go around.  I remember it being hard, but I think you just forget just how hard having a newborn can be.  The unpredictability, the amount of time they spend feeding, going to sleep, etc.  The first time around everything overwhelmed me because I had no idea what I was doing or if I was doing it right/wrong.  I read way too many books that did nothing but remind me to use my intuition and read my son.  The second time I have been way more relaxed (haven't picked up single baby book and haven't looked back).  Lexi has been exposed to so many of Sammy's germs and has been manhandled in ways I would have died over had it happened to Sammy.  The second time I have also been in tears with the enormity of the work.  The day I had to put both of them to bed by myself when Lexi was 9 weeks old and Paul had gone to NY for work was horrible.  So thankful that day is over and won't be back.

I had to readjust my expectations since I had assumed she would have just come with us on walks, to the park and shopping in her carseat or ergo.  Unfortunately even given my best effort to get us out of the house from the get go, it just wasn't going to happen once the early first few weeks of extreme portability wore off.  Lexi was just way overstimulated by the environment around her or it was just reflux causing a host of problems.  We have become very inventive on fun stuff to do at home while Lexi naps all morning.  Sammy still gets out of the house after Paul gets home around 5 to run errands, go for walks or go to the playground.  Also having my Dad come over to get him out of the house for a bit has also helped both me and Sammy tremendously.  So aside from getting out of the house first thing after breakfast and watching tv more than he used to, Sammy's routine has stayed the same which I know has helped his world not be completely rocked.  He now understands that I'm going upstairs to put Lexi down for a nap and to stay downstairs and watch tv, have a snack and play with his toys for 10 minutes (this took some time but it has helped a lot!)

Now that most of the newborn fog has lifted we are starting to get out alone and as a family.  Life feels much more balanced and it is amazing how fast time has gone.  It truly has been a butterfly like metamorphasis becoming the mother of two and watching Sam grow as a big brother and Lexi as a little sister.  The worry has faded about whether both are getting enough of me.  They have both grown to need each other and love being together.  Sammy goes around almost all day saying, Baby awake? Baby asleep.  Makes me so happy to know his sister brings him so much joy.  I hope that they will always have such a strong innate bond. 
I am sure I will again feel overwhelmed when a new stage hits me by surprise but for now I feel like I can breathe and feel adjusted both from the standpoint of loving myself, my kids and our new normal as a family of 4.75!  Now to feel more comfortable in my non elastic waist band pants!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tiny Prints Christmas Card Time!

Incredible that we are already at the 2013 Christmas Season.  Last year at this time if told me I'd have a 4 month old for Christmas I would have laughed.  So blessed the joke is on me!

Last night before bed I stepped outside to take Bailey for a walk and was caught off guard by the beauty and smell of the crisp fall air.  I could smell the clean non humid air, the stars for the first time I can remember in our neighborhood were breathtaking (we live in a very well lit area) and you could just smell the leaves having reached their peak.  Never mind that I could see my breath and that Bailey was taking his sweet time, I was soaking up the change of the season.

Tonight when I made my great escape during Lexi and Sammy's nap I fled to target and was of course drawn into yet another sign that Christmas is near.  I was so excited to add Lexi to the tradition I started in 2011 of buying Sammy a child friendly ornament each year.  This came in handy last year when Sammy was able to pull at the ornaments at the bottom of the tree.  Hopefully this year Sammy listens a little better and our tree won't end up having to look like a backwards mullet of ornaments.

Another tradition to continue as we head into the Christmas Season is picking out our Christmas card.  Oh how our Christmas cards have changed over the last 10 Christmas' we have been married.  From boxed cards to photo cards of the cats, to the cats and Bailey, then Sammy and now Lexi and Sammy.  Now we have kids (emphasis on the plural) to spread joy through cards this Christmas.  How blessed are we!

I talked a little bit about how I was already perusing Tiny Prints Christmas cards when I ordered Lexi's birth announcements a few months ago.  Here are my favs for this year.  Will you be surprised by my choice in a few short weeks when they are delievered to your door? 

What will you chose this year?


I hope as you start celebrating this Christmas, you get a chance to hop over to the Tiny Prints website and see all the cute cards they have to offer again this year. 
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Welcome to the world Alexis Rita. Lexi's Birth Announcments

I love getting beautiful cards in the mail.  There is something about holding that thick card stock with vibrant colors that makes me so happy.  I always have fun designing our cards.  Whether it be Sammy's birthday cards, our Christmas cards or something truly special, the announcement of our new baby girl! 

I knew I wanted to order from Tiny prints.  I think they have the best designs and affordable prices when using a coupon for the quality and customer service.  Since I had blogged for tiny prints in the past, I reached out to them and asked if I could blog about our birth announcements in exchange for Lexi's announcements.  They agreed which I think is totally awesome, especially considering my blog is about the opposite of famous.

When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to choose the favorite cards from their site and put them aside so that when I gave birth all I had to do was put in Lexi's pictures and her birth stats and add them to my cart.  Tiny Prints has so many choices that I end up spending too much time being indecisive.  I knew if I didn't make my decision before Lexi came it was going to take too long to do it with caring for a newborn and a 2 year old and a husband on paternity leave.

So many choices, but these are the few I narrowed it down to.  Once Lexi's newborn pictures came in from the very talented Wishbox Photography, I ended up adding the pictures I wanted and seeing which card looked best with my favorite pictures.  In the end, it wasn't the card I would have chosen with the stock images which was surprising.  I think adding your own pictures to several of the cards you like is a good tip.  So often it's the image on the card that you like and not the actually design of the card.  For me I also was able to narrow down the selection by eliminating cards with only one image.  I'm way to indecisive and eclectic to go with just one image!

While shopping for birth announcements, I also ordered these cute Halloween cards to use as birthday cards for Sammy's pumpkin patch second birthday party.  One thing I especially like about the tiny print cards we've ordered is I can add text and images to the back.  It worked out great for Sammy's birthday invitations.  I think adding a picture to a birthday invitation is also a great way for friends and family to see your child at their current age.  Sorta like a school picture or valentine you share.

I've already taken a peak at what they have for Christmas cards this year.  I'm excited to chose our pictures and a card and have our friends and family receive some pretty mail.


Alexis Rita's Birth Story

How blessed I feel to have this story to tell.  My heart has grown yet again and I am over the moon with love for my new baby girl.  We had an amazing birth and I know the grace in which she slipped effortlessly into the world is just the precursor of good things to come.

Lexi your birth could not have been a happier day.  I look back on your birthday and know it will always be one of the best days of my life.  We were so excited to meet you and see what God had been growing inside me for the last 9 months.  Having a baby for the second time is almost more special because you know just how wonderful a gift you are about to receive.  As physically demanding as my pregnancy was, I was totally in awe at how easily you came into this world.  I thank you so much for that!  I heard from a friend that girls go easier on their mamas and for me, from not having to try to conceive, to the lack of morning sickness, to your birth that was truer than true.
Your first picture!  Delayed clamping in progress!
Short version in case you don't want to read the deets: 9 hours of labor and 2 sets of pushes and boom chicka boom boom there you were slipping effortlessly into the world as perfect and as healthy as can be.  8/15/13 at 2:02 am!

Continuing on from the start of your birth story, I'm going to start this part of your birth story on the Monday before your birth.  Nana was supposed to arrive in a few hours and Daddy was busy looking for the camcorder charger I tasked him with packing several weeks prior.  I had just put Sammy down for a nap in an immaculately clean home and couldn't wait to get my butt into a massaging chair for a pedicure and manicure and then boom, I come down the stairs to a gigantic mess and no Paul.   He's honestly lucky I wasn't home, I was on the hunt for blood after seeing this mess.

Paul apparently thinks the charger is behind the dryer, the dryer my friends, the DRYER.  This is after he thought it was above a toilet, under a sink, above the refrigerator... you get the point.  Seriously, who in the right mind, especially a pregnant woman would put a camcorder charger in any of those places.  Maybe he didn't notice me nesting and organizing all our cabinets for weeks prior.  Bangs head against wall.  39.5 weeks pregnant is a good time to tear apart your home and do a laundry room remodel, no?.  Why do men have such a hard time finding things.  It is by God's grace alone that we are still married.

He finally returned from Home Depot where he bought a shelf to amp our laundry room up and I escaped for a very needed and long overdue mani pedi.  I got my nails done in the colors of your nursery.  The blue was also sort of an ode to your brother.

The next day, Nana and camcorder charger in tow (I found it in two minutes exactly where I said it was), we head to Clemyjontri park for one last, enjoy your time as an only child trip with Sammy.  This place is really awesome.  Despite the heat we stay for several hours and all have a great time.

We head home have lunch and get an exhausted Sammy down for a nap and have one last belly picture taken akin to our last picture with Sammy courtesy of Auntie Stephanie (thanks mama) and we head on our way to the hospital to have prostaglandin inserted.  I was 39.5 weeks with the too small watermelon and 39.2 weeks with the pumpkin.

This whole time I've had a nagging sore throat and am pleading with my body and God to not be sick.  Eventually I muster the courage to ask the nurse to take a peek and bam I'm stuck in the hospital for an extra two hours courtesy of an unneeded strep test which of course came back negative.  We finally move on to what we went to the hospital for, the dr. checks me and has me going backwards barely dilated and maybe 50% effaced.  Say what?!  I was at least a fingertip and 80% a day ago according to another dr in the practice.  At this point it's what evs, we are going on 3 hours at the hospital and we are about to miss Sammy's last bedtime as an only child.  I don't not want to miss my last opportunity to say goodnight to my boy.  I'm emotionally not ready to do that for the first time a day early.
We finally head home, get Sammy down, scratch our plans for date night and order cheesecake factory takeout as a fabulous last meal instead and try and get some rest.  I tossed and turned all night.  I was so ready to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 6 am to get this show on the road and meet my girl.  I remember distinctly looking at my phone at 3:36am and thinking yes, only a few more hours!  I couldn't sleep all night and there is nothing worse than trying to sleep because you know you have to ,and ending up on pinterest/facebook burning time instead.  Wouldn't you know my phone rings when I had just fallen asleep at 5 am.  Who the hell is calling me from a number I only scantly recongnize at 5 am.  I figure I should answer since it couldn't be a wrong number.

Well the call was definitely for me.  It was the hospital saying our induction was postponed.  WHAT?!  I didn't even know that was possible.  Apparently the wild weather we had overnight sent every woman in fairfax county into labor.  Commence freak out of the century.  OMG I was so disappointed, pissed, frustrated all at once.  So much pent up energy from not being able to sleep and being ready to meet my baby.  We were told to call back at 9 am.  We call at 9, still no beds, so we are told to come in at 12.  So we get busy making the best of our second chance at one last morning with Sammy as an only child.

We go for a walk and enjoy the absolutely gorgeous weather.  Had it always been mid 70s and no humidity, I could have stayed pregnant forever.  Of course we get home to my phone blown up by calls from the hospital.  We call them and find out they are cancelling my induction for the day.  Ugh, I want to scream!  I have barely eaten per doctors orders.  How do you do this to a woman 40 weeks pregnant.  I make them page the Dr. so he can explain to me what is going on and how we are going to proceed.  He calls me back, I'm almost in tears and we decide that if a bed becomes available before evening, they will call me and I will get my butt into a L&D bed ASAP so no one else can steal my spot again.  If not, I am in for round two of not being able to sleep, anxiously awaiting my induction appointment at the ungodly hour of 6:30am in the morning.

At this point I'm famished, I throw in the towel and go to town on leftover cheesecake factory.  Screw a semi empty stomach prior to giving birth, Mama's hungry.  I get Sammy down for a nap and Paul and I plan to make the best of a bad situation and go on that date after all.  I finally manage to get him off the computer and out the door when of course L&D calls all cute and sweet asking me if I'm ready to meet my baby.  Why Yes, Yes, I am!  So the nurse says, come on don't wait, let's have ourselves a baby.

We get to the hospital about 3:30pm and wouldn't you know that even with all the chaos with not having a room for me, we ironically end up in the exact same room we gave birth to Sammy in and will because of the shift change coming in a few hours will also have the same doctor too.

We are finally done with the paperwork around 5pm and Dr. Hodges comes and checks me.   I've made siginficantly more progress this time around on prostaglandin than with Sammy.  This might be because I've had it in almost 24 hours this time because of the delay in the morning vs. just 12 hours with Sammy.  Dr. Hodges breaks my water and starts me off on pitocin, says a funny joke while exiting about not liking needles (threw my gullible self for a loop and looked like a complete idiot) and then I just start getting as comfortable as possible.

Dr. Zaita steps in for her shift change and I go about telling the nurses what was hard for me during Sammy's labor and what they could do to try and not have the same things happen again.  Mainly it was not having to sit on wet towels.   Speaking up and being informed helped a ton.  I was able to get up as often as I wanted to go to the bathroom or change positions.  I'm not sure exactly why I was so stuck to the bed with Sammy, but I'm sure this is why I was able to labor through broken water and pitocin almost 7 hours without an epidural. 

Around 8pm they check me again and I haven't really made much progress.  I started about 1-1.5 cm dilated and I was about a 2, 3 hours later.  They up the pitocin and we talk about an epi.  Dr. Zaita's suggestion makes me laugh.  She said just don't wait until you want to kill someone.  Maybe she was having flashbacks from Sammy's L&D!

Somewhere between 8 and 10 pm they come in and up the pitocin again.  I felt the contractions getting stronger and closer together, but am still able to breath through them well on my own.  I really tried to just channel my pain and concentrate on something else during the contractions.  I knew from my labor with Sammy that staying on top of the pain instead of letting the pain just overcome you was key.

I must have been in lala land because it wasn't until I ask Paul about the contractions coming closer together that he says well they did up your pitocin.  What?!  How that happened and I didn't notice or remember will always mystify me.  It's during this conversation when I'm asking him to rub my feet and back that he begins telling me about his headache and how much his back hurts because of the dryer and how uncomfortable the chair is that he is sitting in.  OMFG, What?!!  What is wrong with my husband.

The nurse comes in, Paul asks her for Tylenol for his back....

I ask her to have the doctor check me to see if I've progressed more since I want to know where I am before deciding on the epi.  Dr. Zaita does the check and I'm a 3.  I'm thinking that just like with Sam, my body won't progress without the epi, so even though I'm not that far along, I decide that I'm at the point where if I don't get this epi I won't be able to handle the contractions without wanting to kill someone.  I really wish I knew if I would progress as fast without an epi, or if it's just what my body needs.  If we have another baby I do think I will try and go without an epi.  The nurse needs to get 2 bags of saline in me first so timing seems right in terms of me being mentally prepared to go through what I think is the scariest part of labor (having a needle go into your spine).

Around 10:45pm the anesthesiologist comes in and she is SO nice.  So much better than with Sammy.  She is patient, waits in between contractions, is gentle, funny.  Everything you want.  Even Paul comments on how awesome she is, describing the Anesthesiologist with Sammy as a complete jerk.

The pain of the needle was bad, but not completely over the top like it was with Sam.  To be honest, the IV in my arm was way more painful, before, during and after labor.  I feel relief pretty quickly and think the epi dose was perfect unlike with Sam where it was just way too high.  I'm still numb but can feel the contractions just slightly.  About an hour later I am feeling so much pressure and call the nurse to tell her I'm almost positive I'm ready to have this baby.  This was so different for me than last time because of how much more numb I was with Sam.  She checks me and is shocked to find that I am almost ready to have the baby.  The feeling is pretty weird with her checking me.  I can feel how dialted I am because I can literally feel her fist turning inside me.

She pages the dr. and gets orders to turn the pitocin off and epi down.  Dr. Zaita got called into yet another c-sec and I am waiting in line, laboring down.  All is good as this is giving baby girl some time to make her way down the birth canal meaning less pushing for me.  I spend this time truly just trying to enjoy the last few moments of feeling my baby kicking and living inside of me.  So special.  I'm in no rush to get her out, just want to carpe diem.  With my water broken, Lexi's movements were looking so crazy from the outside.  They were always very pronounced but the lack of extra fluid just made it nuts.  Don't mind the stretch marks aka my tiger stripes, but this picture sorta says it all.

By the time we are ready to push it's about 1:45am.  I didn't realize it would be so fast, so about 10 minutes prior I finally forced Paul to the car to get the Excedrin he didn't want to take because it contained caffeine (again...).  Dr. Zaita walks in checks me, looks around and says "So, where is Paul?".  We call him over and over and over again and get no answer.  I can tell she's getting annoyed, so I try and lighten the mood by telling her why he needed tylenol and how it probably wasn't smart to lift a dryer on his own to find the camcorder charger.  10 minutes go by and we are all getting annoyed.  She gets a secretary to contact security to make sure he isn't locked out.

Security was keeping Paul out of the hospital (sorta funny now), they finally let him in and Paul walks into the room a few minutes later.  The look on his face was priceless.  Literally all color drained from his face as he saw me with my legs up in the air, ready to push.  He almost missed the birth of his daughter.  Two contractions later, maybe 4 pushes (?!!), and she literally just slid right out as healthy and beautiful as can be.  I couldn't believe how gracefully she came into this world.  It was amazing, a feeling I truly won't ever forget.  If I hadn't given birth to Sammy and this was my first experience I wouldn't understand the true pain of childbirth.  This I could do again and again.  Even post partum I didn't have anywhere close to the intensity of pain I had from Sammy's birth.  I was fine with a few doses of Tylenol.

Once Lexi was born, we were able to do delayed clamping, Paul was able to cut the cord and I was able to hold her and have her cleaned up on me right away.  What an awesome experience. 

My first time holding Lexi on the outside.  Born on her due date 8/15/13 at 2:02 am

In retrospect, I think I must have been very, very close to a c-sec with Sammy.  His labor and delivery was so intense, so painful, so eventful.  I was turned from side to side almost the whole time, had an oxygen mask on, had a nicu team present at his birth.  I'm glad I didn't realize how abnormal everything was with Sammy.  All I can say is I have an incredible Dr..  Dr. Zaita was no different during Sammy's very high risk delivery as she was with Lexi's routine picture perfect one.  Not once did I have any inkling that there were problems with Sammy's delivery.  Truly humbled.

We stayed in the L&D room bonding and recovering for several hours.  Lexi latched on like a champ right away.

 Around 5 am we were wheeled to what had to be the smallest post partum room.  It had to have been 4x smaller than our room with Sammy.  Apparently with the flood of women having given birth in the morning, all the rooms were booked up solid.  We got the last room in the PP ward.  Everyone else was being pushed over to Peds.  It was pretty cramped once family started to arrive, but we made the best of it.  First world problems after all.

Sammy was smitten when he finally met his baby sister.  Here are some pictures of his big debut as a big brother.

We stayed until mid day Friday.  I was anxious to get home and was uncomfortable in our "closet" room.  We were able to get an early discharge and come home to celebrate and recover in the comfort of our own home.

 We got Lexi all dolled up in her coming home outfit and off we went to start our new life as a family of four with 2 under 2!