Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Birth Story of Natalie Grace

Obviously, this is a touch late. I worked on this just a couple weeks after the birth of our third daughter, Natalie Grace, but life got me so I never finished it. But here it is. I hope you enjoy!

It's 4:30 a.m. and our alarm is going off. It's time to get up, shower, get dressed and get our things in the car. It's baby having day!

The ride to the hospital only takes us fifteen minutes and it's just after 5:00 a.m. so there's very little traffic on the roads. Daniel and I chat about the process we'll be going through for the morning. Since Naomi's birth was a scheduled c-section we know what to expect this time. We'll be separated for a good hour or more while they prep me in triage.

We arrive at the hospital right at 5:30 a.m. We take the elevator up to floor number two and I'm asked to fill out a little card and told by the woman up front to have a seat and I'll be called back in a few minutes. As we sit in the waiting room I update my status on Facebook because I know everyone wants to know that we're at the hospital. :) About fifteen minutes later we get called back for our insurance cards and chat with the woman in records. She sends me back to the front where another woman tells me she'll take me back to my triage room and Daniel has to go sit up front. They'll bring him back when it's closer to time. We part ways which is always hard. I don't want to go about any of this process alone. The hospital is cold and sterile. While the faces are friendly it's not somewhere I want to spend a lot of my time.

I get to my room and the woman hands me a bag and tells me to remove all my clothing and any jewelry and put it in the bag.
"A nurse will be with you shortly." she says.
"Thank you so much, "I tell her.
Even as uncomfortable as this process is I still put a smile on my face and am friendly to everyone I encounter.

I undress, place my stuff in the bag, lie on the bed and patiently wait. Thankfully, I don't wait long before a nurse comes.
"Good morning," she says.
I reply, "Good morning."
"Who's here with you today?"
"My husband is."
"Before we start, is there anything you need to tell me in confidence?"
"No ma'am."
"Do you feel safe going home? Do you feel safe taking your baby home with you?"
"Yes and yes."
She hooks up the baby heart monitor. These are the last few moments I'll hear Natalie Grace's sweet little heartbeat from my insides. It's been such a joy being able to carry another little person in my belly. While I've been very uncomfortable for the last 10 weeks or so and the weather turned hot on me, it's truly been a joy carrying this precious life inside of me. I know there are so many who can't or won't ever be able to experience what I've experienced in carrying 3 healthy children. This is never far from my mind as I know a few woman personally who have struggled with getting pregnant or never could get pregnant. I am thankful.

Next, what seems like one hundred questions, begins. It's everything from, "Do you have a religion preference?" to "Do you have a living will?"

Dr. Li comes in and asks how I'm doing. I tell her, "I'm good and ready."
"Do you have any questions for me?" she asks.
"Nope, just take care of me." I say.
"I will," she says.
And I believe her. I'm thankful for my doctor and know that she will take care of me. This is our third c-section together so I have every confidence in her.

Dr. Li leaves and the questions continue by one nurse and the other is poking me with a needle to get my IV going and apparently I'm a "bleeder" because out shoots a good amount of blood. I look but quickly turn away. Blood doesn't make me queasy but it was quite a lot and it's just after six in the morning and I've not eaten anything. I think it best to not look at what's going on. And she got it all over my hand, the bed and the floor. So, yeah it was quite a bit.

Finally, my IV is in, some fluids and medicines are starting and the questions are over. I ask when my husband can come back and not long after Daniel arrives in the room. Finally! I have his smiling face next to me and we can chat to pass the time.

Waiting in triage

I can't imagine going through this with any other person. I thank God for him and that he's next to me. We talk about our last guesses of how much and how long Natalie Grace will be. He's sticking with under Nyla's birth weight (she was 9 pounds 8 ounces) and I say she'll be a bit bigger but not ten pounds, though I did dream a couple weeks ago that she was 10 pounds 5 ounces. A nurse comes in and tells us it's almost time. She leaves and I ask Daniel to pray for us, just as I did with the other girls. Tears roll down my face as he's praying. I am so thankful for the spiritual leader of our family and thankful for his words during this time. Tears of anxiousness and excitement. Tears to say goodbye to being a family of 4 and hello to being a family of 5. Life as we know it is about to change. As the time has passed today, the more nervous I've gotten. I know what to expect this time and while knowing ahead of time usually makes me feel more comfortable (I'm an introvert after all), this time it has not. I'm not looking forward to the spinal or the surgery. I'm ready to get it over with and praying I don't have a similar recovery to Naomi's.

It's just before 7:30 a.m. and the time has come. It's time to move into the surgery room. I know Daniel and I have to part ways for another few minutes and this makes me more nervous but I know he'll be by my side before long.

The room is very cold and sterile. I move to a thin, hard table for the surgery. I have to sit back and hunched over to get the spinal. I'm nervous. The anesthesiologist talks with me about what to expect, what I'll feel and the order it all goes in. He's really nice and comforting. It helps a little to have him tell me each step. His assistant does the actual spinal and he keeps talking to me. She presses on my back to find the right spot and this is fairly uncomfortable. The shot to numb the area comes next and it hurts. My nurse, Lindsey, is there next to me. I'm hunched over holding a pillow saying, "ouch ouch ouch." I have a very low tolerance for pain yet I take pregnancy and all that comes with it like a champ. At least I think I do. Next comes the actual spinal. I'm glad I don't see the needle because I expect it's fairly large. I feel quite a bit of pressure from the needle and I'm thankful when it's over. Now I have to lay down and my legs are going numb. It's such an odd sensation. I remember with Naomi I went numb almost instantly and I don't this time and it worries me. I don't want to feel anything and I don't want to get incubated because the spinal doesn't work. Thankfully, it starts to kick in as they're prepping me. The next thing I know the sheet is coming up in front of me, my chest feels heavy and it's hard to take deep breaths. It feels like I have an elephant sitting on top of me. The assistant anesthesiologist pricks me here and there and asks if I can feel anything on different areas of my body. Most importantly, I don't feel below my chest so I know I'm good to go!

He's ready!

Daniel comes in and sits down next to me. I'm thankful for his calming presence. We are ready to meet our baby girl.

Anxiously waiting

I don't hear too much around me. Well, really, I'm blocking it out and trying to talk to Daniel. I want him to distract me so I don't hear anything that scares me or freaks me out. I feel quite a lot of tugging and pulling for a few minutes. I keep thinking Natalie Grace should be here, I don't remember it taking so long with Naomi. Dr. Li says I have a good bit of scar tissue and that's why it's taking a bit longer. Well, that explains it. But soon enough I feel tons of pressure on my chest. It's almost as if someone is sitting on me to pull her out. "You'll feel lots of pressure," someone calls out. I definitely do. Then I hear, "That's a big baby!" And then I hear her cry. There is nothing quite like hearing your baby's first cry. As I did the two times before, I cry tears of joy. Natalie Grace is here. Each girls cry are so very different and I just love that. I know I won't ever really remember exactly what it sounds like, just that it's one of the most beautiful sounds in all the world. Thankful. Grateful. Full. Joyful. Loved. All my emotions hit me at once. This pregnancy is finally over. Natalie Grace is finally here. Praise God for this little life.

She's here and she's beautiful!

Yes, you're reading this right. 11 pounds 9 oz.
We had so many comments on her weight. I would proudly tell people she's not my first 11 pound baby. Naomi was 11 pounds 4 oz. :)

Big girl!

Friday, February 6, 2015

5 Months Old

Dear Natalie Grace,
I cannot believe you are 5 months old! It really does go by so quickly, but especially with you since I am caring for your big sisters. Speaking of big sisters, they are in love with you and vice versa. You smile at them constantly. I think they may get more smiles than Daddy and me. I get you out of bed each morning and the first thing they ask, "Can I hold her?" They kiss on you constantly and try and make you laugh. Naomi's latest to you is, "Natalie, I just love you so much." And she does it in her baby voice. :) They are smitten.

You refuse to lay on the floor for longer than 5 minutes. You haven't rolled over yet but you do try and sit up. You lift your head up off the changing table, your bed and the floor to try and sit up. I will occasionally put the boppy pillow behind you but you soon topple over. You have a large head. :)

You smile constantly and love to laugh. The silliest things make you laugh. I act like a complete moron just to hear your baby giggles. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

You weigh over 19 pounds and you just moved up to 12 month clothes. I think you were in  9 month clothes for 8 days. We love your chunkiness and talk about it daily. You LOVE to nurse and are great at it. You are nursing 7-9 times a day or roughly every two hours. I don't mind since you sleep 10-12 hours a night. Thanks for that, by the way.

You are an excellent sleeper. As I said, you like to sleep 10-12 hours at night. The funny thing is when you wake up you like to be up 1-2 hours before your first nap of the day. Below is a picture of you fussing because you are ready to go upstairs. You take a 2 hour nap in the morning and a 2 hour nap in the afternoon. You prefer an early bedtime, 6:30 to be exact. For the first few weeks of your life we were keeping you up and you were an overtired baby. Once we finally figured out you wanted to be in bed early, you became much easier to handle at night. Oh, and you hate night lights and the humidifier being on in your room. You are sensitive to those lights and sounds and want nothing to do with them. You like it quiet in your room. :)

You are loved, little bit. So loved. We are enjoying your baby stages. They seem to be flying by even quicker than with the big girls.
You have a few nicknames and they are little bit, butter bean and monkey. I'm not sure you'll know your real name for the longest time because we all call you by your nickname.

You have strawberry blond hair and look so similar to Nyla. Comparing pictures of the two of you, it's almost scary how similar you two look. We also think you look like Sir. I think the strawberry blonde hair and bright blue eyes have something to do with it. Your eyes have lightened up in the last few weeks but I hope they stay blue! 

I was recently talking to Aunt Ernie about what kind of personality we think you'll have. I'll be honest, I'm hoping you're more even-tempered like your biggest sister, Nyla. Naomi is our blond spark plug but I'm not sure I have the energy for another firecracker in this family. Though, if your red hair stays around, you just might be a firecracker!

Happy 5 months sweet one! You have brought so much joy to our family. I love you, little bit.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Day in My Life-2015

Here's but a glimpse into our lives. While everyday is different there are definitely moments that are similar. Somedays it feels mundane but I remember I'm raising little people for the Lord and there's not a bigger reward than that.
(Nyla is 4.5 years old, Naomi is 3 and Natalie is 5 months tomorrow.)

6:45 a.m. I'm actually up and ready for the day, which is so rare. I'm usually out of bed after 7. I make my bed and get dressed, somewhat dressed. We're home all morning so I keep on yoga pants and a sweater. I really do try and make my bed each morning, as it makes the room look so much cleaner! I head downstairs to tackle the laundry. I have 3 loads to wash but forget I left diapers in there overnight. Oops! This happens more often than I care to admit. :)

 I hang up the diapers and start the loads I need to get done today. My big girls are early risers so I've already seen them this morning. They are playing nicely in their playroom.

 7:30 a.m. I get this sweet girl up. I change her diaper and nurse her. The big girls tell her good morning and want to hold her, as they do most mornings.

 8:00 a.m. I switch out laundry and start another load. And Naomi helps me prep our breakfast. We have oatmeal (her favorite) and eggs (Nyla's favorite), fruit and milk. I like real food but also like quick food! After breakfast we clean the kitchen and Naomi helps me sweep a little. Then the big girls go and play in their playroom. I get called to come see that they're playing school.

 8:50 a.m. Natalie is ready for her morning nap. She likes to be up just over an hour and then wants her first nap. This baby girls loves to sleep! I nurse her again and put her in bed.

 9:20 a.m. It's reading lesson time with Nyla. We're working through How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It was recommended by a fellow homeschool mama and friend. Nyla is only 4 years old but we are avid readers in this house and she began to show an interest in wanting to learn to read herself. I bought the book used on Amazon for under $10 and decided we'd give it a try. She is really catching on and seems to enjoy our time together.

10:00 a.m. Now it's time to do some folding. This is definitely my least favorite part and somedays laundry sits in it's basket for a couple days. Such is life and it is what it is. I pick and choose my battles or I'm learning to. I'd rather be cooking tasty meals and snacks than folding laundry. 

The girls do fold or somewhat fold their own laundry. My new laundry system (I've been doing it 2+ months) is that each girl gets her own basket. I wash and dry it and they have to fold it (with help, if needed) and put it away. Naomi gets "tired" folding her laundry (3 year olds, right!?!?) so she needs extra help. Nyla usually does it all on her own and quite perfect as well. I guess she's a bit of a perfectionist, like her mother. ;)

10:30 a.m. I got pizza dough out of the fridge to make pizza's for our freezer. I make a couple while the girls are playing and they wander into the kitchen and want to help. It is a challenge having 4 and 3 year olds in the kitchen but I'm learning patience from it. They want to help and I want them to learn to have an appreciation for homemade food.
(Naomi is on the left and as her typical 3 year old self, she doesn't want to me to take her picture because it's not on her time. Nyla is happy to pose for me.)


11:15 a.m. Natalie woke up 15 minutes ago so I go upstairs and get her. I change her and nurse her again. We head downstairs and sit and read to the big girls. We usually read 3-5 books in one sitting before the girls get wiggly and want to go play. Today we read Fox in Sox, Making Friends, Molly Lou Melon and Hop on Pop. Naomi has just about memorized Hop on Pop so she basically read it to me. 

She loves to nurse while covering her face

12:00 p.m. It's lunch time. I quickly make lunch while the girls are playing. We have some leftovers from the weekend and read Milly Molly Mandy during lunch. She's one of our favorite characters and they like hearing what she's up to. I'm working on Nyla telling me what happens in the story. I try and stop after a page or so and get her to tell me in her own words what Milly Molly Mandy is up to. She's getting better at this. My goal with Naomi is for her to just sit still and listen to me read, which she does. She loves being read to.

After lunch I run the tomato soup through the blender. I made it Saturday but by the time it was done cooking on the stove the girls were in bed and the blender is too loud. I got them in canning jars and put away in the freezer for Daniel to grab for lunch at work or for us to have for quick dinners. 
And then I cleaned the kitchen. This definitely does NOT happen each day after lunch. Some days dirty dishes sit in the sink until after dinner and more are added from dinner. But everyone was happy so I quickly cleaned up.

1:15 p.m. I get the big girls tucked into their beds and nurse and change Natalie. Yes, my 4.5 year old does still nap...sometimes. She enjoys the quiet of her room even if she decides not to nap. She isn't allowed to come down for at least an hour. Mommy needs a quiet hour, too!!!

I switch out laundry, again and sit down and read. My goal for the year is to read 36 books. It's a lofty goal but I finished 4 books in January and am working on 4 for February. Yes, you read that right I'm reading 4 different books at the same time. Daniel doesn't understand how I do it but I like to change things up sometimes. I do stick with the same book here and there but if I need a change of pace I read another. Right now I'm reading John Rosemond's, The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children (We're having some discipline struggles with Naomi and I picked it up just yesterday. I needed to my refresh myself on it.), Karon Andreola's, Charlotte Mason Companion (we're homeschooling and this book has been on my shelves for 2 years but I'm finally picking it up), Leigh A. Bortins, The Core (another great book for the homeschool mama, who's looking at Classical Education) and The Journals of Lewis and Clark (edited by Bernard DeVoto). All these books are great reads and they all offer me something different. 

At the bottom of my pile is my current journal. I make notes of our day, funny things the girls say, struggles we're having with them, favorites quotes or lyrics, Bible verses, prayers and lists (I love lists!).

2:20 p.m. Naomi hasn't been napping too long the last couple of weeks (sad) so she comes downstairs just after an hour. I tell her to either quietly play in the playroom or go back up to her room to rest. Surprisingly, she obeys, for a few minutes anyways.

3:30 I get Natalie up from her nap, change her diaper and nurse her. Today we're headed to our drop point to pick up my Azure Standard order. Our drop time has recently changed to an afternoon time so I'm having to pack the girls up and take them with me. 

(Below we're coming back from the drop and my 30 pounds of butter in my freezer.)

4:40 p.m. We're home, thankfully the drop didn't take too long, and more laundry awaits. I think this load totals 4 today. I don't do 4 loads everyday but it does happen 3 times a week or so. And I do at least one load a day just to keep up.

5:30 p.m. I just got done nursing Natalie while our pizza cooked. Naomi and Daddy are out on a date at McAlister's Deli (kids eat free on Tuesday nights!) and Nyla and I decided to have one of the pizzas we made this morning. Natalie wasn't happy about sitting in her high chair. The girls "witching hour" starts around 5 and continues until I put her in bed just before 7. She loves to be held the whole time but it's just not doable. Nyla and I also baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (we keep cookies balls in the freezer to pull out for quick desserts).

6:30 p.m. Daniel and Naomi have been home a few minutes and we all sit down to play a quick game of My First Carcassonne. The girls got it for Christmas and it's quickly become a favorite. We've have the adult version (see it here) for a few years and I still enjoy playing it. It's quick and some nights when Daniel and I want to play a game this is all there's time for. 

7:30 p.m. All girls are in bed. Daniel put the big girls to bed while I nursed Natalie and put her down. I came down to finish laundry and unpack the rest of my Azure order, tidy the kitchen and den and fold one more basket of laundry. 

Okay, this was a really fun experiment and I've never done one of these before! It was a challenge to take a picture almost every hour as I don't have much time for that. I sometimes feel like I'm not too productive each day but this shows me I am. This is a fairly typical day in our home (besides picking up our Azure order). We pack a lot into our days! I've surprised myself with this. 

Thanks for reading.

I'm also joining Simple Homeschool for their Day in the Life of Homeschooling