The Sweetest Face

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Over the last week, we have slowly settled into life as a family of four. This has been an easier process than I imagined thanks to the fact that (1) Lexi is a sweet and mellow little girl who is amazingly easy to please, (2) we are much more relaxed as parents than we were the first time around, and (3) my mother-in-law here to help with baby girl and Parker.

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After all of the anticipation, it’s such an amazing thing to look at this little person and realize that she is ours to keep. Regardless of how little sleep we get or how often my toes curl with the discomfort of the initial latch, just one look at this sweet face makes every minute of pain and sleeplessness totally worth it.

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Scenes From Easter

This year’s Easter celebration was as American as you can get thanks to the fact that I was recovering from the delivery during the days that I would have been dying eggs red and going through the other Orthodox rituals. Thankfully, my mother-in-law was here to stop in and make the Easter fun happen.

The night before Easter, Parker got to dye eggs with a kit that was kid-friendly.

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Then on Easter morning, Parker went on a hunt around the house to find all of the presents that the Easter bunny hid. I was still in bed with Lexi when Parker was running around the house, but I could hear his squeals of glee as he opened closets and rooms looking for his loot.

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After the presents were opened, Parker and his Nana put together an adorable Easter Bunny cake.

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After an Easter dinner of ham, potatoes au gratin, green bean casserole and cooked carrots, we all watched Parker play with his toys and love on his sister.

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It’s hard to believe that next Easter, we’ll have a walker on our hands!

Parker and Lexi

Introducing Lexi to Parker was something that we had given a lot of thought to. Even though she was born the night before, we wanted to make sure that Parker’s schedule stayed as consistent as possible so we didn’t bring him to the hospital to meet her until after his school let out for the day.

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As he walked in the door, he was both hesitant and eager. I think part of it was disbelief that she was really here. He kept looking at my belly and then looking at her as if trying to imagine that I really had been carrying a real live baby all of this time.

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It was very sweet how he approached her very cautiously and then asked permission to touch her.

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While he was there, she had a dirty diaper and much to Parker’s dismay, she started to cry. This, he was not so sure of and he officially declared her “somewhat noisy.”

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But of course, she settled down really quickly and he wanted to finally hold her.

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After spending about 15 minutes in the room (half of it snuggling in bed with me), he was eager to head home with his Nana and bake her a birthday cake. He received a cake baking kit for Christmas that he had been saving just for this very occasion.

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We checked out of the hospital first thing the next morning (after a very kind night nurse kept Lexi almost the entire night) and when we arrived at the house, Parker was bouncing eagerly by the back door, ready to show his new sister around the house. We spent the day getting adjusted at home and trying to make Parker feel as included as possible. Of course, we also spent a lot of time staring at our new baby.

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After dinner, it was time for Lexi’s birthday celebration with Parker’s homemade cake.

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He was really proud of all of his hard work.

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And naturally, he insisted that he eat both his slice as well as his sister’s.

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After the birthday cake, we all settled down and got ready to spend our first night at home as a family of four. What an incredible, crazy and beautiful feeling.

Lexi’s Birth Story

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As I sit here in the hospital room not yet 12 hours after her birth, I can’t believe how fast Lexi came into this world. Her labor story starts at my OB visit yesterday, which put me at 40 weeks and 5 days. I had a non-stress test, which consisted of hooking me up to the monitors for 30 minutes to assess her heart rate and my contractions. The non-stress test was followed by an ultrasound to determine her size and the quality of my placenta/amniotic fluid. These things are pretty standard procedure once you pass the 40 week mark. At that appointment, my midwife determined that I was 4-5cm dilated and that my amniotic levels were a bit on the low side, but not alarming. Those two thing combined with the fact that Lexi’s head was causing me serious back pain led us to the decision of setting an induction date for the following day. I was to check into the hospital at 7am on April 21st to get things going. I went home nervous, scared, excited and a bit disappointed that I had agreed to an induction. I had my heart set on a natural delivery

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Of course, I never made it to that appointment. Around 6pm last night, I started having contractions every 15 minutes that were fairly painful. I knew that these were the real deal because while all of my previous contractions were noticeable, they were not painful. I got ready for bed and laid down at 8:30pm, but by 10pm, I knew that I wasn’t going to make it to my induction. The contractions, while remaining 12-15 minutes apart, hurt. In fact, they hurt so bad that I could no longer lay down through them and took to pacing around the bedroom instead. During one of these pacing sessions, I made a quick call to labor and delivery to ask them about if/when I should come in and they gave me the standard answer of contractions coming 5 minutes apart for 1 hour. I decided to try to stick it out as long as I could at home..which wasn’t very long at all. At 11:45pm, I knew that we needed to head in because even though my contractions were still coming 8 minutes apart, I actually heard myself whimper. A very non-Cyn thing to do.

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When we arrived at labor and delivery and got checked in, it was about 12:15am. The nurse checked me and much to everyone’s surprise, I was 7cm dilated, 100% effaced and in transition. Holy moly! No wonder those contractions were dropping me to my knees. I decided to go ahead and request an epidural even though there was a good chance that the anesthesiologist wouldn’t make it in time. At about 1am, I got the epidural, but naturally, I was almost fully dilated by then and instead of giving me the regular epidural meds, the anesthesiologist gave me a shorter dose of a different medicine to “take the edge off.” By the time I started pushing at 1:30am, it was clear that the meds would not have enough time to kick in at all so even though I hadn’t planned on an entirely natural birth, that’s what was in the cards for the night. I’m not going to lie, I felt every single mind-numbing contraction and I had some very “real” moments where I couldn’t believe that I was actually in the middle of a natural childbirth. Unlike Parker’s birth, this one was not remotely surreal. I was very much present in the moment.

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I pushed for (a very uncomfortable) 16 minutes and at 1:51am (a mere 90 minutes after we arrived), our sweet baby girl made her grand entrance. Holding my babies for the first time has to be one of the sweetest moments in my life and I am so blessed to add last night’s memory to the one I cherish of Parker’s birth. As you can imagine, we are incredibly in love and incredibly sleep deprived. Considering that I never went to bed last night and have only managed two 30 minute naps today, it’s been quite the deliriously happy ride.

A Tough Act To Follow

While I know that each child brings their own personality and energy to the family, I can’t help but look at Parker and think that he has set a very tough act to follow. Not only is he a sweet soul, but he has so much fun just living life. There is nothing “gloom and doom” about him. Thus far, four has been a wonderful age (food protests notwithstanding). His imagination is exploding and role play has become a part of our daily world. Take, for example, this turtle shell that he made in preschool. When I got home from work, he had been anxiously waiting for me like this.

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Then, we had to play the guessing game of what animal Parker was. He decided to give me a hint. “Look mommy, you can now see my head and arms and legs.”

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After playing along for a bit, I finally guessed correctly. I love that he congratulated me on my success.

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I think that one of the best parts of having a kid this age is that they are so eager to let you into their world. I’m thankful for this time because I know that in just a few short years, I’ll probably be blown off in favor of spending time with his friends. But such is life I guess.

Groundhog Day

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Well folks, I’ve spent the better part of an hour scouring my brain, looking for something to write that isn’t related to pregnancy, birth or sleep deprivation…and I came up pitifully short. In fact, all I could think to share other than more pregnancy stuff were these photos of butterflies congregating around our blooming azaleas. Aren’t they lovely? I realize that the pictures have nothing to do with the post, but I felt the need to break up the baby-mania that has come to rule here over the last couple of weeks.

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I guess that this is just the plight of a mother waiting for her latest addition to arrive. It’s as if the baby’s umbilical cord is actually hard-wired to my brain because every thought that passes through my mind is internally focused. I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite so attuned to every movement going on in my womb.It’s kind of tiresome, actually.

What’s equally tiresome is that my loving (and very eager) husband is watching my every move like a hawk. If I grimace slightly due to a strong kick or if it takes me a bit longer to roll off of get up from the couch, the Irishman is right there with an expression of glee. In his mind, my increasing discomfort must be correlated with her impending arrival.

To make matters worse, he has taken it upon himself to search for home remedies to induce labor. I know this because he suggests things like going for a nice 4 mile walk to have a spicy dinner at our local Mexican restaurant. Alternately, he offers to give me a foot rub and then starts poking about my Achilles heel like a pirate looking for treasure. When I ask him what he’s doing (other than trying to maim me), he causally mentions that he “heard” there’s a pressure point there that can start contractions. I’m not quite sure whether it’s cute or alarming that my husband has suddenly taken up an interest in midwifery.

Now that my due date has come and gone, every day has morphed into a repeating pattern of behaviors. Wake up, wait for the baby to engage in her morning gymnastics session in my belly, take a shower, repack my hospital bag and wait. And wait. And wait. Sure, I’m doing other things in the meantime (supervising presentations in my classes, playing with Parker, cooking dinner), but interestingly enough, I cannot do any task that needs complete focus of my brain. For example, I have a manuscript that I need to revise, but I can’t for the life of me start working on it. It just seems too trivial (and too mentally consuming) a task in face of the looming, “Is today the day?” question that is running circles through my head.

Thankfully, today is my last day on campus, so I’ll be able to successfully lay low for the rest of the week and dodge the “Is she here??” questions that follow me around continuously. I have a non-stress test scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to make sure that all is well and beyond that, my personal Groundhog Day continues until I can finally announce her arrival. As a good friend of mine recently stated, she certainly is learning the art of building anticipation!

Baby Watch 2011

Well, we’ve reached that time. With my due date only 3 days away,
we’re all (family and friends included) on the edge of our seats in anticipation of when this baby will make her grand entrance. I have to say, I always find this to be a very lonely time for a pregnant woman. Every phone call and text you send is met with an enthusiastic, “Darn, I thought you were in labor!” Every time you arrive at work, people are surprised to see you and are dismayed that you’re still pregnant. These responses are generally well-meaning, but they tend to have a pretty broad effect on my behavior.

At this point, I’ve started keeping my calls and texts to an absolute minimum and if I do need to call someone, I generally start the conversation with, “No, I’m not in labor…” I’ve also started using the back door at work to avoid the hallway of exclamations that is bound to greet me if I were to waddle down the main corridor instead. I think that my reaction is partly due to a shared disappointment that she isn’t here yet, but it’s also partly due to the fact that labor in and of itself is a lonely process. Sure, the Irishman will be there every step of the way, but he doesn’t have to feel a single contraction or decide whether to get an epidural or decide if/when I should consider an induction. At the end of the day, this is all on me.

I’m not saying this to be complain-ey (as I certainly knew exactly what I was signing up for), but I offer this as more of an explanation of how and why some pregnant women seem completely exasperated with the world around them during the last week or two of their term. Plus, there is definitely an element of, “Holy crap, this is really happening” that precedes imminent labor.

As it stands right now, I think that if I have to pick an induction date, it will probably be April 25th (10 days late) so that this little girl has been given ample time to make her arrival. But for the sake of my sanity, let’s just all hope and pray that she makes a move before then, shall we?