Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The 3 week blur- a birth story

Hello world! I know I haven't blogged in a while, but for good reason- baby number four is here!

OK, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram then that doesn't come as much of a surprise, since I've been spamming the interwebs with cute baby pictures for 3 weeks now, but I figured the ol' blog still needed an update. 

Meet baby Josiah.

Isn't he adorable?

Josiah was born on August 31st, 2016 at 11:34am. My due date was September 8th, but because of my high blood pressure issues (again) and horrible kidney problems my doctor gave me the option to induce a little early. Eager to be out of constant pain, I went in at 6am August 31st to be induced. I had joked this whole pregnancy that baby number four was going to come quickly...that I'd walk into labor and delivery and he'd just fall right out. Well, it was pretty close! I was admitted at 6am, had my water broken by 7, and the pitocin started at 8am to make me dilate more. When the pitocin started I sent my husband Shayne home and check on the kids. His mom had come to stay with us for a few days so she was at our house getting Harper up and the big kids off to school. I knew we had a few hours before I'd be fully dilated and sitting around the hospital isn't much fun for anyone, so I shooed him off to go help his mom and kill some time while I rested and hoped for a nap.

By 10am my contractions were coming quickly- about every 2 minutes apart, and they were starting to hurt pretty badly. The nurse came in to check me and I was only at 4cm dilated. I was already at a 3 when I came in, so that meant I'd only dilated 1cm since they started the pitocin 2 hours before. Wow, I definitely had time for a nap with this little slowpoke. The anesthesiologist came in and gave me my epidural and I could feel the pain and tension melt out of my body as the medicine took effect. This was my fourth epidural and I'm not ashamed to say that I absolutely loved them all! I had such easy, pain-free births that went pretty much perfectly, and I hoped this one would be just the same. Around 10:25, after the epidural kicked in, we stopped the pitocin because I was starting to contract a little too much.

I called Shayne around 11 and updated him on what was going on. He was at the grocery store picking up a few things for his mom and the kids for dinner and said he'd be coming back to the hospital after that. I assured him he could take his time, that I wasn't even halfway dilated yet, but that I was feeling some weird pressure. I joked that it felt like the baby's head was coming out, but that it was impossible at only 4-5cm dilated. After I hung up with Shayne I started texting some of my friends and family with updates. I had a handful of people I was keeping updated all morning, giving them the play by play and keeping me busy while I passed the time. Texting, SnapChat, and The Real Housewives of New Jersey is what I was doing while my labor progressed!

Anyway, I hung up with Shayne, started texting my friends, and after about 5 minutes of that weird pressure I was feeling I decided to call the nurse and ask her to check me again. It was 11:15am when she told me "OK, the baby's head is right there and you're fully dilated. Call dad and tell him to get back here right now and we'll call the doctor."  And then all three nurses in the room jumped into action at the same time and started setting everything up for the delivery at warp speed.

I called my husband back, who was still at the grocery store, and told him to come back to the hospital immediately. "Do not bring the food back to the house- just get in the car and get here as fast as you can because it's baby time NOW!"

Then I texted my friends. "It's time!" 

At this point I kind of panicked. The fact that I went from 4 to 10cm in less than an hour shocked the crap out of me- I suddenly felt unprepared! I mean, I was just sitting there watching RHONJ two seconds ago and now they were telling me it was time to push, but that I can't push until the doctor gets there. What?! I got a little scared and emotional and started to cry as I pulled my long hair up into a bun and put on some chap stick...I had to get into baby-pushing mode. I kept telling myself I could do this and to just not push yet (I really wanted to push). My husband was probably flying down the freeway at that very moment and my doctor was just across the street at her clinic's office, but those few minutes I had to wait for them seemed like an hour. When my husband finally rushed into my room, followed by my doctor about a minute later I was so relieved. I could finally push! I really, really wanted to push (did I mention that?) My doctor threw on a gown and some gloves, sat down in front of me, and said "OK, let's have a baby!"

Exactly three pushes later and Josiah was born! Honestly, I didn't even break a sweat and it was the easiest labor I've ever had. He surprised us all with how big he was- 7lbs 8oz and 21 inches long, because he was measuring small at my last ultrasound and he was born a week early. If I would have gone up to my due date he would have been my biggest baby! Ayden and Lily were both 7lbs 9oz and Harper was only 6lbs 7oz (she was 2 weeks early).

As soon as he was born they laid him on my chest so we could get some skin to skin. I remember thinking how long and skinny he was, and he looked so much like Harper! We sat there like that for about 10 minutes before he started nursing like a champ- it's crazy how babies know exactly what to do after they're born.

Soon after his delivery they moved me to a bigger room so the kids could come visit and meet their new brother. Harper was a bit overwhelmed, both because of her excitement to see me (since she woke up that morning and I was already gone at the hospital), and also the surprise and excitement of seeing a baby. I was a bit overwhelmed too when I looked around the room at these four children and thought "Holy crap. These are all mine." 

We only stayed at the hospital that one night and went home the following afternoon. Josiah passed all of his newborn screenings and checked out perfectly healthy, so as soon as the doctors gave us the go-ahead we were out of that place! I was so tired and just wanted to lay in my own bed. I had only slept for one hour and spent that whole night staring at my adorable new baby boy and was eager to get home to shower, eat some real food, and spend some time with my husband and kids.

We've been home for 3 weeks now. It's been a complete blur and I feel like it's been mix of 3 days and 3 months all at the same time...the days and weeks with a newborn and sleep deprivation pass by so quickly and it's hard to keep track of the time. It's been quite an adjustment and we're still trying to find our "groove," but I see a little routine forming and I feel like I'm getting a smidge better at momming with four kids. Not great- but better. It's been some of the most challenging weeks of my life- more on all that later in another post!

That's it for now...I'm afraid I've used up all of nap time (Yes- the baby and the toddler are both sleeping at the same time- see? I'm not doing all that Duty calls! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tricks for soothing a crying newborn

I don't know about you, but the sound of a crying baby is like nails on a chalkboard to me. This is unfortunate because I'm a soon-to-be mom of four and both of my girls were screamers when they were infants. They legitimately screamed for hours on end and it kind of made me want to rip my hair out. I eventually took them to their doctor to find out what in the world was going on with all of the crying, and that's when I learned about colic, which is when a healthy baby excessively cries for more than 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week, for over 3 weeks. Yep- that definitely sounded like my girls! 

Thankfully, after a few weeks of persistent crying, I started to see a pattern and I found a few things that worked to help shorten the length of crying time. Here's a few things that helped for us find our formula for happiness

Establish a routine. As tough as it is in those early days, try to get a routine going as soon as you can. Babies love routine, and if you know when to expect the crying fits (ours was always in the evening) you can better prepare your baby and yourself for it. 

Swaddle your baby. My last baby loved to be swaddled and it helped soothe her to sleep!

Wear your baby. Using a wrap or carrier to wear your baby is a great way to help them feel secure and keep them close to you. 

Burp, burp, and burp some more. I'm not sure why, but colicky babies seem to be gassier too, so extra burping is a must! As much as Harper hated it, I'd have to interrupt her eating to burp her very frequently. There was always a little burp that would come out! Sometimes she'd be crying and crying and I'd put her up on my shoulder and start patting her...even after 10 minutes or so a little burp would come out! So burp your colicky baby a lot.

Try a change of scenery. If possible, get out of the house and try a change of scenery if your baby just won't calm down. Sometimes a walk around the block in the stroller or a carrier helps, or go for a ride in the car (and maybe swing through a drive thru and grab yourself a coffee or something). 

Offer a pacifier. All of my kids loved their binkies! I don't care what anyone says- pacifiers are a great way to help them soothe.

Swing. Colicky babies love movement, so a nice swing is a great investment. Our favorite one offered front to back and side to side motion, which Harper loved. She took a lot of naps in her swing in the early days! Sometimes we'd even double up and swaddle her in her swing. 

Try a probiotic. GERBER® Soothe Probiotic Colic Drops contain L. reuteri, which is a probiotic that is safe for infants and is naturally found in breast milk. Research indicates that the type of bacteria in an infant's intestine may determine whether a child is colicky, and probiotics can support a balance of good bacteria in their digestive tract. While it's not intended to cure or treat any disease, it has been clinically shown to reduce crying time in colicky breastfed infants! I received a free sample of GERBER® Soothe probiotic Colic Drops from Gerber. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Switch formulas. If you're a formula feeding parent, Gerber also offers their GERBER® Good Start® Soothe Infant Formula, which also contains L. reuteri, and is specially designed to ease excessive crying, colic, and fussiness while providing complete nutrition. 

Have you had a colicky baby before? What's your formula for happiness? Just know that you are not alone, and that there is hope out there! Try some of these methods and see if they help, and consider a probiotic like GERBER® Soothe Probiotic Colic Drops or GERBER® Good Start® Soothe Infant Formula. Gerber also has some great experts available (registered dietitians, certified lactation consultants, and certified baby sleep consultants) to answer any of your questions! You can find out more about excessive crying, colic, and fussiness here

Friday, August 19, 2016

Savoring our slow summer

Well, summer seemed to fly by, didn't it? I'm not sure if it was due to the fact that it started late (the kids were in school until June 18th!) and that I'm now 9 months pregnant and just a couple of weeks away from my due date, but it feels like summer just got started around here. I mean, we just started getting some really nice weather after quite a few weeks of just so-so, warmish, not quite hot enough for swimming weather. Don't get me wrong- the extreme heat lately has been slightly unbearable for me in my huge state, but I kind of feel like my kids got ripped off with their summer break this year and we've had to cram it all in the last month or so. Next week is their last full week before they head back to school on August 30th, so we've been savoring these last few fun little outings together!

Yesterday we packed up the minivan (did I mention I love this thing?!) and headed across the border to Idaho to hit up a nice little lake. After spending quite a few days at the crowded aquatics center, the YMCA pool, parks, splash pads, and one trip to the big amusement park, I was ready for some peace and quiet by the lake. My sister in law actually clued me in on this place. I'd been there before as a kid but I hadn't been back as an adult, and I kind of forgot it existed. Normally when we want to go to the lake we go to a different one that is super popular and crowded, so rediscovering this little secluded one tucked away in the beautiful mountains of Idaho was a real treat! We arrived by 10:30am and the place was deserted. There was one lone fisherman on the dock (who I'm sure was thrilled with my loud, crazy kids jumping in right away) and an older couple launching their kayaks with their dog, and that was it. We had the whole beach to ourselves for over an hour and it was glorious! 

While Harper and I splashed and waded in the warm water and the big kids repeatedly jumped off the dock, showing me their mad cannonball skills and crazy spinning jumps, I couldn't help but think of how different it's going to be next summer. The kids kept saying "Next summer we have to come here like every day!" It sounds fun, but it's so much work being at the lake all day with 3 kids. The towels, the sunscreen, the cooler and food, the overloaded stroller, life jackets, sand toys, etc- it's a lot to pack up and haul around, especially while pregnant. But it really hit me- next summer I'll have another baby, an almost 3 year old, a 9 year old, and my oldest will be turning 13. Wowza. Talk about exhausting. Sure kids...we'll definitely be at the lake every day next summer, haha. 

Really though, I'm such a mixture of scared excitement right now. Our lives are going to change so much in the next few weeks or days- whenever this baby boy decides to make his grand appearance into the world and forever change our family. I'm going to be a mom of four kids- four! It still blows my mind because I had just the two for so long and I thought that's how it was going to be forever. Then Harper came along and we had three, and it's been such a change, but an amazing one. I've loved seeing her melt her big brother and how happy she's made her big sister (who always wanted to be a BIG sister). It's been so amazing and such a blessing to get to experience motherhood all over again from the start, with a little more wisdom that comes with being an older, more experienced mom this time around. Sure, it's been a challenge at times too, especially when I feel like I'm being pulled in so many directions. Now we're adding a newborn to the mix and it's going to take some time to find that balance again, but I know we'll figure it all out.

So for now, as I anxiously await my new baby boy, I'm trying to remind myself to slow down and focus on the kids right in front of me. It's hard sometimes, because I'm so over being uncomfortably pregnant and I find myself saying things like "I just want this baby out right now!" But these are our last few days of being a family of 5, and I'll never just have these three awesome kids again...there will be one more in our lake photos next summer and another year of my kids' childhood will be gone forever. I'm trying to savor these moments and remind myself not to rush time- it's already slipping away so fast!


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